Sunday night linkage..
- Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner tweets that it'll be interesting to see which sabermetric-friendly team will ink recently-DFA'd pitcher Edwar Ramirez. Cameron's bet is on Tampa Bay.
- Jason Churchill of ESPN (Insider subscription required) explains why second basemen aren't often selected in the first round of the amateur draft. He writes that the best athletes usually play center field and shortstop in high school and college. The second basemen typically come from the shortstops who cannot keep up with the position defensively.
- Ben Sheets threw live batting practice for the first time with the A's and impressed the coaching staff with his velocity, according to the Associated Press. Sheets inked a one-year deal with Oakland worth $10MM plus performance bonuses in late January.
- Felipe Lopez's arrival may mean less at-bats for Julio Lugo, writes Matthew Leach of MLB.com. Lugo sounds less-than-thrilled about a reduced role but said that his agents have not approached the Cards about a move.
- Dusty Baker isn't worried about his contract situation, writes Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. The Reds skipper is entering the final season of a three-year pact.
- Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes that despite trading away several highly-rated prospects in the last 19 months, the Phillies still have talent in their farm system.
There's understandably a lot of people focused on hockey today, but let's not forget that March starts tomorrow and Spring Training games kick off this week! Here's a look back at the past seven days as baseball is just around the corner:
- A couple weeks back, I asked why Felipe Lopez didn't have a job yet after a fantastic 2009 season. That question is no longer up for debate. Lopez signed with the Cardinals on a one-year, $1MM deal with an additional $1.2MM in easily-reachable incentives. It's a tremendous deal for a player of Lopez's versatility. The Cards did well to wait it out an ink him at their price.
- Another free agent struggling to find work after a productive 2009 was Jonny Gomes, but he too found a home this week. Gomes re-signed with the Reds on a one-year, major league deal with an option for 2011.
- Another signing of note was righty Chan Ho Park agreeing to a one-year, $1.2MM deal with the Yankees. Park struggled in the Philly rotation last season but was terrific out of the bullpen. He'll need to continue to keep his flyball numbers down as he has the past two seasons, but it's a low-risk move that helps the Yankees on paper.
- The Braves signed 18-year-old Dominican shortstop Edward Salcedo for $1.6MM this week. Salcedo's a big kid, at 6'3", which leads to some doubts about his future at shortstop, but he's considered to have tremendous offensive upside. As Tim points out in the article, landing Salcedo takes off some of the sting felt by Atlanta from surrendering their first round pick for Billy Wagner and not receiving a pick for Rafael Soriano.
- Brad Wilkerson must've been kidding when he retired the first time. He's back on a minor league deal with Philadelphia. Another minor league deal of note was Livan Hernandez re-signing with the Nationals. He should have a good shot at helping to fill out the back-end of their rotation.
- With this offseason winding down, it's never too early to start looking at the next one! Some of the big storylines could include Aramis Ramirez and his 2011 player option, Carl Crawford and his future in Tampa Bay now that his extension talks are on hold until after the season, and (if he's still there), Adrian Gonzalez, whom we heard won't be taking a discount for his hometown Padres.
- Sad news this week as the Rangers were forced to void Khalil Greene's contract when it was learned that he would not report to camp due to his continuing battle with social anxiety disorder. Best of luck to you, Khalil.
- Baseball America posted their annual list of the game's Top 100 Prospects; check it out, and of course, voice your opinion.
- Updates to the Offseason In Review series this week included the Tigers, White Sox, Indians, and Blue Jays.
Some Sunday links to browse....
- The Royals agreed to terms with Brayan Pena and Chris Getz, according to a team press release. Terms of the contracts were not disclosed. With Pena and Getz sorted out, the team now has four unsigned players remaining: Billy Butler, Alberto Callaspo, Luke Hochevar, and Carlos Rosa.
- In his most recent blog post, ESPN.com's Buster Olney writes that Prince Fielder ought to consider a long-term extension with Milwaukee, since "it's still unclear whether any team would value him as much as the Brewers."
- Mike Cameron considered signing with the Mariners before he landed in Boston, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times.
- Andy Martino of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that the Phillies were Chan Ho Park's first choice heading into this winter, but that the two sides just couldn't work anything out.
- If Josh Beckett's last contract was any indication, he won't be concerned about "setting the market" when he signs his next deal, writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald.
- Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle defends the Astros' offseason bullpen signings, explaining how the team evaluated Brandon Lyon and Matt Lindstrom.
- Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch passes along comments from Tony La Russa about how the club's infield rotation will work with Felipe Lopez now a Cardinal.
- Blaine Boyer played a major part in recruiting Adam LaRoche and Kelly Johnson to Arizona, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
Jane Lee of MLB.com tweets that Jennings will report to the team's spring training camp, while Tomko will continue rehabbing an arm injury at Minor League camp. The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser adds, via Twitter, that the Twins made Tomko a similar offer, but that he felt more comfortable in Oakland. Slusser also tweets that Jennings was close to a deal with the Giants at one point, while Stiglich adds the Cardinals and Mets to the list of teams spoken to by Jennings in a separate tweet.
Tomko was extremely effective in six starts for the A's in 2009, winning four games with a 2.95 ERA. Jennings, meanwhile, acted as a setup man for the Rangers, posting a 4.13 ERA in 44 relief appearances.
Ramirez pitched 22 innings out of the Yankees' bullpen in 2009, recording a 5.73 ERA. The 28-year-old righty did show promise in his time with New York though, striking out 116 batters in 98.1 career major league innings.
Roy Oswalt is only 32 years old, but he's already talking about retirement, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. When asked about his future, Oswalt entertained the possibility of only pitching for a couple more seasons:
"I still love the game. I still love the competition. ... But when I get finished with my contract, if I’m not pitching at the level I’m pitching at now, then I’m not going to come back and hurt the team."
Oswalt has been one of baseball's most dominant starting pitchers this century, posting a 3.23 ERA since breaking into the majors in 2001. Though his 4.12 ERA in 2009 was a career-worst, it's still hard to imagine him becoming ineffective enough that he'd want to retire when his current contract expires at age 34.
It's conceivable, however, that he might not be an Astro by 2012. Morosi compares Oswalt to Roy Halladay and Jake Peavy, two aces who were traded from non-contenders to contenders within the last year. The Astros have no immediate plans to rebuild or to deal Oswalt, but teammate Lance Berkman acknowledges, "I could see Roy saying, 'Hey, I want to go somewhere where I’m pitching for a championship.'"
At his press conference in Korea, Park said he was leaning toward the Cubs until recently, as they were willing to let him battle for a rotation spot. The Yankees' "history and championship contention" won out, and Park will join their bullpen. Joel Sherman of the New York Times says Yankees GM Brian Cashman lobbied ownership to expand the payroll for Park, but now Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre could be traded.
Park, 36, posted a 2.52 ERA, 9.4 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9 in 50 relief innings for the Phillies last year. The Type B free agent was not offered arbitration by the Phils, but they did reportedly make a $3.25MM proposal.
In his new column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo takes a look at the Tampa Bay Rays, and their desire to recapture their 2008 success. Within the piece, Cafardo also offers up some hot stove nuggets....
- The Red Sox are serious about keeping Mike Lowell's bat around, but if they do decide to move him, the Twins "could be a major suitor." They've had interest in Lowell in the past, which would likely be renewed if the Sox paid most of the $12MM he's owed.
- Ron Mahay turned down a minor league contract offer from the Red Sox. It sounds like he's looking for a deal that would guarantee him a spot on a major league roster.
- The Angels intend to give free agent addition Hideki Matsui a shot in the outfield, despite his knee problems. Yankee officials still don't believe that he'll be physically able to play in the field.
- Cafardo writes that Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino and Orioles president Andy MacPhail are two names at the top of the list of candidates to replace Bud Selig as baseball's commissioner after 2012.
We've already talked about the best move of the offseason this evening, so now let's turn the page and discuss the worst move of the winter. Here are some candidates...
- Dodgers sign Jamey Carroll to a two-year, $3.85MM contract.
- Mets sign Alex Cora to a one-year, $2MM contract.
- Adam LaRoche declines a two-year, $17MM offer from the Giants.
- Astros sign Brandon Lyon to a three-year, $15MM contract.
- Giants re-sign Bengie Molina to a one-year, $4.5MM contract.
There are plenty of more bad moves out there, but which one is the biggest head scratcher?
If you're in the Northeast, here are some links to check out while you take a break from shoveling...
- ESPN's Jayson Stark ranked baseball's ten-year contracts, with Derek Jeter's soon to be completed ten-year, $189MM deal coming in as the best.
- The Marlins agreed to one-year contracts with 12 of their pre-arbitration eligible players according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, including Sean West, Chris Volstad, Emilio Bonifacio, and Dan Meyer.
- Brewers owner Mark Attanasio confirmed that he will be involved in long-term contract discussions with Prince Fielder, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter). Haudricourt also tweets that Attanasio and GM Doug Melvin met today to discuss the situation and there will be no deadlines imposed on the 25-year-old.
- Rich Aurilia, who stopped by the Giants' camp today, says that while he's still looking for a job, he will retire if he doesn't have one by the end of spring, tweets Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse. The 38-year-old has a broadcasting deal in place if he is unable to find a job on the field.
- Shin-Soo Choo says that he would like to stay in Cleveland long-term, writes MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. Choo, like Morales, cut ties with his former agent (Alan Nero) in favor of Scott Boras.
- Michael Weiner, the executive director of the players' union, confirmed that the union is participating in an investigation into alleged unauthorized withdrawals from Kendry Morales' bank account by a former employee of his former agents, Hendricks Sports Management (Bill Plunkett of the OC Register reporting). Morales recently dropped HSM and hired Scott Boras.
- Bernie Miklasz of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides a few quotes from Albert Pujols about his contract situation. "Do I want to do this right now and take care of this so we don't need to worry about it? Of course," said Pujols. "If it happens, it happens. But there are some things I am able to control and there are other things that are out of my hands that I can't control. And that's the truth."
- The Mariners signed righty Tom Wilhelmsen to a minor league contract, according to Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. The 27-year-old had been out of baseball since 2005 because of substance abuse issues, though he resurfaced with an independent league team last season.
- Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along a report indicating the the Orix Buffaloes are moving towards a deal with Freddie Bynum. The White Sox released Bynum last week so he could pursue opportunities in Japan.
- Meanwhile, Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says that Felipe Lopez will provide the Cardinals with a great amount of flexibility.
- Joel Sherman of The New York Post calls the contracts of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia and other Yankee players "time-bomb contracts."
- John Tomase of The Boston Herald says the Red Sox have a deep bench with Mike Lowell, Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida, and Jason Varitek.