The Orioles made a rare smart move last year in stealing Corey Patterson from the Cubs for a 1990 Jerome Walton Starting Lineup figure.
Patterson was insanely bad in 2005, but regained his power stroke last year. He hit less grounders and more line drives to get his batting average back up to a respectable level. Combined with good defense and a spot towards the bottom of the order, he's an asset. It's been a while since he hit left-handed pitchers, but he did post a decent line against them in 2003-04.
Patterson is a Scott Boras client. While the O's are interested retaining his services, they'll address it after the season. Is this the right course? Tough to say. If the Orioles wait back and Patterson posts another tolerable batting line with a gaudy steals total and some flashy D, Boras will price him out of their range. If they somehow convince Patterson to sign now, they run the risk that 2006 was a fluke.
Patterson will turn 28 in August; his youth is only matched by two other 2008 free agents - Adam Dunn and Carlos Zambrano. There seems to be a surplus of free agent center fielders next offseason. Perhaps Boras would convince Patterson to wait back and sign a one-year deal in February if he doesn't get that huge Gary Matthews Jr. offer.
Williams has been around the block - the Orioles are his ninth organization. He doesn't miss bats at all, but he can come in and get you a groundball in a pinch. He's making $775K, and would likely see a diminshed role in 2007 with all the relievers the O's imported.
The Mets' need was brought about by the discovery that Duaner Sanchez will likely miss most of the season. The bullpen was supposed to be a strength; the expectation was that it could compensate if the back of the rotation is lackluster.
Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times says the Cubs spoke with Carlos Zambrano's agent yesterday, and they'll talk more this week regarding a contract extension. Wittenmyer expects the five-year deal to include the $12.4MM he's making this year and come in around $75-85MM total.
Pure speculation, but Buster Olney believes the Cubs could announce a Zambrano extension on Opening Day (Monday) to create some positive vibes to start the season. Olney is thinking five years, $85MM - the top end of Wittenmyer's range.
At this point, it seems highly unlikely that no agreement is reached by Opening Day. Sorry, Mets fans.
When it comes to making baseball personnel decisions, there are deadlines after deadlines. Today at 2 P.M., teams must decide about players to ask waivers to release or outright waivers. The speculation in Philadelphia is that this could make some players available for trade that had been unavailable earlier.
One such player is RHP Francisco Rosario of the Blue Jays. He's out of options, has had a decent spring training, and yesterday, the Phillies had a radar gun pointed in his direction.
Somewhere, Dayton Moore is praying that the Orioles take Reggie Sanders off his hands. Sanders, now 39, was signed in December of 2005 for two years and $10 million. He's one of a handful of Allard Baird mistakes still residing on the Royals' roster.
I imagine Moore has struggled to find a team willing to take Sanders and most of the $5MM he's owed. What team would want to do that?
Enter the Orioles. Baltimore wants a right-handed bat and the Royals just want a reliever with his arm attached. The two sides are talking, so maybe Moore can unload Sanders before the season begins. Bob Dutton adds that the sticking point is how much of Sanders's salary the Royals would consume.
Philadelphia's Daily News speculated this morning that a new possibility may emerge for bullpen help for the Phillies:
Veteran righthander Rudy Seanez might be an option if the Dodgers make him available. The Dodgers are planning to keep only 11 pitchers on their roster, and Seanez, despite his 1.93 ERA in 9 1/3 innings this spring, might be the odd man out.
Seanez is in a way the classic veteran reliever available for trade. In his upper thirties? Check. ERA fluctuates from year to year? Check. More recent down years than up? Sigh. Check.
One has to believe that the Phillies can do better than this if they are patient enough. There are 29 other teams in the league who are just one bad elbow away from needing Jon Lieber.
So far this spring, Turnbow has walked four in 8.6 innings. Not much can be said from that sample. While his strikeout rate was a career high last year, Turnbow was lousy by every other metric. The Brewers have him signed for $5.5MM for 2007-08.
Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pondered whether the Crew's recent Elmer Dessens acquisition could open the door for a Turnbow trade. While teams have scouted Turnbow (the Red Sox recently), GM Doug Melvin said he would not trade him.
With Francisco Cordero a candidate to leave as a free agent after this year, perhaps the Brewers are still holding out hope that Turnbow can be their ninth inning guy.
Normally I wouldn't link to something like this, but it doesn't appear that this site is designed to make money.
There's a movement to commit to unconditional support of Alex Rodriguez this year, with the interest of the Yankees in mind. It's called Project A13. It makes sense to me - booing certainly has not been shown to motivate A-Rod. Cheering him no matter what can only help.
Of course, you can't really convince all Yankees fans to adhere to it.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that Mark Buehrle, Jermaine Dye, and Tadahito Iguchi can all become free agents after 2008. He knows that Buehrle, at least, has not negotiated with the Sox about an extension. It seems unlikely Dye or Iguchi have either. Juan Uribe could be cut loose as well; the team has a $5MM option on him.
The interesting thing about the 2008 Sox is that they can't go completely young. Jim Thome will make $14MM. Konerko will make $12MM. Vazquez, $11.5MM. Garland, $12MM. Contreras, $10MM. Pierzynski, $5.5MM. Crede, at least $6MM and probably more. That's a good $70-75MM locked up with seven players. I don't anticipate a fire sale.
Unless Kenny Williams makes another brilliant signing reminiscent of Dye, he'll have three below average offensive outfielders. Perhaps he would make a big splash with Adam Dunn, Barry Bonds, Torii Hunter, or even Ichiro.
I'm actually not concerned for their rotation. I think they've got solid depth for '08.
UPDATE: Reader Mark S. writes in with a couple of good points I missed:
Remember, half of Thome's salary is still being paid by Philadelphia, so while he may be owed $14 million, I believe the White Sox are only paying $8 million of it.
Interesting how you didn't mention any possibility of setting themselves up for signing ARod, next season, which has been mentioned by Scott Miller of cbssportsline.
Ah, Big Z, always good for a quote. SI.com's John Donovan got Carlos Zambrano talking yesterday and has an interesting column up.
Donovan describes a fan yelling "See you next year with the Yankees" to Zambrano, to which he pointed and smiled. Later asked about the Yankees, Zambrano said he didn't see it because they have "too many rules." He seems to want to remain in the NL because of his love for hitting, and mentioned the Mets. Of course, for the right price, I'm sure the Yankees could lure him to the AL. Maybe they'd let him pinch-hit once in a while. Also, Paul Sullivan's source said Zambrano wouldn't mind playing for Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox after this year.
Zambrano's next pact could approach a $16MM AAV. Donovan seems to believe he'd exceed seven years on the open market, though the Cubs and Zambrano are set at five seasons. It's unclear whether those five seasons would include 2007.
Donovan writes that the Cubs and Zambrano are making progress on a deal for five years worth around $75-78MM. And last Sunday, BP's John Perrotto said to look for Z to sign a deal in the $80-90MM range this week.
I think the Cubs will retain their ace; they've got about six days left to hammer it out. Jay Mariotti feels that a lack of a Zambrano contract would be a counterproductive distraction, yet that Zambrano would win a Cy Young. I see.