Alexei Ramirez Rumors
8:30pm: Gonzales has another story up on the Tribune's site with regard to Guillen and the Chicago White Sox.
Guillen said catcher A.J. Pierzynski will remain the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, according to Gonzales. Guillen also said Pierzynski will remain the primary catcher, which curbs suggestions that the Sox will go after free agent Ivan Rodriguez.
Guillen also reiterated what pitching coach Don Cooper has stated: Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, John Danks and Bartolo Colon (if healthy) will man the first four rotation spots.
Indications are that prized left-hander Aaron Poreda has an excellent shot at making the Opening Day roster, even if he doesn't beat out Clayton Richard or Jeff Marquez for the fifth starter's spot, Gonzales writes.
Guillen told Gonzales that he expects Wilson Betemit to be capable of playing all four infield positions. That, and outside Jim Thome, the White Sox do not have a true backup first baseman for Paul Konerko.
Scott Merkin of MLB.com was also there. He notes that minor league director Buddy Bell said Beckham has the ability to play any position.
5:30pm: Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that 2008 No. 1 pick Gordon Beckham will likely need to change positions.
Guillen expects Alexei Ramirez to be the team's shortstop for the foreseeable future.
Ramirez, 27, hit .290/.317/.475 with 21 home runs and 77 RBI in 136 games in 2008 -- his first year in the Major Leagues.
Of those 136 games, Ramirez spent time at second base (121 games) and at shortstop (16).
An AP report posted at ESPN.com says the White Sox are not expecting to sign any more free agents.
This means the White Sox will go with one of either Chris Getz, Brent Lillibridge or Jayson Nix at second base in 2009, as 2008 second baseman Alexei Ramirez moves to shortstop.
Ken Rosenthal has more new material. I've updated the post, as Rosenthal updated his.
- The Yankees are looking for catching - Rosenthal and Jon Heyman do not agree with Peter Abraham. Rosenthal says the Yanks have expressed interest in Gerald Laird and Miguel Olivo. The Rangers want young pitching for Laird, however.
- Jarrod Washburn's limited no-trade protection includes the Yankees. He might want compensation to waive that, putting him out of the Yanks' price range. Washburn, a Boras client, wouldn't mind pitching in New York though. The Mariners are looking for young pitching for him. It sounds like the Yankees aren't willing to eat the entire contract and send good prospects.
- The Yankees may explore other trades, and are said to have interest in A.J. Burnett and Bronson Arroyo.
- The Nationals were apparently locked in on a second baseman for Jon Rauch, perhaps explaining why they traded him for just Emilio Bonifacio. The jury is still out on the speedy young infielder.
- The White Sox explored a scenario where they would've acquired Brian Roberts from Baltimore, traded Orlando Cabrera to the Dodgers, and moved Alexei Ramirez to shortstop. That obviously didn't work out. The Sox may be currently trying to decide whether to part with third baseman Josh Fields, their best trade chip and third baseman of the future.
- Suitors for Xavier Nady, such as the Rays, Yankees, and Phillies, are balking at Pittsburgh's asking price. The Bucs continue to insist they're being reasonable.
- Interestingly, the A's are still talking to the Pirates about Jason Bay. Rosenthal says a trade seems unlikely.
- The Cardinals had scouts in Baltimore yesterday, and their interest in George Sherrill is well-known. But they might not match up with the Orioles' needs.
UPDATE, 12-22-07 at 6:00pm: Ramirez can earn another $3.25MM in incentives.
UPDATE, 12-21-07 at 10:57pm: Ramirez gets a mere $4.75MM over the four-year pact. That's an excellent move right there, in my opinion. Dirt cheap - low risk, decent reward.
FROM 12-21-07 at 5:35pm:
The White Sox made an interesting move today, signing Cuban defector Alexei Ramirez to a four-year contract. The presence of Jose Contreras should be helpful for him. Ramirez probably profiles as Chicago's center fielder, though he could also play second base. Here's what Baseball America had to say about him a few months ago.
It's tough to judge this signing until we hear the money involved. He was apparently highly sought after, as ESPN says he worked out for the Red Sox, Indians, Reds, Cubs, Mets, Yankees, Twins, and A's too. Ramirez is apparently 26 years old. I think he's going to need some time in the minors, as Clay Davenport has equated Cuban baseball with our short season A ball.
As a means of comparison, Yuniesky Betancourt signed for four years and $2.826MM in January of 2005. Kendry Morales signed a four-year deal worth around $10MM in December of 2004.
ESPN's Enrique Rojas checks in with the agent for Cuban defector Alexei Ramirez, Jaime Torres. Torres says he met with five teams on Ramirez and another two are scheduled. The message is now that Ramirez "can play second base or outfield." The original message was that he could play shortstop and center field.
Remember Alexei Ramirez, the 26 year-old Cuban defector/shortstop/center fielder? He's a wild card in a terrible shortstop market. He'll soon establish residency in the Dominican Republic, and then he'll be a free agent. It's pretty tough to say how Ramirez would fare in the big leagues.
The Indians, always hunting for a good bargain, recently took a look at Ramirez in the DR. The Tribe is hunting for a run-producing left fielder; maybe they like Ramirez in that role. Maybe they just want to build up extra middle infield depth to trade later.
I won't lie -I hadn't heard of Alexei Ramirez until today. He's a 26 year-old 2007 Cuban League home run king described as "primarily a shortstop and center fielder" by ESPN.
ESPN's Willie Weinbaum also says that Ramirez will establish residency in the Dominican Republic and then try to become an MLB free agent. He shares an agent with Jose Contreras; there's a news conference Thursday.
If Ramirez is truly capable, his agent should position him as a shortstop. Sight unseen the guy's still a contender for the best one available. The competition among free agents would be David Eckstein, Cesar Izturis, Juan Uribe, and Omar Vizquel.
Not so fast though. We've seen some position players come over from Cuba in the past, namely Yuniesky Betancourt and Kendry Morales. Betancourt has been OK with the stick, Morales a disappointment. When trying to translate back in '05, Baseball Prospectus's Clay Davenport equated Cuban baseball with short-season A ball over here.
We'll have to wait and see how Ramirez fares in the bigs; his agent thinks he's MLB-ready. Click here to read a little bit more on Ramirez from Baseball America, including a minor age discrepancy.