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Omar Vizquel Rumors
Even though he'll turn 43 in April, Omar Vizquel isn't assuming this will be his final season, according to MLB.com's Chris Haft. Haft reports that the veteran defensive specialist hopes to stick around for as long as his body lets him.
"My body's holding on good, I'm feeling good, I feel I have the passion for it, I consider that I had a good year last year (.266 in 62 games with Texas) and that's why I'm here, because my body's telling me that I can still be out there and compete with the other guys."
Vizquel signed a one-year, $1.375MM pact with the White Sox shortly after the 2009 season. While his 195 plate appearances with the Rangers last year were a career-low, he still provided solid value off the bench. In the admittedly limited sample size, his defense was as good as ever, according to UZR/150. Until those numbers slip, he should be able to find a role as a utility infielder and late-inning defensive replacement.
Links in Spanish, because English is so last season…
- Jose Julio Ruiz's new agent Mike Maulini tells Jorge Ebro at Nuevo Herald that the Cuban first baseman made the switch from Jorge Luis Toca after realizing that his much-rumored signing with a major league team was "long overdue." Ruiz had a $2MM offer in hand from Tampa Bay in February, but since then, the market has stagnated and the lefty feared he was in danger of missing his opportunity to play stateside.
- While Haitian baseball prospects exist, don't expect to see any of them signing with Major League teams, writes Juan Mercado in the Dominican newspaper El Dia. He talks with two coaches who complain that the MLB office on the island won't allow promising Haitian players to attend teams' academies because of the difficulty in verifying the players' backgrounds and paperwork. One source tells Mercado that the teams simply "prefer not to waste time" in fruitless investigations, while the two coaches call the policy discriminatory, saying many Cuban and Venezuelan players don't receive the same level of scrutiny. The only current Major Leaguer of Haitian descent is the Orioles' Felix Pie, though he was born in the Dominican.
- Several veteran players were signed during this offseason under the justification of mentoring developing players. But lost in the circle-of-life storyline is the idea that those veterans are being paid for their blunt critical eye. New White Sox backup shortstop Omar Vizquel brings the point home to Luis Rangel of Nuevo Herald when he says that mentee Alexei Ramirez "needs to move his feet when fielding. He has the tendency to stand still and not move to the ball." Ramirez committed 20 errors in his first full season at short, tying for fourth most among major league shortstops.
- Who says winter leagues help keep players in shape for the regular season? Yankees reliever Jonathan Albaladejo tells Esteban Pagan Rivera at Primera Hora that he shed 30 pounds this offseason after the team forbade him from playing in his home country of Puerto Rico. At the other end of the scale sits Pablo Sandoval, whose much-ballyhooed "Camp Panda" proved for naught when he came back from the Venezuelan Winter League in January heavier than when he arrived.
- The Twins signed one of Sandoval's fellow Navegantes of Magallanes in Venezuela, righty reliever Yoslan Herrera, to a minor league deal, confirms Joe Christensen at the Star Tribune. Herrera, who defected from Cuba in 2005, was a highly touted prospect in the Pirates system but disappointed in his only brief showing with the team in 2008. He showed more promise at the Bucs' Double-A and Triple-A levels in 2009 and will start out at Triple-A Rochester for the Twins. The Cuban blog Terreno de Pelota first reported the signing on Tuesday.
A few links to pass along….
- Jon Daniels says "it's less than 50-50" that the Rangers make any more moves before spring training, reports Jeff Wilson of The Dallas Morning News. Wilson adds that Rod Barajas and Rocco Baldelli have been connected to Texas this winter, and the Rangers might also be interested in a platoon partner for Chris Davis.
- Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals are out of the Chien-Ming Wang sweepstakes. We've already learned that the Nationals are the favorites to sign the right-hander.
- Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer answers some reader mail that covers such topics as a possible Grady Sizemore trade and Omar Vizquel's somewhat surprising criteria for picking a new city.
- Orlando Cabrera and Aaron Miles aren't exactly the first two names that leap to mind when you're thinking about October baseball, but Reds GM Walt Jocketty said that the duo's playoff experience was a factor in their acquisition, reports John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
- Larry Stone of the Seattle Times provides a general recap of the 2009-10 offseason.
MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen seems satisfied to stand pat with the current composition of his roster, a decision that would leave Chicago without the everyday DH that seemed to be the club's top priority this winter.
Guillen tells Merkin that he likes the idea of using several different players (such as Andruw Jones, Paul Konerko, Mark Kotsay, Jayson Nix, or even Omar Vizquel) as a designated hitter depending on matchups or, in Konerko's case, to rest him without taking him out of the lineup altogether.
Chicago GM Kenny Williams doesn't sound entirely convinced with this plan, but seems to be willing to acquisece to Guillen on this front. Williams told Merkin, "I don't want to do anything that conflicts with what my manager wants….Regardless if I think there might be a need for another left-handed bat in middle of the lineup, he's the one in there, and I fully support how he sees the situation fitting and piecing it together."
It's not like the Southsiders haven't been active this offseason — they acquired Mark Teahen and Juan Pierre in trades and signed Jones, Vizquel and J.J. Putz. But given all of the high-profile designated hitter options on the market this winter, it's safe to say that White Sox fans were counting on a bit more than just Jones and Vizquel as DH upgrades. Do you think that Williams should, in fact, look to acquire that left-handed bat or do you agree with Guillen and think the Sox roster is fine as it is?
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen addressed some of the team's needs before heading off to Indianapolis, and MLB.com's Scott Merkin has the goods..
- Guillen would like to find an upgrade over Gordan Beckham in the leadoff spot. However, Guillen went out of his way to say that he is a "good RBI man" and added that he would like to move him down to sixth or seventh in the lineup.
- Andruw Jones could be an everyday outfielder for the ChiSox if (and, as Merkin notes, "that's a big if") he reports to Spring Training in shape.
- Guillen seems to like the flexibility that comes with not having a true designated hitter. The way he sees it, he can use Jones, Omar Vizquel, Mark Kotsay, Paul Konerko or Mark Teahen in the spot when neccessary, and shift them around as he sees fit.
- Freddy Garcia is working to get himself in position to be the club's fifth starter. The 33-year-old posted a 4.34 ERA in nine starts with the White Sox last season.
Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune says the Twins are "getting serious" about a Joe Mauer extension. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported earlier in the week that the Twins hope to sign Mauer to an extension by Christmas. As Rogers points out, Mauer's agent, Ron Shapiro, represented Cal Ripken Jr. and Kirby Puckett, so there's hope for Twins fans who dread Mauer's impending free agency. Here are the rest of Rogers' rumors:
- Albert Pujols' representatives told the Cardinals not to worry about a potential extension until they take care of the team's other needs. Pujols is under control through 2011, a year longer than Mauer.
- The White Sox may ask Omar Vizquel to mentor 20-year-old shortstop Eduardo Escobar. Like Vizquel, Escobar is a Venezuelan switch-hitter with a good glove and little power. But White Sox farm director Buddy Bell cautions against making Vizquel comparisons just yet.
1:22pm: The signing is official, according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin.
MONDAY, 12:13pm: Levine says Vizquel will sign a one-year, $1.375MM deal with the White Sox today.
SUNDAY, 10:37pm: The White Sox offered Vizquel a one-year pact worth about $1MM, writes Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune.
FRIDAY, 3:10pm: Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago hears that the White Sox are close to a deal with Vizquel's representatives. Levine notes that the White Sox offered Vizquel a long-term deal before the 2005 season only to see him sign with the Giants.
10:59am: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the White Sox are close to a deal with free agent shortstop Omar Vizquel. He says it'd be a one-year deal and Vizquel would serve as a backup.
Vizquel, 43 in April, hit .266/.316/.345 in 195 plate appearances for the Rangers this year while playing shortstop, second base, and third base. He earned $1MM.
You could hardly think of two more dissimilar players than Omar Vizquel and Nick Johnson, but Evan Brunell of The Hardball Times took a look at where these two free agents may end up playing in 2010.
First, Vizquel. Brunell thinks that Vizquel's desire to play for a higher-profile club than Texas may stem from the fact that playing for a big-market team may improve Vizquel's chances of being voted into the Hall of Fame when his career is over. There's also the fact that the 42-year-old shortstop would no doubt love to get another chance at a World Series title after coming so close with Cleveland in 1995 and 1997.
With these factors in mind, Brunell feels that Philadelphia is the ideal destination for Vizquel, as he can serve as a backup to Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and whomever the Phillies get to play third base. Vizquel's presence as a late-inning defensive replacement would also mean that the Phils could focus their third baseman search on finding a solid hitter, not necessarily a top gloveman.
As for Johnson, Brunell points to Arizona as a good landing spot for the first baseman. The Diamondbacks' .324 team OBP last season (22nd in MLB) would get a big boost from Johnson's career .402 OBP (.426 in 2009). In signing Johnson to a one or two-year contract, Brunell argues, the D-Backs would buy some more development time for prospect Brandon Allen, whose presence would also serve as cover in case Johnson's well-documented injury history again becomes a problem.
One flaw in Brunell's argument is that he doesn't account for Conor Jackson, who may avoid being non-tendered by the Snakes if he shows in winter ball that he is fully recovered from Valley Fever. If Jackson is back, then he would provide a cheaper alternative at first base than Johnson while still providing solid production — Jackson posted a .292/.371/.451 line in his three full seasons with Arizona from 2006 to 2008.
What do you fans think? If you're a Phillies or Diamondbacks supporter, are you on board with the idea of Vizquel or Johnson in the fold? Or are there some other teams who would be better fits for these two players?
There's no such thing as an offseason- just different kinds of on-seasons.
- Todd Zolecki of MLB.com believes the Phillies will find a replacement for Eric Bruntlett among John McDonald, Omar Vizquel, Jamey Carroll, Ronnie Belliard and Juan Uribe.
- According to Scott Olsen, arbitration-eligible member of the Washington Nationals (for now, anyway), his shoulder is now 100 percent.
- Larry Stone of the Seattle Times discusses how Edwin Jackson, Curtis Granderson, and John Lackey would look in Seattle.
- Tyler Hissey at Around the Majors talks Yankees' roster strategy.
- Dave Cameron tells us which minor league free agents are most worth pursuing, including Ruben Gotay.
- Dan Dibley of KNBR, the Giants' flagship station, weighs in on a number of topics in an interview with SFGiantsbaseball.net.
No one in Major League history has played more games at shortstop than Omar Vizquel, who this year served as a mentor to Elvis Andrus in Texas while doubling as a valuable option off the bench. We know that Vizquel will not be returning to the Rangers in 2010, and instead is looking for a similar role with a more high-profile team.
The 42-year-old continues to be a marvel on defense, posting well-above-average UZR/150's at second, third and short this year. Unfortunately, Vizquel ceased being an offensive weapon several years ago, though his .266/.316/.345 batting line in 2009 was his best offensive season since 2006. He signed a minor league deal last offseason that paid him $1MM.
Where do MLBTR's readers see Vizquel playing next year? Could a return to Cleveland be in order? What about a get together with the Red Sox, who are perpetually looking for a shortstop? Tell us what you think in the comments.