Nomar Garciaparra Rumors

Details Emerge About Hechevarria

Jorge Ebro at the Nuevo Herald interviewed newly signed Blue Jays prospect Adeiny Hechevarria in Spanish, digging out a few fresh insights concerning both the signing and the 19-year-old Cuban shortstop's potential.

Hechevarria avoids saying directly that the Blue Jays aren't the team of his teenage dreams, but he lets slip that he "played shortstop for Santiago imagining that it was Yankee Stadium." Nevertheless, Ebro notes that Hechevarria turned down an offer from the Yankees in the hopes of rising more quickly to prominence in Toronto's system. The New York Post's George King II wrote three days ago that the Yankees were likely willing to offer similar money to Toronto, and more recently, the Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott quoted an unnamed executive as saying that "the word in the scouting community" was that the Yankees' offer was larger Toronto's winning bid of $10MM for four years.

Shortstop for the Blue Jays has been a sorespot in terms of both reliable production and reliable attendance since back when the team was a perpetual contender, as last year's .789 OPS by Marco Scutaro was the highest by a Blue Jays shortstop logging at least 500 PAs since Tony Fernandez in 1987. Over those ensuing years, other AL East teams have built their lineups around the likes of Cal Ripken, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, and Miguel Tejada. Even the Rays have been able to bank on shortstop with more reliability than the Jays, as Tampa Bay's recent history has witnessed the best years of Julio Lugo's career and the arrival of Jason Bartlett.

But what to expect from Hechevarria himself? In the absence of minor league stats and scouting reports, Ebro's sources reach for comparisons. One scout labels him "an Alfonso Soriano who can defend," while another describes him as more polished than last year's highly regarded Cuban shortstop prospect, Jose Iglesias, who will start the season in Double A Portland for the Red Sox. Comparisons between the two prospects are seemingly inevitable, for reasons of age (Iglesias is 20), nationality, contract size, and because Hechevarria got the nod over Iglesias at short for the Cuban team at the World Baseball Junior Championships in 2007.

Elliott at the Toronto Sun quotes an AL executive who calls Hechevarria "a much better player" than Iglesias, while another official from a team who made an offer to Hechevarria labeled him "probably more of a fielder than a hitter" for the time being, albeit one who will be "pretty offensive when it all plays out." Like Iglesias, Hechevarria will likely start out at Double A, notes Dave Perkins at the Toronto Star.

All comparisons with other prospects aside, though, Ebro's article starts out by comparing Hechevarria's potential to the next few years of his idol, Jeter, and writers in New York have noted the comparison as well. Mike Vaccaro at the New York Post most recently wrote that Hechevarria was widely believed to be "earmarked for the Yankees," and that that missing out on Hechevarria shows the team's commitment to an iconic shortstop who "will have to morph from shortstop into either a left fielder or a full time designated hitter" by the end of his next contract—especially if that contract stretches to six years, as Jon Heyman recently posited.

According to some, though, Hechevarria's future isn't even at short. One scout tells Elliott that the prospect's skills will eventually put him in the outfield, while Vaccaro notes that Hechevarria's bat could translate well to second base or center field, just one more reason why the newest Blue Jay "made all the sense in the world" for the Yankees.

Nomar Garciaparra To Announce Retirement

Nomar Garciaparra will announce his retirement at a Red Sox press conference this morning, tweets ESPN's Gordon EdesWEEI's Lou Merloni reports that Garciaparra is signing a one-day minor league contract with Boston to retire as a member of the club, and then begin work as an ESPN analyst.  Merloni says Nomar had asked Red Sox GM Theo Epstein about playing opportunities the last few years.  WEEI's Tom Layman has the transcript of Garciaparra's press conference. 

Nomar, 36, finishes with a sparkling career line of .313/.361/.521 in 6,116 plate appearances.  He spent the majority of his time at shortstop, though also played the infield corners later in his career.  Garciaparra was a superstar with the Red Sox, winning Rookie of the Year in '97 and getting MVP votes and All-Star appearances in six different seasons. 

Garciaparra was traded to the Cubs before the Sox went on to win the '04 World Series.  Nomar struggled with injuries after the Cubs trade, but did have a nice year at first base for the '06 Dodgers.  He banked about $78MM in his career, according to Baseball-Reference.

Odds & Ends: Garciaparra, Jackson, Barajas, Branyan

Links for Thursday…

Slusser On Tomko, Kennedy, Nomar

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle addresses free agents Brett Tomko, Adam Kennedy, and Nomar Garciaparra in a new blog post.

  • Tomko suffered a nerve injury on September 14th that caused his biceps to atrophy to the point of resembling lumpy gravy.  The biceps is better now, but Tomko trying to pitch through forearm numbness.  He hopes to be game-ready by the start of the season and spoke of a preference for the A's or Giants.
  • Kennedy is talking to the Nationals and Indians, but continues to wait on Orlando Hudson's decision.
  • Nomar is "widely expected" to retire.  If he does, he'd bow out at age 36 with a career line of .313/.361/.521.

Adam Kennedy Hopes To Stay With A’s

Infielder Adam Kennedy would like to remain with the Athletics in 2010, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  The interest is mutual; his agent has had "very positive" talks with the A's.

Kennedy, 34 in January, hit .289/.348/.410 in 586 plate appearances this year, playing second and third base.  According to UZR/150, Kennedy's defense this year did not approach the performance from his heyday.  The Cardinals released Kennedy in February, eating most of the $4MM owed to him.  The Rays signed him to a minor league deal and traded him to Oakland for a player to be named later in May.  The Rays later received Joe Dillon in that deal; he was designated for assignment in August but remained in the organization.

Slusser adds a few notes on other A's free agents:

The A's have not been in contact with free-agent infielder Nomar Garciaparra or starter Brett Tomko, though they plan to check in with Tomko as he recovers from a nerve problem in his right arm.

Odds & Ends: Astros, Athletics, Blue Jays

With baseball dark until Wednesday, let light the way for you…

  • Rob Neyer has a must-read piece about the Astros refusing to give Manny Acta a three-year contract offer. As Neyer writes, "If you think it's silly to give a manager a three-year contract but don't mind throwing $100 million of your ill-gotten gains at Carlos Lee, you probably need to have your head examined (though of course something similar might be said of half the owners in the majors)."
  • A's beat reporter Mychael Urban explains why Oakland dealt Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi and Orlando Cabrera– but kept Nomar Garciaparra around.
  • Toronto added a pair of senior baseball men, both named Mel, to the front office.

Odds & Ends: Pirates, Sabean, Weeks

Tuesday linkage:

September Trade Candidates

We won't see nearly as many trades as we did in July, or even in August, but teams can still make deals. New acquisitions won't be eligible to play in the post-season, but they could still help their new clubs make the playoffs. Here are a few of the players who could be dealt this month:

  • Mark Hendrickson and Danys Baez are among the players known to have cleared waivers; they could appeal to clubs.
  • Kevin Millar has managed a .750 OPS against lefties in an otherwise disappointing offensive season, so clubs may want him off the bench, especially considering his reputation as a positive clubhouse presence. His teammate, John McDonald, could appeal to teams as a defensive specialist. He has a well-earned reputation as an excellent defender up the middle.
  • Buster Olney suggested today that the Rangers will look into infielders now that Michael Young is injured. Jamey Carroll could appeal to the Rangers and other clubs.
  • Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported recently that the Phillies have an eye on Nomar Garciaparra.

Odds and Ends: Nomar, Astros, Kazmir

A few links to get the evening started…

  • Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that the Phillies are still "mildly following" Nomar Garciaparra. Though Nomar would not be eligible to play in the postseason for Philadelphia, he might provide some depth down the stretch.
  • Astros owner Drayton McLane "has fired more managers, general managers and coaches the last five years than any other owner in baseball," according to Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle. Justice posits that the axe might drop on someone new during the Astros' off day tomorrow. 
  • The Tampa Tribune's Marc Lancaster talked to Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, who argued that the team's trade of Scott Kazmir was "not a salary dump" but "a reallocation of resources."

Rosenthal On Abreu, Royals, Garland

The latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports

  • Bobby Abreu and the Angels have mutual interest in continuing their relationship, according to his agent Peter Greenberg.  Greenberg says there have been discussions but they'll probably wait until after the season.  Abreu, 36 in March, is hitting .297/.391/.428 in 547 plate appearances while playing subpar defense.  He should end up earning $6MM given his plate appearance incentives.  He'll easily achieve Type A status again.
  • Rosenthal praises the Royals for extending GM Dayton Moore, and suggests the team should commit to a full-bore rebuild.  Rosenthal believes it would've been wise to trade Mark Teahen and Gil Meche.
  • Rosenthal says to expect another overloaded 1B/DH market this winter.  Survey the free agent market here.  I think we might find a .400 OBP on the cheap in Nick Johnson, while Jason Giambi is in for a minor league deal.  Carlos Delgado, Russell Branyan, Hank Blalock, Ken Griffey Jr., Hideki Matsui, Aubrey Huff, Gary Sheffield, and Jim Thome are some of the other names.
  • The Phillies decided to stick with Miguel Cairo as their right-handed bench bat, rather than pursue Nomar Garciaparra.
  • A rival exec Rosenthal spoke to feels that Tony Abreu is not enough for Jon Garland, since the D'Backs are picking up all of Garland's contract.