Discussion Rumors

Discussion: Phillies’ Search For A Lefty Reliever

The Phillies appeared to have their bullpen all squared away for 2011 when they agreed to a one-year, $1.1MM deal with 33-year-old Dennys Reyes.  However, the deal fell apart roughly a week later for unknown reasons.  While Ruben Amaro has already landed the biggest item on his Christmas wish list, a reunion with Cliff Lee, he is still looking to add a reasonably-priced left-handed reliever.

On Monday, J.C. Romero made it known that he would like to return to Philadelphia.  The left-hander would likely have to take a pay cut however, as he earned $4.5MM in 2010.  Hideki Okajima is another attractive available relief option but with strong interest from the Mets and other clubs, he could be too pricey for the Phillies. 

Recently, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer identified four relievers who would sign for a deal similar to the one Reyes and the Phillies (initially) agreed upon.  Joe Beimel, Randy Flores, Ron Mahay, and Will Ohman would all fall into that price range.  With those options available, Gelb argues that the Phillies would be better off rounding out their bullpen from within.  If you were in Ruben Amaro's position, what would you do?


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Discussion: The Orioles’ First Base Vacancy

At the start of this month, the Orioles began their pursuit of Adam LaRoche in earnest.  The two sides have been talking frequently but earlier this week it was said that talks had reached an impasse. The 31-year-old has been looking for a three-year deal and despite reports to the contrary, skipper Buck Showalter says that he club has not put a three-year, $21MM offer on the table.

As they hit a wall with LaRoche's representation, the O's rekindled talks with free agent Derrek Lee.  While Lee's offensive production was flat during the early portion of the 2010 campaign, he started to rebound in July for the Cubs and Braves.  Lee is also just one year removed from a brilliant 2009 season in which he hit .306/.393/.579 and 35 homers.  Perhaps the most important "pro" in the Orioles' t-chart is the fact that Lee seems willing to sign a one-year deal for $8MM, while LaRoche continues to seek a multi-year agreement.

However, the Orioles are not confined to these two options.  On Wednesday, ESPN's Buster Olney suggested that the club could put together a platoon at first base.  For example, Jason Giambi or Russell Branyan could hit from the left side of the plate while someone like Troy Glaus could provide a right-handed bat.  While those names aren't necessarily glamorous, they would allow the O's to patch up their hole at first without breaking the bank.  How do you envision Baltimore rounding out their revamped infield?


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Discussion: George Sherrill

Dodgers reliever George Sherrill, who earned $4.5MM in 2010, might not be offered arbitration this winter.  In other news, I might not receive consideration for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize.

With all due respect to Sherrill and his past accomplishments, which include a fantastic second half of 2009 in Los Angeles, his 2010 numbers indicate that he's not worth another year at a similar rate.  However, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times offered up a defense of the left-hander earlier this week in which he pointed out that Joe Torre often used him in the wrong situations.  Sherrill, who shines against lefties, faced 85 left-handed batters and 95 right-handed batters.  His stat line for the year was a 6.69 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 5.9 BB/9, though lefties batted just .192/.286/.288 against him.

Sherrill won't be offered arbitration but he could certainly be a solid value for the Dodgers or another club looking to take a small gamble on a strong left-handed specialist.  Dilbeck predicts a "serious pay cut" and perhaps even a minor league deal in the 33-year-old's near future.  When utilized properly, however, one has to think that Sherrill can deliver results worthy of a guaranteed deal.  The only question is, will the market force a team to offer one?




Discussion: Ryan Ludwick

Earlier today, Padres GM Jed Hoyer all but guaranteed that Ryan Ludwick would return to the Padres next season, as MLB.com's Corey Brock tweeted. Given the Padres' lack of middle-of-the-order pop around Adrian Gonzalez, bringing back Ludwick appears to be the right call. However, it's not the team's only option.

Ludwick, 32, earned $5.45MM in 2010 and will enter his final year of arbitration eligibility. While his overall numbers (.251/.325/.418, 17 HR) were slightly disappointing, he should still be a line for a small bump in salary, making him one of the highest-paid Padres heading into next season. While $6MM+ will be well-spent on stars like Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell, Ludwick's stock isn't quite as high. After coming over from St. Louis, the outfielder hit just .211/.301/.330 in 239 plate appearances as a Padre. The sample size is small and the change in home park has to be taken into account, but San Diego will clearly be expecting improvement from Ludwick if he's on next year's roster.

Hoyer has said he's open at least to listening on trade offers for Gonzalez and Bell, but there are a few factors working against dealing Ludwick. Not only could Ludwick's second-half struggles scare away interested teams, but the 32-year-old means more to the Padres than he would to most other clubs. Given San Diego's pitcher's park and limited payroll, they'll have trouble bringing any big free agent bats to town; plus, the club's outfield and lineup would become even thinner if non-tender candidate Scott Hairston isn't retained.

As Brock notes in a separate tweet, the Padres acquired Ludwick from St. Louis this summer in part because the outfielder had an additional year of team control. So it seems San Diego's best plan of action is bringing back Ludwick and hoping that he helps the team contend for the postseason in 2011. If things aren't going well by next year's trade deadline, the club could consider cutting their losses by moving the former Cardinal at that point. What do you think? Is retaining Ludwick the right move for the Padres?


Discussion: The Nationals’ 2011 First Baseman

Adam Dunn's defensive limitations are under scrutiny again today after a pair of plays he failed to make in last night's 1-0 loss to Philadelphia, writes Ben Goessling of MASN.com. It's "no secret," according to Goessling, that as the Nationals decide whether or not to extend Dunn past this season, his defense is one of their primary concerns.

Dunn's prowess at the plate is undisputed; with 31 home runs and a slash line of .266/.354/.557 this year, The 30-year-old is poised to match or top last year's .267/.398/.529, 38-homer campaign. And his defense at first base has actually improved, according to UZR. Playing the infield on a full-time basis for the first time this season, Dunn's UZR/150 is only slightly below average, at -1.3. Still, UZR is a statistic best evaluated over multiple seasons, and Dunn's career numbers aren't flattering.

It could cost Washington in excess of $40MM to lock up Dunn to a multi-year extension, and it's unclear whether they'd want to commit that money to a player some observers feel is more suited to DHing. Additionally, Dunn projects as a Type A free agent and could net the Nats compensation picks if he signs elsewhere. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted, the club figures to offer Dunn arbitration even if they think he may accept, since they could live with having him for one year at around $15MM.

Goessling indicates that the Nats would have some interest in Carlos Pena, who will also be a free agent this winter. Pena isn't as dangerous offensively as Dunn, but he has a similar power stroke and is more adept in the field. Other above-average defensive players available this offseason in an overcrowded first base market include Derrek Lee and Lyle Overbay. Both players have struggled offensively at times this year, but are still helping their teams defensively.

Will concerns about Dunn's defense mean the Nats let him walk this winter? How much money and how many years would you commit to the slugger if you were running the organization? Or would you elect to pursue another corner infielder instead?


Discussion: Ted Lilly

The Dodgers picked up Cubs lefty Ted Lilly at the trade deadline with the hopes of making a run at the postseason.  As they host the Reds at home tonight, they sit 12 games back of the Padres for the NL West crown and seven games back in the wild card chase.  Their playoff hopes aren't quite dashed at this point but with Manny Ramirez and Rafael Furcal still sidelined with injuries, things do not look good for Los Angeles.

Earlier today, ESPN's Buster Olney wondered if the Dodgers might try to flip the two-time All-Star to a playoff contender.  He notes that Lilly would not clear waivers as he would have several teams interested and points to Philadelphia and St. Louis as possible candidates.  With a 1.29 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in four starts thus far for the Dodgers, it's no surprise to hear that he is highly sought after.

Lilly becomes a free agent at season's end and based on the Dodgers' actions last season, many observers believe that they will not offer him arbitration.  If you were in GM Ned Colletti's position, would you hang on to the hurler to keep your playoff hopes alive or would you ship him to his seventh career major league destination?


Discussion: Manny Ramirez

After being unable to land Nationals slugger Adam Dunn, the White Sox turned their attention to another target in the hours leading up to the Trade Deadline: Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez.  The conversation reportedly didn't last long as Dodgers GM Ned Colletti essentially told White Sox GM Kenny Williams, "Thanks, but no thanks."  Reportedly, the Rays made an inquiry of their own as well.

As they sit a surmountable seven games back in the NL West, the Dodgers made moves at the deadline to improve themselves in the short-term.  Octavio Dotel and Ted Lilly were brought aboard and younger players with upside and team-friendly contracts like Blake DeWitt, James McDonald, and prospect Andrew Lambo were shipped out.  However, the club's goals can change very quickly if they are unable to make up ground or even tread water in the coming weeks.

The enigmatic superstar has spent a good deal of time on the disabled list this season but has still managed to put forward a .317/.409/.516 slash line and eight homers in 61 games.  For a team still in the playoff hunt, the 38-year-old could be very attractive, even for the roughly $7MM he is owed for the rest of the year.  If the Dodgers can't keep their playoff dreams alive, one has to imagine that Ramirez will be an August trade target.  The White Sox, Rays, and other contenders will certainly be keeping an eye on the club.


Discussion: The Orioles’ Next Move

When the Orioles fired manager Dave Trembley on Thursday, it represented the club's first major shake-up, and Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun hopes it won't be the last. Schmuck writes that, no matter who is managing the O's, changes need to be made to the team's roster. He advocates trading away many of the team's veterans and focusing on player development for the rest of the season.

In his blog post this morning, ESPN.com's Buster Olney quoted a talent evaluator who thought the Orioles might be better off hanging on to older players such as Kevin Millwood, Ty Wigginton, and Luke Scott, to help stabilize the clubhouse. And, as Schmuck notes, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail doesn't seem ready to give up on the current roster quite yet:

"I'm still hopeful we can end up with a better record than we had last year,'' said MacPhail. "I still want to move that needle…. Obviously we've handicapped ourselves greatly, but I think getting our players healthy will help us in that regard."

Still, with no chance of contending this season in a stacked AL East, and prospects like Josh Bell and Jake Arrieta close to being ready, revamping the roster seems like the logical next step for the Orioles. Schmuck suggests that the ideal approach would be dealing the aforementioned veterans (plus Miguel Tejada), giving a few young players a shot in the majors, and aggressively diving into the free agent market this coming offseason. If you were running the Orioles, would you do things differently?


Discussion: Lyle Overbay

Much has been written over the last few years about Vernon Wells' immovable contract, but besides that significant commitment to their center fielder, the Blue Jays have a very manageable payroll situation. The only other player on their roster who will earn more than $4.75MM this season is Lyle Overbay ($7MM).

Unlike Wells, who has rediscovered the power stroke that earned him that monster contract in the first place, Overbay is struggling. Hitless in his last 14 at-bats, the 33-year-old has seen his 2010 slash line slip to .200/.281/.337 and has been the target of Rogers Centre boo-birds for most of the season. Manager Cito Gaston finally dropped Overbay in the batting order tonight, slotting him seventh rather than his usual fifth.

Although it's still unclear whether Toronto will be a buyer or a seller this summer, parting ways with Overbay could benefit both the present and future of the club. Top prospect Brett Wallace is hitting .289/.346/.537 with 11 homers in Triple A Las Vegas and not only represents a significant piece of the team's rebuilding plan, but could provide an instant offensive upgrade over Overbay. The Jays are likely postponing a roster decision at least until they can be sure Wallace will avoid becoming a super two player, but that time is fast approaching.

The last time we looked at Overbay's future, we still thought he may have some trade value. Now it seems unlikely that the first baseman, who has approximately $4.9MM remaining on his contract, would attract any interest. Is it best for Toronto to emulate what the Rays did with Pat Burrell and just cut their losses, or can Overbay turn things around? Is the 23-year-old Wallace ready to be an everyday player for a team technically still in contention? How should the Jays handle this situation?


Discussion: Bengie Molina

Following Starlin Castro's 6-RBI debut with the Cubs last night, Giants fans have to be wondering when they'll see their own top prospect, Buster Posey, arrive in the bigs. Bengie Molina left this afternoon's game at Citi Field with a tight left hamstring, and whether or not the injury requires a roster move, the calls for Posey's promotion will only grow louder.

With Posey likely ticketed for San Francisco sometime in the coming days or weeks, the Giants will have to decide how they'll balance playing time between their young backstop and the incumbent, Molina. While Posey can also play some first base, his real value is as an offensive catcher. However, the Giants won't be inclined to keep Molina on the bench too often if the veteran continues to perform like he has so far (.325/.396/.450).

Although Molina has enjoyed some early-season success on the field, he seems unhappy with his situation. The 35-year-old has recently expressed regrets about not landing with the Mets and talked about retiring after the 2010 campaign. You'd have to think the prospect of losing playing time to Posey would only make things worse for Molina.

So if Posey is promoted and proves capable of handling the Giants' staff and hitting in the majors, would the Giants think about moving Molina? ESPN.com's MLB Rumors page suggests the Red Sox, Yankees, and Mariners could be among the clubs in the market for a catcher, and Molina's contract situation is more favorable than some. Chris Snyder, for instance, is guaranteed $11.25MM over the next two years, while Molina is earning $4.5MM on a one-year deal.

There have been no indications yet that Giants would consider shopping Molina, but if Posey thrives upon eventually arriving in San Francisco, Molina could be an interesting trade chip. Which teams do you think might inquire about Molina's availability? Will he still be a Giant in September?