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Author Archives: Jeff Todd
Here’s the latest out of the National League …
- The Reds are discussing the possibility of a surgical option for injured hurler Homer Bailey, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. Bailey, playing out the first year of a six-year, $105MM extension, is dealing with a flexor mass tendon strain in his right forearm. It appears that a surgery would have a shorter recovery time than would, say, a UCL replacement, but manager Bryan Price emphasized that the decision would likely be made in relatively short order to avoid undue delay.
- Top Rockies prospect Jon Gray has been shut down after experiencing shoulder fatigue, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports. An MRI came back clean, and Gray says that he has felt good in bullpen sessions, which certainly reduces concern. It seems, however, that Colorado is likely to hold their prized righty out of game action until next spring. Presumably, Gray — and fellow top young arm Eddie Butler — will have a chance to join the Rockies rotation early next year.
- Results on recent trades have not favored the Diamondbacks, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Though most of the deals have not been disastrous, in Piecoro’s estimation, the failed Justin Upton swap has had lingering negative effects — and now looks worse than it did after the one-year mark. At present, the Braves have achieved an additional 5.3 rWAR and 7.3 fWAR from their end of the deal (Upton and Chris Johnson), as against the production of the since-traded Martin Prado and Randall Delgado, Zeke Spruill, and Nick Ahmed. As Piecoro notes, there is still some time for the tally to creep back in Arizona’s favor, particularly since prospects Brandon Drury and Peter O’Brien (the latter of whom was obtained for Prado) still could provide value.
Newly-anointed interim Phillies president Pat Gillick spoke with reporters today, including CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury. Gillick said there has been “no thought whatsoever” to firing GM Ruben Amaro Jr. or manager Ryne Sandberg, saying that his protege Amaro “didn’t get dumb overnight” after playing an important role in the construction of the team’s latest run of success. But Gillick will be focused on baseball operations, and says that he would have final say if there were any disagreements on personnel issues (while emphasizing that he and Amaro are generally on the same page). As a general matter, Gillick said that he would both function as an “interim caretaker” and an agent of change for the organization. The complete interview is well worth a full read.
Here’s more from the NL East:
- Phillies ace Cole Hamels is likely to be dealt in the offseason, opines Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Turning him into young talent is virtually the only realistic way that the club can convert present assets into future ones, Passan says.
- The Mets ought to deploy Daniel Murphy as a Ben Zobrist-like super-utility player rather than trade him, argues Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Utilizing youngsters Wilmer Flores and/or Dilson Herrera at second and moving Murphy around the diamond — among other moves, of course — could be the best way to maximize value and potentially create a contender, Sherman suggests.
- Braves righty Kris Medlen, nearly six months removed from his second Tommy John procedure, has begun throwing a baseball, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Though his recovery is still just beginning, Medlen will be quite an interesting player to keep an eye on over the coming offseason. (He is still arb-eligible for a final time.)
The Padres have designated lefty Troy Patton and infielder Chris Nelson for assignment, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports on Twitter. Like many of the day’s other DFAs, these moves are related to the team’s September call-up plans.
Patton, 28, was picked up from the Orioles in the deal that sent Nick Hundley to Baltimore. He had been a reasonably effective reliever before struggling out of the gate this year for the O’s. Over 7 1/3 frames in San Diego, Patton actually showed quite well, allowing just two earned runs and striking out eight and walking only one. Over his career, Patton has limited lefties to a .633 OPS while also managing right-handed batters reasonably well (.718 OPS-against).
Nelson, also 28, has bounced around quite a bit in recent years. This season, he spent time at Triple-A with both the Reds and Pads, posting a combined .279/.355/.389 slash over 363 plate appearances. He failed to hit the .300 mark in any of those categories in his 81 trips to the MLB dish this year for San Diego.
The Angels have designated righty Michael Kohn and outfielder J.B. Shuck for assignment, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). Los Angeles needed 40-man roster spots to accommodate its September call-ups.
Kohn, 28, has produced a 3.52 ERA in 76 2/3 MLB relief innings over the last two years. But his 9.2 K/9 over that stretch has been countered by 5.6 BB/9, and his control issues worsened this year both at the major league and minor league level. ERA estimators are not fans of his work, moreover, with his earned run numbers propped up by a low home run-to-flyball rate and a .192 BABIP-against.
Meanwhile, the 27-year-old Shuck is out of chances in Los Angeles just one season after receiving 478 plate appearances for the big club. He posted a .293/.331/.366 slash in last year’s audition, but has been much less productive over just 88 plate appearances in 2014. It would not be surprising to see some interest in Shuck from other clubs, however. The controllable outfielder has actually posted his best minor league numbers this year, slashing .320/.382/.446 in 465 plate appearances at Triple-A.
The Pirates have designated utilityman Michael Martinez for assignment, the club announced via press release. His roster spot will be used to clear space for the promotion of Chase d’Arnaud, who is one of the team’s expanded roster additions.
Martinez, 31, has always been a light hitter, and this year was no different. After 44 trips to the plate for Pittsburgh, he owns a lifetime .181/.231/.251 triple-slash over four years and 440 plate appearances. Martinez’s calling card, of course, is defensive versatility. He has seen time at every position on the field except for the 1-2-3 spots on the diamond.
Almonte, 25, has struggled in limited playing time at the major league level over the past two seasons. At Triple-A this year, he owns a .261/.311/.437 line over 454 plate appearances. Daley, meanwhile, threw 14 1/3 frames of 5.02 ERA ball this year. The 32-year-old reliever also saw 35 2/3 innings at Triple-A, posting a 4.54 ERA.
The Yankees will bring up a group of younger players, including John Ryan Murphy, Preston Claiborne, Bryan Mitchell, and Chase Whitley, and have selected the contracts of veterans Rich Hill and Chris Young. The club also agreed to new, major league deals with outfielder Antoan Richardson and recently-acquired righty Chaz Roe, both of whom will join the club’s reserve mix.
The Astros fired manager Bo Porter yesterday, and owner Jim Crane confirms to Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle that Porter and GM Jeff Luhnow weren’t seeing eye to eye. “[The GM and the manager] have to be closely aligned and singing the same song,” said Crane. “That wasn’t happening.” Crane acknowledged that Porter was put in a difficult situation and said he feels Porter “did a pretty good job with what we gave him” before voicing his support for Luhnow’s vision. Crane says that Nolan Ryan, Reid Ryan and Craig Biggio will all be involved in the search for the next Houston manager, and he wonders if the Astros would benefit from someone with more managerial experience.
Here’s more on Porter’s firing and the search for the next Astros skipper…
- There were some within the Astros organization that thought Porter should be dismissed following the 2013 season, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney in his daily Insider-only blog. However, the prevailing opinion wound up being that it was too soon to let go of a manager who had just completed his first season. Olney spoke with team sources that told him some players and club employees are angry over the situation. Some club employees are even looking for jobs elsewhere, according to Olney.
- With porter out of the picture in Houston, Luhnow could be next on the chopping block if the team does not show significant improvement in 2014, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports opines (video link). One specific area of improvement for Luhnow will be showing that he can successfully build a bullpen, Rosenthal points out.
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle spoke with pitching coach Brent Strom regarding his relationship with Porter, and Strom had positive things to say. Strom was hired by Luhnow and has a longstanding relationship with the GM, but says he learned a lot from Porter, whom he met just this past offseason. “I really grew to appreciate his intelligence and his attention to detail,” Strom said. “I actually learned a great deal from him, I really did. Stuff that in all my years of baseball I had not thought about, and I documented all those things and actually had passed it on to our minor league pitching coaches for future years throughout our system.”
- Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo is likely to be a candidate, sources tell ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
- Some “potential candidates,” according to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, include former Astros star (and current adviser) Craig Biggio. Other possibilities include bench coaches Tim Bogar (Rangers) and Dave Martinez (Rays) along with third base coaches Dave Clark (Tigers) and Joe McEwing (White Sox). McTaggart’s colleague, Richard Justice, also tweets that Bogar is a candidate.
- In addition to the names listed above, Drellich lists some other hypothetical candidates for the skipper’s role. Former big league managers Manny Acta and Trey Hillman, A’s bench coach Chip Hale, Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo, recent Padres assistant GM A.J. Hinch, and interim manager Tom Lawless.
Though trades completed after the expiration of the non-waiver period generally lack the marquee appeal of their predecessors, August swaps can have wide-ranging impact — as the blockbuster of 2012 amply illustrates. This year, most of the heavy lifting was done during July, but that doesn’t mean that the more recent set of trades (and straight waiver claims) will go without meaning.
So, MLBTR readers: which of the following dozen players will, in your opinion, be the most impactful addition for their new club? (Players listed in alphabetical order by last name, randomized in poll; links go to the relevant transaction.)
Gordon Beckham, INF, Angels — Beckham has not hit well this year — or, really, for much of his career — but is just 27 and can play around the diamond.
Jonathan Broxton, RP, Brewers — One of the game’s most effective set-up men this year, Broxton will be Milwaukee’s for 2015 as well, at a $9MM price tag.
Kevin Correia, SP, Dodgers – Injury flare-ups created a need for innings, but Los Angeles decided to add at the back of the rotation rather than giving up top youngsters.
Alejandro De Aza, OF, Orioles – Though he has had a down year, De Aza appears to be a solid reserve piece and comes with control for next year (though he is a possible non-tender).
Adam Dunn, DH, Athletics — Dunn can still mash, especially against righties, and his bat will be nice to have handy in a now-likely play-in game.
Roberto Hernandez, SP, Dodgers — See above re Correia.
Kelly Johnson, INF, Orioles — With Manny Machado down for the year and second base still a weakness, Johnson is an obvious fit.
Josh Outman, RP, Yankees — Apparently missing Thornton somewhat, New York added the lefty-killer and will have the chance to control him for 2015.
Geovany Soto, C, Athletics — Catcher didn’t seem likely to become a need for Oakland, but Soto could be a good get to plug a late-arising hole.
Matt Thornton, RP, Nationals — Thornton represented the lefty specialist that Washington wanted, and he has been lights out since being nabbed.
Jacob Turner, SP, Cubs — The only non-contender acquisition on this list came about when the Marlins tired of waiting for the 23-year-old’s promise, and his lack of options required an ill-timed DFA.
Josh Willingham, OF, Royals — After a quiet non-waiver deadline, Kansas City made its move to add the still-productive veteran hitter.
The White Sox are preparing to make a run at Tigers DH Victor Martinez in free agency, Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com reports on Twitter. Martinez, 35, is playing out the final year of the four-year, $50MM pact he signed to join Detroit before the 2011 season.
Chicago will have an opening for a veteran slugger with both Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko playing on expiring contracts. The pair has split duties at the DH position this year, but the switch-hitting Martinez would presumably occupy the role with just one roster spot. Of course, Dunn also provides something of a cautionary tale. He posted a .731 OPS over four years with the White Sox, which actually fell slightly below league average, making his $56MM deal a devastatingly poor investment given his lack of defensive flexibility.
Martinez, of course, proved a better investment than did Dunn, even though he no longer spends time behind the dish. Over three seasons in Detroit (he missed all of 2012), Martinez has put up a .318/.375/.479 slash with 52 home runs. He’s been even more impressive this year, bumping his line up to .327/.395/.555 and swatting a career-best 26 long balls.
In spite of his age, Martinez’s bat will obviously be enticing to many American League clubs. One major wild card remains whether or not he receives a qualifying offer from the Tigers, which could prove a particularly strong disincentive to teams that are not all-in on the immediate future. In that respect, of course, the White Sox represent an interesting suitor, as a move for Martinez would represent a signal that the team believes its contention window was opened.
Here’s the latest out of the National League …
- The Phillies reversed course on Ryan Howard‘s playing time because the club believes the only way it can salvage anything in return for him is to keep him in the everyday lineup, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Philadelphia hopes that an American League team will bite on Howard over the offseason, especially if he can put up the kinds of numbers (25 home runs, 100 RBI) that would shine up his surface appeal.
- The word around Philadelphia is that no major changes to the decisionmaking structure will occur while club president David Montgomery is on leave, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Both GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and Ryne Sandberg gave short and simple explanations that the status quo would continue. “We’re not really at liberty to really discuss much more about it,” said Amaro.
- Braves reliever Jonny Venters will undergo and attempt to return from a third Tommy John procedure, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports on Twitter. Venters was one of the game’s better southpaw setup men over 2010-12, but he would be a rare pitcher to make it back from a trio of UCL replacements.
- The Brewers are unlikely to make any last-minute moves, GM Doug Melvin tells MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy (Twitter link). Though the club made a claim and tried to acquire Rockies’ first baseman Justin Morneau, Melvin indicated that nothing seemed in the works at this point. “You never know, but probably not,” he said.