Felix Pie Rumors
Links in Spanish, because English is so last season...
- Jose Julio Ruiz's new agent Mike Maulini tells Jorge Ebro at Nuevo Herald that the Cuban first baseman made the switch from Jorge Luis Toca after realizing that his much-rumored signing with a major league team was "long overdue." Ruiz had a $2MM offer in hand from Tampa Bay in February, but since then, the market has stagnated and the lefty feared he was in danger of missing his opportunity to play stateside.
- While Haitian baseball prospects exist, don't expect to see any of them signing with Major League teams, writes Juan Mercado in the Dominican newspaper El Dia. He talks with two coaches who complain that the MLB office on the island won't allow promising Haitian players to attend teams' academies because of the difficulty in verifying the players' backgrounds and paperwork. One source tells Mercado that the teams simply "prefer not to waste time" in fruitless investigations, while the two coaches call the policy discriminatory, saying many Cuban and Venezuelan players don't receive the same level of scrutiny. The only current Major Leaguer of Haitian descent is the Orioles' Felix Pie, though he was born in the Dominican.
- Several veteran players were signed during this offseason under the justification of mentoring developing players. But lost in the circle-of-life storyline is the idea that those veterans are being paid for their blunt critical eye. New White Sox backup shortstop Omar Vizquel brings the point home to Luis Rangel of Nuevo Herald when he says that mentee Alexei Ramirez "needs to move his feet when fielding. He has the tendency to stand still and not move to the ball." Ramirez committed 20 errors in his first full season at short, tying for fourth most among major league shortstops.
- Who says winter leagues help keep players in shape for the regular season? Yankees reliever Jonathan Albaladejo tells Esteban Pagan Rivera at Primera Hora that he shed 30 pounds this offseason after the team forbade him from playing in his home country of Puerto Rico. At the other end of the scale sits Pablo Sandoval, whose much-ballyhooed "Camp Panda" proved for naught when he came back from the Venezuelan Winter League in January heavier than when he arrived.
- The Twins signed one of Sandoval's fellow Navegantes of Magallanes in Venezuela, righty reliever Yoslan Herrera, to a minor league deal, confirms Joe Christensen at the Star Tribune. Herrera, who defected from Cuba in 2005, was a highly touted prospect in the Pirates system but disappointed in his only brief showing with the team in 2008. He showed more promise at the Bucs' Double-A and Triple-A levels in 2009 and will start out at Triple-A Rochester for the Twins. The Cuban blog Terreno de Pelota first reported the signing on Tuesday.
WEDNESDAY, 10:02am: Millwood update: Zrebiec says the Rangers originally wanted David Hernandez and a low-level prospect for Millwood, and were willing to pay $3MM of the $12MM owed to the veteran. Meanwhile Zrebiec's colleague Peter Schmuck says Chris Ray could be involved and the Rangers would pick up most of Millwood's salary, in one scenario.
TUESDAY, 9:36pm: Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that the O's are still exchanging trade proposals with the Rangers for Kevin Millwood. T.R. Sullivan reported that the Rangers wanted Chris Tillman initially, but talks have since developed. The Orioles are among the frontrunners for Millwood.
The O's met with the Marlins about Dan Uggla, but the Marlins want two pitching prospects in return and the Orioles are reluctant to hand that kind of package over. The Marlins have one less suitor for Uggla, according to Andrew Baggarly, who says the Giants aren't serious bidders, so that could lower the asking price for the arbitration-eligible infielder.
Here are even more O's rumors:
- Kevin Kouzmanoff and Garrett Atkins interest the O's to an extent.
- Joe Crede and Pedro Feliz remain options for Baltimore, but Adrian Beltre has priced himself out of reach.
- We heard about their interest in Hank Blalock, Carlos Delgado and Nick Johnson earlier today.
- They also have "tepid" interest in Russell Branyan.
- The Orioles aren't particularly intrigued by Joe Blanton and Derek Lowe, who are both available via trade.
- Vladimir Guerrero, Adam LaRoche, Jose Valverde and Kevin Gregg all interest the O's slightly.
- They do have interest in Rafael Soriano, and spoke with the Braves about him.
- They're not interested in J.J. Putz.
- MLB.com's Spencer Fordin reports that the Royals engaged the O's in Felix Pie trade talks without ever coming close to a deal.
Random rumors collected from Twitter...
- The Brewers will meet with Mark Mulder's people today, says SI's Jon Heyman. Ken Rosenthal tweets that a meeting with the Royals already occurred today.
- Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star says the Royals like Felix Pie, but are "finding it tough to meet Baltimore's needs."
- The Brewers are working to re-sign pitcher Claudio Vargas, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy learned. They view him as a reliever. UPDATE: McCalvy says the Brewers think they're close.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that Ben Sheets' agent Casey Close will meet with both New York teams, among others. A throwing audition appears unlikely. MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan says the Rangers would like a medical update on Sheets, who they almost signed before the season.
- Newsday's David Lennon says the Mets met with Yorvit Torrealba's agent this morning. He could be an alternative to Bengie Molina, if the Mets and Torrealba can settle their grievance. Torrealba had a signed term sheet with the Mets two years ago for a three-year, $14.4MM deal, but the Mets pulled out over concerns with the player's shoulder. Lennon's colleague Ken Davidoff says the Giants are still involved on Torrealba.
- The Brewers have a meeting with minor league free agent/knuckleballer Charlie Zink this afternoon, says Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart says LaTroy Hawkins will meet with the Astros today in hopes of getting a deal done soon.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick finds the Brewers likely to tender a contract to righty Dave Bush on Saturday. Despite a rough year Bush could get a small raise on this year's $4MM salary.
- WEEI's Alex Speier says five to six teams have checked in on free agent outfielder Brian Giles, the Red Sox not among them.
- Joe Crede doesn't expect to sign until late in the offseason, reports Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press.
The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec takes a look back at Baltimore's first day of the Winter Meetings:
- The O's targeted pitching heavily, inquiring on Kevin Millwood and attaining the medical record for former Baltimore ace Erik Bedard. The O's would want Texas to eat some of Millwood's $12MM salary. They won't go after Bedard (or any other pitcher) if they're not 100% for Opening Day.
- Andy MacPhail will meet with Bedard's agent in the next couple of days.
- The Orioles were interested in Rafael Soriano prior to his decision to accept arbitration from the Braves.
- Kevin Gregg is an option for relief help, but Baltimore sees him as a 7th or 8th inning guy, not a closer.
- Felix Pie has drawn a lot of inquiries, but MacPhail points out that none of Pie, Nolan Reimold, and Adam Jones have played a full, healthy season yet, and the depth is probably a good thing for the Orioles when taking that into consideration.
- Lots of young O's pitching has come up, including Zach Britton and David Hernandez.
- MacPhail met with Joe Urbon, agent for Mark Hendrickson. Zrebiec says it's only a matter of time before a deal is done.
- There hasn't been much in the way of talks for Dan Uggla recently.
- Baltimore won't be bidders for John Lackey, but they like Hank Blalock, Nick Johnson, and Carlos Delgado as options for first base. Luke Scott is not a full-time first base option. Pedro Feliz is their primary third base target.
- Baltimore isn't in on talks for Edwin Jackson or Matt Lindstrom, but they did meet with the agent for Aroldis Chapman.
- Baltimore may sign another catcher, but it's not a priority.
Links for Monday, the first day of the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis...
- The Padres have been linked to Reed Johnson, writes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
- The Reds are trying to re-sign Laynce Nix, according to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
- The Brewers hope to have a decision one way or another on Craig Counsell by week's end, says Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Also, the Brewers learned that reliever Mark DiFelice needs shoulder surgery, creating a stronger bullpen need (MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reporting).
- The Marlins would listen on arbitration-eligible starter Anibal Sanchez, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- Chad Jennings of the LoHud Journal notes that Yanks GM Brian Cashman hitched a ride to Indianapolis with the Levinson brothers, so of course Jason Marquis came up.
- Yahoo's Tim Brown has some petty sniping from Scott Boras' camp toward Whitey Herzog for his comments about Matt Holliday.
- Victor Martinez's agent Alan Nero talked to WEEI's Alex Speier about the prospect of his client reaching free agency.
- The Orioles will meet with the Hendricks brothers about Aroldis Chapman before the Winter Meetings end, according to MASN's Roch Kubatko. ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr. is hearing Chapman might not get much more than $20MM. Tyler Kepner of the New York Times tweets that the Yankees have interest at $15MM or less.
- Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun learned that Orioles outfielder Felix Pie is drawing strong trade interest.
- Chien-Ming Wang will be ready by May 1st, his agent told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. It'd still be surprising to see Wang tendered a contract on Saturday.
- Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post talked to John Smoltz's agent Keith Grunewald about his client's interest in the Nationals.
- Nationals manager Jim Riggleman suggested to WEEI's Alex Speier that the team would have to be overwhelmed to move Josh Willingham.
- ESPN's Keith Law explains why the Meetings are in Indy and suggests improvements to avoid the cold weather and other issues.
- The Cardinals expect Mark DeRosa to decline their arbitration offer today, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. DeRosa's agent will meet with Yankees GM Brian Cashman this week, tweets Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger.
- Tigers manager Jim Leyland assured John Tomase of the Boston Herald that his team is not having a fire sale.
The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly details the questions facing a Baltimore team with some young offensive talent, some terrific young pitching on the way, and a lot of extra cash.
Connolly writes that while the 64-98 record Baltimore had in 2009 was the third-worst in team history, "there is a sense that the future has promise because of the emergence of young starting pitchers Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen, catcher Matt Wieters and outfielders Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie."
Left unsaid, of course, is the emergence of Adam Jones and Nick Markakis continuing to be a tremendous player.
The good news? The Orioles, according to Connolly, went from roughly $77MM owed in payroll at the start of the 2009 season-including $9MM to Jay Gibbons and Ramon Hernandez- to a $30MM commitment for 2010, not including raises through arbitration.
The bad news is that there aren't many marquee free agents (though there is Jason Marquis), and those that do qualify- Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, John Lackey- aren't great fits, particularly Bay and Holliday in an overcrowded outfield.
Connolly captures the problem of desires vs. realistic options perfectly here:
"The preference is to find a right-handed or switch-hitting first baseman in his prime, like the New York Yankees' Mark Teixeira. But there's no one who fits that profile in this year's class. The best free-agent options might be left-handed-hitting first basemen Russell Branyan and Hank Blalock or right-handed do-it-all Mark DeRosa."
So what's an Oriole to do?
According to Jeff Zrebiec at the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have a roster decision to make when Cesar Izturis returns from the disabled list, and thus have considered dealing Oscar Salazar and Felix Pie. Both players are out of options and are likely to get claimed if put on waivers, so a deal makes sense, Zrebiec says.
Sources say that the Orioles have discussed Pie in a potential deal for Sox corner infielder Josh Fields, who has struggled this season, though it's not clear if the Sox would still agree to such a trade. Salazar reportedly has drawn interest from some NL teams who value his positional flexibility and bat off the bench.
Some links to check out while watching game one of the College World Series ...
- MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko spoke to Orioles mastermind Andy MacPhail about plenty of topics, including the scuffling Felix Pie and fifth overall pick Matt Hobgood.
- South Side Sox breaks down the White Sox players who won't (or can't) be traded.
- Xavier Nady is set to begin a rehab assignment, however Buster Olney recently said the Yankees will not look to trade one of their spare outfielders once he returns.
- Indians president Paul Dolan says he is concerned about the team's direction, but will not make any "rash decisions" according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It certainly sounds like Eric Wedge's days are numbered, and his number is coming up.
- The Dallas Morning News' Kevin Sherrington writes that even though they're in first place, the Rangers aren't in a position to go all out and need to keep focusing on the future.
Steve Melewski of MASN.com heard that the O's do not plan on sending Felix Pie to the minor leagues because they would have to expose him to waivers to do so. Team president Andy MacPhail says "he'd never get through" so the Orioles will keep him in the majors for now.
Links for Saturday morning...
- On ESPN Radio, Keith Law says no team would pass on Manny Ramirez if he's available for $5MM in the near future, regardless of his suspension. He won't be available at that rate this offseason, as he has a $20MM player option for 2010.
- Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News passes on a quote from Dodgers GM Ned Colletti: "My concern is still with the pitching."
- Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune believes the Dodgers' pitching will carry them while Manny serves his suspension.
- Jamey Newberg suggests on the Newberg Report that the Braves would deal the haul they received for Mark Teixeira- Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek- for any one of four players they gave up to get Tex- Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz or Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
- The Chicago Tribune suggests the Orioles may try to sneak Felix Pie to Triple-A through waivers.