Shea Hillenbrand Rumors

Shea Hillenbrand Expendable

It’s an understatement to say that Angels’ DH Shea Hillenbrand is an expendable player.  He’s hitting .236/.250/.311 in 148 ABs, the third-worst hitting performance in baseball according to VORP.  Only Jason Kendall and Chone Figgins have done more damage to their teams.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes that the return of Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero‘s need to DH could spell the end of the Shea Hillenbrand Era in L.A.  It was a lousy signing to begin with; $6.5MM wasted.  At least it was just money. Brian Sabean gave away Jeremy Accardo to acquire Hillenbrand last year.

So, who wants a double-play machine with no glove?  Tough call.  Open DH jobs are hard to come by.  Maybe the Giants would want him back, or the Tigers or Orioles could plug him in at first base. 


Angels Sign Shea Hillenbrand

Ken Rosenthal reports that the Angels have signed Shea Hillenbrand to a one-year deal.  ESPN adds that the contract includes an option for 2008.  RotoWorld has the dollars: $6MM in 2006 with a $6.5MM vesting option for ’08.  Should the Halos use him at first base, it could indicate a trade of Casey Kotchman or Kendry Morales is on the horizon.

Hillenbrand, 31, hit .277/.313/.451 in 530 ABs between the Blue Jays and Giants this year.  His 21 homers were a career high.  By comparison, the average American League first baseman hit .280/.352/.467 in 2006. 

Hillenbrand’s reunion with John Gibbons won’t occur until the Angels face the Blue Jays on August 14th.

Tuesday tidbits

Nothing in the news that is too breathtaking today, but there have been enough things worthy of mention that I thought I’d throw them all into one thread.

Here’s a fun trade possibility: the Red Sox are interested in Chad Cordero (uh, who wouldn’t be?) and may be dangling Wily Mo Pena, whom Jim Bowden is known to…how should I put this?…really like.  Bowden hasn’t acquired a toolsy outfielder for a couple of weeks now, so if the Sox found a way to sweeten the deal, perhaps Trader Jim would take the bait.

The Yankees have been quiet lately, but they may soon make an offer to bring back Ted Lilly.  They have also been linked to Shea Hillenbrand and Rich Aurilia to fill a spot at first base. 

The Rockies signed Jeff Francis to a four-year deal for $13.25M, which takes him through his arbitration years.  He’s still only 25, and if nothing else, he’s proven he can eat innings.  He may still turn into more than that.  Even if he’s no more than a 5th starter, he’ll be worth close to that amount, and the Rockies will probably want to exercise their ~$7M option for his first year of free agency in 2011.

According to the LA Times, who I would link to if they didn’t require registration, Carlos Lee isn’t interested in the west coast, which would rule out the Dodgers, Angels, and Giants.  You gotta admit, it would’ve been pretty funny if El Caballo signed in LA and he and Juan Pierre played side by side for the next five years.  By the end of those deals, Vin Scully would’ve said "double to the left-field gap" more times than he did in his first twenty years of broadcasting.

The Reds sent more than half of Jason LaRue‘s salary along with him in yesterday’s trade.  I didn’t think it was a horrible deal for the Royals in the first place (though, admittedly, do they really need a mediocre stopgap catcher to help get them to 70 wins?) but this makes it a better one.  More coverage at Royals Review.  (You didn’t know there was a Royals blog, did you?)

By Jeff Sackmann

Giants Acquire Shea Hillenbrand

Many teams were interested, but Brian Sabean and the Giants prevailed in the Shea Hillenbrand sweepstakes late Friday night.  The deal marks Sabean’s first of the year and first ever with J.P. Ricciardi (as far as I can tell). 

The average National League first baseman has hit .286/.366/.504 this season, while Hillenbrand is at .301/.342/.480.  While he’s a below average fix at first, it sure as hell beats the .714 OPS the Giants have gotten out of the position thus far

Hillenbrand moves from a ballpark that inflates home runs by about 18% and batting average about 5% for right-handed hitters.  His new home has a similar effect on batting average but suppresses right-handed home runs by about 4%.

The pitchers Hillenbrand faced this year with the Blue Jays allowed an aggregate line of .260/.345/.416.  Every Giants hitter with more than 200 plate appearances has faced tougher pitching than that.  Another interesting fact: Hillenbrand is one of the most likely double play victims in the game. 

Defensively, the Fielding Bible rates Hillenbrand as the fourth-worst first baseman in baseball, ahead of Giambi, Delgado, and Sexson.  The Giants currently boast the third-best defensive efficiency mark in the NL, however.

The Blue Jays threw in Vinnie Chulk in the deal and received Jeremy Accardo.  Baseball Prospectus notes that Accardo "finally made The Show on the basis of a mid-90s fastball, a developing slider, and a filthy cutter that some compare to Mariano Rivera’s bat-sawing Frisbee."

Accardo appears to be an upgrade from Chulk, who is three years older and has mediocre stuff.

Shea Hillenbrand Designated

According to a Blue Jays source of mine, this is how the Shea Hillenbrand designation went down:

"It seems Hillenbrand and a few (word is two) of his teammates were being
mischievious during yesterday’s workout. Gibbons stormed in the clubhouse
like an old den-mother and demanded the pranksters reveal themselves.

Just Hillenbrand stepped forward.

Gibbons blew a gasket. Everyone’s face hung open.

Gibb told Hill to take a shower and leave (on his first day back from adopting
a kid).

As the team left for the field, Hill still suited-up and paced in the
clubhouse, not knowing what to do.

Until an in-house courier hand delivered his walking papers.

He then left."

Alright, this is Tim talking again.  It seems that Hillenbrand’s mischief involved writing "This is a sinking ship" on a chalkboard in the clubhouse.  Good times.

The Padres, Twins, Rangers, and Angels have been connected to Hillenbrand at one time or another.  While the Pads are the concensus favorite, keep in mind that Kevin Towers and J.P. Ricciardi have never completed a trade with one another before.  (As far as I can tell).  But hey, there’s a first time for everything.

Trade Rumor Roundup: 11 Days Left

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. 

The Jeff Keppinger for Ruben Gotay deal is official.  Score one for Omar Minaya.  In other Royals news, the Royals Authority advises fans not to panic about Luke Hochevar.

We saw what the Tigers would have to give up for Alfonso Soriano.  Apparently, to get Bobby Abreu they’d have to surrender Marcus Thames, Zach Miner, and a lot of money.  I’ll take option A.

Looking for an aging slugger who can maybe still hit leftiesSammy Sosa is again making noise about playing again.  This is not good for baseball.

Halos Heaven, a blog I know to have good sources, reports that the Orioles want the Angels to have Miguel TejadaOrlando 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. 

RotoAuthority looks for the game’s true .300 hitters.

Tips for better living.

Blue Jays Trade Rumors

There’s no doubt that the Blue Jays will need to address their pitching staff if they want to make the playoffs, as I detailed in this post.  Today I’ve got a source giving us the latest buzz coming out of Toronto.

The Jays have approximately $2-4 million in the budget to compensate their deadline acquisitions.  J.P. Ricciardi knows he’ll need more salary room than that, so look for Shea Hillenbrand ($5.8MM) or Eric Hinske ($4.3MM) to change addresses before the deadline.  Hillenbrand has an .821 OPS, pretty much average for a corner infielder.  Hinske stands at .887 thanks to a strong walk rate and a career high slugging percentage.  Hinske has faced righties 80% of the time this year, so that’s given his stats a boost.

Gregg Zaun, in calling out his teammates’ lack of leadership, may have punched his ticket out of town.  Zaun’s .908 OPS is 7th among catchers with at least 125 ABs.  He makes a million bucks this year, so sending him to a team like the Rockies could clear a little payroll.

When manager John Gibbons brought in Brandon League a couple days ago to protect Roy Halladay‘s two-run lead, League was being showcased for a trade.  Two home runs later the game was tied and League’s value went down. 

Poor decision-making and several other factors may lead to Gibbons’s replacement this winter.  Gibbons’s support of George W. Bush and his team’s perceived lack of intensity are issues.  Bench coach Ernie Whitt has been mentioned as the likely replacement.

Trade Candidates Part 2

Last time we looked at players in their contract year and trade possibilities.  Today we’ll open the field and see who else could be available.

Dealing Shea Hillenbrand or Eric Hinske would probably make sense for the Blue Jays.  It looks like the two will enter 2006 splitting DH duty for the Jays, and Hillenbrand may have twice as much value with the bat as Hinske.  The problem is figuring out which team actually has a need for a middling 1B/3B/DH type.

The Red Sox have six starters (seven if you think Papelbon is rotation-ready), but they shouldn’t be so eager to send one packing.  Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling are highly unlikely to make all of their starts.  Epstein might send Arroyo over to Tampa Bay for Julio Lugo anyway.  More likely, of course, is a signing of Alex Gonzalez and a trade of David Wells for a spare part or prospect.

A lot of folks think Carlos Pena still has some good seasons ahead of him.  For example, PECOTA projects him to hit .255/.349/.482 in 514 ABs in 2006.  The Tigers could probably use some sort of contingency plan in case Carlos Guillen misses time again.

The Diamondbacks have too many veteran OFs and no place for Carlos Quentin.  I’m sure Shawn Green and Luis Gonzalez are available, it’s just a matter of finding clubs to take most of their salaries.  Both outfielders are still contributors.