Tag:Pirates
Posted on: December 9, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 6:41 pm
 

Best free agents left after winter meetings



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The winter meetings are over and some of the biggest names on the free-agent market are off the table, but that doesn't mean the hot stove has died out. So, the day after Albert Pujols and the Angels shocked the baseball world, here's a look at the top five position players and pitchers left on the market:

Postition players

Prince Fielder1. Prince Fielder -- The 27-year-old Fielder is the biggest fish left on the market, averaging more than 38 home runs in his six full seasons in the big leagues and posting a .929 career OPS. Whoever lands Fielder will get a shot to the lineup. The knock is Fielder's weight and the length of a contract.

Possible landing spots: Brewers, Blue Jays, Cubs, Mariners, Marlins

Carlos Beltran2. Carlos Beltran -- Beltran's been a bit of a forgotten name in all the winter meetings talk. Beltran will be 35 in April and just finished a seven-year deal with the Mets. After being limited by injuries in his last two seasons, Beltran had a bounce-back year, hitting .300/.385/.525 with 22 homers and 84 RBI and doing that in two home ballparks not known to be friendly to hitters, Citi Field and AT&T Park. He can still play center field, but is probably better suited on a corner.

Possible landing spots: Cardinals, Nationals, Red Sox, Tigers, Braves, Mariners, Cubs

Aramis Ramirez3. Aramis Ramirez -- Even though he has 14 years in the big leagues under his belt, Ramirez is just 33 and coming off a .306/.361/.510 season with 26 homers and 93 RBI. A two-time All-Star, he's by far the best third baseman on the market -- and it's not even close.

Possible landing spots: Brewers, Phillies, Marlins

Michael Cuddyer4. Michael Cuddyer -- Cuddyer will be 33 in March and can play both the corner outfield and infield spots, offering teams a versatile player. He hit .284/.346/.459 with 20 homers last season and hit 32 homers in 2009 before the Twins moved to spacious Target Field. The Twins have reportedly already offered him a three-year deal, as have the Rockies.

Possible landing spots: Rockies, Twins, Phillies, Giants, Red Sox

Jimmy Rollins5. Jimmy Rollins -- It seems odd to consider the 2007 MVP in anything but a Phillies uniform, but Pujols is now in California, so anything's possible. Rollins' offensive numbers have dropped off since his MVP season, but he still plays a premium position -- and one a couple of teams need to fill. A three-time Gold Glove winner, Rollins turned 33 last month. If he re-signs with the Phillies, it could be his last contract. Rollins is reportedly searching for a five-year contract, a tactic that may scare away every team other than the Phillies.

Possible landing spots: Phillies, Cardinals

Pitchers

Yu Darvish1. Yu Darvish -- The 25-year-old Japanese right-hander will reportedly be posted and has been seen as perhaps the best starter available. There's no shortage of teams that could be interested in Darvish, but the history of recent big-ticket Japanese pitchers could scare off some suitors and keep the posting fee lower than expected. Once his team in Japan, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighers, accept the posting, the winning team still has to negotiate with Darvish. The posting system, though, gives a chance for a surprise team to emerge the winner.

Possible landing spots: Rangers, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Nationals, Royals

Hiroki Kuroda2. Hiroki Kuroda -- There's no question of how Kuroda will perform in the big leagues -- he's gone 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA in four seasons with the Dodgers. Kuroda had a 13-16 record in 2011, despite putting up just a 3.07 ERA. He told the team he wouldn't give up his no-trade protection at the trade deadline, but the Dodgers have already found replacements for him in the rotation. He has one offer on the table already from the Hiroshima Carp in Japan, but would make more money in the U.S.

Possible landing spots: Cubs, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Red Sox, Carp

Edwin Jackson3. Edwin Jackson -- The fact that Jackson has already played for six different teams and he's just 28 may raise some flags, but he's also had six teams want him at some point and for good reason. Although Jackson has battled inconsistency, he's still had results at times. He was 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA for the Cardinals and White Sox last season. He's not a No. 1, but he's younger than some of the other second-tier starters on the market, increasing his value.

Possible landing spots: Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Cubs, Royals, Nationals, Pirates, Rockies, Orioles

Ryan Madson4. Ryan Madson -- Even though there were reports the right-hander had agreed to return to the Phillies earlier this offseason, the team turned to Jonathan Papelbon instead. The Red Sox, who along with the Reds, are still searching for a closer could end up signing Madson and seem the best fit. In his firs tseason as the Phillies' closer, Madson recorded 32 saves, going 4-2 with a 2.37 ERA, striking out 62 batters in 60 2/3 innings.

Possible landing spots: Red Sox, Reds, Phillies

Francisco Cordero5. Francisco Cordero -- Like Madson, Cordero seems to be on the outside of the closer game of musical chairs. The Red Sox and Reds are the only team left looking for a closer. The Reds were interested in bringing back Cordero with a discount after declining their $12 million option on the 36-year-old right-hander. Cordero converted 37 saves last season and 150 in four years in Cincinnati.

Possible landing spots: Red Sox, Reds, Twins

Follow all the free agent moves with the CBSSports.com Free Agent Tracker 

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 5:39 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 5:46 pm
 

12 players taken in Rule 5 Draft

By C. Trent Rosecrans
MLB Winter Meetings

You may have missed it -- and for good reasons -- but 12 players were taken in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, in what usually signals the end of the winter meetings. It was the fewest number of players taken in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 draft since 2005

The Rule 5 Draft allows teams to take eligible players left unprotected on other teams' 40-man roster for $50,000. A player has to stay on a team's active Major League roster for the entire next season or be offered back to the original club for $25,000. Teams can also work out a trade with their old team to keep the player and send him to the minors. There have been some huge names selected in the Rule 5 Draft, including Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista and Dan Uggla, but more often than not, players don't even make it out of spring training. Chances are one or two of the 12 selected on Thursday will make it on an opening day roster, but it's unlikely any of them will stick, based on previous numbers.

But hey, it happened today and some teams got some guys -- while the Angels added Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. So, who are the 12? Here we go, listed by their new team and their old team in parentheses:

Astros: RHP Rhiner Cruz (Mets) -- A reliever, Cruz when 5-3 with seven saves and a 3.89 ERA at High-A and Double-A.

Twins: RHP Terry Doyle (White Sox) -- Doyle went 8-10 at High-A and Double-A with a 3.07 ERA in 26 starts, striking out 122 and walking 33 in 173 innings.

Mariners: LHP Lucas Luetge (Brewers) -- In his second year in Double-A, he struck out exactly a batter an inning and finsihed with a 3.13 ERA.

Orioles: 2B Ryan Flaherty (Cubs) -- A former first-rounder, the left-handed hitter hit .305/.384/.523 with 14 homers at Double-A, but then struggled at Triple-A, hitting .237/.277/.399 with five home runs.

Yankees: LHP Cesar Cabral (Red Sox) -- Actually picked by the Royals, but traded to the Yankees for cash, Cabral struck out 70 batters in 55 innings, walking 21. He was 3-4 overall in 36 games in relief with a 2.95 ERA at High-A and Double-A.

Cubs: RHP Lendy Castillo (Phillies) -- A former infielder, Castillo started two of his 21 games at Low-A Lakewood in 2011, going 4-2 with a 2.54 ERA, striking out 46 batters in as many innings.

Pirates: SS Gustavo Nunez (Tigers) -- The switch-hitter hit a combined .276/.333/.386 at High-A and Double-A, but struggled at the higher level.

Braves: LHP Robert Fish (Angels) -- Fish throws 95 mph and struck out 44 batters in 33 1/3 innings in Rookie ball and Double-A. Most of his time was spent at Double-A where he was 1-0 with a 3.26 ERA and two saves.

Cardinals: OF Erik Komatsu (Nationals) -- The Nationals acquired the speedy outfielder in the middle of 2011. He hit a combined .277/.367/.382 with seven home runs and 21 stolen bases between two different Double-A teams. 

Red Sox: SS Marwin Gonzalez (Cubs) -- The switch-hitter hit .288/.343/.400 with 30 doubles between Double-A and Triple-A. 

Diamondbacks: RHP Brett Lorin (Pirates) -- The 24-year-old stands 6-foot-7 and went 7-6 with a 2.84 ERA at High-A Bradenton, striking out 7.6 batters per nine innings.

Yankees: RHP Brad Meyers (Nationals) --  The starter pitched at three different levels in 2011, the majority coming at Triple-A, where he was 6-5 with a 3.48 ERA and struck out 74 in 95 2/3 innings.

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 4:06 pm
 

Pujols won't join exclusive Hall of Fame club



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Albert Pujols will most likely wear a St. Louis Cardinals hat when he's ultimately inducted into the Hall of Fame, but there still may be a question. We just don't know at this point. There are those players who go into the Hall without a doubt of which hat they'll wear, because it's the only one they ever wore. 

While the Hall of Fame is an elite club, there's a more elite club -- one of Hall of Famers who played their entire career with one organization. Currently there are 47 such players in Cooperstown, with the possibility of one more joining their ranks if Barry Larkin is voted in when the next class is announced in January.

It seemed like Pujols would be one of those guys -- there was even talk of a statue being built at Busch Stadium while he was still active. That statue will have to wait -- and it could be a long time before he's honored like that in St. Louis. 

So, if Pujols isn't going to join that club, who may? Here's four who may be able to claim they spent all of their entire major league career with one team.

Both Derek Jeter and Mariano River are first-ballot Hall of Fame players, both are nearing the end of their careers and both received new contracts with the Yankees last season. Jeter, 37, has two more years on his contract, plus a player option for 2014. He may play after he turns 40, but there's an almost zero percent chance the Yankees let him do it in another uniform. The same can be said for Rivera, 42. The all-time saves leader is under contract for 2012 and is unliekly to play anywhere else.

The third guy is Chipper Jones, who will turn 40 on April 24 and is under contract through 2012 with a club option for 2013 that becomes guaranteed if he plays 123 games this season. Jones has been on the verge of retiring the last two years. Like Jeter and Rivera, it seems unthinkable he'd ever wear another uniform as a player.

And that leads us to the fourth player, who will not only have an asterisk on this list if he does go into the Hall with his current team, but also the one of this group most likely to play for a different team (but even that chance seems slight -- but not as slight as the other three), and that's Ichiro Suzuki. The asterisk is that of course he played the first half of his career for the Orix Blue Wave in Japan before coming to the Mariners in 2000. Some will debate whether he'd be in the Hall if he retired today, but I find it hard to believe he could be left out. Suzuki is in the final year of his five-year extension he signed in 2007 and with the Mariners going through a rebuilding phase, he may not fit into their plans. Another team could be interested, or he could return to Japan. However, it's been suggested he really wants to get to 3,000 hits in the United States. He's at 2,428 right now and would need at least three more years to get there -- that could be two with a different team.

There are some other players that aren't sure-fire Hall of Famers that could still get there and do it with one team, but there's still a lot to be proven. The closest to the end of his career is the Rangers' Michael Young, who would need to get to 3,000 hits before he had a shot at the Hall. Young, 35, has 2,061 hits, so even that seems unlikely. Then there are the young, talented players who have a lot more to prove before getting there. However, Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Braun, Evan Longoria and Matt Kemp all have one thing in common -- long-term contracts with their current team. 

Here's the list of Hall of Famers who played for just one team, sorted by team:

Yankees: Earle Combs, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto.

Dodgers: Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson.

Giants: Carl Hubbell, Travis Jackson, Mel Ott, Bill Terry, Ross Youngs.

Pirates: Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski, Willie Stargell, Pie Traynor.

Red Sox: Bobby Doerr, Jim Rice, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski.

Indians: Bob Feller, Addie Joss, Bob Lemon.

Orioles: Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken, Brooks Robinson.

White Sox: Luke Appling, Red Faber, Ted Lyons.

Cardinals: Bob Gibson, Stan Musial.

Reds: Johnny Bench, Bid McPhee.

Tigers: Charlie Gehringer, Al Kaline.

Brewers: Robin Yount.

Cubs: Ernie Banks.

Padres: Tony Gwynn.

Phillies: Mike Schmidt.

Royals: George Brett.

Senators: Walter Johnson.

Twins: Kirby Puckett.

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Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:35 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 3:40 pm
 

Bedard, McLouth to sign with Pirates



By Matt Snyder


DALLAS -- The Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to terms with free agent starting pitcher Erik Bedard, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler has learned. Jon Heyman reports the deal is one year for $4.5 million. Also, the Pirates have agreed to bring back outfielder Nate McLouth on a one-year, $1.75 million deal, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Bedard, 32, figures to have rounded out the Pirates' starting rotation for the 2012 season along with James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia and Charlie Morton (who is recovering from hip surgery). With that mix, it's entirely possible Bedard is the opening-day starter for Pittsburgh.

MLB Winter Meetings
The left-handed Bedard finished fifth in AL Cy Young voting back in 2007, but has been unable to stay healthy since then. He's made 54 starts in the past four seasons, including zero in 2010. Last season, he went 5-9 with a 3.62 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 125 strikeouts in 129 1/3 innings. He began the season with the Mariners and then was shipped to the Red Sox in a deadline deal.

One item of note: Bedard has always played in the American League. The switch in leagues should benefit him. He is 8-3 with a 1.82 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 133 strikeouts in 113 2/3 career innings against the National League during Interleague play. It's not the largest sample and much of that came pre-injuries, but it's still reason to believe he'll improve with the shift.

McLouth, 30, was an All-Star and 20-20 guy for the Pirates, but has been awful for the Braves the past two seasons. It's possible he competes with Alex Presley for the left field job or simply serves as a fourth outfielder (I'd guess the latter is more likely).

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Posted on: December 2, 2011 9:40 pm
 

Friday's rumors: Ortiz, Astros GM and more

By C. Trent Rosecrans

We're getting closer to the winter meetings in Dallas, so talks and rumors will just intensify over the weekend. Expect some deals to get done by this time next week, and by that I mean something bigger than Chris Capuano signing with the Dodgers.

New Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine will be in the Dominican Republic this weekend to meet with David Ortiz, who said he hasn't decided whether he'd accept arbitration from the Red Sox. Ortiz said there have been several teams reach out to him, but wouldn't name those teams. (Boston Herald)

While a lot of the attention around the Astros general manager job has been about who isn't interviewing, but Colorado's Bill Geivett and St. Louis' Jeff Luhnow have interviewed with the Astros. (MLB.com)

Dave Magadan will return as the Red Sox hitting coach under Valentine.

Meanwhile, Chris Bosio will be the Cubs' pitching coach under manager Dale Sveum. (Appleton Post-Crescent)

The Marlins have a team policy that they won't include no-trade clauses in their contracts and it was reported that the policy could hurt the team in its pursuit of some of the biggest free agents. However, president Larry Beinfest said the policy has never hurt them before. (Palm Beach Post)

Japanese shortstop Munenori Kawasaki said in a press conference that he was becoming a free agent and was interested in playing in the United States, but only for the Mariners. Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik said he was aware of Kawasaki's statement and would consider signing the former Softbank Hawk. Kawasaki said he'd be willing to accept a minor-league deal. (Seattle Times)

Veteran utility man Mark DeRosa is gaining interest from the Nationals, Rangers, Indians and Pirates. (FoxSports.com)

The agent for Mariano Rivera said the Yankee closer's surgery to remove polyps from his vocal cords "went well, as planned." (New York Daily News)

The Royals announced TV analyst Frank White wouldn't return in 2011. While that's not a big deal on the national scale, White is one of the franchise's best players. A Kansas City native, White is one of just two players to have their number retired by the team. White had served as an analyst the last three years and had resigned as a full-time employee of the Royals in January to concentrate on his TV duties. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! tweeted that White was fired because the team thought he was too critical, which is a shame. White is one of the all-time great Royals and deserved better.

The Reds will play a game against their minor league all-stars on the Tuesday before opening day. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

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Posted on: November 28, 2011 7:53 pm
 

Is Andrew McCutchen available via trade?



By Matt Snyder


Monday afternoon, Keith Law of ESPN.com reported that the Pirates front office was willing to listen to potential trade offers for star outfielder Andrew McCutchen. Understandably, Pirates fans -- who have been beaten down through nearly two decades of futility -- were none too happy. McCutchen is only 25 and already the face of the franchise. He's not a free agent until 2016. Sure, the Pirates could probably land a veritable killing of prospects if they traded him, but they've been trading name players for prospects for years. At some point you have to try and win. That's why the next paragraph should help the Pirates fans breathe a bit easier ...

The Pirates have not considered any offer for McCutchen, nor do they plan to, tweets Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, citing a "high-ranking" Pirates source. Kovacevic adds, for good measure, that McCutchen is "going nowhere."

So believe what you wish, but I'm inclined to side with the latter report. It would be an utter P.R. disaster for the Pirates to deal McCutchen right now.

McCutchen made his first All-Star team in 2011, hitting .259/.364/.456 with 23 homers, 89 RBI, 87 runs, 34 doubles and 23 stolen bases while playing sound defense in center field.

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Posted on: November 26, 2011 1:46 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Pittsburgh Pirates

Jose Bautista

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no waivers, no minor- or major-league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams.

In 2011 the Pirates extended their streak of losing seasons to 19, finishing 72-90 after a promising start. However, there are signs of the team finally putting it together, with much of their talent coming from within the organization. Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker are among the future stars the team has drafted and kept. If Pittsburgh had been able to keep a couple more of its homegrown players, the Pirates could at the very least be looking at fielding a winning team.

Lineup

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF
2. Neil Walker, 2B
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Ryan Doumit, 1B
6. Jeff Keppinger, SS
7. Ronny Paulino, C
8. Nyjer Morgan, LF

Starting Rotation

1. Paul Maholm
2. Bronson Arroyo
3. Tom Gorzelanny
4. Brad Lincoln
5. Chris Young

Bullpen

Closer - Juan Oviedo (Leo Nunez)
Set up - Matt Capps, Mike Gonzlaez, John Grabow, Sean Burnett, Tony Watson
Long - Tim Wakefield, Zack Duke

Notable Bench Players

Pedro Alvarez, Rajai Davis, Brent Lillibridge, Nate McLouth, Alex Presley

What's Good?

The top of the lineup is the envy of just about any organization -- there's speed at the top and power throughout the first four batters. Jose Bautista will forever be the one that got away, but not just for the Pirates, who drafted him in 2000, but also for the Orioles, Rays, Royals and Mets, who all acquired -- a got rid of -- Bautista at some point. But still, the Pirates had him twice and are now watching him blossom as one of the game's best players while in a different uniform. In addition to the top of the lineup, the bottom of the lineup isn't too bad, while the bullpen is stout. 

What's Not?

The rotation isn't going to intimidate too many batters, but the team will put up some runs and leads have a good chance of being held with that bullpen. Keppinger is a solid bat and makes all the plays in front of him, but doesn't quite have the range most teams look for at shortstop. He can play there, but it isn't an ideal spot.

Comparison to real 2011

The Pirates rotation overachieved in the first half of 2011 and flopped in the second -- as Pittsburgh went 25-47 after finding themselves trailing by just a game in the NL Central at the All-Star break. While this lineup would put up more runs, its starters would allow more. That said, the improved lineup and bullpen would be good for several more wins and probably even give the team a winning record. 

Up next: Chicago Cubs

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Posted on: November 22, 2011 1:21 pm
 

Choosing the NL Least Valuable Player



By Matt Snyder


With the announcement of the National League MVP coming Tuesday, we'll once again do the opposite and choose a least valuable player. Unlike the AL version of this "award," the candidates were not nearly as identifiable. I did narrow it down to five worthy contenders, so let's size 'em up.

Pedro Alvarez, Pirates. The 24-year-old third baseman was supposed to be a power bat in the middle of the Pirates lineup for years to come. And he still might prove to be one in the future, but he was awful in 2011. Alvarez hit .191/.272/.289 with just four homers in 262 plate appearances. He even earned a demotion to Triple-A. He struck out 80 times and grounded into 11 double plays in just 235 at-bats.

Tyler Colvin, Cubs. The 2006 first-round pick hit 20 home runs in 358 at-bats in 2010, but he was lost in 2011. Colvin hit .150/.204/.306 with six homers in 222 plate appearances. You can go after Mike Quade for not letting Colvin get regular playing time if you want, but how can you justify continuing to run a guy out there with a .204 on-base percentage?

Aubrey Huff, Giants. Believe it or not, Huff finished seventh in MVP voting in 2010. Man, that seems like ages ago. In 2011, the Giants had the worst offense in the National League, and Huff has to shoulder some of that blame. Huff's raw stats don't look near as bad as those of Alvarez, Colvin or a litany of others, but his .246/.306/.370 line damaged a legitimate playoff threat. If he had a similar season to 2010, the entire complexion of the lineup changes.

Derek Lowe, Braves. He made 34 starts and worked 187 innings, so that sounds like he had some value, at least in giving the Braves a healthy innings-eater. It's just that Lowe faltered when the Braves needed him the most. His overall season numbers -- 9-17, 5.05 ERA, 1.51 WHIP -- were bad enough, but Lowe was horrifying in September. He made five starts, going 0-5 with an 8.75 ERA and 1.99 WHIP. This was during a historic collapse. And Lowe made $15 million in 2011.

Brandon Lyon, Astros. The closer set the tone for the Astros' abysmal 2011 season by blowing an opening-day save opportunity, allowing six hits and three runs to the Phillies. He would rack up as many blown saves as actual saves (four), which fit nicely with his 11.48 ERA and 2.40 WHIP. Still, Lyon only appeared in 15 games, due to injury, so he can't really win this one.

And the winner is ... Huff by a nose. Ultimately, I believe Huff's shortfall from his 2010 numbers was more responsible for costing the Giants the playoffs than Lowe's campaign. Since Lowe is a starting pitcher and only goes once every five days, I feel like the Braves still could have overcome his shortcomings. But the Giants' offense was pitiful all season, and if Huff hit the ball better, it would have been an immense boost. I'd definitely be on board with anyone wanting to pick Lowe, though. This was a two-horse race.

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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