Randy Wolf Rumors
The Tigers' elimination from the postseason should lead to a handful of postmortems over the next few days, and we've got one in this batch of links ...
- The Tigers are set with nearly all of their core players under team control, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com, but they'll have to address their need for some complementary players. In particular, Detroit will have to look at shoring up second base, third base and right-handed relief. Beck also wonders whether the Tigers will consider signing shortstop Jose Reyes and moving Jhonny Peralta over to the hot corner.
- Despite recent reports that Jim Crane will be approved as next Astros owner in November, Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle is "still not sure that's going to happen." MLB, extremely conscious of its image and the the images of its teams and owners, appears uncomfortable with aspects of Crane's background, according to Justice, including past allegations of discrimination, enumerated here in a Forbes.com report.
- Although compensation negotiations between the Cubs and Red Sox are reportedly becoming contentious, Alex Speier of WEEI.com opines that the deal is virtually inevitable, because too many interested parties want it to go through.
- Brewers lefty Randy Wolf has resurrected his career the past few seasons after missing a sizable chunk of his prime years to injury, writes Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner. Wolf parlayed his brief stint with the Astros in 2008 into a one-year deal with the Dodgers and then a three-year pact with the Brewers. Houston GM Ed Wade wanted to re-sign Wolf after 2008, explains Goff, but felt he didn't have the payroll flexibility.
In today's notes column, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe wonders if the Red Sox would move closer Jonathan Papelbon after the season to open up the closer's role for Daniel Bard. He speculates that the Brewers, Twins, Rays, Braves, and Phillies could be in the market for a closer this winter. Papelbon is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2011 season.
Let's round up the rest of Cafardo's rumors...
- Scott Boras said he undervalued Stephen Strasburg last year, even though he eventually signed the largest contract in draft history. Boras added that being around San Diego State coach Tony Gwynn helped Strasburg become prepared for what lied ahead.
- Cafardo says that New England isn't a high priority area for scouts before the draft because by time they can get out to see the players in the region, it's too late in the game for a cross-checker to confirm anything.
- Cafardo predicts that Jacoby Ellsbury will be traded this offseason. He'll arbitration eligible for the first time after 2010, though he's been battling rib issues basically all season.
- He also remarks that the Red Sox would have to play Mike Lowell if they want to showcase him for a trade. Lowell has received just 50 plate appearances since the end of April.
- Kevin Millwood should become major trade bait as the deadline approaches because he's pitched well and is in the final year of his contract.
- The Brewers would love to make Randy Wolf available, but no one would take him on with more than two years and $24MM left on his deal. Meanwhile, Milwaukee still isn't sure if they'll try to improve their catching situation or become sellers and look towards next season.
- The feeling is that once Seattle trades Cliff Lee, pretty much everyone on their roster not named Ichiro and Felix Hernandez will be available as well.
- Diamondbacks' CEO Derrick Hall isn't happy with his team's performance and has talked about re-evaluating his management staff. They could be major players at the deadline, with Justin Upton representing the only untouchable.
- Cafardo says that the feeling among big league executives is that the Dodgers will not give up the prospects necessary to acquire Roy Oswalt, but they would be okay taking on the money.
- Adam Dunn would be a perfect fit for the Red Sox if they let David Ortiz go after the season, assuming the Nationals don't re-sign him.
When the Brewers effectively replaced starters Manny Parra and Braden Looper with Randy Wolf and Doug Davis this offseason, the rotation seemed better-positioned to carry the team than it was last year, when Brewers pitching was largely disappointing.
Their starters posted a 5.37 ERA a year ago and their pitching staff as a whole allowed more runs than every NL club except the Nationals. GM Doug Melvin discussed trading for Kevin Correia, Jarrod Washburn, Doug Davis, Brian Bannister and others when the team was in contention last summer. The Brewers even claimed Davis, but they never made a major move.
This year the Brewers are among the worst teams in the National League in runs allowed (14th) and home runs allowed (15th). Their bullpen has been disappointing, but the starters have done better than last year, combining for a 4.70 ERA.
Yovani Gallardo has been fantastic so far, with a 3.07 ERA and 11.0 K/9. Wolf's ERA is below 4.00, but he's walking significantly more batters than he did with the Dodgers last year. Like Wolf, Dave Bush has an ERA around 4.00, but is walking far more batters than usual. Meanwhile, hitters are batting .415 on balls they put in play off of Davis. That figure should drop and drag Davis' 7.56 ERA down along with it. Rounding out the rotation, Chris Narveson pitched well against the D'Backs on Sunday, but he is no sure thing.
The Brewers have some options within the organization should their current starters falter. Carlos Villanueva has experience starting and this year he's throwing harder than ever. Villanueva, the team's pitcher of the month in April, is striking out more than a batter per inning. John Axford, ranked 23rd among Brewers prospects by Baseball America before the season, is pitching well in Triple A and could be called upon to replace Villanueva in the 'pen.
The Brewers have a solid but unremarkable rotation at this point, though they're surely hoping to see Wolf and Bush limit their free passes. We can expect Davis to improve and Villanueva could contribute, so the Brewers don't appear as desperate to acquire arms as they were a year ago. It may all be a moot point. If Milwaukee can't turn things around, they may become sellers and Jeff Suppan, Davis and Bush could be trade bait for other clubs.
Recently MLBTR spoke to several MLB executives to gather their nominations for the best and worst moves of the offseason.
Free agent signings that received mention for the best moves: Felipe Lopez, Adrian Beltre, Adam LaRoche, Chone Figgins, Hideki Matsui, and Aroldis Chapman. Said one exec on Chapman: "He might truly live up to the hype." It's hard not to praise the Cards for getting Lopez on a one-year, $1MM deal.
Three trades came up as choices for the best moves of the offseason: the Mariners' acquisition of Cliff Lee, the Royals' trade of Mark Teahen, and the Rangers' trade of Kevin Millwood. One exec noted that the Mariners "didn't trade anyone that can hurt them in the next couple of years" for Lee, while another believed that "trading Lee and Kyle Drabek in the Roy Halladay deal will hurt [the Phillies] in the long run." The Royals received props for "getting some value for Teahen," while the Rangers' increased payroll flexibility from the Millwood deal was noted.
Nominated for the worst moves: free agent deals for Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, Brandon Lyon, Jason Kendall, Aubrey Huff, Jason Marquis, Randy Wolf, and Garrett Atkins. All the execs polled mentioned Holliday's seven year, $120MM deal when choosing their worst deals of the winter. Said one: "The fear that he would sign a one-year deal elsewhere and take his chances a year from now — that just doesn't make sense to me."
Aside from Kendall and Huff, there was a vibe of "like the player, hate the contract" with the panned free agent signings. One exec felt the Royals downgraded behind the plate with Kendall. Huff was nominated as a small-scale misstep, in that the exec felt that "Hank Blalock is better and he couldn't get half that salary on a non-roster deal."
Saturday night linkage..
- The Orioles are in search of a lefty reliever, writes The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. The guy the O's really want is Will Ohman, as they extended him a minor league contract offer in late January. Japanese lefty Hisanori Takahashi and Joe Beimel are also options for the club.
- Joe McDonald and Daniel Barbarisi of The Providence Journal take a look at the big decision Boston will face - whether or not to re-sign Josh Beckett.
If the BoSox choose not to retain the 29-year-old, they'll have to
recognize that his replacement likely won't be found in free agency.
- Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel praises GM Doug Melvin for stocking up on hurlers this offseason. Free agent pickups Randy Wolf and Doug Davis were brought aboard to help support Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan, Manny Parra, and Yovani Gallardo.
- Giants managing general partner Bill Neukom is not sure that the Giants' payroll will reach $100MM as has been originally reported, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco's payroll was $82.6MM to start the 2009 season.
With the likes of Ben Sheets and Jon Garland now signed, FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi provided an update on Jarrod Washburn, one of the few high-profile arms left on the rapidly-dwindling free agent pitching market. Morosi quotes one source who said that Washburn only wants to play in “a limited number of places,” and another source who says he "would be surprised" if the lefty went anywhere besides Minnesota or Seattle.
The Twins have made one attempt to sign Washburn: an offer worth roughly $5MM that was rejected earlier this month. Given Minnesota's signing of Carl Pavano to serve as the veteran anchor of their rotation, Washburn would've been a luxury that the Twins may feel that they can live without.
As for the Mariners, we've heard some whispers that they might be interested in bringing Washburn back to the city where he pitched from 2006 to last year's trade deadline. The M's have already spent a lot of money this offseason, but Washburn might be enticed to return to a familiar situation for a contract akin to the one he turned down from Minnesota. Then again, Washburn is a Scott Boras client, so a bargain could be hard to come by.
Another source tells Morosi that six teams "have inquired" about Washburn. Aside from Minnesota and Seattle, we've heard Washburn linked to such suitors as Milwaukee (who are probably out of the running after signing Randy Wolf and Doug Davis), Kansas City and the Mets. Morosi also points out that the Cubs could join the Washburn sweepstakes in the wake of missing out on Sheets.
7:37pm: According to Tim Brown's Twitter feed, "In the face of economic limitations, Dodgers working on a way to sign Joel Pineiro."
7:09pm: According to Ed Price's Twitter feed, the Mets and Joel Pineiro are talking, with the money somewhere around two years, $15MM.
At that price, you'd have to think a deal could get done quickly. The Mets have been interested in Pineiro all offseason, though Pineiro has seemed to be looking for a deal that rivals or exceeds the three-year, $29.75MM contract Randy Wolf signed with the Brewers.
Two years, $15MM is exactly what Jason Marquis signed for earlier this offseason with the Nationals. Despite the concerns over whether Pineiro can repeat his successful 2009 without Dave Duncan, his pitching coach with the Cardinals, the Mets would be taking a worthwhile risk at that price and length.
Pineiro was 15-12 in 2009 with a 3.49 ERA and just 27 walks in 214 innings pitched.
The Brewers may be right up against their 2010 payroll limit according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, however GM Doug Melvin is still looking to upgrade his club.
"If we can [add another starter] we'd like to," Melvin said at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings. "We might not be able to. We're always looking to improve the club.
"We're trying to keep flexibility to do things. The worst thing you can do is lose flexibility. We still want to be aggressive but we can step back and look at the landscape, see what takes place with free agents and trades."
McCalvy notes that the club's free agent signings total a $21MM commitment for 2010, plus there's another $37MM or so tied up in players already on their roster. The team has seven players eligible for salary arbitration, and there's about $18MM budgeted for them. If they fill out their roster with players making close to the minimum, it'll push Melvin's club over their $80MM or so projected payroll.
Given Randy Wolf's price tag, the team may not be able to add the second starter they crave. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com said the Brewers will "almost certainly" sign one of Jon Garland, Doug Davis, or Jarrod Washburn, though they may have to make a move to free up some cash to sign one of them.
Here's a round-up of a few news items floating around the baseball world tonight....
- MLB.com's Jason Beck reports that Detroit might sit out the bidding for the few remaining closers on the market and instead hope that youngsters Ryan Perry, Daniel Schlereth or a healthy Joel Zumaya are able to pick up some saves.
- Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reports (via Twitter) that the Mets "have debated" the merits of offering Joel Pineiro a two-year contract, but Pineiro wants a deal akin to the three-year, $29.75MM contract that Randy Wolf signed with Milwaukee.
- Corey Brock of MLB.com reports that the Padres will sign an experienced backup catcher "within a few weeks."
- Dave Cameron of the U.S.S. Mariner blog isn't a big fan of Seattle's trade for Casey Kotchman.
- The apparent lack of interest in free agent Jason Giambi means that there's a greater chance he ends up back in Colorado, reports MLB.com's Thomas Harding.
- With Boston's signing of Adrian Beltre, Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas thinks that the Rangers might have leverage to get a more favorable trade for Mike Lowell, should Texas still be interested.
Ever since the news of Frank and Jamie McCourt's divorce proceedings broke last October, Dodgers fans have been wondering (and dreading) if the ownership dispute would impact the team's operations. The first two months of the offseason have been quiet enough in L.A. to make it look like the Dodgers are themselves also still waiting to see how things will play out with the McCourts and have thus been in a holding pattern in regards to next season's payroll.
This isn't to say that Los Angeles hasn't been active. The Dodgers traded Juan Pierre to the White Sox, were involved in the Roy Halladay sweepstakes, tried to acquire Aaron Harang from Cincinnati and signed utilityman Jamey Carroll. But, as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports pointed out today, the club is playing even-steven with its offseason moves in order to steady the budget. For instance, the Dodgers saved $8MM over the next two seasons by dealing Pierre, and spent $3.85MM of those savings to sign Carroll. Acquiring another notable free agent (such as Rosenthal's example of Joel Pineiro) would require L.A. to make another move to free up the cash to sign the right-hander.
We've already seen a bit of penny-pinching from the team this winter when they didn't offer arbitration to any of their free agents, passing on the chance to acquire compensatory draft picks for Type A free agents Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf out of fear that Hudson or Wolf might accept the offer. The bright side for Dodgers fans is that the team is at least keeping the payroll stable, rather than shifting into outright cost-cutting mode. Rosenthal notes that there are no plans to deal any of L.A.'s young stars before their arbitration years --- trading the likes of Andre Ethier, for example, would be "counter-productive" given Ethier's reasonable arbitration number and Manny Ramirez's slight decline.
This stand-pat strategy will force Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti to be creative in filling the holes on a club that has lost the NLCS to Philadelphia in each of the last two seasons. Rosenthal said that George Sherrill is "a candidate to be traded," but L.A. wouldn't save much money from the deal and getting rid of Sherrill would weaken their bullpen. There is also a need to sign a veteran like Pineiro to anchor the otherwise young starting rotation.