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Is there a more feared name in the sports world than Dr. James Andrews? This time it's the Braves and their fans' turn to be worried — the club tweeted that Brandon Beachy will miss his next start due to a sore right elbow and visit the famed sports surgeon on Monday. Beachy underwent Tommy John surgery on that same right arm in June 2012 and has made just five starts since returning from the injury.
Here's the latest from around the majors…
- Rafael Betancourt left Thursday's game with an elbow injury and the Rockies are concerned the veteran reliever has a torn UCL, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. That injury would require Tommy John surgery and could threaten the 38-year-old's career. Betancourt will make his third trip to the DL this season, effectively ending any chance that the righty will switch teams. The Rockies placed Betancourt on revocable waivers earlier today.
- Dariel Alvarez has already advanced to the Orioles' high A-ball affiliate, though Baseball America's Ben Badler tells MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski that scouts have questions about Alvarez's potential. "I don't think he was a very high-profile player for a lot of teams," Badler said. "I don't think there was a high level of interest in him. There are a lot of concerns about his hitting translating to game situations….He does have some occasional power, but there is a lot of question among scouts as to whether the hitting will translate against more advanced pitching." Badler felt that Alvarez's $800K bonus was surprisingly high and that Henry Urrutia (another up-and-coming Cuban outfielder in the O's system) is the much better prospect of the two.
- Signing relievers to multiyear deals continues to be a risky proposition, as Fangraphs' Dave Cameron breaks down how only four (arguably five) of the 13 relievers who signed such deals last winter have delivered good value to their teams.
- Jayson Werth's surprising age-34 season has been one of the few bright spots for the Nationals this year, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post writes. Werth hit .256/.349/.407 and battled injuries in the first two years of his seven-year, $126MM deal with the Nats, but the veteran has lived up this salary this season by posting a .938 OPS with 18 homers through 385 PA.
The Nationals made a big splash this week when they landed Gio Gonzalez in a deal to bolster their already solid rotation. Here's more on what the acquisition of Gonzalez means for the Nats and other news on the club..
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson (via Twitter) cautions that it's just a prediction, but it wouldn't surprise him to see the Nationals trade John Lannan for a bat. The left-hander is arbitration eligible for the second time this winter and MLBTR projects that he is set to earn $4.9MM. The Nats could be comfortable moving Lannan in part because of their confidence in Ross Detwiler (Twitter link).
- During last night's conference call to discuss the Gonzalez deal, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said that the club will be aggressive in their pursuit of a long-term center fielder if the opportunity presents itself. Rizzo went on to say that the club is considering using Jayson Werth in center and expanding their search to include right fielders, Ladson writes.
- Pete Kerzel of MASNSports.com understands the concern over Gonzalez's walk rate, but also points to the strides he's made in other areas, including innings pitched and sustaining a high strikeout rate with the increased workload. Kerzel isn't concerned about the fact that Gonzalez has been traded four times, saying that it's a sign of his universally recognized potential and not an indicator of potential problems.
Six players signed deals worth $100MM or more last offseason and they've now completed one year since finalizing their respective deals. Here's a look at how baseball's newest $100MM players fared in 2011 (in order of contract value):
- Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies, ten-year, $157.75MM extension – This deal, which was somewhat unexpected last offseason, is going as well as the Rockies could hope. Tulowitzki put together another tremendous season: .302/.372/.544 with 30 home runs at shortstop.
- Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox, seven-year, $154MM extension - Gonzalez led the American League in hits and nearly won the batting title in his return to the Junior Circuit. He posted a .338/.410/.548 line and hit 27 homers on his way to an MVP-caliber season. His seven-year extension officially kicks in next season, though.
- Carl Crawford, Red Sox, seven-year, $142MM contract - Crawford posted a sub-.300 on-base percentage, saw his stolen base total drop by 29 and hit fewer home runs, triples and doubles than he did during his final season in Tampa Bay. The Red Sox still owe him $128MM, so they have to find a way to turn their left fielder's career around.
- Jayson Werth, Nationals, seven-year, $126MM contract – Though Werth doesn't like the idea that 2011 was a lost season for him and the Nationals, there's no denying that his numbers fell off. He had a .232/.330/.389 line with 20 homers and 19 stolen bases.
- Cliff Lee, Phillies, five-year, $120MM contract – We knew Lee was good, but it would not have been fair to expect this kind of year: he posted a 2.40 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 232 2/3 innings.
- Ryan Braun, Brewers, five-year, $105MM extension - Braun could win the MVP after leading the league in slugging percentage (.597) and OPS (.994). He hit 33 homers and stole 33 bases, posted a career-high .397 on-base percentage and made his fourth consecutive All-Star team.
Crawford and Werth were sources of excitement for their respective teams when they signed free agent contracts and the outfielders have since become sources of concern. The other position players – Tulowitzki, Gonzalez and Braun – have turned in MVP-caliber seasons, while Lee should be a top-three finisher in this year's NL Cy Young balloting.
Stephen Strasburg struck out ten Marlins without allowing a run over six innings of work in Washington's season finale this afternoon. Here are the latest links on the Nationals, who finish the season with an impressive 80-81 record…
- Nationals manager Davey Johnson told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he hopes to be managing the team again in 2012 (Twitter link). "I know I'm the best candidate," he said. Jon Heyman of SI.com has been reporting for a while that Johnson can have the Nationals' job if he wants it, though GM Mike Rizzo is expected to go through with a complete search.
- Jayson Werth bristles at the idea that 2011 was a lost season for him and the Nationals, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Werth feels that he's helped the team improve by working with other veterans to change its culture. Within Kilgore’s piece, Werth says he's not particularly good at dealing with failure and offers other insights into his first season with Washington.
- Livan Hernandez declined to say whether he and the Nationals have discussed a contract for next year, but he repeated his interest in re-signing with Washington, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
The Cardinals won and the Braves lost, so only 2.5 games separate the two clubs in the National League Wild Card race. Here's the latest news from around MLB…
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington didn't say whether he intends to offer arbitration to Ross Ohlendorf this offseason, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Ohlendorf would earn a raise from his current $2.025MM salary if the Pirates tender him a contract this winter.
- The Cubs told scouting director Tim Wilken that he'll be back in 2012, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. There had been some rumblings that Wilken would receive a four-year extension like the one director of player personnel Oneri Fleita obtained, but Wilken will return on a one-year deal.
- Giants officials acknowledged to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News that it will be hard to bring back both Jeremy Affeldt ($5MM option) and Javier Lopez (free agent) next year. The two left-handers could hit free agency this offseason.
- Jayson Werth told Bill Ladson of MLB.com that he still believes that the Nationals are headed for success. The outfielder hasn't lived up to his $126MM contract so far, but he says he has found his swing and regained his composure.
- Mike Mosa, the agent for Tim Byrdak, told MLBTR's Tim Dierkes that Byrdak's decision to sign an extension with the Mets had to do with the team's willingness to include an opt-out in his deal for 2011 (Twitter link).
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs explains that serious analysts don't believe "that awards voting should be done according to an ordinal ranking" of the wins above replacement statistic. WAR is a tool that guides baseball fans, not an absolute statement about value or ability.
- In this week's edition of Ask BA, Jim Callis of Baseball America explains that he doubts we'll ever see an international draft because of all the logistics that would be involved. Commissioner Bud Selig has long supported a worldwide draft, which will come up during this round of collective bargaining.
Longtime baseball executive Pat Gillick will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next weekend alongside Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar. The former Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners and Phillies GM reflected on his career and the state of the game on a conference call with reporters this morning. Congratulations in advance to Gillick; here are some highlights from his conversation:
- Gillick, who is now a senior advisor for the Phillies, would like to see Philadelphia add a right-handed bat this summer. Though doing so is not imperative, it's "very important."
- Gillick now provides the Phillies with scouting reports on amateur players on the West Coast and talks with GM Ruben Amaro Jr. about twice per week.
- Jayson Werth's $126MM contract with the Nationals "stunned and shocked" Gillick, who once signed Werth for $850K under considerably different circumstances. The longtime GM says he's not a fan of long-term deals. "It wouldn't have been something I would have recommended," Gillick said.
- Jon Daniels of the Rangers reminds Gillick of himself. "I always considered myself a little adventurous," Gillick said, "and I think Jon and his Texas group are headed in the right direction."
- Gillick says he admires some moves by Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, especially the deal that brought Adam Jones to Baltimore for Erik Bedard.
- Gillick says he doesn't expect to be a GM again, but he would consider becoming a club president in the right situation.
- The Pirates are the surprise of 2011 for Gillick.
On this date in 2004, the newly acquired Richard Hidalgo homered in his fifth consecutive game for the Mets, giving him eight homers in his first 16 contests with New York. Hidalgo would go on to hit 21 homers for the Mets in '04, but he played his last MLB game a year later. Here are the latest links from his former division…
- Jayson Werth told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that he doesn't regret signing in Washington last winter. The outfielder says he's happy with his decision, but unhappy with his offensive production. He has a .221/.326/.377 line since signing a $126MM deal with the Nationals.
- Michael Morse of the Nationals tells Crasnick that he feels like a late bloomer. The 29-year-old outfielder, who had just 392 MLB plate appearances before last season, now has 15 homers and a .536 slugging percentage.
- The White Sox seem interested in Atlanta's pitching, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman. The Braves could be in the market for an outfielder and may attempt to find a proven leadoff hitter like Juan Pierre.
- Bowman notes (on Twitter) that he won't be surprised if the Braves don't make a significant move this month.
The Phillies and Braves began the day ranked first and second in MLB in run prevention. The Phillies (240 runs allowed as of this morning) have Cliff Lee on the hill tonight and the Braves (252 runs allowed) surrendered just a single run against the Blue Jays this afternoon. Here's the latest on the other NL East clubs:
- As Joel Sherman of the New York Post explains, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has clearly become more enamored with Jose Reyes as the season has gone on and the shortstop has showed off his defense and athleticism.
- Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that agent Scott Boras did not solicit him before Werth left the Beverly Hills Sports Council for Boras late last season. "In no way was I being harassed or bothered or anything other than what I wanted," Werth said, in response to Jayson Stark’s recent ESPN article.
- Click here to see how Werth is faring relative to other new members of baseball's $100MM club and click here to check out our Agency Database.
- Managers around the league, including Terry Francona of the Red Sox and Mike Scioscia of the Angels, tell Joe Frisaro of MLB.com that they're impressed with Marlins skipper Jack McKeon, who is managing at the age of 80.
Every year a few select players join baseball’s exclusive $100MM club with free agent deals and mega-extensions. Last offseason was no different – we saw six players sign nine figure deals. The contracts were all for five years or more, so it’s far too early to call them successes or failures. But as the season approaches its halfway point, let’s check in on baseball’s newest $100MM players:
- Troy Tulowitzki, ten-year, $157.75MM extension – Tulo has slowed down after a scorching start, but he's still having an excellent season. His .274/.339/.491 line and 13 homers look especially good when you consider that he's a good defensive shortstop.
- Adrian Gonzalez, seven-year, $154MM extension – Red Sox fans dreamed of a season like this when Theo Epstein acquired Gonzalez from the Padres in December. The first baseman is a leading MVP candidate with a .350/.403/.603 line and 15 home runs.
- Carl Crawford, seven-year, $142MM contract – Crawford was heating up before he hit the disabled list, but his numbers are poor overall. He has a .243/.275/.384 batting line, just 8 stolen bases and his lowest walk rate (3.2%) since 2002, his rookie season.
- Jayson Werth, seven-year, $126MM contract – Werth is hitting just .233/.334/.409, though he has 10 home runs. Nationals fans may be consoled by the fact that Werth erupted in the second half last year and has traditionally produced better after the All-Star break.
- Cliff Lee, five-year, $120MM contract – The prize of the offseason free agent market, Lee has a 3.12 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 104 innings. The lefty is in the midst of another fantastic season and this time he doesn't have to worry about being traded.
- Ryan Braun, five-year, $105MM extension – Braun is having a monster year. He has a .310/.397/.555 line with 15 homers and a career-best 12.1% walk rate for the first-place Brewers.
It's fair to expect Werth and Crawford to turn their seasons around and produce as they did before signing nine figure free agent contracts. The other four additions to the $100MM club are justifying the deals, at least to the extent that it's possible in less than three months.
- Chipper Jones told Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he never wanted Escobar to leave, "because the guy’s a good player." Jones suggests last summer's trade worked out well for both sides, since Escobar has matured into a better player and the Braves have the steady Alex Gonzalez. I examined Escobar's recent contract extension earlier today.
- Bill Ladson of MLB.com says free agent signing Jayson Werth has "brought a spark" to Washington and helped the Nationals to a respectable record. Werth has a .232/.332/.409 line with ten home runs in his first season in D.C. – not what the Nats were hoping for when they made a $126MM commitment to the outfielder last offseason.
- New Marlins manager Jack McKeon explained to Dave George of the Palm Beach Post why he returned to the bench as an 80-year-old skipper. "I don't need this job, but I love it, and I love the people I'm working for."
- Hanley Ramirez might not love the person he's working for quite yet; McKeon benched Ramirez tonight after the shortstop showed up late to the ballpark.