Posted on: December 12, 2011 4:15 pm
Aramis Ramirez isn't Prince Fielder.
No one's saying he is.
But if you begin with the assumption that keeping Prince Fielder was always going to be a huge longshot, then Aramis Ramirez isn't bad.
The Brewers completed the rebuilding of the left side of their infield Monday, signing Ramirez to a three-year contract that will pay him about $36 mill, according to sources. With Ramirez at third and Alex Gonzalez (signed last week) at shortstop, they should be improved defensively.
And with Ramirez sliding into Fielder's spot in the middle of the batting order, they should be competitive offensively, too.
Ramirez becomes even more important to the Brewers with Ryan Braun's status in doubt. Braun faces a 50-game suspension for a failed drug test, with his appeal scheduled to go before an arbitrator sometime next month.
But Braun will be back. Fielder, barring what would now be an incredible turn of events, will not. The Brewers were faced with replacing 38 home runs, 120 RBI and a .981 OPS out of the cleanup spot.
Ramirez has a career .842 OPS. He has six career 100-RBI seasons, and he drove in 93 runs for a bad Cubs team last year.
He's not Prince, but he is a solid middle-of-the order bat.
With the Ramirez signing, the Brewers could be done with their major winter shopping. The plan has been to try young (and cheap) Mat Gamel at first base, and with Francisco Rodriguez accepting salary arbitration, the Brewers wouldn't have much money to spend on another first baseman, anyway.
They could still trade K-Rod to a team looking for a closer. They could consider dealing starting pitcher Randy Wolf or even Shaun Marcum if they wanted to use the money elsewhere.
But other than adding some depth, the Brewers now don't need to do anything else. Without Prince, and likely without Braun for the first 50 games, they still have a team that should compete again in the National League Central.
The Brewers won the division in 2011. The Cardinals, their closest contender, lost a manager (Tony La Russa) and a superstar (Albert Pujols). The Reds, who won in 2010, have yet to find a deal for the top starting pitcher they have long sought.
The Cubs, even if they sign Fielder, are likely a year or two away from true contention. The Pirates are improving, but not scary. The Astros are just starting on a long rebuilding process.
The Brewers may not be as good without Fielder. But with Ramirez, in this division, they could be good enough.
Posted on: December 7, 2011 3:47 am
DALLAS -- More baseball talk from the second full day at the winter meetings:
-- The hometown Rangers have watched the Marlins dominate the first two days of the meetings, and they spent Tuesday night meeting with the representative for pitcher C.J. Wilson, who they very likely will not re-sign. But the Rangers have been active on many other fronts, according to sources. They're in on free-agent pitcher Mark Buehrle, and potentially in on free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder. Also, despite already signing closer Joe Nathan, the Rangers have considered a run at A's closer Andrew Bailey, who is available in trade.
-- The Phillies have decided against pursuing free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez, and will instead keep Placido Polanco at third and fully concentrate their efforts on retaining shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Ramirez still has interest from the Brewers and Angels, and the Brewers could be the best fit (assuming they don't re-sign Fielder).
-- While much of the day Tuesday was dominated by the Albert Pujols chase, agent Scott Boras has decided to let the Fielder market develop more slowly. Interested teams include the Cubs, Rangers, Mariners, Orioles and possibly the Nationals, plus the Brewers.
-- The Reds have continued to pursue starting pitching. They've been probably the most aggressive team after Jair Jurrjens of the Braves, and have also continued a dialogue with the Rays that began last July.
-- While the Marlins pursued Pujols, they also continued to look at starting pitching. The Marlins have tried for both of the top two free-agent starters (Wilson and Buehrle), and have also made trade inquiries on Gio Gonzalez of the A's and Wandy Rodriguez of the Astros, among others.
-- The Cardinals have been so focused on trying to retain Pujols that they have yet to have a full-group meeting on what path they would pursue if he leaves. Some think they could pursue Rollins or Ryan Madson, and others believe that they could jump in on Buehrle.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:01 am
Edited on: December 6, 2011 3:23 am
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.
Tags: A's, Aaron Harang, Andrew Bailey, Andrew McCutchen, Aramis Ramirez, Astros, B.J. Upton, Braves, Coco Crisp, Dodgers, J.J. Picollo, Jair Jurrjens, James Shields, Jeff Niemann, Jerry Hairston, Mark Buehrle, Martin Prado, Ned Colletti, Pirates, Rays, Red Sox, Reid Brignac, Royals, Tigers, Wade Davis, winter meetings, Yoenis Cespedes
Posted on: December 6, 2011 2:27 am
Edited on: December 6, 2011 2:28 am
DALLAS -- You may have heard that the Phillies talked to free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
You may have heard that the Phillies' talks with Jimmy Rollins hit some obstacles.
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: November 30, 2011 5:46 pm
Barring a late intervention from owner Mike Ilitch, the Tigers aren't going after Jose Reyes. It's unlikely that they would make a strong bid for Aramis Ramirez, sources say.
And while they need a starting pitcher, it's more likely that they fill that need through a trade than through free agency.
So where do they look next, now that they've re-signed infielder Ramon Santiago to a two-year deal for a little more than $4 million?
Two names to watch: Coco Crisp, and Yoennis Cespedes.
Both come with risk, but either one would fit the Tigers' desire to get faster and more athletic.
Cespedes, the Cuban soon-to-be free agent, interests the Tigers enough that general manager Dave Dombrowski is making an rare scouting trip to the Dominican Republic. But Cespedes is drawing huge interest from many teams (and sending many GMs to the Dominican), and it's too early to know how high his price will rise and what chance the Tigers have of signing him.
The Tigers have also been in contact with Crisp's agent, and their interest is believed to be strong. Crisp has expressed a preference to stay on the West Coast, but it's believed that the chance to win could help lure him to Detroit.
Crisp is thought to prefer the Giants, but they're so financially limited that he may not be an option. Foxsports.com reported that the A's have interest in re-signing him.
If the Tigers sign Crisp, he would likely replace Delmon Young in left field, and would take Austin Jackson's spot as the leadoff hitter (with Jackson moving to the bottom of the order). The Tigers like Young, but Crisp is a better fit for their needs at this point.
Young would have some trade value. The Tigers offered him to the Braves for Martin Prado last month, but those talks died.
Posted on: March 2, 2011 7:07 pm
PHOENIX -- Remember, Mike Quade wanted this job.
He waited forever for it. He managed 2,378 games over 17 minor-league seasons, just for this chance.
He wanted to manage a major-league team.
They gave him the Cubs.
They gave him a team that charged out of the gate with an incredible 14 errors in the first four spring training games. They gave him a group dysfunctional enough that there was a fight in the dugout four games into the spring.
Have fun, Q.
It wouldn't be fair to blame Quade for this Cubs mess, or to hold him responsible for Wednesday's altercation between pitcher Carlos Silva and third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
But he is responsible for getting it figured out. It's his job -- his challenge -- to somehow turn dysfunctional into functional.
"We've got to talk about this [Thursday], straighten it out," he said after Wednesday's five-error, 12-5 loss to the Brewers. "It's not in my nature to watch this."
He meant the errors, and what he said were another half-dozen or so mental mistakes that weren't counted as errors.
"Today was really tough to watch," he said.
I like Quade. I like the path he took to this job, but I also like the way he seems so comfortable in his own skin. I like the way he addressed what happened Wednesday, dealing with the issues without either trying to deny them or allowing them to grow into something even bigger.
But he's going to need every bit of his 17 years of managing experience -- and all his coaching experience -- to deal with this lot.
"It's an unfortunate deal," Quade said, referring to the fight. "It's not going to be a big deal. It'll be taken care of, if anything needs to be taken care of."
He said it's "ridiculous" to compare this to last year's dugout fight involving Carlos Zambrano. The implication was that while that was mostly a Zambrano issue, this was a somewhat more understandable release of frustrations.
Silva, Wednesday's starting pitcher, had just allowed six runs in his first inning of the spring. Some of it was his fault -- he walked Craig Counsell to start the inning, allowed a home run to Luis Cruz and later another home run to Casey McGehee -- but there were also three errors, one of them by Ramirez.
When Silva got to the dugout, he said something about the defense. Ramirez took offense.
It happens. It happens more to teams in trouble.
"These are things you don't like," Quade said. "You'd rather it be smooth. But I'd rather have that, almost, than complacency."
But you can't have this.
"I'm very surprised," left fielder Alfonso Soriano said. "It's only the fourth game of the spring, and we're fighting each other. We don't have to fight. We don't need that."
Quade certainly didn't need it.
"If we start getting after each other on a regular basis, we're going to be done," he said.
If the rest of this year goes the way the last four days have, one guy is certainly going to be done.
It's the guy who waited forever for this job.
And that would be too bad.
Posted on: October 3, 2008 5:03 pm
The question that is getting asked about the Brewers is a simple one:
Was it worth it?
Was it worth going for it all this year, when there's a real chance now that all they'll get out of it is one home playoff game at Miller Park? Was it worth it, with the very real likelihood that both CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets are headed out the door via free agency the moment this postseason ends (which could be Saturday night)?
Was it worth it? Robin Yount says absolutely, it was.
"Hey, it's been a long time since this organization has been able to feel anything like this," said Yount, who returned to the organization as bench coach when Dale Sveum replaced Ned Yost as manager. "You can see the excitement all around town. Everywhere you go in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, that's what they're talking about again. And it's great to see, because these people here have such a passion for this stuff. To get them this far, they feel like, 'Hey, we've done something!' "
Yount isn't giving up on this series with the Phillies, even though the Brewers trail two games to none and need two wins just to give Sabathia another chance. But Yount also believes that Brewers fans will appreciate this team, even if the postseason run doesn't end well.
"Hey, we didn't win the World Series (in 1982), and you would have thought we did when we came home (from St. Louis)," he said. "We were treated like we were world champions, even though we didn't win. I don't think there's too many places that would have accepted the team back in quite that manner. I'm telling you, this place has got something going for it."
Yes, Yount did hit against Jamie Moyer, the 45-year-old who starts Game 3 for the Phillies. He went 3-for-11, with four walks. Sveum also faced Moyer; he struck out once and was hit by a pitch in his other plate appearance.
In Chicago, they're wondering if Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez are reliving last year's playoffs. Neither one drove in a run last October, as the Cubs were swept out of the playoffs by the Diamondbacks. Neither had an RBI as the Cubs lost the first two games to the Dodgers this week.
But if you think the big guys have to hit for a team to win, you haven't seen the Phillies. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley combined for just one hitt and two RBIs in the first two games against the Brewers, but the Phillies won both games.
"We had other guys step up," manager Charlie Manuel said. "That's kind of what a team is about."
Utley and Howard were a combined 5-for-23 with one RBI last October, when the Phillies were swept by the Rockies.