Posted on: December 7, 2011 8:41 pm
DALLAS -- The thread that could begin unraveling Jose Reyes' $106 million deal at any time is no secret. It's his hamstrings, which, with another tug or two, will be classified as chronically bad.
And yes, the Marlins researched Reyes' physical issues before diving into the deep end with him.
"A lot," club president David Samson said. "We have spent a lot of time. It's a very big commitment, the largest commitment we have ever made to a player.
"He spent a lot of time with the doctor [Tuesday]. There were no surprises. We looked at every part of his body -- every part -- to make sure everything was where it was supposed to be."
Sorry, I didn't ask any, uh, probing questions regarding the every part of his body line.
"And his hamstrings, because that keeps coming up, right?" Samson continued. "We had an injury history. The fact is that we are very confident in his ability to manage his legs over the course of these six years to the point where he will still be able to out-perform this deal, which is still a key for us.
"We felt with this number, we are still in good shape."
Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:07 pm
DALLAS -- Even as the Marlins formally introduced Jose Reyes at a midday press conference here Wednesday, Albert Pujols shadowed them like an unrealized fantasy.
Owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson would only talk about Reyes, much as the other day they would only talk about new closer Heath Bell when Reyes' deal had not yet become official.
Difference is, there is no agreement with Pujols yet. And there are growing indications that there might not be.
"We're working on some things," was the only thing Loria would say. "Stay tuned."
As the day got longer Wednesday, the lobby buzz at the Hilton Anatole here grew louder that Pujols is moving closer to returning to the Cardinals. Basically, the thinking goes, the Marlins' best chance was with a quick strike, which they executed Tuesday. The Cardinals increased their offer to 10 years and $220 million, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the same day.
Samson said that the Marlins' plan "always was a three-part move", and two of those part now are in house with Reyes and Bell. The third part, clearly, is Pujols. And if he passes, left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle.
If Pujols would decide to come to Miami, the Marlins' plan actually would extend out into at least four parts, because they would trade incumbent first baseman Gaby Sanchez for a starting pitcher.
Whatever happens, the Marlins would like to add starting pitching depth to go with Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad.
Posted on: December 5, 2011 1:57 am
Edited on: December 5, 2011 2:19 am
DALLAS -- Heath Bell opened some eyes. Jose Reyes opened some jaws.
But even with that, Miami isn't done in what is shaping up as the Winter of the Marlin.
Albert Pujols? Are they serious?
Indications late Sunday evening were yes, they're dead serious about pursuing Pujols even with Reyes bagged at six years and $106 million and Bell signed for three years and $27 million with a vesting option for a fourth year at another $9 million.
Question is, is adding Pujols a good idea? Or, at this point, is it simply the Marlins being silly?
Answer: Unless there's enough money to sign Mark Buerhle or C.J. Wilson after Bell, Reyes and Pujols -- and in a sentence I never, ever expected to type, even the Marlins must have a limit -- the noveau riche Fish are just being silly.
Adding Reyes to a dynamic lineup that includes Hanley Ramirez, Logan Morrison, Mike Stanton and All-Star first baseman Gaby Sanchez makes the Marlins an instant contender ... if they can pitch.
Adding Bell as their first legitimate closer in years solidifies their contending status ... if they have enough starting pitching to get the ball to him for 40 or 50 saves in 2012.
With Josh Johnson having crossed the 200 innings threshold only once in seven big-league seasons, and with Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad underperforming in 2012, what the Marlins need most is to back a much-improved lineup with pitching.
With the Reyes agreement, sources here Sunday night said the club absolutely has enough money to sign Bell, Reyes and a free agent starter such as Buehrle or Wilson. That is absolutely the way they should go.
Sure, Pujols, 31, is sexy and the Marlins right now are looking to throw their weight around. But now is the time to use brains, not testosterone.
No matter how the contracts are structured, if they commit in the neighborhood of $275 million or more to just two players -- Reyes and Pujols -- that is insane. Especially when their pitching would remain questionable.
Look for the Marlins to investigate the trade market this week because, assuming Reyes is not their last free-agent haul, they're going to have excess somewhere. They bag Pujols, Sanchez will be available. They add a starter, Nolasco could find himself on the trade block.
It's going to be a wild week here with the Marlins, perhaps a week unlike any other in their history. But what they don't need is to leave Dallas with a lasting hangover.
Tempting as Pujols is, pitching is where they should focus.
Posted on: November 29, 2011 5:13 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 5:28 pm
The news peg for the Giants on Tuesday was the ballclub extending the contracts of general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy through 2013, with club options for 2014.
That order of business out of the way, understand this as the Giants charge full-speed ahead -- such as it is -- toward building their 2012 team this winter: Those fabled splash hits at AT&T Park are a far different thing from a big splash free agent signing.
"There won't be a big splash," Sabean said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. "We are in concert through Larry Baer [club president] and our partnership that our pitching is our gold standard.
"Whatever we attempt, we have to make sure we take care of that commodity first."
San Francisco's clear goal this winter is to beef up an offense that ranked 29th in the majors in runs scored last summer.
But that also likely will not include another free agent, one who finished 2011 with the Giants: Outfielder Carlos Beltran.
"A lot of conversations," Sabean said. "We're going to have a conference-call update [internal] on where we're at after this call.
"I would say it's a fluid situation, as well as other situations we're in on."
Baer confirmed that the Giants expect to manage a 2012 payroll of about $130 million, up a tick from the $125 million at which San Francisco finished the season. That doesn't leave much wiggle room for normal arbitration raises, let alone free agency.
"The best way to phrase it is, he is a consideration but [length of contract] will be an issue with anybody we pursue," Sabean said of Beltran. "Whether it's him or anybody else. We have a very definitive game plan on each conversation on what we think is a reasonable length."
As they look to upgrade their offense, the logical areas for the Giants -- who already have traded for Melky Cabrera this winter -- are a corner outfield slot or shortstop. One thing Sabean and Bochy will hash out in the coming days is whether they think Brandon Crawford, who started last season at Class A San Jose, is capable of playing there every day in the majors.
Sabean watched Crawford in the Arizona Fall League and was impressed with Crawford's progress, however incremental.
"Around the end of the Fall League, he certainly was impressive," Sabean said. "I was able to see him in person quite a bit. We know what his glove brings. He's trying like hell to make adjustments at home plate. Albeit it's not major league pitching, but he's doing what we asked him to do -- put the ball in play, [swing at pitches] at the belt and below and stay off of the high fastball, which has been his kryptonite."
Crawford hit .204 with 22 runs scored in 64 games for the Giants last season. But unless Sabean can find a hidden gem, it sounds like he may get a real shot this spring. Forget Reyes, Jimmy Rollins right now isn't a fit in San Francisco's payroll.
"It's going to be a function of what's left in the payroll, and what the price point is," Sabean said of Rollins. "Any acquisition is in the eyes of the beholder. A sticker-shock-type, I don't anticipate a big splash. Or let's say a household name, per se."
Posted on: November 9, 2011 7:15 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 7:38 pm
Talk about moving and shaking.
The Miami Marlins have a new manager with a Q rating off the charts in Ozzie Guillen. They've squired free agents Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes around their new ballpark this week on recruiting visits. They've been in touch with free agent Prince Fielder, and sources say they're very active in the relief pitching market as well (Heath Bell?).
Thursday, a Marlins contingent is due in the Dominican Republic to watch Yoennis Cespedes, the flashy Cuban defector who is expected to be declared a free agent within the next few weeks.
Now, poised to unveil new uniforms on Friday, the question is: Will the Fish be able to hook a marquee free agent or two to wear those new threads?
Perhaps a better -- and certainly more direct -- question: Are the Fish really and truly serious about changing their gills and writing jumbo-sized checks? Or is this an early winter blitz to sell tickets that will end with ticket-holders looking around a new ballpark next summer wondering where all those big plans went?
Sorry, two questions there, not one.
But with the Marlins, things are rarely as they seem.
Unquestionably, their early-winter actions have the attention of an industry that has long been accustomed to watching owner Jeffrey Loria do what Mike Ditka once accused Bears owner George Halas of doing: Throw nickels around like manhole covers.
But the Marlins finally have a new stadium and they know they need to fill it. In fact, club president David Samson, during an interview on SiriusXM radio Wednesday, predicted that the club will be "drawing, I'd say, 30,000 to 35,000 every single game."
Last year, the Marlins averaged 19,007 per game, last in the National League and 28th in the majors.
"They're trying to sell tickets," one industry source said Wednesday of the Marlins' aggressive early movement. "They're trying to get people excited about the ballpark. If they can do that, good for them."
If they can lure Reyes, All-Star Hanley Ramirez, who underwent left shoulder surgery after playing in only 92 games last season, would slide over to third base.
Buehrle, who has logged 200 or more innings pitched for 11 consecutive seasons, would provide a nice veteran anchor to the rotation -- and his workload undoubtedly would help pick up the slack the next time ace Josh Johnson goes back onto the disabled list.
Certainly, if the Marlins can sign Reyes or Buehrle, that would preclude them from adding Fielder. And despite the early push, one veteran agent said Wednesday he can't see the Marlins adding more than one marquee free agent.
Still, it's the time of the winter for dreaming, and the Marlins right now are dreaming big. Just a year ago, they traded slugger Dan Uggla to Atlanta because they couldn't agree to terms on a contract extension. Just two Januarys ago, the players' union nicked them for violating revenue-sharing rules and not spending enough money on player payroll.
We know the Marlins are moving into a brand new ballpark in 2012.
But are they really moving into a new world as well?
As Samson and Guillen pulled out all the stops with Reyes at the iconic Joe's Stone Crab for lunch Wednesday, they would have us believe they are. They've indicated that they intend to crank up their payroll in 2012 to $80 million or so, from $57 million in 2011.
Fine. But until they finally dress one (or more) of these guys in those new uniforms, it's all sizzle and no steak -- or, as they'd say at Joe's, all shell and no crab.
Until they finally dress one (or more) of these guys in those new threads, the Marlins remain as they always have: Buyer beware.
Posted on: June 15, 2011 8:01 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 12:02 am
As I periodically do, a reminder: The term "Love Letters" is simply a tribute to a column in one of the newspapers I read as a young boy in Michigan, the Detroit Free Press. So if you're looking for something steamier, well, go to your local Congressman's office or something. ...
FROM: Karl T.
And it can be used for sooo many occasions.
FROM: Jeff A.
I'm shocked that you didn't mention Jose Reyes. He may be the best player in baseball at this time. Give the man his props. He is doing more than any of the guys you mentioned. Those guys don't glove as well as he does. The man has what, 33 multiple hit games. Other ball players are awed by him.
FROM: Rich B.
As a Red Sox fan, I was torn when they made the Adrian Gonzalez trade. I mean, I knew we were getting a great power hitter, but I had my reservations about the trade for two reasons: 1. I didn't want to give up Casey Kelly, and, 2. I didn't like that the Sox were blocking Lars Anderson's path to the majors. So ... now I'm not sure if I was right for the wrong reasons, or what!
Listen, Anthony Rizzo is going to be a good player. But few are ever going to be Adrian Gonzalez. So stop beating yourself up and put your mind to use on the next big dilemma of our time: Five Guys Burgers and Fries or In-N-Out?
Should we really be all that surprised about the Indians collapse? Let's be honest, they were a nice feel-good story to start the year, but now their lack of talent is finally catching up. There is no one in the rotation that is any more than a 3 starter, Shin-Soo Choo isn't hitting, Travis Hafner is hurt, and outside of Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana, I don't see much else talent-wise. The Indians have been overachieving all season.
But here's the thing: Choo should be hitting far better, and Carmona at times looks like a top-of-the-rotation starter. That said, the overachieving looks like ancient history.
You're right, the guy is unbelievable. He's hitting .372 in June alone at Triple-A Omaha. But he's a first baseman and Hosmer is at first. The Royals have too many good young players, and when was the last time you heard that?
I don't think so, not being that he's already 61. He's still got fire, though: I heard a rumor that he was recently suspended for three games for bumping an umpire during an argument.
FROM: Mike B.
I'm sure I'm not the only one to point this out to you, but just in case -- you do know that greater Bakersfield has a population of over 600,000 people, don't you? The only thing bush league about Bakersfield is Sam Lynn Ballpark. And the only thing preventing a new ball park is that little thing called the economy. To be honest, I haven't seen a tumbleweed around here for years.
I'll tell you this: There's nothing bush league about the Moo Creamery. That place can bring it. The Toasted Almond ice cream is incredible.
FROM: Barry W.
Also attending that dinner was Steve Carlton, and I just remember thinking what a huge difference there was between the two men not only in attitude but just the ability to be themselves around other people. I can tell you that it is a story I tell over and over, and it is one of my nicer memories. Our time here is short and the majority of us do not leave much behind, but a form of immortality can be living forever in someone else's stories and memories. Hopefully I am able to do justice to his memory each and every time I do tell that story. I can tell you that each and every time I tell the story, I do so with a genuine smile on my face. Thanks for the column.
That is a fabulous story. And thanks for telling it now.
FROM: Jay D.
I remember meeting Mr. Killebrew as a youngster before a Cleveland Indians' game, and even though I wore the hat of the opposing team, he was SO nice, SO gracious! I have tried to keep the exactly same smile and the exact same attitude toward kids that he did. He may have been small, but, the sporting world lost a true GIANT.
"Listed at 6-feet, 190 pounds, until cancer slipped a final fastball by him Tuesday. ..." Really? A man loses his life to cancer, and you're making baseball metaphors? I typically enjoy your columns but this line is unprofessional, disrespectful and a literary stretch I'd more likely expect to find in a high school publication.
The man spent his entire life playing baseball, involved in baseball, and is a Hall of Famer. What should I be doing, making roller derby metaphors?
FROM: Bill H.
Great piece on one of my first baseball heroes. I watched him play for the old Senators and blossom into a tremendous slugger. Even when the Nats became the Twins and I couldn't stand them, I still rooted for Killebrew and followed his career closely. This is a genuinely sad day for baseball, one many modern fans may not understand.
Our responsibility is to help make them understand, my friend. Thanks.
Likes: Praise be for day baseball, the MLB Extra Innings television package and XM/Sirius radio broadcasting all those days. Because when I landed flat on my back, ill, Wednesday, with a fairly significant fever for the first frickin' time in 11 years, it sure was nice to have baseball on the telly. ... Pittsburgh -- the Pirates! -- at .500 on Wednesday, the latest point in the season they have not had a losing record since 1999. ... Midnight in Paris, the new Woody Allen movie. Not great, but entertaining. ... The slice of "royal wedding cake" I had in Kansas City last week in the hotel restaurant. There was some celebration going on downtown honoring the late Princess Diana and, in relation to that, the pastry chef at the hotel "recreated" the actual cake served at Diana and Charles' wedding back in 1984. It was sort of like carrot cake -- had that consistency -- only it was cinnamon-y. And the frosting was thick as bathtub caulk. It was delicious -- and the most expensive darned piece of cake I think I've eaten in my life ($8.75 a slice!).
Dislikes: Clarence Clemons, stroke victim. Many prayers for Bruce Springsteen's Big Man, who is fighting the battle of his life. Here's to the man who brought so much joy, soul and music to so many others.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"When the change was made uptown
-- Bruce Springsteen, Tenth Ave. Freeze-Out
Posted on: June 10, 2010 3:57 pm
The Mets were busy finishing up with San Diego for 2010 during Thursday's day-night doubleheader, which means as Jose Reyes takes his speed game toward the next destination, the cat-and-mouse between him and Padres catcher Nick Hundley will go on hiatus until 2011.
The games-within-the-games are always fascinating, and I bring up Hundley here for one simple reason:
For his career, Reyes was a perfect 22 for 22 in stolen bases until Hundley threw him out at second base in the fifth inning of a game in San Diego on June 1.
"Oh, I didn't know that!" the charismatic Reyes said enthusiastically when I informed him that he had been perfect against the Padres to that point.
Then, he grinned and added: "I think I was safe. I don't even know that he tagged me in time."
What makes Reyes especially dangerous on the bases, Hundley said, is that he's so sneaky.
"He's really quiet," Hundley says. "To me, it looks like he's the same on every pitch.
"That trait is good to have if you're a base stealer. When you're cat-like, you don't give anything away."
Most base-stealers, Hundley said, give something away with their body language. A lean-toward-second here. A hand-movement there.
"There are some great base-stealers," Hundley said. "[Houston's] Michael Bourn, Reyes. But Reyes, for me, is a little different. He takes a walking lead. There's a little more rhythm. Bourn flat-out burns. Reyes is casual. He'll lull you to sleep."
Reyes said it's something he's worked on for years, and when the Mets brought Rickey Henderson in as a coach a few years ago, that learning process accelerated.
"I try to pick my spots, and I don't want to be too anxious," Reyes said. "If I'm anxious, they'll say, 'He's going to go at one point.' I try to be quiet. I learned that.
"When I was younger, I used to be crazy, like I wanted to go on every pitch."
Reyes led the NL in steals from 2005-2007, but since serious hamstring troubles have plagued him over the past couple of seasons, being quiet and cat-like on the bases is more important than ever to his success rate. And, by definition, to that of the Mets: They're 19-6 when he scores this season, and 267-110 (.708) in games since 2005 when he scores.
"He's smooth, he doesn't force it and he runs in good spots," Hundley said.
And he gives no clues that he may just take off for second or third in the next second.
"If you find a tip," Hundley said, "let me know."
Likes: OK, you healthy people in the crowd, here's PETA's ranking this year of baseball's most vegetarian-friendly ballparks (and it's entertaining that the city best known for Philly cheesesteaks ranks first): 1. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia. 2. AT&T Park, San Francisco. 3. Minute Maid Park, Houston. 4. Comerica Park, Detroit. 5. Coors Field, Colorado. ... TBS switching from Phillies-Boston to Nationals-Indians for their Sunday afternoon game of the weeke this weekend. They must really think a lot of rookie Nats reliever Drew Storen. Ah, wait, that's Stephen Strasburg's day to pitch. ... Cardinals rookie third baseman David Freese is a friendly and earnest kid -- and plenty talented. ... Last day of school. ... First day of summer vacation. ... A former Miss America playing Mrs. George Custer for Monroe's celebration of the 100th anniversary of it's lovely Gen. George Armstrong Custer statue.
Dislikes: Just how wacked out are Frank and Jamie McCourt? Answer: Very, very, extremely wacked out.
"Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Posted on: March 23, 2010 5:19 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2010 4:08 pm
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- San Francisco's sole remaining starter's slot crystallized a bit more on Tuesday when the Giants optioned phenom Madison Bumgarner to their minor-league camp, all but officially anointing veteran right-hander Todd Wellemeyer as the fifth starter behind Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez.
Officially, right-hander Kevin Pucetas is still in the running for a starting job, but Wellemeyer's major-league resume appears to give him a clear edge.
"He's got the experience and he's done a great job this spring," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Wellemeyer. "We're very pleased with where we're at with Todd."
Bumgarner, just 20, debuted for the Giants last summer. The Giants' first-round pick in the 2007 draft arrived ahead of schedule, which probably served to raise expectations a bit too high for the kid this spring.
"We want him to work on some things," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Control the ball a little better. He's 20 years old. He's got a bright future. We think a lot of him."
Bumgarner had a 6.43 ERA in three Cactus League appearances, and had been expected to be sent to the minors. The only mild surprise was that it came with two weeks remaining in camp. The Giants thought Bumgarner was pressing too hard, and they wanted to remove the pressure and allow him to relax.
"We want him to work on his secondary pitches," Bochy said. "And with the way Wellemeyer is throwing the ball, it makes sense to let Madison go down and pitch."
The Giants signed Wellemeyer, 31, about a week before spring camp started. Their original idea was to use him as a long reliever, even though he spent much of the past two seasons starting in St. Louis. This spring, though, he's gone 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA over 15 innings pitched -- literally pitching his way into the rotation.
Sunblock Day? Just when you thought spring was here ... woke up to a hard rain in the desert. It was wet enough it forced the Giants to hit in the batting cages in Scottsdale and the White Sox to do the same in Glendale. Cloudy and mid-50s early morning, cloudy and low-to-mid-60s at game time.
Likes: Mets shortstop Jose Reyes back to baseball on Wednesday. At least, that's what the doctors are saying, and you can bet the happiest man in Port St. Lucie will be Reyes -- followed by Mets manager Jerry Manuel. ... Pablo Sandoval hitting for the Giants. He ripped a double into the right-center gap in a Cactus League game on Tuesday on a pitch practically at his shoe tops. ... Divorcing Dodgers owner Frank McCourt in Bob Nightengale's USA Today piece Tuesday: "Tiger Woods was fantastic for me." ... As my friend Ed Price, who writes for AOL/Fanhouse, points out, there could be three opening day starters who didn't throw one pitch in 2009: Toronto's Shaun Marcum, Cleveland's Jake Westbrook and Oakland's Ben Sheets. ... Quite a look for Giants closer Brian Wilson as he strolled into the clubhouse Tuesday morning wearing bright lavender pants, white sunglasses and a Mohawk. Newcomer Aubrey Huff couldn't help hooting. ... Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline remains terrific after all these years. ... I'm told Ghost Writer is fantastic. Looking forward to seeing it. ... The Cajun rib eye at Donovan's steakhouse. Talk about flavorful.
Dislikes: Nearing the end of spring training and no trips to Richardson's Cuisine of New Mexico, the fabulous Phoenix restaurant that burned last summer.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"It¹s not having what you want
-- Sheryl Crow, Soak Up the Sun