Shea Hillenbrand Rumors

Odds & Ends: Minaya, Bradley, McClain

Links for Friday…

Cafardo’s Latest: Manny, Sheets, Glavine

The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo shares some notes on Manny Ramirez and around the league. Let’s have a look, bullet-point style:

  • He cites an AL Exec who says, "I’ll be honest, I never thought Ramirez would walk away from… one year, $25 million. That’s better than the $20 million option he had torn up… If he has another great year, he gets another $25 million for one year? Or maybe a team then decides, ‘OK, this guy has behaved himself for a while, continues to produce at a high level now, let’s commit for another two years to him.’ Unless a team like the Yankees comes in at the last minute and gets it done, I just don’t see where he’s going to make more than $25 million." Cafardo adds that "Brian Cashman insists it won’t happen."
  • A quote from Rich Hill on his being traded to the Orioles: "[Cubs general manager] Jim Hendry really took care of me. He wanted to create an opportunity for me that he told me probably didn’t exist in Chicago, so I’m grateful. I know Baltimore tried to deal for me last year and it didn’t work out, but this time they made it work." Hill also adds that he’s over his back injury and will rediscover his control.
  • Ben Sheets not signing anywhere until June hurts the Brewers two-fold: they may have to foot the bill for the surgery and won’t receive a first round draft pick for losing a Type-A free agent. Sheets has a torn flexor tendon, as revealed by an exam with the Texas Rangers. On the other hand, MLBTR has noted that in June, after his surgery, he won’t cost a draft pick to sign.
  • Andruw Jones on playing in Boston: "It’s too cold there. There’s too much stuff going on."
  • Bobby Abreu may have to settle for a one or two year deal at $3MM. Cafardo lists the Angels, Mets, Braves, Dodgers, and Mariners.
  • Expect an incentive-laden deal for one year between Tom Glavine and the Braves. As MLBTR has noted, their latest offer was between $1-2MM with no incentives.
  • Mark Mulder could be a useful back end starter and he’s almost ready to put himself on display to teams.
  • Shea Hillenbrand is 32 and receiving no interest. Cafardo wonders if he’s "being punished for past transgressions?"
  • Cubs, White Sox, and Dodgers are lined up for Orlando Hudson; however, the transfer of ownership may have temporarily tied the hands of Jim Hendry to do anything until Tom Ricketts takes over.
  • The A’s are continuously interested in Orlando Cabrera, Adam Dunn, and Abreu.

Odds & Ends: Padres, Baldelli, Hillenbrand

Some linkage for your Sunday afternoon reading pleasure…

  • Buster Olney takes a look at the dark time that’s ahead for the Padres, likening it to the state the franchise was in when John Moores took over back in 1994.
  • Joe McDonald of the Providence Journal talked to Rocco Baldelli about his amazing comeback this season, and the next step in his career.
  • We already saw the main portion of this article from Nick Cafardo talked about today, but it’s worth highlighting that Cafardo sat down to talk with Shea Hillenbrand, who would like to make a comeback and feels he can still play. Hillenbrand says he’s learned a lot and hit .340 playing Independent Ball in 2008. He could be an interesting low-risk, high-reward player for a team in need of a DH or corner infielder. Cafardo also points out that for all of the talk about needing closers, George Sherrill is quietly available.

Odds and Ends: Hillenbrand, Tsao, Uehara

Here are some random bits and pieces to hold us over until front offices re-open…

  • Shea Hillenbrand has only received one inquiry this winter – from the Giants.  He probably won’t be earning $6MM again.  Hillenbrand posted a .599 OPS in 267 ABs for the Angels and Dodgers this year.  I thought perhaps that was one of the worst performances of the decade for guys with 250+ ABs.  However it’s only the 49th worst since 2000.  Homer Bush’s 2000 takes the cake – a .524 OPS for the Blue Jays in 297 ABs.
  • The Royals inked Chin-Hui Tsao to a minor-league deal.  Tsao was once considered the Rockies’ best prospect, but he’s been decimated by injuries.  Makes sense for the Royals to throw him a bone though.
  • Koji Uehara re-signed with the Yomiuri Giants for 400 million yen – about $3.57MM.  He’ll turn 33 in April.  A hamstring injury knocked Uehara out of the ’07 season’s first month, denying him free agency this winter.  Now he needs to be active for just eight days to be eligible after the season.  The Giants used him in relief in ’07, perhaps to spite him.  Read more about that and his repertoire in my Q&A with Mike Plugh on Uehara.   
  • John Fay runs down the Reds’ veteran free agent starter options.
  • A-Rod still won’t return Scott Boras’ calls.
  • Jason Churchill names some intriguing, possibly available young hurlers who may be on Seattle’s radar: Scott Olsen, Noah Lowry, Daniel Cabrera, Edwin Jackson, Chris Capuano, Ian Snell, and Anthony Reyes.
  • Nothing is cooking with Brandon Inge, and the Tigers won’t be bringing Sean Casey back.

Padres Acquire Hillenbrand

Even a rumormonger has to step away from the computer for a few hours, right?  As you may have heard, the Padres signed beloved 32 year-old DH Shea Hillenbrand to a minor league contract.  He’ll go to Portland and try to prove that his ship has not fully sunk.

I’ve been praising Kevin Towers a lot here but this move probably won’t amount to much.  In the best case, Hillenbrand can fill in a little bit at first and third base, and as a pinch-hitter.  Aside from this year, he’s hit lefties well.  That’s also Kevin Kouzmanoff‘s best trait, though, and Adrian Gonzalez doesn’t bear an massive split.  This didn’t cost the Padres anything, but the effect should be next to nothing.

Tim Brown’s Latest: Willis, Hillenbrand

Yahoo’s Tim Brown has some new material up:

  • So is Dontrelle Willis available or isn’t he?  Brown says Marlins GM Larry Beinfest is privately talking about him with other clubs.  Brown rattles off the Yankees, Dodgers, Mariners, Diamondbacks, and Indians as interested parties.  Nonetheless, I think the time has passed for the Marlins to get a truly impressive bounty for their ace.
  • Shea Hillenbrand will sign with either the Padres or one other unknown NL team.  Maybe to the Nationals as Dmitri Young‘s replacement?
  • Yes, Bobby Kielty has been DFA’d and the Red Sox are considering him.  Typically, the 31 year-old switch-hitter is able to draw a few walks and hit lefties.  He can handle the corner outfield positions but hasn’t played center with any regularity since 2002. 

Tim Brown’s Latest: A’s, Yankees

Yahoo’s Tim Brown has a new post up, with some trade rumors we’ve heard before and some we haven’t.

  • Clearly the A’s are sellers, and they’re offering up Mike Piazza, Joe Kennedy, and Bobby Kielty.  Brown names the Twins as the club most interested in Piazza.  He also feels the Yankees, Angels, Mariners, and Red Sox would be good fits.  But where would Piazza play on the Red Sox?
  • The Red Sox were apparently close to a deal for Kielty, a 31 year-old switch-hitting extra outfielder.  He hasn’t played much center since ’02, so maybe the Sox have relaxed that requirement.  Kielty was supposed to be moved in a three-team deal that would have sent Wily Mo Pena somewhere.  The deal has stalled, but it’s really starting to look like Pena is on the move.
  • The Yankees and Rangers are still discussing Mark Teixeira.  My guess is that Brian Cashman just wants to see if this can be done without involving Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain.  Failing that, the Yanks have Ty Wigginton and Shea Hillenbrand on their list.  Wiggy would be a useful addition.  Joe Maddon would still find a way not to play Jonny Gomes though.

Odds and Ends

Some random links I’ve come across, best categorized as Odds and Ends.

  • Tim Marchman of the New York Sun discusses why the Yankees can’t practically pull off any kind of fire sale.  Bobby Abreu is the one big name they can move, though Andy Pettitte is worthy of consideration.  Marchman likes the Angels, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers as fits for Abreu.
  • Shea Hillenbrand was waived today; insert "ship is sinking" reference here.  I guess Bill Stoneman couldn’t find a taker for Hillenbrand even while eating most of his remaining salary.  Now the Angels will foot the bill while some team picks up the opinionated DH for the league minimum.  The Twins are often cited as a team in need of a DH, but Hillenbrand might disrupt the clubhouse chemistry.  And of course, the Yankees have been connected to him since this winter.
  • RotoAuthority lays out a plan for starting your own keeper fantasy baseball league.
  • Torii Hunter would consider playing for the White Sox, for what it’s worth.  It’d take a franchise-record contract to sign him. 
  • Indians reliever Fernando Cabrera is a fine candidate to be traded to a rebuilding team. The Tribe can’t option him to the minors without losing him, but his performance isn’t helping the team and he’s taking up a roster spot.  As a 25 year-old with a K/9 over 10 in 129 career innings, there should be plenty of interest.  Swapping him for a seasoned reliever like Octavio Dotel, Eric Gagne, or Al Reyes makes sense to me.  By the way, the Indians’ Rafael Betancourt is quietly one of the five best relievers in baseball this year.

Hillenbrand To Be Designated For Assignment

UPDATE: Sure enough, the Yankees are in "serious talks" to acquire Hillenbrand.

Ah, finally a rumor of the non-Buehrle/Jacque variety.  Unfortunately all I’ve got is the latest on Angels (former) DH and malcontent Shea Hillenbrand.

Hillenbrand is to be designated for assignment on Friday, giving Bill Stoneman ten days to trade or release him.  Another year, another DFA.  I imagine there’s a slight chance of pawning him off on the Yankees, who seem to have an odd infatuation with Hillenbrand.  Once they experience him firsthand, that’ll change.  How about Hillenbrand and salary relief for Kyle Farnsworth?  Not that the Angels need him, but the Yankees sure don’t want him.

Hillenbrand at $6.5MM was a bad idea from Day 1.  On the plus side, it’s only money.  The Giants traded away Jeremy Accardo for a couple months of Hillenbrand last year (though to be fair, they received Vinnie Chulk too.)

Yanks Interested In Hillenbrand

Don’t ask me why, but the Yankees are interested in trading for benched Angels DH Shea Hillenbrand.  At $6.5MM with attitude issues and little defensive (plus questionable offensive) value, Hillenbrand is not exactly a hot commodity.  I imagine the Angels would not be asking for much and would probably eat some salary.

The Yankees tossed around the idea of signing Hillenbrand last winter, but ultimately decided to go with Josh Phelps and Doug Mientkiewicz.  Mientkiewicz may not return until August after wrist surgery.  The Yankees have actually been using Miguel Cairo at first base.  I don’t care what kind of defense he plays, that ain’t right. 

Acquiring Hillenbrand would be odd, because Phelps pretty much is Hillenbrand but cheaper.  The Yankees’ offense has been very good, ranking first in the AL in OBP and second in SLG.  But upgrading first base would still result in even more runs scored, never a bad thing. 

That’s why the Yankees should pursue an actual upgrade.  Carlos Pena, Mark Teixeira, Todd Helton, and Dmitri Young could all be options.  The expensive guys are obviously long shots.  The Yanks could also go after Rich Aurilia or Mark DeRosa as mentioned here.  Underachievers/bench guys like Jorge Cantu, Aubrey Huff, Kevin Millar, and Ben Broussard may be possibilities as well.