Tag:Evan Brunell
Posted on: November 13, 2011 9:13 pm

Melvin 'might' talk to Boras on Fielder


By Evan Brunell

While Brewers GM Doug Melvin said he "might" meet with superagent Scott Boras and discuss parameters around Prince Fielder, he acknowledged that there was pretty much no way the first baseman would be back in town.

“Things have changed since two years ago," Melvin told Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "We had an opportunity (to sign Fielder) and couldn’t do it. We gave money to other players who were going to be free agents. Markets can change from year to year, too.

“It takes time to see how the market develops. You never know how it’s going to play out. You don’t get a lot of information from agents at this point. They’ll listen but you don’t get a lot of direction from them.”

The Brewers offered Fielder a five-year, $100 million contract in spring of 2010, but never heard back from Fielder or his agents. Since then, there has been zero dialogue. In the meantime, the Brewers' finances changed, as it inked second baseman Rickie Weeks, right fielder Corey Hart and starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo to long-term deals. They also extended left fielder Ryan Braun for essentially the same amount of money offered to Fielder -- five years and $105 million, slated to kick in for the 2015 season. In addition, they traded for Zack Greinke, who makes good money and is a free agent after next season. Then of course, there are arbitration cased to consider. The takeaway? The money isn't there for Fielder anymore.

“It’s simple math,” said Melvin of a payroll that would inch over $70 million with half the roster to complete. The Brewers had a payroll around $95 million this past season, where they aim to remain. No Fielder, and more importantly, no big-ticket free agent. With that little flexibility, it's difficult to comprehend how Milwaukee could take on Jose Reyes without trading away another player. 

Melvin said he doesn't have any plans to tender an offer for Fielder, and if there was any offer, it would come after Fielder and Boras tested the market to know exactly what type of contract would work for Milwaukee. If Fielder does leave, and it's more like when, Melvin tabs minor-league first baseman Mat Gamel as someone who has been getting internal support to replace Fielder at first. The 26-year-old failed as a third baseman, necessitating the shift. He's had small stints with the Brewers the last four seasons, getting 61 of 85 games in 2009, when he hit .242/.338/.422.

He appears to be ready for prime time after slashing .310/.372/.540 with 28 homers in Triple-A after a successful move to first in expectation of losing Fielder. It's possible, if not likely, the club will bring in a solid veteran to complement Gamel and, if needed, step in to replace him. But Milwaukee don't need Fielder because it already has his replacement.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: November 13, 2011 7:03 pm

Red Sox give Dale Sveum second interview

By Evan Brunell

The Red Sox will interview Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum a second time, Fox Sports reports.

Sveum is one of five finalists for the Red Sox job and is thought to be the most favored candidate. No other managerial candidate is known to have received a second interview, although that could change. Also in the running is Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr.,Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont, Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo and  Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin.

Sveum will meet with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and ownership in Milwaukee on Tuesday, the first day of the GM meetings. The owner meetings follow later in the week.

It's possible Boston could hire Sveum by week's end, especially if it feels pressured by the Cubs. Chicago also has Sveum high on its list to be the next manager. Sveum's stiffest competition in Chicago looks to be Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux. Ex-Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who lost out on the Cardinals job to Mike Matheny, is not currently under consideration for the Cubs job, sources say.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: November 13, 2011 5:37 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 5:37 pm

Wilson Ramos to play Wednesday in Venezuela

RamosBy Evan Brunell

Despite recently being abducted by kidnappers and safely rescued by police this past week, Wilson Ramos intends to suit up for a Venezuelan baseball team on Wednesday, MASN writes.

Citing a tweet from Ramos' PR representative, Marfa Mata, Ramos will make his winterball debut on Wednesday and intends to play in at least a few games to show the fans his appreciation for their support during his abduction.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 13, 2011 5:25 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 6:05 pm

Report of Reyes signing with Marlins premature

ReyesBy Evan Brunell

Despite a report by SiriusXM's Dino Costa saying Mets shortstop Jose Reyes was a Miami Marlin, CBSSports.com's Scott Miller reports that no deal has been reached yet, according to sources. Costa has already backed off his report, saying that Reyes will only be a Marlin provided Hanley Ramirez agrees to move to third base.

Earlier reports did have Reyes closing in on a deal with the Marlins, who have come out guns ablazing as they move into their new stadium next season. However, for Reyes to sign so quickly would be premature, and Miller notes that while the Marlins really want Reyes, Miami has not closed in on any deal.

For Reyes to sign with the Marlins, a spot at shortstop needs to be freed up. That's where Ramirez comes in, who has to agree to move to third -- or possibly center field -- to make room for Reyes. Earlier this week, Ramirez did not sound keen on making such a move.

Reyes hit .337/.384/.493 in 126 games for the Mets in 2011, missing time with hamstring issues but still swiping 39 stolen bases.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: November 13, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 6:17 pm

Baseball's worst contracts, zombie-style

Werth, zombie

By Evan Brunell

What are the worst contracts in baseball?

Some of them are pretty easy. The names of Vernon Wells and Barry Zito, for example, have been synonymous with horrible contracts. Others aren't as easy to ferret out, but here's one man's look at the 10 worst contracts currently in baseball. To help us figure out which contracts are awful, I turned to a TV show that knows all about things awful: The Walking Dead. Because obviously, trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world is completely comparable to the onerous contracts some teams are saddled with.

There are three categories below, inspired by scenes from The Walking Dead that are linked for your viewing enjoyment and quotes, which aren't necessarily tied to the scene in the video. (Don't worry, no spoilers, but if you haven't seen the most recent episode, skip the scene in the last category anyways.) Be warned: If you are squeamish, it's best if you don't click through. Unless you're interested in giving your wastebasket the remnants of your most recent meal.


Walking Dead scene
"It's a waste of time, all this hoping and praying." -- Daryl (season 2, episode 2)

These players are nearing the end of their awful deals, like a zombie with no legs. Just like a zombie with no legs would keep crawling along trying to eat humans alive, so do these players keep on kicking. While their contracts don't look too bad given they're of the short-term variety at this point, there's no denying that these players are still of the undead. The years remaining on the contract to qualify for this list is two or less seasons. Also, this list does not include players who were released and are still owed money, such as Aaron Rowand, due $13.6 million by the Giants in 2012.

BayJason Bay, Mets
Contract: 4 years, $66 million, $16.5 million AAV. Remaining: 2 years, $39.25 million (includes 2014's $3 million buyout)

The Red Sox thought they had Bay locked up to a deal to stay in town, but Bay balked at medical contingencies in the contract, designed to protect Boston in case Bay's knees went. That allowed the Mets to swoop in on a deal they quickly regretted, as Bay's bat vanished in Citi Field, then struggled with concussions as his batting line in 2011 sank all the way to .245/.329/.374 with 12 homers in 509 plate appearances. Even though the club is set to move in its fences, it's tough to see Bay bouncing back and earning the rest of his deal which could potentially stretch through 2014. If Bay can reach 500 PA in 2012 and '13 -- a cinch as long as he stays relatively healthy, or 600 PAs in 2013, a $17 million club option vests. That would make this deal look even worse.

LeeCarlos Lee, Astros
Contract: 6 years, $100 million, $16.67 million AAV. Remaining: 1 year, $19 million

The Astros' impending move to the AL East for the 2013 season is coming one year too late. Lee's contract is finally due to expire next season, and one has to imagine that Lee will be the last man in a long time to receive $100-plus million for being such a one-dimensional slugger that can't even hit bombs anymore unless the Crawford boxes in left help him out. At this point, Lee is taking up space that could be better allocated to young players on a rebuilding club. Lee should have been dumped in a deal by now, but he has no interest in leaving Houston and has no-trade rights.

SantanaJohan Santana, Mets
Contract: 6 years, $137.5 million, $22.9 million AAV. Remaining: 2 years, $55 million (includes 2014's $5.5 million buyout)

Santana's never really bandied about as a person with a lousy contract, but the numbers are simply stunning. After the Mets gave up a bounty (of nothingness, as it turned out) to acquire the best starter in the game from the Twins way back in 2008, Santana has given the Mets one season of transcendence. Since then, it's been a whole bunch of injuries, causing the lefty to sit out all of 2011. That means over the last three seasons, Santana's contributed just 54 starts. And it gets worse, as his deal is backloaded for an incredible $55 million coming the next two years, and no guarantee Santana can even approximate the pitcher he once was after undergoing surgery to repair an anterior capsule tear in his left shoulder. New York holds a $25 million option for 2014 that can become guaranteed based on innings pitched and finish in award voting.

ZitoBarry Zito, Giants
Contract: 7 years, $126 million, $18 million AAV. Remaining: 2 years, $46 million (includes 2014's $7 million buyout)

This contract is so bad, even the buyout of Zito's team option in 2014 is horrible. The Giants might be paying Zito $7 million simply to go away. Being paid like an ace, he's been the team's No. 5 starter the last two season and will hold that role again in 2012. The selling point to Zito, despite the regression back to being a league-average player, is the fact he can chew up innings. One problem: the 2014 option vests automatically if Zito pitches at least 200 innings in 2013 or 400 between 2012-13. That's very feasible if the Giants keep him on his regular turn through the rotation, so he might have $18 million in 2014 headed his way.


Walking Dead scene
"You don't know what it's like out there. You may think you do but you don't. It's only a matter of time. There's too many of those things. My boy, my wife, I never told them what I really thought. I never even hinted, just, just kept it in, kept us moving, kept it in, kept us moving." -- Rick (season 1, episode 6)

Little girls are cute... except when they're trying to tear your flesh off. Just as in the Walking Dead, baseball has its share of onerous, undead contracts that once looked pretty but now eat up as much payroll space as they can. Here are the worst deals left with less than five years remaining.

LackeyJohn Lackey, Red Sox
: 5 years, $82.5 million, $16.5 million average annual value (AAV). Remaining: 3 years, $47.85 million

Even though he has yet to reach the halfway mark of his deal, this contract already ranks as one of the worst in baseball history. The Red Sox thought they were getting a fiery, innings-eating No. 2 starter. Instead, what they've received is one of the worst pitchers in the game who shows up his teammates on the field. And now he'll be missing all of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery. That means, through three years of the deal, Lackey will have given Boston a 5.26 ERA in 61 starts. The only saving value to this deal is the surgery will kick in an additional year at the league minimum Lackey must play at, which will drag down his AAV and give Boston a couple extra million below the luxury tax to play with.

SorianoAlfonso Soriano, Cubs
Contract: 8 years, $136 million, $17 million AAV. Remaining: 3 years, $57 million

Soriano has kept up his home-run production since moving to Chicago, but his bat has slowed to the point where he's lucky if he cracks the .250 barrier in batting average. That wouldn't be such a big deal if the man knew how to take a walk once in a while, but he doesn't, as evidenced by his .289 OBP. New Cubs president Theo Epstein is going to be taking a lot of heart medicine these next three seasons as he watches Soriano clank balls in left field and stifle rallies with his inability to draw a walk. The Cubs appear as if they're going to enter a retooling period, so at least Soriano isn't holding them back from contending. But then again, that's exactly what he's done to Chicago the last couple years.
WellsVernon Wells, Angels
Contract: 7 years, $126 million, $18 million AAV. Remaining: 3 years, $72.96 million

Patience, Jerry Dipoto. Just keep telling yourself it's just three years. Dipoto, the new Angels GM, will have a challenge to build a winning club that includes Wells and his yoke of a contract that doesn't even tell the full story. For crying out loud, Wells is slated to receive $24.6 million each of the next three seasons. For comparison, only Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Howard will earn more on a AAV basis than Wells will receive through the end of his contract. Back when the deal was signed, Wells was poised to be one of the best players in the game moving forward. Now? He's essentially Alfonso Soriano, but with a much worse deal. How someone can have an OBP under .250 and still collect over 500 plate appearances is baffling. It will be a shock if Wells can finish out the deal without being released.


Walking Dead scene
"Good thing we didn't do anything stupid like shoot it." -- T-Dog being sarcastic (season 2, episode 4)

These contracts are the worst of the worst. It's almost like being a zombie stuck in a water well for weeks, then finally getting dragged out of the well only to split in half and spew its guts everywhere. In other words, fans of these teams have nothing but good things to look forward to.

HowardRyan Howard, Phillies
Contract: 5 years, $125 million, $25 million AAV. Remaining: This deal kicks in for 2012.

Howard was once a very, very good player that had his career held back due to the presence of Jim Thome in town. When he finally earned the right to play every day, he started mashing and just wouldn't stop. So what did GM Ruben Amaro do? Simple. He gave Ryan Howard one of the richest deals in baseball history... two full seasons before it was set to kick in. And what's happened in those two full years? Well, Howard's essentially become a platoon player who can't field and whose bat has slowed to the point where he can't be considered an elite first baseman anymore. And this is someone who will miss the beginning of 2012 thanks to an Achilles tear that could torpedo his career. His lucrative contract, which will leave him behind just Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez for the highest AAV in baseball history, is just beginning. By the way, he has a 2017 team option for $23 million that will hand him a whopping $10 million in a buyout.

RodriguezAlex Rodriguez, Yankees
Contract: 10 years, $275 million $27.5 million AAV. $30 million due if he hits home-run milestones. Remaining: 6 years, $143 million (plus milestones)

There's no question Rodriguez has been a fantastic player, steroids or not, and he'll retire as one of the best players in the game of baseball. But his 10-year deal with the Yankees was silly when it was signed and it's even sillier now. Coming off what A-Rod called the worst season of his career, the Yankees are suddenly staring at $143 million over the next six years being given to a DH who is lucky if he can reach 30 home runs and 100 RBI. Rodriguez is simply not the same player he once was, and instead of being in his own class these days, he's now merely "very good." And you don't want "very good" from a player earning millions through age 42.

WerthJayson Werth, Nationals
Contract: 7 years, $126 million, $18 million AAV. Remaining: 6 years, $115.4 million

Here's one number to avoid in baseball: 126. That's exactly how much money (in millions, of course) Zito and Wells are receiving to be money drains for the club. And now Werth gets to be a money drain, and he still has so much more due to him after playing 2011 at $10.6 million. You can't blame Werth, who also (of course) has a no-trade clause, for accepting such a deal. It was obviously a gross overpayment that no one was going to match, but it's hard to envision what the Nats were thinking. Yes, they wanted to make a statement. But was someone set to play 2011 at age 32  with notable platoon splits really the man to make a splash with? The right fielder will likely bounce back from his .232/.330/.389 line set in his first year with Washington, but he will never justify this contract.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
The Walking Dead photo courtesy the show's download page available to public.
Posted on: November 13, 2011 1:02 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 9:44 am

Baseball on verge of labor agreement

By Evan Brunell

Baseball is nearing agreement on a new labor agreement, Fox Sports reports.

Despite assurances all season that the labor negotiations were going smoothly and could be wrapped up in time for the World Series, that did not happen. One of the biggest sticking points has been commissioner Bud Selig's adamance that the amateur draft have a slotting system. Players viewed a slotting system, which would limit the amount of dollars drafted players could sign for depending on where they were picked, as a form of a salary cap.

However, it appears that both sides are closing in on a resolution with the draft process. The deal is "expected to include significant restraints on the amount of money teams spend on draft picks and significant changes in draft-pick compensation for free agents," writes Ken Rosenthal. Previous reports had something akin to a luxury tax being in place for the draft class, something ESPN's Buster Olney confirmed Monday.

While teams can still spend as much as they want on the draft, clubs will be taxed for going over a certain amount of dollars based on a 10-round ceiling. If a team surpasses the ceiling one time, it will be taxed money. A second time would cost a top draft pick. In addition, first-round compensation is expected to disappear, which no longer cause teams to lose their first-round pick due to signing a top free agent. If it goes into effect for 2012, the Phillies will benefit by signing closer Jonathan Papelbon and keeping its pick.

Olney characterized talks as at "the 10-yard line," so we could hear something by the end of Monday.

The changes sound good -- in theory. But restricting the earnings of amateur players will only push them to other sports, plus it's not as if the Yankees have been dominating draft spending in recent years. The Pirates spent the most on the 2011 draft, setting records in the process. The record Pittsburgh passed was not the Yankees, though. It was the Nationals. Other teams passed Washington's old record in 2011 too, including the Nationals themselves, Royals, Cubs and Diamondbacks. The Rays, Mariners, Padres, Blue Jays and Red Sox were the only other teams to top $10 million in spending.

And a luxury tax is supposed to be good for the draft class? It's hard to envision that. Not only would a luxury tax scare away teams who don't have large revenue, it opens up the field for teams do have such revenue to pay over and above the tax because they can afford it. Selig's goals make some sense, but in practice they could be disastrous.

There's no word on when a new CBA would be announced, but it could happen as early as Sunday or Monday. Both sides are scrambling to have something in place before the GM meetings start on Tuesday -- and especially before owners meetings on Thursday. The union is meeting with player agents Monday through Wednesday, so there is motivation to get something done, fast. Aside from the draft issue, Rosenthal writes that there are other "significant" issues that could delay completion of the CBA, but that a new agreement will be in place well before the previous agreement expires on Dec. 11.

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Posted on: November 13, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 6:30 pm

Alex Rodriguez looking to return to form


By Evan Brunell

It had to happen at some point, and it happened last season.

Alex Rodriguez failed to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs for just the second time in his entire career, the only other time coming in 1997 in his second full season in the majors.

It was "the worst year of my career," Rodriguez told the New York Post. "Close to embarrassing."

Rodriguez refused to make any excuses about his lack of production, even though he never seemed right all year, especially after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee in July. When Rodriguez returned, his power decided to stay at home. In the first half, A-Rod clubbed 13 homers, hitting .295/.366/.485 in 80 games. After the All-Star break, though, Rodriguez could only appear in 19 games and hit a paltry .191/.345/.353. That would seem to point toward his knee being a problem.

“There is no secret that I am getting older,” Rodriguez said, batting the concerns aside. “But when I come in fit, ready and motivated, then age is just a number. … There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I will be myself, like always.”

Can Rodriguez really say anything else? Do you really expect Rodriguez to admit he's getting older and may not be the person he once was? No. Rodriguez has been one of the best players of this generation, and you don't get to that point without hard work and confidence enhancing your natural talent. Rodriguez isn't going to give up and assume his glory days are behind him, same as Jeter. Rodriguez is going to bust his tail to improve as much as he can. But what's interesting is that Rodriguez's season may have arguably outperformed his 2010 season, except without the identifying numbers of 30-100 to tout.

Baseball has seen a major shift toward dominant pitching over the last two seasons. While the year 2010 was popularized as the Year of the Pitcher due to the numerous no-hitters (and a perfect game that needed 28 outs), 2011 was just as favorable to pitchers. The advanced statistic titled weighted Runs Created plus, or wRC+, says Rodriguez actually had a better year in 2011 than 2010. The statistic essentially takes all of a player's offensive value -- hits, home runs, doubles, walks, and so forth -- and encapsulates it in one statistic that is also adjusted for parks and leagues, allowing for accurate comparison off of different seasons. For example, wRC+ would allow you to see just how good Ted Williams was as compared to Barry Bonds today, even though both players played in different eras.

Rodriguez's wRC+ for 2011 was 125, meaning he created 25 percent more runs than the league-average player. Last year, Rodriguez hit for a bit more power and played in 38 more games, so his counting statistics are obviously higher. However, A-Rod walked less in 2010 than he did in 2011, and that makes a difference, and that's why his wRC+ is two points lower. The aim of any player is to not make outs, and Rodriguez did that better in 2011 than in 2010, even if his overall power numbers dipped. And as we've seen, the knee may be the culprit of that power dip.

Of course, two points difference in wRC+ is not that much, so we can safely say that Rodriguez essentially repeated 2010 -- with a knee injury destroying the second half of his season. So Rodriguez may be right about the fact he'll be his old self in 2012 -- because his old self never really disappeared. But don't tell that to A-Rod, who said he expects himself to be one of the biggest acquisitions the 2012 Yankees could make.

“The Yankees made two big moves this offseason,” Rodriguez said. “Keeping CC, and I expect to be who I have been in the past.”

Rodriguez is so determined to right the wrong of 2011 -- and admits he still has trouble sleeping because New York could have won the World Series -- that he's starting his workout program three weeks earlier, focusing his attention to start on his right knee, affected by the torn meniscus. His goal is to drop five pounds and improve "functional movement," in which he is lighter and more agile. This is a mantra he followed in previous seasons, citing his first two seasons in New York of 2007-08 as the "best years of my career" as proof that "functional movement" can work. (This time is before he admitted using steroids as a Ranger, but supposedly, he was not using during his time in New York.)

The Yankees really need Rodriguez to show he's his normal self next season, in no small part due to the massive dollars left on his deal. Rodriguez still has a whopping six years and $143 million on his pact, and this is a man who will enter the 2012 season as a 36-year-old. Even for the Yankees, that's a massive investment in an aging player who may not be long for third base. But Rodriguez is well aware of all this and intends to continue being an asset on defense at third base.

“The standard is always 30-100, and no question I can perform at a really high level," Rodriguez said. "I am clear of my role and importance to the team and what I need to do to help us win.”

MORE: Rodriguez among baseball's 10 worst contracts

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Posted on: November 12, 2011 10:17 pm

Cardinals won't up offer to Pujols


By Evan Brunell

The St. Louis Cardinals don't intend to up their spring-training offer to Albert Pujols anytime soon, SI.com's Jon Heyman reports.

In spring training, the Cardinals made an offer in which Pujols would have re-upped for about nine years and $210 million. Pujols rejected the offer and closed negotiations, and there was speculation that Pujols was not particularly happy with the organization. But this isn't really a surprise. That offer is still extremely competitive, with a $23.3 million annual salary that stretches across nine years. That's a very long investment for a baseball player.

Right now, only the Marlins are thought to be the other team with an offer out to Pujols. While it may well be competitive, that's not known just yet. Either way, whatever Miami submits likely will not be significantly more than St. Louis' offer. Until there are more details, more teams enter the fray and talks advance a bit deeper, there is no rush for the Cardinals to up their deal. When it comes time, though, it's difficult to imagine St. Louis not increasing their offer.

The Cardinals also made other news Saturday when GM John Mozeliak said he has Daniel Descalso projected to be the starting second baseman next season, as he tells Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

If so, this means that Skip Schumaker's time with St. Louis may be drawing to a close. Schumaker is not a particularly good defender at second base, having come up through the organization as an outfielder, debuting in 2005 and then making the switch for 2009. However, his offense has tailed off dramatically the last two seasons, and with a rising salary, Schumaker is expendable. The 25-year-old Descalso got a ton of playing time this past season, eating up a lot of time at third base when David Freese was injured.

Descalso hit .264/.334/.353, which is as good as Schumaker did and comes with a better glove and cheaper salary. Really, it's a no-brainer to non-tender Schumaker no matter what and go with Descalso if you don't find an upgrade in free agency or the trade market. Mozeliak also said he would be comfortable with Tyler Greene at shortstop, assuming they don't address their shortstop hole via other avenues. Greene is best used as a backup, and it's tough to see the Cardinals leaving short alone. But Descalso gives Mozeliak the ability to worry about other positions, knowing he will be a capable second baseman if they need him come Opening Day.

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