Ruben Amaro Jr. Rumors
On this date nine years ago, the Astros signed Richard Hidalgo to a four-year, $32MM contract. At the time, it was the third-richest contract in franchise history, behind only Jeff Bagwell's five-year, $85MM deal and Craig Biggio's four-year, $33MM deal. Hidalgo would go on to hit .266/.342/.475 with 87 home runs during the life of the deal, though he was dealt to the Mets mid-way through the 2004 season.
Here's a look at what's been written around the web...
- Camden Crazies looks at some potential replacements for Brian Roberts and his injured back.
- SPANdemonium presents a lineup of players 25-years-old or younger who should be locked up to long-term contracts.
- River Ave. Blues remembers when the Yankees pursued Brian Giles as a free agent.
- Capital Ave. Club quantitatively evaluates 16 of Braves' GM Frank Wren's most notable moves.
- Meanwhile, Long Drive evaluates Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro Jr. in a three-part series.
- Gear Up For Sports wonders is the Angels did enough this offseason.
- Around The Majors breaks down the first base trade market.
- The Dugout Report examines some Spring Training position battles.
If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.
Brendan Bianowicz is back with a bunch of updates to the GM Trade History series. The Excel spreadsheets linked below cover each GM's trades, free agent signings, and top draft picks via tabs along the bottom. It's interesting to see each GM's most frequent trade partner - for example, Omar Minaya has matched up with Larry Beinfest and Mark Shapiro most often in his career.
- Washington Nationals - Jim Bowden and Mike Rizzo
- Philadelphia Phillies - Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro Jr.
- New York Mets - Omar Minaya
- Florida Marlins - Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill
- Atlanta Braves - Frank Wren
Links for Thursday...
- ESPN's Keith Law has the latest on the battle between Andy Oliver and the NCAA over whether players can have agents and still be eligible for the draft.
- Yahoo's Gordon Edes writes about the ascension of Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. Edes notes that the Phils still do not have a full-time statistical analyst.
- Former D'Backs pitching coach Bryan Price landed a minor league consulting gig with the Phillies, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says it's "believed though not confirmed" that Tanner Scheppers has granted the Pirates permission to draft him again if they choose. The Pirates did not sign him last year due to health concerns, but now he's looking like a top-ten pick.
- A couple of powerful prospects got the call: Nolan Reimold with the Orioles and Mat Gamel with the Brewers. For the Brewers, Brad Nelson now has to decide whether to accept a Triple A assignment. The Orioles and Brewers are risking Super Two status with these call-ups, but only if the players are not sent back down.
According to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, the Phillies have no immediate plans to add another bench player.
GM Ruben Amaro Jr. was asked if his club is still interested in Nomar Garciaparra. "If I were to handicap this thing," Amaro responded, "I would say less than 50 percent." It probably depends on the A's interest. Phillies officials said last week that they have no desire to enter a bidding war with another team.
Amaro also said talks are "still open" with the representatives for left-handers Joe Beimel and Will Ohman. "But nothing has changed there," added the general manager. Both relievers are holding out for bigger and better offers. As Zolecki writes,
Amaro said a few days ago that those relievers would have to accept a very modest salary to join the Phillies. That likely means a contract worth less than $1 million.
According to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, the Phillies are looking at an Opening Day 25-man roster payroll of $132.5MM, a franchise record.
The Phils can expect an increase in merchandise and ticket sales after their 2008 World Series win, but the club might not have much of a budget for in-season acquisitions. Ryan Howard will command the highest salary from the Phillies in '09 at $15MM. Brett Myers is second at $12MM.
8:18pm: Philadelphia's search for a right-handed bat continues. Alden Gonzalez adds an update on MLB.com.
Names the Phillies have been linked to in that regard include Nomar Garciaparra, Ty Wigginton, Moises Alou, Rich Aurilia, Mark Grudzielanek and Kevin Millar, Gonzalez wrote.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Gonzalez that the addition does "not necessarily" need to be an infielder, though a little insurance while Pedro Feliz and Chase Utley recover from offseason surgeries wouldn't hurt.
"We're looking for a guy that has a bit of that versatility that's needed in the National League," Amaro told Gonzalez.
Jan. 23: Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer has the latest on the Phillies' pursuit of a right-handed bench bat. Names of interest: Nomar Garciaparra, Moises Alou, Mark Grudzielanek, Rich Aurilia, and Kevin Millar.
Salisbury says Garciaparra is the team's first choice, but Ruben Amaro Jr. remarked, "We can't be held hostage by Nomar, though he'd be a guy we'd like to bring in." Salisbury's source says the Phils are going "pretty hard" after Alou, who will attempt to re-establish his health in the World Baseball Classic. Two issues there: Alou's playing time expectations may be too high, and he reportedly prefers the AL where he can DH.
Links for Friday. As always, I'll update this post with more stuff so refresh later if you're interested.
- Nick Piecoro suggests catcher Miguel Montero could be the D'Backs' best trade chip. Their needs will be second base and perhaps starting pitching.
- The Marlins' top priority is improving their defense.
- Dave Cameron takes apart Scott Boras' claim about Oliver Perez. If more of these client books leak out, Boras is going to have to hire Cameron to keep him quiet.
- White Sox GM Ken Williams talked about adding speed from within, though Williams is notoriously unpredictable.
- Two 19 year-old Indian men named Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel will try out in front of Major League scouts today after winning the Million Dollar Arm contest. The idea of the contest was to find raw talent among India's huge population, kids who could hit 85mph consistently. The Red Sox and Indians are among the clubs in attendance.
- The Phillies may be interested in Junichi Tazawa, though Ruben Amaro's "We know of him" comment isn't exactly an endorsement. The Indians, Yankees, and D'Backs will pass on Tazawa, who could command $7MM.
- Also at NPB Tracker, a second Japanese club hopes to convince the Rangers to trade Nelson Cruz. Doesn't make much sense for Texas.
- Amaro is figuring out his front office; Chuck LaMar has been promoted to assistant GM.
- Chris De Luca's sources close to Bud Selig say there's "zero chance" Bud and the owners let Mark Cuban buy the Cubs.
- Baseball America has the full list of 561 minor league free agents. See anyone you like?
- Former Dodgers GM Fred Claire looks at the notable waiver claims of the past few years.
- Baseball Prospectus' John Perrotto says the Twins are reportedly willing to trade Delmon Young to the Padres for Kevin Kouzmanoff.
In a news conference this morning, the Phillies announced Ruben Amaro Jr. as their new GM. He received a three-year contract. He beat out player development exec Mike Arbuckle, who resigned. On the docket for Amaro: ten potential arbitration cases and key free agents like Pat Burrell and Jamie Moyer.
On Friday, SI.com's Jon Heyman suggested Ruben Amaro Jr. was the most likely replacement for Pat Gillick as Phillies GM. Today, Todd Zolecki of the Philadelphia Inquirer hears from team insiders that Amaro (currently the assistant GM) is expected to get the job. The decision would likely be finalized before the November 3rd GM meetings.