Matt Morris Rumors
Let's kick things off with an odds and ends post today. By the way did anyone watch Max Scherzer's debut last night? Damn.
- Dejan Kovacevic notes that even if Matt Morris considered retiring and abandoning his '08 salary, the Players Association would've strongly objected.
- Rays Senior VP of Baseball Ops Gerry Hunsicker indicates that the team will spend money to improve the team if they're still contending a few months from now.
- According to Jon Heyman, catcher Chad Moeller will remain with the Yankees.
- Another fine piece from Bob Nightengale of USA Today (hat tip to ShysterBall). The article discusses the pros and cons of young players leaving money on the table in exchange for security.
- The Rockies may complete their long-rumored Jorge de la Rosa acquisition. The Rox have question marks in the rotation after Aaron Cook and Jeff Francis.
- Good point from Ken Davidoff - the Phil Hughes/Johan Santana question can't be answered yet.
According to Justin Rodriguez of the Times-Herald Record, pitcher Matt Morris has retired. He confirmed it with Rodriguez; Morris has no desire to battle his way back or work out of the bullpen.
Morris finishes with a 3.98 career ERA in 1806 innings, including a respectable 121 wins. Kind of nice that the career ERA didn't get pushed over 4.00. Retired at 33 with $60MM earned...can't say I don't envy him!
Unfortunately, there's no surprise here. ESPN reports the Pirates have released Matt Morris. As Tim noted last night, the Pirates had little choice and eating $10MM seems their best option. According to ESPN,
"The decision to cut Morris will cost the Pirates more than $10 million, in addition to what they already have paid him this season. Morris is making $10,037,283 this season, or about one-fifth of their payroll, and has a $1 million buyout for 2009."
There shouldn't be much interest for Morris. A minor league contract somewhere could be a possibility. But retirement seems inevitable, and Morris may be resigned to the fact:
"I've always said the other team will let you know when you're done."
Phil Dumatrait will replace him in the rotation, and John Van Benschoten will be called up to fill the roster spot.
By Nat Boyle
According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pirates management met with Matt Morris after today's performance brought his ERA to 9.67. I mentioned in my recent video mailbag that I couldn't see Morris lasting past June 1st, but it looks like May 1st is in question. Kovacevic explains the three possible scenarios:
- Morris goes to the bullpen.
- The Pirates release Morris, eating more than $10MM.
- Morris retires, saving the Pirates millions. But as classy as Morris may be, no one should expect him to leave that kind of money on the table. It's not his fault Brian Sabean signed him in 2005.
The Pirates aren't ready to release beleaguered starter Matt Morris. However, the team's president wouldn't rule it out for the future.
Pirates fans are growing increasingly frustrated with Morris, but the team continues to wait it out. Given the upside of a 5.00 ERA, what's the point? He wasn't Neal Huntington's acquisition; he should be able to deal with it rationally. I would be surprised if Morris is still with the Pirates on June 1st.
Just a couple of lingering posts in my browser this morning.
- It looks like Joe Crede is sticking by Scott Boras's side as he enters free agency after this season. I can't blame him. It's one thing for a superstar like A-Rod or an established veteran like Kenny Rogers to do what they want. But Crede certainly benefits from being repped by Boras.
- If Pirates GM Neal Huntington has plans to ditch Matt Morris, he's not tipping his hand. The 33-year-old righty has been downright horrible since coming over to Pittsburgh, a gaffe made by who else by Dave Littlefield.
- While Tim mentioned yesterday that Jon Daniels is leaning away from Frank Thomas, Manager Ron Washington is enticed. "I'll take him in a heartbeat. Once he reaches 100 at-bats, he really does start hacking."
Posted by Joe Pawlikowski.
It's no secret that the Pirates would love to trade starter Matt Morris. The Dave Littlefield acquisition remains perplexing. The "veteran leadership" angle doesn't play well when his Pirates' ERA is over 6.00 in 14 starts. This year, he's not even getting groundballs.
Neal Huntington would love to see Morris show a hint of value, so that he can trade the 34 year-old and somehow avoid paying all of the $10.5MM still owed to him. How long until Huntington gives up on that idea and cuts Morris? Bryan Bullington and John Van Benschoten seem more deserving of starts.
Some links for you to peruse...
- We suggested on Wednesday that Jon Rauch makes sense for Detroit. That same day, the Washington Post's Barry Svrluga wrote that the Tigers "will watch Rauch very closely."
- You have to appreciate Matt Morris' candor regarding his salary.
- We learned on Saturday that the Brewers made offers to sluggers Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. Today the team's owner said talks with both are ongoing. Other multiyear offers have been made, though the players are not known. Tom Haudricourt speculates on Corey Hart, Yovani Gallardo, J.J. Hardy, and Rickie Weeks.
- Ken Rosenthal sees Freddy Garcia landing with the Mets later this summer. I'll stick with the opinion that he's a nonfactor this year.
A short but sweet article came out in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette this morning detailing the Pirates' five main trade candidates. No new or surprising names appear on the list but it's a handy roundup for those not up to date on their Bucco news. As we head into the '08 season (tonight!) the Pirates may not be contenders, but they could be difference makers.
Jason Bay - $5.75MM in '08, $7.5MM in '09 - I was surprised they didn't deal him in the offseason, but the Pirates are wisely taking a wait and see approach with Bay. Surely he can't be as bad as he was last season. Like the Pirates, PECOTA is predicting a moderate bounce back season, but not quite the elite 30 HR seasons of '05-'06.
Xavier Nady - $3.35MM in '08, arbitration eligible in '09 - To make room for blocked prospect Steve Pearce, Nady needs to go; however, there's enough doubt around the league that he can hit righties well enough to justify an everyday position. The Mets are the only listed suitor as they could use a corner OF/1B.
Damaso Marte - $2MM in '08 with club option for '09 - The article's rhetoric seems to imply Marte is the most likely to be dealt with Yankees and Braves as suitors. When it comes to crafty, lefty relievers, expect a number of teams to come calling.
Matt Morris - $9.5MM in '08, $9MM club option in '09 ($1MM buyout) - Morris had a nice first half for the Giants last year(3.55 ERA) before regressing to his struggling ways. His talent should make it hard to trade him out of the NL, and his contract and could make it difficult to deal him to any team not desperate for someone to pickup innings. The Pirates should be crossing their fingers for another strong first half.
Jack Wilson - $6.5MM in '08, $7.25MM in '09, $8.4 club option for '10 - The article notes that the Pirates will need a SS in return for someone on this list before they can comfortably deal Wilson as he's the only everyday SS in their system. As Tim noted back in August, Wilson just wants out of Pittsburgh and will waive his six team no trade clause.
We'd love to hear from Pirates fans on all of this.
By Nat Boyle
Scott Wuerz of the Belleville News-Democrat suggests that Cardinals pitcher Brad Thompson is a rumored target for the Pirates. He could be part of a larger package, where players such as Jack Wilson, Matt Morris, and/or Jason Bay could be involved.
Thompson turns 26 soon. The Cardinals tried him as a starter last year, and he posted a 4.66 ERA in that role. He was at 4.91 in relief, but for his career he's been better coming out of the pen. Thompson lost his groundball mojo a bit in '07, and as a result his HR rate rose dramatically.
At one point, the Cards and Bucs discussed a Wilson-for-Chris Duncan deal. About a month ago Dejan Kovacevic said he expected Wilson to stay put this winter. Morris was a Cardinals' target at various times in '07. There hasn't been much buzz about the Pirates trading Bay to St. Louis.