Posted on: January 11, 2012 5:10 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 7:07 pm
So why hasn't Prince Fielder signed yet while Albert Pujols has been sitting back and counting that 10-year, $254 million deal for weeks?
Plenty of reasons. Mostly, as Boras would tell you, because the market is still developing.
Start with the fact that the two clubs who in recent years have helped establish the ga-zillion dollar markets -- the Yankees and Red Sox -- are sitting this one out. New York has a long-term first baseman in Mark Teixeira, as Boston does with Adrian Gonzalez.
Beyond them, only a small handful of clubs can play ball at Fielder's asking price. Which, you can be sure, is a dollar or two more than Pujols is getting annually from the Angels.
From the start, barring a stunning early offer, Boras was in no hurry to sign Fielder. It was clear that Pujols would sign, the bar would be set, and then Boras/Fielder would look to exceed it.
Within that, as Boras has explained many times this winter, free agents at this level are ownership decisions. As he did when he represented Alex Rodriguez in 2000 and scored the 10-year, $252 million deal, Boras meets directly with owners (then-Rangers owner Tom Hicks, in that case).
That, too, takes time.
With the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels out, the Cubs, Mets and Dodgers are among the few who could afford Fielder.
The Cubs are under new management, and president Theo Epstein philosophically does not believe in awarding long-term contracts to the tune of seven, eight or more years to free agents. Consequently, they acquired Anthony Rizzo from the Padres this month, the idea being Rizzo will be Chicago's first baseman of the future.
The Mets and Dodgers, of course, have serious financial issues of their own. The Mets, who lost Jose Reyes to the Marlins this winter, are rebuilding and broke. The Dodgers are in the process of being sold.
So that leaves the next tier of suitors. And one other key component: With the Yankees and Red Sox on the sidelines, there is nobody to help drive up the price up via a bidding war.
Boras met with the Nationals several weeks ago. Those two have done several multi-million dollar deals in recent years, including the $126 million Jayson Werth contract last winter, and deals with recent top draft picks Stephen Strasburg (four-years, $15 million) and Bryce Harper (five years, $9.9 million).
The Mariners desperately need a middle-of-the-lineup bat. But whether the M's would spend that kind of dough remains to be seen ... as does whether Fielder would want to play in Safeco Field, notorious for diluting offensive numbers.
Asked at the winter meetings last month whether his client had a geographical presence, Boras quipped, "I just think he likes fences that are close to home plate. That's the geographics he likes."
Baltimore is another city that continues to be linked with Fielder. The Orioles are desperate for a clean-up hitter, not to mention a winner. Owner Peter Angelos has the money, though he is notoriously slow in wading through the free agent market.
Texas? The Rangers' deadline for signing pitcher Yu Darvish is next week. Some industry sources think the Rangers are holding off on Fielder while they negotiate with the Japanese free agent. Then, they'll either go full bore after Fielder if they don't sign Darvish (unlikely, they're expected to sign the pitcher) or see if there's a way to fit Fielder in after signing the pitcher.
The Blue Jays? Hmmm ... interesting thought, and lots of speculation surrounding them. Maybe the exchange rate is slowing those talks down.
Milwaukee remains in on the fringes, but only if the price falls.
Always, with Boras, there is the threat of a "mystery team" stepping up. No other agent in the game is as skilled at luring suitors down the path ... and then obtaining a pot of gold ... as Boras.
But now, as it gets deeper into January and an industry awaits Fielder's decision, it may take Boras' biggest play yet to get what he and his client want.
Posted on: March 3, 2011 9:23 am
VIERA, Fla. -- Outtakes from hanging out with the Nationals and, among other things, talking Tommy John with Stephen Strasburg and wondering whether Nyjer Morgan will keep it together this summer. ...
"I don't feel like anybody feels we're done looking," Werth says. "I feel Riz [general manager Mike Rizzo] is still out there looking for the right pieces, like trying to get Greinke. He's an aggressive guy. This is starting to turn into a win-now situation."
-- Before there was Stephen Strasburg, there was Jordan Zimmermann. High draft pick, potential ace pitcher, Tommy John ligament transfer surgery. ...
Zimmermann, 24, is projected to start the season in Washington's rotation in what will be his first full summer back following the Tommy John procedure. Not only are the Nats thrilled that Zimmermann is about ready to pitch in, he's able to serve another purpose, too.
"It's nice to have somebody to talk to," Strasburg says. "Somebody to see if what you're feeling is the same way he felt as the process goes on."
But, Strasburg noted, "you talk to three different guys who have had the surgery, you get three different answers as to how fast you can come back.
"It's more a matter of how you're going, how your strength is."
-- A year ago, Strasburg was all the buzz. Now, it's the Nats' second consecutive No. 1 Pick of the Century, outfielder Bryce Harper. Difference is, Harper is only 18 and has as much a chance of seeing the majors this summer as Ted Williams does of managing another Washington team in D.C.
Still, he's in major-league camp because he's on the 40-man roster, and the Nationals sure have enjoyed having him so far.
"It's been great for him," general manager Mike Rizzo says. "He's going to learn a lot from this. He's a sponge. He's a student of the game. He's a baseball rat. He keeps his mouth shut and his ears open. We have some veteran leadership now, and it's a credit to Bryce that he's [soaking it up].
"It's much like with Strasburg last year. They've really embraced Bryce as one of their own."
Among others, Werth has made sure to deliver various tips and pointers to Harper.
"He's young," Werth says. "But he's a lot further along at that age than I was. He's a special talent."
-- Rizzo on Nyjer Morgan and his troubled second half of 2010: "I think those were isolated incidents, out-of-character incidents. He's a very positive person and he plays the game hard. Sure, at times last year he got himself into trouble. But in his career, now, I think the extracurricular stuff will be eliminated.
"He's a big piece for us. His defensive presence in center field, his defensive range, he's a pest at the top of the lineup and he's capable of stealing 50 bases a year."
Sunblock Day? About two hours of light rain in Florida here in the past two-and-a-half weeks. If you're coming, bring the sunblock. If you're already here, get some more.
Likes: Talking to Yogi Berra in the Yankees' dugout the other day at Steinbrenner Field. ... Talking to David Wells in the Yankees clubhouse. He's never dull. ... This beautifully done story on Mets media relations man Jay Hortwitz from Jeff Pearlman. ... Caught the last half of the PBS American Masters series on the musicians of the legendary Troubadour in Los Angeles -- James Taylor, Carole King, the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and many others. Great documentary. Very well done. Sure hope I can catch up to the entire show in the near future. ... A new Lucinda Williams disc, Blessed. Haven't picked it up yet. Will soon. She's great.
Dislikes: The middle-aged man in the hotel workout room the other day who was using the exercise bike right next to me -- and riding barefoot. I get it, it's Florida, where bare feet and flip flops are perfectly acceptable. But come on. If you're going to work up a sweat in a workout room, have some respect for those around you. Disgusting. Thank goodness I was running on a treadmill and had no intention of using the bike.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Well in the town where I was raised
-- Mac MacAnally, Back Where I Come From
Posted on: December 8, 2010 8:53 pm
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Whether it was a misdirection ploy by the Angels or an agent taking a liberty or two to help jack up the market, put those Cliff Lee/Angels rumors on the back burner.
The Angels, multiple sources said on Wednesday, are continuing to plunge into these winter meetings with speedy outfielder Carl Crawford as their clear No. 1 priority.
And just for good measure, attempting to make sure they fix a declining offense somehow, they met with the agent for third baseman Adrian Beltre on Wednesday.
Yes, they did reach out to Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, on Tuesday and are keeping in touch. But a source with knowledge of those talks called them "benign." No, he said, Crawford remains the top target.
Many in the industry -- as well as sources close to the outfielder -- are handicapping the Angels as the clear favorites to land Crawford, though Jayson Werth's seven-year, $126 million deal with Washington may slow things down until (if?) the Yankees, Red Sox or another big market team enters the bidding.
And here's where things get murky, much murkier than the Lee talks. With Crawford, it's much more of a moving parts-type of market.
The Yankees are expected to veer toward Crawford if they fail to sign Lee. Some industry sources believe they may take a run at both Lee and Crawford though, even for the Yankees, that seems awfully pricey. General manager Brian Cashman had dinner with Crawford and his representatives here on Tuesday night.
The Red Sox were believed to want either Werth or Crawford initially, but having acquired Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego and with parameters surely in place for a monster extension there, it's difficult to see the Red Sox signing up for two contracts of at least seven years in length in one winter.
The Tigers need a left-fielder, have money to spend and showed initial interest in Crawford but seem to have disappeared in these talks in recent days.
One wild-card who recently met with Crawford's representatives, according to sources, is the Rangers. While they're clearly focused on Lee, Crawford could represent a stunning backup plan if Lee signs with the Yankees. The Rangers also could be the Angels' worst nightmare: If they do lose Lee and go strong after the Houston native, that might be too tempting for Crawford to ignore.
People close to Crawford, a Houston native, say he loves the West Coast and would be happy in Anaheim.
Certainly, this is setting up with the Angels as the clubhouse favorites, so to speak.
But it's also clear that the road could curve ahead.
Posted on: December 7, 2010 1:02 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 12:41 am
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Paging the Los Angeles Angels, attention Angels.
Free agent Carl Crawford is still out there. So are free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre and free agent closer Rafael Soriano ... and, yes, free agent ace Cliff Lee.
After getting aced out of Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia two years ago and failing to produce a leadoff hitter to replace Chone Figgins last year, the heat is on the Angels to swing and connect this winter. On something.
Crawford has been a high priority, according to sources, though late Tuesday night it was confirmed that the Angels were in contact with Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, and that that dialog is expected to remain ongoing.
"We're conducting business. What other clubs do doesn't affect how we operate."
Maybe that helps explain why the Angels, who took hard runs at both Teixeira and Sabathia two winters ago, have swung and missed lately. What other clubs do does affect the rest in this game, because market values are set.
Here in Florida, Crawford's market is still taking shape, and you bet the Werth contract will be a barometer.
The Angels are one of the few teams with pockets deep enough to pull up a chair at Crawford's table. One break they may have gotten in the past few days is that in acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox may be out on Crawford -- at least, at seven or eight years.
The Red Sox are said to have agreed with Gonzalez on the parameters of a seven-year deal worth between $161 and $168 million that likely will be finalized sometime around Opening Day. It's hard to see Boston signing two players to contracts that long in one winter.
Other than the Angels' interest, things have been awfully quiet here regarding Crawford.
The Angels always operate with the secrecy of a CIA spy, but until Tuesday night and the Lee revelation, there was little indication that much of anything was happening.
Beltre? The Angels currently are not taking an aggressive path there, according to a source with knowledge of the club's thinking.
Soriano? No indicators there, either.
Reagins, scrambling because of a flight delay Monday, was among the last GM's -- and, far as anybody can tell, the last -- to arrive at the Winter Meetings.
Owner Arte Moreno is known for being aggressive. But over the past couple of years, he hasn't been aggressive enough.
The Angels got worse last year. They looked old. They were slow.
The decision to let Figgins walk backfired when Erick Aybar did not develop into a leadoff hitter. The decision to let Guerrero walk blew up when he had a great year and Hideki Matsui was disappointing.
Suddenly, the shift of power in the AL West is becoming evident.
Texas not only won the division, but the Rangers are loaded with good, young talent. They're not going anywhere.
The A's have the kind of good, young pitching that has them poised to recapture some of the glory of old.
Seattle? Well, let's not get carried away here. Not everybody in the division is on the move.
Right now, though, in terms of forward momentum, the Angels are more Seattle than Texas.
Mike Scioscia said Tuesday that the return to health of first baseman Kendry Morales, who slammed 34 home runs and collected 108 RBIs two summers ago before suffering a season-ending broken leg early in 2010, will be a boon in 2011.
Looks like a whole lot of scapegoats. And so far, not much else.
Posted on: December 4, 2010 2:31 am
Edited on: December 4, 2010 2:46 am
Sources with knowledge of the talks confirmed to CBSSports.com late Friday night that the two clubs are discussing a blockbuster that would send a package of prospects to the Padres in exchange for Gonzalez, the three-time All-Star who is entering the final year of his contract in 2011 before he becomes eligible for free agency.
The Red Sox, under general manager Theo Epstein, have taken multiple runs at acquiring Gonzalez going all the way back to '09. At this moment, they appear closer to landing the slugger than they ever have before. There were indications late Friday night that a deal possibly could even be reached before the clubs get too deep into next week's winter meetings that begin in Orlando on Monday.
Traveling parallel paths in looking for a big hitter, the Red Sox this week have spoken with free agents Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre. With Kevin Youkilis reportedly working out at third base this winter, the Sox would have the flexibility, if they do not re-sign Beltre, to move Youkilis across the diamond and plug in Gonzalez at first base.
Of course, in negotiations, things are not always what they seem, and the Red Sox currently are juggling enough possibilities that a well-timed run at Gonzalez also could be designed to break the will of Beltre and cause him to lower his asking price and re-sign with them sooner rather than later. Theoretically, with Beltre in the fold, Youkilis would stay at first base and the Red Sox could turn away from the San Diego talks.
However, late Friday night, that's not the way Boston appeared to be moving. Conversations with the Padres were said to have gained momentum throughout the day on Friday.
While neither San Diego general manager Jed Hoyer nor Gonzalez could be reached for comment, a couple of things are in play here:
One, Gonzalez, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder after the season ended, has not given any indication that he's amenable to signing a long-term deal with San Diego for a discounted price.
And two, the Padres, surprise winners of 90 games in 2010, likely realize that their optimal time to move him is now, when they surely would receive a bigger package of players in return than they would in July, when Gonzalez might be a three-month rental for a contending team.
While trading Gonzalez would be a public relations disaster for a San Diego club whose attendance already was disappointing in 2010, the Padres have been taking on water this winter, anyway.
Already, they've lost three key pieces from a team that managed to stay in contention all the way to the last day of last season: Pitcher Jon Garland has signed with the division-rival Dodgers, infielder Miguel Tejada has signed with the division-rival Giants and catcher Yorvit Torrealba has fled to Texas.
As things stand now, the Padres have serious holes in their rotation and in their middle infield. And the 2011 payroll is not projected to rise much beyond the low $40 millions. In 2010, only the Pirates had a lower payroll than San Diego.
Consequently, despite their surprise season in 2010, the Padres appear to be veering more toward rebuilding with young pieces -- witness their acquisition of outfielder Cameron Maybin from Florida earlier this winter -- than toward contending again.
Much as it would be unpalatable to the local fans to see Gonzalez, a San Diego native, dealt, he currently appears on a dead-end course with the Padres, and trading him clearly is their best shot at quickly accumulating three or four players who would either be major-league ready, or help fertilize the upper-levels of a weak farm system.
Hoyer, who just completed his first season as Padres' GM, and his assistant Jason McLeod, each worked under Epstein in Boston through the end of the 2009 season. As scouting director for the Red Sox, McLeod knows their system exceedingly well. The Epstein-Hoyer relationship is another reason why many in the industry have predicted Gonzalez would wind up in Fenway Park since Hoyer replaced Kevin Towers in the GM's chair.
Though the Padres picked up Gonzalez's $5.5 million contract for 2011, there remain no indications that he will be a San Diego lifer. Gonzalez is looking for Ryan Howard-Mark Teixeira-Albert Pujols money, a six- or seven-year deal worth somewhere north of $20 million a year.
The Padres sent strong signals that they intended to trade Gonzalez last year until their unexpectedly good season caused them to keep that team together. Though Gonzalez is a local hero and a highly popular Hispanic player for a team that draws from Mexico, there were zero promotions for Gonzalez during the 2010 season. No cover of the media guide, no bobble-head nights, no posters, nothing. It was a strong signal that he was not in their long-term plans.
Gonzalez last year batted .298 with 31 homers and 101 RBI despite being bothered by a damaged right shoulder beginning in May. With two good shoulders in '09, Gonzalez crushed 40 home runs with 99 RBI.
With numbers like that in the cavernous Petco Park, you can't blame the Red Sox for dreaming about the damage the lefty swinging Gonzalez could do in Fenway Park -- especially with David Ortiz moving into the, ahem, twilight of his career.
Some 16 months after the Red Sox first started talking with the Padres about Gonzalez, they appear closer than ever to making that happen. And they still would have money left for either Werth or Crawford.
Posted on: December 2, 2010 2:01 pm
The Red Sox, looking to add an impact outfielder to their lineup this winter, are taking their cuts: After meeting with free agent Carl Crawford in Houston recently, the traveling road show continued when general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona met with free agent Jayson Werth and his representatives in Chicago on Wednesday evening, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.
There are no indications that a deal is close with either player, as sources say the discussions are "continuing." Plus, both Crawford and Werth remain highly sought after by other clubs.
Crawford remains the Angels' top target as well, and owner Arte Moreno and Co. continue to put on a full-court press. Though the Angels have been linked to free agent closer Rafael Soriano as well, Crawford remains far and away their top priority. One source with knowledge of the Angels plans says they want Crawford "bad."
Either Werth or Crawford would play well in Fenway Park, which is why Epstein and Francona have made the rounds from Houston to Chicago. It is believed that Scott Boras, Werth's agent, also conducted talks with other clubs while in Chicago on Wednesday and Thursday morning.
Posted on: October 30, 2009 2:39 am
NEW YORK -- The Phillies talked a lot about missed opportunities after their 3-1 loss in Game 2 of the World Series. One important pivotal point for them came when Jayson Werth was picked off of first base by Yankees catcher Jose Molina following a leadoff single in the fourth inning.
The Phillies led 1-0 at the time and had a chance to extend it even further. But with nobody out and Raul Ibanez at the plate ... what, exactly, happened?
Werth had begun to steal, but had changed his mind and stopped when he saw A.J. Burnett's pitch to Ibanez in the dirt.
"Usually in that situation, when you start to steal and don't you go back to the bag early," Werth said.
When he spied the ball in the dirt, he didn't go back to the bag quite so early.
"And by the time I saw the ball, it was on its way to first base," Werth said. "It was unorthodox. I was in No Man's Land. He made a really good play. Unfortunately, it happens.
"I don't know how much different I'd do if the play happened again. It was just a good play by [Molina]."
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins saw the same thing almost happen to him an inning earlier when he was on second base, that's what he told Werth following Werth's disastrous pick-off at first.
"I told him Molina came up and did the same thing to me," Rollins said. "He pump faked, and if someone had been at second base, he may have gotten me.
"You see the ball in the dirt, and you automatically take an extra half step. And when he came up and pump-faked, I was like, Whoa."
From that point on, Rollins was extra wary. Molina was behind the plate instead of Jorge Posada because Molina has become A.J. Burnett's personal catcher.
"He's so good back there," Rollins said of Molina. "He's so quick getting the ball from the glove to the hand, even on a ball in the dirt.
"The only way you can go is if the ball gets behind him and he turns his back."
Ibanez struck out two pitches after Werth was nailed, and Matt Stairs followed with a fly to left to end the inning.
The Yankees would tie the game on Mark Teixeira's homer in the bottom of the fourth and take the lead for good two innings later.
"It happens, you know?" Rollins said of Werth's misplay. "Like I told him, it's the World Series. You're going to make some great plays sometimes. That was a great play."
The Phillies played Game 2 a man short: It wasn't well publicized, but they sent pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs back to Philadelphia early because he had a stomach virus.
"Rather than infecting the whole clubhouse, we sent him home," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
Amaro said that as far as he knows, no other Phillies have caught Dobbs' bug.
Posted on: October 29, 2008 10:05 pm
PHILADELPHIA -- Arguably the most unusual World Series game in history Wednesday night brought with it one of the most unusual World Series finishes in history: For only the second time ever, the Philadelphia Phillies won the title.
Following a 46-hour delay, the first World Series game ever suspended resumed on Wednesday night, in the bottom of the sixth inning, with both the Phillies and Tampa Bay playing as if they were racing the clock.
From what it looked like, the 45,940 packing Citizens Bank Park returned en masse. They stood for the entire final 3 1/2 innings. And they rocked like rarely before when the Phillies finished it off 4-3.
They won it when J.C. Romero worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, and when closer Brad Lidge slammed the door -- again -- in the ninth inning. It capped a perfect season for Lidge: He converted 41 of 41 save opportunities during the regular season, and seven-of-seven in the postseason.
The ninth inning kept them guessing: After Evan Longoria popped to Chase Utley in shallow center field, Dioner Navarro cracked a broken-bat single to right. Pinch-runner Fernando Perez stole second, but pinch-hitter Ben Zobrist lined to Werth in right field.
Then, in a moment Phillies fans will remember forever, with the potential tying run on second and an 0-1 count on Eric Hinske, the pinch-hitter struck out.
Lidge immediately dropped to his knees and thrust his arms, while catcher Carlos Ruiz rushed out to hug him. The rest of the Phillies flew to the scene, creating an instant jampile that will be replayed on video around here for years.
"It's honestly very hard to control emotions right now," Lidge said.
And that much was clear -- for all of the Phillies.
It was the Phillies' first World Series title since 1980, and only the second in club history. Considering that this was the 104th World Series played, it's been quite a wait for a club from a city that has become accustomed to watching everyone else win championships.
Not since the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983 has one of the four major professional sports teams in Philadelphia won a title.