Marcus Thames Rumors

Orioles Notes: LaRoche, Lee, Blanton, Thames

Let's check out some Orioles news courtesy of The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec..

  • The O's are clearly focused on getting a deal done with Adam LaRoche, so much so that they've now put Derrek Lee on the backburner.  On Thursday it was reported that the two sides aren't yet close to a deal and LaRoche is seeking a three-year committment.
  • While one might think that Joe Blanton would be a fit for the Orioles, the club is not in on the pitcher at this point.  Baltimore isn't all that high on the right-hander and they don't think he's a great fit for the American League East.  However, the club is still after a veteran pitcher.
  • Baltimore would also like to bolster their bench and one name to keep an eye on is free agent Marcus Thames.  The O's have spoken to Thames' agent but nothing is serious at this point as the club is working to figure out their plans for first base and the DH spot.  Last month Japan's Softbank Hawks were working to sign the 33-year-old.

DH Rumors: Vlad, Matsui, Thames, Glaus, Manny

The Mariners may have locked up a DH today, but that leaves the Orioles, A's and many others as potential destinations for positionless sluggers. Here's the latest:

Odds & Ends: De La Rosa, Mariners, Thames

Links for Tuesday, as the GM Meetings commence in Orlando and we await the announcement of the NL Cy Young winner…

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Hoffman, Bay, Markakis

On this date back in 2004, Alex Rodriguez returned to Texas to play the Rangers for the first time since being traded (along with $71MM) to the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias. He was booed loudly just like every other road game of his career, though he silenced the home crowd – at least temporarily – with a two-run homer in the first inning. 

 Here are a few links from around the baseball blogosphere…

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Looking At The Needs Of Some Contenders

With Spring Training wrapping up around the country, teams are finalizing their rosters and picking the 25 players they'll start the season with. There's always room for improvement, but some contenders have some very obvious weak spots on their rosters. Here's a look at some of them, which may need to be addressed during the season…

  • Angels, third base: Brandon Wood and Maicer Izturis will get the first cracks at replacing Chone Figgins, but if neither is up to par, the Halos might be looking for a fill-in at the hot corner.
  • Braves, outfielder: Superstar in training Jason Heyward will start the year in right, but incumbent centerfielder Nate McLouth had a brutal spring (6-for-51), which may push Melky Cabrera into full-time duty.
  • Rays, setup man: With J.P. Howell on the shelf due to a bum shoulder, the team has no obvious candidate to hand the ball off to new closer Rafael Soriano. Dan Wheeler and Grant Balfour represent solid options, but if Howell misses more time than expected, the Rays might be looking to add a reliever.
  • Twins, closer: This is the most obvious hole of them all. Joe Nathan is out for the season after having elbow surgery, and Jon Rauch will get the first chance to replace him. 
  • Yankees, left field: The team is breaking camp with Brett Gardner, Randy Winn, and Marcus Thames set to share time in left, but we've already seen a scenario laid out in which they might need help sooner rather than later.

That doesn't include all of the clubs that could very well be looking to add a starting pitcher at some point, like the Mariners, Mets, Phillies, Cubs, and Dodgers. Some other holes aren't so obvious though. Maybe the Red Sox could use another reliever (who couldn't?), or perhaps Seattle will go looking for a big bat that fits into their extreme run prevention plan. 

What other areas of need to do you see out there for contenders?

Odds & Ends: Dodgers, Figueroa, Rays, Martinez

Links for Saturday…

Yanks Could Be Shopping For Outfielder Soon

Some in the industry are already wondering if the Yankees could be in the market for outfield help soon, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports

Both Randy Winn and Marcus Thames have struggled this spring, though Thames officially made the club's Opening Day roster today.  The club may find themselves uneasy with the two veterans as starting left fielder Brett Gardner is not yet an established major league hitter.  They would be especially thin in the outfield if Curtis Granderson or Nick Swisher are bitten by the injury bug.

Rosenthal writes that the Yankees figure to be more patient with Winn as he is more than four years removed from playing in the AL.  

The Yankees investment in Winn and Thames amounts to just $2MM combined.  Rosenthal writes that if one or both struggle, and Gardner also stumbles out of the gate, then the team could be seeking an outfielder quickly.

Odds & Ends: Thames, Manzella, Royals, Marlins

Links for Friday…

Yankees Sign Marcus Thames

The Yankees signed Marcus Thames, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.  Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that it's a minor league deal worth $900K if he makes the team.  Thames originally came up through the Yankees' system but was traded to the Rangers in '03 for Ruben Sierra.

Thames, 33 in March, hit .252/.323/.453 in 294 plate appearances for the Tigers last year, logging 125 innings in left field.  He also has experience in right field and at first base in his career.  He's a right-handed hitter with a .263/.326/.541 line against southpaws over the last three years.

Thames became a free agent in November, as the Tigers were not going to tender him a contract at a salary higher than 2009's $2.275MM.

Damon Remains Unlikely For Yankees

Buster Olney of ESPN and Joel Sherman of the New York Post find a Johnny Damon-Yankees reunion unlikely.

Both writers say Damon would have to greatly reduce his salary demands.  According to Sherman, the Yankees are telling agents they have only $2MM to spend.  Both writers also agree that Brian Cashman would have to lobby Hal Steinbrenner to expand the budget to accomodate Damon.  Sherman says a July trade for Mike Cameron was scrapped because Hal would not approve a $5.5MM increase.

In the likely event the Yanks move on from Damon, Sherman ranks the team's targets: Xavier Nady, Reed Johnson, Rocco Baldelli, Jerry Hairston Jr., and Marcus Thames.