April 2011

Quick Hits: Mets, Draft Prospects, Royals, Manny

Carlos Santana's first career grand slam couldn't have come at a better time for the Indians.  The young catcher hit a walkoff slam to lead Cleveland to a 9-5 win over Detroit on Friday night.  Here's some news from around the majors…

  • The Mets are willing to give "veto power over a limited number of financial decisions" to a new minority owner, reports Josh Kosman and Lenn Robbins of the New York Post, including such decisions as large player contracts and overall payroll size.  The Wilpons and Saul Katz "will treat their new partner as a real partner," one source tells Kosman and Robbins.
  • ESPN's Keith Law reveals his latest ranking of the top 50 draft prospects.  Law calls this draft a "huge pitching bonanza," but lacking in position players.
  • Also from Law, via Twitter, the Cubs are hoping center fielder Bubba Starling is still available when they make their first-round (9th overall) choice.
  • Many of the Royals' top prospects are off to a great start in the minors, but GM Dayton Moore doesn't plan to bring any of these young stars up to the Major League level anytime soon, reports MLB.com's Dick Kaegel.
  • Manny Ramirez hints to ESPNDeportes' Jorge Arangure about a return to baseball — in the Dominican winter league, that is.
  • In a live chat with fans, ESPN's Jayson Stark discusses such topics as Kevin Millwood's future with the Yankees, Bryce Harper's progress and the Blue Jays' chances of signing Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder as a free agent this winter.
  • David Wharton of the Los Angeles Times looks at some of the more notable "dead money" teams are still paying to players long since departed from their rosters or the game itself.
  • Tracy Ringolsby of FOXSports.com writes about Mike Quade's unlikely path to becoming the Cubs' manager.

AL Central Notes: Quentin, Royals, White, Adam Miller

Here's some news from the only division in baseball whose members are all former World Series champions…

  • Carlos Quentin attributes his strong start to learning how to leave the game at the ballpark and how to cope with failure, writes Tim Kurkjian for ESPN.com.
  • The Royals will look within their organization for bullpen help, as Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports the club doesn't want to risk losing anyone from their current 40-man roster.
  • "Kansas City baseball fans have grown sick of money," writes SI's Joe Posnanski, noting that fans seem to appreciate how the Royals are spending on their minor league system rather than on stop-gap veterans.  Posnanski points out that K.C.'s league-low payroll could (or should) be even lower given the Royals are paying Kyle Davies and Jason Kendall a combined $6.95MM in 2011.
  • Right-hander Alex White, the Indians' first-round pick (15th overall) in the 2009 amateur draft, will make his Major League debut on Saturday.  The Tribe will have to make room for White on the 40-man roster — Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer thinks the club could move one of their several infielders, while MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince speculates that right-hander Jess Todd could be the odd man out.
  • Also from Castrovince, right-hander Adam Miller has been cleared to pitch for the Indians' Class A affiliate.  Miller was picked 31st overall by Cleveland in the 2003 amateur draft, but hasn't pitched since 2008 due to four surgeries on his right middle finger.  Miller, 26, has a 3.51 ERA, 8.7 K/9 rate and a 3.19 K/BB ratio in 104 minor league appearances (94 of them starts).

Dodgers Notes: McCourt, Robinson, Magic

Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are making noise on the field, but the biggest Dodger story continues to be Major League Baseball's takeover of the club's operations.  Here's the latest from the City of Angels…

  • Tom Schieffer says the Dodgers have made their May payroll, reports Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. TimesJon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports adds the detail that the Dodgers made payroll without the assistance of Major League Baseball.  (both Twitter links)
  • Team vice chairman Steve Soboroff warns baseball's other owners that they could end up subsidizing the Dodgers, reports Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times.  "If I'm an owner in Kansas City or Washington, the last thing I want to do is to put $1 million a month into the Dodgers when there's $3 billion sitting in the bank," Soboroff said.  The other owners appear unified behind Selig, however, and Shaikin hears from a sports business consultant that MLB would repay owners for any money spent to cover the Dodgers' costs.
  • If the Dodgers aren't allowed to add payroll while under MLB's stewardship, ESPN.com's Jason Churchill notes that of the team's top prospects, only Trayvon Robinson may be able to provide immediate help down the stretch.  Robinson, a 10th-round pick in the 2005 amateur draft, posted a .300/.404/.438 line at Double-A Chattanooga in 2010 and has a 1.023 OPS through 78 Triple-A plate appearances this season.  The 23-year-old L.A. native plays left field and is a switch-hitter, but one scout tells Churchill that Robinson doesn't yet have everyday skills.
  • Magic Johnson denied any interest in buying the Dodgers last fall, but in a recent interview with Steve Covino and Rich Davis of SiriusXM Radio (and passed on by Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times), the Lakers icon left the door open for joining a potential new ownership group.  "You know, people here in L.A. want me to make a run for the Dodgers," Johnson said.  "I will sit back and see what happens, and if somebody approaches me and wants a partner or wants me to be involved, I'll take a look at it. 'Cause I love baseball. And I love the Dodgers.’’
  • Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe notes that Red Sox president Larry Lucchino's name "comes up a lot in the commissioner's office" as someone who can help solve the Dodgers' ownership problems.  Lucchino was linked to the Dodgers a few years ago amidst rumors of animosity between he and Theo Epstein, but the two have apparently patched things up.  Abraham also reminds Boston fans that Frank McCourt attempted to buy the Red Sox in 2001.
  • Frank McCourt's issues have made a former embattled NL West owner, John Moores, look better in comparison, writes Tom Krasovic of West Coast Bias.

Rangers Sign Justin Miller

The Rangers have signed right-hander Justin Miller to a minor league contract, reports Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link).  Miller will report to Triple-A Round Rock on Monday.  Miller was released by the Mariners earlier this week after he informed the team that he was going to opt out of his contract on May 1, due to a clause that gave him that right since Miller wasn't on Seattle's Major League roster by that date.

Texas has been looking for right-handed bullpen depth with Neftali Feliz on the DL and Alexi Ogando moved to the rotation.  Miller had an impressive 1.04 ERA in 8 2/3 Triple A innings this season, and in 19 appearances for the Dodgers in 2010, Miller posted a 4.44 ERA and an 11.1 K/9 rate.  The Rangers will be the 10th franchise Miller has pitched for during his 14-year pro career.

Astros Release Cesar Carrillo

The Astros have released right-hander Cesar Carrillo, reports Greg Rajan of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times (via Twitter).  Carrillo was put on waivers by San Diego last September and claimed by Houston, but struggled (a 9.64 ERA in 9 1/3 innings) for Double-A Corpus Christi this season.  It's an unfortunate birthday present for Carrillo, who turns 27 today.

Carrillo was a first-round pick of the Padres (18th overall) in the 2005 amateur draft and was ranked as the 88th-best prospect in the game by Baseball America before the 2006 season.  Carrillo underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007, however, and never quite got back on track.  The right-hander has a career 5.14 ERA in 99 minor league games (93 of them starts) and made three starts for the Padres in 2009, allowing 15 earned runs and 12 walks in just 10 1/3 Major League innings.

Rockies Designate Alan Johnson For Assignment

The Rockies designated right-hander Alan Johnson for assignment to create space on the 40-man roster, the team announced (on Twitter). In corresponding moves, Colorado called up Alfredo Amezaga and optioned Clayton Mortensen to Triple-A.

Johnson started one game for the Rockies this year, surrendering 6 hits, 3 walks and 4 earned runs in 4 innings of work on April 17th, when he made his MLB debut. The 27-year-old has since been demoted to Triple-A, where he has a 0.84 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 10 2/3 innings of work. Baseball America did not list Johnson among its top 30 Rockies prospects before the season.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Braun, Pence, Wilson, Lee

Two historic pitching records have been set on his date. Back in 1986, Roger Clemens set the single game strikeout record by whiffing 20 Mariners in a 3-1 win, and four years ago Trevor Hoffman made his 803rd career appearance with the Padres. That's the all-time record for games pitched with one team.

I'm not sure if any of these links will have that kind of historic significance, but that's for you to decide…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here. Only one email per week, please.

Stark On Rangers, DeRosa, Phillies, Papelbon

Joey Votto is the player of the month for ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, who hears from a scout that the Reds’ first baseman is more feared than anybody in the National League, including Albert Pujols. Here are the rest of Stark’s rumors:

  • One NL executive thinks the Mariners are so far from winning that they should be listening to offers for Felix Hernandez, who is under team control through 2014. Yesterday, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports heard from a number of executives who expect King Felix to stay put for now.
  • An AL official says the Rangers are the most likely candidate to trade for a high-profile reliever this summer. Their bullpen has taken a number of hits, with Neftali Feliz and Darren O’Day on the DL and Alexi Ogando moving to the rotation.
  • Stark hears that the only players available now are those with “awful contracts.”
  • Despite the buzz about Mark DeRosa and the Marlins, Stark hears that the Giants and Marlins have not had serious discussions about the currently-injured utility player.
  • The Phillies will find it hard to add payroll this summer, but they’re eyeing potentially available bats.
  • Though Jonathan Papelbon will likely test the free agent market after the season, Stark gets the impression that the reliever could re-sign in Boston after all.

Quick Hits: Astros, Phillies, Bautista, Starling

Links for Friday on the 25th anniversary of Roger Clemens' first 20 strikeout game…

  • MLB officials say Jim Crane is still on track to buy the Astros from Drayton McLane, according to Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle. Justice argues that Crane should bring Lance Berkman, Andy Pettitte and former GM Gerry Hunsicker back to Houston if he does take over.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues that manager Charlie Manuel needs to be cautious with his rotation, because it’s “by far the Phillies' biggest strength.”
  • Former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi told Tom Verducci of SI.com that he liked Jose Bautista enough to trade for him, but wasn’t expecting historic production from the former utility player. “If you told me he would hit 20 home runs, I would have believed it because you could see the power,” Ricciardi said. “But no way could you see 50.”
  • D'Backs GM Kevin Towers was on hand to watch high schooler Bubba Starling play yesterday, according to ESPN.com's Keith Law (on Twitter). A two sport athlete, Starling is arguably the top high school position player in the 2011 draft.

Update On This Year’s Rule 5 Picks

Many Rule 5 picks ultimately return to their original organizations, as it's not easy to keep inexperienced players in the Major Leagues all season long. So far, 2011 is no exception; 8 of the 19 players selected in the Major League phase of last offseason's Rule 5 draft are back where they started. Here are updates on the draftees, four weeks into the season:

On Active Rosters (6)

  • Pedro Beato of the Mets has yet to allow an earned run in 14 innings of relief. The most impressive Rule 5 pick of the year has allowed 7 hits and 3 walks, striking out 8. 
  • Brian Broderick of the Nationals has allowed 2 walks and 9 hits in 8 1/3 innings with a single strikeout. He'll have to pitch better to deserve a roster spot all season long.
  • Another reliever, Aneury Rodriguez of the Astros, has allowed 9 hits and 4 walks in 8 innings, striking out 7.
  • Nathan Adcock of the Royals has allowed 10 hits and 3 walks in 10 innings with 4 strikeouts for a 2.70 ERA.
  • D'Backs manager Kirk Gibson has used Joe Paterson strategically in his 11 appearances; 16 of the 20 batters who have faced the the southpaw have been left-handed. The results are good: 0 earned runs and 5 strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings with 2 hits and 3 walks allowed.
  • Phillies utility player Michael Martinez has only batted 17 times, but his .423 OPS is not impressive. The switch-hitter has played second, short and center and will have to hit more to keep his roster spot.

Traded (3)

The Mets returned Brad Emaus to the Blue Jays, who traded the infielder to Colorado. Rule 5 restrictions no longer apply to Emaus, so the Rockies don't have to worry about losing him. The Twins retained Scott Diamond in a trade with the Braves and he has posted a respectable 3.48 ERA in four Triple-A starts. The Red Sox sent Daniel Turpen to the Rockies.

Injured (2)

Elvin Ramirez (Nationals) and Mason Tobin (Rangers) are on the 60-day DL. As Adam Rubin points out at ESPNNewYork.com, they have to spend 90 non-September days on the active roster to become official property of their new teams. Otherwise, their Rule 5 status carries forward until the players spend 90 non-September days on the active roster.

Back Where They Started (8)

Josh Rodriguez, Jose Flores, Adrian Rosario, Pat Egan, Lance Pendleton, George Kontos, Robert Fish and Cesar Cabral are back with their original organizations.

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