Wilson Ramos Rumors
With Spring Training in full swing, wonderful stories from present and past are always emerging. Take Rays starter Chris Archer, who is not just fighting for a spot on Tampa Bay’s opening-day roster, but is on a quest for self-discovery. (As told by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.) Or today's matchup between former and current Padres workhorses Jake Peavy and Clayton Richard, who were traded for one another back at the 2009 trade deadline. (Courtesy of Corey Brock of MLB.com.) Or, going back further still, recall Roberto Clemente, whose presence was felt strongly in Fort Myers, FL during his playing days and lives on vividly today. (From David Dorsey of News-Press.com.) On to some National League notes ...
- While there was never a question who would cover the right-field grass for Pittsburgh when Clemente was roaming Forbes Field, the team must find someone to man that role in 2013. Jose Tabata has shown hustle and power this spring that have exceeded the Pirates' expectations, Tom Singer of MLB.com writes. Still just 24 years old, Tabata’s strong showing thus far has only further complicated Pittsburgh’s right field situation. As Singer explains, in addition to Tabata and trade-deadline acquisition Travis Snider (who the team hopes will lay claim to the position), the Pirates are considering options like Clint Robinson, Jerry Sands, Alex Presley, Garrett Jones, Felix Pie, Darren Ford, and Brad Hawpe.
- Also making a surprising impression in Pirates camp is right-handed reliever Brooks Brown, who Singer says has emerged as an unexpected favorite to earn a spot in the Bucs' bullpen. Brown was selected by Arizona in the first round back in 2006, but has yet to make a big league appearance.
- Another darkhorse bullpen candidate who appears to be making strong moves towards a roster spot is the Nationals' Fernando Abad. As reported by The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, with fellow left-handed relievers Bill Bray, Will Ohman, and Brandon Mann being sent to minor league camp, the 27-year-old minor-league-invitee Abad now stands as the most likely candidate to round out the Washington bullpen should the Nationals decide to keep another lefty alongside Zach Duke. (Ohman was apparently cut during today's game, just after his poor outing, according to Mark Townsend of Yahoo.)
- The Nationals also welcomed back catcher Wilson Ramos, who made his first appearance in a game since tearing his ACL early in the 2012 season, reports James Wagner of The Washington Post. Ramos will likely split time with Kurt Suzuki as soon as he is able to catch regularly.
- With Rafael Furcal being shut down indefinitely after a setback in his recovery from the elbow injury he suffered late last season, the Cardinals are planning what GM John Mozeliak is calling “an open competition” at shortstop, reports Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. After emerging last season when Furcal went down, Pete Kozma will battle with veteran Ronny Cedeno for the starting job out of camp.
- The Dodgers' outstanding young starting pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, says that he is not thinking about whether or not he can top the Felix Hernandez contract, Tracy Ringolsby or MLB.com writes. Kershaw explains that he'll "play the game the same way" regardless of salary because "it's the best job you could have. ... I talk to my buddies all the time. They are putting on suits and ties, and going to the office every day. I put on a uniform and play a game."
Congratulations to the Braves, who clinched a postseason berth with a win over the Marlins last night. Though Atlanta still has a shot at the NL East title, they're more likely to play the National League's second Wild Card team in a one-game playoff once the regular season ends. Here are some links from the NL East...
- Trading for Gio Gonzalez and bringing back Davey Johnson were some of the most important moves the Nationals made last offseason, GM Mike Rizzo told MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Rizzo called Wilson Ramos Washington’s “catcher of the future,” but made it clear that the Nationals will have lots of playing time for Kurt Suzuki next year.
- Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen “blew his second chance” with Miami and doesn’t deserve another one in the opinion of FOX Sports writer Jon Paul Morosi. The Marlins stuck with the outspoken manager after his comments about Fidel Castro in April, but there are rumblings that his job is no longer secure.
- Someone like Nick Swisher could be “the ideal offensive fit” for the Phillies’ lineup, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.
- MLBTR's Mark Polishuk previewed a possible extension for Kris Medlen earlier today.
A late-night snack for those of you with a hunger for news on baseball's two Eastern divisions:
- Even after his kidnapping, Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos plans to begin playing for the Aragua Tigres on Wednesday of this week, tweets Mark Zuckerman of CSNwashington.com.
- FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Red Sox will conduct a second interview with Dale Sveum and least one other candidate in their search for a new manager.
- While the organization doesn't sound like they're considering the idea, CSNbaltimore's Rich Dubroff wonders if the Orioles should entertain the thought of trading Adam Jones. Dubroff quotes one rival scout who thinks they should hang onto the 26-year-old center fielder, saying: "If they're willing to move him, they're stupid."
Wilson Ramos has been rescued from his abductors, reports Rafael Rojas Cremonesi. Venezuela's Information Minister tweeted that Ramos was found by authorities (passed on by Cremonesi), and the Ramos family has already been contacted with the good news.
Ramos was kidnapped near his home in Venezuela by four armed gunmen on Wednesday. The kidnappers didn't contact the Ramos family but did contact police, and it was confirmed yesterday that Ramos was alive.
THURSDAY: Ramos is alive, according to multiple reports, including this one from Rafael Rojas Cremonesi (on Twitter).
WEDNESDAY: Wilson Ramos' Venezuelan Winter League team, the Aragua Tigers, confirmed on Twitter that the Nationals catcher has been kidnapped. Four gunmen approached the 24-year-old near his home and took him away, according to El Nacional. The kidnappers have not yet contacted the family, but they were in touch with the police. Hopefully Ramos has a safe and speedy recovery.
- The Twins appear to be having second thoughts about the trade that sent Wilson Ramos to Washington for Matt Capps. Ramos is playing well and Joe Mauer has spent much of the season on the disabled list.
- It wouldn’t surprise people if J.D. Drew and Roy Oswalt retire after the season, according to Heyman. Oswalt and the Phillies have a mutual option for 2012 and Drew is a free agent after the season.
- Jose Reyes’ remarkable play has essentially forced the Mets to make him “a respectable offer.” The prospective free agent has been one of the best players in the game so far this season.
- Mets right-hander Matt Harvey and Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper are too good for Class A, according to Heyman. Harvey has a 2.49 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 and Harper has 14 home runs and a .342/.436/.619 line.
Some news from the Twins, as they wrap up a four-game series in Baltimore tonight...
- The Twins may eventually regret dealing Wilson Ramos to the Nationals for Matt Capps last summer, but Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post writes that Minnesota appreciates the depth that Capps has provided at closer with Joe Nathan struggling.
- Should the Twins consider moving Joe Mauer to another position? MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince argues no, since Mauer's full value comes from the fact that he can deliver MVP-caliber numbers from the premium position of catcher. Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune argues yes, since the rigors of catching every day may already be taking a toll on Mauer's hitting. "Would you rather have Mauer serving as a pretty-good-hitting catcher who needs plenty of days off and occasional trips to the disabled list, or a great-hitting corner position player who plays 160 games a year? I'll take the latter," Souhan says.
Jayson Werth told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that he doesn’t hate the Phillies at all and hopes for a warm reception when he returns to Philadelphia for the first time since signing with the division rival Nationals as a free agent. Here’s the latest on Werth's new team plus other rumors from around the league...
- The Nationals would like to add a veteran to the back of their bullpen.
- When teams ask about Nationals backstop Wilson Ramos, they’re hearing that the Nats don’t want to deal him because they believe he’s nearly ready to be a regular catcher.
- The Red Sox have been “quietly poking around” to determine which catchers could become available.
- The Phillies are looking for an affordable backup outfielder who can play center field and they have targeted Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay.
- There are no indications that the Phillies plan to deal for a second baseman to replace the injured Chase Utley, however.
- Though the Mets don’t appear to want Luis Castillo to win the second base job, scouts say he’s their best option by far.
- The Twins are open to adding relief depth.
The Nationals are loaded with quality catchers and most likely will trade one of them for pitching, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com. With Ivan Rodriguez, Jesus Flores, Wilson Ramos, and Derek Norris in the fold, Ladson writes that one of the backstops could be moved prior to Opening Day.
Now fully recovered from right shoulder surgery, the leading candidate to be traded could be Flores, who has been seen throwing the ball hard to second and third base. The injury cost the 26-year-old most of the 2010 season as he appeared in just 26 games.
The veteran Rodriguez will be the club's starting catcher to start the year while Ramos is being groomed as his heir apparent. Norris, 22, will probably start the season in the minors and is said to already possess a big league bat.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo explained to Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com that he asked for specific players in potential deals and refused to make trades when clubs kept offering different combinations of players that didn't include the Nats' target. Here are other trade-related notes from Rizzo’s exchange with Goessling:
- The Nationals believe Wilson Ramos will be an everyday catcher in the near future and have confidence that he could be a regular MLB catcher right now.
- Matt Capps, the player the Nationals traded to obtain Ramos, will get a raise through arbitration next year, but the upcoming pay hike did not compel the Nats to move their former closer.
- Rizzo says the club wasn’t looking to trade Adam Dunn, and “didn't find the value for him.”
- The Nationals were not looking to make “a quantity deal” for multiple so-so prospects. Instead, Rizzo wanted impact players.
- The deadline is fun for fans, but what about executives? Rizzo says he enjoys the trade deadline, since it’s “kind of fantasy baseball in the real world.”