April 2011

Quick Hits: Pujols, Mets, Dodgers

On this date 12 years ago, Tigers scout Ramon Pena signed 17-year-old Omar Infante out of Venezuela. Now, it's a make or break year for the Marlins' infielder, who is 29. Here are today's links…

  • Some Cardinals fans are creating signs to encourage Albert Pujols to re-sign in St. Louis and donating the proceeds to the first baseman's foundation, Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports. Pujols is set to hit free agency after the season and Ron Heinz and his friends want to make sure he stays put.
  • The Mets will likely have a payroll of about $120MM next year, according to Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog. Cerrone suggests the Mets haven't yet decided how seriously they'll consider trade offers for Jose Reyes this summer and points out that it's unclear if GM Sandy Alderson intends to offer the shortstop a long-term deal.
  • ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick identifies nine key partnerships that have emerged so far this season, including Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp and Jose Bautista and Blue Jays hitting coach Dwayne Murphy.

Baseball’s Longest-Tenured GMs

Ever wonder which GMs have held their positions the longest? Or how many GMs were with their current teams a decade ago? I've compiled the list thanks to Baseball America's executive database. It shows how long GMs have been with their current teams, not when they got their first gig running a team. That list would look different, with Andy MacPhail, Dave Dombrowski and Sandy Alderson at the top (I'm using the term 'GM' loosely; some of the executives below have different titles on their business cards). 

The Bay Area has baseball's two longest-tenured GMs, two of the five people on this list to have held their current job for more than a decade. There's been lots of turnover in the past five years, as more than half (17) of baseball's GMs were hired in that time. Here's the complete list:

  1. Brian Sabean, Giants, 1996
  2. Billy Beane, Athletics, 1997
  3. Brian Cashman, Yankees, 1998
  4. Dan O'Dowd, Rockies, 1999
  5. Kenny Williams, White Sox, 2000
  6. Larry Beinfest, Marlins, 2002
  7. Dave Dombrowski, Tigers, 2002
  8. Jim Hendry, Cubs, 2002
  9. Doug Melvin, Brewers, 2002
  10. Theo Epstein, Red Sox, 2002
  11. Jon Daniels, Rangers, 2005
  12. Andrew Friedman, Rays, 2005
  13. Ned Colletti, Dodgers, 2005
  14. Dayton Moore, Royals, 2006
  15. Andy MacPhail, Orioles, 2007
  16. Bill Smith, Twins, 2007
  17. Ed Wade, Astros, 2007
  18. Neal Huntington, Pirates, 2007
  19. Frank Wren, Braves, 2007
  20. Tony Reagins, Angels, 2007
  21. John Mozeliak, Cardinals, 2007
  22. Walt Jocketty, Reds, 2008
  23. Jack Zduriencik, Mariners, 2008
  24. Ruben Amaro, Jr., Phillies, 2008
  25. Mike Rizzo, Nationals, 2009
  26. Alex Anthopoulos, Blue Jays, 2009
  27. Jed Hoyer, Padres, 2009
  28. Kevin Towers, Diamondbacks, 2010
  29. Chris Antonetti, Indians, 2010
  30. Sandy Alderson, Mets, 2010

Check out MLBTR's series on the reaction each GM generated upon taking his first GM job: AL East, AL Central, AL West, NL East, NL Central, NL West.

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NL West Notes: Stewart, McCourt, Belt

The latest from the NL West, where the Rockies have built a 4.5 game lead over the Dodgers, the defending World Champions, the D'Backs and the last-place Padres

  • Steve Foster of Inside the Rockies wonders which position player the Rockies will call on when they decide 13 pitchers are no longer a necessity. Ian Stewart, Chris Nelson, Eric Young Jr. and a number of other former big leaguers are among the candidates to join the Rockies.
  • Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is essentially facing "the prospect of his second divorce in 18 months," Yahoo's Tim Brown says of MLB's takeover of the club's financial operations. "And the guy who fought his way in will fight more ferociously on his way out, you can be sure of that." Brown hears from a friend of McCourt's that he is a "street fighter" at heart.
  • Giants GM Brian Sabean told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that his team isn't left-handed enough. Brandon Belt, who swings from the left side, is playing left and right field in the minors and he'll almost certainly stay in the outfield when he returns to the majors, according to Schulman.

Guillen Discusses Future In Chicago

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he knows his bosses will consider firing him if the team doesn’t perform. And though he says he wants to stay in the White Sox organization for the rest of his life, Guillen says GM Kenny Williams and owner Jerry Reinsdorf don’t owe him anything.

“If Kenny or Jerry doesn’t think I’m doing my job . . . they’re going to fire me because my players don’t produce,” Guillen told Rosenthal. “I respect that. I don’t mind getting fired. If I get fired, it’s for a reason. What reason? Me.”

Though several rival executives believe the White Sox would be better off without Guillen, at least one team covets the former shortstop as a future skipper. The 15-8 Marlins expressed interest in obtaining the rights to Guillen in the offseason are not currently discussing an extension for manager Edwin Rodriguez, who is on a one-year contract, according to Rosenthal.

Rosenthal notes that the White Sox asked for Logan Morrison in exchange for the right to hire Guillen last offseason, not Mike Stanton. Last fall, many reports indicated that Stanton was at the center of the discussions between the White Sox and Marlins.

Transactions And The Movies: The Babe

In my recent column about how teams replace sudden losses, I wrote that I had some problems with that movie. I figured this would be a relatively uncontroversial statement, but loyal reader Ernesto Figueroa wrote:

Hello! I would love to read more about your problems with the film The Babe starring John Goodman. I really enjoyed the film & want to know more about your criticisms.

Ernesto, I'm glad you asked. I even went back and re-watched. Simply put, I found the writing and directing to be nearly cartoonish, with characters assigned one face that they were required to keep on throughout. I would blame the actors, but when even people like James Cromwell and John Goodman are guilty of it, it pretty much has to be the direction. And Goodman's Ruth magically goes from a child who speaks like he is five until age 30 to a wise old man from 31 through the end of the film.

But this is a baseball site, not Roger Ebert's site. So I will point out the shocking baseball transgressions in the film.


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Pirates Designate John Bowker For Assignment

THURSDAY: The Pirates officially announced the move this morning.

WEDNESDAY: The Pirates will designate John Bowker for assignment tomorrow morning, according to Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter). The Pirates needed to clear 25-man roster space for Xavier Paul, whom the Pirates claimed off of waivers from the Dodgers yesterday.

With Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen, Garrett JonesMatt Diaz and Lyle Overbay on the roster and Paul on his way, the Pirates will cut Bowker instead of carrying another outfielder/first baseman. In 18 plate appearances this year, he has a .250/.333/.313 line, not far from his career marks of .238/.289/.391. The 2004 third-rounder has already appeared at first base and in right field, the two positions he has played most often in his four big league seasons.

Quick Hits: Dodgers, Willis, Purke

After consecutive disappointing seasons, Kyle Lohse is averaging nearly 8.0 IP per start this year and has a 1.64 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Lohse, who signed a $41MM deal with the Cardinals in 2008, is living up to his contract so far in 2011. Here are today's links…

  • Tom Schieffer says he wants to be helpful, not disruptive, when he takes over the Dodgers' day to day operations and finances, according to Quinn Roberts of MLB.com. Earlier today, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt sounded intensely displeased with MLB's involvement in L.A.
  • Dontrelle Willis does not have an out clause in his contract with the Reds, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The left-hander has a 1.12 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 24 innings at Triple-A Louisville so far in 2011.
  • TCU is set to announce that left-hander Matt Purke has been cleared to return to the mound, according to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. That's excellent news for Purke, who was recently shut down with shoulder soreness and evaluated by Dr. James Andrews. Click here for MLBTR's Q&A with Purke.

Angels Designate Jason Bulger For Assignment

The Angels designated right-hander Jason Bulger for assignment, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times (on Twitter). The Halos optioned Matt Palmer to Triple-A, and activated Joel Pineiro and Scott Downs from the disabled list in corresponding moves.

Bulger, 32, has a sparkling 0.96 ERA in 9 1/3 innings this year. However, he has walked more batters (10) than he has struck out (7). Opponents have hit just .167 on balls in play and Bulger's 7.54 FIP and 6.14 xFIP suggest his ERA should probably be 5-6 runs higher than it is.

Bulger has a 4.33 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9 in 133 career innings, all but 10 of them with the Angels. The seven-year veteran has pitched in manager Mike Scioscia's bullpen every year since 2006.

Heyman On Dodgers, Indians, Crawford, Braves

Commissioner Bud Selig worries about the Mets, but grants them more leeway than the Dodgers because their owners have built up goodwill over the course of three decades, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, on the other hand, has been far from a model owner since buying the team, which led to MLB’s recent takeover of financial operations. Here’s the latest on the Dodgers, plus other notes from around the league:

  • McCourt took out a $25MM loan in September as well as a recent $30MM loan from FOX, according to Heyman.
  • Though McCourt signed paperwork guaranteeing that he wouldn’t sue MLB, he’s considering legal action. He didn't rule the possibility out earlier this evening.
  • One competing GM says he's surprised by the Indians' hot start. He expected the Tribe to be horrible after seeing them this spring, but they are now 15-8, in first place.
  • A Red Sox person says Carl Crawford’s slow start (.163/.209/.233 line so far) doesn’t necessarily have to do with playing for a new team or with a new $142MM contract. His .188 BABIP probably has a lot to do with it.
  • The Braves are concerned about their offense, according to Heyman.

Astros Release Nieve To Play In Korea

The Astros released right-hander Fernando Nieve to allow him to sign with a Korean team, according to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). The Pirates signed Nieve in December and released him in March, when he didn't make the Opening Day roster. Two days later, Nieve signed with the Astros.

Nieve, 28, pitched 42 innings for the Mets in 2010, posting a 6.00 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 4.7 BB/9, 2.1 HR/9 and a 37% ground ball rate before he was Mets granted him free agency. No pitcher who completed 40 innings or more matched Nieve's 18.5% HR/FB rate last year.

The Venezuela native has started three games for the Astros' Triple-A affiliate this year, posting a 7.63 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 15 1/3 innings.