June 2011

Red Sox Designate Mike Cameron For Assignment

The Red Sox announced that they have designated outfielder Mike Cameron for assignment and called infielder Yamaico Navarro up to take Cameron's place on the team. The move opens up a 40-man roster spot. 

Boston expected Cameron to hit left-handed pitching this year, but he has just a .143/.214/.302 line in 70 plate appearances against southpaws. The 38-year-old three-time Gold Glove winner has played all three outfield positions for the Red Sox.

Cameron is in the final year of a two-year, $15.5MM deal with Boston and earns $7.25MM in 2011. The Red Sox still owe him roughly $3.625MM this year and they're responsible for that entire sum unless they trade Cameron – they'll explore possible deals – or he finds a new team after being released. If he's traded, Boston will surely take on significant salary and if he signs elsewhere, his new club will owe him a pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum salary.

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe first reported the move (Twitter links).

Olney On Deadline Plans For NL Teams

The trade market is still developing at this point in the season, but it’s starting to take shape. Buster Olney outlines the plans for National League teams in a highly recommended insider-only piece at ESPN.com. Here are the details:

  • The Dodgers can’t make long-term investments in young stars like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw because of their uncertain financial status. The Los Angeles front office is now gathering information about some of their trade candidates and taking calls on some players. No teams have called on Jamey Carroll yet, though the Rockies are interested.
  • James Loney and Casey Blake have next to no trade value, as Olney explains.
  • No team has called about Jose Reyes, who won’t be traded for anything less than a top prospect and a solid secondary prospect.
  • Rival executives expect the Phillies to acquire proven veterans this summer.
  • Though the Astros will listen to offers on Hunter Pence and Wandy Rodriguez, they will be asking a lot for them.
  • The Braves are checking out available hitters. Some rival executives have speculated on the possibility that the Braves will consider trading Jair Jurrjens, whose stock has never been higher.
  • Some rival executives think B.J. Upton will be a borderline non-tender candidate this offseason. Upton will earn a raise from $4.825MM next year and he currently has a .223/.308/.396 line with 20 steals. I can’t envision the Rays non-tendering Upton, who would presumably have trade value if Tampa made him available.
  • The Padres have told teams that they’re ready to take offers for Heath Bell and Mike Adams. Rival clubs believe Adams will be harder to obtain than Ryan Ludwick.
  • The Rockies will wait a few weeks before deciding whether to buy or sell.
  • The Giants are looking for catching help and Ramon Hernandez is a possible upgrade, as I explained earlier in the week.
  • The Reds are concerned about starting pitching and will consider making moves for upgrades at left field or shortstop. Though rival teams don’t expect Reyes to end up in Cincinnati, GM Walt Jocketty may be aggressive enough to make a deal happen.
  • GM Jim Hendry says there won’t be a fire sale, but the Cubs are “open for business,” Olney reports. Jeff Baker and Kerry Wood are “among the most coveted players in the trade market,” since they’re cheap and useful. Rival executives have mixed opinions about Carlos Pena, who is powerful but streaky.
  • Wood is near the top of Arizona’s list of targets.
  • The 40-39 Pirates will look for modest ways to improve and won’t be selling.

Yankees Don’t Expect To Find Top Pitching In Trade

As Bartolo Colon, Phil Hughes and Rafael Soriano work their way back from injuries, their general manager is surveying the trade market for possible targets. Yet Brian Cashman doesn’t see many quality arms available, so he expects his strongest pitching reinforcements to come from within the organization, according to Newsday’s Ken Davidoff.

"I'd be shocked if I could trade for anything better than what I'm getting off the DL, both with starters in Colon and Hughes and in the bullpen with Soriano," Cashman said.

The trade market develops quickly, especially in late July, so the Yankees may find an elite starter or reliever on the market eventually. They’ll look everywhere for possible upgrades with an emphasis on improving the rotation, according to Davidoff.

C.C. Sabathia has been one of the best pitchers in the league, Colon and Freddy Garcia have been pleasant surprises and A.J. Burnett has been passable. Fifth starter Ivan Nova has a 4.19 ERA with 5.0 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 56% ground ball rate in 86 innings. Though Brian Gordon has been fine as a spot starter, the Yankees presumably want to limit their reliance on him. As a group, the rotation ranks 12th in MLB with a 3.81 ERA (3.84 xFIP).

Padres Notes: Bell, Ludwick, Stauffer

The 37-45 Padres have won seven of their last eight games and are now 9.5 games behind the Giants for the division lead. If their hot streak continues they could surprise some people, but it seems more likely that they'll be sellers at this year's trade deadline. Here's the latest on the Padres' summer plans…

Ryan On Bullpen, Realignment, Astros

Rangers president Nolan Ryan told reporters yesterday that his team’s biggest problem has been inconsistency. Ryan believes the bullpen, a soft spot so far this year, is improving for the Rangers, who lead the AL West with a 43-38 record. Here are more of Ryan’s thoughts from Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle

  • It’s “premature” to say the Rangers will go outside of the organization for bullpen help, since it’s not clear which pitchers are available. The Rangers don’t have anything pending, but Ryan would have interest in the right pitcher. GM Jon Daniels said this week that he remains intent on upgrading the Texas ‘pen.
  • Ryan likes the idea of adding the Astros to the AL West, partly because it would mean more games close to home and extra fan involvement. “I think if you had the Astros and Rangers in a pennant race it would stimulate a lot of interest in the state,” Ryan said.
  • Jim Crane, who should officially become the owner of the Astros this year, will have to be patient if he wants to build through a strong farm system, Ryan said. “You have to keep putting people in the pipeline because you’re going to have all type of things happen from injuries to mis-evaluations to players not performing,” Ryan said. “There’s a tremendous fallout rate.”

Starting Pitchers Among Best Low-Risk Pickups

Bartolo Colon didn’t pitch an inning in the Major Leagues last year. Neither did Erik Bedard, or Brandon McCarthy, or Ryan Vogelsong. Halfway through the 2011 season, each one of them has already made a difference at the highest level. The quartet of reclamation projects has combined for 309 2/3 innings of 2.88 ERA baseball this year with three times as many strikeouts (257) as walks (77).


A year after splitting his time between two Triple-A teams, Vogelsong (pictured) is a key contributor on one of baseball’s most effective pitching staffs. His 2.09 ERA leads a San Francisco rotation that includes the likes of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.

Yet there’s no denying that the same issue that kept the others off of MLB mounds in 2010 – health – persists. Colon could return from the disabled list this weekend; the Mariners placed Bedard on the DL today; McCarthy has been on Oakland’s disabled list for more than a month.  

But before their respective teams placed them on the disabled list, their contributions surpassed all expectations. It’s been six weeks since McCarthy toed the rubber, yet A’s fans probably haven’t forgotten the 3.39 ERA and 37K/10BB ratio he posted through 63 2/3 innings.

The Yankees will be hoping for more of the same from Colon when he returns from the DL. The former Cy Young Award winner has tremendous numbers in 2011: a 3.10 ERA with a 72K/18BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.

Two years after Colon won his Cy Young, Bedard posted a 3.16 ERA with 10.9 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 en route to a top-five finish for the award. If the lefty’s 2011 numbers look familiar, it’s probably because Bedard was pitching as well as ever before hitting the DL. He has a 3.00 ERA with an 85K/26BB ratio 90 innings into the season.

Don’t forget that the Mariners signed Bedard for just $1MM. McCarthy signed with Oakland for the same amount and the Yankees’ deal with Colon is worth just $900K in base salary. Like Colon, Vogelsong signed a minor league contract in January.

The pursuit of high-risk, high-reward arms does not guarantee success by any means. Brandon Webb ($3MM) and Rich Harden ($1.5MM) signed for more than any of the pitchers above and neither has thrown a pitch in the majors this year.  

Naturally, that won’t stop teams looking to gamble on seemingly injury-prone pitchers this offseason. Someone – Ben Sheets, Jeremy Bonderman or 48-year-old Jamie Moyer perhaps? – will return from the discard pile after a year-long absence and make an impact, whether it's for a handful of starts or an entire season season. It’s just a question of who will resurface and which team will sign him.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.

Yankees Designate Buddy Carlyle For Assignment

The Yankees designated Buddy Carlyle for assignment, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch (on Twitter). The move creates roster space for Sergio Mitre, who is headed back to New York and will rejoin the Yankees tomorrow.

Carlyle, 33, has a 4.70 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 8.2 BB/9 in 7 2/3 innings for the Yankees this year in his first MLB action since 2009. The 1996 second rounder spent last year in Japan, where he posted a 4.88 ERA with 4.6 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 27 2/3 innings.

Yankees Acquire Sergio Mitre

Sergio Mitre is heading back to the Bronx. The Yankees acquired the right-hander from the Brewers for cash considerations, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (on Twitter). Milwaukee designated Mitre for assignment Monday and he has since drawn interest from other teams.

Mitre, 30, has posted a 3.27 ERA in 33 innings since Milwaukee acquired him from the Yankees for Chris Dickerson in March. The right-hander has a 14K/10BB ratio with a typically high 50.9% ground ball rate in his return to the National League.

David Eckstein Could Return In “Right Situation”

Major League teams haven’t forgotten about David Eckstein, the ten-year veteran who was the MVP of the 2006 World Series. In fact, he says he drew more interest than ever last offseason, including one offer that came four weeks ago and some Major League offers. Though the second baseman has not retired, he told Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times that he won’t return unless the circumstances are right.

“It totally has to be the right situation, but when you say that, it’s like you’re disrespecting the clubs that have talked to you,” Eckstein said. “This goes so much deeper than you guys will ever know.”

The 36-year-old says he feels fine physically and made a personal decision to take time off and manage his wife’s acting career. Eckstein posted a .267/.321/.326 line in 492 plate appearances for the Padres last year.

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Dodgers Links: McCourt, Selig, Uribe

The Dodgers have filed for bankruptcy and owner Frank McCourt is up against MLB in a legal battle that’s not getting any friendlier. Here’s the latest…

  • McCourt obtained court approval to use $60MM for his immediate bills and will learn whether he can access the rest of his $150MM loan on July 20th, according to Bill Shaikin and Michael Oneal of the LA Times.
  • Yahoo's Jeff Passan shows that commissioner Bud Selig has changed his stance on McCourt dramatically since the Dodgers owner took control of the franchise in 2004.
  • Giants GM Brian Sabean shot down a rumor about the possibility that infielder Juan Uribe could return to San Francisco this year, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (on Twitter). Baggarly and MLB.com's Chris Haft had both heard that the Dodgers could trade Uribe to the Giants, the team he played for in 2010. 
  • ESPN.com's Buster Olney hears that the Dodgers are in no substantive trade talks about anyone (Twitter link).