Tag:Jesus Flores
Posted on: March 12, 2011 6:14 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 6:25 pm
 

Red Sox may trade Matsuzaka, Cameron, more

By Evan Brunell

MatsuzakaThe Red Sox are busy making several players available for trade, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. Players thought to be available include right-handers Daisuke Matsuzaka (pictured) and Tim Wakefield along with outfielders Mike Cameron or Darnell McDonald and shortstop Marco Scutaro.

Out of these names, Matsuzaka is both the most well-known and also unlikeliest to be traded. After taking America by storm his first two seasons in town -- nabbing a ring in his rookie campaign back in 2007 -- Matsuzaka has struggled with injuries, integrating himself into the clubhouse and being completely ineffective as his 11.42 ERA in three spring training starts reveals.

"His rhythm was all out of whack,'' the source who indicated Dice-K was on the block said. "I don't know if it's because that's what the team wants, but I think he's become too much of a conventional pitcher. He's got to go back to pitching 'left-handed' again, dropping down at times, throwing from all kinds of angles, turning the ball over. He's not doing that as much.''

Matsuzaka has a full no-trade clause and is due $20 million over the next two seasons, making it difficult for a team to jump for Matsuzaka, no matter the talent that caused Boston to splurge for a $51.1 million posting fee just to talk to the Japanese phenom. However, there are enough teams in need of pitching and Matsuzaka's ace-caliber talents remain hidden somewhere in his body. It appears, though, that both Matsuzaka and the Red Sox are ready to move on, and Boston would do just that if they could add a young catcher to the team.

The Red Sox are set to go into the season with Jarrod Saltalamacchia starting with team captain Jason Varitek backing up. While the club has a few young catchers in the minors, they lack someone with a high ceiling. Despite Salty's pedigree, he has yet to put it all together in the majors and Boston would doubtless prefer to create more depth in the position.

One potential thought could be the Nationals, who have Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores as young catchers. While Ramos is expected to open the year as backup catcher to Ivan Rodriguez and eventually supplant the Hall of Fame catcher, Flores is out of options. Flores is likely of little concern to Boston, who would prefer a player they can send to the minors and groom. Washington has such a catcher in Derek Norris, who was ranked as the No. 47 prospect in all of baseball by CBS Sports.

However, while the Nationals would love to stockpile quality pitching and could be intrigued by Matsuzaka, all the issues surrounding the 30-year-old and Norris' ceiling would make any such deal difficult to bridge unless Boston is willing to eat some salary.

Red Sox

If the Red Sox do move Matsuzaka, it would open up a hole in the rotation that could be filled by Tim Wakefield, reliever Alfredo Aceves or prospects Felix Doubront and Andrew Miller.

However, Wakefield is thought to be on the block himself despite stating he has no interest in playing for another team. Due just $1.5 million in 2011, the Red Sox could dangle the swingman for left-handed relief. The club has no shortage of left-handed relievers in camp vying for a job, but none are clear front-runners. If both Wakefield and Matsuzaka remain, the knuckleballer will pitch out of the bullpen.

Also available are backup outfielders Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald. Cameron is due $7.25 million in the final year of a two-year deal. Slated to start in center for the Red Sox last season, injuries derailed his season and now have him set to be the No. 4 outfielder. McDonald, meanwhile, took advantage of all the playing time afforded him in the outfield last season to finally establish himself in the majors after being a minor-league journeyman. He's making the league minimum so is the more valuable outfielder from a cost perspective, although Cameron holds the edge on offense and defense, which he is renowned for.

The Red Sox do need right-handed outfielders to complement their all-lefty outfielder along with DH David Ortiz, also a lefty. Given right fielder J.D. Drew has a checkered injury past, there's plenty of playing time in store for Cameron and McDonald. One of them is being made available likely to fill more pressing holes, such as left-handed relief. In addition, both outfielders rake against left-handers and are effectively filling the same role.

Cameron and McDonald could draw interest from the Phillies, who have to deal with top prospect Domonic Brown (No. 3 on the Top 100 prospects list) fracturing his hamate bone and likely out for all of April. He appears ticketed for Triple-A after that given his poor start to spring training and newfound need to get at-bats. That opens up a gaping hole in right field for Philly, trying to withstand the loss of incumbent Jayson Werth while worrying about replacing the offense of second baseman Chase Utley, who is unlikely to begin the season with the team. Backup outfielder Ben Francisco is expected to win the starting role.

The Phillies already have a payroll in the mid-$160 million range and would like to avoid paying a payroll tax that would be incurred upon hitting $178 million, so while Cameron makes more sense to become the starter, McDonald appears the more cost-effective solution who could platoon with Francisco as well as fill in for Raul Ibanez in left field. The Red Sox would replace their backup outfield spot with one of Ryan Kalish, Josh Reddick or Daniel Nava.

Boston will also listen to offers on starting shortstop Marco Scutaro, who is in the final year of a two-year pact paying $5 million. He would be attractive to other teams given the price and ability to play second, short and third base, with a team option of $5 million for 2012 or a player option of $3 million. The Sox are able to listen to offers on Scutaro thanks to the play of backup Jed Lowrie, who has struggled with injuries the last few years but turned heads with his play late last season. The club also has heralded prospect Jose Iglesias (No. 36) who is widely considered Boston's shortstop of the future. While he could stand to cut his teeth a bit more in the minors with the bat, it wouldn't be outrageous for Boston to promote him.

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Posted on: February 18, 2011 11:06 am
 

Nats' Riggleman: 'Pudge is our catcher'

Ivan Rodriguez Ivan Rodriguez will be more than a mascot or coach -- he's the Nationals starting catcher, and manager Jim Riggleman made that clear Friday morning.

"Pudge is our catcher," Riggleman said, according to CSNwashington.com . "We're going to go out there, and Pudge is going to continue to lead our ballclub as a leader behind the plate, a good hitter and just a good baseball player. He's got a lot of baseball left, so he's our catcher. And whoever wins that second spot is going to get incorporated into the lineup more and more as we go along."

Rodriguez, 39, hit .266/.294/.347 with four home runs and 49 RBI last season, but hit .296/.325/.389 in the first half, with just one homer. In the second half, he hit .231/.257/.297.

The Nationals have two good, young catching prospects in Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores. Flores had been the team's starting catcher in 2009 before undergoing shoulder surgery. Flores hasn't played since 2009, but has played in parts of three seasons and is still just 26. He was hitting .301/.371/.505 in 2009 before his injury.

Ramos, acquired last season by the Nationals in the Matt Capps trade, started 15 games for the Nationals last season and hit .269/.296/.404 with a home run.

The two will battle it out for the backup job and the front-runner as the catcher of the future.

"Whether it's Ramos and/or Flores, they're very talented guys," Riggleman said. "We're not going to let them die on the vine. They've got to get playing time. So whichever guy is there, if not both of them, they're going to get playing time and stay sharp. And as the year goes on, probably get a little more playing time."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: February 17, 2011 3:52 pm
 

I-Rod: I can still play, will help youngsters

Rodriguez

Ivan Rodriguez isn't the MVP catcher that manned home plate for the Rangers way back when, but the future Hall of Famer feels he still has plenty left to give, as he tells the Washington Post.

Even as Rodriguez appears poised to serve as backup catcher to Wilson Ramos and receive less than 400 plate appearances for only the second time in his career (and that was in 2000, when he only played 91 games due to injury), Rodriguez refuses to tab spring training as a competition for the starting job as he enters the final season of his two-year deal signed with Washington.

"That's not my decision. That's [manager Jim Riggleman]'s. The only thing I can tell you is I come here, and my goal is just to win ballgames. My main goal is just to have a good team together, stay positive as a team and contribute my part. I'm feeling great. I still feel like I can play this game for plenty of time. I'm always ready to contribute."

Rodriguez is joined in camp by Ramos, who was acquired in the Matt Capps trade last season and grew up idolizing Rodriguez, along with Jesus Flores, finally healthy after missing most of the last two seasons after impressing in early 2009.

"I'm glad that we have three good catchers on our ball club," Rodriguez said. "You don't find that on a lot of teams, and that's a positive thing about this organization. The catchers that we have, we have myself, and we have two very talented catchers, very young with a lot of talent. It's always nice to have that in an organization."

It's rather refreshing to see someone once at the top of his game accepting that time robs everyone of their abilities. While Rodriguez certainly feels he can play at a high level, he's also not going to go about his business at the expense of others with a long future yet in the game.

"We get along well. They respect me a lot," Rodriguez. I respect them very much. Like I said, it's two guys, Flores and Ramos, we're going to work hard. We're going to work a lot. I'm going to talk to them in spring training. I'm that kind of person. I want other people to do great. I want [Flores] to stay healthy. That's the main thing. The more healthy this ball club is, the better it's going to be. We're going to work together. We're all going to try to do the things that we have to do."

Rodriguez hit .266/.294/.347 over 421 PA last season, which are poor numbers in line with his 2009 season as well, so this could be the new iteration of Rodriguez -- one who can't hit much but still impacts the game on leadership and defense. However, there may be more left in the tank, as Rodriguez was off to a strong start before suffering an injury to his back that caused him to hit just .237/.262/.308 after June.

His poor play at bat along with a desire to play past 2010 caused I-Rod to abandon his focus on cardio and pack on four pounds of muscle which he believes will help him hold up down the stretch as a 39-year-old.

"For me, I still have a lot in my game. I am feeling very good, physically, mentally."

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: October 8, 2010 12:56 am
Edited on: October 8, 2010 3:00 pm
 

R.I.P. Nationals: Strasburg goes down to injury

RIP As the sports world waits for the crowning of a champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions through all of October. Remember Strasmas? Well, the Washington Nationals got some coal.

It's not often a team with 90-plus losses has something to look forward to, but the Nationals sure do: 2011 being over.

You see, when 2012 opens, the Nationals will have phenom ace Stephen Strasburg fully healthy, likely with a few late-season 2011 rehab starts under his belt and a young team ready to go after the division.

Until then? More losing in the nation's capital.

WHAT WENT WRONG

The team lost 93 games. A lot went wrong. The most notable, as is to no one's surprise, is Stephen Strasburg getting knocked out for about a year with Tommy John surgery. Of course, if Rob Dibble had his way, Strasburg would probably have pitched every remaining game of the Nats after first suffering the injury.

Now that the obligatory Dibble insult is out of the way, what else went wrong? Ivan Rodriguez, Adam Kennedy and Cristian Guzman all struggled with OPS' south of .700, dragging down the Nats' offense. On the pitching side, only Livan Hernandez and Strasburg had ERAs under 4.00. The other five who received at least 13 starts? 4.65 (John Lannan), 5.13 (Craig Stammen), 5.15 (Luis Atilano), 5.56 (Scott Olsen) and 6.60 (Jason Marquis). Yikes.

Unfortunately, the GM in Mike Rizzo is responsible for a colossal mistake in not trading Adam Dunn. Many teams were hot to trot over the lefty, with even the White Sox striking to acquire Edwin Jackson because it was thought the Nats were interested in the starter. No trade was achieved because Rizzo felt that the offers weren't commensurate with what he could get in compensation draft picks. Alas, there is no guarantee the Nats end up with a first-rounder, and it is a large step to say that someone yet to be drafted holds that much value over someone in the system, already signed, with the bonus out of the way.

Stephen Strasburg WHAT WENT RIGHT

Although Strasburg's (photo, right) injury definitely belongs in the "wrong" column, it also belongs in the "right" one as well. Why? Because Strasburg zipped through the minors and unveiled a filthy arsenal once he hit the majors with a fastball sniffing 100 and an absolutely devastating arsenal of breaking pitches. Washington has a Cy Young contender for years.

If Strasburg is looking for hope to return from TJ surgery, he can check out Jordan Zimmermann, who made 10 rehab starts in the minors after going under the knife last season. He made seven starts down the stretch and showed enough that the potential he displayed when he first came up is still there.

The Nats astutely picked up closer Matt Capps for a bargain in free agency, saw him excel as a closer and flipped him for the catcher of the future in Wilson Ramos -- all while promoting their own stud prospect reliever in Drew Storen, who proved he can close for years to come. Speaking of the bullpen, Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett pretty much came from nowhere to establish what should be a nice bullpen for the Nats in 2011. Miguel Batista, a veteran journeyman, also had what figures to be his last quality year.

Mike Morse, a Quad-A player, pounded 15 home runs in 266 at-bats, and the Nats may have suddenly found a new power-hitter which will ease the sting of the eventual loss of Adam Dunn.

Lastly, no "what went right" selection is complete without the ageless Livan Hernandez, who improbably finished with a 3.66 ERA, tossing 211 2/3 innings at 35. Swan song? Probably, given he stumbled in the second half. Still awesome.

HELP ON THE WAY

The Nationals already promoted Storen and Ramos, so they technically don't belong here, but bear with me. The 22-year-old Storen, as previously mentioned, is Washington's closer of the future while Ramos figures to split time with Pudge behind the dish in 2011. There's another catcher actually on the way as well in Jesus Flores, a Rule 5 pick all the way back in 2007.

Unfortunately, Flores missed all of 2010 and most of 2009 due to injury, but he could eventually give the Nats an incredible tandem in Flores and Ramos. And the team has a top catching prospect down on the farm in Derek Norris. Now that's depth. (But ask the Rangers how much their vaunted catching depth worked out for them this season.)

Danny Espinosa also saw late-season action for the Nats, but impressed along with fellow preseason top prospect Ian Desmond, who manned short. Espinosa will slot in at second and give the Nats an exciting, young double play combo.
 
Adam Dunn EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011

The Nats have reached the point where they can tentatively start expecting to contend. That means a 90-loss season won't be accepted in 2011 and would certainly spell the demise of skipper Jim Riggleman, even sans Strasburg. Although the free-agent machinations of the team (especially to replace Dunn) will go along way towards managing expectations.

The team won't harbor any illusions that the squad can finish .500, even if Dunn returns, but finishing in the neighborhood of 77-85 figures to be the goal behind the scenes.

SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011

The Nationals seem pretty set on moving on from Adam Dunn (photo, right) due to his horrendous defense and skyrocketing contract. One player the Nats may want to peek at is Carlos Pena, coming off a year where he hit below the Mendoza Line. He has proven, however, that he can hit significantly better than that. (His career average is .241 -- wouldn't exactly call that good, but a darn sight better than .196.) And the power is certainly still there, something Washington needs. Pena is also gifted with the glove. So let's see: down season making him cheap, power and a good glove. Works for me.

The team also needs to figure out its rotation. Right now, Hernandez, Zimmermann, Lannan and Marquis figure to take up the first four spots. Stammen and Atilano could fight for the No. 5 spot but the team could really use a solid free-agent option who is long on leadership but a little long in the tooth as well to depress his price. What the Nats need to do is avoid multi-year deals, though -- there wasn't ever any reason to hand Marquis two years, and there won't be a reason to hand someone like Kevin Millwood two years. Stick to one year deals around $6-8 million, and the Nats can find someone just fine.

2011 PREDICTION

While Rizzo seems like a solid general manager, his track record is less than stellar. Combine that with the loss of Strasburg, and the Nationals seem headed to another 90-loss season in 2011. Check back in 2012, though.

Check out the rest of the R.I.P. reports here.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: September 11, 2010 2:41 pm
 

Nationals to platoon Ramos, Rodriguez

Ivan Rodriguez The Nationals plan to give Wilson Ramos every chance to see if the youngster can be the catcher of the future.

Ramos, acquired in the trade for closer Matt Capps and considered one of the better young catching prospects in the game, will alternate games with incumbent Ivan Rodriguez (pictured), reports MLB.com's William Ladson .

Rodriguez inked a two-year, $6 million deal in the offseason to serve as Washington's catcher. In 379 plate appearances, Pudge has delivered a .269/.292/.347 mark while Ramos is working on a .275/.310/.450 cumulative line between Minnesota and Washington over 42 PA. In the minors, Ramos was slumping for the Twins' Triple-A affiliate but recovered once he headed to Washington's Triple-A club to hit .316/.341/.494 in 82 plate appearances.

Rodriguez, at this point in his career, is best served as a backup catcher and will likely play in that capacity next season even as he chases 3,000 hits . He is currently 198 away from the benchmark, which is an imposing distance away to be when riding the pine. As a backup, he would need at least two more years to reach the milestone.

What the Ramos/Rodriguez 2011 combo means for Jesus Flores, once thought to be Washington's catcher of the future who has had the past two years derailed by injuries, is anyone's guess.

Washington could theoretically ask Flores to start down in Triple-A to make up for all the at-bats lost over the last two seasons and then go with Ramos/Flores in 2012, which could end up being one of the better catching duos in the league.

-- Evan Brunell

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com