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Alex Rios Rumors
How long will the Wild Card playoff format be a one-game elimination? The running gag among baseball executives, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, is until the Yankees are eliminated in a such fashion. That possibility is looming larger as the Yankees and Orioles are tied for the AL East lead with four games to play. The Yankees currently have a one-game lead over the A's in the Wild Card race. However, if the two teams finished with identical records, the Yankees would have to travel to Oakland because they tied in the season series and the A’s currently own the next tiebreaker – a superior record within their own division. It will make for an interesting finish to the season. Also from Rosenthal's column:
- In response to the likelihood the two AL Wild Card teams will have a better record than the AL Central Division champion, Rosenthal suggests the playoff qualifiers with the two worst records meet in the Wild Card game. Rosenthal admits winning a weak division would be less meaningful, but such a team hardly would be in position to argue since it would be lucky to reach the playoffs in the first place.
- Angels owner Arte Moreno recently acknowledged the fans' desire for the team to re-sign Torii Hunter, but Rosenthal says he may have competition from a division rival. The Rangers have long had interest in Hunter, who lives in a Dallas suburb. With Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli free agents this winter and Nelson Cruz a free agent next offseason, the team almost certainly will look for offensive help. Rosenthal believes a trade for a younger slugger such as Arizona's Justin Upton is more likely than a short-term signing of Hunter. But at the very least, the Rangers could pursue Hunter to drive up the price for the Angels.
- Despite the recent slump that may cost the White Sox a playoff berth, Rosenthal claims this has been a successful season for the South Siders. Rosenthal points to highlights like Robin Ventura establishing himself as a manager, Chris Sale developing into an ace, a number of rookie pitchers emerging as valuable parts, and bounce back seasons from Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, and Jake Peavy.
- Rosenthal credits the Rays' recent resurgence to manager Joe Maddon's decision to make batting practice optional and allow players to arrive at the park later, which resulted in the players becoming more relaxed.
In a move that has amused those who follow the New York Mets closely, Jeff Francoeur has gone public with his demands to be traded following New York's decision to platoon him with young outfielder Fernando Martinez.
Despite a season line of .241/.294/.385, Francoeur apparently believes a major league team would play him regularly at a position, right field, that averages production of .271/.344/.447. Indeed, Francoeur's line is well below the MLB average at second base (.266/.331/.393).
But we have yet to see how Francoeur's demand for a trade stands up to history. It isn't easy to find comparable performance among right fielders in recent years, and it's even harder to find any who were traded after performing as poorly as Francoeur.
Since 2000, just 31 of the 165 right fielders to amass at least 300 plate appearances posted an OPS+ below 100. Of those 31, only four checked in lower than Francoeur's 2010 OPS+ mark of 82: Richard Hidalgo's 2005 (81), Jeromy Burnitz's 2002 (80), Austin Kearns' 2008 (67) and Jeff Francoeur's own 2008 (72).
Kearns followed his 2008 with a similarly poor 2009 before the Nationals let him walk after last season. Burnitz followed 2002 with a half-season of a 139 OPS+ for the 2003 Mets, earning a trade to Los Angeles for Kole Strayhorn, Jose Diaz and Victor Diaz. Hidalgo never played in the majors again, and Francoeur followed his 2008 with a half-season of 68 OPS+ hitting in 2009, earning a trade to the Mets for Ryan Church.
In other words Jeff Francoeur is the only one from that group to be traded for anything at all. Incidentally, four of the 31 player seasons in right field below 100 OPS+ are from Francoeur. Only three others are on the list more than once: Juan Encarnacion (three times), Alex Rios (twice), Hidalgo (twice) and Burnitz (twice).
Encarnacion is an instructive comparison. His career OPS+ of 97 is better than, but similar to, Francoeur's 91. Encarnacion had additional value because he lacked a platoon split (amazingly, his OPS against both lefties and righties was .758) and had the ability to play center field.
In the middle of an 84 OPS+ season in 2004 at age 28, a year after he posted a 97 OPS+, the Marlins acquired Encarnacion as part of a six-player deal from the Dodgers. He went on to start 46 of Florida's remaining 58 games. His salary ($3.6MM) was roughly equivalent to the $5MM Francoeur earns in 2010.
So there is precedent. It happened one other time.
Among those under 100 OPS+ in right field, Alex Rios had a 96 OPS+ last year when the White Sox took him from the Blue Jays and agreed to pay his entire salary (at $61MM, many times as much as remains on Francoeur's deal). But Rios had three seasons of 120, 122 and 112 OPS+ in 2006-2008 under his belt, success Francoeur hasn't seen since his half-season debut in 2005.
Overwhelmingly, the players performing as poorly as Francoeur, or even demonstrably better, are simply let go, often never to surface again. Trot Nixon's 96 OPS+ in 2006 represented his last season as a regular player. So did Danny Bautista's 85 in 2004 and Derek Bell's 98 in 2000. Jose Guillen's 89 in 2000 got him sent back to the minor leagues by Tampa Bay, then released.
There's also that pesky question: who would Francoeur replace in another team's regular lineup? Of the 20 right fielders in MLB who have played more than half their games in right field this year, Francoeur ranks dead last in OPS+ with 82. The four closest to him? Jay Bruce (96), Ben Zobrist (98), Hunter Pence (102) and Ichiro Suzuki (107). It is safe to say Francoeur won't be replacing any of those players. He'd make a decent platoon partner with Bruce, but… right. Platooning led Francoeur to demand a trade in the first place.
In short, the answer to the title of this piece is: not reasonable at all. Not reasonable in light of his 2010 performance, not reasonable in terms of other right fielders, not reasonable comparatively through recent history.
- Stephen Strasburg didn't allow a run and struck out nine in 6.1 innings at Triple A tonight, as the AP notes on ESPN.com. It's only a matter of weeks before Strasburg starts striking out big leaguers.
- Cha-Seung Baek appears to have found a home in the Yuma Scorpions' rotation, writes Edward Carifio of the Yuma Sun.
- Randy Ruiz, who signed with a Japanese team after getting released by the Blue Jays, told Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star that he's "set for life" (Twitter link).
- Former big leaguer Mike Gosling retired on Monday, according to the Indians' Twitter. The 29-year-old was pitching well in Triple A Columbus, but decided to focus on his family.
- This should come as no surprise, but the Marlins are not looking to trade Hanley Ramirez, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro (via Twitter).
- Former Ranger Kevin Millwood tells Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com that he has no hard feelings about the deal that sent him to Baltimore last offseason.
- Carl Crawford told reporters that he doesn't really think about his impending free agency, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.
- J.P. Howell had shoulder surgery today, but the Rays are "optimistic" that the reliever will be ready for 2011, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (via Twitter).
- ESPN.com's Rob Neyer doesn't think the red hot Blue Jays are likely to finish the season above .500.
- Matt Klaassen of FanGraphs reminds us that Alex Rios was an excellent player before 2009 and argues that the White Sox got a "very good player at a reasonable price" when they claimed him off of waivers from the Blue Jays last summer.
- The first-year player draft begins on June 7th. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo takes a stab at projecting the first ten picks.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick runs through nine stories that have been overdone this year.
- Crasnick's colleague Buster Olney talked to couple of rival talent evaluators who'd love to see the Marlins shop Hanley Ramirez in the wake of his recent jogging incident. Instead, ESPN's Enrique Rojas reports that Ramirez will apologize to Fredi Gonzalez and the team today.
Rounding up some news from around the majors on this Tuesday night….
- MLB.com's Jason Beck cites a report from an unnamed radio station which states the Tigers' offer to Jose Valverde is for two years. In another piece, Beck calls Detroit "the most logical destination" for Valverde.
- Brett Gardner has two backers (sort of) in Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News and ESPN's Keith Law. McCarron would like to see the Yankees acquire a "get-the-uniform-dirty type" but thinks Gardner should get "a real chance" to play every day. Law would let Gardner start the season because he feels that potential signings Reed Johnson or Xavier Nady are "marginal improvements that may not justify the cost."
- Jordan Bastian of MLB.com says the Blue Jays aren't thinking of moving Vernon Wells to a corner outfield spot in spite of Wells' declining UZR numbers in center. One factor might be that the Jays don't really have any other solid CF options, especially with Alex Rios no longer on the roster.
- C.J. Wilson is not a candidate to be traded despite the Rangers' signing of Darren Oliver, reports Ben Rogers of ESPNDallas.com.
- MLB.com's Jim Street says Miguel Tejada's asking price is too high for the Mariners to make a play for the free-agent infielder.
- Brian McTaggart of MLB.com passes along a report from Houston's KRIV-TV that Great Court Capital is the investment company negotiating to buy the Astros from Drayton McLane.
- Eric Hinske tells David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Atlanta "really seemed like the best situation" out of the clubs who made him offers.
- Doug Miller of MLB.com provides a quick round-up of some of the remaining free agents on the market.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alex Rios | Atlanta Braves | Brett Gardner | C.J. Wilson | Darren Oliver | Detroit Tigers | Eric Hinske | Houston Astros | Jose Valverde | Miguel Tejada | New York Yankees | Reed Johnson | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Vernon Wells | Xavier Nady
Recently, the South Side of Chicago has been identified as a logical destination for Angels third baseman Chone Figgins as he heads into free agency. However, manager Ozzie Guillen doesn't envision the 31-year-old utility player fitting into the White Sox' budget, reports Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Cowley says that in 2010 high-priced pick-up Alex Rios will take over in center field and Carlos Quentin will move from left to right in place of Jermaine Dye, whose $12MM option is not likely to be picked up. This leaves one spot open, which could be solved by signing Figgins or retaining Scott Podsednik, who Guillen would "love" to have back.
Can Figgins be had for less than $10MM per year in a depressed economy?
A couple more links as the day winds down…
- According to Mark Gonzales of The Chicago Tribune, one scout called Alex Rios "a teaser," and that he's the kind of the guy that "can get you fired." Kenny Williams sure hopes that's not the case.
- Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider explains why the Mariners should go after J.J. Hardy. Something tells me we'll see quite a few more posts like this.
- Jason Knapp, one of the prospects the Indians acquired for Cliff Lee, will have arthroscopic surgery on his throwing shoulder to remove "loose bodies," according to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. GM Mark Shapiro says they will not file a grievance.
John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus brings us his latest from around the leagues:
- When they come off the DL, Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins will be used in relief. So, the Twins are hoping to add a starter who can pitch in the playoffs. This means they have until tomorrow at midnight to do so.
- The Yankees would like to re-sign Johnny Damon to a one year deal and give Austin Jackson a second year to develop at Triple-A, while pursuing Matt Holliday and Jason Bay in the offseason.
- The Marlins and Giants are frontrunners to land Brad Penny.
- The Cardinals expect to exercise Ryan Franklin‘s $2.75MM club option and then sign an extension with their closer for 2011.
- The Royals want to extend G.M. Dayton Moore who is signed through 2010.
- Perrotto says the Cubs are likely to deal Milton Bradley this winter, even if it means eating a large portion of the $21MM owed to him through 2011.
- Jermaine Dye will more than likely not see his $12MM option exercised by the White Sox after a dip in production in tandem with the salary demands of Alex Rios and Jake Peavy.
- For the postseason, the Dodgers are seeking “a left-handed bat with power” for their bench.
- The Nats are auditioning Livan Hernandez as a veteran innings eater for 2010.
- The Diamondbacks may non-tender Conor Jackson.
- Brewers manager Ken Macha said G.M. Doug Melvin “scoured the area for pitching” before the deadline but was unable to add a starter because he refused to trade Mat Gamel or Alcides Escobar.
- After making seven trades this year, the Pirates are the youngest team in the MLB.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alcides Escobar | Alex Rios | Arizona Diamondbacks | Brad Penny | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Conor Jackson | Francisco Liriano | Jake Peavy | Jason Bay | Jermaine Dye | Johnny Damon | Kansas City Royals | Livan Hernandez | Mat Gamel | Matt Holliday | Miami Marlins | Milton Bradley | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | New York Yankees | Pittsburgh Pirates | Ryan Franklin | San Francisco Giants | St. Louis Cardinals | Washington Nationals
On this date two years ago, the Yankees and Padres failed to reach an agreement on a trade for Kei Igawa after San Diego claimed the pitcher on waivers. The Yankees also chose not to let Igawa go to the Padres for just the waiver claim. Since then Igawa has made two starts for the Yankees and has spent the entire '09 season in Triple-A. With several teams active in the waiver market this season, let's take a look at what is being written in the Blogosphere…
- Around the Majors takes a look at how the deadline deals have worked so far.
- The Blue Jay Hunter looks at what the Alex Rios move could mean for the Jays moving forward.
- The Sports Bank gives 11 reasons why Alex Rios was a good pick up for the White Sox.
- A Game Of Inches argues that the White Sox would have been better off acquiring a minor league center fielder.
- UmpBump makes the case that the Alex Rios move was good for both sides.
- Josh's Thoughts takes a look at what the acquisition of Alex Rios by the White Sox means for the Twins and the rest of the AL Central.
- The Pinstriper imagines what the Yankees roster would look like today had they signed Mike Lowell in '07.
- Jorge Says No! says the Jays still need to move Vernon Wells if they ever want to move forward.
ESPN.com's Jayson Stark adds the Astros to the list of teams interested in John Smoltz. Here are the rest of his rumors:
- The Cubs could look for another bat and another starter, but it depends on how healthy Aramis Ramirez, Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano are.
- Stark points out that Aaron Harang's 2011 club option becomes a more expensive $14MM mutual option if he's traded. The Reds haven't seemed willing to take on cash in a trade involving Harang or rotation-mate Bronson Arroyo.
- The Yanks don't appear to have interest in either Reds starter, or John Smoltz, for that matter.
- Don't expect any serious negotiating to occur between the Nationals, Scott Boras and Stephen Strasburg before the last minute. Most execs who Stark surveyed expect Strasburg to sign in the end.
- The Braves could re-sign Adam LaRoche after the season, when the first baseman will hit free agency.
- Jim Thome still impresses scouts and should be able to find work as a DH after the season.
- Some teams doubt Vicente Padilla's character because the Rangers are ready to part with him even though they need pitching.
- Some of Alex Rios' former teammates question the outfielder's work ethic and desire.
- Stark hears that Andy Sonnanstine and Jeff Niemann were claimed on waivers and quickly pulled back by the Rays.
- The Braves made a quick run at Victor Martinez before the Red Sox acquired him, but didn't get very far.
- Though their negotiations with Aaron Crow could theoretically continue into late spring, the Royals may impose a deadline of their own to sign their top pick.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Aaron Crow | Aaron Harang | Adam LaRoche | Alex Rios | Andy Sonnanstine | Atlanta Braves | Bronson Arroyo | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Cincinnati Reds | Houston Astros | Jeff Niemann | Jim Thome | Kansas City Royals | New York Yankees | Stephen Strasburg | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Vicente Padilla | Victor Martinez | Washington Nationals
Some afternoon links…
- Jason Jennings of 99.9 The Fan reports that Donavan Tate left the UNC football program and appears likely to sign with the Padres.
- The Orioles expect to know within two days whether they'll sign second rounder Michal Givens, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
- The Mets expect to sign their top pick, Steven Matz, according to Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News. The lefty could command a seven figure bonus.
- Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle says the Astros could bring Miguel Tejada back next year, though they haven't decided what they'll do.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports that Jays manager Cito Gaston isn't sure he wants to manage after his contract expires at the end of next season.
- Joe Posnanski says Alex Rios has the seventh worst contract in the game. Rob Neyer's take: Ricciardi has signed players to lousy contracts, but he may be the right guy in the wrong place at this point. My take: Posnanski's too hard on the deal.