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Barry Zito Rumors
Giants GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy discussed the 2011 season at a year-in-review press conference today and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle has the details:
- The Giants are going to focus on the pitching staff before addressing the offense this winter.
- There are strong indications that the Giants won’t push for free agents Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, according to Schulman.
- Sabean won’t rule out a long-term deal for Tim Lincecum, but negotiations with Matt Cain will be a higher priority, since Cain is eligible for free agency one year from now. Lincecum appears to prefer short-term deals anyway.
- Barry Zito and non-tender candidate Jonathan Sanchez will be in Spring Training competing for the rotation, according to Sabean. This is the strongest indication yet that Sanchez will be tendered a contract this offseason. His salary will likely surpass $6MM in 2012.
- Sabean and Bochy said Aubrey Huff didn’t do enough to get in shape last offseason and they have told him to do more this winter.
- The Giants have said they want to upgrade in center field and the leadoff spot. They don’t consider Justin Christian to be the solution, so Schulman wonders if Coco Crisp could be a fit.
- If the Giants don’t pick up Jeremy Affeldt’s $5MM option, they’ll renegotiate another deal with him. As I explained earlier in the month, Affeldt would be in position to command a multiyear deal in free agency if the Giants allow him to hit the open market.
- The Giants will look to add second base depth, though they may not be willing to meet Jeff Keppinger’s asking price.
- Sabean says the Giants will give Cody Ross "due consideration" as a free agent, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (on Twitter).
Bill Neukom officially announced that he will retire from his position as the Giants' CEO at the end of the season, according to a press release from the club. Current team president and COO Laurence Baer will officially take over as the Giants' new CEO on January 1, 2012. Here are a few of the hot stove-related items from Baer's introductory press conference today at AT&T Park, plus some other links related to the transition….
- Baer said he wants Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy to remain as the Giants' GM and manager, respectively, reports Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. Sabean and Bochy are both under contract only through 2012, though both have been expected to receive extensions given the team's World Series title last year. Kawakami also speculates about the "dysfunction at the highest levels" that led to Neukom's retirement and guesses the Giants will be operate "much more like a corporation than before."
- Baer said the Giants' payroll next season "won't go down" from what the team spent in 2011, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, though Baer didn't say if payroll would rise, either. According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Giants' 2011 payroll was a little over $118MM. The club has a few notable contracts coming off the books (Cody Ross, Mark DeRosa) but if the payroll doesn't rise, that will take the Giants out of the running for a top free agent like Prince Fielder.
- Also via a tweet from Shea, Baer didn't elaborate on Barry Zito's future in San Francisco, other than to say that players under contract for 2012 should be expected to be with the team next year.
- The Giants are just switching CEOs, not ownership, so Major League Baseball doesn't have any leverage that would allow it to force the Giants to drop their objection to the A's moving to San Jose, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (both Twitter links).
Let's take a look at a few items out of the NL West..
- This winter, the Giants will have 13 players eligible for salary arbitration and seven players hitting free agency. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle peered into his crystal ball to predict which players would return to the club in 2012.
- Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports gives credit to Diamondbacks exec Jerry Dipoto for his role in the club's success. The former interim general manager could have looked for another GM gig after the position was given to Kevin Towers last year, but he instead chose to be a company man. Recently, Tim Dierkes spoke to Dipoto about his career in baseball and his future aspirations.
- If all goes well, it looks like Giants pitcher Barry Zito will soon be activated and will get the chance to show the club where he stands, tweets Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News. Recently, Giants skipper Bruce Bochy admitted that he wasn't sure where the lefty fits into the team's long-term plans.
- Given their other needs, Troy Renck of The Denver Post (via Twitter) expects the Rockies to wait another year to address their first base situation.
Earlier this evening, first baseman Brett Pill became the first Giants player to homer in his first MLB at bat since Will Clark arrived on the scene 25 years ago. Here are today’s Giants-related links…
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy told MLB.com’s Chris Haft that he isn't sure where Barry Zito fits into the team's long-term plans. Zito, who has pitched 49 2/3 innings of 5.62 ERA ball this year, has $46MM remaining on his contract after 2011.
- Eno Sarris of FanGraphs discusses Madison Bumgarner's transition from rookie to frontline starter. The 22-year-old left-hander has a 3.37 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 this season.
- GM Brian Sabean has said that the Giants could look to win and develop talent at the same time if it gets ugly for the team in September, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. San Francisco trails Arizona by 7.0 games.
Links for Thursday night..
- The Giants likely can't get much for Barry Zito and therefore a deal involving him is unlikely, writes MLB.com's Chris Haft.
- Ryan Theriot enjoyed his brief stint with the Dodgers last season, writes Quinn Roberts for MLB.com. After playing 54 games for the club last season, he was shipped to the Cardinals for reliever Blake Hawksworth.
- Despite all of the uncertainty about their rotation heading into this season, it seems like the Rangers pitching is just fine, writes Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
- After bouncing around from the Pirates to the Nationals to the Brewers, Nyjer Morgan seems to be carving out a niche for himself in Milwaukee, writes George Von Benko for MLB.com. The Brewers acquired Morgan in exchange for Cutter Dykstra in late March.
- Major League Baseball announced the selection order for the draft (June 6-8) and the Padres own five of the first 58 overall selections, writes Corey Brock of MLB.com. In addition to their own first-rounder, the club has the ninth pick for failing to sign their 2010 first-round pick, pitcher Karsten Whitson. They also have three compensatory picks for Jon Garland (Dodgers), Yorvit Torrealba (Rangers) and Kevin Correia (Pirates).
- The Angels are grateful to have picked up left-handed relievers Hisanori Takahashi and Scott Downs this offseason, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter) knows that the point has been made before, but he finds it unfathomable that the Giants thought it smart to give $126MM to Barry Zito.
- The Orioles released minor league outfielder Danny Figueroa, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com.
- The Phillies have released Dan Meyer from their minor league camp, tweets Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.
- Within his Sunday Baseball Notes, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Rangers "haven't closed the door" on a Michael Young trade. Cafardo says not to rule out the Phillies, though the Phils are a little more optimistic about Chase Utley's health than they were a couple weeks ago.
- Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. says his club has room to add payroll this season "if the right situation develops," according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier discusses former first round pick Jason Place, who the Red Sox released yesterday.
- In an article for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Terry Pluto takes a look at the Indians' future infield.
As ESPN.com's Buster Olney points out, the Giants would have to have a legitimate alternative in place before dumping Barry Zito and the $64.5MM remaining on his salary. If Jeff Suppan earns a rotation spot or someone else pitches unexpectedly well, the Giants could consider releasing Zito, but until then they can use the durable left-hander. Here's more on the Giants and other notes from Olney:
- Olney says now is the time for the Giants to dump Zito if they're ever going to do it. The Giants are coming off of a World Series title, so Olney argues that they're working from a position of credibility. They aren't likely to cut Zito, however.
- As Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News writes, manager Bruce Bochy says Zito is the team's fourth starter and GM Brian Sabean says the team isn't frustrated with him.
- One talent evaluator says "the athleticism has been taken out" of Domonic Brown's swing.
- Derek Jeter's relationship with the Yankees will be defined by the team's perception of what's required to win, writes Olney. The team will likely be willing to put Jeter at the bottom of the order or switch him to another position if his performance declines.
- It's for that reason that Jose Reyes could become a solution for the Yankees when he hits free agency after the season.
There's a lot going on in Giants camp and their division rivals are making headlines, too. Here's the latest…
- Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote today that Barry Zito is "walking a thin line" within the organization and that there's "exasperation" with Zito. Jenkins reported that Zito doesn't have a guaranteed rotation spot and wrote that Zito would not be wearing a Giants uniform by 2013, the last guaranteed year on his contract.
- As Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports, Zito was stunned by the report. Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the left-hander that the Chronicle report was the first he'd heard of the team's frustration. Zito walked five of the 13 hitters he faced in his spring debut.
- Ever gone on vacation only to keep checking out what's going on around MLB? I certainly have and, as MLB.com's Corey Brock explains in this must-read piece, so has Padres executive Josh Byrnes.
- The Dodgers agreed to terms with Clayton Kershaw on a one-year, $500K deal, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. That's more than usual for a pre-arbitration eligible player, but the 22-year-old has a 3.17 ERA and 9.3 K/9 in 483 innings of work, so he's not your average pre-arb player.
- D'Backs GM Kevin Towers told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert that he has been most impressed with utility player Ryan Roberts this spring (Twitter link).
Giants GM Brian Sabean told Bill Shaikin of the LA Times that he does not intend to trade Barry Zito this offseason. The Giants owe the left-hander $64.5MM over the course of the next three years – a lot of money for someone who hasn’t pitched like a $20MM player. Zito struggled down the stretch and is not on the Giants’ World Series roster, but Sabean says he likes having him on the team.
"We like Barry's contribution as far as the innings he pitches and the starts he makes," Sabean said.
Zito, who is in the fourth year of his seven-year $126MM deal, logged just under 200 innings this season. He posted a 4.25 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 overall, but pitched to a 6.14 ERA in August and September. Zito makes his starts, but it's not as if teams are lining up to acquire the former Cy Young Award winner. The Giants couldn't trade him without taking on $40MM or more.
Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and last night's hero, Madison Bumgarner, occupy four spots in San Francisco's rotation. Sabean said lefty reliever Dan Runzler may get the chance to start, according to Tom Krasovic of AOL FanHouse (on Twitter).
Some links as we wonder what to make of the red-hot Padres…
- Ace Walker was the pitcher of the year in the independent Northern League last year, but he didn't get any calls from MLB teams over the winter, reports Adam Wazny of the Winnipeg Free Press.
- High schooler Tony Wolters, who was one of the top shortstops available in this year's draft, has been ruled ineligible, according to John Manuel of Baseball America.
- Rays manager Joe Maddon told Scott Miller of CBS Sports that the Rays have to operate with "one eye on the present and one on the future" to win with their budget.
- MLB.com's Chris Haft suggests the Giants could put Aubrey Huff in left field to make room for Buster Posey's bat at first base.
- RotoAuthority explains why it's a little early to talk about a Barry Zito renaissance.
- The Rangers would only consider trading Justin Smoak for a player who would put them "over the top," in the opinion of Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
- Joe Posnanski notes that Dayton Moore fired Trey Hillman days after praising him and suggests that the decision wasn't Moore's.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Marc Carig of the Star Ledger that the Tigers were always confident in Austin Jackson's defense.
- The Nationals have the resources to make midseason moves if necessary, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
- James Paxton, a sandwich pick the Blue Jays failed to sign last year, makes his independent league debut tonight. One scout told John Manuel of Baseball America that Paxton threw 88-90 mph and looked rusty in exhibition games.