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Category:MLB
Posted on: December 8, 2011 2:46 am
 

Darvish brings to mind Daisuke memories

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.

Daisuke Matsuzaka.

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 2:13 am
 

Fielder talks inch along in Dallas

DALLAS -- Waiting for some juice in the Prince Fielder talks?

Keep waiting.

"We've spent the past three days stuck in hotel rooms going through the flurry of teams that have come in and made their presentations, listening to teams talk about their interest levels, what they see and how Prince can fit into their organization as a player and contractually," Scott Boras, the agent for Fielder, said late Wednesday night. "We're taking all of this information, and I'm heading out to meet with Prince and discuss it and get an approach.

"And then we're going to begin furthering the process with teams."

Translation: Fielder isn't close to finding a landing spot.

The big first baseman declined the Milwaukee Brewers' offer of arbitration Wednesday, confident that there is a long-term deal awaiting him in the market. With all of the attention so far devoted to another slugging first baseman, Albert Pujols, Fielder's status has remained under the radar since the free agent signing period started last month.

The Brewers are maintaining contact with Boras, but they are not confident in their financial ability to retain him. Texas remains interested but on the periphery (for now), according to sources familiar with the Rangers' plans. So, too, does Seattle, whose general manager, Jack Zduriencik, was Milwaukee's scouting director when the Brewers made Fielder their No. 1 pick in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2002 draft.

There are those who believe the Cubs will enter the bidding, but all appears quiet on the North Side of Chicago for now (besides, the Cubs have been involved with Pujols so far). Some people think the Blue Jays will turn aggressive in Fielder's direction.

Boras maintains that the Pujols talks are not impacting those of Fielder, and that whatever decision Pujols ultimately makes will not affect Fielder.

"I just don't see teams other than the team that signs Albert -- that would be the only team I would think that would be impacted," Boras said. "The real issue is, does a team need a young, franchise core player? These players have so much value to them because they have value from the media content, they increase your RSN [Regional Sports Network] value tremendously, they also increase your attendance and they also allow ownership to retain ancillary players at a greater rate because those players want to stay on a winning team with a core player like that.

"It's very nice to hit in front of those kinds of players, and that attracts players. We saw in Milwaukee a great pitcher, Zack Greinke, let his original team know he wanted to go there and play. And that's because they had players like Prince Fielder there. And I think players sign long term to stay with those teams.

"There's an attraction value that comes with those players that help clubs retain the players they have or attract other ones.

"I just think there are few of them."
Posted on: December 8, 2011 1:53 am
 

Cardinals continue with company in Pujols talks

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: December 7, 2011 8:41 pm
 

Let's just say Reyes' physical was thorough

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
 

Pujols veering toward Cardinals?

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 6, 2011 9:23 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 1:56 am
 

Marlins pushing hard on Pujols, want answer soon

DALLAS -- The Marlins spent an extraordinary amount of time Tuesday afternoon and evening wooing free agent slugger Albert Pujols and appeared to be thundering toward their finish line as darkness enveloped Dallas on a cold Tuesday night.

Whether it is also Pujols' finish line remains to be seen.

The Marlins pushed very, very hard through the night Tuesday to finish a Pujols deal with a 10-year offer, according to sources, worth in excess of $200 million. Closing in on 1 a.m. CDT, sources said the Marlins reached a point where there would be no immediate answer, and they would resume discussions with the Pujols Camp on Wednesday.

Earlier Tuesday, St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak said that the Cardinals presented the slugger with a new offer, their first since last February when Pujols rejected a reported nine-year offer worth a reported $195 million.

Meantime, USAToday's Bob Nightengale reported an unidentified team made a third offer of at least 10 years in what is becoming the most expensive bidding war in baseball history.

Sources with knowledge of the talks said that they expected the Pujols camp to let things play out a little longer.

That strategy did not mesh with what the Fish wanted Tuesday, and they may have to make a decision as a result. As owner Jeffrey Loria canceled dinner plans Tuesday to remain in the Hilton Anatole and try to knock off a deal for the iconic slugger, the Marlins remained players on free agent pitchers Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson.

Marlins officials emerged from an elevator after what appeared to have been a long meeting with Dan Lozano, Pujols' agent, shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday. But club president David Samson repeatedly told reporters, "Nothing to report."

The Marlins want an answer from Pujols sooner rather than later -- they pushed for an answer Tuesday night -- so they can move on to one of those other options if they can't get him. They also want an answer from Pujols soon because of growing concern that they are being used as leverage to jack up the Cardinals' bid.

Bottom line: The Marlins badly want Pujols, but they do now want to lose out on other free agent options if Pujols is a rigged game and it's a fait accompli that he's returning to St. Louis. Whether or not the Marlins sign Pujols, they still want to improve their starting pitching. Without Pujols, they'll look to the free agent market. If they add Pujols, they will look to trade current first baseman Gaby Sanchez for pitching.

Mozeliak did not specify the Cards' new offer to Pujols either in years or dollars. When asked by St. Louis reporters in whose court the ball is in, Mozeliak replied, "Theirs."

"I suspect [a response] is going to come quickly," Mozeliak told St. Louis reporters. "That would have to come from that camp. ... In this situation, we're participants. I don't think we're dictating anything."

The Marlins believed that their offer had to be higher than that of the Cardinals to combat what one source termed the "statue effect." Meaning, if Pujols finished his career in St. Louis, the next step will be that the club and city will erect a statue of him next to the one of Hall of Famer Stan Musial outside of Busch Stadium.

Consequently, the Marlins have put together what sources call a "creative" offer, one that is so complicated that Loria and other Marlins executives met with Dan Haslem of the Commissioner's Office late Tuesday afternoon to review parts of it and, apparently, make sure it is in line with baseball rules and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

"Jeffrey is an art dealer. He's accustomed to obtaining special works of art," one National League executive said Tuesday night. "Maybe this is another special work of art."

Surely, they would tell you that Pujols is exactly that in St. Louis.

Whether he'll be on permanent loan anytime soon at the Marlins' posh new baseball museum in Miami is the subject that continues to dominate these meetings.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:18 pm
 

Arizona pondering Saunders' future

DALLAS -- The Diamondbacks are discussing a contract extension with Joe Saunders in talks that could either tie the left-hander to the Arizona rotation for a couple of more seasons ... or land him squarely on the trade block.

With young starters such as Tyler Skaggs and Jarrod Parker close to ready, and young lefties David Holmberg and Patrick Corbin on the way, the Diamondbacks are internally discussing the merits of a two- or three-year extension to Saunders.

He's worked 200 or more innings in each of the past three seasons and, as such, provides shelter for a young staff growing into its future. But he's also arbitration-eligible and due a big raise from the $5.5 million he earned in 2011. Saunders went 12-13 with a 3.69 ERA for the NL West champion Diamondbacks last summer.

If the Diamondbacks decide to go with their young pitching, the Diamondbacks could seize on a weak free agent market and perhaps deal Saunders as early as this week. The slow dance continues on the free agent market with Mark Buehrle (who is being pursued by more than a dozen clubs) and C.J. Wilson.

Beyond them and maybe Edwin Jackson, the best alternatives for clubs looking to acquire starting pitching this winter appears to be on the trade market, where Oakland is receiving hits on Gio Gonzalez, the White Sox are fielding inquiries on John Danks and Houston is shopping Wandy Rodriguez.
Posted on: December 5, 2011 8:18 pm
 

Astros talking Rodriguez, Myers, Lee and cash

DALLAS -- The Astros may have an interim general manager (Dave Gottfried) as they work toward under new owner Jim Crane, but the mandate remains the same: Cut and chop as major rebuilding continues.

The Astros are looking to trade pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers along with outfielder Carlos Lee, and to get that task done, they're telling teams here that they'll pay half of the salaries of Myers and Lee.

Rodriguez? With pitching scarce on the free agent market, the Astros are holding out hope that they can make him their biggest score. Rodriguez is due $10 million in 2011 and $13 million in 2012, and the Astros as of now do not intend to pick up any portion of that.

Sources say the Astros will field inquiries while waiting for free agent lefty Mark Buehrle to sign. That will help establish the market and then the Astros feel like they'll have a better idea of what they can get for Rodriguez, who went 11-11 with a 3.49 ERA in 30 starts for Houston last summer.

Myers (7-14, 4.46) is due $11 million in 2012 with a club option for $10 million in 2013 with a $3 million buyout. Lee (.275/.342/.446 with 18 homers and 94 RBI in 155 games) is due $18.5 million in 2012, the final year of his contract.


 
 
 
 
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