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Leo Nunez Rumors
Congratulations to the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, who will meet in the NLCS after each club won a superb Game Five tonight. This is the first all-NL Central NLCS since the Astros topped the Cards in 2005, and this is the first time Milwaukee and St. Louis have met in the postseason since the 1982 World Series. The NLCS begins on Sunday at Miller Park, with Zack Greinke getting the Game One start for the Brewers.
Some more news as we head into the weekend….
- There is plenty of reaction to Andy MacPhail's decision to step down as the Orioles' president of baseball operations. Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun credits MacPhail with leaving the team in better shape than when he arrived, though this wasn't reflected in the win-loss column. MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli provides a recap of MacPhail's most notable moves in Baltimore. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com expects the next O's GM to have "a more aggressive approach [in free agency]…for better or worse" as opposed to MacPhail's practice of "letting the market play out."
- The White Sox seem to be looking to 2012 as a rebuilding year, writes MLB.com's Scott Merkin. After a year of seeing how young players develop in the Majors and seeing how rookie manager Robin Ventura adapts to the job, Merkin says Chicago could push for contention in 2013 if all goes well.
- With this youth movement in mind, Merkin thinks A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko could be approached about waiving their no-trade clauses. Both players were somewhat open to the idea, though both clearly stated they wanted to end their careers with the White Sox.
- How did Juan Carlos Oviedo (a.k.a. Leo Nunez) keep his identity hidden for years? Frances Robles of the Miami Herald examines Oviedo's situation and the risks that some Latin American players take to escape poverty and reach the Major Leagues. Oviedo "was able to keep the secret for long, because he was living the dream that every Dominican boy imagines growing up. If he lied and succeeded, then the end justified the means,” said Charles Farrell, head of the Dominican Republic Sports and Education Academy. “No one was going to fault him for that, no one was going to blow his cover."
- Farrell also tells Robles that by his estimate, there are at least 30 current Dominican players using false identities.
- Ron Gardenhire says the Twins aren't likely to sign a top free agent pitcher like C.J. Wilson, reports MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger as part of a mailbag piece. "I think we're all smart enough to figure out that free agents out there, as far as pitchers go, if they're really good they're probably going to require a little bit more money than we're willing to pay them," Gardenhire said. "All the big shooters. And there's going to be a market for the rest of them."
- Mark DeRosa could be a good fit as a versatile bench bat for the Braves, provided he can stay healthy, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
- With the Astros' possible move to the AL West in mind, Fangraphs' Reed MacPhail analyzes how each of this season's National League teams would've fared playing in the AL West.
Ozzie Guillen will be the Marlins’ manager in 2012, when they break in their new stadium. Here’s some news on the Marlins with a focus on next year’s team…
- One GM told ESPN.com's Buster Olney that there's no way Guillen can co-exist with owner Jeffrey Loria, but Olney suggests the unpredictable Guillen will get along just fine with his new boss. Olney hears from one person who says Guillen adds value because he makes the Marlins interesting.
- Aramis Ramirez told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that the Marlins are more attractive to him now that Guillen is there (Twitter link). "I wouldn't mind going there and playing," Ramirez said.
- Javier Vazquez pitched a complete game tonight, allowing two runs and five hits and striking out nine without allowing a walk. Teams would be interested in signing the surging Vazquez this offseason, but there's no guarantee the right-hander will pitch in 2012. Vazquez told Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post that he'll decide on his future plans by December (Twitter link).
- Leo Nunez or, as he is now known, Juan Carlos Oviedo, won't face charges in the Dominican Republic for assuming a false identity, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Jack McKeon won't manage the Marlins in 2012 and the club is already looking to replace the 80-year-old skipper. They interviewed former third base coach Bo Porter for the job and it won't be surprising if Ozzie Guillen becomes available as well. Here are more updates on the Marlins, starting with an item on a possible successor to McKeon:
- Joe Espada, the Marlins' current third base coach, interviewed for the team's managerial opening, according to Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald. Espada says the Marlins have a "strong foundation" and that his conversation with owner Jeffrey Loria and others went well.
- Javier Vazquez maintains that he's likely to retire after the season, but he told Navarro that he's not ruling out a return. The durable Puerto Rico native says he hates to determine his future during the season and will have an easier time deciding two or three months from now.
- He has a case for a one-year deal worth $7MM or more if he decides to play.
- Leo Nunez, whose real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo, called teammate Edward Mujica to say that he intends to apologize to his teammates for using an assumed name, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Nunez, 29, hopes to return to the Major Leagues using his real name.
- The Marlins may consider trading Ricky Nolasco this offseason and earlier today MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained what that could mean for the team.
Links for Sunday evening as the Red Sox beat the Yankees 7-4 in 14 innings. The Rays now sit one game back in the wild-card hunt with a three game set against the Bombers to go..
- Marlins reliever Edward Mujica hopes that the club gives the closer formerly known as Leo Nunez another chance, writes Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel. Nunez, or Juan Carlos Oviedo, is arbitration eligible and it’s unclear whether the club is required to tender him a 2012 contract before the December 12 deadline.
- There's going to be some big name players on the open market this winter but there are also going to be some important scouts available for hire, Bob Nightengale of USA Today notes (on Twitter). Among those available are Gary Hughes (Cubs), Larry Corrigan (Pirates), Bryan Lambe (Mets), Keith Champion (Pirates), and Wayne Krivsky (Mets).
- No one knows for sure if Albert Pujols will wind up with a new club this offseason, but Cubs slugger Carlos Pena believes that he'll stay with the Cardinals, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
- This season, the Indians drew 1.84MM in 81 home games, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). That figure marks an increase of 450K from last season.
Some links on this Saturday evening…
- Mets lefty Chris Capuano told Ron Chimelis of The Springfield Republican that he didn't hear anything about a potential trade to the Red Sox until after the deal was dead. "I didn't hear about it until after my start Thursday in St.Louis," said the lefty. "That's when I spoke briefly with (Mets GM) Sandy Alderson, who said there was just some talk that didn't pan out.''
- MLB.com's Peter Gammons reports (on Twitter) that two teams trying to trade for Marlins closer Leo Nunez at the deadline were told no. "Now I know why," said the GM of one of those teams, referring to Nunez's identity scandal. "I admire Larry Beinfest for doing what he did."
- Meanwhile, Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald reports that Nunez came clean about his identity because it was his dying father's last request.
- Third baseman Aramis Ramirez told ESPN 1000 Chicago that he wants to sign with a contender this winter. On Tuesday, the veteran said that he's probably played his last game with the Cubs.
- Cardinals right-hander Edwin Jackson would like to return to the team next season, writes Steve Overbey for MLB.com. However, there might not be a spot for him in the rotation next season if Adam Wainwright returns healthy.
- Darryl Strawberry regrets leaving the Mets for the Dodgers prior to the '91 season and says that impending free agent Jose Reyes should stay in New York, writes Peter Botte of the New York Daily News.
- As ESPN.com's Buster Olney touched on earlier today, the acquisitions of Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke helped propel the Brewers to the division crown. Outfielder Ryan Braun was quick to say that it was pitching that put the club in this position, writes MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.
- Questioning the logic of the Diamondbacks' Dan Haren deal from July 2010 seems unfair, writes Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. Piecoro also writes that the club's increased scouting for the 2009 draft proved to be beneficial at the 2010 deadline.
With some Major League teams restricting players from consuming energy drinks, you'll have to rely on these late-night news items to perk you up…
- The Cardinals' re-signing of Lance Berkman is a good move for several reasons, argues Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Berkman's presence will help convince Albert Pujols that the Cards can remain competitive or, if Pujols did leave, Berkman could replace Pujols as the club's first baseman.
- Speaking of Pujols, Tony La Russa praised his star for not being distracted by his pending free agency, reports MLB.com's Steve Overbey. La Russa also commented on Pujols' future, saying "I just know both parties want to stay here, so I'm hopeful it will work out." No doubt Pujols' decision will factor heavily in La Russa's own decision about exercising his side of the mutual option on his contract for 2012.
- Leo Nunez (a.k.a. Juan Carlos Oviedo) could face jail time in the Dominican Republic for using a false identity, reports Ezra Fieser and Frances Robles of the Miami Herald.
- The Mets recently signed 16-year-old, Venezuelan right-hander Luis Carreno, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.
- Scouts from around baseball are telling Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that they won't be going to see Moneyball given how the A's scouts are portrayed in the movie. Slusser herself objected to how former A's manager Art Howe was turned into "a villain" in the picture. "It’s essentially character assasination of a man who is well-liked all over the sport," Slusser writes.
- For more on Moneyball, check out my review of the film.
The Nationals have won nine of their last eleven games, including a four-game sweep of the Phillies. They'll try to keep their hot streak alive tonight against the struggling Braves, who hold just a two-game lead over the Cardinals in the NL wild card race. Some news from the NL East….
- The Nationals are in the "preliminary stages" of negotiations with Chien-Ming Wang about an extension, Wang's agent Alan Nero tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson (Twitter link).
- C.C. Sabathia thinks Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins may sign with the Giants in the offseason, reports Jon Heyman from Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Sabathia and Rollins are long-time friends and, as Heyman notes, Rollins was the first to predict that Sabathia would sign with the Yankees in the 2008-09 offseason.
- The Marlins may have been unable to deal Leo Nunez at the trade deadline due to the ongoing saga of Nunez's true identity, reports Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Within that same link, Dan LeBatard is reporting that Major League Baseball (who must've been aware of Nunez's issues, as the Marlins were) nixed a deal involving Nunez last July.
- Chris Capuano is interested in returning to the Mets next year but said he prefers to be a starting pitcher whenever he goes, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
- Jose Reyes likes playing for the Mets but isn't sure how his free agency will play out this winter, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. "This is the only team that I played [for] so far in my whole career," Reyes said. "I feel comfortable here. I feel good with the ownership. I feel like we are family and stuff like that. At the same time, this is a business. And to be honest with you, I don't know what's going to happen.
- Davey Johnson wants the Nationals to add some outfield depth this winter, writes MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
- Tyler Kepner of the New York Times explores the possibility that southpaw Mike Zagurski (dealt from the Phillies to the Diamondbacks earlier today) could end up returning to Philadelphia as the player to be named later in the deal, a rare "traded for himself" move.
7:52pm: Two sources familiar with Nunez's immigration status say the righty has been playing under an assumed name, reports Steven Wine of the Associated Press.
The Marlins have been aware of this for months, according to Wine's report. One of the sources says Nunez's real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo, and he's actually 29 years old, not 28.
1:14pm: The Marlins placed closer Leo Nunez on the restricted list for undisclosed reasons, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Agent Andy Mota declined to comment on his client, who was headed to the Dominican Republic.
Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel hears that Nunez isn't being disciplined for inappropriate behavior. He was placed on the list to return to the Dominican Republic and handle a personal matter.
Players on the restricted list do not count toward a team's 25-man or 40-man roster. Teams do not always pay players on the restricted list, so Nunez could be at risk of losing some of his $3.65MM salary depending on the circumstances of the move and whether the MLBPA objects on his behalf.
Nunez will be arbitration eligible for the fourth time this coming offseason and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes projects a $5.8MM salary for the right-hander in 2012, assuming the Marlins tender him a contract. Back in July, Rodriguez reported that the Marlins intended to keep Nunez in 2012.
- The Braves are working hard to acquire an outfield bat, but there are "still no dance partners" according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).
- The Astros sent $2MM (not $1MM) to the Phillies in the Pence deal, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (on Twitter). The Phillies won't have to pay the luxury tax this way, Stark reports.
- Kevin Goldstein and R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus break down the trade that sent Pence to the Phillies.
- The Braves would have included Mike Minor in a deal for Pence, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter).
- One executive tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Braves have six untouchable players (Twitter link).
- The Mets thought they were going to trade Carlos Beltran to the Rangers earlier in the week, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Texas was being more aggressive than other teams and even though they weren't willing to include elite prospects, the Mets considered a multi-prospect package. Finally, the Giants offered Zack Wheeler and the Mets moved on from the Rangers, who wouldn't budge on certain requests.
- The Marlins intend to keep Leo Nunez, Omar Infante, Ricky Nolasco and Randy Choate, according to Olney (on Twitter). They've gotten tons of hits on those players, Olney reports.
We've heard that the Marlins are likely to keep closer Leo Nunez this summer. Today, Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel adds that he's heard the Fish plan to keep the righty into next season. There had been a question of whether the Marlins would be willing to pay a reliever $6.5MM, the range of Nunez's expected 2012 salary.
Talking to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, Brewers GM Doug Melvin cited the Marlins as an example of a non-contender that is holding on to its players this summer. Said Melvin: "They're not anticipating moving anybody."