Randy Wolf Rumors
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.
Some Saturday afternoon links..
- The Dodgers should have offered salary arbitration to Randy Wolf and Orlando Hudsonto allow themselves the opportunity to receive draft picks, writes Jon Weisman of the Los Angeles Times. Weisman argues that the worst case scenario of being stuck with one or both players at a slightly inflated price for one season wouldn't have been so bad. It's hard to dispute this point as we have yet to see the Dodgers do much of anything this winter.
- Not only are the Athletics talking to free agent Adrian Beltre, they may be the only serious bidder at the moment, according to an item on ESPN's MLB rumor page. The piece also notes that if Beltre's asking price - believed to be north of $10MM per season - drops into Oakland's price range, the Giants, Cardinals, and Tigers could get in the mix.
- Seattle's poor decisions stunted the development of Brandon Morrow, writes Ryan Divish of The News Tribune. While he never had the same ceiling as Tim Lincecum, who was drafted five spots later in the 2006 draft, things could have worked out differently for Morrow if he were given adequate time to develop in the minors.
- Shi Davidi of the Associated Presspraises new Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos and his plan to rebuild the franchise. Davidi writes that Anthopoulos has the support of ownership in a way that J.P. Ricciardi never did.
- A few free agents left on the market might want to consider lowering their asking price, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Adam LaRoche seeking $30MM over three years might be the most wishful of the bunch.
Links to kick off the work week....
- Free agent Troy Glaus prefers a full-time infield corner job over a DH role, and has made his medical records available to all 30 teams reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has Randy Wolf's contract details, courtesy of the AP.
- ESPN's Keith Law provides his take on recent non-tenders Capps, Wang, Ryan Langerhans, Gabe Gross, and Kelly Johnson.
- Jamey Carroll is deciding between multiple two-year offers, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He notes that the Angels, Dodgers, and A's have shown interest. Perhaps today's Craig Counsell signing will lead to a deal for Carroll.
- Chien-Ming Wang might not sign for months, his agent Alan Nero told ESPN's Buster Olney. Speaking to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cards pitching coach Dave Duncan said Wang would interest him.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington explained to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday that Kovacevic's December 8th report of a non-tender threat caused Matt Capps to lose all trade value. As if the possibility couldn't have crossed the minds of Capps' suitors otherwise. But note that Huntington took issue with the leak itself rather than Kovacevic printing it.
- The Blue Jays announced on their official Twitter page that they've agreed to terms with Jose Bautista ($2.4MM) and Dustin McGowan ($500K). McGowan gets a raise of about $80K after missing all of '09 with a shoulder injury. Bautista will receive no raise. Perhaps the Jays had told him that they'd only tender him if he took the same salary.
- Newsday's Ken Davidoff explains that "the whole notion of an 'offer' is overblown," mainly a publicity move.
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times wrote about the emergence of Twitter in baseball coverage, and I contributed a few thoughts.
- The Hanshin Tigers inked lefty Casey Fossum to a one-year deal worth $600K, reports Kyodo News. Fossum, 32 in January, pitched at Triple A for three organizations this year, compiling a 3.55 ERA in 129.3 innings.
- NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman reports that pitcher Colby Lewis will return to MLB after a couple of very effective years starting in Japan.