Posted on: August 15, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 4:11 pm
In hindsight, the highlight in outfielder Delmon Young's tenure with the Twins came in the spring of 2010, his first day in camp, when he arrived in noticeably better shape than he had been in '09.
"We re-signed Carl Pavano, so I know I'm going to be running quite a bit [chasing balls in the outfield]," Young quipped upon arrival.
It was a funny line but, alas, the optimism of even an in-shape Young was never fully realized in Minnesota. And when the Twins finally shipped him to Detroit on Monday, it capped months of quiet effort on their part to move him in a market that never materialized.
So Young joins the pennant race in Detroit for spare parts -- minor-league lefty Cole Nelson and a player to be named later -- in an intradivision AL Central trade that is attention-grabbing for two reasons: One, because it's rare to see division rivals swap players, especially this close to the stretch run. And two, because it's a clear signal that the Twins, a team that never gives up, are cashing in their chips on 2011.
It's another smooth move for the Tigers, adding depth to an already potent lineup (fifth in the AL in runs scored) that can use an immediate boost because it is ailing. Carlos Guillen (sore wrist) is back on the disabled list and outfielder Brennan Boesch (sprained right thumb) has not started in any of the Tigers' past four games. Meantime, designated hitter Victor Martinez has been playing with a sprained knee and Magglio Ordonez has been looking tired, driving in just four runs so far this month.
Also, the Tigers traded outfielder Casper Wells to Seattle last month for starting pitcher Doug Fister.
Still, the Tigers remain in the drivers' seat in a nip-and-tuck AL Central, leading Cleveland by just 2 1/2 games and stuck-in-neutral Chicago by four games. Both the Indians and the White Sox are close enough to make a serious move, especially given Detroit's current thinned-out lineup due to injury and the Wells deal.
Young gives manager Jim Leyland a veteran piece with playoff experience, and maybe the new surroundings will help jump-start a man whose brother, Dmitri Young, is a Tigers alum. Young, after working himself into perhaps the best shape of his life in 2010, batted .298 with 21 homers and 112 RBI. However, so far in 2011, he's hitting just .266 with four homers and 32 RBIs.
Young's diminishing returns and increasing salary has had the Twins open to trading him at least as far back as last winter. He's earning $5.375 million this summer and is arbitration-eligible again this winter. Minnesota now can use that money for any number of things, from plugging in holes elsewhere on the roster (they rank 13th in the AL in runs scored, and their 4.65 bullpen ERA is last in the AL) to perhaps taking a run at re-signing Michael Cuddyer, who is a free agent this winter.
Ironically, the Twins open a three-game series in Detroit this evening. So Young does not have to travel too far to join his new team.
Posted on: November 23, 2010 5:34 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2010 11:03 am
Victor Martinez may not instantly catapult the Detroit Tigers onto the AL Central throne, and sometimes when he's behind the plate, the basepaths do tend to become like the autobahn for opposing runners.
That said, if the report out of Venezuela is true and Martinez is about to re-join his old division, only this time a couple of hundred miles north of Cleveland up in Detroit, the Tigers already are off to a roaring start this winter.
The Tigers had no public comment Tuesday on the report -- from ESPNdeportes' Ignacio Serrano -- of Martinez being poised to sign a four-year, $50 million deal, pending a physical exam. But neither did they shoot it down.
The key here is this: The Tigers mostly would deploy Martinez as their designated hitter (Alex Avila is projected as the everyday catcher). And together with Miguel Cabrera, who finished second in the AL MVP voting announced Tuesday, Detroit would have a couple of serious bruisers in the middle of the lineup.
For the Red Sox in 2010, Martinez batted .302 with a .351 on-base percentage, a .493 slugging percentage, 20 homers and 79 RBIs. In their emphasis on run prevention, Martinez never was going to carry value beyond a certain point behind the plate for the Red Sox. Plus, he'll be 32 next opening day.
In Detroit, you can argue that $12.5 million for a designated hitter, at those offensive numbers, is a pretty steep price to pay.
You also can argue that in a weak free agent market with few difference-makers available, the Tigers made a savvy quick, preventative first-strike. Teams with money to spend this winter out-supply the free agent market. Some will be left standing with nothing at the end.
Of the most desireable free agent position players available -- a list that also includes Adam Dunn, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth -- Martinez by far is the best fit in Detroit. Not only can he DH and catch, he also can play first base if Cabrera needs a day off or is injured. And, he's a switch-hitter, giving manager Jim Leyland more versatility in his lineup.
The Tigers know Martinez well from some six seasons of competing against him in the AL Central. He knows the division well. It's a move that makes sense for both sides.
Posted on: September 30, 2009 1:24 pm
Eric Wedge's dismissal Wednesday as manager of the Cleveland Indians wasn't so much a firing as it was a mercy killing.
The Indians are not going to win next year, and general manager Mark Shapiro tacitly acknowledged that in trading slugger Victor Martinez and ace Cliff Lee this summer even though both players had affordable 2010 options.
Wedge had presided over the American League's most disappointing team for two seasons running and, amid Wednesday's developments in Cleveland, what's more important than who will run the club next summer is what it says about where the Indians are now, period.
Shapiro has steadfastly stood by Wedge since hiring him in 2003, insisting from the beginning that theirs was more a partnership than anything else.
What's changed now is that it's clear that Cleveland ownership is growing more and more impatient amid the mounting losses and declining attendance.
Shapiro was under pressure to remove Wedge, and now that pressure will mount squarely on the GM as he rolls up his sleeves in the midst of another rebuilding project -- this one unforeseen as recently as a year ago.
Shapiro was considered one of the game's brightest young GMs back when he replaced John Hart, and maybe he's part victim of his own success. Nobody expected the Indians to contend as quickly as they did following the Manny Ramirez/Roberto Alomar/Jim Thome years, but Shapiro rebuilt them so adeptly that, after the last remnants of that group won 91 games in 2001, a retooled Indians team won 93 games just four years later.
Whomever is the next manager of the Indians will not have Martinez, Lee, CC Sabathia or Casey Blake. What Shapiro and his baseball people are banking on is that in some of the prospects they've acquired for the latest dispatched band of Indians stars -- like outfielder Matt LaPorta, right-hander Chris Perez and Jess Todd, catcher Lou Marson -- can become the next generation's Martinez, Sabathia, Lee, et. al.
The Indians acquired 11 prospects during a whirlwind, midseason trading spree, each of whom is 24 years old or younger, nine of whom are pitchers.
Shapiro has excelled on the trading market far more often than not in his eight seasons in charge.
Now, after one of their most disappointing seasons in decades, the GM really needs that magic to continue. Probably more now for his own sake than for the sake of whomever they find to replace Wedge.
Likes: Michael Young back in Texas' lineup this week for the first time in nearly two weeks. He's a class act and the unquestioned face of the Rangers, and it's been weird not seeing him in the lineup this month while he was recovering from a strained left hamstring. Before he missed 11 consecutive starts with the injury from Sept. 2-14 (and 11 more in a row after he came back too soon on Sept. 15), he had not missed more than two consecutive starts at any time since the beginning of the 2002 season. ... Have there been any more dramatic moments than what we've watched in Coors Field this year? Chris Iannetta's game-winning homer against Milwaukee on Tuesday night adds to the list. ... The song is old and corny, but it's still become a cool moment when the Angels blast The Foundations' insanely catchy Build Me Up, Buttercup during the seventh-inning stretch. Maybe it's because the song never fails to bring a smile thanks to memories of the end credits in There's Something About Mary. ... This Tom Gage column in the Detroit News. He's right.
Dislikes: That is one ugly Chuck Knoblauch story.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
-- Jackson Browne, Running on Empty
Posted on: July 31, 2009 2:32 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2009 3:23 pm
Striking late and dramatically, the Boston Red Sox bolstered their lineup by acquiring All-Star catcher Victor Martinez from Cleveland less than two hours before Friday's non-waivers trade deadline, CBSSports.com has learned.
The Indians will receive three young pitchers in exchange: Right-handers Juston Masterson and Bryan Price and left-hander Nick Hagadone.
The addition of Martinez is a huge boon for the Red Sox, who are concerned with the health of catcher Jason Varitek, 37, and who have watched slugger David Ortiz regress some this season. Martinez can catch, play first base and, of course, serve as designated hitter.
Posted on: July 31, 2009 2:37 am
The Boston Red Sox continued to work feverishly on multiple trade possibilities late Thursday night, sources with knowledge of the discussions said, continuing conversations with Cleveland regarding slugging catcher Victor Martinez and with San Diego regarding first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
The Padres, looking for young arms, likely would require some combination of Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Daniel Bard and others in the deal. One source with knowledge of the talks said late Thursday night that the Padres also were discussing Gonzalez with another unidentified team.