Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors
On Tuesday, Corky Miller played in his first Major League game since 2010 and he didn't have to wait long for another, starting at catcher for the Reds tonight against the Nationals. The veteran backstop was added to the Reds' 40-man roster earlier this week, as noted by Baseball America's Matt Eddy in his roundup of the week's minor league transactions.
Here are the minor moves that took place today, with the latest at the top of the page...
- The Brewers released right-hander Jim Hoey earlier this week, Eddy reports. Milwaukee signed Hoey to a minor league deal in December. Hoey last pitched in the Majors with the Twins in 2011 and he owns a 7.02 ERA in 59 career innings with the Twins and Orioles.
- The Cardinals have purchased the contract of infielder Jermaine Curtis from Triple-A, the team announced. Curtis, a fifth round pick in the 2008 draft, has a .279/.384/.360 slash line over 1861 career PA in the Cardinals' system and he has spent most of his career playing second and third base. Curtis takes the roster spot of Matt Adams, who was placed on the 15-day DL in a corresponding move.
- On Wednesday, the Braves acquired Roman Colon from the Pirates in exchange for cash considerations. SB Nation's Talking Chop blog appears to have been the first to report the move. Colon, 33, has a 5.19 ERA in 187 1/3 career big league innings. In 1080 1/3 minor league innings, he's posted a 3.92 ERA, 6.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. Colon, who was originally signed by the Braves in 1995, was assigned to Triple-A Gwinnett and struggled in his first outing with the club.
The latest out of baseball's Central divisions...
- Pirates closer Jason Grilli told ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider required) that he wouldn't trade his past trials and tribulations in his career because they've made his new role that much sweeter. Grilli relishes the chance to be "The Guy" at the end of games, and he was encouraged last season by then-teammate Joel Hanrahan telling him, "Grilli, you can definitely do this."
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum recently said he'd be lying if the team's early struggles didn't have him thinking about his job security, but GM Jed Hoyer told ESPN's Jesse Rogers that Sveum's job is secure. "[Job security] shouldn't be what he's thinking about in the least," Hoyer told Rogers in voicing his support.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski addressed reporters regarding Jose Valverde yesterday (video link), noting that a 40-man roster move is on the horizon to get Valverde on the club. Dombrowski said he's pleased to have Valverde back in the fold and that no Triple-A time was necessary given his track record and how his stuff looked at Class A Lakeland. Valverde is throwing 93-95 mph and is throwing better than he was last season, per Dombrowski.
A pair of top prospects made their big league debuts yesterday, as Allen Webster started the second game of a double-header for the Red Sox and Anthony Rendon made his debut at third base for the Nationals with Ryan Zimmerman on the DL. Here's more on each, as well as some other news from baseball's Eastern divisions...
- Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer chronicles Jason Grilli's ascension from the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate to Pirates closer. In 2011, the Phils called up six relievers instead of Grilli, despite his dominant numbers. Grilli had a clause in his contract stating that if another MLB team wanted him on their 25-man roster, the Phillies had to either call him up or release him. Pittsburgh scouts took notice of Grilli, called the Phillies, and Philadelphia elected to release him so he could sign with the Buccos.
- Sonia Cruz, the spokeswoman for Robinson Cano's foundation, appeared in the latest round of Biogenesis documents, according to TJ Quinn and Mike Fish of ESPN. Cruz's name was only connected to a pair of $300 payments, which she said were for her own weight loss interests. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports that MLB sources told him there was no link between Cano and Biogenesis. When he heard about the latest report, a surprised Cano told reporters, including Feinsand, "It's got nothing to do with me."
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal examines the number of starting pitchers needed by the Red Sox in each season over the past decade and notes that the evidence suggests Webster will be back this season. MacPherson also adds that preliminary research indicates this is the earliest the Red Sox have ever turned to seven different starting pitchers in any season.
- The timing of Rendon's call-up suggests that the Nationals may be more willing to let him remain with the club all season than they've let on, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Kilgore points out that Rendon has spent 20 days in the minor leagues, meaning his free agency has been delayed by a full year now.
- Jake Arrieta is at a crossroads with the Orioles, in the mind of the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly. At 27 years of age, Arrieta has passed the "prospect" stage but has yet to find the consistency to convert his above-average repertoire of pitches into consistent success. Connolly notes that it's not wise to trade someone with Arrieta's talent while his value is so low, but moving him to the bullpen hardly maximizes his value.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Jay-Z's cerficiation process won't be complete anytime soon (Twitter link). As expected, CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen will handle Robinson Cano's extension talks.
Earlier today, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) looked at five early season surprises and wondered if they'd be able to sustain it across the entire year. The list begins with Paul Maholm of the Braves and Bowden notes that he wound up there only after Ryan Dempster used his no-trade clause to block a deal to Atlanta. The Braves instead traded prospects for another Cubs starter in Maholm and it worked out for them in a big way. The Braves later used the prospects offered in the Dempster trade to acquire Justin Upton from the D'Backs and Maholm has been more successful since the deal. Here's more from around baseball..
- Royals General Manager Dayton Moore spoke with ESPN's Buster Olney (audio link) on his latest podcast about his moves this winter. Moore explained that he pulled the trigger on the December deal for James Shields because he felt that the club needed to win through pitching. Meanwhile, he expects big things out of Wade Davis once he gets back into the flow of being in the rotation.
- While Russell Martin's offense hasn't shown up yet in 2013, the club's biggest free agent acquisition of the winter has shown something very important in Pittsburgh, writes Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs.
- In his latest mailbag, a reader asked Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star if the Blue Jays should look to sign someone in the wake of injuries to Jose Reyes and Brett Lawrie. In Griffin's eyes, there's no one on the open market right now that could step in and make a difference right away.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that MLB is working to address the lack of African-American participation in baseball, both on the field and in the stands. While the RBI program [Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities] has seen more than 200 of its kids drafted to major league teams, Cafardo writes that it hasn't sparked the kind of interest that leads to a kid getting his friends together and playing an informal game at the park. Here's more from today's column..
- The feeling is that if the Twins aren’t in the race in early July, Josh Willingham would become available. “He’s a power righthanded bat that any contender could stick right in the middle of their lineup and get outstanding production,” said one National League GM. “You’d have to give something up, but he’d be worth the expenditure. He can really hit.”
- Scouts and GMs say Chase Headley could be the most sought-after player at the trade deadline. Part of it is that the Padres star plays third, is a good hitter, and teams in contention believe he would really thrive if he played for a winner.
- The Pirates really wanted shortstop Jose Iglesias in the Joel Hanrahan deal as their scouts felt he would eventually hit. For now, it looks like his offense has improved. “The Pirates really wanted a young shortstop they could build around and Iglesias was the guy they earmarked,” said one baseball executive. “The jury was out by some teams’ evaluations on him, but there was no denying his defense and no denying that he had a chance with the bat as he matured. Maybe that time has come.”
- One scout who watched the Red Sox's Triple-A affiliate recently gave high marks to the club for their haul in last year's mega-deal with the Dodgers. "If Ben Cherington never makes another trade he can rest assured that the two kids he got from the Dodgers [Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa] have tremendous arms." The scout added that he would like to see the Red Sox continue to extend De La Rosa as a starter.
- There’s a feeling among Astros personnel that Chris Carter, who was acquired from the A’s, could emerge as a 30-home run guy. Carter has been hot after a 1-for-19 start to the season.
The Pirates have designated right-hander Chris Leroux for assignment according to Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter). The move creates a roster spot for fellow right-hander Bryan Morris. As Sanserino explains in another tweet, Leroux has been outrighted before, meaning that if he clears waivers, he can refuse a minor league assignment and become a free agent.
Leroux, who turns 29 on Sunday, has allowed 10 runs in 15 2/3 innings for the Buccos over the past two seasons. He's whiffed 15 batters in that time and has fanned 63 hitters in 69 1/3 Major League innings. The Winthrop product was drafted by the Marlins in the seventh round of the 2005 draft and has averaged 93.3 mph on his heater in parts of five big league seasons.
Morris, 26, is the last remnant of the Jason Bay/Manny Ramirez three-team blockbuster that also netted the Pirates then-prospects Craig Hansen, Brandon Moss and Andy LaRoche. He has a 2.57 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 84 Triple-A innings.
The Marlins were questioned about their decision to overlook service time considerations when they added Jose Fernandez to their Opening Day roster. So far, the gamble is working for Miami. The 20-year-old, who is making the jump from High-A ball and is the youngest player on a 2013 Opening Day roster, was outstanding in his MLB debut striking out eight (a franchise record for a debut) while allowing only three hits and one walk in five innings of the Marlins' walkoff loss to the Mets. Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel notes Fernandez is just the seventh starter under the age of 21 to record at least eight strikeouts in his MLB debut since 1916 and only the fourth pitcher in the past 13 years to record six or more strikeouts in his debut joining Oliver Perez, Clayton Kershaw, and teammate Jacob Turner (Twitter link). In other news and notes from the National League:
- Dexter Fowler credits his early season success to the security of his recent two-year, $11.6MM contract extension, writes the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck. Fowler believes the investment shows the Rockies now see him as part of their core and not just a trade chip for pitching.
- A former minority owner of the Pirates believes owner Bob Nutting "is too rational a businessman to ever spend more money to build a winner," reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Conventional wisdom says the economic playing field is too uneven for the Pirates to be competitive without a larger payroll. Ex-Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg, a Pittsburgh native, disagrees telling Biertempfel, "The days when any franchise was revenue-challenged are long over. There is so much revenue in baseball, not just at the local level but also national revenues that sustain every franchise as well as enormous amounts of revenue sharing. Every franchise has the ability to compete without losing money."
- The Giants held their World Series ring ceremony today and and there were some notable no-shows. According to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com, Brian Wilson was invited, but never responded dampening the prospects of a reunion when the Giants' former closer fully recovers from Tommy John surgery. Guillermo Mota meanwhile had a prior family committment, but Baggarly writes he has thrown for the Orioles and could sign a Triple-A contract with them.
- Reliever Mike MacDougal has signed a minor league deal with the Reds, reports Baseball America's Matt Eddy. MLBTR reported exclusively in February the 35-year-old would throw a bullpen for interested teams. MacDougal appeared in just seven games for the Dodgers in 2012, but he posted a 2.05 ERA in 69 appearances with them in 2011.
Here are your minor moves for Friday (all links courtesy of Baseball America's Matt Eddy on Twitter)...
- Long-time Orioles farmhand Mike Flacco -- the brother of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco -- has retired, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com (Twitter link). The 26-year-old first baseman hit .253/.335/.378 in 353 minor league games. Flacco had been with the High-A Salem Red Sox.
- The Mariners released minor league Rule 5 pick Eric Farris, and the second baseman quickly latched on with the Twins, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). The M's plucked Farris off of the Brewers' roster in December.
- The Tigers released defensive wizard Cale Iorg. The shortstop hit just .199/.240/.313 in parts of three seasons at Double-A. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy points out (via Twitter) that Iorg is the son of Brewers first base coach Garth Iorg.
- The Pirates acquired catcher Troy Snitker from the Braves in a trade. The 24-year-old was taken by Atlanta in the 19th round of the 2011 draft and has spent the bulk of the last two seasons in rookie ball.
- Also within that link, Eddy reports that the Phillies acquired shortstop Jose Mojica from theYankees. Mojica hit just .226/.265/.305 for the Bombers' Advanced-A affiliate in 2012.
- The Braves released Dimasther Delgado, who appeared on three organization top 30 lists. The 24-year-old left-hander has a 3.93 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in two years of Advanced-A ball.
- The Rays have released right-hander Jason McEachern, who was a 13th-round selection in the 2008 draft. Eddy notes that McEachern was a projectable high school arm that made it to Class-A but never took a step forward in his fastball velocity. The 22-year-old has a 4.96 ERA in 201 Class-A innings.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Pirates GM Neal Huntington and Rays GM Andrew Friedman claim that their decisions to leave Gerrit Cole (Pirates) and Wil Myers (Rays) in the minors to start the 2013 season were motivated not by service-time concerns, but by those players' readiness, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo reports. Mayo says the scouts he's spoken to can't blame Huntington for sending Cole to Triple-A Indianapolis, since Cole has very limited experience at that level. Friedman, meanwhile, says that he needs to be sure a player is ready before having him compete in the tough AL East. "The AL East will expose very quickly any weaknesses that you have," he says. "So when we bring someone here, we need to feel that he's ready to step in and help us win right away."
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, in contrast, says his organization promoted Jackie Bradley Jr. to start the season -- even though doing so could affect Bradley's timetable for free agency -- because Bradley is one of the organization's 25 best players, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports. "At the end, if there was that level of confidence that he was part of the best 25-man roster, then we felt he should be on the team. That’s part of our responsibility to the fans and to the organization," Cherington says. In addition, Cherington notes, the Red Sox begin their season with plenty of games within their division, and it's especially crucial that they do well in those games. Their first four series against the Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles and Rays, all AL East opponents. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- The Giants have locked up catcher Buster Posey with an eight-year, $159MM extension, but in Keith Law's latest podcast for ESPN, Posey's agent, Jeff Berry of Creative Artist Agency (CAA), contemplates what might have happened if Posey and the Giants had decided to go year-to-year through the arbitration system. Berry argues that Posey's situation would have been unique, because Posey has won an MVP and a Rookie of the Year award and has played for two World Series-winning teams, but after missing much of 2011 to injury, he doesn't have particularly impressive career bulk counting stats, which are a factor in arbitration hearings. "The challenge, first and foremost, in the arb system was looking at, 'Wow, this guy has accomplished things that no one else has ever done, but [among superstars in the arbitration process] he's also played less than anyone,'" Berry says.
- Reacting to Robinson Cano's decision to fire Scott Boras and hire CAA and the rapper Jay-Z as his representation, one agent says that "Jay-Z doesn’t know s--- about baseball," Michael O'Keeffe of the New York Daily News writes. "You don’t hire a real estate agent to do neurosurgery," the agent continues. O'Keeffe goes on to note that, of course, Jay-Z will not be negotiating a deal for Cano, who will be a free agent after the season. That duty will go to CAA, which represents Posey and a number of other MLB stars. Here are more reactions to Cano's agency switch.
- This year's Indians are excited about the team's offseason spending spree, Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal reports. "Hats off to Chris Antonetti and the Dolan family, after losing 94 games [in 2012] they very easily could have folded up shop and said, 'Let’s wait for a few more young kids to develop and see what we’ve got,'" says Jason Giambi, who signed a minor-league deal with Cleveland in February. Instead, he says, "[t]hey went out and got some guys and spent some money. They put together a good ballclub, now we have to answer the bell and play good."
- The Rangers had scouts watching pitcher Joba Chamberlain in spring training, but the Rangers and Yankees never ended up discussing a deal, George A. King III and Zach Braziller of the New York Post write. King and Braziller note that Chamberlain impressed the Yankees with a spring training performance that included nine strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings.
The Giants have claimed pitcher Hunter Strickland off waivers from the Pirates, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com (on Twitter). Pittsburgh designated the right-hander for assignment last week.
Strickland, 24, posted a 4.46 ERA in 42 1/3 innings at the Double-A level last season, while also compiling a 2.98 ERA in 45 1/3 innings at High-A. He has yet to advance above the Double-A level, however.