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Volume 24 No. 156
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Franchise Notes's Greg Johns reported the Mariners "appear to be leaning toward staying within their organization" to replace outgoing President & COO Chuck Armstrong. It was reported last week that Baseball HOFer-elect Tony La Russa "is on the short list of candidates," but the Mariners "have not scheduled any interviews with outside candidates, and they won't do so if the board chooses one of the internal candidates and ends the search next week." The Mariners "have several longtime executives with impressive track records -- both with the team and around baseball" (, 1/10).

WHAT'S BREWING? Brewers President of Baseball Operations & GM Doug Melvin said of the team's payroll strategy this offseason, "We haven't increased it that much, but if the right player was there I would go to (team owner) Mark (Attanasio) and say it's the right player. When it comes to payroll, we're always guarded to make sure that we don't put ourselves in a hole or a bind that we can't get out of two years from now or three years from now. Our payroll will be in a much better position next year in that regard" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/12).

: In Toronto, Ryan Wolstat wrote rapper and Raptors Global Ambassador Drake is "out to make the Raptors a hot ticket again and is excited to be involved in the rebrand of the franchise." Drake said that he is "in weekly conversation" with GM Masai Ujiri and MLSE President & CEO Tim Leiweke. Drake: "I'm just trying to make this a better, stronger team all around. I have my hands in a lot of different areas right now." He then "played coy" when asked about a potential black-and-gold rebrand for the team, "asking the media if they liked the design" (TORONTO SUN, 1/12).

: In Buffalo, Jerry Sullivan wrote the Sabres' new front office structure is a "radical departure" from the tenure of former GM Darcy Regier, and "an overdue concession to the move toward broadened upper management in today's NHL." The Sabres now have both President of Hockey Operations Pat LaFontaine and Special Adviser to the Hockey Department Craig Patrick "to watch over" new GM Tim Murray. LaFontaine "felt the old GM model held the Sabres back." The expanded oversight "diminishes the power of what LaFontaine called 'the general manager's office,'" as LaFontaine "made it clear that Murray will answer to him" (BUFFALO NEWS, 1/12).