Tag:Evan Brunell
Posted on: November 9, 2011 8:08 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 8:09 pm
 

Mariners seek a pitcher -- could it be Moyer?

MoyerBy Evan Brunell

The Mariners hope to bring in just one starting pitcher this offseason, leaving Seattle enough time to worry about how to upgrade its offense, Fox Sports writes.

The Mariners are set with Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda topping the rotation. In addition, despite Jason Vargas having a poor second half, it appears he will be back in Seattle for another season. Add in Blake Beavan, who had a solid debut last season in 15 starts, and four rotation spots are taken care of. That leaves just one more spot to go, but Seattle isn't keen on plugging that spot up for several years as three prospects in particular are nearing major-league readiness.

Given the presence of James Paxton, Danny Hultzen and Forrest Snow, who broke out last season after being taken in the 36th round of the 2010 draft, the M's will try to sign someone on a one-year deal. Fox Sports notes Jamie Moyer (pictured) as a potential fit. Moyer spent much of his productive career in Seattle, and the veteran could be a good stopgap until the pitchers on the farm are deemed ready. It's surprising that Seattle may not want someone more established given it is difficult to view Blake Beavan as a pitcher worthy of blocking another, but the Mariners are keen on giving Beavan a shot given he was part of the Cliff Lee trade in 2010.

The Mariners were the league's worst offense in both 2010 and 2011, and historically will rank among the worst of all time. Seattle needs to focus all its energies on finding offense where they can get it in free agency and trades. GM Jack Zduriencik drafted Prince Fielder in Milwaukee and saw him develop into a star, so there have been rumors that the Mariners could go after Fielder.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 9, 2011 7:57 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 10:39 am
 

Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos kidnapped

RamosBy Evan Brunell

Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped, the Denver Post's bilingual website, VivaColorado.com, reports, with other media sources corroborating the news.

According to El Nacional, Ramos was approached by four gunmen outside his home and taken away. A source said that the kidnappers have yet to contact the family, but El Universal says the "Body of Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations" arm of the government has already set up operations at Ramos' home.

El Universal adds that Ramos was taken away in a green car. (UPDATE: The car has been found about an hour away from the where the abduction took place. And the kidnappers still have yet to contact the Ramos family).

Ramos hails from Venezuela, where there is a significant problem with kidnapping. Generally, these crimes are for money and Ramos was a logical target, given that his success in the majors earned him the right to a league-minimum contract, which was $414,500 in 2011. That's a lot of money to most people, especially in Venezuela.

Kidnappings are becoming more and more popular in Venezuela as a way to make money. Many kidnappings are called "express" kidnappings, as the Post writes. This type of kidnapping is when armed men drive a victim around until a ransom is paid.

A U.S. Department of State crime safety report says “groups that specialize in these types of crimes operate with impunity or fear of incarceration.”

Ramos had been planning on playing in around 10 games with the Tigres de Aragua, part of the Venezuelan Winter League, the Washington Post writes. Other Nationals are also in the country to play in the VWL, although none of them were going to be teammates with Ramos.

The 24-year-old just completed his rookie season with Washington, hitting .267/.334/.445 in 435 plate appearances, slugging 15 homers. The righty supplanted Ivan Rodriguez as the starting catcher early on and is expected to start at catcher next season.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: November 7, 2011 2:51 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2011 4:01 pm
 

Trade will help Giants, Royals in free agency

Reyes

By Evan Brunell


Both the Giants and Royals addressed areas of need in a swap that sent Melky Cabrera to San Francisco in exchange for Jonathan Sanchez. And, on the surface, the deal will also allow both sides to strengthen their ability to sign high-ticket free agents. Though inside sources say the Giants may not have as much financial clout as it appears.

Now that San Francisco has brought in Cabrera, the club has crossed off one item on their to-do list and cleared up a logjam in the rotation. While the Giants may still yet pursue additional outfield help, it has more money to work with to address the club's most glaring need: shortstop. The position was a black hole last season, and with no semblance of help arriving soon from the minors, the club has to play in free agency for a shortstop. It's uncertain, though, as to whether they could pick up the price tag of a Jose Reyes (pictured), Jimmy Rollins or even a Rafael Furcal.

It's simple economics. The Giants' three top priorities this offseason was to find two outfielders and a shortstop. Now they've found one outfielder without bumping their payroll up. Instead of having a certain amount of dollars to spread among three areas of need, now it's between two areas of need. And, on the bright side, the Giants will be freed from the expiring contracts of Aubrey Huff (free agent after 2012), Aaron Rowand (who has already been released, but is still due $13.6 million in 2012) and Barry Zito (done after 2013 with a $7 million buyout in 2014).


Hot Stove Season
The Royals also benefit from this deal, but in a different way. If Kansas City wants to be taken seriously by free agents, it has to show a commitment to improving the club. While the club did delete Cabrera from the team, they opened up center field for prospect Lorenzo Cain, who was part of the Zack Greinke trade prior to the 2011 season. Where the major improvement comes is in the rotation, which had the fourth-worst rotation in baseball last season with zero upside. When Luke Hochevar starts on Opening Day, there's a problem.

Sanchez's arrival will deepen the rotation, which you can bet free agents will notice. C.J. Wilson may be one such person, who will attract attention from many teams as one of the top starters on the market. Kansas City is expected to be involved, and the acquisition of Sanchez should help Wilson be more confident in the direction the Royals are taking. Wilson can look ahead at the incoming crop of elite pitching prospects and see the potential for a deep, devastating rotation. The Royals can also entice Wilson or another pitcher to town by contending that the acquisitions of two starters will allow the team to trade some of its minor-league pitching talent to further bolster the club, which GM Dayton Moore has alluded to be working toward.

Incidentially, my free-agency predictions had Reyes to the Giants and Wilson to the Royals. After this trade, these predictions are looking more and more realistic.

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


Posted on: November 7, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2011 3:09 pm
 

Giants, Royals exchange risky players in deal

Sanchez

By Evan Brunell


The Royals have acquired starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez and a minor-league prospect from the Giants in exchange for Melky Cabrera, the first trade of baseball's hot stove season.

This deal is a major risk for the Giants that could either pay off beautifully or crash and burn, while the Royals capitalize on a player's high-water value and land a coveted mid-rotation starter who could one day suddenly figure things out and morph into an ace. Put simply: San Francisco is buying high on Cabrera and selling low on Sanchez. (Read more on how this trade affects free agency.)

San Francisco has made no secret of the fact they covet a center fielder who can lead off for the club, and Cabrera certainly fits that mold. He enjoyed a career season for Kansas City, playing much of the year at age 26 and hitting .305/.339/.470 with 67 extra-base hits, also swiping 20 bases. But is Cabrera's season really as good as it appears?

Hot Stove Season
While those 20 stolen bases look nice, he was also caught stealing 10 times. For stolen bases to provide overall net value to a team, Cabrera needs to swipe bags at a rate of at least 75 percent. He hasn't shown that ability yet, as this is the first season he's been let loose on the bases. In addition, the Melk Man has never had a discerning eye at the plate, but he was far more aggressive in 2011 than years past. One could argue that it paid off, and it did to an extent, but much of his newfound impatience has come in swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone. Unless you're Vladimir Guerrero, swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone is a good way to get yourself out. Pitchers will pitch further and further off the plate to Cabrera until eventually Cabrera will be get himself out for hacking at pitches that aren't meant to be hittable.

Cabrera made just $1.25 million in 2011 and is due a sizable raise in his last season before free agency, projected to earn about $4.4 million (per MLB Trade Rumors). That makes the deal essentially a financial wash, as Sanchez made $4.8 million last season and is due a raise of his own, but not a significant one. Cabrera is best used in right field, but could play center if San Francisco is confident in his defense, freeing up more money for San Francisco to spend for a shortstop and possibly another outfielder. The Giants could also elect to bring in another starting pitcher, but Sanchez actually clears up a logjam in the rotation. S.F. can now move forward with a quintet of Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Matt Cain and Barry Zito.

Only time will tell just how good Cabrera is, but it was an inspired choice by GM Brian Sabean to deal someone the club had soured on and address a glaring need in the outfield. But it's still a risk, and Kansas City's risk is much less because while Cabrera's at his high-water mark, Sanchez is being dealt at perhaps his lowest value.

Sanchez is a fireballer who can stand toe to toe with the best in striking out batters, but he also has erratic command. He served up walks in 14.9 percent of all plate appearances this past season, up from 2010's 11.8 percent. Sanchez is never going to be considered a control wizard, but injury may have been to blame for the spike in walks instead of a simple regression. In June he walked an eye-popping 20.5 percent of batters in June that skewed his season numbers, then promptly spent six weeks on the DL with biceps tendinitis.

These two things appear related, especially since Sanchez's control in the other months were within career norms. Unfortunately, even if Sanchez bounces back to career norms in walks, he still issues too many free passes to be an innings eater, but the Royals will gladly take a 28-year-old fireballing lefty in the middle of the rotation and take 190 innings over 32 starts.

The Royals have been seeking veteran starters to slot in the rotation as they attempt to gain relevancy. It's the right time for the club to start making a push, and the rotation was an obvious need. Sanchez is best used as a No. 3 or 4 starter, but the club's rotation is so poor that right now, Sanchez has to be considered the favorite to start Opening Day. Kansas City did very, very well here to get a legitimate starter in exchange for someone who hightailed it out of Atlanta as one of the more despised players in recent Braves history. The deal also opens up center field for Lorenzo Cain, who came over from Milwaukee prior to 2011 in the Zack Greinke deal.

Sanchez is coming to K.C. with 24-year-old Ryan Verdugo, who posted a 4.35 ERA in 25 starts for Double-A. It was Verdugo's first season as a starter in the minors, and put up remarkably similar numbers to Sanchez. He's someone who can punch out batters, but who also offers up a bit too many free passes. He figures to serve as rotation depth in Triple-A, although his future may be in the bullpen as a setup man. GM Dayton Moore said that the club views the lefty as an eventual reliever.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 7, 2011 11:31 am
Edited on: December 17, 2011 8:24 am
 

Cuban star Cespedes hoping to make jump to majors

By Evan Brunell

Is baseball ready for "A New Hope"?

That's what Yoenis Cespedes is hoping after releasing a bizarre promotional workout video. Cespedes, 26, defected from Cuba in the summer and is nearing approval to sign with an MLB team as a free agent, Yahoo Sports writes.

As part of that attempt, Cespedes participated in a promotional video that pays homage to his accomplishments on the field and impressive physical attributes in a glitzy way, ending with a closeup of a hog being roasted on a spit because ... well, who knows. In the video, he performs various athletic activities designed to impress -- and he succeeds. One particularly interesting moment was when Cespedes made two consecutive behind-the-back basket catches in the outfield, which takes an enormous amount of proprioception (Princeton definition: "The ability to sense the position and location and orientation and movement of the body and its parts.") and ability to track the ball.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that a source who attended an open workout on Friday in the Dominican Republic, where Cespedes is basing his new home in order to be declared an international free agent, compared the righty to top Angels prospect Mike Trout, who is currently the best five-tool prospect and made his major-league debut at age 19 for the Angels in 2011. Unsurprisingly, the Yankees have significant interest in Cespedes and are expected to pursue him heavily, but there will be no shortage of other suitors for Cespedes to pick from as many clubs could use a center fielder dripping with talent.

The Marlins, who are based in Miami, which boasts a large Cuban population, are currently considered the favorites to land Cespedes, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes.

“This may be the big one for the Miami Marlins,” a source told the paper. “He fits all their needs [on and off the field].”

Cespedes is looking for a contract similar to Aroldis Chapman's deal with the Reds, which was worth $30 million when the fireballing lefty signed in January 2010. Cespedes may even be able to outdo Chapman's contract when all is said and done, especially in a weak free-agent class that will leave many teams with money burning a hole in their pocket and no one to spend it on.

Cespedes is the owner of the home run record in Cuba, having slammed 33 in 90 games over the 2010-11 season, hitting .333/.424/.667. A deal that hands him $30 million is very possible, as a source says. Cespedes “is a legitimate center fielder with power, so I understand why they think they can get $30 million," the source told Yahoo!. "They might get more.”

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Posted on: November 7, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: November 7, 2011 10:52 am
 

Guillen, Ordonez hope to play in 2012

GuillenBy Evan Brunell

Two Tigers who have made headlines the last two seasons for injury problems instead of production on the field are hoping to play again in 2012, MLB.com reports.

Carlos Guillen, a two-time All Star, has played in just 177 of a possible 486 games over the last three years, including just 28 this year, where he contributed a meager .232/.265/.368 line and finished the season on the shelf yet again. It's no surprise the 36-year-old wants to continue a career that has been beset by left shoulder and knee issues, but no team will hand him significant dollars. Guillen (pictured, left, with Ordonez) will likely have to accept a make-good one year deal somewhere and hope to win a bench position.

His teammate in Detroit, Magglio Ordonez, also plans to return, Guillen says, despite Ordonez considering retirement. The two have been in touch since the season ended. Ordonez has his own injury problems as well, as he broke his right foot in mid-2010 that required surgery. Ordonez was slow to get going in 2011 but heated up in late August and reported that his ankle was finally starting to feel normal... then promptly broke it again in the ALCS.

Any Ordonez return would have to be on a similar deal to what Guillen will sign -- low base salary on a make-good deal and no guarantee of a starting job. Those deals will have to come elsewhere, as it doesn't appear as if GM Dave Dombrowski is interested in bringing either one back. That's not too surprising -- after all, Dombrowski has had to deal with two high-salaried players expected to be major assets to the team miss significant playing time in recent seasons -- and not produce too well even when on the field.

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Posted on: November 4, 2011 3:25 pm
 

Ex-Sox strength coach: Four players out of shape

PageBy Evan Brunell

On Friday, the Red Sox fired strength and conditioning coach Dave Page, who had been with the team since 2006, along with assistant athletic trainer Greg Barajas.

The move came as such a shock that Page, in an interview on WEEI, estimated "90 percent" of the team's roster -- plus others in the game -- reached out to him, with one such player saying "I feel this is all my fault."

Is this the same player that gave up on the season in September with no explanation? Page said there were four Red Sox players that were lax in their conditioning by the time the end of the season rolled around. He refused to name names, but did say that none of the players included Josh Beckett. Beckett, who noticeably put pounds on as the year progressed,  expressed concern to Page about his weight.

"We got to the end of the year where we had four guys -- without naming names -- we had four guys that we thought didn't make it to that part of the season where we hoped they would be: one position player -- an everyday guy -- one pitcher -- a starting pitcher -- and two bullpen guys," Page said. "For the most part, everybody else had stayed within where we wanted them to be. They were what we expected. Most of them were working."

Except for these four players, of course. And one in particular couldn't explain why he tailed off.

"I did have a good conversation with one player at the end of the year in Baltimore that really kind of opened my eyes," Page said. "I said, 'Hey, what's going on here? It seemed like you pulled the plug a little bit. Why?' He kind of looked down at the ground, looked back and me and said, 'I don't know why. I can't answer that question.' Which was kind of a shock."

Page, who earned the 2007 Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year award, named Daniel Bard, Rich Hill, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Jason Varitek and Kevin Youkilis among those who reached out, according to the Boston Globe.

“Papelbon and Youkilis were less than pleased. I can tell you that,” he said.

On WEEI, Page admitted to being taken aback about his firing, especially since it's been over a month since the end of the season. That fact, despite the departures of manager Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein, led Page to "believe that things weren't going to change, and it really kind of limited my opportunities to move on with another team. It was very surprising."

Page also admitted that support from coaches and the front office were "better in the past," saying he approached coaches and front office personnel on a regular basis to express concerns. He also turned in weekly reports to Francona and the higher-ups, so they were aware of any failings in player conditioning. Page's comments marries up with skipper Terry Francona saying he felt as if the front office wasn't supporting him as much as it had in years past. That leads one to ask why. Perhaps the front office thought this was a team that wasn't going to last and needed wholesale changes. As a result, they weren't as supportive as in the past. That's all speculation, however.

Page also chimed in on the whole fried chicken and beer controversy.

"There was a lot of grumblings but I think that whole chicken-and-beer thing has gotten a lot of unnecessary play, to be honest with you," he said. "I really didn't see chicken in the clubhouse all that often. I'm in and out of there a lot. I rarely saw the chicken. If they were drinking beer it was probably upstairs and I wasn't up there. You'll see the starting pitcher drink a beer when he comes out of the game, that's pretty common. In my opinion, it wasn't as rampant as it's gotten to be made out to be."

Read more about the beer drinking controversy, or check out Eye on Baseball's coverage on Theo Epstein bolting to the Cubs.

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Image courtesy BaseTrainer.com.
Posted on: November 4, 2011 2:35 pm
 

Athletics could be ready to strip down team

Gonzalez

By Evan Brunell


Depending on what happens with the Athletics' attempted relocation to San Jose, the club could enter a rebuilding phase.

As has been reported for some time now, Oakland would strip the team and enter into a rebuilding process over the next three seasons should commissioner Bud Selig rule that the A's can move to San Jose. The issue has been on Selig's desk since March 2009 and is complicated by the Giants claiming territorial rights over San Jose. The hope is that Selig will have a ruling shortly for the A's, and it could impact the team's offseason moves.

If Selig approves the move to San Jose, any new stadium would require at least three years to be built. Oakland and GM Billy Beane would enter into a rebuilding period in the hopes of having a contender ready to go once the stadium opens. That could mean trading players such as Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Kurt Suzuki. The only person that would be unavailable in a rebuilding, Fox Sports reports, is second baseman Jemile Weeks, who debuted this season.

If there is no news, the club likely will move to younger players regardless. As opposed to last season when Beane went hard after Adrian Beltre, Lance Berkman and Japanese import Hisashi Iwakuma, and losing out on each, poor revenues could force the A's into yet another rebuilding process. Things could change, though, if Selig rules against San Jose. Faced with a long-term arrangement in Oakland, Beane could be aggressive just like last season to build a contender with the core already in place.

Should the A's rebuild, there will be no shortage of suitors, especially with a poor free agent class. Gonzalez (pictured), in particular, has been linked to the Yankees before and could be dealt to New York for top prospect Jesus Montero, which would give the A's a long-coveted elite bat they can control for some time.

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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