Sammy Sosa Rumors
Jayson Stark has an assessment of the trade market over at ESPN.com.
- Aside from the usual Mark Teixeira/Eric Gagne mentions, Stark believes many Rangers may be headed out at the trading deadline. Specifically, he names Brad Wilkerson, Kenny Lofton, and Sammy Sosa. Lofton is always a good midseason mercenary. He's like a Mike Stanton in that way.
- Ken Griffey Jr. would approve a trade to Atlanta and might consider certain other teams. Junior is making $12.5MM this year and next, plus a $4MM buyout for '09. Quite a bit of the contract is deferred, also. $29MM over 2007-08 is still pretty steep, but now would be the right time to trade Griffey.
- Nationals - still asking too much for Chad Cordero. Bowden's got time to wait around for the right deal, I suppose.
- Best option for Todd Helton still appears to be the Angels, in Stark's mind. That does not seem workable to me, because Casey Kotchman has broken out and Vlad needs access to the DH spot.
- Speaking of DHs, this might finally be the year Mike Sweeney gets traded and gets to play for a contender. If he heats up, maybe the Twins could snag him.
- Michael Bourn could be a trade candidate, if the Phillies decide he's only a future fourth outfielder. Probably makes sense to keep him around if Aaron Rowand is going to walk after this season.
- The Astros are buyers, and they have all sorts of needs. A young catcher would be nice, but those are always in short supply.
- Speaking of young catchers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has received interest but the Braves are not biting. A lot hinges on Scott Thorman's performance and, of course, which young player the Braves are offered for Salty. Most teams would love to have him.
Yesterday's Ken Rosenthal article does a great job breaking down the market for sluggers this summer. As usual there are some big names for the taking, and as usual many of them come with hefty salaries or other flaws like injury history or Scott Boras.
A couple of AL West teams, the A's and Angels, have been particularly powerless this year (both slugging less than .395). The Twins and White Sox could use some pop too. Over on the NL side, the Cardinals, Dodgers, Padres, and D'Backs could look to add a power bat. One of the three NL West teams mentioned could pull away with a major addition.
The most intriguing name in Rosenthal's article is Sammy Sosa. He is having a respectable resurgence so far at .268/.331/.512. While it would be fun to see him back in the NL, his right field defense could prohibit it. But come on - how funny would it be to see Sosa don Cardinal red? Another interesting subplot thrown out by Rosenthal would be Ken Griffey Jr. back to Seattle, something that seems to come up every year if Junior is healthy.
Josh Lile is a history major at the University of Texas. I've brought him aboard as MLBTR's Rangers correspondent. For his first post, Josh weighs in on Sammy Sosa and the consequences of giving him a roster spot.
Sammy Sosa beat out an infield single in today's game vs. the Cubs. Let me repeat that. Sammy Sosa beat out an infield single. The main point of contention behind Sosa coming to camp is Sammy turning into Juan Gonzalez part deux. Juan Gonzalez, in the minds and hearts of Rangers fans, is remembered as a guy who half-heartedly played the field, walked out infield contact, and barely put any effort into anything. The same reputation was earned in Texas by Alfonso Soriano. Somehow Sammy has been humbled by his year off, and he appears to be hungry enough to make some magic this year.
Sammy, after today's game vs the Cubs, is hitting .500 in Spring Training games with two homers. His main competition is 26 year-old Jason Botts, a monster who dropped a .980 OPS in AAA Oklahoma last year. The outfield and DH spots are virtually set with Frank Catalanotto, Nelson Cruz, Brad Wilkerson, and Kenny Lofton as the other four.
The last spot will come down to Sosa and Botts. Coming into today Botts was hitting .400, so he isn't playing himself out of the lineup. So if you have a 38 year-old coming off a year off after steroid rumors, or a 26 year old masher, who do you choose? Personally I think you have to go with Botts or risk him developing into Travis Hafner with another team. However, Ron Washington seems to be drinking the Sosa Kool-Aid. Ron had this to say in Tom Singer's article on at MLB.com: "People say he can't do this or can't do that, but he hasn't showed me any of that. He can do anything. It's his reward for working so hard."
So the question is this: which Sammy shows up if he makes the Opening Day roster? Do we get the slacker Sammy that will do his Juan Gonzalez impersonation, or do we get the hard-working Sammy who will come in and endear himself to Rangers fans? Since 2001 when John Hart blew $100 million on old corner infielders and relievers, the Rangers PR department has failed miserably and alienated many fans. If the hard-working Sammy shows up there is almost no chance Ron Washington keeps him off the roster, and the fans may start to come back.
The Sammy Sosa signing is official in Texas. He'll make $500,000 if he makes the Opening Day roster, and can reach $2.7MM based on incentives. $200K of that would come from winning Comeback Player of the Year. To quote Sammy:
"My body is in shape, and I'm ready to go."
Ron Washington has this crazy idea that Sammy can play regularly and hit 30 home runs as the Rangers' fifth place hitter. Fine. Maybe there's a 10% chance he does that, and it costs very little. However, there is significant risk in this signing. It is that Sammy takes away ABs from better players. The Orioles gave him 380 ABs in '05. If the Rangers stick with him for 200 ABs, a third of a season, and he's awful, that could cause them to miss the playoffs. It'd be different if this was the Nationals.
UPDATE: MLB.com reports that the Rangers have agreed in principle to an incentive-laden, $500,000 minor league contract with Sosa.
The amusing experiment continues, as the Rangers have offered Sammy Sosa a minor league contract and invited him to spring training. Plus, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick has a source who says the two parties are "working toward an agreement."
Judging from Jon Daniels's positive comments towards Sosa, it appears that an incentive-based deal will get done. I don't know. A part of me wants to see how this turns out. Will he get his 12 homers?
Sammy! Sammy Sosa worked out at Ameriquest today in hopes of securing a gig with Texas, where it all began. Sosa had some awesome teammates back when he was on the '89 Rangers as a 20 year old. Here's a partial list of his mentors:
Click here to see what Sammy looked like as a Ranger.
Could Japan's Yokohama BayStars lure Sammy Sosa for $4.2 million? Wayne Graczyk of the Japan Times says it's rumored in Japanese newspapers.
Graczyk considers it a long shot but relates the possibility to when Bob Horner joined the Yakult Swallows twenty years ago. The coolest would be an all-steroid barnstorming team.
Sammy Sosa has begun working out in the Dominican Republic with hope of returning to the Majors. He's had a year off, but is quick to compare himself to Ted Williams. Um, right.
Sounds like he'd go to Washington for $500K if they'd offer it again. Sammy really just wants 12 more home runs so he can reach 600. The question is, if he really can help a Major League team, why didn't he play winter ball to prove it?
For some reason, I can't get enough of Sammy Sosa wanting to come back. Every time a quote pops up about how he's rested, feeling good, and ready to get those last 12 home runs, I smile. Sosa is just a carnival, an entertaining player even when he's going bad. Especially when he's going bad. Sometimes Sammy gets fooled so badly that he misses a curveball by three feet. It's awesome.
Sosa claims several teams have shown interest already. Looking through the archives, the Mets, Pirates, Nationals, and maybe even the Yankees thought about signing Sammy last offseason. I can't wait to see how this turns out.
Let's see what we've got churning in the rumor mill this morning.
Shea Hillenbrand, a player well-liked by his teammates, was designated for assignment last night. Kind of reminds me of the Jose Guillen situation a couple of years ago. Despite the unpleasantness, Bill Stoneman still managed to turn Guillen into Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis. Let's see how J.P Ricciardi does now that manager John Gibbons has forced him into this situation. As we told you a couple of days ago, Gibbons may follow Hillenbrand out the door. More on this situation in a bit.
A Reds message board rumor has Ian Kinsler going to Cincy and Todd Coffey heading to Texas, among some other components. I don't know if this has any credence to it, just throwing it out there. Doesn't seem logical to me.
Halos Heaven, a blog I know to have good sources, reports that the Orioles want the Angels to have Miguel Tejada. Orlando Cabrera and J.C. Romero could be part of a package.
Word on the street is that Baseball Prospectus injury analyst Will Carroll is in talks with ESPN about a possible job.
A TV program encouraging fans to come and boo Dusty Baker? C'mon, don't kick a man when he's down.
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