Tag:Aramis Ramirez
Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:19 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 9:31 pm
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Spring primer: Milwaukee Brewers



By Matt Snyder


The 2011 NL Central champions likely knew they were going to lose one of their superstars heading into the offseason, so it wasn't huge news to Milwaukee when Prince Fielder signed with the Tigers. But when news broke in December that Ryan Braun was facing a 50-game suspension, it was a disaster. And then just a few days ago, Braun was exonerated and Brewer Nation could breathe a sigh of collective relief. The net result has to be momentum heading into spring, so maybe the Braun test was a blessing in disguise? Otherwise they're just reeling from losing Prince. Anyway, let's dive in.

Scott Miller's camp report: Gamel to replace Prince? | Likes, dislikes

Major additions: 3B Aramis Ramirez, SS Alex Gonzalez, OF Norichika Aoki
Major departures: 1B Prince Fielder, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Takashi Saito, IF/OF Jerry Hairston

Probable lineup
1. Rickie Weeks, 2B
2. Nyjer Morgan, CF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Corey Hart, RF
6. Mat Gamel, 1B
7. Alex Gonzalez, SS
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C

Probable rotation
1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Zack Greinke
3. Shaun Marcum
4. Randy Wolf
5. Chris Narveson

Back-end bullpen
Closer: John Axford
Set-up: Francisco Rodriguez

Important bench players

OF Aoki, OF Carlos Gomez, IF Brooks Conrad

Prospect to watch
It's gotta be Wily Peralta, a 22-year-old starting pitcher in Triple-A. He only made five Triple-A starts last season, but he was impressive -- going 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 40 strikeouts in 31 innings. Peralta will obviously begin the season in Triple-A, but if we get into June or July and Peralta is dominating while Narveson is struggling -- or, obviously, injury strikes to any member of the rotation -- we could well see the right-hander at the back-end of the rotation.

Fantasy sleeper: Mat Gamel
"Why isn't there more hype in Fantasy? For one thing, Gamel is already 26, so he doesn't exactly qualify as a prospect anymore. For another, he hasn't impressed in his brief major-league opportunities so far. To be fair, though, the Brewers haven't cared to give him the benefit of the doubt, unwilling to live through his defensive lapses at third base for no more than prospective production. With him at first that's not an issue anymore. He'll have all the time he needs to get comfortable and if his minor-league numbers are any indication he'll be an impact player as a result." - Scott White [Full Brewers team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Aramis Ramirez
"He turns 34 this year. A player that age with that injury history will get hurt at some point and if his numbers begin to decline along with it he could easily drop out of the top 12 at the position. It's coming sooner than later. Why take the risk when you can land a Pablo Sandoval at about the same point in the draft?" - Scott White [Full Brewers team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Ramirez and Gamel thrive in the lineup while Gonzalez is a marked upgrade over Betancourt. Greinke and Gallardo both pitch like aces throughout the season while Marcum holds strong as one of the better middle-of-the-rotation pitchers in baseball. K-Rod and Axford form the most dominant eighth and ninth inning combo in the league, too. All this would have the Brewers winning their second consecutive division title and making a run at their first World Series title in history.

Pessimistic outlook
Ramirez starts slow and never recovers, as he's booed consistently by the hometown fans who miss Fielder. Gamel flops at first base, too, leaving the Brewers with a very lackluster bottom-third of the lineup. Greinke falters, Wolf ages quickly and no one can really nail down the fifth spot in the rotation. The best the Brewers can do to overcome these woes is finish fourth, as the Reds and Cardinals compete for the NL Central while the Pirates move into third.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 7:10 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 11:34 am
 

Brewers back in NL Central mix ... on paper

By Matt Snyder

Every baseball fan has surely heard by now, considering our 24-hour Twitterverse of a news cycle, that Brewers' left fielder Ryan Braun won his appeal and will not face a 50-game suspension. There's plenty of discussion to be had on the matter from many different angles, but in this particular entry we'll focus on the 2012 NL Central race.

Had Braun been suspended, the Brewers could probably have been counted out in the NL Central. Replacing Prince Fielder and 50 games of Ryan Braun with Aramis Ramirez wasn't gonna cut it for a team that was largely dependent upon offense last season, en route to the Central division title. Replacing Fielder's production with some Ramirez and hoping for improvements in several other areas? Well, that actually sounds doable.

Then you look around the Central. On paper, we can count out the Pirates, Cubs and Astros. Obviously games aren't won on paper, otherwise the Diamondbacks would have finished last in the NL West as most expected last season. It's just that this is all we have to go on right now, and the Pirates, Cubs and Astros appear very overmatched by the Cardinals, Reds and now Brewers (again).

And right now, the Brewers have just as good a shot as any of the three. They went 96-66 last year and lost a major piece, for sure, in Fielder. But they did sign Ramirez to fill a gaping hole at third base. He can hit cleanup to protect Braun. There are other areas that can improve as well. All-Star second baseman Rickie Weeks only played 118 games last season, while Corey Hart was held to 130. If those guys can stay on the field a bit more, there's an offensive uptick. Alex Gonzalez represents a strong upgrade at shortstop over Yuniesky Betancourt (really, who wouldn't?).

Pitching-wise, the Brewers have the ability to be better as well. Improvements should be expected from Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in their second Milwaukee season. Yovani Gallardo has become a legitimate ace. The eighth and ninth innings should be dominant, with John Axford now having established himself as a lock-down closer and Francisco Rodriguez along for the full season as the eighth-inning guy.

Braun wins appeal
If the Brewers are looking outside and hoping for the optimistic spin, it's possible. Let's try it:

• The Cardinals lost the presence of Albert Pujols from the lineup. Can Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman stay healthy while also fighting off age regression? Speaking of age, how much longer does Chris Carpenter hold up? And Adam Wainwright is coming off Tommy John surgery.

• The Reds are stronger, for sure, but they're hardly a cinch to be a great team. You could make the argument there are question marks at catcher, shortstop, third base, center field and left field. Mat Latos was a good get, but how does he deal with a hitters' park instead of spacious Petco Park as his home field?

Obviously, we could spin things in favor of the Cardinals or Reds in a similar exercise, but it's the Brewers day with the Braun announcement.

The bottom line is I'm not sure who I'll be predicting in the NL Central, but it's between the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers. A few hours ago, it was just the Cardinals and Reds in the mix. In the time it takes to snap your fingers, the Brewers were thrust into the mix. Braun is that important.

We now wait for the actual games to see if everything plays out as expected, because what the "paper" says means nothing. Still, one cannot dispute that the Brewers already have their first big victory of the 2012 season.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 4:51 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 10:47 am
 

Spring position battles: National League Central



By C. Trent Rosecrans


The National League Central is often looked down upon, but it produced both teams in the National League Championship Series last year, as well as the World Series. Both the Cardinals and Brewers have large voids in their lineup due to free agency, but all the teams have some questions when pitchers and catchers report to camp. Here's the NL Central spring position battles:

Chicago Cubs
Old vs. Young: Bryan LaHair and Marlon Byrd vs. Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson

For so long the Cubs' motto has been "wait 'til next year" -- that may have been changed to "wait 'til a couple of years" as Theo Epstein has fully embraced the rebuilding effort. The question is whether the braintrust thinks it's better for some of their younger players to learn at the big-league level or continue in the minors. The two biggest choices will be Rizzo and Jackson. Rizzo, 22, struggled in his call-up last season, hitting .141/.281/.242 with a homer in 153 plate appearances, but that was as a 21-year-old in San Diego. LaHair may only have 65 games in the big leagues, but that doesn't make him young -- just inexperienced. LaHair turned 29 in November and spent eight years in the minors. He hit .288/.377/.508 in his 20 games with the Cubs last season, but he's hardly anyone's idea of a long-term solution. Epstein drafted Rizzo while with the Red Sox and then traded for him when he took over the Cubs. It's Rizzo's job to lose. Meanwhile, Byrd is in the last season of his three-year, $15 million contract, so he's more likely to get traded than to be unseated in spring. The 23-year-old Jackson put up a .297/.388/.551 line at Triple-A Iowa with 10 homers in just 48 games after being called up from Double-A. The team's first-round pick in the 2009 draft will have a chance to show he's big-league ready. If the team does go with Rizzo and Jackson, it could be a sign of the team's future and the patience that Chicago will show going forward.

Cincinnati Reds
Left field: Chris Heisey vs. Ryan Ludwick

The Reds signed Ludwick to a bargain deal, hoping he can find the stroke he left in St. Louis. The 33-year-old has always hit well at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, putting up a .276/.321/.600 stat line with nine homers in 30 games and 112 plate appearances in his new home park. Both Ludwick and Heisey are right-handed batters who fare better against right-handed pitchers. Ludwick is a career .272/.339/.464 hitter against righties and .237/.316/.435 against lefties. Heisey's split is more extreme -- .288/.346/.539 against right-handers and .180/.248/.300 against lefties. One thing that helps Ludwick's case may be Heisey's strength as a pinch-hitter. Last year the 27-year-old Heisey hit .324/.333/.529 with two homers as a pinch-hitter. There's another option here, as well. If Drew Stubbs struggles at the plate, Hesiey could be an option to play center alongside Ludwick in left. That's a remote possibility, though. The Reds are high on Stubbs' power/speed combination and he is an excellent defender in center.

Houston Astros
Third base: Brett Wallace vs. Chris Johnson vs. Jimmy Paredes

The fact that the Astros are looking to move Wallace to third base may tell you what they think of Johnson and Paredes. If Wallace shows he can play third, he's the likely favorite. Johnson struggled in 2011 after showing promise in 2010. Paredes hit .286/.320/.393 after taking over the position for the last two months of the season, but he's not seen as a long-term solution. Wallace could be.

Milwaukee Brewers
First base: Mat Gamel vs. himself

With Ryan Braun's status resolved, the Brewers don't really have many question marks. All five starters return, as do its closer and top set-up man. The lineup, with a platoon of Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan and newcomer Aramis Ramirez at third base seems pretty much set -- barring injury. The only hole is a big one -- the one left by first baseman Prince Fielder. The position is Mat Gamel's to lose. The 26-year-old played in just 10 games last season, getting 27 plate appearances. His only extensive big-league experience came in 2009 when he hit .242/.338/.422 with five homers, primarily playing third base. However, he's never been able to establish himself and after playing both third base and the outfield, he played primarily first base at Triple-A Nashville last season, while making six errors in 20 games at third base. He's a first baseman now and a first baseman only. He's hit  well at Triple-A, hitting .301/.374/.512 in parts of four seasons at the top level of the minors, hitting 28 home runs for Nashville last season. Gamel will probably start at first on opening day even if he struggles in spring, but right fielder Corey Hart could be used at first if Gamel struggles even more. The team did sign Japanese outfield Norichika Aoki, who could play right if Hart moves to first.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Third base: Pedro Alvarez vs. Casey McGehee

Acquiring the veteran McGehee from Milwaukee could be seen as a kick in the pants for the second-overall pick of the 2008 draft. Alvarez hit just .191/.272/.289 in 74 games last season and the team may be getting worried about whether he'll ever develop into the star as expected. McGehee is coming off a rough season of his own, hitting just .223/.280/.346 with 13 homers after hitting 23 homers and 104 RBI in 2010. McGehee was replaced by Jerry Hairston Jr. at third base during the playoffs and by former Pirate Aramis Ramirez after the season.

St. Louis Cardinals
Second base: Skip Schumaker vs. Daniel Descalso vs. Tyler Greene

General manager John Mozeliak has insinuated he'd like to see Greene win the job. The 28-year-old has yet to produce at the level expected of him, hitting just .218/.307/.313 in 150 games and 359 plate appearances. Descalso filled in for the injured David Freese last season and responded with a .264/.334/.353 line, while Schumaker is the incumbent having hit .283/.333/.351 while starting 89 games at second, but none in the World Series. All three have some positional versatility.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 9:23 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 9:40 pm
 

Brewers deal McGehee to Pirates



By Matt Snyder


On the day they learned Aramis Ramirez would be signing with them, the Brewers have now traded former third baseman Casey McGehee. He is headed to Pittsburgh in exchange for relief pitcher Jose Veras, the Pirates announced Monday night.

McGehee was likely to shift across the diamond and play first base, upon the arrival of Ramirez. Instead, he's out the door and headed elsewhere, and the Brewers will likely give Mat Gamel a full-time look to see if he sticks. He's yet to get an extended chance at the big-league level.

Brewers' offseason
Gamel, 26, hit .310/.372/.540 with 28 homers, 96 RBI and 90 runs in 128 Triple-A games last season. Of course, he's garnered 194 plate appearances over the past four major-league seasons and owns an MLB triple-slash line of .222/.309/.374. It could be that he's one of those "Quadruple-A players," who is really good in Triple-A but can't transition to the bigs, that he just needs time to develop in the bigs or that he's simply going to be one of those late bloomers (like Alex Gordon, though Gordon was much more heavily hyped in his younger years). We'll find out this season, unless the Brewers are able to afford Carlos Pena, which may be possible -- oh, and they're 100 percent out on Prince Fielder.

McGehee, 29, was a great find for the Brewers in 2009 and he had another good offensive year in 2010, but badly faltered last season. He hit just .223 with 13 homers and a brutal .280 on-base percentage. Still, if he rebounds to his 23-homer, 104-RBI form of 2010, this has a chance of helping the Pirates. He provides insurance in case Pedro Alvarez flops at third base again and also gives flexibility at first base, where the Pirates can use Garrett Jones, or play McGehee at first and use Jones in the outfield on occasion.

Veras, 31, is a 6-foot-6 right-hander. He had a 3.80 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 71 innings last season. He struck out 79 hitters, which is a great rate. The Brewers needed an arm in the bullpen after having lost both LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito in free agency.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 2:42 pm
 

If you need a third baseman, good luck



By Matt Snyder


Say what you will about Aramis Ramirez -- as many fans seem to have an extreme dislike of him for some reason -- but he was the only starting-caliber third baseman available this offseason.

No, Michael Cuddyer doesn't fit as an everyday third baseman. He played 14 games there in 2010 and zero last season. So he's not included in this discussion and it would be a huge reach to try and claim he is.

The best remaining free agent third baseman is Wilson Betemit. He is a pretty good hitter and is versatile, but he hasn't played in more than 97 games since 2007. And there's a reason he's played for six teams in nine seasons -- he's just not an everyday player.

Hot Stove Season
The other free agent third baseman? Yuck. Casey Blake, Eric Chavez, Greg Dobbs, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Omar Vizquel, Bill Hall, Jorge Cantu, Andy LaRoche and Alex Cora.

It's possible the Phillies trade Placido Polanco, as he's been mentioned in some light rumors, but would it really be a great idea to deal for a 35-year-old who had back issues last season? He's definitely in decline and has very little power.

So unless the Mets shock everyone and put David Wright up for sale, it would appear the guy currently atop the depth chart at third base for all 30 teams will remain there until opening day. The Tigers are probably stuck with Brandon Inge -- and maybe they just bring back Betemit and stick with the same situation as late last season. The Rockies will need to use internal options. The Marlins need to convince Hanley Ramirez he's happy at the hot corner. The Angels have to go with Alberto Callaspo or move Mark Trumbo across the diamond like they've discussed. And, yes, the Phillies are probably stuck with Polanco.

Put simply, the third base market this offseason consisted of one important name. And that name is now on a contract given by the Milwaukee Brewers.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 12:54 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Brewers land Aramis Ramirez with three-year deal



By Matt Snyder


Brewers fans are in need of good news, and it's possible this will suffice. Slugging third baseman Aramis Ramirez has signed a three-year deal with Milwaukee, pending a physical, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com has confirmed. The news was first reported by ESPN.com. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has learned the contract will be worth about $36 million.

Considering free agent Prince Fielder is headed elsewhere -- which is cemented with this signing -- and 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun will likely be serving a 50-game suspension to open the 2012 season, there was a gaping hole in the middle of the prospective opening-day roster for the defending NL Central champs. While Ramirez isn't anywhere close to being as good as Fielder or Braun in the batter's box, he's a bona fide cleanup hitter.

Brewers' offseason
Ramirez, 33, has been with the Cubs since a midseason trade back in 2003, so he's been a member of three NL Central division championship clubs. He hit .306/.361/.510 with 26 homers, 93 RBI and 35 doubles last season, winning a Silver Slugger award. He's a two-time All-Star and has garnered MVP votes in four different seasons. And playing for a contender was important, which Ramirez believes the Brewers are.

"That was one of his criteria," agent Paul Kinzer said, via the Associated Press. "There were about four teams that he liked that were contenders, and Milwaukee was at the top of his list."

The move rounds out the left side of the Brewers' infield, as they signed Alex Gonzalez to play shortstop last week. Casey McGehee will flip across the diamond and play first base, with Mat Gamel also being in the mix there as well.

Ramirez has played his entire 14-year career in the NL Central.

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 6:41 pm
 

Best free agents left after winter meetings



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The winter meetings are over and some of the biggest names on the free-agent market are off the table, but that doesn't mean the hot stove has died out. So, the day after Albert Pujols and the Angels shocked the baseball world, here's a look at the top five position players and pitchers left on the market:

Postition players

Prince Fielder1. Prince Fielder -- The 27-year-old Fielder is the biggest fish left on the market, averaging more than 38 home runs in his six full seasons in the big leagues and posting a .929 career OPS. Whoever lands Fielder will get a shot to the lineup. The knock is Fielder's weight and the length of a contract.

Possible landing spots: Brewers, Blue Jays, Cubs, Mariners, Marlins

Carlos Beltran2. Carlos Beltran -- Beltran's been a bit of a forgotten name in all the winter meetings talk. Beltran will be 35 in April and just finished a seven-year deal with the Mets. After being limited by injuries in his last two seasons, Beltran had a bounce-back year, hitting .300/.385/.525 with 22 homers and 84 RBI and doing that in two home ballparks not known to be friendly to hitters, Citi Field and AT&T Park. He can still play center field, but is probably better suited on a corner.

Possible landing spots: Cardinals, Nationals, Red Sox, Tigers, Braves, Mariners, Cubs

Aramis Ramirez3. Aramis Ramirez -- Even though he has 14 years in the big leagues under his belt, Ramirez is just 33 and coming off a .306/.361/.510 season with 26 homers and 93 RBI. A two-time All-Star, he's by far the best third baseman on the market -- and it's not even close.

Possible landing spots: Brewers, Phillies, Marlins

Michael Cuddyer4. Michael Cuddyer -- Cuddyer will be 33 in March and can play both the corner outfield and infield spots, offering teams a versatile player. He hit .284/.346/.459 with 20 homers last season and hit 32 homers in 2009 before the Twins moved to spacious Target Field. The Twins have reportedly already offered him a three-year deal, as have the Rockies.

Possible landing spots: Rockies, Twins, Phillies, Giants, Red Sox

Jimmy Rollins5. Jimmy Rollins -- It seems odd to consider the 2007 MVP in anything but a Phillies uniform, but Pujols is now in California, so anything's possible. Rollins' offensive numbers have dropped off since his MVP season, but he still plays a premium position -- and one a couple of teams need to fill. A three-time Gold Glove winner, Rollins turned 33 last month. If he re-signs with the Phillies, it could be his last contract. Rollins is reportedly searching for a five-year contract, a tactic that may scare away every team other than the Phillies.

Possible landing spots: Phillies, Cardinals

Pitchers

Yu Darvish1. Yu Darvish -- The 25-year-old Japanese right-hander will reportedly be posted and has been seen as perhaps the best starter available. There's no shortage of teams that could be interested in Darvish, but the history of recent big-ticket Japanese pitchers could scare off some suitors and keep the posting fee lower than expected. Once his team in Japan, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighers, accept the posting, the winning team still has to negotiate with Darvish. The posting system, though, gives a chance for a surprise team to emerge the winner.

Possible landing spots: Rangers, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Nationals, Royals

Hiroki Kuroda2. Hiroki Kuroda -- There's no question of how Kuroda will perform in the big leagues -- he's gone 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA in four seasons with the Dodgers. Kuroda had a 13-16 record in 2011, despite putting up just a 3.07 ERA. He told the team he wouldn't give up his no-trade protection at the trade deadline, but the Dodgers have already found replacements for him in the rotation. He has one offer on the table already from the Hiroshima Carp in Japan, but would make more money in the U.S.

Possible landing spots: Cubs, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Red Sox, Carp

Edwin Jackson3. Edwin Jackson -- The fact that Jackson has already played for six different teams and he's just 28 may raise some flags, but he's also had six teams want him at some point and for good reason. Although Jackson has battled inconsistency, he's still had results at times. He was 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA for the Cardinals and White Sox last season. He's not a No. 1, but he's younger than some of the other second-tier starters on the market, increasing his value.

Possible landing spots: Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Cubs, Royals, Nationals, Pirates, Rockies, Orioles

Ryan Madson4. Ryan Madson -- Even though there were reports the right-hander had agreed to return to the Phillies earlier this offseason, the team turned to Jonathan Papelbon instead. The Red Sox, who along with the Reds, are still searching for a closer could end up signing Madson and seem the best fit. In his firs tseason as the Phillies' closer, Madson recorded 32 saves, going 4-2 with a 2.37 ERA, striking out 62 batters in 60 2/3 innings.

Possible landing spots: Red Sox, Reds, Phillies

Francisco Cordero5. Francisco Cordero -- Like Madson, Cordero seems to be on the outside of the closer game of musical chairs. The Red Sox and Reds are the only team left looking for a closer. The Reds were interested in bringing back Cordero with a discount after declining their $12 million option on the 36-year-old right-hander. Cordero converted 37 saves last season and 150 in four years in Cincinnati.

Possible landing spots: Red Sox, Reds, Twins

Follow all the free agent moves with the CBSSports.com Free Agent Tracker 

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Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:00 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 8:21 pm
 

MLB Winter Meetings rumors: Monday

By Matt Snyder

Hot Stove Season
DALLAS -- We're live from the media room, lobby or anywhere else in the Dallas Hilton for Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings. Tons of rumors are going to be circulating throughout the meetings for the next four days, so we'll keep this as a landing spot for anything and everything. Check back for updates all day Monday. We'll timestamp updates made after the initial post.

Pujols

CBSSports.com's Scott Miller writes that the Cardinals are making every effort to get free agent superstar Albert Pujols signed.

Fielder

Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com blogged last night that the Brewers were finally feeling a bit optimistic their chances to keep free agent first baseman Prince Fielder. The Nationals are one name that have been thrown into Fielder rumors, but the Washington beat writers -- including MLB.com's Bill Ladson -- are reporting that Fielder is not a target. The Nats are reportedly content to use Adam LaRoche at first base and Mike Morse in left field, with Morse a backup option at first.

12:50 p.m. ET: MASN.com reports that the Orioles do have interest in Fielder, but general manager Dan Duquette doesn't want fans to get their hopes up just yet.

1:00 p.m. ET: Jon Heyman adds that the O's interest in Fielder is owner Peter Angelos' "secret mandate."

2:03 p.m. ET: Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com reports the interest in Fielder is not heavy and his name didn't even come up during the Orioles' morning briefing.

Phillies, Rollins, Ramirez, Polanco

• While the Phillies have not rushed to sign starting pitcher Cole Hamels to a contract extension -- he's due to be a free agent after the 2012 season -- there is a strong expectation from both sides that a deal gets done eventually, reports Knobler.

• The Phillies are strong players for free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez, reports Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post. MLB.com's Todd Zolecki confirmed the interest, but surmises Ramirez is merely a backup plan in case the Phillies can't retain shortstop Jimmy Rollins. On Rollins, his options could be dwindling. ESPN.com's Buster Olney is reporting that the Phillies' only competition for Rollins are Milwaukee and St. Louis.

1:05 p.m. ET: Knobler reports the Brewers are in on everyone at shortstop and third base, but not far along in negotiations.

12:57 p.m. ET: Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports the Phillies are actively shopping third baseman Placido Polanco. Dealing him would free up a spot for Ramirez.

2:35 p.m. ET: Rollins' agent -- Dan Lozano -- met with Phillies officials last night and talks "did not go well at all," according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. The report indicates Rollins and Lozano are not backing down from the intially requested five-year contract.

3:18 p.m. ET: Miller reports the Phillies are "definitely" in on Ramirez, but that the Angels (and "others") are also very interested.

5:38 p.m. ET: General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said "honestly, there is no rush to do anything," on the Rollins situation (Matt Gelb).

6:23 p.m. ET: Ramirez wants to play for a winner and has interest from the Phillies, Brewers and Angels, tweets Knobler, but nothing is close yet. The Tigers haven't shown serious interest in Ramirez, either, and probably won't at all, Knobler also notes.

Royals, Angels, Gio Gonzalez

• While they are "downplaying it," the Royals would trade closer Joakim Soria for starting pitching help, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. This makes sense after the signing of Jonathan Broxton, and we also know the Royals badly wanted to upgrade their rotation. Sherman also notes the Royals would talk about Greg Holland, who posted a 1.80 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 60 innings last year.

2:05 p.m. ET: Heyman reports Gio Gonzalez is one target of the Royals, also noting that highly-touted Royals prospect Wil Meyers is quite popular among opposing teams.

2:50 p.m. ET: Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com says that an executive from an "AL West rival" of the A's believes Gonzalez will be traded.

2:10 p.m. ET: Perhaps the Angels are a match with the Royals? Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports the Angels are seeking help in the back-end of the bullpen, "specifically [an] experienced closer."

7:25 p.m. ET: Scott Miller confirms the report that the Royals like Gonzalez. Miller also learned the Royals are looking for a utility infielder who can play both second and third base.

Willingham

• Nine teams have called on free agent outfielder Josh Willingham, including the Twins, Red Sox, Indians and Reds, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.

4:26 p.m. ET: The Rays are "making a serious run" at Willingham, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. Rosenthal tweets that the Rays aren't close, but are one of the three to four finalists to land Willingham.

Indians

1:04 p.m. ET: The Indians are in on every free agent first baseman other than Fielder and Pujols, reports Heyman, who specifically named Casey Kotchman as being on the Cleveland radar.

Buehrle

2:01 p.m. ET: Coveted free agent starting pitcher Mark Buehrle has been connected to over a dozen suitors. Knobler reports that the left-hander has not eliminated any teams from consideration and is not close to a decision.

4:51 p.m. ET: Rosenthal reports that the Nationals, Marlins, Rangers and Twins are after Buehrle, but that the Twins offer isn't as strong as the others.

Braves

2:06 p.m. ET: Sherman reports that the Braves are one of the teams waiting for free agents Buehrle and C.J. Wilson to sign -- because the Braves will then see if the trade interest in Jair Jurrjens picks up.

Twins, Capps, Rangers, David Murphy

2:42 p.m. ET: The Twins have asked the Rangers about the availability of David Murphy, tweets ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. Rosenthal countered by saying the Rangers are "reluctant to compromise outfield depth."

6:57 p.m. ET: The Twins have re-signed Matt Capps. Full story.

Dodgers, Harang, Hairston

3:29 p.m. ET: The Dodgers are making progress on signing free agent starting pitcher Aaron Harang. Full story.

6:06 p.m. ET: The Dodgers have signed Jerry Hairston. Full story.

Wilson

4:45 p.m. ET: C.J. Wilson has a six-year offer from a team other than the Rangers, reports Jeff Wilson. MLB Trade Rumors notes the Rangers, Angels, Nationals, Marlins and that dreaded "mystery team" are currently in the mix for Wilson's services. If he comes off the market, expect the heat to increase on the already-beloved Mark Buehrle. The two are easily the best left-handed starters out there.

Dotel

6:58 p.m. ET: The teams interested in relief pitcher Octavio Dotel are the Reds, Cardinals, Brewers, Tigers and Mets, reports Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.

Astros

7:23 p.m. ET: The Astros are looking to trade veterans Brett Myers and Carlos Lee. Scott Miller has the full story.

Giants

7:26 p.m. ET: Miller has learned the Giants are willing to trade infielder Jeff Keppinger, outfielder Andres Torres and relief pitcher Ramon Ramirez.

Hat-tip: MLB Trade Rumors

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