Monday, March 29, 2010

The Most Expensive Bench, Ever.

In light of the Nationals deciding that Cristian Guzman would not be their starting shortstop (after losing out to the great Ian Desmond), I thought it be worth a look around the majors at the most expensive bench players. Thanks to injuries, poor play, or both, these guys will be starting year doing what many us do best, sitting on the bench:

Mike Lowell, Red Sox, $12 million: It's hard not to feel bad for Lowell. It was only two years ago that he was one of the Red Sox top players and an integral part of their 2007 World Series winning team. But with Adrian Beltre on board, the Red Sox unable to trade him, and Lowell struck by a variety of injuries, there are very few options for Lowell...other than the bench or the DL.

Cristian Guzman, Nationals, $8 million: Like Lowell, Guzman has been hampered by injuries this spring and has been the casualty of the improved play of Ian Desmond. Guzman has been on the decline defensively for years now and his inability to get on-base further diminishes his value.

Gary Matthews Jr., Mets, $11 million: The Angels opted to pick up all but $2 million of Matthews' salary just to get him off their roster. It looks doubtful that Matthews will beat out Angel Pagan to be the Mets' starting center fielder, so look for Matthews to play the role of expensive fourth outfielder until Carlos Beltran gets back.

Eric Chavez, A's, $11 million: I'm thrilled to see Chavez off the DL, but the odds of him being able to contribute as a first baseman are rather slim. Chavez has not been fully healthy since 2006 and expecting Chavez to be anything more than a bench player is a far fetched in my eyes.

Eric Byrnes, Mariners, $11 million: Sure the Mariners are only on the hook for the minimum with Byrnes, but it says something when the low budget Diamondbacks were willing to cut their losses with Byrnes by paying him to play elsewhere.

Chris Snyder, Diamondbacks, $4.75 million: The combination of Miguel Montero's emergence and Snyder's injury plagued 2009 season have Snyder on the outside looking in this season on the Diamondbacks' depth chart. I'd expect the Diamondbacks to continue to search for a landing spot for Snyder throughout the season, but then again, Snyder is a nice asset to hash away.

The total for those six players is $57.75 million dollars. To put that in perspective, that total is more than the Pirates, Marlins, and Padres individual payrolls.

Does this article actually mean anything constructive? Not really. The point is this, as much as we like to think that GMs are getting smarter and wiser with their spending, teams are still paying the price for bad contracts past.

David Ortiz: Tennis Star

It's been awhile since anything Rosenthal has written has made me laugh out loud. Well, this nugget a good way:
"Look out, Roger Federer: David Ortiz said he played tennis for the first time in his life on Saturday, volleying with his wife, Tiffany. For what it’s worth, Ortiz said he exceeded his wife’s expectations, but needs work on his serve."
Any chance Papi spits on his hands before he serves?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Armando Benitez and Edgardo Alfonzo Back Together Again

Rejoice, fellow Mets fans! It's 2000 all over again....

...sort of...
"The Newark Bears announced today the signing of pitcher Armando Benitez and infielder Edgardo Alfonzo to the 2010 roster. Benitez and Alfonzo were teammates for the 2000 New York Mets. 

“I am excited to add to the Bears tradition. Two more established Major Leaguers, Edgardo and Armando were both key components to the Mets success in 2000,” said Manager Tim Raines. “They are both proven talents on the field and their leadership in the clubhouse is the perfect fit for our 2010 team.”

Edgardo enters his third season in the Atlantic League, having spent time with the Long Island Ducks and Bridgeport Bluefish. He played last season in Japan as a member of the Yomiuri Giants. The 36-year-old and former Mets star returns to New York after spending eight seasons in Flushing and has spent time with three other clubs (Giants, Angels, Blue Jays).


Benitez enters his second season in the Atlantic League as he spent 2009 with the Bears. He recorded a 1-0 record with a 2.86 ERA and 16 saves, which was third best in the league. The 37-year-old and former Met was signed by the Houston Astros’ AAA affiliate in Round Rock late in the season and went 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA and a save in seven games."
It's hard to believe that both of them are still around, but the presence of Fonzie and Armando will absolutely give me a good excuse to check out the Bears this season. Ahhh, the good 'ole days.

Any chance the Bears can sign Jay Payton and Timo Perez as well? Let's make this a 2000 Mets reunion!

Make it happen!

Thursday, March 25, 2010



After almost two years of blogging on Jorge Says No!, I have decided to start a new venture in the baseball blogging world.

Effective immediately, I will begin blogging anew at my new website, Thanks to the wonderful people at the bloguin network, the new site has been developed very quickly, looks sharp (I think), and I believe we have a strong blueprint for success.

The purpose of this new site is simple: to cover free agency to the best of my ability and begin a discussion with baseball fans that will last throughout the season, into the winter, and hopefully into next year's free agency and beyond. I encourage you to check out the posts pages and let me know what you think of the site's organization, layout, etc.

Honestly, the more feedback, the better. Email me anytime!

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I'm happy to report that Jorge Says No! will remain. This site has blossomed into something that I never expected it to be and I am thrilled to watch the site continually grow. I am working on a fresh batch of content for Jorge Says No!, which will be up next week. I don't expect to post anything until then, but stranger things have happened.

Thank you for your continued support of Jorge Says No!

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And finally, here are some ways to keep in touch with!

TWITTER: @mlbfreeagency (FOLLOW US!)

FACEBOOK:!/pages/MLBfreeagency/104863969546245?v=info&ref=ts (FRIEND US!) mlbfreeagency


Please visit the site often and leave some comments! Once again, thank you for all your support.

All my best,

Jorge Says No!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Quote of the Day: Jim Callis on Joe Mauer

Via chat:
Jason (St. Louis)

It sure seems more and more likely Mauer hits FA. If the Red Sox and Yanks get in to a bidding war on him, what potentially do you think he could end up signing for? Is 8 years 225 mil outside the realm of possibility?

Jim Callis

Not outside the realm of possibility if he becomes a free agent, but I still think he resigns with the Twins.

Now I'll pose the question: would you commit $200+ million to a catcher?

I wouldn't. I don't care how good he is or if his name is Joe Mauer, the risk is simply too high at that price.

Joe Mauer is a Gambler

So says Sid Hartman:

So you wonder if reigning American League MVP Joe Mauer and his agent, Ron Shapiro, are concerned about the consequences of Mauer suffering a serious injury should the former Cretin-Derham Hall all-around athlete choose to not re-sign with the Twins this year and become a free agent at the end of this season. If Mauer did suffer a serious injury, the market certainly wouldn't be what it is today.

Mauer has missed a total of 120 games because of various injuries out of the 974 regular-season games the Twins have played since he joined the team in 2004.

He missed 69 games in 2004 because of a torn meniscus in his left knee after being injured in April. Mauer was healthy in 2005 and 2006, when he played in 131 and 140 games, respectively.

However, the 26-year-old All-Star catcher missed 29 games in 2007 because of a strained left quadriceps muscle suffered in May. After playing in 146 games in 2008, he missed all of spring training and 22 games into the 2009 season because of an inflammation of the right sacroiliac joint.

But if Mauer happened to get seriously hurt before signing, the big-money, long-term offers would disappear. The Yankees and Red Sox haven't thrown money around like they have in the past. Those two clubs would likely be the most interested in signing Mauer to a big contract.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

If Mauer signs an extension with the Twins before the season begins, then he will surely be giving up money on the open market (in theory) in return for security.

If Mauer holds off on the extension with the Twins until after the season, then people, like Sid Hartman, will scrutinize the decision because Mauer is only one injury away from losing big money.

Being a catcher in the majors is a huge injury risk, but my advice to Mauer is this: do what your comfortable with and don't play the what if game. Because in the end, asking what if will drive a person nuts.

Especially when we're talking about a nine figure payday.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Yankees Make an Appearence in the Joe Mauer Negotiations

We'll call this a brief cameo, thanks to Bill Madden:
Like everyone else in baseball, the Yankee high command is watching with keen interest how the Joe Mauer negotiations with the Minnesota Twins play out this spring.

Unlike most other teams, however, the Yankees have both the financial resources to afford the MVP catcher as well as the surplus of talent it would take to acquire him should the contract talks reach an impasse and the Twins elect to put him on the trade market. Indeed, if there is one area where the Yankees are rich in prospects it is catching where Jesus Montero and Austin Romine are rated by most scouts as can't-miss major leaguers. The question is, which of them - if either - will be the one to succeed Jorge Posada.


"But in my opinion," said one scout, "the next catcher for the Yankees will be Joe Mauer. Imagine if the Twins don't sign him and he goes out there on the market next winter with both the Yankees and Red Sox in need of a catcher? That will be the wildest bidding war in baseball history, and don't think his agent doesn't know it. And if they (Twins) decide to trade him, the Yankees have the better pieces to get him."

I still can't believe it will ever come to that. With their new taxpayer-funded, open air Target Field (on which they refused to spend the extra $150 mil to equip with a retractable roof), the Twins cannot afford to let their hometown catcher leave - and yet there have been some unsettling rumblings out of Minneapolis and Fort Myers that the two sides remain far apart with an opening day deadline looming.

This story proves that the news week is slow. If someone can explain to me why the Twins would ever trade Mauer, please let me know. As far as I'm concerned, the mere thought of trading Joe Mauer this season is crazy. Even if the Twins and Mauer cannot come to terms on a deal by the "deadline," the Twins have a new stadium opening this year and trading away the top draw would not be a good business move. Also, the Twins (even without Joe Nathan) are pretty good team on paper.

The Mauer to the Yankees dream will live on until a long term deal with the Twins proves otherwise, but I'd be willing to bet anything that the Twins will never, ever trade Mauer.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Carlos Pena's Love for Tampa

Once again, Carlos Pena professes his love for the Rays and his desire to stay there long term. I never expected to see anyone express a strong desire to stay with the Rays long term, but wow have times changed:

Pena carries that mentality everywhere. So don't ask him if he is worried about his 0-for-18 start to Spring Training after missing the final 25 games of the 2009 season, or if he finds himself thinking about the fact that his three-year contract with the Rays expires after the season.

He doesn't.

Sure, most players will say they don't think about upcoming free agency because it's the right thing to say. But Pena absolutely lives it.

He said he never really speaks to his agent, hardball negotiator Scott Boras, about his talks with the Rays, nor does he care to hear from Boras about it.

As of now, Pena said, "nothing has really happened" in terms of a possible deal, but he wouldn't mind coming to terms on an extension during the season, because he would love nothing more than to stay with Tampa Bay.

"I think everyone knows how much I like it here, how much I appreciate this place," said Pena, who's making $10.125 million this season. "So it's one of those things I know that I cannot control, because I'm not the one in the driver's seat there. But I know what I can control -- that's be prepared, do my exercises so I can stay healthy, make sure I'm present so I can enjoy my teammates.

Somewhere in his agent headquarters, Scott Boras is probably pulling his hair out. Boras is notorious for trying to get as much money for his guys as possible, but if Pena is serious about returning to the Rays long term, then there is almost zero chance that Pena will maximize his earning potential.

But then again, this could set up an interesting sub plot. Will Boras be able to use Pena's love of Tampa as a bargaining tool with other teams? Essentially, will he be able to say to teams, "Look, Carlos loves it in Tampa and if you want to sign him, then you're going to have to pay a premium for him services." Or something to that extent.

It seems as though that the only way for Pena to maximize his value on the open market next winter is to play the field, move on from Tampa, and let Boras work his magic. But then again, Pena's priorities seem to be all about comfort and if that's the case, then his mind is probably already made up about where he would like to play in 2011 and beyond. The question then becomes if the Rays can afford to keep him.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Line of the Day: The Struggles of Ben Sheets

Ugly line from Ben Sheets today:

0.0 IP, 8 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 1 BB, 1 HR


Despite his poor performance, Sheets's optimistic approach reminds us all that this is spring training:
"I felt great," said Sheets, who missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery. ... Today was a good day, and I felt like I was going to get in some good work."
It's refreshing to hear Sheets talk so optimistically, but results like this, spring training or not, are just ugly. It remains to be seen what kind of pitcher Ben Sheets can be over the course of an entire season and because he is a free agent after the season, there is plenty riding on his 2010 performance.

Heath Bell's Hometown Discount

Padres closer Heath Bell will not be a free agent until after the 2011 season, but that doesn't stop folks from questioning Bell's future with the Padres. Will Bell stay in San Diego long term or will his rising salary force the Padres to eventually trade him? Common sense would suggest the latter, but Bell is willing to take less to stay in San Diego:
As for Bell, the Padres encouraged trade offers on him last summer and last offseason. Then they kept him and signed him for $4 million. Bell would have more trade value now if Padres upper-level executives had OK'd the terms that then-GM Kevin Towers and Bell's agent had agreed to in the 2008-09 offseason. According to Bell, that pact would've guaranteed him $1.2 million in 2009 and $2.1 million this year. "I like the number 21 and wanted those numbers -- 1.2 and 2.1," said Bell, who wears 21.

When the club deemed the deal too risky, Bell signed for one year and put up enough numbers to raise his salary to $4 million. He said escalators in the scuttled deal would've bumped his 2010 salary to $3 million.

Bell said he'd be agreeable to signing an extension that is budget friendly for the Padres.
This all sounds great on the surface. Bell wants to stay in San Diego and he is willing to take less money to do so. However, given that the Padres have a $40 million dollar payroll and that closers of Bell's quality make around $8 million or so annually (roughly), what are the odds that they are willing to commit somewhere in the $6-$8 million dollar range long term for a closer? Slim to none? None?

Because of their financial limitations, it might be economically impossible for the Padres to keep Bell even if he is willing to take less.

David Ortiz's Future with the Red Sox

When you think about the Red Sox from 2003-2009, the image of David Ortiz immediately comes to mind. Big Papi has been the face of the Red Sox since he burst onto the scene in 2003, but will 2010 be Ortiz's final season with the Sawx? You be the judge:

Ortiz is tight-lipped when asked if there is anything that might be weighing on him. The most obvious potential source of discontent is his contract situation: The Red Sox hold an option on the 2011 season for $12.5 million.

Ortiz said he has had no conversations with the club regarding his contract.

"I'm just focusing on playing, not being a distraction about anything,'' he said. "It's going to be up to them to come talk to me. So I'm getting prepared to play.''

Given how poorly Ortiz played last season, there is no reason for the Red Sox to approach Ortiz about a new deal or extension at this point. The bottom line is that no matter how much Ortiz has meant to the Red Sox since 2003, he has plenty to prove to the Red Sox in 2010. If Ortiz shows that his 2009 season was not a fluke, then the Red Sox will simply let Ortiz go and go in another direction at DH.

But where this gets interesting is if Ortiz puts together a solid 2010 season. Let's say Ortiz hits .265 with 30 home runs and drives in over 100 with a .380 OBP. Would the Red Sox pick up his option then? Economically, it might not be the best decision, but could Ortiz make the Red Sox decision difficult with a solid season? No doubt. But in the end, $12.5 million is a lot to commit to a 35 year old designated hitter even one as popular and lovable as David Ortiz.

The Future of Cristian Guzman

As Ian Desmond continues to make his case to be the Nationals starting shortstop, one has to wonder where this would leave free agent to be Cristian Guzman. The Nationals know that Guzman has lost a step defensively and is not going to be a long term asset for the franchise, so it makes sense for the Nationals to give Desmond a long as the Nationals think he's ready. What's clear is that if Guzman wants another hefty payday, then he needs to have the chance to start, not come off the bench:
On Sunday morning, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore, “Money has nothing to do with who’s going to play.”

But later that day, Rizzo balked when I asked him about the possibility of releasing Cristian Guzman if Ian Desmond won the shortstop job.

Guzman is guaranteed $8 million this season.

“He’s still a long way from that type of discussion,” Rizzo said. “He’s a .300 hitter. He can still play short. He’s not an old player by any means.”

Guzman, who turns 32 on Sunday, is not a .300 hitter — his career batting/on-base/slugging line is .271/.307/.386. He also is coming off arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder.

Desmond, 24, batted .280-.318-.561 last September in 89 plate appearances. While that sample is small, he has resumed his standout play this spring.

Would the Nationals make Guzman an $8 million backup? Possibly. More likely, they would give Guzman one more chance and return Desmond to Triple A. If Guzman faltered, the Nats then could release him.

Classic GM double speak from Rizzo. From the statements above, it's clear to me that he wants to start Ian Desmond at short, but having Guzman on the roster complicates things. Rizzo is publically talking up Guzman for a number of different reasons. Perhaps Rizzo wants to convince the fan base that Guzman is still a good option at short or perhaps Rizzo wants to exclaim Guzman's credentials to see if he can find a taker for his services.

The best thing that can happen for Guzman is that he gets the opportunity to play everyday. Yes Guzman will be 33 once the 2011 season gets underway, but the class of free agent shortstops in very weak (aside from Derek Jeter, who will be a Yankee anyway). Conceivably, if Guzman is able to put together a solid 2010 season and demonstrates improved defensive skills, then I don't think it's unreasonable for Guzman to land a multi year deal.

There is so much that can change between now and then, but it's too early to discount Cristian Guzman given the advantageous situation he could find himself next year on the free agent market.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Random Chatter: Joe Mauer to Boston?

That's is everything doesn't pan out with the Twins of course....
“In the end, I think the Twins sign him,’’ said a National League assistant general manager. “If they don’t, my bet is Boston. First of all, there’ll be a limited market. Two or three teams? One of them will be the Yankees, but if you know Mauer, he’d pick Boston over New York.’’

“If he doesn’t sign and he becomes a free agent, it favors Boston,’’ seconded an American League GM.
Given that the odds of Mauer leaving Minnesota are relatively small, take these quotes with a grain of salt. But then again, these quotes do offer some slim hope to Red Sox fans...right?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bad News for Brandon Webb

Setbacks are always frustrating especially when they come in a player's contract year. Tough break for Brandon Webb, who is set to be a free agent after the season:
Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb is almost certain to open the season on the disabled list, multiple sources said Friday, and the team is now examining at least one way to increase its rotation depth.
In time, Webb needs to prove that he is healthy, but until he is able to do that, I see the dollar signs decreasing and the amount of risk that teams are willing to take on Webb diminishing.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hal Steinbrenner Confirms What We Already Know

Nearly a month ago, Brian Cashman declared that there will be no talks with either Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera regarding contract extensions:

When Brian Cashman looks at Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Joe Girardi, the Yankees GM paints his shortstop, closer and manager with the same brush.

And with spring training opening next week in Tampa, Cashman has no plans to stray from his plan of not negotiating with them. All three contracts are in the final year.

“I don’t think you can separate one from the other,” Cashman explained. “I am not saying they are the same, but the questions will come, ‘If you did one, why didn’t you do the other?’ If this was Kansas City, it would be different — but it’s not.”

And yesterday, Chairman Hal Steinbrenner reiterated that point:

"Everybody does business in a different way," the team's managing general partner said Tuesday following a news conference to announce details of the first Pinstripe Bowl at new Yankee Stadium, "I just don't believe in contract extensions, and that's throughout the organization, no matter who it is. Hopefully nobody takes that personally. It's just business."

Jeter's $189 million, 10-year contract expires after the World Series, as does Rivera's $45 million, three-year deal. Girardi is entering the final season of a $7.8 million, three-year contract.

"I've got a great relationship with them all," Steinbrenner said. "I've expressed to all of them that, `You're part of the Yankee family and you're wanted. It wouldn't be the same without you.' But as far as no extensions, it's a business policy of mine."

This is obviously big news in Yankee land because Jeter and Rivera will be free agents at the end of the season, but I don't think there is a baseball fan out there that seriously thinks that either guy will leave the Bronx. The fact that Jeter and Rivera are not under contract with the Yankees beyond this season means that this story will have legs all season, which is unfortunate given how unlikely it is that either guy will leave.

Jose Reyes has a Thyroid Problem...Maybe

The Mets say yes. Reyes says no. Who to believe?

Jose Reyes has an overactive thyroid. The Mets said late Tuesday that tests administered in New York on Monday confirmed the original diagnosis. The club said little else except that Reyes is to remain in New York for additional blood tests, which will determine how he is treated. The results of those tests are not expected before Thursday.
But Reyes told's Enrique Rojas later Tuesday: "The specialists who took care of me in New York have told me that I'm fine and that there's nothing wrong with my thyroid. The test [taken to follow one conducted during his physical] showed that I'm fine. We just have to wait for the results of the additional test. The [doctors] found inflammation in my throat and no medicine to treat the thyroid or any other condition has been prescribed."
2010 was supposed to be the year where Reyes showed all of his doubters that he was healthy. Even though he rarely missed games from 2006-2008, the injury prone label has never fully escaped Reyes especially after missing most of the 2009 season.

We have talked in the past about the 2011 team option facing Reyes ($9 million) and I remain confident that the Mets will pick up the option. However, if the thyroid condition pops up at any point in the season, it could sound the alarm for the Mets especially if Reyes is struggling.

We'll see how this thyroid issue effects Reyes moving forward, but there is no doubt that until he proves his detractors wrong, this will be another issue facing Reyes. There was a time where I seriously believed that Reyes was sure to land a contract exceeding $100 million when he became a free agent after 2011 (assuming the Mets picked up his option after the 2010 season), but after missing most of 2009 and now the thyroid issue, that claim is now filled with tons of doubt.

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's a Slow Recovery for Brandon Webb

After weeks of positive reviews, free agent to be Brandon Webb has experienced a set back:

Webb initially was going to throw to hitters Sunday or Monday, but that session was pushed back a couple of days. Manager A.J. Hinch said Webb might throw a bullpen session next instead of live batting practice, but did not set a date.

"He's not feeling bad, but he's not feeling strong," Hinch said. "It's not necessarily that unexpected. He is seven months post-surgery and these things get a little testy from time to time."

Webb, coming off shoulder surgery in August, was unavailable for comment before the Diamondbacks faced the Colorado Rockies in a split-squad game. But the 2006 NL Cy Young Award winner sent word through a team spokesman that he felt fine after playing catch.

Hinch has said Webb could pitch in his first spring game around the middle of the month. But Webb, who made only one start in 2009, likely will need to throw at least a couple more times before making his first start.

"He's not having trouble being on the mound," Hinch said. "He's not having trouble every time he throws a baseball like he did last season. He's in a little bit of a dead period in his rehab program that we're trying to get him past before we move him on."

Webb is so important to the 2010 Diamondbacks that the team has no reason to push him hard right now. Patience is the key word. As Webb looks forward towards free agency, teams might shy away from him if he spends considerable time on the DL, but Webb needs to do everything possible to perform at a high level for an extended period of time this season.

Even though thr 2010 season has yet to officially begin, doubts are growing about Webb's ability to land a multi year contract this winter. I hope he proves me wrong, but only time will tell.

Line of the Day: The Struggles of Jeremy Bonderman

Not such a good start yesterday from free agent to be Jeremy Bonderman, who will be a free agent after the season:

0.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, 2 HR

I don't want to make too big of a deal about one spring training performance, but considering that Bonderman's last good season was 2006 and his last full season in the majors was 2007, this is not a good sign. Hopefully this is just a bump in the road for Bonderman, but keep in mind that Bonderman is only 27 years old.

Red Sox Optimistic About Beckett Talks?

According to Nick Cafardo, the contact talks seem to be progressing:
4. Josh Beckett, RHP, Red Sox - One major league source indicated that there’s more optimism about the Sox and Beckett reaching a contract accord this season. It seems talks have been amicable, if not productive. The Sox could insist on medical language similar to what’s included in the deals of John Lackey and J.D. Drew. Jason Bay wouldn’t bite on the language, but Beckett may consider it just to stay in Boston, where he has already forged a great relationship with Lackey and continues to build one with Jon Lester.
Sox fans, before you get excited about the prospect of keeping Beckett around long term, remember this: Beckett has previously said that he does not want to negotiate during the season so if the Sox and Beckett are going to come to terms on a new deal, then it will have to happen in the next three weeks.

That's not an impossible task, but I have my doubts that the Red Sox and Beckett will come to terms before the season begins.

Can the Brewers Keep Prince Fielder in Milwaukee Past 2011?

Can the Brewers keep Prince Fielder past 2011? Doug Melvin thinks so, but the debate lingers on:

So is it possible to pay Fielder what the market might bear in two years, thereby allocating a disproportionate chunk of a small-market team's payroll to one player?

"It's possible," said Melvin, noting that other teams have done it. "But it's challenging."

Then he reiterated what the Brewers have been saying for the last few weeks. "Our goal is to keep Prince here," Melvin said.

Melvin can talk optimistically about keeping Prince in Milwaukee, but the fact remains that if Prince wants to maximize his earning potential, then the Brewers will have a tough time keeping him. ESPN's Buster Olney outlined Prince's future in Milwaukee a few weeks back, and while he sounds more optimistic about the Brewers keeping Prince long term than most writers have been, I still think the odds of Prince staying in Milwaukee are slim.

You have to think that the Brewers will have to commit almost $20 million annually to Prince, which is a major issue when the Brewers payroll will likely remain in the $80-$90 million dollar range in the future. Can the Brewers afford to spend $20 million annually on one player and still expect to compete? I think not, but then again, they are spending $17 million this season on Dave Riske and Jeff Suppan, so what do I know.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Future of Derrek Lee

Will 2010 be the last season for Derrek Lee as a Cub? Perhaps, but it looks like there is mutual interest on both sides:
The last time Derrek Lee was up for a new contract, he signed a five-year extension at the outset of the 2006 season and suffered a season-changing wrist injury a couple of weeks later.

Now Lee is in no hurry to get a deal done before he enters his second "walk" year as a member of the Cubs, confident he'll put up the kind of numbers that will make him a coveted free agent in November.

Lee wants to end his career as a Cub, and the Cubs want him back.

But there will be no negotiations this spring and probably not any during the season. Unlike last time, there's no guarantee Lee will be back.

"I'd like to (retire as a Cub), but if it doesn't happen, I understand that also," Lee said. "It's really not a big issue."
Lee is a fan favorite in Chicago and has been one of the top players for the Cubs since his arrival in 2004, but the Cubs are making a smart choice in holding off negotiations with their first baseman. Even though Lee put together a phenomenal 2009 season at the dish, their are a number of factors that suggest that the Cubs should take negotiations slow with Lee.

1. age
-Lee will be 35 in September and the Cubs need to be completely assured that his skills are not declining before they re-commit to him

2. power
-After breaking his wrist in 2006, Lee's power numbers took a hit in both 2007 and 2008 as he failed to hit more than 22 home runs. Lee bounced back nicely in 2009 by hitting 35 home runs, but the Cubs need to make sure that his power is back for sure before giving him another lucrative extension.

3. Options
-There are a number of quality free agent first base options out there this winter so if the Cubs lose Lee, then there are a number of players who they can go after to fill the void. Even though Lee is a fan favorite in Chicago, he is replaceable should his price tag become too high for the Cubs liking.

2010 is an Important Year for Kevin Correia

2010 is a big year for free agent to be Kevin Correia. And he knows it:
“I want to repeat and improve on what I did last season,” the right-handed starter said Saturday.

If he does, the 29-year-old native San Diegan could be sitting pretty this time next spring.

Correia is a free agent at the end of this season.

After going 12-11 last year with a 3.91 ERA in 33 starts, Correia got $3.6 million from the Padres for this season — the sides settling in lieu of arbitration.

But when the 2010 season ends, the Padres hold no options on Correia. He is free to sign with anyone.

“Yes, this is an important year,” Correia said. “But every year is like that. What’s good about this year is that I have last season to build from. It’s given me some momentum.”

Ultimately if Correia is able to repeat his 2009 performance, then it's doubtful he will be back with the cash strapped Padres. One factor that is working against Correia is that the class of free agent starting pitchers is very strong and features a number of big names and high upside pitchers. If Correia is going to land a lucrative multi year deal and avoid Todd Wellemeyer territory, then he needs to put together a big 2010 season that proves that he is not just a one year wonder and continue to show that he can pitch effectively away from PETCO Park.

The 2010 Royals

With the baseball season right around the corner, anything is possible. Spring means a new beginning and renewed optimism for beleaguered and tortured franchises. Hell, even the Royals think they can win a World Series right now!

But the odds are that the Royals will not win the World Series. Why? Because their talent is vastly inferior to other teams in the AL Central and in the American League in general. Let's face it, if your going to get involved in sports betting and put all your money down on the Royals winning the World Series, then you might want to get your head examined. This team has BOTH Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Guillen!

There are those who believe that hey, if the Royals get a few lucky bounces and some things go their way, then maybe they can be baseball's version of the New Orleans Saints. The Saints shocked the football world by winning the Super Bowl behind Drew Brees even though most experts counted them out at the beginning of the season. And on a side note, my buddy Joe loves football betting and made a killing on the Saints this season. Who Dat!

As much as I want to believe that the 2010 Royals can do the impossible, there are simply too many harsh realities for this team to face. On paper, they stink. And even with the best case scenario for the 2010 Royals, the outlook is rather bleak.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

2010 Preview

While all the recent talk around MLB centers on Mark McGwire and steroids, it’s easy to forget that Spring Training is creeping up.

Cactus League play begins on March 3 and Grapefruit League starts a day before that.

This is a good time to look at the future baseball odds to win World Series that sportsbook currently have posted.

New York Yankees

When we last left MLB, the New York Yankees were hoisting their 27th World Series title.

The “Evil Empire” will enter the 2010 season as defending champions and as a matter of fact, the Yanks are odds-on favorites to repeat at +300.

The Bronx Bombers’ roster will look a little different going into the season as 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui migrated west to the Los Angeles Angels and his place in the lineup, as it stands, will be taken by Nick Johnson, according to an report.

The Pinstripes re-signed southpaw Andy Pettitte to a one-year deal and dealt outfielder Melky Cabrera and pitchers Michael Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino along with some cash to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for righty Javier Vazquez and lefty Boone Logan, who was subsequently signed for one year.

In Vazquez’s last 16 starts last season, the Braves went 12-4.

Philadelphia Phillies

On first glance, the fact that the Phillies traded away pitcher Cliff Lee to Seattle doesn’t make sense, as Lee went 13-4 (including the playoffs) after joining the Phillies from Cleveland in late-July.

In the postseason Lee went 4-0 with an ERA of 1.56 and he was on the mound for both of
Philadelphia’s World Series victories.

But when you factor in that Philadelphia added Roy Halladay to its rotation, there is logic behind the Lee deal.

Doc Halladay started 32 games for the Toronto Blue Jays last year and had a record of 17-10 with an ERA of 2.79 and will be a welcome addition to the Phillies’ pitching staff.

Philly is listed at +600 to win this year’s World Series and if it does, it would be its second title in three years.

New York Mets

The New York Mets fell well short of expectations last season, finishing with a record of 70-92 so there was a need to bolster the roster with the 2010 season approaching.

While the Yankees are the ones that usually make the big splashes in free agency, the Mets one-upped their cross-town rivals this offseason, in terms of big-name signings, when they inked former Boston Red Sox leftfielder Jason Bay to a four-year deal.

The Mets are hoping that Bay will be a big piece of the puzzle in their pursuit of the NL East title and hopefully, a World Series.

The Metropolitans are listed at +1900 to win it all in 2010.

Seattle Mariners

Despite not making the playoffs last year, the Seattle Mariners still had a relatively successful season, going 85-77.

If its offseason is any indication of how its regular season will be, Seattle should make the playoffs or better.

As mentioned, the club traded for Philly’s playoff ace Cliff Lee and it did a number of other things to improve.

The Mariners plucked 3B Chone Figgins away from the division rival Los Angeles Angels; re-signed Ken Griffey Jr. to a one-year deal and extended young ace Felix Hernandez’s deal by five years.

The only move that can be considered something of a head-scratcher is the trade for volatile Chicago Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley.

Seattle is listed at +1600 to win the World Series in MLB futures betting.

Spring Training will be starting up again soon and shortly after that, the start of another MLB season.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Josh Beckett and the Red Sox Probably Won't Negotiate During the Season

So says Beckett:
Speaking on CSNNE’s “SportsNet Central” Thursday night, Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett said he would most likely not negotiate a new contract with the Red Sox during the 2010 season, saying “Probably not,” when asked if he would participate in any in-season talks.

Beckett had said during a press conference Sunday at the Red Sox’ minor league training facility that he and the Red Sox had “talked about talking” regarding a new deal. The pitcher’s current contract runs out at the end of the 2010 season.

During the appearance, Beckett also said regarding his contract status, “It’s really not in my control. I don’t really have an answer right now, I don’t really want to think about it. I think for me, my focus is really just being on coming into camp, getting ready for the long season and preparing myself the best I can.”

So this gives the Red Sox roughly a month to get a new deal done with Beckett or risk having Beckett hit the free agent market this winter. Does anyone actually think this deal has a chance to get done before April rolls around? I'm doubtful. If Beckett signs now, he surely will land a lucrative contract, but if he delivers a stellar 2010 season, then he could land a really lucrative contract. Unless Beckett has a strong desire to stay in Boston, I'd gamble on his abilities and play the year out and plan on becoming a free agent after the season.

More Good News for Brandon Webb

Just a few weeks after throwing off a mound for the first time, Brandon Webb threw 45 pitches yesterday in a bullpen session:
It was only a bullpen session, but the 45 pitches Brandon Webb threw on Thursday morning had the D-backs feeling good.

"I feel like every time I'm getting somewhere," Webb said. "So eventually I'm going to get to where I need to be. Today was by far the best day. It's just going to be a process."

The 45 pitches were the most he has thrown off the mound in any of his six bullpen sessions since he began throwing again last month.

For the first time since shoulder surgery in August, Webb threw changeups from the mound. The session also marked the first time Webb worked from the stretch.

While his shoulder has been good for Webb during his bullpen sessions, he has struggled to get his mechanics and release point where he wants them. In that regard, Thursday's session was a big step forward.

This is big news for Webb who missed almost all of the 2009 season because of arm problems. Webb will be a free agent after the season and it will be interesting to see what kind of contract he can command on the open market. This is undoubtedly a positive step but the real test will come when the season starts to see if Webb is still the front line starting pitcher he was previously.

Rays and Carl Crawford Scrap Contract Talks Until the End of the Season

No surprise here given the economics of the situation:
“We had an opportunity to exchange ideas with the club about a contract extension for Carl and it was clear to all of us that an immediate agreement was not going to materialize,’’ agent Brian Peters told the St. Petersburg Times this afternoon. “Thus, we all agreed to table discussions until the end of the year. We’d like to minimize distractions for Carl and the club and keep the focus on baseball, so we don’t plan to comment upon Carl’s contract status again until after the season.”
All signs continue to point towards 2010 being Crawford's final season in Tampa, which means (barring something unforeseen) he's bound for a huge long term contract this winter.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Adam Dunn is Focusing on Defense

The Nationals slugging first baseball has been known as one of the biggest defensive liabilities in baseball throughout this career (mostly as a left fielder), but it appears that Dunn is making a strong effort to make himself a quality first baseman. Take it away, Mark Zuckerman:
Adam Dunn has been doing extensive defensive work at first base the last week with Tim Foli and Pat Listach. Listening to Dunn talk about it today, it's clear he's committed to making serious strides at a position he had only minimal experience at prior to last summer. "This is definitely a fresh start for me," he said. "I'm really having to learn a new position for me. I know I've played it before, but I never learned it. Now, as far as my footwork and things like that, it's learning a new position. That's exciting, and it's been fun so far."
If Dunn can prove himself to be an adequate first baseman this season, then he will make himself much more valuable on the free agent market. Dunn, who is scheduled to be a free agent after the season, will be much less of a liability for interested teams. Right now, the limitations of Adam Dunn (defense, speed, batting average) would make it difficult for teams to commit to Dunn long term despite his immense gifts (power, ability to get on base).

On a side note, there have been murmurs that the Nationals want to extend Dunn, which might be the best option for Adam Dunn given how many quality first baseman are set to hit the market this winter (Lee, Konerko, Pena, Overbay). It's difficult to predict what kind of money will be thrown Dunn's way nine months from now or even before, but Dunn might not be able to do better than a 2 or 3 year deal.

Carlos Pena Loves Tampa Bay

Is Carlos Pena's love for Tampa Bay enough to keep him around long term? If it was up to Pena, it sounds like he'd stay in Tampa:

It was a true reflection, he said, of how excited he was to be back on the field as the Rays went through their first full-squad workout Wednesday. And also, a symbol of how he plans to carry himself through what could be his last season in what he calls "the best place on Earth to play baseball."

Peña is an educated and erudite man, and in his head, he knows he may be done with the Rays. He's making $10.125 million at the end of his three-season deal and realizes he may not fit in their future, payroll-reduced plans.


So he says it's his "desire" to stay, that it's "a no-brainer for me," that even though he is represented by typically hard-nosed agent Scott Boras, the decision ultimately will be his.

"I understand markets. I understand what I could be worth, I'm not blind to that," Peña said. "But I think it would be silly for me to ignore what this team means to me. It would be just absolutely silly. I would be lying to myself and everyone else if I just said I don't care. It's not true. Even though I consider myself an intelligent person, very well-educated about the business of baseball, I think it's going to be a balance."

If Pena is willing to bring his price down to a level where the Rays will be able to keep him, then he would be the antithesis of a Scott Boras client. As much as the Rays love Pena, I know that they cannot (and will not) overpay to keep him simply based on the team's economics alone. Can Pena and the Rays find some middle ground? Potentially. But it depends on two factors:

1. how much the Rays value Pena and consequently what they are willing to offer him

2. how much Pena less money Pena is willing to take to stay in Tampa versus what he could receive on the open market

Either way, this is certainly a situation worth monitoring even with free agency a mere nine months away.

Adrian Gonzalez: Ominous Quote for the Padres

Say goodbye to the hometown discount. Hello, Beantown, Adrian Gonzalez:
On contract talks: “There hasn’t been any talks about anything.”

On his current contract, a four-year deal with a team option for 2011: “At the time you take the security. … The next one is where I look for what I deserve.”
Assuming that Gonzalez stays healthy and productive over the next two seasons, how much do you think he'll command on the open market? Teixeira money?

All I know is that Gonzalez's days with the Padres are surely numbered.

What Does the Future Hold for Lance Berkman?

Would Lance Berkman seriously retire after the 2010 season? says Lance:

Berkman is entering the final season of a six-year, $85 million contract. The Astros have a club option worth $15 million for 2011. If they don't exercise it, there is a $2 million buyout.

When asked about his take on the contract situation Wednesday, Berkman made a few jaws drop, saying if he fails to deliver this season and the Astros don't pick up his option for 2011, he will be looking for work elsewhere.

“I may have to, whether I like it or not,” said Berkman, a veteran of 11 seasons in the majors. “It may come down to a situation where if things don't go well, they don't pick up my option, then I probably won't be back.

“If they don't pick it up, I'll probably take my ball and go home.”

The question here is not what happens if the Astros don't pick up Berkman's option, but what kind of performance will Berkman have to put together in 2010 for the Astros not to pick up the option? I know the Astros' payroll situation is tight and they would love nothing more than to cut some payroll, but Berkman's popularity with the Astros makes it difficult for them to simply let him go, even if his prime is long gone.

This statement by Berkman could be a smart move in the long run because the Astros now know that he will not accept a discount so if they want to keep their franchise player around, they will have to pick up the option or risk losing him to retirement.

Gerry Hunsicker States the Obvious About Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena

To Jim Bowden nonetheless:
Rays SR VP Gerry Hunsicker just told us on XM 175 that it will be very difficult to keep both Carl Crawford & Carlos Pena after this season
As I've stated previously, the writing is one the wall here. Enjoy them while you can, Rays fans.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More on AJ Pierzynski's Future with the White Sox

I mentioned yesterday about the possibility of the White Sox signing Pierzynski to a one or two year deal to serve as a mentor/platoon partner for prospect Tyler Flowers. Well today, Pierzynski address that very question:

General manager Ken Williams said on Sunday that the contract status of catcher A.J. Pierzynski is something that will be talked about in the very near future, and he stated that he wasn't sure how comfortable he would be in handing the reins of a veteran pitching staff to Tyler Flowers next season.

Would Pierzynski -- a free agent after 2010 -- be willing to do a short-term deal and help with the transition?

''We'll cross that bridge when we come to it,'' Pierzynski said. ''I haven't really thought about that, but we'll focus on it if it comes up.

''My mind is on 2010, but if they came to me with something that was fair for both sides, I would definitely take a look at it.''

Interesting. I'm sure this a story that will be monitored all year, but it will be fascinating to see how Pierzynski balances his desire to play in Chicago with the various opportunities he should get to start in 2011.

Is 2010 Jayson Werth's Swan Song with the Phillies?

Like Carl Crawford, the chances of Jayson Werth re-signing with his current club beyond the 2010 season seem to be slim to none:

The Phillies are coming off an offseason in which they signed Shane Victorino, Roy Halladay, Joe Blanton, Danys Baez, Placido Polanco, Brian Schneider, Carlos Ruiz and Ross Gload to multiyear deals, pushing their 2011 payroll to $130.85 million.

Werth, who arrived yesterday sporting a bushy beard and shaggy hair, will be a 31-year-old free agent after this season.

The Phillies will be less than $10 million away from the $140 million threshold that they targeted this season, with 15 open roster spots. What happens next is anybody's guess.

"I haven't really thought about it," said Werth, who will earn $7 million in the last year of the 2-year contract he signed before last season. "I know that how much they are spending is an issue, and I think it's always an issue, no matter what the situation is. I definitely think that will play a part of it going forward. But again, that's something that my agent and the team will work out, and hopefully it will work out and I'll be in Philadelphia for a long time and continue to play with these guys."


The two sides have not engaged in substantive negotiations. Earlier this offseason, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. admitted that money will play a role in the team's decision-making. The status of top prospect Domonic Brown, a corner outfielder, could also factor in.

"Jayson is under contract through this year," Amaro said. "We've had very, very preliminary discussions about what his future might be like here. There will be some difficult decisions down the road. We'll have to weigh where we want to fit in all the dollars and how we want to fit the puzzle together. We can not operate with nothing but $15 to $20 million players. And if there's any indication, how much the Holliday and Bay signings have a direct impact on where Werth may be at the end of this year, we're going to have to sift through it and figure out what's best for the organization."

The writing is on the wall for Werth in Philadelphia. With so much money committed already to players in 2011, there is virtually no chance that the Phillies will be able to re-sign Werth without doing something creative or having him take a well below market deal. And as the article mentioned, if top prospect Domonic Brown is ready to take over the position in 2011, then the Phillies would have a cheap, high upside player who could replace Werth.

And as I mentioned back in January, if Werth puts up big numbers in 2010, then there is plenty of reasons to expect that he will land a huge contract. Sure, maybe the deal won't be in the Matt Holliday territory, but Werth could position himself as one of the top free agents on the market and demand a multi year commitment with a $13-$16 million dollar annual salary.

Carl Crawford: Bronx Bound in 2011?

Did the Yankees the reluctance to give Johnny Damon two years reflect something about their love for free agent to be Carl Crawford? According to Jon Heyman, the answer is yes.
One reason the Yankees were reluctant to go for a two-year deal for Johnny Damon might have had little to do with Damon and been a greater reflection of what they think of Carl Crawford. The Yankees love him. Crawford is almost sure to be too rich for the low-revenue Rays, and the Yankees jump to the head of the class for interested teams. Remember, too, that the Yankees passed on Matt Holliday. It all seems to set up nicely for Crawford.
If this is indeed true, then Yankees GM Brian Cashman deserves praise for his long term vision. Historically when the Yankees are "in love" with a player, they get him. A combination of the money, full court press from Yankee players, and the lure of the pinstripes seems to do the trick almost every time. Just ask CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Mark Teixeira.

Assuming that the Yankees payroll in 2011 remains around $200 million, then they will have roughly $50 million (less after arbitration) to spend on free agents and re-sign Jeter and Rivera. No matter, if the Yankees are truly in love with Crawford, then they will find a way to make it work economically even if it means increasing their budget.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Future of AJ Pierzynski

AJ Pierzynski has been the heart and soul of the White Sox since 2005, but will 2010 be his final season with the club? Perhaps:

''No matter what happens, I will never wish bad on the White Sox organization. They have been nothing but great to me, from [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] to [general manager] Kenny [Williams] to [manager] Ozzie [Guillen].''

Pierzynski is in the final year of a three-year extension he signed in 2007. He's 33 years old.

Tyler Flowers is Williams' latest golden boy. He's a hit-first, ask-questions-later offensive catcher who was acquired in the trade that sent Javier Vazquez to the Atlanta Braves in 2008.

Flowers just turned 24.

Do the math.


What does Pierzynski want?

''I want to stay, and everyone knows that,'' he said. ''There's no doubt about that.''

If Pierzynski entered the free agent market this winter, he probably would have been the most coveted catcher out there given his experience and production. However, Pierzynski is set to be a free agent after the 2010 season, which means he will be a member of one of the deepest free agent catching classes in history right now (Mauer, Victor Martinez, Gerald Laird, Ramon Hernandez). After Mauer and Martinez, I would rate Pierzynski above Laird and Hernandez because of his experience, leadership, left handed bat, and he's still a very useful player at the plate.

However, Pierzynski's experience will also play against him. Pierzynski will be 34 years old at the end of the 2010 season and I'd be shocked to see a team give him a deal that exceeds two guaranteed years. Even if Pierzynski puts together a career season with the Sox in 2010, the risk is simply too high given how catchers decline with age.

With all that said, I would not be surprised to see the White Sox extend a one or two year offer to Pierzynski, who could act as a mentor to Tyler Flowers as he adjusts to the majors. Pierzynski makes it obvious that he wants to stay on the south side, but would he stay if it meant reduced playing time? We'll see.

Carl Crawford "Hoping for the Best"

Sounds like Carl is about to price himself out of Tampa:

Carl Crawford said his chances of staying with the Rays "could go either way" and he's "hoping for the best like always.''

"Right now I really don't know,'' he said after his first workout of the spring. "I wish something good would come out of it. At this point we really haven't done too much of that (negotiating) right now and I don't know when we will.''

(Just to clarify, he said "hoping for the best" does mean staying with the Rays. "It does to me, I don't know about other people,'' he joked.)

Crawford did say he would prefer to not negotiate during the season, which puts something on a six-week clock on a potential extension with the Rays. If he gets to the end of the season, he is obviously more likely to explore free agency.

And while he wouldn't get into what he might be looking for or whether he would offer the Rays any kind of "hometown" discount, he made it clear he is looking for market value - which you would assume is in excess of the $10-million he is making this year. "That's what you go there for, to free agency,'' he said. "You go there to be paid like the guys playing against you. Pretty much, it speaks for itself.''

As I mentioned this morning, I don't think there is much of a possibility that Crawford stays beyond this year unless he is willing to take a hometown discount. This piece simply confirms that and makes me wonder what exactly is market value for a guy like Crawford? Would it be the 7 year/$120 million dollar deal the Cardinals gave to Matt Holliday?

Give us your thoughts in the comments section.