Tony Clark Rumors

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.

Latest D’Backs Rumors: Bonderman, Ervin Santana

Nick Piecoro has the scoop regarding all things Diamondbacks.  Let’s dive in.

  • It had slipped my mind that the D’Backs don’t do incentive-laden contracts when I suggested they’d sign Randy Wolf. Bad prediction on my part.
  • The team’s best trade chip: outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.  The 22 year-old hit .286/.330/.476 in Double A last year, and has star potential.  Kevin Goldstein recently ranked Gonzalez third among corner outfield prospects behind Travis Snider and Chris Marrero.  Gonzalez could bring a coveted starter in a trade.  Carlos Quentin is also talked about as a trade candidate, but he needs to get healthy and hit a little first.
  • Conor Jackson is also a trade candidate, more so if the D’Backs can sign Tony Clark.  They’re thinking something close to the two years, $3.25 Matt Stairs received.  Meanwhile Clark’s agent is thinking he could get a near full-time role elsewhere.
  • Piecoro brings up the intriguing idea of shopping Jose Valverde.  He’s getting pricey soon, and could be at peak value.  I like it.  A safer trade option from the team’s strong pen is Juan Cruz.
  • All these great young players to trade, but who to target?  Piecoro tantalizes by telling us Ervin Santana and even Jeremy Bonderman are in the D’Backs’ sights.  Santana is known to be available for a bat.  Bonderman would be attractive to many teams if not for his late-season elbow woes.  He’s signed through 2010.
  • I could see the A’s poking their head in on all of this, with Joe Blanton and even Dan Haren to offer.

Odds and Ends: Lincecum, Wakefield, Schilling

More random rumors.  You know you love it.

Odds and Ends: Abreu, Beckett, Helton, Schilling

Friday afternoon rumor tidbits…

  • The Indians will probably let Kenny Lofton leave while exercising Joe Borowski’s $4MM option.  No big surprise there.
  • Nor is it a surprise that the Yankees are heavily leaning towards exercising Bobby Abreu‘s $16MM option.
  • From the what might’ve been department: Red Sox owner John Henry was in favor of signing A.J. Burnett instead of trading for Josh Beckett.  One could make a solid argument that the Red Sox would be better off if Henry had gotten his wish.  Beckett and Julio Lugo combined for 8.6 wins at $14MM this year while Burnett and Hanley Ramirez combined for 14.8 wins at $12.4MM (according to WARP).
  • From that same department – Tom Gage notes that the Tigers once nearly acquired Todd Helton for Tony Clark.  There were many Clark rumors from 1999-2001 before the Red Sox claimed him off waivers.  I heard Buck and McCarver talking recently about how Helton is not a product of his home park.  For the record Helton has hit .368/.474/.668 at home in his career and .304/.409/.515 on the road.  He probably belongs in the Hall but it would be a lot tighter if his career OPS was .924 instead of 1.014.
  • Nick Cafardo makes his case for the Red Sox to re-sign Curt Schilling.
  • A scouting look at Hiroki Kuroda, plus other Japanese pitchers who may come over (hat tip to MetsBlog).  Jason Churchill estimates a three-year deal for Kuroda at $9-11MM per.
  • How would you like to face a 125 mph fastball?

D’Backs Hope To Retain Tony Clark

As expected and mentioned in late August, the Diamondbacks hope to bring first baseman Tony Clark back for 2008.  Josh Byrnes said yesterday, "We’re certainly going to make an effort."

Clark will probably cost $3-4MM over two years.  His presence and a healthy Chad Tracy might make Conor Jackson expendable for starting pitching.

Will D’Backs Add A Starter?

There are two schools of thought regarding the young, successful Arizona club.  The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro seems to think Josh Byrnes will stay quiet this winter, re-signing Tony Clark and letting Randy Johnson replace Livan HernandezThe East Valley Tribune’s Scott Bordow would rather not rely on The Big Unit, instead trading a young position player for a young starter.

Specifically, Bordow notes that Carlos Quentin and Conor Jackson could be expendable.  However, injuries complicate possible trades of either player.  With Quentin it’s direct – he had surgery to repair the rotator cuff and labrum of his non-throwing shoulder in October.  It’s a six-month timeline for recovery, so he could be ready for Spring Training.  Jackson is fine and healthy, but trading him becomes easier if Chad Tracy can prove his health.  He had microfracture knee surgery and also expects to be ready in March.

Jackson seems to be the best trading chip – even if Tracy has complications, Clark wouldn’t be a terrible full-time stopgap.  Jackson, who turns 26 next May, has a respectable if not spectacular .280/.362/.441 line in 310 games.  He slugged .555 after the break this year.  Which team has an available young starter and badly needs position players?  The Giants, with Noah Lowry.  I’m not sure if Lowry would impress the D’Backs, though.  Plus, the teams are in the same division.  The Twins also make for an interesting match, as they might be able to use Jackson in left field.  The D’Backs could ask for Matt Garza or Kevin Slowey.  The White Sox could use an outfielder; would one year of Jon Garland be an even swap?

Should Cubs Add Tony Clark?

Word comes today that Tony Clark is willing to waive his no-trade clause if that’s what the Diamondbacks want.  The Cubs are the obvious fit – should they go after him?

I vote yes.  The Cubs’ offense was barely acceptable before Derrek Lee went down, and now it’s just plain feeble.  This club cannot be backed into playing Neifi Perez regularly once again.

Clark is probably worth a win or two in Lee’s two month absence, and that easily justifies the $2MM owed to him through 2007.  Josh Byrnes is a shrewd GM, however, so Hendry has to try not to send the next Dontrelle Willis over.

The issue of what to do with Clark once Lee comes back isn’t really an issue to me.  The Cubs can use him to DH against the Indians and Mariners in June if Lee comes back early and otherwise add some pop and OBP to the bench.  If Hendry can flip him somewhere in August, so be it. 

Clark is not expensive and not a complainer.  If Josh Byrnes isn’t asking for Rich Hill, I think a deal should be made.  I wouldn’t expect Clark to hit .304/.366/.636 again, but he’ll improve the team by keeping Neifi on the bench.