June 2010

Eliezer Alfonzo Clears Waivers

WEDNESDAY: Alfonzo cleared waivers and accepted his Triple A assignment, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times (Twitter links). 

TUESDAY: The Mariners will designate Eliezer Alfonzo for assignment to create roster space for Josh Bard, according to Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune (via Twitter). Alfonzo, 31, did not hit well in 41 plate appearances this year, striking out ten times and collecting two extra base hits without drawing a walk. To his credit, he threw out two of the four runners who attempted to steal on him.

Bard was hitting well in limited major league playing time before a calf injury sent him to the disabled list at the end of May. The 32-year-old has a .718 OPS in his nine-year MLB career. Rob Johnson, who is hitting just .198, has been doing most of the catching for the Mariners, who hoped for more production from Adam Moore going into the season. However, the young backstop has been sidelined with heel and hamstring injuries.

White Sox, Angels Targeting Adam Dunn?

WEDNESDAY, 1:48pm: Nationals GM Mike Rizzo never talked to White Sox GM Kenny Williams about Dunn, tweets MLB.com's Bill Ladson.  Meanwhile Ladson's colleague Scott Merkin passes along via Twitter a Rizzo comment made on ESPN's Waddle & Silvy show today: "For us to move [Dunn] will be very painful and it will probably be very painful for the team that wants to acquire him." Here's the audio from ESPN Radio.

TUESDAY, 8:00am: The White Sox are targeting slugger Adam Dunn, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.  Cowley says the Nationals are willing to part with Dunn and names have been discussed, but the Angels are providing competition.  Cowley does not feel the $6.3MM remaining on Dunn's contract would be a problem for the White Sox, based on a recent comment by owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

Back on June 22nd, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he's been talking about an extension since spring training with Dunn's agent.  That same day, Dunn told MLB.com's Bill Ladson he does not want to be traded and hates this side of baseball.  Dunn does not have no-trade protection, however.

The 30-year-old Dunn is hitting .276/.366/.559 with 17 home runs in 314 plate appearances this season.  The batting average would be the highest of his career, his 11.5% walk rate the lowest.  The White Sox have gotten just a .218/.293/.371 line out of the DH spot, with Mark Kotsay getting the most starts there.

One other factor to consider is that as of June 21st, Dunn projected as a Type A free agent.  An arbitration offer seems possible, so the Nationals would probably want to exceed the value of two draft picks.

Cla Meredith Clears Waivers

JUNE 30: Meredith cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple A Norfolk, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.

JUNE 22: The Orioles designated Cla Meredith for assignment, according to the team. The 27-year-old sidearmer has a 5.40 ERA in 15 innings with the O's this year, posting 4.2 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. Meredith, who last pitched in the majors on May 27th, was acquired for Oscar Salazar last year. Since his late-May demotion to Triple A, Meredith has a 13.50 in five appearances.

The Orioles demoted Chris Tillman to make room for recent acquisition Jake Fox on the 25-man roster, but they needed 40-man roster space so Meredith loses his spot.

Poll: Which Free Agents Will Play In 2010?

The Mets signed Michael Barrett yesterday, reminding us that teams can consider dozens of remaining free agents.  Today's poll:

Which free agents will play in the Majors in 2010?

Click here to take the poll and here to see the results.  Vote for as many players as you wish.

Full Story | 2 Comments | Categories: MLBTR Polls

James Houser Clears Waivers

WEDNESDAY: Houser was outrighted to Triple A New Orleans, according to the Marlins via Twitter.

FRIDAY: The Marlins designated James Houser for assignment and called up Jose Veras, according to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez (via Twitter). The Marlins have cut three left-handers this week: Houser, Renyel Pinto (released) and Hunter Jones (released). Houser's replacement is no stranger to the DFA; the Marlins designated Veras in April.

Houser, 25, appeared in one game for the Marlins this year. He allowed three runs in 1.1 innings in the Marlins' loss to the Orioles last night. Veras, a 29-year-old righty, struggled through four early-season appearances with the Marlins, but has since posted a 4.60 ERA with 11.4 K/9 in 24 appearances at Triple A.

The Marlins' search for relievers has led them to Armando Benitez, who pitched a scoreless inning in Triple A last night after signing yesterday.

A Look At Wilmer Flores

Mets shortstop prospect Wilmer Flores may figure prominently into the Cliff Lee trade rumors of the next few weeks.  Let's learn more about him.

Flores was ranked second among Mets prospects by Baseball America heading into the season, behind only Jenrry Mejia.  He placed 41st on Keith Law's top 100 list for ESPN - one spot above Twins catching prospect Wilson RamosBA, with more of an industry consensus approach, ranked him 88th.  Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus ranked him 84th.  All of these rankings were compiled before the season, and Flores' stock has only risen.

Flores started the season at Low A Savannah, and despite being in the midst of a cold streak was promoted to High A St. Lucie recently.  Though he's only 18 years old, and will be until August, Flores is raking in a tiny 28 plate appearance sample since the promotion.

Reading the opinions of the experts mentioned above, Flores is a special bat who will develop power. He is almost certainly going to move off shortstop, and Law doesn't see him at third base either.  He does have a good arm, leading Goldstein to view him as a future right fielder.  The prospect gurus seem most impressed that he's holding his own against much older competition. 

According to Goldstein, Flores is "at least three years and a position switch away" from the Majors.  Is he too far off to headline a deal for Cliff LeeJohn Hickey of AOL FanHouse sees the Mariners seeking players who can make an impact around 2012, particularly outfielders and left-handed starters. 

Josh Banks Clears Waivers

WEDNESDAY: Banks cleared waivers and accepted an assignment at Triple A Round Rock, according to Footer (via Twitter).

SUNDAY: The Astros have designated righthander Josh Banks for assignment, according to Alyson Footer of the Astros (via Twitter).  The move will allow the club to reinstate fellow righty Bud Norris from the disabled list.

The soon-to-be 28-year-old's stint on the Astros' big league roster was brief.  Banks was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday to start against the Rangers on Saturday.  Texas went to town on Banks, scoring six runs and drawing four walks in four innings.

Banks, a former second-round selection of the Blue Jays, found success this year pitching for the Astros' Triple-A affiliate.  In 15 starts, he posted a 2.97 ERA with 2.2 BB/9, though his 3.2 K/9 left much to be desired.

Revisiting The Burnett-Morgan-Hanrahan-Milledge Trade

On June 30th, 2009, the Pirates traded reliever Sean Burnett and outfielder Nyjer Morgan to the Nationals for reliever Joel Hanrahan and outfielder Lastings Milledge.  With exactly one year in the books, which side is ahead?

Hanrahan has tossed 63 innings for the Pirates with a 3.00 ERA, 11.9 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, and 0.43 HR/9.  He's totaled 1.0 WAR for the Pirates.  His fastball velocity has increased since the trade, to the point where he's averaging 95.4 mph this year.  Hanrahan will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season, and he's under team control through 2013.  He's part of a strong late-game relief trio in Pittsburgh, along with Evan Meek and Octavio Dotel.

Milledge is hitting .281/.339/.384 in 490 plate appearances for the Pirates.  He's played 928 innings in left field, but has moved to right field since Jose Tabata's promotion.  He's totaled 1.2 WAR for the Pirates.  Like Hanrahan, Milledge is arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2011 and under control through 2013.

For the Nationals, lefty reliever Sean Burnett has a 2.96 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, and 0.70 HR/9 in 51.6 innings.  He's totaled 0.4 WAR for the Nats.  That value came entirely from 2010, as he's increased his K/9 to 8.1.  He's earning $775K this year after losing an arbitration hearing in February.  Burnett is under team control through 2012.

Morgan is hitting .291/.345/.368 in 530 plate appearances with 41 stolen bases in 59 attempts for the Nationals since the trade.  His 2.7 WAR comes entirely from 2009, as he's actually had negative value in 2010.  Morgan's '09 season ended in late August with a broken wrist.  It's been a rough 2010 season offensively, and Morgan leads the league with 11 times caught stealing.  Morgan has tallied 1,000 innings in center field in his time with Washington.  After the season it appears that he'll miss the Super Two cutoff by a few days, meaning he will not be arbitration-eligible until after the 2011 season.  Morgan is under team control through 2014.

I'd rather have Hanrahan than Burnett at this point, and the Pirates' reliever is under team control for an extra season.  Morgan's last two months have been discouraging, but he might be better than Milledge defensively and is under control for an extra year.  While the Nationals are ahead 0.9 in WAR, this challenge trade remains something of a toss-up a year later.

Giants Will Avoid Rental Players

Giants GM Brian Sabean is searching for a bat, reports Jeff Fletcher of AOL FanHouse.  But here's Sabean explaining his limitation:

"We are not interested in free agents.  We don't want to rent players. That doesn't make sense for us. We've got to find someone we can control, much like the Freddy Sanchez deal, and hope that presents itself."

Sanchez could only loosely be called a controllable player, as he had an $8.1MM club option that was considered a fallback.  The Giants instead extended him at two years and $12MM in October.  Sabean also told Fletcher money is not an issue, though clarified to MLB.com's Chris Haft that "it's not a bottomless pit."

As Fletcher notes, Sabean's statement means Adam Dunn, Jose Guillen, Derrek Lee, Paul Konerko, and Ty Wigginton are out.  We also have to forget Russell Branyan, Adam LaRoche, Austin Kearns, Lyle Overbay, and Xavier Nady.  On Monday, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star had suggested the Giants had interest in Guillen if the Royals picked up the tab. 

Fletcher feels that an outfielder makes more sense for the Giants than a first baseman, unless it's Prince FielderCorey Hart, David DeJesus, and Josh Willingham are three other controllable names.  I'll toss in Jose Bautista and Luke Scott as well.  The Giants reportedly have interest in DeJesus.

The Giants may also scour the market for a setup man and even a starting pitcher, suggests Fletcher.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote yesterday that "the Giants believe their bullpen is in need of more stability, particularly from the left side."

Braves Seek Right-Handed Bat

The Braves are considering Josh Willingham, Corey Hart and Jose Bautista as they look to upgrade their offense with a right-handed bat, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. No deal appears imminent, but the Braves, who just lost Jason Heyward to the DL, are clearly setting their sights high.

Willingham had a .407 OBP and a .498 slugging percentage even before he homered again tonight. And Hart and Bautista started the day as the home run leaders in their respective leagues. All three outfielders will become free agents after 2011. 

David DeJesus, who can be retained for $6MM in 2011, is less appealing to the Braves, partly because he hits left-handed. Should the Braves decide to upgrade over Matt Diaz, Melky Cabrera, Gregor Blanco and Eric Hinske, teams will presumably ask about pitching prospects such as Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino and Mike Minor.