Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Evan Brunell
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:43 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 10:58 pm
 

Monday brings plethora of option decisions

By Evan Brunell

As baseball readies for free agency, numerous decisions on options are being made. Those either free up players to hit the market or tie them to their 2011 club for one more season. Sunday's list is right here. Let's take a look at what happened Monday...

AMERICAN LEAGUE
NATIONAL LEAGUE
View the free-agent tracker here.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:06 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 9:15 pm
 

Retired Tony La Russa chats with David Letterman

By Evan Brunell

Retired Cardinals manager Tony La Russa joined David Letterman on the Late Show Monday evening to discuss winning the World Series and retirement. Check out the video below.

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


Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:02 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 10:03 pm
 

Blue Jays bring Encarnacion back, dump Rauch

Encarnacion

By Evan Brunell


The Blue Jays have declined their club option on reliever Jon Rauch, but will bring DH Edwin Encarnacion back.

Rauch was one of several who tried to close games out for the Jays, a team that had trouble finding that stopper. Rauch wasn't quite the man, despite notching 11 saves. The righty allowed 11 homers after giving up just three in 2010, finishing the season out with a 4.85 ERA in 52 innings. His season was cut short by knee surgery in September, but pitched well enough to qualify as a Type B free agent. This may have been what led to declining the $3.75 million option on Rauch, which is a reasonable price. The Jays are one team that tries to collect as many draft picks as possible, and with Rauch fetching back a compensatory pick should (once) he signs elsewhere, it likely made more sense to Toronto to grab a different unspectacular middle reliever in order to perhaps draft the next great Blue Jay.

Encarnacion's return, meanwhile, jams up first base and DH, which could complicate any chance of getting any slugger who plays one of these positions. But bringing Encarnacion back for $3.5 million was a no-brainer. It wasn't before June 5, when the righty woke up with a .243/.275/.342 line, but netted three hits that night and played the rest of 2011 at a .286/.359/.505 clip, hammering 16 homers in 370 plate appearances. The Jays seem to have finally given up on Encarnacion at third, so he's limited to first and DH, although the club could stick him in left field a few times next season. Toronto has Adam Lind, Travis Snider and Eric Thames all vying for at-bats in varying degrees between first, left and DH, so Encarnacion will have to fight for playing time barring a trade.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 31, 2011 8:19 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 8:49 pm
 

Price opts for arbitration, Rays rope in Shields

Shields

By Evan Brunell


The Rays made three moves to shape their 2012 team on Monday, bringing back starting pitcher James Shields and closer Kyle Farnsworth while cutting ties with catcher Kelly Shoppach.

Starting pitcher David Price also rejected a player option on his contract, signed when he was first drafted in 2007. Price was set to make $1.5 million in 2012 had he not been arbitration-eligible, but thanks to qualifying for Super 2 arbitration status, he gained the right to opt out. Price will easily do far better than $1.5 million in arbitration, especially since he earned just over $2 million in free agency. He could see quite the jump and there is the chance he could clear $5 million in arbitration.

The team does have a record of giving their young stars long-term deals, so this could hurry along a long-term deal between both sides. Tampa would likely love to lock Price up for at least the next four years (as he's tied to the team for that length anyways) in exchange for locking in what he will make over the next four years and receiving a bit of a discount as well, given the club will be guaranteeing the next four years as opposed to going year by year. Of course, Price could decline and take the risk that his arm and effectiveness holds up. Going through the arbitration year by year would certainly maximize the lefty's salary, but again, it comes at significant sik.

More Free Agency
Position rankings
The Rays freed up some money for Price in declining Shoppach's option, although the club is interested in bringing him back. The baclstop will get a $300,000 buyout instead of receiving $3.2 million in 2012 salary. That was a no-brainer, as Shoppach's power disappeared, hitting a paltry .178/.268/.339 in 253 at bats. This is a man who once hit 21 homers (in 2008), though, so he will have several suitors. He also has a reputation for strong work behind the plate.

In other news, two linchpins of the pitching staff are back. Ace James Shields, who made his first All-Star team and led the bigs with 11 complete games, returns for $7.5 million (with an extra $500,000 due depending on Cy Young balloting) in 2012. It's possible that Shields will be dangled on the trade market, as the Rays will be looking to capitalize on his big year, save cash and integrate Matt Moore into the rotation.

"Im glad it's over with," Shields (pictured) told the St. Petersburg Times. "I had some confidence they were going to pick my option up. What I did this last season, I think it definitely helped the cause out a little bit. Other than that, it's kind of one of those things where it's always nice to know I was in their plans."

Farnsworth broke out in a big way in Tampa, serving as closer for the season and nailing down 25 saves, posting a 2.18 ERA in the meantime. The 35-year-old seems to only get better with age, and exercising his $3.3 million option was a no-brainer. He struggled down the stretch with elbow discomfort, but is still the favorite for saves in Tampa next season.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:59 pm
 

Sabathia deal boosts free agent pitching market

Sabathia

By Evan Brunell


CC Sabathia is off the market before free agency even began, agreeing to return to the Yankees with a one-year extension worth $25 million, plus a vesting option for 2017 for the same amount.

The news will have an immediate impact on free agency, as it increases the price of pitchers set to be free agents. While many did expect Sabathia to return to New York, many didn't think the lefty would sign away before he got to see what was on the market. It's all that much more surprising that Sabathia signed early, given he's only receiving one additional guaranteed year. But he did, and now C.J. Wilson has to be licking his chops. Teams that would have otherwise started their shopping with Sabathia at the top of the list will be forced to turn to lesser names in Wilson and others.

The move may also sway starting pitcher Yu Darvish to come stateside this season. The phenom ace, whom many say is far better than Daisuke Matsuzaka, has been unsure whether or not he will jump to MLB this season. With the price of Sabathia's contract easily keeping the club in play to win a Darvish bidding, plus the desperation of other clubs to get a top starter, the time is now for Darvish -- not after 2012, when multiple quality pitchers will become free agents.

More Free Agency
Position rankings
Obviously, the Yankees benefit well from Sabathia re-upping at what appears to be a discounted price. The total package of Sabathia moving forward is now five years and $122 million guaranteed, with $5 million of the guaranteed price coming on a buyout of 2017's potential vesting option. Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the option vests automatically unless Sabathia is sidelined by a left-shoulder injury. If Sabathia finishes 2016 on the DL, spends more than 45 days sidelined the entire season with a left-shoulder issue, or makes at least six relief appearances due to shoulder issues, the option can be declined.

The Yankees wanted to avoid any long-term commitment spanning longer than five years, and they have accomplished their goal by convincing Sabathia to accept just one extra year guaranteed. On the market, he probably could have commanded at least six years to start, but Sabathia made no secret about wanting to remain with the Yankees. He also gets to beat out ex-teammate Cliff Lee for highest average annual value on a multi-year deal for a pitcher. Lee's five-year, $120 million deal was previously the highest, but now Sabathia takes it with an AAV of $24.4 million. No matter how you slice it, it's a fantastic deal for the Yankees, and clearly Sabathia walks away pleased as well. If he can stay healthy and effective, becoming a free agent at the age of 36 may still net him one more solid contract.

Interestingly enough, Sabathia and Lee's former team in the Indians benefit. The club just picked up a $7 million option on starter Fausto Carmona and traded for Derek Lowe before all the news hit. Again, while Sabathia returning to New York was expected and not a surprise, it's fair to wonder if Carmona's interest in free agency would have spiraled beyond $7 million despite a 5.25 ERA in 32 starts. The youngster has shown previous success, and the Indians now retain the right to keep the 27-year-old through 2014. Meanwhile, Lowe comes to the Indians at a small price of $5 million and giving up a minor leaguer that will be lucky to ever hit the bigs.

The Braves wanted to move Lowe fast and the Indians obliged. But Atlanta may have been better served to wait out the market for starting pitching. If Darvish somehow opts to stay in Japan, teams will grow more and more desperate, and the Braves may have found a better deal. It works in the Indians' favor, though, who now have two pitchers under contract whose values are now slightly higher with Sabathia's return to New York. With Sabathia, Carmona and Lowe removed as options, free agents can now expect to see more dollar signs.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 7:12 pm
 

Gold Glove finalists, Fielding Bible champs

Utley

By Evan Brunell


Fielding is taking center stage in baseball, as Rawlings released their Gold Glove finalists on Monday, while The Fielding Bible came out with their winners.

ESPN2 will air the winners of the Gold Glove balloting in the first-ever televised Gold Glove results, which used to be sent out as morning press releases. The show will begin at 10 p.m. ET and last for an hour. There are three finalists per position, and the most notable omission is Derek Jeter from shortstop, and rightfully so. Jeter has long won Gold Gloves based more on the merits of popularity and offense, but that's nothing new across all of Gold Glove voting, as Gold Glove award voting has been that way for some time. Jeter has won five awards, including taking each of the last two seasons.

Now, it will be either the Angels' Erick Aybar, J.J. Hardy of the Orioles, or the Indians' Asdrubal Cabrera who wins the AL Gold Glove. The full list of finalists can be found below, but first: The Fielding Bible.

“Quite simply,” said John Dewan, the founder of The Fielding Bible, “our intention is to stand up and say, ‘This is the best fielder at this position in the major leagues last season. Period.’”

Dewan uses a star-studded panel of voters that includes people such as Peter Gammons, former major-leaguer Doug Glanville and noted sabermetrician Bill James to determine the winners of each award, which more accurately reflect the best defenders in the league. The Bible differed from Gold Glove voting up until this season in that the Bible differentiated between left, center and right field while the Gold Glove used three generic "outfield" spots. That's changing this year, but another difference remains: if a player switches leagues during a season he is not considered for a Gold Glove. That's not the case for the Bible, which only makes one selection per position.

Below, you can find the winners of The Fielding Bible's defensive awards, plus Dewan's thoughts on each, as supplied in a news release. Only Albert Pujols, who won at first base, and Justin Upton in right field, were not finalists for a Gold Glove award.

C: Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“After Yadier Molina of the Cardinals won the previous four Fielding Bible Awards, Matt Wieters wins his first. And it wasn’t even close in the voting -- Wieters' 97 points to Molina's 74. When you look at the numbers, it wasn’t close there either. Prior to 2011, Molina has thrown out 42 percent of baserunners. On top of that, he has picked off an average of six baserunners per year. In 2011, Yadier dropped to 25 percent caught stealing and only picked two runners off. Wieters threw out 36 percent of basestealers in 2011. But it was the pitcher handling department where Wieters really excelled. Nine of his 14 runs saved are estimated for his pitcher handling, while Molina also had a down year in this area, costing the Cardinals six runs.”

1B: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (five-time winner)

“It was no fluke,” Dewan says about a play in the NLDS, when Pujols gunned Chase Utley down at third base (pictured). “Since Baseball Info Solutions started tracking good fielding plays (GFP) in 2004, Albert Pujols has 37 GFPs on throws. The next best first basemen are Todd Helton of the Rockies with 16 and three others with 15 -- Mark Teixeira of the Yankees, Prince Fielder of the Brewers, and Lyle Overbay of the [Diamondbacks].”

2B: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

"Dustin wins his first Fielding Bible Award with 97 of a possible 100 points. He took seven first-place votes (out of 10) and was voted second by the other three panelists. Pedroia has done well in voting in each of the last four years. He lost in a tie-breaker to Aaron Hill, then of the Blue Jays, in 2009 (each had 76 points), placed fourth in 2008, and seventh in 2010." Also, Pedroia had 44 GFP, best in baseball.

3B: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Adrian Beltre received eight first place votes beating last year’s winner, Evan Longoria of the Rays, 98 to 90. It doesn’t matter where he plays: Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, and now Texas. Beltre excels year after year. He has saved an estimated 156 runs defensively for his teams since 2003, an average of 17 runs prevented per year. That was his exact total for the Rangers in 2011, which translates into about two extra wins per year for his clubs, just on defense.”

SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Tulowitzki goes back-to-back, two Fielding Bible Awards in two years, and his third award of his five-year MLB career. Tulo is especially adept at making plays to his right. The Plus/Minus System credits him with 45 more plays in the shortstop hole compared to an average MLB shortstop over his five seasons. Tulowitzki also excels in another area. He had 67 GFP in 2011 compared to only 29 defensive misplays or errors. That +38 figure was tops in baseball.”

LF: Brett Gardner, New York Yankees (second-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Brett Gardner is the new Carl Crawford. Gardner repeats as the Fielding Bible Award winner in left field after Crawford won three of the four previous years. It was nearly unanimous as Gardner took nine first-place votes and one second. Gardner’s 22 defensive runs saved tied him with center field winner Austin Jackson of the Tigers for the most runs saved by an outfielder in 2011. That’s an extraordinary total for a left fielder. Normally the best center fielders save significantly more runs defensively than the best left fielders. For Gardner, having a center fielder’s range gives him a tremendous advantage, but he has an excellent throwing arm as well. He has saved the Yankees 13 runs (out of his 35 total) with his arm over the last two years.”

CF: Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“He topped all center fielders with 21 runs saved in 2010, but Austin Jackson had to do it even better (with 22 Runs Saved) in 2011 to earn his first Fielding Bible award. Jackson has made 63 more plays than an average center fielder over the last two years. That’s an incredible total. It’s on the plays over his head that AJ really excels (43 of the 63). Making 43 more catches than an average center fielder on balls hit deep is where those lofty runs saved totals come in, as he is saving doubles and triples when he makes these catches.”
 
RF: Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks (first-time winner)

“Justin Upton wins his first Fielding Bible award in 2011, unseating three-time winner Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners. With Ichiro’s down year defensively (he finished 10th in the voting), panelists were divided in their balloting with seven different right fielders receiving first place votes. Upton received three first-place votes, Jason Heyward of the Braves two, with one apiece for Mike Stanton of the Marlins, Torii Hunter of the Angels, Andre Ethier of the Dodgers, Jay Bruce of the Reds, and Nate Schierholtz of the Giants. Like Austin Jackson of the Tigers in center field, Upton excels on deeply hit balls, where he fielded 18 more balls in 2011 than the average right fielder would have, based on the depth, angle and velocity of those hit to him.”

P: Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“It’s a third consecutive Fielding Bible Award for Mark Buehrle. It is remarkable how Buehrle puts up excellent defensive runs saved numbers year after year. He saved an estimated nine runs defensively for the White Sox in 2011, tops among all pitchers in baseball. He had eight saved runs in 2010, 11 in 2009, and has averaged about eight per year going back to 2004. His control of the running game is uncanny. Only three baserunners were successful stealing bases in 2011 with Buehrle on the mound, while nine of them were caught stealing or picked off by Buehrle. He covers his position as well, with 15 of his Runs Saved guarding the territory around the mound over the last three years.”

And now, your Gold Glove finalists:

Gold Glove Finalists
Pos. American League National League
C Matt Wieters, BAL
A.J. Pierzynski, CWS
Alex Avila, DET
Yadier Molina, STL
Brian McCann, ATL
Carlos Ruiz, PHI
1B Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
Casey Kotchman, TB
Mark Teixeira, NYY
Joey Votto, CIN
Gaby Sanchez, FLA
James Loney, LAD
2B Dustin Pedroia , BOS
Robinson Cano, NYY
Ian Kinsler, TEX
Brandon Phillips, CIN
Neil Walker, PIT
Omar Infante, FLA
SS Erick Aybar, LAA
J.J. Hardy, BAL
Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE
Troy Tulowitzki, COL
Ronny Cedeno, PIT
Alex Gonzalez, ATL
3B Adrian Beltre, TEX
Kevin Youkilis, BOS
Evan Longoria, TB
Placido Polanco, PHI
Daniel Descalso, STL
Pablo Sandoval, SF
LF Alex Gordon, KC
Brett Gardner, NYY
Sam Fuld, TB
Gerardo Parra, ARI
Ryan Braun, MIL
Matt Holliday, STL
CF Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
Austin Jackson, DET
Peter Bourjos, LAA
Matt Kemp, LAD
Shane Victorino, PHI
Chris Young, ARI
RF Nick Markakis, BAL
Torii Hunter, LAA
Jeff Francoeur, KC
Andre Ethier, LAD
Carlos Beltran, NYM/SF
Jay Bruce, CIN
C Mark Buerhle, CHW
Dan Haren, LAA
Fausto Carmona, CLE
Clayton Kershaw, LAD
Hiroki Kuroda, LAD
Kyle Lohse, STL

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


Posted on: October 31, 2011 6:37 pm
 

Royals pick up closer Soria's option

SoriaBy Evan Brunell

The Royals exercised its 2012 club option on Joakim Soria, the team announced on Monday.

Soria will earn $6 million in 2012 as his guaranteed three-year, $8.75 million deal expired after the season. Kansas City holds three straight options on Soria, with 2012 the first season. The Royals can also bring Soria back for $8 million in 2013 and $8.75 million in 2014.

More Free Agency
Position rankings
“This decision was more of a formality,” Royals GM Dayton Moore said in a news release.  “Joakim has been an exceptional closer for the last five years.  For us to put together a strong pitching staff in 2012, it is important that Joakim remain a key component at the back end of the bullpen.”

The 27-year-old has been one of baseball's best relievers since being selected in the 2007 Rule 5 draft. He got 2011 off to a poor start, finishing with a career-worst 4.03 ERA and just 28 saves after breaking 40 twice in 2008 and 2010. Still, Soria should return to previous levels of talent as nothing indicates he is a worse pitcher. Batted balls fell in for hits 2.1 percent more than league average for Soria this past season, and 4.4 percent more than his career levels. That may not sound like much it is fairly significant, and defense-independent ERAs say Soria's ERA should have been in the low 3.00s instead of 4.03.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 31, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 6:21 pm
 

Reds pick up Phillips' option, decline Cordero

Phillips

By Evan Brunell


The Reds picked up the team option on second baseman Brandon Phillips and declined closer Francisco Cordero's option, the team announced.

In addition, the Twins claimed left-handed starter Matt Maloney off waivers from Cincinnati. The moves altogether will drop Cordero and Maloney from the Reds' 40-man roster.

Phillips' option is for $12 million, and exercising the option has been expected for months, However, the two sides are discussing a long-term deal, although the Reds may not be able to meet the price Phillips is setting. The second baseman hit .300 for the first time in his career, adding 58 extra-base hits, scoring 94 and driving in 82 runs. The two-time All-Star is also a finalist for his third Gold Glove. All told, the 30-year-old could fetch a significant price in free agency, whether this year or next year. And Phillips knows it, saying, "This is my last contract,” in September. “There is no homeboy hookup. I just want to be paid what I am worth.”

More Free Agency
Position rankings
Earlier in the month, Phillips addressed the option specifically, saying he wanted a new deal instead of just exercising the option -- but hadn't heard anything from the team.

"I've always said from Day 1 that this is where I want to be at," Phillips said. "I thought there might be some talks going on during the season but I haven't heard anything all year. I was very disappointed about it. It hurts bad that this is where I want to be at and I've paid blood, sweat and tears for this organization, but the only thing I can do is thank them very much for giving me a second opportunity. I can't really trip about anything that much. I came here and got my career back to where it should be going."

GM Walt Jocketty has displayed an interest in extending Phillips, but it's also no surprise that he chose to wait until after the season. Many teams prefer not to discuss contracts during the year and with the plum option working in the Reds' favor, there was no hurry to get Phillips inked. However, Phillips fired a warning shot when talking about the chance of his option being picked up with no new deal.

"If they just pick my option up and don't extend me, I feel like that's a slap in my face," he Phillips. "If the team wants you, they will make room. They will show you they want you here, period. They did it for some of the other guys."

Whatever happens, the Reds will have an All-Star second baseman opening the season in Cincinnati. Past that, who knows?

One thing's for sure -- Phillips likely wont have Francisco Cordero as a teammate next season. Cordero's $12 million option was declined, handing the righty a $1 million buyout. This move is a bit surprising, as Cordero saved 37 games in 2011 with a 2.45 ERA. While Cordero turns 37 next May, he has 194 saves over the last five seasons, the last four with Cincinnati, and his option would have only tied him to the team for one more season, which can be a luxury when dealing with relievers and their maddening inconsistency. Oh, and Aroldis Chapman is being transitioned to a starter, so there's that much less depth behind Cordero.

However, while Cordero's walks plunged this year to its best rate since 2007, he also struck out far less batters. In fact, on a rate basis, it was a career-worst. In that way, Cordero's newfound control could be misleading -- he's always been one to walk hitters but makes up for it by throwing gas. This year, his average fastball velocity dropped to 93 mph, far below his career mark of 95 mph. In fact, last season's 94.5 mph was the first time his average velocity fell below 95. When velocity drops, pitchers can easily command their pitches more, which could explain Cordero's ability to limit walks. But that is misleading, and it becomes clear why the option was declined. The Reds simply don't have confidence that he can live up to the money he would receive and fulfill his role as the team's closer.

There will be a handful of closers on the free-agent market, so the Reds should be able to find a better option out there than Cordero. There is also the trade route, or promoting an internal reliever. Nick Masset makes the most sense in that role. They won't be able to consider Matt Maloney for the role, though. The 27-year-old was claimed off waivers by the Twins after Maloney's forgettable season with Cincinnati resulted in a 9.16 ERA in 18 2/3 innings, making two starts. However, he had a 2.99 ERA in Triple- A and will give the Twins depth. Minnesota also claimed reliever Jeff Gray off waivers from Seattle.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.






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