Yusei Kikuchi Rumors
Here's some links to check out while you hope the weather doesn't interfere with Game Two of the ALCS tonight...
- Byron Kerr of MASNSports.com has the details on Stephen Strasburg's Arizona Fall League debut last night. ESPN's Keith Law also filled us in on some of the more impressive prospects playing out in the desert this year.
- According to Kyodo News, Yusei Kikuchi "said on Saturday all 12 Japanese baseball clubs would be appealing, if he decides to play in Japan." Never a bad thing to keep your options open.
- USA Today's Bob Nightengale says the Rangers will ask for one final bid next month, and "are expected to be sold for about $525 to $550 million."
- Courtesy of Baseball America's latest minor league transactions, you can add about two-dozen players to the free agent pool. Among the notables: Billy Traber, Tony Graffanino, Adam Eaton, and Wilfredo Ledezma.
The Orioles have some interest in the world's most coveted amateur lefthanders. Director of international scouting John Stockstill tells Roch Kubatko of MASN.com that the club has some interest in Yusei Kikuchi, a top Japanese amateur. But Kikuchi's not the only big name the O's would consider.
"We're looking at all of them," Stockstill says. "It's the same thing with (Aroldis) Chapman and anyone else."
Stockstill says he isn't sure how interested the Orioles are at this point. Kikuchi will still have plenty of suitors to choose from if the O's decide not to pursue him. The Giants, Mets, Dodgers, Yankees, Rangers, Mariners and Indians are expected to start meeting with the 18-year-old lefty this week.
Another October day without baseball? Drown your sorrows in some links...
- Peter Abraham, in his new gig with the Boston Globe, thinks the Red Sox will tread cautiously with Japanese players like Yusei Kikuchi because of the "tug-of-war" they've gone through with Daisuke Matsuzaka concerning his conditioning methods. The Sox are among several teams scheduled to meet with Kikuchi in Japan later this week.
- MLB.com's Corey Brock fields a question about arbitration-eligible closer Heath Bell in his latest inbox. Bell is set for a substantial pay raise after tallying 42 saves in 2009. Should the Padres try to deal him this winter?
- Former Nationals skipper Manny Acta had a phone interview with Indians GM Mark Shapiro last week to discuss the Tribe's managing vacancy, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Acta will also interview Friday for the Astros' opening.
- According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, the Rays have hired former Astros pitching coach Dewey Robinson to their minor league staff.
NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman has the latest on amateur lefty Yusei Kikuchi, based on reports from Nikkan Sports and Sanspo. Kikuchi still hasn't decided whether to start his career in MLB or NPB, but he's meeting with teams starting Friday. He'll first meet with a dozen NPB teams, followed by seven MLB clubs.
Nikkan's list of MLB suitors: the Giants, Mets, Dodgers, Yankees, Rangers, Mariners and Indians. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince confirms the Indians' interest. Newman tells us all about Kikuchi in this post.
A few notes on the Giants from Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News...
- As Luke mentioned last night, Baggarly expects manager Bruce Bochy and GM Brian Sabean to sign new contracts shortly.
- Baggarly asked a Giants executive with veto power whether he'd approve an Aaron Rowand for Milton Bradley trade. The exec said yes, which makes sense with Bradley owed $21MM and Rowand owed $36MM. Nonetheless Baggarly does not expect the Giants to get involved on Bradley due to potential team chemistry issues.
- Giants scouting director John Barr recently returned from Japan, where he observed hard-throwing high school southpaw Yusei Kikuchi. Baggarly expects the Giants to "make a legitimate run" at Kikuchi if he chooses MLB. The Giants are at least one of ten teams in on the pitcher.
Links for Friday...
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tells us via Twitter that the Astros released pitchers Chad Paronto and Billy Sadler.
- The Nationals interviewed longtime Braves scouting director Roy Clark, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- The Blue Jays fired J.P. Ricciardi advisor Dick Scott, according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun.
- Interesting note from WEEI's Alex Speier. Back in 2002, upon purchasing the Red Sox and selling the Marlins, John Henry attempted to have Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett transferred to the Sox.
- NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman says NPB is lobbying Japan's High School Baseball Federation to have Yusei Kikuchi appear in person for meetings with NPB teams but not MLB clubs. Newman still likes the Rangers as Kikuchi's top suitor, based on reports.
- Newman also tells us that pitcher Koji Mitsui, who was posted twice last winter but received no bids, has been released and will attempt to sign with an MLB team.
- Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times has a plan for the Cubs that includes signing Chone Figgins and avoiding long-term free agent deals.
- Padres exec Paul DePodesta explains the team's recent roster moves.
- Via Twitter, ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr. passes along info from Miguel Angel Sano's agent Rob Plummer.
- In an MLB.com chat, Blue Jays reliever Jeremy Accardo says that his first choice is to stay with Toronto for his entire career, but his second choice is to pitch on the West Coast.
Some links to check out as we await the crowning of the 2009 AL Central Champions:
- Major League Baseball announced today that the transfer of the Chicago Cubs to Tom Ricketts was unanimously approved. Ricketts will assume day-to-day control of the club when the deal is finalized, which should take place before the end of the month.
- Jack Curry of the New York Times reports via Twitter that Jason Giambi "raved about the Rockies and said he wants to play in 2010."
- Decision time is drawing near for Japanese high school pitcher Yusei Kikuchi and NPB Tracker took a glance at what lies ahead for the hard-throwing lefty. The 18-year-old is deciding between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and is believed to have more than 20 clubs interested in his services. Kikuchi originally planned to speak with only a select few MLB teams, but has now resolved that he will talk to all interested suitors.
- More from NPB Tracker as Ryota Igarashi - reliever for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows - eyes a move to MLB. Igarashi is keeping mum on the subject for now as his team is in the playoff hunt.
- ESPN's Keith Law chatted about new Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos on the radio today and Drunk Jays Fans has a transcript of the interview as well as a link to the audio.
- Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times offered up his take on how the internet has changed the way baseball is covered.
- From the Fish Bytes blog comes the news that the Marlins did not extend contract offers to pitching coach Mark Wiley and first-base coach Andy Fox. Both men were offered positions elsewhere in the organization. The rest of the coaching staff will be retained.
- Dick Kaegel of MLB.com brings us similar news out of Kansas City. Everyone on the Royals staff will return to their current roles, except for bullpen coach John Mizerock and first-base coach Rusty Kuntz. Mizerock has been let go whereas Kuntz will become a special assistant to GM Dayton Moore.
Links for Monday...
- Yakyu Baka translated a recent Yusei Kikuchi press conference. Kikuchi has yet to decide between the U.S. and Japan. The Mets and Tigers attended the conference.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis has the 2010 draft order, and he also explains which picks are protected from Type A free agent signings.
- Jermaine Dye talking to Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald on possibly finishing his White Sox career: "I don't really have a feeling."
- Talking to WEEI's Alex Speier, Jason Varitek would not address next season (he has a $5MM team option and $3MM player option). Manager Terry Francona made sure Varitek received an ovation yesterday.
- MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan gives one-liners on 35 Rangers players.
- Tyler Bleszinski of Athletics Nation talked to A's GM Billy Beane. Beane chatted about Matt Holliday, stolen bases, and the first base depth chart, among other things.
- Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star tells us about new Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos.
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times explains how advanced defensive metrics influenced the team's acquisition of Franklin Gutierrez.
- Outfielder So Taguchi hopes to play in 2010, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Links for Wednesday...
- NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman says reports suggest the Rangers may be the top suitor for high school lefty Yusei Kikuchi. Newman adds a new team to the mix for Kikuchi based on comments from GM Ed Wade: the Astros.
- More from Newman, on what he calls "an interesting counter-point to the Kikuchi situation." Well-regarded Dominican righty Rafael DePaula, who has been suspended by MLB for misrepresenting his age, might head to Japan to begin his professional career.
- Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News talked to Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez, who hopes the team re-signs catcher Bengie Molina. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle thinks Molina might be the best catcher in San Francisco Giants history. Molina has a .278/.302/.440 line in his three seasons with the team. He projects as a Type A free agent.
- Michael Young says the Rangers have to re-sign outfielder Marlon Byrd, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Byrd, 32, has a .280/.325/.479 line in 590 plate appearances and projects as a Type B free agent.
- Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star adds Zack Greinke's recent New York-related quote to a list of Greinke gems.
Yusei Kikuchi may decide this week between Japanese baseball and MLB, according to Bobbie Dittmeier of MLB.com. As Dittmeier says, the hard-throwing 18-year-old southpaw would "become the first high school player to bypass Japan's draft and sign with a Major League organization."
Dittmeier says the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Cubs, Giants, Tigers, Braves, Rangers, Mariners and Indians have reportedly scouted Kikuchi. She passes along a Kyodo News quote from Kikuchi's high school coach indicating the pitcher is 50-50 on his decision.