April 2007

Call Him Stay-Rod

Just wanted to get in on the fun of using Stay-Rod in a headline.  If Mark Feinsand and George King can both use it, then so can I.  But now would be a good time to monopolize and trademark some future plays on Rodriguez’s nickname:

Gray-Rod (if his next contract extends him into his 40s)
Whey-Rod (if he is photographed sitting on a tuffet of some kind)
Betray-Rod (if he signs with Boston)
Delay-Rod (if he encounters J.D. Drew-like delays in completing his contract)

I really think Betray-Rod could get some back page mileage one day.

A-Rod Wants To Stay

Said Alex Rodriguez today:

"I want to stay in New York, no matter what."

It’s amazing what this one historic month has done for Rodriguez.  As recently as March, Brian Cashman said an extension was not in the cards.  Is that still the case?  Would Scott Boras’s highest profile client really just ignore his out clause following perhaps an MVP season?

As you know, Rodriguez has three years and $81MM left on his deal after the 2007 season.  Texas is picking up $33MM of that tab, as far as I can tell after looking at the contract details.

According to PECOTA, the Yankees would be getting Rodriguez for $11.6MM less than he’s worth over the 2008-10 seasons.  I can see Cashman changing his tune and adding another two years to the contract in exchange for elimination of all the out clauses.  But if Rodriguez demands an additional $50MM+ for the 2011-12 seasons, all paid by New York, that might be too much.

By the way, expect no less than five articles tomorrow morning based on the above A-Rod quote.


Chad Cordero Struggling

As Mark Zuckerman writes, Chad Cordero‘s slow start to the 2007 season isn’t doing much for his trade value.  In the early going, Washington’s closer has started relying more on his mediocre breaking pitches.  He was concerned that hitters would sit on his fastball.  Now he’s falling behind to most hitters.  Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post gives his take here.

Home runs were a major issue for Cordero last year; he’s on the same path this season with three allowed in 9.1 innings.  His normally solid control has been lousy, and he’s given up more hits than a pitching machine.

Keith Law’s scouting report in March warned of this (subscription required):

"American League teams looking at Chad Cordero as a closer solution might want to pause before meeting the high price Washington is asking for him. Cordero was throwing between 87 and 89 on Friday, and while he has a solid breaking ball, he works too often in the upper half of the zone — giving up 13 homers last year in a tough home-run park — and is just a tiny slip in command away from being a back-end reliever."

The old adage about trading a guy a year too early might apply here…will Cordero ever bounce back and have another 30 save season?  He’s up to $4.15MM now and reaches free agency after the 2009 season.  Even if he’s slipping, Cordero could probably help the Phillies, Reds, or Giants.

Brad Halsey Wants Out

In case you missed it, A’s pitcher Brad Halsey was less than amused when the team chose to go with Dallas Braden for Tuesday’s start.  Halsey believed that the A’s found out about his scheduled MRI, which would have come after the start.  He felt that the team chose not to promote him because they don’t want to pay him Major League DL money if he starts Tuesday and turns up injured shortly thereafter. 

Additionally, Halsey is probably still annoyed about receiving a $1,000 fine in ’04 for throwing a high and tight one to Dave Roberts, nearly inciting a Red Sox-Yankees brawl.  He should at least get to plunk the guy on the back if it’s going to cost him a grand.

Don’t we have to consider the possibility that Billy Beane just wanted to see a screwball live?  I know that would factor into my decision.  Dallas Braden doesn’t throw hard, but rather relies on deception and the old scroogie.  Let’s just hope his arm doesn’t snap off throwing that thing.

Halsey is a hittable, low strikeout southpaw with four unexceptional pitches.  He was last traded for a pretty decent pitcher in Juan Cruz. Because of his fifth-starter type success with the D’Backs in ’05, I imagine Beane can find an NL suitor.  I guess his new team is going to have to administer the MRI.

Halsey’s complaint may speak to a bigger issue regarding the A’s medical care. Check out the Athletics Nation take on that here.

Padres, Phillies Could Revisit Linebrink Talks

Ken Rosenthal was a guest on 610 WIP’s morning show and reiterated that Scott Linebrink was now probably available for a trade.  While Rosenthal said a few days ago that Kevin Towers would like to find the Padres center fielder of the future, this morning he said that the Pods are interested in a left fielder that can hit a bit.  In addition, he mentioned that the Phillies and Padres may revisit the Aaron Rowand/Linebrink talks of the early spring.

The Phillies outfield corps has several redundancies at this point.  Pat Burrell provides power in left, but Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino and Aaron Rowand are all light-hitting center fielders.  If the Padres are interested in a centerfielder for the future and would prefer to do it on the cheap, perhaps the Phillies are should be willing to part with Bourn or Victorino instead of Rowand.

At this point, with Matt Smith floundering, a big need for the Phillies is a left-handed reliever.  But still, Linebrink would look awfully nice in red pinstripes.

Tom Goyne is the author of Balls, Sticks, & Stuff, a Phillies-centric site, and maintains the Phloggers’ Pheeds page, a source for the latest commentary from around the "phlogosphere".

2008 Club Options

Instead of rehashing the usual Jacque Jones/Jose Capellan trade rumors, let’s take a stab at predicting whether teams will exercise their 2008 options.

Ivan Rodriguez – $13MM with $3MM buyout.  Pudge will be 36 in 2008, but his defensive value and continued pop seem to justify the $10MM difference.  Exercised.

Adam Dunn – $13MM.  What team wouldn’t sign Dunn to a one-year, $13MM contract for his age 28 season?  There’s a chance the Reds will cut ties – maybe 25%.  It might be that they talk a big game, complain about his strikeouts, but ultimately exercise it.  The Cardinals took this route with Jim Edmonds last year.  Even if Wayne Krivsky exercises it and then shops Dunn, it’d be better than just letting him walk to save the money.  Exercised.

Marcus Giles – $4MM.  I know, it’s just 75 ABs.  But Giles looks rejuvenated as a Padre, hitting .347/.386/.493.  At this price Kevin Towers can’t go wrong.  Exercised

Juan Uribe – $5MM.  Uribe is doing his usual thing, hitting for power with no plate discipline.  Combined with good defense at a premium position, this is worth the price.  The White Sox don’t have any viable alternatives.  Exercised

Cesar Izturis – $5.45MM.  Lou Piniella doesn’t seem very tolerant of Izturis’s anemic bat, opting to get Ronny Cedeno‘s anemic bat in the lineup in recent days.  It would be a feather in Jim Hendry’s cap if Izturis cemented himself as the Cubs’ shortstop, as he was the return in the Greg Maddux trade.  But I think the Cubs will look for something better at short, and at least entertain Alex RodriguezDeclined.      

Geoff Jenkins – $9MM.  If Jenkins continues to sit against lefties, he can put up his best rate stats in a while.  But I don’t see the Brewers volunteering for another season with a $9MM platoon player.  Declined

Bobby Abreu – $16MM.  He’s off to a nice start, but has just two extra-base hits.  This option is going to be a tough call.  If Abreu scores 140 runs or something, can Cashman really cut him loose?  On the other hand, are the Yankees going to be paying $16MM for another Brian Giles next year?  It could go either way, but I’ll say Declined

Jose Guillen – $9MM.  Too early to tell, but that’s the fun of this exercise.  One certainty is that Jim Bowden is glad he didn’t give Guillen that five year, $50MM deal he wanted.  Since we haven’t seen signs of life from Guillen since 2005, I’ll go with Declined.

Shawn Green – $10MM.  No chance the Mets want him around in ’08 at that price.  Declined.

Randy Wolf – $9MM.  Yes, Wolf’s contract was a huge bargain, but it was more a hometown discount than a brilliant move by Ned Colletti.  Any GM would’ve taken him at that price.  Wolf doesn’t need to maintain his 3.38 ERA to justify the option; he just needs to toss 200 innings with an ERA in the low 4s.  Exercised

Paul Byrd – $8MM.  This should be an easy one for Mark Shapiro, as he’s got plenty of cheap pitching talent in the pipeline.  Even with the price of pitching as it is, a 37 year-old Byrd isn’t worth it.  Declined.   

Kris Benson – $7.5MM.  With another year of mediocrity, Benson might’ve gotten this exercised.  However, rotator cuff surgery makes this an easy decision.  Declined.

Odalis Perez – $9MM.  Dayton Moore got a half-price deal on Perez, as the Dodgers are picking up some of the tab.  It was a reasonable gamble, and hopefully he can spin Odalis for something this summer.  No team is picking up that option though.  Declined.

Jason Isringhausen – $8MM.  Assuming Izzy stays healthy, the Cards will be happy to pick this one up.  So far, so good in the early going.  Quite a recovery for a guy thought to be finished last August.  Exercised.

Your turn – where do you disagree?  Abreu, Dunn?

No Deal For Zambrano?

Just saw Ken Rosenthal on TV, and he had his usual collection of inside information.

Rosenthal says that contract talks with the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano are "about a week away from being tabled."  All along we’ve been hearing how he’d likely remain a Cub, even with the impending sale of the team.  Zambrano’s only had one good start in four tries this year; perhaps the Cubs want to see that ace again before committing.  It seems silly that such a huge contract could be affected by four starts, but you never know.  If Zambrano reaches the open market, the Cubs will likely be outbid.

Rosenthal also mentioned that instead of extending setup man Scott Linebrink‘s contract, he might become their best trading chip.  They could look to upgrade at third base or left field, or even try to acquire their center fielder of the future.  Most folks feel that Kevin Towers would find a way to replace him on the cheap.

UPDATE: There is now an accompanying article for these rumors.

Tigers Interested In Ohman

Look, it’s a real live trade rumor in April.  Phil Rogers reports that the Tigers might make a move for a left-handed reliever, and the Cubs’ Will Ohman is on their radar.

Oddly, the Cubs are carrying three lefties right now in the pen – Ohman, Scott Eyre, and Neal Cotts.  Last year, the 29 year-old Ohman put up 65 innings of 4.13 ERA ball, which included a K/9 over 10.  He was excellent against lefties, but for some reason faced righties over half the time.

Ohman has done poorly in six appearances for the Cubs this year.  Manager Lou Piniella recently commented on his 30 and 40-foot curveballs.  If the Cubs don’t trade him, they’ll probably demote him soon enough.  Ohman’s contract calls for $2.5MM over 2007-08, plus incentives.

Cameron To Reach Free Agency

For a while, it had seemed that the Padres would be able to reach a three-year agreement with 34 year-old center fielder Mike Cameron.  I had expected the years to be the sticking point, and the Padres seemed open to three.  However, Ken Rosenthal tells us that contract talks have broken off between the two parties and Cameron is very likely to explore the open market.

Rosenthal likes the Braves as a possibility in 2008, as Cameron lives outside of Atlanta.  The star class of free agent center fielders includes Andruw Jones, Ichiro Suzuki, and Torii Hunter.  None of the three are expected to stay with their respective teams, meaning the Braves, Mariners, and Twins could explore the second tier.  That seems to include Cameron, Eric Byrnes, Corey Patterson, Milton Bradley, and Aaron Rowand.

Cameron is hitting just .164/.257/.197 in 61 ABs on the young season.  He could be distracted by the contract situation, or it could just be a coincidental rough patch.

Randy Johnson Trade Dissected

Steve Gilbert of MLB.com gets an inside look at the Randy Johnson trade.  Originally, it was going to be a three-team deal where a mystery AL club would send a first baseman to the Yankees.  Perhaps it was Richie Sexson on the Mariners?

Johnson should make his season debut Tuesday against the Padres, Arizona’s main competition in acquiring him this winter.