Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rockies sign Melvin Mora; Cabrera to Reds

The Rockies and Reds signed a free agent each this weekend, with the Rockies signing 3B Melvin Mora to a 1-year deal worth $1.3M, while INF Orlando Cabrera decided to join the Reds for 1-year and $3-4M according to reports.  The Rockies were in on the Cabrera sweepstakes, but after he signed with Cincinnati, the Rockies were quick to act on their backup plan.  What do these signings mean for the two clubs? Good defense, not a lot of home runs and about a .270 average for each of them.

Here is a look at the projected lineups now for both teams.

1. CF Drew Stubbs
2. SS Orlando Cabrera
3. 3B Scott Rolen
4. 1B Joey Votto
5. 2B Brandon Phillips
6. RF Jay Bruce
7. C Ramon Hernandez
8. LF Chris Dickerson
9. Pitcher Spot

1. CF Dexter Fowler
2. SS Troy Tulowitzki
3. 1B Todd Helton
4. RF Brad Hawpe
5. C Chris Iannetta
6. 3B Melvin Mora
7. 2B Ian Stewart
8. LF Carlos Gonzalez
9. Pitcher Spot

If Mora starts he would replace the departed Atkins who went to the Orioles.  Mora has said he would play the other infield positions, meaning Clint Barmes, Ian Stewart and Mora would all move around the diamond nightly.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Damons' Destinations

With names like Melvin Mora, John Smoltz and Johnny Damon still available through free-agency, teams will soon make a decision, with spring training only weeks away now.  Players such as Orlando Hudson must lower their contract demands or else risk ending up like Pedro Martinez from last year. 

One player being discussed by many teams now is OF Johnny Damon, a career .288 hitter with 2425 hits, 1483 runs scored, 207 home runs, 996 RBI and 374 stolen bases in 2131 career games played.  The following teams have expressed interest and we look inside the numbers.

Cincinnati Reds: as of now, the Reds have Chris Dickerson projected to play left-field in 2010.  Damon would bat lead-off and play left.  Dickerson is a better fit defensively, but Damon would bring this young team experience, as well, he would work the pitcher for a walk, as Damon tends to get on base whatever way possible.  With Joey Votto at first, Damons' 6 career starts at first-base will not be a factor.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers are said to have interest in Damon, although no contract offer has been made.  The Tigers appear to be set for spring training, although the left-field position currently is held by Ryan Raburn.  Damon and his career .289 average batting leadoff in 1530 games would replace the departed Granderson to the Yankees.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays have made it known that Damon or Carlos Delgado have been on their radar.  Damon, a player that would fit with this team, would be a guy the Jays could rely on at the top of the order.  With Adam Lind already slated to play left-field / DH, and both being left-handed hitters, a fit it not necessarily a given, yet filling the void left by lead-off hitter Marco Scutaro is a priority.  Scutaro on-base-percentage as a lead-off hitter was .379 compared to Damon's 2009 campaign where his OBP was .365.  Jose Bautista would bat first in 2010 without Damon and had a .349 OBP in 2009 and a .329 OBP in his career.

Tampa Bay Rays: have said that they have interest, although Carl Crawford already patrols left-field.  Damon could take at-bat as a DH, but the Rays have Pat Burrell.  They may try and trade Burrell, but his price tag for 2010, almost $9M is too high. 

Others: Yankees (a return not likely) reports had him turning down a 1-year / $6M contract offered by New York last week though, Mariners, Rockies, Nationals, Braves and Athletics.

Prediction: Tigers (2 year deal gets the deal done.  Losing Granderson hurts and they need a proved hitter to set the table.

Nationals News:

The Washington Nationals have signed P Miguel Batista to a 1-year contract.  Coming off a huge contract at almost $8M per season, Batista will once again try and prove to people that he can still pitch.  Batista can still throw in the 90's, but at age 38, may be at the tail-end of his career.  Last season with the Mariners, he went 7-4, 4.04 ERA in 56 games, all as a reliever.

The Nationals have now made more moves this off-season then expected.  They have brought in pitchers Tyler Walker, Matt Capps, Eddie Guardado, Jason Marquis and Brian Bruney and added in-fielder Eric Bruntlett for defense.  Orlando Hudson and Johnny Damon are still on their wish-list according to reports.

John Smoltz update: 

Smoltz, rumoured to be going to the Mets, may wait until mid-season to find the perfect fit according to reports.  After Pedro Martinez tried this approach in 2009, and still made decent money, more players with the ability to wait (no money concerns / could just retire anyways) may happen.  The Mets need help in the rotation so they shouldn't wait, but if he is still available come mid-June, the Phillies, Cardinals and Giants may come calling.

Quick fact:

Johnny Damon has played in 2131 career games, most batting lead-off.  Here is a look at his numbers batting from all positions in the lineup

1. 1530 games, .289 AVG
2. 213 games, 284 AVG
3. 106 games, 299 AVG
4. 12 games, 290 AVG
5. 30 games, .203 AVG
6. 61 games, .322 AVG
7. 69 games, 255 AVG
8. 43 games, .310 AVG
9. 67 games, .285 AVG

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Salary Arbitration: by the numbers

After weeks of speculation, the Giants P Tim Lincecum did in fact shock the baseball world, it just wasn't the number most experts thought it would be just a few weeks ago.  Lincecum asked the Giants for $13M and the team offered $8M, a big pay raise, either way, from the $650,000 he earned last season.  The numbers speak for themselves though, as the Giants ace has already compiled a 40-17 record with a 2.90 ERA in 89 career starts (three-years).  In that time he has 676 strikeouts and 217 walks and has only surrendered 33 home runs.  Keep in mind the record in the AL for most home runs allowed in a season was the Twins Bert Blylevan with 50 (1986) and in the NL, the award goes to the Astros Jose Lima in the 2000 season, giving up 48. 

The Giants also have to pay closer Brian Wilson who asked for $4.875M and was offered $4M, Wilson made $480,000 last season.

Other big names that are sure to negotiate throughout the next few weeks

Orioles P Jeremy Guthrie: asked the Orioles for $3.625M and was offered $2.3M, made $650,000 last season; went 10-17, 5.04 ERA in 2009.

Tigers P Justin Verlander: asked the Tigers for $9.5M and was offered $6.9M, made $3.675M last season; went 19-9, 3.45 ERA with 269 strikeouts last season.

Rays OF B.J. Upton: asked the Rays for $3.3M and was offered $3M, made $435,000 last season; hit .241 with 11 HR, 55 RBI and 42 SB.

D'Backs P Edwin Jackson: asked Arizona for $6.25M and was offered $4.6M (a big reason why the Tigers traded Jackson), made $2.3M last season going 13-9 in 33 starts with a 3.62 ERA

Other notables:

Cubs closer Carlos Marmol: asked for $2.5M offered $1.75M; made $575,000 last season
Cubs SS Ryan Theriot: asked for $3.4M offered $2.6M; made $500,000 last season
Astros P Wandy Rodriguez: asked for $7M offered $5M; made $2.65M last season
Brewers P David Bush: asked for $4.45M offered $4.125M; made $4M last season (Wow!)
Angels P Joe Saunders: asked for $3.85M offered $3.6M; made $475,000 last season
Angels SS Erick Aybar: asked for $2.75M offered $1.8M; made $460,000 last season
Cardinals OF Skip Schumaker: asked for $2.75M offered $1.45M; made $430,000 last season
Rangers P Scott Feldman: asked for $2.9M offered $2.05M; made $434,680 last season

Other arbitration players:
Jeremy Hermida, Maicer Izturis, Jeff Mathis, Michael Wuertz, Casey Kotchman, Frank Francisco, Sean Marshall, Cody Ross, Corey Hart, Carlos Villanueva, Angel Pagan, Carlos Ruiz, Scott Hairston, Brian Bruney, Sean Burnett.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Extra Base Hit: In case you missed it

The Angels signed P Joel Pineiro to a 2-year / $16M contract.  After losing John Lackey to the Red Sox, the Angels knew they had to replace him in the rotation with a veteran type presence.  The projected rotation now consists of:

Jered Weaver: 16-8, 3.75 ERA (remains the ace)

Joel Pineiro: 15-12, 3.48 ERA (with STL)

Joe Saunders: 16-7, 4.60 ERA

Scott Kazmir: 2-2, 1.73 ERA (in 6 starts with LAA)

Ervin Santana: 8-8, 5.03 ERA

The Brewers decided to bring back P Doug Davis on a 1-year contract worth over $4M with incentives added.  Davis pitched for the Brewers from 2004-06 and went 34-34 in 103 starts.  Each of the seasons for Milwaukee Davis compiled over 200 innings, a big reason why the Brewers have said they regret ever trading him to the D'Backs.

The Brewers projected rotation now looks like this:

Yovani Gallardo: 13-12, 3.73 ERA (if he stays healthy is one of the best)

Randy Wolf: 11-7, 3.23 ERA (for the LAD)

Doug Davis: 9-14, 4.12 ERA (for ARI, kept the team in game almost all of the starts)

Jeff Suppan: 7-12, 5.29 ERA

David Bush: 5-9, 6.38 ERA / Manny Parra: 11-11, 6.36 ERA (could be another pitcher signed for this spot by the start of spring)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Arbitration Update & more

   Arbitration time is here again, only this type of arbitration is a little different then the process the players go through as a free agent.  The players in question now are the ones that have 3-6 years of service time.  The first couple of seasons in the majors, organizations can simply renew the player's contract or give a small raise; only the player has no say in what he will make unless he would agree to a long-term deal to avoid this process.  In the players first year of arbitration (Year 3), the player and team must come to an agreement on the money the player will make.  Players such as the Indians OF Grady Sizemore & Brewers OF Ryan Braun avoided this situation by signing long-term contracts, thus, skipping past the remaining 3 years of arbitration.  The Giants Tim Lincecum is going into his 3rd season for example and after making $650,000 last season is due for a huge raise.  He may be asking for as much as $16M according to reports and the team will probably only offer $9M, so a compromise must be made here.  One thing is guaranteed in this case though, history will be made.

   What gets confusing is that the player and team must agree to terms or else risk going through an arbitrator in February to determine the salary.  During this process, players usually hear the negative side of their stats, since the owners want to be on the winning side of the ruling.  Basically, a major league player is property of the team for the first 6 years (become free agents after that).  Their salaries are determined in the first 2 years by the team with the player having no options.  Years 3-6, the player and team must come to an agreement each season unless a long-term contract is issued.  It's definitely very confusing, but interesting at the same time, as it seems the arbitration-eligible players are doing better then the players on the open-market right now.


Blue Jays agree to terms with P Casey Janssen on a 1-year / $700,000 contract & P Jason Frasor, P Brian Tallet, P Jeremy Accardo on a 1-year deals

Blue Jays agree to terms with P Shawn Camp on a 1-year / $1.15M contract

Cardinals agree to terms with OF Ryan Ludwick on a 1-year / $5.45M contract

Twins agree to terms with SS J.J. Hardy on a 1-year / $5M deal

Rangers agree to terms with OF Josh Hamilton on a 1-year / $3.25M deal *(plus incentives)

Ben Sheets will toss for about 12 teams today with the Cubs still the favourites to land the right-hander.
In his career, Sheets is 86-83, 3.72 ERA with his best season coming in 2004 when he went 12-14, 2.70 ERA in 237.0 innings with 264 strikeouts

101 free agents still remain on the market with names like P Joel Pineiro, 2B Orlando Hudson, C Rod Barajas, C Bengie Molina (just rejected the Mets latest offer), 2B Ronnie Belliard, 1B Carlos Delgado, INF Felipe Lopez, INF Miguel Tejada, 3B Melvin Mora, OF Johnny Damon, OF Reed Johnson, OF Rick Ankiel, OF Jermaine Dye, P Erik Bedard, P Jon Garland, P Doug Davis, P Jarrod Washburn & P Kevin Gregg still out there.  4 weeks till spring training starts, start lowering the demands!

Reports later in the day had Carlos Delgado signing back with the Blue Jays, but the rumour was shot down, and he is still expected to sign with Mets.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Extra Base Hit: Around the majors

With Spring Training only weeks away, General Managers are making last minute decisions to their teams for the 2010 season.  The arbitration season is also upon us and over 100 players will be looking for a raise while the GM's look to keep the players at a price that best fits the budget.  Always interesting to see the figures that are eventually exchanged.  Here is some of the other news from around the majors:

The Blue Jays continue to talk trade and according to reports have talked to 3 teams recently about player movement, stay tuned Jays fans, the roster doesn't seem finalized yet.

The knee surgery Mets Carlos Beltran underwent has come with some controversy, this story in the NY Post explains why?

Looks as if the Rockies Canadian P Jeff Francis is ready for the 2010 season, its been a struggle the last 2 seasons, can he return after major shoulder surgery?

Great article on Manny Ramirez; Manager Joe Torre's thoughts

Just when the Marlins said that Josh Johnson wouldn't get an extension, the union stepped in, and he got a 4-year / $39M deal

Tigers signed Jose Valverde to be their closer; Astros will receive another first round pick now as compensation for the signing

The Tigers are looking to sign Johnny Damon

The Marlins are hoping to sign 2B Dan Uggla after months of trying to trade him

P Ben Sheets, out all of last season, has been working out in front of scouts for as many as 12 teams the last couple of days, the Cubs really want him as do the Jays and Mariners according to reports.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Padres current roster has four players making over a million dollars

The Padres really haven't done much this off-season.  They traded fan favourite P Jake Peavy last season to the White Sox saving over $40M in the process, but didn't spend any of the money they saved so far.  A few arbitration eligible players such as 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff and P Kevin Correia earned raises which lifted the payroll a little higher, but nothing to break the bank about!  The team, which has been competitive since opening new Petco Park in 2004, has one big superstar in 1B Adrian Gonzalez and that's about it.  Recent reports had them shopping their best player to the Braves or Red Sox, but no deal has happened just yet.  If the Padres have only $5-8 M still to spend on helping with this projected lineup and rotation listed below, they better get lucky on the players they choose if they even want to win 50 games.  The team payroll as it stands now will be around $30-35M (only 4 players presently make over $1M on the team).  The Yankees Alex Rodriguez is due to make $33M next season alone.

A. Gonzalez
Projected Lineup
CF Tony Gwynn Jr .270 AVG, 59 R, 11 SB
2B David Eckstein .260 AVG, 27 doubles
1B Adrian Gonzalez .277 AVG, 40 HR, 99 RBI
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff  .255 AVG, 15 HR, 88 RBI
RF Kyle Blanks 54 games, 10 HR *rising star
C Nick Hundley .238 AVG, 8 HR
LF Chase Headley  .262 AVG, 12 HR
SS Everth Cabrera .255 AVG, 25 SB
P Pitcher Spot

C. Young
Projected Rotation
Chris Young (4-6, 5.21 ERA) will make  $6.375M in 2010
Kevin Correia (12-11, 3.91 ERA)
Clayton Richard (acquired from White Sox in Peavy deal) (5-2, 4.08 ERA for Padres)
Mat Latos (4-5, 4.62 ERA)
Tim Stauffer (4-7, 3.58 ERA)
Aaron Poreda (acquired from White Sox for Peavy) 4 games played in 2009 for Padres

Wade LeBlanc, Edward Mujica and looking at Noah Lowry and Josh Fogg still

I like the young rotation, but with no offence, power in particular, the pitching will have to almost be perfect if they even want to strive for 70 wins.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Whispers from around the league

It's been a busy couple of days in the majors with teams finally making roster decisions on players they feel will be difference makers in 2010.  The Mets officially signed Jason Bay to a 4-year deal and OF Matt Holliday signed a 7-year / $120M deal to stay with the Cardinals.  Reports had Holliday seeking a Teixeira-like contract or something closer to $150M, but in the end, the Cardinals, who will have to pay Albert Pujols soon, gave Holliday the richest contract this off-season.  Holliday would have been a perfect fit in New York (Yankees), but they actually have a few issues with payroll and are happy with the team they have now.  It seems as if the Cardinals were bidding against themselves though, and ended up giving the big money anyways.  It reminds me of when the Jays signed C Benito Santiago after the 1996 season.  It was reported that the Jays were only bidding against themselves and gave him a 2-year / $6.5M deal.  He hit .243 with the Jays in 1997 with 13 HR after a .264 AVG and 30 HR (career high) for the Phillies in 1996.

Other news:

Vladimir Guerrero is close to a deal with the Rangers for 1-year and around $5-8M.  The deal will include a ton of incentives that can make the deal worth $10M according to reports.

The Mets and 1B Carlos Delgado are getting closer on a deal.  The fact that he wants to return isn't the question, it's the price tag.  Delgado probably still wants at least $5M guaranteed instead of a contract based on incentives.

Cuban P Aroldis Chapman will have to choose between a few teams (Angels, Blue Jays, Marlins) in the next day or two.  his dream of getting a deal in the $40M range is now impossible and will get a deal in the $20M range over 4 or 5 years.

Brett Myers and the Astros have been talking for a while, but a deal might be in the works for 1-year.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Braves sign Eric Hinske

The run is over for Mr. AL East! Eric Hinske.  The Braves have signed the former Blue Jay, Ray, Red Sox and Yankee to a 1-year contract.  Hinske has been a good luck charm of late for teams, playing in the last 3 World Series for the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees.  In his career, Hinske has hit .254 with 113 HR and 424 RBI.  He will likely take over the pinch hitting role of Greg Norton, who was terrible last year in that role for the Braves (91 games, 11-68, .162 AVG, 0 HR, 7 RBI)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Blue Jays latest team to look at Chapman

According to reports, the Blue Jays held a private workout in Florida to look Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman.  Many teams including the Red Sox (who offered $15.5M to Chapman), A's, Angels and Yankees have been tied to Chapman.  14 teams looked at the pitcher weeks ago in Houston where his fastball topped out at 97 mph.

Chapman, age 21, is a left-handed pitcher and can throw 100 mph.  Fans caught a glimpse of Chapman at the World Baseball Classic who is hoping to sign a deal in the 5-year / $40M range.