Posted on: January 26, 2012 4:01 pm
The Prince Fielder signing should push the Tigers' 2012 payroll up over $130 million.
Is there any money left?
Could be, but the Tigers are unlikely to spend it on a full-time designated hitter, or on a fifth-starter candidate who would require a guaranteed major-league contract.
They might, according to sources, still try to spend it on Yoenis Cespedes.
While the team has basically ruled out going after someone like Johnny Damon or Edwin Jackson, the Tigers remain interested in Cespedes, the 26-year-old Cuban outfielder who became a free agent Wednesday. The Tigers have been among the teams showing the most interest in Cespedes, and have had conversations about him with agent Adam Katz.
Cespedes, if he proves ready for the big leagues right away, could play left field, with Delmon Young moving to more of a full-time DH role. For now, the Tigers plan to have Young share left field and DH with Andy Dirks, Don Kelly and Clete Thomas, with Fielder and Miguel Cabrera also seeing a few days as DH.
The Tigers had worked hard to try to add another starter before turning their attention to Fielder late last week. They met Roy Oswalt's asking price, sources said, only to be told by Oswalt that he wouldn't agree to come to Detroit (even after a recruiting phone call from Justin Verlander).
The focus now is on veteran starters who would require less of a commitment, with the possibility that the Tigers don't add anyone before spring training begins. They could then audition Jacob Turner, Andy Oliver, Drew Smyly and others, and then search the trade market if they're not satisfied with what they see.
We've already seen that they're willing to be bold, and that the owner is willing to spend.
When Mike Ilitch told his baseball people that he was willing to make the huge commitment to Fielder, he explained it simply.
"I think the city needs it," Ilitch said. "I think we need it. I think our players need it."
Posted on: January 26, 2012 2:35 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 2:50 pm
The Indians announced Thursday that they have put "Fausto Carmona" on the restricted list.
And yes, that's what they called him.
Carmona, as we found out last week, is actually Roberto Hernandez Heredia. He was arrested by Dominican Republic police and charged with using a fake identity.
Because of that, the Indians don't yet know when Carmona (or Hernandez) is going to be able to come to the United States. By putting him on the restricted list, they won't have him count against their roster limit and won't have to pay him.
It's the same move that the Marlins made with Leo Nunez/Juan Carlos Oviedo, who was charged last September with using a fake identity. Oviedo is still on the restricted list, with no certainty yet on when he'll be able to leave the Dominican Republic.
Carmona is signed for $7 million for 2012. He can be taken off the restricted list at any time, and the Indians plan to do that one he is able to get into the country.
Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:49 pm
The bidding for Yoenis Cespedes can finally begin.
The 26-year-old Cuban outfielder has established residency in the Dominican Republic, and Major League Baseball told teams on Wednesday that he is now officially a free agent.
But where will he go, how much will he cost, and how fast could he make an impact?
First, the where: Cespedes himself told reporters in the Dominican that the Cubs have shown the most interest in him, with the Marlins, Tigers, White Sox and Orioles also involved. The Nationals have also shown interest in Cespedes, and the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies scouted him, although it's believed that none of the three will be among the top bidders.
The Marlins have made no secret of their interest, but according to sources, Cespedes has told other teams that he would prefer not to play in Miami. He plans to make his home in the Dominican, rather than in Florida, and may believe that the huge Cuban community in South Florida would add too much pressure and too many distractions.
The Tigers have long been interested, with general manager Dave Dombrowski making a surprising trip to the Dominican Republic to see Cespedes for himself. But Detroit's resources for signing Cespedes could be more limited after signing Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract.
How much will Cespedes cost? No one seems to know for sure, but many teams have been in contact with agent Adam Katz, and it seems clear that he'll get more than the $30 million that the Reds paid for Aroldis Chapman.
How fast does he make an impact? Several of the teams that have scouted Cespedes heavily believe that he would be best served by beginning 2012 in the minor leagues. Given his age and the amount of money he'll likely cost, there will be pressure to move him to the big leagues fast, however.
Cespedes is described by those who like him as a Bo Jackson type, with an unusual combination of speed and power.
Cespedes may not have helped his value by playing briefly and ineffectively in the Dominican winter league, but he may have had other motives for playing for Aguilas. It's believed that people involved with the team also have ties to the Dominican government, and that Cespedes' decision to play may have sped up the process of establishing residency.
In any case, that process is complete, and Cespedes is a free agent.
And the bidding can begin.
Posted on: January 25, 2012 2:36 pm
The Red Sox like Roy Oswalt. But is the feeling mutual?
The Sox, sources say, have made a significant offer to the free-agent right-hander. Oswalt has yet to accept, raising some doubt about his interest in going to Boston.
Oswalt already told the Tigers he wasn't interested in going to Detroit, sources said, and even a recruiting phone call from Justin Verlander didn't sway him. While he may not have given the Red Sox as definite a "no," it is thought that he would prefer teams closer to his home state of Mississippi.
Oswalt has long shown interest in going to the Cardinals, but it's unclear how interested the Cardinals are in him. The Rangers had interest in him earlier in the winter, but they have since added Yu Darvish to their rotation. The Reds were also thought to be a team that Oswalt would like, but they traded for Mat Latos.
The 34-year-old Oswalt spent most of his career with the Astros, then accepted a trade to the Phillies at midseason 2010. He went 16-11 with a 2.96 ERA in 35 starts for the Phils.
The Red Sox would like to add another starting pitcher before spring training, but the options right now seem to be limited. Edwin Jackson is the only other significant free-agent starter on the market, and the Red Sox have talked to him, too. The Red Sox have also talked to the White Sox about Gavin Floyd, but were turned off by the asking price and it seems that a deal for him is unlikely.
Posted on: January 24, 2012 5:46 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 7:14 pm
You could almost say that Prince Fielder is going home.
He was born in California. He went to high school in Florida. He came to the big leagues in Milwaukee.
But for a few of his formative years, Detroit was home. Tiger Stadium was home. The Tiger clubhouse was home.
And now he's going back, going to join the Tigers on a nine-year, $214 million contract.
I know that things got ugly later between Prince and his father Cecil, who played for the Tigers from 1990-96. I know that while Cecil told MLB Network Radio Tuesday that he is "having a few chats" and "doing a lot better" with Prince, he was also shocked to hear that the Tigers were Prince's new team.
But I also know that Prince looks back fondly on those years, on wrestling with Tony Phillips in the Tiger clubhouse, on hitting a home run into the upper deck at Tiger Stadium.
For anyone who was around the Tigers in those years (as I was), Prince was a constant and welcome presence, a well-behaved young man having the time of his young life.
Cecil was a star then. When he hit 51 home runs in 1990, it was a big deal, because no one had hit 50 in the big leagues since George Foster in 1978.
Prince was a big figure in town, big enough that the Detroit Free Press did a story on his life in Little League.
It was about that time that Mike Ilitch bought the Tigers from fellow pizza baron Tom Monaghan.
Ilitch certainly remembers Prince from those days.
"I know Mr. Ilitch is probably excited, because he's wanted that kid since he was a little kid," Cecil Fielder told MLB Network Radio. "So he finally got his wish."
And now Prince is back in Detroit, back home.
"It's a real small world, isn't it?" Phillips said Tuesday. "This is awesome. But I don't think I'd want to wrestle him now. He'd be body-slamming me to the ground."
Posted on: January 23, 2012 1:49 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 1:57 pm
It's been almost a week since the Tigers found out that Victor Martinez would likely be lost for the season with a knee injury, and the team still doesn't have a replacement.
What's taking so long?
Actually, it won't be a surprise if the Tigers' search for a Martinez replacement goes on quite a while longer, perhaps even into the 2012 season.
While the Tigers seem to have some interest in Raul Ibanez, Hideki Matsui and Vladimir Guerrero, and less in Johnny Damon, none of the possible Martinez replacements would provide the Tigers with exactly what Martinez gave them -- a quality switch hitter who gives Miguel Cabrera protection in the batting order.
The other option would be for the Tigers to stick with the players they already have, and to figure out as the year goes along whether they need to spend their resources on a designated hitter to replace Martinez or on filling other needs.
As of now, the Tigers are also without a definite fifth starter. They tried to deal for Gio Gonzalez, but lost out when they wouldn't include both Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos in the same deal. They showed interest in free-agent Roy Oswalt (even having Justin Verlander put in a recruiting call), but were told that he was not interested in them (and seems headed for either the Red Sox or Cardinals). The Tigers have been linked by some to Matt Garza of the Cubs, but a Garza deal seems a real longshot.
While the Tigers haven't ruled out adding a veteran starter later in the winter, they now seem willing to go to spring training and pick a fifth starter there (with Turner one of the candidates).
Even without Martinez, and without a clear fifth starter, the Tigers should enter spring as the clear favorite in the American League Central. Barring further injuries, they should at the very least be able to remain in contention for the first half of the season, then look to make another midseason deal like last year's trade for Doug Fister.
Posted on: January 23, 2012 12:22 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 12:30 pm
The Yankees sent out a whole bunch of lists and numbers Monday, ahead of Tuesday's Jorge Posada retirement press conference.
The numbers are impressive (more doubles than Mickey Mantle, more home runs than Don Mattingly), and I'm sure we'll spend more time dissecting them in five years, when Posada shows up on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.
I'm more impressed by the wins and the rings.
I'm more impressed that through the better part of 17 years, Posada was catching regularly for a team that won championships. The Yankees won four World Series with him behind the plate, and they went 65-41 in postseason games that he started (a .613 winning percentage that would translate to 99 wins over 162 games).
Posada was rarely if ever considered the best catcher in the game. He started just two All-Star Games. Scouts (and some pitchers, writers and club executives) complained regularly about his defense, especially in his later years.
But somehow, the Yankees kept deciding he was their best option. Somehow, with Posada behind the plate, they kept winning.
His final season was a strange one, with the Yankees' never-fully-explained insistence that he could not catch under any circumstances, to the odd night when he removed himself from the lineup before a game against the Red Sox.
Then there was this winter, when the Yankees let him know they had no room for him, and Posada briefly entertained the idea of trying to play for another team.
And now he'll make his retirement official, at age 40, leaving the Yankees without ever playing for anyone else.
Fans complain often that players move around too much in modern baseball, that "you'll never see" stars staying with the same team for an entire career. But the fact is that you do see it, and the fact is that many players do end up feeling a sense of loyalty that makes it tough to ever leave the one organization they've known.
I remember Alan Trammell wrestling with it in his final years with the Tigers, and finally deciding that he couldn't see himself playing elsewhere.
Now we have Posada, who is sure to be joined by Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera as lifetime Yankees who never wore another uniform.
Posada will be defined by that, by his part in one of the best eras in the history of baseball's most successful franchise. He'll be defined by his part in it, by the championships he helped win.
I'm not ready to decide yet whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame. I am ready to say that he leaves with a distinguished place in Yankee history.
Posted on: January 19, 2012 3:42 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 4:15 pm
Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona was arrested Thursday in the Dominican Republic, charged with using a fake identity.
According to Dominican police (via spokesman Maximo Baez Aybar on Twitter), Carmona's real name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia, and the pitcher is actually 31 years old, not 28.
The police said Carmona (or Hernandez) was arrested when he went to the American consulate to renew his visa. The police said they were working in cooperation with the consulate.
It's not yet clear what charges Carmona (or Hernandez) will face, or what effect this will have on his contract with the Indians. The Indians picked up the pitcher's $7 million option for 2012 in October.
The Indians signed Carmona (or Hernandez) in 2000, when his documents showed that he was 17 years old. Actually, according to the charge, he was 20 years old then, and was 25 when he debuted in the big leagues.
Pitching as Carmona, the right-hander was a 19-game winner in 2007, when the Indians went to the playofs. He's been inconsistent since then, and was 7-15 with a 5.25 ERA in 2011.
The Carmona/Hernandez arrest comes on the heels of the arrest last summer of Juan Carlos Oviedo, who was pitching for the Marlins under the name Leo Nunez. Oviedo returned to the Dominican to face charges, and while he has signed a $6 million contract for 2012, he is still working through legal issues that would allow him to return to the United States.
The Marlins put Oviedo on the restricted list, and he won't be paid unless he is able to return.