April 2009

Free Agents Off On The Wrong Foot

It's way too early to label the busts of the 2008-09 free agent class.  We're only about 12% into the season.  But I still want to take a look at the slow starts among the pricier free agents.  It doesn't take much to irritate a fanbase, initially.

  • Mark Teixeira, Yankees: .206/.363/.381 in 80 plate appearances.  This contract runs through 2016, so it's barely begun.
  • C.C. Sabathia, Yankees: 4.73 ERA in 32.3 innings.  So far we haven't seen the expected walk and strikeout rates.  This one runs through 2015.
  • A.J. Burnett, Yankees: 5.47 ERA in 24.6 innings.  Home runs and walks have been the problem so far.  He's signed through 2013.
  • Oliver Perez, Mets:  9.31 ERA in 19.3 innings.  Control has been the biggest problem, and there's already talk of moving him to the bullpen.  Perez is signed through 2011.
  • Milton Bradley, Cubs: .107/.324/.214 in 37 plate appearances.  Bradley has started eight of the Cubs' 19 game so far and isn't off to a good start with the media.  He's signed through 2011, unless he spends significant time on the DL this year.
  • Rafael Furcal, Dodgers: .241/.326/.316 in 89 plate appearances.  Signed through 2011.
  • Kenshin Kawakami, Braves: 7.06 ERA in 21.6 innings.  Kawakami left his pinpoint control in Japan.  He's signed through 2011. 
  • Kerry Wood, Indians: 6.75 ERA in 8 innings.  Vesting option for 2011.
  • Brian Fuentes, Angels: 6.43 ERA in 7 innings.  Vesting option for 2011.
  • Pat Burrell, Rays: .238/.364/.317 in 77 plate appearances.  Signed through 2010.
  • Damaso Marte, Yankees: 15.19 ERA in 5.3 innings.  Signed through 2011.
  • Kyle Farnsworth, Royals: 9.95 ERA in 6.3 innings.  Signed through 2010.
  • Randy Johnson, Giants: 6.16 ERA in 19 innings.  Signed through 2009.
  • Trevor Hoffman, Brewers: Missed most of April due to oblique injury.  Signed through 2009.
  • Ty Wigginton, Orioles: .216/.256/.270 in 78 plate appearances.  Signed through 2010.
  • Jason Giambi, A's: .215/.311/.308 in 74 plate appearances.  Signed through 2009.
  • Brad Penny, Red Sox: 8.66 ERA in 17.6 innings.  Signed through 2009.  We'll cut it off here, at the $5MM+ deals.

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Odds & Ends: Nationals, Garcia, Bonds

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Mailbag: Relief Trade Candidates

A reader named Sam asks:

With so many contenders in need of relief help (Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies to name three), who do you think are the best relievers that could get traded this summer?

The Orioles may eventually be willing to move a few veteran relievers, such as Danys Baez and Jamie Walker.  The D'Backs would probably like to unload Jon Rauch, and could conceivably make Tom Gordon or even Chad Qualls available.  The Rays may be able to spare an arm, perhaps Dan Wheeler.  The Red Sox have a deep bullpen.

As far as marquee closers go, Jose Valverde could be the best available in July.  He's an impending free agent, but on the other hand the Astros are typically loath to throw in the towel.  If the Astros do become sellers, they also have LaTroy Hawkins and Doug Brocail.

Other possibilities: Russ Springer, John Grabow, Rafael Betancourt, Huston Street, and Joe Beimel.  All of the names in this post are speculative, of course.  Your thoughts and predictions?

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Mariners Not Thinking About Trades

Popular questions in MLBTR chats often involve the Mariners trading impending free agents Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn, and Adrian Beltre.  Not so fast.  The Mariners are 12-7, in first place in the AL West.  Why worry about trading off veterans?  Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times asked GM Jack Zduriencik about it:

"Honestly, I have really not thought once about July — about what happens in July.  I want to be in this position as we move forward. Being in first place and winning. We're doing this the right way. I think players need to be happy with it, with how we're going about things. If you're this group of players, you've got to be excited. They deserve to be where they're at and things take care of themselves.''

How are the Mariners doing it?  They should probably be 10-9, based on their +5 run differential, but those extra wins are in the bank.  The Ms are 11th in the AL with 4.21 runs scored per game; Beltre, Jose Lopez, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Franklin Gutierrez have been easy outs.  The Mariners have instead succeeded with strong pitching and defense.  They rank second in the AL with a 3.50 ERA, and that includes 6.14 from Carlos Silva and 7.11 from Chris Jakubauskas.

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Ryan Freel Is Unhappy

Ryan Freel's Orioles career is not off to a good start.  He's trying to bounce back from a head injury, and has gripes with the team's handling of the situation according to MASN's Steve Melewski.  His reply when asked whether he wants to stay with the Orioles:

"I think change is good for people. I think the expectations were for me to come here and perform in a different way than I did. I don't think I met the expectations the way I in spring training. There is nothing wrong with change. I don't think I fit here. I can't control what they do with me. It's putting a damper on my career."

You may recall that Freel met with Andy MacPhail on April 15th over playing time concerns.  It seems that the O's acquired Freel for Ramon Hernandez in December mainly just to free up cash (they saved $3.5MM) and a catching spot for Matt Wieters.

MLBTR Chat Transcript

Click here to read today's chat transcript. 

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Odds & Ends: Glavine, Thorman, Sheffield

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Mets Release Freddy Garcia

10:54am: According to David Lennon of Newsday, the Mets released Garcia today.  Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post talked to Garcia's agent Ed Greenberg, who says his client is "way too young to retire" at age 32.  Greenberg was surprised by the Mets' move, and blames cold weather for Garcia's rough start.

9:25am: Things aren't going well for Freddy Garcia in Triple A.  Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News reports:

Garcia has an 8.18 earned run average and has lost both his starts for the Herd. He threw 80 pitches Monday, 54 for strikes. He twice hit 85 mph and had a few other pitches in the low 80s. He was mostly in the mid-70s and was throwing offspeed stuff in the mid-60s.

I imagine a good chunk of the MLBTR audience can throw in the mid-70s.  Garcia isn't healthy, and sounds like he's considering retirement:

"I want to do the best things I can the next couple days. I want to feel better.  Hopefully it will work out for me but I don't know. I'm working really hard to try to get right but my shoulder doesn't respond.  I'm going to try my best. If not, I guess I'll go home. I don't know. That's it, man."

Garcia sports a 4.07 ERA in 1716.6 career innings, with 118 wins for the Mariners, White Sox, Phillies, and Tigers.  He also won six postseason games for the Mariners and White Sox.

The Mets' rotation currently ranks 14th in the NL with a 5.35 ERA in 104.3 innings.  They've got question marks behind Johan Santana, but at least John Maine looked good yesterday.  How about Tim Redding?  He's close to returning from a rotator cuff strain, after one Triple A rehab start this week.

Barry Bonds Refuses To Retire

Barry Bonds attended last night's Giants game, and provided his typical nonsensical comments.  Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News has a transcript.  Baggarly learned that Bonds is not retired, and his offseason injury was related to his quad rather than his hip.

Rosenthal On Yankees, Acta, Pedro

The latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports

  • The Yankees' bullpen ranks 12th in the AL with a 6.47 ERA in 64 innings.  Rosenthal learned that GM Brian Cashman isn't interested in any of the available relievers, and the plan seems to be to let them pitch their way out of the funk.  Early offenders include Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, and Damaso Marte.  Plus, Brian Bruney is out with an elbow injury.
  • Rosenthal explains some of the criticisms of Nationals manager Manny Acta.  He does not think a firing is imminent, but Acta may not make it through the year.
  • David Ortiz on Pedro Martinez: "When I saw him pitch, I had hot flashes of when he was here."
  • Rosenthal notes the team-friendly nature of Albert Pujols' current seven-year, $100MM contract.