Tag:Yankees
Posted on: November 13, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 6:17 pm
 

Baseball's worst contracts, zombie-style

Werth, zombie

By Evan Brunell

What are the worst contracts in baseball?

Some of them are pretty easy. The names of Vernon Wells and Barry Zito, for example, have been synonymous with horrible contracts. Others aren't as easy to ferret out, but here's one man's look at the 10 worst contracts currently in baseball. To help us figure out which contracts are awful, I turned to a TV show that knows all about things awful: The Walking Dead. Because obviously, trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world is completely comparable to the onerous contracts some teams are saddled with.

There are three categories below, inspired by scenes from The Walking Dead that are linked for your viewing enjoyment and quotes, which aren't necessarily tied to the scene in the video. (Don't worry, no spoilers, but if you haven't seen the most recent episode, skip the scene in the last category anyways.) Be warned: If you are squeamish, it's best if you don't click through. Unless you're interested in giving your wastebasket the remnants of your most recent meal.

STILL KICKING

Walking Dead scene
"It's a waste of time, all this hoping and praying." -- Daryl (season 2, episode 2)

These players are nearing the end of their awful deals, like a zombie with no legs. Just like a zombie with no legs would keep crawling along trying to eat humans alive, so do these players keep on kicking. While their contracts don't look too bad given they're of the short-term variety at this point, there's no denying that these players are still of the undead. The years remaining on the contract to qualify for this list is two or less seasons. Also, this list does not include players who were released and are still owed money, such as Aaron Rowand, due $13.6 million by the Giants in 2012.

BayJason Bay, Mets
Contract: 4 years, $66 million, $16.5 million AAV. Remaining: 2 years, $39.25 million (includes 2014's $3 million buyout)

The Red Sox thought they had Bay locked up to a deal to stay in town, but Bay balked at medical contingencies in the contract, designed to protect Boston in case Bay's knees went. That allowed the Mets to swoop in on a deal they quickly regretted, as Bay's bat vanished in Citi Field, then struggled with concussions as his batting line in 2011 sank all the way to .245/.329/.374 with 12 homers in 509 plate appearances. Even though the club is set to move in its fences, it's tough to see Bay bouncing back and earning the rest of his deal which could potentially stretch through 2014. If Bay can reach 500 PA in 2012 and '13 -- a cinch as long as he stays relatively healthy, or 600 PAs in 2013, a $17 million club option vests. That would make this deal look even worse.

LeeCarlos Lee, Astros
Contract: 6 years, $100 million, $16.67 million AAV. Remaining: 1 year, $19 million

The Astros' impending move to the AL East for the 2013 season is coming one year too late. Lee's contract is finally due to expire next season, and one has to imagine that Lee will be the last man in a long time to receive $100-plus million for being such a one-dimensional slugger that can't even hit bombs anymore unless the Crawford boxes in left help him out. At this point, Lee is taking up space that could be better allocated to young players on a rebuilding club. Lee should have been dumped in a deal by now, but he has no interest in leaving Houston and has no-trade rights.

SantanaJohan Santana, Mets
Contract: 6 years, $137.5 million, $22.9 million AAV. Remaining: 2 years, $55 million (includes 2014's $5.5 million buyout)

Santana's never really bandied about as a person with a lousy contract, but the numbers are simply stunning. After the Mets gave up a bounty (of nothingness, as it turned out) to acquire the best starter in the game from the Twins way back in 2008, Santana has given the Mets one season of transcendence. Since then, it's been a whole bunch of injuries, causing the lefty to sit out all of 2011. That means over the last three seasons, Santana's contributed just 54 starts. And it gets worse, as his deal is backloaded for an incredible $55 million coming the next two years, and no guarantee Santana can even approximate the pitcher he once was after undergoing surgery to repair an anterior capsule tear in his left shoulder. New York holds a $25 million option for 2014 that can become guaranteed based on innings pitched and finish in award voting.

ZitoBarry Zito, Giants
Contract: 7 years, $126 million, $18 million AAV. Remaining: 2 years, $46 million (includes 2014's $7 million buyout)

This contract is so bad, even the buyout of Zito's team option in 2014 is horrible. The Giants might be paying Zito $7 million simply to go away. Being paid like an ace, he's been the team's No. 5 starter the last two season and will hold that role again in 2012. The selling point to Zito, despite the regression back to being a league-average player, is the fact he can chew up innings. One problem: the 2014 option vests automatically if Zito pitches at least 200 innings in 2013 or 400 between 2012-13. That's very feasible if the Giants keep him on his regular turn through the rotation, so he might have $18 million in 2014 headed his way.

NOT SO PRETTY

Walking Dead scene
"You don't know what it's like out there. You may think you do but you don't. It's only a matter of time. There's too many of those things. My boy, my wife, I never told them what I really thought. I never even hinted, just, just kept it in, kept us moving, kept it in, kept us moving." -- Rick (season 1, episode 6)

Little girls are cute... except when they're trying to tear your flesh off. Just as in the Walking Dead, baseball has its share of onerous, undead contracts that once looked pretty but now eat up as much payroll space as they can. Here are the worst deals left with less than five years remaining.

LackeyJohn Lackey, Red Sox
Contract
: 5 years, $82.5 million, $16.5 million average annual value (AAV). Remaining: 3 years, $47.85 million

Even though he has yet to reach the halfway mark of his deal, this contract already ranks as one of the worst in baseball history. The Red Sox thought they were getting a fiery, innings-eating No. 2 starter. Instead, what they've received is one of the worst pitchers in the game who shows up his teammates on the field. And now he'll be missing all of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery. That means, through three years of the deal, Lackey will have given Boston a 5.26 ERA in 61 starts. The only saving value to this deal is the surgery will kick in an additional year at the league minimum Lackey must play at, which will drag down his AAV and give Boston a couple extra million below the luxury tax to play with.

SorianoAlfonso Soriano, Cubs
Contract: 8 years, $136 million, $17 million AAV. Remaining: 3 years, $57 million

Soriano has kept up his home-run production since moving to Chicago, but his bat has slowed to the point where he's lucky if he cracks the .250 barrier in batting average. That wouldn't be such a big deal if the man knew how to take a walk once in a while, but he doesn't, as evidenced by his .289 OBP. New Cubs president Theo Epstein is going to be taking a lot of heart medicine these next three seasons as he watches Soriano clank balls in left field and stifle rallies with his inability to draw a walk. The Cubs appear as if they're going to enter a retooling period, so at least Soriano isn't holding them back from contending. But then again, that's exactly what he's done to Chicago the last couple years.
 
WellsVernon Wells, Angels
Contract: 7 years, $126 million, $18 million AAV. Remaining: 3 years, $72.96 million

Patience, Jerry Dipoto. Just keep telling yourself it's just three years. Dipoto, the new Angels GM, will have a challenge to build a winning club that includes Wells and his yoke of a contract that doesn't even tell the full story. For crying out loud, Wells is slated to receive $24.6 million each of the next three seasons. For comparison, only Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Howard will earn more on a AAV basis than Wells will receive through the end of his contract. Back when the deal was signed, Wells was poised to be one of the best players in the game moving forward. Now? He's essentially Alfonso Soriano, but with a much worse deal. How someone can have an OBP under .250 and still collect over 500 plate appearances is baffling. It will be a shock if Wells can finish out the deal without being released.

GUTS EVERYWHERE

Walking Dead scene
"Good thing we didn't do anything stupid like shoot it." -- T-Dog being sarcastic (season 2, episode 4)


These contracts are the worst of the worst. It's almost like being a zombie stuck in a water well for weeks, then finally getting dragged out of the well only to split in half and spew its guts everywhere. In other words, fans of these teams have nothing but good things to look forward to.

HowardRyan Howard, Phillies
Contract: 5 years, $125 million, $25 million AAV. Remaining: This deal kicks in for 2012.

Howard was once a very, very good player that had his career held back due to the presence of Jim Thome in town. When he finally earned the right to play every day, he started mashing and just wouldn't stop. So what did GM Ruben Amaro do? Simple. He gave Ryan Howard one of the richest deals in baseball history... two full seasons before it was set to kick in. And what's happened in those two full years? Well, Howard's essentially become a platoon player who can't field and whose bat has slowed to the point where he can't be considered an elite first baseman anymore. And this is someone who will miss the beginning of 2012 thanks to an Achilles tear that could torpedo his career. His lucrative contract, which will leave him behind just Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez for the highest AAV in baseball history, is just beginning. By the way, he has a 2017 team option for $23 million that will hand him a whopping $10 million in a buyout.

RodriguezAlex Rodriguez, Yankees
Contract: 10 years, $275 million $27.5 million AAV. $30 million due if he hits home-run milestones. Remaining: 6 years, $143 million (plus milestones)

There's no question Rodriguez has been a fantastic player, steroids or not, and he'll retire as one of the best players in the game of baseball. But his 10-year deal with the Yankees was silly when it was signed and it's even sillier now. Coming off what A-Rod called the worst season of his career, the Yankees are suddenly staring at $143 million over the next six years being given to a DH who is lucky if he can reach 30 home runs and 100 RBI. Rodriguez is simply not the same player he once was, and instead of being in his own class these days, he's now merely "very good." And you don't want "very good" from a player earning millions through age 42.

WerthJayson Werth, Nationals
Contract: 7 years, $126 million, $18 million AAV. Remaining: 6 years, $115.4 million

Here's one number to avoid in baseball: 126. That's exactly how much money (in millions, of course) Zito and Wells are receiving to be money drains for the club. And now Werth gets to be a money drain, and he still has so much more due to him after playing 2011 at $10.6 million. You can't blame Werth, who also (of course) has a no-trade clause, for accepting such a deal. It was obviously a gross overpayment that no one was going to match, but it's hard to envision what the Nats were thinking. Yes, they wanted to make a statement. But was someone set to play 2011 at age 32  with notable platoon splits really the man to make a splash with? The right fielder will likely bounce back from his .232/.330/.389 line set in his first year with Washington, but he will never justify this contract.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
The Walking Dead photo courtesy the show's download page available to public.
Posted on: November 13, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 6:30 pm
 

Alex Rodriguez looking to return to form

Rodriguez

By Evan Brunell


It had to happen at some point, and it happened last season.

Alex Rodriguez failed to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs for just the second time in his entire career, the only other time coming in 1997 in his second full season in the majors.

It was "the worst year of my career," Rodriguez told the New York Post. "Close to embarrassing."

Rodriguez refused to make any excuses about his lack of production, even though he never seemed right all year, especially after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee in July. When Rodriguez returned, his power decided to stay at home. In the first half, A-Rod clubbed 13 homers, hitting .295/.366/.485 in 80 games. After the All-Star break, though, Rodriguez could only appear in 19 games and hit a paltry .191/.345/.353. That would seem to point toward his knee being a problem.

“There is no secret that I am getting older,” Rodriguez said, batting the concerns aside. “But when I come in fit, ready and motivated, then age is just a number. … There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I will be myself, like always.”

Can Rodriguez really say anything else? Do you really expect Rodriguez to admit he's getting older and may not be the person he once was? No. Rodriguez has been one of the best players of this generation, and you don't get to that point without hard work and confidence enhancing your natural talent. Rodriguez isn't going to give up and assume his glory days are behind him, same as Jeter. Rodriguez is going to bust his tail to improve as much as he can. But what's interesting is that Rodriguez's season may have arguably outperformed his 2010 season, except without the identifying numbers of 30-100 to tout.

Baseball has seen a major shift toward dominant pitching over the last two seasons. While the year 2010 was popularized as the Year of the Pitcher due to the numerous no-hitters (and a perfect game that needed 28 outs), 2011 was just as favorable to pitchers. The advanced statistic titled weighted Runs Created plus, or wRC+, says Rodriguez actually had a better year in 2011 than 2010. The statistic essentially takes all of a player's offensive value -- hits, home runs, doubles, walks, and so forth -- and encapsulates it in one statistic that is also adjusted for parks and leagues, allowing for accurate comparison off of different seasons. For example, wRC+ would allow you to see just how good Ted Williams was as compared to Barry Bonds today, even though both players played in different eras.

Rodriguez's wRC+ for 2011 was 125, meaning he created 25 percent more runs than the league-average player. Last year, Rodriguez hit for a bit more power and played in 38 more games, so his counting statistics are obviously higher. However, A-Rod walked less in 2010 than he did in 2011, and that makes a difference, and that's why his wRC+ is two points lower. The aim of any player is to not make outs, and Rodriguez did that better in 2011 than in 2010, even if his overall power numbers dipped. And as we've seen, the knee may be the culprit of that power dip.

Of course, two points difference in wRC+ is not that much, so we can safely say that Rodriguez essentially repeated 2010 -- with a knee injury destroying the second half of his season. So Rodriguez may be right about the fact he'll be his old self in 2012 -- because his old self never really disappeared. But don't tell that to A-Rod, who said he expects himself to be one of the biggest acquisitions the 2012 Yankees could make.

“The Yankees made two big moves this offseason,” Rodriguez said. “Keeping CC, and I expect to be who I have been in the past.”

Rodriguez is so determined to right the wrong of 2011 -- and admits he still has trouble sleeping because New York could have won the World Series -- that he's starting his workout program three weeks earlier, focusing his attention to start on his right knee, affected by the torn meniscus. His goal is to drop five pounds and improve "functional movement," in which he is lighter and more agile. This is a mantra he followed in previous seasons, citing his first two seasons in New York of 2007-08 as the "best years of my career" as proof that "functional movement" can work. (This time is before he admitted using steroids as a Ranger, but supposedly, he was not using during his time in New York.)

The Yankees really need Rodriguez to show he's his normal self next season, in no small part due to the massive dollars left on his deal. Rodriguez still has a whopping six years and $143 million on his pact, and this is a man who will enter the 2012 season as a 36-year-old. Even for the Yankees, that's a massive investment in an aging player who may not be long for third base. But Rodriguez is well aware of all this and intends to continue being an asset on defense at third base.

“The standard is always 30-100, and no question I can perform at a really high level," Rodriguez said. "I am clear of my role and importance to the team and what I need to do to help us win.”

MORE: Rodriguez among baseball's 10 worst contracts

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 2:01 pm
 

Closer look at all 30 closing situations



By C. Trent Rosecrans
 and Matt Snyder

It appears the first domino in closer market has fallen (at least, we're pretty sure this time), but that leaves Heath Bell and Ryan Madson as the top relievers still available. But who needs a closer? Here's a look at the closing situation for all 30 teams.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gregg is still under contract -- much to the chagrin of new general manager Dan Duquette's chagrin. Gregg will make $5.8 million in 2012, not exactly ideal for a guy with a WHIP of 1.642 last season and an ERA of 4.37 while picking up 22 saves. Jim Johnson recorded nine saves and threw just 91 innings, but doesn't exactly miss a ton of bats. The Orioles could move Johnson to the rotation.
Possibilities: Gregg, Johnson, Bell, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton.

Red Sox: Well, obviously Papelbon is gone. Papelbon was the Red Sox closer for the last six years, recording the final out of the 2007 World Series among other memories. Still, As untouchable as he was in his first four years as the closer (1.74 ERA and 0.917 WHIP from 2006-2009), he had a 3.43 ERA and 1.104 WHIP over the last two seasons. Daniel Bard is unhittable at times, but struggled in the last two months of the season (which certainly wasn't uncommon among Red Sox), posting a 6.95 ERA in 21 games in August and September.
Possibilities: Bard, Madson, Bell.

New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera. Enough said.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays let the Yankees overpay for Rafael Soriano and then picked up Kyle Farnsworth off the discard pile, signing him to a two-year, $6 million deal. In retrospect, it was genius -- Farnsworth had 25 saves with a 2.18 ERA in 2011 and the Rays will keep him another year and let someone else overpay him for 2013.

Toronto Blue Jays: Frank Francisco was the team's closer for much of 2011, but he's a free agent and the team could be looking to spend some money on a  closer.
Possibilities: Madson, Bell, Cordero, Rodriguez, Casey Janssen.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: Right-hander Sergio Santos converted 30 of 36 save opportunities, liming batters to just a .181/.282/.314 slash line and he should be in line to keep his job in 2012. If he falters, Addison Reed has a chance to take over.

Cleveland Indians: Chris Perez is on solid ground as the team's closer, picking up 35 saves in 2011.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers picked up the $9 million option on Jose Valverde.

Kansas City Royals: The Royals picked up the $6 million option on Joakim Soria and have options for 2013 and 2014.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins declined their $12.5 million option on incumbent Joe Nathan, but have expressed interest in bringing him back. Although his overall numbers -- 4.84 ERA, 1.164 WHIP, 14 saves -- weren't too impressive, he did convert all 11 of his saves in the second half of the season. Left-hander Glen Perkins had two saves in 2011 and struck out 65 batters in 61 2/3 innings. If the team doesn't sign a free agent -- or trade for someone -- Perkins would have the best shot.
Possibilities: Nathan, Perkins, Jon Rauch, Broxton.

AL West

Los Angeles Angels: Jordan Walden recorded 32 saves as a rookie and made the All-Star team. He did blow 10 saves last season, so it wouldn't be a complete shock if the team looked for an upgrade, but it's not expected, especially with tight purse strings this winter. The team could bring in a veteran for cheap that could close if Walden falters.
Possibilities: Walden, Scott Downs, Broxton, Rauch.

Oakland Athletics: Andrew Bailey is the team's closer, but a trade is always possible with Oakland.

Seattle Mariners: Brandon League had 37 saves and a 2.79 ERA in 2011.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers could be a wild card in the free agent closer market if they decided to move Neftali Feliz to the rotation. The Rangers tried that last spring but decided to keep Feliz in the bullpen. If they bring in a big-name, that would mean they believe Feliz can make the move. If not, there's still a chance of Mike Adams taking over for Feliz. Or they could bring in a low-cost veteran to have in reserve in case Feliz does work in the rotation.
Possibilities: Mike Adams, Madson, Cordero, Rauch, Broxton.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: Craig Kimbrel. Period. 

Miami Marlins: While the artist formerly known as Leo Nunez gets his name issue sorted out, the Marlins have a gaping hole at closer. The current members of their bullpen combined for four saves last season. Do the Marlins try to go with an internal option like Edward Mujica or make a splash on the free agent market (as they've been connected to several huge names already)? 
Possibilities: Nunez, Mujica, Madson, Cordero, Rodriguez, Bell.

New York Mets: If they stay internally, which is entirely possible, it looks like Bobby Parnell. But he wasn't awesome by any stretch when given save chances last season. The Mets have spent big on a free agent closer before (K-Rod), so would they be gunshy in doing so again? It's possible. But it's also possible they try to land someone like Ryan Madson. 
Possibilities: Parnell, Madson, Bell.

Philadelphia Phillies: Papelbon. 

Washington Nationals: Drew Storen closed 43 of 48 games in 2011, his first full season in the majors. One would think that would be enough to earn him at least another year on the job, but Storen's name keeps popping up in trade rumors and the Nationals have been reportedly interested in Madson. The Nats have plenty of money, so if they wanted to ink a big-name closer and deal Storen as part of a package for a center fielder (Denard Span, perhaps?), they would be able to do so. 
Possibilities: Storen, Madson, Bell, Cordero.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: It's probably going to be Carlos Marmol again, but he better get himself in gear. Not only did he blow 10 saves, but his once-astronomical strikeout rate lowered a bit in 2011 and control continues to be a serious problem. With new brass at the helm, 2011 will likely be his last chance to get things fixed. 

Cincinnati Reds: Cordero had a great four-year run with the Reds, amassing 150 saves with a 2.96 ERA, but he's a free agent now. Fireballer Aroldis Chapman is ticketed for the starting rotation and Nick Masset seems to be awfully inconsistent. The Reds don't have the money to spend in free agency, so would they make a trade for, say, Huston Street or Andrew Bailey? Seems unlikely. Either Chapman doesn't make it as a starter and sticks as closer or someone internally (23-year-old Brad Boxberger?) gets a shot. This one is totally up in the air. 
Possibilities: Cordero, Chapman, Boxberger, Bailey, Street, Broxton.

Houston Astros: Mark Melancon saved 20 games with a 2.78 ERA last season. There are far bigger problems with this team to believe they'll try hard to make a change here.

Milwaukee Brewers: John Axford and his award-winning 'stache.  

Pittsburgh Pirates: All-Star Joel Hanrahan nailed down the job last season. 

St. Louis Cardinals: Jason Motte was never officially named closer by the stubborn Tony La Russa, but he did more than enough down the stretch and in the playoffs to earn the job for 2012, closing nine of 10 saves during the Cardinals' late run and five more in the postseason. 

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: It will again be J.J. Putz with David Hernandez filling in if (when?) Putz falls injured.

Colorado Rockies: Street is reportedly on the trading block. If he's is dealt, look for Rafael Betancourt to take over. He collected eight saves with a 2.89 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning in 2011. 

Los Angeles Dodgers: Rookie Javy Guerra came on to save 21 games in 23 chances with a 2.31 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings in 2011. That's enough to have nailed down the job for the 2011 season, one would think. 

San Diego Padres: Bell is a free agent, but the Padres may just offer him arbitration, and he actually might accept it. If he does stay, the choice is obvious. If Bell leaves, there's a decent internal option in Chad Qualls. Qualls, 33, has 51 career saves. As far as free agency, if the Padres want to pay for a closer, they'll be paying for Bell. 
Possibilities: Bell, Qualls.

San Francisco: The Beard. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 9, 2011 8:25 pm
 

If Posada plays, won't be with Yankees

By Evan Brunell

Jorge Posada knows his time with the Yankees is done.

"I don’t think there’s even a percentage of a chance that I can come back," Posada told the New York Daily News. "There’s nothing I could control. Everything happened for a reason. I’m not bitter at the Yankees. I’m not bitter at Brian Cashman."

It was never expected that Posada would return to New York. Not after a brutal season saw him stumble to a .235/.315/.398 line in 397 at-bats, easily his worst season as a Yankee. The 40-year-old is not considered by the Yankees anymore to be a viable catcher, and they won't want to carry a backup DH who struggled to hit, even if he showed promising numbers against right-handed batters.

Posada, who has yet to decide if he is even playing next season, feels he could land somewhere as a backup catcher and DH, the New Jersey Star-Ledger writes. His best role might be in the NL, where he can back up catcher, first and be a pinch-hitter against right-handed pitchers. If Posada wants to play again next year, odds are he'll find a place as long as he's willing to play for minimal dollars. However, he sounds as if he may be done, adding in the interview that he would always be a Yankee.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 8, 2011 4:49 pm
 

Kuroda, Igawa garnering interest from Japan

Hiroki Kuroda

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Hiroki Kuroda ranked fourth on the CBSSports.com ranking of free agent starting pitchers -- and that was before CC Sabathia signed his extension. So needless to say, the former Dodgers right-hander is among the most sought-after free agents on the market.

While the Dodgers were thought to be a shoe-in to re-sign Kuroda, there have been reports that more teams, including the Yankees, could tempt him. Add another team to the mix -- the Hiroshima Carp. Kuroda, 36, pitched 11 years for the Carp before signing with the Dodgers as a free agent on Dec. 16, 2007. 

According to Nikkan Sports in Japan (via NPB tracker), the Carp have made an official offer to Kuroda, 37.

"I'm happy that they would evaluate my contributions like that," Kuroda said, according to NPB Tracker. "Naturally, I'm happy. A feeling that they really want to win across. (Hiroshima's competitiveness this season) has come to a frustrating place, to a place where they are one step away. … I'm very happy I got an offer from the Carp."

Kuroda is 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA in four seasons with the Dodgers, including a 13-16 record with a 3.07 ERA in 2011. He was 103-89 with a 3.69 ERA in Japan, winning the Central League with a 1.85 ERA in 2006.

The Los Angeles Times' Steve Dilbeck writes that he expects Kuroda's decision to come down the Dodgers and Carp -- and for the Dodgers, that decision needs to be made relatively soon.

Kuroda isn't the only Japanese player from the major leagues that is gaining attention in his home country. NPB Tracker also notes Kei Igawa is garnering interest from Rakuten and Orix.

Meanwhile, Seibu shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima and Yakult center fielder Norichika Aoki have asked to be posted. Nikkan Sports reports the Giants, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Orioles may be interested in Nakajima.

Meanwhile, Chunichi left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is unsure whether he wants to move to the United States, according to the Chunichi Shimbun (also via NPB Tracker). Chen, 26, would be a free agent and not subject to the posting system. A native of Taiwan, Chen went 8-10 with a 2.68 ERA for the Dragons this season. He led the Central League with a 1.54 ERA  and 0.93 WHIP in 2009.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 7:54 pm
 

Buehrle popular on free agent market

By Matt Snyder

Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle has pitched 12 seasons for the White Sox, but he may be heading to a new address in free agency this offseason. And there's no shortage of suitors. Multiple outlets have reported that Buehrle is meeting with the Marlins Tuesday, but they aren't alone in their pursuit. According to Fox Sports, the Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees all have interest in Buehrle, while the Blue Jays are looking for starting pitching as well. The report didn't specifically say the Jays were among the Buehrle suitors, but if they need pitching they'll surely at least kick the tires.

The Yankees would greatly benefit from adding Buehrle behind CC Sabathia, and lefties fare better in Yankee Stadium. The Marlins need pitching depth and are looking to make a strong push in free agency with a new ballpark set to open. Plus, Ozzie Guillen had previously managed Buehrle in Chicago and he's now the Marlins' skipper. The Rangers likely have Buehrle in their sights in case C.J. Wilson signs elsewhere and the Red Sox, well, we know how badly they need better pitching.

Hot Stove Season
The interest in Buehrle makes sense. Not only is he a left-hander, but he's as durable as they come. He's made at least 30 starts and thrown at least 201 innings in each of the past 11 seasons. Because he doesn't rely on velocity, Buehrle's skills shouldn't deteriorate much as he ages, either. The four-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glover isn't an ace, but he'd be a strong two or three in most rotations. And while it seems like he's old since he's been around for so long, Buehrle's only 32.

We've previously passed along that Buehrle is open to any team, and it looks like he'll have plenty of choices.

Hat-tip: MLB Trade Rumors

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 7, 2011 11:31 am
Edited on: December 17, 2011 8:24 am
 

Cuban star Cespedes hoping to make jump to majors

By Evan Brunell

Is baseball ready for "A New Hope"?

That's what Yoenis Cespedes is hoping after releasing a bizarre promotional workout video. Cespedes, 26, defected from Cuba in the summer and is nearing approval to sign with an MLB team as a free agent, Yahoo Sports writes.

As part of that attempt, Cespedes participated in a promotional video that pays homage to his accomplishments on the field and impressive physical attributes in a glitzy way, ending with a closeup of a hog being roasted on a spit because ... well, who knows. In the video, he performs various athletic activities designed to impress -- and he succeeds. One particularly interesting moment was when Cespedes made two consecutive behind-the-back basket catches in the outfield, which takes an enormous amount of proprioception (Princeton definition: "The ability to sense the position and location and orientation and movement of the body and its parts.") and ability to track the ball.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that a source who attended an open workout on Friday in the Dominican Republic, where Cespedes is basing his new home in order to be declared an international free agent, compared the righty to top Angels prospect Mike Trout, who is currently the best five-tool prospect and made his major-league debut at age 19 for the Angels in 2011. Unsurprisingly, the Yankees have significant interest in Cespedes and are expected to pursue him heavily, but there will be no shortage of other suitors for Cespedes to pick from as many clubs could use a center fielder dripping with talent.

The Marlins, who are based in Miami, which boasts a large Cuban population, are currently considered the favorites to land Cespedes, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes.

“This may be the big one for the Miami Marlins,” a source told the paper. “He fits all their needs [on and off the field].”

Cespedes is looking for a contract similar to Aroldis Chapman's deal with the Reds, which was worth $30 million when the fireballing lefty signed in January 2010. Cespedes may even be able to outdo Chapman's contract when all is said and done, especially in a weak free-agent class that will leave many teams with money burning a hole in their pocket and no one to spend it on.

Cespedes is the owner of the home run record in Cuba, having slammed 33 in 90 games over the 2010-11 season, hitting .333/.424/.667. A deal that hands him $30 million is very possible, as a source says. Cespedes “is a legitimate center fielder with power, so I understand why they think they can get $30 million," the source told Yahoo!. "They might get more.”

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.



Posted on: November 5, 2011 11:26 am
 

Yankees plan to talk to C.J. Wilson

By Matt Snyder

In a very thin crop of free agent pitchers, C.J. Wilson is the best of the bunch. And while the high-spending Yankees did have the best record in the American League, the last few spots of their rotation would appear to be a weakness moving forward (yes, the offense is aging and will likely regress a bit, but those guys are all locked in contractually). So it's not much of a surprise that the Yankees have Wilson on their radar.

“We haven’t talked to him yet, but we will,” said general manager Brian Cashman (New York Post). “[The Rangers] have won a lot and he’s been a big part of that, so we’ll certainly talk to him.”

And here's the thing worth noting: If the Yankees decide they definitely want Wilson, they'll surely get him. They can outpay anyone (unless the Nationals really wanna get crazy) and Wilson doesn't seem married to any particular destination. Being left-handed also makes him a great fit in Yankee Stadium.

Wilson, 30, was 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 206 strikeouts in 223 1/3 innings during the 2011 regular season, making his first All-Star team. He did have a poor postseason showing, but Cashman told the Post he's not worried about that.

Hat-tip: MLB Trade Rumors

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com