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The always-interesting Ken Rosenthal has another column up, chock full of rumory goodness. The man knows how to work the phones like no other. Some highlights:
- Rosenthal considers the possibility that Curt Schilling could be the easy choice for the best available free agent starter after this season, with John Smoltz off the board. Even if Carlos Zambrano is out there, Schill would be a better option for teams looking to go short-term. Rosenthal says the Red Sox could revisit extension talks, even though it seemed just a month ago that Schilling was certain to hit the open market. One year and $13MM still looks pretty solid for the Sox.
- The Orioles may make an offer to Alex Rodriguez, should he opt out of his contract at year’s end. It’s admittedly a longshot, though the O’s did win the bidding for Miguel Tejada back in December of ’03. If not A-Rod, then the Orioles will chase a "premium center fielder." Translation: Ichiro, Andruw, or Torii. Seems unlikely that Corey Patterson, a Scott Boras client, returns to Baltimore in 2008.
- Rosenthal feels that the Tigers are "almost certain" to exercise Ivan Rodriguez‘s $13MM option for 2008. I agree with that one, especially given the $3MM buyout price. If the best available catchers are indeed Michael Barrett and Paul Lo Duca, Barrett has the clear advantage. The Cubs don’t have any catchers in the pipeline (most teams don’t) so I can’t see why they wouldn’t just give him what he wants. Most likely the Cubs would get a discount.
Tim Lincecum is doing everything he can to prove he’s ready for the Majors – he posted a 14K, zero walk effort yesterday. His stats are off the charts after five starts.
Whether or not there’s an open spot in the Giants’ rotation, it’s clear that Lincecum is one of their 12 best pitchers. He needs to be helping the big club right now, though I believe waiting until June to promote him could delay his free agency by a year.
The Giants’ rotation consists of Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Matt Morris, Noah Lowry, and Russ Ortiz. All have ERAs at 4.50 or below, so it’d be tough to replace one of them with Lincecum right now. Zito and Cain aren’t going anywhere, and Ortiz looks like a possible decent bargain as a fifth starter/innings eater.
The two trade candidates in my eyes are Lowry and Morris. Lowry, a 26 year-old southpaw, still hasn’t rediscovered his strikeout rate from ’05. He’s young enough to find it, but a sub-4 ERA isn’t in the cards unless he does. Morris, 32, has a 3.34 ERA in five starts and some say he’s returned to form. The numbers don’t lie, though – more walks than strikeouts, plenty of hits. He’s going to make $20MM over 2007-08. He’s the one to sell high if at all possible.
Even with Bonds in the lineup, the Giants can’t get on base to save their lives. Some players are just slumping, but there’s plenty of room for upgrade at first, third, and right field. Morris or Lowry might be able to bring in a decent bat to complement Bonds.
More likely, of course: the Giants just stand pat and wait to see if one of the starters really flounders or gets hurt. After another dominant start or two they could bring Lincecum up to get his feet wet in the pen, a la Francisco Liriano. But whatever the route, this kid needs to be starting for the Giants by June.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Marlins will probably only listen to offers for starter Dontrelle Willis if they fall out of the race by the July 31st trading deadline. He also adds the interesting fact that a new ballpark for the Marlins could actually encourage them to trade Willis. At least then a public backlash wouldn’t affect a stadium deal.
Both Willis and Miguel Cabrera figure to earn over $10MM next year, and Rosenthal says no Marlin is untouchable. The idea of trading Dontrelle first surfaced about a year ago; I would imagine the Fish have received some decent offers since then. Willis has proven to be quite durable in his four seasons; Larry Beinfest has the luxury of waiting back another year in case he gets that offer he can’t refuse from a desperate team.
According to Baseball Digest Daily, the A’s acquired outfielder Ryan Langerhans from the Braves for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Given the recent trade for Chris Denorfia, the A’s will have decent outfield depth in 2008. Perhaps this means they won’t be re-signing Milton Bradley.
Langerhans, 27, was off to a 2 for 41 start this year. The trade should leave Matt Diaz and Craig Wilson with some extra playing time for Atlanta. It could also make Scott Thorman a full-timer.
Langerhans posted an excellent 13.7% walk rate last year, but he’s still well below average offensively for a left fielder. His defense is his main asset. The Indians had expressed interest in Langerhans in the past.
Kosume Fukudome is a 30 year-old outfielder currently playing for the Chunichi Dragons. Mike Plugh praises his doubles power and has described him as an on-base machine with a rifle arm on defense. He may compare to Hideki Matsui in some ways. Should Fukudome come over to the Majors after this season, it won’t involve the posting process. He’ll be a free agent.
According to injury guru and occasional rumormonger Will Carroll (subscription required), the Red Sox already have their eye on Fukudome. Carroll doesn’t expect the Sox to acquire a long-term outfielder like Rocco Baldelli this summer because of their interest in Fukudome.
I will have to find out if Fukudome could play a credible center field or return to third base. Otherwise, such a signing would only seem to make sense for Boston if they moved Manny Ramirez. They don’t seem likely to try J.D. Drew as the regular CF.
As one might expect, teams around baseball are calling Jim Hendry about Carlos Zambrano‘s availability. Ken Davidoff writes that he would have a long list of suitors, likely including the Yankees and Mets.
After spending all that money this offseason, the Cubs would probably not make a Zambrano trade that would significantly weaken them this year. That means they’d need a young MLB-ready starter in return, perhaps akin to when the Astros got Jason Hirsh for Jason Jennings.
Couple of clubs that could pull this off, in my opinion, are the Twins and Angels. The Twins could part with a Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey, or Glen Perkins. The Angels could surrender Nick Adenhart. The Tribe could give up Adam Miller. Those guys might still have some growing pains to endure in the AL, but a move to the NL Central could make them instant contributors. That would save some face for the Cubs. I could also see the Mets parting with Mike Pelfrey, though he hasn’t appeared quite ready for The Show. If Jason Schmidt flops, maybe the Dodgers would deal Chad Billingsley for a new ace.
I know, I know – your team’s best pitching prospect isn’t going anywhere for a rental. It’s not very common these days. Barry Zito played out the string with Oakland, and I could see the other Z doing the same with Chicago. But I do believe the Cubs would look for a near MLB-ready starter in return in any deal this summer. I don’t see much of a match for the Yanks.
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The big story in baseball today, though not a trade rumor, is that manager Joe Torre could be fired if the Red Sox complete a sweep of the Yankees this weekend.
One can question some of Torre’s behavior through the year, as with most managers. But to fire him in April is just silly and reactive. Typical theatrics. The Yankees’ 5.94 starter ERA is the second worst in the league. Torre didn’t cause this. Torre didn’t sign Kei Igawa, and he probably didn’t decide to give Chase Wright two starts instead of Phil Hughes. He didn’t cause the injury to Mike Mussina, and it’s not his fault the Yanks were left with Carl Pavano as the Opening Day starter.
The Kei Igawa contract was pretty dumb from the start, and Phil Hughes should’ve broken camp with the team. I would’ve given him a taste of the bigs last September. But as for Mussina and Wang having three starts between them instead of eight or nine, that’s just bad luck. True, the Yankees didn’t have a ton of starting pitching depth to cover it. The Angels and A’s did have that kind of depth, and it served them well so far. That, again, is on Brian Cashman.
According to Reds beat writer John Fay, the Athletics have acquired 26 year-old outfielder Chris Denorfia from the Reds for two players to be named later and cash. Denorfia is out for the season due to Tommy John surgery.
One might think 25 year-old Rule 5 power reliever Jared Burton would be involved in the deal, but that is not the case. Fay asked Wayne Krivsky specifically about that. Just playing matchmaker, but maybe one of the two players is starter Brad Halsey? He certainly wants out, and he’s had moderate success in the NL before. Fay also mentioned that the A’s have been interested in Denorfia since spring training and that another trade might be in the cards.
As for Denorfia, he doesn’t have any real weaknesses, but no overwhelming strengths either. (According to Baseball America). He could play center field for the A’s next year, or serve as a fine fourth outfielder. The results have been there – Denorfia hit .349/.409/.484 in Triple A last year. That translates to above average offense for a CF in the Majors.