June 2011

Quick Hits: Rockies, Pelfrey, Verlander, Brewers

Links for Thursday…

  • The Rockies have signed second round pick Carl Thomore, reports Nick Groke of The Denver Post. Thomore, a high school outfielder from New Jersey, was the 77th overall pick of the draft, and that carries a slot recommendation of approximately $472K.
  • Multiple sources have told Jeff Passon of Yahoo! that labor talks between the owners and players' union are going well, unlike labor talks in the other major sports (Twitter link).
  • Mike Pelfrey faced the Tigers this afternoon, and Jason Beck of MLB.com notes that Detroit had interest in the righty during the 2005 draft (Twitter link). The Mets took him one pick before the Tigers could grab him though.
  • Interestingly enough, Justin Verlander (who pitched against the Mets this afternoon) was close to pitching for them at one point as Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal explains. The Mets were prepared to draft Verlander with the third overall pick in 2004, but the Tigers grabbed him with the second pick.
  • Brewers manager Ron Roenicke expects a position player to be demoted once Takashi Saito is ready to be activated off the disabled list this weekend, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick wrote about nine players that have stepped up to help their teams following injury. Hot stove afterthoughts Ryan Vogelsong and Phil Humber top his list.
  • Matt Eddy of Baseball America rounded up this week's collection of minor league transactions, which includes a ton of draft and undrafted free agent signings.

AL Links: Royals, Red Sox, Indians, Mariners

Some links from the so-called junior circuit…

  • Royals GM Dayton Moore told MLB.com's Dick Kaegel that any move the team makes before the trade deadline would be something "we felt would help us long term." Kaegel notes that Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francis, and Bruce Chen are all candidates to move.
  • "I can't sit here and say we'll definitely make a blockbuster trade,''  said Red Sox GM Theo Epstein to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. "For one thing, there's not a huge market for sellers right now. But it's a long way from July 31. Market dynamics change, our own situation can change.'' It's been reported that Boston is unable to take on payroll at the deadline.
  • MLB.com's Jordan Bastian spoke to Indians GM Chris Antonetti, who said that "dialogue with other teams has certainly picked up over the last few weeks." Bastian says the team is likely to make smaller, incremental upgrades, but they are not opposed to dealing prospects.
  • Indians manager Manny Acta told Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes that Melvin Mora and Mike Cameron are “interesting” possibilities (Spanish link on Twitter). Mora was released yesterday and Cameron was designated for assignment today.
  • Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times looked back at what the Mariners did at the deadline over the last few seasons, which includes attempts to rebuild and "go for it."
  • With a 3.14 ERA through 117 2/3 innings, Rangers ace C.J. Wilson has put himself in a great position heading into free agency, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.

Dodgers Have Not Had Serious Talks About Kuroda

Despite interest from several teams, the Dodgers have not had any serious trade discussions about right-hander Hiroki Kuroda according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi notes that tomorrow's start against the Angels will give teams a chance to evaluate Kuroda against an AL lineup.

Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers is said to hold the 36-year-old righty in high regard, and team ownership recently said they'll be able to take on payroll at the deadline. Kuroda will require compensation to waive his no-trade clause, though it's unclear exactly what kind of compensation he's looking for. The Reds and Rockies scouted his most recent start, and Morosi reminds us that the Yankees are always lurking.

Kuroda has a stellar 3.10 ERA through 101 2/3 innings this year, and his strikeout (6.8 K/9) and walk rates (2.5 BB/9) are right in line with his career norms. He is getting fewer ground balls in 2011 (44.6%) compared to the rest of his career (49.7%), so it's not surprising that he's giving up a career high 1.1 homers per nine innings.

Scott Kazmir Worked Out For Rangers

Free agenty left-hander Scott Kazmir worked out for the Rangers earlier this week, reports Anthony Andro of The Star-Telegram. Kazmir was healthy for the workout but the team hasn't made any decision yet.

"We've talked with him, doing our due diligence," said GM Jon Daniels. "Not sure if anything's going to come of it, but we try to look at every opportunity to see if someone can help us."

Kazmir posted a 3.51 ERA and 742 strikeouts in 689 2/3 innings for the Rays between 2005 and 2008, including a league-high 239 K's in 2007. Since then, he has dealt with a number of injuries, and Tampa Bay dealt him to the Angels in August 2009. The southpaw has managed just a 5.31 ERA and 5.7 K/9 in 35 starts with Los Angeles. The Angels released Kazmir earlier this month, and since then we've heard that a number of teams have interest in signing him.

The Rangers are focusing on bullpen help at the moment, and they currently have three lefties in their bullpen: Arthur Rhodes, Darren Oliver, and Michael Kirkman.

O’Dowd: “Little” Financial Room To Make Move

The Rockies shored up their second base situation earlier today by acquiring Mark Ellis from the Athletics, and GM Dan O'Dowd told Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post that he still has a "little" financial room to make another move (Twitter link). 

Colorado has reportedly been calling other teams to gauge the pitching market, and they're one of several clubs showing interest in Hiroki Kuroda. The Rockies took on $1MM of the $3MM left on Ellis' contract and they started the year with a payroll just over $82MM. If they are willing to match last year's payroll ($84MM or so), they would still have another million bucks to play around with. 

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Kerry Wood Expects To Stay In Chicago

Kerry Wood turned down more substantial offers to return to the Cubs last offseason and, ironically enough, his affordable $1.5MM salary has rival teams wondering if they can lure Wood away. Trade interest in the reliever is picking up just as Wood and his wife, Sarah, are starting a family foundation in Chicago. So Wood told Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald that he would have to be presented with a ‘great’ deal for both himself and the Cubs to waive his no-trade clause and leave Chicago.

“We’re committed here,” Wood said. “We’ve got an event in September. So I’ll just leave it at that. I don’t see it. I don’t see it happening.”

Wood says he and his wife have discussed the possibility of a trade and determined that they won’t accept any proposals that are less than ideal. Wood, who will be activated from the disabled list tomorrow, has a 2.25 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 24 innings for the 33-48 Cubs.

Indians Release Adam Everett

The Indians announced that they released Adam Everett after the infielder cleared waivers. Cleveland designated Everett for assignment earlier in the week to create roster space for callup Lonnie Chisenhall.

Everett, 34, played second, short and third for the Indians this year. Though he has never been known for his bat, his .217/.277/.233 line through 67 plate appearances was not enough for him to keep his roster spot, especially with promising infield talent on Cleveland's Triple-A club.

Outrighted To The Minors: Thompson, Brown

Here's a list of the latest players to be outrighted to the minor leagues…

  • Catcher Dusty Brown and left-hander Aaron Thompson of the Pirates have cleared waivers, according to MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch (on Twitter). Brown will head to Double-A and Thompson has been assigned to Triple-A. The Pirates had designated the two players for assignment earlier in the week.

Rockies Acquire Mark Ellis

No second baseman has suited up for the A's as often as Mark Ellis, but when the 34-year-old lost his starting job earlier this month, it became clear that his time in Oakland would likely end soon. Ellis' nine-year tenure with the Athletics is now officially over. The A's announced that they sent Ellis and cash considerations to the Rockies for right-hander reliever Bruce Billings and a player to be named later.

Mark Ellis

Ellis hit .217/.253/.290 this year and lost his starting job to 24-year-old second baseman Jemile Weeks. The veteran pinch hit for the A's and even played a little first base, but he wasn't producing on offense the way he did in 2010, when he posted a .358 OBP. 

The A's exercised Ellis' $6MM option last offseason and the infielder will be eligible for free agency this fall. He still has $3MM remaining on his 2011 contract and the Rockies will cover $1MM of that, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Though Ellis currently projects as a Type A free agent, draft pick compensation was probably not a major factor in the deal, as there's no guarantee he'll receive an offer of arbitration.

The Rockies have used six second basemen this year: Jonathan Herrera, Chris Nelson, Jose Lopez, Eric Young, Alfredo Amezaga and Jose Morales. The group has combined for a .610 OPS, 23rd among MLB second basemen. Herrera, the Rockies' primary second base option, has struggled to hit nearly as much as Ellis; the 26-year-old has a .237/.311/.303 line.

Billings, 25, pitched in his first (and so far only) MLB game on May 27th, when he allowed one earned run on five hits in two innings against the Cardinals. The former 30th round pick has a 4.47 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in his first season at Triple-A and his first full season as a reliever.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.

Tigers Eye Starters, Not Jose Reyes

The Tigers aren’t pursuing Jose Reyes, but they are looking at the market for starting pitching, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Though Tigers officials appear content with their offense, their rotation is becoming a concern.

The Tigers announced this morning that they’re replacing converted reliever Phil Coke in the rotation with rookie Charlie Furbush. The Tigers will intensify their search for starting pitching if Furbush or another young pitcher like Andrew Oliver or Jacob Turner doesn’t prove himself to be a reliable starter in the next month or so.

This afternoon's starter, Justin Verlander, has pitched himself into the Cy Young conversation. However, the rest of the Tigers' rotation – Coke, Max Scherzer, Brad Penny and Rick Porcello – hasn't been as effective.

The Tigers could get an offensive boost from Carlos Guillen, who is on a rehab assignment. One of the infielder’s representatives told Morosi that he plans to return after the All-Star break. In the meantime, Detroit’s offense is scoring; they’re fourth in the American League in runs.