Friday, November 24, 2006

A Royal Move Missed

I managed to miss this move and it seems I was not the only one. But whatever, check out this news revealed on Royals Review:

I noticed that the Royals signed a minor league free agent named
Matt Wright. was highly thought of in the Braves organization.
2006, he was 10-8 3.47 ERA, 137.1 IP, 131 Hits, 57BB 118K and 1.17 WHIP
combined AA and AAA. just AA alone, Wright was 7-3, 2.22 89IP 74H
28BB 84Ks and 1.15 WHIP. may have been one of the Braves minor
league pitchers of the year - not sure on that one. is 6'4''
230lbs. and will be 25 on opening day 2007.
Some of the fans on the Braves blog Talking Chop were disappointed he
got away. would have had him in the Braves top 20 prospects.
an organization like the Royals who are desperate for starting
pitching, Wright sounds like a guy who might be a sleeper. AA
numbers are better than [Tyler]Lumsden (who is a LH and younger).
Wright might be one of those guys who could slip into the picture and
provide the Royals with some hope.

I do not have an opinion just yet but I felt it my duty (he said duty...heehee) to pass this bit on. More later of course.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gary Matthews Jr. Wins the Free Agent Lottery

A ton of moves over the last few days, some silly and some intriguing. Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Los Angeles Angels have signed Gary Matthews Jr. to a five year $50,000,000 deal. This is sheer insanity in my opinion. I have nothing against signing Matthews as your center fielder. He can play defense and has shown some batting ability the last couple of years but to give him this much based on one year as a fulltime player is too large a chance in my opinion. Especially for the Angels who have the arms to deal and acquire a Carl Crawford or Rocco Baldelli as I will discuss in some detail below. This is just crazy, sign Kenny Lofton or someone like that for a season and put this cash towards Vernon Wells or Andruw Jones.

The Moves Made

I'll be skipping most of the additions to the 40-man roster type moves unless I see a name I want to discuss or that merits fantasy consideration. For instance the Rangers added lefty A.J. Murray to the 40-man roster but that doesn't interest me. But the Tampa Bay Devil Rays adding outfielder Elijah Dukes gives me an opportunity to share what I think of him. Get it?

Hey look at that! First up is Elijah Dukes. The Rays are one of the more difficult teams to read in baseball. They are constantly talking about the trade of their best players, role players and prospects alike but they seldom pull off the deals that you expect them to or the ones most commonly rumored. Dukes was given a few at-bats at first base in the Arizona Fall League but contrary to common belief it does not appear that the Rays have any intention of changing his position.

If I have any sense of the Rays' intentions they will trade an outfielder before Spring Training begins for either an established major league starter or an advanced kick-ass prospect. Which gives Dukes (as either the traded or the beneficiary of the trade) a chance at starting in the majors out of Spring Training. In my opinion he is not only ready for the majors but could excel right off the bat especially for fantasy purposes. Dukes has the power to hit 20-25 homeruns right now and will probably develop into an annual 30 homer guy. He has the speed to steal 30 bases but isn't all that great a base runner, that will not matter in most leagues. He already has some skill at getting on base which should only get better with experience. He makes decent contact and has hit for good to great averages at every level. Given a shot to start the season i think something in the territory of .275/.340/.420 with say 18 homers and 15 stolen bases in 400 at-bats. I think the attitude problems are a little overblown. He seems to be fine when he gets to just play.

How likely are the Rays to actually make a trade that makes this happen? On a scale of one to ten I'd give it a six or seven, so pretty good. The Angels seem out at first glance after the signing of Gary Matthews Jr. to play center field but not necessarily. The Angels could simply make Garrett Anderson their regular designated hitter which frankly at this point would probably be better for his arthritic body. Let Chone Figgins play third and put their outfield acquisition in left field. The Phillies are a serious candidate as are the Marlins and Rangers. In fact any team that can use a very affordable outfielder that has a young starter of quality to spare has a chance and should be interested.

The Seattle Mariners added shortstop Michael Garciaparra to their roster. Nomar's little brother looked like a dud and still could be but he has a few useful skills that might be useful on a major league roster. He can play defense at any position, he makes decent contact, can draw a walk (from lesser pitchers anyway) and has the speed to steal a few bases. You wouldn't go into your draft with him in the back of your mind but if you left the auction and Garciaparra at a buck was your worst pick-up I wouldn't be too upset.

The New York Mets signed Moises Alou to a one year contract to man left field. Alou is old but as long as he stays healthy this should be a solid signing. The Mets have Ben Johnson, Lastings Milledge and Endy Chavez in reserve to cover any short term injury issues. Alou is in the same fantasy class as someone like Ray Durham who is consistently undervalued in a lot of leagues. Discounting players based purely on age is a mistake even veteran fantasy players often make.

The more interesting move the Mets made this week was trading RHP Henry Owens and RHP Matt Lindstrom to the Florida Marlins for LHP Jason Vargas and LHP Adam Bostick. Henry Owens is a minor league reliever who is already 27 years-old. But while the Mets don't really have a place for Owens in the majors the Florida Marlins probably do. In double-A for the Mets in 2006 Owens pitched 40 innings and earned 20 saves in 37 appearances with a 4.28 H9, 0.23 HR9, 2.25 BB9 and 16.65 K9. Guys like Owens are exactly what I mean when I say there isn't really any need to spend twenty million on Justin Speier. Apparently only the Yankees, Padres and Marlins have figured that out. Owens could be a decent one dollar save speculation.

Matt Lindstrom is an okay minor league reliever but he doesn't project to be worth much to fantasy players. He did have a decent year in double-A for the Mets in 2006, 9.30 H9, 0.44 HR9, 3.10 BB9 and 11.95 K9. Adam Bostick is basically the left handed starting version of Lindstrom in that he doesn't project to be worth anything to fantasy players. In 115 double-A innings (22 starts) Bostick was 8-7 with a 7.83 H9, 0.55 HR9, 5.24 BB9 and 8.53 K9. In triple-A he made five starts and went 1-2 in 27 innings with a 13.00 H9, 1.33 HR9, 4.33 BB9 and 10.00 K9.

The most interesting player to me is Jason Vargas. This lefty starter spent a good chunk of time in the majors the last two seasons and is still just 23 years old. He has the stuff but not the control or command thus far. He was impressive coming up through the minors and was solid in his major league debut. In the majors in 2005 Vargas pitched 73.2 innings with a 8.67 H9, 0.49 HR9, 3.79 BB9 and 7.21 K9. This isn't star stuff but as a rotation guy not too bad. He completely fell apart in 2006 the numbers were ugly, trust me. But he still has that stuff and he now has that change of scenary which often leads to good things for guys on the verge. If you are in a league with deep benches a late pick on Vargas could work out for you.

The Royals traded a player to be named to the Cincinnati Reds for catcher Jason LaRue who was injured in 2006 and lost his job to David Ross. I like LaRue for the Royals. Their young pitchers could use a more veteran presence behind the plate. LaRue also hits okay for a catcher. In 2005 LaRue batted .260/.355/.452 with 14 homeruns in 361 at-bats. I think this unofficially ends the John Buck tragedy, officially Buck will stick around for a few years as a reserve catcher.

The White Sox added Dewon Day to the 40-man roster. Day was a Rule V pick (the minor league portion) from the Toronto Blue Jays. He had a very good year for the White Sox pitching in high-A Winstom-Salem (at age 25). He delievered 47.2 innings woth a 7.55 H9, 0.57 HR9, 3.97 BB9 and 11.90 K9. You may see him make an appearance in the White Sox bullpen in 2007. Older guys who have good numbers at the lower levels are often either pushed up quickly or forgotten about. I get the impression that White Sox GM Kenny Williams is a fan.

Okay that's that for today. Have a Great and Happy Thanks Giving.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Soriano Hits the Jackpot!

The free-agents seem to be coming off the board faster than in years past. Alfonzo Soriano has supposedly reached a huge deal (eight years, $135 million, can that be right?) with the Chicago Cubs to be their leadoff hitter. Can you imagine signing a forty homerun guy to hit first in the order? Probably part of the deal was that they let him leadoff, Soriano's preferred spot in the order. But the good news is Soriano could have a crazy fantasy year in Wrigley Field. The Crazy part is the Cubs are going to play him in center field. He has the speed and a nice arm but he isn't exactly a great outfielder yet. In Wrigley it shouldn't matter quite as much as long as the Cubs keep their strikeout pitchers, it could be worse I guess.

Frank Catalanotto has agreed to a three-year, $13M deal to return to the Texas Rangers. Interesting. I was hoping that Jason Botts would get a shot at the DH role. I suppose Catalanotto could play in the outfield but that is not even close to the kind of outfield upgrade I thought they wanted to make. He could be a leadoff option with Gary Matthews Jr. looking for big money elsewhere.

The Mets have apparently gone old for their left field spot. They have apparently reached a deal with Moises Alou on a one-year $8-9 million dollar deal to replace Cliff Floyd. That's not terrible, an upgrade in fact if Alou can stay healthy for the season. It also makes it pretty easy to move in one of the young guys should Lastings Milledge or Fernando Martinez prove themselves ready. I would bet on Endy Chavez and Ben Johnson being on the bench and Milledge being in triple-A (or on the Marlins) next season. I personally think Milledge is going to move on to another team and prove to be a disappointment.

The Dodgers have agreed to a two-year deal with Nomar Garciaparra to return as their first baseman. Garciaparra had a decent season and played well at first base. He had a couple of injury problems but nothing devestating. The big question is what happens to James Loney now. Loney could be included in a trade I suppose or moved to the outfield but I doubt the Dodgers are prepared to go into 2007 with essentially three rookies in Loney, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the outfield. I think the Dodgers are going to find a big power bat to play in the outfield and it might be Carlos Lee.

The Reds have agreed to a deal with left-handed reliever Mike Stanton on a two-year contract. I can not wait to see how money they game him. I'm betting on way too much. They also have signed shortstop Alex Gonzalez (the one with the Red Sox last season).

The Moves Made (officially)

The Los Angeles Angels signed Justin Speier to a four-year, $18M deal to join their bullpen. Why everyone in baseball suddenly thinks they need to spend big money to get middle relievers like this is a complete mystery to me. You can do a lot worse than Speier but you can also do a lot better for the money. Speier, to his credit has strung together three pretty solid seasons in a row. In 2006 he pitched 51.1 innnings with a 2.98 earned run average, 1.32 whip (0.95 whip in 2005), 8.24 H9, 0.88 HR9, 3.68 BB9 and 9.64 K9.

The Boston Red Sox re-signed their utility player, Alex Cora to a two-year, $4M deal. Eh, whatever Cora is okay but not worth much fantasy wise except in crazy deep leagues, I'm talking 40-plus man rosters. In 2006 he had 235 at-bats with 1 homerun and six stolen bases. He batted .238/.312/.298 for the season playing mostly shortstop.

The New York Mets signed infielder Damion Easley to a one-year contract worth $850,000. He's a better hitter than you might think but he probably won't get the at-bats to be worth much as a fantasy player. In 2006 he batted .234/.324/.420 with 9 homeruns and a stolen base in 188 at-bats with Arizona.

The Philadelphia Phillies decided that since they couldn't sign Alfonso Soriano to grab Wes Helms instead. They signed him to a two-year, $5.45M contract. I guess Brian Cashman tried to sign Helms to a slightly better deal for the New York Yankees to play first base. Probably a good move not everyone can handle playing in New York for the Yankees. But it would have been a decent move on the cheap for the Yankees and is a decent move for the Phillies.

definitely wanted to stay in the National League,I knew all the pitchers. I knew all the hitters. I know where to play them in the field. Everybody I know who has changed leagues, it's an adjustment period." Source: Philadelphia Daily News

In 2003 Helms played mostly full-time for the Milwaukee Brewers and in 476 at-bats batted .261/.330/.450 with 23 homeruns. In 2006 Helms has 236 at-bats with the Florida Marlins and batted .326/.386/.572 with 10 homeruns. His splits were pretty even last season batting .336/.414/.505 in 107 at-bats against lefties and .323/.368/.632 against righties in 133 at-bats. He could come cheap in leagues with less experienced players. Even in experienced leagues he probably won't get the respect he's earned the last few seasons. A lot of owners dismiss those that never seem to get many at-bats as lesser talents but that isn't always the case. That's why it is always worth doing the research.

The Texas Rangers also signed right-handed reliever Franklyn German and infielder Ramon Vazquez to minor league contracts and invited them to Spring Training. German was a closer of the future way back when he put up amazing K9 numbers in high-A and double-A with the Oakland Athletics. But he has never been able to get his walk-rate under control. Vazquez is pretty useless in fantasy. He batted .209/.267/.284 in 67 at-bats with the Cleveland Indians last season.

Okay, Closers article is still i progress maybe later tonight. Till next time... Peace.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Cubs and Tigers Making Moves

The Blue Jays officially signed Frank Thomas as I told you yesterday only the deal was two-years $18 million rather than the $23 million I posted yesterday. There is also an option year for $10 million. Thomas give the Blue Jays the big bat they really need in the middle of their lineup. If he can stay relatively healthy he should make a dramatic difference for them.

The Oakland Athletics promoted bench coach Bob Geren to manager. Geren is supposedly one of general manager Billy Beane's best buds. I would not expect any radical departures from the Oakland system with Geren at the comm. While I'm on Oakland the Athletics may actually benefit from losing Frank Thomas as it gives Dan Johnson a chance to play. Johnson did not have a great season in the majors but he should still develop into a .290-.300/ 30 homeruns type hitter. He may be forgotten in mixed leagues and in AL-only he isn't too likely to be expensive even if he isn't quite in the sleeper category yet.

The Moves Made:

The Chicago Cubs agreed to a trade with the crosstown Chicago White Sox. The Cubs send right-hander David Aardsma and lefty Carlos Vasquez to the White Sox for lefty Neal Cotts.

David Aardsma was drafted in the first round by the San Francisco Giants in 2003. In 2004 he lost the velocity on his fastball for unexplained reasons but has returned since being traded to the Cubs in 2005. He doesn't seem to have quite the package you would want out of a closer but he should be a competent set-up pitcher for a while. If you are the type to take chances on young pitchers (not something I suggest) Aardsma is a guy you might like; his upside is really high.

Carlos Vasquez was suspended 15 games in April of 2005 for testing positive for steroids. Judging purely by his stats I would guess that Vasquez somehow managed to add some serious movement to his pitches, His walk rate ballooned to 5.68 from 2.62 in 2005 (3.53 in 2004) and his strikeout rate went from 8.13 (pretty good) to 10.66 (excellent). Overall, Vasquez looks like a decent prospect who needs to work on his control; probably not worth much fantasywise.

There have already been rumors that the Cubs intend to move Cotts into their rotation. Cotts was a second round pick of the Oakland A's way back when. He was switched to relief when he was sent to the ChiSox in the Keith Foulke trade. Cotts had what looks like really bad luck to me in 2006. His H9 swelled to 10.67 from 5.67 in his extremely lucky 2005. Cotts looked pretty promising as a minor league starter and perhaps that's a better situation for him as besides his lucky looking 2005 he hasn't been great in relief. He also let his homerun rate blow up in his face from 0.15 in 2005 to 2.00 in 2006.

The Detroit Tigers re-signed veteran first baseman Sean Casey to a one-year contract. Casey is not great as first basemen go especially as far as fantasy is concerned but for the Tigers he gives them the same much-needed on-base percentage that Gary Sheffield provides. He also provides leadership on the field which the young Tigers can use, something Sheffield is not capable of giving.

The Texas Rangers signed catcher Miguel Ojeda. Ojeda is returning to Texas as a back-up to the Rangers' new starter Gerald Laird. Elsewhere on this blog you will find my raves about Laird from last season; I love him as a hitter, he reminds me of Mike Piazza in his prime.

Sometime Sunday evening you can look for the offseason's first preparation article on relief pitchers.

Till next time... Peace.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Morning Briefs...

Any second now Frank Thomas will sign a two-year $23 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. A bit of a surprise to be sure. I guess the action just couldn't wait this year. The GM meetings haven't been this busy is a long while.

Today's Moves:

The Chicago Cubs signed free-agent catcher Henry Blanco to a two year $5.5 million contract with a mutual option for the 2009 season. Why the Cubs are spending this much on an all field no-hit back-up catcher is far beyond me. I'm sure there will be much more before the day is out.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Daisuke Matsuzaka Arrives

I love this time of year when there is baseball newsevery single day (even if some of it is silly and made up). Yesterday the big news was the rookies of the year. Hanley Ramirez won the National League Rookie of the Year by batting .292 with 17 homeruns, 51 stolen bases and 119 runs scored. In the American League the winner was Justin Verlander who lead his team t o the World Series by pitching to a 17-9 record with a 3.63 earned run average.

Today the big news is the National League Cy Young. Brandon Webb won over closer Trevor Hoffman. Chris Carpenter was third and Roy Oswalt was fourth. Webb was 16-8 with a 3.10 earned run average with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Mets traded right-hander Heath Bell (who I've raved about elsewhere in this blog) and lefty Royce Ring to the Padres for outfielder Ben Johnson. This is a great move in my opinion for the Padres. I've believed Ben Johnson to be overrated and I think Bell is closer material. This also makes it easier for the Padres to trade the much hyped Scott Linebrink. The Braves seem to like Linebrink a lot and would give up Marcus Giles to get him. On the other hand this might make it easier for the Mets to trade one of their outfield prospects like Lastings Milledge or Martinez who the Marlins want in return for Dontrelle Willis.

Former New York Mets coach Manny Acta has a new job. Manager of the Washington Nationals. Stan Kasten, the Nationals’ team president, and Jim Bowden, the general manager, said Acta impressed them with his personality, his knowledge of the team and his ideas about how to turn around the club, which finished last in the National League East the past three seasons.

Baseball is planning another World Baseball Classic for 2009. We can only hope that they won't have it happen during Spring Training again. Interrupting the season would be better than that. But in my opinion the best option would be after the World Series.

Today's moves also include yesterday's moves since I was so certain we would finally get definitive news on Daisuke Matsuzaka I waited most of the day. The News did come but by then I wrapped up in other business so you get two days today, lucky you.

Today's Moves:

The Huge news yesterday was the official announcement that the Boston Red Sox won the bidding for the rights to negociate a contract with 26-year old Japanese Ace Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Red Sox bid was for a stunning $51.1 million. (No more Evil Empire talk, Larry Lucchino) Boston's bid of $51.1 million was bigger than the Opening Day payrolls of Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Colorado and Florida for the 2006 season.Although there are rumors that the Red Sox have no intention of signing D-Mat (the nickname given him by agent Scott Boras) and that the large bid was an attempt to keep him from the Yankees. I am not buying it. The Red Sox are a lot more secure than than some of their fans apparently. D-Mat, is the best pitcher available and if the people I trust to evaluate and translate his stats are correct he would be the best pitcher available most seasons. When I start doing my teams reports which will include blurbs on all their major players and prospects Matsuzaka's will be a fun one. Stay tuned...

The New York Yankees and Mike Mussina have agreed on a two-year $22.5 million contract extension. The Yankees more than likely had this deal in their pocket as they waited to find out the results of the Daisuke Matsuzaka bidding. The Yankees may not be as aggressive after this year's free-agents as some seem to think. Brian Cashman intends to re-build his pitching staff with young arms.

Moving on to a guy I'm sure we are all familiar with; The Toronto Blue Jays signed right-hander Matt Roney to a one-year contract. Roney is a pitcher that despite jumping around quite a bit has had some success in the minor leagues. Last season in Sacramento as part of the Oakland A's system he had a great season. He pitched 58.0 innings ub 47 relief appearances with a 9.00 H9, 0.62 HR9, 2.95 BB9 and a 10.09 K9. Probably as good an available relief pitcher as Justin Speier whomay get a three-year $13 million dollar offer from multiple teams.

The Colorado Rockies signed infielder Kazuo Matsui to a one-year contract. The Rockies see Matsui as a potential leadoff hitter which is what the Mets used to see. Fortunately for the Rockies they've actually managed to see recent signs that Matsui can still hit. Matsui will receive a base salary of $1.5 million with incentives that could add another $950,000. With the Rockies in 113 at-bats Matsui batted .345/.392/.504 with 2 homeruns and eight stolen bases.

The Mariners signed an assortment of minor leaguers to contracts but the ones you should know about are: right-hander Jesse Foppert and infielder Rey Ordonez (who knew he was still kicking around). Foppert has supposedly lost a lot of velocity but these things have suddenly returned in the past. Do not touch Ordonez.

Jason Standridge
was picked up off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds by the New York Mets. Standridge has not been good in the majors but his minor league numbers have been interesting. Last year in triple-A in 46 innings pitched he had a 7.83 H9, 0.39 HR9, 2.93 BB9 and 8.41 K9.

The Mets also re-signed free-agents Jose Valentine and Orlando Hernandez. Valentine is most likely the super-utility player but will get playing time at second depending on who the Mets choose to bring in at the position. El Duque was 9-7 with a 4.09 earned run average for the Mets. He was a huge part of their rotation when everyone seemed to go down with injuries.

The Cubs signed former Texas Ranger (the baseball kind not the Chuck Norris kind) Mark DeRosa to a three-year $13 million contract. The Cubs think he can handle a fulltime job. With the Rangers DeRosa batted .296/.357/.456 in 520 at-bats with 40 doubles, two triples, 13 homeruns and four stolen bases. He is now 31 years-old and this is really his first real success as a fulltime player. He would not be the first to break out this late but I'd be hesitant to bet on his future.

The Hot Stove Noise:

Phill Rogers says that the Yankees have expressed interest in both Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte and this is probably true. But not for the reasons some might think. The Yankees are serious about giving their collectionof young arms a shot but they can't simoly enter re-building mode. If the Yankees were able to sign one or both to one-year contracts that would give the Yankees the flexibility to move young players into the rotation and bullpen without giving up the season or committing to a multi-millions and even worse multi-years deal. Brian Cashman is going to do things right and those teams that have been living large off luxury tax payments had better go to plan B and fast.

From the San Francisco Chronicle: Major-league sources said Tuesday the Giants are negotiating with Juan Pierre, who had 204 hits, 156 of them singles, and stole 58 bases in 78 attempts for the Cubs in 2006...Rather than try to re-sign Ray Durham or another big-money free agent to play second base, the Giants might go with a tandem of Kevin Frandsen and an experienced backup -- Craig Counsell or someone similar. Frandse
n hit .215 in 93 scattered at-bats as a rookie but is tearing up the Arizona Fall League...The Giants have investigated relievers Justin Speier, Joe Borowski and others with late-inning experience as insurance for closer Armando Benitez. Speier was Toronto's setup man and Borowski Florida's closer in 2006, and both are said to be attracting a lot of interest as potential closers. Another option is re-signing Mike Stanton.

The Giants have a ton of money to spend this offseason. The salaries of their departing free-agents will give them nearly $40 million to spend if they choose. Why they would choose to give a big chunck to Pierre is a bit beyond me to answer. Pierre is a decent fielder which is made slightly irrelevant by his extremely weak throwing arm (the reason he did not last in Colorado in the first place). Despite his speed and his ability to make contact he is not a great leadoff hitter. The Giants would be better off trading for triple-A player like Kevin Thompson than putting millions into a player like Pierre. But that is the way teams seem to go these days. If someone else gave them the money they must still be worth it, right?

From the New York Times: The Mets did not rule out the possibility of pursuing a right-handed hitting second baseman, like Mark Loretta, Adam Kennedy, Rich Aurilia or Julio Lugo, on the free-agent market to complement Valentín. The Mets have spoken with several teams, including the Chicago White Sox, about potential trades at the general managers meeting here. They are interested in pitchers Freddy García and Javier Vázquez, a longtime favorite of Omar Minaya’s. No one on the Mets is untouchable, Minaya added — “Babe Ruth got traded,” he said — although he did not elaborate on the turn of events that befell the Red Sox afterward. Minaya has received many inquiries about the Mets’ stockpile of young pitchers and outfielders.

The Mets’ pitching list begins with Philip Humber and Mike Pelfrey, their highly regarded draft picks from 2004 and 2005, and it also includes Brian Bannister, Alay Soler, Oliver Pérez, John Maine and Aaron Heilman, who would prefer to start next season and would not be averse to receiving that opportunity elsewhere. It is doubtful that the Mets would consider trading Humber or Pelfrey except in a blockbuster deal that would yield someone who would remain under their contractual control for a few years.

The Mets will need to do battle with the Boston Red Sox to acquire Julio Lugo. Boston has coveted Lugo for almost two years now. I do think the White Sox will trade one of their starters for a bat. I do not think the Mets have the bat the White are going to want.

From the New York Post (mostly Joel Sherman): the Yanks strongly believe Boston is pushing hard to sign J.D. Drew to bat behind David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez...The Yanks would rather go short-term and pay heavy for a pitcher they like, notably Andy Pettitte if he decides to keep playing, or perhaps Roger Clemens. Failing that, they saw a World Series in which Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver were heroes. They feel they have upgraded their scouting and are as likely to pluck a pitcher who will need just a one- or two-year contract - think Miguel Batista or Adam Eaton - who will pitch as well as, say, Padilla at a fraction of the cost. That is the right notion.

Adam Eaton is probably my favorite available starter behind Matsuzaka. Barry Zito has great stuff but has been so inconsistent in execution that spending $80 million on him scares me a lot. Eaton has #1 starter stuff even if he has never actually pitched that way. And as Sherman points out he will come cheap. You remember when people started to give up on former Braves prospect Jason Schmidt? I think Eaton will come around in the same way. He just needs a year or two of health.

A-Rod is represented by Boras and has said often, despite strong indications to the contrary, that he likes New York and wants to remain a Yankee. After the 2007 season, Rodriguez has the right to void the final three years on his contract and declare free agency. He would be walking away from $81 million (of which the Yanks are responsible for $51 million, with the Rangers picking up the rest).Following the 2007 season, Rodriguez will gain leverage to potentially follow one of three paths: 1) to opt out as a free agent; 2) to push the Yanks to extend his contract upon threat of opting out; 3) to use the threat of opting out and the Yanks getting nothing to push the Yanks to trade him to a desired spot so that he does not have to forfeit the $27 million annually."If he chooses [to leave], so be it," Cashman said. "He earned the rights he has in that contract through fair negotiations."

I get the feeling that Cashman would secretly love the move. He would also love if third base prospect Eric Duncan were ready at that point. I have my doubts abou that.

With Mike Mussina re-upping to fall in between ace Chien-Ming Wang and Randy Johnson, if he is healthy, the Yankees have shown an interest in Seattle free agent Gil Meche and are entertaining the possibility of using newly-acquired Humberto Sanchez in a trade for an established starter.

I like Meche's stuff a lot as well but I've sort of given up on him achieving and higher heights. From Eaton we've seen flashes between injuries. From Meche we haven't seem much at all.

Minaya has broached the idea of trying to acquire star center fielder Vernon Wells from Toronto to play left field next to Carlos Beltran. The Mets had not yet broached the idea with the Blue Jays. In addition, Toronto officials indicated if they were to trade Wells, they would want starting pitching in return that is more certain than the Mets' enticing but not yet proven arms such as Mike Pelfrey, Phil Humber, John Maine or Oliver Perez.The Blue Jays are trying to re-sign Wells, who can be a free agent after the season. They are not likely to be able to do that, but since they have hopes of contending in 2007, the Jays might just decide to keep Wells and make a decision in July based on where they are in the standings whether they would trade him or not.

Kei Igawa is trying to come to the U.S. through the posting system from Japan, though with far less fanfare than Matsuzaka. He is a lefty that former Met and current Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine assessed as having a fastball that maxes out at 92 mph, plus a changeup and slider. Valentine said, "He can pitch there as a No. 4 or 5 starter and win 12 games with a good offense."

From Mark Healey at Gotham Baseball:
Cashman is wiping his roster clean of players (Gary Sheffield and Jaret Wright) that insiders say he wanted nothing to do with in the first place, word is that he's focusing on his minor league depth as much as the improvements needed to improve his club at the major league level.Cashman's growing role as a major player and power broker is scaring the "bejeezus" out of the mid-market teams, says one MLB scout, who says that "a Yankee team looking at the big picture and long-term franchise screws up the market. "Teams that call the Yankees are facing the reality that Cashman actually wants All-Star caliber players in return for his highly-rated prospects, not the one-dimensional veterans that used to litter the Yankee roster every year. That's bad for baseball."

I think it is pretty obvious to everyone that Cashman got what he wanted from last year's negotiations. George Steinbrenner has stepped aside and been so quiet that reporters keep wondering if he's alive, seriously.

Reports out of Florida say the Mets are engaged in active discussions with the Florida Marlins for the services of Dontrelle Willis, with Aaron Heilman and Lastings Milledge as the main pieces in any deal. Well, after speaking with two MLB officials, we've been able to confirm a few phone calls between hotel suites, but not much else, except for one interesting note. Milledge is a player that Florida “likes”, but they “love” Fernando Martinez, and if the Mets include him in any deal, it'll get done. I am reporting this for the simple reason that this detail tells me that no deal will get done, because Minaya has no intention of including Martinez in any deal for any player. "Minaya has other guys in his system that he's willing to deal, but not that kid. No way/”

I'm not so sure. Shouldn't Minaya have learned someting from last season when he refused to include Milledge in any deals? I love Martinez too, a lot more than I do Lastings Milledge but The Mets have the money and the space in the payroll to find another hitter. Hell, they another outfield prospect in Carlos Gomez that I like almost as much. Willis would be hugely popular in New York the mets should make the deal.

From Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (and the big gun in Baseball Reporting these days if you ask me): The Cubs, the most aggressive club at the general managers' meetings, are just getting started. The team's ideal blueprint, according to new manager Lou Piniella, includes the addition of two more hitters and two starting pitchers. The Cubs might not accomplish all that, but they've already added free-agent infielder Mark DeRosa and re-signed third baseman Aramis Ramirez and right-hander Kerry Wood for a combined $89.5 million. If they signed free agent Alfonso Soriano, their No. 1 target, to play center, they likely would add a lesser outfield bat to alternate with Jacque Jones and Matt Murton...Perhaps the most fascinating development in the aftermath of the DeRosa signing is that the Cubs continue to pursue free agent Julio Lugo, whom they envision batting leadoff and possibly moving to center field, according to major-league sources...Don't look now, but the representatives for free-agent right-hander Adam Eaton believe that he might command a four-year deal — not bad for a guy who has made only 35 combined starts the past two seasons due to finger injuries.The Cardinals, facing the possible losses of free-agent right-handers Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver and left-hander Mark Mulder, were among the clubs that met Tuesday with Eaton's agents...

Phillies left fielder Pat Burrell has informed the club that he would accept a trade only to the Yankees, Red Sox or a west-coast club, according to a source with knowledge of his thinking. The Phillies badly want to move Burrell, who has a complete no-trade clause. They also would be willing to trade center fielder Aaron Rowand for a quality reliever...

Pat Burrell if he were willing to move back to first base might be a good fit with the Yankees who are looking for a first baseman.

The Brewers and Orioles have discussed a trade that would send outfielder Kevin Mench to Baltimore for right-hander Rodrigo Lopez; the Orioles also have expressed interest in another Brewers outfielder, Geoff Jenkins, but their bigger priority is believed to be free-agent left fielder Carlos Lee...Believe it or not, teams are contacting the Yankees about trading for right-hander Carl Pavano; the Rockies are one club that might have interest if the Yankees paid a portion of the $21 million that Pavano is owed over the next two seasons. The Yankees, naturally, say they won't give Pavano away; their public position is that they want him to get healthy and be productive. Still, it's difficult to imagine the Yankees rejecting even a mediocre offer for a pitcher who has been a severe disappointment. One rotation possibility that the Yankees might consider, with or without Pavano: Right-hander Scott Proctor, who was one of the team's best relievers last season.

Yes, the Devil Rays bid for the negotiating rights to Japanese third baseman Akinori Iwamura, but they wouldn't necessarily play him at third. The Rays like that they could plug Iwamura into a number of positions: Second base, outfield, even first as a last-ditch measure. Speaking of the Rays, a rival scout who saw shortstop Ben Zobrist in the Arizona Fall League says that the former Astros' prospect is as good a player as the Twins' Jason Bartlett — and the scout offers the same opinion about Giants second baseman Kevin Frandsen...

Very interesting. I like Barlett a lot. I didn't think Zobrist had that type of speed. I'll have to look into it. Of course I will share what I find. But where does this leave B.J. Upton? I have no clue what the Devil Rays are thinking most of the time.

The Diamondbacks have made a pitch to free-agent left-hander Mark Mulder, but if they want him to help anchor a starting rotation with Cy Young winner Brandon Webb, they may have to offer more up-front money than perhaps any other interested team. That's because the Diamondbacks, under Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick and his fellow owners, basically refuse to make incentive-laden deals where a player can earn more salary during a season through good health and production. Mulder, who underwent rotator cuff surgery on his pitching shoulder in August, likely would command a hefty contract if he were healthy.

Avoid pitchers coming off of shoulder surgery. This is good advice for fantasy owners and major league GMs.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer: The Marlins might take a run at Franklin Gutierrez. Florida needs a center fielder and Gutierrez, with one option left, seems to be blocked in the Tribe's outfield.

This makes a lot of sense for the Tribe. Gutierrez is behind Shin Soo Choo, Casey Blake and whatever player the Tribe brings in this season. The Marlins have bunches of major league ready pitching they can deal back.

Till next time... Peace.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

The Hot Stove Heats Up

The Hot Stove Season begins in earnest today as the GM Meetings get started in Naples, Florida. Few trades or signings happen at the GM Meetings but the groundwork starts to get set and the rumors start to fly. Advanced Fantasy Baseball will be providing you with a daily look at the moves made and their possible fanatasy implications. I hope you will visit frequently as we get this place heated up! Check in tommorrow as we hopefully have some Daisuke Matsuzaka news.

The Moves Made: (for November - from this point onward it will be daily)

The Chicago Cubs managed to re-sign their third baseman Aramis Ramirez to a five-year $73 million deal. I'm guessing the Cubs figured they'd better put their best offer on the table before other teams got in the mix. While I can't say I would have given such a bad defensive player that much money the Cubs can afford it and they need Ramirez to stay in town if they hope to win. Ramirez probably has his best value playing in Wrigley Field so this is cool to fantasy players.

You can hate on the New York Yankees if you wish but they are making good moves so far this offseason. On Saturday they traded right-handed starter Jaret Wright and the cost of his buyout ($4 million) to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Chris Britton. Britton pitched 53.2 major league innings in 2006 with a 2.85 BB9, 6.88 K9 and allowed just 0.67HR9. These are solid relief stats. In the minors in 2005 Britton pitched 78 innings in high-A with a 2.36 BB9, 12.58K9 and 0.57HR9. At double-A in 2006 he pitched 16 innings with 3.38BB9, 13.5K9 and 0.00HR9. He will pitch in 2007 at just 24 years old. Not only the Britton make a very nice one dollar relliever you have to think that he could develop into a possible replacement for Mariano Rivera down the road.

The Cincinnati Reds signed outfielder Bubba Crosby to a one-year major league contract. When I first heard this I was fairly incredulous as to why. Then I started to hear some Ryan Freel trade rumors (to the Rangers) and it made a little more sense. The Reds have never seemed to like Freel as much as his fantasy owners and as just a back-up defensive center fielder Crosby is useful.

The other Yankees move this weekend was to trade the grumbling Gary Sheffield to the Detroit Tigers for three quality pitching prospects. Humberto Sanchez being the headliner with Kevin Whelan and Anthony Claggett. Sanchez was raised in the Bronx and should quickly become a favorite of fantasy owners who are also Yankee fans. Sanchez was the starter of the futures game and depending on you you talk to could become a frontline starter or a dominating closer.

The bet here is the Yankees will use him the rotation. I will soon be posting a lot more about all three players on my New York Yankees site Bronx Pride but for now you should know that Sanchez just a combined 123 innings in 2006 thanks to some supposedly minor elbow problems. He has had other injury problems in the past to his knee and elbow but never has required surgery. For double-A Erie Sanchez pitched 71.2 innings with a 5.90 H9, 0.25 HR9, 3.39 BB9 and 10.80K9. In Triple for the Toledo Mudhens 51.1 innings pitched with a 8.77H9, 0.35 HR9, 3.51BB9 and 7.54 K9. I will cover Whelan and Claggett in more detail on this site when I do my minor league reports.

Sheffield, according to various sources, will become a designated hitter for the Tigers. This will push Marcus Thames to the bench most likely. Thames may be a good one to move in an early offseason trade before this gets announced. As long as you can get fair value for him.

The other big move from last week I want to cover is the Josh Barfield for Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andrew Brown trade. I have heard lots of grumbling from the sides of Barfield and Kouzmanoff owners and I understand. But this trade will increase the production of both players. Obviously Kouzmanoff was going to have to wait for a position to open up in Cleveland before he could get a shot. Some say he could have played first base but between Ryan Garko, Victor Martinez and Casey Blake the position is probably covered and at third he would need to wait for Andy Marte to not just fail but be given up on which would delay his arrival until 2008 at least and at 26 years-old already he doesn't want to wait. Petco Field should be a very good place for Kouzmanoff's to-all-fields hitting style. There is an opening at third base and the Padres have only Russell Branyan as a real alternative. To replace Barfield the Padres have $30 million dollars that they fully intend to spend every penny of this season. They can also seemingly move reliever Scott Linebrink to the Atlanta Braves anytime they like for Marcus Giles. There are a bunch of quality second baseman available via free-agency including Alfonso Soriano, Mark Loretta and Julio Lugo. For those that are not familiar Kouzmanoff batted .389/.449/.660 with 15 homers and 19 doubles in 244 double-A at-bats this season and .353/.409/.647 with 7 homers and nine doubles in 102 triple-A at-bats. In his minor league career Kouz has batted .333/.396/.561.

San Diego also gets right-hander Andrew Brown who is ready to pitch in the majors. Brown was moved to relief in the last couple of seasons for the Indians and he is a good one. In 62.1 innings pitched at triple-A Buffalo featured a 7.51 H9, 0.72 HR9, an unfortunate and a little out of character 5.2 BB9 (in his minor league career his BB9 is just 3.99) and 7.65 K9. In Petco Brown should become a quality reliever who is not altogether dissimilar from Cla Meredith who the Padres robbed from the Red Sox last year (along with Josh Bard) for...brrr, Doug Mirabelli.

Josh Barfield had a solid rookie season in 2006 batting .280/.318/.423 with 13 homeruns and 21 stolen bases in 539 at-bats. What that hides is how much better Barfield was away from the cavernous park in San Diego. On the road Barfield batted .319/.355/.484 with 7 homeruns and 13 of his stolen bases. A little something for the American League Only guys to look forward to enjoying.

The Colorado Rockies excercised their option on Jason Jennings. All by itself this is not all that significant but there are rumors that Jennings could be dealt. Jennings is a solid starter who induces ground balls in Colorado. In a more normal enviroment he could do very good things. In 2006 45.4% groundballs and just 28.4% flyballs, again this is in Colorado, to go with 8.75 H9, 0.72 HR9 (in Colorado), 3.61 BB9, 6.03 K9.

The Chicago White Sox were extremely disappointed with the performance of their outfielders with the exception of Jermaine Dye. Scott Podsednik will probably be given a chance to redeem himself, Brian Anderson may not. There are already rumors that he could be traded with one of their starters. This is what makes the signing of outfielder Luis Terrero interesting to me. Terrero is a former Arizona Diamondback prospect that never really got the opportunity to play. He isn't a great great hitter but he's a competent one who has a little pop and a lot of speed. Last season Terrero ended up in the Baltimore Orioles system but only received 40 sporadic at-bats. But at triple-A Ottawa the 26 year-old had a nice season batting .318/.367/.560 with 21 doubles, 2 triples, 16 homeruns and 18 stolen bases in just 302 at-bats. I am officially adding Terrero to my players to watch list.

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