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Nate Robertson Rumors
Upon learning that he'll begin the 2009 season in the bullpen, left-hander Nate Robertson wondered aloud Thursday whether his time has run out in Detroit. "The cycle of a player's time in an organization comes and goes, and maybe my time is nearing its end," he said. (Quote is courtesy of MLive.com's Steve Kornacki).
Robertson, 31, has gone 49-65 with a 4.90 ERA since showing up on the scene in 2003. His '08 season was a disaster, however, and probably nullified any trade value that he once had. (He finished with a 7-11 record and a 6.35 ERA).
Tigers manger Jim Leyland spoke briefly about Nate's fall from grace on Thursday morning: "If someone had told me in 2006 that Robertson would be in the bullpen, I'd have told him, 'You are crazy.'"
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes about the tough decisions faced by the Tigers this spring.
First, they have to decide whether to let 20 year-old phenom Rick Porcello break camp with the team, even though he has yet to pitch above A ball. GM Dave Dombrowski seems open to it. He says the issue of delaying Porcello’s arbitration will not come into play.
The Tigers also have to decide what to do with veterans Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson, and Gary Sheffield. Will their contracts lead to roster spots? Robertson (4 ER in 4 IP) is owed $17MM through 2010. Willis (4 ER in 3 IP) will make $22MM in that time. And Sheffield (.167/.423/.500 in 18 ABs) earns $14MM in ’09. Spring Training stats don’t mean much anyway, but these samples are especially small. And Rosenthal says Willis and/or Robertson could be sent to the minors or bullpen if necessary.
Lynn Henning of the Detroit News expects the Tigers to make a trade before the regular season, "perhaps a big one." Henning writes that the team could trade away starting pitching if Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis are healthy. Henning also mentions Marcus Thames and Ryan Raburn as possible trade candidates.
Willis and Robertson each have considerable negative trade value, as they’ll both make at least $7MM in 2009 and 2010. Unless the Tigers are willing to pay most of that, they’d have to trade one of their other starters: Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Armando Galarraga, Edwin Jackson or Zach Miner. Trading one of those starters would leave the Tigers with a thin rotation.
The Tigers don’t have a starting spot for Thames if Gary Sheffield stays healthy.
According to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, the Tigers could trade a starting pitcher. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski listed off seven Tigers starters and said "trade possibilities come up" involving the team’s pitching.
This doesn’t mean Dombrowski seriously considered dealing pitching. The Tigers go to Spring Training with Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Armando Galarraga, Edwin Jackson, Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis and Zach Miner. They have more arms than rotation spots, but this is by no means a deep rotation.
According to Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald, the Tigers’ talks for Julio Lugo have stalled and a deal is unlikely. It seemed simple on the surface: Lugo for Dontrelle Willis or Nate Robertson.
Also, the Red Sox plan to offer arbitration to Type A free agent Jason Varitek. McAdam says Tek "almost certainly won’t accept the offer." In a recent poll, about 40% of MLBTR readers surveyed expected the Red Sox to offer arbitration to Varitek.
The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo has a new article up with a few Red Sox rumors, and one for Oakland:
- Cafardo thinks Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez will not change jerseys this offseason because, while their teams might struggle to afford them, they can’t afford to lose them. Teixeira is the protection and future replacement for Vladimir Guerrero that they have been seeking for a long time. He doesn’t rule out the Yankees however.
- Rocco Baldelli could be Coco Crisp‘s replacement as Boston’s fourth outfielder. Cafardo says Baldelli met with the Red Sox last week.
- He continues to hit on the Julio Lugo for Dontrelle Willis or Nate Robertson deal, but now suggests Theo Epstein may also eat some of Lugo’s salary and deal him elsewhere.
- The A’s are looking closely at Rafael Furcal.
MONDAY: Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski is casting a wide net for his shortstop vacancy, but no deals are close.
SUNDAY: Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports on a trade that seems too obvious to actually happen: the Tigers are "contemplating a deal with Boston to send either Nate Robertson or Dontrelle Willis for Julio Lugo, but some money issues must be resolved.
In the same article, he mentions Lugo had the lowest average with runners in scoring position in the majors, .139, and wishes him a happy 33rd birthday.
Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press had speculated on this in September.
Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press doles out the latest Tigers rumors.
- How will the Tigers resolve their catching situation? GM Dave Dombrowski calls an Ivan Rodriguez reunion a longshot, and Scott Boras is asking the moon for Jason Varitek. The Tigers may not have the goods to swing a trade for Gerald Laird. Morosi likes the idea of Henry Blanco, but says the Tigers have yet to contact his agent. Check out the other free agent options here.
- Morosi considers a bad contract swap for Julio Lugo a viable option for the Tigers. He notes that Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson have similar commitments. Lugo for Robertson does seem reasonable for both sides.
- Morosi believes the Tigers match up well with the Reds, who are looking for a power-hitting outfielder. Magglio Ordonez is the marquee name, but Morosi likes the fit with Marcus Thames.
A few notes on the Red Sox…
- Scott Boras met with Theo Epstein about Jason Varitek. Boras is still seeking a deal similar to the one signed by Jorge Posada (four years/$52.4MM).
- Epstein continues to look at other catchers including Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden. Cafardo also notes that the Red Sox could go after a veteran through the trade market like Bengie Molina.
- Other teams have expressed interest in both Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo, but noted that Lugo would not be part of a deal to the White Sox. Cafardo says the Tigers could be a good match for Lugo if the Red Sox take Nate Robertson or Dontrelle Willis noting they could even eat some of Lugo’s remaining contract.
- The Red Sox are likely out of the market for CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett.
Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald adds to the Lugo and Crisp rumors.
One executive at the general managers meetings talked to the Sox recently estimated that “five or six” teams have shown a willingness to discuss a deal for Crisp…The line being formed to bid for shortstop Julio Lugo, on the other hand, is not nearly as long – though it isn’t nonexistent.
McAdam lists several teams that could be interested in Crisp, including the White Sox, A’s, Braves and Padres. However, McAdam notes that the Cubs are not interested. He also lists some clubs that could have a need for a player like Lugo, including the Cardinals, Twins, Indians, Tigers, O’s and Giants. McAdam sees the White Sox as the best fit, but notes that they will seek more than Lugo in return for Javier Vazquez or Nick Swisher.
"I never really understood why there aren’t more "swap meet" type deals in baseball. As in, ‘You take what I can’t use and I’ll take what you can’t use.’"
It’s a valid question if you believe a change of scenery can help a player and yet these deals rarely happen. Cafardo then goes on to list all of the players he considers "overpriced, underperforming, too old, or not useful to their present teams." Here’s the list:
Table 1, starting pitchers: Barry Zito (Giants); Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson (Tigers); Adam Eaton (Phillies); Carlos Silva, Miguel Batista, and Jarrod Washburn (Mariners); Daniel Cabrera (Orioles); Jeff Suppan (Brewers); Ian Kennedy and Kei Igawa (Yankees); Scott Olsen (Marlins).
Table 2, relief pitchers: Mike MacDougal (White Sox); Aaron Heilman and Scott Schoenweis (Mets); Jason Frasor (Blue Jays); Luis Vizcaino (Rockies); Kevin Gregg (Marlins); Justin Speier (Angels); Brandon Backe (Astros).
Table 3, infielders: Julio Lugo (Red Sox); Jack Wilson and Freddie Sanchez (Pirates); Scott Rolen (Blue Jays); Miguel Tejada (Astros); Melvin Mora (Orioles); Rickie Weeks and Bill Hall (Brewers); Mark Teahen and Ross Gload (Royals); Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young (Nationals); Luis Castillo (Mets).
Table 4, catchers: Yorvit Torrealba (Rockies); Ramon Hernandez (Orioles); Bengie Molina (Giants); Kenji Johjima (Mariners).
Table 5, outfielders: David Dellucci (Indians); Eric Byrnes (Diamondbacks); Nick Swisher (White Sox); Dave Roberts and Randy Winn (Giants); Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano (Cubs); Gary Sheffield (Tigers); Gary Matthews Jr. (Angels); Austin Kearns and Wily Mo Pena (Nationals); Jeremy Hermida and Josh Willingham (Marlins); Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, and Melky Cabrera (Yankees); Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones (Dodgers); Willy Taveras (Rockies); Jeff Francoeur (Braves).
Cafardo says the reason we don’t see more of these "swaps" is that GMs fear ridicule if these deals don’t pan out for them and that matching salaries can be tricky.
He cites a few examples: Julio Lugo for Nate Robertson or Dontrelle Willis as being a possible – this has been discussed here before as a longshot idea. Or what about Kosuke Fukudome for Gary Matthews?
See anything better?