Friday, December 31, 2010

BD Hot Stove: 2010, A Look Back At Wheeling and Dealing | Baseball Digest

BD Hot Stove: 2010, A Look Back At Wheeling and Dealing | Baseball Digest

t’s the final day of 2010 (for me personally this year went very fast.) and as many of you know it is customary this time of year to take a look back at events of the closing year. For the Baseball Digest Hot Stove column that means pondering the best moves in major league baseball over the past year.

The Cliff Lee double whammy: Seattle realized they weren’t going anywhere as the trade deadline approached in 2010, so they worked out one deal with the Yankees, and then went with a trade they felt was better for them in the short and long run. The Mariners landed slugger Justin Smoak and the Rangers got themselves a pitcher that led them to the World Series.

Then it was the Phillies turn to land Lee, bringing him back to the team he helped them to the 2009 World Series, and in the process set up a killer rotation with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels.

Roy Meet Roy: Long before re-acquiring Lee, the Phillies first dealt J.A. Happ and two minor leaguers last July to the Astros for Oswalt. The veteran right-hander, who had spent a decade with Houston, went 7-1, 1.74 after the trade to help the Phillies win their fourth consecutive NL East division.

Boston Bashers: The Red Sox lost Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre from a lineup that was beset by injuries in 2010. GM Theo Epstein dealt for 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez and signed outfielder Carl Crawford to a long term deal. He also attempted to shore up the bullpen by signing Bobby Jenks.

The Team With Big Shoulders: The White Sox prepped for the 2011 season by re-signing Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski and inked slugger Adam Dunn to a free agent deal. GM Kenny Williams also acquired starter Edwin Jackson at the trade deadline and cut bait with the inconsistent Jenks.

Lilly Loves LA: The Dodgers acquired Ted Lilly too little late for the 2010 season, but then signed him to a new deal for 2011. They also went out and got Jon Garland on the cheap ($5M for one year) and re-signed Vincente Padilla to team with Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley to create a formidable rotation.

A New Year’s Memory

On December 31, 1974 George Steinbrenner began his assault on the free agent market. I had just gotten into the car with family after seeing “Freebie and the Bean” in the movie theater. The radio was on and the sports report was beginning. The Yankees had just signed Jim “Catfish” Hunter to a five year, $3.75M contract. By today’s standards it was a mere pittance, but at the time it was a huge amount of money. The length of the contract was quite a committment as well. But signing one of the best pitchers/biggest winners in the game was a monumental move for the the Yankees. Yes, even a better move than signing Reggie Jackson two years later.

Hunter taught his teammates how to win, how to carry themselves with class, what it means to “want the baseball” in the big spot, and to be a team. His deal also opened the way for many free agent deals, not only with the Yankees, but for all of baseball.

Rumors News and Transactions

The Mariners shopping of closer David Aardsma ground to halt when it was discovered the righty needed to have a surgery Monday for a torn hip labrum. Aardsma is expected to start throwing again a month after surgery and hopes to ready for the start of the season.

Shortstop Edgar Renteria has decided he wants to play two years, but still hasn’t decided where to play. The Reds are the latest team he has spoken with.

The Royals inked former Tigers’ left-hander Zach Miner to a minor league deal.

Bartolo Colon, attempting to make a comeback, said that the Yankees, Rangers, and the Indians have recently shown some interest in him.

From everyone here at, we wish a very Happy, Healthy, and Safe New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

BD Hot Stove: If I Were A GM… | Baseball Digest

BD Hot Stove: If I Were A GM… | Baseball Digest

I’m just sitting around, keeping warm by the hot stove as we wait for more moves to occur. Things are a little slow right now with the holidays, so maybe it’s time to ponder what moves might occur and some moves I would like to see during the 2011 season.

The Red Sox deal Jon Papelbon for a bat or a starting pitcher. The Red Sox had some discussion with Mariano Rivera then signed closer Bobby Jenks to a two year deal to set up (for now) Papelbon. It’s obvious the front office isn’t happy with Papelbon’s performance and would like to move him even though they insist otherwise. The Red Sox are still trying to sign Brian Fuentes, which would give them another closer/set up guy and plenty of depth to deal Papelbon.

How about a non-move? The Brewers, bolstered by Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, and Yovani Gallardo, hold on to Prince Fielder for the entire season.

The Yankees, in need of starting pitching, decide to go all out to land Joakim Soria from the Royals. Soria sets up Rivera as a prelude to taking over as closer one day.

The Mets deal Carlos Beltran and cash to the Brewers as Milwaukee goes all out for a shot at the World Series.

The Mets tire of Jose Reyes‘ inconsistency and work out a mega deal with the Angels. Among the players the Mets receive are Erick Aybar, Brandon Wood, and prospect Garrett Richards.

The Astros continue to clean house and deal Carlos Lee, not getting too much in return, but not having to pay out the entire remainder of his contract either.

The Yankees are rebuffed in numerous attempts to acquire Felix Hernandez or Justin Verlander, and overpay to acquire Fausto Carmona from the Indians.

Derrek Lee has a tremendous comeback season with the Orioles, who then flip him at the deadline for several prospects.

Okay, time for things that are more likely to happen…

Rumors, News, and Transactions

A’s beat reporter Joe Stiglich reports the team is among six clubs interested in reliever Chad Qualls.

According to the Centre Daily Times, the Metrodome roof won’t be fixed until March. That means hundreds of college baseball games will be affected and the Twins annual fan festival will have to find another venue.

Cuba is considering letting some ball players sign with teams in the US in exchange for some money… a lot of money. First things first though, the U.S. would have to lift the embargo on such a maneuver.

AOL Fanhouse has named 19 year outfielder Mike Trout as the top MLB prospect of the year.

SI’s Jon Heyman said the Yankees “checked in” on Rafael Soriano, which just sounds like due diligence.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

BD Hot Stove: Manny Being Unemployed | Baseball Digest

BD Hot Stove: Manny Being Unemployed | Baseball Digest

Times have changed and the once mighty have fallen. A few years ago it was unimaginable to think that Manny Ramirez would still be unemployed as 2010 closed out. But indeed it’s a whole new ball game.

First there was Ramirez’s dispicable behavior that led to his outster in Boston. Then came a 50 game suspension for a failed PED test. Followed up by a lackluster 2010 season with the Dodgers that culiminated in another deal, this time to the Chicago White Sox. His time in Chicago was limited to just 24 games, but he produced only a single home run and 2 RBI in 88 plate appearances. Throw in a bunch of injuries, real or imagined and you can see why Manny won’t be raking in the big bucks this winter.

Ramirez will turn 39 two months into the 2011 season and is looked at as strictly a DH at this point. Despite playing in just 66 games with the Dodgers last season, he still showed he could produce- a .915 OPS, eight home runs, and 40 RBI. But you never know when his desire will wane and whether or not he’ll give up 100% all of the time or only when he feels like it. It’s the reason the season may begin without Ramirez. And maybe that will actually be a good thing for him. (Remember the BD Hot Stove motto: “Let the buyer beware.”)

Rumors, News, and Transactions

The Blue Jays and Octavio Dotel finally made things official last night on a one year, $3.5M contract.

If text messages are any indications, Andy Pettitte may indeed be retiring. That’s the impression that Mark Teixeira got after exchanging texts with the veteran left-hander this off-season. The Yankees 1st baseman was in the Big Apple for a personal appearance and spoke with reporters.

Fox’s Ken Rosenthal was on WFAN in New York this morning and reported that the Angels are still the front-runners to land free agent 3rd baseman Adrian Beltre. Rosenthal also reported in his online column that the Orioles are making a push for 1st baseman Derrek Lee.’s Roch Kubatko hears that the Orioles are very much interested in free agent reliever Grant Balfour.

Royals closer Joakim Soria told a Venezuelan newspaper that he would not block a trade to the Yankees. Soria told Vanguard that his agent, not he, requested a trade clause in his last contract as a strategy going forward. If the Royals were to make a deal with the Yankees, Soria said he would gladly go. Perhaps he’s trying to get something moving ala Zack Greinke.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

BD Hot Stove: Giants Among Men | Baseball Digest

BD Hot Stove: Giants Among Men | Baseball Digest

Fans of the NY/SF Giants waited 56 years to celebrate their first World Series championship this past season. The Giants hadn’t won since Willie Mays was making over the shoulder catches against the likes of Vic Wertz. Things look bright for the team by the bay this year too with their core intact.

I left my pine tar in San Francisco: The Giants did lose a veteran on the left side of the infield- Juan Uribe, who departed for the Dodgers, and could lose a second in Edgar Renteria. GM Brian Sabean went low price/veteran shopping as a replacement and signed Miguel Tejada, who split last season between Baltimore and San Diego. Sabean’s biggest move was re-signing 1st baseman Aubrey Huff, who helped energize the team on and off the field. The Giants also re-signed outfielder Pat Burrell and took a risk by signing Dontrelle Willis to a minor league deal. Now if they can get Brian Wilson to lose that beard.

Welcome to Divorce Court: On this week’s episode the McCourts continue their battle over ownership of this long storied franchise while first year manager Don Mattingly waits to see who gets custody. In addition to Uribe, GM Ned Colletti made a shrewd move in signing veteran starter Jon Garland to a one year, $5M deal. Another good signing was steady set up man Matt Guerrier. With Russell Martin departing for the Yankees, the Dodgers kept Rod Barajas and brought back former Dodger Dioner Navarro. The team also re-signed starters Vincente Padilla and Hiroki Kuroda, and outfielder Jay Gibbons. Colletti also inked Tony Gwynn Jr. for some outfield depth.

Won’t you take me to Friar town: The Padres spent 131 days in first place last season, but September 25th was the final time as the team swooned down the stretch. The Padres made one of the biggest splashes at the winter meetings, dealing stud 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox for four prospects. Time will tell if the move was a good one, but the Padres did know they wouldn’t be able to re-sign Gonzalez when he became a free agent after the 2011 season. The Padres have been one of the busiest teams this off-season. They re-made their infield with a trade for shortsop Jason Barlett , and inked 2nd baseman Orlando Hudson and outfielder/1B Brad Hawpe to free agent deals. They also dealt for centerfield prospect Cameron Maybin who may be getting his final chance to prove himself at the major league level. The Pads added starter Aaron Harang and swingman Dustin Moseley through free agency. In addition to Gonzalez, gone are Garland, Gwynn, catcher Yorvit Torrealba (TEX), relievers Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb (Maybin deal), starters Kevin Correia (PIT) and Chris Young (team declined option), and pinch-hitter Matt Stairs.

Like a Rock: Colorado made a late surge under replacement manager Jim Tracey to make the playoffs in 2009 and for a time it looked like they would repeat that feat in 2010. The club brought back starter Jorge de la Rosa with a two year deal, but parted ways with long time Rockie Jeff Francis. The team also got younger by saying good bye to 3rd baseman Melvin Mora, 2nd baseman Kaz Matsui, who returned to Japan, and reliever Octavio Dotel. 1st baseman Jason Giambi will most likely also join the list. To replace Mora the team acquired Jose Lopez from Seattle and also signed versatile infielder Ty Wiggington via free agency.

Last and Least: The Diamondbacks have fallen a long way since their World Series title in 2001. The team won just 70 games in 2009, firing manager Bob Melvin in the process. They followed that up with a 65 win season in 2010, which cost Melvin’s replacement, A.J. Hinch, his job as well. Interim manager Kirk Gibson didn’t have a much better record than Hinch in the 83 games he had to work with, but he’ll get to start from scratch this year. The Dbacks dealt away home run hitting/baseball whiffing 3rd baseman Mark Reynolds to the Orioles and got a good prospect in starter David Hernandez in return (along with pitcher Kam Mickolio). AZ also made a low risk deal in acquiring one time prospect Zach Duke from the Pirates for a PTBNL. Reliever J.J. Putz was given a two year deal to be the new closer and Mora and Geoff Blum were signed to take over Reynolds’ spot. Xavier Nady was also inked to play 1st base. Veteran catcher Henry Blanco was signed to work with the young pitching staff. Gone are pitcher D.J. Carassco (NYM) and 1st baseman Adam LaRoche.

Rumors, News, and Transactions

SI’s Jon Heyman reports that the Red Sox are looking to strengthen their bullpen even further and are considering a run at Brian Fuentes.

The Orioles are talking contract with Kevin Gregg to become their new closer.

Monday, December 27, 2010

BD Hot Stove: The Not So Wild West | Baseball Digest

BD Hot Stove: The Not So Wild West | Baseball Digest

The American League western division was for the taking when camps broke out of Arizona and Florida in 2010 and the regular season began. But soon teams fell by the wayside. The Angels were riddled with injuries and players that couldn’t fill the shoes of those who had departed (John Lackey, Chone Figgins), and the Mariners were a woeful excuse of a baseball team. Texas emerged on top, but with Cliff Lee’s departure this off-season, the division is certainly up for grabs again in 2011.

Not as deep in the heart of Texas: Lee was the key to the Rangers sealing up the AL West and their run to the World Series. But with Lee gone, the Rangers don’t have a true number one in their rotation. They did make a low risk/high reward signing Sunday when they came to terms with former Diamondback, Brandon Webb ($3M base). It remains to be seen whether or not Webb will be able to regain his form. The Rangers signed Yorvit Torrealba to shore up the leaky boat situation they had at catcher and kept Matt Treanor to back him up. Jeff Francoeur (KC), Rich Harden (Oak), and Brandon McCarthy (Oak) all signed elsewhere.

In the arms of the Angels: With ace John Lackey’s departure prior to the 2010 season and Nick Adenhart’s tragic death in 2009, the Angels were lacking in quality starters last season. The Halos picked up Dan Haren at the trade deadline and hope someone else will emerge this year in the back end of the rotation. One player who might fit that bill is Hisanori Takahashi, the 35-yr old left-hander LA signed away from the Mets. The Angels did give themselves a shot in the arm, the left one to be exact, by signing stand out set up man/part-time closer Scott Downs to a three year deal. The team also parted company with long time reliever Scot Shields. The Angels will be employing a new DH as well after letting Hideki Matsui walk (to Oakland).

An A for Effort: Oakland hung tough for quite a while in the west last year and has been very busy this off-season. In addition to signing Matsui, Harden, and McCarthy, the A’s also dealt for outfielders David DeJesus (KC) and Josh Willingham (FLA), brought back 2nd baseman Mark Ellis, and signed reliever Fernando Cabrera to a minor league deal. Gone are Jack Cust, Vin Mazzaro, Edwin Encarncion, Eric Chavez, and Ben Sheets.

The Rhyme of the Mediocre Mariner: Seattle has had high expectations the last couple of years and very poor results. Outside of Felix Hernandez, Ichiro, and Franklin Gutierrez, there aren’t many holdovers on the roster to get excited about. Bringing in Jack Cust as the new bat isn’t going to change that. Seattle is reportedly shopping closer David Aardsma and already dealt away infielder Jose Lopez. Starter Ryan Rowland-Smith (Hou), like much of the team, had a disappointing 2010 and left via free agency. The only other notable signing for Seattle was the retention of Erik Bedard. Yes, it will be another rough year to be a Mariners fan.

Rumors, News, and Transactions

The Blue Jays are reportedly close to inking reliever Octavio Dotel to a one year deal. Dotel could either serve as a set up man or closer.

The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo hears that Carl Pavano is holding out for a three year deal.

The Phillies re-upped with reliever J.C. Romero; terms are reportedly one year at $1.1M.

The Brewers have come to terms with reliever Takashi Saito on a one year, $3M deal.

Friday, December 24, 2010

BD Hot Stove: Brewing Up A Challenge | Baseball Digest

BD Hot Stove: Brewing Up A Challenge | Baseball Digest

When you think of the NL Central, you think of Tony LaRussa and the St. Louis Cardinals. LaRussa’s birds have finished first (6) or second (2) in eight of the last 11 years, with two pennants and a World Series championship to boot. They’re usually the early season favorite to win the division and this year may be no different with Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter leading the way. But the thing is, there’s a new sheriff town.

“Yes, Pete, it is. In fact , it’s pronounced “mill-e-wah-que” which is Algonquin for “the good land.”: In “Wayne’s World” Alice Cooper helped give Milwaukee its most notoriety since “Laverne & Shirley”. But in 2011, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, and Yovani Gallardo may help bring Milwaukee back to the promised land. No one is saying the Brewers will win a World Series, something the town of Milwaukee hasn’t seen since the Braves took the title in 1958, but the team should be competitive this season with the aforementioned trio at the top of the order. GM Doug Melvin had to give up highly touted 2nd base prospect Brett Lawrie to Toronto to land Marcum, and then swung four other prospects to KC for Greinke and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. The Brewers also added reliever Sean Green to help set up for closer Joe Axford.

Pujols Country: It may take a country to pay Albert Pujols the kind of money he’ll want to stay parked in St. Louis forever. LaRussa just has to hope it doesn’t distract a team that has Wainwright, Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, and Jake Westbrook in the starting rotation. The Cards signed catcher Gerald Laird to back up starter Yadier Molina, inked Lance Berkman who’ll see most of his time in the outfield, and grabbed lefty reliever Brian Tallet to shore up the bullpen.

Chicago Hope: It’s going to be a time for pundits predict the Cubs will dominate the NL Central. None of the predictions over the last few years came to fruition, and the team is not ready for a charge to the top. Gone is long time Cub Derrek Lee with Carlos Pena signed to take his place. The team also reunited with Kerry Wood, who left for a free agent deal after the 2008 season. He’ll set up for closer Carlos Marmol. The Cubs have stated they won’t deal Carlos Zambrano, but that could change in order to either dump salary and/or no longer have to deal with his personality.

It’s spelled V-o-t-t-o: In case you were’t sure how to spell the name of NL MVP Joey, who led a baseball revival in Cincinnati this past summer. The Reds won their first division and made their first playoff appearances in 15 years, before being summarily dispatched in three games by the Phillies. The Reds haven’t been very active this off-season, preferring to “dance with the one who brung ya”. They gave their top starter, Bronson Arroyo, a three year contract extension, re-signed catcher Ramon Hernandez and utility man Miguel Cairo, and exercised the option on Jonny Gomes’ contract.

Not quite ready for lift off: The Astros finished 10 games under .500 or worse each of the last two seasons and it’s going to be difficult to improve on that with not punch in the lineup. The Astros dispatched their ace Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia last season and former Phils’ exec/current Astros head honcho Ed Wade may be helping his former team again. Rumors of a Joe Blanton to Houston deal is rumored to be in the works. If so it would give the Astros a decent top three starters in Wandy Rodriguez, J. A. Happ (acquired in the Oswalt deal), and Blanton. The Astros also added lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith, who can work out of the rotation or pen. But outside of Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence there’s not much offense to work with.

They don’t shiver your timbers: The Pirates have a lot of good young talent, but they won’t be look down at other teams for quite some time. The Pirates made some small moves that could help new manager Clint Hurdle keep the team’s hopes up. 1st baseman Lyle Overbay, pitcher Scott Olsen, outfielder Matt Diaz and corner man Garrett Atkins will try to help out stars on the rist Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez, and Neil Walker.

Rumors, News, and Transactions

Just as they did with Johnny Damon, the Yankees reportedly had internal discussions about Bronx native Manny Ramirez. Nothing is likely to happen.

The Nationals signed reliever Sean Burnett to a two year contract.

In a minor league deal, the A’s sent Corey Wimbley, who stole 56 bases at Triple-A last year, to the Pirates for pitcher Ryan Kelly. The 23-yr old right-hander spent the 2010 season in Single-A.

Some last minute items on Santa’s gift list

Yankees fans: One more season of watching Andy Pettitte.

Randy Winn: A chance to finally appear in the playoffs after 1,721 career regular season games.

Bert Blyleven: Induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame

Marvin Miller: Enough sense in the coming year for the veteran’s committee to elect you into Hall next December.

Fans: Reduced ticket prices and better national TV announcers.

Jamie Moyer: Recovery from Tommy John surgery and the chance to pitch into your 50′s.

Nick Johnson: No doctor’s appointments.

Oliver Perez: Regain control.

The Dodgers: No more McCourts.

Bryce Harper: Humility

Stephen Strasburg: Complete arm strength.

Ryan Westmoreland: Complete health and a return to baseball.

Opposing Announcers: A guide to pronouncing the name of the Royals’ Kila Ka’aihue.

Jermaine Dye: The chance to play again.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

BD Hot Stove: AL Central Dunn? | Baseball Digest

BD Hot Stove: AL Central Dunn? | Baseball Digest

The AL Central is often overlooked when discussing pennant contenders. They don’t have the powerhouse teams of the AL East or the standout LA Angels in the AL West. But they do have teams that are well structured and don’t usually have a runaway winner. Such was the case last year when the Chicago White Sox spent 27 days in first place and stayed on the Minnesota Twins’ heels for most of the season. Ultimately the Twins, the most consistent of all the central teams, won out. It should be a competitive division again based on the moves made so far in this off-season.

The name’s Williams. Kenny Williams: The White Sox GM is one smooth cat. Never afraid to make a bold move, to spend some money, or to ring up another GM on his Walther PPK, er Blackberry. When the White Sox started to fade last season, Williams swung a deal to bring in starter Edwin Jackson from Arizona, obstensibly to use him as bait to land Adam Dunn in a three team trade. The deal didn’t work out, but now Chicago has Jackson for the 2011 season and signed Dunn to a four year free agent contracT. Williams also brought back free agents/fan favorites Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynksi, and signed reliever Jesse Crain away from the Twins. Crain is part of a bullpen re-tooling that Williams undertook as soon as he cut ties with closer Bobby Jenks. Set up man J.J. Putz signed with Arizona and Williams dealt Scott Linebrink to Atlanta.

They Talk Alike, They Walk Alike: Speaking of the aforementioned Twins, they’ve done what they do best. Make quite moves with an occassional splash. Carl Pavano regained his manhood in the Twin Cities and Minny would like to have him back. But the former “American Idle” is playing the free agent game and anything can happen. Minnesota has high hopes for Japanese import Tsuyoshi Nishioka to be their every day shortstop for the next three years. To make room for him, the Twins spun J.J. Hardy and utility man Brendan Harris to the Orioles for hard throwing reliever Jim Hoey as well as another bullpen prospect in Brett Jacobson. Alexi Casilla will likely take over 2nd base with Orlando Hudson departing for San Diego. The Twins suffered blows to the bullpen when Crain left for Chi-town and their best set up man, Matt Guerrier, departed for a three year deal with the Dodgers. Set up man/part-time closer Jon Rauch will also leave via free agency.

Tiger Town: The Tigers have had some interesting decisions to make as they blend veterans like Magglio Ordonez and youngsters such as Austin Jackson together. Many people were surprised when GM Dave Dombrowski brought the soon to be 34-yr old Ordonez back. He did sever ties with Johnny Damon however, and made two big free agent splashes. One of the first signings of the winter was the solid bat of catcher Victor Martinez, who’ll primarily serve as DH. Dombrowski also inked standout reliever Joaquin Benoit to set up for Jose Valverde. The Tigers retained the left side of their infield in 3rd baseman Brandon Inge and shortstop Jhonny Peralta, while catcher Gerald Laird left for St. Louis.

Cleveland Rocks?: Not so much, at least not this winter. The biggest name the Tribe have brought in this off-season is Austin Kearns, who they dealt to the Yankees at the trade deadline. Signing infielders Adam Everett and Drew Sutton doesn’t make fans run to the box office or feel the urge to buy season tickets. The Indians have also been fielding calls on their best starter, Fausto Carmona.

Royals Blue: The fans in KC haven’t had much to cheer about for quite some time, but KC does have a lot of good young players Unfortunately, one of them was dealt away. KC took Zack Greinke up on his request for a trade and sent him to Milwaukee for four prospects. On paper, the deal doesn’t look great for KC, but outfielder Lorenzo Cain and shortstop Alcides Escobar will get a chance to make an immediate impact. The Royals also signed veteran outfielders Jeff Francouer and Melky Cabrera to help fill the void left when David DeJesus was traded to Oakland. Vin Mazzaro, acquired in that deal, will get a chance to compete for a spot in the lackluster rotation.

Rumors, News, and Transactions

Brian Cashman downplayed reports that the Yankees were taking a look at their former left fielder Johnny Damon, calling it nothing more than normal free agent exploration.

The Pirates signed Garrett Atkins, who flopped the with the Orioles in ’10, to a minor league deal.

The Padres are turning some attention to free agent Brad Hawpe, who split last season with Colorada and Tampa Bay. The Pads are also reportedly interested in lefty slugger Russell Branyan.

The Angels and Reds are both eyeing speedy Scott Podsednik as part of an outfield platoon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

BD Hot Stove: Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes | Baseball Digest

D Hot Stove: Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes | Baseball Digest

It’s time to check in on the AL East and see what progress or lack of progress the teams have made.

Champion of the Winter Meetings: The Boston Red Sox clearly claim this title. First they swung a deal to bring the powerful bat of Adrian Gonzalez to Beantown and then signed the speedy Carl Crawford to a free agent deal. Post winter meetings, GM Theo Epstein has worked on stocking the bullpen. He’s added Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler, and Matt Albers and will still look to add another lefty (Felix Doubront is the sole left-hander in the pen at the moment).

Where’d everybody go?: The Tampa Rays knew this would happen, but it still has to be painful for manager Joe Maddon to see his team being dismantled. Crawford and Wheeler are in Boston. 1st baseman Carlos Pena went to the Chicago Cubs. Shortstop Jason Bartlett was dealt to the Padres. Set up man Joaquin Benoit went to Detroit. Lefty Randy Choate signed with the Marlins. Brignac will replace Bartlett and there’s still very good starting pitching, but some major holes need to be filled.

Standing Still: The NY Yankees had a chance, but it turns out they never really had a chance, to land Cliff Lee. While Boston’s offense and pen got stronger, the Yankees have been unable to fill their biggest needs, starting pitching and bullpen help. Andy Pettitte has yet to determine if wants to play again. Kerry Wood wanted a sizable “donation” from the Yankees, but instead gave the Cubs a hometown discount. Jon Rauch should be on the Yankees radar. The Yankees did add a new starting catcher, Russell Martin, with Jorge Posada taking on full time DH duty. It remains to be seen whether or not minor leaguer Jesus Montero will have an impact in 2011.

Oh Canada: The Blue Jays dealt their top starter, Shaun Marcum, for a top 2nd base prospect in the Brewers’ Brett Lawrie. A good deal for both squads. The Blue Jays are counting on their stud, Kyle Drabek, to earn a spot in the rotation some time during the 2011 season.

The Jays lost reliable set up man/closer Scott Downs, 1st baseman Lyle Overbay, and catcher John Buck, who enjoyed his best season, to free agency. As possible additions, the Jays signed 1st baseman Mike Jacobs and outfielder Corey Patterson to minor league deals. It’ll be difficult to compete with those plusses and minuses.

Hot L Baltimore: It’s been a tough off-season for the once proud Orioles. Players just don’t want to sign with a team that has been floundering in the AL East for so long. The O’s did get shortsop J.J. Hardy in a deal with the Twins and slugger/whiffer Mark Reynolds from the Diamondbacks. The latter deal cost them David Hernandez, but dealing the pitcher for some more offense was worth it.

Rumors, News, and Transactions

The Angels have reportedly dropped out of the running, for now, for 3rd baseman Adrian Beltre. The free agent is demanding a sixth year guaranteed contract.

Brandon Webb is said to be weighing offers, with either the Rangers, Cubs, or Nationals being the right-hander’s final destination.

Monday, December 20, 2010

BD Hot Stove: Nolasco, No Greinke, No Pitching | Baseball Digest

BD Hot Stove: Nolasco, No Greinke, No Pitching | Baseball Digest

Available pitching got even slimmer over the weekend with the trade of Zack Greinke and the announcement that the Florida Marlins had come to terms with Ricky Nolascoon a three year contract. Nolasco wasn’t eligible for free agency, but the Marlins were having trouble locking him up and were taking calls on possible trades. The $26.5M deal eliminates the last two years of Nolasco’s arbitration eligibility and his first possible year of free agency.

Back to Greinke for a moment. Per the NY Post’s Joel Sherman, the Royals reportedly offered Greinke to the Yankees in return for Jesus Montero, Eduardo Nunez, and either Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos. A very steep price that GM Brian Cashman was not willing to give up for only two guaranteed years of Greinke.

Another pitcher who may or may not be back is Andy Pettitte, who’s decision making skills seem to be right up there with Brett Favre’s. At least he’s not making daily/weekly pronouncements. With the Yankees pitching so up in the air, how long until Cashman takes the Royals asking price to Seattle in a Hail Mary attempt for Felix Hernandez?

Rumors, News, and Transactions

The Braves have re-signed outfielder Rick Ankiel to a one year, $1.5M deal.

The Brewers are bringing back infielder Craig Counsell for another year.

The Twins added to their depth, signing former Braves prospect Chuck James to a minor league deal.

Since George Steinbrenner took over the team, the Yankees always have had a penchant for bringing guys back a second time. Add reliever Luis Vizcaino to that list. He was inked to a minor league deal.

The Indians dealt Austin Kearns to the Yankees at the trade deadline, but have brought the free agent back with a one year, $1.3M deal.

The World Champion Giants inked veteran reliever Guillermo Mota to a minor league deal.

The Rangers added some depth by signing a trio of veterans. Outfielder Endy Chavez, pitcher Seth McClung, and infielder Brian Barden all got minor league deals and major league invitations.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

BD Hot Stove Breaking News: Greinke Going From Royal Blue to Milwaukee Brew | Baseball Digest

BD Hot Stove Breaking News: Greinke Going From Royal Blue to Milwaukee Brew | Baseball Digest

It appears another dream is over for Yankees fans. Not even 24 hours old, my thoughts/demands/ideas of the Yankees acquiring Zack Greinke have been torn asunder.

Last night Jim Breen a fan blogger (Bernie’s Crew) on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal reported that Greinke had been dealt to the Brewers for a handful of prospects. Breen called it a rumor despite the headline that Greinke was acquired. Needless to say everyone in Twitterland was skeptical to say the least.

But it appears this morning that Breen was on the money. ESPN’s Buster Olney was the first to back up the deal and more mainstream credability has beenreported since including the J-S’ Brewers beat guy Tom Haudricourt.

The deal was orginally reported as Milwaukee sending Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, and Jeremy Jeffress to KC for Greinke and a PTBNL later, thought to be Yuniesky Betancourt. A horrible job done by KC GM Dayton Moore if true. This morning, however, we’re hearing that Jake Odorizzi has been added as well, which makes it a better deal for KC.

Escobar, Cain and Jeffries were in Baseball America’s top 10 Brewers prospects entering the 2010 season. Odorizzi likely would have been on the list for 2011. Shortstop Escobar had a miserable rookie season, posting a .614 OPS and made 20 errors.

Cain (Peter Gammons quoted Jim Fregosi as saying “…when you trade Greinke the one player you’d better get is Cain”. From Baseball Intellect on Cain:

“He still strikes out too much and it would be nice to see a few more walks, but the progress was excellent to see. Also encouraging was the improvement each month of the season and how he actually performed better after he was promoted to Double-A Huntsville.

Cain has very quick wrists, which help him generate excellent bat speed, though his loading process is a bit long. There is a chance he can continue to add power as his frame fills out. Notice how he lets the ball travel deep into his hitting zone before unloading on the ball. This is a great indication of Cain’s bat speed.

Cain was an excellent defensive right fielder and while he has to cover more ground in center field, he still has above average range.

Best Case Outcome – Above average everyday center fielder

More Likely Outcome – Average everyday center fielder”

My take – That’s not exactly a rave on Cain. He mainly brings 25 steal potential and a decent average to the table, but not much else. on Jeffress in 2009

“Statistically speaking: His 5.27 ERA over four Double-A starts is misleading as he gave up six runs in two-thirds of an inning in his last outing. Before that, he had allowed only three runs over 14 innings for a 1.93 ERA. His 11.01 K/9 ratio would’ve put him atop the full-season leaderboard had he pitched enough innings to qualify.

Scouting report: Has a fastball that can reach triple digits, breaking ball, a curve that can be a plus pitch, and he’s working on developing a changeup. Makeup in the past has been a question mark, with a suspension for marijuana use.

Upside potential: Think Dwight Gooden, stuff-wise. Worst-case scenario, he’s a dangerous back-end reliever.

They said it: “He is a rare talent that is starting to get his act together. Once he locks in, look out.” — Reid Nichols, Brewers Special Assistant to the GM/Director of Player Development”

My Take -So far the words on paper haven’t matched the numbers on the field. Yes, Jeffress is striking out batters at an alarming rate, but he’s walking them at even a more startling rate. He may pan out to nothing more than a set up man.

Word has just (10:25 am) come down from SI’s Jon Heyman that Greinke has indeed approved the deal after turning down a deal to go to the Nationals.

The Brewers now put Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, and Shaun Marcum up against any rotation, Cards included, in the mediocre NL Central division. And Yankees fans still look at Sergio Mitre at the back end of the rotation

Drew Sarver is the Yankees content editor and a contributor for You can also read his work at his blog, My Pinstripes. He can be contacted at and can be followed on Twitter at @BD_Sarver and @MyPinstripes.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's Time To Roll The Dice On Greinke

You should never make a move in reaction to another's move unless your playing chess or at war, and when I say war I really mean war (Note to Kellen Winslow Jr.).

Brian Cashman made a number of poor moves last winter. Nick Johnson chief among them. This off-season the main focus has been on Cliff Lee. We all know how that panned out. But that had nothing to do with Cashman, though some feel otherwise. Lee never wanted to play in NY and for that matter didn't want to return to Texas either. I doubt Nolan Ryan is getting vilified in Arlington.

More importantly, the Yankees chief rival in the AL East has gotten stronger. Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez have replaced Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre in the lineup. That's a big plus for the Red Sox especially since, at the moment, the Yankees have no left-hander in the starting rotation.

So what's an elfin, building rappelling GM to do? Go hard after Zack Greinke. The Royals righty has decided he's had enough of bad baseball in Kansas City. The team has no hope for contending especially since ownership is putting their luxury tax dollars right into their own pockets.

We all know that Greinke has been dealing with anxiety issues. He's not the only one in major league baseball or in life to do so. Not all have gone public with their inner demons. It's now a trendy thing too, but it's still taboo in many circles to admit to "mental" issues. People hear the word mental and they think psychotic which is absurd. Some of us deal with anxiety, depression, or other psychological issues on a daily basis. That's what therapy and/or meds are for, unless your Tom Cruise of course.

The Yankees rotation right now is CC Sabathia (A+), Phil Hughes (B), A.J. Burnett (A, B, C, D, F depending on the day; hell, depending on the inning). My feeling is Andy Pettitte will be back, but until he makes his mind up, and decides he likes the money figure, that's up in the air. The rest is Ivan Nova (high upside, little experience), Sergio Mitre (experience, mediocre), and a bunch of kids who aren't ready for prime time.

Felix Hernandez isn't going anywhere according to the Seattle Mariners hierarchy. The remaining free agent starters aren't front end guys, unless you count Carl Pavano. Don't make me laugh.

As the headline says, it's time for the Yankees and Brian Cashman to roll the dice on Zack Greinke. Perhaps they have studied reports about Greinke's well-being. We know that playing in the plain states is not the same as playing in the Big Apple. NYC has chewed up many a player (Yes, Bobby Bonilla had the smile wiped off his face), who thought they could handle it. But Greinke isn't the same guy he was three years ago. People get past the things holding them back and they get better. I know from experience.

Greinke had his ups and downs this past season on the mound, but playing for a bad team with little fan support doesn't help. Playing with a passionate fan base, with a lineup that can hit, and with a defense can support you will do wonders for your game. Yes, he will have to listen to monotonous questions about his well being. It's best to hold a press conference with no or little questions (the Yankees can see to that) and get it out of the way immediately if they land him.

Greinke won't come cheaply. Possibly Jesus Montero. Ivan Nova. Brandon Laird. Andrew Backman. Delin Betances. Gary Sanchez Hector Noesi. Those are names I'm throwing won't take all of them.

Greinke makes $11.5M in 2011 and $13.5M in 2012. That's $25M off the Royals payroll, which means the Yankees shouldn't have to give up as much either if the Royals were taking some of the money on.

The time is now. The Rays are going to be considerably weaker than the last year. The Red Sox offense has gotten stronger, their pen better with the addition of Bobby Jenks, but their rotation still has questions. Jon Lester is a stud. Josh Beckett is coming off an awful year, which included injury. John Lackey is on the downside. Clay Buchholz was magnificent, but can he repeat? Dice-K, Tim Wakefield? More awful than good.

Only one team should make it out of the west, but the White Sox and Twins will battle for both the AL Central and Wild Card, which means the Yankees MUST bolster their starting rotation and bullpen in order to REALLY compete in the AL East and for the Wild Card.

So roll the dice Brian Cashman, roll the dice. Show the Yankees fan base you have the stomach for it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

BD Hot Stove: Armed And (Somewhat) Dangerous | Baseball Digest

With the week winding down and the likes of Cliff Lee, Bobby Jenks, Joaquin Benoit, and Matt Guerrier off the market, it’s time to look at what free agent arms are still available.

BD Hot Stove: Armed And (Somewhat) Dangerous | Baseball Digest

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

BD Hot Stove: Time To Move Forward | Baseball Digest

Harden heading back to Cali?

With Cliff Lee's deal in place, it's time to for the other free agents to find homes.

BD Hot Stove: Time To Move Forward | Baseball Digest

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

BD Hot Stove: The Repercussions of Phil Lee

BD Hot Stove: The Repercussions of Phil Lee

The fallout from Cliff Lee signing with Philadelphia can be heard today from Texas to New York to Boston and everywhere in between. Lee left up to $50M on the table to play back in Philly, where he spent the latter half of 2009. You can go home again, and much to the dismay of the player’s association, you don’t have to take the most moneyed contract to do so.

In New York, Yankees fans cried, whined, and sighed. And Met fans applauded that the Yankees lost out on Lee. Apparently it hasn’t sunk in yet that the Mets will have to face the Phillies rotation 19 times a year.

In Arlington, Ron Washington’s gut is in hiding. After all, it was Washington’s gut that told him Lee was coming back to Texas. And the Rangers are back where they were before last season’s trade deadline; with a huge hole in their rotation.

The Red Sox fans joy is twofold. 1) The Yankees didn’t get Lee and 2) The Yankees didn’t get a top left-hander to negate their lefty-laden lineup.

Meanwhile, Yankees GM Brian Cashman has to go to plan ‘B’. He told area beat writers this morning, via a conference call, that means “patience”. For now the Yankees have just three definite spots in their rotation- CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and A.J. Burnett. So the next logical step will be to see what Andy Pettitte’s status is. With no Lee in NY, Pettitte will probably ask for a higher amount of money than had the Yankees landed Lee. I can see a $15M asking price, though the Yankees will want the figure to be closer to $10M. Incentives can make both sides happy.

Another winner in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes is his agent Darek Braunecker, who is now a household name.

Rumors, News, and Transactions

Former Yankee Hideki Matsui finalized his one year deal with the Oakland A’s. It’s worth $4.25M. Good job by Billy Beane.

The Yankees may not have gotten Lee, but they did get the catcher they wanted. Russell Martin, recently non-tendered by the Dodgers, has agreed to a one year deal.

Lyle Overbay has agreed to a one year, $5M deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Overbay had a nice offensive year in 2010, but it’s not his norm. Still you would think there would be some upper echelon teams interested in him.

The Nationals have signed pinch-hitter extraordinaire Matt Stairs to a minor league deal.

One of the Rangers plan ‘B’ options is apparently Chien-Ming Wang. The former Yankee missed all of 2010 after undergoing shoulder surgery and was non-tendered by the Nationals. Nolan Ryan and company are reportedly also looking at Carl Pavano.

The Cardinals have agreed to a deal with Gerald Laird as a backup catcher to Yadier Molina. Laird will receive $1M for one year.

According to the Kansas City Star’s Terez Paylor, the Royals are still shopping Zack Greinke and looking for the best fit.

The Rays have re-signed lefty J.P. Howell to a one year deal. Howell, who had torn labrum surgery in May, will miss the start of the season and his exact return is in question.

The Mariners, looking for parts, inked Royce Ring, Ryan Langerhans, Denny Bautista, and Chris Giminez to minor league pacts.