Tag:Twins
Posted on: November 14, 2011 9:01 pm
 

Japanese shortstop Nakajima to be posted



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Seibu Lions of Japan's Pacific League have agreed to post shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com tweets.

Nakajima asked to be posted last offseason, but the team denied his request.

The 29-year-old hit .297/.354/.433 with 16 home runs and 27 doubles in 2011. The right-handed hitter hit .364/.500/.545 in seven games in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, including a 2-for-5 performance with two doubles and two RBI in Japan's 9-4 victory over the United States in the semifinals.

While Nakajima is a shortstop in Japan, most of the Japanese shortstops to come to the United States have switched positions to either second base or third base. Last season the Twins signed Tsuyoshi Nishioka, fresh off of a batting title and Gold Glove in Japan, for a $5 million posting fee and a contract worth $9 million over three years. Nishioki hit just .226/.278/.249 in 68 games for the Twins last season, starting 59 games at shortstop. He suffered a broken fibula in April, missing most of the season. The Twins have agreed to sign Jamey Carroll this week, hoping to play him every day at shortstop, moving Nishioka to second.

Nakajima has a longer track record (meaning he's older) than Nishioka, but also has more power.

Check out CBSSports.com's Free Agnet Tracker. 

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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. 

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 4:23 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 5:22 pm
 

Twins sign Jamey Carroll

By Matt Snyder

The Minnesota Twins have signed Jamey Carroll to a two-year deal to be the team's every day shortstop, CBSSports.com's C. Trent Rosecrans has confirmed through multiple sources.

Jon Heyman of SI.com first reported the news, adding that the deal is worth "close to" $7 million. 

Carroll, 37, isn't going to wow anyone with power, but he's a steady player who gets on base. He hit .290 with a .359 on-base percentage for the Dodgers last season. He added six triples and 10 stolen bases while providing valuable innings at second base and shortstop.

With Alexi Casilla the deserved incumbent at second base, the Carroll signing pushes Tsuyoshi Nishioka to backup duty just one year after the Twins signed him to a three-year, $9.25 million deal to come over from Japan.

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 10:31 am
 

New GM Ryan to evaluate Twins medical staff

By Matt Snyder

There are some depressing numbers for the Twins in 2011. How about 63-99, the Twins' record? Yeah, that's bad. Negative 185 (the run differential) is pretty abysmal as well. What about the fact that only two position players appeared in more than 117 games during the season? Or the major-league leading 27 disabled-list stints? Yeah, it's all bad. And new general manager Terry Ryan is going to look into the health aspect.

"That needs to be talked about," Ryan said at his re-introductory press conference at Target Field (MLB.com). "We had a tough year in medical. We had a tough year in a lot of areas. Not only up here, but right through the system. We need to do some tweaking at the very least there. When it comes to communication, there are areas there that need to be addressed, and I plan on doing that. I know (former general manager) Bill (Smith) was in the process of doing that up until last week. He was worried about it, and I'm worried about it."

Ryan also made sure to keep the focus off the players, some of whom -- namely Joe Mauer -- have had their conditioning and toughness questioned by legions of fans.

Twins turnover
"The players can only take advice," Ryan said (MLB.com). "Players take the advice you give them. We not only give them an exam up here in the Twin Cities, but they're also welcome to get a second opinion. I would never put it on the players. It's our responsibility to take control of that, and we will."

The Twins certainly have more issues than health, but it would be idiotic to dismiss the concerns with the training staff. Bad luck is one thing; an entire team being injured for a whole season is quite another. Check out the number of games played from some of the supposed regular offensive players:

Mauer: 82
Justin Morneau: 69
Alexi Casilla: 97
Denard Span: 70
Jason Kubel: 99
Michael Cuddyer: 139

That's far too many games being missed from the bulk of the lineup. No one can dispute that.

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Posted on: November 7, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2011 6:12 pm
 

Twins fire Smith; Ryan back as interim GM

Terry RyanBy C. Trent Rosecrans

What's old is new again, as the Twins have fired general manager Bill Smith and named former GM Terry Ryan the interim GM.

Smith, who took over for Ryan in 2007, will be offered another job in the organization, owner Jim Pohlad said in a statement released by the team.

"No one in the Twins' organization wants to win any more than Bill," Pohlad said in the release. "He is unquestionably loyal, committed and talented. The Twins goal is to get better in 2012 and beyond. Bill was equally motivated to achieve that goal but we differed in the scope and approach that was required."

Smith has worked for the Twins since 1986. In four seasons as the team's GM, the team went 332-318 with two AL Central titles. He was the man behind the trade of Johan Santana and J.J. Hardy and also signed Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer to lengthy contract extensions. He also sent Wilson Ramos to Washington for Jon Rauch at the trade deadline 2010, which has come under fire as Mauer's injury concerns have increased.

Ryan, 58, was the team's general manager form 1994-2007.

"As we move ahead, I’m looking forward to the challenge of improving this club for 2012 and beyond," Ryan said in the statement. "We have many assets in place including a strong front office, manager, coaching staff and returning core of players. We have a lot of work to do in relation to development of our roster, but I’m optimistic in our collective abilities to ensure the future on-field success of this franchise."

Ryan, according to the release, "will be responsible for succession planning within the baseball department with the intent to identify future leadership candidates."

"The Pohlad family asked me to come in and take over for Bill as interim GM, is that for one year or ten years, I don't know," Ryan said during the team's news conference with Ryan and president Dave St. Peter at Target Field on Monday.

Ryan also announced that former Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky would also re-join the Twins organization as a "professional scout and assistant to the general manager" -- or "interim" general manager. Krivsky left the Twins to take over the Reds in 2006 before being replaced by Walt Jocketty in 2008. Since then he has worked for the Orioles and Mets.

The Twins payroll was around $113 million last season and Ryan said the team would likely be somehwere around $100 million in 2012. 

Miller: Twins shock baseball world in firing GM Smith 

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Posted on: November 7, 2011 3:00 pm
 

Monday trade sets stage for busy Hot Stove season



By Matt Snyder


Sure, Derek Lowe was dealt to the Indians in a salary dump and we've seen a few signings, but things have been pretty slow of late in Major League Baseball news. When the biggest name to sign a contract with a new team thus far is a backup first baseman/pinch-hitter (Jim Thome), it says everything you need to know about this past week in actual transactions. So forgive us for loving Melky Cabrera and Jonathan Sanchez swapping addresses. It's something, and it serves as a nice little unofficial start to the Hot Stove season.

With just one week to the general manager meetings in Milwaukee, it's time to focus on other potential trade candidates. Obviously rumors don't always come to fruition and we're shocked with non-rumored trades going down on occasion, but here are some names that either make sense or have been rumored to be on the move in the recent past.

• The White Sox's farm system is in absolute shambles and the major-league club doesn't appear ready to compete with the Tigers any time soon, so it's possible general manager Kenny Williams decides to rebuild. Since Adam Dunn and Alex Rios have no trade value, Gavin Floyd, John Danks and Carlos Quentin would be the parts most likely to move.

Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie is a free agent after the 2012 season and he could be a helpful four or five starter for a contender. He's thrown at least 190 innings in each of the past four seasons.

Hot Stove Season
• Do new Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer look to cut the sunk costs of Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano? They'd have to eat a significant portion of the remaining salaries (and for Soriano it's $54 million left on the deal), but the duo isn't helping the Cubs win in 2012. Also, Marlon Byrd only has one year left on his contract and prospect Brett Jackson will likely be ready to take over in center soon. The guess is Byrd has more value by the trade deadline in '12, though.

Rays center fielder B.J. Upton has long been rumored to be a trade candidate, and this winter it might finally happen with Desmond Jennings clearly ready to take over in center. Also, if the Rays are ready to deal a starting pitcher, Jeff Niemann is most likely.

Denard Span was rumored to be a trade candidate back in July, and the Twins could part with their center fielder to shore up the pitching staff.

We've already heard the rumors about Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado from Atlanta, but it's possible since talks fizzled with the Royals that the Braves just hold both.

• Do the Angels try to shed Alberto Callaspo and/or Maicer Izturis and then land free agent Aramis Ramirez at third? They probably would need to shed more payroll in order to do so.

• Starting pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers could easily be on the move from Houston, but the guess is the ownership situation would need to be resolved first.

• After a disappointing 2011 season, the Rockies have plenty of trade candidates. Chris Iannetta probably stays put, but Huston Street, Ian Stewart, Seth Smith and Ty Wigginton all make sense in potential deals.

Dodgers first baseman James Loney finished 2011 with a bang, which might mean it's the Dodgers last chance to get something of value in return for him. There are a few small-market matches, too, including the Indians.

• Finally, as we've already noted, the A's have put basically the entire team on the block.

So fasten your seatbelts, the action has only just begun.

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Posted on: November 4, 2011 11:30 pm
 

Phillies 'in serious pursuit' of Michael Cuddyer

By Matt Snyder

Earlier Friday evening, reports surfaced that Jim Thome had agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Phillies. On the heels of that, Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly is now reporting that the Phillies are "in serious pursuit" of utility player Michael Cuddyer.

Cuddyer, 32, has played his entire 11-year career for the Twins. He's played everywhere except shortstop and catcher in a major-league game before (yes, he even has one inning on the hill under his belt), but he's best used at the corner outfield spots or first base. Team that with the fact that Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and left fielder Raul Ibanez is a free agent, and Cuddyer appears to be a perfect fit. He could fill in at first base while Howard recovers, if Thome can't handle the position defensively (which is a decent bet), or serve as the everyday left fielder throughout the season.

Cuddyer made the All-Star team for the first time in 2011. He hit .284 with 20 home runs, 70 RBI, 70 runs, 11 stolen bases and an .805 OPS. He has the reputation as a high-character player and would absolutely be a fit for the Phillies. Oh, and if it matters, word is that Cuddyer and Thome are good friends.

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Posted on: November 2, 2011 11:22 am
 

R.A. Dickey climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in January

R.A. Dickey

By C. Trent Rosecrans

On the scale of oddballness, there's left-handers and then there's knuckleballers -- and R.A. Dickey is living up to the reputation of knuckleballers being a little different. The Mets right-hander will climb Mount Kilimanjaro in January.

Dickey's climb will be a fundraiser for Red Light District Outreach Mumbai, which combats human trafficking in India. He also spoke to New York Magazine about his upcoming trek, which was inspired by reading Ernest Hemingway's The Snows of Kilimanjaro.

"I read the book in eighth grade -- when, of course, you don't have the means or wherewithal to tackle something like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I always thought it would be a fantastic pilgrimage to hike to the summit," Dickey told the magazine. "For years, I -- the way that we do -- we file things in our minds, in cabinets deep in the recesses of our brains. And then it just came back out. I'm including a couple of friends in the climb: Kevin Slowey from the Minnesota Twins and Dave Racaniello, the bullpen catcher for the New York Mets organization. We're going to the summit, Uhuru Peak, which is a little under 20,000 feet."

Dickey said the Mets have their concerns, but "I'm a grown man, and I can do what I want to do," although he noted if he does hurt himself they could void his contract.

Dickey said he's done triathlon training the past two offseasons to get ready for spring training and he's added some tweaks for the altitude. He did note that not only would the altitude effect his body, but also his knuckleball, which requires thicker air -- something that won't be available at the summit.

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