September 2007

Could A-Rod Save the O’s?

Update:  Beat writer Jeff Zrebiec reports that yesterday Miguel Tejada told O’s President of Baseball Operations Andy McPhail, "I don’t care about changing positions if we’re going to be a winner, and I want to be on a team that is going to compete and win."  That is a change of tune from the once stubborn shortstop.  Orioles Manager Dave Trembley also said, "I fully expect that he’ll be a major part of this team next season."

The Orioles pitchers have been going the extra mile to make Alex Rodriguez feel at home in Camden Yards this weekend, writes Peter Schmuck.  Schmuck doesn’t add too much to the notion; however, he does suggest that, for a team at the mercy of indecision – do we sign big names or rebuild from within? – Alex Rodriguez, should he opt out of his contract, is one apparent solution.

The O’s need desperately to revive their franchise and A-Rod could certainly do that.  A new long term contract for Arod will have him chasing baseball’s greatest records with whom he signs.  Meanwhile, Miguel Tejada will either be moved to 3B or another team.  Considering his decline in defense, productivity, and attitude it seems the Orioles should lower their demands and trade him this offseason.  That would open up an obvious hole at shortstop, a spot once celebrated by Cal Ripken, and an opportunity that could entice Rodriguez and save the Orioles.

That said, I’m not sure the O’s could afford a potential $30MM player.  They have a total payroll of $93.5MM in 2007, already up 20% from 2006, and at an all-time high.  If they deal Tejada, it’s probable they swallow some of his $13MM/year.  The departure of Benson and Wright free up another $14MM.  If they could void Jay Gibbons‘ contract, they’d be looking in the ballpark of $30MM before arbitration for Erik Bedard and others, various departures, etc.  It seems probable they would have to again increase payroll to afford A-Rod.

Posted by: Nat Boyle

Sunday Morning Santana

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe discusses the names being thrown around for Johan Santana.  As well as the Kemp/Kershaw for Santana, Cafardo quotes an AL Executive:

One AL executive theorized, "There are a few teams who could match up with the Twins. Would the Yankees deal Melky Cabrera and an Ian Kennedy for Santana? How about Boston? Would they send a Clay Buchholz and a Jacoby Ellsbury for him? The Mets? There are few teams who could handle the paycheck you’d have to give Santana and also be able to part with key prospects."

If that logic is correct, it narrows the list of suitors considerably.

MLBTR readers made the astute point in the Kemp/Kershaw comments that if a team is going to give up two Major League-ready prospects, the deal would be contingent on a re-signing of Santana.  A one year rental is most likely not going to appeal to any GM handing over otherwise untouchable commodities such as a Buchholz/Ellsbury or a Kennedy/Cabrera or a Kemp/Kershaw.

Which teams, therefore, can afford the likes of baseball’s best starting pitcher?

Here’s an intriguing twist.  As most already know, it’s safe to assume Santana will not finish in the top 3 in Cy Young voting this year and therefore will not be gaining his no-trade clause for 2008.  However, he still gets to choose up to 12 teams to which he can’t be traded.  If for some reason he didn’t want to leave the Twins next season, could he strategically choose every team capable of dealing for him? 

Despite not having a no-trade clause, it’s safe to note Santana will have considerable say in any deal.

Posted by: Nat Boyle

A.J. Pierzynski Extended Through 2010

A.J. Pierzynski had his contract extended yesterday.  He’s already signed for next season, but is now slated to make $12.5MM over ’09-’10.  That’s a fair price, nothing special, and say what you will about Pierzynski’s decline in numbers this year (.309 OBP), I think he’s Ozzie Guillen’s kind of guy.

If for some reason you’ve never read about the Pierzysnki for Liriano, Nathan, and Bonser deal, I recommend a perusal of Tim’s full breakdown.  It’s a good read.

Posted by: Nat Boyle

Joba The Starter?

It’s been a slow Saturday in the rumor mill so as it grinds down, I thought I’d see where everyone would put Joba Chamberlain next season if you were the Yankees.

Experts and statisticians feel that Joba must be in the rotation because 180 innings of Joba next year is more valuable than around 60.  Frank Neville for The Sporting News thinks "health permitting, [Joba] can be a 20-game winner and rack up 200-plus strikeouts a year."  Now wait, where have we heard that argument before?  Ah yes, with Jonathan Papelbon

Papelbon has become the most dominant closer in the majors with a 13.3 k/9 and I wonder if everyone still feels that 180-200 "starter" innings are as valuable to the Sox as his 56.1 "closer" innings have been.  Nobody seems to be suggesting otherwise!  Most if not all projections have Papelbon slated to close in ’08, not start, and they’re probably right.  With the emergence of Clay Buchholz, the Sox have remained mum.  And fans/reporters don’t seem to bring it up as if Papelbon might overhear and remember that he actually once wanted to start.   Well that story has come full circle and Paps wants to close now.  Chamberlain, meanwhile, seems to be running the same hamster wheel with one major difference:  the Yankees actually have a closer.

It’s an interesting conundrum.  In a way, Mariano Rivera is the reason to put him in the rotation while on the other hand Mariano Rivera is the reason to continue his development in relief.  The presence of Rivera provides reasoning to both keep him in the bullpen to be his successor or move him out because, hey, they already have Rivera.  There’s an obvious divide in thought here.

I’m of the belief that if Todd Jones can close, Rivera is not done.  Therefore Rivera, Luis Vizcaino, and Edwar Ramirez (in due time) plus one or two more effective relievers (and specialists, etc)  would be solid for 2008.  And I think everyone would be impressed by a sudden rotation of Wang, Pettitte, Hughes, Kennedy, and Joba the Starter.

Posted by: Nat Boyle

Carlos Guillen to Play 1B Next Season

The Tigers anticipated thisCarlos Guillen‘s okay with it.  Despite signing Guillen in March to a 4 year deal for $48MM to begin next season, the shortstop is going to be moving across the diamond sooner than expected to play first base.  The move is designed to protect his knees from the physical stresses of SS.

Tim argued that 4/48 was a bargain as long as he remained the Tigers’ shortstop.  Unfortunately, it appears Manager Jim Leyland has had to talk him into moving to first, despite Guillen’s condition last week that the Tigers had to bring in a gold glove caliber replacement.  However, Guillen now believes it’ll be better for the team and the longevity of his career.

Who then will be playing short for the Tigers in 2008?  Omar Vizquel, David Eckstein, and Cesar Izturis are free agents that stick out.  The Detroit Free Press notes there "could be other shortstops available in trade."  Edgar Renteria seems to be a popular choice among MLBTR readers.  Or will the Tigers make another attempt at Jack Wilson from Pittsburgh?  Or would they stick with the in-house option of Ramon Santiago?  The apparent good news is there are many options.

This also confirms the obvious:  the Tigers have no plans to bring Sean Casey back.

Posted by: Nat Boyle

Kazmir Calls for Veterans

Yesterday, I posted about the Devil Rays increasing payroll by 20%.  Today, more Tampa talk!  Two Marc’s with a "C" have the scoop: Marc Lancaster and Marc Topkin both reported that lefty ace and ::ahem:: AL strikeout leader Scott Kazmir (or as the Mets refer to him: The One Who Got Away) has called upon management to bring in some veterans.

Despite the payroll increase, 20% of the Rays current payroll is only around $7MM before revenue sharing assistance.  The Rays would like to re-sign Carlos Pena in arbitration and Boras wants a lot.  Yet Kazmir is entering his first year of arbitration and won’t reach free agency until 2010.  The Rays have until then to build a winning club around Kazmir.  And if they do, would he want to stay?

Right now, his comments speak for themselves, "It’s tough being kind of the laughingstock of baseball right now. It really is."

I found this interesting because while I think Kazmir is right, it’s contrary to most of the comments MLBTR readers made yesterday.  Most call for the Rays to trade Carl Crawford, etc, to re-stock young talent; however, you can never underestimate the value of veteran presence.  With the way Mike Lowell took Dustin Pedroia under his wing this season, and how well that turned out, maybe the Devil Rays are a good fit for the veteran? 

Yet to me, this all sounds like a good PR move.  On the heels of Rays owner Peter Sternberg’s announcement of the payroll increase, a high profile player calls on management for help.  Devil Rays are generating good buzz going into the offseason in an effort to boost their market value which is a natural first step toward competing against big market clubs.

As a side note, I got to stand just three feet behind Kazmir during a bullpen session a couple weeks ago and I can report that despite not being very large guy, his forearms arms were shockingly huge!

Posted by: Nat Boyle

White Sox To Keep Mike Myers?

UPDATE: Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald is now reporting that Kenny Williams may have indicated Mike Myers (and Ryan Bukvich) are the two spots in the bullpen he will be addressing in the offseason.  The article indicates that the White Sox won’t be as busy this offseason as some may think.

Mark Gonzales reports Mike Myers might indeed have a role in the White Sox bullpen next season, and no, it won’t be sketch comedy or terrorizing Jamie Lee Curtis.

When the Red Sox let Myers walk and I watched the Yankees pick him up as a lefty specialist to negate what had become known as the David Ortiz Factor, as a Sox fan one thought came to mind: "Whoops!"  In his first attempt to get Ortiz out, Big Papi promptly took him deep.  Ortiz spent 2006-2007 going 5 for 15 with a homer and 6 RBIs against the lefty specialist.  The Yankees designated him for assignment in August.  Despite a 2.66 ERA, lefties were hitting .301 off him.  The White Sox picked him up and things got worse.  Myers’ ERA rose from 2.84 to 4.41 in 6 weeks.

Still, they’re expected to pick up the sidearmer’s $1.1MM option for 2008.  Pitching coach Don Cooper is confident they have made adjustments to get Myers back on track.   Says Cooper, "Every club would like to have three lefties in the bullpen. We have that ability to have three lefties every day, at least two, especially in our division where we have a lot of good-hitting lefties and guys who switch-hit."

Sox Owner Hopes Lowell Stays

Congrats to Cubs, Red Sox, and Diamondbacks fans!  What a finish this year has been.

At the beer-soaked madness that was Fenway last night, Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner dubbed Mike Lowell the team’s MVP.  The Boston Globe reports when Principal Owner John Henry was asked if Mike Lowell would be retained, he said, "In Florida, Mike played for me three years, my first three years [as Marlins owner]. We sort of grew up in the game together. It would be a wonderful thing." 

As Tim pointed out here, Lowell could be open to a 2 year, $22MM contract to stay in Boston.  But Lowell has seen a gradual resurgence in offensive production, filling in effectively for the injured Manny Ramirez, hitting .325 this year with 20 HR and 118 RBI, an all-time club best for Red Sox third basemen.  Not to mention he plays arguably the best defense at his position in the American League.  And when you consider the only other two third basemen certain to enter free agency are Pedro Feliz and Mike Lamb, I suspect the market will be ripe for a talent like Mike Lowell.

While they can move Kevin Youkilis back to third, expect the Sox to make an offer to Lowell.  I would anticipate a 2 year deal, $20-24MM.

Posted by: Nat Boyle

Rumors and Questions

If Cubs make the playoffs, they will be glad not to see the Marlins in the postseason.  After last night’s defeat, the Cubs haven’t beaten the Fish since April… of 2006.

Lots of buzz today, so here are some Rumors and Questions on the day:

  • Florida Marlins Fans, it may be disheartening for you, both of you, to know that David Hyde (with some help from Bill Murray) believes as though either Miguel Cabrera or Dontrelle Willis will indeed be dealt this offseason.  Tim crunched the numbers and thinks they should shed Willis’ contract.  If I had to choose, I’d agree with Mr. Hyde (not Dr. Jekyll) and wave goodbye to Miggy before the D-Train rolls out.  Cabrera is indisputably elite and could net a Hanley Ramirez or two.  Meanwhile, Dontrelle’s value is at an all time low.  Who would you deal?
  • Speaking of former Marlins, Buster Olney thinks the Tigers will re-sign Todd Jones.  When asked who will close for the Tigers next year, Manager Jim Leyland responded with a definitive "don’t know".  Well, maybe he’s getting forgetful in his old age, but we all know who: Joel Zumaya.  But is he ready?  Chris McKosky of the Detroit News isn’t sure.  What do you think?  If only he could lay off that Guitar Hero…
  • The Rangers and the Twins have each expressed interest in both Torii Hunter and, who else, Barry Bonds.  Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire weighs in positively on Bonds, while Joe Christensen says chances are slim but don’t rule it out.  Shooter Charley Walters says the Twins will try to re-sign Hunter.  But Hunter is from outside Arlington, Texas and when asked if he’s thought a little about going home, he told reporters "I haven’t thought about it a little bit.  I’ve thought about it a lot a bit."  Meanwhile, the Rangers players say "Thumbs up!" to Bonds.  I think the Rangers are a natural fit for both of these vets.
  • Also, Ken Rosenthal’s latest video on breaks down the fates of Managers-Across-The-League.  Interestingly, he begins by praising Joe Torre for doing maybe his best job ever, and then notes how if the Yankees stumble in the postseason he might not be back…

Posted by: Nat Boyle

Cecil Cooper Named ‘Stros Manager

ESPN is just reporting that the Astros have named Cecil Cooper as Manager on a permanent basis.

Astros fans, how do you feel about this?


Posted by: Nat Boyle

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