Jeff Passan

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Jeff Passan is an award-winning columnist who has covered baseball since 2004. He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in journalism. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October.

  • Divisions in baseball need to be benched

    Were the postseason to begin today, the National League’s second- and third-best teams would play each other in a single winner-takes-all game for the honor of going on the road and playing a series against the best team in baseball. In the meantime, the teams with the fourth- and fifth-best records in the league would face off for a ticket to the NLCS.

    If this seems screwed up, it’s because it is. The wild card opened up a world of possibilities, including the one playing out in the NL Central today: The three best records happen to come from the same division, and baseball’s playoff system is in danger of penalizing teams for having the temerity to exist in relative geographic proximity to other good teams.

    Pittsburgh's Gregory Polanco and St. Louis' Kolten Wong are part of the toughest division in baseball. (Getty)Pittsburgh's Gregory Polanco and St. Louis' Kolten Wong are part of the toughest division in baseball. (Getty)This, of course, is ridiculous, and even if the New York Mets ride the weakness of the National League East or the Los Angeles Dodgers the strength of their $300 million payroll to pass up the Central’s St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs or even all three, an

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  • 10 Degrees: It's a historic season for rookies

    Never before has baseball seen a group of rookies like the Class of 2015, one so rich in position players that with two months left in the season it’s on the verge of being more productive than every previous class in history. The Year of the Rookie is a real thing, though perhaps its designation is missing a word, because it’s really more the Year of the Hitting Rookie.

    Sometime this week, everyday rookies are going to surpass every class from the last 100 years in Wins Above Replacement. Even if it is a flawed metric, this year’s group of rookies reigning supreme with a third of the season remaining speaks to just how much talent suffuses it – and how teams are relying on rookie position players more than anytime since World War II.

    This season, rookie position players have accumulated 48.8 WAR, according to FanGraphs. Every hitter in baseball has a combined WAR of 386.8, meaning 12.61 percent of all offensive and defensive wins have come from rookies. Only war beget a greater

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  • Why Dave Dombrowski deserves to get paid more like a player than a typical GM

    More than catcher or shortstop or starting pitcher, the general manager is the single most vital asset in baseball, the person with the greatest ability to make and break an organization. Because they wear suits instead of uniforms and operate inside offices instead of before tens of thousands, GMs make a fraction of what their employees do, one of the rare jobs where bosses are compensated so disproportionately with those they hand-pick.

    Dave Dombrowski helped lead the Tigers to a pair of AL pennants and four straight postseason appearances. (AP)Dave Dombrowski helped lead the Tigers to a pair of AL pennants and four straight postseason appearances. (AP)If anyone can change that calculus, it is Dave Dombrowski, the first marquee free agent from the Class of 2015 to hit the market. The Detroit Tigers let Dombrowski go Tuesday afternoon, a move that divorces one of the most successful executives of his generation from the team he rescued from the doldrums and led to a pair of American League pennants and four consecutive postseason appearances.

    Detroit's success cemented Dombrowski's place in the upper echelon of executives and as the most successful of his generation. Dombrowski ran the Montreal Expos

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  • 10 Degrees: The Mets are on fire and trying to validate themselves, like so many others

    In the three most important games the Washington Nationals have played this season, all of which they lost to the surging New York Mets, they used five relief pitchers: Tanner Roark, Casey Janssen and Matt Thornton once apiece, with Felipe Rivero and Aaron Barrett twice.

    The first two games were one-run losses, both frittered away in the late innings, the kind that sting even more when considering Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon, arguably the best relief duo in the National League, spent the entire series picking splinters out of their behinds.

    Managerial malpractice is an easy thing to find when highlighting a small window of time. Ned Yost spent last August looking like he was going to bunt his way into unemployment, and for that he ended up in the World Series. Validation comes in plenty of ways, and all across baseball there are players and GMs and particularly managers looking for it. And Yost's triumph gives a sliver of hope to …

    1. Matt Williams after he bungled his way

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  • MLB trade deadline: Winners & losers

    Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline went with a whimper Friday, all the talk of three-way deals and blockbusters fizzling into the Mets acquiring Yoenis Cespedes and the San Diego Padres holding onto every one of their numerous assets. Most of the activity came in the days prior, and it kept the deadline busy enough to warrant the breathless talk about it.

    Here, then, are one-sentence summaries of every team’s deadline dealings, with a few getting an extra paragraph to encapsulate their activity.

    New York Yankees: They whiffed going after Craig Kimbrel, who would’ve made their bullpen the finest three-headed monster since Ghidorah, but are calling up Luis Severino to join the rotation, so the AL East’s first-place team just got better.
    Verdict: Good job, good effort.

    Boston Red Sox: For all of the calls they made – and though they kept quiet, they were trying to get creative – they didn’t have any impending free agents worth much and didn’t want to deal from a core in which they still

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  • With money and cutting-edge brilliance, Dodgers playing a game others can’t

    All those years when the New York Yankees were outspending everyone by $20 million and $30 million and more, this is what they should’ve done. The Los Angeles Dodgers are a monetary behemoth, beneficiaries of an $8 billion TV contract, and under president Andrew Friedman and GM Farhan Zaidi, they’re parlaying that financial advantage into a competitive one, too.

    Alex Wood is joining the Dodgers. (AP)Alex Wood is joining the Dodgers. (AP)The Yankees sashayed into free-agent meetings like fat cats, paying big dollars for big names and big splashes. They were old money acting like new money. The Dodgers positioned themselves in diametric opposition, fundamentally against larding their roster with aging players, using their cash as judiciously as the filthy rich can, exploring every creative nook and cranny possible.

    And thus came together the madcap 13-player, three-team trade that was agreed upon Thursday among the Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins. On both sides of the return for the Dodgers, they took on unwanted salary obligations and received talent

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  • Sources: Jays agree to trade for ace David Price

    David Price (Getty Images)David Price (Getty Images)The Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a trade for ace David Price on Thursday afternoon, sources with knowledge of the deal told Yahoo Sports, betting on themselves despite a .500 record and sending three left-handed pitching prospects to the Detroit Tigers, who are only 1½ games behind the Blue Jays in the standings.

    Toronto’s emergence Thursday shoved the Los Angeles Dodgers, favored to land Price, to the side and thrust the Blue Jays – who have outscored opponents by 100 runs this season but have little to show for it – back into a marquee position as they try to chase down the Yankees in the American League East.

    Pitcher Daniel Norris is the prized return for Detroit, which sought pitching depth for its organization and also will receive Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt.

    Following the shocking trade for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki earlier this week, the Blue Jays doubled down with Price, who turns 30 next month, is a free agent after the season and is likely to command one of the top pitcher

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  • Three-way deal involving Dodgers, Braves, Marlins still not completed

    A convoluted three-way deal that would reload the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting rotation, send the Atlanta Braves a Cuban hitting prospect and continue the Miami Marlins’ tradition of selling off assets was on hold going into Thursday as the teams delved into medical information of the players who would exchange hands.

    Alex Wood is one of the main pieces in a deal that's on hold. (Getty Images)Alex Wood is one of the main pieces in a deal that's on hold. (Getty Images)Starting pitchers Alex Wood and Mat Latos would go to the Dodgers under the latest incarnation of the deal, which went through multiple iterations and, depending on the result of the medical reviews, still could change, sources told Yahoo Sports late Wednesday. In addition to dealing Wood, Atlanta would send reliever Jim Johnson and prospect Jose Peraza to the Dodgers, who in addition to Latos would receive outfielder Michael Morse from the Marlins.

    In exchange for those five players, the Dodgers would send infielder Hector Olivera, whom they signed less than three months ago to a $62 million-plus deal, and minor league pitcher Zack Bird to the Braves, along with three

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  • Sources: Rangers finalizing blockbuster deal for Phillies ace Cole Hamels

    The Texas Rangers are finalizing a blockbuster trade for ace Cole Hamels that would send six players to the Philadelphia Phillies, ending their long dalliance with dealing one of the best pitchers in franchise history and fortifying the Rangers for 2016 and beyond, sources with knowledge of the situation told Yahoo Sports.

    Five prospects – catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, and pitchers Jake Thompson, Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff – along with left-hander Matt Harrison are expected to go to Philadelphia for Hamels, left-handed reliever Jake Diekman and cash, sources said.

    Because of Texas’ deep cache of prospects – the Rangers didn’t include their three most highly regarded, Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Chi-Chi Gonzalez – it emerged as a favorite for Hamels in recent weeks as Philadelphia upped its efforts to trade him. The complexity of the final deal is evident, as Philadelphia surrendered an ace and took back the $28 million

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  • Sources: Royals acquire utilityman Ben Zobrist from A’s

    Ben Zobrist can play multiple positions for the Royals. (Getty)Ben Zobrist can play multiple positions for the Royals. (Getty)The Kansas City Royals continued their uncharacteristic trade-deadline shopping spree Tuesday, acquiring utilityman Ben Zobrist from the Oakland A’s for top pitching prospect Sean Manaea and right-hander Aaron Brooks, sources familiar with the deal told Yahoo Sports.

    The deal, in which Oakland will also send more than $2 million to Kansas City, comes on the heels of the Royals’ trade for ace Johnny Cueto. After getting Zobrist and Cueto, Kansas City, long the American League laughingstock, has positioned itself as a significant AL favorite a year after a surprise run to the World Series.

    While the addition of Cueto helped fortify a rotation in need of a frontline starter, the Zobrist trade might be an even better fit for Kansas City. The 34-year-old Zobrist, who, like Cueto, is a pending free agent, has played every position except catcher. With left fielder Alex Gordon on the disabled list, Zobrist can help man the position until his return, at which point he’ll almost certainly take

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