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Saturday morning linkage:
- Cubs GM Jim Hendry didn’t consult the prospective new owners before picking up Rich Harden‘s option, and that’s fine by Mark Cuban.
- The Blue Jays are expected to pick up Rod Barajas‘ option; there’s still a possibility that Gregg Zaun will return. The 37-year old Zaun is eligible to become a free agent.
- Speaking of catchers, Sox Machine analyzes the pros/cons of the White Sox keeping or moving backup catcher Toby Hall.
- The Yankees are correctly focusing on their rotation and will sign one or two free agent pitchers, thinks the LoHud Journal News’ Peter Abraham, which in turn may prohibit them from going after Mark Teixeira.
- A’s assistant GM David Forst will not interview with the Mariners for their vacant GM position.
Alejandro A. Leal writes for UmpBump.com and can be reached hre: alexo05 *at* umpbump *dot* com.
With their season over, it’s time to round up some White Sox rumors.
- Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald says GM Kenny Williams wants to add speed to the top and bottom of his order. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune hints at the same.
- The speedy and available: Brian Roberts, Ichiro Suzuki (maybe), Coco Crisp, Nick Punto, Willy Taveras, Jerry Hairston Jr., Juan Pierre, Randy Winn, Bobby Abreu, Luis Castillo, Corey Patterson, Julio Lugo, and Cesar Izturis.
- Gonzales says Juan Uribe (free agent) and Toby Hall (club option) would like to return. Ken Griffey Jr. would also be willing to talk.
- Gonzales ponders a veteran shakeup, wondering if the Sox will look to move players with no-trade clauses such as Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, and Javier Vazquez. Chris De Luca sees Nick Swisher staying, but no chance of re-signing Orlando Cabrera.
Hall turned 31 this year; he hit well after a trade to the Dodgers after a June 27th trade from the Devil Rays. Hall didn’t like being a backup and requested a trade in July. Today’s signing indicates that he just couldn’t find full-time work anywhere, since A.J. Pierzynski plays a good 135 games a year.
Hall is a solid defender and his right-handed stick complements A.J. well. He’s got a high-contact hitting style but little power or ability to draw walks. Hence, the lack of interest in him as a starter.
After successfully completing the Danys Baez trade in January, the Dodgers and Devil Rays have matched up again on a multi-player swap. This time L.A. sent Jae Seo, Dioner Navarro, and a PTBNL to the D-Rays for Toby Hall and Mark Hendrickson.
With a .258 batting average on balls in play, Hendrickson has been the 11th luckiest starter in baseball this year. Given the D-Rays’ team BABIP of .316, we can be fairly confident that the 32 year-old southpaw will not maintain his hit rate of 8.13 per nine. His peripherals are otherwise unimpressive – 3.4 BB/9, 5.1 K/9, 1.0 HR/9. Prior to this season, Hendrickson had allowed almost 11 hits per nine innings in the Majors. His control is better than this, but he’s in for a steep decline overall.
Despite an ERA near 6, I’m not sure Jae Seo is much worse than Hendrickson. Though no one seems to trust Seo to succeed, he has managed a 3.85 career ERA in almost 400 innings leading up to this season. Hendrickson doesn’t seem like a significant upgrade, especially half a season worth of him.
The exchange of Toby Hall for Dioner Navarro is another clear win for Tampa Bay. Navarro is still just 22 and hasn’t had a full trial in the Majors. Any backstop that young who can draw a walk 10% of the time has value.
I think this is a disappointing move for the Dodgers. While it’s true they may not miss Navarro or Seo, Hendrickson is not the #3 starter the team needs to run away with the NL West.
Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News reported a new Danys Baez rumor today. Apparently, the Dodgers have inquired on him given Eric Gagne‘s impending free agency. Of course, Baez is due for a big contract himself when he hits free agency after 2006.
These talks are still preliminary, but I was able to uncover some more info from a source close to the Devil Rays. Word from that end is that Edwin Jackson and Dioner Navarro would go to Tampa Bay in a deal for Baez and Toby Hall. The Dodgers may find Navarro expendable with top prospect Russell Martin perhaps a year away.
According to Ken Rosenthal, "The Angels are believed to be talking to the Devil Rays about a deal for center fielder Joey Gathright and/or catcher Toby Hall."
We reported yesterday that the Angels were hot on the trail of Tampa Bay outfielders. While our source named Ervin Santana as likely trade bait, Rosenthal thinks young infielders and/or catchers would be sent over. It does make sense that Jeff Mathis would go to the Rays if Hall is dealt. Mathis had a great age 22 season for a catcher at Triple A Salt Lake. It is expected that Steve Finley will be benched or traded to clear a spot for an imported outfielder like Gathright.
Rosenthal also mentions, "acquisition of Hall almost certainly would end the chances of free-agent catcher Bengie Molina remaining with the Angels." An interesting scenario could develop if Molina decides to play it safe and accept arbitration, which is still a possibility. Last year, Placido Polanco unexpectedly accepted arbitration with the Phillies, creating an awkward situation with Chase Utley ready to play every day. Polanco was quickly dealt for just Ugueth Urbina.
Talked to my Mets source recently, and their priorities for catcher are as follows.
1. Ramon Hernandez, but only at the right length (three years) and price (maybe $8MM per). The Mets are pretending publicly they’d start the season with Ramon Castro behind the plate. That posturing is similar to the Yankees’ assertion that they could begin the ’06 season with Bubba Crosby in center. Not gonna happen.
2. Bengie Molina, if he takes less cash than Hernandez.
3. Brad Ausmus.
4. Toby Hall through trade.
Ivan Rodriguez is not on the club’s radar due to injury concerns and his salary.
The Mets are likely to trade Jeff Keppinger or Anderson Hernandez and start the remaining player in Triple A in 2006. They have an eye on Mark Grudzielanek to fill the 2B void.
The latest on Manny Ramirez is that the Red Sox are simply asking for too much from the Mets for the slugger. New York is the one serious trade partner for Ramirez and won’t be surrendering Lastings Milledge and Cliff Floyd.