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Congratulations to the Boston Bruins on winning their first Stanley Cup since 1972. This year's major sports champions have now come from Boston, the Dallas/Fort Worth area and Wisconsin. All three of those regions could be gunning for their second championship parade of the year come November — the Red Sox, Rangers and Brewers are all in first place in their respective divisions.
Some news and items from around the majors….
- The Orioles have a lot of pieces that can be moved this summer, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. He lists Koji Uehara and Jeremy Guthrie as possible trade candidates, but Schmuck predicts Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee will finish the season in Baltimore since "neither…has done enough to create real value for the club." Schmuck also notes that Andy MacPhail may not pursue a full fire sale since finishing with a .500 record would be a positive step for a team that hasn't had a winning record since 1997.
- Andrew Miller has indeed opted to remain with the Red Sox and he will start for the team against San Diego on Monday, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston.
- David Villavicencio of FOX Sports Florida has the story of Marlins first-round pick Jose Fernandez, who escaped to the United States from his native Cuba on his fourth attempt. Florida took the right-hander with the 14th overall pick and though Fernandez has committed to the University of South Florida, the story makes it sound as if he's eager to sign.
- Erik Bedard still carries too much risk for the Yankees to make a play for at the trade deadline, argues Mike Axisa of the River Avenue Blues blog. Also, as Axisa notes, the Mariners aren't likely to deal the Canadian southpaw since they're contending in the AL West.
- "China, as well as India, Taiwan, and South Korea, represents one of the next great market inefficiencies," writes Bradley Woodrum for Fangraphs. A team that establishes a foothold in East Asia will have first dibs on a huge, untapped area for finding future baseball talent.
Here are a few items of note as Justin Verlander narrowly misses his second no-hitter of the season:
- Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller, currently in Triple-A, will remain with Boston and not opt out of his contract, as we inferred earlier today. Now, we know why: Miller will likely soon be called up and added to the rotation, according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.
- With their financial future hazy, the Dodgers should take notes on how successful small-market teams like the Rays and Marlins operate, writes Tom Krasovic of West Coast Bias.
- The Diamondbacks have agreed to terms with seven more Draft picks — bringing their total up to 30 of the 52 players they selected — including third-rounder Justin Bianco, according to a club press release.
- The Rays signed second-round pick Granden Goetzman, writes Anthony Chiang of MLB.com.
- This season's relative league-wide parity has led to a slow-developing trade market, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com (via Twitter). An AL executive told Morosi, "Too many teams still in it."
A second pitching coach change occurred today, as Mark Connor resigned from the Orioles post for personal reasons. Rick Adair will take his place. Today's links…
- A couple of young pitchers were added to 40-man rosters today, as the Blue Jays added Zach Stewart in place of Kyle Drabek and the Cubs promoted Chris Carpenter in place of Casey Coleman according to ESPN's Bruce Levine. Both teams already had one open spot on the 40-man roster.
- Andrew Miller's agent Mark Rodgers implied his client will not opt out of his Red Sox contract tomorrow, in a discussion with Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald. Lauber notes that Miller has a second opt-out date on August 5th.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski suggested he might look for offense at the trade deadline, talking to Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (Twitter link). The Tigers currently rank sixth in the AL with 4.48 runs scored per game.
- Minor league infielder Matt Lawson retired, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. The Indians acquired Lawson and cash considerations from the Mariners for Aaron Laffey in March. At least they still have the cash. Laffey currently has a 1.98 ERA in 27 1/3 innings for the Mariners.
- More bad news for the Indians: pitching prospect Jason Knapp, acquired in the Cliff Lee deal, will miss the rest of the season due to shoulder surgery according to the team (Twitter link).
- An unnamed agent guesses contracts for ten prominent free agents in Jeff Passan's latest Yahoo article. The agent guessed eight years and $200MM for Prince Fielder. Meanwhile, Fielder's former Brewers teammate Bill Hall had all kinds of praise for the first baseman in this conversation with Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
The latest on the Red Sox, as John Lackey prepares for his second Spring Training start…
- Though Adrian Gonzalez and the Red Sox have not resumed contract talks since the weekend they traded for him, there is an understanding that a seven-year deal at around $22MM per year will get it done, writes ESPN's Buster Olney. Gonzalez has said a couple of times that there's no pre-set agreement in place, but his agent John Boggs and Sox president Larry Lucchino both expect a deal.
- Regarding a potential multiyear extension, Clay Buchholz told WEEI's Kirk Minihane, "I think we've talked a little bit about it but there's nothing." Buchholz likes the five-year, $30MM deals signed by Jon Lester, Yovani Gallardo, and Ricky Romero, but perhaps the Red Sox need to see more. Buchholz's numbers are comparable to those players, but for a team there is a lot that goes into the decision beyond the stats.
- Manager Terry Francona explained to ESPN's Gordon Edes that he's thinking about the long-term with lefty Andrew Miller (Twitter link). The Red Sox were able to get a unique contract approved for Miller with the aim of subverting the option system, with a $3MM club option that vests for 2012 if he's claimed by another team. On one hand, the Commissioner's Office allowed this clause at first pass. Still, I've spoken to a few execs who think the Red Sox won't get away with it if Miller is actually claimed.
- Red Sox players are meeting today with Players' Association executive director Michael Weiner as well as several special assistants. Jed Lowrie may have a lot to contribute; Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald says the shortstop recently finished up a political science degree from Stanford by writing a 17-page paper comparing the players' unions in MLB and the NFL.
Let's take a look at some items related to the Junior Circuit..
- A rival executive described the Royals' young talent as "an embarrassment of riches" to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
- Speaking of Kansas City, Jonah Keri of Fangraphs examines the one-year, $2.5MM deal given to Jeff Francoeur. Even though the deals given to Francoeur and fellow outfielder Melky Cabrera (one-year, $1.25MM) are puzzling for many reasons, Keri notes that the one-year deals don't block any of the club's prospects.
- The Red Sox are hopeful that Andrew Miller will resurrect his career after signing a minor league deal with the club this winter writes Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal. According to Miller's agent, the lefty recieved big league offers from three other teams but preferred the BoSox.
- Two ex-Mariners, Endy Chavez and Brett Tomko, are looking to make it back to the majors with the Rangers, writes Kirby Arnold of The Daily Herald.
- Now in Texas, Mike Napoli says that he knew that the Angels would trade one of their talented catchers, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The Halos had a glut at the position with Napoli, Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson, and Hank Conger waiting in the wings.
- White Sox veteran Omar Vizquel Is a reminder of what might have been for the M's, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.
- The Pirates are likely still in search of two lefties out of the 'pen, writes Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Some Red Sox links, as Adrian Gonzalez takes his first swings since undergoing shoulder surgery last fall…
- The Red Sox included a creative clause in Andrew Miller's contract that will discourage rival clubs from claiming the left-hander, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. If a team claims Miller, who is out of options, when the Red Sox try to send him from the majors to the minors, his 2012 option becomes guaranteed, according to Speier. Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston says the option is worth $3MM, so a team would really have to want Miller to make a claim.
- Miller explained to Speier that he chose a minor league offer from the Red Sox instead of a Major League deal elsewhere because he wants to develop as a pitcher. The left-hander made a similar decision out of high school, when he chose to go to college instead of taking guaranteed money in the form of a signing bonus.
- As Speier explains, Daniel Bard told the Yankees he wouldn't sign for less than $2MM when they drafted him in the 20th round out of high school in 2003. The Bronx Bombers never made Bard an offer and he's now a key member of their biggest rival's 'pen.
- John Lackey told Dennis & Callahan of WEEI that he expects Carl Crawford's transition to the Red Sox to be a little smoother than Gonzalez's, since Crawford is accustomed to playing in the AL East. Lackey, who is hoping for a bounce-back 2011 season, says he was trying to sink the ball too much early on in 2010, his first campaign with the Red Sox.
Links for Wednesday, four years after the Giants signed Barry Zito to a seven-year, $126MM deal…
- Michael Morse, who broke out with 15 homers in limited playing time last year, could be pushed into a platoon role if the Nationals sign a first baseman, as Ben Goessling of MASNSports explains.
- Yankees president Randy Levine said to Peter Botte of the New York Daily News what lots of Yankee fans are thinking: the club needs Andy Pettitte in 2011. Meanwhile, Mark Teixeira says the left-hander is leaning toward retirement.
- In the same piece, Levine acknowledges that the Yankees discussed Manny Ramirez, but downplayed the team's interest.
- Mark Rodgers, the agent for Andrew Miller, told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that the lefty received big league offers from at least three teams, including the Rangers and Giants, before signing a minor league deal with the Red Sox.
- The Phillies could fill Chad Durbin's role internally with someone younger, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Red Sox have signed Andrew Miller to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training, according to a team media release. The left-hander met with a number of teams at the Winter Meetings, before the Giants and Red Sox emerged as finalists. Frontline, the agency that represents A.J. Burnett and Cliff Lee, represents Miller.
Boston acquired Miller from the Marlins for Dustin Richardson after the season, only to non-tender him on December 2nd. The Tigers selected Miller sixth overall in the 2006 draft and sent him to Florida in the 2007 Miguel Cabrera/Dontrelle Willis trade. The 25-year-old has walked 5.3 batters per nine innings in his major league career and has a 5.84 ERA.
He is out of options, so the Red Sox will have to expose him to waivers before sending him to the minor leagues. Boston will be able to retain him after 2011 through arbitration if they so choose.
Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter link) was the first to report that a deal was close between Miller and the Sox.
3:25pm: The Giants and Red Sox are competing for Miller, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).
WEDNESDAY, 3:00pm: Miller met with four teams yesterday and is still fielding offers, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston (Twitter links). The Red Sox are engaged with Hideki Okajima and Miller and the team would like to re-sign Miller.
TUESDAY, 11:11am: Miller will be at the Winter Meetings in person this afternoon to meet with teams, including the Red Sox, tweets ESPN's Gordon Edes.
4:24am: Cliff Lee isn't the only lefty free agent represented by Darek Braunecker, but I think it's safe to say that Braunecker's other client, Andrew Miller, won't be receiving the same types of offers as the 2008 AL Cy Young winner.
Still, Peter Abraham and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe relay some information from Braunecker, stating that "a lot" of clubs are interested in Miller, the former #6 overall pick in the draft. Boston would like Miller back on a reasonable deal, but it sounds like they'll have some competition.
The Red Sox flipped Dustin Richardson for Miller last month, but then decided not to tender the 25-year-old Miller a contract due to concerns over what kind of salary he'd command in arbitration. Miller became a free agent, and understandably, several clubs would like to get their hands on a player who was drafted sixth overall and once rated the game's #10 prospect by Baseball America.
The 6'7" southpaw was rushed to the Majors to say the least, when the Tigers called him up on August 30, 2006, just months after he was drafted. The hope was that the projected strikeout machine would help solidify their stretch run out of the bullpen. Miller struggled, but the assumption was that he'd be a solid contributor in the near future.
That looked to be the case, as Miller pitched very well across three minor league levels in 2007 before being called up to once again struggle in the Majors, this time in 13 starts. Still, as a 22-year-old, expectations were high. They were so high, in fact, that he became one of the centerpieces (along with Cameron Maybin) to the trade that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from Florida to Detroit.
Miller's command struggles continued with the Marlins though, and his fastball velocity continued to drop. In November 2010, the Marlins flipped him to Boston for Richardson, a pitcher who was drafted 157 picks after Miller in the same 2006 draft and has just 16 1/3 Major League innings to his name. Not what Florida was hoping for.
Miller won't turn 26 until late next May though, and that leaves plenty of time for him to put it together. As it wouldn't take more than a minimal investment, many teams have contacted Braunecker. It's not as if high upside, left-handed pitchers grow on trees, after all. Miller may never become the front-line starter he was once projected to be, but that pedigree can certainly provide him with a number of suitors to choose from.
- The Giants are looking to add rotation depth by pursuing "sixth starter" types. According to Shea, they're one of several teams interested in Andrew Miller, who visited the Giants in their suite Tuesday at the Winter Meetings.
- The Giants are also in the market for backup shortstops. Some names they've floated around include Orlando Cabrera and Tigers' utilityman Ramon Santiago. Edgar Renteria remains an option as well.
- Despite yet another surgery for Freddy Sanchez (this time on his left shoulder), San Francisco won't be pursuing any second basemen. Sanchez should be ready for Opening Day, and the Giants already have Mike Fontenot and Mark DeRosa to backup if needed.