Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors
With 40% of their innings coming from relievers, the Pirates' bullpen has been worked the hardest among all National League teams. The onus is on GM Neal Huntington to add depth at the trade deadline, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, who notes that the NL Central is "tougher than many of us expected" due to the Pirates playing .591 ball so far. Elsewhere in baseball's central divisions...
- The Royals are the frontrunner to sign 15-year-old Italian shortstop Marten Gasparini, sources tell Ben Badler of Baseball America, with the Dodgers and Cubs also showing interest. Gasparini, who turns 16 on Friday, is "expected to sign the biggest contract ever for a European amateur player," according to Badler. The speedy switch-hitter may top the $800K the Twins gave to German outfielder Max Kepler in 2009. Be sure to check out Badler's full profile of Gasparini.
- Josh Vitters is the future at third base for the Cubs, president Theo Epstein told Ian Stewart, Stewart explained to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. That means playing time will be hard to come by for Stewart at Triple-A Iowa, where he landed after being removed from the Cubs' 40-man roster this month. Stewart wondered if the comment was Epstein's way of trying to get him to give up his contract, but the third baseman told Muskat, "It wouldn't really make sense for me to take a release or ask for free agency, because then I'd be giving up my contract, and that doesn't make sense for me financially or for my family." Stewart signed a $2MM deal to remain with the Cubs after being non-tendered in December, and hoped to be with the big league club after rehabbing a February quad injury.
- Matt Garza will make his season debut tomorrow with the Cubs in Pittsburgh, and he's eligible for free agency after the season. Jesse Rogers and Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com discussed Garza's future, with Levine suggesting, "I believe if he stays healthy the Cubs will offer him a short-term extension that could be a plus for both sides."
- The Twins "will get a close approximation of what it would be like to have Mike Trout and Bryce Harper in the same lineup" when top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano reach their primes, writes Jim Callis of Baseball America. Asked to rank prospect tandems in terms of potential five years down the road, Callis ranked Buxton and Sano ahead of Oscar Taveras and Shelby Miller of the Cardinals, Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich of the Marlins, and Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado of the Orioles, among others.
The Blue Jays announced today they've recalled 22-year-old outfielder Anthony Gose, who has a .227/.343/.325 line playing center field at Triple-A. Gose, who played in 56 games for the Jays last year, ranked #59 on Keith Law's top 100 prospects list for ESPN prior to the 2012 season and 39th on Baseball America's list. Gose was surprised by the promotion, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, while Jays manager John Gibbons said he will not be used in an everyday role at this time. On to today's links:
- The Dodgers have "no plans" to fire manager Don Mattingly when the team returns home Thursday or before then, a club official tells Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Last night, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports put forth a guess that Mattingly will be fired if things don't go better for the Dodgers in this week's three-game set in Milwaukee.
- With a 4.61 ERA, the Dodgers' bullpen ranks 14th in the National League, and they're tied for third with eight blown saves. After yesterday's problems with Kenley Jansen and Brandon League, Mattingly said to reporters, "We had guys get away early who seemed to fit." Mattingly was seemingly referring to the Cubs' Kevin Gregg, who was released by the Dodgers' front office in April after they couldn't find a bullpen spot for him.
- "Non-existent" was the word one American League executive used to describe the relief pitching market, writes WEEI's Rob Bradford. Here in May, the market looks short on sellers with quality relief pieces.
- Speaking of relievers, are you following @CloserNews on Twitter? Win the saves category in your fantasy league by following our updates on all things closer-related.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly will soon be fired, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal argues. "My guess is that Mattingly gets this series, and if things don’t go better, that’s it," Rosenthal says. "The Dodgers are off Thursday, then begin a five-game homestand against the Cardinals and Angels. You can look it up — managerial changes often occur on off-days before a homestand." The Dodgers are currently 17-25 after being swept by the Braves. Rosenthal notes that GM Ned Colletti might find himself on the hot seat as well, but that the typical pattern is for the manager to be the first out the door. When asked recently whether Mattingly would remain with the Dodgers through the end of the season, team president Stan Kasten replied, "I assume so," but noted that he expected the team to play better. Here's more from the NL West.
- Despite his hot start, Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt isn't worried about money he might end up losing as a result of his recent extension, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. "You make the best decision at the time," says Goldschmidt. "I love it in Phoenix. I was happy we got a deal done. And I'm happy to get it done in spring training, so it didn't become a distraction." Heyman cites an anonymous agent who says that the extension could cost Goldschmidt $75MM. That seems like an exaggeration, but Goldschmidt could easily make his five year, $32MM deal look like a bargain from the Diamondbacks' perspective if he continues hitting anything resembling his current .335/.418/.645 pace.
- Didi Gregorius' surprising hitting so far in the big leagues is making the Diamondbacks' end of the Shin-Soo Choo / Trevor Bauer deal with the Reds and Indians look better with time. But Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic wonders whether Gregorius' hitting can last. No one in the last ten years has posted a career minor-league OPS below .725 (minimum 1,900 plate appearances) and a career major-league OPS above .741 (minimum 500 plate appearances). Gregorius had a .694 career minor-league OPS; his major-league OPS through 106 plate appearances is .884.
- Rockies pitcher Roy Oswalt will join the Double-A Tulsa Drillers on Tuesday and will make his first start on Friday, ROOT Sports' Tracy Ringolsby notes (on Twitter). Ringolsby projects Oswalt would make his fifth minor-league start June 14. Oswalt can opt out of his contract with the Rockies on either June 18 or June 28 if he has not been added to the big-league roster. Oswalt's command was strong in extended spring training, MLB.com's Thomas Harding notes (on Twitter).
Credit Dodgers' scouting director Logan White for ensuring that Clayton Kershaw's big league successes have come in a Dodger uniform, says Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The club had targeted Kershaw and Evan Longoria in the 2006 draft, but were worried that neither would last until the team's seventh overall pick. Several pieces had to fall into place: Luke Hochevar failed to sign in 2005, leading to his being taken first overall the next year. Meanwhile, with many scouts on hand for the last pre-draft starts of Kershaw and Brad Lincoln, the former struggled while the latter dominated. Lincoln went fourth overall to the Pirates. According to White, with Longoria already off the board to the Rays, the Dodgers "were hoping and praying Clayton would get to us." That's just what happened: consensus top arm Andrew Miller fell, perhaps owing to signabilty concerns, and was nabbed by the Tigers at number six, leaving Kershaw for L.A. The decision to take Kershaw caused some initial consternation when Tim Lincecum, taken with the tenth pick by the rival Giants, began his career with a bang. Now, of course, the Dodgers (and their fans) could not be more pleased with their selection. Here are a few more notes from the leagues' western divisions:
- With the Rockies off to an up-and-down start, the Denver Post's Woody Paige has some harsh words for the team's ownership and management. He says that, with a top-12 attendance but a bottom-7 payroll, the club appears "content to produce a .500 team." Among the decisions Paige disagrees with are the team's apparent intention to rely on veteran pitchers like Roy Oswalt and Jon Garland while former top prospect Drew Pomeranz toils in Triple-A and Tyler Chatwood bounces between the minors and the big club. He also faults the club for going with the now-departed Chris Nelson and Reid Brignac instead of bringing up Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu to start the season. He warns that the Rockies could be in danger of losing the affections of stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Unhappy superstars can always cause problems by demanding a trade, of course, but it is worth noting that Colorado has no immediate need to sell its shortstop and left fielder on staying in town. Tulowitzki is inked through at least 2020 (with a 2021 club option), while Gonzalez is under contract through 2017.
- Despite four starters on the disabled list, the Rangers lead the American League in ERA (3.38). Richard Justice of MLB.com writes that the success of the pitching staff is attributable to GM Jon Daniels's efforts to create a deep, talented organization. Likewise, Justice praises Daniels's confidence to enter the season without prior stalwarts Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Mike Adams, and Koji Uehara, and to bring in veterans Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski on one-year deals. The 37-year-old Berkman, in particular, has hit .299/.422/.465 in 154 plate appearances as the club's primary DH.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow says it is still too early for the club to narrow down its likely pick with the first choice in the upcoming amateur draft, tweets Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. The club will likely have more clarity when it conducts staff meetings in early June, Smith further tweets.
- As the Astros gear up for an important draft, the club is holding a series of four regional player workouts, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. According to scouting director Mike Elias, the workouts will allow the club to "get up close and personal with the process and see some guys further down the list." He further notes that the process was utilized with success by the Cardinals: "It really helps those players get drafted and helps us make better decisions in the draft."
- Meanwhile, Houston is beginning to see returns from its efforts to develop a pipeline of talent from the Dominican Republic. According to another tweet from Smith, Luhnow is excited about the first Dominican prospect that the club's efforts produced. Jose Cisnero, a right-hander that was originally signed in 2007, checked in at fifteenth on Baseball America's ranking of the club's prospects and has been pitching from the club's bullpen this year.
The impending return of Franklin Gutierrez from the disabled list could lead the Mariners to designate Endy Chavez for assignment, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. The M's have no plans to carry six outfielders, and Baker thinks they won't drop Jason Bay or Raul Ibanez, since they've been hitting well. That leaves Chavez without a chair. Chavez has hit .282/.288/.310 so far this season. Here are more notes from the two West divisions.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and owner Jim Crane are in Chapel Hill today to watch a draft prospect, Mark Berman of FOX 26 reports (on Twitter). That would likely be UNC third baseman Colin Moran, who the Astros could be considering selecting with the top overall pick.
- The Angels could form a good team of players they've traded, let go or left unsigned, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times argues. That includes Matt Harvey, who rejected their $1MM offer and went to UNC after the Angels drafted him in the third round in 2007. DiGiovanna writes that Harvey, Patrick Corbin, Zack Greinke, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren would form a very strong non-Angels rotation. The Angels' 15-27 record naturally leads to second-guessing.
- Dodgers president Stan Kasten says he assumes Don Mattingly will remain the team's manager for the rest of the season, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports. Nonetheless, Kasten doesn't exactly offer a ringing endorsement of Mattingly. "I assume so because I assume we're going to play the rest of the year even better than we've played so far and I like the way the ballclub is set up," Kasten says. The Dodgers are currently 17-23.
- Kasten sounds more enthusiastic about about the Dodgers' international scouting efforts. "With this recent group of hirings, we made sure to cover not just Japan and not just the Dominican Republic, but also more in Venezuela and even other countries in South America," Kasten says, noting that the Dodgers are also hunting for talent throughout Europe. Hernandez reports that the Dodgers are also planning to renovate their Dominican facility.
Even after signing Carlos Zambrano this week, the Phillies might not be done shopping for pitching, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. When asked if the club is still considering starters with opt-outs, team exec Scott Proefrock said "we're still scouting". Here's more from around baseball..
- It may not be fair, but Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly will be expected to turn things around once Zack Greinke is back in action, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The banged up Dodgers are 16-22 heading into tonight's game versus the Nationals.
- After announcing the departure of team president George Postolos this week, Astros owner Jim Crane reached out to one of the most beloved figures in club history in Larry Dierker, writes Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle. For his part, the 66-year-old is definitely open to returning to the organization.
- Meanwhile, Reid Ryan, son of Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan, is being strongly considered by the Astros to become the team's next president, according to Mark Berman of FOX 26.
4:00pm: Sanchez has a July 1 opt-out date if he's not on the Major League roster, according to Chris Cotillo of CLNS Radio (on Twitter). Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles confirms the report (Twitter link).
2:17pm: The Dodgers will sign Jonathan Sanchez to a minor league deal, according to Pedro Gomez of ESPN (on Twitter). The contract is pending a physical, and Sanchez is likely to report to Triple-A Albquerque. Sanchez is represented by the McNamara Baseball Group.
The 30-year-old Sanchez began the year with the Pirates, but his Pittsburgh tenure didn't last long. He was designated for assignment and subsequently released following a six-game suspension for throwing at Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig. He posted a ghastly 11.85 ERA in his five appearances with the Buccos.
Sanchez was a staple in the Giants rotation from 2009-11 when he totaled 458 innings of 3.75 ERA ball and averaged 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He's always struggled with his command, and it's really gotten away from him since the beginning of last season. In his past 78 1/3 innings, Sanchez has walked 69 batters and fanned 68. His ERA in that time is a sky-high 8.73.
Here are a few notes from around the National League:
- When the Diamondbacks shipped young outfielder Justin Upton to the Braves, the biggest major league piece they got back was utilityman extraordinaire Martin Prado. Now, with the two clubs in the midst of their first series of the year, Prado has reflected on the deal. As MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports, Prado says he is happy for his former club: “The thing that makes me feel real good is that you know that you got traded and the [Braves] now look better. I’m happy because all of my ex-teammates can see that they gave up something, but actually got a better team. That’s what [Braves general manager Frank Wren] was looking for. He made a good move.” Having spent his entire career in the Atlanta organization, Prado explained that the shock of the trade took more than a month to wear off.
- While Prado has hit below his career norms to start the year, one of the players he was traded for -- third baseman Chris Johnson -- is off to a stellar beginning of the season for Atlanta. As David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets, Johnson says he is excited to be squaring off against his former club: "Any time you get traded, you want to come back to the place you got traded from and show them what they're missing." Johnson, along with platoon partner Juan Francisco, effectively took over for Prado as the replacement for the retired Chipper Jones. Now, Johnson is off to a career-best slash line of .324/.355/.486 over his first 110 plate appearances.
- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly may be the obvious choice to take the fall for his club's rough start, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says there is little to be gained from such a move at this time. For one thing, says Rosenthal, there is no obvious replacement who could get more production from the team. And with several major players seemingly likely to return soon from injury, Mattingly should get a while longer to try and manufacture a turnaround.
- No doubt Mattingly's job security will depend in part on the form of top offseason acquisition Zack Greinke after he recovers from a broken collarbone. Mattingly says that Greinke will return to the mound tomorrow night against the Nationals, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports on Twitter.
- Meanwhile, Los Angeles is continuing to undertake a major change in how it draws players into the organization, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Shaikin says that the Dodgers have signed 46 amateur ballplayers from Latin America since the new ownership group took over last year. The previous ownership group had "all but killed" the club's Latin America presence, says Shaikin.
It is not often, perhaps, that a team improves after losing its best player. But that is precisely what happened to the Cardinals after watching all-time great first baseman Albert Pujols leave town for Anaheim, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. GM John Mozeliak says he was "down, depressed, disheartened" upon losing Pujols. Since last season, however, the team has received just as much production as Pujols has given the Angels, and at a much lower cost (now and in the future). Meanwhile, money that might otherwise have gone to Pujols was used to ink highly productive players like Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina. Of course, the Cards tried to keep Pujols, though they were not willing to exceed the $200MM barrier to do so. Mozeliak recalls conferring with St. Louis owner Bill Dewitt Jr., who declined the opportunity to bid whatever amount necessary to keep the franchise cornerstone. Says Mozeliak: "In the end, it came down to business discipline versus emotionally driven negotiation." Even before Pujols's injury-addled start to 2013, the Cardinals looked smart for sticking to their position.
Here are a few other notes from around the National League:
- Brian McCann has just begun a season that many believe will be his last in a Braves uniform, but he is focused on the present, writes Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. While the slugging catcher and his surgically-repaired shoulder are being watched closely by potential new employers, McCann claims that he is not thinking about the future. "I think when you get ahead of yourself is when you get in trouble." For now, McCann says, "I'm worried about playing baseball. ... I'm worried about helping this team win. I'm worried about getting my shoulder stronger every day. And I'm in a good place."
- Mets officials appear to be anticipating the call-up of top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler sooner rather than later, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. One official said that Wheeler would arrive in New York by June 1 "at the latest," while another called that date "a little aggressive." Martino says that the team genuinely does not appear to be angling to keep Wheeler from achieving Super Two status, but instead intends to promote him when it feels he is ready.
- Dodgers president Stan Kasten apologized to fans for the team's less-than-inspiring start to the year, but said that the club was planning to stay the course. As Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports, Kasten claims not to be contemplating any immediate, major moves. Kasten did continue to emphasize the Dodgers' seemingly endless, but arguably aimless, payroll flexibility: "We can do whatever we feel makes sense in the long term and short term."
- The Cubs' sabermetric focus has not only trickled down from the front office to the playing field, but according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune has produced some wise decisions. Specifically, the Cubs look smart for declining to pursue Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Sullivan says the team has been better in the short term, at least for the time being, without the expensive stars. More importantly, the club maintained roster flexibility and youth by choosing to go with the promising Anthony Rizzo at first and a veteran platoon in right field.
Here's a look at the Angels and Dodgers as they look to turn things around..
Angels’ GM Jerry Dipoto is not likely to make any major changes to the club, despite the poor start to the season reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. “There is no move to make,” Dipoto said, “Our best talent, our best team, is here.” DiGiovanna agrees, citing the Angels’ weak farm system as an important difference from last season, when the Halos were able to promote an impact talent in Mike Trout.
- Though many outside the Angels organization have speculated on skipper Mike Scioscia's job security, Albert Pujols offered public support for his manager, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Scioscia, signed through 2018, finds himself on the hot seat as his Angels have gotten off to a disappointing 11-21 record.
Earlier today, ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (Insider sub. req'd), gave his thoughts how to fix the two L.A. teams. Bowden argued that the Dodgers should focus on their future at this year’s trade deadline, speculating on a potential match with the Mets on an Andre Ethier deal. Meanwhile, Bowden suggested the Angels could look to improve their rotation by sending top hitting prospect C.J. Cron to the Rays in exchange for Jeremy Hellickson.
- Tim Dahlberg of the Associated Press compares the early struggles of the Dodgers and Angels. Both Los Angeles teams have owners willing to spend money, but Dahlberg argues what both Los Angeles teams really need is a plan going forward.
Max Fogle contributed to this post.