The Blue Jays have designated reliever Neil Wagner for assignment, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets. Wagner had Tommy John surgery in August. He pitched ten innings for the Blue Jays this year, all of them in April and May.
The 30-year-old Wagner was a late-round draft pick by the Indians in 2005, and he made his way to the Athletics in a minor trade in 2010. He briefly appeared in the big leagues with the A’s in 2011, then briefly pitched in the Padres organization before signing with the Jays in 2012. He had his only significant stint in the big leagues in 2013, when he pitched reasonably well, posting a 3.79 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 38 innings.
The Dodgers have have announced that they’ve designated infielder Carlos Triunfel for assignment. The move clears roster space for top outfield prospect Joc Pederson, who was promoted today.
Triunfel, 24, has received 16 plate appearances with the Dodgers this season. Formerly a top shortstop prospect with the Mariners, he also got cups of coffee with Seattle in 2012 and 2013 before the Dodgers claimed him in April. He spent most of the season with Triple-A Albuquerque and hit .223/.256/.330 in 321 plate appearances, not an impressive performance in a favorable environment for hitters.
The Dodgers have promoted top prospect Joc Pederson, Ryan Walton of Valley Bay News tweets. Pederson still needs to be added to their 40-man roster.
Pederson is in the midst of an offensive season that’s brilliant even in the desert air of Triple-A Albuquerque, hitting .303/.435/.582 in 553 plate appearances. MLB.com currently ranks Pederson the No. 18 prospect in baseball, praising his power (he has 33 home runs so far this season) and plate discipline, but noting that he needs to work on hitting left-handers. Before the season, Baseball America ranked Pederson at No. 34, and ESPN’s Keith Law had him at No. 41.
BA’s Prospect Handbook 2014 ranked Pederson the No. 1 prospect in the Dodgers system, noting that he receives comparisons to players like Curtis Granderson and Jim Edmonds. The Granderson comparison might be apt — Pederson is a lefty hitter who draws plenty of walks and also strikes out a lot, with 149 whiffs so far this year at Triple-A. Whether Pederson will be able to overcome those minor league strikeouts as smoothly as Granderson did remains to be seen, but he’s still an exciting talent with strong tools across the board. He can play all three outfield positions, and he mostly played center with Albuquerque.
Where Pederson will fit with the Dodgers right now is unclear, however. The Dodgers have a number of outfielders who are either performing well (Yasiel Puig, Scott Van Slyke) or very expensive (Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier), and they’ll need to sort through them in order to find playing time for Pederson.
Here’s the latest on the Astros’ managerial situation after the firing of Bo Porter earlier today:
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow says the team could hire a new manager before the end of the season, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Luhnow says the Astros will be looking for similar qualities in a manager that they were looking for when they hired Porter. He also notes that interim manager Tom Lawless could be considered for the job on a permanent basis if he expresses interest in the position.
It certainly sounds like Lawless is interested, to judge from his comments today (via Drellich). “Oh, it was pretty exciting,” he says. “I got (word) yesterday, last night. Jeff called and wanted to know if I wanted to take over the team for the last 30 days, and I said, ‘Sure!’“
Porter has released a statement regarding his dismissal, thanking the Astros and the city of Houston for their support.
One potential candidate to replace Porter could be former Padres star Phil Nevin, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. Nevin has impressed observers with his work this year as the manager for Triple-A Reno in the Diamondbacks’ system.
The Athletics have designated lefty Joe Savery for assignment, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The move clears space on their 40-man roster for catcher Bryan Anderson.
Savery has only pitched four innings for the A’s this season, spending most of it with Triple-A Sacramento, where he posted a 2.84 ERA, 9.1 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 44 1/3 innings. The 28-year-old was a first-round pick by the Phillies in 2007, and he pitched parts of three seasons in the Philadelphia bullpen before the A’s claimed him in February. In the midst of a respectable season, he seems like a reasonable bet to be claimed again, but the A’s already had three good lefties in their bullpen in Luke Gregerson, Fernando Abad and Eric O’Flaherty and didn’t necessarily need Savery.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro says to expect “significant changes” to the team’s roster, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. “I think we need it,” says Amaro. “I think we need it because what we have on our roster right now is not working.” The timing of Amaro’s comments is a bit odd, given that he spent both the July and August deadlines mostly declining to trade veterans (although he did shipJohn Mayberry Jr. to the Blue Jays yesterday). Perhaps, though, there are big moves coming in the offseason. Last week, former GM Pat Gillick took over as interim team president while David Montgomery went on medical leave. Amaro says that the Phillies will not replace him or manager Ryne Sandberg while Gillick is running the team. Here’s more from the National League.
Mets manager Terry Collins is surprised that there wasn’t more interest in pitcher Bartolo Colon before the August deadline, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. “I was a little surprised that there wasn’t more activity,” says Collins. “But I’m happy he’s still here.” Colon cleared waivers despite his respectable performance this season, probably due primarily to his $11MM salary in 2015.
The returns of Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell and improvements by Lucas Duda would suggest that the Mets are trending upward, but the David Wright and Curtis Granderson contracts could become a problem, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York writes. Wright is signed through 2020, and his .264/.324/.364 line this season is way off his career norms. Granderson, meanwhile, hasn’t hit well in the first season of his four-year deal. If those players don’t improve, and if the Mets don’t significantly increase spending, they’ll be stuck paying a large percentage of their team payroll to two relatively unproductive players.
Jonathan Broxton was surprised the Reds traded him to the Brewers, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel reports. “I didn’t see it coming at all, especially with an extra year (remaining on his contract) in there,” Broxton says. Broxton will make $9MM in 2015, plus a $2MM buyout or a $9MM mutual option in 2016. He will pitch in the eighth inning for the Brewers, Haudricourt writes.
The Brewers’ September call-ups will likely include players who aren’t already on their 40-man roster, Haudricourt tweets. That means they’ll have to make moves involving players already on the 40-man. The Brewers have already selected the contract of catcher Matt Pagnozzi, moving Jeff Bianchi to the 60-day DL.
The Mariners have placed first baseman Jesus Montero on the suspended list for the remainder of the 2014 season, the team announced. The move comes as no surprise given that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik recently said that Montero wouldn’t play again this year in order to focus on off-the-field issues. Montero’s suspension and Willie Bloomquist being moved to the 60-day DL creates two spots on the team’s 40-man roster that have been filled by catcher Humberto Quintero and right-hander Carson Smith, who had their contracts selected in corresponding moves.
It was only a few years ago that Montero was considered one of the very best prospects in all of baseball, yet his star has almost completely dimmed after three tumultuous years in Seattle. Montero has hit only .251/.291/.378 with 19 homers over 680 PA as a Mariner while battling injuries, weight issues and a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis case. Just last Thursday, Montero got into a heated altercation with a Mariners scout that apparently stemmed from the crosschecker sending an ice cream sandwich to the dugout as a taunt about Montero’s weight.
Montero was hitting well (an .839 OPS in 409 PA) at Triple-A this season and it seems far too early to write off his career given that he’s just 24 years old. It remains to be seen, however, whether he’ll get another chance with the Mariners organization following this latest incident.
MONDAY: Dunn kept the door slightly open for a 2015 return, telling Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) that he only said he will “probably” retire following the season. He has no intention of continuing his career to chase the 500-homer mark unless he’s on a contending team.
SUNDAY: Adam Dunn says he will retire after the season, Bruce Levine of 670theScore.com tweets. The news comes in the wake of the slugger being traded to Oakland, and comes as no great surprise — he’s in the last season of his $56MM contract, and he’s discussed the possibility of retiring before.
He’s also 34, and his best days as a player seem to be behind him. He remains a prolific power hitter, with 20 home runs in 435 plate appearances this year, and he’s always drawn more than his share of walks. But his batting average has fallen to very low levels — he hasn’t batted above .220 since 2010. And his defense, while never good, has gotten so poor that he’s a liability anywhere other than DH, even considering his obvious offensive skills.
Nonetheless, Dunn will leave behind an impressive body of work, and his extreme homers/walks/strikeouts offensive game makes him an historically unique player. He has 460 career home runs (good for 36th all-time), including at least 38 in seven consecutive seasons from 2004 through 2010. He’s also drawn an impressive 1,311 walks in his career, fourth among active players (behind Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi and Manny Ramirez). Of course, he’s been one of the game’s most frequent strikeout victims — five of his seasons are in the top 20 all time in strikeouts, and he ranks third all-time in whiffs, behind Reggie Jackson and Jim Thome.
Dunn made his mark on Major League pitching immediately, finishing fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2001 (despite only playing half the season in the bigs) and emerging as a poster boy for the sabermetric movement with his “Three True Outcomes” (homers, walks and strikeouts) offensive style. He then blossomed into one of the game’s most feared power hitters as an outfielder and then a first baseman with the Reds, Diamondbacks and Nationals.
Dwyer, a fourth-rounder in the 2009 draft, showed up on a few top-100 prospect rankings prior to the 2011 but he has struggled since, particularly due to control issues. This season saw him pitch primarily out of the bullpen at Triple-A Omaha, and he has a 5.59 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 over 66 innings. Dwyer’s only Major League experience came in the form of three scoreless innings with the Royals last September.
Wood has now been designated for assignment by two different organizations this year, as he was previously DFA’ed by the Indians in May, which led him to be claimed off waivers by Kansas City. Wood struggled at the upper levels of the Royals’ farm system (posting a 6.84 ERA over 25 combined innings at Double- and Triple-A) and he also had a 7.11 ERA in 6 1/3 relief innings with the Tribe this season. It appears as though Wood is still trying to find his way back after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012.
The Pirates have designated first baseman Chris McGuiness for assignment, the club announced. The move creates a 40-man roster spot for right-hander John Holdzkom, whose contract was selected last night.
McGuiness was originally acquired by the Bucs from the Rangers last December in exchange for righty Miles Mikolas. He didn’t see any action at the big league level for Pittsburgh this season and hit .264/.358/.412 with nine homers in 489 PA for Triple-A Indianapolis. Originally drafted in the 13th round of the 2009 draft by the Red Sox, McGuiness has an .801 OPS over 2438 career PA in the minors. The 26-year-old made his Major League debut in June 2013, appearing in 10 games with Texas.
The Astros have fired manager Bo Porter, according to a team press release. Bench coach Dave Trembley has also been relieved of his duties. Tom Lawless will be the club’s interim manager for the rest of the 2014 season.
As reported last week by FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, a divide had grown between Porter and Houston GM Jeff Luhnow. Porter felt that Luhnow was overly critical of his in-game strategy, and he also didn’t think his own opinions were being heard within the front office. Porter was also upset that he wasn’t consulted when Mark Appel was brought to Minute Maid Park for a throwing session in July, a move that also drew complaints from several Astros players.
As part of the team’s official statement, Luhnow predictably didn’t address any specific issues between he and Porter, yet hinted at differences of opinion by saying “I believe we need a new direction in the clubhouse.”
“What we will seek going forward is a consistent and united message throughout the entire organization. It is essential that as an organization we create an atmosphere at the Major League level where our young players can come up and continue to develop and succeed. Ultimately, I am responsible for creating that culture and I will do everything in my power to do so — even when it means making difficult moves like the one we made today.”
Porter was hired as the Astros’ manager in September 2012 and officially took over the job on Opening Day 2013. He had a 110-190 record with the rebuilding club, and Luhnow noted in his statement that Porter’s record wasn’t the issue: “I recognize that our win-loss record is largely a product of an organizational strategy for which I am responsible.”
This has not been a stellar year for the Astros front office, as the Porter firing is the latest in a series of controversies that have emerged in Houston this season. There was a dispute over George Springer‘s promotion, several of the team’s trade discussion notes were leaked online and the Astros were heavily criticized for both their failure to sign first overall pick Brady Aiken and their subsequent decision to pull out of an agreement with fifth-rounder Jacob Nix. It’s not surprising that Luhnow won this apparent power struggle with Porter given how much the franchise has invested in Luhnow’s rebuilding plan, yet the questions about Luhnow’s stewardship of the team will inevitably continue until the Astros start to produce on the field.
This is Lawless’ first time managing at the Major League level, as he has worked as a manager, coach and roving instructor within the Astros’ organzation for several years. Former Astro Adam Everett has also been hired to take over as bench coach. According to the club’s press release, the Astros will “immediately” begin looking for next long-term manager.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports Images
It was on this day in 1890 that the Dodgers (then playing in Brooklyn and using the rather non-intimidating “Bridegrooms” nickname) swept a triple-header over the Pirates. This was one of the season’s many highlights for the Dod..er, Bridegrooms as they went on to win the franchise’s first National League pennant.
Here’s some news from around the NL West…
If Hanley Ramirez leaves the Dodgers in free agency, it could be for an American League team that could give him the occasional rest day at DH, Peter Gammons writes. Ramirez could also go to a team in need of third base help if he’s willing to switch positions. As recently reported, the Dodgers are wary of giving Ramirez a long-term contract due to concerns about his durability and defense.
Ramirez’s departure would also make it very unlikely that the Dodgers would trade Matt Kemp, Gammons adds. Without Ramirez, the Dodgers will need Kemp to help balance a lineup that would have only one other notable right-handed bat in Yasiel Puig.
Cody Ross knows he’ll be fighting for playing time with the Diamondbacks next season, but the veteran outfielder tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he plans to be fully recovered from the career-threatening hip fracture he suffered in August 2013.
The Rockies could use an upgrade at catcher next season, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post opines. Wilin Rosario has struggled with injuries and performance this season, plus his defense is still a work in progress; Saunders thinks that Rosario’s focus on his glovework may have also been a reason for his dropoff at the plate. Rosario will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason.
The balance of power in the AL West has swung heavily in the Angels’ direction after the Halos completed a four-game sweep of the Athletics on Sunday. Los Angeles now own both baseball’s best record (83-53) and a five-game lead over the struggling A’s, who are looking for answers after an 12-17 August. Oakland is still on track to reach the postseason, as they hold a four-game lead in the AL wild card race.
Here’s the latest from around the AL West…
The A’s will cover $1MM of the roughly $2.3MM remaining on Adam Dunn‘s 2014 salary, and ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that Oakland’s willingness to take on this much of Dunn’s salary was part of the reason why the A’s were able to acquire the slugger. The Giants, Dodgers and at least one other team were also reportedly talking to the White Sox about a Dunn trade.
Astros manager Bo Porter tells Fangraphs’ David Laurila that his relationship with Houston’s front office “is what he expected coming in,” which seems to counter recent rumors of tension between Porter and GM Jeff Luhnow. “My staff and I take all the information from our baseball ops and use it to the best of our ability. Every last component of that is needed to be successful,” Porter said.
Also from Laurila’s piece, 37-year-old lefty Joe Beimel not only has no plans to retire, his 12-year career might only be half-over. “I plan on pitching until I’m at least 50….I don’t see any reason I can’t do what Jamie Moyer did,” Beimel said. “He was starting games at 49 years old and getting guys out with 80 mph. I’m not down that low yet and I figure if he could go six, seven innings, I could at least come in and get one or two guys out.” After missing 2012 and 2013 due to Tommy John surgery, Beimel is enjoying a nice comeback year out of the Mariners‘ bullpen. The veteran southpaw has a 2.03 ERA, 5.2 K/9 and 1.92 K/BB ratio in 40 innings, and he’s held left-handed batters to only a .480 OPS.
The 26-year-old catcher has struggled with the bat. In 258 plate appearances for Triple-A Durham, Solis has hit .210/.238/.292. In 11 major league plate appearances spread over the last two seasons, Solis is 0-for-11 with six strikeouts and one walk. He appeared briefly with the Pirates last season.