June 2009

Brewers Eyeing Brandon Backe

According to Adam McCalvy at MLB.com, the Brewers might be interested in signing recently-released RHP Brandon Backe. Says assistant GM Gord Ash: "You have to at least take a look."

The Brewers are currently hurting for starting pitching depth, though they received a nice outing from Mike Burns tonight, as McCalvy notes. By picking up Backe they'd only be on the hook for the pro-rated amount of the league minimum. He might be able to slide into the back end of the rotation, but he's not likely to be an impact acquisition.

It's a little murky on who else has expressed interest in Backe. Any other teams where he might make a decent fit?

Arangure Jr. On International Prospects

ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr. has been all over the market for potential signings from Latin America ahead of July 2nd, the first day teams are officially eligible to sign international free agents. Let's check out his latest action on the beat:

  • The Braves and Reds supposedly watched the workouts for shortstop prospect Humberto Valor. One scout called him "the best position player in Venezuela," and he's expected to get a bonus in the range of $1.5MM-$2.2MM.
  • The Red Sox are apparently set to sign Dominican right-hander Raul Alcantara for $500k. Here's a scouting report, and one scout said he's "better than [Michael] Ynoa."
  • The Brewers and Yankees are said to be "all over" SS prospect Damian Arredondo, touted for his "raw speed."

Ben had a round-up of more international signing tidbits yesterday. Keep an eye out for a flurry of news as the deadline approaches.

Odds & Ends: Zambrano, Royals, Hinske

A dosage of links to soothe and satisfy between innings:

Discussion: Replacing Mike Lowell

The Red Sox were dealt a blow today when third baseman Mike Lowell was placed on the DL with a right hip strain. In a new video today, ESPN's Peter Gammons commented on the situation:

"One way or another, they need to find another bat… He's a huge loss on and off the field."

Gammons throws out Garrett Atkins and Nick Johnson as potential fits, though noting Johnson's defense has been suspect this season.

Adam Kilgore at the Boston Globe talked to Terry Francona about Lowell, who says he's feeling good and doesn't expect to miss much more than the 15-day minimum. Regardless, the 35-year-old Lowell had surgery on the hip in November and isn't guaranteed to stay healthy. He's posted a .282/.319/.470 line for a Sox team that has put up a .798 OPS, which sits at 3rd in the majors.

If you're Theo Epstein, do you trust that Lowell returns to form on time? Or do you pursue a corner bat to boost the offense? If so, who's your guy? Share your thoughts.

Indians Release Luis Vizcaino

According to Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com, the Indians released reliever Luis Vizcaino today. The 34-year-old Vizcaino had been designated for assignment on June 23.

Vizcaino put up a 4.11 ERA and 12/12 K/BB ratio in 15.1 innings between the Cubs and Indians this year. The Rangers were said to be in the mix for Vizcaino before the Indians, and with their decimated bullpen it looks to still be a possibility.

D’Backs Discussed Haren With Angels?

Ken Rosenthal at FOX Sports says that the Angels inquired on Dan Haren, hoping to add the elite starter through a deal that could have included "their surplus of catchers and middle infielders to put together a blockbuster offer." However, the Diamondbacks declined to engage in more serious talks for Haren. Says one D'Backs exec:

"I almost can't conceive of a package that would motivate us to move him."

Rosenthal goes on to say that the Diamondbacks consider Haren an integral piece of their future, but one source indicated that "talks could accelerate" if the Angels bowl over the Diamondbacks with an overwhelming offer. Rosenthal notes this is a sign that teams are trying to get creative in a depleted market for starting pitching.

Orioles Sign Matt Hobgood

TUESDAY, 5:08pm: Hobgood received a bonus of $2.42MM, according to PGCrossChecker.com.

SATURDAY, 2:19pm: MLB.com's Spencer Fordin reports the Orioles will introduce Hobgood at a press conference scheduled for 5:30pm ET.

FRIDAY, 4:58pm: The Orioles will sign first round pick Matt Hobgood tomorrow, according to Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. Schmuck doesn't have the terms of the deal, but they should become available after tomorrow's press conference. Click here to see the bonuses received by some of Hobgood's fellow first-rounders.

It sounds like Hobgood's already fitting in well with Adam Jones, Jim Palmer and others in the O's organization.

Pirates Trade Reactions

Jack Wilson is unhappy with the deal that sent Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett to Washington, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Wilson argues that the majority of the Pirates' recent moves haven't worked out and says many current Pirates won't be around long enough to enjoy any positives from Neal Huntington's changes.

Some reactions to the Pirates-Nats deal from Twitter: Joel Sherman says the Pirates won; John Perrotto is surprised by the talent the Pirates acquired; Jon Heyman says at least the Nats have an outfielder who can catch now and Keith Law says it's an easy win for the Pirates. Dave Cameron at Fangraphs likes the deal for the Nats and says they got a useful player in Morgan.

Recapping The Pirates Trades

The Pirates dealt their starting left-fielder, their most relied-upon reliever and a utilityman for a former top prospect, a power bullpen arm and a couple low-level prospects in a pair of deals today. Here's a recap of who the Pirates obtained:

  • Casey Erickson – one of the players obtained in the Hinske deal, Erickson was pitching in A ball. He'll turn 24 in August, so he hasn't moved through the minors particularly quickly, but he struck out 37 in 44 innings without allowing many runs.
  • Eric Fryer – this catcher/outfielder was also playing in A ball for the Yanks, though for a different team. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus says neither player is anything special; they're just "bodies." 
  • Lastings Milledge – the 12th overall pick in the 2003 draft, Milledge shot through the minors, but has put up a pedestrian .261/.326/.400 line in the major leagues. He's just 24 and the Pirates should have him under team control through 2013. 
  • Joel Hanrahan – the 27-year-old reliever has been hit hard this year, but his strikeout rate remains high and he's actually lowered his walk rate from last year. Like Milledge, Hanrahan should be under team control through 2013.
And a look at what they gave up to get it:
  • Eric Hinske – ostensibly he can play at any corner infield or outfield position and he hits righties well. The 31-year-old makes $1.6MM this year and the Pirates will send $400k to the Yankees to cover part of the cost.
  • Nyjer Morgan – the former hockey player will turn 29 later in the week. So far he has 18 steals and an OBP of .351. He won't even be arbitration-eligible until after 2011.
  • Sean Burnett – the Pirates have relied on the 26-year-old over and over this year and it's worked. He's allowed 37 baserunners in just over 32 innings, striking out 23. He won't hit free agency until 2012 at the earliest.

So how did Neal Huntington do today? We won't know for a while, but he got talented players without giving away major pieces of the franchise's future. 

Odds And Ends: Hinske, Pirates, Astros

Links for Tuesday…