Links for Tuesday....
- Baseball America's Ben Badler tweets that the Red Sox have signed speedy 17-year-old outfielder Roberto Rosario from the upstart Dominican Prospect League for $150K.
- The Red Sox might be in a terrific position to take advantage of the Ryan Howard contract fallout, says Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal.
- FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal interviewed former Mets' executive Tony Bernazard, who was fired last year. It's a very interested read, give it a look.
- MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling explores the financial savings the Nationals could enjoy if they delay calling up Drew Storen.
- Meanwhile, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro says the Marlins aren't going rush Mike Stanton to the big leagues.
- Dusty Baker denied a report that the Reds turned down extension talks, tweets John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer.
- Didn't get enough Ryan Howard extension reactions yesterday? Not to worry, there are plenty more pundits weighing in today. ESPN.com's Buster Olney says that many baseball people now feel that Howard, "a star in his prime," is overpriced, and the Phillies might regret the contract long before it expires. ESPN.com's Keith Law agrees, writing that he laughed when he heard the news. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer says the contract may be an overpay but it represents "the cost of doing business," and Todd Zolecki of MLB.com says the Phils had to either pony up for Howard or risk letting him walk after 2011.
- Meanwhile, USA Today's Bob Nightengale suggests Howard's deal could be the beginning of a slew of mammoth contracts for baseball's sluggers.
- John Tomase of the Boston Herald notes that modifications in Fangraphs' UZR model make Jason Bay's defense look a whole lot better. Fangraphs' latest UZR update included adjustments for specific ballparks like Fenway, and improved Bay's 2009 UZR from -13.8 to +1.9. As Tomase indicates, Bay and his agent probably would've liked that change made before Bay signed his four-year deal this winter.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Giants have discussed promoting Buster Posey earlier than June.
- In his MLB.com blog, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann speculates on who would be next in line for each managerial job in both the National League and American League.
- Also at MLB.com, Peter Gammons has a column up that addresses a few intriguing what-if questions, including what could have happened if the Red Sox had acquired either Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira.
The Red Sox have called up lefty reliever Alan Embree from Triple-A, tweets Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald. Embree would have been able to opt out of his minor league contract on April 30th if he had not been called up by then.
The 40-year-old Embree was originally able to opt out of his deal on April 15th, but he agreed to push it back another two weeks. Embree allowed two runs in 7.1 Triple-A innings, but he held lefties to just one walk in 4.1 innings against them.
Boston will need to make a 40-man roster move to accommodate Embree's arrival.
The Diamondbacks don't appear to have interest in bringing back reliever Juan Cruz, tweets MLB.com's Steve Gilbert, while Juan C. Rodriguez of The Sun Sentinel says not to look for the Marlins to have interest either. They'll be getting Brian Sanches back from the disabled list soon, and Florida hopes he can shore up their setup corps.
The Royals released the disappointing Cruz last week as part of a bullpen makeover, eating the $3.25MM he's owed this year plus the $500K buyout for his 2011 option. Any team can sign Cruz for the pro-rated portion of the Major League minimum. The 31-year-old posted a 5.50 ERA with a 7.3 K/9 in 55.2 innings for Kansas City.
Alburquerque, 24 in June, was originally acquired in the Jeff Baker trade last summer. He had been working in relief for Colorado's Double-A affiliate this season, allowing eight runs with a 5/4 K/BB ratio in 4.1 innings. Baseball America ranked Alburquerque as Rockies' 20th best prospect in their Prospect Handbook, noting that he has touched 99 with his fastball in the past.
There has been a lot of attention paid to Red Sox slugger David Ortiz lately, mostly because he's off to a slow start for the second straight year. However, Ortiz is focused on future, telling WEEI.com's Rob Bradford that he wants to play "Two or three more years and then I’ll take it to the house.”
Ortiz mentioned that he lost 20 pounds over the winter by changing his diet, though he's still hitting just .160/.236/.320 through his first 55 plate appearances. He started last season slow as well, but rebounded in the second half to finish the year with a respectable .238/.332/.462 batting line with 28 homers.
Big Papi is in the final guaranteed year of his contract, during which he'll earn $12.5MM. The team holds an option for next season at the same salary with no buyout, and it's hard to see them exercising that even if his performance recovers similar to last year.
“I’ve had dialogue with [GM] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] since the winter meetings,” said Jeff Borris, Werth's agent. “I don’t want to rule out the possibility of his re-signing with the Phillies, but it would appear right now we’re at an impasse.”
Werth, 31 next month, is being paid $7MM this season as part of the two year, $10MM contract he signed last January, and will be a free agent after the season. He's finally started to live up to the potential that landed him on Baseball America's top 100 prospects list four times from 1999-2003, hitting .278/.378/.499 since joining Philadelphia in 2007.
MLBTR's Luke Adams looked at Werth's situation a little more in-depth earlier today.
According to talent evaluators that spoke to ESPN.com's Buster Olney recently, this year's starting pitching trade market may not take shape for another couple months. For pitching-desperate teams that don't want to take on a salary dump, that means the few remaining arms on the free agent market might be their best bet. Let's take a look at the latest news on some of the more notable pitchers still available....
- Jarrod Washburn: The Diamondbacks were rumored to have a passing interest in Washburn, but not at his asking price. The last we heard from agent Scott Boras was that as many as five teams were after the 35-year-old, though that was nearly three weeks ago. It seems that Boras and Washburn still have a vastly different perception of the left-hander's worth than most GMs do. Could the Dodgers be a possibility? According to Sirius XM Radio's Jim Bowden (via Twitter), GM Ned Colletti is still looking for a pitcher at the right price.
- Pedro Martinez: It's looking increasingly likely that Pedro will once again only pitch a half-season. The Mets are considered a potential landing spot for the righty, but the Phillies might be the favorites. Martinez had a successful stint with in Philadelphia in 2009, and the two sides have been keeping in touch this year. The Dodgers could be in the mix too, though the 38-year-old still harbors bad feelings toward the organization, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- Braden Looper: Although the 35-year-old righty threw for the Cubs recently, they're not expected to sign him. Looper is probably most valuable as an innings-eater starter, while the Cubs are in need of a setup man. There hasn't been a lot of concrete news about Looper lately, but the Rockies could potentially be a fit. Tracy Ringolsby of Inside the Rockies opined three weeks ago that Looper-to-Colorado would be a logical match, and if both Jorge de la Rosa and Jason Hammel head to the disabled list, the Rockies would be missing two crucial starters.
- John Smoltz: He may be a TBS analyst for now, but Smoltz still hasn't ruled out pitching this season. The Phillies were rumored to be interested, though you'd have to think it'd be a case of either Martinez or Smoltz for Philadelphia, rather than both. Like Pedro, the 42-year-old is more likely to pitch for a National League club if he returns, so once again the Dodgers make sense as a potential suitor.
Miles, 33, was released by the Reds two weeks ago, and had garnered interest from the Rangers before signing with St. Louis. The switch-hitter was owed $2.7MM this season by Cincinnati, who will likely now pay $2.3MM of that figure, with the Cardinals picking up the remaining $400K.
Miles struggled through an injury-plagued 2009 season with the Cubs, hitting .185/.224/.242 in 170 plate appearances, but has enjoyed some success in St. Louis in the past. From 2006 to 2008, Miles posted a .289/.335/.363 slash line in 1328 plate appearances as a utility player for the Cardinals.
The long-term effect of Ryan Howard's new contract extension on the Phillies has been breathlessly debated over the last two days, but Howard's deal also raises questions about Philadelphia's short-term future. Outfielder Jayson Werth is set to hit free agency following this season, and it's unclear if the Phillies will be able to afford him.
David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News points out that Howard's extension, which starts in 2012, doesn't affect the team's bottom line for next year, but it could impact the Phillies' ability to commit long-term to Werth. Assuming he enjoys a strong 2010 campaign, Werth may be in position to command a deal similar to the four-year, $66M contract Jason Bay signed with the Mets over the winter, which would put the Phillies on the hook beyond 2011.
According to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, the Phillies' organization believes they'll be able to re-sign Werth, a stance reiterated when GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said Howard's contract wouldn't affect their chances of retaining the 30-year-old. Werth's agent, Jeff Borris, echoed Amaro's sentiment, though he added that it wouldn't be appropriate to say whether he was optimistic about a Werth extension.
The Phillies won't have a ton of money to work with next year if, as Murphy suggests, they hope to keep their payroll around $140MM. They already have about $130MM committed to returning players, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the club has misspent a lot of the money that could have gone to Werth. Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer thinks that the Phils' best move would be to re-sign Werth and find a way to replace Raul Ibanez with prospect Domonic Brown. Considering Ibanez will be owed $11.5MM and will turn 39 next year, moving him may be easier said than done.
While the financial issues involved in re-signing Werth are challenging enough, the Phillies also have to consider the problems facing their offense if he walks. Replacing Werth with Brown would give the team yet another left-handed bat in a lineup that already includes Howard, Ibanez, and Chase Utley.
Zolecki writes that extension discussions with Werth seem to have been put on hold while the Phillies finalized the Howard deal. Now the team will have to hope that Howard's extension, which will likely hamper their negotiating flexibility with Werth, won't entirely kill their chances of retaining the star outfielder.
Morosi notes that the recent struggles of Downs, Frasor, and the rest of the Blue Jays' bullpen could negatively impact Toronto's trade leverage. The Jays' 5.69 relief ERA ranks next-to-last in the American League, and the normally reliable Downs and Frasor have played a significant part in the bullpen's problems. Downs has a 5.63 ERA in eight innings, while Frasor has compiled a 9.35 ERA in 8.2 IP. It's probably too early to be concerned though -- Downs has been consistently effective in Toronto, recording a 2.26 ERA from 2007 to 2009, and Frasor's .527 BABIP so far has inflated his ratios.
The Jays aren't expected to contend this year, meaning they could auction off free-agents-to-be like Downs and Frasor before July's trade deadline. Morosi names the Cubs, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Reds, Marlins, Brewers, and Rays as some teams that could be in need of bullpen help this season.