Category:MLB
Posted on: December 7, 2011 3:20 am
 

White Sox trade Santos, and it's only the start

DALLAS -- The rebuilding process has officially begun on the South Side of Chicago, and by the time it ends the White Sox could look nothing like the disappointing team that finished 79-83 last year.

General manager Ken Williams took the first step Tuesday, trading closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays for pitching prospect Nestor Molina. Bigger steps should follow, with the White Sox signaling to other teams that pitchers John Danks and Gavin Floyd, outfielder Carlos Quentin and second baseman Gordon Beckham are among those available.

In fact, sources familiar with the Sox plans said, it is entirely possible that Danks, Floyd, Quentin and Beckham and others could all be elsewhere by opening day.

"It is the start of a rebuilding," Williams told Chicago writers. "And you guys know I have not used that word in 12 years."

Williams has been threatening to break up this team since the middle of last season, and only a few wins in the final week of July kept the Sox from shopping many players at the July 31 deadline.

Williams then said at last month's general managers meetings that he had trades in mind, and promised to use the word "rebuilding" by January if he could get what he wanted.

It turned out he used it in the first week of December.

The Santos move helps the Blue Jays, who have spent the first part of the winter looking for a closer. The White Sox got back a 22-year-old right-hander with sparkling minor-league numbers (27-7, 2.21, 277 strikeouts in 292 2/3 innings), but a pitcher who the Blue Jays and some other teams project as a middle reliever in the big leagues because of his slight build.


Posted on: December 7, 2011 3:20 am
 

White Sox trade Santos, and it's only the start

DALLAS -- The rebuilding process has officially begun on the South Side of Chicago, and by the time it ends the White Sox could look nothing like the disappointing team that finished 79-83 last year.

General manager Ken Williams took the first step Tuesday, trading closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays for pitching prospect Nestor Molina. Bigger steps should follow, with the White Sox signaling to other teams that pitchers John Danks and Gavin Floyd, outfielder Carlos Quentin and second baseman Gordon Beckham are among those available.

In fact, sources familiar with the Sox plans said, it is entirely possible that Danks, Floyd, Quentin and Beckham and others could all be elsewhere by opening day.

"It is the start of a rebuilding," Williams told Chicago writers. "And you guys know I have not used that word in 12 years."

Williams has been threatening to break up this team since the middle of last season, and only a few wins in the final week of July kept the Sox from shopping many players at the July 31 deadline.

Williams then said at last month's general managers meetings that he had trades in mind, and promised to use the word "rebuilding" by January if he could get what he wanted.

It turned out he used it in the first week of December.

The Santos move helps the Blue Jays, who have spent the first part of the winter looking for a closer. The White Sox got back a 22-year-old right-hander with sparkling minor-league numbers (27-7, 2.21, 277 strikeouts in 292 2/3 innings), but a pitcher who the Blue Jays and some other teams project as a middle reliever in the big leagues because of his slight build.


Posted on: December 7, 2011 3:06 am
 

Astros could name new GM this week

DALLAS -- The Astros could name their new general manager by the end of the week, with Rockies executive Bill Geivett considered the favorite by some people in baseball.

The job has been open since new owner Jim Crane fired Ed Wade on Thanksgiving weekend, and the Astros have spent the last two weeks interviewing a group of candidates strong on scouting and player development credentials. After first trying for Rays GM Andrew Friedman, who turned the job down, the Astros have considered Dodgers exec Logan White, Royals exec J.J. Picollo and Cardinals exec Jeff Luhnow, as well as Geivett.

The 48-year-old Geivett is a former minor-league player who has spent the last 11 years working for the Rockies, first as the director of player personnel, then as farm director and eventually as senior vice president of scouting and player development. He's so popular with his bosses and colleagues that they're openly rooting for him to get the Houston job, even though replacing such a key front-office member at this late date will be difficult.

The Astros lost 106 games in 2011 and will need a complete rebuild, and Crane and new club president George Postolos are said to understand that the new GM will be facing a task that will require several years.


Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:01 am
Edited on: December 6, 2011 3:23 am
 

Latest on Jurrjens and Prado, and other notes

DALLAS -- More baseball talk from the first full day at the winter meetings:

-- The Braves' duo of Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado continue to be as sought after as any players on the slow-developing trade market. Sources say that 8-10 teams have shown real interest in Jurrjens, while "half the teams in baseball" have talked to the Braves about Prado, most with the idea of playing him at second base. The Braves continue to say that they don't need to move either player, and will only do so if the return helps make them more competitive in 2012 (as opposed to dealing for long-term prospects). The Braves have assured teams that Jurrjens is fully healthy, and that his velocity returned to the mid 90s when he resumed throwing in instructional league.

-- Royals executive J.J. Picollo became the latest to interview with the Astros for their vacant general manager position. The Astros' interest in Picollo and in the Rockies' Bill Geivett would seem to indicate that they want to hire someone with a strong background in scouting and player development. Picollo is Kansas City's assistant GM for scouting and player development, and he previously ran the Braves' minor-league system.

-- The Angels spent Monday night talking to Bob Garber, who represents free-agent pitcher C.J. Wilson. The Angels' interest in Wilson is serious, and has been since last month's general managers meetings in Milwaukee.

-- The Dodgers were considered to have a good day Monday, signing infielder Jerry Hairston and starter Aaron Harang to two-year deals. Rival executives suggest that Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti needs to do whatever he can to try to give his chance a team to play well early in 2012, in hopes of convincing whoever the new owner is that he should keep his job.

-- The A's continue to explore trading closer Andrew Bailey, and are expected to talk to the Red Sox on Tuesday. The Red Sox have not yet been aggressive in pursuit of Bailey.

-- The Tigers are not believed to have shown any significant interest in any of the big names on the free-agent market, and seem content to make smaller improvements to a team that won 95 games in 2011. If the Tigers make a big-money signing this winter, it seems a lot more likely to be Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes than Mark Buehrle, Aramis Ramirez, Coco Crisp or other big names that have been speculated about. It's still not clear how soon Cespedes will be declared a free agent, because of delays in paperwork needed to establish residency in the Dominican Republic. One possibility is that Cespedes could try to establish residency in Mexico, instead.

-- While the White Sox are open to listening to trade proposals for any of John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Carlos Quentin and Gordon Beckham, some club officials insist that they are not "rebuilding," even though general manager Ken Williams used that exact word last month. The Sox insist that they while they are trying to get younger, they would only trade their valuable chips if they get players who are ready to contribute at the big-league level immediately.

-- The Pirates continue to show no interest in trading center fielder Andrew McCutchen, even though early talks on a possible long-term contract showed that the two sides were "not even in the same ballpark," according to sources. McCutchen isn't eligible for free agency for another four years, so the Pirates aren't yet under time pressure to sign him or trade him.

-- The Giants have talked to the representatives for Tim Lincecum, but there doesn't appear to be much progress towards getting Lincecum signed to a long-term contract. Lincecum has two years to go before free agency.

-- A day after some Brewers people expressed a slight hint of optimism at their chances of retaining free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder, others insisted the chances remain very bleak. The Brewers do have real interest in Aramis Ramirez, and have been in contact with every free-agent shortstop.

-- The Rays are open to trading Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis in their quest to improve their offense, but have told teams that they would only listen to overwhelming offers for James Shields. The Rays would also like to trade Reid Brignac, would still like to upgrade their catching, and are once again willing to talk about dealing B.J. Upton.



Posted on: December 6, 2011 2:27 am
Edited on: December 6, 2011 2:28 am
 

Phillies' preference is still to keep Rollins

DALLAS -- You may have heard that the Phillies talked to free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez.

It's true.

You may have heard that the Phillies' talks with Jimmy Rollins hit some obstacles.

Also true.

But here's another thing that remains as true as before: The Phillies' overwhelming desire is to have Rollins back as their shortstop.

And their show of interest in Ramirez could well be part of this.

By reaching out to Ramirez, several baseball officials suggested Monday, the Phils could be showing Rollins that they do have a suitable backup plan, and thus trying to prod him to accept a deal.

So far, Rollins has been asking the Phillies for five years, with the team preferring a three-year deal (with some sources suggesting that general manager Ruben Amaro would agree to go to four years).

It's unclear what the market for Rollins is outside Philadelphia. The Brewers have met with Dan Lozano, Rollins' agent, but people familiar with their plans say that even a three-year deal may be beyond what they would do. The Nationals are considered by some to be a possibility, but Rollins does not seem to be their primary (or even secondary) focus at this point. Perhaps the Cardinals could become involved if Albert Pujols signs elsewhere, but it's hard to count on that.

People who know Rollins aren't sure how the talented but also very proud shortstop will react to all this.

Some suggest that he could view the shorter offer from the Phillies as a sign of disrespect, and respond by telling Lozano he wants to go elsewhere. Others say it's hard to believe he would leave the Phillies spotlight to go to a team like the Brewers.

"Jimmy wants to get paid," said one official who knows him. "But Jimmy likes the big stage, too."

In the end, most in baseball seem to believe that Rollins will re-sign with the only team he has known.

If not, perhaps the Phillies will come hard after Ramirez, who they have so far shown just lukewarm interest in, sources say. Ramirez has also drawn interest from the Brewers and Angels, and one person who knows him say his strong desire is to find a team with the best chance to win.

If the Phillies signed Ramirez to replace Rollins, they would go with young Freddy Galvis at shortstop, and trade incumbent third baseman Placido Polanco (which would require eating some of the remaining $7.25 million on his contract).

Would the Phillies do that?

It's possible they would. It's certain that their first choice would be to simply re-sign Jimmy Rollins.



Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:54 am
 

Slimmed down Dmitri Young looks to restart career

DALLAS -- It's been 41 months since Dmitri Young last played in the big leagues.

Forty-one months ago . . . and 70 pounds ago.

A so-slim-you-might-not-recognize-him
Young showed up at the winter meetings Monday, hopeful of restarting a big-league career that stalled in 2008 with the Nationals. Young, who turned 38 in October, said he's willing to go to Japan if no major-league team is willing to give him a chance.

"I feel I've still got something left in the tank," he said.

Young said he now weighs 230 pounds (and he looks it).

He showed up at the winter meetings along with ex-Tigers teammate Robert Fick, who now works for the agency that represents Young.


Category: MLB
Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:46 am
 

Brewers finally show some optimism about Fielder

DALLAS -- Could Prince be the one who stays?

Remember, the assumption all along was that Albert Pujols was the guy who wasn't going anywhere, the guy who was destined to re-sign with the Cardinals. And perhaps he still will.

Prince Fielder was the guy on his way out the door, the guy who was going to get big offers that the Brewers were not going to match. And perhaps that's still true.

But Sunday, even as Pujols' future was in a little more doubt, with reports that the Marlins plan to strongly pursue him after signing Jose Reyes, there was a hint of optimism from Brewers people about their chances at keeping Fielder.

None of them were out and out predicting that Fielder will stay. They acknowledged that a huge offer elsewhere could be too much for them to match.

But the same guys who have been saying for months that it was the longest of longshots were now insisting it could happen, for two reasons.

One, the early market for Fielder doesn't seem to have exploded. Teams are interested, including the Mariners, the Nationals and possibly the Rangers or Cubs. But the indications so far have been that the market may not go crazy.

Second, Brewers people never discount the competitiveness and aggressiveness of owner Mark Attanasio. And Attanasio seems to be indicating that he wants to make a real effort to keep his star first baseman.

None of that means that Fielder will be back in Milwaukee. But for the first time in quite a while, it actually seems possible.


Posted on: December 2, 2011 7:17 am
Edited on: December 2, 2011 7:28 am
 

Spending on Bell shows Marlins are serious

If they're not serious, they're crazy.

I'll go with serious.

You don't spend $9 million a year on a closer if you're not serious about trying to win. And the Marlins just gave Heath Bell $27 million for the next three years.

If it's their only big move of the winter, it makes no sense. But if it's their only big move of the winter, that would be a shock.

As CBSSports.com colleague Scott Miller wrote Thursday, the Marlins are optimistic about signing Jose Reyes, one of the biggest free agents out there. They're aiming high on the starting pitching market, as well, with Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson both having admired the new ballpark in Miami.

Already, they've done what Marlins teams in recent years haven't, by committing significant money to the back of the bullpen. Sources confirmed to CBSSports.com that Bell agreed to a deal late Thursday night, and that it will pay him $9 million a year.

For a closer, that's serious money.

You know the only closers who are signed for $9 million or more next year?

Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, Jose Valverde . . . and Heath Bell.

The stat guys can argue about whether any closer is worth that much. I'll only tell you that Bell is the one and only closer in baseball with 40 saves each of the last three years, and that he has done it with an outstanding 90.4 percent conversion rate.

Having a good closer guarantees you nothing. Bell's Padres lost 91 games in 2011, even as he had another fine year.

But teams serious about winning understand that they'd better have an outstanding closer, even if it means committing big money (it doesn't always, as the Braves proved with rookie Craig Kimbrel).

At this point, we've got to count the new Marlins as serious.

And if they follow it up by signing Reyes and a starting pitcher, we'll count them as very, very serious.

Oh, and as for the Padres, the team Bell hoped to stay with?

There's no way they could justify spending $9 million a year on a closer. But this works out for them, too. They'll get two draft picks, a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds, and the ninth pick in the second round.

In the past, that second pick would have come from the Marlins, but under a clause in the new basic agreement between the players and owners, Bell's signing didn't cost the Marlins a draft pick.

Signing Reyes would cost them a pick, but that's fine. They can afford it -- just as they could afford $27 million for a closer.

Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com