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Mike Cameron Rumors
Mike Cameron indicated that 2011 could be his last season in the Majors, reports Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post. Cameron, who would be 39 on Opening Day 2012, has missed the Marlins' last few games due to a hamstring strain and noted that this latest injury is just one of many that are weighing on his mind.
“I may be too young to quit, but my body’s telling me different. My body’s 45,” Cameron said. “[Retirement is] a small window that’s wide open…I’m not going to make a decision now because there are too many variables much more than how I feel.”
Capozzi noted that Cameron's comments could have been borne of frustration with his injury, but Cameron has struggled this season. The outfielder has a combined .203/.286/.360 line in 268 plate appearances with Florida and Boston this season. Cameron joined the Fish in July after being designated for assignment and dealt by the Red Sox.
Cameron has played for eight teams over his 17 seasons in the big leagues. At his peak, Cameron brought a strong blend of speed (297 career steals), defense (three Gold Gloves ) and power (eight seasons with 20+ homers, plus a four-homer game on May 2, 2002) to the table. He enjoyed a 24-homer season as recently as 2009 as a member of the Brewers.
Mike Cameron, acquired by the Marlins from the Red Sox for some salary relief this week, will probably be remembered for a trade – and it won't be this one. But a legacy of simply "the guy once traded for Ken Griffey Jr." isn't fair to Cameron.
Cameron's career has been an impressive one – ten seasons with at least 18 home runs, eight seasons with at least 22 steals, and consistently tremendous defense in center field. He's provided a ton of value to his eight teams.
And from a trade perspective, the Griffey swap is one of merely four exchanges involving Cameron. All of them, save the most recent one, had huge impacts on each team involved in every deal. Think of Cameron like a trade Zelig, if Woody Allen could play center field.
The White Sox selected Cameron in the 18th round of the 1991 draft. By 1995, he'd made the major leagues, and by 1997, he'd become the Cameron he'd be for nearly all of the next decade-plus – OPS+ of 109, great defense in center field. But he had his one bad year in 1998, with his OPS+ dropping to 63.
Meanwhile, the Reds had this power-hitting first baseman they'd just acquired that July from the Dodgers for Jeff Shaw: Paul Konerko. On November 11, 1998, the two teams made a one-for-one deal. The White Sox, naturally, have to feel good about the deal – Konerko will represent them in the 2011 All Star game, his fifth such appearance with Chicago. He also won the 2005 ALCS MVP, and yes, a World Series. So, you know, not a bad return.
Interestingly, though, as per Wins Above Replacement, the White Sox lost the deal, if one assumes Cameron would have stayed in Chicago from the deal until today, as Konerko has. While Konerko has posted a WAR of 26.2 with the White Sox – his defense at first base hasn't added much value – Cameron's WAR, due to his defense in center field, checks in at a robust 41.2. Cameron posted a 5.4 WAR in his one season with Cincinnati- roughly a fifth of Konerko's total in the twelve years since the trade.
As to why Cameron played just one year with the Reds, his 1999 was good enough to entice the Seattle Mariners to ask for him as the centerpiece of the Griffey deal. Cincinnati traded Cameron, Brett Tomko, Antonio Perez and minor leaguer Jake Meyer to the Mariners for Griffey. The deal turned out to define the Reds for much of the subsequent decade, with Griffey's injuries keeping him from seriously threatening Hank Aaron's all-time home run mark, as so many expected him to. Both Meyer and Perez were solid prospects, though Perez had the far greater upside, as a power-hitting infielder. Tomko continued to be what he was in all of his many stops – a pitcher with better stuff than results.
Cameron was terrific in his four years with Seattle, hitting home runs, stealing bases, catching everything, and getting underrated by some due to a low batting average and high strikeout total. After the 2003 season, he signed as a free agent with the New York Mets, and had another season-and-a-half of Mike Cameron production, before an ugly head-on collision with Carlos Beltran in San Diego ended his 2005 season.
The Padres were either unfazed or impressed by Cameron's collision, and traded for him that November, giving up Xavier Nady. At first blush, the trade made sense for the Mets, who didn't need Cameron's center field skills with Beltran around. Assuming Nady's bat could make up for his lack of defense, the trade could have been a win-win. But Nady's bat didn't make up for the loss in defense, Cameron won his third Gold Glove in the first of two successful San Diego campaigns and everything that followed for the Mets appears to be retribution for trading Cameron away.
Nady had a solid half-season in New York, but an injury to Duaner Sanchez at the 2006 trading deadline pushed the Mets to deal Nady the the Pirates for Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez. While Perez pitched well for the Mets in 2007 and 2008, the team then signed him to a three-year, $36 million contract, which he's still receiving while pitching for Washington's Double-A team in Harrisburg. Nady's replacement in right field, Shawn Green, even dropped the critical fly ball off the bat of Scott Spiezio that lost Game 2 of the NLCS to the Cardinals. Safe to assume Mike Cameron catches that ball. When the Mets traded Cameron, they stepped on a butterfly that really had it in for them.
Will the trade of Cameron to South Florida produce the same kind of results for both teams involved this time around? It seems unlikely, but then again, at one point it seemed unlikely that Ken Griffey Jr. would stop being the consensus best player in baseball, or that Paul Konerko would play for the same team for a dozen seasons, or that Oliver Perez would make $12 million to pitch against minor leaguers. The world around Mike Cameron trades is a crazy place where fever dreams come true.
The Red Sox will likely receive some cash back for Cameron rather than a PTBNL, a team source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com. When all is said and done, the Red Sox will pay about $3MM of the $3.6MM owed to Cameron, tweets Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. As of right now, however, Florida will be responsible for less than $200K of Cameron's remaining salary, tweets Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel.
Cameron, 38, was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on June 30th. The veteran was expected to hit left-handed pitching this year, but he posted a .143/.214/.302 line in 70 plate appearances against southpaws.
The centerfielder could have a chance to be an everyday player in Florida as Chris Coghlan has struggled offensively this season and will be out-of-action as he rehabs a knee injury. The Marlins are Cameron's eighth career club.
The defending AL East Champion Rays are 47-38, which gives them the third best record in the American League. Unfortunately for the Rays, they're third in the AL East, behind the only two AL clubs with better records, the Yankees and Red Sox. Here's the latest on the division:
- The Orioles' reliance on Mitch Atkins and Chris Jakubauskas as starters shows that Baltimore's rotation has been a disappointment, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen have not pitched as well as expected, so the rotation has become a consistent weakness.
- The Orioles will purchase Atkins' contract today to add him to the active roster and they could consider designating Jakubauskas for assignment to create space, according to Connolly.
- Derek Jeter, who returned to the Yankees' lineup from the disabled list last night, told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that he's unhappy with his first half performance and intends to improve "everything" in the second half.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com looks back at Boston's free agent additions under GM Theo Epstein and concludes that "the pricier investments have offered suspect returns." That's certainly true of two free agents the Red Sox signed before the 2010 season: Mike Cameron and John Lackey.
Links from the AL East..
- The Orioles could have an interesting decision to make on 33-year-old Luke Scott after the season, writes Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun. Scott will enter his final year of arbitration after making $6.4MM this season and the O's probably won't want to pay much more than that. Trading him might be the logical move but Zrebiec doesn't see much of a market for the 33-year-old.
- After being DFA'd, outfielder Mike Cameron pointed to his lack of playing time with the Red Sox for hurting his overall play. However, the veteran knew that he'd be seeing a reduced role this season, writes Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald.
- The New York Times Co. has sold more than half its holdings in the Fenway Sports Group, which includes the BoSox, for $117MM, writes Beth Healy of The Boston Globe. Times Co. has recouped more than what the media company spent on its entire original investment. The purchasers of the shares were affiliates of existing partners, according to Sox owner John Henry.
Friday afternoon linkage..
- Right-hander Chris Bootcheck is expected to use his July 1st opt-out and leave the Rays' Triple-A affiliate, tweets Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.
- Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter) spoke to a scout in contact with the Mets who says that the club won't be looking to sell until the season plays out more. Of course, they may choose to not sell off their parts at all.
- It looks like we can cross off one potential suitor for Mike Cameron: Bill Ladson of MLB.com tweets that the Nationals aren't interested. The Nats, he tweets, are seeking a long-term solution in centerfield.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter) hears that the rotation is still a top trade priority for the Tigers, but bullpen help is a consideration now as well.
- Bobby Bonilla, eat your heart out. Manny Ramirez starts earning his $2MM deferred money from the Red Sox today and every year on this date through 2026, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
The Red Sox cut ties with veteran outfielder Mike Cameron yesterday, designating him for assignment after he hit just .149/.212/.266 in 105 plate appearances this year. "Rest assured I'll play again," said Cameron to Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). "I'm not going out that way."
Despite his poor season and last year's injury riddled campaign (just 48 games), Cameron figures to draw interest based on his track record. He hit .250/.342/.452 with 24 homers as a full-time player just two seasons ago, and he went deep at least 20 times every year from 2006 through 2009. That power might be gone at 38 years old, but his three homers this year suggest that he might still be able to provide double digit long balls given enough playing time.
With approximately $3.625MM left on his contract this year, it's very likely that Cameron will clear waivers and hit the open market. Any team would then be able to sign him for the pro-rated league minimum, which is attractive to clubs on a budget. Let's look at some teams that could be potential suitors for Cameron…
- Braves – Martin Prado is dealing with a staph infection and temporary fill-in Jordan Schafer is hitting just .222/.295/.310. Wilkin Ramirez, Atlanta's current righty outfield bat off the bench, has been unimpressive in limited playing time.
- Cardinals – There's no way to replace Albert Pujols, but St. Louis was able to slide Lance Berkman over to first and stick Jon Jay in right field. The lefty bat is hitting .289/.340/.356 against southpaws, but Cameron could replenish some outfield depth.
- Giants – This one is probably a long shot because their outfield is already crowded, but the game's worst offense (just 285 runs) is in desperate need of help, particularly in the power department.
- Indians – Shin-Soo Choo will miss a substantial amount of time after having thumb surgery, and the incumbent righty hitting outfielder (Austin Kearns) has been ineffective both overall (.194/.282/.265) and against lefties (.244/.292/.267).
- Mariners – Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing tackled this one.
- Nationals – They've been looking for a center fielder basically all season, and if nothing else, Cameron would give them a platoon partner for Roger Bernadina (.208/.255/.271 vs. LHP).
- Phillies – Ben Francisco has been disappointing against lefties (.200/.317/.314) this year, plus Cameron could give them platoon partners for both Domonic Brown and Raul Ibanez.
- Pirates – It's strange to think of the Pirates as buyers, but they're over .500 and just two games back in the NL Central. Jose Tabata is on the DL and Matt Diaz has been a disappointment (.268/.297/.331).
- Rangers – Julio Borbon is back in Triple-A and David Murphy can't hit lefties (.177/.235/.194), plus they could probably use the depth since Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz are known to visit the DL from time to time.
- Rays – Matt Joyce and Sam Fuld have cooled off considerably, though the righty hitting Justin Ruggiano has done a swell job in limited playing time (.300/.328/.500). That might not last though.
- Tigers – Ryan Raburn (.207/.244/.348) and Magglio Ordonez (.200/.268/.279) have been big disappointments, and Austin Jackson isn't tearing the cover off the ball either (.248/.312/.364). All three are right-handed and could be replaced, though Jackson figures to keep the center field job.
- Twins – Injuries have decimated the Twins outfield, though at 8.5 games back of a playoff spot, they might be looking to sell off veterans rather than add one.
Jack Curry of the YES Network heard that the Yankees "probably" won't have interest in Cameron (Twitter link), but several other teams figure to come calling once he clears waivers and is available on the cheap. It's easy to see Cameron fitting on the 25-man roster of nearly even team, though the amount of playing time he'll receive is sure to factor into his decision.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
Some links from the so-called junior circuit…
- Royals GM Dayton Moore told MLB.com's Dick Kaegel that any move the team makes before the trade deadline would be something "we felt would help us long term." Kaegel notes that Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francis, and Bruce Chen are all candidates to move.
- "I can't sit here and say we'll definitely make a blockbuster trade,'' said Red Sox GM Theo Epstein to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. "For one thing, there's not a huge market for sellers right now. But it's a long way from July 31. Market dynamics change, our own situation can change.'' It's been reported that Boston is unable to take on payroll at the deadline.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian spoke to Indians GM Chris Antonetti, who said that "dialogue with other teams has certainly picked up over the last few weeks." Bastian says the team is likely to make smaller, incremental upgrades, but they are not opposed to dealing prospects.
- Indians manager Manny Acta told Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes that Melvin Mora and Mike Cameron are “interesting” possibilities (Spanish link on Twitter). Mora was released yesterday and Cameron was designated for assignment today.
- Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times looked back at what the Mariners did at the deadline over the last few seasons, which includes attempts to rebuild and "go for it."
- With a 3.14 ERA through 117 2/3 innings, Rangers ace C.J. Wilson has put himself in a great position heading into free agency, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
The Red Sox announced that they have designated outfielder Mike Cameron for assignment and called infielder Yamaico Navarro up to take Cameron's place on the team. The move opens up a 40-man roster spot.
Boston expected Cameron to hit left-handed pitching this year, but he has just a .143/.214/.302 line in 70 plate appearances against southpaws. The 38-year-old three-time Gold Glove winner has played all three outfield positions for the Red Sox.
Cameron is in the final year of a two-year, $15.5MM deal with Boston and earns $7.25MM in 2011. The Red Sox still owe him roughly $3.625MM this year and they're responsible for that entire sum unless they trade Cameron – they'll explore possible deals – or he finds a new team after being released. If he's traded, Boston will surely take on significant salary and if he signs elsewhere, his new club will owe him a pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum salary.
No team in baseball has scored as often as the Red Sox (409 runs), but there’s room for improvement, even in Boston. Red Sox right fielders have the worst average (.220), on-base percentage (.304) and slugging percentage (.326) of any American League team. And as one Red Sox source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com, the status quo isn’t good enough.
“We need more out of that position,” Speier’s source said.
J.D. Drew hasn’t been as effective as expected against right-handers and Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald haven’t produced as expected against left-handers, especially recently. Speier says it wouldn’t be surprising if Cameron or McDonald gets cut when Carl Crawford returns from the disabled list.
The Red Sox would prefer for their existing options – Drew, Cameron, McDonald and Josh Reddick – to play so well that no reinforcements seem necessary. But Boston’s interest in right-handed outfielders who can contribute off of the bench appears to be growing, according to Speier.