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2016 MLB thread. THE CUBS HAVE BROKEN THE CURSE! Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions. - Page 145

post #4321 of 77278

You can pencil Miami in for about 80 wins now

smiley: laugh

post #4322 of 77278
Quote:
Originally Posted by wildKYcat

Zambrano and Ozzie smiley: laughsmiley: roll



   smiley: laugh I cant wait for that
Is Miami taking his whole contract too? The Marlins are soon going to become all Latin, no white guys or blacks smiley: laugh
post #4323 of 77278
Quote:
Originally Posted by wildKYcat

Zambrano and Ozzie smiley: laughsmiley: roll



   smiley: laugh I cant wait for that
Is Miami taking his whole contract too? The Marlins are soon going to become all Latin, no white guys or blacks smiley: laugh
post #4324 of 77278
Thread Starter 
Hope everything works out for Dave Duncan and his wife.
post #4325 of 77278
Thread Starter 
Hope everything works out for Dave Duncan and his wife.
post #4326 of 77278
Quote:
Originally Posted by Proshares

Hope everything works out for Dave Duncan and his wife.

You said it, things have been bad for a minute now.

One again...Lord Stanley Resides In The Windy City.

Reply

One again...Lord Stanley Resides In The Windy City.

Reply
post #4327 of 77278
Quote:
Originally Posted by Proshares

Hope everything works out for Dave Duncan and his wife.

You said it, things have been bad for a minute now.

One again...Lord Stanley Resides In The Windy City.

Reply

One again...Lord Stanley Resides In The Windy City.

Reply
post #4328 of 77278
Thread Starter 
Why are the Yankees cheap?  Saavy or remorse?

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

The Yankees have raised a lot of eyebrows this winter by standing pat on pitching and sending unambiguous signals that their unwillingness to spend money is predicated on wanting to avoid the luxury tax. A Yankee source went so far as to tell ESPN’s Wallace Matthews that the team was staying away from Hiroki Kuroda because, “We simply don’t have the money to pay him.

post #4329 of 77278
Thread Starter 
Why are the Yankees cheap?  Saavy or remorse?

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

The Yankees have raised a lot of eyebrows this winter by standing pat on pitching and sending unambiguous signals that their unwillingness to spend money is predicated on wanting to avoid the luxury tax. A Yankee source went so far as to tell ESPN’s Wallace Matthews that the team was staying away from Hiroki Kuroda because, “We simply don’t have the money to pay him.

post #4330 of 77278
Thread Starter 
Cubs get Rizzo for Cashner. Pretty good deal for Chicago.

 

The Chicago Cubs may have gotten their first baseman of the future, and his name isn't Prince Fielder.

The team acquired Anthony Rizzo from the Padres in a deal that sends right-hander Andrew Cashner to San Diego.

Rizzo batted .331 with 34 doubles, 26 home runs and 101 RBIs in 93 Triple-A games last season. He struggled in his callup to the Padres, batting .141 in 128 at-bats, but it was the 22-year-old's first exposure to the big leagues.

New Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer know Rizzo well. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder was originally drafted by the Red Sox in 2007 when the pair were in Boston. Rizzo was then a big part of the deal that brought Adrian Gonzalez to Boston. At that time Hoyer was the GM of the Padres.

The Cubs also get right-hander Zach Cates, 22, who pitched at Single A last season, in the trade. In addition to Cashner, the Cubs send minor league outfielder Kyung-Min Na, 20, to San Diego.

Cashner, 25, was 2-6 with a 4.29 ERA in 60 major league games. He was expected to step into the starting rotation last season but made only one start and appeared in just seven games due to a shoulder strain.

The Cubs have been in need of a first baseman since not re-signing Carlos Pena, who manned the position for one season.

Epstein had said recently that the team's first baseman at this point would be Bryan LaHair, who also had a huge year at Triple A last season, winning the Pacific Coast League MVP.

LaHair did a little better than Rizzo in his major league callup, hitting .288 with two homers and six RBIs in 59 at-bats with the Cubs. But LaHair is also 29 years old, and Epstein has vowed to build for the long haul.

Both players bat left-handed, though, which is an area of need for the Cubs. And if Rizzo did win the first baseman's job, LaHair gained some experience in the outfield last season. Epstein has reportedly been talking to teams about Alfonso Soriano, but his big contract is an impediment to a trade.

Fielder is still the biggest name on the free-agent market. The Cubs had reportedly shown interest in the former Brewers slugger, but he doesn't seem to fit into Epstein's commitment to building from within and only adding big free agents when the team is poised to challenge for a title. After a 71-91 season and with a number of holes to fill, the team is likely a few years away from being a serious contender.


post #4331 of 77278
Thread Starter 
Cubs get Rizzo for Cashner. Pretty good deal for Chicago.

 

The Chicago Cubs may have gotten their first baseman of the future, and his name isn't Prince Fielder.

The team acquired Anthony Rizzo from the Padres in a deal that sends right-hander Andrew Cashner to San Diego.

Rizzo batted .331 with 34 doubles, 26 home runs and 101 RBIs in 93 Triple-A games last season. He struggled in his callup to the Padres, batting .141 in 128 at-bats, but it was the 22-year-old's first exposure to the big leagues.

New Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer know Rizzo well. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder was originally drafted by the Red Sox in 2007 when the pair were in Boston. Rizzo was then a big part of the deal that brought Adrian Gonzalez to Boston. At that time Hoyer was the GM of the Padres.

The Cubs also get right-hander Zach Cates, 22, who pitched at Single A last season, in the trade. In addition to Cashner, the Cubs send minor league outfielder Kyung-Min Na, 20, to San Diego.

Cashner, 25, was 2-6 with a 4.29 ERA in 60 major league games. He was expected to step into the starting rotation last season but made only one start and appeared in just seven games due to a shoulder strain.

The Cubs have been in need of a first baseman since not re-signing Carlos Pena, who manned the position for one season.

Epstein had said recently that the team's first baseman at this point would be Bryan LaHair, who also had a huge year at Triple A last season, winning the Pacific Coast League MVP.

LaHair did a little better than Rizzo in his major league callup, hitting .288 with two homers and six RBIs in 59 at-bats with the Cubs. But LaHair is also 29 years old, and Epstein has vowed to build for the long haul.

Both players bat left-handed, though, which is an area of need for the Cubs. And if Rizzo did win the first baseman's job, LaHair gained some experience in the outfield last season. Epstein has reportedly been talking to teams about Alfonso Soriano, but his big contract is an impediment to a trade.

Fielder is still the biggest name on the free-agent market. The Cubs had reportedly shown interest in the former Brewers slugger, but he doesn't seem to fit into Epstein's commitment to building from within and only adding big free agents when the team is poised to challenge for a title. After a 71-91 season and with a number of holes to fill, the team is likely a few years away from being a serious contender.


post #4332 of 77278
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Jordan04

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildKYcat

Zambrano and Ozzie smiley: laughsmiley: roll



   smiley: laugh I cant wait for that
Is Miami taking his whole contract too? The Marlins are soon going to become all Latin, no white guys or blacks smiley: laugh



It's Los Marlins now.
post #4333 of 77278
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Jordan04

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildKYcat

Zambrano and Ozzie smiley: laughsmiley: roll



   smiley: laugh I cant wait for that
Is Miami taking his whole contract too? The Marlins are soon going to become all Latin, no white guys or blacks smiley: laugh



It's Los Marlins now.
post #4334 of 77278
Thread Starter 
Cubs get slight edge in deal with Padres.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

The Cubs-Padres trade of four young players, including two minor leaguers and one guy who just barely retained his rookie status for 2012, came about as a function of the Chicago Cubs' front office's recent exodus from San Diego. The deal helps the Cubs fill a need while the Padres convert an area of surplus into some immediate value in their bullpen.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Rizzo
Denis Poroy/Getty ImagesAnthony Rizzo offers the Cubs a potential long-term solution at first base.

Anthony Rizzo's year in 2011 -- crushed the ball in Class AAA, scuffled in San Diego -- wasn't as bizarre as the raw stats might indicate; Tucson is an excellent hitters' park, and Petco is ... not an excellent hitters' park, particularly so for a 21-year-old who probably wasn't ready for the majors in the first place. He's a plus-fielding, plus-makeup, power-hitting first baseman -- just as he was last winter when he looked like he'd become Adrian Gonzalez' long-term successor -- with more of an average hit tool and a history of wide platoon splits. He'll play most of this year at 22 and has a year less experience than the typical prospect his age due to Hodgkin's lymphoma that cost him most of the 2008 season. He's got a good feel for the strike zone, evident even during his major league struggles, and the power to profile as an above-average or better first baseman on offense. I'd rather have Rizzo than Yonder Alonso, and had Rizzo spent all of 2011 mashing in AAA, this trade would be viewed as a heist for the Cubs.

The Cubs also get right-hander Zack Cates. He's a raw but very intriguing conversion guy with limited experience on the mound, but can show two plus pitches in a fastball up to 96 MPH (sitting 92-93) and a plus changeup that is a 70 on its best nights. His delivery is a little rough in back but he gets great extension out front with good downhill plane to keep the ball in the park, especially against right-handed batters. He's still in search of an average breaking ball, and his command and control are what you'd expect for a raw pitcher without a lot of innings behind him. He's a great lottery ticket for the Cubs here with the upside of a mid-rotation starter if he finds a breaking ball and a plus reliever if he doesn't.

Andrew Cashner profiles as a shutdown reliever, at least in the short term, with the potential to put up some of the best relief numbers in the game in a full year in Petco. When healthy, he can show you three above-average or plus pitches, including a 96-100 MPH fastball in the Arizona Fall League this year, as well as a hard upper-80s slider and an above-average changeup that has improved substantially over the last two years. Whether he can start in the long term is an open question after a rotator cuff injury wiped out most of his 2011 season; he has the weapons to start, but even 100 innings in a swing role in 2012 would be aggressive for a guy who has little history of starting and recent shoulder trouble. The floor in relief is fairly high, as he could be the next Craig Kimbrel in that role, but the odds of him holding up as a starter are fairly small.

Kyung-Min Na is a plus defender in center in both glove and arm with 70 speed, so he's more than just a throw-in, but questions about his bat range from lack of overall strength to mechanical issues (like a high leg kick) that interfere with timing. He's also had some trouble turning that speed into value on the bases, but at age 20 Na has plenty of time to develop his feel for the game. He's also a lottery ticket, but without Cates' upside, so the deal really boils down to a good everyday player (Rizzo) for a high-ceiling reliever (Cashner), which favors the Cubs overall.

post #4335 of 77278
Thread Starter 
Cubs get slight edge in deal with Padres.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

The Cubs-Padres trade of four young players, including two minor leaguers and one guy who just barely retained his rookie status for 2012, came about as a function of the Chicago Cubs' front office's recent exodus from San Diego. The deal helps the Cubs fill a need while the Padres convert an area of surplus into some immediate value in their bullpen.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Rizzo
Denis Poroy/Getty ImagesAnthony Rizzo offers the Cubs a potential long-term solution at first base.

Anthony Rizzo's year in 2011 -- crushed the ball in Class AAA, scuffled in San Diego -- wasn't as bizarre as the raw stats might indicate; Tucson is an excellent hitters' park, and Petco is ... not an excellent hitters' park, particularly so for a 21-year-old who probably wasn't ready for the majors in the first place. He's a plus-fielding, plus-makeup, power-hitting first baseman -- just as he was last winter when he looked like he'd become Adrian Gonzalez' long-term successor -- with more of an average hit tool and a history of wide platoon splits. He'll play most of this year at 22 and has a year less experience than the typical prospect his age due to Hodgkin's lymphoma that cost him most of the 2008 season. He's got a good feel for the strike zone, evident even during his major league struggles, and the power to profile as an above-average or better first baseman on offense. I'd rather have Rizzo than Yonder Alonso, and had Rizzo spent all of 2011 mashing in AAA, this trade would be viewed as a heist for the Cubs.

The Cubs also get right-hander Zack Cates. He's a raw but very intriguing conversion guy with limited experience on the mound, but can show two plus pitches in a fastball up to 96 MPH (sitting 92-93) and a plus changeup that is a 70 on its best nights. His delivery is a little rough in back but he gets great extension out front with good downhill plane to keep the ball in the park, especially against right-handed batters. He's still in search of an average breaking ball, and his command and control are what you'd expect for a raw pitcher without a lot of innings behind him. He's a great lottery ticket for the Cubs here with the upside of a mid-rotation starter if he finds a breaking ball and a plus reliever if he doesn't.

Andrew Cashner profiles as a shutdown reliever, at least in the short term, with the potential to put up some of the best relief numbers in the game in a full year in Petco. When healthy, he can show you three above-average or plus pitches, including a 96-100 MPH fastball in the Arizona Fall League this year, as well as a hard upper-80s slider and an above-average changeup that has improved substantially over the last two years. Whether he can start in the long term is an open question after a rotator cuff injury wiped out most of his 2011 season; he has the weapons to start, but even 100 innings in a swing role in 2012 would be aggressive for a guy who has little history of starting and recent shoulder trouble. The floor in relief is fairly high, as he could be the next Craig Kimbrel in that role, but the odds of him holding up as a starter are fairly small.

Kyung-Min Na is a plus defender in center in both glove and arm with 70 speed, so he's more than just a throw-in, but questions about his bat range from lack of overall strength to mechanical issues (like a high leg kick) that interfere with timing. He's also had some trouble turning that speed into value on the bases, but at age 20 Na has plenty of time to develop his feel for the game. He's also a lottery ticket, but without Cates' upside, so the deal really boils down to a good everyday player (Rizzo) for a high-ceiling reliever (Cashner), which favors the Cubs overall.

post #4336 of 77278
As a cub fans, i like what Theo is doing. building from the ground up. Jim Hendry seems like he was doing the opposite. Also i hope the Castro assault charge is not a big issue. We def need this guy.
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post #4337 of 77278
As a cub fans, i like what Theo is doing. building from the ground up. Jim Hendry seems like he was doing the opposite. Also i hope the Castro assault charge is not a big issue. We def need this guy.
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post #4338 of 77278
Quote:
Originally Posted by SportsJunkie

As a cub fans, i like what Theo is doing. building from the ground up. Jim Hendry seems like he was doing the opposite. 

Best way to do it if  you want sustained success. Theo gets it.
VIKINGS | TIMBERWOLVES | TWINS | MARINERS | HUSKIES | SHARKS
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post #4339 of 77278
Quote:
Originally Posted by SportsJunkie

As a cub fans, i like what Theo is doing. building from the ground up. Jim Hendry seems like he was doing the opposite. 

Best way to do it if  you want sustained success. Theo gets it.
VIKINGS | TIMBERWOLVES | TWINS | MARINERS | HUSKIES | SHARKS
Reply
VIKINGS | TIMBERWOLVES | TWINS | MARINERS | HUSKIES | SHARKS
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post #4340 of 77278
Quote:
Originally Posted by 651akathePaul

Quote:
Originally Posted by SportsJunkie

As a cub fans, i like what Theo is doing. building from the ground up. Jim Hendry seems like he was doing the opposite. 

Best way to do it if  you want sustained success. Theo gets it.


Yeap you are  right. Now we need to find a trade partner to get Soriano out of town. Thats gonna be complicated because we owe him 52 million over 3 years still.
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post #4341 of 77278
Quote:
Originally Posted by 651akathePaul

Quote:
Originally Posted by SportsJunkie

As a cub fans, i like what Theo is doing. building from the ground up. Jim Hendry seems like he was doing the opposite. 

Best way to do it if  you want sustained success. Theo gets it.


Yeap you are  right. Now we need to find a trade partner to get Soriano out of town. Thats gonna be complicated because we owe him 52 million over 3 years still.
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post #4342 of 77278
Waiting for Frank Wren to do something this offseason, anything.
post #4343 of 77278
Waiting for Frank Wren to do something this offseason, anything.
post #4344 of 77278
post #4345 of 77278
post #4346 of 77278
Thread Starter 

Jorge Posada's final curtain call.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

The New York Yankees had a lot of veterans, but it was Jorge Posada's responsibility to nudge Orlando Hernandez, and the catcher would do this early in a game or before a game by saying something to offend El Duque. Basically, he picked a fight to get Hernandez's adrenaline going, to get him engaged in the moment at hand.

Posada sometimes did this in the dugout, or sometimes on the mound, and generally, Hernandez responded in the way Posada intended -- other than that time, perhaps, when Hernandez went after Posada with a sharp instrument in the trainer's room. (For the record: Nobody got hurt.)

Posada was the perfect person for this job because of his own stubbornness, a trait that fueled him through his remarkable ascent. He went from a second baseman drafted in the 24th round to a catcher who played in 125 postseason games and served an integral role in four championships. He provided the Yankees with the rarest of weapons at his position -- a switch-hitter who had patience and power from both sides of the plate.

The Yankees were honored at City Hall after the 2000 World Series, and in the midst of that celebration, then-manager Joe Torre stood at the microphone, turned to Posada and asked him for the team mantra, and Posada lifted a fist and motioned. "We grind it!" he said.

Nothing came easily for him. Posada fought to learn a position that did not come naturally for him, fought to gain the trust of his pitchers and even his manager, Torre. After a strong season in 1998, he started slowly in 1999 and sensed that Don Zimmer -- who was filling in for Torre as manager while Torre underwent treatment for prostate cancer -- didn't believe in him. Posada fought through that doubt. He fought through offensive slumps, defensive slumps, heightened expectations.

The other Yankees came to view him as a hitter whose concentration would get better in the tensest moments, as in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, when his flair hit in the eighth inning finished off Pedro Martinez. He had 103 postseason hits, posting a .358 on-base percentage and hitting 11 homers. He had 275 regular-season homers, a .374 on-base percentage, 1,065 RBIs and OPS+ of 121 for his career, below those of Bill Dickey (127) and Yogi Berra (125) but higher than those of Thurman Munson (116) and Elston Howard (108). Those catchers have all had their numbers retired by the Yankees, and the team should do the same with Posada's No. 20 some day.

Posada was among the most honest players I've covered. If he wasn't thrilled with a decision, he didn't whitewash his unhappiness by smiling into the cameras; he usually would tell you how he felt. On July 4, 1999, a brutally hot day, Posada was furious with the work of plate umpire Greg Kosc, who seemed to badly miss ball-strike calls early before leaving the field late in the game. Posada had seemingly turned and barked at Kosc during the game. Afterward, I waited alone for the catcher to ask him about the exchanges.

This is what I wrote in the game story from that day:

Posada said that after he was called out on strikes by Kosc in the sixth, he turned to the umpire and told him he was being inconsistent with his strike zone. ''He hasn't called it all day, and all of a sudden, he's going to expand it because it's hot,'' said Posada, before expanding the issue.

''The bottom line, the guys are not in shape,'' Posada continued, referring to umpires. ''It was hot -- I can understand it's hot. You've got to be able to go through the game. They're not prepared, they're not in shape; it's a shame. He gets hot, the zone gets bigger. One doesn't go with the other one.''

What Posada had said reflected what a lot of players in the game had felt about some of the umpires in that era. But later in the day, it was determined that Kosc had suffered from heat stroke, and he was hospitalized. After David Cone and Joe Girardi read the story the next day, with the blunt criticism of the umpiring, they were horrified and envisioned an umpires' revolt against the Yankees. They went to Posada and told him he had to go to the umpires' room, just down the hallway from the Yankees' clubhouse, and submit an apology to Kosc for what he had said.

All reporters have been in this kind of situation -- a player says something inflammatory, and it turns out the words had consequences he did not expect. And many times, the player (or executive) who is feeling heat will blame the reporter, by denying that he had said the printed words or by suggesting the context for the quotes were wrong.

Posada never did that in this situation despite the backlash. He never complained to me or disavowed his words to teammates or other reporters. In the 15 years I've known him, I can't remember him ever doing this.

Posada had a bad moment last season in the midst of what was a frustrating season for the aging All-Star, when he essentially refused to play because he felt disrespected by Girardi, the Yankees' manager. (Did I mention that Posada is stubborn?) The next day, Posada walked into a sea of reporters, said he made a mistake and apologized. If we are all to be judged by our worst day, well, this is a saintless world.

It comes as no surprise that Posada is retiring rather than hanging on for a season or two as a designated hitter, because he cared deeply about being a Yankee. He loved the history, cherished his positional connection with Berra and Munson and wanted to be there for the historic moments -- when he caught David Wells' perfect game, or the final pitch of the World Series from Mariano Rivera, or the final pitch thrown by a Yankee in old Yankee Stadium. He loved catching the ceremonial first pitches from the likes of Berra, Phil Rizzuto and $$%$@% Ford.

And someday soon in the future, he will be asked to throw out a first ball rather than catch it.

From Katharine Sharp, of ESPN Stats and Info:

1. Posada played all 17 of his seasons with the Yankees. He finished his career ranked in the top 10 in Yankees history in games (eighth), doubles (seventh), home runs (eighth) and extra-base hits (ninth).

2. Posada played in 125 postseason games, second-most all time. He also ranks in the top 10 in postseason history in runs (eighth), hits (fourth), doubles (third) and RBIs (T-ninth).

3. Posada's career .848 OPS is fifth-highest among players who had at least 5,000 career plate appearances and played at least 50 percent of their games at catcher. Three of the four players ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame.

4. From the Elias Sports Bureau: Posada caught at least one game in 17 straight seasons for the Yankees. The last catcher to catch at least one game with the same team for at least 17 straight seasons was Johnny Bench with the Reds from 1967 to '83 (also 17).

Next Level:

• In the past two seasons, Posada's biggest problem has been hitting off-speed pitches. Last season, he hit .284 against fastballs (up from .274 in '10) and .189 against off-speed pitches (down from .223 in '10).

• Posada is one of eight players who played at least 50 percent of their games at catcher and had 1,500 hits, 250 home runs and 1,000 RBIs. The others are Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk, Lance Parrish, Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez.

From Elias: Posada, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera were the first trio of teammates in MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL history to appear in a game together in each of 16 straight seasons.

Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information addresses the question of Posada's Hall of Fame candidacy:

• Posada ranks 12th among those who caught at least 50 percent of their games in Baseball-Reference.com's version of WAR. (He also ranks 12th via the same qualifier with FanGraphs' WAR ... the two lists are almost identical.)

Below is the top 12. Of them, seven are Hall of Famers, three are not yet eligible (Rodriguez, Piazza and Posada), and two were Hall of Fame-eligible but not inducted (Simmons and Tenace -- both of whom rank ahead of Posada).

Most all-time wins above replacement for catchers:

Johnny Bench -- 71.3<<
Ivan Rodriguez -- 67.3
Carlton Fisk -- 67.3<<
Gary Carter -- 66.3<<
Yogi Berra -- 61.9<<
Mike Piazza -- 59.1
Bill Dickey -- 54.4<<
Mickey Cochrane -- 51.2<<
Ted Simmons -- 50.4
Gabby Hartnett -- 50.3<<
Gene Tenace -- 48.7
Jorge Posada -- 44.9
<< Hall of Famer

• Posada does rank ahead of a handful of Hall of Fame catchers such as Ernie Lombardi and Roger Bresnahan. However, only one of those debuted after World War II (former Dodgers great Roy Campanella, whose career was cut short by injury).

• By this metric, Posada rates third among Yankees catchers, trailing Hall of Famers Berra (62.1) and Dickey (54.4), just ahead of Munson (43.4). He rates 11th among Yankees position players in WAR. Of the 10 players ahead of him, seven are Hall of Famers, and the other three are likely Hall of Famers in Derek Jeter, Willie Randolph and Bernie Williams.

• The strength of Posada's Hall of Fame argument comes in where he ranks among the modern catcher. Among those who debuted in the 25 seasons from 1987 to 2011, he ranks among the very best.

Most wins above replacement for catchers who debuted from 1987 to 2011:

Ivan Rodriguez -- 67.3
Mike Piazza -- 59.1
Jorge Posada -- 44.1
Joe Mauer -- 40.7
Jason Kendall -- 37.7
Javy Lopez -- 27.9
Victor Martinez -- 27.9

Notables

• Yet another bidder for the Los Angeles Dodgers has emerged, courtesy of Bill Shaikin. From his story:

With a star-studded and deep-pocketed roster of bidders that could feature the likes of Magic Johnson, Joe Torre, Mark Cuban and Peter O'Malley, outgoing owner Frank McCourt appears to believe the Dodgers can sell for at least $1.6 billion.

You wonder whether the number will be close to $2 billion, or more, through the competition. There are no paper tigers in these groups; they are billionaires who expect to win and who are accustomed to winning.

And all of this bodes well for Dodgers fans, because nobody is going to spend that kind of money to acquire this franchise and then let it rot with a modest payroll of $90 million (like the 2011 Dodgers).

Cole Hamels, free agent-to-be, should be very excited by all of this; on the other hand, the timing of Prince Fielder's free agency -- obviously not something he controls -- isn't good, because the Yankees and Boston Red Sox don't have job openings, and the Dodgers and New York Mets don't have settled ownership situations.

Michael Hunt would love it if Prince returned to the Milwaukee Brewers for one more season.

Within this Bob Elliott piece, Cecil Fielder is quoted about where he believes Prince Fielder will land:

"Likely the Washington Nationals," his father Cecil Fielder told the Ontario Blue Jays players and parents during a question and answer period as organization inducted their inaugural Hall of Fame class at a banquet in Woodbridge.

"Prince has the desire to be a better hitter than his father -- and some day he might be. He might hit 500 home runs, when all is said and done."

For the Nats and Fielder, writes Jason Reid, the time is now.

The Nationals' brass doesn't seem convinced. Last year, Washington made a lightning negotiation with Jayson Werth, a rapid, top-of-the-market seven-year, $126 agreement with his agent, Scott Boras.

For a month, Fielder has been without an employer and the benefit of big-market bidders, and at the very least, Washington is slow-playing this. It's also possible that the decision-makers -- the guys in the costliest suits -- aren't as interested as folks with other teams have expected.

• Major League Baseball is pushing for a stadium resolution for the Tampa Bay Rays, says Stuart Sternberg.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Seth Smith has been in the middle of a lot of trade talk this winter, and one of the ideas that was discussed early this winter was Tampa Bay acquiring Smith and then flipping him to the Cincinnati Reds in return for catcher Ryan Hanigan, whose on-base percentage and relatively modest salary make him a perfect fit for the Rays.

2. Reliever David Aardsma had surgery this past summer and started throwing on Wednesday. The plan for the free-agent closer, agent Jamie Murphy says, is to wait until he is further along in his rehab before he throws for teams and works out his next agreement.

3. Andrew Friedman remains confident that Tampa Bay will wind up with a couple of good bats, writes Marc Topkin.

4. Howard Kendrick agreed to a new deal with the Los Angeles Angels, writes Mike DiGiovanna.

5. San Diego Padres GM Josh Byrnes is motivated by need versus cost, writes Tim Sullivan.

6. Chris Heisey welcomes the opportunity in left field he apparently will get, writes John Fay.

7. The Brewers expect that Ryan Braun's appeal will be resolved before the start of spring training.

8. Buck Showalter watched Manny Ramirez take batting practice last month, Roch Kubatko writes.

9. Matt Gelb looks at five young arms who could help the Philadelphia Phillies, including Phillippe Aumont.

10. Look for Bud Selig to stay when his contract runs out, writes Bill Madden, who cites a salary of $20 million as a reason Selig would stay. I've heard his salary is closer to $22 million.



Rumors.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Selig in no rush to retire

10:18AM ET
Bud Selig
mlb.gif

The contract of Bud Selig expires later this year, and baseball's commissioner, who turns 78 in July, has talked about returning to his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, to teach sports history.

So why has there hardly been a murmur about a possible successor? Maybe because Selig isn't going anywhere anytime soon, writes Hall of Famer Bill Madden.

Madden couldn't find a single person in baseball who says Selig plans to walk away from his job later this year, and a $20 million contract is an awfully nice incentive to stay. One baseball executive adds that while baseball owners are a divided group, they still "fall in line" for Selig.

- Doug Mittler

Rays search for a first baseman

9:55AM ET
Seattle Mariners
sea.gif

There are several free agent first basemen left on the market who are simply waiting for Prince Fielder to make up his mind before making a move of their own. That list includes Derrek Lee, Carlos Pena and Casey Kotchman.

ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney wrote the Tampa Bay Rays are among the teams looking for a first baseman, and they appear to be exploring some low-cost options.

The Rays were talking to the Padres about Anthony Rizzo before he was dealt to the Cubs and they may have interest in Chicago's Bryan LaHair, who would fit into Tampa Bay's budget, wrote Phil Rogers over the weekend.

Olney suggests one option among many is the Mets' Daniel Murphy, which seems to be a logical fit given the Mets' quest for young solid pitching. Murphy may not hit for power, but can but the ball in play, a trait that would be attractive to a Rays team that values on-base percentage.

The Rays could use Ben Zobrist at first base if they stay in house, but they might prefer to use him at second.

- Doug Mittler

Fielder timetable depends on Yu

9:34AM ET
Prince Fielder | Brewers
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It is looking more and more likely that the timing of any deal for Prince Fielder may hinge on the Texas Rangers negotiations with Yu Darvish.

Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post predicted last month the logjam will break on January 18, the deadline the Rangers face to sign Darvish, presumably for more than $100 million. If the Rangers reach a deal, that would take them out of the picture. But if Darvish goes back to Japan, Texas could be back in play.

Meanwhile, Phil Rogers wrote over the weekend that the Rangers are studying a late run at Fielder as a contingency if it deems Darvish's demands too high. Rogers adds some in Japan have said it's not a lock Darvish will come to the United States this season.

There has been ample speculation that the Washington Nationals are leading the Fielder chase, but it makes sense for agent Scott Boras to find out where the Rangers stand.

- Doug Mittler

Wood, Cubs not close to deal

9:10AM ET
Kerry Wood | Cubs
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UPDATE: The chances of Wood landing outside of Wrigley Field may have increased following word from Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com the two sides can't agree on money or length of contract at this point.

Wood, a free agent, also told NBC-5 Chicago television on Sunday night that he'll make a decision on where he will pitch next season by Friday. Wood added that a week ago he was confident he would sign with the Cubs, but now he's not sure where he'll pitch.

- Doug Mittler

--

Right-hander Kerry Wood appeared to be a lock to return to the Chicago Cubs, but as ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tweets, there is at least one other club showing interest -- the Philadelphia Phillies.

Crasnick adds that the Phillies' interest in Wood could be determined by the health status of Jose Contreras, who is guaranteed $2.5 million for 2012 but had elbow surgery in August.

Jon Morosi adds that the Cubs and Phillies have shown the biggest interest in Wood.

More Crasnick: "One question: Could the #Cubs' new rebuilding plan prompt Wood to look elsewhere if an opportunity with a contender arises?"

The Phillies, if they are in search of a setup man, could consider others such as Todd Coffey, Juan Cruz, Jason Isringhausen, Dan Wheeler and Scott Linebrink, and Crasnick notes that even Wood would be less expensive than Ryan Madson. Madson is still a free agent, but his price, even on a short-term deal, is likely to far exceed that of Wood and the aforementioned crop of free agent relievers.

- Jason A. Churchill

Maholm a fit in Boston?

8:54AM ET
Paul Maholm | Pirates
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The Boston Red Sox are exploring any and all options for starting pitching help. Carlos Silva was signed to a minor league deal last week and it appears Aaron Cook will get a chance to earn a spot at the back end of the rotation.

Could GM Ben Cherington be willing to kick the tires on Paul Maholm? In Sunday's Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo writes that Maholm, a groundball pitcher, is the "type of pitcher the Red Sox would seek to sign," even if he is coming off shoulder surgery.

While the Pirates and Malholm have had discussions, it is highly unlikely that the free agent pitcher will return to Pittsburgh, Dejan Kovacevic of the Tribune Review reported last week.

The Pirates decided to buy out Maholm's $9.75 option following a season in which the southpaw went 6-14 with a 3.66 ERA.

- Doug Mittler

Rockies have no room for Millwood?

8:29AM ET
Kevin Millwood | Rockies
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While the Colorado Rockies have not ruled out bringing back Kevin Millwood, the chances of re-signing the righthander diminished significantly following the acquisition of Kevin Slowey.

Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that the trade with Minnesota for Slowey, who will make $2.75 million in 2012, leaves little in the budget for Millwood, especially after the Rockies signed Michael Cuddyer to a three-year, $31.5 million deal.

The Rockies' offer of a guaranteed $1 million with incentives reportedly was rebuffed as Millwood eyed a contract in the $3 million range.

Renck adds that Millwood also has attracted interest from Seattle.

- Doug Mittler

Cook headed to Boston

8:03AM ET
Aaron Cook | Rockies
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The Red Sox have reached agreement with free-agent right-hander Aaron Cook on a minor league contract, pending a physical, reports Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.

With John Lackey expected to miss the 2012 season, Cook will get the chance to compete for a starting spot at the back of the rotation.

Cook won 16 games for the Rockies in 2008, but has had trouble staying healthy the last two seasons. He was dealing with a sore shoulder in spring training when he broke his right index finger, and didn't pitch until June.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com says Cook receive a prorated $1.5 million salary if he is called up to the major league club.

- Doug Mittler

Could Torre end up back at MLB?

7:41AM ET
Joe Torre
mlb.gif

Joe Torre stepped down as MLB's executive VP of baseball operations last week to join a prospective ownership group that will be among those competing to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Early speculation on a Torre successor has centered on Tony La Russa, who recently retired from the Cardinals after winning the World Series, and Andy MacPhail, who recently resigned as head of baseball operations for the Orioles. A report in the New York Daily News says Bud Selig wants another high-profile name to replace Torre, who was hired after Sandy Alderson left to become GM of the New York Mets.

If another group wins the bidding, don't rule out a return of Torre to MLB, Newsday's Ken Davidoff wrote Sunday. Davidoff says Selig "very much enjoyed having Torre in his Cabinet," and Torre enjoyed remaining in the game without enduring the daily stress of managing.

- Doug Mittler

Could Smith end up in Cincinnati?

7:18AM ET
Seth Smith | Rockies | Interested: Reds?, Braves?
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There's been chatter since before the winter meetings that the Colorado Rockies were interested in dealing Seth Smith. While the outfielder remains a coveted commodity, the Atlanta Braves' interest has cooled, a source told Troy Renck of the Denver Post last week.

The Braves reportedly are unwilling to move infielder Martin Prado, the Rockies' desired target, without an accompanying move to add infield depth.

Could the Reds be part of the mix. ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney wrote Sunday that of the ideas that was discussed early this winter was Tampa Bay acquiring Smith and then flipping him to the Cincinnati Reds in return for catcher Ryan Hanigan, whose on-base percentage and relatively modest salary make him a perfect fit for the Rays.

- Doug Mittler

The DA's plans

7:07AM ET
David Aardsma | Mariners
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David Aardsma had a fine 2009 and a solid 2010, but missed all of last season and had Tommy John surgery over the summer. He's a free agent this offseason but isn't planning to seek a new contract until he's closer to a return, tweets ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.

Aardsma was one of the league's better closer in '09 and was serviceable a year later before succumbing to surgery last year. At worst, when healthy, he's a capable setup man who misses bats with a plus fastball, above-average splitter and a slider.

His timetable for return is likely to be sometime between the spring month and August, which is the typical range for UCL replacement patients. When he becomes effective again on the mound isn't predetermined, however, so he's likely to get a minor league deal with some incentives.

post #4347 of 77278
Thread Starter 

Jorge Posada's final curtain call.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

The New York Yankees had a lot of veterans, but it was Jorge Posada's responsibility to nudge Orlando Hernandez, and the catcher would do this early in a game or before a game by saying something to offend El Duque. Basically, he picked a fight to get Hernandez's adrenaline going, to get him engaged in the moment at hand.

Posada sometimes did this in the dugout, or sometimes on the mound, and generally, Hernandez responded in the way Posada intended -- other than that time, perhaps, when Hernandez went after Posada with a sharp instrument in the trainer's room. (For the record: Nobody got hurt.)

Posada was the perfect person for this job because of his own stubbornness, a trait that fueled him through his remarkable ascent. He went from a second baseman drafted in the 24th round to a catcher who played in 125 postseason games and served an integral role in four championships. He provided the Yankees with the rarest of weapons at his position -- a switch-hitter who had patience and power from both sides of the plate.

The Yankees were honored at City Hall after the 2000 World Series, and in the midst of that celebration, then-manager Joe Torre stood at the microphone, turned to Posada and asked him for the team mantra, and Posada lifted a fist and motioned. "We grind it!" he said.

Nothing came easily for him. Posada fought to learn a position that did not come naturally for him, fought to gain the trust of his pitchers and even his manager, Torre. After a strong season in 1998, he started slowly in 1999 and sensed that Don Zimmer -- who was filling in for Torre as manager while Torre underwent treatment for prostate cancer -- didn't believe in him. Posada fought through that doubt. He fought through offensive slumps, defensive slumps, heightened expectations.

The other Yankees came to view him as a hitter whose concentration would get better in the tensest moments, as in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, when his flair hit in the eighth inning finished off Pedro Martinez. He had 103 postseason hits, posting a .358 on-base percentage and hitting 11 homers. He had 275 regular-season homers, a .374 on-base percentage, 1,065 RBIs and OPS+ of 121 for his career, below those of Bill Dickey (127) and Yogi Berra (125) but higher than those of Thurman Munson (116) and Elston Howard (108). Those catchers have all had their numbers retired by the Yankees, and the team should do the same with Posada's No. 20 some day.

Posada was among the most honest players I've covered. If he wasn't thrilled with a decision, he didn't whitewash his unhappiness by smiling into the cameras; he usually would tell you how he felt. On July 4, 1999, a brutally hot day, Posada was furious with the work of plate umpire Greg Kosc, who seemed to badly miss ball-strike calls early before leaving the field late in the game. Posada had seemingly turned and barked at Kosc during the game. Afterward, I waited alone for the catcher to ask him about the exchanges.

This is what I wrote in the game story from that day:

Posada said that after he was called out on strikes by Kosc in the sixth, he turned to the umpire and told him he was being inconsistent with his strike zone. ''He hasn't called it all day, and all of a sudden, he's going to expand it because it's hot,'' said Posada, before expanding the issue.

''The bottom line, the guys are not in shape,'' Posada continued, referring to umpires. ''It was hot -- I can understand it's hot. You've got to be able to go through the game. They're not prepared, they're not in shape; it's a shame. He gets hot, the zone gets bigger. One doesn't go with the other one.''

What Posada had said reflected what a lot of players in the game had felt about some of the umpires in that era. But later in the day, it was determined that Kosc had suffered from heat stroke, and he was hospitalized. After David Cone and Joe Girardi read the story the next day, with the blunt criticism of the umpiring, they were horrified and envisioned an umpires' revolt against the Yankees. They went to Posada and told him he had to go to the umpires' room, just down the hallway from the Yankees' clubhouse, and submit an apology to Kosc for what he had said.

All reporters have been in this kind of situation -- a player says something inflammatory, and it turns out the words had consequences he did not expect. And many times, the player (or executive) who is feeling heat will blame the reporter, by denying that he had said the printed words or by suggesting the context for the quotes were wrong.

Posada never did that in this situation despite the backlash. He never complained to me or disavowed his words to teammates or other reporters. In the 15 years I've known him, I can't remember him ever doing this.

Posada had a bad moment last season in the midst of what was a frustrating season for the aging All-Star, when he essentially refused to play because he felt disrespected by Girardi, the Yankees' manager. (Did I mention that Posada is stubborn?) The next day, Posada walked into a sea of reporters, said he made a mistake and apologized. If we are all to be judged by our worst day, well, this is a saintless world.

It comes as no surprise that Posada is retiring rather than hanging on for a season or two as a designated hitter, because he cared deeply about being a Yankee. He loved the history, cherished his positional connection with Berra and Munson and wanted to be there for the historic moments -- when he caught David Wells' perfect game, or the final pitch of the World Series from Mariano Rivera, or the final pitch thrown by a Yankee in old Yankee Stadium. He loved catching the ceremonial first pitches from the likes of Berra, Phil Rizzuto and $$%$@% Ford.

And someday soon in the future, he will be asked to throw out a first ball rather than catch it.

From Katharine Sharp, of ESPN Stats and Info:

1. Posada played all 17 of his seasons with the Yankees. He finished his career ranked in the top 10 in Yankees history in games (eighth), doubles (seventh), home runs (eighth) and extra-base hits (ninth).

2. Posada played in 125 postseason games, second-most all time. He also ranks in the top 10 in postseason history in runs (eighth), hits (fourth), doubles (third) and RBIs (T-ninth).

3. Posada's career .848 OPS is fifth-highest among players who had at least 5,000 career plate appearances and played at least 50 percent of their games at catcher. Three of the four players ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame.

4. From the Elias Sports Bureau: Posada caught at least one game in 17 straight seasons for the Yankees. The last catcher to catch at least one game with the same team for at least 17 straight seasons was Johnny Bench with the Reds from 1967 to '83 (also 17).

Next Level:

• In the past two seasons, Posada's biggest problem has been hitting off-speed pitches. Last season, he hit .284 against fastballs (up from .274 in '10) and .189 against off-speed pitches (down from .223 in '10).

• Posada is one of eight players who played at least 50 percent of their games at catcher and had 1,500 hits, 250 home runs and 1,000 RBIs. The others are Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk, Lance Parrish, Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez.

From Elias: Posada, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera were the first trio of teammates in MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL history to appear in a game together in each of 16 straight seasons.

Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information addresses the question of Posada's Hall of Fame candidacy:

• Posada ranks 12th among those who caught at least 50 percent of their games in Baseball-Reference.com's version of WAR. (He also ranks 12th via the same qualifier with FanGraphs' WAR ... the two lists are almost identical.)

Below is the top 12. Of them, seven are Hall of Famers, three are not yet eligible (Rodriguez, Piazza and Posada), and two were Hall of Fame-eligible but not inducted (Simmons and Tenace -- both of whom rank ahead of Posada).

Most all-time wins above replacement for catchers:

Johnny Bench -- 71.3<<
Ivan Rodriguez -- 67.3
Carlton Fisk -- 67.3<<
Gary Carter -- 66.3<<
Yogi Berra -- 61.9<<
Mike Piazza -- 59.1
Bill Dickey -- 54.4<<
Mickey Cochrane -- 51.2<<
Ted Simmons -- 50.4
Gabby Hartnett -- 50.3<<
Gene Tenace -- 48.7
Jorge Posada -- 44.9
<< Hall of Famer

• Posada does rank ahead of a handful of Hall of Fame catchers such as Ernie Lombardi and Roger Bresnahan. However, only one of those debuted after World War II (former Dodgers great Roy Campanella, whose career was cut short by injury).

• By this metric, Posada rates third among Yankees catchers, trailing Hall of Famers Berra (62.1) and Dickey (54.4), just ahead of Munson (43.4). He rates 11th among Yankees position players in WAR. Of the 10 players ahead of him, seven are Hall of Famers, and the other three are likely Hall of Famers in Derek Jeter, Willie Randolph and Bernie Williams.

• The strength of Posada's Hall of Fame argument comes in where he ranks among the modern catcher. Among those who debuted in the 25 seasons from 1987 to 2011, he ranks among the very best.

Most wins above replacement for catchers who debuted from 1987 to 2011:

Ivan Rodriguez -- 67.3
Mike Piazza -- 59.1
Jorge Posada -- 44.1
Joe Mauer -- 40.7
Jason Kendall -- 37.7
Javy Lopez -- 27.9
Victor Martinez -- 27.9

Notables

• Yet another bidder for the Los Angeles Dodgers has emerged, courtesy of Bill Shaikin. From his story:

With a star-studded and deep-pocketed roster of bidders that could feature the likes of Magic Johnson, Joe Torre, Mark Cuban and Peter O'Malley, outgoing owner Frank McCourt appears to believe the Dodgers can sell for at least $1.6 billion.

You wonder whether the number will be close to $2 billion, or more, through the competition. There are no paper tigers in these groups; they are billionaires who expect to win and who are accustomed to winning.

And all of this bodes well for Dodgers fans, because nobody is going to spend that kind of money to acquire this franchise and then let it rot with a modest payroll of $90 million (like the 2011 Dodgers).

Cole Hamels, free agent-to-be, should be very excited by all of this; on the other hand, the timing of Prince Fielder's free agency -- obviously not something he controls -- isn't good, because the Yankees and Boston Red Sox don't have job openings, and the Dodgers and New York Mets don't have settled ownership situations.

Michael Hunt would love it if Prince returned to the Milwaukee Brewers for one more season.

Within this Bob Elliott piece, Cecil Fielder is quoted about where he believes Prince Fielder will land:

"Likely the Washington Nationals," his father Cecil Fielder told the Ontario Blue Jays players and parents during a question and answer period as organization inducted their inaugural Hall of Fame class at a banquet in Woodbridge.

"Prince has the desire to be a better hitter than his father -- and some day he might be. He might hit 500 home runs, when all is said and done."

For the Nats and Fielder, writes Jason Reid, the time is now.

The Nationals' brass doesn't seem convinced. Last year, Washington made a lightning negotiation with Jayson Werth, a rapid, top-of-the-market seven-year, $126 agreement with his agent, Scott Boras.

For a month, Fielder has been without an employer and the benefit of big-market bidders, and at the very least, Washington is slow-playing this. It's also possible that the decision-makers -- the guys in the costliest suits -- aren't as interested as folks with other teams have expected.

• Major League Baseball is pushing for a stadium resolution for the Tampa Bay Rays, says Stuart Sternberg.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Seth Smith has been in the middle of a lot of trade talk this winter, and one of the ideas that was discussed early this winter was Tampa Bay acquiring Smith and then flipping him to the Cincinnati Reds in return for catcher Ryan Hanigan, whose on-base percentage and relatively modest salary make him a perfect fit for the Rays.

2. Reliever David Aardsma had surgery this past summer and started throwing on Wednesday. The plan for the free-agent closer, agent Jamie Murphy says, is to wait until he is further along in his rehab before he throws for teams and works out his next agreement.

3. Andrew Friedman remains confident that Tampa Bay will wind up with a couple of good bats, writes Marc Topkin.

4. Howard Kendrick agreed to a new deal with the Los Angeles Angels, writes Mike DiGiovanna.

5. San Diego Padres GM Josh Byrnes is motivated by need versus cost, writes Tim Sullivan.

6. Chris Heisey welcomes the opportunity in left field he apparently will get, writes John Fay.

7. The Brewers expect that Ryan Braun's appeal will be resolved before the start of spring training.

8. Buck Showalter watched Manny Ramirez take batting practice last month, Roch Kubatko writes.

9. Matt Gelb looks at five young arms who could help the Philadelphia Phillies, including Phillippe Aumont.

10. Look for Bud Selig to stay when his contract runs out, writes Bill Madden, who cites a salary of $20 million as a reason Selig would stay. I've heard his salary is closer to $22 million.



Rumors.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Selig in no rush to retire

10:18AM ET
Bud Selig
mlb.gif

The contract of Bud Selig expires later this year, and baseball's commissioner, who turns 78 in July, has talked about returning to his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, to teach sports history.

So why has there hardly been a murmur about a possible successor? Maybe because Selig isn't going anywhere anytime soon, writes Hall of Famer Bill Madden.

Madden couldn't find a single person in baseball who says Selig plans to walk away from his job later this year, and a $20 million contract is an awfully nice incentive to stay. One baseball executive adds that while baseball owners are a divided group, they still "fall in line" for Selig.

- Doug Mittler

Rays search for a first baseman

9:55AM ET
Seattle Mariners
sea.gif

There are several free agent first basemen left on the market who are simply waiting for Prince Fielder to make up his mind before making a move of their own. That list includes Derrek Lee, Carlos Pena and Casey Kotchman.

ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney wrote the Tampa Bay Rays are among the teams looking for a first baseman, and they appear to be exploring some low-cost options.

The Rays were talking to the Padres about Anthony Rizzo before he was dealt to the Cubs and they may have interest in Chicago's Bryan LaHair, who would fit into Tampa Bay's budget, wrote Phil Rogers over the weekend.

Olney suggests one option among many is the Mets' Daniel Murphy, which seems to be a logical fit given the Mets' quest for young solid pitching. Murphy may not hit for power, but can but the ball in play, a trait that would be attractive to a Rays team that values on-base percentage.

The Rays could use Ben Zobrist at first base if they stay in house, but they might prefer to use him at second.

- Doug Mittler

Fielder timetable depends on Yu

9:34AM ET
Prince Fielder | Brewers
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It is looking more and more likely that the timing of any deal for Prince Fielder may hinge on the Texas Rangers negotiations with Yu Darvish.

Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post predicted last month the logjam will break on January 18, the deadline the Rangers face to sign Darvish, presumably for more than $100 million. If the Rangers reach a deal, that would take them out of the picture. But if Darvish goes back to Japan, Texas could be back in play.

Meanwhile, Phil Rogers wrote over the weekend that the Rangers are studying a late run at Fielder as a contingency if it deems Darvish's demands too high. Rogers adds some in Japan have said it's not a lock Darvish will come to the United States this season.

There has been ample speculation that the Washington Nationals are leading the Fielder chase, but it makes sense for agent Scott Boras to find out where the Rangers stand.

- Doug Mittler

Wood, Cubs not close to deal

9:10AM ET
Kerry Wood | Cubs
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UPDATE: The chances of Wood landing outside of Wrigley Field may have increased following word from Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com the two sides can't agree on money or length of contract at this point.

Wood, a free agent, also told NBC-5 Chicago television on Sunday night that he'll make a decision on where he will pitch next season by Friday. Wood added that a week ago he was confident he would sign with the Cubs, but now he's not sure where he'll pitch.

- Doug Mittler

--

Right-hander Kerry Wood appeared to be a lock to return to the Chicago Cubs, but as ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tweets, there is at least one other club showing interest -- the Philadelphia Phillies.

Crasnick adds that the Phillies' interest in Wood could be determined by the health status of Jose Contreras, who is guaranteed $2.5 million for 2012 but had elbow surgery in August.

Jon Morosi adds that the Cubs and Phillies have shown the biggest interest in Wood.

More Crasnick: "One question: Could the #Cubs' new rebuilding plan prompt Wood to look elsewhere if an opportunity with a contender arises?"

The Phillies, if they are in search of a setup man, could consider others such as Todd Coffey, Juan Cruz, Jason Isringhausen, Dan Wheeler and Scott Linebrink, and Crasnick notes that even Wood would be less expensive than Ryan Madson. Madson is still a free agent, but his price, even on a short-term deal, is likely to far exceed that of Wood and the aforementioned crop of free agent relievers.

- Jason A. Churchill

Maholm a fit in Boston?

8:54AM ET
Paul Maholm | Pirates
6398.png&w=65&h=90&scale=crop&background=0xcccccc&transparent=false

The Boston Red Sox are exploring any and all options for starting pitching help. Carlos Silva was signed to a minor league deal last week and it appears Aaron Cook will get a chance to earn a spot at the back end of the rotation.

Could GM Ben Cherington be willing to kick the tires on Paul Maholm? In Sunday's Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo writes that Maholm, a groundball pitcher, is the "type of pitcher the Red Sox would seek to sign," even if he is coming off shoulder surgery.

While the Pirates and Malholm have had discussions, it is highly unlikely that the free agent pitcher will return to Pittsburgh, Dejan Kovacevic of the Tribune Review reported last week.

The Pirates decided to buy out Maholm's $9.75 option following a season in which the southpaw went 6-14 with a 3.66 ERA.

- Doug Mittler

Rockies have no room for Millwood?

8:29AM ET
Kevin Millwood | Rockies
3687.png&w=65&h=90&scale=crop&background=0xcccccc&transparent=false

While the Colorado Rockies have not ruled out bringing back Kevin Millwood, the chances of re-signing the righthander diminished significantly following the acquisition of Kevin Slowey.

Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that the trade with Minnesota for Slowey, who will make $2.75 million in 2012, leaves little in the budget for Millwood, especially after the Rockies signed Michael Cuddyer to a three-year, $31.5 million deal.

The Rockies' offer of a guaranteed $1 million with incentives reportedly was rebuffed as Millwood eyed a contract in the $3 million range.

Renck adds that Millwood also has attracted interest from Seattle.

- Doug Mittler

Cook headed to Boston

8:03AM ET
Aaron Cook | Rockies
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The Red Sox have reached agreement with free-agent right-hander Aaron Cook on a minor league contract, pending a physical, reports Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.

With John Lackey expected to miss the 2012 season, Cook will get the chance to compete for a starting spot at the back of the rotation.

Cook won 16 games for the Rockies in 2008, but has had trouble staying healthy the last two seasons. He was dealing with a sore shoulder in spring training when he broke his right index finger, and didn't pitch until June.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com says Cook receive a prorated $1.5 million salary if he is called up to the major league club.

- Doug Mittler

Could Torre end up back at MLB?

7:41AM ET
Joe Torre
mlb.gif

Joe Torre stepped down as MLB's executive VP of baseball operations last week to join a prospective ownership group that will be among those competing to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Early speculation on a Torre successor has centered on Tony La Russa, who recently retired from the Cardinals after winning the World Series, and Andy MacPhail, who recently resigned as head of baseball operations for the Orioles. A report in the New York Daily News says Bud Selig wants another high-profile name to replace Torre, who was hired after Sandy Alderson left to become GM of the New York Mets.

If another group wins the bidding, don't rule out a return of Torre to MLB, Newsday's Ken Davidoff wrote Sunday. Davidoff says Selig "very much enjoyed having Torre in his Cabinet," and Torre enjoyed remaining in the game without enduring the daily stress of managing.

- Doug Mittler

Could Smith end up in Cincinnati?

7:18AM ET
Seth Smith | Rockies | Interested: Reds?, Braves?
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There's been chatter since before the winter meetings that the Colorado Rockies were interested in dealing Seth Smith. While the outfielder remains a coveted commodity, the Atlanta Braves' interest has cooled, a source told Troy Renck of the Denver Post last week.

The Braves reportedly are unwilling to move infielder Martin Prado, the Rockies' desired target, without an accompanying move to add infield depth.

Could the Reds be part of the mix. ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney wrote Sunday that of the ideas that was discussed early this winter was Tampa Bay acquiring Smith and then flipping him to the Cincinnati Reds in return for catcher Ryan Hanigan, whose on-base percentage and relatively modest salary make him a perfect fit for the Rays.

- Doug Mittler

The DA's plans

7:07AM ET
David Aardsma | Mariners
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David Aardsma had a fine 2009 and a solid 2010, but missed all of last season and had Tommy John surgery over the summer. He's a free agent this offseason but isn't planning to seek a new contract until he's closer to a return, tweets ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.

Aardsma was one of the league's better closer in '09 and was serviceable a year later before succumbing to surgery last year. At worst, when healthy, he's a capable setup man who misses bats with a plus fastball, above-average splitter and a slider.

His timetable for return is likely to be sometime between the spring month and August, which is the typical range for UCL replacement patients. When he becomes effective again on the mound isn't predetermined, however, so he's likely to get a minor league deal with some incentives.

post #4348 of 77278
Barry Larkin better be going to the HOF.
post #4349 of 77278
Barry Larkin better be going to the HOF.
post #4350 of 77278
Thread Starter 
Larkin got in. Shame that he was the only one. Congrats.
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