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Andy LaRoche Rumors
The Cardinals have interest in Andy LaRoche and are eyeing the infielder as a possible trade target, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Cardinals recently found out that David Freese will miss the rest of the season, but they've been getting by at the hot corner with Felipe Lopez and (for one game) Allen Craig. For the Cardinals to acquire LaRoche from their division rivals, every NL team with a worse record than St. Louis would have to let LaRoche slip through waivers.
The former top prospect has just a .223/.290/.299 line this year after a solid 2009 season. LaRoche has spent most of his major league career at third base, though he has played a handful of games at second. He earns $450K this year and will go to arbitration for the first time this winter. The Pirates have LaRoche under team control through 2013.
The Twins are a good team, but it's in spite of the production they're getting at the hot corner. Ron Gardenhire's third baseman have combined to hit just .213/.283/.280 with a pair of home runs. Nick Punto and Brendan Harris each have slugging percentages below .300, so the Twins recently called on top prospect Danny Valencia. That move gives the Twins more power than the Punto-Harris combination, but it doesn't assure them of anything. Let's take a look at the Twins' options as they try to get some offense from their third basemen:
- Hope that Valencia hits - Baseball America named Valencia an untouchable before last year's trade deadline, and ranked him sixth among Twins prospects heading into the year. At that point, Valencia had a promising bat, but was an inconsistent defender because of "subpar concentration and footwork." Valencia, 25, has hit .323/.364/.323 since arriving in the majors in early June, so his bat is no sure thing either.
- Call up the Red Sox - Ken Rosenthal reported over the weekend that the Twins' field staff would like to add Mike Lowell, though the front office has concerns about his durability. The $7.1MM remaining on Lowell's 2010 salary would also be an obstacle.
- Trade for an Oriole – The Twins could call the Orioles about Miguel Tejada (.676 OPS, $6MM salary) or Ty Wigginton (.854 OPS, $3.5MM salary). Tejada is playing third for the O's and Wigginton has spent most of his career at the hot corner and has recent experience there.
- Ask about LaRoche – There's no room for Andy LaRoche in Pittsburgh, now that the Pedro Alvarez era has begun. LaRoche has just a .232/.295/.316 line, but the 26-year-old posted a .731 OPS and played solid defense last year.
- Turn to the free agent market - Joe Crede defended well and hit 15 homers for the Twins in 2009. However, he had back, shoulder, hand, knee and hamstring issues last year and hasn't faced MLB pitching since.
- Hope that the Blue Jays keep slumping – There's no guarantee that the Blue Jays keep slumping or that they'll have interest in moving Jose Bautista if they do fall out of contention. Those 18 homers and the fact that Bautista doesn't become a free agent until after 2011 mean the Jays could ask for a highly-touted prospect or two. It wouldn't be the first time the Twins picked up a former Blue Jay with power to play third; the club added Tony Batista back in 2006.
9:24pm: Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Alvarez has been officially called up. The prospect got the news after Indianapolis' game on Tuesday night. ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that Alvarez will be in the lineup against Chicago on Wednesday.
6:55pm: Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Pedro Alvarez, the No.2 overall pick in the 2008 Amateur Draft, could make his major league debut for Pittsburgh before the end of the week. Langosch reports that Alvarez is in the lineup tonight for Triple-A Indianapolis, and could be called up as soon as Wednesday for that evening's White Sox/Pirates game. One might think the Bucs might announce Alvarez's first game in advance to sell a few extra tickets either against the Sox or when the Indians come to town for a weekend series.
Alvarez will play every day at third base for the Pirates, thus making current baseman Andy LaRoche into a backup or utilityman; Langosch notes that LaRoche has already been taking grounders at second base in preparation for his new role. With Neil Walker locked into the second base job, LaRoche (who was a well-regarded prospect him not too long ago) could be made available to a team looking for an infield backup. The Bucs would certainly have an easier time moving LaRoche than they would dealing Akinori Iwamura's big contract.
2:04pm: Tejada told a Spanish-speaking AP reporter that he's willing to play any infield position, according to Jorge Arangure Jr. of ESPN.com. Arangure Jr. cites Tejada's road numbers (.283/.313/.395) and fading defense and suggests that the infielder will have to accept a one-year deal with a low annual salary.
12:50pm: Slusser now says Tejada's representatives contacted the A's, not the other way around. The chances of a reunion don't sound great.
She says the A's inquired on Andy LaRoche a while ago, only to hear that the Pirates wanted Ryan Sweeney and Gio Gonzalez in return. Slusser suggests the A's would like to acquire a high-quality young infielder to play third or short. Failing that, the team could turn to a bargain free agent.
11:42am: The A's would consider adding an infielder who can play third base, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Two of the options they're considering are former A's Miguel Tejada and Adam Kennedy. The A's have contacted Tejada's agent and the sides could work a deal out if Tejada lowers his asking price.
After hitting .315/.340/.455, Tejada may be reluctant to sign at a discount and is apparently looking for a two-year $16MM offer. The Twins and Orioles are possible fits for the former AL MVP.
The A's also like Kennedy, but would prefer to add a player with experience at short. The infielder, who turns 34 this weekend, hit .289/.348/.410 in nearly 600 plate appearances last year. His defense was below average at second and third, according to UZR/150. We heard earlier in the week that Kennedy was Plan D or E for the A's.
CSNBayArea.com's Mychael Urban checks in with the latest on the A's and Giants.
- After failing to sign Adrian Beltre, the A's continue to seek a third baseman. The team has considered attempting to trade for the Pirates' Andy LaRoche or the Padres' Kevin Kouzmanoff. Neither player hit for much power in 2009, however (Kouz hit 18 home runs, but slugged only .420). Adam Kennedy is said to be Plan D or E.
- The A's are still talking to Jack Cust's agent, though they've yet to make an offer. Regarding the idea of returning to the A's after being non-tendered, Cust told Urban, "Stranger things have happened." Urban senses Cust would give the A's the opportunity to match any offer.
- Urban finds Cust a less-than-ideal fit for the Giants. He likes Adam LaRoche, or perhaps Miguel Tejada if LaRoche's demands remain high.
A few notes from around the majors…
- Veteran Greg Norton tied a major league record in what may be his final season, says MLB.com's Mark Bowman
- In another blog entry, Bowman said that though Martin Prado spent some time in the outfield while playing in his native Venezuela, Prado is not a candidate for Atlanta's right field job.
- MASN's Steve Melewski reports that the Orioles have signed their first Guatemalan player, 17-year-old Manuel Hernandez
- In a chat on MLB.com, Pirates president Frank Coonelly said that Andy LaRoche was "open" to the possibility of playing second base next season given some of Pittsburgh's minor-league options at third base (including top prospect Pedro Alvarez).
- Dick Kaegel of MLB.com reports on two changes to Kansas City's coaching staff in 2010.
Here are some links to kick off Sunday morning:
- Some Blue Jays players approached CEO and President Paul Beeston with complaints about Cito Gaston, reports Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun. “They raised the issues,” said Beeston. “They were listened to. They have not been addressed at this time. I had my ears open. I kept my mouth shut. I gave them some comments and that’s all I want to say about that.”
- Jordan Bastian of MLB.com writes that newly appointed Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos was emotional in his introductory presser. The article notes that the position of president and CEO will be filled soon, relieving the interim hire, Paul Beeston. Beeston says that while the next president and CEO will have the authority to hire its own staff, he will recommend that Anthopoulos remain as GM.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that Kevin Towers didn't deserve to get fired considering all the obstacles he has had to work around in San Diego.
- Towers conducted a farewell press conference in San Diego and Craig Elsten of 619sports.net posted some key sound bytes. Towers insisted that the organization maintained a strong focus on scouting and player development under his watch. He also said that he has been contacted by seven or eight other teams to work immediately, but wants to take some time off before jumping into another job. The 47-year-old made it known that he wants the opportunity to be a GM again. Also available are team owner and CEO Jeff Moorad's post-podium comments.
- The Pirates have talked to Andy LaRoche about possibly moving from third base to second next year to make room for Pedro Alvarez, writes Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Pirates would like to call-up Alvarez by the middle of the 2010 season, but first he must improve his strength and conditioning. The 22-year-old excelled after his mid-season promotion to AA, posting .333/.419/.590 with 13 HR in 60 games.
- More from Kovacevic as he labels the Pirates' trade of Nate McLouth to the Braves to be the worst personnel move of the year. Kovacevic says the deal hurt the players' trust in Pittsburgh management and was a poor public relations decision.
- Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post tweets, "Jerry Manuel was in meetings all morning and said he expects an announcement tomorrow on changes and the team's offseason plans."
- Jon Heyman reports via Twitter that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria refused to comment on a possible manager change. Recent reports suggest that Fredi Gonzalez could be on the way out and Bobby Valentine could be on the way in.
Time for some afternoon links…
- Over at SI.com Jonah Keri looks back at a win-win trade that lost its luster. Josh Hamilton and Edinson Volquez seemed like perfect fits for their new teams just last year, but injuries have shelved both.
- In his MLB.com chat, Pirates president Frank Coonelly defended the organization's choice to flip Jason Bay for prospects last summer. FanGraphs values Andy LaRoche's 2009 performance more than Bay's, believe it or not.
- Coonelly says the Pirates are the only club to have offered Miguel Angel Sano "significant dollars." Don't expect Sano to sign until the investigation into his age is complete, however.
- Brandon Phillips would consider playing short if the Reds want him to, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Let’s dig through today’s rumor bin…
- The Jays claimed southpaw Reid Santos off waivers from the Indians. MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince says the Indians are clearing room on their 40-man roster in preparation for the winter.
- Dejan Kovacevic has yet to observe why new Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche is so highly regarded.
- Jamey Newberg feels Hank Blalock‘s $6.2MM option for ’09 is an easy call to exercise.
- J.C. Bradbury sees a rift within the Braves organization.
- Craig Calcaterra dismisses the silly idea of Frank McCourt suing Andruw Jones.
- Paul Lo Duca would prefer a non-guaranteed deal next year if he gets a chance to compete for a starting job.
- Ian O’Connor doesn’t see Alex Rodriguez finishing his contract as a Yankee.
- C.C. Sabathia just wants to be happy in his next destination.
- Will the Braves re-sign Mike Hampton this winter? Is it possible both he and Carl Pavano are useful pitchers in 2009?
Digging into today’s random links…
- Joel Sherman looks at what went wrong for the Yankees this year. Did they fall too in love with their farm system?
- At least six teams have called the Pirates about third baseman Andy LaRoche in recent weeks. If LaRoche pans out and Pedro Alvarez comes aboard, the Bucs could have a surplus at some point.
- Craig Harris examines the rise of D’Backs GM Josh Byrnes.
- Eddie Bajek updated the Elias rankings for the AL 1B/OF/DH category. They’re fluctuating wildly. Eddie also did catchers for both leagues; Ivan Rodriguez is headed into Type B territory. Gregg Zaun lost Type B status.
- Mike Hindman conducted a roundtable asking what kind of contract the Rangers should offer Milton Bradley.
- 29 teams passed on Rays reliever Grant Balfour last spring. Now he has a 1.62 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 50 innings. Balfour’s been through a lot.
- Joe McDonald and Sean McAdam don’t see the Red Sox signing A.J. Burnett (or any big-name free agent starter).
- Padres CEO Sandy Alderson scoffed at the idea of a $40MM payroll for ’09. I never heard that figure tossed around; Buster Olney suggested the $50MM range.
- Maury Brown heard a rumor that Thomas Ricketts won the bid for the Cubs.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: A.J. Burnett | Andy LaRoche | Arizona Diamondbacks | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Elias Type A/Type B Free Agents | Grant Balfour | Gregg Zaun | Ivan Rodriguez | Milton Bradley | New York Yankees | Pedro Alvarez | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Diego Padres | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays