Your Saturday evening links, with more to come...
- ESPN's Keith Law has made some significant changes to his Top 100 MLB Draft Rankings. It's subscriber-only, but a great read for those looking to catch draft fever.
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times asks (and attempts to answer) a popular question: "What is going on with Raul Ibanez in Philadelphia?"
- Benjamin Kabak of River Ave. Blues takes another look at Andy Pettitte's incentive-laden deal with the Yankees.
- Cubs manager Lou Piniella is high on Mike Fontenot at third base. "Fontenot is honestly our best option there," Piniella told the Chicago Sun-Times. "When we get Aaron Miles back [from the disabled list] it will help the situation too. But we feel very comfortable with Fontenot at third, and we can use [Bobby] Scales and [Andres] Blanco at second."
A's right-hander Justin Duchscherer is a free agent after this season, but he hasn't thrown a pitch all year due to lingering elbow discomfort and suffered yet another setback on Friday. Heading into the '09 season, things were looking up for "The Duke of Hurl." The 32-year-old had a 2.54 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 95/34 K/BB ratio for Oakland in 2008 and was cruising toward his first major contract. What now?
If the Twins don't sign him to an extension, Joe Mauer will hit the free agent market after 2010 as a 27-year-old catcher with at least two batting titles and two All-Star Game selections to his name. Already, some writers are starting to speculate on the sort of contract Mauer could command. In the last week heavyweights Peter Gammons and Nick Cafardo both suggested Mauer could sign a deal worth over $180MM and Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press made a similar suggestion today. Here are some of the reasons Mauer could command the biggest contract in baseball history not signed by Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter.
- At 27, Mauer will have plenty of good years left when he becomes a free agent. Remember Jorge Posada signed a four-year deal after his age 35 season.
- Most teams- we'll exclude those with talented young catchers like the Orioles, Braves and Dodgers- could upgrade at catcher. This should leave Mauer with many suitors, including high bidders like the Red Sox and possibly the Yankees.
- Most importantly, he's one of the game's best players. Even if you set aside his Bonds-esque 2009 OPS of 1.344, he's always had good strikeout to walk ratios and entered this year with a career OPS of .856.
- Throw in his defense and teams will be lining up for Mauer.
- He has to stay healthy.
- Since he's most appealing as a catcher, teams will have to be confident that Mauer can catch long-term if they're going to offer him Mark Teixeira-type money.
Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Rays will replace Akinori Iwamura's production from within the organization. Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said the club will rely on Ben Zobrist, Willy Aybar and Reid Brignac to fill the void created by Iwamura's injury. Even with Jason Bartlett injured, the Rays aren't expected to add anyone, in part because they cannot add payroll. It would have been a surprise to see the Rays give something up for a middle infielder when they're getting production from the players they already have.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times spoke with scouts who say White Sox GM Ken Williams is aggressively looking for "front line pitching." Chicago's bid for Jake Peavy failed, but Cowley hears that Williams is "not done searching."
SATURDAY, 9:57am: According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune the White Sox will designate catcher Corky Miller for assignment today. The 33-year-old career backup batted 42 times this year, hitting .205/.262/.282.
8:59pm: SI's Jon Heyman says the White Sox are talking to the Mets about their catchers, probably Castro, and "it appears there's a decent chance a trade can be reached."
4:41pm: According to Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News, the Mets are trying to trade catcher Ramon Castro before Saturday's game (hat tip to MetsBlog). They've spoken to the Mariners, who just lost Kenji Johjima for a couple of months. Rubin says the Mets are not prepared to eat Castro's remaining $1.79MM. Castro is a solid offensive catcher, so he should draw interest.
According to Colin Fly of the AP (via the Chicago Tribune) Brewers GM Doug Melvin said he's not involved in any trade talks now. Many writers have wondered about Milwaukee's interest in Jake Peavy, but the Brewers aren't currently negotiating with the Padres.
A few links for Saturday morning...
- Nolan Ryan could buy into the Texas Rangers according to this MLB.com article by T.R. Sullivan.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney points out that the Rangers have the resources to "out-bid others for the likes of Erik Bedard" if they decide to trade for pitching help.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin said once again that he's not looking outside the organization for second base help, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Melvin said he's happy with Craig Counsell at second in the absence of Rickie Weeks.
- Now that the Phillies hope to acquire an impact pitcher, Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog.com wonders whether the Mets might decide to get in the Phillies' way and go after an arm, too.
- As Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe reports, the Red Sox aren't about to implement a six-man rotation. The Sox will still have arms to spare so we'll continue to hear Brad Penny's name in trade rumors.
- Dave Krieger of the Denver Post says the next four months will be a "referendum" on Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd and his front office.
- As MLB.com's John Schlegel reports Stephen Strasburg struck out 15 in his most recent start, walking no one and allowing two earned runs on eight hits.
- Check out a discussion I had about the Jays and other MLB teams on TorontoSportsMedia.com.
- Newsday's Ken Davidoff likes the Lance Broadway-Ramon Castro swap for the Mets.
- Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle takes a look at Ed Wade's Kaz Matsui signing and doesn't like what he sees.
Brett Myers is out for the season with hip surgery. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who said the Phillies don't have the money to add multiple starters. Instead they'll aim high, with names like Erik Bedard and Roy Oswalt speculated by Rosenthal. So, not a Brad Penny type. SI's Jon Heyman wrote about Bedard's appeal earlier today.
Rosenthal also wonders if Myers' surgery could restore some lost velocity, making him an intriguing free agent after the season.
On this date 20 years ago, Mike Schmidt announced his retirement 42 games into the season. He was still voted to the National League All-Star team, but did not play. Schmidt retired with a career line of .267/.380/.527, 548 home runs and 10 gold gloves. As we approach the 50-game mark of the '09 season, teams are starting to recognize needs and make changes. Let's take a look at what is being written in the Blogosphere...
- The Fightins make a case for the Phillies going after Jake Peavy.
- When Sid Slid highlights players the Braves might be able to target in a trade, including Luke Scott, Josh Willingham and Brad Hawpe.
- Center Field Gate takes a look at a Manny Delcarmen-Nick Johnson swap from a Nats perspective and finds things not to like. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said the rumor was a fabrication, anyway.
- The Bottom Line puts together a list of catchers the Red Sox might target in a trade involving Brad Penny or Clay Buchholz.
- Capitol Avenue Club says it is time for the Braves to shake things up and moving Jeff Francoeur is the key.
- The Ghost of Moonlight Graham sees a Matt LaPorta for Michael Bowden trade as good for both the Red Sox and Indians.
- DC Sports Plus takes a look back at the Nationals' recent draft history.