Mark Teixeira Rumors

Odds & Ends: Jeter, Marlins, Fielder, Aurilia, Boras

If you're in the Northeast, here are some links to check out while you take a break from shoveling…

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Mets, Gonzalez, Contreras

On this date back in 1983, Dodgers' hurler Fernando Valenzuela became the first player in baseball history to receive a seven-figure award through the arbitration process. During his first two-plus seasons as a big leaguer, Fernandomania had been named the Rookie of the Year, appeared in two All Star Games, and won a Cy Young Award. The arbitration panel awarded him a $1MM salary in his first year of eligibility, nearly tripling his 1982 salary. 

As the last few present day arbitration cases wrap up, here are some links to check out from around the baseball blogiverse…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.

Odds & Ends: Orioles, Padres, Theriot

Here are some links on an understandably slow Thanksgiving night…

  • Baltimore GM Andy MacPhail tells Steve Melewski of MASN Sports that the Orioles are willing to offer a big contract under the right circumstances.  MacPhail points out that the club offered $140MM to Mark Teixeira as evidence that they are willing to spend.  Given their recent history, do you believe him?
  • The Padres are keeping close watch on first round draft pick Donavan Tate, writes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  The third overall pick is recovering after undergoing sports hernia surgery in October.
  • Despite plans to shift Ryan Theriot from shortstop to second base, Cubs GM Jim Hendry tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that he has faith in the soon-to-be 30-year-old.  Theriot has been told to prepare for a shift to the other side of the bag to make room for Starlin CastroRecently it has been reported that the Cubs are interested in Mets second baseman Luis Castillo.

Francona Speaks About Red Sox Offseason Topics

Red Sox manager Terry Francona was on WEEI's Dale & Holley earlier today (audio here, transcript courtesy of Alex Speier here), and spoke about a variety of Red Sox offseason topics. Let's round it all up…

  • The team is currently interviewing candidates for openings in their coaching staff. Bench coach Brad Mills has since moved on to take over as Astros' skipper.
  • Francona hopes the team re-signs Jason Bay, but he acknowledges that he's going to have other options. "You know we’re going to be a major player. We always are."
  • He also thinks Bay won't drag out his decision until mid January.
  • Francona says he has gone on free agent recruiting trips before, most notably to speak to John Smoltz and Mark Teixeira.
  • Whenever GM Theo Epstein talks to him, Francona always tells him to get a pitcher.
  • The team has met with John Lackey's agent, and Francona considers him "one of the best." He also notes that you're talking about a lot of years when committing to a player like that.
  • Francona acknowledged that Alex Gonzalez stabilized the shortstop position, but "you look at that .310 on-base percentage, for a full year, if that’s what you’re going to go with, you’ve got to recoup that somewhere else."

Francona also spoke about how they mix stats and scouting, and how they "try to look at both and make good decisions."

Nationals Targeting Lackey, Not Everett

Add Washington to the list of clubs vying for the services of free-agent starter John LackeyBill Ladson of reports that the Nats are interested in Lackey for the obvious boost he would provide to their National League-worst 5.00 team ERA, but also to serve as a mentor for their young starting corps of Stephen Strasburg, Ross Detwiler and John Lannan.

If nothing else, Washington's pursuit of Lackey is another sign to the rest of baseball (and to other prospective free agents) that the Nats aren't willing to stand pat after posting the worst record in the majors in each of the last two seasons.  The Nationals made a strong push for Mark Teixeira last winter before signing Adam Dunn to a two-year/$20MM deal in February.  Bringing Lackey into the fold might also help sell some tickets in Washington, as attendance at Nationals Park dropped by over 500K from 2008 to 2009.

Ladson also said that, contrary to a previous report, Washington isn't interested in signing Adam Everett.  The defensive specialist's .648 career OPS is apparently the big turn-off for the club, who would prefer to sign someone with more pop if they decide to sign a shortstop at all.

Boras Compares Holliday To Teixeira

Scott Boras believes Mark Teixeira and Matt Holliday are both "blue-collar superstars," learned Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times.  Boras considers both to be "complete players," and finds Holliday unique in the upcoming free agent class.  Boras' comments imply that Holliday's advantage over Jason Bay is his defense.

No matter how well Boras pitches Holliday, it seems highly unlikely the outfielder will sniff the eight-year, $180MM deal Tex received.  Speculation so far has focused on the typical big-market clubs, but here in October it's too early to say which teams will make legitimate, $100MM+ bids.

It's always fun to read Boras' hyperbolic statements about his clients.  His other free agents include Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Varitek, Felipe Lopez, Adrian Beltre, Joe Crede, Garret Anderson, Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, Rick Ankiel, Andruw Jones, Xavier Nady, and Jarrod Washburn (Varitek and Manny have 2010 options).

Discussion: What’s Next For Baltimore?

The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly details the questions facing a Baltimore team with some young offensive talent, some terrific young pitching on the way, and a lot of extra cash.

Connolly writes that while the 64-98 record Baltimore had in 2009 was the third-worst in team history, "there is a sense that the future has promise because of the emergence of young starting pitchers Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen, catcher Matt Wieters and outfielders Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie."

Left unsaid, of course, is the emergence of Adam Jones and Nick Markakis continuing to be a tremendous player.

The good news? The Orioles, according to Connolly, went from roughly $77MM owed in payroll at the start of the 2009 season-including $9MM to Jay Gibbons and Ramon Hernandez– to a $30MM commitment for 2010, not including raises through arbitration.

The bad news is that there aren't many marquee free agents (though there is Jason Marquis), and those that do qualify- Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, John Lackey– aren't great fits, particularly Bay and Holliday in an overcrowded outfield.

Connolly captures the problem of desires vs. realistic options perfectly here:

"The preference is to find a right-handed or switch-hitting first baseman in his prime, like the New York Yankees' Mark Teixeira. But there's no one who fits that profile in this year's class. The best free-agent options might be left-handed-hitting first basemen Russell Branyan and Hank Blalock or right-handed do-it-all Mark DeRosa."

So what's an Oriole to do?

Discussion: Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals are a series of contradictions, as Thomas Boswell points out in this terrific Washington Post piece. They are a large market, but spend like a small-market team. They have great young talent and more than 100 losses. The future is bright (Stephen Strasburg) and not-so-bright (if they don't put talent around him).

"We are tremendously excited. The next big step is right there to be taken," President Stan Kasten, who speaks for the team, told Boswell. "This is not a great year if you want a [free agent like CC] Sabathia or Mark Teixeira. But the players who are available are just what we need: a veteran starter in the rotation, two more arms in the bullpen and a middle infielder who helps our defense."

So who should Washington look to acquire? How close are they, really, to that next step? And if the team has more than 100 losses, isn't the next step more like 90 losses?

Odds & Ends: Uggla, Royals, New Blood

Here's some links to start off a gorgeous Sunday (at least around these parts)…

  • After calling out teammate Hanley Ramirez, Bill Shaikin of The LA Times wonders if Dan Uggla might get a ticket out of Florida. If so, he says Uggla could be a fit for the Dodgers, who he says "are not expected to engage in a bidding war to retain second baseman Orlando Hudson."
  • Sam Mellinger of The KC Star presents a few ways to improve the Royals for 2010. In addition to not handing out albatross contracts to players like Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Guillen, Mellinger suggests the team trade Alberto Callaspo, nontender Mike Jacobs, and resign Coco Crisp.
  • Joel Sherman of The NY Post rates which teams "succeeded and failed in bringing new blood to their organizations" over the last year. The Yankees take home top honors thanks to additions of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira, and Nick Swisher. The Mets … well they come in last.
  • Make sure you follow MLBTR on Twitter for the fastest rumor updates around.

Odds & Ends: Posey, Maybin, Penny

Links for Wednesday…

  • Due to Bengie Molina's injury, the Giants have changed their mind and called up top prospect Buster Posey according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.  So Posey's clock starts earlier than planned.
  • Speaking of service time, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith tells me Cameron Maybin's call-up gives him 129 days of service time after this year.  That puts him on the fringe of Super Two status after the 2011 season.
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick ranks the impact of trades made by contenders in July.  He talked to an exec who thinks Matt Holliday "could make an extra $3MM a year as a free agent this winter because of his strong finish."
  • Yahoo's Gordon Edes has his trade deadline winners and losers.
  • Ryan Doumit's agent Matt Sosnick shot down recent negativity surrounding his client, while Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gets to the bottom of the catcher's recent benching.
  • Brad Penny still hates the Dodgers, a team he'll face twice this month according to Baggarly.  Baggarly also has a quote from Penny ripping on the Marlins.
  • Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has more from Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy, who knows he gained trade value when the team delayed his free agency.
  • J.C. Bradbury of Sabernomics wonders whether the Braves should pick up Tim Hudson's $12MM option for 2010.  Hudson has the right to void that option, not that he would.  Back in January Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said the Braves "fully intend to exercise it, barring some unexpected turn of events."
  • Dave Cameron of FanGraphs notes that Kendry Morales has matched the production of the Angels' former first baseman, $180MM man Mark Teixeira.
  • Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has comments from Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes on the team's Jon RauchKevin Mulvey swap.  Piecoro says the D'Backs have about $23MM to work with this winter as they presumably look to add pitching.
  • Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times guesses Ken Griffey Jr. will retire after this season.