T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that Barry Zito and agent Scott Boras came to Dallas today to visit with Rangers owner Tom Hicks and GM Jon Daniels. Zito is fond of new manager Ron Washington.
The Cubs, also in need of a big-name starter, seem focused on Jason Schmidt currently. Rumors of their three year, $44MM offer were debunked, but Jon Heyman's sources indicate that the Cubs are indeed trying to convince Schmidt to come to Chicago.
Baseball beat writers blogging is all the rage these days, and I love it. It's great that these guys can post news the second they get it without editors and that most of them engage in lively conversation with fans in the comments.
I thought it would be cool to compile a list here of all the newspaper columnist blogs that are updated regularly. Here are a few; I will update the post with more as we come up with them.
On The Yankees Beat - by Jim Baumbach of Newsday
The LoHud Yankees Blog - by Peter Abraham of the Lower Hudson Journal News
Cleveland Plain Dealer Blog - by Paul Hoynes
Extra Bases Red Sox Blog - by various Boston Globe writers
Surfing the Mets - by Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News
Roch Around The Clock - by Roch Kubatko of the Baltimore Sun
BravesBlog - by David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Mariners Weblog - by John Hickey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
The Heater (Devil Rays) - by Marc Topkin of St. Petersburg Times
Bird Land - by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A rumor from yesterday that I neglected to mention: ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported that the Cubs have made Julio Lugo a multi-year offer.
We all know how Lou Piniella loves Lugo, and that he'd be willing to play center field now that the market for shortstops is shrinking. Today's Chicago newspapers - the Tribune, Sun-Times, Daily Herald, and Southtown - made no mention of an offer to Lugo.
Word from my Mets source is that the team is in a holding pattern until Tom Glavine makes his decision. He feels that the club will end up with either Glavine or Barry Zito and fill the other spots internally.
There is a chance Brian Bannister is traded for a solid reliever to replace Chad Bradford. Interested parties include the Rockies and Mariners. He mentioned the D'Backs as well, but their interest may have waned now that Doug Davis has been acquired.
It wouldn't be kind to ignore the Royals in my 2007 Team Outlooks.
Dayton Moore's contract obligations:
C - Jason LaRue - $2.5MM
C - John Buck - $0.38MM
1B - Ryan Shealy - $0.38MM
2B - Mark Grudzielanek - $4MM
SS - Angel Berroa - $3.25MM
3B - Mark Teahen - $0.38MM
IF - Esteban German - $0.38MM
LF - Emil Brown - $1.775MM
CF - David DeJesus - $2MM
RF - Reggie Sanders - $5MM
OF - Joey Gathright - $0.38MM
DH - Mike Sweeney - $11MM
SP - Odalis Perez - $1.7MM
SP - Luke Hudson - $0.38MM
SP - Jorge de la Rosa - $0.38MM
SP - Runelvys Hernandez - $1.225MM
SP - Zack Greinke - $0.38MM
RP - Jimmy Gobble - $0.38MM
RP - Ambiorix Burgos - $0.38MM
RP - Todd Wellemeyer - $0.38MM
RP - Andy Sisco - $0.38MM
RP - Joel Peralta - $0.38MM
RP - Joe Nelson - $0.38MM
RP - Ryan Braun - $0.38MM
RP - Ken Ray - $0.38MM
RP - Brandon Duckworth - $0.38MM
SP - Scott Elarton - $4MM (recovering from August shoulder surgery, targeting June 1 return)
RP - Elmer Dessens - $1.7MM
I know I've listed 26 active players here, but I'm not sure which reliever isn't a part of the 2007 Royals. The team is going to take payroll to the $50-55MM range, a franchise record. They've got about $38.5MM tied up, but Brown, Hernandez, Gobble, Duckworth, and Wellemeyer are all eligible for arbitration. I'll ballpark it at $15MM left to spend this winter.
This outlook reflects the current state of the roster, as if the season started tomorrow. Here's what could happen between now and Opening Day to change the picture:
- Moore finds a decent offer for Emil Brown at the winter meetings, freeing up left field for Mark Teahen.
- Alex Gordon is starting at third by May and is the team's best hitter.
- Injuries to Sweeney, Sanders, or both opens up playing time for German, Shane Costa, or even Billy Butler.
- At the very least, the Royals acquire one Tier 2 starter, perhaps pushing Hernandez to the pen.
- A veteran reliever is acquired, and a couple of the guys I've listed go to Omaha.
I just had to get that out of the way before jumping into a closer analysis.
The Royals aren't paying much for LaRue, so hopefully they spin him into something decent before the trading deadline and turn back to Buck. Why wouldn't a team like this just stick with Buck?
The right side of the infield is pretty well set, and not too shabby. Berroa is just awful at short, but it would take a sly trade by Moore to find a replacement. Teahen is said to be the team's third baseman at present, even with super prospect Alex Gordon nearly ready to launch. One of the two will shift to an outfield corner this spring once Moore figures out how to unload one of Brown/Sanders. Brown is obviously more marketable.
German probably fills the Chone Figgins role. The outfield is pretty much in a complete state of flux, as any success by Gathright would push DeJesus to left permanently. Teahen could play right with Butler as the DH of the future. That'll be fun, but Gathright could flop plus the Royals are still stuck with Sanders, Sweeney, and Brown at the moment.
The first three spots in the rotation appear penciled in as Perez-Hudson-de la Rosa. De la Rosa is nobody's idea of a #3, but hey, why not give him a good ten starts and a little security to work with. Everyone would love Greinke to succeed and to start, but we'll just have to wait and see. Elarton won't return until June at the earliest. Hernandez made more starts in '06 than any current Royal, but he posted a 6.48 ERA. He probably gets the boot once Moore brings in a free agent.
Those targets include Gil Meche, Miguel Batista, and former Royals Jeff Suppan and Mark Redman. My money is on Batista unless Brown can bring in a comparable guy.
The bullpen will obviously not consist of all nine guys listed. Nelson, Ray, Wellemeyer, Gobble, and Peralta are probably in. One veteran Joe Borowski type will be imported as well. The Denver Post reports that Octavio Dotel has received offers from three teams to close games; the Royals are one team in a position to make that offer.
With Moore in charge, Royals fans are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Shealy, Teahen, DeJesus, Gordon, and Butler make for a strong, affordable offensive core. Moore will continue hoarding young pitchers; hopefully top pick Luke Hochevar's shoulder strain last month in the AFL was nothing serious. For 2007, it would be ideal if vets like Brown, Sanders, LaRue, and Sweeney stay healthy and relatively productive to allow Moore to get some starting pitching back.
Many of you have emailed me with the news that the Red Sox have signed a LOOGY, 30 year-old Hideki Okajima from Japan. It is a two-year deal with an option for 2009. The Boston Herald says that while he does not throw hard, his curve is nasty.
Looks like he'll rack up plenty of Ks and will be a good weapon against guys like Jason Giambi, Robinson Cano, Lyle Overbay, Johnny Damon, and Nick Markakis.
The New York Daily News reports that Brian Cashman has spoken to the agent for Craig Wilson, as Wilson remains an option to play first base for the Yankees. Talks will continue during the winter meetings. Beyond that, Cashman can go for Phil Nevin or Shea Hillenbrand via free agency. He could also make a trade or get creative by chasing someone like Ray Durham, as Buster Olney suggests. The New York Times suggests Eduardo Perez as a lesser option that is being considered.
According to the New York Times, the Yankees have interest in starters Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Gil Meche, and Ted Lilly. The first two are long shots, though Cashman has spoken to their agent. One more name: Dan Graziano mentions that the Yanks have had conversations with Vicente Padilla.
Cashman isn't wining and dining Meche the way the Blue Jays are and the Yanks don't seem thrilled with the going rate for Tier 2 guys. That's why Scott Proctor is still projected as a starter for 2007.
Meanwhile, Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe has a full update. He expects that Manny is going to want more money whether via his options exercised or just a contract extension. Theo Epstein is mum, but Edes says that the Sox have not spoken to the Dodgers on the topic. Edes mentions that the Padres are interested.
Murray Chass at the New York Times brings up the Mets, Giants, Padres, Rangers, Phillies, and Orioles as the suitors, naming Baltimore as a good fit. He says that last year the Orioles tried getting Jon Papelbon in a Manny deal and couldn't pull it off.
Finally, from Buster Olney this morning in his blog:
"Heard that the Red Sox are kicking around specific names in their trade talks for Manny Ramirez, and that they feel they are going to get a good deal for Ramirez -- if a deal is completed. To reiterate: If the Dodgers decide they want Ramirez, they will almost certainly get him because they have the most to offer."
For those of you interested in fantasy baseball, I run another website called RotoAuthority.com. Check it out!
Today I projected the 2007 performance of new Diamondback starter Doug Davis. This projection is an example of what you'll find in my 2007 RotoAuthority Fantasy Baseball Guide. I spent many hours on these last year and am currently about 1/3 done with the '07 version. Customers were very happy with the $9.99 product and I hope you'll check it out when it becomes available sometime around January.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Blue Jays signed Royce Clayton today to be their starting shortstop, at a price of $1.5MM.
As Rosenthal suggests, Clayton's main skill, defense, has been deteriorating. He isn't much range-wise and probably shouldn't be starting for anyone. At least when the Red Sox went with Alex Gonzalez last year, he truly was saving runs with glovework.
While I don't love the signing, the Blue Jays will still field a fine club in 2007 once they add some starting pitching.