- As Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes, the Yankees’ low-risk veteran signings are paying off now that Eric Chavez, Russell Martin and others are contributing to wins.
- In a conversation with Beerleaguer, Joe Crede praised White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf for re-signing A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko this offseason.
- D'Backs GM Kevin Towers told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert that he plans on seeing a handful of players in preparation for the June draft. Towers will take a look at some top players the organization could select with the No. 3 and 7 picks, though Arizona executives Jerry Dipoto and Ray Montgomery will run the draft room.
- One of the players on Arizona’s radar is Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen, who told me today that he wouldn’t prevent the D’Backs from selecting him this year. They chose him in 2008, so he technically has to provide permission for Arizona to select him again.
- As Evan Drellich points out at MLB.com, a number of notable players retired this offseason, including Carlos Delgado, Trevor Hoffman, Gary Sheffield and Mike Hampton.
A few items of note for Thursday evening. On this day in 2005, the Committee on Government Reform held its now-infamous 11-hour hearing, during which former and current players such as Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa testified about steroid use in baseball.
- Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum, acquired from the Blue Jays in an offseason trade, exited his Cactus League start due to shoulder tightness, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke acknowledged feeling concerned about the righty, and Olney described the potential situation as "not good." The Brewers have already lost ace Zack Greinke for a few starts after he suffered broken ribs in a pickup basketball game, and a potential injury to Marcum, though only speculation now, would be a major blow for a team expected to be in the thick of the NL Central race. Marcum, 29, missed all of 2009 with Toronto following Tommy John surgery in late 2008.
- It's too soon to speculate about the severity of Marcum's injury or how much time he might miss, if any, but as our Free Agent Tracker shows, there wouldn't be much for Milwaukee to choose from in the event it should need a fill-in. Kevin Millwood and former Brewer Doug Davis are among the usual suspects, while Jeremy Bonderman is expected to sit out the season, and Jarrod Washburn hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2009. The Phillies' Joe Blanton is thought to be on the trade block.
- White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said yesterday that Joe Crede and agent Scott Boras made a poor decision in turning down a multiyear extension offer when the third baseman was with the South Siders. Today, Boras responded, saying that Crede's camp is the side that proposed the extension, not the other way around, writes Brett Ballantini of CSNChicago.com. Crede's career has been derailed by injuries, and he hasn't played in the Majors since spending 2009 with the Twins. He signed a minor league deal with the Rockies this offseason but decided not to report to camp, becoming a free agent.
- A person "involved in baseball labor" confirmed to Joel Sherman of the New York Post that Major League Baseball has considered a streamlining proposal, wherein the A's and Rays would be contracted, and owners Lew Wolff of Oakland and Stu Sternberg of Tampa Bay would buy the Dodgers and Mets, respectively. However, it is unlikely to transpire, according to Sherman, because baseball has enjoyed relative labor peace at a time when other sports leagues haven't, and the idea of contracting two teams would not sit well with the MLB Players Association — even if the owners conceded to preserving the jobs by expanding MLB rosters to 27.
White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf told Brett Ballantini of CSNChicago.com that he went ‘all in’ for 2011 because “the idea of being bad for two or three years is a horrible thought when you’re 75 years old.” The White Sox considered rebuilding this offseason, but decided to spend and attempt to become the best team in the AL Central. Here’s more from Reinsdorf:
- Reinsdorf says there’s a natural tension between managers and general managers that will flare up at times. But he says he expects GM Kenny Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen to be in Chicago “for a long time.”
- The Marlins expressed interest in talking to Guillen about their managerial opening last fall and Reinsdorf told the Marlins he would let his manager out of his contract if Guillen wanted to manage the Marlins and they gave up something in exchange. “If you want to talk to him,” Reinsdorf told the Marlins, “we have to agree on what we get if he decides to leave.” Though the sides never came to an agreement, Mike Stanton's name came up.
- The White Sox were ready to commit to Joe Crede on a long-term deal and “Scott Boras didn’t [want to] talk about it,” Reinsdorf said. “Look what that’s cost Crede.”
The Rockies announced that Joe Crede, who had signed a minor league deal with Colorado, decided not to report to Spring Training (Twitter link). He has become a free agent again, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter).
Crede, a Scott Boras client, missed the 2010 season after dealing with back, shoulder, forearm, leg, knee and hand injuries with the Twins in 2009. The former All-Star and Silver Slugger winner played strong defense (+21.6 UZR/150) and showed some power (15 homers in 367 plate appearances) with Minnesota. Crede has a .254/.304/.444 career line.
The Rockies signed Joe Crede to a minor league contract that's still pending a physical, the team announced (on Twitter). The Scott Boras client missed the 2010 season after dealing with back, shoulder, forearm, leg, knee and hand injuries with the Twins in 2009.
Boras said last month that Crede is healthy and "ready to come back and play." He played strong defense (+21.6 UZR/150) and showed some pop (15 homers in 367 plate appearances) with Minnesota in '09, so the 32-year-old has value when healthy.
Crede hit 30 homers five years ago and won the Silver Slugger. He may not make another All-Star team, but his .254/.304/.444 career line and history as a strong defender suggest he can help the Rockies if he's healthy. Colorado has a crowded infield, with Crede, Ian Stewart, Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Lopez, Jonathan Herrera, Eric Young, Ty Wigginton and Todd Helton all in the mix.
5:50pm: The Marlins are not interested in Young, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (on Twitter). Rodriguez notes that the Marlins haven't considered pursuing Joe Crede, either.
2:26pm: The Brewers, Marlins, and Phillies are talking to Delwyn Young, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Young was designated by the Pirates prior to the non-tender deadline and elected free agency.
Young, 28, hit .236/.286/.414 in 207 plate appearances for the Pirates this year, spending time at second base, third base, and right field. He joined the Pirates via a trade with the Dodgers in April of last year.
He may not be the biggest name among Scott Boras' free agent third base clients, but Joe Crede is hoping to earn a contract for 2011. According to Scott Merkin of MLB.com (via Twitter), Boras says Crede is "healthy, ready to go and he's going to continue his career. He's ready to come back and play."
Playing for the Twins in 2009, Crede battled injuries, but was effective defensively in the 90 games he played. His +21.6 UZR/150 increased his career UZR/150 at third base to +10.8. And while his .289 OBP was hardly impressive, Crede exhibited his usual power, hitting 15 home runs in 367 plate appearances. The 32-year-old sat out the 2010 campaign though, in part due to questions teams had about his health. When the Twins decided not to re-sign Crede last offseason, Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune cited his inability to stay on the field as a primary factor.
If Crede is indeed back to 100%, he could be a low-cost bounceback candidate. Clubs will likely be reluctant to use him as an everyday player, but as a part-time defensive specialist, Crede has some appeal.
The Twins are a good team, but it's in spite of the production they're getting at the hot corner. Ron Gardenhire's third baseman have combined to hit just .213/.283/.280 with a pair of home runs. Nick Punto and Brendan Harris each have slugging percentages below .300, so the Twins recently called on top prospect Danny Valencia. That move gives the Twins more power than the Punto-Harris combination, but it doesn't assure them of anything. Let's take a look at the Twins' options as they try to get some offense from their third basemen:
- Hope that Valencia hits - Baseball America named Valencia an untouchable before last year's trade deadline, and ranked him sixth among Twins prospects heading into the year. At that point, Valencia had a promising bat, but was an inconsistent defender because of "subpar concentration and footwork." Valencia, 25, has hit .323/.364/.323 since arriving in the majors in early June, so his bat is no sure thing either.
- Call up the Red Sox - Ken Rosenthal reported over the weekend that the Twins' field staff would like to add Mike Lowell, though the front office has concerns about his durability. The $7.1MM remaining on Lowell's 2010 salary would also be an obstacle.
- Trade for an Oriole – The Twins could call the Orioles about Miguel Tejada (.676 OPS, $6MM salary) or Ty Wigginton (.854 OPS, $3.5MM salary). Tejada is playing third for the O's and Wigginton has spent most of his career at the hot corner and has recent experience there.
- Ask about LaRoche – There's no room for Andy LaRoche in Pittsburgh, now that the Pedro Alvarez era has begun. LaRoche has just a .232/.295/.316 line, but the 26-year-old posted a .731 OPS and played solid defense last year.
- Turn to the free agent market - Joe Crede defended well and hit 15 homers for the Twins in 2009. However, he had back, shoulder, hand, knee and hamstring issues last year and hasn't faced MLB pitching since.
- Hope that the Blue Jays keep slumping – There's no guarantee that the Blue Jays keep slumping or that they'll have interest in moving Jose Bautista if they do fall out of contention. Those 18 homers and the fact that Bautista doesn't become a free agent until after 2011 mean the Jays could ask for a highly-touted prospect or two. It wouldn't be the first time the Twins picked up a former Blue Jay with power to play third; the club added Tony Batista back in 2006.
After recapping the most recent news on some remaining free agent starting pitchers yesterday, let's focus on the bats today. Here are the latest updates on a few of the notable unsigned position players:
- Jermaine Dye: Dye had the Mariners on his wish list, but Seattle didn't have much interest in the 36-year-old. Another team out west, the Giants, also had no interest in signing Dye. Washington was in the mix for the right-handed slugger at one point, though they've since backed off. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe thinks Dye will sign somewhere soon, and an American League club where Dye could DH would make sense. Like Jarrod Washburn though, he'll likely need to reduce his asking price.
- Gary Sheffield: Cafardo also believes Sheffield should sign soon, and tweeted that the veteran had "something on the table" a couple weeks ago. The Nationals also had discussions with Sheff, but the club seems happy with their current selection of outfielders for now. Even though he's 41, Sheffield could have value to a National League team as a pinch-hitter and part-time player, like he did for the Mets last year (.276/.372/.451 in 312 PAs).
- Carlos Delgado: Delgado might end up being the offensive equivalent of Pedro Martinez: a hired gun that could contribute to a contending team in the second half of the season. The Mets were considered a possibility prior to their promotion of Ike Davis. Before Delgado catches on with any club, the 37-year-old will have to show that he's fully healthy following his second hip surgery in February.
- Joe Crede: Considering Crede is a Scott Boras client, it's somewhat surprising that we've heard next to nothing regarding his status. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported in early March that Crede was hitting and throwing while he waited for an offer, but there has been very little news since then. Crede has homered 32 times over the past two seasons and plays an above-average third base, so it may be health questions that are keeping him on the free agent market. As MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith suggested earlier this month, a healthy Crede "could become an attractive mid-season option for risk-taking GMs."
- Elijah Dukes: Shortly after Dukes' surprising release by the Nationals, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted that a few teams were interested in the 25-year-old. Since then though, we haven't heard anything concrete. Perhaps clubs are still hesitant to invest in Dukes, given his off-field history.
- Rocco Baldelli: There was some speculation earlier in April that Baldelli could be an option for the Rays if they gave up on Pat Burrell, since Baldelli has been working out at Tropicana Field and wants to play. Burrell has played better since that point, hitting .275/.318/.500 in his last 11 games, silencing those rumors somewhat. For the time being, Baldelli will continue to serve as a special assistant for the Rays.
Check out our full list of available hitters here.
Hank Blalock is healthy, hit 25 homers last season and has Scott Boras representing him, but he still couldn't find a major league job after the Rays assigned him to the minors. Blalock figures to contribute to the Rays at some point this season even though this is not the route he wanted to take. But Blalock's trouble finding a job shows that another Scott Boras client doesn't have it easy.
Joe Crede turns 32 in April, which makes him two and a half years older than Blalock. Crede underwent surgery in September because of a herniated disk in his back. He has since recovered and was throwing and hitting a month ago, but teams haven't forgotten the back, shoulder, hand, knee and hamstring injuries Crede struggled with last year.
Crede's bat is comparable to Blalock's at this point. Blalock appeared in more games than Crede, picked up 128 more plate appearances and hit ten more homers, but Crede's rate stats (.225/.289/.414) resemble Blalock's (.234/.277/.459).
Even though Crede is older, more injury-prone and no more productive at the plate, Boras can point to Crede's defense. Every year since 2002, when data became available, UZR has ranked Crede as an above-average defender at third and he has defended particularly well in recent years.
If Blalock can't find a job now, it's unlikely that Crede can. It's hard to imagine Boras and Crede finding a guaranteed contract now, when roster spots are at a premium. But if Crede proves his health in workouts, he could become an attractive mid-season option for risk-taking GMs in search of a cheap third baseman who can play defense and add a little power.