Author Archives: Matthew Birt

Liriano Promotion Could Affect Arbitration

Francisco Liriano is pitching in his first major league game in 19 months today, and Twins fans have to be excited by that prospect.

However, as pointed out by Joe Christensen of The Star-Tribune, had the Twins waited longer to promote Liriano from the AAA Rochester Red Wings (where his service time clock was on hold), the lefty wouldn’t reach the three-year arbitration benchmark until after the 2009 season.

As it stands now, with two years and 32 days of service, Liriano will see his salary move beyond the $1MM mark at the end of this season.

Posted by Matt Birt

A Lot Riding On Gorzelanny’s 2008 Performance

Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette concerns himself with one significant name missing from the Pirates’ recent contract extensions: Tom Gorzelanny.

Kovacevic reveals that Gorzelanny’s name came up when team officials discussed players who should get extensions, but because he won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2009 season, and because they wanted to see more of him, they decided to exclude him.

The feeling amongst management is that the lefty could become a premier pitcher, so they are looking for big growth this season.  Things with Gorzelanny have been less than stellar thus far, so he’s not helping his case any.  His most recent start lasted only 2.1 innings, as he gave up six hits and four walks.  But looking beyond this year’s small sample size, Gorzelanny’s second half last year betrays the front office’s confidence.  He walked 3.5 batters per nine, and had a solid but not-overwhelming 6.5 strikeouts per nine (for an underwhelming 1.9 command ratio).

The Pirates waiting to see more from Gorzelanny may not work in favor of his bank account.

Posted by Matt Birt

Despite Tiger Woes, Bonds Not An Option

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle addresses the possibility of adding Barry Bonds to a Tigers team with a struggling offense out of the gate.  The team is currently 2-9 with a league-low 33 runs scored.

GM Dave Dombrowski responded to concerns raised about the offensive production thus far with his best Alfred E. Neuman impersonation, saying, "What!  Me worry?"

"If we hit the same all year, I’d be the most surprised I’ve ever been in my career," he said.  On signing Bonds, Dombrowski replied, "Our everyday lineup is set.  It’s not even a situation with us."

All this hand wringing over the offense, while understandable, seems misdirected.  The real concern has to be the pitching staff.  As Shea points out, the starting staff had just one quality start in the team’s first nine games.  With or without adding the recently DFA’d Kyle Snyder, Detroit should be much more concerned about solidifying its rotation and relief corps.  That offense is going to produce.  But pinning all hopes on it while neglecting the team’s arms could lead to a lot of disappointed fans.

Posted by Matt Birt

Snell And Pirates Agree To Three-Year Deal

SUNDAY, 7:13pm: Paul Meyer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette clears things up.  It is a guaranteed contract of $8MM for three years, with a $600K signing bonus.  The two option years are worth at least $16MM, not including "standard incentive clauses."  That’s a great deal for the Bucs, wouldn’t you say?

SUNDAY, 6:23pm: The three-year deal is worth at least $8MM, according to a wire report.

SUNDAY, 4:22pm: It has just been announced on that the Pirates have signed starting pitcher Ian Snell to a three-year guaranteed contract, with club options for 2011 and 2012.  Salary amounts have not yet been released, though Tim has surveyed the range of possible contract amounts here and here.

This season is Snell’s last before becoming arbitration eligible.  As Tim pointed out earlier, $13-14MM is the the going rate for a talented young pitcher’s arbitration eligible years.

Pirates fans have to be encouraged by this announcement, as Senior VP and GM Neal Huntington has been held out as a reason for true optimism in The Land of the Three Rivers.  Additionally, Snell is one of the more talented young starting pitchers in the NL, ranking sixth in strikeouts in the league since the beginning of the 2006 season.

Said Huntington, "This is another example of the organization’s commitment to build a championship caliber club. Retaining talented young players developed in our system will help us achieve our goal of bringing championships back to Pittsburgh."

Posted by Matt Birt

Sabathia Blasé About New York

For the most part, the Indians’ C.C. Sabathia continued to deflect questions about his future after his start today against the Yankees, says Andrew Castrovince of

Hounded by the Yankees-centric media, however, the soon-to-be free agent surely launched a jolt of pain through Yankees Nation when he was asked if he likes New York.

His response?  "It’s all right," he said.

Sabathia continued to maintain with reporters that "in a perfect world," he would want to stay with Cleveland.  After all, "I’ve been here since I was 17."

Posted by Matt Birt

Conine To Sign One-Day Contract With Marlins

According to Joe Frisaro of, Jeff Conine, a holder of a number of Marlins’ records and nicknamed "Mr. Marlin," will reportedly be signed to a one-day contract on March 28th and then retire.

Conine, who was with the team for their two World Series titles, will be honored on the field during the Marlins season opener versus the Mets at Dolphin Stadium on March 31st.  It is rumored that the Marlins have not ruled out bringing Conine back to the club as an advisor.

Posted by Matt Birt

Covering Trade Rumors All Afternoon

Matt Birt checking in for the afternoon to cover all your trade rumor needs.  Hopefully you’re prepping your kegs and eggs for tomorrow’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities.  Unfortunately, tomorrow morning I will be talking all things Catch-22 with a bunch of seventeen and eighteen year-olds, when I’d like nothing more than to celebrate with my family and pals.  Such is life.

While I cover rumors, I’ll be listening to Edinson Volquez dominate the Phillies (I’m liking that trade more and more), and dreaming of the day the Reds run out a rotation of Harang, Arroyo, Cueto, Volquez, and Bailey.  Please feel free to email me with any rumors that cross your path.

Posted by Matt Birt

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Rosenthal’s Latest: Crede, Willits, Rivera, Belliard

Ken Rosenthal checks in with all kinds of hot stove info.

  • Continuing on yesterday’s post regarding Joe Crede and the Dodgers , Rosenthal reports that a source close to Dodgers management explained that the team trading for a third baseman like Crede or Brandon Inge is "all about the budget and whether [owner Frank] McCourt will allow them to add money."  Rosenthal continues to point out that Crede is a better deal than Inge in terms of their contracts, and that Crede could also be more attractive to Dodgers management because the White Sox might be willing to trade for prospects, while the Tigers are looking for immediate bullpen help.
  • The Mariners had been in the market for a veteran right-handed hitting outfielder, but have opted instead for in-house options.  It seems Coco Crisp could have filled a need.  Sure, he’s a switch-hitter, but his splits suggest it could have made some sense.  If they didn’t have to part with too much, it might have worked.
  • The Angels have a surplus in the outfield — Juan Rivera and Reggie Willits — and Rosenthal reports that Willits is now untouchable according to the Angels (two teams have inquired after him recently).  The two are blocked by Vladimir Guerrero, Garrett Anderson, Torii Hunter, and Gary Matthews Jr.  While it sounds as if they’d prefer to move Rivera (a free agent at season’s end), it’s hard to imagine that they’d send Willits to the minors (he has options remaining) if they don’t find a good match for Rivera (Umpbump Coley suggested the Padres or Mets yesterday).  As Coley pointed out, the Angels have numerous banged up pitchers, and there are a number of teams out there who are going to be starting center fielders with inferior skill sets compared to Willits (as Tim pointed out a few days ago).
  • The Nationals are dealing with a surplus at second base, and Rosenthal believes that Ron Belliard is the most logical piece to move, what with his $1.6MM salary this season, and his $1.9MM for next.  Rosenthal pinpoints the Rockies (perhaps too little range on the right side with Jeff Baker and Todd Helton), Cardinals, Twins, and White Sox as potential trade partners.

Posted by Matt Birt

Odds And Ends: Crede, Marlins, Canó, Bonds

Some interesting tidbits this afternoon before I check out:

  • Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that one of Brian Sabean’s top advisors, Ted Uhlaender, was present to witness Joe Crede’s homer off of Arizona’s Max Scherzer on Saturday.  Seems more and more likely, as Crede proves his back is fine, that he will be moved to the Giants.  Will the White Sox get Kevin Correia in exchange for Crede?  The White Sox need a back-of-the-rotation guy, and Kenny Williams and company think they can win this year.  So prospects probably won’t get it done.  While the Giants could conceivably use Rich Aurilia or Kevin Frandsen at third, Sabean will most likely be unable to resist Crede’s 2006.
  • Juan Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel digs up this little tidbit: The Florida Marlins haven’t signed a player to a multi-year contract since December 2005, when they signed Carlos Delgado to a four-year, $55MM contract, and Paul Lo Duca to a three-year, $18MM deal.  One would hope that this trend will end soon enough, and that owner Jeff Loria will open the purse strings for Hanley Ramirez when the time is right.
  • Tyler Kepner of The New York Times explores the relative surprise that Robinson Canó has been considering his draft position and reputation as a prospect, and details how frequently the Yankees almost dealt him before he made the big club.  Canó was nearly dealt for Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltrán, and Randy Johnson in different instances. 
  • AP Sports Writer Bob Baum explains that Bud Selig isn’t trying to keep Barry Bonds from being signed.  Selig stressed that each club is free to deal with whomever they please.

Posted by Matt Birt

Fielder Not Happy With Renewal

3:28pm: Fielder gets $670K, to be exact.  Doug Melvin was surprised at Prince’s public displeasure.

1:46pm: Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Prince Fielder is not pleased with his contract renewal, executed this morning.

Rumored to be in the $650,000 range, Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, indicated his client’s displeasure. Ryan Howard’s $900,000 contract for 2007 was cited as the figure the first baseman hoped to fetch for the season.  Fielder made $415,000 last season.

According to Haudricourt, the Brewers used a formula they go by for players with zero to three years experience, a formula which they also used to renew the 2008 contracts for Ryan Braun and Corey Hart.  While the amount of Hart’s renewal is unknown, Braun’s contract was renewed at $455,000. Haudricourt goes on to conjecture that this morning’s renewal has hurt the Brewers’ chance of negotiating a multi-year deal with Fielder before he is arbitration-eligible next winter.

Haudricourt has predicted that Fielder will pull roughly $10MM if his case goes to arbitration, in light of Howard’s recent arbitration victory.

Upsetting the youngest player to reach 50 HRs seems like an unwise decision on the Brewers’ part.  It would be nice to lock up a player of Fielder’s talent long-term, but it seems the Brewers have made that prospect less likely.

Posted by Matt Birt