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Here’s the latest from the National League:
- Phillies starter A.J. Burnett seems more likely to retire (and forgo his $12.75MM player option) than many people believe, observes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com in an offseason preview piece. Meanwhile, the club will listen on Cole Hamels but continue to demand a ransom in return, while Philadelphia could be more open to dealing not only veteran Marlon Byrd but also arb-eligible outfielders Domonic Brown and Ben Revere. As Salisbury notes, the rotation has plenty of question marks and openings.
- While Salisbury says he believes the Phillies will ultimately hang onto the 30-year-old Hamels, for better or worse, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki argues that the organization must view Hamels (and his fellow core veterans) from a pure baseball perspective. Attendance is plummeting in spite of the continued presence of numerous pieces of the team’s run of success, he notes, and the only way to rebuild the fan base is through winning.
- Neutral talent evaluators believe that lefty Jon Niese is the Mets‘ best trade chip among the club’s veteran starters, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday. Niese, 27, threw to a 3.40 ERA over 187 2/3 frames in 2014. He is owed $16MM over the next two seasons and has a pair of options ($10MM and $11MM, with respective $500K buyouts) thereafter.
- The Mets are expected to replace hitting coach Lamar Johnson, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. That move is still not official, however, and New York is in the early stages of assessing who they might bring in.
- Padres GM A.J. Preller is about to get his first taste of open market action from the seat of power, as MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. Preller said that he anticipates a lot of trade attention on the team’s slate of arms, and indicated that he would be open to discussing any players if there’s a way to improve the club.
- One interesting player who remains under the Padres‘ control is starter Josh Johnson, whose injury-shortened year left the club with a $4MM team option. Preller said that he hopes to have Johnson in the fold next year, though left unclear whether the team is interested in a straight exercise of the option. “With Josh, he’s a guy that everyone has a positive feel for,” said Preller. “We’ll try to go down the road with him and try to present something to him that makes sense to him.”
It was a big day for the Diamondbacks: after announcing major front office changes, the club has all but clinched the league’s worst record, as Steve Gilbert of MLB.com notes (Twitter links). The only way they’d fall to the second pick would be if they were to sweep the Cardinals this weekend, with the Rockies in turn being swept by the Dodgers. It’s highly likely that Arizona will hold the first overall pick in next year’s amateur draft, providing an early test for chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and newly-minted GM Dave Stewart.
Here’s more from the west:
- Padres manager Bud Black indicated that he expects changes to the club’s array of position players, as MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell reports. “We were pretty set, and I think that’s definitely changed this year,” said Black. “I don’t know whether uncertain is the word. But I do think there will be some roster construction more so than last year.” It will be interesting to see how newly-minted GM A.J. Preller attacks his first offseason. If this season’s results are any indication, while the rotation is in solid shape, improving the offensive output may require new acquisitions.
- The Astros intend to be quiet, careful, and thorough in their managerial hunt, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. GM Jeff Luhnow is not necessarily seeking someone more malleable or numbers-focused than deposed skipper Bo Porter, according to Drellich, but rather someone more “relatable.” One of the possible candidates, Diamondbacks Triple-A manager Phil Nevin, is set for an interview after receiving clearance from the Arizona organization, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
- Angels owner Arte Moreno covered a lot of ground in an interesting interview with Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Moreno said that he is committed to winning a championship, emphasizing the financial health of the organization and how that has supported the team’s significant spending. Saying that the team carries no debt and operates at a profit, Moreno indicated that he has no intentions of selling his valuable ownership stake — though he said that he would take an objective, businesslike approach if contacted by an interested buyer.
Padres assistant general manager Josh Stein recently sat down with Chris Bauer of PadresPublic.com for a lengthy and insightful interview that’s worth reading not only for Friars fans, but for anyone interested in player evaluation, scouting and the ever-growing role of analytics in front offices. Stein discusses the building of the Padres’ player information database and the importance of blending live scouting, video and statistical data. “Player evaluation ultimately is a decision,” said Stein. “Like any decision you make, you’re going to have a number of pieces of information to take into account. … Some of those pieces of information will be easier to explain with words based on an experience and some will be easier to quantify with numbers.”
Here’s more from the NL West…
- Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer press speculates that if the D’Backs hire Dave Stewart as their GM — which appears to be a near-certainty – and look outside the organization for a new manager, Twins bench coach Terry Steinbach would be a logical candidate (Twitter link). As Berardino notes, the 52-year-old Steinbach has a longstanding relationship with both Stewart and D’Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa. Steinbach, a three-time All-Star as a player, was Stewart’s catcher in the late 80s and early 90s on an A’s team that was, of course, managed by La Russa.
- Rafael Betancourt is already planning on playing in 2015, and the Rockies are open to having him back, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com. Harding spoke with Rockies skipper Walt Weiss about the possibility of bringing Betancourt back as a free agent, who said that Betancourt’s makeup alone makes him a desirable target. Betancourt, who will turn 40 next April, spent four-and-a-half seasons with Colorado from 2009-13, compiling a strong 3.08 ERA with 10.5 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and 57 saves. He spent 2014 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery with the Rockies after signing a minor league deal.
- Tim Stauffer would like to return to a starting role in 2015, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock, and as such, he knows that there’s a good chance that his 11-year tenure with the Padres is coming to an end. The 32-year-old Stauffer was selected fourth overall in 2003, and while his career hasn’t been as high-profile as his draft slot would indicate, he’s quietly tallied a 3.38 ERA over 477 Major League innings dating back to 2009. A pair of surgeries have cost him some innings since establishing himself as a capable big league arm, which, paired with San Diego’s glut of pitching, has led to a bullpen role for him over the past two seasons.
Yasmany Tomas continues to await the day when Major League Baseball declares him a free agent, but teams have already gotten a first-hand look at him via a showcase in the Dominican Republic this past weekend. Since that time, he’s already been connected to the Pirates (in more of a due diligence fashion) and held a private workout with the Phillies.
Here’s more on the soon-to-be 24-year-old Cuban masher…
- Tomas was clocked with a 6.9-second 60-yard dash, Badler tweets. That is a surprisingly solid mark given his burly frame, Badler suggests.
- The Rangers will have a private workout for Tomas on Wednesday, a source tells Ben Badler of Baseball America. The Rangers and Phillies both had strong contingents at Tomas’ showcase, Badler continues, while the Mets, Giants, Yankees, D’Backs and Padres were well-represented also. Among the Padres executives in attendance was new general manager A.J. Preller, according to Badler.
- The Phillies were impressed with Tomas after his workout for the team, reports MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. Philadelphia also held a private workout for Rusney Castillo prior to his signing with the Red Sox, but a source tells Zolecki that the team was just “lukewarm” on Castillo following that effort, and the club has “always” preferred Tomas to Castillo.
- The Marlins had a pair of executives in attendance for the showcase, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Director of international operations Albert Gonzalez and vice president of player personnel Craig Weissman both flew to the Dominican Republic to get a first-hand look at Tomas.
Despite some speculation to the contrary, Bud Black will return as the Padres’ manager next season, GM A.J. Preller tells Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com.
“Like I said from the beginning, I viewed it as Buddy is our manager,” Preller said. “I had a chance to really enjoy the last month, to get to know him more on a day-to-day basis, getting to be around him and getting his thoughts on the team and his thoughts on baseball in general.”
When asked specifically if he looked forward to working with Black for an entire season, Preller told Bloom: “Yes, I’m looking forward to that for sure.”
The Padres exercised an option on Black’s contract for the 2014-15 seasons in November of 2012, so his deal is already in place for next year. Preller cited the team’s energy and work ethic as the main factor in the team’s decision to keep Black.
While the Padres’ 73-81 record isn’t what they had hoped for, they have reason for optimism going forward. Preller went on to tell Bloom that management is on board to make the Padres competitive again in the NL West.
It’s been a highly disappointing debut season for Mark Trumbo in Arizona, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, who examines whether or not the D’Backs should explore the concept of trading Trumbo this season. Trumbo hasn’t hit much when healthy, and while he hasn’t been charged with any errors in left field, he also displayed poor range when playing there (prior to Paul Goldschmidt‘s injury). However, as Piecoro notes, much of that could be due to a stress fracture in Trumbo’s left foot — an injury that has limited him to just 79 games this year. Trumbo’s price tag could top $6MM in arbitration this season, and he may well be best-suited for an AL team or a team with an opening at first base. However, despite those factors, Piecoro concludes that the Snakes have traded too many players with their value at a low point in recent seasons, and moving Trumbo now would be an instance of history repeating itself. Instead, he feels that even if Arizona decides trading Trumbo is best, it should be done after he has a chance to rebuild some value in 2015.
Here’s more on the D’Backs and the NL West…
- Cliff Pennington views himself as an everyday player and would like more at-bats, he tells Piecoro, but that doesn’t mean he’s unhappy with the Diamondbacks. Rather, he very much likes his teammates and the atmosphere in Phoenix. Still, given Arizona’s bulk of shortstop candidates — the team has Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed as potential Major League options — Pennington’s future with the team is uncertain. As Piecoro notes, he’ll be due a raise on his $2.75MM salary in his final trip through arbitration. The Diamondbacks are looking to trim payroll, and Pennington could be considered expendable due to his loftier price tag. He’d have little trouble finding work in the event of a non-tender, Piecoro implies, and I’d imagine that there could be clubs in need of infield help that are intrigued by Pennington’s solid defense and his .253/.346/.358 batting line this season.
- Cameron Maybin feels he can be more productive with everyday at-bats, he tells Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune, and he’ll play in the Dominican Winter League this offseason to get some reps after an injury- and suspension-shortened season. Maybin says his goal is to help the Padres in an everyday role, though his comments could imply that he feels he might be traded: “For me, I feel like if I’m healthy, I can be somebody’s really good everyday center fielder. …a big part of going to the Dominican Republic is making sure I’m ready for spring training so I can help whoever – mainly the Padres.” The 27-year-old is owed $16MM over the next two seasons, which makes him a difficult trade candidate given his lack of recent production. However, he’s a former No. 10 overall pick and top prospect, so teams may be willing to gamble on a rebound, particularly in a more hitter-friendly environment. Should he bounce back, his contract would actually turn into quite the asset, as he’s owed $7MM in 2015, $8MM in 2016 and has a $9MM option (1MM buyout) for 2017.
Hall of Fame journalist and MLB Network contributor Peter Gammons appeared on MLBN’s High Heat yesterday (video link) and published a full notes column today, both of which have plenty of excellent information. Here are some highlights from Gammons’ latest work…
- While Braves GM Frank Wren did well to patch their rotation with Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang this season, the team’s offense has been woeful, and Wren has the Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton contracts weighing on him. Former Indians GM John Hart, who was brought on as a senior advisor last offseason, could be moved into a more significant role, such as a president of baseball operations (like Theo Epstein in Chicago) or a chief baseball officer like Tony La Russa in Arizona. Hart served as an overseer to Jon Daniels in Texas, and the Braves do have a prime young GM candidate in the form of John Coppolella.
- Gammons thinks that Pablo Sandoval‘s days as a member of the Giants are numbered. Sandoval will be one of baseball’s most sought-after free agents this offseason, and the Marlins and Red Sox are both “very interested,” according to Gammons. “The Giants, I don’t think have any chance of re-signing him,” he adds.
- The Rockies had a July deal agreed to that would have sent Jorge De La Rosa to the Orioles in exchange for left-handed pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, but Rockies owner Dick Monfort nixed the trade. De La Rosa was eventually extended on a two-year, $25MM deal, while Rodriguez was traded to the Red Sox in exchange for Andrew Miller. Gammons uses this story as a means of illustrating Monfort’s fierce loyalty — a trait that makes him an enigma even to the Rockies’ own employees. No one in Colorado is quite sure what Monfort will do this offseason, Gammons writes, though trying to pluck former Rockies assistant Thad Levine from the Rangers, where he is currently an assistant GM, is one scenario on which he speculates.
- At least two dozen teams will be on hand to see Yasmani Tomas‘ showcase in the Dominican Republic this weekend, and Gammons hears that the early front-runners to sign him are the Giants, Phillies, Padres, Rangers and Tigers. All of that, of course, could change quickly following his showcase. The Padres might seem a curious fit there, given the team’s typically tight payroll, but I’d imagine that the international focus of new GM A.J. Preller might be a factor.
- While the common belief is that Padres manager Bud Black is safe even with the GM change, one person who interviewed for the position told Gammons that he was asked by CEO Mike Dee how he felt about the possibility of Jason Varitek coming on board as the team’s new skipper. Dee, as Gammons notes, is quite familiar with Varitek and his leadership from their days together in Boston. This isn’t the first time that Varitek’s name was connected to the Padres.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Colorado Rockies | Detroit Tigers | Eduardo Rodriguez | Frank Wren | Jason Varitek | Jorge de la Rosa | Miami Marlins | Pablo Sandoval | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Texas Rangers | Yasmany Tomas
The Padres announced that they have hired former Astros national crosschecker David Post as a special assistant to GM A.J. Preller and the scouting department. Post will assist Preller in all aspects of amateur, professional and international scouting.
In addition to his experience with the Astros, Post has served as a regional scout for the Marlins as well. The 41-year-old also had a 12-year playing career as a minor leaguer with the Dodgers, Expos, Indians, Pirates, Yankees and Rockies, tallying a combined .272/.367/.383 batting line.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets that the hiring seems to cast doubt over previous speculation that Kevin Towers would join the Padres’ front office in an advisory capacity were he dismissed as GM of the division-rival D’Backs, which he ultimately was. Towers has been offered a scouting role within the Diamondbacks organization.
The introduction and development of the radar gun has had a profound effect on baseball, Danny Knobler explores in a piece for Bleacher Report. Pitching speed has always been recognized as a key tool, but its increasing standardization in measurement and emphasis in amateur scouting has played an undeniable role in the velocity explosion at all levels. Speed readings deliver valuable information and come with some downsides, but for better or worse the gun’s influence will continue. Here are a few more interesting recent articles from around the web:
- Matt Clark‘s decision to gamble a bit and opt out of his minor league deal with the Mets has paid huge dividends for the 27-year-old journeyman, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Now with the Brewers, Clark says he sensed that there was little chance he’d be promoted and elected free agency in June. Bob Skube, Milwaukee’s Triple-A hitting coach, was Clark’s hitting coach with the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate at one point and made a pitch for the organization to pursue him when Nashville first baseman Hunter Morris broke his arm. Clark, who spent last season in Japan and had never cracked a big league roster, hit his way to a September callup and has homered in two straight games.
- Prospect watchers have begun to turn their attention to the 2015 amateur draft, so let’s take a look at the latest. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs provides a “way-too-early” list of the top 51 prospects, along with some other names to watch. Sitting atop the ranking is high school shortstop and FSU commit Brendan Rogers, with last year’s first overall choice — the unsigned and possibly JuCo-bound Brady Aiken — right behind him.
- Looking back at recent draft choices, Baseball America’s John Manuel writes that the Astros will need to go to work developing Mark Appel and the recently-acquired Colin Moran to avoid a lot of hard questions about the decision to pass on Kris Bryant last year. Given Moran’s skillset — hard work, polished approach, and quick hands, but not the power and athleticism of Bryant — his best-case scenario might be to join the trajectory of Kyle Seager, says Manuel.
- The Pirates have enjoyed a distinctive advantage this year in losing few player days to the DL, writes Ben Lindbergh of Grantland. Manager Clint Hurdle praised the team’s strength and conditioning staff, though he admitted he wasn’t sure that there was any one thing the Pirates are doing better than rival clubs. Still, players such as Chris Stewart, Neil Walker and Russell Martin all praised strength and conditioning coach Brendon Huttman. GM Neal Huntington wouldn’t comment on any specific tactics that might be ahead of the curve, stating, “I’d prefer to leave that behind the curtain.”
- Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports examines the journey of former Arizona State and Notre Dame head coach Pat Murphy, who has transitioned to managing the Padres’ Triple-A club after a controversial exit to his NCAA career. Murphy’s intensity is said to be toned down, and Brown spoke with numerous players who lauded Murphy as one of the best managers they’ve ever had. Veteran reliever Blaine Boyer ranked Murphy alongside Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Bud Black. Brown, like many of Murphy’s players, is of the opinion that the 55-year-old Murphy could eventually be a big league manager.
So far, the best move of the July trading season has been the Angels‘ acquisition of Huston Street, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick writes in a piece published before Street’s bad outing Friday. The acquisitions of Street and Jason Grilli have helped stabilize what had been a weak Angels bullpen. Meanwhile, higher-profile acquisitions like the Tigers’ trade for David Price and the Athletics’ deals for Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija haven’t had as great an impact. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- Before the White Sox traded Adam Dunn to the Athletics, the Dodgers tried to acquire him to help with their bench, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. Dunn’s lack of defensive value would have been a more serious issue in the National League, but his power and patience would surely have been appealing in a pinch-hitting role, especially with expanded September rosters that might have prevented him from having to play much in the field.
- Joe Wieland will pitch for the Padres Saturday afternoon, and it will be his first start in over two years, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Wieland had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and has had setbacks since then that have delayed his return. “I won’t say it’s going to be quite like my debut, but it’s going to be pretty darn close. Two-and-a-half years is a long time,” he says. Wieland got hurt less than a year after the Padres acquired him (with Robbie Erlin) from the Rangers in a deal for Mike Adams, and he’s only started five big-league games since the trade and for his career.