Author Archives: Zach Links

Dave Dombrowski On Joakim Soria, Future Moves

Last night, the Tigers landed one of the top available relievers on the trade market in Rangers right-hander Joakim Soria.  While Soria should go a long way towards shoring up Detroit’s bullpen, many have wondered if Detroit might continue to work the phones for an additional relief option, particularly given the struggles of left-handers Phil Coke and Ian Krol.  I asked Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski earlier today if he might go after a southpaw in the next week.

I don’t know I would get into what we’re specifically addressing, but we’re open-minded to different thought processes.  Our bullpen has struggled at times and we want to have people that put up zeroes out there,” Dombrowski said.  “We’ve tried a lot of guys at that and we remain open-minded if something makes sense to make us better before the trade deadline.”

The Tigers have been in need of bullpen reinforcements for some time and Dombrowski has been focused on Soria “for a while.”  The GM said that he started chatting with Rangers GM Jon Daniels in June and things picked up more and more with time.  And while Soria didn’t come cheap — he cost the Tigers promising pitching prospects Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel —  he believed that it was a price they could afford to pay thanks to their pitching depth.  Soria’s affordable $7MM club option also helped Dombrowski to pull the trigger since he will likely be more than just a rental.

I don’t think it made the deal, but it was a real plus for us,” the GM said.

Of course, if things went differently for the Tigers this season, they might not have had to make a trade like this at all.  Dombrowski acknowledged that he’d be in a “different situation” if Bruce Rondon was with the club.  They’re also “not counting” on a 2014 return for Joel Hanrahan and the odds were termed as being “highly unlikely.”

While Soria has a long history as a successful closer, Dombrowski is insistent that Joe Nathan will continue to pitch in the ninth-inning despite his struggles this season.  When asked what it might take for Soria to possible leapfrog Nathan and close out games, the Tigers GM declined to speculate or set expectations for the 39-year-old.  For now, Soria is there to help build a better bridge to Nathan and the veteran appears to be all for it.  Before pulling the trigger on the deal, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and pitching coach Jeff Jones asked Nathan and Ian Kinsler about how they feel Soria might fit in with the team.  One of the replies they got back was, “Why don’t we have him yet?’


NL Notes: Hamels, Lee, Burnett, Colon, Padres

The Rockies, who have lost four in a row and 11 of their last 15, own the National League’s worst record and the third-worst mark in all of baseball. The franchise faces six key questions, according to the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders, including whether to trade Troy Tulowitzki and to overhaul the front office to appease the disgruntled fan base. Saunders doesn’t see either happening because owner Dick Monfort is an extremely loyal and stubborn man. Saunders writes Tulowitzki could force a trade if he is willing to be portrayed as the disloyal, bad guy. Elsewhere in the NL:

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


West Notes: Padres, Headley, Angels, Street

The Padres can control Tyson Ross for another three seasons, but to justify the rising cost, they’ll need more games like the gem he delivered yesterday, writes Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego.  Through 21 starts this season, the All-Star owns a 2.70 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. Here’s more out of the Western divisions..

  • Padres assistant GM A.J. Hinch told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that “Chase Headley is free agent at the end of the year, so we are acting accordingly.”  Hinch also indicated that several teams are interested in the third baseman.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter) that he started working on the Huston Street deal right after the June draft about six weeks ago.
  • Dipoto went on to add that the Angels are not likely to do any more deals this month unless there is an injury to a starter (link).  However, the Halos will remain in “feeler mode” just in case.
  • The Astros have a major perception problem, writes ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider sub. req’d).  Between the Brady Aiken situation, their handling of George Springer, and the widespread belief that they tanked the 2013 season, many are questioning Houston’s game plan.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Aiken, A’s, Montero

On this date in 2004, at Wrigley Field, Albert Pujols went 5-for-5, including three home runs and five RBIs, as the Cardinals beat the Cubs, 11-8.  The Redbird first baseman’s first three-homer career game helped St. Louis to erase a six run deficit.  Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere..

Please send submissions to Zach at ZachBBWI@gmail.com.


Cafardo On Price, Cardinals, Hamels, Benoit

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if the Red Sox will succumb to fan pressure and re-sign Jon Lester.   Lester turned down a four-year, $70MM offer from the Red Sox in spring training and other clubs will almost certainly offer six- or seven-year deals if he reaches the open market.  Boston, of course, doesn’t want to go that far.  “If that’s your philosophy you can’t make exceptions or it will be viewed as a joke,” said one American League general manager. “If you vary from it, that sends a weak message to the baseball community, agents etc., when it comes with dealing with other players. I think the players themselves need to know where you stand as an organization, and if you keep deviating that sends the wrong message.”  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • The Mariners don’t mind dealing for Rays ace David Price without an agreement in place for a long-term deal, but that’s not the case for everyone. The Cardinals are interested in Price but would want a financial commitment, a major league source tells Cafardo.   Cafardo cautions not to rule out the Giants, who also have had interest in Ben Zobrist.
  • The Phillies have been discouraged by what they’re hearing from other teams on Cole Hamels.  The Phillies consider him their biggest trade chip, but will hold on to him if they don’t get what they consider a fair deal. The Red Sox sent their top pitching scout to watch the hurler before the break and the Phillies have scouted Boston’s major and minor league teams all season. One major league source said if the Phillies get a taker on the full contract and they get three top prospects, he’s gone, and Hamels, according to another major league source, wouldn’t mind.
  • Joaquin Benoit is one of the most sought after relievers on the market but a Padres official tells Cafardo that they won’t just give him away.
  • Chad Qualls has resurrected his career with the Astros and teams are calling on him, according to a major league source.  Houston left-hander Tony Sipp has also drawn interest.
  • A.J. Pierzynski, who cleared waivers Friday, has told agent Steve Hilliard that he would like to continue playing.

Yankees Release Alfonso Soriano

JULY 14: The Yankees have released Soriano, per the MLB.com transactions page.

New York will owe Soriano the remainder of the $5MM portion of his salary for which the team is obligated. He will be free to sign with any club (likely at a league-minimum rate), though Soriano has indicated that he would give at least some consideration to retirement.

JULY 6: Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter), that Alfonso Soriano has been designated for assignment.  Dropping Soriano from the roster will make room for the newly-acquired Brandon McCarthy.

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals

Soriano has been struggling this season, batting just .221/.244/.367 with six homers in 238 plate appearances.  Still, the news comes as a surprise given Soriano’s lifetime body of work.  In fact, before this season, Soriano was in the midst of a career resurgence with a .258/.312/.494 slash line between 2012 and 2013 with the Cubs and Yankees.

The 38-year-old is in the final year of the eight-year, $136MM contract that he signed with the Cubs in November 2006.  Soriano will earn $18MM on the year, but the Yankees are only on the hook for a portion of that with the Cubs paying the majority of the deal.  The Cubs are paying out $13MM of Soriano’s 2014 salary while the Bombers are responsible for just $5MM.

Soriano is sure to find plenty of suitors looking for outfield help, but it remains to be seen how much longer he wants to keep playing.  Soriano previously discussed retiring after the 2014 season but he also indicated that he might want to keep going through 2016.  At the time, he said he’d like to finish his career with the Bombers, but that doesn’t appear to be in the cards now.

If Soriano packs it in at the end of the season, or in a couple of years from now, he won’t be hurting for cash.  According to Baseball-Reference, Soriano has earned nearly $158MM over the course of his big league career.  In 16 seasons for the Yankees, Rangers, Nationals, and Cubs, Soriano posted a lifetime .270/.319/.500 slash line and earned seven consecutive All-Star selections from 2002 through 2008.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Miley, Blue Jays, Tanaka

On this date in 2012, Zack Greinke became the first pitcher to start three consecutive games in the same season since Red Faber did so for the White Sox in 1917.  The Brewers’ right-hander was the starting pitcher in the team’s final two games before the All-Star break. Greinke started the Saturday prior to the break only to be ejected for arguing a close call at first base after throwing just four pitches, so manager Ron Roenicke let him start the next day’s game.  Greinke then made it three straight starts when he took the mound to begin the second half of the season for the Brew Crew.  Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere..

Please send submissions to Zach at ZachBBWI@gmail.com.


Quick Hits: Samardzija, Viciedo, D-Backs, Byrd

Jeff Samardzija couldn’t be happier to be joining the A’s, writes MLB.com’s Jane Lee.  “Billy asked me how I felt,” said Samardzija. “I was supposed to pitch today, so I’m a day past my due date to pitch. I’m chomping at the bit. I don’t think there’s any better way to get acclimated than to do it on the mound. It was a no-brainer for me, and I look forward to it.” Here’s more from around baseball.


Red Sox Reluctant To Move Will Middlebrooks

The Red Sox have been receiving decent trade interest in recent days in third baseman Will Middlebrooks, but Red Sox people are said to seem quite reluctant to deal him, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Middlebrooks is on injury rehab following his slow start in Boston but the Sox seem intent on keeping him past July.

Still only 25, Middlebrooks has power, and it isn’t easy to come by power bats in baseball these days. On top of that, if Middlebrooks can show something in the second half, he could be a piece if the Sox try and make a run at Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton.  It would obviously take much more than Middlebrooks to get a deal done, but Miami did have some interest in Middlebrooks last winter. Stanton would provide a huge boost for the Red Sox and Boston can build a package with some of the best prospects in baseball to entice Miami if they make Stanton available over the winter. In 21 games this season, Middlebrooks has hit just .197/.305/.324 with two homers.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Orioles, Thatcher, Melvin

On this date in 2003, Tampa Bay skipper Lou Piniella was a man of his word.  The manager promised his club that if they won three in a row he’d dye his hair and after the Devil Rays topped the White Sox the night before, Lou become a blond.  Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere.

Please send submissions to Zach at ZachBBWI@gmail.com.