Tag:AL West
Posted on: February 1, 2012 3:21 pm
 

Carlos Guillen returns to Seattle

Carlos GuillenBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Guillen is back with the Mariners. The 36-year-old infielder signed a minor-league deal with the team on Wednesday with a big-league invite to spring training.

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Guillen spent the last eight seasons with the Tigers, making three All-Star teams, after playing parts of six seasons with the Mariners.

While he played shortstop for the Mariners and Tigers earlier in his career, he was limited to just second base, first base and DH last season, appearing in just 28 games, hitting .232/.265/.368 with three home runs. He hasn't played in more than 150 games since 2007, playing in just 177 over the last three.

The Mariners traded Guillen to the Tigers for Ramon Santiago and minor-leaguer Juan Gonzalez before the 2004 season. Santiago was a flop in Seattle, returning to Detroit in 2006, where he's played ever since.

In other minor-league deals, former Phillies reliever Chad Durbin signed with the Nationals and Rays hero Dan Johnson signed with the White Sox.

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Posted on: February 1, 2012 7:57 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 8:48 am
 

Baseball's worst contracts, Part I: IF/C



By Matt Snyder


This past weekend I posted a blog about Joe Mauer feeling healthy so far this offseason and in the comments section a small discussion about bad contracts broke out. So, I figured, why not sort through all the contracts in baseball and come up with some of the worst? We're still more than two weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting, but it would be shocking to see a free agent sign for a contract that would rank among the worst in baseball -- considering the players left unsigned. So the timing works well. Let's check it out and discuss, shall we? If there's one thing baseball fans love, it's arguing.

We'll go at this in three different parts. First (now) is infielders and catchers, Thursday we'll look at the outfielders and designated hitters while Friday is pitchers.

One last note before we proceed. The way baseball's salary structure is set up, the overwhelming majority of the players can't make big bucks -- relatively speaking, of course -- until they've been in the league for about three years. Then there is arbitration, so they aren't free agents for another few years. So, most of the time, the overpaid players were underpaid -- again, relatively speaking -- when they were young studs. So you could argue it evens out. And I would in many cases. I also don't begrudge any of them for making gobs of money to play a game. They have a special talent that people pay to watch. They deserve a huge cut. So let's just try to stay on topic here, OK? Great. Let's dive in.

Catcher

Worst: Joe Mauer, Twins
Remaining contract: 7 years, $161 million

Mauer is obviously coming off a disastrous season and should improve greatly in the next few years. That being said, his health issues throughout 2011 were a bit of a wakeup call on how bad that contract will likely prove to be. He has to remain behind the plate to be worth anywhere close to $23 million per season, and what are the chances that he stays productive and healthy as a full-time catcher for the next seven years? If he moves to first base, he's a well-below average power hitter at the position and that harms the offense as a whole. While Mauer is certainly a stand-up guy and a hometown hero, it's hard to see this contract coming close to paying off for Minnesota in the end.

Honorable Mention
Victor Martinez, Tigers: This one is mitigated by the fact that the Tigers have insurance (that will reportedly pay almost half), but he's still owed $38 million over the next three seasons. In fairness to the Tigers, though, this wasn't really a bad deal when signed. They didn't know he'd get badly hurt and they'd then sign Prince Fielder to a gargantuan contract. It's just that there aren't really any other bad catcher contracts. I'm even cheating by putting Martinez here because he's predominantly a DH. I just had to list someone here.

First Base

Worst: Ryan Howard, Phillies
Remaining contract: 5 years, $125 million

The achillies injury wasn't taken significantly into account because there's no way the Phillies knew that was coming. Still, this deal was signed in April of 2010 but is just now kicking in for the start of the 2012 season. We're talking about a guy who hit .253 and only had a .488 slugging percentage last season. Jose Reyes and Shane Victorino had higher marks in slugging, which is a power stat. The 33 home runs and 116 RBI look good, but Howard is set to make $25 million per season for the next five years. He also hit just .105 with a .263 slugging percentage in the 2011 NLDS, where the Phillies lost in five games to the Cardinals due predominantly to a lack of offense. When Howard is 36 and making $25 million, it'll be an albatross of a contract.

Honorable Mention
Albert Pujols, Angels: It's actually a huge bargain for the next two seasons, when Pujols will make a combined $28 million, but by the time you get to age 42 and $30 million per year, it's pretty rough. The Angels are counting on having already made their money by then. And they very well might do so, which is why he's only in "honorable mention." We'll see.

Prince Fielder, Tigers: Similar to Pujols, the nine-year, $214 million deal doesn't look bad until several years down the road. We'll see, part two.

Mark Teixeira, Yankees: Teixiera is similar to Howard in several ways. He is actually coming off back-to-back seasons of sub-.500 slugging percentages (Howard was only below in '11) while getting most of his value from home runs and RBI, the latter of which is a team stat. The difference is Teixeira is a great defender and is owed slightly less ($115 million and change in five years). And he is completely healthy, which bodes better in his chances to right the ship these next few years.

Second Base

Worst: Dan Uggla
Remaining contract: 4 years, $52.8 million

Uggla salvaged what could have been an awful 2011 season by getting insanely hot in the second half. He ended with a career-high 36 homers, but that's about all that looks good, on the whole. He hit .233/.311/.453 with 156 strikeouts, poor defense and a career-low 22 doubles. He'll be 35 in the final year of his contract.

Honorable Mention
Chase Utley, Phillies: Past performance means he's probably earned this, but $30.575 million for the next two seasons seems awfully high for a 33-year-old coming off a .259/.344/.425 season.

Brian Roberts, Orioles: Let's just hope he finds a way to recover from all the post-concussion symptoms for the sake of his quality of life. The Orioles have far bigger problems than the $20 million Roberts will make the next two seasons.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins: OK, so $6 million for two seasons isn't much money to any team in the majors, but Nishioka was probably the worst position player in baseball last year and it's hard to see any improvement.

Shortstop

Worst: Jose Reyes, Marlins
Remaining contract: 6 years, $106 million

I don't think this was an awful signing at all, from a certain point of view. The Marlins wanted to make a splash and Reyes is the type of player that can single-handedly energize an entire lineup ... when he's in it. Yep, there's that qualifier and that's why he's here. Leg injuries -- on a player who relies on speed -- have limited Reyes to 295 games the past three seasons. Can he stay healthy for the next six? That's a tall order. Again, though, I don't think this one is egregious, and it's possible he ends up well worth the money. It's just that there aren't many bad contracts at shortstop and this represents a huge risk.

Honorable Mention
Derek Jeter, Yankees: What he means to the franchise -- in addition to how much money the Yankees can afford to spend -- says this deal isn't hurting anyone at all. But if you look at what he's likely to provide in the next two seasons, there's no way it's worth the $33 million Jeter is owed. Again, though, Jeter has earned the "pension," if you will, by this point in his legendary career.

Third Base

Worst: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
Remaining contract: 6 years, $149 million

If A-Rod hit the free agent market right now, what would he get ... half that contract? He's 36, he hasn't played in more than 138 games since 2007 and is coming off a season where he hit .276/.362/.461. I have no doubt if he stays healthy he has another two or even three great seasons left in him, but he's set to make at least $20 million during the season in which he turns 42.

Also, there are marketing bonuses in the contract for several home-run milestones from A-Rod's 660th to 763rd home runs (he currently has 629). It's probably not worth getting into in this space, because if A-Rod actually breaks the home run record, the Yankees will be rolling in the promotional dough from the event(s) and aftermath.

Honorable Mention
Brandon Inge, Tigers: When the Tigers signed Fielder and announced Miguel Cabrera was moving to third base, it made Inge a $5.5-million backup for the 2012 season.

On the other hand ...

Evan Longoria, Rays: Even if the Rays pick up all their club options on Longoria -- which they surely will, barring major injury -- the All-Star third baseman is only owed $40.5 million over the next five seasons. He's only 26 years old and already has two Gold Gloves, 113 career homers, an .874 career OPS and three postseason appearances in just four seasons. He's received MVP votes in all four of his seasons at the majors. He'll make $4.5 million in 2012 while A-Rod will make $29 million. Now that is a club-friendly contract, one that is surely the envy of general managers -- and certainly owners -- across the league.

Next

Thursday: OF/DH

Friday: Pitchers

Source for all figures was Cot's Baseball Contracts

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 12:16 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 12:38 pm
 

Report: Mariners wanted Lawrie for Pineda



By Matt Snyder


The Blue Jays had to field some questions from a few disgruntled fans Monday night in their State of the Franchise meeting concerning a seeming lack of major moves this offseason. At one point, general manager Alex Anthopolous reportedly discussed a trade that he didn't make because he would have had to give up a "major-league ready player" in return.

And reliable Toronto Globe and Mail reporter Jeff Blair says sources tell him the proposed deal was third baseman Brett Lawrie for then-Seattle starting pitcher Michael Pineda (Update: Geoff Baker of the The Seattle Times back up this assertion). The Blue Jays refused to deal Lawrie, so instead the Mariners went out and flipped Pineda for then-Yankees designated hitter Jesus Montero.

Interesting.

Pineda-for-Montero swap
The Mariners interest in Lawrie makes a ton of sense. Not only is he a great young talent, but M's GM Jack Zduriencik was the Brewers director of amateur scouting when they drafted Lawrie in the first round 2008. Plus, the Mainers have a hole at third.

But, personally, the most interesting part here is from the Blue Jays' angle. Lawrie is only 22 and had a great debut for the Jays last season, hitting .293/.373/.580 with nine homers, 25 RBI and 26 runs in just 171 plate appearances. That's a line that has future star written all over it. Pineda, though, is only 23 and was an All-Star for Seattle last season. He faded down the stretch, but still struck out 173 hitters in 171 innings. Considering the Blue Jays need pitching more than hitting at this point, that they could play Jose Bautista at third and also that they have a handful of young outfielders, this move might have made some sense.

Instead, it seems Anthopolous played his own little game of Would You Rather Have and elected he wanted Lawrie more than Pineda (but wait, how could he possibly "compare" a third baseman and a pitcher?!?).

And when Anthopolous did balk at making the move, it opened the door for the Yankees to make a deal that strengthened their pitching staff.

Only time will tell on what would have been the right move here for the Blue Jays, but it's certainly an interesting nugget on a slow Tuesday to chew on.

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Posted on: January 30, 2012 8:33 pm
 

Owner: Astros not changing name

By Matt Snyder

Last week, word circulated that new Astros owner Jim Crane and his front office were kicking around the idea of changing the team name from Astros to something else. Evidently, the fans have spoken, because it's not happening.

Via MLB.com blog network:
“You asked for change and we added several fan friendly initiatives last week and we hope you like them,” Crane said. “We will continue to listen, and to look for additional ways to improve on and off the field.

“One thing that we are not going to change is the name. We received strong feedback and consensus among season ticket holders and many fans, and we will not change the name Astros. The Houston Astros are here to stay.”
One area where Crane wasn't left a choice -- despite significant outcry from fans -- is the move to the AL West. That's still happening before the start of the 2013 season. Crane had to sign off on the move in order to become the new owner, but that still hasn't sat well with fans, as Crane obviously has an uphill battle when it comes to winning them over.

Perhaps keeping the same name will get a few fans on his side.

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Posted on: January 30, 2012 4:51 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 5:07 pm
 

Rangers give Washington 2-year extension



By Matt Snyder


The Rangers have agreed to a two-year contract extension with manager Ron Washington. Washington was signed through the upcoming 2012 season, so he's now locked up through 2014.

Rangers offseason
Washington's track record in his five seasons as a manager is very impressive. The Rangers have improved every single season under him. Washington started with a 75-87 record in 2007, then won 79 games in 2008 and 87 in 2009. In 2010, they won 90 in the regular season, winning the AL West championship. They then took down the Rays in the ALDS for the first postseason series victory in club history. But they weren't done, as they also won the ALCS over the Yankees, advancing to the World Series for the first time in club history.

Then, in 2011, Washington continued his improvement. The Rangers won a club-record 96 games and came within one strike of winning the World Series.

Washington, 59, is now 427-383 at the helm, good for a .527 winning percentage. In terms of full-time managers, only Billy Hunter (.575 in just two seasons) was better for the Rangers. Washington also ranks third in total wins for Rangers managers, trailing Bobby Valentine (581) and Johnny Oates (506). With three more seasons under contract, Washington should cruise to the franchise record, as he's only 154 wins away from Valentine.

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Posted on: January 29, 2012 10:17 pm
 

Brandon McCarthy likely to start opener for A's

Brandon McCarthy

By C. Trent Rosecrans


With Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez gone, Brandon McCarthy will be the A's starter on opening day in Tokyo against the Mariners, manager Bob Melvin said during the team's FanFest on Sunday.

McCarthy, 28, could be the only returning starter from last year's Oakland rotation after the offseason trades of Cahill and Gonzalez. McCarthy was 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA in 2011, striking out 123 in 170 2/3 innings and 25 starts. He threw five complete games and posted a 1.131 WHIP.

"That would be a lot of fun," McCarthy told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle when told of Melvin's statement that he'd likely start the first game of the season. "That's one of those notches anyone would like to have."

Newly signed Bartolo Colon will start the other game in Japan, Melvin said. Colon, 38, signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the A's after going 8-10 with a 4.00 ERA for the Yankees in 2011.

Oakland will play Seattle at the Tokyo Dome on March 28 and 29, before any other games start. Felix Hernandez will most likely get the start for the Mariners.

In addition to the trades of Cahill and Gonzalez, the team lost Rich Harden and traded Guillermo Moscoso.

The A's could round out their rotation with youngsters Brad Peacock, Tom Milone and Jarrod Parker.  Oakland picked up the first two in the trade of Gonzalez to the Nationals and Parker came over in the Cahill trade with Arizona.

Another starter, Dallas Braden, will throw off the mound on Monday for the first time since shoulder surgery, he told Slusser. Braden compared Monday's session of 25 fastballs to Christmas -- "Get to bed early, leave cookies and milk on the table, see what happens."

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Posted on: January 29, 2012 11:43 am
Edited on: January 29, 2012 1:17 pm
 

Roger Clemens strikes out 2 in UT alumni game

Roger ClemensBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Even at 49, Roger Clemens can still bring the heat. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner struck out two of the three University of Texas batters he faced in Saturday's alumni game.

Clemens threw a perfect inning in the game that featured the current Longhorn team against for Texas players. The Longhorns are ranked No. 13 in Baseball America's preseason rankings after appearing in the College World Series last season.

Clemens, who won the College World Series with Texas in 1983, started the game and struck out the first two batters, Cohl Walla and Taylor Stell. Neither Walla nor Stell were alive when Clemens picked up his second Cy Young in 1987. By the time the freshman Stell was born in 1993, Clemens had won 152 games and three Cy Young Awards.

New Padres closer Huston Street relieved Clemens, striking out a batter, and also played second base. Street singled and also scored a run in the 2-0 victory by the alums.

The Mariners' Chance Ruffin, the Reds' Drew Stubbs, the Rangers' Omar Quintanilla, the Cubs' James Russell and former big leaguer Brooks Kieschnick all played for the Texas alums.



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Posted on: January 27, 2012 9:52 pm
 

A's owner would be fine with adding Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Last week there were reports the A's were interested in Manny Ramirez -- and it doesn't sound like Oakland owner Lew Wolff has a problem with adding the controversial slugger.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle's John Shea
, Wolff said he'd be fine if general manager Billy Beane decided to add Ramirez.

"Why wouldn't we (be interested) if a guys serves his term," Wolff said, referencing Ramirez's 50-game suspension. "What's more, is he in shape? Does he want to come to us? Do we want him? I really don't see any non-baseball reason for not having him. I wouldn't want to not have a player because he made a mistake and paid the price for it, but that's really up to Billy."

Wolff said the team's payroll would be around $50 million, or one-third of the Angels' expected payroll, $80 million less than the Rangers and $30 million less than the Mariners.

According to the owner, the team made $370,000 last year after the $32 million it received in revenue sharing.

"I have to admit, without revenue sharing, we'd have a huge loss, and we don't want revenue sharing," Wolff said. "We'd like not to be a receiver if we could."

As for Ramirez with the A's, the team could certainly use his power. Ramirez, 39, has 555 career homers, while the position players on the A's 40-man roster have a combined 413 career home runs, led by Jonny Gomes' 118 and Coco Crisp's 75. He'd also be cheap, which is just what the A's are looking for in a player.

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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