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Which free agents are off to solid starts? Let's take a look.
- Derek Lowe, Braves: 3.10 ERA in 29 innings. Just what the doctor ordered.
- Manny Ramirez, Dodgers: .360/.489/.600 in 94 plate appearances.
- Francisco Rodriguez, Mets: 2.08 ERA in 8.6 innings, 4 saves in 4 tries.
- Raul Ibanez, Phillies: .359/.433/.718 in 90 plate appearances. The signing received a healthy amount of criticism, but Ibanez has been incredible so far.
- Adam Dunn, Nationals: .324/.477/.632 in 88 plate appearances. As a team, the Nationals have a .358 OBP.
- Juan Rivera, Angels: .311/.364/.410 in 66 plate appearances. More power would be nice, but it's still been a solid April.
- Koji Uehara, Orioles: 4.50 ERA in 30 innings. The O's will take that kind of performance from Koji.
- Jeremy Affeldt, Giants: 2.79 ERA in 9.6 innings.
- Willy Taveras, Reds: .262/.351/.338 in 80 plate appearances. Doing a decent job getting on base.
- Juan Cruz, Royals: 1.86 ERA in 9.6 innings.
- Braden Looper, Brewers: 2.45 ERA in 22 innings.
- Andy Pettitte, Yankees: 2.96 ERA in 27.3 innings.
- Bobby Abreu, Angels: .363/.422/.425 in 90 plate appearances. No home runs yet, though.
- Jason Varitek, Red Sox: .250/.348/.533 in 69 plate appearances.
- Randy Wolf, Dodgers: 4.31 ERA in 31.3 innings.
- Arthur Rhodes, Reds: 0.00 ERA in 8 innings.
- David Weathers, Reds: 0.00 ERA in 6.3 innings.
- Orlando Hudson, Dodgers: .330/.408/.505 in 103 plate appearances.
- Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks: .309/.378/.481 in 90 plate appearances.
- Russ Springer, Athletics: 0.96 ERA in 9.3 innings.
- Willie Bloomquist, Royals: .333/.432/.433 in 38 plate appearances.
- Dennys Reyes, Cardinals: 2.57 ERA in 7 innings.
- Dave Ross, Braves: .321/.457/.643 in 35 plate appearances. We'll cut it off here at $3MM, but Mike Hampton and Russell Branyan certainly deserve a mention.
The latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark…
- Stark compared 2009 April attendance to 2008, excluding the New York teams given their new stadiums. He found virtually no change, overall. One anonymous agent complained that Bud Selig "overdramatized the potential financial losses so as to limit and to artificially control spending on free agency."
- The Royals may need a bat, but Stark says they're unwilling to discuss any of their best or most advanced prospects in trades.
- Stark talked to one exec about Billy Beane's Matt Holliday situation. If Holliday's power outage continues, could he become a July salary-dump candidate? If the A's keep him all year, will they risk offering him arbitration? And is Holliday headed toward a one-year "redeem yourself" deal on the free agent market?
- Stark says the Marlins would love to add a late-inning reliever via trade. He runs through possible relief trade candidates. In addition to the players I listed on Tuesday, Stark mentions Alan Embree, Octavio Dotel, Matt Thornton, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, and Ron Mahay. The Phillies are also in the market.
- Remember the Zack Greinke trade rumors of years past? Stark talked to one exec who says Royals GM Dayton Moore never wanted to trade him.
- If, down the road, the A's or Rays have to relocate, Stark says San Antonio, Las Vegas, and Mexico were the locations MLB was considering in reference to the Marlins.
Today let's take a look at the 2010 options facing the Indians.
- Cliff Lee – $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout. Lee's 2010 option received a $1MM bump when he won the Cy Young last year. He doesn't have to repeat that performance to make this an easy decision to exercise. He could be trade bait this summer, but maybe the Indians will prefer to have him for 2010.
- Victor Martinez – $7MM club option with a $250K buyout. This is a near-lock to be exercised. Perhaps they will broach an extension before next season.
- Rafael Betancourt – $5.4MM club option. Betancourt signed this deal in January of 2008, coming off his best season. It was thought that Betancourt might replace Joe Borowski at closer, but that didn't last too long. The Indians figure to decline the option.
- Masahide Kobayashi – $3.25MM club option with a $250K buyout. Kobayashi can become a free agent if the option is declined. Looking at the numbers, that seems likely.
Links for Thursday…
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo and ESPN's Jason Churchill say high school catcher Luke Bailey is having Tommy John surgery. He might fall out of the top 20 in the draft, says Churchill.
- Thom Loverro of The Washington Times transcribes all kinds of amusing comments made by former Nationals GM Jim Bowden earlier this month. Bowden touched upon Stephen Strasburg, Mark Teixeira, and Aaron Crow.
- Alex Speier of WEEI notes that free agency hasn't done much for the Red Sox recently, outside of the Tim Wakefield and David Ortiz bargain signings.
- ESPN's Jim Caple talked to pitcher Jeff Zimmerman, who is on the comeback trail with the Mariners.
- Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune notes that White Sox outfielder Jerry Owens may be on the way out. It sounds like Scott Podsednik is coming up, but there will be no roster move today.
- Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post says Rockies reliever Randy Flores, currently in Triple A, is debating whether to opt out of his contract.
- Zach Berman of the Washington Post gathered quotes on new Nationals pitcher Logan Kensing.
- Tonight at 10pm CST, Seth Stohs and Twins pitcher Glen Perkins will co-host the MN GameNight radio show.
Back in February, the Mets were reportedly trying to trade backup catcher Ramon Castro. Today, Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News says it's obvious Mets manager Jerry Manuel would prefer to keep Omir Santos over Castro when Brian Schneider returns from the DL. However, "the front office keeps saying the plan is to option Santos to the minors."
If the Mets do eventually designate or release Castro, they'll have to assume most of the $2.5MM owed to him this year.
New Padres CEO Jeff Moorad did an online chat with fans for MLB.com today. A few highlights:
- When asked about the idea of signing Adrian Gonzalez to an extension in 2010, Moorad replied, "Why wait until 2010?"
- Moorad reiterated that he is willing to keep Jake Peavy, but tossed in the caveat that "no one player is untouchable."
- In reference to the July 31st trade deadline, Moorad would be "open to adding an appropriate player or two" if the team is within striking range.
At this writing, the Padres are 11-10, three games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. They rank 10th in the NL at 4.33 runs scored per game and 13th with a 4.77 ERA. Bright spots: Gonzalez, David Eckstein, Nick Hundley, Scott Hairston, and Heath Bell.
The biggest needs appear to be a shortstop and starting pitching. Just for fun: what do you think about a midseason run at Miguel Tejada? What pitcher would you like to see Kevin Towers target?
Today let's take a look at the 2010 options facing the White Sox after the season.
- Jermaine Dye – $12MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout. The 2010 option was a big factor for Dye when he signed his current extension in August of 2007. It seems possible that he could stay if the White Sox exercise their side. However, with the recent market trend for corner outfielders, a one-year, $11MM deal may seem steep despite Dye's production.
- Matt Thornton – $2.25MM club option with a $250K buyout. There's a good chance this is exercised, and if not Thornton will still be arbitration-eligible.
According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, the White Sox released reliever Mike MacDougal today. He'd been designated for assignment a week ago. The White Sox will assume the $3MM remaining on his contract, less his salary for his new team.
The White Sox acquired MacDougal for pitchers Tyler Lumsden and Daniel Cortes back in July of 2006. That swap and MacDougal's extension were a couple of rare missteps for Sox GM Ken Williams.
According to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, the Nationals acquired recently-designated reliever Logan Kensing from the Marlins for minor league reliever Kyle Gunderson. Gunderson was drafted out of Rice in '07.
Kensing, 26, was designated for assignment by Florida after just 7.3 innings this year. Last year, he logged 55.3 innings with a 4.23 ERA, struggling with his control. He had Tommy John surgery in August of 2006.
Ken Rosenthal has a new column up, discussing the future of Angels third baseman Chone Figgins. The versatile leadoff man is eligible for free agency after the season (perhaps a Type B). Rosenthal says the Halos, who have bigger issues in the free agency of John Lackey and Vladimir Guerrero, "will balk at retaining Figgins for $10 million a season." Will Figgins find a Brian Roberts-like four-year, $40MM deal elsewhere?
Here's what Figgins had to say regarding free agency:
"I'm excited. I've talked to (Garret) Anderson about it before. I've talked to (Juan) Pierre. I've talked to Orlando Cabrera. They say, 'You've worked hard to get to this point. Leave it out on the field like you always do and see what happens.' It's an honor to get to that point. That means you've done well in the big leagues."