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Soon after the Indians dismissed Manny Acta yesterday afternoon, it was reported that former MLB player Sandy Alomar Jr. is favored to obtain the permanent managerial position in Cleveland. Terry Francona, another candidate for the job, has already had some contact with the Indians. Here are today's managerial links…
- Francona confirmed that he's interested in managing the Indians and that he plans to interview for the position at some point, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (Twitter links). "I wouldn't come in and interview if I wasn't [interested]," Francona said.
- There’s mutual interest between Francona and the Indians, Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports (Twitter link). Gammons points out that a peaceful, understanding environment may be more important than money to Francona, whose tenure in Boston ended poorly. The sides will have a better sense of how to proceed after the weekend, Gammons writes.
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti told Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio that Francona and Alomar are the only two candidates that the team is "publicly acknowledging at this point" (Twitter link).
- Jason Varitek joined the Red Sox as a special assistant, but declined to speculate about his future as an MLB manager. “I'm not in a position to make that a 'yes' or 'no' at this point,” he told reporters, including Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (Twitter link).
The 2012 regular season ends one week from today, and a slew of front office and coaching staff changes are sure to follow. It happens every year. Here's the latest managerial news from around the game…
- The job of Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen "appears to be in serious peril," reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest appears safe, however.
- "We've talked – not about that … Which makes me think I'm coming back," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine to WEEI.com's Alex Speier when asked if ownership has given him any indications about next year (Twitter link).
- While the Red Sox and Jason Varitek are discussing a role in the organization, they are not talking about the manager's position according to Heyman.
- Heyman hears that the Rockies plan to discuss their managerial position even though Jim Tracy agreed to an "indefinite" contract earlier this year. The club makes is sound like he is safe for the time being, however.
The Red Sox now have a 69-86 record, which means they’re at risk of losing 90 games for the first time in 46 years. The last time they reached the 90-loss threshold, back in 1966, Ben Cherington hadn’t been born, Bobby Valentine was in high school, and Carl Yastrzemski and Tony Conigliaro roamed the Fenway Park outfield. Here’s the latest from Boston…
- The roles that the Red Sox envision for Jason Varitek and Pedro Martinez “will not be ceremonial,” Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports (on Twitter). Gammons cites Padres executives Trevor Hoffman and Brad Ausmus as possible parallels for the Red Sox.
- Varitek is "close" to returning to the Red Sox organization. He will likely return as a special assistant to Cherington, Gordon Edes reported yesterday. The switch-hitting 40-year-old retired this spring.
- Jon Lester discussed the team's "nightmare" year with Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, saying he's looking forward to forgetting about baseball for a while once the season ends. "The offseason for a lot of people hopefully is going to do good," Lester said.
Reds manager Dusty Baker suffered a minor stroke on Friday, the team told reporters (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon). Baker was already in hospital being treated for an irregular heartbeat and was supposed to be released on Friday. The 63-year-old was released instead on Sunday and is reportedly in good condition, addressing the Reds clubhouse this afternoon. Bench coach Chris Speier has managed the team in Baker's absence and will continue to do so at least through Cincinnati's weekend series with the Pirates, though Baker is hopeful of returning for the Reds' final series of the year.
Here's some more news from around the baseball world…
- Long-time Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek tells Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston that he is "close" to taking a job with the team. Varitek will likely be a special assistant to GM Ben Cherington, though Edes notes that Varitek's teammates from Boston's 2004 World Series squad think he should be the next Red Sox manager.
- Bryan LaHair hopes to return to the Cubs next season, he tells CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney, though the team currently has no spot where he can get regular playing time.
- Eric Stults' good performances in the Padres' rotation may have earned him a spot in next year's rotation, writes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
- Also from Bill Center, he examines the mixed results the Padres have thus far received from the seven players they signed to contract extensions this year.
- Lance Berkman tells Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle that he hopes to play for a contender next season, which would seem to eliminate him returning to the Astros as a DH. (Berkman has also considered retirement.) Berkman also endorsed ex-teammate Tim Bogar as his choice to be the Astros' next manager.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson discussed the Ike Davis trade rumors, the chances of the Mets extending David Wright and R.A. Dickey and other topics during a visit to the SNY booth during Tuesday's game. ESPN New York's Adam Rubin has a partial transcript.
- Willy Taveras is working out and hopeful of returning to the Major Leagues next season, reports MLB.com's Evan Drellich. Taveras, who turns 31 on Christmas Day, last played in the majors for the Nationals in 2010.
Here's a look at some items from around the league on this Friday evening..
- Catcher Jason Varitek hopes to remain with the Red Sox in some capacity, but it may take him some time to determine an appropriate role, writes Jerry Spar of WEEI.com.
- When Kevin Towers was asked specifically about extensions for Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, the Diamondbacks GM didn’t nix the idea, writes Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. Towers hasn’t talked to the agents for either player yet but suggested that he might feel them out to see if there is interest in a long-term deal.
- The Angels' Mark Trumbo has been the subject of trade rumors for the bulk of the offseason, but the slugger appears to be settling in at third base nicely, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. A January poll showed that MLBTR readers think that the Halos should look to deal Kendrys Morales before Trumbo.
- Jeff Suppan wants to pitch for as long as he can, but isn't yet sure if that will extend beyond 2012, writes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The veteran inked a minor league deal with the Padres this winter.
- Craig Kimbrel’s salary is the highest ever for a Braves player with less than two years of service time but the pitcher is well worth it, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Winning the National League Rookie of the Year and receiving votes for Cy Young and Rolaids Relief Man awards took Kimbrel’s salary from $419K in 2011 to $590K in 2012.
On this date in 1993, the Expos signed Vladimir Guerrero as an 18-year-old amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic. He reached the big leagues three years later and went on to hit .318/.379/.553 during his Hall of Fame caliber career. Here's the latest from around the league…
- John Axford told Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel that he'll have to sign a one-year contract for now, but would very much like to get a multi-year extension done with the Brewers. Ben Nicholson-Smith looked at Axford's extension case earlier today.
- Dodgers assistant GM De Jon Watson told Anthony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles that the team is working to sign one player from their tryout camp (all Twitter links). Doug Davis and Minnesota Vikings free safety Jarrad Page were among those at the open tryout today. The player will report to minor league camp once signed.
- Scott Boras told reporters (including WEEI.com's Rob Bradford) that he "really didn't let" other teams make offers to the now-retired Jason Varitek. "We didn't want to mislead anybody that he wasn't going to play for them," Boras said of the long-time Red Sox.
- "He's just home," said Boras to reporters (including Bradford) about J.D. Drew. "He hasn't announced anything, but he's there. He hasn't made any decisions. He's home." We heard Drew was "very likely" to retire back in January.
- The Rangers payroll is approaching $127MM, but president and CEO Nolan Ryan told Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News that they won't be forced to dump any salary before the season.
- Omar Vizquel understands that he has to win a spot on the Blue Jays roster in Spring Training, but he told Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com that he doesn't understand why more older players don't do try to do the same. "It's weird to see all these guys retire, and I'm still on the field," said the 44-year-old.
The AL East included four of the junior circuit's eight 80-win teams a year ago, and you could make the argument that the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and Blue Jays are just as strong entering the 2012 campaign. The latest links from the division…
- As Alex Speier of WEEI.com explains, the Red Sox didn't realize they had obtained two future All-Stars when they sent reliever Heathcliff Slocumb to Seattle for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe in 1997. Speier passes along quotes from Dan Duquette, scout Gary Rajsich and Lowe in this look back at the franchise-altering deal. Rajsich considered Lowe a future above-average setup man at the time. Even then, the scout thought Varitek could be a frontline starting catcher.
- Duquette explained to Speier that Manny Ramirez wasn't a fit for the Orioles this winter. "I thought since I was so generous with Manny last time around, he should have paid me this time around. He didn’t quite see it that way," Duquette quipped, making reference to the slugger's eight-year, $160MM contract with the Red Sox.
- Duquette also discussed the Varitek-Lowe deal in detail.
- The Yankees say there's a competition between Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia for the final spot in their rotation, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the competition is essentially rigged. Hughes will win if the competition is close, and Garcia will head to the bullpen unless a starter gets injured.
Fifteen seasons and two World Championships later, Jason Varitek is calling it a career. The 39-year-old catcher will announce his retirement in Fort Myers this Thursday, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Varitek is expected to remain involved with the Red Sox organization.
Varitek, Boston's longtime captain, was a key member of the 2004 and 2007 World Series winners. He caught four no-hitters in his career — one each by Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Hideo Nomo and Derek Lowe. The Red Sox acquired Lowe and Varitek from the Mariners for Heathcliff Slocumb in a fateful 1997 trade. Seattle had selected the switch-hitter with the 14th pick in the 1997 draft.
Varitek made three All-Star teams and picked up MVP votes each year from 2003-05. His career slash line reads .256/.341/.435 and he'll retire with 193 home runs. He earned over $67MM in his career, according to Baseball-Reference.
The Red Sox, who had interest in re-signing Varitek to a minor league deal, will employ Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Kelly Shoppach and Ryan Lavarnway behind the plate this year. Interestingly, Varitek and longtime rival Jorge Posada retired during the same offseason.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
Here's a look at some highlights from today's column by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe..
- One National League GM said that Roy Oswalt's desire to pitch closer to home has some teams wondering if the hurler might not be enthused about pitching this season. "Everyone knows he has back issues, but the thing that bothered teams was that all of a sudden, he wanted to be closer to home and wanted to start picking and choosing where he wanted to be. A lot of people felt he lost that desire he used to have to pitch, and now we’re seeing him say, ‘Maybe I’ll show up somewhere around midseason and make just as much as I’d make if I signed now,'" said the GM.
- The Angels are unlikely to outright release Bobby Abreu as they owe him $9MM, but their efforts to deal him have been fruitless so far.
- Peter Bourjos, meanwhile, is still prominent on the Nationals’ wish list for center fielders, but the Angels want considerable value back if they deal him. With Torii Hunter in the final year of his contract, there is room for the Halos to keep both Bourjos and Mike Trout.
- Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez will be a top "go get" guy before the deadline for teams needing an extra piece. Astros people remain surprised at the lack of interest in Rodriguez, even with the club willing to pick up about half the $36MM owed to him.
- Indians pitcher Derek Lowe has strong interest in returning to the Red Sox after this season as a starter or reliever. Cafardo writes that the veteran could have been an interesting solution as the BoSox's fourth or fifth starter, but picking up a large chunk his salary from the Braves didn't interest Boston.
- Jason Varitek's friends still insist that he is leaning toward retirement as he can’t envision himself in a non-Red Sox uniform. However, he feels that he can still play and at least be a backup catcher somewhere.
A look at some news out of the American League East..
- It would make sense for the Rays to hold on to their surplus of starting pitching as they've needed at least seven starting pitchers in each of the past four seasons, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters that Eric Chavez's return isn't a sure thing, tweets Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.
- Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine isn't expecting Jason Varitek in camp today, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The manager added that the front office hasn't asked them to get the catcher's uniform ready, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. On Friday, we learned that Varitek is leaning towards retirement.
- There is some concern over the Red Sox's shortstop position in 2012 but Valentine told reporters that he was on board with the trade that shipped Marco Scutaro to Colorado, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter).
- Unloading A.J. Burnett's contract was a move that the Yankees had to make, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- The Burnett deal will likely be officially announced tomorrow, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Once the deal is official, the Yankees will have the money neccessary to sign another bat such as Raul Ibanez.
- With an annual average of $2MM in his new three-year deal, Rays skipper Joe Maddon would rank in the middle third based on current contracts, writes Topkin.