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Some links for your Sunday reading pleasure…
- Jason Donald's hand injury inspires Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer to ask whether the Indians would consider starting Lonnie Chisenhall's service clock as soon as Opening Day.
- Lastings Milledge, who was the youngest free agent available this past winter, is off to a good start with the White Sox, says Brett Ballantini of CSNChicago.
- Mark Buehrle won't keep pitching for money or milestones, writes Dan McNeil of the Chicago Tribune. If he keeps pitching beyond 2011, it'll be with a contender and in a place that's comfortable for his family.
- Jhonny Peralta isn't fretting his transition back to the shortstop position, writes MLive.com's Dick Scanlon.
- Hoynes answers plenty of reader questions in this Q&A for the Plain Dealer, and address issues such as the prospect hauls for departed All-Stars and maximizing trade value. He also opines that Orlando Cabrera could become a mid-season target for the Phillies if Chase Utley's injury is serious enough.
2:45pm: Cabrera says he's not retiring after 2011 and that his comments were misunderstood, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian (Twitter links). The infielder hopes to play for many more years, according to Bastian. Cabrera says shifting to second base could prolong his career by two or three years, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer (on Twitter).
11:03am: Orlando Cabrera told the Colombian paper El Universal that he would like to reach 2000 hits (he needs 52) and 500 doubles (he needs 57) before he retires (link in Spanish, translated by MLBTR's Nick Collias). But Cabrera says he'll be ready to retire after the season, since he wants to leave the game on his own terms.
"This is my last season," Cabrera said. "Something I’ve seen in professional ball since I signed, and something that has made an impression on me, is when a manager calls a player to his office to release him. That, for me, is the saddest thing I’ve seen outside of the death of a beloved family member. It’s something indescribable, although it’s normal in this job. I’ve always said my retirement would be under my own terms, and this is a great opportunity for me. I’m leaving without them telling me, ‘We don’t want to see you anymore around here.’"
Cabrera, 36, signed a one-year, $1MM deal with the Indians this month. The Cartagena, Colombia native posted a .263/.303/.354 line in 537 appearances for the NL Central Champion Reds last year and says he drew interest from 10-12 teams this offseason.
Let's take a look at some links for Monday night..
- Jane Lee of MLB.com writes that Athletics manager Bob Geren believes that his club has improved by leaps and bounds this winter.
- Recent addition Orlando Cabrera might not hold the Indians' starting second-base job for long, writes Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.
- Yankees captain Derek Jeter is not going to be happy about the comments made by Hank Steinbrenner earlier today, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution points out that Braves GM Frank Wren is now under contract for the same period as manager Fredi Gonzalez, whom he hired to replace Bobby Cox. Earlier today the two sides agreed to a two-year contract extension.
- There may not be a spot in the Blue Jays' bullpen for pitcher Casey Janssen but the veteran says he's not looking for a way out of Toronto, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com.
- New to San Diego, Jorge Cantu says that he's ready to produce even though he'll be asked to move around the diamond, writes MLB.com's Tom Singer. The Padres offically inked Cantu to a one-year deal worth $850K towards the end of January.
- Speaking of brand new members of the Pads, Kevin Frandsen is delighted to be back in the National League, tweets Dan Hayes of the North County Times.
Paul Hoynes and Terry Pluto at the Cleveland Plain Dealer have the latest on the Tribe….
- In a mailbag, Hoynes explains that the Indians likely didn't consider bringing back Manny Ramirez because they preferred to add a player who could handle the outfield – like Austin Kearns.
- Within the same article, Hoynes says that the Red Sox have approached the Indians multiple times about the possibility of re-acquiring Justin Masterson. The Indians aren't likely to move the right-hander, but Hoynes points out they'd be "silly not to listen."
- Hoynes also adds that he still thinks Jeremy Bonderman could become an Indian, on a minor league deal. However, he doesn't see the team signing Kevin Millwood unless the veteran's asking price goes down.
- In a separate piece, Fausto Carmona tells Hoynes that he's happy in Cleveland and unfazed by trade rumors involving him: "I never read the newspaper in the Dominican Republic. I can't control the situation. A lot of people see something on the Internet and call me and say do you know about this trade? I just tell them I'm ready to play, no matter what the situation."
- Pluto says he's come around on the Orlando Cabrera signing after finding out it was only for $1MM. He notes that, if Cabrera plays well, the Tribe could turn him into a midseason trade chip as they did with Russell Branyan last year.
The Indians officially announced that they signed Orlando Cabrera to a one-year Major League contract. Cabrera gets $1MM according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (on Twitter). Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the deal includes incentives (Twitter link).
The 36-year-old Colombian will compete for the second base job, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Indians are keeping Asdrubal Cabrera at short and challenging their new acquisition to learn a new position.
Cabrera has 33 games of big league experience at second base, but has spent most of his 14-year career at shortstop. Last year, Cabrera hit .263/.303/.354 in 537 plate appearances for Ohio's other team, the Reds. Cincinnati did not offer the Type B free agent arbitration after the season, so they don't get a compensation pick for their loss.
Cabrera's deal is just the second one the Indians have completed under new GM Chris Antonetti, as MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows. The team brought Austin Kearns back to Cleveland earlier in the offseason.
Cabrera's brother, Jolbert, spent five seasons with the Indians (1998-2002). Jon Heyman of SI.com first reported the agreement between Cleveland and Cabrera.
In a ceremony today at the White House for winners of the Presidential Medal Of Freedom, President Obama described Cardinals legend Stan Musial as "an icon, untarnished, a beloved pillar of the community, a gentleman you would want your kids to emulate." Congratulations to Musial for adding this prestigious award to his overflowing list of lifetime achievements.
Let's look at the middle of the baseball map for news from the NL and AL Central divisions…
- Tony La Russa is facing sharp criticism over his comments that the MLBPA was pressuring Albert Pujols to sign a record-setting contract. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports calls La Russa's statement "excessive and nonsensical." Agent Scott Boras, speaking to Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy on MLB Network Radio today, said La Russa's comments were "really not well thought out" and lacking in evidence.
- Boras noted that he hasn't spoken "at length" with his client Matt Holliday about Holliday's recent statement that he would consider deferring money from his own contract if it meant St. Louis could keep Pujols. "Matt is very generous and Matt really wants the best for his team and he wants to win," Boras said. Thanks to Andrew FitzPatrick of SiriusXM for providing a transcript of Boras' interview.
- Ed Wade discussed Hunter Pence's leadership abilities, his club's bullpen depth, Brett Wallace's opportunity to win an everyday job and other Astros topics in a media Q&A session. MLB.com's Brian McTaggart has the partial transcript.
- Braden Looper tells MLB.com's Carrie Muskat that he would've retired if he hadn't been signed by the Cubs, since he and his family live in the Chicago area. Looper expressed his interest in pitching for the Cubs last winter and sat out the 2010 season after not finding an acceptable contract.
- Chris Antonetti says the chances of the Indians acquiring another starter are "slim," tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- Also from Hoynes, Orlando Cabrera's deal with the Tribe will become official once the infielder passes a physical over the next two days.
- Daniel Hudson talks to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune about the deal that sent the young right-hander from the White Sox to the Diamondbacks last summer.
- The Royals finalized their $300K contract with Dominican pitcher Darwin Castillo, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. The team has yet to determine if the 6'5" right-hander will go to the Arizona Rookie League or pitch for the Royals' Dominican academy.
On this day in 1989, the Yankees re-signed Tommy John, who was 45 years old at the time. John lost seven of the 10 starts he made in '89, and was released by the Yankees on May 30th. It would be his last stint in the majors. Of course, over two decades later, the southpaw is a bigger household name than ever, immortalized as the namesake of a surgical procedure now common among pitchers: Tommy John surgery. Here are the links for Sunday, as we celebrate the return of baseball. Pitchers and catchers report!
- Jamey Newberg provides some reasons that Michael Young is unlikely to be traded. He points out that Texas doesn't match up well with contenders looking to add offense because those contending teams don't want to give up players who will help them win in 2011.
- Jonathan Papelbon doesn't know why everyone assumes he won't be with the Red Sox after 2011, tweets Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. However, in this piece from WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, Papelbon voices his desire to be the "number one guy" on free agency next offseason and says Rafael Soriano's contract helped set the bar for elite relievers.
- Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel discusses five questions about the Marlins' roster changes for 2011.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider-only link) thinks Michael Young makes a lot of sense for the Brewers. Not only would Young represent an upgrade over Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop, but it was GM Doug Melvin who initially acquired Young from the Blue Jays in 2000. Olney acknowledges, however, that Milwaukee's minor league system has been depleted by the Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum deals, and the money situation might not work.
- It's been an up-and-down offseason for the Rangers, writes Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- The Indians view recently signed infielder Orlando Cabrera as a super utility type who could play not just second base, but also shortstop and third base as needed, according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
This winter the Brewers have been working to sign Rickie Weeks to a multiyear extension. There hasn't been much news on that front in the last week, but here are some other noteworthy developments out of Milwaukee..
- The Brewers and pitcher Shaun Marcum remain deadlocked as they are less than 24 hours away from a scheduled arbitration meeting, writes MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. As seen on MLBTR's Arb Tracker, Marcum is seeking $5MM while the Brewers have offered $3MM. Brewers senior director of business operations Teddy Werner remains hopeful that the two sides can work out a deal, citing previous cases that the club has settled in the eleventh hour. As McCalvy pointed out on Sunday, Francisco Liriano's arb case could impact Marcum's as both pitchers submitted figures of $5MM. Liriano wound up settling with the Twins for $4.3MM.
- The club has not inquired about free agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera, GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter). Some have speculated, including SI's Jon Heyman, that Milwaukee was a possible landing spot for the veteran. This likely means that the club will take care of the shortstop position internally, turning the keys over to Yuniesky Betancourt.
Offseason grades were revealed for the NL Central on Tuesday by ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, and his colleague Jerry Crasnick has marks for the AL West today. Here's more on that and a couple other tidbits of note …
- The A's had the best offseason of the AL West clubs, writes Crasnick, after adding some pop to their lineup relatively cheaply and solidifying their bullpen behind their strong, young starting rotation. They missed out on a couple bigger-ticket players and added some guys with injury questions, Crasnick notes, but they improved overall. The Rangers fared OK this offseason, writes Crasnick. The loss of Cliff Lee hurts Texas, as does its mishandling of a good asset in Michael Young, although Adrian Beltre was a nice if pricey add. The Angels and Mariners had a rough go of it, according to Crasnick, with the Halos committing too much money to Vernon Wells in the wake of losing out on Carl Crawford, and the M's pulling off some "uninspiring" signings, like Miguel Olivo.
- Free-agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera is talking to a couple teams and is "too good not to get a job," writes Jon Heyman of SI.com. The Twins, Brewers and Pirates all could make sense as a landing spot for Cabrera, Heyman explains.
- The Mets have signed outfielder Lorenzo Scott to a minor league deal, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Scott, 28, spent 2010 in the Marlins organization, primarly with the Double-A Jacksonville Suns of the Southern League. There he hit .265/.369/.412 in 324 plate appearances.
- The Mariners have signed Moises Hernandez, the older brother of Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, to a minor league deal, tweets Matt Eddy of Baseball America. Hernandez, 26, was last with a Major League organizaiton in 2009, when he pitched for three Braves affiliates. For his minor league career, Hernandez has a 4.37 ERA in 116 appearances (57 starts).
- MLBTR founder and owner Tim Dierkes was interviewed by the folks over at BaseballNation.net recently, so be sure to give that a read for more information on the innerworkings of MLBTR.
Owner Chuck Greenberg and the Rangers were slower to offer Cliff Lee a competitive deal than other interested clubs, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Lee's camp wanted to keep the Rangers involved in the bidding, though they started with a 'lowball' offer before offering $100MM and, eventually, even more. The Rangers justified their lower offers by pointing out that Texas has no state income tax, but Lee asked around and determined that he wouldn't save that much, since he lives in Arkansas.
Talks between Lee and the Phillies broke off twice before the sides reached an agreement. If the Phillies hadn't completed the deal, the Yankees would have been seen as the favorites to sign the lefty, according to Heyman. Here are the rest of his rumors:
- One GM says Orlando Cabrera isn't being reasonable. "I don't think he gets the position he's in," the GM said, alluding to the lack of job openings remaining for the shortstop.
- The Rangers didn't show serious interest in Vernon Wells, according to Heyman.
- Executives around the game believe that Albert Pujols will sign an extension with the Cardinals. If the sides don't reach a deal by Spring Training, Pujols will be a free agent after the season, in which case the Cubs may be "best positioned" to pursue him, in the opinion of one executive.
- The Angels are still interested in signing or trading for a leadoff hitter. Scott Podsednik is out there, and could be a fit in L.A.
- One executive believes the Rangers will lose to Josh Hamilton if the sides go to an arbitration hearing. Heyman hears that the Rangers won't bring up Hamilton's history of substance abuse in a hearing. Keep track of all the remaining arbitration cases using our Arb Tracker.