Posted on: December 8, 2011 2:46 am
DALLAS -- High-profile Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish wrote on his blog that he will be posted on Thursday and, thus, formally become available to major league clubs as a free agent.
As such, let's remember two words.
A handful of recent Japanese pitchers have disappointed in the majors. While Hideo Nomo had some very good moments, Hideki Irabu, Kei Igawa and Matsuzaka all did not live up to their billing.
Matsuzaka landed with the Boston Red Sox in 2007 following an incredibly high profile chase in which the Red Sox paid a $51 million posting price and $52 million in salary.
He went 15-12 in his first season and helped fuel a Red Sox World Series win, then went 18-3 in 2008.
He's done very little in the ensuing three seasons, combining to win just 16 games before landing on the disabled list last summer and undergoing Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in June.
"He was in Florida, doing well, and we fully expect that within the time frame of the surgery, within a year, he'd be back and ready sometime this summer," Scott Boras, Matsuzaka's agent, said.
Boras said the fit with new Boston manager Bobby Valentine should be comfortable. Valentine managed seven seasons in Japan since he last managed in the major leagues.
"Daisuke knows a great deal about Bobby Valentine, he's obviously very well respected," Boras said. "Certainly, Daisuke has a familiarity with him. I think the two have a lot in common. And I'm sure Bobby will take Daisuke to his favorite sushi restaurant, rather than vice-versa."
Posted on: December 8, 2011 1:53 am
DALLAS -- The skies seemed to clear ever so briefly for the Cardinals on Wednesday when they learned that the Marlins were out of the Albert Pujols talks. Then the Los Angeles Angels jumped in, according to sources, and the fog has moved back in.
Also in the mix are an unidentified team that reportedly has offered 10 years and more than $200 million, and a Chicago Cubs' offer believed to be shorter term -- four or five years.
It is not clear when Pujols will make a decision. But multiple sources familiar with the talks said the Angels, rumored to have been involved with Pujols 24 hours earlier when they really were not in the mix, entered the bidding aggressively and seriously Wednesday.
Question is, for how long? The Angels also were working feverishly Wednesday night to wrap up a deal with free agent starting pitcher C.J. Wilson. If they come to terms with the left-hander, that almost certainly will preclude them from being able to add Pujols as well.
The agent for Pujols, Dan Lozano, could not be reached for comment. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported that the Angels made what is believed to be 10-year offer worth at least $210 million. On Tuesday, the Cardinals came in strong with their first new offer since last February, reportedly 10 years at $220 million.
Rookie Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto was evasive earlier Wednesday afternoon when asked directly about Pujols, saying "We're trying to improve our club in a variety of different ways. Speculation is what speculation is. Our net is spread wide, but that's not necessarily where our focus is."
Dipoto said the Angels would like to add a starting pitcher, bullpen depth and a bat that would make the Angels deeper and more versatile.
While deep in talks with Wilson on Wednesday night, the Angels added free agent setup man LaTroy Hawkins on Wednesday night, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3 million.
Meantime, sources said, the Angels had the pedal to the metal with Wilson and were hard after Pujols.
"We'll continue to have parallel talks, and that's not solely limited to a starting pitcher," Dipoto said earlier in the day. "You have to have the ability to break off and move in a different direction."
The entry of the Angels and an unidentified club into the Pujols sweepstakes had to add to the Cardinals' frustration over not being able to close this deal.
Talks between the Pujols Camp and the Marlins ended sometime around midday Wednesday, which sent the Marlins successfully recruiting in the direction of free agent starter Mark Buehrle. It was around that time that it became publicly clear that the Marlins were out on Pujols, and maybe the Cardinals thought they were home free.
You would think maybe they should be. As the Prince Fielder negotiations proceed slowly, agent Scott Boras held an informal media briefing late Wednesday night in which he dismissed the idea that the Pujols negotiations in any way would affect what he is doing with Fielder.
"The reasons St. Louis are interested in Albert are unique to Albert Pujols," Boras said. "He's dynamic, he has a history there, he's a franchise player, he's a great player ... he's the kind of player [of which] you should probably build a statue while he's playing. He's that kind of guy. He's a really unique player."
Clearly looking to plant seeds for Fielder as well while paying tribute to Pujols, Boras argued that retaining franchise players such as these two first basemen provides value to a club beyond what the player himself does.
"Certainly, the retention of players, I know Matt Holliday came to St. Louis and stayed in St. Louis because Albert Pujols was there," Boras said. "And I know another client of mine, Kyle Lohse, a big reason he wanted to win and go to St. Louis is because Albert Pujols was there.
"So those are two great examples of my clients who were attracted to and stayed in St. Louis because of an iconic player."
In his first foray into free agency, the question remains whether that iconic player will stay in place or move to greener pastures -- or, at least, pastures filled with more greenbacks.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 1:31 pm
Of hurricanes, Orioles and White Sox ... which really aren't all that different, when you think about it:
FROM: Nick D.
Re.: Last-place Orioles remain stuck in familiar late-season rut
I started to read this article and then I stopped. ... Stop writing articles giving me hope for my woefully bad O's. I read these every year and every year they're the foundation holding up the AL East. Stop. Please. You people keep opening the same wound.
Next time I'll bring the cotton balls and hydrogen peroxide.
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Rain postponements taking toll on 2011 - then comes Irene
The fact that fans who purchased tickets to Saturday's games at Fenway Park had to wait out those delays is absurd. The greed of the organization is the reason. They did not want to have to cancel the games and reschedule, or God forbid they would have to offer refunds or tickets to an alternate game. To try to play those games through the hurricane was absurd. It is frustrating to read your articles because none of this is mentioned and you show an unreasonable bias to the Yankees. If it was the Yankees organization that did this, you would be the first one criticizing them.
The Red Sox were so greedy they let fans into Fenway for free following the rain delay in Game 2 Saturday.Appalling, wasn't it? It's called trying to make sure the games get played when there is precious little time left in the season to reschedule them, mister.
There is no reason to have rainouts anymore. If a small-market team like Seattle can have a retractable roof stadium, why haven't the BIG GUNS protected game revenues with new Stadiums, including retracting covers. Hellloooo Yankees!
Put a retractable roof on Yankee Stadium, the ghost of Babe Ruth will rip his plaque out of Monument Park and install it somewhere in Montana.
FROM: J D
Hey, Miller ... More Yankee bashing, huh? Shocking. And you're not right. Like Joe Girardi said, a lot of other games in baseball and other sports changed their schedules to be amenable to Hurricane Irene. They still could have played an actual DH, not split, and honored Flanagan -- which the Yankees did the night before in very good form, btw, before their game with the A's. Or they could have played a game on Saturday in the early morning before the storm hit. It's all about the fact of the O's not wanting to lose a gate in one of the rare times they would actually make some money with the Yankees in town. Now, the Yankees will have to use up one of their rare September off days to play a game in Baltimore after finishing up a three-game series with the aforementioned O's the very next day, and with a long West Coast road trip looming. ... And way not to mention the Red Sox's unwavering interest in getting both games in no matter what the weather to improve their standings and keep a September off day.
You lost credibility with the sentence "And you're not right." Because, fact is, I'm almost always right. Including on this topic.
FROM: Jack L.
Re.: Up-and-down White Sox look to final month to save season
I'm a lifelong, die-hard White Sox fan who literally follows the team hour by hour, not just day by day. You did a very nice job of summing this season up. The only difference between being a gawker checking out a freeway wreck in the other direction and watching the White Sox play this year is that the freeway wreck is at least somewhat interesting, even if you can't really see much of it. IMHO, Kenny Williams is clearly the guy that needs to go. Trader Kenny completely lost his touch with the first stinker of a Nick Swisher trade and has just made one bad move after another ever since save for unloading Edwin Jackson prior to the trade deadline.
At least don't follow the White Sox minute by minute. Think how miserable you'd be then.
Fire Kenny Williams, he sucks as a GM. It's been his signings that brought the White Sox four of the worst contracts in White Sox history. Let's not forget the Manny Ramirez deal last year as well after letting Jim Thome slip away. The Sox paid Ramirez multiple times what Thome was paid all year for one month of services. If not for Zambrano's and Soriano's contracts on the North Side, Williams would really be exposed for the horrible GM he has been. I think the players enjoy playing for Ozzie Guillen, and he has gotten a lot out his players considering the start the Sox have had in the last two years.
According to my Love Letters readers' poll, Williams' approval rating drastically trail those of Guillen.
FROM: Mike M.
Love your work. Love it if you could do a story about the Angels owner (Arte Moreno) vs. Scott Boras and include why Boras has that ground level box behind home plate at Anaheim Stadium. Boras looks like an idiot standing in the TV background of most pitches while he talks on his cell or works his laptop. As a Mariner fan I laugh thinking what Angels fans think about seeing him all the time.
It's a simple, economical issue: Boras' company purchases that ground-level suite with old-fashioned greenbacks. But while you may laugh, think of all the advertising that TV time translates into for hundreds of players who might be watching in other cities and contemplating what Boras could do for them.
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Yanks getting stronger down the stretch
Scott, while I respect your opinion, how has the Yankees pitching been woeful? Their ERA is better than Detroit, Boston, and Texas's, their bullpen ERA is the best in baseball, and outside of A.J. Burnett, no one on that staff has been woeful outside of Phil Hughes before his injury. Right now, Ivan Nova and Hughes are pitching as well as anyone, CC Sabathia is an ace, and between Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, the Yankees have a respectable four starter for the playoffs. It just makes no sense why people are so quick to discredit the Yankees pitching without looking up the numbers.
If you read the column, and not just the headline and sub-head, you'd have your answer: I was EXAGGERATING, teasing Yankees' fans for being so quick to panic.
Likes: LA Marathon founder Bill Burke making a $1.2 billion bid for the Dodgers. It's funded in part by Chinese investors, and wow, think how much fun we all could have with THAT. Great take by Harold Meyerson in Friday's LA Times on the op-ed page: "There's no need to rehash the McCourts' destruction of one of American sports' most fabled and successful franchises. At this point, anyone who takes the team off their hands would be a better owner, right? Could there really be a more problematic proprietor? And then, along comes China." ... Absolutely loved Thursday's A-1 headline in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Obama jobs speech up against Packers opener." ... Good job, Falcons of Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central High, getting on the board with a 12-6 win over New Boston Huron on Thursday after a tough opening week loss.
Dislikes: Sports Illustrated's rare regional covers. I know, business is business. But I'm old school and I don't like not having a particular cover.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"What's keeping you, keep pouring drinks
"For all these palookas, hey you know what I thinks
"That we toast to the old days and DiMaggio too
"And old Drysdale and Mantle, Whitey Ford and to you"
-- Tom Waits, A Sight For Sore Eyes
Posted on: August 17, 2010 1:10 am
On a warm August evening as the kids prepare to head back to school, the Washington Nationals' just-before-the-midnight-deadline signing of outfielder Bryce Harper really wasn't as urgent as the Padres extending their lead in the NL West, the Atlanta Braves' stirring comeback win over the Dodgers or the Mets' dilemma with the outrageous behavior of closer Frankie Rodriguez.
But a couple of years from now?
Oh, you bet an otherwise non-descript summer's evening has every chance to be historic if the Nationals continue to close the talent gap on their rivals with nights like this.
One year after signing Stephen Strasburg just before the clock struck 12 -- and you've seen this summer why Strasburg is so important -- Nationals' general manager Mike Rizzo hammered out a deal with agent Scott Boras that granted Harper a major-league contract worth a guaranteed $9.9 million, according to CBSSports.com sources.
It was déjà vu in that the two chief negotiators -- Rizzo and Boras -- were the same two men who battled to the deadline with Strasburg last year.
It also is déjà vu in the importance to the Nats' franchise: Down-and-out in the years after leaving Montreal with a farm system badly in need of restocking, Washington made history in becoming the first franchise to pick first overall in two consecutive drafts.
"No one ever had the opportunity to have two No. 1 [overall] picks two years in a row," Rizzo said in a post-midnight conference call, and just before taking a celebratory shaving-cream pie in the face from club president Stan Kasten. "And to be fortunate enough to have two picks this vastly talented is extraordinary, I believe."
The Nationals intend to assign Harper to their Florida Instructional League team at the soonest possible moment and, depending on how Harper fares there, he could wind up in the Arizona Fall League this autumn. Maybe.
Either way, he'll be in spring training with the big boys next year thanks to his major-league deal, and Rizzo said the Nats believe Harper capable of being "fast-tracked" to the majors despite his tender age of 17.
The signing was no surprise; Harper worked a loophole to get out of high school early, play ball at a Nevada community college and become draft-eligible at 17. That's how badly he's been wanting to get started on his professional career.
The Nationals, meanwhile, are committed under Kasten and Rizzo to building from the ground up. We saw this with the $15.1 million deal they handed Strasburg and the $1.6 million signing bonus granted Drew Storen last year and we saw it again Monday.
In addition to the $9.9 million guaranteed Harper, the Nationals spent roughly $3.8 million on three other players: Second-rounder Sammy Solis, a left-handed pitcher from the University of San Diego; fourth-rounder A.J. Cole, a right-handed high school pitcher; and Robbie Ray, a left-handed pitcher from Tennessee.
"It means a commitment from ownership," a pleased Rizzo said. "They gave us the resources to have an impactful draft.
"We picked four players that at some time during the amateur season were [projected] to be first-round picks on Baseball America's list. They're guys we're extremely happy about. ...
"Kris Kline and Roy Clark [the Nationals' director of scouting and the vice-president of player personnel, both of whom were hired last Oct. 16 as Rizzo constructed his front office after earning the GM job earlier last summer] did an outstanding job. We knew they would. That's why they were brought here."
Posted on: June 1, 2010 10:50 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2010 12:23 am
As Stephen Strasburg speeds toward his big-league debut next Tuesday against Pittsburgh, agent Scott Boras says that "no college coach has ever prepared a player better than Tony Gwynn."
Gwynn, the Hall of Famer and San Diego State University baseball coach, oversaw the growth and development of the right-hander (along with pitching coach Rusty Filter) while all the while resisting the temptation to overuse him even as Gwynn's Aztecs team was fighting to qualify for its first NCAA tournament berth in more than a decade.
He also helped school Strasburg on the media attention, and stepped in with rules to limit his availability when the kid was on the verge of being overwhelmed.
"Tony recognized that he was a unique talent, and he did a remarkable job," Boras says. "And that player also got that program into the Regionals, too.
"It says a lot about how right the system can work in getting high school players to go to college around people who understand both the collegiate and pro marketplace so they can really develop players."
In Gwynn's case, of course, he not only understood the college game -- he played at San Diego State in the 1970s -- but also, of course, knows the major leagues. As his eight batting titles attest.
Mostly, Strasburg pitched once a week, on Friday nights.
"Tony was extraordinary," Boras says. "The interest of the player came first throughout. And oh, by the way, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that Tony Gwynn's son is a major-league player. I mean that, because he did the same thing with him. They talk about Tony Gwynn being a great player, let's talk about Tony Gwynn as a great coach, father, mentor and everything else he did. Because this man is a Hall of Famer, but you've got to remember that Tony has crossed lines here where most Hall of Famers don't go. They're teachers, mentors, they're all those things. I think a great deal of credit needs to go to him because of what he's doing currently and the fact that he's taking the time to be a college coach.
"He could be a broadcaster. He could probably make triple the income he's making and live a very different life, and a lot easier life than what he's doing now. And I think we're all privileged that he's doing that for young men, for college baseball and for baseball in general. Tony Gwynn is doing something that impacted both college and professional baseball."
Likes: The Cardinals and Reds this week in St. Louis battling for first place in the NL Central. ... Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Tim Lincecum on Memorial Day. Jimenez is unbelievable. Lincecum will find his control. Pitchers slump, too, you know. ... Michael Cuddyer playing second base for Minnesota on Monday in Seattle for the first time since July, 2005. Leave it to the Twins. ... Memorial Day Weekend. Summer's here. ... Case in point: A large group of men playing Ultimate Frisbee on Tuesady in one of the parks I cruise through during my daily runs. Usually, with the kids still in school, the place is quiet on a workday. ... The shrimp that emerged perfectly from my grill the other day. ... New concert DVD from Bruce Springsteen, London Calling -- Live in Hyde Park, in about three weeks. ... Finished Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin. Really, really terrific. A gripping read by Hampton Sides.
Dislikes: Nice job of working the plate the other day, Bill Hohn. In ejecting Astros ace Roy Oswalt, he gave a textbook example of how not to ump. Following in the immediate aftermath of Joe West and Bob Davidson. ... Bad caps worn by all on Memorial Day. Bad, bad caps. Can we just wear the uniforms that the clubs are supposed to wear and stop with all the alternate jerseys/caps stuff? I know there's money to be made, but do we have to squeeze every last penny out of everybody? There are other ways to honor the Veterans -- as they deserve to be honored -- on Memorial Day. ... It's Complicated, with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, is not even worth renting. Brutal. We shut it off after an hour or so the other night. I mean, Meryl Streep is usually fantastic, but she over-acted something fierce in this dog. Every scene, she giggled, laughed or cried. Totally distracting. Ugh.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I’m gonna write a truthful song over an eighties groove
Posted on: December 9, 2009 6:23 pm
INDIANAPOLIS -- Where might outfielder Johnny Damon land if he and the Yankees can't get back together on a deal following New York's acquisition of Curtis Granderson? Here's one potential spot: San Francisco.
The Giants are looking to improve their offense and met this week with agent Scott Boras, who also represents third baseman Adrian Beltre, another potential fit with the Giants. Damon's bat certainly would compliment an ace rotation featuring Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Barry Zito well.
The Yankees remain interested in retaining Damon, though the acquisition of Granderson provides them with leverage to bring him back on their terms rather than on his -- or, at the very least, to meet on middle ground.
While announcing the three-way blockbuster trade with Detroit and Arizona that netted the Yankees Granderson on Wednesday, Yankees' general manager Brian Cashman said that the move does not necessarily preclude them from talking with Damon and free agent designated hitter Hideki Matsui.
"We're still fluid in our discussions right now," Cashman said. "It gives us comfort to know we have solved a big part of our offense. We have a great offense as it is, but when you have the potential of losing a Damon and Matsui ... with Granderson in mix, [it's like], 'All right, I've got certain things taken care of, it's not as bad as it was an hour before sitting at this podium."
-- Free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre expects to sign a multi-year deal, sources with knowledge of his thinking said Wednesday. Baltimore and San Francisco are among the interested teams.
-- Dombrowski on the difficulty of dealing a player as popular as Granderson is in Detroit: "It's very difficult. When I talked to him on the phone today, I said it's one of the more difficult phone calls I've made in my career. You've all seen the ability, it speaks for itself. But he's as quality a human being as you'll find. He's an individual who meant a lot to our franchise, to our city, to our state. I know he's well-loved, and it's deserved, but as I told him, we're making some adjustments and it's a business decision. He's a unique individual, and I understand when you trade players that are known for players that are unknown, it's never a popular move with your fans."
-- Not much today on the Cubs' front in their efforts to deal Milton Bradley, other than the fact that it remains their No. 1 goal. "They're trying to push Bradley out the door as soon as possible," one source says.
-- Congratulations to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News, who will be inducted into the writers' wing of the Hall of Fame next July as the winner of this year's J.G. Taylor Spink award.
-- Congratulations also to the legendary Peter Gammons, who ends his 20-year run at ESPN this week and will move over to the MLB Network. The move will allow Peter more flexibility, less travel and more time in his native Boston area. Well deserved for one of the game's class acts.
Posted on: July 3, 2009 6:54 pm
SAN DIEGO -- When he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers a few weeks into spring training, his first words were, "I'm baaaack."
At 3 p.m. PDT Friday, Manny Ramirez walked into a news conference here and announced, "Showtime!"
Freed to enter a major-league ballpark following his 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs, Ramirez, penciled in to bat third for tonight's game against the Padres, apologized to fans and teammates for "not being there."
But it clearly is an uncomfortable Ramirez who is back, and it's clear that he's not providing any details on anything related to steroids.
"I'm not talking about my criminal record," he joked at one point during the 12-minute news conference.
Asked right out of the gate when he started using steroids and what his regimen was, Ramirez deflected the question.
"First I want to say God is good and good is God," Ramirez replied, with agent Scott Boras sitting to his right. "I'm happy to be here. I missed the game. I'm happy to play."
Asked what he would say to the fans, he was vague.
"I want to say I'm sorry to the fans and to my teammates," Ramirez said. "They are always there for me. I'd like to thank (Dodgers owner) Frank McCourt for his support."
He said the general reaction to him has "been great everywhere I go. People are there for me. They gave me support. It hasn't been that bad."
Asked what he was sorry for, Ramirez demurred.
"I'm not getting into that," he said. "If you want to talk about the game. ... Not being there for (teammates). Not being able to play the game. I'm a huge part of the Dodgers. ... When I say I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
Asked specifically whether he was sorry for taking steroids, Ramirez said: "I already answered that question, sir."
Manager Joe Torre has Ramirez batting third and Andre Ethier fourth tonight.
Perhaps part of Ramirez's apology should be directly to Ethier.
"I think his batting average suffered because of (Manny's) absence," said Torre, who also attended Ramirez's "news" conference. "I think he put a lot of pressure on himself."
Ramirez made it clear he is happy to be back.
Did he learn anything? Sure, he said.
"What I learned is if you do the right thing, you never have to look back," he said. "That's what I learned."
Posted on: March 22, 2009 8:57 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2009 9:49 pm
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers owner Frank McCourt wasn't very smart the other day when he decreed that, henceforth, charitable donations will be required in all future Dodgers player contracts.
But the resulting action, in which the players' union filed a grievance against 22 clubs asking that the charity clauses in individual player contracts be ruled illegal and the money immediately given back to the players, is even worse.
"Every future Dodger will be asked to fill in a blank line," McCourt said last week in one of the more naïve and misguided statements of the year.
Since when did clubs get in the business of forcing charity upon players?
That said, there are times when the players' union simply cannot stop itself from an absurdly inappropriate action, and this is one of them. In this poor economy, with job loss and home foreclosures practically off the charts, the union now is going to attack charities on the players' behalf? Please.
Start with the fact that these clauses were negotiated in good faith by the player agents and the clubs. If Scott Boras isn't comfortable with Manny Ramirez donating $1 million to Dodgers Dream Foundation, then Boras isn't going to negotiate it.
"There's really three different things," Rob Manfred, executive vice-president for labor relations for major league baseball, said here at Dodger Stadium. "One, that you'd file anything where you say that there is no benefit to a player from engaging in a charitable act is shocking. Really, this is shocking to us.
"Two, these deals for years have been used as a bridge to close deals. And the third thing is that whatever you say about these clauses, they're negotiated by individual player agents and clubs. ...
"They're already being paid the money that they're donating to charity. Now, they're asking that they should be paid again."
According to Dan Halem, major league baseball's senior vice-president and general counsel, labor relations, there are 109 contracts for 2009 that contain charitable clauses that earmark roughly $6 million to charity.
The grievance lists 22 clubs as having charitable clauses in player contracts: Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida, Houston, the Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee, the New York Mets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Texas and Toronto.