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Victor Martinez Rumors
As ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark points out, the NL Central will look considerably different in 2012, now that Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa have moved on. Ryan Braun could miss 50 games with a suspension that would make the division even less recognizable. Here are Stark’s latest notes and rumors:
- Scouts and executives doubt Miguel Cabrera will be able to play third base with much skill in 2012.
- One AL executive suggests the Tigers would have to eat a lot of money to trade Victor Martinez next offseason. Insurance will likely cover approximately half of the switch hitter’s 2012 salary of $13MM, Stark writes.
- Stark hears that the Phillies have sent signals that they might make Joe Blanton available this spring.
- Jason Bartlett has been available this winter and the Red Sox could pursue him, Stark writes. However, the shortstop will earn $5.5MM in 2012 and the Red Sox aim to stay below the luxury tax threshold.
- Scott Kazmir intends to pitch in 2012, but his fastball velocity is in the 84-85 mph range. The 28-year-old appeared in one game for the Angels last year and they released him after a rough stretch at Triple-A.
- There’s every indication that the commissioner’s office will discipline Juan Carlos Oviedo/Leo Nunez and Roberto (Heredia) Hernandez/Fausto Carmona for using false identities.
- Though many have told Bud Selig that adding a second Wild Card team to each league this year will create scheduling issues, the commissioner seems intent on expanding the playoffs in 2012, and Stark expects him to get his wish.
January 30th: Martinez had "microfracture surgery and repairs to both the medial and lateral meniscus in his left knee on Friday," announced the Tigers. The Tigers expect him to have ACL reconstruction surgery in about six-to-eight weeks, which will sideline him for all of 2012. After losing Martinez, the Tigers moved quickly to sign Prince Fielder to a nine-year deal.
January 17th: Catcher/designated hitter Victor Martinez suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during his off-season conditioning last week, according to the Tigers. Surgery is anticipated, which the Tigers say would cost Martinez the 2012 season.
The Tigers are holding a conference call in about a half hour, at which point we should hear about their plans to replace Martinez after the unfortunate injury.
Representatives for free agent hitters have started calling the Tigers, who will probably play the 2012 season without one of their top offensive players. But general manager Dave Dombrowski is still digesting the news that Victor Martinez is likely out for the season with a torn ACL, and he doesn't feel the need to rush the team's next move. The GM points to the 2011 Cardinals, who lost Adam Wainwright in Spring Training but won the World Series.
"You need to be resilient," Dombrowski said on a conference call with reporters. "After you feel sorry for yourself for a day you move on, you look at all your alternatives."
If the Tigers add a bat, it would most likely be a short-term addition, Dombrowski said. The club could maneuver from within, but that would mean using Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila or an outfielder at DH on occasion — not shifting Miguel Cabrera to third base and pursuing a first baseman. Dombrowski declined to comment on specific players, but Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero are among the available free agent designated hitters.
As for Martinez, he injured his left knee late last week while doing a side to side shuffling exercise. The Tigers expect him to recover fully if he undergoes surgery, as expected. The possibility exists that he could return late in the 2012 season, but that would be a bonus, rather than anything Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland will count on.
Martinez signed a four-year, $50MM contract with the Tigers last offseason and posted a .330/.380/.470 line in his first season in Detroit. Though Martinez appeared in 26 games at catcher last year, the Tigers hadn't planned to rely on him behind the plate in 2012.
On this date in 1979, the Pirates beat the Orioles 4-1 to win the World Series in seven games. Willie Stargell, the '79 NL MVP, hit a two-run home run in the victory. Here are links for Monday night as we await the beginning of this year's World Series…
- Jim Callis of Baseball America envisions Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo in Boston's 2015 rotation.
- Callis also explains that the Dodgers weren't sure what they had when they drafted right-hander Edwin Jackson in 2001. He was athletic enough to pitch or play in the outfield.
- Bob Simpson, a co-chairman of the Rangers' board, told reporters, including Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, that the Rangers are committed to sustaining their current level of play.
- Victor Martinez told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he's prepared to catch in 2012. The switch-hitter didn't catch at all after August 4th because of a knee sprain, but he's willing to don the tools of ignorance again. Martinez's health will affect Detroit's level of interest in backup catchers this offseason.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggests it will be hard to get the Yankees to offer C.C. Sabathia much more than Cliff Lee obtained from the Phillies ($120MM over five years). Sabathia is expected to opt out of the four years and $92MM remaining on his contract this offseason and though he enjoys playing in New York, it doesn't seem like he's going to give the Yankees a hometown discount.
- The Yankees favor Yu Darvish over C.J. Wilson of the Rangers, according to Sherman.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney hears that Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer is highly regarded by the Angels. The Orioles hold D'Backs exec Jerry Dipoto in similarly high esteem, according to Olney (on Twitter).
A few stray items of note on this Thursday evening …
- MVP voters who omit pitchers from their ballots should be recused from voting, opines Tracy Ringolsby of FOXSports.com. Voting rules stipulate that all players, including pitchers and DHs, be considered for the MVP, so Justin Verlander and Roy Halladay are legitimate candidates, explains Ringolsby.
- The Tigers' signing of Victor Martinez to a four-year contract is proving to be one of the better moves of the offseason, opines Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com.
- Nationals righty Chien-Ming Wang has been durable upon returning to the big leagues after missing two-plus years to injury, but he has trouble warming up his surgically repaired right shoulder before starts, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Because of this, Wang, a free agent at season's end, has been struggling early in his starts before settling in.
- Each of the eight likely playoff teams boasts a strong relief tandem, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Half of them were formed in the past year: Last offseason, the Diamondbacks traded for David Hernandez and signed J.J. Putz, and the Tigers signed Joaquin Benoit. In July, the Brewers traded for Francisco Rodriguez and the Rangers acquired Mike Adams.
A couple notes regarding the Red Sox and Indians, who both won on Saturday night (in Boston's case, twice) …
- The Red Sox wanted to trade for both Erik Bedard and Rich Harden once their attempt to acquire Hiroki Kuroda from the Dodgers fell through, tweets Peter Gammons. Bedard, of course, ended up in Boston, while the acquisition of Harden was nixed by Red Sox medical staff.
- It's unclear whether the Indians were the team that placed a waiver claim on the Rays' B.J. Upton, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, but it'd make sense for the Tribe to do so. Outfielders Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo are banged up, and the Indians were one of the teams interested in Upton prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, according to Hoynes.
- Lost in the shuffle of Jim Thome's first homer since rejoining the Indians was the Major League debut of reliever Nick Hagadone, writes Hoynes. Hagadone, a lefty, was acquired along with Justin Masterson in the deal that sent Victor Martinez to Boston in 2009. That doesn't look like such a bad swap in retrospect, especially if Hagadone turns out to be a solid member of the Tribe's bullpen.
With the first round of the 2011 draft in the rear view mirror, let's take a look at a few links..
- Slugger Nick Johnson was in the Indians' clubhouse before tonight's game against the Twins, but skipper Manny Acta says that it doesn't mean that we'll see the veteran promoted to the majors, writes Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Instead, the first baseman will be promoted from Double-A Akron to Triple-A Columbus.
- Because of their signing of Victor Martinez, the Tigers were without a first round pick tonight. Six months later, Tigers VP David Chadd has no regrets, writes MLB.com's Jason Beck. The club wound up surrendering the No. 19 overall pick to the Red Sox, who used the pick to take UConn pitcher Matt Barnes.
- Athletics third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff was shocked to learn of his demotion to Triple-A tonight, writes Jane Lee of MLB.com.
Hector Noesi got his first MLB win in unconventional fashion yesterday, pitching in and out of trouble through four innings of scoreless relief against the Orioles. Here’s the latest on the Yankees, the O’s and their division rivals after a bizarre game in Baltimore…
- Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and manager Buck Showalter are likely weighing a variety of options after the extra-inning game and Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun explains them.
- John Tomase of the Boston Herald argues that letting Victor Martinez leave as a free agent last season was the right decision for Boston. Though the Red Sox will likely miss the backstop this year, they’ll also miss his decline years.
- The Red Sox are in ‘hang-in’ mode with Tim Wakefield and Alfredo Aceves starting and John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Red Sox have inquired on Kevin Millwood and Cafardo suggests we should keep an eye on Derek Lowe, though he appears unavailable.
- Though Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter helped the Yankees win five championships, keeping the veterans in pinstripes when they’re no longer elite players has its consequences, in the opinion of Les Carpenter of Yahoo Sports. “The price of relative stability, of naming cornerstones and leaving them in place,” Carpenter writes, “is the inability to get rid of them.”
On this date nine years ago, Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez disposed of the Mariners in the first inning by striking out the side on nine pitches. Today, the outlook isn't nearly as rosy for Boston, which is above .500 for the first time this year. Here's the latest:
- The Red Sox announced that Daisuke Matsuzaka experienced elbow tightness during his last start. An MRI confirmed that the right-hander appears to have a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and strain to his common flexor mass. The Red Sox will re-examine him in two weeks.
- Boston's other injured starter, John Lackey, received a cortisone shot in his right pitching elbow, according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com (on Twitter).
- Tonight, Victor Martinez returns to Fenway Park for the first time this season. Back in March, Alex Speier of WEEI.com explained that the Red Sox didn't offer V-Mart more than $42MM in guaranteed money, but believed he would have returned if they had matched the Tigers' $50MM offer.
- Peter Gammons weighed in on all things Red Sox earlier today.
- Former D'Backs manager Bob Melvin has returned to the organization as a special baseball advisor, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.
- Patrick Newman of FanGraphs checks in on some former Major Leaguers who are now playing in Japan.
- Victor Martinez told MLB.com's Jason Beck that he has no hard feelings toward his former team, the Red Sox. "I have nothing but great things to say about the organization, the city, the fans," Martinez said. "It was one of my great experiences in my big league career." Tomorrow Martinez returns to Boston for the first time since signing with the Tigers.
- Paul Molitor told Jim Caple of ESPN.com that he grew up idolizing fellow Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, who passed away today. For more reflections on the popular "lumberjack type" slugger, check out Caple's piece.