Bruce Chen Rumors


Five FA Pitchers Who Could Benefit From The NL

While the relative strength of the National League compared to the American League is debatable, it's hard to deny that the Senior Circuit is more appealing to pitchers. Replacing the pitcher in the lineup with a designated hitter makes AL lineups more potent, as this year's offensive statistics showed - five of baseball's top six run-scoring teams in 2010 play in the Junior Circuit.

The difference may be negligible for certain players, but each year there are usually a few pitchers who switch leagues and immediately see their numbers rise or fall accordingly. After being dealt from the Indians to the Cardinals this season, for instance, Jake Westbrook posted a 3.48 ERA and 6.6 K/9, compared to his Cleveland marks of 4.65 and 5.1.

So although there's no guarantee that starting pitchers will enjoy more success playing in the National League, here are five potential free agents who may benefit from signing with an NL club:

  • Javier Vazquez: Of all the pitchers who switched to the American League last offseason, Vazquez suffered perhaps the most drastic setback. After finishing fourth in NL Cy Young voting in 2009, the 34-year-old pitched so poorly this season that he lost his spot in the Yankees' starting rotation. Even taking into account his first two up-and-down years with the Expos, Vazquez's career NL numbers (4.02 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.3 BB/9) are better across the board than his AL totals (4.65, 7.9, 2.7). Vazquez won't be back in the Bronx, and his best shot at decreasing his 2010 longball rate (1.8 HR/9) and returning to form might come in the NL.
  • Kevin Millwood: We heard earlier this year that Millwood could seek a pitcher-friendly environment for 2011, after years of pitching in Baltimore and Texas. The move makes sense for the right-hander; he still has some value as a veteran innings eater, but could potentially be much more than that in a park like Petco in San Diego. We don't know what kind of contract the 35-year-old will be seeking, so it's possible he could be too expensive for a team like the Padres. For what it's worth though, San Diego was thought to have interest in Milwood in August.
  • Jeremy Bonderman: One of the youngest arms on the open market, Bonderman could be an interesting fourth or fifth starter for a team willing to take a flier on him. Though his 4.89 career ERA is uninspiring, he's a former first-round pick and will turn 28 next week. His career peripherals suggest that he still has potential, and he strikes me as the type of pitcher who would benefit from the tutelage of a pitching coach like the Cardinals' Dave Duncan. The Cards may re-sign Jake Westbrook or look elsewhere for starting pitching, but St. Louis isn't the only possible landing spot for the long-time Tiger, who could benefit from a change of scenery.
  • Bruce Chen: The 33-year-old journeyman has experienced an unusual major league career, playing for six National League teams before arriving in Boston in 2003. Since then, he has played for four different American League clubs. Chen's career numbers are relatively similar in both leagues, but coming off a successful season in Kansas City, perhaps a return to the NL could be in the cards. While the left-hander has lost some velocity on his fastball since he last played in the Senior Circuit, he's gotten by relying more on flyball outs and less on strikeouts. For a team in a pitcher's park, Chen could be a worthwhile back-of-the-rotation addition.
  • Rich Harden: Although a healthy season would help Harden's stock more than changing leagues would, moving to the National League certainly wouldn't hurt. While the right-hander excelled in Oakland when he was healthy, his second stint in the AL wasn't as impressive; his 5.58 ERA for the Rangers this year was by far a career-worst. Still, like Bonderman, Harden is relatively young, turning just 29 next month. He also had stretches of dominance in his time with the Cubs in 2008 and 2009, striking out 11 batters per nine innings and posting a 3.31 ERA in 212 innings over the two years. Again, health is the big concern with Harden, but an NL team may feel more comfortable taking the risk than an AL one would.



Royals Notes: Payroll, Greinke, Chen, Bannister

It will likely be "a relatively quiet offseason" for the Royals, writes Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.  Here are some of the hot stove-related notes from Dutton's recent look ahead to the Royals' 2011 season.

  • The payroll is expected to be in "the low $60MM range" next season, down from K.C.'s 2010 payroll of just under $75MM.  This whole drop could be attributed to Jose Guillen's $12MM salary coming off the books. 
  • Speaking of Guillen, Dutton reports that "the days of shelling out millions to retread veterans for stopgap purposes appear over."
  • There have been some rumors about Zack Greinke being on the trade block, but Dutton thinks the K.C. ace won't be moved this winter since his trade value will be higher at next year's trade deadline and in the 2011-12 offseason.
  • Bruce Chen wants to re-sign in Kansas City and there appears to be mutual interest from the Royals.  The club may "have too many promising left-handed prospects to offer Chen more than a one-year deal," but it's hard to imagine another club giving Chen multiple years.
  • Dutton predicts the Royals will either deal or non-tender Brian Bannister.  The right-hander made $2.3MM in 2010 and is entering his third arbitration year.
  • With Jason Kendall set to miss part (or maybe all) of 2011 after rotator cuff surgery, Kansas City will be in the market for a cheap, defensive-minded veteran catcher.
  • The team is looking for right-handed hitting and will probably "scour the bargain bins" for the likes of a Matt Diaz or a Cody Ross.  Dutton notes, however, that if the Royals are particularly taken with a higher caliber of right-handed hitting corner outfielder, they would be "willing to shell out a few million for a good fit."  Such a player would be all the more important to the club if David DeJesus is traded in the winter.



Royals Open To Making More Deals

Several clubs were ‘kicking the tires’ on Scott Podsednik this summer, but until 24 hours ago, the Dodgers weren’t one of them.

“Ned Colletti and I spoke for the first time last night,” Royals GM Dayton Moore told reporters this evening.

Just 24 hours later, the clubs finalized the deal that sent Podsednik to the Dodgers for minor leaguers Lucas May and Elisaul Pimentel. The negotiation process with the Dodgers was simple and Moore can imagine tinkering a little more before Saturday at 3pm CST.

“There may be a small deal or two that we could do going forward,” Moore said.

Some players - like Joakim Soria, Zack Greinke and Billy Butler - would be extremely difficult to pry away, but the Royals insist they’re “open-minded” about others.

“Guys in the final year of their contract, we’ll be more aggressive with potentially moving them,” Moore said.

Jose Guillen (who has drawn interest from the Giants), Bruce Chen and Willie Bloomquist are set to hit free agency after the 2010 season. The Royals have a $5.25MM option for Kyle Farnsworth in 2011, but he could attract interest before the deadline as well. The Royals lost a major trade chip last week when David DeJesus injured his thumb.



Giants Eyeing Will Ohman?

The Giants' search for another hitter has been well documented, but the team could be targeting more than just a bat. San Francisco is also looking into the possibility of acquiring Will Ohman, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Brian Sabean told listeners on his KNBR radio show Thursday that the team could use an experienced left-handed reliever, and Ohman fits the bill. Although the southpaw has had some control issues this year (5.1 BB/9), he has recorded a 2.57 ERA and struck out a batter per inning. He has also handled lefties well, holding them to a .531 OPS for the season.

If they don't acquire Ohman, the Giants could have a hard time finding another satisfactory left-handed arm for their bullpen. An already underwhelming relief market looks even more uninspiring when you consider the lack of lefties on the list. Besides Ohman and Scott Downs, whose price tag may be too high for the Giants, potentially available southpaws include Bruce Chen, Alan Embree, and Scott Schoeneweis.



Royals Sign Bruce Chen, Vance Wilson, Four Others

According to a press release from the Royals, they've signed six players to minor league deals: pitchers Bruce Chen, Adam Bostick, Devon Lowery, and Francisco Rosario, as well as first baseman Ernesto Mejia and catcher Vance Wilson.

Chen, 32, posted a 5.78 ERA, 6.5 K/9, and 3.6 BB/9 in 62.3 innings for the Royals this year.  Wilson, 37 in March, hit .270/.342/.461 in 229 Double A plate appearances this year.  He seems all the way back from Tommy John surgery and might warrant another look as an MLB backup.



Royals Sign Bruce Chen

According to Dick Kaegel of MLB.com the Royals have signed Bruce Chen to a minor league contract. Chen, 31, will report to the Royals' minor league camp after he pitches for Panama in the WBC. He last pitched in the majors in April of 2007.



Rangers Sign Bruce Chen

The Rangers hope to add some competition to the fifth starter slot - they signed Bruce Chen today to a minor league non-roster deal.

I like the idea of signing Chen, but not for the Rangers.  He's healthy, left-handed, and not quite 30.  He posted a fine 3.83 ERA in the AL East as recently as 2005.  However, the marriage of an extreme flyball pitcher and a ballpark that inflates homers by 12% doesn't seem logical at first glance. 

Digging deeper, I found that Ameriquest only inflates right-handed HRs by 2%.  However, Chen is much better against righties despite his handedness.  Teams can stack their lineups with left-handed sluggers against him.  I still don't get the signing.




Rangers Sign Bruce Chen

The Rangers hope to add some competition to the fifth starter slot - they signed Bruce Chen today to a minor league non-roster deal.

I like the idea of signing Chen, but not for the Rangers.  He's healthy, left-handed, and not quite 30.  He posted a fine 3.83 ERA in the AL East as recently as 2005.  However, the marriage of an extreme flyball pitcher and a ballpark that inflates homers by 12% doesn't seem logical at first glance. 

Digging deeper, I found that Ameriquest only inflates right-handed HRs by 2%.  However, Chen is much better against righties despite his handedness.  Teams can stack their lineups with left-handed sluggers against him.  I still don't get the signing.










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