February 2007

Kinsler Next Up For Rangers

With Michael Young nearly locked up long-term, the Rangers are now trying to lock up his double-play partner Ian Kinsler.  Kinsler would be arbitration-eligible after the ’08 season.  It’s a Ranger tradition, the multiyear contract to avoid arbitration.

The outlook is good for Kinsler entering his age 25 season.  He hit .286/.347/.454 as a rookie in 120 games.  He spent a quarter of the season on the DL with a dislocated thumb but is ready to go this spring.  The Rangers will bat him second, ninth, and occasionally leadoffKinsler’s PECOTA calls for a jump to .285/.345/.475 this year.

RotoAuthority Partners With Mock Draft Central

I’m happy to announce that RotoAuthority has partnered with Mock Draft Central to provide Average Draft Position data for my 2007 RotoAuthority Fantasy Guide.

We’re providing Average Position Data from the past week for the top 300 players.  It’s very helpful to use this ADP data to compare where players are being drafted and where RotoAuthority ranks them to find value picks.

Mock Draft Central is unbeatable for such data as well as holding, you guessed it, mock fantasy baseball drafts.  The truly dedicated geek likes to practice before draft day.  I highly recommend the site as part of your preparation.

As for my Guide, I just sent out my sixth update (every Sunday night) to subscribers.  This is far better than any magazine, which is stale by the time it hits the newsstand.  All for $9.99.   

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No Boston For Mariano Rivera In ’08

Mariano Rivera, asked whether he could cross enemy lines and join the Red Sox as a free agent in 2008, said, "I don’t think I could do it."  So we can almost officially cross Boston off the list.  Which other clubs might be ready to woo him after this season?

I think the Giants, Rangers, Cubs, and Phillies should be top contenders.  Those are the teams I can see having the need and willingness for an $11-12MM a year closer.  Of course, the Yankees have to be considered the favorite.   

Rangers Close To Michael Young Extension

According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, the Rangers are making progress on a long-term deal with shortstop Michael Young and may have something completed this week.  Young is already under contract through ’08; the extension would run through 2013, buying out five years of free agency.

The model for the contract is Chase Utley‘s deal, where each potential year of free agency was worth $15MM.  Baseball Prospectus’s valuations only run through 2011, but indicate that the Rangers will come out just fine. 

Young will be locked in as the face of the franchise through age 36.  Mark Teixeira, on the other hand, will become a free agent after 2008 and is represented by Scott Boras.  The Mets could be a suitor, but the Rangers will discuss an extension with him first.

Rockies Sign Steve Finley

The Rockies signed center fielder Steve Finley to a minor league contract today.  He’ll serve as Willy Taveras‘s backup.  The soon-to-be 42 year-old didn’t do anything with the bat last year but still got 426 ABs for the Giants.

PECOTA sees him hitting .245/.318/.378 in 186 plate appearances, while ZiPS sees .227/.291/.335.  Finley’s range in center is obviously diminished, but if he can outhit the PECOTA a little bit he’ll be a fine backup.

Linebrink Trade Possibility Lingers

Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune provides his take on the Padres’ best trade bait, 30 year-old setup man Scott Linebrink.  Krasovic points out a Kevin Towers pre-spring quote that makes a deal sound unlikely.  Still, if some other relievers prove worthy, it could happen.

If the Padres were to acquire a second center fielder in Aaron Rowand, they’d use him or Mike Cameron in right field and shift the aging Brian Giles to left.  It could make for a fine outfield defense, much like when Cameron played right for the Mets in ’05.  Krasovic mentions that Cameron’s agent is currently in discussions about a contract extension, as he’s set to enter free agency after the season.

The Red Sox and Phillies may try to trade for Linebrink, and the Mets were close to a deal for him last year.  He was also almost sent to Atlanta for Wilson Betemit last year, but doesn’t need to worry about that possibility anymore.

Angels Rumors

A couple of minor trade/signing tidbits surfaced today courtesy of Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

DiGiovanna mentions in a reader Q&A that he asked Bill Stoneman whether the team would have interest in Bernie Williams, and Stoneman said he preferred to go with younger players.  Whoever wins the fourth outfielder job in L.A. (Erick Aybar?) should manage a decent amount of at-bats.  Garret Anderson, Gary Matthews Jr., Vladimir Guerrero, and Juan Rivera isn’t the healthiest bunch.  Guerrero and Anderson did avoid the DL last year though.

The Q&A also mentions the idea of sending Reggie Willits to Florida for young pitching.  That idea has been around for a while; I wonder if the two clubs have had discussions about him.  Center field remains a glaring weakness for Florida.

Also, while not much of a story, Nick Adenhart didn’t seem to mind being mentioned in last summer’s Miguel Tejada trade rumors.  The team’s top pitching prospect grew up an Orioles fan in Maryland.  Though he’s yet to pitch above A ball, Adenhart might be able to post a sub-5 ERA in the bigs right now.

Spring Training Cliches

Over at RotoAuthority (with a ton of help from readers) I’ve compiled a long list of Spring Training Cliches.  You know, those former skinny guys who put on 40 lbs. of muscle or the lousy pitcher who just perfected a new split-finger knuckle changeup slurve.  So far my categories are Got Into Better Shape, Working On a New Pitch, Better Vision, and Going To Run More.  You’ll be surprised by all the improvements players have supposedly made this spring to take their game to the next level.

Got any that we’ve missed?  Leave a comment on that RotoAuthority thread and I’ll update the post.  It’ll be fun to look back after the season to see if yoga really worked for Mike Sweeney.

Additionally, I’m giving away five free copies of my 2007 RotoAuthority Fantasy Guide tomorrow.  All you have to do to be eligible is sign up for the daily mailing list found on the lefthand sidebar of RotoAuthority.  The only email you’ll get is one linking to the latest posts.   

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Jon Heyman’s Latest

Jon Heyman has a new Daily Scoop up over at SI.com.  Much of it is informed speculation, but it makes for an interesting read.  The highlights:

Heyman believes that Manny Ramirez‘s recent antics could spark trade talks once again.  He names the Rockies, Dodgers, Angels, Giants, and Mariners as teams that have had past interest.  Heyman thinks the Red Sox and Rockies could re-engage talks regarding a Manny for Todd Helton trade.  The main issue, of course, would be money.

Heyman also thinks the Cubs will lock Carlos Zambrano up to a five-year deal worth $80-85MM.  I think that is the general feeling in Chicago as well.  Cubs fans are not panicking about losing their ace, yet.  Right now is a time for the typical unmatched Cubs fan optimism.  Prior’s throwing baseballs instead of towels and Wood actually pitched off a mound.

Apparently Billy Beane was asking for three top prospects for Dan Haren or Rich Harden.  He wanted three of Lastings Milledge, Mike Pelfrey, Philip Humber, Carlos Gomez, and Fernando Martinez.  Two of ’em plus Aaron Heilman seems more reasonable, if the return is Haren.  I can’t shake the feeling that Harden is going to need Tommy John surgery within the next year or two.

The Red Sox could still give Curt Schilling a contract extension before the season starts if he looks good in spring games.

The Padres could cut Todd Walker, stomaching a $650K fee given the utility man’s arbitration win. 

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Gyro Mania

In the course of a couple of days, we’ve entered full-blown gyroball mania.  The pitch’s creator, Kazushi Tezuka, is on a spring training tour.  There are a lot of different takes on this pitch; let’s survey the field.

CubDumb believes that in the course of baseball history, many pitchers have already experimented with this type of pitch.

Yesterday, I linked to this Jeff Passan article.  Passan straightens things out by talking to Tezuka and throwing the pitch himself.  He also shows video of it to Barry Bonds.

Will Carroll teaches some variation of the pitch, which he says is quite different than the one taught to Passan.  He can teach his in 10 minutes.

Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson also talked to Tezuka and hopes to add it to his arsenal.  Crazy lefty.  It’s possible some other Ranger pitchers will pick it up too.

Bottom line is that the pitch appears to be a telegraphed changeup, which doesn’t seem terribly useful.

ESPN writer Patrick Hruby has been researching the pitch for months, and in the end seemed let down.

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