December 2007

Mets Pitching Plans

Many readers have written me asking what the Mets are going to do to upgrade their starting rotation.  Matthew Cerrone as a man in the know, and he’s written a summary over at MetsBlog.

  • Cerrone senses nothing much cooking on the Johan Santana front, yet the Mets remain "oddly confident."
  • Cerrone believes the Mets will probably sign one rehabber – Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon.  He says reviews on Colon in the Dominican Winter League have been positive.  Omar Minaya knows Colon well, having traded the farm for him as GM of the Expos.  Garcia may be ready to pitch around June.  Coming off a frayed rotator cuff and labrum he may not contribute much in 2008.
  • Bullpen wise, Cerrone says Octavio Dotel is on the radar, especially if Aaron Heilman is traded.
  • There’s a lack of buzz with the Mets for Kyle Lohse, Livan Hernandez, and Joe Blanton currently.

Kazmir Too Pricey For Rays?

According to Eduardo A. Encina, the Rays explored a contract extension for ace Scott Kazmir last year.  Nothing came of it, and now Encina says "there’s already talk that Kazmir’s days as a Ray are numbered."

The dominant lefty, who turns just 24 in January, has three years left before free agency.  His monster second half in ’07 (2.39 ERA) may indicate an upward trend that could result in Cy votes in ’08.  It seems that Kazmir is represented by Brian Peters (rather than Scott Boras as I previously stated).  If he does decide to go year to year with the Rays, he’d be in line for a massive free agent payday preceding his age 27 season in 2011.

Back on November 5th, Joel Sherman of the New York Post said the Rays were even considering shopping Kazmir this winter, depending on the bounty for Johan SantanaMarc Lancaster suggested the following day that the declaration of Kazmir’s availability was "dubious at best."

Matt Clement Rumors

FROM 12-31-07 at 11:20am: Wuerz says Clement balked at the idea of a minor league deal with the Cardinals.

FROM 12-30-07 at 12:26pm: John Perrotto believes Clement is leaning towards the Pirates or Indians, partly because of a new home he built in Butler, PA (same place he was born).

FROM 12-30-07 at 2:10am:

Here’s a rumor I missed from a couple of days ago.  Scott Wuerz of the Belleville News-Democrat, a Southern Illinois newspaper, indicated in his blog that the Cardinals were close to signing Matt Clement.  Haven’t seen recent buzz about this in the Post-Dispatch, but maybe Wuerz has the scoop.

Other teams previously linked to Clement: the Royals, Mariners, Blue Jays, Rockies, Pirates, Indians, and Phillies.  The Astros pulled out and the Padres seem full.  Clement underwent rotator cuff surgery in September of 2006, with his agent comparing the procedure to that of Drew Brees.

Mailbag: Lopez, Colon, Cano

Let’s dig into the MLBTR mailbag once again.  You could ask a question by emailing

What moves would you like to see the Rockies make to improve their starting rotation? – Sean

The Rockies seem to have decent rotation depth – Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, Jason Hirsh, Ubaldo Jimenez, Franklin Morales, Taylor Buchholz, even Kip Wells and Mark Redman.  I would like to see Dan O’Dowd toss an injury-recovering free agent into the mix.  The one I like is Rodrigo Lopez.  He was quietly very solid for a half-season in Colorado this year.  He had surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his elbow in August but there’s no timetable quite yet.  Adding a wrinkle is that Scott Boras represents him.

Why don’t the White Sox go after Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon or something like that? – Tim

Two clubs that have seen Colon’s medical reports and/or price tag have already backed off (Astros, Rangers).  The Cardinals, Nationals, and Mets may have lingering interest, but we don’t have great information here.  How healthy is he?  Would he take a one-year deal?  On December 4th, Bill Ladson suggested he was not open to one year.  Anyway, I like the idea of Colon returning to the White Sox in theory, and they’ve got the money and need, but it’s hard for an outsider to say whether this is a good investment.

I read a piece last night that noted the Yankees have pulled Robinson Cano from winter ball. Do you think there is a chance that the Yanks are holding him up while he is doing well (Cano was hitting .389 in 9 games) and considering a revised offer that would include him in a Santana deal? – Steve

While there is a chance, this doesn’t seem likely to me.  I’ve always read that Phil Hughes was the one Yankee the Twins had to have in a Santana deal, and including Cano would probably mean he’s out.  Plus Cano has two years of service time, so he’s more expensive than Hughes. 

Report: Juan Gonzalez Signs With Yankees?

UPDATE, 12-29-07 at 12:43pm: I’m told the article is the equivalent of an April Fool’s joke.

FROM 12-29-07 at 10:38am:

El Vocero, one of the bigger newspapers in Puerto Rico, is reporting that the Yankees signed Juan Gonzalez to a two-year, $2MM deal.  This report definitely makes me raise an eyebrow, for three reasons:

  • In both 2006 and 2005, odd reports surfaced about teams being interested in Gonzalez, only to have the teams publically deny interest a day or two later.
  • It seems absurd to give Gonzalez two years or $2MM when he hasn’t played in the Majors since that one at-bat in 2005. He’s 38 currently.
  • The Yankees would seem the last team with room for another DH.

Johan Santana Rumors

UPDATE, 12-29-07 at 10:59am: Jayson Stark’s sources speak of glacially moving Santana talks with the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, and Mariners that may drag out for several more weeks.

UPDATE, 12-28-07 at 11:00am: Joel Sherman’s sources name the Red Sox as the "strong favorite" to acquire Santana in the new year.  He sees the Yankees backing down and the Mets as lagging behind for lack of MLB-ready young players in their offer.  Also here’s a Jayson Stark Santana article I missed yesterday giving his take on the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets.

UPDATE, 12-27-07 at 2:59pm: Charley Walters has some quotes from the Twins’ president.  He gives the impression that the Twins’ priority is still to sign Santana to an extension, for what it’s worth.  They’ll have to do better than four years and $80MM though.

FROM 12-26-07 at 10:50pm:

LEN3 checks in with the latest Johan Santana rumors this evening.

  • The Mets appear to be a solid contender, even without offering up Jose Reyes.  Neal ponders whether the Twins would prefer to send Santana to the NL so they can avoid him.  Matthew Cerrone has been saying this for some time, adding that Santana would prefer to come to the NL as well.
  • Interesting note – Neal says Kei Igawa‘s name has surfaced in regards to the Yankees talks.  It wouldn’t materially change the deal though.
  • Neal says talks with the Red Sox are currently dormant. 

Odds and Ends: Villarreal, Cano, Rowand

Alright let’s round ’em up.

  • This was one I was going to pass on posting, but it’s pretty dead right now.  The Astros signed newly acquired reliever Oscar Villarreal to a two-year deal.  He was already under team control through 2008.  The article adds that Ed Wade’s interest in Livan Hernandez and Bartolo Colon is low, and talks with Jon Lieber pretty much died.
  • The Yankees pulled Robinson Cano out of Winter Ball.  The word is that he doesn’t want to aggravate a calf injury.  You could read into it and speculate he’s a part of trade talks.  Seems like a stretch though.  I believe the Yanks also pulled Melky Cabrera from Winter Ball; we know he’s in trade talks.
  • R.J. Anderson’s book about the Devil Rays and Chuck LaMar is now available for free download.
  • J.C. Bradbury says the Aaron Rowand signing is the best free agent signing of the offseason.  Personally, I don’t hate it.  I don’t like it too much either though.

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Mets Still Like Jon Lieber

The New York Daily News reiterated the Mets’ interest in free agent starter Jon Lieber this morning.  Liebs turns 38 in April.  He’s probably just as good as Livan Hernandez, but less durable.  The Mets’ interest in Lieber was previously reported by Jayson Stark on December 5th

Other teams connected to Lieber – the Reds, Royals, Astros, and Rangers.

Peter Botte and Roger Rubin name Lieber as one of many free agent options for the Mets if they fail to trade for a frontline guy.  Kyle Lohse, Freddy Garcia, and Bartolo Colon are candidates.  Matthew Cerrone says the Mets have been watching Colon "quite closely as he pitches in the Dominican Winter League."

Darin Erstad Signs With Astros

Minor signing tonight, as the Astros inked Darin Erstad to a one-year deal. It’s a one-year, $1MM deal plus incentives. 

Erstad has become a popular stathead target but as long as the Astros don’t give him hundreds of at-bats, does it really matter?