Sunday, February 22, 2009

Twins sign Joe Crede to 1-year deal

The Minnesota Twins signed free agent 3B Joe Crede to a one-year contract yesterday that is worth $2.5 million. Provided Crede meets certain incentives, the deal could be worth up to $7 million.
"We've been thinking about this guy for a while, never knowing whether it was going to work out or not. But it finally has," [Twins manager Ron] Gardenhire said. "When his name was out there recommended, I said yeah, I would love to have this guy. Absolutely."
Last year, Crede was selected to the A.L. All-Star team, but only had 37 at bats after the All-Star break.

Crede finished 2008 with a .248 batting average, 17 homeruns and 55 RBIs.

In the past 2 years, he's played a total of 144 games. In 2006, Crede had the best year of his career (.283 BA, 30 HRs, 94 RBIs in 150 games).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ozzie Guillen: I see your 50 and raise you 112

Major League Baseball has become tougher on steroids and performance-enhancing drugs when compared to its past. Only 5 years ago did mandatory testing begin. In fact, no players were suspended for steroid use in 2004.

Beginning in 2005, the penalties became stiffer and public.

2005 penalties: 10-game suspension (1st offense), 30-game suspension (2nd offense), 60-game suspension (3rd offense) and full-season suspension (4th offense).

2006-present penalties: 50-game suspension (1st offense), 100-game suspension (2nd offense) and full-season suspension (3rd offense).

Now Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is calling for even stiffer penalties that will show the sport is more serious about combatting steroid use in the game. He proposes a one-year suspension for a first offender.

It is certainly a harsh penalty, and the MLBPA is as likely to go for this as they are for a salary cap, but I think it would do a lot to improve the image of the game.

Baseball's current penalties are in line with other sports, especially football. By comparison, an NFL player who violates the NFL's policy against performance-enhancing drugs receives a 4-game suspension (or 1/4 of the season). Baseball players get a 50-game suspension (or roughly 3/10 of the season).

Many suspect that everyone in baseball (players, coaches, GMs, the commissioner, etc.) is culpable in this whole mess. But a drastic measure, such as a full-year suspension, will demonstrate to everyone including the skeptics that the sport is ready to turn the corner.

Griffey to Atlanta talks heating up

While it seemed likely that the Mariners would reunite with Junior, talks between the Braves and Ken Griffey Jr. are heating up.
“We have interest in several available outfielders, including Griffey,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said Saturday.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a source says that "the Braves are Griffey's first choice."

If the Braves were to sign Griffey, he would face right-handed pitchers while Matt Diaz would face lefties. Diaz has a .328 career batting average against left-handed pitchers in 478 at bats.

Griffey has a close relationship with Braves' manager Bobby Cox, who traded for Griffey Sr. back in 1986. Also, he has a daughter that plays AAU basketball in Norcross, GA and a son that plays high school football in Orlando. Playing in Atlanta would be easier for Griffey to see his kids' games than if he were to play in Seattle.

Griffey ranks 5th all-time in career HRs with 611. He only trails Bonds, Aaron, Ruth and Mays.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Angels, Santana agree to 4-year deal

The Los Angeles Angels have signed Ervin Santana to a 4-year, $30 million contract today. There is an option for a 5th-year at $13 million.

The Angels avoid arbitration over the next 3 years as well as 1 year (2 with the option) of free agency.
"We felt comfortable with Ervin's ability to win games, be a good teammate and represent the club in a very positive way," General Manager Tony Reagins said. "This provides stability for his family and provides us with a quality pitcher who has a tremendous upside. . . . And we don't think we've seen the best of him yet."
Santana made the American League All-Star team last year and finished the season with a 16-7 record. He finished 11th in the A.L. with an ERA of 3.49. He had 214 strikeouts in 219 innings, which are both career bests for the 26 year old.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ryan Howard and Phillies agree on contract

Ryan Howard has had a pretty good 12 months.

He led the majors in HRs (48) and RBIs (146) in 2008. The Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series. Now add a 3-year, $54 million contract to go with it.

In either case, Howard would not have become eligible for free agency until 2011 due to his MLB length of service (4 years). But now the Phillies and Howard will avoid arbitration during that span.
"We're very pleased to have avoided the arbitration process, not just for this year, but also for the next two," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "Ryan is clearly one of the top power hitters and run producers in the major leagues and is a very important part of our championship club."
Howard had asked for $18 million and the Phillies offered him $14 million for 2008. Last year, Howard earned $10 million.

Howard will now earn $15 million (2009), $19 million (2010) and $20 million (2011).

Sunday, February 8, 2009

From "A-Rod" to "A-Fraud" to "A-Roid"

According to SI.com, NY Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003, his last season with the Texas Rangers.

The tests in 2003 were supposed to remain anonymous and were intended to determine whether or not the league needed to test for performance-enhancing drugs on a mandatory basis.

A-Rod appears on a list of 104 players that tested positive in 2003.
"This is a mess," one Rodriguez associate told the Daily News. "I'm not sure how he's going to take this. He's never had to deal with anything like this before."
Larry Bowa, who was the Yankees third-base coach, was surprised by the report.
"I'm shocked, I really am," said Bowa. "He's the last guy I would've thought would've done anything. Hopefully, this is a mistake."
Mistake? Yeah, he got caught.

Jose Canseco wasn't surprised as he had called out A-Rod in his book.
"I may not have seen [A-Rod] do the deed, but I set the whole thing up for him, just like he wanted. I saw the changes in his body in a short time," Canseco wrote. "Hell, if you ask me, I did everything but inject the guy myself."
A-Rod had previously told Katie Couric that he never took nor was tempted to take performance-enhancing drugs.

However, when asked about the failed steroids test, A-Rod wasn't talking.
"You have to talk to the union," Rodriguez said. "I'm not saying anything."
A-Rod, who is so concerned with his image, has seen his image get battered in the past month by Joe Torre's book and now the SI report.

I'm interested to see whether he lets the damage to how he's perceived destroy his 2009 season. Or if he puts aside his obsession with his image since it's already destroyed and finally just plays baseball, in which case he might have a monster year.

I think it will be a feast or (more likely) famine year for Rodriguez, who has 553 career homeruns and ranks 12th all-time.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Garrett Atkins signs 1-year deal to avoid arbitration

Garrett Atkins of the Colorado Rockies signed a one-year contract to avoid arbitration. The contract is worth $7.05 million with a 700-plate appearance incentive that could earn him another $125,000.
"I am excited. Now I can just focus on getting ready for spring training and not going to Arizona (Friday for an arbitration hearing)," Atkins told The Denver Post.
The Rockies 3B hit .286 with 21 HRs and 99 RBIs in 2008.

Orioles, Wigginton reach deal

The Baltimore Orioles and Ty Wigginton have agreed to a 2-year, $6 million contract.

Last year with Houston, Wigginton batted .285 with 23 HRs and 58 RBI.

Wigginton will provide the Orioles with versatility. Last year, he played 3B and LF. But he has also played 1B, 2B and RF.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Manny says no thanks to 1-year, $25 million

The L.A. Dodgers initially offered Manny Ramirez a 2-year contract worth $45 million this off-season. The offer was later withdrawn.

With no apparent interest in Manny, the Dodgers most recent offer of 1-year, $25 million made on Sunday was rejected by Ramirez again.

It's obvious that Manny, who had a phenominal second-half of a season in L.A., was purely motivated by the prospects of a big contract and must have dogged it while in Boston.

According to the L.A. Times, the Mets, Giants and Nationals are teams that may be interested in Manny, but not at more than $20 million per season.

If you were a Manny-hater already, his rejection of $25 million when the rest of the economy is tanking (a la Manny in Beantown), you hate him even more. What an ass!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mets sign Oliver Perez to 3-year deal

The New York Metropolitans and Oliver Perez have agreed to a 3-year, $36 million contract, which is pending a physical.

Last year, Perez was 10-7 with a 4.22 ERA. While Perez struck out 180 batters in 194 IP, he also walked 105 batters, which was the highest total in baseball last year.

The Mets starters will be Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez and either Tim Redding, Freddy Garcia or Jon Niese.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pujols says Cards should purse Manny

St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols says the Cards should pursue Manny Ramirez. Less than 2 weeks before pitchers/catchers report to camp, Manny is still unsigned.

The one thing Pujols and Ramirez share in common is they are devastating hitters and, when motivated, Ramirez certainly would help protect Pujols in the Cardinals' lineup.

Pujols, who hit .357 with 37 HRs and 116 RBI in 2008, has shown amazing consistency in his 8-year career. His career lows: .314 BA (2002), 32 HRs (2007) and 103 RBI (2007).

Ramirez hit .332 with 37 HRs and 121 RBI in 2008, but hit nearly 100 points higher after forcing the Sox to trade him.

But Pujols, who is arguably one of baseball's most stand-up guys and my favorite player, is polar opposites with Manny, who obviously dogged it in Boston last year.
"Maybe St. Louis doesn't have the money to sign him, but he could give them a discount because St. Louis is a great city that supports its players," said Pujols, according to an Associated Press report.
Ramirez wanted out of Boston, which is a also a "great city that supports its players," to make a money grab. In wouldn't be Manny's style and certainly not that of his agent, ├╝ber-jerk Scott Boras, to give a "discount."

Cardinals GM John Mozeliak says that OF is "clearly one of our strengths" and the team is not going to pursue Ramirez.

Joe Torre shocked at reaction to his book

Joe Torre is shocked by the reaction to his book, "The Yankee Years."

Torre hopes David Wells, who called Torre a "punk" for the tell-all book, will "get a different perspective" if he reads the whole book.
In his book, Torre says: "The difference between Kevin Brown and David Wells is that both make your life miserable, but David Wells meant to."
Not sure what else he needs to read Joe.

Wells believes that A-Rod (called A-Fraud in Torre's book) will be affected by the comments regardless of what A-Rod says. And I couldn't agree more with Wells.
"A-Rod says that he's not worried about it, but deep down, you can't help but think, 'Why did this guy say something? Why is he making these remarks?'"

"Now you're gonna go on the road during the season, you're gonna get bashed by every fan out there. Especially in New York, if you have a bad game, [then it's] 'Joe was right.'
As talented of a player as A-Rod is, no player is more concerned with his image and how he is perceived.

One of the things I admired about Torre was his ability to keep things in house. While I would have preferred that he didn't write the book and took the high road, my opinion of Torre doesn't change much because he wrote the book.

But to act surprised by the reaction? He's either an idiot for being surprised. Or he thinks everyone else is an idiot that would believe he's surprised.