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Dan Duquette Rumors
It was on this day in 1934 that Lou Gehrig made his only career appearance at shortstop, though the Yankees legend never actually took the field at the position. Gehrig was battling lumbago when the Yankees traveled to Detroit to face the Tigers, yet the “Iron Horse” was in the doubly-unusual lineup spot of both playing short and hitting leadoff. After Gehrig singled to begin the game, he was removed for pinch-runner Red Rolfe, who played short the rest of the way. This game was one of a few unofficial rest days Gehrig occasionally received while continuing his consecutive game streak into the 1939 season.
Here’s some news from around the AL East…
- The Orioles are having “active discussions with a number of teams” about possible trades, O’s executive VP Dan Duquette told MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski, though the talks have “not really” gotten very serious. Duquette implied that teams are asking for Baltimore’s top prospects in return and he didn’t outright deny the possibility of dealing one of those minor leaguers. “Young talent is going to be the lifeblood of our organization, but at the same time we want to advance the organization in the postseason, so that is kind of what you’re looking at,” Duquette said. “We hope our top prospects are going to help us for a long time.”
- David Robertson says there have “been zero talks” between his representatives and the Yankees about a contract extension, Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News reports. “When the offseason comes, it comes and we’ll hear what other teams and everybody else wants to say,” Robertson noted, though he said he would like to remain with the Yankees. The closer will become a free agent this winter and he’s set himself up for a nice contract after an impressive first half as Mariano Rivera‘s replacement. The Yankees generally don’t discuss extensions before a player’s contract is up, so the lack of talks shouldn’t necessarily indicate any disinterest in retaining Robertson, though Dellin Betances could be waiting in the wings as a future closer.
- For the second straight year, Joe Girardi is leading an injury-depleted Yankees team to a record that outperforms a negative run differential, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. While questions are being raised about several other aspects of the Yankees organization in the face of another postseason absence, Davidoff notes that “Girardi keeps enhancing his status, both within the organization and among other teams.”
- The names of Daniel Norris and Dalton Pompey have already been frequently mentioned in Blue Jays trade rumors, and Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi profiles the two prospects who are both big parts of the Jays’ future, whether it be in a Toronto uniform or as bait to obtain upgrades before the deadline.
Grant Balfour is no longer the Rays‘ closer, as manager Joe Maddon told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that his team is moving to a closer committee. The demotion comes as no surprise following Balfour’s rough performance on Sunday, when he allowed the Mariners to score five runs in the ninth inning. Balfour has struggled badly this season, posting a 6.46 ERA and recording almost as many walks (20) as strikeouts (21) over 23 2/3 innings of work. The 36-year-old signed a two-year, $12MM free agent contract with Tampa in the offseason. If you have Balfour on a fantasy team, stay tuned to @CloserNews (MLBTR’s save-centric sister Twitter account) to keep tabs on the Rays’ bullpen and other late-game situations throughout baseball.
Here’s some more from the AL East…
- The Rays could be sellers at the trade deadline, and Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris looks at some of the club’s veteran pieces with a particular focus on David Price. While Tampa Bay will rightly seek a big prospect haul for Price, Sarris notes the difficulty in finding a contender (especially outside the AL East) who has the necessary minor league depth to swing a trade. Sarris also notes that a fire sale seems unlikely, as the Rays will still look to contend in 2015.
- Peter Gammons discussed several Red Sox topics in an interview on the Dennis & Callahan radio show this morning (WEEI.com’s Conor Ryan has a partial transcript). While Gammons doesn’t think the Red Sox regret signing the struggling Stephen Drew, “there are so many political angles at play here that you’ve just got to wonder, ‘What are they going to be a year from now?” Gammons believes the Boston media’s criticisms of Xander Bogaerts‘ ability to play short pressured the club to re-sign Drew, whereas Gammons felt the Red Sox should’ve acquired an outfielder instead.
- Gammons doesn’t see the Red Sox becoming major sellers if they fall out of the race because they want pitchers like Jon Lester and John Lackey back in 2015 and also “just because of the nature of the Boston fans and because of the nature of the market and because of NESN.” A.J. Pierzynski could potentially become a trade chip if the Sox fell far enough out of a playoff spot, which would open the door for Christian Vasquez to get called up and gain some big league experience.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington won’t make moves for the sake of making moves, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes, as the current roster will have to prove its worth as a contender over the next six weeks to convince the front office to pursue upgrades.
- Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette appeared on Middays With MFB today (again, tip of the cap to WEEI.com’s Conor Ryan) and said that trade talk around the league is slow since so many teams are still technically in contention. “There aren’t many sellers, from what I can tell. Usually after the draft, which was just completed, teams will start calling around, but I only know that there’s just a couple of sellers right now….It’s going to be challenging to add to the team,” Duquette said.
- The Yankees should look to shake up their struggling lineup by getting rid of Brian Roberts and Alfonso Soriano, Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog opines. Since Derek Jeter won’t be moved down in the lineup due to his stature, Axisa suggests that Jeter actually become the leadoff hitter in order to have the Yankees’ best four hitters (Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Teixeira, Yangervis Solarte) all hit in a row.
Josh Beckett, who has undergone surgeries for thoracic outlet syndrome and a torn meniscus in his left knee within the past 10 months, tossed his first career no-hitter and MLB’s first of the season as he and the Dodgers shutout the Phillies 6-0. Beckett struck out Chase Utley looking on his career-high 128th pitch for the 24th no-hitter in Dodgers’ history and the first for the franchise since Hideo Nomo 18 years ago. This is also the first time the Phillies have been no-hit since the Cardinals’ Bob Forsch turned the trick in 1978 and the first time they have been held hitless in Philadelphia since the Montreal Expos’ Bill Stoneman did so at Connie Mack Stadium in 1969. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki noted on Twitter the Phillies have now been shutout five times in their last ten home games and six times in their last 18 games overall.
In other news and notes involving the Phillies and baseball’s East divisions:
- Could offensive help be on the way for the Phillies in the form of top prospect third baseman Maikel Franco? GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters, including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it is a possibility. “We’ll see whether it’s the right thing for us and the right thing for him,” said Amaro. “We’ll kick it around.” Franco, ranked as the game’s 17th best prospect by Baseball America and 23rd by MLB.com, is hitting .301 in May with an OPS of .871.
- In the wake of Prince Fielder‘s season-ending neck injury, the Rangers have inquired about Nationals first baseman Tyler Moore, a baseball source tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. The source indicated to Ladson nothing is serious and Moore is one of many first baseman in which the Rangers have an interest.
- Johan Santana has a June 1 opt-out in his minor league deal with the Orioles, but Executive Vice President Dan Duquette says that date is not a concern, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. “That’s open for discussion,” Duquette said. “It’s a fluid situation.” Santana remains in extended Spring Training and has not pitched more than four innings in an outing, but Duquette says the 35-year-old left-hander “is making good progress, he is throwing his pitches.“
Big-league ballplayers make plenty of money, but that doesn't mean free agency isn't stressful. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal takes a fascinating look at free agency as seen through the eyes of Red Sox players. Chris Capuano reports that, whenever he's a free agent, he sends his agent a list of teams in order of preference, but then has to wait to see if there's mutual interest. He also notes that, typically, playing for a winner becomes more and more important to a player the older he gets. David Ross says that, before the 2009 season, he signed to be a backup with the Braves rather than a starter with the Astros because the Braves offered a two-year deal.
Here are more notes from around the American League:
- Conflicting reports yesterday regarding Ervin Santana has everyone confused. "I really don’t know what’s real and what’s not real in that case," Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette told reporters, including Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.
- The biggest culprit for Santana's situation is the right-hander's own camp, which dramatically overestimated his market and then was slow to change gears, ESPN's Buster Olney writes (Insider subscription required). Olney suggests that, if Santana's demands had been more realistic, he could have at least wound up with a contract similar to Matt Garza's or Ricky Nolasco's, rather than the one-year deal he now appears likely to receive.
- Back to the Orioles, Duquette still has the financial flexibility to improve the roster, but is confident in the pitching they currently have in camp, according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. "We have some more resources that we can invest in our team, and we'll take a look at each case as it comes up," Duquette said. "We do have a little more pitching depth with our starting pitching going into the season, and some of the young pitchers we have high hopes for are continuing to develop their skills."
- GM Dave Dombrowski says the Tigers won't be trading any starting pitchers, including Rick Porcello, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. Earlier today, the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo reported that the Tigers would field offers for Porcello.
- Starting pitcher Justin Masterson, who is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season, has surprisingly suggested to the Indians that he might be willing to sign a shorter-term extension, perhaps three years, but the Indians have not yet responded with an offer, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets.
- The Rangers are trying to develop a long-term answer at catcher, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Texas hasn't had stability at catcher since Ivan Rodriguez left over a decade ago. "It’s a topic of conversation, absolutely," says GM Jon Daniels. "We’ve had some guys come over here as big-time catching prospects, but we haven’t developed our own long-term championship-caliber starter." The Rangers have beefed up their coaching staff in an attempt to help their catchers develop. The Rangers' best hope of becoming a homegrown regular catcher is, of course, top prospect Jorge Alfaro, who played most of the 2013 season with Class A Hickory.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Here's the latest from the Orioles' camp…
- The Orioles' inactivity for much of the offseason made executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette a target of criticism, but Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun notes that Duquette ended up with the last laugh by signing Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz at relative bargain prices. While Duquette praised his operations staff for doing their homework to prepare for player acquisitions, he admitted that he wasn't planning on qualifying-offer free agents like Jimenez and Cruz lasting this long. "This is the first full year of the [qualifying offer] implementation, and I'm not sure people understood how the market was going to play out. I can't tell you we envisioned that the market would get to this point," Duquette said.
- Extension talks between the Orioles and J.J. Hardy are still in the very preliminary stages, though one thing Hardy would like to get settled quickly is his future position. "Obviously, that'll be a question that will be answered before all the contract stuff gets figured out and I'd like to know,'' Hardy told Peter Schmuck. "If I'm going to be doing that in a year or two, it would have an impact of some sort." Though Hardy has played every game of his Major League career as a shortstop and Manny Machado was a defensive ace at third last season, it has been presumed that the O's would eventually like to move Machado back to his natural position at short.
- Some more moves could yet be on the way for Baltimore, MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli opines. The team is still looking for pitching and Joe Saunders makes sense, though Ghiroli notes that "nothing is imminent" between the two sides. The O's were talking to Saunders earlier this month and Ghiroli suspects that Saunders would insist on a Major League contract. Saunders had a short stint with the Orioles in 2012, pitching well in seven starts after being acquired in a late-August trade.
As reported by ESPN's Jerry Crasnick earlier today, there was an issue in Tyler Colvin's physical that may be preventing the Orioles from finalizing their minor league deal with the outfielder. This would be the second time this offseason that a problematic physical has interfered with an O's signing, as the club walked away from a two-year agreement with Grant Balfour due to concerns about his wrist and knee.
In other news out of Camden Yards…
- With roughly $82-83MM already committed to the 2014 payroll, Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette says the club's payroll will be closer to $100MM, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. "This year, if you said $100 [million], that would be reasonable. I think over the course of four years, we have been expanding our payroll. But we are going to stay within the resources of the market." Pitching seems to be the Orioles' target, as Duquette said "things are starting to move again" now that Masahiro Tanaka has signed.
- The Orioles need to be willing to spend more to compete in the AL East, Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun opines, especially since the team enjoys extra revenue every year from its co-ownership of MASN.
- It doesn't seem like the Orioles will sign Jack Cust to a minor league contract, MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko hears from a few sources. Cust was at Baltimore's minicamp last week in pursuit of a deal, and Kubatko says that Cust could possibly still be invited to the Orioles' minor league minicamp on February 22.
Here's a look at the AL East as the Rays and Red Sox jostle for control of the division..
- Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette told reporters, including CSNBaltimore's Rich Dubroff, "We’ve pursued some hitters, but we haven’t been able to find the right fit." Duquette added he's looking at options to improve the bullpen, but those may come from Triple-A.
- The Rays were able to acquire outfielder David DeJesus and his approximately $2.4MM salary committment because they are "under budget," a Major League source told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link).
- Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman made moves this summer with depth in mind, writes Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. “We talked about it in July, our biggest focus was on augmenting our depth,” Friedman said before Friday’s win. “Essentially right now we have a 37-game season and we’re doing everything we can to put together the most talented team we can going down the stretch. The fact that we play 37 games in 38 days also factored in, something where us having as much depth as we could was important. In our minds this is arguably the deepest roster we’ve had.” The Rays added reliever Jesse Crain in late July, signed designated hitter Delmon Young to a minor league deal on Thursday, and traded for outfielder David DeJesus on Friday.
- The Yankees' acquisition of Alfonso Soriano represents the sixth time in 19 years the club landed an established slugger during the season who had at least the following season left on his contract. Joel Sherman of the New York Post runs down the previous five occurences and ranks them by success. He concludes that those acquisitions - Ruben Sierra, Cecil Fielder, David Justice, Raul Mondesi, and Bobby Abreu - helped the Yanks in the season they were acquired but most of them were problematic beyond that.
- A year after shocking the baseball world, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has no regrets about his megatrade with L.A., writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
As the baseball world gathers at Citi Field for the All-Star break, the Orioles are looking to bring the Midsummer Classic back to Baltimore in 2016, Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun reports. It would be the first time the O's have hosted the All-Star Game since 1993, and a 2016 hosting date would also mark the team's 25th season at Camden Yards.
Here's the latest from Charm City…
- Scott Boras told reporters (including Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun) that he hasn't had any conversations with Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette about contract extensions for Chris Davis or Matt Wieters. “Dan and I talk all the time, but it’s the kind of thing where the focus is on the play and not really their contracts now," Boras said. Both players have two years of arbitration eligibility remaining before they're eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. There was talk of a Wieters extension last offseason but the team now believes Wieters will test the open market in 2015. Davis is sure to receive a huge arbitration raise on his current $3.3MM salary, and it will be very interesting to see how any extension talks develop given Boras' involvement and Davis' sudden emergence as an elite slugger.
- The Orioles have been quiet on the international signing front since July 2, but Dan Duquette tells MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski that the team is actively working to identify and access international talent. "We're working all the markets. Teams have different strategies to acquire talent. Our strategy is to sign good players and look for value in the market and that is what our scouts are doing," Duquette said. "We are active on the international markets. We will be out executing our international recruiting strategy for the whole [2013-14] season." You can check out all of MLBTR's coverage of the 2013-14 international signing period here.
Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is defending his team's quiet offseason, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. "[W]e're bringing back the core of the group from a year ago and the ball club that we had at the end of the season was a good defensive team," says Duquette. "And we've continued to build our pitching staff and our defense and the core players are young [and] they should continue to improve their offensive capabilities." The Orioles appear likely to take a step back in 2013, but they have an enviable young core that includes infielder Manny Machado, catcher Matt Wieters and outfielder Adam Jones. They could also get pick-me-ups at some point in the season from top pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. Here are more notes from around the American League.
- Catcher Chris Snyder has accepted a Triple-A assignment with the Angels, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports. The Angels signed Snyder in mid-March as Hank Conger, who had been slated to back up Chris Iannetta, worried the Angels with his throwing. Snyder's deal with the Angels permitted him to opt out and become a free agent, but he has chosen not to do so even though the Angels ultimately decided to go with Conger as their backup. Gonzalez reports that Snyder felt it would be difficult to find a major-league job with another team with Opening Day looming.
- After winning their Opening Day matchup against the Yankees, the Red Sox can officially put 2012 behind them, Jackie MacMullan of ESPNBoston.com writes. Their victory was keyed, in part, by two new outfielders, Shane Victorino (who signed a three-year, $39MM deal as a free agent) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (a first-round pick in 2011). "I wasn't part of what happened in the past," says Bradley, "but we're leaving it in the past."
- The Red Sox aren't the only ones who want to leave the past behind. So does former star Kevin Youkilis, who's ready to stop talking about how he's with the Yankees now, MLB.com's Bryan Hoch writes. "I don't sit down and stare at my uniform all game," he says. "I don't look and say, 'Oh wow, look at these pinstripes! This is pretty cool!' I just go out and play baseball."
The Dodgers received an epic performance from their young ace today, as Clayton Kershaw hit his first career home run for what turned out to be the game-winning run. Oh, and he also tossed a complete-game, 4-hit, 94-pitch shutout. Will L.A. regret not completing an extension over the spring if the lefty sticks with his stated intention not to negotiate during the season?
- Shortstop Justin Sellers went from darkhorse roster candidate to Opening Day starter, and now figures to see a lot of action, writes Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Manager Don Mattingly seems inclined to prioritize defense at short until Hanley Ramirez returns: "We want to be able to catch it. And we're willing to sacrifice offense to do it."
- In spite of their massive payroll, the Dodgers will be relying on several "unheralded" players in addition to Sellers, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Luis Cruz, Mark Ellis, and A.J. Ellis all occupy key positions on the field and in the locker room, even if they aren't in line for the lion's share of the team's salary and press.
- The Reds' Opening Day lineup reveals the club's roster stability, writes David Jablonski of the Dayton Daily News. Of today's starters, only third baseman Todd Frazier and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo were not penciled into the lineup card this time last year.
- Unfortunately for the Reds, the club already needs to replace one of those returning starters for some time. Outfielder Ryan Ludwick suffered a dislocated right shoulder during today's game, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Ludwick re-signed with Cincinnati this past offseason, agreeing to a two-year, $15MM deal (with a mutual option for 2015) after a strong 2012 campaign. Chris Heisey replaced Ludwick after the injury. While Heisey went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, he did make this nice grab and prevented a go-ahead, inside-the-park home run for Peter Bourjos by backing up the center fielder Choo.
- The Orioles are deeper this year than last, and Executive VP of Operations Dan Duquette feels his rotation in particular is deep enough that the team "could probably make a trade," writes Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com. As he now heads a "more established club," Duquette aims "to create some urgency for today" while also working to ensure "a steady stream of players coming up through the Minors."