Colby Lewis Rumors
Having dropped their last five games, the Astros own a .256 winning percentage, easily the worst in baseball. Their new division rivals, the Rangers, are at .632, tied for second in baseball. The two numbers are not unrelated, as the Rangers have won five of six contests against the Astros. The latest on the two Texas clubs:
- The Astros announced yesterday that president and CEO George Postolos resigned. Postolos' role with the Astros had little to do with baseball operations, unlike some other team presidents. Postolos "specializes in franchise acquisition," wrote Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, and his skill set no longer matched with the job description. One of Postolos' tasks involved carriage agreement negotiations, trying to get the Astros and Comcast Sportsnet Houston into Houston homes. CSN Houston is available in "only about 40 percent of Houston's 2.2 million TV homes," writes David Barron of the Houston Chronicle.
- Asked on ESPN's Galloway & Company show yesterday if he has any interest in the Astros' new job opening, Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan replied, "I don't think so." Ryan has not been in contact with Astros owner Jim Crane. There was some springtime drama about Ryan's role with the Rangers, which was resolved in April.
- The Astros are running "extended evaluations" at all three outfield positions, writes Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. J.D. Martinez, Robbie Grossman, and Jimmy Paredes will hold the starting spots for now, with Justin Maxwell to regain center field when he returns from a fractured left hand. The Astros have already moved Chris Carter to first base and jettisoned Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez, though Martinez cleared waivers and remains in the organization.
- Carter, a 26-year-old acquired from Oakland in February as part of the Jed Lowrie trade, is tied for fifth in the league with nine home runs. He also leads all of baseball in strikeouts, however.
- 33-year-old Rangers righty Colby Lewis, a free agent after this season, "has been diagnosed with a mild case of tendinitis in his right triceps muscle" according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Lewis last pitched in the Majors on July 18th of last year, before undergoing flexor tendon surgery. His current issue is not related to the surgery, and Lewis could make another rehab start next week after receiving an anti-inflammatory injection.
- Rangers long reliever Derek Lowe told Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he didn't pass the "stats test" when hunting for an offseason job, explaining he leans toward the human element. Apparently mixing stats and scouting, as all teams do, Lowe commented, "If you pump my numbers into the system compared to, let’s say, Tanner Scheppers, of course his stuff is going to outscore my stuff, I’m not naive. He’s a young kid who throws 98 mph with a great breaking ball. Listen, I know I don’t pass the test."
Here are a few notes from the American League ...
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that his squad is simply "not good right now." He notes that, with so much going wrong, "it's awfully hard to look at one area or one person and say, that's the cure." After investing huge money in Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, the club was only able to afford a pitching corps that sits near the bottom of the league in all of the major, comprehensive pitching statistics. And, of course, neither Pujols nor Hamilton has performed as expected. The team admittedly entered the year "thin after the 25-man team and the 12-man staff," according to Dipoto, and that lack of depth was tested so much that the team was forced "to start drilling for oil." Now, in a comment that Heyman describes as being "perhaps ominous," Dipoto says that the team is left waiting to see what happens as players come back from the DL: "As we get healthy, we'll have a better chance to assess where we are."
- So far, the best free agent signing of 2013 has been the unexpected Mark Reynolds, tweets Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Indeed, Reynolds is tearing the cover off of the ball for the Indians. After tonight's game, he sports a .291/.367/.645 slash with eleven home runs, which he has accomplished in part by lowering his strikeout rate to a level (25.0%) that is well below his career average (32.3%). Whether or not he keeps up this pace, he appears very likely to substantially outperform his one-year, $6MM deal. Certainly, the Orioles are likely regretting the decision to non-tender Reynolds, who would be an unquestioned upgrade at the club's disastrous DH spot.
- Pitcher Colby Lewis of the Rangers, a prospective 2014 free agent, began his rehab assignment this evening with a two-inning appearance in Triple-A. According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter), Lewis stretched his 45-pitch limit over just two innings as he labored through a 32-pitch second and ultimately let in three runs. As MLBTR's Steve Adams recently explained, Lewis could earn himself a multi-year contract if he shows teams that his past durability can be counted on once more going forward. In an injury-shortened 2012, the 32-year-old Lewis put up a 3.43 ERA over 105 innings and registered 8.0 K/9 against just 1.2 BB/9.
12:55pm: Lewis can earn up to $4MM in incentives based on games started and active service time.
11:59am: The Rangers and Colby Lewis have agreed to a one-year contract extension for 2013 according to John Blake, the team's Executive Vice President of Communications (on Twitter). Lewis' deal is worth $2MM in guaranteed money plus incentives, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (on Twitter). The Octagon client had been on track for free agency this coming offseason, but he's on the 60-day disabled list and hasn't pitched since July.
Lewis, 33, signed a two-year, $5MM contract with the Rangers in January of 2010 after pitching in Japan for two years. The deal worked out well for the Rangers, who exercised their 2012 club option for Lewis after the guaranteed portion of the two-year deal expired.
The right-hander has started 16 games for this year's Rangers team, posting a 3.43 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9 in 105 innings. However, he last pitched on July 18th and is expected to miss the remainder of the 2012 season and the beginning of the 2013 season with a torn flexor tendon. From 2010-12, Lewis posted a 3.93 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 506 1/3 innings with Texas.
Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.
On this date three years ago left-hander Mark Buehrle pitched a perfect game against the Rays with an impressive effort punctuated by the most memorable catch of Dewayne Wise's career. Here are today's links...
- Colby Lewis is expected to miss the rest of the season for the Rangers with a torn flexor tendon in his right arm, according to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. It seems logical that this will accelerate the Rangers' desire to add a starting pitcher. They've been linked to names such as Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels, and have very enticing trade chips thanks to their deep minor league system.
- Cubs lefty Paul Maholm told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that it'd be "ironic" for the Pirates to want him back at the deadline after letting him walk as a free agent (Sulia link). Maholm's next two starts are scheduled to come against his former teammates.
- The Padres’ asking price for Chase Headley remains high, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). The Pirates have discussed the third baseman with the Padres, according to Olney. The A's are interested, but remain reluctant to part with top prospects, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- Evan Longoria’s reign as the most valuable trade chip in baseball has ended, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs writes. Longoria still figures prominently on Cameron’s list of baseball's top assets, as expected.
- Agent Bobby Barad has joined Excel Sports Management, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal reports. Barad, formerly of TWC Sports Management, represents players such as Lance Lynn and Jerry Blevins. Check MLBTR’s Agency Database for updated data on which agents represent which players.
The Rangers head into their Sunday night matchup against the Angels with an ailing starting rotation. The Rangers have scratched Roy Oswalt from his start tomorrow and Colby Lewis is scheduled to have his forearm examined tomorrow before he's given the green light to make his scheduled start on Tuesday. The Rangers don't believe Oswalt's injury is serious, but he and Lewis can both wind up on the disabled list, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Elsewhere from the AL and NL West:
- Despite their rotation woes, the Rangers' chief trade deadline goal is to add bench depth, tweets Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.
- With the signing of Carlos Quentin completed earlier today, the Padres are now turning their attention to closer Huston Street. Miller tweets talks are ongoing, but nothing is close right now.
- The Giants are not considering Rick Ankiel to fill their need for a power bat off the bench, tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. Baggarly says the Giants crave a right-handed bat at both corner infield spots and the outfield.
- Add the A's to the list of team interested in the Padres' Chase Headley, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
The Rangers "might prefer" to keep some of the extra arms on their pitching staff rather than make a trade, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Scott Feldman, Koji Uehara and Mark Lowe are cited as Rosenthal as the expendable members of the Rangers staff but they look likely to remain in Texas unless relievers Robert Ross or Tanner Scheppers perform well enough in Spring Training to earn jobs, which could convince the club to deal one of their veterans.
Most of the Rangers' rotation and bullpen jobs are set, and the presence of Alexi Ogando as a swingman gives Texas some backup if one of the starters falters. This leaves Feldman, who has battled both injuries and ineffectiveness since his breakout 2009 campaign. Feldman did pitch well in limited action in 2011 --- a 3.94 ERA and 2.20 K/BB ratio in 32 innings. The right-hander will earn $6.5MM this season and the Rangers hold a $9.25MM club option on him for 2013 that looks almost certain to be bought out (at a cost of $600K).
Feldman, Uehara and Lowe all drew trade buzz over the winter, with the Red Sox showing interest in the two relievers, and Uehara using his limited no-trade clause to reject a proposed deal to the Blue Jays. Uehara has posted better numbers than Lowe over the last three seasons but turns 37 in April and is earning $4MM in 2012; Lowe is eight years younger and a cheaper option at just $1.7MM.
Rosenthal notes that the Rangers received calls about Colby Lewis during the offseason as well, but the club preferred to keep the right-hander due to his durability (200+ IP in each of the last two seasons). It's no surprise Texas wanted to keep Lewis since their rotation, while deep and promising, has several question marks --- Matt Harrison and Derek Holland aren't yet completely proven entities as reliable starters, Neftali Feliz is transitioning to starting from the bullpen and Yu Darvish is making his debut to North American baseball.
Passing along a few odds and ends as we wrap up Feb. 21. On this date in 1986, Rollie Fingers became a champion of mustachioed men everywhere long before Movember was an actual thing, opting to retire and preserve his trademark handlebar rather than accept a contract with the Reds, who at the time still had a no-facial-hair policy. On with the links ...
- The Rangers and Colby Lewis had "very small, limited talks" regarding a contract extension early in the offseason, the right-hander told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. "They wanted to know how I felt. Nothing came of it this offseason. If something comes up, it will come up, but I'm not too concerned about it." Lewis is a projected free agent after this season.
- Peter O'Malley, the former owner of the Dodgers, has withdrawn his bid for the franchise, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. O'Malley's group was one of 11 to advance to the second round of bidding, although O'Malley was apparently concerned that he might not be awarded the franchise even if he placed the highest bid, sources tell Shaikin.
- Tom Verducci of SI.com has a look at a handful of veteran free agents who are getting the Storage B treatment, i.e. being pushed out of the game because their services are simply no longer in demand. Among the candidates are Ivan Rodriguez and Jason Varitek.
- Manny Ramirez told ESPN's Pedro Gomez that he can be a role model if an MLB team gives him a chance. "I want to show people that Manny can change, that he can do the right thing," Ramirez said.
- Colby Lewis told Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he and the Rangers have had some talks about an extension (Twitter link). Lewis is set to hit free agency after the 2012 season, when he'll earn $3.25MM.
- Johnny Damon expressed some frustration with the Rays, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. "It's an unhappy day,'' Damon said after hearing that Luke Scott had agreed to terms with Tampa Bay. "Didn't realize the DH and 1B brought the offense down [in 2011]. Thought we would've had an offer.''
- Renyel Pinto signed with the Softbank Hawks for $910K plus incentives, according to this Sponichi report relayed by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker.
- More from Newman, who passes along another Sponichi report that has the Yomiuri Giants working on a deal with outfielder John Bowker. The Phillies granted Bowker his release earlier in the week.
The Rangers exercised their club option on righty Colby Lewis, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The $3.25MM option was an easy choice over the $250K buyout, as Lewis is clearly worth keeping and he'd have earned more in arbitration.
Lewis, 32, has given the Rangers 401 1/3 innings of 4.06 ball since returning from Japan on a free agent contract. He's added another 50 innings with a 2.34 ERA in the postseason.
The Rangers and Tigers kicked off their ALCS matchup tonight, but that's not the only thing tying these two teams together. Our Transaction Tracker shows that GMs Dave Dombrowski and Jon Daniels have gotten together for four trades, most notably the Gerald Laird swap. A seven-year-old waiver claim is the more interesting transaction though; on this date in 2004, the Tigers claimed Colby Lewis off waivers from the Rangers.
Lewis, slated to start Game Three for Texas on Tuesday, was little more than a failed prospect back then. He made three starts in 2004 before requiring rotator cuff surgery, and he'd pitched to a 6.83 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9 in 176 2/3 innings for the Rangers before Detroit claimed him. The Tigers got nothing, literally zero innings, out of Lewis in 2005 (majors and minors) because of the shoulder, then he spent the majority of 2006 in Triple-A before making two late season appearances in the big leagues.
That is the extent of Lewis' career with the Tigers, just three innings across two appearances. The team granted him free agency after the season, and he soon caught on with the Nationals. The 2007 calendar year saw the right-hander spend time with the Nats, Athletics, and Royals, but he didn't do enough to stick around. Lewis then headed to Japan and pitched very well for the Hiroshima Carp in 2008 and 2009, putting himself back on the map.
Lewis' performance with the Carp earned him a two-year deal worth $5MM with the Rangers prior to last season, the team that originally drafted him in 1999. The Tigers claimed him seven years ago today hoping he'd realize his potential and help a pitching staff that had just allowed the third most runs in the league. It took a trip to Japan before Lewis figured things out, and in a few days he'll start for the team that waived him and against the team that claimed him.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.