Marcus Thames Rumors
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.
- The Rangers have had internal discussions about Magglio Ordonez, Jim Thome, Troy Glaus, Marcus Thames and Manny Ramirez, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. They're also interested in bringing back Vladimir Guerrero, of course.
- Angels GM Tony Reagins wouldn't rule out a possible reunion with Vlad, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times. The Angels also have interest in re-signing Hideki Matsui.
- Matsui's agent, Arn Tellem, told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he expects to start fielding formal offers for his client this weekend.
- Agent Scott Boras hinted that Ramirez may not be cheap, even if he signs a one-year deal, according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun. “I think there are short-term contracts for players and there are short-term contracts for players with a history like Manny Ramirez,” Boras said.
- The Blue Jays are intrigued by what Adam Lind can do as a first baseman, so GM Alex Anthopoulos says the team would ideally add someone who can be a hybrid first baseman/DH, according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm.
Links for Tuesday, as the GM Meetings commence in Orlando and we await the announcement of the NL Cy Young winner...
- The Pirates' top free agent target is Jorge de la Rosa, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Brewers, Rangers, Nationals, Yankees, and Rockies have also been linked to the lefty. Correct me if I'm wrong, Pirates fans, but aside from Yoslan Herrera it seems the team's last multiyear free agent pitcher signing was Pete Schourek in December of 1998.
- The Mariners are expected to be limited to bargain bin shopping this winter, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. They've got plenty of needs, but expensive free agents don't make sense until they're closer to contention.
- Meanwhile the Softbank Hawks are working on signing Marcus Thames, according to a Sponichi report passed along by NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman on Twitter. Thames, 34 in March, was productive in a part-time role for the Yankees this year.
- Brandon Backe intends to pitch in 2011, his agent told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). He's recovering from a rotator cuff injury.
- The Rockies will keep an eye on Bartolo Colon in the Dominican Republic, GM Dan O'Dowd told Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post, but Renck finds a signing a long shot (Twitter link). MLBTR's Nick Collias filled us in on Colon yesterday.
- The Chiba Lotte Marines re-signed pitchers Hayden Penn and Bill Murphy, tweets Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman ruled out Leo Mazzone but not Rick Peterson for the team's new pitching coach, reports Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post muses on how the Mets should handle well-paid veterans Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Carlos Beltran, and Jose Reyes.
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...
- Disciples of Uecker thinks it's time for Trevor Hoffman to call it a career.
- Mets Merized wants to know what happened to Jason Bay's power.
- Meanwhile, Camden Crazies looks at Nick Markakis' lack of pop.
- The Kept Faith says that it's time for the Oscar Salazar era to end in San Diego.
- Nick's Twins Blog isn't sure if Jesse Crain can right the ship.
- Yankeeist wonders if Marcus Thames will be able to replace the injured Nick Johnson.
- The Friarhood examines some players the Padres could select in next month's amateur draft.
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?
Links for Saturday...
- Rule 5 Draft pick Carlos Monasterios will make the Dodgers' Opening Day squad, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. However, Joe Torre will not announce whether the team will carry 11 or 12 pitchers until tomorrow.
- Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (via Twitter) says to expect word that Elliot Johnson has cleared waivers and will stay with the Rays at their Triple-A affiliate. Johnson, who was out of options, was waived by Tampa Bay earlier this week.
- Righthander Nelson Figueroa was one of six players cut by the Mets, according to MLB.com's Bill Chastain. Figueroa is out of options and has been outrighted before, so he can elect to become a free agent instead of reporting to the minors if he clears waivers.
- Victor Martinez doesn't feel he needs promises in his next contract that he will remain at catcher, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. This morning we learned that V-Mart doesn't want talks about a contract extension to take place during the season.
- Tracy Ringolsby of Inside The Rockies points out that the Rockies will start the year with the highest Opening Day payroll in team history, a cool $85,808,682.
- Marc Carig of The Newark Star-Ledger tweets that Marcus Thames has officially made the Yankees' Opening Day roster. He could have opted out of his minor league deal if he didn't make the team out of Spring Training, but now he'll earn $900K for the season.
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.
Links for Friday...
- Chad Jennings of The Journal News reports that Marcus Thames can opt out of his contract with the Yankees if he doesn't make the team out of Spring Training. Thames signed a minor league deal earlier this month that would pay him $900K in the big leagues.
- Alyson Footer, the Astros' Sr. Director of Social Media, tweets that the team has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with infielder Tommy Manzella worth $400K. He's expected to be the team's regular shortstop in 2010, and he has less than a month's worth of service time.
- Mike Aviles and Anthony Lerew agreed to terms with the Royals according to a team press release. Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star tweets that both deals are expected to be worth less than $500K. Both players are not yet eligible for arbitration.
- Meanwhile, the Marlins also agreed to terms with six of their pre-arbitration eligible players, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun reports that Orioles' lefty Brian Matusz has changed agents, and is now represented by CAA Sports. He had a 4.63 ERA in 44.2 innings last year, and is widely considered to be one of the two or three best pitching prospects in the game.
- Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo spoke about the Livan Hernandez signing to MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling, and said that the righty isn't guaranteed a rotation spot.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports polled nearly 20 baseball people about Carl Crawford's next contract. Many of the agents and executives expect Crawford to command a five-year deal worth $12-16MM per season, but some think the left fielder could make as much as $18MM per year when he hits the open market, probably after 2010.
- Scott Rolen was happy to restructure his contract so the Reds could "free up some money to go out and be more competitive," according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
- Nationals pitcher Rafael Martin tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson that he agreed to his deal on February 8th (Twitter link).
- Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd told Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports that he wants his players to be driven by "more than money." O'Dowd also told Ringolsby that he did not shop Brad Hawpe this winter.
- The Mets are still looking at lefty and righty relievers, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (via Twitter).
- Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt tells Scott Lauber of the News Journal that he expects Placido Polanco to make a smooth transition to third base.
- Marlon Byrd tells USA Today's Bob Nightengale that he's uncomfortable being compared to friend and former teammate Milton Bradley.
- Big market clubs sent $433MM to small market clubs last year, according to Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball.
- The Red Sox don't generally use insurance on their long-term deals. Principal owner John Henry tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that "it isn't always easy to get paid," even once players are injured.
- Jose Julio Ruiz may be close to signing, but it won't be with the Nationals, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
- Astros owner Drayton McLane, who has "a huge amount of confidence" in GM Ed Wade, would consider selling his team for $600MM or more, according to Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle.
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.
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.