August 2010

Manny Ramirez Claim Reactions

The move that sent Manny Ramirez to Chicago wasn't as dramatic as the one that sent him to L.A., but it's still one of the biggest transactions of the summer. Two years ago, we had many teams bidding on Manny and Jason Bay heading to Boston. This year, the Dodgers could only negotiate with the White Sox and no players headed back to L.A., but Manny can still hit at an elite level, so baseball players and writers are buzzing about him:

  • ESPN.com's Keith Law says Ramirez is a definite upgrade for the White Sox, even though his stat line may be inflated since "he's done a lot of his damage this year against pitchers with fringe-average fastballs."
  • Multiple White Sox told MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince that they were pleased to see that Manny will be joining the team.
  • ESPN.com's Jayson Stark says Ramirez's difficult personality is "a gift he just keeps on giving."
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out that Ramirez had no choice but to waive his no-trade clause. The 38-year-old has a much better chance of restoring his free agent value in Chicago.
  • Dave Cameron of FanGraphs believes the White Sox made a "bold, intelligent" decision.
  • Click here to read Kenny Williams' thoughts on the claim.
  • It's time to hear your reaction: did the White Sox make the right decision? Click here to take the survey and here to view the results.

Orioles Rumors: Wigginton, Uehara, Izturis

You might see Ty Wigginton in an Orioles uniform next season, but it’s less likely that the club re-signs Kevin Millwood or Julio Lugo. Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that he has preliminary interest in re-signing some of Baltimore’s free agents, though final decisions are months away. Here are the details:

  • Ty Wigginton: The Orioles have interest in re-signing Wigginton, and the infielder told Connolly that he would consider returning in 2011. "I enjoy getting to go out and compete and put on a Baltimore Orioles uniform,” Wigginton said. “I think I can definitely be a good fit; we'll just have to see how everything works out."
  • Koji Uehara: The reliever said he’s not thinking about next year, but confirmed that he wanted to pitch for an MLB team. Uehara, who projects as a Type B free agent under the Elias Rankings, would do well to sign for a couple million, as Tim Dierkes explained today.
  • Cesar Izturis: The shortstop says he’d like to spend the rest of his career in Baltimore, and the O’s have’t ruled out bringing him back.
  • Corey Patterson: Connolly points out that if Patterson re-signs, the sides will likely reach a deal late in the offseason.
  • Kevin Millwood: Millwood may seek out a pitcher-friendly environment after years of pitching in Baltimore and Texas. An arbitration offer seems unlikely for the projected Type B free agent.
  • Mark Hendrickson: The Orioles have a $1.2MM option for the lefty’s services in 2011, so he could return.

 


Andruw Jones Wants To Play Five More Years

Andruw Jones told MLB.com's Scott Merkin that he hopes to play for five more years. The 33-year-old hits free agency after the season and says he would like to stay in the Windy City.

“I would like to be here again and be a part of the Chicago White Sox," Jones said. "Hopefully, we can finish strong and make the playoffs and get on a streak."

As Jones pointed out to Merkin, he is no longer a threat to hit 50 home runs, but he still has value. In 171 games since the beginning of the 2009 season, Jones has hit 35 home runs and posted a .214/.322/.466 line. The power is still there, and at $500K plus incentives this year, he has been a bargain.

Jones suggests that he'd like to see more playing time, but that seems unlikely with Manny Ramirez about to join the White Sox. Still, as long as Jones' contract demands remain reasonable, teams should have interest in him as a bench bat and part-time outfielder. Jones is not the defensive standout he was when he won ten consecutive Gold Gloves, but UZR suggests that he is still a capable outfielder.



The Blue Jays’ 2011 Rotation

Four years ago, the Blue Jays rotation was a recognizable bunch. Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett and Ted Lilly headlined a talented, established group of starters. Now, the talent is there, but the pitchers are less experienced. And Shaun Marcum, who made his first big league start on that 2006 team, likes that he and his 2010 rotation-mates are surprising some people around the league.

“It’s good, because I’ve always been underrated,” Marcum told MLBTR. “So it’s something I’ve dealt with my whole life. I’ve been undersized; I haven’t been strong; everybody’s had something to knock on me, so to be underrated means to fly under the radar and sneak up on people.”

That's just what the Blue Jays are doing, but Marcum knows he, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Brett Cecil are not exactly a secret.

“I think people kind of know who we are right now,” Marcum said. “People give us credit [and acknowledge] Brandon, Brett and Ricky, so the names are out there."

The numbers are there, too. Marcum returned from Tommy John surgery to post a 3.61 ERA this season and toss a one-hitter, thanks to one of the league's best change-ups. Morrow, who tossed a one-hitter of his own, leads the American League with 10.9 K/9, more than any qualified starter since 2007 (Erik Bedard). Meanwhile, Romero (3.54 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 3.3 BB/9) and Cecil (3.80 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9) have impressed in their sophomore seasons. The group has improved this year and Marcum says we can expect similar adjustments from the rotation in 2011.

“It’s young, gaining more experience each and every time out, getting better each and every time out,” Marcum said. “Especially Brandon, Brett and Ricky, they’ve developed into three great pitchers and they’re going to be main guys in this rotation for years to come.”

Marcum, Romero, Cecil and Morrow are under team control through 2012 or longer, but they won’t be enough. GM Alex Anthopoulos will need to round out his rotation with at least one starter next year and potentially more (he can't count on the same remarkable health Blue Jays starters have shown in 2010).

Top prospect Zach Stewart has showed promise in the minor leagues, and so has Brad Mills. Stewart, who is starting again, posted a 3.71 ERA with 7.7 K/9 in AA. Mills, 25, has struggled in the majors, but has posted solid numbers at Triple A Las Vegas, a hitter-friendly environment. Plus, Marc Rzepczynski, Jesse Litsch, Scott Richmond and Shawn Hill all have big league experience as starters. On the depth chart right beside them is Kyle Drabek, the 2010 Eastern League pitcher of the year. That distinction, which came after a season in which Drabek posted a 2.89 ERA and threw a no-hitter, caught Marcum’s attention.

“And he’s not the only one," Marcum said. "There’s other pitchers down [in the minor leagues], too. For him to go out and have the year that he had is good for him and good for this organization and hopefully we can get him up here soon to help out.”

Drabek is one of many internal options the Blue Jays have, so it would be a surprise to see the team pursue free agent starters this winter. The organization has the depth to fill its rotation from within and Blue Jays starters have the ability to establish themselves as one of the tougher groups in the league.


Kenny Williams Talks Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez did not ask for compensation from the White Sox when he waived his no-trade clause to come to Chicago. GM Kenny Williams said Ramirez and agent Scott Boras did not ask for an extension or anything but the chance to play. It’s not surprising, since Ramirez was no longer contributing in L.A. and now has the chance to build his free agent value down the stretch.

The White Sox could have sent the Dodgers a prospect in exchange for some salary relief, but Williams says he’d prefer to keep the talent and spend the money nine times out of ten.

“Talent is hard to come by and when you get higher-end talent, you try to do your best to hold onto it,” Williams said.

Williams expects Ramirez to adjust his appearance to respect the club’s policy. But even if he shortens his dreadlocks or cuts them off completely, the GM realizes Ramirez is no cookie cutter player.

“Is there a [perfect] fit anywhere for a personality like Manny?” Williams asked. “What’s wrong with a little flair?”

The Red Sox and Dodgers might have some answers to Williams' rhetorical question, but the White Sox aren’t worried about any of their new DH's history. When Ramirez joins his new team in Cleveland tomorrow, he’ll join a group intent on winning in 2010. And if all goes well for the White Sox, they could even bring Ramirez back next year.

“I go into this with an open mind,” Williams said. “Let’s see how it goes, let’s see how it fits.”


Red Sox Claim Mike Napoli, No Deal Reached

MONDAY, 4:06pm: The Red Sox will not trade for Napoli, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. A source familiar with the situation told Speier that the Angels were "not really looking to move" the catcher.

SUNDAY, 6:29pm: The Angels will likely pull Napoli back as they can create more of a trade market for him over the winter, a league source told John Tomase of the Boston Herald.

3:38pm: ESPN's Joe McDonald tweets that the Red Sox have claimed Napoli on waivers, but in a separate tweet says it's unlikely the two teams work out a deal for the slugging catcher.

Sitting 5.5 games back of the Wild Card and first place in their division, the Red Sox are a logical fit to claim Napoli. His right-handed power would fit well in Fenway, and his presence would also serve as an insurance policy to Jarrod Saltalamacchia beyond the 2010 season. The claim also blocks Tampa Bay from getting their hands on Napoli.

Ken Rosenthal points out (via Twitter), that if the Angels are intent on trading him, they could likely get more for Napoli in an offseason deal when they can incorporate more teams into the bidding.

9:23am: Mike Napoli has been claimed on waivers by an unknown team, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The Angels have until Monday afternoon to work out a trade with the claiming team, which Morosi speculates is an American League club.

Napoli, 28, has been a consistent source of power for the Angels, hitting 61 homers in his last three seasons, including a career-high 21 this year. However, Mike Scioscia seems to prefer Jeff Mathis, a superior defensive backstop, behind the plate. Since Mathis came off the disabled list in June, Napoli has seen far more playing time at first base, replacing the injured Kendry Morales, than at catcher.

As Morosi notes, most American League contenders could use some help at catcher, first base, or designated hitter, and Napoli may also appeal to non-contenders like the Tigers, since he's under team control through 2012. As they exhibited on Friday by dealing Brian Fuentes, the Angels aren't averse to making August trades, but the bet here is that Napoli remains in Anaheim.


Rockies Sign Luis Ayala

The Rockies signed reliever Luis Ayala and assigned him to Triple A, according to the transactions page for the Pacific Coast League. The right-hander has not pitched in the majors this year, though he did pitch 1.2 scoreless innings for Colorado Springs over the weekend.

Ayala, 32, last appeared in the majors last year when he posted a 5.63 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 for the Twins and Marlins. He posted similar numbers at Triple A in the Dodgers and D'Backs organizations this summer, before signing in Colorado. The Rockies continue to look for relievers, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com.


Odds & Ends: Dickey, China, Draft

Ten years ago today, the Mets traded 20-year-old outfield prospect Nelson Cruz to the Athletics for Jorge Velandia.  Cruz had yet to make his pro debut.  He was traded twice more before breaking out with the Rangers at age 27.  Today's links, as Cruz returns from the disabled list…


Webb Seeking Significant Base Salary For 2011

2:13pm: Webb won't be signing cheaply.  In an email to MLBTR, his agent Jonathan Maurer said:

"Webb loves Arizona and they will be considered highly, but Brandon WILL be looking at an incentive-based contract [with] a guaranteed base where [Brad] Penny and [Rich] Harden at $7.5MM, [Ben] Sheets at $10MM and [Tim] Hudson's $9.33MM average annual value are all conversation starters.  Webb, when healthy, is one of the top pitchers in the game.  Arizona is a great place to play, ([though] it has always been a hitter's park, Webb has dominated there) but I anticipate significant interest in what is a very healthy Brandon Webb, with his signature life back on all his pitches."

8:37am: When Josh Byrnes exercised Brandon Webb's 2010 club option in January, the expectation was that the pitcher would be ready for Spring Training following August shoulder surgery.  Webb declined the team's overtures regarding a 2011 option, and I even opined that a return to form in 2010 could lead to an $80MM deal.

What a difference eight months makes.  Byrnes was canned, replaced by Jerry Dipoto on an interim basis.  Veterans Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, Chris Snyder, and Chad Qualls were shipped out, saving the team many millions.  And setbacks in Webb's recovery have him looking at a potential September debut in a relief role.  Webb explained to the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro:

"The next few weeks are huge for next year.  For one, I want to prove it to myself. And, two, I want to prove not only to the Diamondbacks but all the other teams out there that might be interested in me playing for them next year."

Despite the changes with the team, Webb's stance toward returning to the Diamondbacks next year remains the same.  He hopes to return, but he understands he might end up leaving.  Webb knows he's looking at an incentive-based deal, and says it'll be in the team's hands after the season.  He had positive words for the revamped Arizona pitching staff, which is now built around Ian Kennedy, Joe Saunders, Dan Hudson, and Barry Enright.

Webb made similar comments about returning to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick in January, but at that time he focused a bit more on doing the best for his family and playing near his Kentucky home.  At the time, I noted that Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland are fits geographically.


White Sox Acquire Manny Ramirez

The White Sox officially acquired Manny Ramirez from the Dodgers, tweets USA Today's Bob NightengaleMLB Network's Peter Gammons tweets that the Sox decided to take on Manny's entire salary in lieu of surrendering a prospect, so this is a straight waiver claim.  $3.8MM of Ramirez's $20MM salary remains, though three-quarters of that is deferred without interest.  The move bears some similarity to Chicago's waiver claim of Alex Rios from the Blue Jays on August 10th of last year – both players were simply handed over for salary relief.  In this case, Ramirez waived his no-trade rights without compensation.

Ramirez has worn out his welcome at each of his three previous stops, as chronicled by Yahoo's Jeff Passan.  Still, he represents the best possible designated hitter upgrade the White Sox could have made.  Manny is still a near-lock for a .400 OBP and .500 slugging percentage, and he may be motivated by his impending free agency and damaged reputation.  The White Sox are running out of time to close the 4.5 game gap with the Twins.  With 32 games remaining, Baseball Prospectus pegs Chicago's playoff chances at 8.9%.