Monday, December 31, 2007
I hope everyone has a Happy New Year! Enjoy these videos as we welcome in the New Year:
I hope everyone has a Happy New Year! Enjoy these videos as we welcome in the New Year:
Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano is still recovering from arm surgery and it is unclear whether or not he will be ready for Spring Training. Liriano was 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA in 121 innings in 2006, and it looked like he and Johan Santana would be one of the best one-two punches in the league. However, Santana is still on the trade block and Liriano has faced several set backs and no one is sure if he will make the MLB team if he is ready. Personally, I think the Twins should be very cautious with Liriano and not rush him to get back to playing regularly. There are many examples of pitchers around the league that were rushed back from injury and have only suffered because of it. Mark Prior, Mike Hampton, to name a few. Although a trade involving Santana might be good because Liriano is no guarantee, I still do not think a trade will happen.
It is nice to be back after my trip, and I am ready to get back to work. I want to thank everyone for being so patient while I was gone, and I plan to get the site back to full speed for 2008. But as of today, here is what is making news:
- Livan Hernandez is in serious talks with an unknown team, according to a source close to the player. I was not told any teams, but the teams I have been hearing include the Cardinals, Mets, Rockies, Tigers, and Mariners.
- Former Phillies pitcher Kyle Lohse is still on the market, and does not appear close to a deal. The Mets and talks with his agent have slowed, and I have heard from an unnamed source that he has had talks with the Reds, Cardinals, Mariners, Rockies, and one anonymous team, among others.
- Corey Patterson is still looking for a job, and could wind up in Chicago. Both teams are looking for an outfielder, and he would probably come at a reduced price.
- The Pirates are still interested in Michael Barrett, and are willing to depart with two low-level prospects.
- The Orioles have cooled on the idea of trading Brian Roberts, but talks with the Cubs are still ongoing. The Cubs would probably have to part with Sean Gallagher, along with Eric Patterson, and at least one other prospect, maybe two. I have heard Jake Fox's name be mentioned, but nothing else beyond that.
- The Marlins and Rockies remain interested in Mike Maroth.
- The Mets are reportedly closing in on a one year deal with Freddy Garia.
- The Rangers are still in talks with Jason Jennings and Bartolo Colon.
- The Athletics have not had talks with either the Rockies or Mets about Joe Blanton.
- The Orioles are still shopping Kevin Millar, which would suggest that ownership is still not happy with his Fenway Park appearance.
- The Rangers are interested in Tony Clark, and seem to be the only team showing serious interest in him.
More tomorrow, Happy New Year!
Free agent pitcher Matt Clement was drawing a lot of interest because he would be coming at a cheap price. However, Clement has narrowed his choices to teams closer to his home in Pennsylvania. The teams that are the most obvious destinations include the Indians, Phillies, Nationals, and Pirates. Clement made over thirty starts for seven straight seasons, so he is reliable, but did not pitch in 2007. If he does stay close to home, I think he would probably choose the Pirates or Phillies, if they are interested. I know the Pirates are interested, and have heard they have made a non-guaranteed offer, but it will probably take something guaranteed. Other teams that are interested in the pitcher include the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, and Rockies.
Just a week or so away from the voting for the 2008 Hall of Fame and a lot of attention falls around Mark McGwire, and if he will get in after failing to make it in his first year of eligibility. As someone who was drawn into baseball by that 1998 homerun chase, I do feel like he captivated the eyes of many, but the fact that we are still in the middle of this steroid controversy, I do not think it is his time, or should ever be his time. I am one of those people who think if you cheated, you do not deserve the recognition, even if it was before it became illegal.
It is hard not look at McGwire's 583 career homeruns, but his .263 career average and just 1,626 hits makes him borderline at best. Yes, he did have an OBP of .394 but he combined over three hundred walks in late 1990's that bumped that up big time. And with reporters voting, it doesn't help that McGwire was not friendly with the media, and hurt his case even more at the Congressional Hearings.
Now some may argue that pitchers like Gaylord Perry were cheaters back in the day, but we are passed that era, and must focus on this one. I think that pitchers who used a spit ball are looked at differently than hitters. A pitcher did not throw a spit ball every pitch, while a hitter on steroids used it in every swing. You have to look at McGwire's numbers between 1996-1999 and think wow, he hit 30 less homeruns than Roger Maris did in his whole career. Does this mean Roger Clemens is not a shoe in? Yes, at least until his case gets cleared out. I have to admit, I was a little naive in the sense that it never crossed my mind that Clemens might have used. Looking at Clemens' numbers, it makes sense that he used. He was a .500 pitcher up till those couple years with the Blue Jays when he won the Cy Young twice. I look at him and McGwire and Bonds as different cases, so we will have to wait and see.
If Roger Maris gets into the Hall of Fame, how can someone like Andre Dawson not get in. Dawson has a .279 career average with 438 homeruns and 2,774 hits. He was a eight time All-Star, won the ROY, and the MVP, and was a fan favorite of the Cubs, and even some teams on the road. Ryne Sandberg said of Dawson that, "No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson," Sandberg said of the "The Hawk." Sandberg continued, "He's the best I've ever seen. I watched him win an MVP for a last-place team in 1987, and it was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen in baseball." Sandberg concluded with, "He did it the right way, the natural way, and he did it in the field and on the bases and in every way, and I hope he will stand up here someday."
I know many think differently of McGwire at this point, but I still would vote him no until all this gets sorted out. I think a lot of people deserve some recognition before their time runs out. I know Lee Smith lost some steam after his all time saves record was taken by Trevor Hoffman, but he should be recognized as being the player who revolutionized the role. And what about Tim Raines? Or Jim Rice? Leave me a comment on whether you think McGwire should be in the Hall or not, and if you want, leave a prediction for this years inductees.
I hope everyone is still enjoying the holidays, I know I am. I'll be coming back from Mexico on Sunday and plan to get back to regular posting. I have a lot of interviews set up for January, and plan to continue my regular radio talk show. But here is what is making news today:
- The Royals added catcher Miguel Olivio to their roster. Solid addition for the Royals considering he has killed them the past couple of years.
- The Angels are no longer interested in Scott Rolen and are preparing extensions for players Vlad Guerrero and Francisco Rodriguez.
- The Mets have had extended discussions with former Phillies pitchers Kyle Lohse and Jon Lieber. I know a lot of Mets fans have been discouraged by lack of movement from Omar Minaya, but I'm confident after talks with a Mets executives that moves are coming.
- The White Sox are looking for another bench player, according to sources. That wouldn't be a bad addition, especially if it is a veteran, but we'll determine if it is good or bad when they make a move.
- The Reds are waiting on the Orioles in a trade for Erik Bedard.
More details soon...
The Astros signed utilty man Darin Erstad to a one year contract. Erstad struggled last year with the White Sox, but a switch to the NL and a hitter friendly stadium might benefit him and the Astros.
More details soon...
The Padres and Mark Prior have agreed to a one year deal worth one million dollars. Clearly this deal shows that he wanted a change of scenery because he would have gotten twice that in arbitration.
More details soon...
Before I begin, I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. But in baseball, while the lull this off season is still going on, I'd like to look ahead to the 2008 off season and the issues that present themselves to the Red Sox. The Red Sox have never minded spending money to build up their team, but have preferred youth lately. Next offseason, they are faced with possibly losing Curt Schilling, Jason Varitek, and Manny Ramirez. I suspect they will bring Varitek back, just because there is not a better catcher available. Schilling will probably retire while the question to bring Manny back comes up. This is the first year Ramirez has not requested a trade in awhile, and with players like Vlad Guerrero on the market, it might be hard not to try and get him. As for other pitching, they will have Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, Buchholz, and a free agent or Michael Bowden. For free agents, the best pickup would be Brad Penny, who has former teammates on the team and would happily accept a new team. I think the Red Sox are in good shape for the next several years, but that does not mean they can sit tight. The Blue Jays and Rays are looking to compete and could effect the standings if you do not watch out for them. Here is what else is making news this Christman day: The Phillies continue to try and solidify their bullpen and have contacted Aki Otsuka.
The Marlins signed Jose Castillo to a one year contract, according to Marlins.com. Castillo, who had been with the Pirates, is a canidate for third base, but will probably be a bench player. Right now would be a great time to look at pitchers coming off bad years, like Bartolo Colon, just in case one of their young pitchers gets hurt again. I think they should try and trade for a third baseman like Wes Helms, or even someone younger like Mark Teahen.
As I write this, I realize that most teams have closed up for the week and have head home. Nevertheless, it is my job to give you the news, and I will deliver.
- The Rangers are still very serious about Bartolo Colon and Jason Jennings.
REACTION: I think they would be better off trading Hank Blalock for package of prospects than sign two pitchers who might not perform. Anyways, signing two veteran pitchers should help.
- Mark Prior prefers Astros and Reds over Padres?
REACTION: Not a surprise. He wants to prove that he can pitch so he can torment the Cubs. He also had a good relationship with Dusty Baker, and recognizes that the Reds will be very good in the near future.
More later...Enjoy the holidays!
My Winter Break officially got underway when we arrived in Mexico today for the week. However, that does not mean the site will not be running. I have made arrangements to use the computer each day and plan to update you on whatever is going on. Here is the latest:
- The Phillies signed long time Cardinal So Taguchi. Taguchi has always been a solid reserve outfielder, hitting for average and known for having great speed. I think this signing indicates that Bobby Kielty is probably heading back to Boston.ç
- The Twins are expected to take final offers from each team interested in trading for Santana. It is similiar to the free agency process in Japan, where there is not much negotiation. Personally, I still do not think there will be a trade. If there was going to be one, it would have already had happened.
- The Orioles are backing down on the Orioles for Jay Bruce in a trade for Erik Bedard but are still asking for Joey Votto. I wouldn´t be surprised if they want Edinson Volquez, who they recently acquired from the Rangers, among other players. If I were the Reds, I would make this deal. Getting a front line starter would go a long way in that division.
- Roger Clemens would like to make it clear once again that he did not use steroid and I am still not buying it.
- More and more teams are starting to rely on rookies, as Dayn Perry writes. Teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, and Cubs are all loaded with rookies ready to go everyday. I think people should keep on eye out for Daric Barton, who was hitting the ball very well towards the end of the season.
- Despite Brewers GM Doug Melvin denying interest in making a trade, he continues to look for a third basman.
More details soon...
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk with MLB.com talk show host Peter McCarthy. McCarthy has his own show, Under the Lights, which is everyday from 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. CT on MLB.com. It is very interactive, so you will get all your questions answered. McCarthy was also one of the people I met from MLB.com while I was at the Winter Meetings in Nashville. I want to thank him again for doing this interview for me.
ELI: When do you get involved in broadcast journalism?
PETER: In high school. I worked for WLAK doing promotions. Once I got into college was when I got on air. I called over 100 games at Hofstra. And then during my junior year, I got a job at MLB.com where I am today.
ELI: How did you learn to call games while at Hofstra?
PETER: I learned from this man named Ed Ingles, he worked over at WCBS. He definitely had an effect on me and how I call games. I learned how to do play-by-play, sports updates- I gained a lot more experience working with him.
ELI: Would you say that gaining experience is the biggest thing in broadcasting?
PETER: Oh yeah, definitely. For my seventeenth birthday, my parents got me a recorder so I could record games and then replay them with my commentary.
ELI: So when did you get started at MLB.com?
PETER: I started in 2005 with something called MOBI, it was updates for your phone. The following season I got to do fast casts and got started with my show "Under the Lights," which is still going today.
ELI: Can you tell me a little bit about your show?
PETER: Yeah. It is a two-hour show where I talk about whatever is a hot topic in baseball. We have interviews, and we take phone calls. We try to make it very interactive. There is a chat room, IM, we take a lot of phone calls.
ELI: Now do you set up interviews?
PETER: Our produced sets up interviews with players and beat writers for certain teams in the news.
ELI: Who would you say was your best interview?
PETER: Probably Barry Zito. It was right after he signed that big contract with the Giants. But I have talked with some great players like Harmon Killebrew, Robin Roberts, Tony Pena too which was great.
ELI: I notice you have a computer at hand during your show. What would you say is usually on there.
PETER: I have the IM up talking to fans. If I need to look something up, like stats, I can do it quickly. Otherwise, I usually just keep refreshing MLB.com waiting for updates to give to you.
ELI: Your show is two hours long. How much time would you say you prep for that.
PETER: Probably about two hours. I'm trying to read up on everything, really get to know what I am talking about, and form opinions.
ELI: What would you say is the best game you have covered?
PETER: I wasn't covering this game, but I was at Fenway Park to see Clay Buchholz's no hitter. That was just incredible. Pedroia had that great play in the seventh, and I had never seen a no hitter before, so it was great.
ELI: Did you have a favorite team growing up?
PETER: The Mets.
ELI: How about a favorite player?
PETER: Probably David Cone. I was devastated when he was traded for Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson. I really liked Jason Isringhausen, but when he was traded I didn't follow him as much.
ELI: Besides Buchholz's no hitter, what is the best game you have ever been to?
PETER: I would say a Mets, Braves game I went to. The Mets were getting killed, it was freezing, and I was still standing in the upper deck clapping. It was fireworks night, and the Mets were down 8-1, but you always stayed to the end to see the fireworks. In the bottom of the eighth, the Mets had fought back to 8-8 tie, and then Mike Piazza hit a lazer that I didn't even see for a homerun. The outfielder didn't even react before the crowd went wild.
ELI: Which teams would you say are the biggest winners this offseason?
PETER: For the NL, probably Cincinnati. They had a weak bullpen and they went out and signed Cordero. They desperately needed pitching and traded Josh Hamilton, to make room for Jay Bruce, while acquiring a very good pitcher in Edinson Volquez. In the AL, it has to be the Tigers. They made an unbelievable big trade, they acquired Edgar Renteria, Jacque Jones, which has put them in a position to make it to the playoffs next year.
ELI: Do you think the Nationals will have any trouble adjusting to their new stadium?
PETER: No. I think that they will benefit from a new stadium. It will give them new energy, being in a stadium that looks like a baseball stadium. I have never been to RFK, but it just seemed like a dry environment. You know, they get a beautiful, new stadium and they will be energized. I think it will help.
ELI: Which two teams do you think other teams should look out for next season?
PETER: In the NL, I'm going with the Reds. They improved their pitching, they have good players, and are in an average division. In the AL, I am going with Toronto. They have some good, young pitchers on the rise in McGowan, Litsch, and Marcum. And their bullpen is very good. They have Accardo, Wolfe, I think they will be pretty good.
ELI: Alright, now which two rookies will be the biggest surprise next season?
PETER: In the NL, Joey Votto of the Reds. I think people are already expecting a lot from Jay Bruce, but not from Votto. In the AL, I am going to say Daric Barton, whose on the Athletics.
According to sources, the Rockies are pleased with talks so far between them and Marcus Giles, and plan to resume talks after the holidays. Giles batted just .229 with 4 HR and 39 RBI in 116 games for the Padres, but has improved defensively and has some success at Coors field batting .281 with 2 HR in 24 games. I think it would be a great pickup for the Rockies, who are looking for a solid second baseman after losing Matsui to the Astros. Not only has Giles been on winning teams, but his career numbers are above average. In 792 games, he has batted .277 with 76 HR, 333 RBI, and a .353 OBP. I expect a one to two year deal, worth about 3-4 million dollars.
The White Sox and Cuban utility man Alexei Ramirez have agreed to a four year deal, according to sources. The deal is pending a physical.
The Rangers have agreed to trade Edinson Volquez and a minor league pitcher to the Reds for Josh Hamilton. Hamilton, the feel good story of 2007, was a number one pick by the Devil Rays in 1999, but fought drugs and legal issues and was not expected to return. However, he came to the Reds via the Cubs in the Rule V Draft, and definitely contributed. Despite ending the year with an injury, he hit .292 with 19 HR and 47 RBI. He should definitely help the Rangers after they lost their big power hitter in Mark Texeira.
Volquez, 24, is a hard throwing pitcher who was 14-6 with a 166 K in the minor leagues last season. He will probably get a spot in the rotation if he performs well in Spring Training.
In an attempt to upgrade the Rangers bullpen, they are making strides in signing Eddie Guardado in hopes to sign him before Christmas. Guardado would be a solid addition the bullpen if he can stay healthy. He is 41-55 with a 4.31 ERA and 183 SV in fifteen major league seasons. The closer spot is still up in the air, and if he signs with the Rangers, he should compete with C.J. Wilson, Joaquin Benoit, and Japanese closer Kaz Fukumori.
In the rotation, they have a lot of depth, but are still looking for a veteran pitcher. They have contacted Bartolo Colon, but feel they have a better chance with Jason Jennings. Both pitchers struggled, but have been successful in previous years. They are also looking into Mike Maroth, and Mark Hendrickson. In the outfield, with the addition of Hamilton, they will probably stop trying to trade for Andre Ethier or Juan Pierre. They still are shopping Gerald Laird, but are not finding any suitors.
The latest feature to the site is called "Reaction Time." This is when I will give you news from around the league, and react. I hope you will do the same and leave a comment:
More and more players have spoken out against Roger Clemens, including Goose Gossage.
REACTION: A lot of players speaking out against Clemens may show what kind of person he was during his career. For someone on the outside looking in, you can probably tell that he wasn't all about the team. Not only did he have a personal trainer away from the team, but he had a clause in his contract that allowed him not to come to games that he did not pitch in. He wasn't great with the media, and the steroid allegations will probably keep him out of the Hall of Fame until some of the smoke clears.
Some baseball executives are worried about performance enhancers in Australia.
REACTION: I don't think so. There are hardly any baseball players from Australia playing in the States. Not only that, but I have been talking with a player from Australia who told me that they barely know what is going on here. Maybe that would provoke them more, but it seems they are not climbing the minor-league system fast enough to suspect anything.
Twins GM Bill Smith just isn't ready to pull the trigger on a trade.
REACTION: This doesn't make sense to me. They are not willing to extend his contract and he has a full no-trade clause which he said he won't waive during the season. It is either several major league ready players, or two draft picks. They are not ready to make a playoff run next year and their only hope in doing so is reloading with young players.
The Tigers plan to offer a similar extension to new third baseman Miguel Cabrera.
REACTION: Another smart move on the Tigers part. Cabrera might get slightly a bit more because he has been more successful than Willis, but not too much. Probably a three year extension, worth 33-36 million dollars. I think the Tigers would put up a good fight against any AL team in the playoffs, and they are certainly better than most NL teams.
The Cubs closing in on Brian Roberts trade.
REACTION: I don't know why they feel the need to trade for a second baseman. Yes, DeRosa is a utility player who can play multiple positions, but with the addition of Fukudome, they do not have a spot to play him five days a week. Unless they try him at shortstop, which he does not play often. I think if they do acquire him, he will split time with Theriot and Pie mostly, but it will allow them to rest Lee and Soriano more as well. I'm not against a trade for Roberts, but DeRosa is very capable of being the Cubs everyday second baseman.
Is Prior really serious about the Astros?
REACTION: Yes, but he is leaning towards the Padres. I think it is a good move on the Astros part to try and reel him in. They are going after Kris Benson though, and probably do not want two, rehabbing pitchers on their staff.
Royals close in on Jon Lieber?
REACTION: I think they could do better, but adding a veteran pitcher cannot hurt. They are trying to build their young team around some solid veterans in hopes of changing the standings some in the AL Central. Although they are not ready for a playoff run, I think they are making all the right moves.
Reds table trade discussions for pitching.
REACTION: I think the Reds will not land either pitcher because they are not interested in parting with Jay Bruce, or Joey Votto. They do have prospects, but for a solid, number two or three pitcher only. Nevertheless, I would keep my eye on the Reds in 2008.
The Phillies have pulled out of the running for Kyle Lohse since he wanted a forty million dollar deal, and now the Phillies are eying Livan Hernandez. I think Hernandez will be looking for a deal similar to Silva, if not better, so they may have to look elsewhere. Hernandez was 11-11 with a 4.93 ERA and 90 K this season, but is very reliable, and 7-3 in the playoffs with a 3.97 ERA with 47 K in 68 IP. That alone, can get him a deal like Silva, who has pitched in just one playoff game. The Phillies have held talks with the representatives of Bartolo Colon, Kris Benson, and Josh Fogg, so they are definitely looking to improve their pitching. However, they have Hamels, Myers, and Kendrick, along with Moyer, Eaton, but Eaton will probably head to the bullpen assuming they can land a pitcher. As for Hernandez, he has had talks with the Mets, Cardinals, and Nationals, among others, but no deal appears close just yet.
The Phillies still have an eye on a third baseman, but seem more content going with Dobbs. There are not any other options at third base on the market besides Pedro Feliz and Alexei Ramirez, but both would cost them. I think Ramirez would make for a good platoon at third base, but I think they would rather focus their cash towards pitching. The Phillies have not been too active this off season, but they are making small moves gearing up for another playoff run.
This time last year, many were expecting the Nationals to finish with at least 100 losses. However, they put together a solid year with what they had and got 73 wins. Now, they have added three up and coming prospects in Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, and Tyler Clippard, and signed catcher Paul Lo Duca. It is possible we could see them get close to 80 wins, that is, if their new acquisitions live up to expectations. They hope Zimmerman can improve on his numbers, but it might not be enough if they do not have pitching.
The Nationals new ballpark, which is set to open this April, looks very nice, but will probably not benefit its pitchers because of its spacey gaps, and short distances in the corners. I think the best way for them to land a pair of solid pitchers would be to trade Chad Cordero, but both the Astros and Brewers turned down trades. They do not have any prospects that could really bring anything at the moment through trades, so if they cannot land Cordero, I think they would be smart to take a chance on a pitcher coming off a poor year. Pitchers like Mark Prior, Kris Benson, Bartolo Colon, Byung-Hyun Kim, or Jaret Wright would be solid pick ups, and could potentially help their young, and inexperienced rotation. The Nationals are expected to open the season with a payroll around 40 million dollars, and could afford to add a free agent pitcher or two named above. I think the Nationals have the potential to be a pretty good team, not playoff bound just yet, but a team that can definitely compete.
The Mets have pulled out of the running for Livan Hernandez and are now focusing in on Kyle Lohse. This comes as no surprise because Lohse has experience against the NL East after pitching with the Phillies, and has expressed his desire to stay in the NL and go to a competitor. Although I consider the Phillies the front-runner in the division, Lohse has no problem jumping to the rival Mets. It is believed that the Phillies had no interest in going over a Kuroda type deal for Lohse, while he is looking for a four year deal, worth 40-45 million dollars. Lohse is 29, and is 63-74 in 218 career games.
Cubs, Orioles Trade False: Contrary to reports that the Cubs have completed a trade for Brian Roberts, I spoke with a close source to the team who told me that is false. He did say there have been talks, but nothing is too close as of right now. I am speculating that a trade involves Sean Gallagher, and two of three players that include Eric Patterson, Matt Murton, and Jake Fox.
Today, the Mariners and Carlos Silva agreed to a four year deal, worth 48 million dollars. An expensive fall back as they missed out on Hiroki Kuroda, but it should make a difference. Players like Silva have received similar contracts, like Jeff Suppan and Ted Lilly, and I expect Livan Hernandez and Kyle Lohse to join that class as well. Silva is known for racking up innings, getting into double digits in wins, and staying off the DL. Although he might now be worth that money, he should be able to help the Mariners compete. In the National League, the Phillies signed both Chad Durbin and Geoff Jenkins. Jenkins will make 6.5 million annually for the next two seasons. I'm not sure who the Padres will look to now, maybe Corey Patterson, maybe Kenny Lofton, but I think they will sign someone fairly soon.
Tigers Lock Willis Up: The Tigers and Dontrelle Willis have agreed to a three year deal, worth 29 million dollars. This deal keeps Willis with the Tigers until at least 2010, and puts him in a rotation behind Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, Nate Robertson, Jeremy Bonderman, and up and coming prospects Rick Porcello and Jordon Tata.
Since Chad Durbin spurned the Pirates for the Phillies, the Pirates have picked up their pursuit for pitcher Octavio Dotel. A source close to the Pirates told me that the Pirates would like to fortify their bullpen sooner rather than later and that they have their eyes on Shawn Chacon and Octavio Dotel. However, another source told me that they have already engaged in talks with Octavio Dotel this week and hope to sign him before baseball offices close for the week between Christmas and New Years. Whatever Dotel gets, whether it is from the Pirates or someone else, should be about four million dollars annually. The Tigers are also believed to be interested after they missed out on LaTroy Hawkins.
The Royals, in attempt to rebuild their bullpen, have signed veteran left hander Ron Mahay. Mahay, who was being courted by the Yankees, will make eight million over the next two seasons. Mahay turned down several other deals to join the Royals after going 3-0 with a save and 2.55 ERA in 67 innings with the Rangers and Indians. I think the Royals will push above 70 wins in 2008 after looking at their past couple of signings. They have Billy Butler who is ready to play everyday, and should see improvements from Tony Pena, Alex Gordon, and pitcher Luke Hochevar. Although the Tigers have made huge improvements, the White Sox and Twins do not have much to say for themselves, and I think we should see a battle for third place.
Contrary to reports that they would give Dan Ortmeier and Travis Ishikawa a shot at first base, the Giants are in talks with first baseman Tony Clark. Clark, who had a two year offer pulled off the table from the Diamondbacks, is in talks with the Giants about a one year deal, with a mutual option for a second, according to sources. I think Clark would be a solid pick up for the Giants. He still has pretty good power, and a switch to a team in the division should make the transition easier. He did bat .249, but had 17 HR and 51 RBI. However, in 19 games at AT&T Park, he has hit .119 AVG with 0 HR and 4 RBI. Nonetheless, a team that is rebuilding like the Giants could use his bat and his veteran presence in the clubhouse.
Since the Cardinals traded Jim Edmonds, they have contemplated options for their outfield alignment. They have thought about Colby Rasmus in center, but I think they will start him at Triple-A, and if he does well then give him a call up. I think teams will start doing that with their prospects after seeing players like Ryan Braun thrive. However, the Cardinals have never been ones to rush their prospects and from what I am hearing, are interested in bringing in Kenny Lofton as a one year stop gap. Lofton has proved he can play just about anywhere, and has experience against the NL Central. It would allow them to keep Rick Ankiel in right field and just slide Rasmus into playing everyday by 2009. Lofton has always been very consistent, holding a career average of .299 over 17 big league seasons. He batted .296 last season with 7 HR, 38 RBI, and 23 SB in 136 games with the Rangers and Indians in 2007, and is still a good fielder. I think it would be a good move for the Cardinals, but I have always been a Kenny Lofton fan. I plan to call around over the next day or so to see what I can pick up, but I haven't picked up much interest in Lofton. I think teams that might benefit from him include the Twins, White Sox (as a fallback), Orioles, Braves, Cubs (to platoon with Pie), and maybe Padres. I think one reason why teams do not have much interest is because there are young players available. Andre Ethier is available, on the market, Corey Patterson is available. I think Lofton will find a home, but probably not any time soon, and it will have to a reduced price.
Just weeks after trading P Jon Garland to the Angels for Orlando Cabrera, the desperate White Sox are not interested in going long term with Cabrera, and are looking to trade him. There are not too many teams I see taking him, but it is possible the Red Sox might be interested. Orlando Cabrera did well with the Red Sox in 2004, batting .294 with 6 HR and 31 RBI in 58 games. The White Sox are looking for a middle infielder like Julio Lugo and are interested in Coco Crisp and might be able to snag both in the Red Sox are willing. Obviously some cash would have to be exchange, but it seems like a fair deal considering the Red Sox have Ellsbury, and Lugo struggled in Boston. I've been talking with a Cubs fans through email who asked me if the Cubs are looking at any shortstops. It is possible they would look at Orlando Cabrera, but highly unlikely. Ryan Theriot did great for the Cubs all year, just struggled in the final weeks of the season. Lou Piniella talked about Theriot as a great situational hitter, and to have that kind of player in the lineup who also comes at a reduced price, definitely helps the team.
The Astros and reliever Chad Paronto have agreed to a one year deal, worth 500,000 dollars. Paronto, who was 3-1 with a 3.57 ERA in 41 appearances for Atlanta this season, will join new relievers Geoff Geary, Oscar Villareal, Doug Brocail, and new closer Jose Valverde as they try to get back to the playoffs. I think this is a great move for the Astros, who continue to build their pitching and offense in hopes of making it back. I talked with Ed Wade at the Winter Meetings and he told they still have moves to make, and they are definitely making it happen before the New Year. They have an offer on the table for Mark Prior, and from what I am hearing, is a pretty fair deal for both sides. It gives the Astros some breathing room in terms of guaranteed money and offers Prior pretty reachable incentives, assuming he can return by June. The Astros have some pitching prospects who should be up in the next couple of years, so I would watch them, like I am watching the Reds, in the NL Central. In the next couple of years, expect the NL Central to return to a pretty good level of play.
According to FOXSports.com, the Mariners are closing in on a four year deal with Carlos Silva. If you read my last couple of posts concerning the Mariners, I have kept saying that they are looking to land a big pitcher. Silva is there guy, but I wouldn't say he is the best pitcher to go with. Although Silva is going to a team that hit .20 points higher as a team with 35 more homeruns, his K/9 rating was 3.97, the lowest of any A.L pitcher, so to have to hold on to him for four years, seems like they are little desperate. However, he has had success at SAFECO Field going 3-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 28.1 innings. I think Silva would have been smarter going to an NL team, but the Mariners are more willing to cough over the cash, and I think he will be whole lot of the same pitcher, making more money then a lot better players. I think this falls under one of the worst signings of the off season, for now, and we will see if Silva can break out now that he is with a better team. Personally, I expected the Mariners to make a big trade rather than sign someone for that money. They spent the money on Jarrod Washburn two years ago and he has only struggled, so you would think they would play smart with their cash and save it for next year when better pitchers like Johan Santana, CC Sabathia, or Brad Penny.
In an interview with The Sun, Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts admitted to using steroids "once" in 2003. He said since then, however, he has not done it since. He calls it a terrible decision, but this could lead to the Orioles trading him, similar to what they did with Miguel Tejada. The Cubs are interested, but the Orioles might have to be willing to lower their price to get something done since Roberts was named.
When Roger Clemens was named in the Mitchell Report, almost everyone assumed that he was guilty. And although he continues to come out and deny it, the media will still think he is guilty. The first effect came today when the President of the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association said he is rethinking allowing Clemens to come and talk about his workout plan. What will happen next? If he does not come out and say he used it briefly or file a lawsuit will people start dropping him as a sponsor? Will he be inducted into the Hall of Fame? It is scary to think that the best pitcher of nearly two decades is now being accused of using performance enhancing drugs.
With the Mitchell Report coming out and Roger Clemens not doing much to deny it or embrace that he made a mistake, it makes it more likely that pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Curt Schilling, and even Mike Mussina will get a look for the Hall of Fame before Clemens does. Personally, the way I thought of Roger Clemens has changed. I once thought of this elite pitcher, who was a modern day Nolan Ryan, someone I never saw pitch. But now, I still look at him as a great pitcher, but as someone who doesn't has as much respect for the game as someone like Nolan Ryan did. I don't know, maybe that is too harsh. In the court, it is innocent until proven guilty. But in the baseball word, I've gotten the impression that it is guilty till proven innocent. I think baseball fans will treat him the same way they now treat Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds.
Let me know how your thoughts have changed on Roger Clemens.
I'm sure many of you are questioning why I bring this up, but here me out. If you did not hear, the Dodgers sign Gary Bennett to a one year deal, worth 825,000 dollars. Bennett was previously the Cardinals back up and has been in the news recently because he was mentioned in the Mitchell Report. Nonetheless, it was a good move by the Dodgers. Bennett hit .252 with 2 HR and 17 RBI last season compared to former back up Mike Lieberthal's .234 average with 0 HR and 1 RBI in 77-at bats. Take not to that too because Bennett is making less than Lieberthal. Another interesting stat with Bennett is that he struck out just 16 times in 155 at-bats, so he is a viable pinch hit option as well. Bennett is known for having a good relationship with his pitchers which should make for an easy transition with a new coaching staff and team.
Mark Prior knew what he was doing when he left the Cubs because instead of making a little less than 3 million dollars, he is expected to get a big pay day. I am not sure why, but teams are looking for pitching and if they can land someone who put up 18 wins just a couple years ago, they will do it and hope he can recover. A report said that eleven teams had expressed interest so I called around and was able to get a couple more teams beyond the Padres, Yankees, and Mets. The list includes the Mariners, Rangers, Cardinals, Phillies, Astros, Nationals, Reds, and Indians. I'm not sure who I consider the front-runner, probably the Padres, then the Reds, then the Yankees or Mets. I think the Reds have a good chance because Mark Prior had a good relationship with Dusty Baker, the Reds new manager. I'm sure he will sign in the next couple of weeks, and it should make for a pretty big story when he does.
Mariners very serious about Bedard: I've been saying it since the beginning that the Mariners are going to make a big splash, and we'll see if they can follow through. It would probably cost them Brandon Morrow and either Adam Jones or Yuniesky Betancourt, or both.
Jenkins likely heading to Philly: I talked today with a former Phillies executive who told me the Phillies have had their eye on Jenkins for awhile, so look to them to close in on him.
Diamondbacks plan to shop Orlandon Hudson?: Since the Diamondbacks acquired Dan Haren, they have two potential big contracts in their rotation that leaves little room for Hudson.
Pirates still hot on Barrett: The Pirates still have interest in Michael Barrett and are willing to offer up two prospects for him.
Benson workout "successful": I talked with the agent of Kris Benson who told me that "there were at least twenty scouts on hand. Kris threw very well, about sixty pitches. I can't speak for any teams, but he had a successful workout which showed that he was healthy and we are confident that he will sign."
Javy Lopez back with Braves: The Braves signed Javy Lopez to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training.
I am surprised that the remaining pitchers have not started falling off the market, or that there have not been many trades by teams trying to fill minor spots. What is going on? Just last week the Red Sox were on the verge of acquiring Johan Santana. If we were to look at the free agent pool, there are still several players that could help a team. Armando Benitez, Livan Hernandez, Geoff Jenkins, Corey Patterson, even the scrappy Kenny Lofton is available. With the holidays fast approaching, teams should be making these moves. However, maybe we will see something similar to what happened around Thanksgiving when Torii Hunter, among others, signed.
Oh wait, this just in. Alex Rodriguez and his agent Scott Boras are no longer talking. How did this effect baseball? Maybe the next young studs in the 2008 Draft won't sign with him. I don't know. This time last year nearly everyone was signed, and teams began making those small trade to fill benches and other things like that.
So what is the problem this year? Maybe the players are demanding too much money. That would make sense, considering Carlos Silva is hoping for Ted Lilly money. He should be looking at Jason Marquis money. With trades, teams see the success is in building up your farm system so you have chemistry so teams are asking for dozens of solid prospects who should one day be starters in the MLB. That is why Erik Bedard, and probably Johan Santana won't be traded. Maybe this is the final day of boredom. Maybe the signings will begin tomorrow. Maybe Johan Santana will be traded tonight. It just seems that this off season has been somewhat of a bust, which has made me start counting down to Opening Day.
The Phillies have reopened talks with outfielders Mike Cameron and are in talks with Bobby Kielty. The Phillies talked with Mike Cameron about a month ago but felt he wanted too long a contract. But now that the Phillies lost Aaron Rowand and the Padres acquired Jim Edmonds, he is available and may be more willing to lower his price. However, not only will Mike Cameron be out for the first 25 games of the season serving a suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, but he has not seen much success at Citizens Bank Ballpark, or any other stadiums in the NL East. The Phillies also have interest in Geoff Jenkins, but by reopening talks with Cameron might suggest the Jenkins talks hit a snag.
The Phillies have also been talking with Bobby Kielty, probably for a bench role, but he continues to wait and see if the Red Sox have interest in bringing him back. Kielty is a switch hitter, and would definitely help their bench. Aside from outfielders, the Phillies plan to attend Kris Benson's workout on Monday. He hopes to throw 65 pitch successfully, and if he does, should be able to get a one year deal.
The Brewers have holes in their lineup and continue to try and make moves, but are not as willing to trade pitching to get an outfielder or third baseman. They have approached the Cardinals, Rangers, and Dodgers about trades, but have not made progress: "Somewhere along the line, we've got to make a call on it," said Melvin. "I'm getting a little bit less of a feeling that a trade will happen." However, with several pitchers remaining on the market, and the Brewers plethora of pitching, it would make sense the Brewers would make a trade to fill one of their holes. The Cardinals are interested in Kyle Lohse, but if they are unable to land him, they may approach the Brewers about a similar pitcher, Chris Capuano. That could reopen talks for Scott Rolen. The Cardinals have made it clear they plan to rebuild, and they may make another step in trading away disgruntled third baseman Scott Rolen. The Mariners are expected to be big players in the hunt for Carlos Silva, and may look for a trade if they miss out. Because the Brewers have good, young pitching, they might be able to pull Raul Ibanez away for a pitcher or two. So as teams prepare to make big offers, probably around three years, thirty million, the Brewers are listening and preparing offers for teams that miss out.
When the Marlins acquired Mike Rabelo, they fully expected him to be their starting catcher. Although I am not sure why, Rabelo should work well with the young pitchers on the staff. He has always been known for his ability to call games, but has lacked power and the ability to hit for a high average. In 573 minor league games, he has hit .263 with 18 HR and 229 RBI. Initially, I wanted to compare him to Jason Kendall with a slightly lower average, but now I am thinking Yadier Molina. We'll see, maybe he will come through, but I do not think he will be the Marlins catcher for the future. The Marlins also have a hole at third base, and have reportedly been talking with former Angels third baseman Dallas McPherson. McPherson did not play in 2007, but would make a good stop gap for a season or two while prospect Chris Coghlan develops. In 81 games at Low-A, Coghlan, 22, hit .325 with 10 HR and 64 RBI. He struggled in his call up to High-A, but is expected to begin there next season. Personally, I think a trade for Wes Helms would be a better move, but the Phillies have high demands. I fully expect the Marlins to make a move to land a third baseman, but if your a Marlins fan, it probably won't be the most elite player.
Today, Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte admitted to HGH use during the season of 2002 while on the disabled list: "If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize," Pettitte said Saturday in a statement released by his agent. "I accept responsibility for those two days." Although he never used steroids, it is hard not to notice his stats for 2002 and 2003. Despite the injury, he combined to make 48 starts going 34-13 with a 3.64 ERA and 277 K. The following year, he only made fifteen starts. There was no rule against it at the time, and the time of his use was brief and for healing purposes, supposedly: "This is it — two days out of my life; two days out of my entire career, when I was injured and on the disabled list," he said. "I wasn't looking for an edge. I was looking to heal." The Yankees came out and supported Pettitte, which likely means that he won't get suspended. Also, I think many will respect Pettitte's decision to come out and admit a mistake, and then move on. With Pettitte coming out and admitting it, some may examine Clemens' career more closely, mostly because they shared the same trainer. We see a jump in his stats while in Toronto, while just two years before he failed to make 25 starts.
Personally, I think they should all come out and apologize. The sooner Baseball can get this behind them, the better off everyone will be. It was not illegal at the time, and you could argue that nearly everyone was doing it. I just think they would be embraced by the baseball world if they came out and admitted their mistakes and moved on, rather than deny it until more facts come out. I don't no, maybe I am asking too much, but it just seems it is time to put this era behind us.
According to major league sources, the interest Haren received has made the Athletics more willing to trade Joe Blanton. Although they are not desperate to trade him, they have been talking to teams about a trade. From what I am hearing, the Mariners, Mets, Royals, and Cubs are all interested in trading for Blanton. I doubt the Mariners would unload three or more prospects to someone in their division, and I do not think the Royals are in any place to trade their prospects, as they too, try to rebuild. The Royals also have money available in trying to land Carlos Silva, which they seem more interested in doing. The Mets have been interested in Blanton for awhile and might be willing to trade a package that includes Phillip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and a pair of minor league position prospects. The Cubs have reportedly been looking for an elite American League pitcher and might be in talks with the A's for Blanton. They have the prospects, and a trade for a solid pitcher would definitely put them on top of the Central. A package that included Sean Gallagher, Eric Patterson, Donnie Veal, and maybe Matt Murton would be a start. They might look for Tyler Colvin in the deal, but the Cubs are not interested in trading him, like they are not interested in dealing Donnie Veal or Jeff Samardzjia. I the Athletics will find a suitor, whether it is the Mets or someone else, they will find one. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Indians jump in. GM Mark Shapiro told me before the off season that they are looking for pitching, and with the recent addition the Tigers made, I think they would love to add another legitimate pitcher. We'll see what happens, but don't be surprised if a trade happens in the next week or so.
The Dodgers and Hiroki Kuroda have agreed to a three year deal, worth between 36-40 million dollars, according to sources. The deal is pending a physical, which has reportedly been done, so an official announcement is expected within the next hour or so. With this signing, it gives the Dodgers another big starter, who will probably be in the number three spot. By adding a solid pitcher and a free agent outfielder in Andruw Jones, without giving up any prospects, they are gearing up for a long run behind Joe Torre.
The Padres have traded minor league third baseman David Freese to the Cardinals for outfielder Jim Edmonds. The Padres have been hit with bad luck after missing out on three free agents, but now acquire a very capable outfielder, assuming he can stay healthy. What is good about this trade is that they did not give up much, so they still have room to trade for another outfielder, perhaps Jason Bay.
The Rockies are nearing a multiyear deal with reliever Luis Vizcaino, according to sources. I have not heard numbers as of yet, but it appears his agent, Bean Stringfellow, has informed other teams that it is the Rockies he is going with. Vizcaino, 33, went 8-2 with a 4.30 ERA in 77 relief appearances with the Yankees last season.
The Diamondbacks acquired pitcher Dan Haren and Connor Robertson in exchange for Brett Anderson, Greg Smith, Dana Eveland, Carlos Gonzalez, Aaron Cunningham, and first baseman Chris Carter. In addition, they traded Jose Valverde to the Astros for Chris Burke, Juan Gutierez, and Chad Qualls. This trade definitely improves both teams, but now it gives the Diamondbacks two number one starters, which is very impressive for the NL West. I'm not sure about the Astros trade, but we will see how that plays out over the 2008 season. I think what the Diamondbacks are doing is trying to save money rather than go with the best. They are pretty solid in the field as it is, so going with a lesser closer, like Tony Pena or Qualls, it will allow them to sign Haren and Webb long term. Also, I'm sure this makes the Diamondbacks much more attractive to free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who is still deciding between the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Mariners.
Padres, Cameron Parting Ways: The Padres and Mike Cameron failed to reach an agreement tonight and it seems both are ready to look elsewhere. From the Padres standpoint, teams are making progress with their "Plan B's," so if Cameron is undecided at this point, he is probably just waiting for a better offer. I'm not sure where he will end up, but at this point, don't be surprised if the White Sox jump in and offer him a one or two year deal. Another possibility is the Phillies, that is, if they do not sign Geoff Jenkins. The Rangers have said they have interest, but have remained quiet over the past couple of weeks.
The Twins are closing in on a two year deal with free agent third baseman Mike Lamb. Lamb will be the Twins everyday third baseman, and should benefit being a lefty and playing in the Metrodome. Also, he will see a familiar face in Adam Everett in the clubhouse. They both played together in Houston. Lamb batted .289 with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs for the Astros last season.
After the Phillies missed out on pitcher Randy Wolf, they have become more determined to find a proven pitcher. They have shown interest in Aki Otsuka of the Rangers, but nothing has progressed as of yet. Otsuka ended the year on the disabled list, so the Phillies would probably like to review his medical records before making a move. They do have Brad Lidge, so if they acquire a closer they would probably have them battle it out for the closer spot in Spring Training. They have denied reports that they are talking with Morgon Ensberg, so they probably see the value in pitching over offense. They plan to look at Kris Benson, but from what I am hearing, they have some interest in free agent pitcher Mark Prior. They have the money to spend, and would like to put themselves ahead of the Mets in a year when the Mets have remained relatively quiet.
Phils also in on Jenkins: The Phillies and Padres are the finalists for Geoff Jenkins. Both stadiums are similiar in that Jenkins hasn't had much success at either, but we will see what happens.
One of the biggest days in baseball history has come and gone, and I think a lot of people are disappointed with the results. While some were expecting more of the big name players, some were expecting that they were would be some tentative plan for the future. At least I was. I was also expecting Commissioner Bud Selig to have at least read through the Report before making it public. There is a lot more to it than the average fan thinks, even though some just care about the names on the list.
As for the players, I was not surprised to hear some of the names. However, I was surprised that Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte would be mentioned, when all the evidence they had was their training saying he recalled it. And, Clemens supposed use was well before drug testing began. I was surprised to hear Eric Gagne on the list, but the other names, like Gary Matthews, Paul Byrd, Rick Ankiel, Troy Glaus, and Jason Giambi, have all been mentioned before. And of those names mentioned above, they will likely not be disciplined because their reported use was before drug testing began in 2003.
As for teams, a lot of players on the list came from the 2000 World Series Champion Yankees. Nothing can be done now, but one could argue they had an unfair advantage. Also, I wonder how teams will treat a player on their team if he was named. Or the players. Does this end a career for a player like Jerry Hairston Jr., someone who has never been an All-Star? Finally, will the fans treat any one player different? Again, I think the better the player is, the less repercussions there will be, but we will see.
"Many players are named. Their reputations have been adversely affected, probably forever, even if it turns out down the road that they should not have been," Donald Fehr said. What Don Fehr said is probably the biggest effect the report will have. How does it change the reputation of Roger Clemens? How does it change the reputation of clean pitchers, like Greg Maddux, who sort of came up behind these pitchers. Better yet, how does it change the face of Mike Mussina, a teammate of both Clemens and Pettitte who has started to decline but has always been pretty consistent. Time will tell how these players are accepted by fans as we try to move away from the Steroid Era, but questions will always surround the players mentioned in the report.
Leave me a comment on what you think about this whole issue...
Although the Mitchell Report was released today, teams are still working to improve their teams. First, the Twins were quick to sign Adam Everett after he was released by the Astros. Everett, who is much better defensively, hit .232 with 2 HR and 15 RBI in 66 games. I think he will probably share time with Brendan Harris, unless he can turn things around.
- The Yankees finally finalized the Alex Rodriguez deal. It is a ten year deal worth 275 million dollars loaded with incentives.
- The Cubs may sell Wrigley Field to an Illinois agency, according to reports. Well, as long as the name stays Wrigley Field, I think people will be fine. But if it is not, there will probably be problems.
- The Devil Rays reached an agreement with OF/DH Cliff Floyd.
- The White Sox are listening to offers for Paul Konerko. Maybe if the White Sox would absorb some of the cash, the Giants would be interested. They seem to be interested in aging players right now.
- The Reds are determined to trade for a big name pitcher.
- Rockies are closing in on free agent pitcher Luis Vizcaino, according to reports.
- As the Cubs try desperately to acquire switch-hitting lead off hitter Brian Roberts, second baseman Mark DeRosa is wondering why. DeRosa put up good numbers, fit well in the clubhouse, and is now a fan favorite. We'll see what happens, but the Cubs seem determined to trade a few prospects for a big name player.
- The Phillies are jumping in on the Geoff Jenkins race.
- Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda is still up in the air. The top four teams are believed to be the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Mariners, and Royals.
- Rockies looking at veterans like Kip Wells and Mark Hendrickson.
- The Blue Jays are still in the hunt for a catcher.
More updates coming soon...
Here is around the clock coverage of the Mitchell Report:
Here is the complete list from the Mitchell Report:
Jerry Hariston Jr.
Paul Lo Duca
Gary Bennett Jr.
Gary Matthews, Jr
Updated at 3:53 p.m. CT
The Blue Jays are closing in on a deal with shortstop David Eckstein, according to FOXSports.com. The Blue Jays admitted that they do not have a prospect ready to take over at short, so bringing in Eckstein as a stop gap is a great move. Eckstein batted .309 for the Cardinals last season with 3 HR, 31 RBI and 10 stolen bases.
The Cubs have opted not to tender a contract to Mark Prior, making him a free agent. Prior has a 42-29 record and 3.51 ERA since he made his big league debut in 2002, but his career has been littered by injuries. I guess the Cubs felt the money was not worth the risk, I agree with them. I think the next team to sign him might get something out of him, but you cannot blame the Cubs for not giving him a chance. He just wanted too much money. If you remember in 2005, the Cubs turned down a deal from the Orioles that would have sent Mark Prior and Felix Pie to Baltimore for Miguel Tejeda and prospect Erik Bedard. I wonder what would be different if that went through. Other notable non-tenders are: Adam Everett, Morgon Ensberg, Emil Brown, and Dallas McPherson, among others.
Tomorrow, former Senator George Mitchell will release the results of his committee's 20-month investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the MLB. The report says that between 60-80 people will be named, and it has been reported that the list contains All-Stars, and even a few MVP's. The break through in the investigation was when long time Mets batboy Kirk Radomski agreed to help in the investigation. Radomski pleaded guilty to providing players with performance-enhancing drugs during his time as batboy. Players that have been named already include Jose Guillen and Jay Gibbons, and we will know more of them tomorrow.
At the Winter Meetings, I had the opportunity to talk with a few General Managers and high ranking executives, who did not seem too worried about the report. One executive told me that he does not think it will have too much of an effect on free agent signings, or trades. However, one told me that he was anxious to see who will be named. I also wanted to get the side of the reporters, who also did not express much concern. While some speculated, even guessed who, they did not think it would have too much of an impact on the market. Jose Guillen, for example, still received a three year deal worth 36 million dollars after violating the league's joint drug prevention and treatment program.
This week, I emailed a few agents just to get their take on it. While I am anxious to see who will be named, I'm more anxious to see how the fans will react to a player on their team if named. One agent, who asked to remain anonymous said through email that, "I think it's more of a feeling of anxiety given the fact that you just really don't know how exposure of this nature is going to effect a client and his career. If the player is a front-line guy, then the effect would likely be minimal, in my opinion. If it's a marginal guy, then it could be used as an excuse for ending his career quickly." Another agent went on to say, "I haven't talked to anyone worried at all." So there is a degree of anxiety with it coming out, and I think there will be more to say come tomorrow afternoon.
The question I have is, after it is released, what is next? Will they continue to investigate, or does it stop. What will the Commissioners Office do? Offer harsher penalties? Maybe, but I still think some of it will continue. But who is at fault for all the steroid use? The teams blind judgment.The players poor decision making. MLB. I think all have some fault in this matter. As of right now, we cannot be sure the magnitude the Report will have on the game, but in 24-hours, we will know a lot more, and a lot of questions will have to be answered.
The Padres were surprised to hear that Kosuke Fukudome did not accept their offer, and are moving quickly to fill their spots. They have contacted both Geoff Jenkins and Mike Cameron in the past 24 hours and hope to sign both for next season. This could suggest that the Pirates are asking for too much in return for Jason Bay, or that the Padres would rather have a lefty in their lineup like Jenkins. One thing is for certain, the Padres are looking for two outfielders, and at least two more pitchers before Opening Day.
UPDATE: According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Padres are talking a deal with the Pirates that would send Jason Bay to the Padres. I suspect that Michael Barrett would be in the deal, along with Matt Antonelli.
Still something wrong with Prior?: The Cubs seem more content with letting Mark Prior go after hearing that there is no guarantee that he will be back by May. More importantly, the Padres have cooled to the idea of bringing him in after reviewing his medical records. Prior is looking for three million dollars next year, but probably deserves a million at most, with incentives. I suspect the Cardinals, Rays, Mariners, and Royals to be some of the teams interested in bringing him in for a reduced price.
The Mariners have been working very hard to improve their pitching since they failed to finish the season strong and push into the playoffs. Bill Bavasi has mentioned Johan Santana, Erik Bedard, and Dan Haren as possible targets, and don't be surprised if they land one. Although they do not have the best prospects, they could package a trade around outfield prospect Adam Jones, and pitching prospect Brandon Morrow. I don't know how much Bedard would help, just because the Angels have improved so much, but it would be an addition nonetheless.
Rays Close In On Floyd: The Rays are closing in on a contract with Cliff Floyd. Not a bad signing, because he did hit well in Chicago. Floyd will probably platoon with Gomes at DH.
The Giants have signed outfielder Aaron Rowand to a five year deal, worth an 60 million dollars, according to ESPNEWS. I am very surprised that Rowand would accept something this low, especially after Torii Hunter got 90 million for five years. Not only that, but he is going to a team that has not been any good over the past couple of years, so you'd think he demand more. I'll look into it, but as of right now, I think it is a good move for the Giants.
See Rowand Analysis Here...
The Houston Astros have traded Luke Scott, Matt Albers, Troy Patton, Dennis Safarte, and Michael Constanzo in exchange for Miguel Tejada. Tejada is very reliable, and hit .296 last year with 18 HRs and 81 RBIs. Since the Astros have Ty Wigginton, I think they will keep Tejada at shortstop. Although this trade should improve their offense, they weakened their pitching so much that it still has them behind the Cubs and Brewers. Scott, Albers, and Patton should find spots in the Orioles lineup right away, and it gives them a chance to improve on their record from 2007.
The Padres have come to terms with Tadahito Iguchi, according to sources. A one year deal is good for the Padres and for Iguchi, who can now build up his value. Too bad they couldn't get this done sooner and then use Iguchi to lure Fukudome to San Diego as well. This will probably open the way for Matt Antonelli in 2009 at second base.
More details soon...
According to a source who asked to remain nameless until a deal is finalized, the Cubs have signed Kosuke Fukudome. The amount is not known, but it definitely helps the Cubs in their search for an outfielder and a lefty. I suspect Fukudome will bat second or fifth, but nonetheless, it gives the Cubs a very potent lineup. How it effects the Padres remains to be seen, but it wouldn't surprise me if they go after Aaron Rowand or make a trade for Raul Ibanez or Jason Bay. What does this mean for the Cubs? This means they may look to trade Matt Murton, but on the free agent search, they are probably done. They have several prospects that will fill in in the bullpen and their bench is pretty much set. Here is how their lineup is shaping up:
C Geovanny Soto
1B Derek Lee
2B Mark DeRosa
3B Aramis Ramirez
SS Ryan Theriot
LF Alfonso Soriano
CF Felix Pie/Sam Fuld
RF Kosuke Fukudome
SP Carlos Zambrano
SP Ted Lilly
SP Rich Hill
SP Jason Marquis
SP Ryan Dempster/Sean Marshall/Kevin Hart/Mark Prior
With the impending sale of the team, dishing out a deal that is worth 50 million is pretty good. Personally, I did not expect much from the Cubs, but they fooled many with this deal.
Check out my article on Fukudome and his potential in the MLB.
UPDATE: According to the San Diego Union Tribune, the Padres were informed they were out of the bidding for Fukudome.
UPDATE 2: Confirmed by ESPN.com
I recently talked with a well placed source inside the Orioles organization who told me that the Reds are very serious about Bedard and would like to get something done before the holidays. The Reds have the players to trade, and seem willing, except in a trade involving Jay Bruce. I believe the kind of deal that would have to get done would be a deal like Homer Bailey, Josh Hamilton, and a prospect like Travis Wood or Derrik Lutz. I think the Reds should make this deal, regardless for how many players they ask for. Obviously, if it goes higher than five or six legitimate players, than they should back out, but acquiring Bedard would make them a contender in the division behind two shaky teams, the Cubs and Brewers. The Reds do fairly well against both teams and have several emerging stars in Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce. They do not have any chance without Bedard because their rotation is nothing past Harang and Arroyo. Bedard was 13-5 with a 3.17 ERA, and 221 strikeouts in 182 innings. You put that in front of Harang, who was 16-6 with a 3.73 ERA, and 218 strikeouts in 231 2/3 innings, you are a much better team and you take more stress of the bullpen. Bedard is also drawing interest from the Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox, who do have better prospects. but if the Reds can overwhelm them, I would not be surprised if it went through.
The Tigers have shopped Brandon Inge to teams over the past couple days and have struck up talks with the Pirates. However, the Tigers would probably look for a reliever in return and the Pirates are not willing to trade them. Inge's spot was taken by newly acquired third baseman Miguel Cabrera and Inge has told the Tigers he wants out. Inge batted .236 with 14 HR and 71 RBI in 151 games, and has averaged a .241 AVG with 85 RBI and 359 RBI since 2001. I think the Tigers will continue to shop Inge in hopes of finding a major league player more suited to a back up role, but might have to settle for a low-level prospect. Other teams that might be interested include the Dodgers, Phillies, Marlins, and maybe the Rays.
The Blue Jays are still waiting to hear from the Giants on if they will accept their Alex Rios for Tim Lincecum deal, but the Giants are still deciding. I have heard from a major league source that the Giants are in talks with Aaron Rowand, and we'll see what he is looking for before they tell the Blue Jays. Rowand is looking for a five year deal worth about 80 million dollars, and I think it would surprise a lot of people if GM Brian Sabean spends that kind of cash after the amount he spent last year and the results he got. However, they are desperate for an outfielder and do not have any prospects ready to play everyday. Nate Schierholtz might be ready towards the end 0f the 2008 season, but it seems more likely that he will take over in 2009. Manager Bruce Bochy told me that Rajai Davis and Randy Winn will be in the outfield next year, so Rowand would probably play left, unless they move Davis to left. Rowand does not have much experience at AT&T Park, but in seven games has batted .286 with 0 HR and 5 RBI. Personally, I think Rowand would not be a smart signing on the Giants part. Although he is just thirty and coming off a career year, he is very reckless in the outfield and injury-prone. Before the 2007 season, he batted a career .280 and averaged 11 homeruns with just 43 RBIs. They finished in last place last season and have not finished over .500 since 2004. They let Barry Bonds walk this season and are entering a new age in a new direction. They should be looking to trade for young players and try to reestablish themselves in the division.
If I were the Giants, I would make the Lincecum for Rios trade. Although you are trading a great young player, he has not proven himself just yet, and Rios has established himself as a solid outfielder. They are sort of locked on Ray Durham, but will be looking for a new shortstop next season, and should be trying to make another trade for a third baseman, maybe Hank Blalock. Every team is taking big strides in that division and if the Giants do not make some, they will be hung out to dry for the next several years. I think some Giants fans would disagree with me, but great teams are built from the ground up, and that is what they need to do to return to the team they were back in 2002.