Milton Bradley Rumors

Odds & Ends: Strasburg, Piniella, Ely, Marlins

Jamie Moyer, we are all witnesses.  Some quick notes as we finish up the work week….

  • Stephen Strasburg allowed just one hit and one walk over six shutout innings in his debut for Washington's Triple-A affiliate, reports The Associated Press.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of predicts the Cubs' woes may drive Lou Piniella into retirement when his contract is up after this season.
  • The Los Angeles Times' Steve Dilbeck thinks the Dodgers erred in sending rookie right-hander John Ely back down to the minors so quickly.
  • Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald has some details of Florida owner Jeffrey Loria's chat with reporters today.  Loria dismissed any problems between him and manager Fredi Gonzalez, though Spencer notes that Loria "never exactly came out and said Gonzalez's job was 100 percent secure."  Loria was vague about when Mike Stanton would be called up to the majors, but the owner noted that the Marlins "don't want him to come and fail. If he's going to come here, he's going to come here to stay."
  • Speaking of Stanton, his name came up more than once during Baseball America's J.J. Cooper's chat with fans today.  When asked if he'd rather have Stanton or Jason Heyward for the next 10 years, Cooper's answer was "Heyward and it didn't really take any time to think about it," though that's more of a nod to Heyward's limitless potential than a slight towards Stanton.
  • Brian McCann revealed today that he is having more vision problems, and he will again start wearing glasses in the field, reports David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney reports (via Tweets here and here) that the Mariners will still be paying Milton Bradley while he is on the team's restricted list.
  • Jean-Jacques Taylor of the Dallas Morning News writes that of all the catcher possibilities the Rangers looked at over the winter, little-regarded Matt Treanor became the team's "savior" due to his solid defensive and game-calling skills.  (Probably on purpose, Taylor doesn't mention Treanor's .619 OPS.) 
  • Aaron Rowand, like Barry Zito, is also starting to live up his big Giants contract, writes Mychael Urban of  Urban notes that Rowand's early-season success may be due to a better offseason fitness regiment and a total swing overhaul.

Odds & Ends: Santana, Red Sox, Lee, Saunders

Thursday night linkage..

Odds & Ends: Bradley, Miles, Harwell, Zito

Links for Wednesday, as Ty Wigginton continues his assault on the American League…

  • Milton Bradley left the Mariners in the middle of last night's game, reports ESPN's Mike Salk.  The distractions become difficult to tolerate when he's hitting .214/.313/.371. GM Jack Zduriencik says Bradley asked the organization for help following last night's incident and will sit out for a few days while he works out personal "issues," according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.
  • Bradley, for his part, texted Peter Gammons (Twitter link) to say: "Any reports I said I'm packing up and leaving are 100% fabricated."
  • The Cardinals aren't sure yet whether Aaron Miles will work his way up to the bigs, writes Andy Jasner at The team is evaluating Miles' progress after signing him to a minor league deal last week.
  • Baseball fans are mourning the loss of Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell, who was 92. A public viewing will take place Thursday night at Comerica Park.
  • Barry Zito's 2014 option for $18MM vests if he starts racking up 200 inning seasons, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Even if it remains a club option, the Giants face a hefty $7MM buyout.
  • Baseball America's Jim Callis says Texas high school righty Jameson Taillon is the consensus #2 in the June draft.  Will the Pirates spring for him?  Will the Orioles have a shot at #3?

The Mariners’ DH Options

Seattle's lineup has struggled through April, managing just a .241/.314/.349 team line entering Monday's game with Kansas City and hitting an AL-low nine home runs.  While Chone Figgins and Jose Lopez have gotten off to slow starts, the designated hitter spot has been a particular trouble spot.  There has been little production from the veteran platoon of Ken Griffey Jr. (.519 OPS) and Mike Sweeney (.349 OPS).

Larry LaRue of The Tacoma News Tribune points out, however, that while the Mariners could release Sweeney (due to make just $650K in 2010) or bench Griffey (releasing a franchise icon like the Kid is probably not an option for the M's), there aren't any obvious options to fill their shoes in the lineup.  Milton Bradley could see some time at DH since his injury history makes him an unlikely candidate to spend a full year playing in the field, but as LaRue notes, moving Bradley then just leaves a hole in Seattle's outfield.

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is certainly not adverse to making big moves to help his club, but LaRue thinks it will be until at least June before the M's can "find a team willing to admit it's given up on 2010" and talk trade.  The June deadline seems like a bit of a stretch given that teams will always be looking to shed a big bat with a big contract if the offer is right, though LaRue doesn't think Seattle has the pitching prospects to net such a player.

One name that LaRue doesn't mention is Michael Saunders.  The outfielder hit just .221/.258/.279 in 129 major league plate appearances last season, but he posted a .922 OPS in 282 plate appearances at Triple-A Tacoma in 2009.  Saunders was sent to the minors during spring training since the Mariners wanted him to play every day, and has just a .385 OPS thus far for Tacoma.  Should Saunders turn things around at the plate and earn a call-up, though, his good glove should provide defensive value in left field in Seattle and provide cover to move Bradley to DH. 

Another minor league option is first baseman Mike Carp.  LaRue dismissed him due to his low average at Tacoma thus far, but Carp is still slugging .484 for the Rainiers and has put up good on-base and power numbers in his last two minor league campaigns (not to mention a .878 OPS in a 65 PA cup of coffee with Seattle last year).

And, of course, Griffey and Sweeney could still turn things around given that there's a lot of baseball left to be played this season.  While the DH spot may be a problem for the M's in the short-term, things haven't quite reached Jose Vidro-esque critical mass.

Odds & Ends: Clark, Twins, Granderson, Sizemore

Some links for Wednesday…

Odds & Ends: Ruiz, Braves, Offenses, Yankees

Links for Thursday…

Cafardo’s Latest: Beckett, Red Sox, Twins, Lowry

The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo has plenty of rumors from around the league for us this morning, so let's round them all up…

  • The Red Sox are likely to use Roy Halladay's three-year, $60MM deal "minus $6 million-$8 million" as a guideline for a potential Josh Beckett extension rather than John Lackey's five-year, $82.5MM deal. The reason being that they have some concern about the long-term health of his shoulder.
  • If another team comes offering Beckett big money after the season, the Sox will move on just as they did with Jason Bay. They could then look into free agents like Cliff Lee, who they pursued at the trade deadline, or even Ben Sheets and Brandon Webb if they bounce back from injury problems of their own.
  • With all of their additions this offseason, the Twins' payroll will jump from $65M to about $96M as they move into Target Field this year. GM Bill Smith said it will be up to manager Ron Gardenhire to determine how they use Jim Thome, and that they did their homework on Orlando Hudson's left wrist, which has given him trouble the last few seasons.
  • Minnesota's payroll will be larger than the Dodgers' this year.
  • The Red Sox watched Noah Lowry's recent workout, but "don't appear interested in signing him."
  • Dodgers' third base coach Larry Bowa said he knows that Manny Ramirez still wants to play another three or four years.
  • Two big league executives feel that the Giants and Tim Lincecum will settle on a contract before an arbitration hearing.
  • One reason the Cubs signed Kevin Millar was to loosen up the clubhouse after the Milton Bradley fiasco last season.
  • Drayton McLane is reportedly seeking $700MM to part with the Astros, but it's tough to see someone coming up with that when the Rangers sold for approximately $575MM.

Odds & Ends: Zambrano, Cabrera, Molina

Links for Monday…

  • Matt Klaassen of Fangraphs gave his thoughts on the Orioles' "enviable outfield logjam."  In his Offseason Outlook for the club, Tim suggested that Luke Scott could make sense as a trade candidate.
  • A week ago, we heard conflicting reports about whether or not the Yankees had talked to the Cubs about acquiring Carlos Zambrano.'s Jon Heyman reports, via Twitter, that the Yankees "definitely" inquired, and speculates that Zambrano is "eminently available."
  • In a piece for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, David O'Brien suggested in passing that the Braves could potentially use Melky Cabrera as a trade chip. Heyman tweets that the Cubs would be very interested, if the Braves were to make Cabrera available.
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick says Bengie Molina "might be willing to consider" a two-year deal.  So far the Mets are at one year with an option.
  • Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times says Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik must retain at least one of Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez long-term.
  • Derek Zumsteg of U.S.S. Mariner gives us a Milton Bradley chronology.
  •'s Mychael Urban tweets that he's heard a whisper connecting the Giants to free agent reliever Kiko Calero.
  • WEEI's Alex Speier examines the differences between the contracts of John Lackey and A.J. Burnett.  In case you missed it, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe revealed on Wednesday that Lackey must play for the league minimum in 2015 "if an old elbow injury forced him to miss significant time with surgery any time during the deal."
  • Dave Cameron of FanGraphs says statheads and scouts are mostly in agreement these days, and Moneyball would be a very different book if Michael Lewis wrote it today.

Discussion: Pat Burrell

Pat Burrell's move to the American League did not go as smoothly as he or the Rays hoped.  Burrell left the World Series-winning Phillies to sign a two-year, $16MM free agent contract with Tampa Bay last January, and then suffered through a season's worth of injuries and inconsistency to finish with a career-worst .682 OPS (.221/.315/.367) in 476 plate appearances.

With $9MM due to Burrell in 2010, the Rays have been openly shopping the slugger this winter.  Rumors of a deal of Burrell-for-Milton Bradley swirled for months before the Cubs dealt Bradley to Seattle last week.  With seemingly their best trade option gone, it appears as if Tampa Bay will go into next season with Burrell back in the DH spot — which, if 2009 was just an aberration, might not be a bad option given Burrell's 251 homers and .852 OPS over his first nine years in Philadelphia.

If the Rays still want to move Burrell and save some cash, however, here are a few of the clubs that are in need of a DH/LF type and might have the payroll flexibility to absorb some or all of Burrell's contract.

  • The Mets.  Should they give up on signing Jason Bay (or lose him to the Red Sox), New York would still have a hole to fill in left field.  The downside of Burrell going to a National League team, however, is his glove.  He played just two games in the outfield last season, and according to Fangraphs, his defense ranged from mediocre to terrible (a -25.2 UZR/150 in 2007) over his last four years in Philadelphia.
  • The Cardinals.  Just as Burrell is a backup plan for the Mets if they don't sign Bay, he can also be a backup plan for St. Louis if they don't sign Matt Holliday.
  • The Braves.  Atlanta's biggest offseason need was a right-handed power hitter.  While they are close to a deal with Troy Glaus, Glaus made just 32 plate appearances in 2009 after undergoing shoulder surgery last January.  Burrell is perhaps a more reliable option, and may regain his batting stroke back in the NL East.  
  • The White Sox.  Ozzie Guillen likes the idea of a rotating designated hitter, but GM Kenny Williams didn't close the door on the possibility of picking up an everyday DH if the right opportunity presented itself.
  • The Giants.  Mark DeRosa may be coming in as San Francisco's new left fielder, but Burrell could be an interesting alternative should DeRosa not accept the Giants' offer.  Or, the power-starved Giants could acquire Burrell to play in left, and then sign DeRosa to play third base, thus moving Pablo Sandoval over to first.  (Or, Sandoval plays 1B, DeRosa plays 2B and Freddy Sanchez moves over to 3B.)  If the Rays pay some of Burrell's contract, then he is a much cheaper option for San Francisco than Johnny Damon.

Four Team Salary Dump Trade Fell Through

Well here's an interesting deal that never came to be. According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, a four-team trade involving Milton Bradley, Pat Burrell, Luis Castillo, and Gary Matthews Jr. fell apart at the winter meetings for an undisclosed reason.

According to a source, the deal would have sent Bradley to the Rays, Burrell and Castillo to the Cubs, and Matthews Jr. to the Mets. Burrell would have then been spun off elsewhere. No word on what the Halos would have received, though getting rid of Sarge Jr. and presumably at least part of his contract would have been a win.