Scott Linebrink Rumors

White Sox Sign Scott Linebrink

First reported by Bruce Levine of ESPN Sports Radio 1000 out of Chicago – the White Sox have signed free agent Scott Linebrink to a four-year, $19MM contract.  The Brewers have to be a bit disappointed, as Chicago’s 8th overall pick in next June’s draft is protected.  Instead they’ll get a second round pick from the Sox as compensation for the Type A reliever.

Four years is a long time to lock in the 31 year-old Linebrink.  He’s never pitched in the American League, and you have to think he’ll struggle.  This seems like a poor signing to me.


Yankees Interested In Mahay, Linebrink

According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, the Yankees are interested in relievers Ron Mahay and Scott Linebrink.  Offers have not yet been extended.

Signing Linebrink would be costly beyond the three years and $12MM+ he might require.  Assuming the Brewers offer arbitration and Linebrink declines (a safe assumption), the Yankees would have to hand over their 28th overall pick next June. It’s known that the Astros already have an offer out to Linebrink, and the White Sox and Pirates may also be interested.

Since he’s a Type B, Mahay doesn’t carry the same risk.  The Braves, Brewers, Rays, Rockies, and Royals are in on him currently.


Giants Rumors: Cabrera, Rolen, Walker

Finally some Giants rumors!  I know a few fans have been clamoring for the team to join the hot stove rumblings.  Andrew Baggarly has an article here and Henry Schulman has one here.  Let’s discuss.

  • The Giants have no one to play third base.  Kevin Frandsen could technically do it but they prefer him at second.  Thankfully, they will pass on Pedro Feliz.  Feliz – get this – wants a three year deal.  He’s on the Brewers’ radar, by the way.
  • Miguel Cabrera is one option, though Baggarly doesn’t see the Giants offering up Tim Lincecum to jump into the fray.  However Schulman’s source says the Giants have been "one of the most aggressive teams" after Cabrera.  Who to believe? 
  • Baggarly’s team source doesn’t expect to go after the available Scott Rolen, given his health questions and contract.  Free agents Morgan Ensberg and Mike Lamb seem more likely options at third base.
  • Brian Wilson and the newly signed Tyler Walker will mix it up for the closer job.  Brian Sabean doesn’t anticipate dropping big bucks/losing a draft pick for Scott Linebrink.  Nor are the Giants likely to hit up the Japanese market.



Rosenthal’s Latest: Cordero, Livan, Jenkins

Somehow, I missed a Ken Rosenthal column.  This thing is already 14 hours old.  I’m slipping.

  • A Mystery Team has already made a four-year offer to Francisco Cordero.  We know the Brewers made an offer on Monday but Rosenthal may be referring to another club.
  • Rosenthal suggests Scott Linebrink could be reunited with Bruce Bochy to become the Giants’ closer.  It’s known that the Astros already have an offer out to Linebrink.
  • Teams interested in Geoff Jenkins: the Cubs, Padres, Giants, Rangers, and Royals.  Several of those are new to me.
  • The Tigers’ payroll is expected to exceed $115MM.  Time to head over to Cot’s and do some math.  By my count the Tigers are around $105MM right now (includes some arbitration guesses).  That leaves room for one starting pitcher signing, be it Kenny Rogers, Carlos Silva, or whoever.
  • The Cardinals, Astros, and Mets have their eye on Livan Hernandez.  Mets’ management is divided on signing him, since he’s a back-rotation guy.
  • Rosenthal believes the Reds could shop Joey Votto or Josh Hamilton a year from now in hopes of acquiring starting pitching.
  • Tony Clark is gaining in popularity as a cheap power source.  He might be looking at two years, $4MM plus more playing time.


Brewers Targeting Herges, Hawkins, Mahay

UPDATE: Melvin signed sidearmer Randy Choate this afternoon to start things off.  This MLB.com article also quotes Cordero’s agent Bean Stringfellow that "numerous" teams have shown serious interest in the closer.  The Astros may be making a strong push. 

Tom Haudricourt checks in with some names among the eight or nine free agent relievers on Brewers GM Doug Melvin’s radar.  And to think, they cut this part out of Haudricourt’s newspaper article.

Melvin is currently interested in righties Matt Herges and LaTroy Hawkins, as well as southpaw Ron Mahay.  The Rockies have one-year offers on the table for Herges and Hawkins in the $1.5-2MM range.  Any team guaranteeing two years can probably have Herges or Hawkins.  Mahay’s in the three-year, $12MM class.  Haudricourt suggests David Riske, another 3/12 type, might also be a consideration.

The Brewers have an offer out to Francisco Cordero, and haven’t decided whether to make a proposal to Scott Linebrink.  Both are Type A free agents, so at least the Brewers should offer them arbitration.  I say let ‘em both walk and reap the draft picks.  (The Mets, by the way, seemingly won’t be in on Linebrink).


Odds and Ends: Clark, Izturis, Clemens

First day for teams to negotiate with free agents, always a good time.  Here are today’s odds and ends.

  • Jeff Blair notes that one athlete may still be better paid than Alex Rodriguez: Kimi Raikkonen, a Formula One driver, earns $51MM per year.  No need to debate on whether race car drivers should be considered athletes, I just thought it was interesting.
  • The D’Backs don’t figure to spend much on free agents, because they’re a smart team. Tony Clark wants two years, $4MM, and the team is thinking it over.
  • The Bucs will probably hold onto Jack Wilson this winter, as they’re cutting Cesar Izturis loose rather than pay him $5.45MM.  The Cardinals have interest in Izturis, by the way.
  • Confirming what we already knew: the Yankees will pursue Mike Lowell and Johan Santana.
  • Marty York has a source saying the Blue Jays might pursue Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.  Say what?
  • Doug Melvin isn’t planning on moving Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun from third base unless the Brewers acquire another "legitimate, bona fide third baseman."
  • Mark Gonzales notes that the White Sox tried to acquire Scott Linebrink and Octavio Dotel in 2006, implying that Kenny Williams might go after one of them now.  Linebrink is going to be a costly sign, as he’s a Type A and I imagine the Brewers will offer him arbitration.
  • Scott Gregor places odds on various center field possibilities for the White Sox.  He thinks they have a decent chance of trading for Coco Crisp.


Odds and Ends: Rolen, Silva, Capps

Here are some hot stove links to digest this evening.


Astros Interested In Lieber, Linebrink

Ed Wade is contacting all sorts of free agents, and going public with it.  The latest was starter Jon Lieber, who seems like a bargain and a decent fit for them.  Wade was behind the Phillies’ signing of Lieber in ’04.

Lieber will turn 38 in April of next year.  He only pitched 78 innings for the Phils in ’07 a strained oblique and a ruptured tendon in his foot.  He had surgery on the foot in July.  Maybe the Astros can get him on a one-year deal.

Jim Molony’s MLB.com article also mentions that the Astros have reached out to reliever Scott Linebrink.  The Astros lost Linebrink to a Padres waiver claim in May of ’03.

It’s been previously stated that Wade has been in touch with Torii Hunter, Aaron Rowand, Luis Castillo, and perhaps Tom Glavine.


Brewers Hope To Keep Cordero, Linebrink

A couple of high-priced pieces of Milwaukee’s bullpen have reached free agency – Francisco Cordero and Scott LinebrinkAccording to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Brewers will make an aggressive offer to Cordero and hope to retain Linebrink as well.

My hunch is that both players leave for greener pastures.  Cordero seems likely to earn at least a four-year, $40MM deal.  That’s elite closer territory.  Linebrink should be compensated in the three years, $15-18MM range.  While backloading is possible, the Brewers would be looking at adding $15MM per year on average to keep this pair.

My back of the napkin math says the Crew has around $60MM committed for ’08.  Only Ben Sheets will make more than $10MM.  The Brewers’ Opening Day ’07 payroll was about $71MM, so there is room in the budget for both Cordero and Linebrink.  The team’s core players are very good and very cheap.  The time to strike in free agency is now, so I actually endorse some pricier bullpen/rotation signings to get the team over the hump next year.  I might go after Cordero but let Linebrink go.  The Brewers could take payroll to a mere $80MM and have the best team in the NL Central.



Brewers Trade For Scott Linebrink

According to MLB.com, the Brewers have acquired setup man Scott Linebrink for prospects Will Inman, Joe Thatcher, and Steve Garrison.  Let’s take a look at this deal.


Linebrink turns 31 in early August.  Trade rumors swirled around him this offseason, especially involving the Phillies.  His strikeout and walk numbers over the past three seasons have been consistent.  However, in 2006 his less controllable numbers like hits allowed and home runs spiked somewhat.  He was still worth a good 3-4 wins last year according to Baseball Prospectus.

However, Linebrink fell off a cliff this year.  From Day 1 his strikeout rate has been way down; he’s allowed a ton of home runs. You almost have to wonder whether he’s healthy.  He got by for the first two months with the reduced strikeout rate, but it caught up to him in June and especially July.  Even as a seventh inning guy his value is very questionable.  The Crew should recoup a draft pick or two when he leaves after the season, so that’s something. 

My trusty Baseball America Handbook tells me that 20 year-old righty Inman is clearly the jewel of the trade.  He’s a tough competitor; his 1.71 ERA in Low A ball last year was ridiculous.  He does not offer dazzling stuff or projectability, however.  He succeeds on the strength of his command and breaking stuff rather than velocity.  He breezed through High A this year, posting a 1.72 ERA in 13 starts. 

However, Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein questioned how his "below-average stuff and elite-level command" would play at Double A.  The results in his first eight starts at that level have been mixed at best.  He’s taken a couple of shellackings, but has looked solid in his last three efforts.  Goldstein wonders whether he may be a Yusmeiro Petit type, a guy who used deception to post some great minor league numbers despite mediocre stuff.  Petit fooled the Marlins enough for the Mets to snag Carlos Delgado, at least.

Inman is very young for Double A; put him in PETCO in 2009 and I don’t see why he can’t keep his ERA under 5.  Doesn’t blow you away but innings eaters are fetching $8MM annually these days.  Great move by Kevin Towers, because he won’t miss Linebrink.  He can’t lose.

Didn’t know much about the other two prospects.  Thatcher is a 25 year-old southpaw reliever, another guy with average stuff.  The results have been excellent through Triple A though.  He’s got a cut fastball, sweeping slider, and fine control.  He was ranked 23rd among Brewers prospects by Baseball America.

Garrison is a 21 year-old southpaw starter, ranked 27th on the Brewers’ list.  He’s working in High A currently.  He too has average stuff without great velocity, another command guy.  See a theme here?  The pitchers plucked by Kevin Towers don’t light up radar guns or make scouts drool, but still look like big league contributors.

You have to give this one to Towers, who traded from a position of strength to snag three pitchers known less for projection than probability.