Jay Payton Rumors

Murton, Payton Not Starting Today

The Cubs are again sitting Matt Murton today.  That’s two days in a row he was expected to start and didn’t.  Of course, it may just be that Lou Piniella doesn’t like him.  We’ll see.

Meanwhile, Jay Payton is out of the lineup for the Orioles-Yankees game today.  He typically starts in left field, but it’s Jay Gibbons today.  This could also just be Dave Trembley’s preference and nothing more.  He sat Payton in favor of Gibbons on Thursday as well.  Gibbons is 6 for 18 lifetime against Chien-Ming Wang while Payton is 1 for 6.

Discussions regarding a Payton-to-Chicago deal were getting pretty serious last night.

Rosenthal’s Latest Videos: Teixeira, Dye, Garland

Ken Rosenthal has a couple of recent videos up at FOXSports.  Check ’em out.  Some highlights:

  • The Mark Teixeira talks are at a standstill; the Braves and Angels are reluctant to improve their offers.  The Dodgers are said to be out of the picture.  Daniels, Schuerholz, Stoneman – which one blinks first?  I’ll say Daniels; he’ll go with Atlanta’s best offer.
  • Jermaine Dye is Plan B for the Angels, but as you know the Red Sox still have interest.
  • Jon Garland can be had, but Kenny Williams’ price is sky-high.  The Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Mets, and Braves all have interest.  The Braves had offered not only Edgar Renteria but a top pitching prospect, and still were rejected.  Rosenthal expects Garland to stay put because as the asking price is not met.
  • The Dodgers are still the leaders on Octavio Dotel, but the Tribe could jump in if they part with Ben Francisco.  Would Francisco really be missed?
  • The Cubs are looking at role players like Jay Payton and Jeff Conine.  Many Cubs fans have written me looking for some good rumors – anything I would hear would go on the site.  My gut feeling is that they do nothing major.
  • The Orioles asked about Kei Igawa, but were told he’s not available.
  • Rosenthal can see Adam Dunn and Eric Gagne staying put at the deadline.  The need to deal Gagne is a bit more pressing, in my opinion.

Murton Late Scratch; Payton Talks Itensify

UPDATE: While perhaps shopping Murton, the Cubs have had significant talks regarding Baltimore’s Jay Payton. The Cubs would send over two mid-level prospects; does Murton fit that criteria?  Payton will make $5MM next year to finish his contract.

UPDATE 2: RotoWorld says Murton was scratched tonight to allow Cliff Floyd to play and then get Sunday off.

Matt Murton was a late scratch for tonight’s Cubs-Reds game.  Does it mean anything?  We should know soon enough.  This time of year, every scratch or unexpected mid-game substitution is magnified.

The Cubs have been talking to the Rangers about lefty reliever Ron Mahay and catcher Gerald Laird, so maybe there’s a connection.  The Rangers could definitely find room for Murton in their outfield.

Take it with a grain of salt, but a Cubs source of mine confirms Felix Pie‘s availability (huh?) and says the Cubs made an inquiry on Torii Hunter.  While intriguing, I wouldn’t expect either player to be traded.

Healey’s Latest

Mark Healey at Gotham Baseball has long been a solid, underappreciated source of inside information.  He’s got another Rumor Mill up at his site.  My summary follows.

  • The Yankees have an eye on big-name 1Bs like Mark Teixeira and Todd Helton.  But more realistically, they’re looking at Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena.  He’s got the defense, so even if he regresses to a 20 HR bat it’s a nice pickup.  Healey’s source believes Tyler Clippard is too much but the Rays like Sean Henn.  The Yanks have also inquired about the versatile Ty Wigginton.
  • The Reds, Rockies, and others have been scouting the Yankees’ Double A Trenton affiliate.  Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, and Brett Gardner are probably the most desirable players on that roster.  Gotham Baseball has previously connected the Yankees to Brian Fuentes and David Weathers.  Another reliever the Yankees like is Chad Bradford, though the O’s price may be too high.
  • Gotham quotes an NL scout who doesn’t believe the Mets will acquire a starter by trading Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez, or Fernando Martinez.  That scout believes the return of Pedro will supply the needed boost.  Personally, I can see Milledge going.
  • Some former Mets on the radar: Brady Clark, Jay Payton, and David Weathers.
  • Healey says the Mets sent scouts to look at Randy Winn this weekend.  They must not be pleased with Moises Alou‘s progress.  As I mentioned earlier, Winn is signed through 2009.  He has a full no-trade clause this year.  For 2008-09 he can block deals to ten teams.
  • The Pirates have some vets to trade, and have contacted the Mets regarding Shawn Chacon and Damaso Marte.  Marte is quietly having a fine season with a 1.21 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.  Marte earns $2.45MM this year, and $2MM in ’08 with an odd $6MM club option for 2009.  He can also earn incentives based on games finished.

Orioles To Become Sellers?

Jeff Zrebiec’s article for the Baltimore Sun this morning discusses the possibility that the Orioles start selling off veteran parts as we approach the trading deadline.  He specifically names Scott Williamson, Corey Patterson, Jay Gibbons, and Steve Trachsel as trade candidates.

In a related note, Gotham Baseball’s Mark Healey spoke to an industry source indicating that the Mets might be interested in trading for Williamson and Jay Payton.

Williamson makes $900K this year, with additional incentives based on his number of games.  Patterson, a Scott Boras client, makes $4.3MM and is a free agent after the season.  His terrible hitting this year will cost him what could’ve been a decent payday.  The Gibbons contract is ugly: $5MM this year, $5.7MM in ’08, and $6.2MM in ’09.  Trachsel earns $3.1MM this year plus a $4.75MM club option for ’08.  Finally, Payton makes $4.5MM this year and $5MM in ’08.

The Orioles could really go nuts if they wanted to, dumping off contracts and veterans.  Miguel Tejada, Melvin Mora, Kevin Millar, Ramon Hernandez, Danys Baez, Aubrey Huff, Chad Bradford, and Jamie Walker could be sent packing.  If they were to commit to a rebuilding year in ’08, the Orioles have players to fill almost any team’s needs.  Of course, trading all those vets would amount to admitting how many mistake contracts the Orioles have on the books.

Orioles Sign Jay Payton

Last night, the Orioles reached a verbal agreement with 34 year-old Jay Payton to man left field.  It’s a very Orioles move – miss out on all the big fish, gotta sign some kind of warm body.  The deal is for two years and $9.75MM.

While that may be an OK price, this is left field in the American League we’re talking about.  You have to hit .280/.347/.449 to earn a C grade.  Payton hasn’t posted an OBP that high since Colorado in ’03; he may be capable of slugging .449.

This type of signing frustrates me, as it doesn’t indicate any sort of coherent plan.  At least with the Cubs, they are going all in for 2007.  They might not have the right hand with which to do so but they have made a decision and are acting on it.  That’s rare in Cubdom.  But the O’s remain the same – a mix of promising youth and mediocre vets that will probably earn them fourth place.

Baltimore’s outfield is now set with Payton in left, Corey Patterson in center, and Nick Markakis in right.  Overall, it looks decent.

Miscellaneous Rumors

There are a few trade-related nuggets in the newspapers today, but I don’t expect anything major to go down until June.

The Reds are trying to find a taker for Tony Womack, who has thankfully been pushed out of their infield and demoted.  That is what we call a million dollar mistake.  I guess Brandon Phillips makes up for it, at least until his bat runs cold.

Jay Payton and his agent are being vocal about finding him his 500 ABs with another team if necessary.  The best fit I can find is the Cardinals.

The Yanks plan on declining Mike Mussina‘s option and re-signing him to a more reasonable deal.  The decline is a no-brainer at $17MM, but I’m just remembering what happened with Jon Lieber.  New York had some goodwill there after paying Lieber to rehab, but he still jumped ship after seeing the market.  This is a different situation given Mussina’s tenure, and he has said he wants to stay put.  I’m just saying, it’s not a 100% lock.

Howie Kendrick got the call, but it took an injury, and not a trade, of Maicer Izturis.  My guess is that Izturis will spend at least a month on the shelf and that Kendrick will stick for the rest of the season.  If Kendrick can hit as expected between pinch-hitting, DHing, and spot starting at 2B/3B, there will be plenty of interest for Adam Kennedy in the coming months.  Kennedy is a 3-4 win guy who could really help the Mets or Cardinals for half a season.