Brian Roberts Rumors
Lots of rainouts in Florida, so here are some links to get you through the day...
- Jayson Stark takes a look at pitching phenoms not named Stephen Strasburg. Also featured: Strasburg.
- MLB.com's Steve Gilbert looks back at the trade that sent Jose Valverde to Houston and says the D'Backs now look like winners for obtaining Chad Qualls, Juan Gutierrez and Chris Burke.
- Rickie Weeks told Colin Fly of the AP that he'll miss former teammate J.J. Hardy, who was traded for Carlos Gomez this winter (link via the Miami Herald).
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo profiles highly-touted high schooler Jameson Taillon, from his academic background to his hobbies, to his upper-90s fastball. Taillon will likely be a top pick in this year's draft.
- Top Cubs prospect Starlin Castro will start the season in Triple A no matter how good he looks in Spring Training, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.
- Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail repeated to Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun that the Orioles will consider other options in case Brian Roberts isn't going to be ready on Opening Day.
- In case you're wondering, Jermaine Dye is the only remaining free agent who qualified for the batting title last year.
- Cubs manager Lou Piniella feels healthy going into the last year of his contract, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Team president Crane Kenney expects to have an "interesting conversation" with Piniella after the season.
- The Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League signed Toshihisa Nishi, according to this Sanspo report passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (via Twitter).
- Jason Bay says he feels more comfortable than before, now that he has a no-trade clause in his contract, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
- Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times can't think of a Dodger to successfully make a comeback like the one Eric Gagne is attempting.
- A former GM tells Baseball America that teams didn't worry about losing players out of minor league options in the past. Check out MLBTR's list of players out of minor league options here and go to the Baseball America article for Matt Eddy's explanation of options and why they matter.
- Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post suspects that the Nationals may not draft Bryce Harper with the first overall pick in this year's draft.
On this date nine years ago, the Astros signed Richard Hidalgo to a four-year, $32MM contract. At the time, it was the third-richest contract in franchise history, behind only Jeff Bagwell's five-year, $85MM deal and Craig Biggio's four-year, $33MM deal. Hidalgo would go on to hit .266/.342/.475 with 87 home runs during the life of the deal, though he was dealt to the Mets mid-way through the 2004 season.
Here's a look at what's been written around the web...
- Camden Crazies looks at some potential replacements for Brian Roberts and his injured back.
- SPANdemonium presents a lineup of players 25-years-old or younger who should be locked up to long-term contracts.
- River Ave. Blues remembers when the Yankees pursued Brian Giles as a free agent.
- Capital Ave. Club quantitatively evaluates 16 of Braves' GM Frank Wren's most notable moves.
- Meanwhile, Long Drive evaluates Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro Jr. in a three-part series.
- Gear Up For Sports wonders is the Angels did enough this offseason.
- Around The Majors breaks down the first base trade market.
- The Dugout Report examines some Spring Training position battles.
If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.
Orioles president Andy MacPhail says the Orioles are now considering contingency plans in case second baseman Brian Roberts is not ready for the start of the season, reports Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Roberts is dealing with a herniated disc in his back, and also had a bad reaction to medication he took for the injury.
According to Zrebiec, "MacPhail said he might start having his scouts look at who is available on the trade market along with exploring internal options." Current Orioles Robert Andino, Ty Wigginton, and Justin Turner have experience at second base.
His name is Dan Uggla, and he can be had for the right price this offseason. The 29-year-old Florida second baseman has 121 homers and an .826 OPS in his four major league seasons, but between his war of words with Marlins franchise player Hanley Ramirez and the $7-8MM he is likely to earn in arbitration, rumors have been swirling that the Fish are looking to move Uggla out of south Florida before he becomes too pricey for their taste.
FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal listed the Dodgers, Cardinals, Orioles, Twins, Giants and Diamondbacks as possible suitors for Uggla in an article last month. The Snakes may be out of the running now since, as reported by the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro, Arizona will likely look at internal candidates to play second base. Baltimore already has Brian Roberts entrenched at second, but if Uggla was interested in moving to third base he would surely become attractive to even more clubs.
Of the clubs on Rosenthal's list, Minnesota stands out since it's unusual for the small-market Twins to be looking at picking up high-priced talent, rather than moving it themselves. But with Target Field opening in 2010, the Twins may have some extra revenue to spend on both picking up the tab for Uggla and (the team's top priority) signing Joe Mauer to a long-term contract. Minnesota has holes at both second and third that Uggla could fill.
Would Uggla fit best on one of the aforementioned six clubs, or is there another team out there with both the money and the need for a slugging second (or third) baseman?
A busy Sunday morning has made for some some discussable items from around the league:
- Rick Dempsey of MASN is excited by the Orioles future and says it is undoubtedly time for the team to trade, highlighting George Sherrill, Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Roberts, Aubrey Huff, and Melvin Mora.
- Carlos Frias of the Palm Beach Post notes A.J. Burnett has regrets over leaving the Marlins and burning his bridges in the process.
- After Josh Johnson beat the Yankees yesterday, Mike Feinsand of the New York Daily News says, "Hope you got a good look, Yankees fans. You may have been watching your future ace."
- River Ave. Blues thinks trading Xavier Nady makes sense despite Buster Olney having said, "The Yankees are unlikely to trade Nick Swisher of Xavier Nady after Nady returns."
- Not a trade rumor, but Manny Ramirez is set to begin a minor-league stint on Tuesday in Albuquerque, says The Tribune-Review.
- Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe says (via Twitter, of course) "Daisuke [Matsuzaka] to DL. [Catching prospect] Dusty Brown up with the team for the first time." She continues, "About to talk to Daisuke. Will get quotes to you shortly. [Sox manager Terry Francona] said he doesn't think this will be a two-week DL." While the Sox still have rotation depth, this surely effects any perceived sense of urgency to deal.
A few links for Sunday afternoon...
- According to MLB.com's Spencer Fordin the Orioles used "number crunching and statistical analysis" to compare Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis to similar past and present players before locking them up to deals worth $40MM and $66MM, respectively.
- Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Joe Nathan's happy to see Jonathan Papelbon making lots of money this year ($6.25MM) because it's good for closers in general.
- Jayson Stark of ESPN.com points out the absurdity of the Manny Ramirez negotiations and suggests the structure of a deal that could work for both sides. It's been nearly four months since the Dodgers made their initial offer of two years and $45MM.
- Pete McElroy of MASN Sports reports that Dmitri Young's "shocked" to see Jim Bowden resign. Young, who first dealt with Bowden on the Reds, spoke glowingly of his former GM.
- According to MLB.com's Jason Beck Jim Leyland confirmed that the Tigers had some offseason discussions about Juan Cruz.
- The draft's still three months away, but Keith Law of ESPN.com is already putting together scouting reports about some top amateur players.
- MLB.com's Lyle Spencer dreams up a deal that sends Adrian Gonzalez and Jake Peavy to the Angels for 10 players.
Following a new contract extension for Brian Roberts, Peter Schmuck and Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun point out an interesting feature of Roberts' new deal:
The club retains a fairly unfettered right to deal Roberts now, but Orioles officials insist the club has no intention of pursuing any trade talks involving him.
Many sportswriters have questioned the fit of this contract for the Orioles, since it keeps a 31-year old second baseman signed on an otherwise young team. With limited no-trade protection, Roberts may or may not be a continued fit for the Orioles' long-term plan.
Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun has the latest on Brian Roberts' no-trade clause and an Orioles signing:
- Roberts isn't likely to be dealt anytime soon, but there are four teams he can't be traded to this year. Schmuck is "pretty confident" that the Royals and Blue Jays are two of the four.
- Roberts can block trades to eight teams next year and to 12 the year after that.
- Roberts has a complete no trade clause the following year, just before his 10-5 rights kick in for spending 10 years in the majors and the last five with the same team.
- The Orioles have agreed to terms with reliever Bob McCrory.
FRIDAY, 10:08am: MASN's Roch Kubatko reports that Roberts passed his physical this morning. The O's will announce his contract extension later today.
THURSDAY, 7:00pm: Zrebiec reports that the deal is done. Roberts confirmed that he took his physical today and the deal will be announced tomorrow. It's a four-year, $40MM extension. Roberts feels that the O's will compete sometime during the duration of his contract:
"I don't think I would've made the commitment to even begin negotiations if I didn't think that at some point in this process of the next four or five years that we wouldn't have a chance to win,"
Roberts also voiced his desire to remain with one club for his entire career:
"In citing the reasons he wanted to get a deal done to stay in Baltimore, Roberts, who was married this offseason, pointed to the importance of loyalty and his desire to remain with one organization for his entire career," writes Zrebiec.
THURSDAY, 10:03am: Roberts on the deal: "Obviously, it's fairly close to done."
WEDNESDAY, 6:09pm: The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec writes that the Orioles and Roberts are "finalizing" the contract:
The terms of the deal have been agreed to, but contract language and other details still need to be worked out before the agreement, which is expected to include at least a minor no-trade clause, is finalized, sources said.
Roberts has a physical scheduled for Thursday morning. A signature could come Friday.
4:17pm: Steve Melewski of MASN passes along a few quotes from Roberts. The second baseman spoke of making "huge strides" toward a deal.
3:06pm: MASN's Roch Kubatko says the deal is "just about done," with only minor issues to be addressed. He says to expect an announcement Friday at the earliest.
11:44am: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says Roberts and the Orioles are close to a four-year, $40MM deal. Rosenthal implies the extension will begin with the 2010 season.
9:34am: According to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles are closing in on a four-year deal with second baseman Brian Roberts. Some details still need to be worked out.
Assuming the extension begins with the 2010 season, Roberts will be 36 at its conclusion. Is this the right move for a franchise trying to get younger?
Links for Thursday...
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick has details around the Mariners' Ken Griffey Jr. signing, while Keith Law has criticism for it. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution blogs about his "Griffey Chooses Braves" story. MLB.com's Mark Bowman also has thoughts on the decision not to play for Atlanta, and another postmortem article where he talks to Frank Wren and Chipper Jones.
- Drunk Jays Fans has a preview of the team.
- Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes in praise of the Brian Roberts extension. I don't like the argument that the Orioles needed to sign Roberts because they don't have a clear successor at second base.
- RotoAuthority ranks starting pitchers for fantasy baseball.