May 2010

Brewers Designate Claudio Vargas For Assignment

Milwaukee has designated righthander Claudio Vargas for assignment, according to the Brewers' VP of Communications Tyler Barnes (via Twitter).  The move was made in order to accommodate the arrival of Chris Capuano, who was recalled from Triple-A Nashville.

In 19.2 innings this season, Vargas has a ERA of 7.32 with 8.2 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9.  For his career, the soon-to-be 32-year-old has a 4.83 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.

Vargas, who has thrown his fastball at an average of 91.3 mph throughout his career has seen his velocity dip to just 86.5 mph this season.


Gammons On Ellsbury, Varitek, Beltre

Peter Gammons made his regular appearance on WEEI's The Big Show on Friday afternoon to chat about the Red Sox. Nick Bove has the full transcript, but here are the highlights…

  • Gammons notes that Jacoby Ellsbury's rib injuries are coming at a bad time, because he's in line for his first arbitration payday after the season. "He’s got Scott Boras in his ear, telling him what he’s going to make. If he were jaking it, that makes no sense. It’s just the opposite, in fact. This is really important for him to play." Ellsbury has played in just three of the team's last 44 games, and there's no timetable for his return.
  • Boras was on board with Ellsbury's move to left field because he wouldn't have to run as much, which would help boost his offensive production and improve his arbitration case. He cited Barry Bonds and Rickey Henderson as examples.
  • Gammons believes Jason Varitek figured out that he could extend his career by three or four years by accepting a part-time role and playing two or three times a week.
  • Adrian Beltre is hitting .342/.371/.511, and Gammons says that Boras played the market perfectly by getting him a one year deal that will allow him to go back out on the market with improved stock after the season.

2010 Draft Prospect: Jameson Taillon

Major League Baseball's amateur draft will be held from June 7th-9th, so we're going to introduce you to some of the top players available between now and then.

The Texas flamethrower demographic is one of the most exciting the amateur draft has to offer, listing Roger Clemens, Josh Beckett and many, many others among it's alumni. This year's addition to that club is 6-foot-7, 230 lb. righthander Jameson Taillon from The Woodlands HS, the same school that produced Blue Jays' prospect Kyle Drabek

Baseball America ranked Taillon as the second best prospect in the draft class behind Bryce Harper, while ESPN's Keith Law had him third (sub. req'd for both). MLB.com's Draft Report indicates that his fastball sits in the 94-99 mph range and features "explosive movement." He also backs it up with a pair of good breaking balls. Law says that Taillon tends to rush through his delivery, which results in high school hitters squaring up his pitches more than they should be able to against a guy throwing that hard. The MLB.com link features video.

No high school righty has ever been selected first overall, and that trend will continue in 2010 thanks to Harper's presence. Taillon is the best pitcher in the draft, though he's maxed out physically and doesn't offer the same potential for growth as a typical high schooler. Jim Callis of Baseball America projected the Orioles to select Taillon third overall in his latest mock draft. 



Giants Recall Buster Posey

The Giants have recalled top prospect Buster Posey from Triple-A, reports Andrew Baggarly of The Mercury News. The move has been confirmed by both Ed Price of AOL FanHouse and ESPN's Buster Olney

"When we bring him here, we want to make sure he’s on the field at least five days a week," said GM Brian Sabean. It's likely that Posey will man first while giving Bengie Molina the occasional day off behind the plate. The 23-year-old crushed the minors this year, hitting .349/.442/.552 in 208 plate appearances, playing some first base in addition to his usual catching duties. 

Even though San Francisco waited until the end of May to recall Posey, he's on track to be a Super Two after the 2012 thanks to the month's worth of service time he accrued last September. That could change if the Giants send him back to the minors. Despite being a high profile college player, Posey did not receive a major league contract as the fifth overall pick in 2008, instead taking a $6.2MM bonus (the second largest in draft history) up front.


Brewers Recall Chris Capuano

The Brewers have summoned lefthander Chris Capuano to the big leagues, according to Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel. Capuano had an out clause in his contract that would have allowed him to become a free agent if was not in the big leagues by today.

The 31-year-old last pitched in the majors at the end of the 2007 season. He suffered an elbow injury in Spring Training of 2008, and eventually underwent the second Tommy John surgery of his career. In the three years prior to his injury, Capuano posted a 4.28 ERA with a 7.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in close to 600 innings for Milwaukee. He struck out 33 and walked just four while putting up a 1.59 ERA in seven minor league rehab starts this year.

The Brewers will have to make a 40-man roster move to accommodate Capuano's arrival, though they could slide Gregg Zaun to the 60-day DL given his torn labrum.


2010 Draft Prospect: Manny Machado

Major League Baseball's amateur draft will be held from June 7th-9th, so we're going to introduce you to some of the top players available during the next few weeks. 

High school shortstops have long been a hot commodity during baseball's amateur draft, with six being taken in the first round over the last three years. That includes Tim Beckham and Mike Moustakas, the first overall pick in 2008 and the second overall pick in 2007, respectively. The top shortstop prospect in this year's class (high school or college) is Manny Machado of Brito HS in Miami.

ESPN's Keith Law ranked him as the second best prospect in the draft behind Bryce Harper, while Baseball America had him fourth (subs. req'd for both). MLB.com's Draft Report says that Machado has been "swinging the bat very well" and has a chance to hit for good power, but it's uncertain if he can remain at short as his 6-foot-3, 190 lb. frame fills out. Law notes that he "he has the tools to be a plus defender there," though acknowledges the possibly of him moving off the position. The MLB.com link has video.

Being a righthanded hitting shortstop from Miami with a big frame draws obvious comparisons to Alex Rodriguez, though it's completely unfair to put that on anyone, let alone a kid still in high school. Machado simply doesn't have A-Rod's innate hitting ability. In his latest mock draft, Baseball America's Jim Callis projects the Pirates to select Machado with the second overall pick, and it's hard to envision him getting past the Mets and the seventh overall pick.


Odds & Ends: Jenks, Fielder, Burrell, Marlins

A few more links for Friday evening, as the Reds homer for the 17th straight game….


Dempster Deferred Salary To Give Cubs Flexibility

8:50pm: Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago reports that Dempster's salary deferral actually came this past offseason, allowing the Cubs to sign Xavier Nady. Rosenthal confirms the report, via Twitter. A bit of a disappointment for Cubs fans who were hoping the team would be able to to use those savings to make a trade this summer.

4:05pm: Ryan Dempster will defer $3MM of his $12.5MM salary this year at little or no interest to give the Cubs the flexibility to make moves, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Dempster will receive $1MM of the deferred money by February 2011, $1MM by February 2012 and the final $1MM by February 2013. The rest of his contract is unchanged, so Dempster will still make $13.5MM in 2011 and retain his $14MM player option for 2012.

The 33-year-old Canadian has a 3.31 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 this season. The Cubs need Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee to start hitting like they usually do, but they will now be better-prepared to address smaller needs when they emerge. Scott Rolen restructured his deal in the winter, and he got an extension out of it. The best Dempster can hope for is an improved chance at postseason play.


Discussion: Lyle Overbay

Much has been written over the last few years about Vernon Wells' immovable contract, but besides that significant commitment to their center fielder, the Blue Jays have a very manageable payroll situation. The only other player on their roster who will earn more than $4.75MM this season is Lyle Overbay ($7MM).

Unlike Wells, who has rediscovered the power stroke that earned him that monster contract in the first place, Overbay is struggling. Hitless in his last 14 at-bats, the 33-year-old has seen his 2010 slash line slip to .200/.281/.337 and has been the target of Rogers Centre boo-birds for most of the season. Manager Cito Gaston finally dropped Overbay in the batting order tonight, slotting him seventh rather than his usual fifth.

Although it's still unclear whether Toronto will be a buyer or a seller this summer, parting ways with Overbay could benefit both the present and future of the club. Top prospect Brett Wallace is hitting .289/.346/.537 with 11 homers in Triple A Las Vegas and not only represents a significant piece of the team's rebuilding plan, but could provide an instant offensive upgrade over Overbay. The Jays are likely postponing a roster decision at least until they can be sure Wallace will avoid becoming a super two player, but that time is fast approaching.

The last time we looked at Overbay's future, we still thought he may have some trade value. Now it seems unlikely that the first baseman, who has approximately $4.9MM remaining on his contract, would attract any interest. Is it best for Toronto to emulate what the Rays did with Pat Burrell and just cut their losses, or can Overbay turn things around? Is the 23-year-old Wallace ready to be an everyday player for a team technically still in contention? How should the Jays handle this situation?


Dodgers Designate Nick Green For Assignment

Nick Green has been designated for assignment by the Dodgers, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.

The Dodgers signed Green to a minor league deal in January, hoping he could back up Rafael Furcal at shortstop. However, even when Furcal was on the disabled list, Green received limited playing time. The success of Jamey Carroll (.380 OBP) and Furcal's return to the lineup made the ex-Red Sox expendable.

In nine plate appearances for Los Angeles, Green singled once and was hit by a pitch. The 31-year-old hasn't fared much better in the minors, hitting .219/.242/.438 in 67 Triple A plate appearances.