October 2010

Poll: David Ortiz’s Future

Yesterday we heard that Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is still seeking a multi-year contract, brushing off criticism about his declining offense. The one they call Big Papi hit .270/.370/.529 with 32 homers last season, but he again had to overcome a brutally slow start (.143/.238/.286 in April). After hitting .302/.402/.612 with an average of 41 homers per year from 2003-2007, Ortiz has hit dipped down to .257/.356/.498 since 2008, which is still very good production.

The Red Sox hold a $12.5MM option for Ortiz's services in 2011, and last month we heard that they were prepared to pick it up. Their alternatives would be to decline the option and make him a free agent (no buyout), or attempt to work out the multi-year deal he desires. It's not an easy call, and it's made even more complicated by Ortiz's status as a franchise icon. Time to hit the polls…

What should the Red Sox do with David Ortiz this winter?

Click here to vote, and here to see the results. 

White Sox Have Targeted Colby Rasmus

10:27am: Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets that the Quentin-for-Rasmus stuff has been percolating since the end of the season. One Cardinals front office type told him "Gotta do better than that."

8:38am: Kenny Williams is certainly no stranger to blockbuster trades, and a source tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that the White Sox general manager has targeted Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus. Williams is said to be willing to part with Carlos Quentin in a package to acquire the young center fielder. 

"It was obvious that [the Cardinals] were paying extra attention to Quentin at the end of the season, so this might have been something that was already talked about,'' says Cowley's source.

The 24-year-old Rasmus reportedly demanded a trade earlier this summer after which his rift with manager Tony LaRussa was made public, though he later denied that claim. GM John Mozeliak has said repeatedly that he will not trade his youngest regular, but you have to assume that he'd at least listen to any offers made. Rasmus hit .276/.361/.498 with 23 homers in 534 plate appearances this year, and UZR likes his defense: +2.6 over the last two seasons.

Quentin, 28, hit .243/.342/.479 in 527 plate appearances this year, though he missed a big chunk of the 2009 season with plantar fasciitis and is an awful defensive player (-40.6 UZR over the last three years). The salaries don't line up here, which would be one hurdle if the two clubs do pursue a deal. Rasmus is still a year away from arbitration eligibility (four years from free agency) while Quentin earned $3.2MM in 2010, his first year of arb eligibility (two years from free agency).

If Williams makes a run at Rasmus, he's going to have plenty of competition. Earlier this month we heard that several teams, including the Braves, Blue Jays, and Diamondbacks have interest in acquiring Alabama's high school single season homerun record holder. Ben Nicholson-Smith recently put together a list of potential trade destinations for Rasmus, though more than 57% of MLBTR readers would not trade him based on last month's poll

Amateur Signing Bonuses: Mets

Next up in our look at each team's spending on amateur players, the Mets…

  1. Mike Pelfrey, $3.55MM (2005)
  2. Phil Humber, $3MM (2004)
  3. Matt Harvey, $2.525MM (2010)
  4. Scott Kazmir, $2.15MM (2002)
  5. Lastings Milledge, $2.075MM (2003)

The Mets made Pelfrey the ninth overall pick in 2005 after three utterly dominant years at Wichita State (2.19 ERA, 9.0 K/9, 1.7 BB/9), and just a year later he was making his big league debut. He didn't stick for good until the middle of the 2007 season, but the Amazins have gotten their money's worth. Pelfrey owns a 4.31 ERA in 113 career starts (and three relief appearances), and he just wrapped up the best season of his young career: 3.66 ERA in 204 innings. He'll be a fixture in New York's rotation for years to come.

Humber was the first of three Rice pitchers taken within the first eight picks of the 2004 draft (joining Jeff Niemann and Wade Townsend), going third overall. He missed the second half of 2005 and the first half of 2006 after having Tommy John surgery, but he made his major league debut shortly after returning. Humber spent most of the 2007 season in the minors, and he threw just nine innings for the Mets (6.00 ERA) before being sent to the Twins in February 2008 as part of the Johan Santana trade.

Harvey was the team's first round pick this year, seventh overall, marking a change in the team's recent stance of adhering to MLB's slot recommendations. He didn't pitch after signing and will start his career next spring. Kazmir was the 15th overall pick in 2002 but as we all know that he never appeared in a game for the Mets. After posting a 2.41 ERA, 11.2 K/9, and 3.7 BB/9 in 49 minor league starts, he was traded to the then-Devil Rays for Victor Zambrano at the 2004 trade deadline. Nothing more to say here, this one's been beaten to death already.

Milledge was considered one of the three or four best prospects in the 2003 draft, but his stock took a hit after he was expelled from high school before his senior year for alleged sexual misconduct with a minor. The Mets gambled on him with the 12th overall pick, but negotiations between the two sides were halted a few months later after more allegations arose. The team eventually signed him after being satisfied with the results of their own investigation. Milledge climbed the ladder and made his big league debut in 2006, though he drew the ire of some team veterans by showboating. He hit .257/.326/.414 in 391 plate appearances with the Mets before being traded to the Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider after the 2007 season.

Yankees Seek Left-Handed Reliever

Yankees GM Brian Cashman addressed the media this afternoon to talk about the brand new deal for manager Joe Girardi and the club's plans for the offseason.  While he didn't tip his hand too much, he did indicate that the club will be on the look out for a left-handed reliever this winter, writes Chad Jennings of The Journal News.

“If I can find a left-handed reliever who can join Boone Logan, I think that will make our choices out of the pen better for our manager,” the GM said. “It’s easy to talk about it. It’s harder to find it. Those are the obvious things that stand out for me: Continue to improve your starting rotation, find a left-handed reliever and then get after it.”

The Yankees already know that they'll be short-staffed in the bullpen to start the year as Damaso Marte will miss significant time after undergoing shoulder surgery.  Recently, our own Ben Nicholson-Smith identified five lefties on the open market this winter that can be had on the cheap.  If the Yankees are willing to spend more, however, they could pursue the likes of Pedro Feliciano and Scott Downs.

Odds & Ends: Lee, Lewis, Blue Jays, Moyer

Links for Friday as the Rangers prepare for a crucial game 3 tomorrow night..

Non-Tender Candidate: Mike Fontenot

In mid-August the Giants struck a deal with the Cubs to acquire infielder Mike Fontenot in exchange for minor league center fielder Evan Crawford.  The Cubs chose to part ways with the 30-year-old who was unable to give an encore performance of his strong 2008 campaign.  In that season he delivered a slash line of .305/.395/.514 with nine homers.  His flat 2010 numbers with the Cubbies (91 OPS+) and the rise of Starlin Castro made Fontenot expendable. 

Fontenot didn't set the world on fire at the end of the Giants' regular season either, hitting .282/.329/.310 in 76 plate appearances.  While he has the ability to play shortstop and third base, his best position is second base.  Second base is, of course, already occupied by Freddy Sanchez, who is under contract through 2011.  While he could conceivably be a cheap alternative if the Giants choose not to retain Juan Uribe, his light-hitting and weak play at shortstop make that unlikely.

As for Fontenot, he earned $1MM and will head to arbitration this winter for the second time.  While he's not a bad utility option to keep around, the Giants could very well choose to non-tender him.  After all, they didn't exactly give up a ton to acquire him this year.  What do you think San Francisco will do with Fontenot?  Click here to vote, and here to view the results.

Heyman On Mets, Valentine, Yankees, Padres

New Mets GM Sandy Alderson is going into his new position with an open mind and the understanding that he has a lot of work ahead of him, writes Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated.  While we've already heard that J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta could join Alderson in Queens, Heyman suggests that another one of the GM's former co-workers could make the trip as well.  A's executive Grady Fuson could possibly join the Mets front office, though Alderson has suggested to some friends that he'll remain in Oakland.  Even Omar Minaya could return to the club in some capacity as he has a relationship with Alderson and "a fondness" for owner Fred Wilpon.  Let's see what else Heyman has for us..

  • Earlier this week Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wondered if the Brewers could afford Bobby Valentine, a fair concern considering the team's limited budget and the ex-manager's rumored seven-figure salary at ESPN.  However, owner Mark Attanasio could be willing to shell out the big bucks to land Bobby V as he is said to be concerned about ticket sales slumping following two losing seasons.  Valentine would certainly qualify as a dynamic hire and could make enough of a splash to boost attendance and TV revenues.
  • Former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes is believed to have several opportunities after winning the silver medal in the Mets' GM search.  We learned earlier this week that Byrnes could wind up in San Diego due to his ties to the club's front office and most notably owner Jeff Moorad.  Heyman says that Byrnes could land with the Padres even if DePodesta doesn't head east for a gig with the Mets.
  • After firing pitching coach Dave Eiland, the Yankees are in the market for a replacement.  One possibility for the job is Rick Kranitz, who was the pitching coach for Joe Girardi in Florida.

Takahashi, Mets Discussing Extension

FRIDAY: The Mets have extended their deadline with Hisanori Takahashi to November 5th, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (via Twitter).  If the two sides don't come to an agreement by then, the left-hander will become a free agent.

Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reported yesterday that the two parties were considering an extension of the deadline.

SUNDAY: Even amidst their search for a general manager, the Mets have been discussing a deal that would keep Hisanori Takahashi in New York, writes David Waldstein of the New York Times. Waldstein reminds us that the Mets have just one more week to re-sign Takahashi; due to a loophole in his contract, the left-hander can become a free agent if he and the Mets don't agree on a contract by October 31st.

According to Takahashi's agent, Peter Greenberg, the two sides have had discussions about an extension, though it's not clear how far along the talks have progressed. With the Mets' GM situation still up in the air, assistant GM John Ricco has been handling the negotiations.

"We have been talking," Greenberg said. "Hisa loved his time in New York, and hopefully, something can be worked out. If not, then he will have to look elsewhere."

If the Mets don't reach an agreement with Takahashi by next Sunday, his time in New York is almost certainly over. Because of the nature of his contract, the 35-year-old wouldn't be able to sign a major league deal with the Mets until May 15th. After a successful rookie season in which he posted a 3.61 ERA in 122 IP, Takahashi likely wouldn't have any trouble securing a major league contract this winter on the open market.

Gimenez & Reyes Become Free Agents

Catcher Chris Gimenez and right-hander Anthony Reyes are free agents, the Indians announced. The Tribe outrighted Gimenez and Reyes today, along with right-hander Hector Ambriz. Gimenez, 27, batted .190/.288/.328 in 67 plate appearances this year. He has struggled to hit at the big league level in two short stints with the Indians.

Reyes, a former top prospect with the Cardinals, rose quickly through the St. Louis system after being selected in the 15th round of the 2003 draft. He struck out more than a batter per inning with excellent command in the minors from 2004-06, but soon lost his top prospect status.

This year, the 29-year-old struggled through 10.0 minor league innings and did not pitch in the majors. Last year, he made eight starts for the Indians and posted a 6.57 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 in 38.1 innings. Reyes does have one major postseason accomplishment; he pitched eight innings of four-hit, two-run ball against the Tigers in the opening game of the 2006 World Series.

Ozzie Guillen For Mike Stanton Trade Was Discussed

4:47pm: Williams told MLB.com's Scott Merkin that the Sun-Times report is “false,” but declined to go into further detail because of rules forbidding executives from speaking about other teams’ players. "That's tampering," Williams said. "All I can say is the report isn't completely accurate." Merkin hears that the White Sox demanded compensation from the Marlins when they wanted to talk to Guillen.

9:56am: The Marlins did not discuss an Ozzie-Stanton trade with the White Sox, according to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post (Twitter link). The White Sox may have discussed the possibility internally, but it seems to have been wishful thinking on Chicago’s part. As the response to our poll shows, Stanton is far more desirable.

4:56am: When Ozzie Guillen was at odds with the Chicago front office earlier this year, there was discussion of a deal that would have sent the White Sox manager to Florida for 20-year-old slugger Mike Stanton, according to Chris De Luca of the Chicago Sun-Times. De Luca reports that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was intent on making Guillen the Marlins’ next manager until Guillen met with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and agreed to return in 2011.

Guillen says he never spoke to the Marlins about managing the team, but he confirmed to the Sun-Times that the White Sox granted the Marlins permission to talk to him. White Sox GM Kenny Williams repeated that he is on good terms with Guillen and insisted his manager is staying put.

''Ozzie is the manager of the White Sox next year and I hope the next 10 years after,” Williams said. “How many times do I have to [bleeping] say it?''

Guillen is under contract with the White Sox next year and he expressed interest in an extension at the end of the season, but did not sign one. Stanton batted .259/.326/.507 with 22 home runs as a rookie this year and is under team control through 2016.

Though manager-player exchanges are exceptional, there is some precedent for them. Eight years ago today, the Devil Rays sent Randy Winn to the Mariners after Lou Piniella left Seattle to manage in Tampa.