Justin Smoak Rumors
Some links as we wonder what to make of the red-hot Padres...
- Ace Walker was the pitcher of the year in the independent Northern League last year, but he didn't get any calls from MLB teams over the winter, reports Adam Wazny of the Winnipeg Free Press.
- High schooler Tony Wolters, who was one of the top shortstops available in this year's draft, has been ruled ineligible, according to John Manuel of Baseball America.
- Rays manager Joe Maddon told Scott Miller of CBS Sports that the Rays have to operate with "one eye on the present and one on the future" to win with their budget.
- MLB.com's Chris Haft suggests the Giants could put Aubrey Huff in left field to make room for Buster Posey's bat at first base.
- RotoAuthority explains why it's a little early to talk about a Barry Zito renaissance.
- The Rangers would only consider trading Justin Smoak for a player who would put them "over the top," in the opinion of Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
- Joe Posnanski notes that Dayton Moore fired Trey Hillman days after praising him and suggests that the decision wasn't Moore's.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Marc Carig of the Star Ledger that the Tigers were always confident in Austin Jackson's defense.
- The Nationals have the resources to make midseason moves if necessary, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
- James Paxton, a sandwich pick the Blue Jays failed to sign last year, makes his independent league debut tonight. One scout told John Manuel of Baseball America that Paxton threw 88-90 mph and looked rusty in exhibition games.
Links for Thursday, as the Pirates try to recover from their worst loss in franchise history...
- Highly regarded Rangers first base prospect Justin Smoak has gotten the call to replace Chris Davis at first base, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. The timing of his promotion ensures the Rangers will control Smoak through 2016. Super two status is likely if Smoak is up for good, meaning he'll go to arbitration four times beginning after the 2012 season. As for Davis, you have to wonder if a trade is in his future.
- In a mailbag, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian speculates on when Blue Jays fans can expect to see Adeiny Hechavarria and Brett Wallace arrive in Toronto.
- In an excellent piece for Yahoo! Sports, Jeff Passan looks at the state of baseball in the Dominican Republic, a topic MLBTR's Nick Collias addressed earlier in the week.
- Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that Royals minor-league lefty Adam Bostick has been suspended 50 games for a second positive drug test.
- ESPN's draft coverage team tweets that the Royals are looking at University of Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal for the fourth overall pick in June. Five days ago ESPN's Keith Law had this to say about Grandal: "He's the top college catcher in the country, can absolutely stay behind the plate, and hits well enough to be an above-average player in the majors." Click here for a reminder of the full 2010 draft order.
- Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein looks at four question marks about potential #1 pick Bryce Harper. Harper is not getting good reviews for his makeup.
- Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune points out that Carlos Zambrano and Lou Piniella don't seem in complete agreement on whether the righty's bullpen move is temporary.
The Texas Rangers are facing an impending decision on whether to call super-prospect Justin Smoak up to replace struggling first baseman Chris Davis. Smoak, who is ranked as baseball's ninth-best prospect by Keith Law and 13th overall by Baseball America, currently remains in Triple A. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of bringing Smoak to the majors in the near future.
- As MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith pointed out in his piece on calling up top prospects, if a player makes his major league debut after April 19th, he won't earn a full year's service time this season. So the Rangers could call up Smoak as early as this week and still have delayed his free agency by a year.
- Davis is off to a homerless, .229/.289/.343 start to the 2010 campaign, while Smoak has been tearing the Pacific Coast League up (.353/.500/.647 with two homers).
- When the Rangers drafted Smoak in 2008, Baseball America praised his fielding, citing "Gold Glove-caliber actions and soft hands." Davis's defense at first base is slightly below average (career -2.7 UZR/150).
- The AL West race looks wide open, and the Rangers presumably want to field their best possible lineup immediately. Delaying Smoak's debut for another month and a half could compromise their chances of contending.
- If Texas calls Smoak up before late May or early June, he will earn enough service time to eventually qualify as a Super Two, hitting arbitration a year early.
- It's probably too soon in the season to give up on Davis, considering his career numbers include a .481 slugging percentage and a 162-game average of 30 homers.
- There's no guarantee that Smoak will thrive at the major league level right away. Even a can't-miss prospect like Matt Wieters posted a mere .263/.308/.369 line in the first 70 games of his career.
- Smoak's underwhelming Triple A numbers last season also suggest he could use more seasoning, though they can be partially attributed to a strained oblique.
In today's blog post at ESPN (Insider required and recommended), Buster Olney writes that Rangers' first base prospect Justin Smoak is off to a strong start in Triple-A and could push Chris Davis either out the door or onto the bench. Smoak is hitting .300/.475/.567 with two homers in 40 plate appearances so far this year, while Davis is off to a .194/.265/.290 start with 10 strikeouts in 34 plate appearances.
Here's the rest of Olney's rumors...
- A possible reason why Orioles owner Peter Angelos declined to hire Cal Ripken Jr. is because of "concern about whether the addition of the legend would lead to office politics and ugly fallout."
- With the Angels carrying three catchers, Olney speculates that Boston could be a trade match for Jeff Mathis, and wonders if the talks could be expanded to include Mike Lowell given the Halos' troubles at the hot corner. Red Sox catchers have thrown out just one of 17 base stealers this season, and Mathis has thrown out 23% of would-be base stealers in his career.
Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas rounds up some Texas Rangers-related rumors from the second day of the winter meetings. We've heard one or two of these already, but let's check out the highlights of Durrett's recap....
- The Rangers are looking to bolster their bullpen, and names of interest include J.J. Putz, Matt Lindstrom, and Brett Myers. Ramon Ramirez and Chris Ray are also on their radar.
- As FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi indicated earlier today, no Kevin Millwood trade appears imminent. A few teams are interested, but the Rangers will pull the trigger only on "the right deal." Presumably the "right" return is more about money than talent.
- If the club is able to move Millwood, they'd look to fill the hole in their rotation with another veteran starter. Ben Sheets and Rich Harden are potential options, with the Rangers hoping to meet with Sheets' agent this week.
- Dealing Millwood would also allow Texas to free up some money to pursue a right-handed bat. Perhaps Vladimir Guerrero or Jermaine Dye.
- The team is looking for a catcher as well. Durrett names Jason Kendall, Rod Barajas, Jose Molina, and Yorvit Torrealba as targets.
- Durrett and others heard earlier that the Rangers offered top prospects Neftali Feliz and Justin Smoak to Florida in exchange for Josh Johnson. Another official denies that Texas made that proposal, but suggests that the team does have interest in Johnson.
More links for the evening...
- The Red Sox will find out tomorrow if their claim on Rays righty Ramon A. Ramirez went through, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. This isn't the same Ramon Ramirez that appeared in 70 games for Boston last year.
- Randy Johnson is still undecided about 2010, according to this AP report on ESPN.com.
- The Rangers discussed Arthur Rhodes with the Reds today, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The Rangers are on the lookout for lefty relievers.
- The Rangers are considering Jason Kendall and Rod Barajas behind the plate, according to Sullivan. ESPN.com's Keith Law says this is a problem for the Rangers. He doesn't think much of any of the free agent catchers they're considering.
- Coco Crisp would be up for signing with the White Sox, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.
- Talks between the Twins and Joe Crede are progressing slowly, according to MLB.com's Kelly Thesier.
- The Mariners are keeping in touch with Rich Harden's agents, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- The Nats were interested in Jose Valverde, but they felt his asking price was too high, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports that Scott Boras will meet with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik tonight. Adrian Beltre is one of Boras' clients, so they'll presumably discuss him.
- White Sox reliever Matt Thornton tells Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times that he's recruiting J.J. Putz. Thornton says he and Putz have a long-standing "bromance" that dates back to their Seattle days.
- ESPN.com's Keith Law says Justin Smoak and Neftali Feliz are too much to give up for Josh Johnson. Apparently, the Rangers offered the pair of top prospects up.
- Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus likes the Ivan Rodriguez signing for the Nats, partly because Pudge could help develop Stephen Strasburg.
- By the way, the deal is pending a physical, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
- The Braves are interested in Xavier Nady, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Jon Heyman of SI.com says the Mets may be more inclined to pay top dollar for John Lackey now that they've seen the asking prices of some lesser starters.
- The Cardinals won't be involved with Lackey, but they have interest in signing a lefty bench bat, according to MLB.com's Matthew Leach.
The Rangers must be confident in their chances next year. Both T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com and Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com are reporting that the team offered Justin Smoak and Neftali Feliz to the Marlins for Josh Johnson.
If that offer didn't get it done, then the Marlins truly are committed to starting the season with their 25-year-old ace. Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post says the Marlins are still open to an extension with Johnson.
Some links for the morning...
- Jeff Sackmann of the Hardball Times can imagine an excellent Royals team in 2012, but says there's no guarantee we'll see such a thing.
- As MLB.com's Doug Miller shows, cheap, no-name closers can be just as effective as proven commodities.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says the addition of Scott Kazmir should help the Angels reach the playoffs once again.
- Tim Hudson and Dan Meyer were traded for each other in 2004. This week, Hudson pitched against Meyer's team for the first time, as MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports.
- Jamey Newberg ranks Justin Smoak and Martin Perez ahead of the other Rangers minor leaguers in this week's prospects report for MLB.com.
5:38pm: Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says his team was not involved with Halladay, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck.
5:10pm: The Blue Jays and Rangers were talking last night when they found that Halladay wouldn't approve a deal to the Rangers, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. The sides weren't close to a deal when they found out.
The Jays, like other teams the Rangers spoke with, coveted Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Justin Smoak and Pedro Borbon. Holland's now in the majors and the other three rank on Jonathan Mayo's updated list of top prospects.
3:25pm: Halladay has not been traded, according to Sherman on Twitter. So many wasted words.
10:12am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post has a slew of comments from Ricciardi about a Halladay trade today being highly unlikely. Ricciardi admitted he'd listen again in the offseason, but says keeping Doc today signifies an attempt to contend in 2010.
10:01am: MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan says the Rangers' talks for Halladay "appear to have broken off" and are "somewhere between dead and on life-support." Seems like the Rangers are unwilling to trade pitcher Derek Holland, especially after last night's gem.
9:53am: Yahoo's Tim Brown says the Red Sox will "engage Ricciardi early" today on Doc before going after Adrian Gonzalez or Victor Martinez. However, when quizzed by Brown earlier this morning about the Halladay talks, Ricciardi replied, "Nothing going."
8:34am: One way or another, pitcher Roy Halladay can get some peace of mind about six hours from now when the trade deadline passes. Until then, it's rumor-mania. Yesterday night, things seemed to heat up with the Rangers, but Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi labeled trade talks "dead" in a general sense. Earlier in the day the Red Sox and Dodgers were considered the frontrunners.
This morning, SI's Jon Heyman tells us the Rangers "may have come the closest" to acquiring Halladay. Even more so than the Phillies? Heyman says the Rangers talks hit "a snag or two late Thursday," decreasing the chances for a trade.
Some more links for a quiet Thursday...
- MLB.com's Jen Langosch says it's "almost certain" that Ian Snell will be demoted to Triple A and Dejan Kovacevic confirms the news. Snell has been mentioned in some rumors, but his value's pretty low at this point.
- Chris Iott of MLive.com reports that the Tigers signed two of their picks and a non-drafted free agent.
- Octavio Dotel realizes he could be traded and says nothing will surprise him, according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin.
- In a piece for MLB.com, Jamey Newberg says Justin Smoak and Martin Perez lead the list of top Rangers prospects.
- Don't forget to tune in at 6:20 CST when I'll be talking rumors on the TEAM 1380 in St. Louis.