Ryan Howard Rumors

Casey Close Leaving CAA Sports

Agent Casey Close is leaving CAA Sports when his five-year contract expires at the end of the month, reports Liz Mullen of The Sports Business Journal (subs. req'd). A hat tip goes out to Maury Brown at The Biz of Baseball.

Mullen says that CAA and Close are still trying to work out the details of his departure, "which may involve CAA and Close sharing the representation of some of the clients going forward." Close represents Derek Jeter, Ryan Howard, Michael Cuddyer, and Derrek Lee, among others.

It's unclear if Close will join a new a firm or work independently, though Brown notes that high profile agents (such as Dan Lozano) have been going out on their own recently. Close was one of the first sports agents that CAA hired when it launched its sports division in April 2006. It is primarily a Hollywood talent firm.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Cox, Crawford, DeJesus

Two years ago today the Athletics acquired Matt Holliday from the Rockies in exchange for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith. Holliday hit .286/.378/.454 in exactly 400 plate appearances with Oakland before being dealt to the Cardinals for a package led by Brett Wallace at the 2009 trade deadline.

Street has battled injuries but has been solid when on the mound for Colorado, pitching to a 3.30 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 109 innings. Smith has appeared in just eight games for the Rox (all starts), putting up a 6.23 ERA. The real get was CarGo, who will certainly be in the MVP mix after a .336/.376/.598 season with 34 doubles, 34 homers, 26 stolen bases, and a batting title.

The hot stove league will certainly bring us more blockbuster trades, but for now you'll have to settle for this long collection of links, the best the blogosphere had to offer this week…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Winfield, Gio, Hawpe, Cubs

On this date three years ago, the Astros fired manager Phil Garner and GM Tim Purpura. They were replaced on an interim basis by Cecil Cooper and Tal Smith, respectively. Cooper kept the job until he was fired last September, and the team is now under the direction of Brad Mills. Ed Wade took over the GM job about a month after Purpura was fired, and has held it since.

Here's a look at what's being written in the baseball corner of the web…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.



Where Could Alex Gordon Go?

Let's face it: if the Royals aren't going to give Alex Gordon a chance to play regularly when they are 11-21, 10 games out of first, and weeks shy of Memorial Day, he has fallen out of favor with the club. After just 38 plate appearances, the Royals sent Gordon - the player they once selected him second overall - to Triple-A to make way for… Alberto Callaspo.

But Gordon, still just 26, is a career .320/.433/.577 hitter in the minor leagues. Clearly, some team should take a flier on Gordon as a possible long-term answer at third base. Which teams are best suited to do so, and how much is it likely to cost?

  • The Phillies seem like an interesting landing spot for Gordon, though not at first blush. Placido Polanco, after all, is signed through 2012. But Gordon could be an upgrade from Greg Dobbs at the very least. If Gordon fulfills his promise, the Phils could attempt to deal Polanco. More to the point, Gordon seems to fit the Phillies' template- his acquisition would be akin to the buy-low on Jayson Werth- and Philadelphia has depth in the farm system. A couple of their secondary pitching prospects could get it done.
  • The Orioles have a combined zero homers from Rhyne Hughes and Garrett Atkins, so Gordon could appeal to them as an option at first. Corner infield prospects Brandon Snyder and Josh Bell lurk in the minors, but with Miguel Tejada locked up for just one year, Gordon would provide the O's with depth and upside.
  • The Athletics don't have a ton in the way of a present or future player blocking Gordon. Kevin Kouzmanoff is a decent option, but he hardly has Gordon's upside at this point. With a number of nearly-ready pitching prospects to integrate into a young staff, the Athletics could well deal from pitching depth for Gordon, too.
  • The Padres are another possible landing spot, with Chase Headley unlikely to keep up his batting average-fueled start. San Diego has several third base prospects, including James Darnell, who Baseball America ranked as the organization's third-best prospect heading into the season. Still, none of the Padres prospects have even proven themselves at Double-A, so acquiring Gordon and giving him the chance to win the third base job wouldn't impact any of them in the short-term. It would also echo the acquisition of another buy-low, former top draft pick: Adrian Gonzalez. A package of one of the Padres' third base prospects and a pitcher should be enough to pry Gordon loose.

Odds & Ends: Red Sox, Howard, Francisco, Mendoza

Links to check out as we await Cliff Lee's Mariners debut…


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Howard, Prince, Konerko

On this date five years ago, Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux faced off in the first matchup of 300-game winners since Don Sutton and Steve Carlton in 1987. Maddux's Cubs topped Clemens' Astros by the score of 3-2.

Let's look at what's being written around the blogosphere, with a heavy dose of Ryan Howard contract reactions…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.


Stark On Fielder, Howard, Sizemore, Frasor

Jayson Stark's latest Rumblings and Grumblings column is hot off the press at ESPN.com.  Let's take a look.

  • Stark explains that the potentially legendary 2012 first base free agent class may be further depleted, as Albert Pujols is expected to stay in St. Louis and Adrian Gonzalez could be traded and extended by his new team.  Even Lance Berkman might stay put, leaving Prince Fielder as the remaining big name.  There are some who rank Fielder below Ryan Howard, writes Stark.
  • Stark says the Phillies signed Howard now because they felt a Pujols extension would drive up Howard's price.  For an explanation straight from the horse's mouth, check out Todd Zolecki's MLB.com chat with Ruben Amaro Jr. and Pat Gillick. 
  • If the 2012 first base free agent class is loaded, will there be enough teams willing to shell out massive contracts?  Stark says yes, naming a dozen teams he figures could be in the mix.  Don't forget the Nationals and Orioles, two clubs that made huge bids for Mark Teixeira.
  • Jayson Werth's agent Jeff Borris named the Jason Bay and Matt Holliday deals as frames of reference for his client.  Stark takes that to mean Werth will be looking in the $16-17MM range.  My question: does he get five years?
  • One source of Stark's says the Indians have shown zero inclination to trade Grady Sizemore.  Sizemore's $10MM club option for 2012 becomes a player option upon a trade, and Stark feels Sizemore would "almost certainly" exercise it – decreasing his trade value.  That assumes, of course, that Sizemore doesn't turn things around anytime soon.
  • Stark doesn't think the Red Sox have reached a desperation point regarding acquiring a catcher who can throw.  Bringing in a Chris Snyder or a Gerald Laird might necessitate releasing David Ortiz or Mike Lowell.
  • The Orioles have interest in Blue Jays reliever Jason Frasor.
  • In a table, Stark provides an interesting look at teams' guaranteed money rankings for 2011 and '12.  The Dodgers, interestingly, are very light on '12 commitments ($3.3MM).

Odds & Ends: Smoltz, D’Backs, Kemp, Howard

Links for Wednesday, as the Brewers wonder how to fix Trevor Hoffman


Heyman On Howard, Pujols, Adrian, Werth

The latest hot stove thoughts from SI's Jon Heyman

  • The people Heyman talked to feel that with Ryan Howard averaging $25MM a year starting in 2012, a contract discussion for Albert Pujols has to start at $30MM a year.
  • Heyman says that "the belief among skeptics of the deal that [the Howard extension] was an obvious overpay isn't reflected one bit among baseball people."  Of course, there are hundreds of baseball people, and the ones I've spoken to agree with the skeptics.
  • Adrian Gonzalez's agent John Boggs said, "We're just kind of innocent bystanders," noting that the Padres have not made contact about an extension.
  • Jayson Werth's agent Jeff Borris believes his client will be "the premier free agent outfielder" if he doesn't sign an extension.  Looking at the list, only Carl Crawford would have an argument.  Heyman says there's a "belief around baseball" that Werth will be seeking $100MM.  Previously we've heard suggestions of the four-year, $66MM Jason Bay range.
  • Heyman says Stephen Strasburg has a contract clause that "permits 100 innings at the major-league level this year."  I haven't heard of any clauses of that nature before, but Strasburg and Scott Boras is a powerful pairing.

Odds & Ends: Rosario, Red Sox, Bernazard, Storen

Links for Tuesday….