Sam Fuld Rumors

How Do Teams Replace Sudden Losses?

When the Tampa Bay Rays suddenly found themselves without Manny Ramirez, it was assumed that the production fallout would be extreme. After all, who ever heard of Sam Fuld?

Now, of course, everybody has heard of Fuld and his 156 OPS+ this season. While it is unlikely to continue, Fuld provides a feel-good story that exceeds whatever goodwill the Rays would have received from a Ramirez renaissance. The Rays could still make a move to add offensive production, and I wanted to take a closer look at how teams filled unexpected non-injury losses.

The Ramirez loss brought back to mind the last time Manny's drug issues left his employer short-handed. The year was 2009. Barack Obama was President of the United States. America's television networks were overrun by reality shows. And suddenly, baseball was Manny-less for 50 games.

Stepping into Manny's shoes was Juan Pierre in left field. During Ramirez's suspension, Pierre managed a .318/.381/.411 line, solid production at the position. Overall, his 104 OPS+ was the second-highest of his career. He wasn't Manny, but he kept the Dodgers on pace for 95 wins and a division title. It was not the disaster many feared.

The stakes were very different back in 1989, when an aging Mike Schmidt unexpectedly retired on May 28th with a season line of .203/.297/.372. Hopes had been high for Schmidt to regain his Hall of Fame form after a down 1988, but 172 plate appearances in, Schmidt acknowledged that he simply wasn't the same player anymore.

With internal options Chris James and Randy Ready stretched as everyday third basemen, the Phillies made a deal three weeks later, trading Steve Bedrosian and Rick Parker to the Giants for Charlie Hayes, Terry Mulholland and Dennis Cook. Hayes provided an OPS+ of 93 as the regular third baseman, around where Schmidt was when he called it quits.

The move helped Philadelphia eventually win the National League in 1993, along with a second deal that day with the Mets to bring Lenny Dykstra into the fold. At the time, however, it was the Charlie Hayes trade, and Hayes left the Philadelphia fans disappointed, both because Schmidt was impossible to replace, and because the Phillies finished 67-95.

The fill-ins for Thurman Munson back in 1979 didn't live up to even Charlie Hayes production. Munson, who died in a plane crash in August 1979, left the Yankees with a pair of catchers: Jerry Narron and Brad Gulden. While Munson's contributions extended beyond his OPS+ of 95, Narron and Gulden couldn't approach that, Narron checking in at 44, Gulden at 23. For reference, 1979 NL Cy Young Award winner Bruce Sutter, a relief pitcher, had an OPS+ of 49. The Yankees finished at 89-71, good for fourth in a tremendous AL East.

Speaking of ex-Yankees, anyone who saw the John Goodman vehicle "The Babe" knows that Ruth hit three home runs, then retired from the Boston Braves in 1935. (Left out of the film are the five games that followed, but then my problems with that movie could fill a whole other column.) Ruth finally retired on May 30, in circumstances quite similar to Schmidt's. Ruth's .181/.359/.431 line was still good for an OPS+ of 118, down just a bit from his career mark of 206 (author's note: ZOMG), but well ahead of his replacements in left and right field. Both Hal Lee (96 OPS+) and Tommy Thompson (95 OPS+) failed to reach league-average at the position. And if you think that's bad, Hall of Famer Rabbit Maranville, a 43-year-old teammate of Ruth's on the 1935 Braves, put up an OPS+ of… 2. And he stayed for the whole season, a glorious 38-115 campaign.

So rest assured, Sam Fuld may come down from his 156 OPS+ perch. But the Rays are likely to best the 1935 Braves, no matter how badly Fuld slumps.


Chicago Notes: Byrd, Fuld, Zambrano, Peavy

It was on this day in 1959 that Cubs right-hander Glen Hobbie, then 23, took a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Cardinals.  The great Stan Musial broke up Hobbie's bid for immortality with a two-out double in the seventh — the only hit Hobbie would allow to Chicago's arch-rivals in a complete game gem.

Let's look at some items from both Hobbie's old team and their South Side brethren…

  • The Cubs aren't looking to deal Marlon Byrd, reports Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald.  Miles also looks at some of the Cubs' top prospects.
  • With Sam Fuld off to a hot start in Tampa Bay, some fans are wondering why the Cubbies couldn't have held onto the young outfielder rather than include him in the Matt Garza trade package.  As part of a mailbag, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat explains that Fuld was out of options and, had he remained in Chicago, he wouldn't have received much playing time in the crowded Cubs outfield.
  • Carlos Zambrano tells CSNChicago.com's David Kaplan that a proposed worldwide amateur draft would favor American-born prospects over Latin American prospects.  "I think a worldwide draft would be bad for the kids from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela because we are late developers. We don't have little league or a system of organized baseball to help us learn the game," Zambrano said. "When I was a kid we played maybe once a week, that's it. If kids from my country were drafted and then didn't develop quickly enough they wouldn't be around long."
  • Also from Kaplan, up to 65% (roughly $24MM) of Jake Peavy's remaining salary could be covered by an insurance policy.  This could give the White Sox some financial room to acquire another pitcher.  Barry Axelrod, Peavy's agent, tells Kaplan that it is much more difficult for teams to get insurance on multiyear pitching contracts today than it was for San Diego in 2009.  Peavy has yet to pitch in 2011 due to his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery, and is tentatively scheduled to return to the Sox rotation by mid-May.
  • Despite his team's seven-game losing streak, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen isn't worried about being on the hot seat, reports MLB.com's Scott Merkin.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Crisp, Capuano, Lohse

Does anybody else think that Brian Roberts‘ agent fuels 90% of these rumors just so his client’s name is kept in the news? Me neither…Now that we have gotten the obligatory Roberts reference out of the way, let’s move on to some trades/signings that might actually happen in the near future. The biggest of course is the recent news that talks may be heating up with the Red Sox to move Coco Crisp. So far we know that the Sox are not interested in Jason Marquis or Sam Fuld and the Padres may only be having internal discussions at this point (although one writer does not see the Padres as serious suitors). Let’s take a look at what is being written about Crisp and a few others in the Blogosphere…

If there is a topic you would like to see covered in "Baseball Blogs Weigh In" please let me know HERE.

  • Red Sox News doesn’t like the rumored offer of Jason Marquis and Sam Fuld for Crisp. More likely they believe a package of Josh Donaldson and either Bobby Howry or Carmen Pignatiello could be accepted by the Sox.
  • Boston Sports Buzz sees Crisp as a nice solution for the Padres, since they currently employ one utility player and two injuries-waiting-to-happen in the outfield while lacking a legitimate leadoff hitter.
  • El Guapo’s Ghost also sees the Padres as the logical destination for Crisp, noting that prospect Kyle Blanks may be expendable for the Pads and fill the vacancy of power-hitting prospects in the Red Sox organization.
  • Hire Jim Essian is not too keen on Crisp, so they are rooting hard for Felix Pie to play well and keep "punching the baseball in its stupid face."
  • Goat Riders is not crazy about Crisp playing center for the Cubbies, but prefer him to the alternatives.
  • Right Field Bleachers notes that the Brewers may trade Chris Capuano before Opening Day as he needs a change of scenery and he still has some value on the market. They do not see the Red Sox as a good match since the Brew Crew does not need a center fielder (i.e. Crisp).
  • Rockin’ the Red laments the loss of another starting pitcher and acknowledges that it is time to look outside the organization for help. They would rather the Cardinals sign Kyle Lohse as opposed to Jeff Weaver.
  • Viva El Birdos would also prefer Lohse to any other outside options, and would opt for in-house options if Lohse is not signed.

Cork Gaines writes for Rays Index and can be reached here.



Sox Not Interested in Marquis or Fuld for Crisp

Coco Crisp may be on the Cubs’ wish list, but neither Jason Marquis nor Sam Fuld will be enough to get a deal done with the Red Sox. Diffusing the rumblings from earlier today, Nick Cafardo in the Boston Globe is reporting tonight that the Sox aren’t particularly interested in either player.

"If the Cubs were to talk trade with the Red Sox," he says, "it would have to be for a different set of names – either prospects or bullpen help."

Posted by Andrew Stoeten of Drunk Jays Fans


Cubs Eyeing Coco

Last Sunday, I discussed how either Chicago ballclub were good suitors for Coco Crisp.  Today, Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun Times is reporting the Cubs interest do indeed lie with the web gem specialist, Crisp.

"With only one other lefty bat in the lineup (right fielder Kosuke Fukudome), the Cubs hoped to get a secondary lefty near the bottom of the order while assuring a good glove in center from their top two near-ready outfield prospects. While Hendry’s attempt to trade for Rangers outfielder Marlon Byrd was meant to provide a right-handed complement to the center-field winner, the focus now appears to be on Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp, a switch hitter who could start in center and bat near the top of the order."

Nothing substantial has come our way yet; however, Coco, who is slated to make only $4.75MM in ’08 and $5.75MM in ’09 with an $8MM club option for ’10, would be a very good fit for the Cubs and provide more time for Felix Pie to blossom under less stress.  Wittenmeyer confidently predicts,

"The Cubs will trade for a veteran outfielder to start in center, and one of [Pie or Sam Fuld] will open the season on the bench, the other in the minors."

However, Covelli Loyce Crisp still needs to bring his average back up to be the lead-off guy the Cubs are seeking – his inability to do so is a big reason the Red Sox will, by all accounts, part ways.

By Nat Boyle


Cubs Rumors: Fukudome, Ibanez, Dempster

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer already has his Wednesday column up for review.

  • Wittenmyer still thinks Kosuke Fukudome is going to be much more expensive than anyone originally thought.  Could the bidding reach $40MM over three years?
  • If the Cubs can’t go Fukudome they will turn to Raul Ibanez.  They might offer Sean Marshall for him.  They’d only have to endure a year of Ibanez butchering right field.
  • Jim Hendry debunked a Jeff Blair report that the Cubs want to move Ryan Dempster.
  • The Cubs have no intention of trading Felix Pie or Sam Fuld, not that there had been any recent rumors.