Colby Lewis Rumors
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.
Links for Friday as the Rangers prepare for a crucial game 3 tomorrow night..
- Carlos Lee could be attractive to a team in need of a designated hitter, says MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.
- Ed Price of Fanhouse details the long and strange journey taken by Colby Lewis.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian writes that with Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, and Kevin Gregg all eligible for free agency this winter, the Blue Jays' bullpen could get a lot younger.
- It's unlikely that the Phillies would bring back Jamie Moyer on anything other than a non-guaranteed deal, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.
- The Orioles have agreed to hire Rick Adair as their bullpen coach and Jim Presley as hitting coach, reports Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun. Both men have agreed to two-year deals though some contractual language is still being worked out.
- Yanks GM Brian Cashman will talk to Triple-A pitching coach Scott Aldred and bullpen coach Mike Harkey about filling the Yanks' pitching coach vacancy, writes Anthony McCarron of the Daily News. However, Cashman cautions that a hire will likely be made "later rather than sooner."
On a night when Brian Matusz stifled the AL West leaders, here are some news items...
- ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine looks at how the Cubs might replace Derrek Lee, whether it be going after a big free agent or by moving Aramis Ramirez or Tyler Colvin to first base.
- The Mariners are "starting to eye" Ted Simmons as a managerial candidate, according to Fanhouse.com's Tom Krasovic. Simmons, 61, is in his second year as San Diego's bench coach and has only three years of coaching experience overall, though he has spent 19 years in various front office positions. Simmons was an eight-time All-Star during a 21-season playing career with St. Louis, Milwaukee and Atlanta from 1968 to 1988.
- Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea.com predicts that Oakland is "likely" to pick up Coco Crisp's $5.75MM club option for next season.
- Royals owner David Glass adamantly denied rumors that he is thinking of selling the team, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- Gil Meche is "ninety-five percent" sure that he'll pitch out of the bullpen next season, writes MLB.com's Dick Kaegel.
- The Cardinals' contract with first-round pick Zack Cox is analyzed by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Fangraphs' Dave Cameron looks at the top five "free agent signings that worked" from the past winter. The Rangers' deal with Colby Lewis tops the list.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian talks to Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos about the GM's busy first year and his future plans for the Jays.
It's clear now that the Rangers made a great free agent signing with Colby Lewis. The 31-year-old righty ranks 15th in the American League with a 3.28 ERA and sixth with 150 strikeouts. He was signed for just $5MM over two years, with a chance for $8MM over three years if the Rangers exercise their 2012 club option.
In February, Lewis told ESPN's Tim Kurkjian of his multiyear deal, "Things like that don't happen very often." Kurkjian explained the rarity of a player going to Japan, returning to MLB, and thriving. Even so, I'm still surprised Lewis didn't get a bigger contract. A $5MM commitment - teams will spend that much on a couple of draft picks despite a lower probability of success. Low-upside free agents like Miguel Tejada, Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Kendall, and Jason Marquis received more money last winter. Heck, the Rangers guaranteed $7.5MM to Rich Harden for one year. The Athletics gave Ben Sheets $10MM.
Interest was heavy - Kurkjian said 12 or 13 clubs were in on Lewis and the Twins and A's also offered two-year deals. MLB teams had two years to scout the new-and-improved Lewis in Japan. Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Kurkjian, "[Lewis] was throwing 90-to-95 with a hard cutter. Other teams saw the same thing." Lewis' numbers in Japan were ridiculously good, too. Why didn't anyone outbid the Rangers? Perhaps teams took the approach of, "better the devil you know than the devil you don't" and allocated free agent money toward players they were able to scout in MLB games.