Today I will attempt to assemble an All-Star team using only players signed as free agents last winter. Argue away in the comments!
- C: Rod Barajas. Barajas is hitting a surprising .290/.349/.490 in 169 plate appearances, and he's only making $1.2MM. Jorge Posada is catching up though.
- 1B: Sean Casey. He's done a nice job in limited duty.
- 2B: Alexei Ramirez. One of the unheralded signings of last winter - Kenny Williams got Ramirez on a four year, $4.75MM deal. That's less than one year of Luis Castillo or Kaz Matsui, and Ramirez can play shortstop and center field.
- SS: Jerry Hairston Jr. Many of us regarded this as Dusty just helping out one of his guys, but Hairston was excellent prior to a broken thumb.
- 3B: Alex Rodriguez. It's not a big deal when A-Rod hits .322/.404/.591 - that is expected of him.
- LF: Luis Gonzalez. Not a big offseason for free agent left fielders.
- CF: Aaron Rowand. We're only 10% into this $60MM investment, but so far so good. Torii Hunter has been solid too.
- RF: Kosuke Fukudome. A .405 OBP and strong defense gets him the nod over Eric Hinske. Jose Guillen is coming on fast.
- DH: Milton Bradley. Even Jon Daniels couldn't have expected him to be this good.
- Total guaranteed money spent: $397.5MM (69% on A-Rod)
- 2008 salaries, not including signing bonuses: $51.7MM (52% on A-Rod)
- My free agent agent All-Star lineup would score over six runs per game based on their performances this year! Looks like Casey's batting leadoff (link takes a while to load).
Today's random hot stove links...
- Gil Meche wants to stay with the Royals.
- Yankees pitching prospect Alan Horne may be injured. This could have hot stove ramifications - Horne could've been a top trade chip or even a rotation addition this year.
- Peter Abraham does not think Barry Bonds makes sense for the Yankees. Hideki Matsui will be out at least a couple of weeks with a knee injury, with surgery as a last resort.
- Manny Ramirez shoved the Red Sox's traveling secretary. This is slightly different than the Shawn Chacon situation, in that Chacon had his hands around Ed Wade's neck. But is Manny getting off easy because he's Manny?
- CBS's Scott Miller weighs in on the starting pitching market.
- Dan Uggla is in line for at least a tenfold raise in arbitration next year. The Marlins haven't decided whether to talk extension with him.
The Padres have lost eight in a row, slipping to 9.5 games out in the NL West. CEO Sandy Alderson says "it's probably easier to see us as sellers at this point." He added that they could still look to buy if the Padres can creep up to 6.5 games out by the break (which begins July 14th). Here's another look at the team's top trade chips:
- Tim Sullivan says southpaw starter Randy Wolf is "almost certainly gone." Wolf was having a very similar season in '07 but was done by July 3rd. Aside from health concerns, Wolf has a 14-team no-trade clause that includes many Midwest clubs. The Phillies, Yankees, or Mets could make sense.
- Greg Maddux isn't talking much about whether he'd waive his no-trade clause. Fans have speculated he could go back to Atlanta or Chicago.
- Brian Giles wants to stay in San Diego, and can veto trades to eight teams. He also gets a salary boost if traded. Would Oakland be a fit?
Let's review the Brian Fuentes reports floating about. The Rockies closer has saved 13 games in 17 opportunities this year.
- On Friday, Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News wrote, "The Rockies would want two quality prospects, but they won't deal him until Manny Corpas can return to the closer role or they concede the division and wild card." Corpas is having his best month of the year, with a 3.86 ERA. But Taylor Buchholz has been untouchable all year, so I don't see why this should be a sticking point.
- Buster Olney agrees; he's heard that the Fuentes Sweepstakes will begin if the Rox don't start playing better over the next few weeks. The Rockies are nine games out in the NL West.
- On June 24th, Ken Rosenthal sang a different tune. He said, "The Rockies remain willing to move closer Brian Fuentes regardless of whether they climb back into contention." One reason for their willingness to trade Fuentes: they'd be hesitant to offer him arbitration after the season and then have him accept. Rosenthal said the Rockies "remain intrigued by Mets righty Aaron Heilman."
- The list of known suitors remains at five: Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Phillies, and A's. Sean McAdam wrote today that Hideki Okajima's struggles may cause the Red Sox to step up their pursuit.
Here's the latest draft pick signing info.
- The Cardinals are close to signing their top pick, Brett Wallace. The bonus is expected to be around $1.85-2MM. What position is he going to play long-term? Does left field make the most sense?
- The Pirates are negotiating with Pedro Alvarez, but both sides are staying mum on the details.
- The Bucs are also talking with Tanner Scheppers. They're still trying to gauge his health.
According to John Manuel of Baseball America, the A's have reached an agreement with 16 year-old Dominican righty Michel Inoa. He'll receive a $4.25MM signing bonus, a record for an international amateur (excluding Cuban defectors). Manuel reports that the Yankees had a tentative deal in place for $2.7MM at one point but agent Adam Katz stepped in and raised the price.
This signing is akin to drafting a top high school player here in the states, only Inoa is younger. Oakland's farm system has improved drastically in the last year or so.
A gathering of Sunday afternoon links...
- From the What Might've Been File - Phil Rogers reminds us that the White Sox offered more than the Cubs did for Kosuke Fukudome.
- The White Sox seem content with the current roster.
- River Ave. Blues doesn't expect Brian Cashman and the Yankees to pursue an impact player at the trade deadline.
- The Reds signed Rob Mackowiak to a minor league deal.
- Free agent Freddy Garcia is looking to sign before the trade deadline. Garcia says he feels like he has a new shoulder.
- For the first time in their history, the Rays will consider trading for rentals.
Let's try something new - a review of the past week. The major rumors and events for June 22-28:
- A major event for this website, at least - we rolled out the new design.
- The A's, Rangers, and Reds are battling to sign 16 year-old Dominican righty Michel Inoa.
- Ben Sheets plans to test free agency.
- The Indians will make a final effort to sign C.C. Sabathia.
- Shawn Chacon asked for a trade, bodyslammed his GM, and was placed on waivers.
- Jayson Stark said Francisco Rodriguez is looking for at least four years and $60MM. No reliever has ever gotten even $50MM.
- The Nationals are discussing a two-year extension with shortstop Cristian Guzman. They're also talking about sending Felipe Lopez to Baltimore.
Some Odds & Ends for this Sunday morning:
- Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times proposes the Dodgers offer middle reliever Cory Wade or Single-A fireballer Javy Guerra for OF Juan Rivera. Despite already having a logjam in the outfield, Rivera would provide the power the Dodgers need. As he sees it, the Angels have a propensity for stockpiling arms and Rivera is only gathering dust behind Gary Matthews Jr. Fun fact from Shaikin: it's been 32 years since the last Dodgers/Angels trade.
- The Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck tells Orioles fans not to expect C.C. Sabathia to be signed by the O's this offseason.
- Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News says Mark Sweeney may draw the short straw when Rafael Furcal and Nomar Garciaparra return from the DL within the next week. The Dodgers would release the 38 year old.
- Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times notes all indications are that the Rays will be making some moves before the deadline. They have the payroll flexibility, prospect depth, and would be happy to pickup draft picks from any big free agent they can't re-sign. They're looking for a veteran starting pitcher, a late inning reliever, and a right handed hitting outfielder.
Ken Rosenthal brings us his latest Full Count video:
- Rosenthal thinks the Mariners should consider dealing Adrian Beltre along with Erik Bedard by the deadline. The A's and Dodgers would be interested in the 29 year old. Also, Jarrod Washburn's stock is rising.
- If Kelvim Escobar makes a strong return to the Angels rotation, Jon Garland could wind up on the trading block. As it stands, Escobar is slated for relief duties initially.
- 30 year old Justin Duchscherer could be Billy Beane's best trade piece. His sparkling 1.99 ERA in combination with his being signed through this year for only $1.2MM make him a very palatable option.