August 2008

Kurt Birkins Released

Joe Smith of the St. Pete Times is reporting that the Rays have released lefty reliever Kurt Birkins. The move was made to open a spot on the 40-man roster in preparation for the September roster expansion.

Birkins made six appearances for the Rays earlier in the year and spent parts of the last two seasons with the Orioles, including two starts in ’07. He posted a 7.52 ERA in 40.2 innings with 29 strikeouts and 28 walks for Durham.

Given the demand for lefty relievers, look for Birkins to land a job in a contender’s bullpen for the final month of the season.

Cork Gaines writes for RaysIndex.com and can be reached here.


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Kris Benson Released

The Delaware News-Journal reported that Kris Benson was released by the Phillies following last night’s game. Benson had indicated earlier that his preference was to be a starter and the Phillies do not have any openings in their rotation.

Benson was 1-4 with a 5.52 ERA in 11 starts in triple-A. He was making $75K per month without any clauses.

Cork Gaines writes for RaysIndex.com and can be reached here.


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Taveras Claimed Off Waivers

Willy Taveras has been claimed off waivers. There is no indication that the Rockies are actually going to work out a deal with the team that claimed him but there has been interest in the speedy outfielder from the Nationals, Phillies and Mets.


D-Backs, Angels Interested In Eckstein

The Angels have been in pursuit of infield depth this week, and were rumored to be finalizing a deal with the Blue Jays for veteran shortstop and 2006 World Series MVP, David Eckstein until a "mystery" team entered the running.

Ken Rosenthal is now reporting that the mystery team is the Arizona Diamondbacks. Both teams are looking to finalize the deal before Sunday’s deadline for setting post-season rosters.

The Angels would mainly use Eckstein as a backup, but the D-backs need a boost in the infield since Orlando Hudson is out for the rest of the season.

It seems the Diamondbacks are the team with the most urgent need for Eckstein’s services, but a return to Anaheim would be a homecoming of sorts. Where would he be a better fit?

Alejandro A. Leal writes for UmpBump.com. Comments? Rumors? E-mail me alexo05 (at) umpbump (dot) com.


Vizquel Wants To Play Next Year

Omar Vizquel, arguably one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, is not ready to retire and if he cannot sign with a Major League club in 2009, he’ll look for playing time in Japan.

"I’ve played here long enough in America," he told Henry Schulman, of the San Francisco Chronicle. "I’ve seen every team, every ballpark. I think it would be great to experience a new league and something new. I played in Japan in 2000 on the major-league all-star tour and I found it very cool – good baseball, good fans. Why not? It’s a new culture."

Schulman believes Vizquel’s days with the Giants are drawing to a close, but the veteran shortstop thinks he can be a leader for the younger infielders in the Giants’ roster.

Once the team puts on a tribute, however, he knows hes probably not coming back.

Alejandro A. Leal writes for UmpBump.com. Comments? Rumors? E-mail me alexo05 (at) umpbump (dot) com.


Astros Sign Erstad, Moehler To Extensions

Astros MLB.com beat writer Krysten Oliphant reports that the team has signed veteran outfielder Darin Erstad and right-handed pitcher Brian Moehler to one-year extensions.

Erstad gets a $1.75MM deal plus bonuses and Moehler nets a $2.3MM extension and bonuses; he has an option for 2010.  Erstad and Moehler have been a couple of bright spots among Ed Wade’s offseason acquisitions.


Angels Eyeing Backup Shortstops

FRIDAY: Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi confirmed he’s in discussions with the Angels about his shortstops.

THURSDAY: With Maicer Izturis out for the season and Erick Aybar day-to-day, the Angels are looking to acquire a veteran backup shortstop.  Backup at second base wouldn’t be a bad idea either, in case Howie Kendrick‘s injury is serious.  Mike DiGiovanna names John McDonald, David Eckstein, Marco Scutaro, Juan Castro, and Jamey Carroll as targets.  The numbers on these guys:

  • McDonald: .222/.269/.292 in 162 PAs.  Owed $350K in ’08, $1.9MM in ’09.
  • Eckstein: .274/.353/.357 in 293 PAs.  Owed $830K in ’08.
  • Scutaro: .265/.347/.348 in 475 PAs.  Owed $290K in ’08, $1.1MM in ’09.
  • Castro: .194/.233/.250 in 118 PAs.  Owed minimum, Reds paying contract.
  • Carroll: .271/.355/.346 in 314 PAs.  Owed $400K in ’08, $2.5MM club option for ’09 with $0.15MM buyout.

Scutaro seems like the best fit; Carroll has not played shortstop this year.  It is not known whether any of these players have cleared waivers.  Who do you think the Angels should target?


Latest On Hosmer, Alvarez

5:49pm: Disappointing development for the Royals – Hosmer cannot play until the grievance is resolved.  The hearing takes place September 10th, so he won’t miss too much time.

9:08am: Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette provides his analysis of the Pedro Alvarez situation.  How much of this is due to the rivalry between Pirates team president Frank Coonelly and agent Scott Boras?  Is Alvarez making a mistake by letting this drag on?  Peter Gammons blames Bud Selig, Don Fehr, and Boras for this mess.

Kovacevic does not believe Alvarez will be eligible to return to college in the fall.  Independent ball would be the most likely path, if his contract with the Pirates does not stand.  Meanwhile, the Royals are trying to keep Eric Hosmer out of the crossfire.


D’Backs Claim Ledezma

According to the Arizona Republic, the Diamondbacks claimed lefty Wil Ledezma off waivers from the Padres.  Ledezma, 27, posted a 4.47 ERA in 54.1 innings.  Walks have been a problem for him.  He’s under team control through 2010, if the D’Backs want to go to arbitration with him.