September 2011

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White Sox To Acquire Martinez, Marinez For Guillen

THURSDAY, 1:15pm: The White Sox announced that they assigned the contract of right-hander Ricardo Andres to the Marlins to complete the deal. Andres appeared in 12 games at Rookie Ball this year in his first professional season. The 20-year-old posted a 6.32 ERA in 15 2/3 innings, striking out 11.

TUESDAY, 1:36pm: The White Sox will also acquire reliever Jhan Marinez, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.  Marinez, 23, posted a 3.57 ERA, 11.5 K/9, 6.5 BB/9, and 1.1 HR/9 in 58 Double-A relief innings this year.  Prior to the season, Baseball America ranked Marinez fourth among Marlins prospects, citing a "combination of great stuff and immaturity."  Marinez has a closer repertoire, wrote BA.

10:21am: The White Sox are expected to acquire infielder Osvaldo Martinez and a minor league pitcher from the Marlins for manager Ozzie Guillen, tweets MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.  Guillen was released from his contract by the White Sox yesterday, with the Sox retaining compensation rights if he manages another team in 2012.

Martinez, a 23-year-old shortstop, hit .245/.296/.322 in 371 Triple-A plate appearances this year.  Prior to the season, Baseball America ranked him fifth among Marlins prospects, saying he profiles as a "solid No. 2 hitter" with a strong arm, good instincts, and soft hands at shortstop.  At that time, BA saw a future as a versatile but quality utilityman the worst-case scenario for Martinez.

The last player-manager trade in baseball took place nine years ago, when the Devil Rays traded outfielder Randy Winn to the Mariners for Antonio Perez as well as the right to negotiate with manager Lou Piniella.



Outrighted To Triple-A: Lucy, Nunez

Here are the latest players to get outrighted to Triple-A...

  • The White Sox announced that they outrighted catcher Donny Lucy and right-hander Jhonny Nunez to Triple-A Charlotte. The moves create roster space for right-hander Jhan Marinez and infielder Ozzie Martinez, who came over from the Marlins for manager Ozzie Guillen.



Final Update On This Year's Rule 5 Picks

It takes an entire season for Rule 5 draftees to become official property of their new teams. Nearly ten months after the most recent edition of the annual draft, much of the uncertainty has been resolved. Five teams have been rewarded for their patience and now have new players. Here are the details on this year's 19 Rule 5 picks...

Official Property Of Their Current Teams (5)

  • Pedro Beato, 24, posted a 4.30 ERA with 5.2 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and a 47.4% ground ball rate in 67 innings for the Mets.
  • Aneury Rodriguez pitched 85 1/3 innings as a swingman this year. The 23-year-old, who is one of the most extreme fly ball pitchers in the game, posted a 5.27 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 for the Astros.
  • Nathan Adcock averaged just one appearance per week for the Royals after making two starts in late May. Used mostly out of the bullpen, the 23-year-old right-hander posted a 4.62 ERA with 5.4 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 60 1/3 total innings.
  • Joe Paterson, 25, has a 2.91 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 34 innings spread over 62 appearances. D'Backs manager Kirk Gibson limited the left-hander's exposure to right-handed hitters all season (91 plate appearances vs. LHB, 59 plate appearances vs. RHB).
  • Michael Martinez added value for the Phillies with his versatility. Though he didn't hit much (.196/.258/.282), he backed up at second, third, short, left and right and played in more than half of Philadelphia's games.

Traded (4)

The Mets returned Brad Emaus to the Blue Jays, who traded the infielder to Colorado; the Twins retained Scott Diamond in a trade with the Braves; the Red Sox sent Daniel Turpen to the Rockies; the Indians recently sent Josh Rodriguez to the Pirates. Rule 5 restrictions no longer apply to these four players.

Injured (2)

Elvin Ramirez (Nationals) and Mason Tobin (Rangers) have been on the 60-day DL for over four months. 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.

Returned (8)

Brian BroderickJose FloresAdrian RosarioPat EganLance PendletonGeorge KontosRobert Fish and Cesar Cabral were returned to their original organizations at various points this year.


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MLB's First-Year Managers

After an offseason of heavy managerial turnover, the 2011 season featured 12 skippers in their first full seasons with their current clubs. We checked in on the managers midseason and, now that the regular season is over, it's time to take another look at how the leadership changes have gone.

Keep in mind that teams' won-loss records reflect their players, their health and their opponents, not just the managers' work.

American League
Buck Showalter’s Orioles finished 69-93 and there are rumblings that he could move upstairs to the front office. John Farrell’s Blue Jays finished with a .500 record - 81-81 - in his first season as a manager. 

Ned Yost led the Royals to a 71-91 record as Kansas City surpassed the 70-win plateau for just the second time in eight seasons. More importantly, Yost oversaw the big league debuts for top prospects like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Former Indians manager Eric Wedge had the punchless Mariners on the fringes of contention, until an extended slump dragged the team to the bottom of the AL West, where they finished with a 67-95 record.

Kirk Gibson

National League 
The Braves lost their grip on the NL Wild Card with a late-season slide and finished 89-73 under new manager Fredi Gonzalez. Terry Collins' Mets finished 77-85 and the club picked up Collins' 2013 option this week. Another NL East skipper, Edwin Rodriguez, resigned after the Marlins' record slipped to 32-39.

Ron Roenicke led the Brewers to a division title and a franchise record 96 wins. Mike Quade of the Cubs completed his first full season in Chicago with a 71-91 mark. Clint Hurdle's Pirates were in the playoff mix for four months and eventually finished under .500 again with a 72-90 record.

Kirk Gibson (pictured) is headed to the playoffs after leading the Diamondbacks to 94 wins and the NL West title. Another former big league star, Don Mattingly, led the Dodgers to an 82-79 mark after a slow start.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


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Arbitration Eligibles: Houston Astros

The Astros are next in our arbitration eligibles series.

Having traded Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, and Jeff Keppinger in July, the Astros are left with few arbitration concerns.  Arias has missed the last two seasons due to shoulder issues, and is likely to be cut loose.

Happ will be tendered a contract, and should land around $2.3MM. Quintero has at least been a consistent backup catcher, and it'd cost $1.2MM to retain him.

Add $3.5MM for Happ and Quintero to the team's $47.25MM in 2012 commitments, and the Astros are around $51MM before accounting for minimum salary players.  They entered this season with a $77MM payroll, so there's room to tinker on the free agent market and perhaps add some veteran placeholders.



Marco Scutaro’s 2012 Option

If Red Sox fans are agonizing about Marco Scutaro today, it’s probably about his baserunning in last night’s loss to the Orioles, not about his contract option for 2012 and role on next year's team. But at some point this month, the Red Sox front office will have to decide whether to retain Scutaro or let him walk in search of big name replacements or in deference to Jose Iglesias’ glove.

Scutaro’s option is more complex than most; here’s how it breaks down: Boston has a $6MM option as part of the two-year, $12.5MM deal they agreed to after the 2009 campaign. If the Red Sox don't exercise Scutaro's option, he can remain in Boston for $3MM instead of taking a $1.5MM buyout.

Earlier in the year, when Scutaro was struggling and it was easier to dream on Iglesias, there didn't appear to be much of a chance that the Red Sox would pick up their side of the option. Now that the season's over, Scutaro's numbers are impressive. He has career highs in batting average and slugging percentage for a .299/.358/.423 line in 445 plate appearances. It’s no one-year blip, either. Only seven shortstops have contributed more wins above replacement (12.7) since 2008, according to FanGraphs’ version of the statistic.

Scutaro has always had a fantastic eye for the strike zone and his disciplined approach continued this year. He had a career-best 8.1% strikeout rate, finished with more walks (38) than strikeouts (36) and only Juan Pierre swung and missed at a lower percentage of pitches (min. 400 PAs, Scutaro's contact rate was 94.7%). 

Scutaro, who turns 36 this offseason, can handle shortstop, though he doesn’t have Iglesias' defensive reputation and he can contribute on offense, though he might not have the same offensive upside as Jed Lowrie. If the Red Sox decide they can do without Scutaro, they could offer him arbitration after declining his option and obtain a compensatory draft pick in 2012, assuming he turns arbitration down and signs a Major League deal with another team.

There are better MLB shortstops out there, but Scutaro’s ability to play a premium defensive position, make contact and get on base is worth a lot. He’ll have no trouble drawing interest if he hits free agency and would have a strong case for another multiyear deal on the open market (Omar Infante just got one). I expect the Red Sox to pick up the option, since Scutaro has proven to be a valuable everyday player and there’s limited risk on a one-year commitment.



AL East Notes: Red Sox, Rays, Orioles

The AL East delivered two memorable games last night: the Rays overcame a 7-0 deficit with two Evan Longoria homers to beat the Yankees and the Orioles had a dramatic comeback of their own against the Red Sox. The result: the Rays play the Rangers in the ALDS and the Red Sox start preparing for the offseason. Here are some links from the division...

  • Rob Bradford of WEEI.com says manager Terry Francona deserved better than this, though his decisions didn't always work out. It's unclear if the Red Sox want Francona back next year; they now have ten days to decide whether to pick up two $4.25MM options for 2012 and 2013.
  • GM Theo Epstein, who admits this month has been "one for the ages," tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that he and his staff were doing little things behind the scenes to stop the steady stream of losses (the Red Sox were 7-20 in September).
  • It was because of Carl Crawford that the Rays initially installed low fences in the left field corner, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Crawford, who signed with the Red Sox for $142MM last offseason, missed a critical catch for Boston last night and it was Longoria who cleared the short wall with a game-winning home run.
  • Orioles owner Peter Angelos, president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and manager Buck Showalter are scheduled to meet today, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. MacPhail is expected to step down, yet there's a sense that Angelos will want MacPhail around in some capacity. Showalter appears to be torn between his current role and the possibility of becoming the GM, according to Connolly.



Quick Hits: Burrell, Beltran, Lee, Kuo

Evan LongoriaDan Johnson, Chris Carpenter and Robert Andino delivered in big moments for their respective teams on this incredible night of baseball, as the Cardinals and Rays won the wild cards. Some links as the season winds down...

  • Pat Burrell told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News that he'll give his chronic foot strain a month to recover before he decides on his future in baseball. If he does play again, it would only be with the Giants.
  • Carlos Beltran told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that he'll give the Giants the first chance to sign him when he hits free agency this offseason (Twitter link). The Giants will have five days of exclusive negotiating rights after the World Series, plus the month of October.
  • Carlos Lee hinted that he might retire after the 2012 season, when his six-year, $100MM contract expires with the Astros, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Lee, 35, says he wants to spend more time with his family.
  • Hong-Chih Kuo told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that he needs a break and is currently unsure if he'll play again. "If I want to still play and somebody wants to give me a try, I play," he said. "If not, fine with me. I'll miss it." The 30-year-old was sidelined with an anxiety disorder this year and may return home to Taiwan and open a restaurant. The Dodgers will consider non-tendering Kuo and he said he'll understand if they do.



AL Central Notes: Cuddyer, Indians, White Sox

The Twins finish the season with 99 losses, their most since 1982, and will officially select second in next year’s draft. Here's a sampling of links from the AL Central on the night that Minnesota avoided loss #100:

  • Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com that he'd like to have free agents Michael Cuddyer and Joe Nathan back in 2012 (Twitter links). MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes examined Cuddyer's free agent stock earlier in the month.
  • The Indians announced that Sandy Alomar Jr. will become the club's bench coach in 2012. Tim Tolman, who was Manny Acta's bench coach this year, will transition into another role because of health reasons.
  • White Sox GM Kenny Williams told Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times that he "absolutely" has a preferred candidate to succeed Ozzie Guillen as manager. Alomar Jr., Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and even Red Sox manager Terry Francona are candidates for the job, according to Van Schouwen.
  • The White Sox wanted Logan Morrison from the Marlins for Guillen, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Chicago relented because the Marlins were prepared to offer Bobby Valentine the job if they didn't get Guillen (Twitter link).



NL Central Notes: Cubs, Cordero, Pirates, Barmes

The Astros are playing spoiler against a former bitter rival of theirs tonight, as they try to halt the Cardinals’ improbable playoff bid. Here are some notes from the NL Central, while the two clubs play in Houston... 

  • Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts told Cubs reporters, including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, that he's looking to name a GM as soon as possible, but cautions that there's "no point in rushing" the process. Ricketts pointed to the Diamondbacks to remind reporters that turnarounds can happen quickly in baseball under the right circumstances.
  • Ricketts added that he expects GM candidates to see the four-year extension that director of player personnel Oneri Fleita obtained this summer as a positive. 
  • It's looking like the Reds will complete a deal with Francisco Cordero instead of picking up his $12MM option for 2012 ($1MM buyout), according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter). We heard yesterday that Reds GM Walt Jocketty is optimistic about working out a deal with his closer. For the latest on Cordero and other MLB closers, check out CloserNews.com.
  • Ryan Doumit told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he thinks his chances of returning to Pittsburgh in 2012 are "slim" (Twitter link). The Pirates hold a $7.25MM option ($500K buyout) for the backstop next year.
  • Clint Barmes told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that he would like to return to the Astros next year. However, the shortstop is open to exploring other options and he realizes that Houston’s ownership changes could affect offseason plans. Earlier in the month, I revisited the trade that sent Barmes to the Astros.









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