Thursday, February 25, 2010

Soriano feeling better; looks to have good / healthy season

The question in Cubs camp this season has been all about the knee of Cubs OF Alfonso Soriano.  Coming off surgery in September to repair his knee, Soriano is looking better then expected, and is saying the knee is feeling around 80% at this time.  While no hardcore running drills have taken place as of yet, he feels he will be ready for running full strength very soon.

Last season, Soriano struggled big time at the plate, batting .241 and hitting 20 home runs with 55 RBI.  His OBP was .303 overall, but .295 batting lead off, one of the lowest in the league for a lead off hitter, maybe in the last 5 years!

In his career, Soriano has played 1322 games with 290 home runs and 760 RBI.  He has 257 career stolen bases, but only 9 of those in the 2009 season.  That total was due to the lingering knee issues, but is it also a sign that the 30 / 30 chances have all but past him by.

A look at the projected lineup for the upcoming season is looking as if Chicago is an early powerhouse in the NL Central.  Free agent signing, OF Xavier Nady, will see time in the outfield, but will be looked at as a main piece of the puzzle throughout the season as a pinch hitter and leader.

1. LF Alfonso Soriano: looks to get back on track in 2010
2. SS Ryan Theriot: hopes the arbitration process didn't upset the team too much
3. CF Marlon Byrd: playing CF; hopes to prove his Ranger numbers were for real
4. 1B Derrek Lee: great season last year; expecting 40 home run season
5. 3B Aramis Ramirez: when healthy is a big boost to lineup
6. C Geovany Soto: not a great 2nd season in the majors; anything possible for this 3rd season
7. RF Kosuke Fukudome: really fell apart in the 2nd half of season
8. 2B Mike Fontenot: if he hits .236 again Jeff Baker will take over at second
9. pitchers spot

Look for the Cubs to led the league in runs, and be in the top of the league in home runs and wins.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

GM turns broadcaster

According to reports by out of Boston, former general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays J.P. Ricciardi will be joining ESPN Baseball tonight along with Aaron Boone, who announced is retirement, and maybe Nomar Garciaparra as well. 

While no official announcement was made, sources told WEEI sportsradio that a deal was in place for both Boone and Ricciardi.

Other news:

Texas is close to a decision on a new middle infielder and it may be Felipe Lopez after all

Jarrod Washburn wants to return to Seattle; may be willing to give them a huge discount

Rod Barajas made the contract with the the Mets official today

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Who's left and what do we know

Oh yes, the free agent class of 2010, of the 200 plus free agents this off-season, 39 still remain on the open market.  The number is down from the past week, but what might they be waiting for? 

We know the Carlos Delgado has undergone another hip surgery and will be out of action for the next 4 months.

We know that John Smoltz will wait until mid-June to decide his future, pick a contender, and probably pitch in the playoffs.

We know that Pedro Martinez will go the same route he went last year, and sign a $1M contract and be successful.  Boston hopes that team is the one he picks.

We know Garett Anderson has 1 more year left in him, but an American League team will have to call.  His days in the outfield are over, and being the DH or late inning pinch hitter will be his new duty.

We know Scott Eyre has said he will only pitch for the Phillies, it's just that the Phillies haven't called back.

We know Jarrod Washburn had an offer from the Twins for $5M guaranteed, but he feels that his numbers from Seattle last season are worth $10M a-year status.  His trade to the Tigers killed his chances of becoming a popular free agent, although, he claims a knee injury cause the bad numbers in Detroit.

We know Nomar Garciaparra wants to play for a contender, but injuries have cause him to become a pinch hitter at best.  Would have to accept a minor-league deal at this point, so, he might retire, which is becoming a trend for most of the players talked about so far, as saying good-bye to the game seems to be an easy way out at this point

We know Hank Blalock had 25 home runs last season with Texas, but was expecting a 3-year / $25M deal, after making $6.2M last year.  Will have to face the fact that he can't hit lefties, hit .221 against them last season and over the last 3 seasons has only 12 home runs off left-handers compared to 35 vs right-handers.

We know that Jermaine Dye had an offer from the Cubs for $3M plus, but Xavier Nady took that money, and the rest is history.  Braves and Indians were said to have interest, but Dye, like Washburn, still believes he was a top free agent and is looking for $9M a year.  With Damon signing for $8M, Dye is worth $5M to teams, but no one has the money in the budget for that now.

We know, or at least believe, that Braden Looper is the best pitcher left and Felipe Lopez is the best infielder left.  These 2 should have jobs, but Looper is looking for $6M a year and Lopez thought he was a future hall-of-famer until super-agent Scott Boras probably told him to look in a mirror, Lopez fired Boras last week, and still, no offers.

Others available:
Rocco Baldelli
Paul Byrd
Tomo Ohka
Joe Crede
Brett Tomko
Chad Bradford
Jason Isringhausen
Greg Norton
Chad Fox
Jonny Gomes
Joe Beimel
Alan Embree
Kiko Calero
Aaron Boone
Darin Erstad
Mike Hampton
Eric Milton
Jason Schmidt
David Weathers
Gary Sheffield
Paul Bako
Chan Ho Park
Rich Aurilia
Livan Hernandez
Dmitri Young

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Damon picks Tigers over White Sox, others

The Johnny Damon rumors can finally come to an end, as the Tigers have signed the veteran outfielder to a 1-year deal for almost $8M guaranteed.  The Rays, White Sox, Braves and Blue Jays had been linked to Damon over the last few months, with rumors of a proposed 2-year / $14M contract offer by the Tigers, as well, the Yankees were said to have offered a similar 2-year deal for almost $16M.  We might never find out the truth behind the real contract offers, but we know the Tigers had interest, and they won the sweepstakes.

Damon, a great clubhouse presence, will most likely lead-off and play left for the club.  The departure of Curtis Granderson, via the trade to the Yankees, seemed to create a void in the lead-off role, but now with Damon, the Tigers have a proven hitter a top the lineup. Damon also has a full no-trade clause in the deal, according to reports by

Here is a projected lineup after the Damon signing

1. LF Johnny Damon
2. DH Carlos Guillen
3. RF Magglio Ordonez
4. 1B Miguel Cabrera
5. 3B Brandon Inge
6. C Gerald Laird
7. 2B Scott Sizemore (rookie)
8. SS Adam Everett
9. CF Austin Jackson (rookie)

Remember the 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

Friday, February 19, 2010

Indians sign Russell Branyan

The Indians will welcome back a friendly face as Russell Branyan is back with the team.  Cleveland signed the 1B / DH to a 1-year deal for almost $2M guaranteed, with incentives included in the contract.  Branyan was seeking a longer term deal after hitting for a career high in home runs with 31 and 76 RBI, while playing in Seattle last season, but settled for the 1-year deal with spring training right around the corner.  Originally drafted by the Indians in the 7th round in 1994, Branyan made it to the big leagues in 1998 for 1 game and went on to play until the 2002 season for the club, when he was traded for Ben Broussard of the Reds.  Branyan always had the swing to hit the long-ball, it was his defense, or lack there of, that would keep him from landing a starting position. 

In 2001, Branyan had 20 home runs and 54 RBI for the Tribe, but in his 72 games at third base, he had 11 errors, most of them throwing errors that saw balls sail into the stands.  The potential was always there, and after playing for the Reds, Brewers, Rays, Padres, Phillies and Cardinals, the Indians have brought him back.

In his 882 career games, Branyan has hit 164 home runs with 396 RBI.  The average over that time has been .234 and he has 946 strikeouts in 2431 at-bats, almost a unheard amount of strikeouts over that number of at-bats.  Expect 20 home runs and a lot of strikeouts again in 2010.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pitchers still looking for work

With camps opening as early as Friday this week, as many as 30 free agent starting pitchers are still looking for work.  With some general managers all for the idea of players like John Smoltz waiting until mid-June to sign, to keep them fresh, and available for the playoffs is one way to look at things, but why start this new tradition that Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens felt was a necessary way to go?  Pitchers need spring training to get ready for the long season, even though they don't feel they do, thats what spring is for.  The waiting game for other pitchers though, is by no means something they have thought long about during the off-season.  This is nothing like the NHL free agent period, where signings on July 1st are fast and furious.  MLB players that are unsigned after 3 months on the open market are at the nervous stage now, and must lower their demands or risk retirement.  Pitchers, who are usually in demand, are now looked at differently if they have had any injury trouble in their careers.  It is too much of a risk to take a chance with the money they still fell they deserve. 

Listed here are 2 sets of rotations, 1 for the all-free agent rotation, the other, the free-agent / all-injured rotation.

All-free-agent rotation
Jarrod Washburn: wants to return to Seattle; Mariners haven't called; injured while a Tiger
Pedro Martinez: Red Sox have called, according to reports
Brandon Backe: Had more then a few terrible games for Houston; worth the risk though as a 5th starter
Livan Hernandez: still hopes to land a starters role
John Smoltz: rumoured to be waiting till mid-June until he decides on who's a contender

All-free agent/all-injured rotation
Chien-Ming Wang: Yankees gave up; Nationals said to have offered $2M guaranteed
Noah Lowry: solid for Giants 2 years ago; keeps cancelling throwing sessions
Kris Benson: former 1st round pick just can't get healthy
Jason Jennings: 1 good season; solid if he finds right team; only 31 years old
Mike Hampton: was on road to success for Astros till setback

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lincecum signs

To the surprise of some, the Giants agree to terms with Tim Lincecum on a 2-year / $23M contract.  Lincecum, who was going to an arbitrator Friday, rejected a 3-year / $37M deal according to reports, giving him his final year before free agancy to hit an even bigger jackpot. I say some were surprised, since Lincecum and his agent were playing hardball throughout this entire process with the Giants.  A 1-year deal was what most thought would happen.  The Giants can now move on to business, as Lincecum and Brian Wilson are all signed.  Watch for the Giants to be a surprise this year!

Other news:

Rod Barajas and the Mets are not a match; Barajas will look to Arizona now for a contract

Johnny Damon is now linked to the White Sox; who today held a prees conference for Frank Thomas, who officially retired

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Giants latest signing may be a steal

The San Francisco Giants have signed P Todd Wellemeyer to a minor-league contract, where he can make $1M if he makes the team out of spring training.  This is a pitcher last season that fell apart a little bit going 7-10, 5.89 ERA in 21 starts.  He made 7 appearances in relief as well.  In the 2008 season, Wellemeyer went 13-9, 3.71 ERA in 32 starts though.  The Giants made a great move here, as they might as well take a chance, it's worth it.

Sure his walk-to-strikeout ratio was terrible last year, 57 walks to 78 strikeouts.  But again, in 2008, he had 62 walks and 134 strikeouts.  I know his innings were different, but he was successful in the 2008 season, injury free and got the innings. There is potential for Wellemeyer to be the 4th or 5th starter in San Fran, and will pitch for his 5th team since 2003.  He is coming off an elbow injury, but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.

In other news:

The Brewers signed P Scott Schoeneweis to a minor-league contract

The Orioles officially signed P Mark Hendrickson to a 1-year deal worth over $1.3M; Hendrickson returns to the Orioles after failing to land a bigger contract with another team as a free agent.

Johnny Damon won't back down from his 2-year contract demands, according to reports.  If he does, the Tigers, Jays and Braves would have signed him by now.  He still wants a 2-year / $16M contract.  WOW

The Mets will learn today if they can sign C Rod Barajas, according to reports; Barajas had been looking for a multi-year deal, but will settle for a 1-year pack now.  D'Backs also in the mix.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Around the majors and prediction Monday

As many as 70 free agents hope to sign this week, as pitchers and catchers for some teams report in just under 2 weeks.  Remember last year, when Bobby Abreu was in this situation, but waited till Feb 12 to sign with the Angels.  This is probably why Johnny Damon is waiting, since Abreu did get a pretty good contract. 

The Giants P Tim Lincecum, hoping to avoid the arbitration process in a few weeks, he is rumoured to be close on a 1-year / $11M contract according to reports in the Bay area.  No player ever wants to go through this process, as the team tries everything to avoid paying the player what they are looking for.  It's never a good sign down the road either, as players have always said that after this process, they usually have no interest in re-signing with the club down the road.

In other news around the league:

The Red Sox want to re-sign P Josh Beckett, but at what cost?  Halladay money with the same length of contract, or the Burnett / Lackey contract.  The Boston Globe investigates.

Jermaine Dye, still a free agent, turned down the contract offer by the Cubs that they eventually gave to Xavier Nady according to reports

The Twins payroll will exceed last years number by over $35M; and the starting lineup alone will be worth over $55M.  They will spend more then the Dodgers this upcoming season.

The Indians offered Orlando Hudson a 2-year / $10M deal; thats the kind of deal he wanted, just not with Cleveland.  The Plain Dealer in Cleveland looks at what the Indians have not done

The Rangers have a few players on their way that not to many people have heard of according to the Dallas News

Prediction Monday:

OF Johnny Damon will sign with the Tigers by end of the week

C Rod Barajas will sign with the D'Backs if Mets backout on current offer

OF Jermaine Dye will sign with the Indians for $5M; they have money, it's that no one wants to play there

INF Felipe Lopez will sign with the Indians

P Jarrod Washburn will sign with the Mets

P Braden Looper will sign with the Rays

**(again, these are only the predictions of extra base hit)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mariners and Erik Bedard make contract official

The Mariners made the worst kept secret official today, re-signing free agent pitcher Erik Bedard to a 1-year contract for $1.5M.  The contract is full of incentives that makes the contract worth over $8M if he reaches the number of starts and innings that are required.  An option is also included in this deal for 2011.  Bedard, was testing the market this off-season, but coming off an shoulder injury and not being ready to pitch on opening day, scared off some teams like the Orioles and Mets.  The Mariners at least know what they have in Bedard, and it probably makes them feel better that he stayed after pulling off a trade with the Orioles to land Bedard, giving up OF Adam Jones as part of the 6-player deal.  Bedard is expected to be ready to pitch by June.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Twins make a few additions to lineup

The Twins made a few moves today, and if the rumours are true; Orlando Hudson will be Twin very soon.  They made the Jim Thome signing official, signing the possible hall-of-famer to a 1-year deal for $1.5M.  Thome made $13M last season, and is the first player to really accept the fact that it becomes a choice, take less money, retire or play in the minors.  The addition of Hudson would give the Twins lineup a boost and defensively, would be a major upgrade over Nick Punto

Here is a look at the Twins projected lineup if Hudson does indeed sign:

1. CF Denard Span
2. 2B Orlando Hudson
3. C Joe Mauer
4. 1B Justin Morneau
5. DH Jason Kubel
6. RF Michael Cuddyer
7. LF Delmon Young
8. SS J.J. Hardy
9. 3B Brendan Harris

Bench: DJ Jim Thome, C Jose Morales, INF Matt Tolbert, 2B Alexi Casilla

Last season Thome hit .249 with 23 home runs and 77 RBI for the White Sox and Dodgers. Hudson won another gold glove, but lost his job in the playoffs to Ronnie Belliard.  Hudson in his career, playing for the Blue Jays, D'Backs and Dodgers has hit .282 with 77 home runs and 434 RBI.  Hudson is a 2-time all-star and 4-time Gold Glove winner.  Hudson became the first Dodger second baseman to win the award since Davey Lopes in 1978.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kevin Gregg a Blue Jay

According to reports, the Blue Jays have signed P Kevin Gregg to a 1-year contract worth $2.75M.  The contract, expected to be official Wednesday, will have 2 option years making the deal worth up to $12M.  Gregg will be in-line to close for the Jays with Scott Downs and Jason Frasor still in the mix.

More to come..

The Tigers and Johnny Damon may be close to a contract according to reports, Damon is rumoured to be intersted in the Tigers and will finally lower his demands on the $13M asking price.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mauer signs 10-year extension according to reports

C Joe Mauer and the Twins have come to an agreement on a 10-year contract extension worth up to $160M according to reports in Minnesota

The St. Paul native is coming off a MVP season, where he hit .365 with 28 home runs and 96 RBI.  in his career, 6 seasons in Minnesota, Mauer has hit .327 with 72 homeruns and 397 RBI. 

Mauer was due to make $12.5M in 2010.

The deal has not been confirmed, but it must be close.

In other news:

The Dodgers have signed former Cub / Blue Jays outfielder Reed Johnson to a 1-year deal.  Johnson battled injury last season, but will be a good replacement in the late innings for Manny Ramirez.

According to reports, P Kevin Gregg has taken his demand to be the closer away from teams, and now the Rockies and Marlins are in the mix.  The Rockies have offered $2-3M, while the Marlins have a similar deal in the works.