Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports
The best player on the free agent market is a free agent no longer. Josh Hamilton has decided to leave the comfort zone that was the Texas Rangers and join Albert Pujols and phenom Mike Trout in Los Angeles as a member of the Angels.
That’s right, the same team that surprised the baseball world with the signing of Albert Pulols (10-year, $254 million) and pitcher C.J. Wilson (5-year $77 million) during last years Winter Meetings has signed the embattled superstar slugger to a 5-year deal worth $125 million, according to sources. Yahoo’s Tim Brown first reported that the sides were nearing a (on Twitter). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the first to report the signing. (on Twitter). According to Yahoo’s Tim Brown, the Angels are hoping to have Hamilton’s physical completed by (on Twitter).
The general consensus throughout the offseason was that Hamilton would shop around but ultimately re-up with the Rangers. In fact, it was reported that Hamilton would give the Rangers a chance to match any offer he received from other teams before deciding to accept. Well, after Hamilton signed with the Angels reports surfaced that Rangers officials – specifically GM Jon Daniels – is not pleased with the way the negotiations ended, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (on Twitter). The GM did not get a call to match Los Angeles’ offer, as expected. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Rangers had been willing to offer four years to retain (Twitter link).
The signings of Pujols and Wilson last year combined with the addition of Hamilton will push the Angels’ payroll to the $165 million. It would represent a franchise record, but would not push the team past baseball’s luxury tax.
*A tip of the hat to Tim Dierkes over at MLB Trade Rumors for this post. This is exactly what I was planning on writing about today. Please click here for Tim’s article and to participate in the poll as to where Prince Fielder will end up playing next season and for how long.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes and wonders, isn’t Fielder entitled to an Albert Pujols-like contract, as a 27-year-old coming off a monster season?
The short answer to that question is, absolutely! Fielder is, what? Four or five years younger than Pujols and is technically still in his prime.
The problem is the marketplace, however, writes Morosi. The teams with the biggest payrolls don’t appear to be fits for Fielder.
- Last week, MLBTR posted this poll about Fielder’s destination. While the Cubs led with 24% of the vote, they almost seem to be the default pick for Fielder since there is no obvious favorite.
I agree with Dierkes’ assessment. I doubt the Cubs would do an eight, nine, or ten-year deal for Fielder. I’m having trouble finding any team that would do so, assuming an average annual value around $25MM is required.
“Super Agent” Scott Boras certainly has his work cut out for him. The Prince needs a place to play next year. Not only that, but he needs to be happy. A happy Prince translates to a productive Prince. I’m of the belief that the best fit for Fielder is the Texas Rangers. Here’s why:
With C.J. Wilson gone, the Rangers now have to consider other options. Fielder fills their biggest weakness. Relative to the rest of the league, first base was the only position where they received below-average output in 2011, a .271/.331/.422 combined line from Mitch Moreland with some Michael Young and Mike Napoli mixed in. With Napoli flashing a better glove behind the plate than Angels manager Mike Scioscia ever believed, and Young being surprisingly inadequate at first base, Fielder would provide a significant upgrade at first base. Fielder’s not winning any Gold Gloves any time soon, but he should be able to handle first for a few more years before his performance begs for a move to DH.
Rangers officials said at the Winter Meetings that they don’t currently see how Fielder fits into their financial plans. Of course, things can change. But the Rangers also want to keep as much of this core group together as they can in the future. They are looking at not just 2012, but beyond. They want to increase their playoff chances for the long haul and just sticking with the core costs money.
So if Fielder wants an 8- or 10-year contract, that doesn’t seem to matchup with what the club has planned. Walking around the lobby of the Hilton Anatole last week, it was clear that scouts and officials with other teams certainly expect the Rangers to jump into the Fielder sweepstakes. But the club is trying to look big picture. If Fielder can fit into that picture, I’m sure they’ll look into it. If he doesn’t, they won’t overspend just to counter what the Angels did.
ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden listed four possible locations for free-agent Prince Fielder to eventually land. The list: Rangers, Cubs, Mariners, and Orioles. You can read that here (insider).
The Los Angeles Angels introduce their newly acquired players Albert Pujols (L) and C.J. Wilson during a news conference in front of their stadium in Anaheim
The biggest ticket in the free agent pool for 2011 has found a new home. Albert Pujols will sign with the Los Angeles Angels for ten years and $250-260MM, reports Yahoo’s Tim Brown.
Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal reports the Angels may not be finished yet. They remain the front-runner to sign free-agent left-hander C.J. Wilson, who is “more likely than not” to reach a five-year deal with Los Angeles.
Pujols, 31, will receive a full no-trade clause — something the Miami Marlins did not offer before their pursuit of him ended on Wednesday. His contract likely will be the second-highest in major league history, behind Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275 million deal.
Last week, while speaking at an event for his foundation, longtime New York Yankee Jorge Posada publicly acknowledged the end to his tenure with the only organization he’s ever known.
“I don’t think there’s even a percentage of a chance that I can come back, … It’s not going to happen.”
Posada doesn’t exactly know what he wants to do next season. Right now he’s trying to decide to retire or play for another team. He began working out on November 1 – as he always does – and said that 5 or 6 teams have contacted him.
“I will always be a Yankee, The Yankees for me is my second family. It would be tough to put on another uniform for real and learn another set of rules and all that stuff, but that’s one of those things. I have to see if I want to keep playing… Do I want to do it for somebody else? Do I want to leave home? Do I want to do it all over again without knowing anybody? It would be tough. I’ve got great people, great friends and great teammates and it would be tough to learn new people again.”
Posada said he’s not upset with the Yankees. He understands what’s happening, and he understands why it’s happening. He called his relationship with the organization, “a great partnership” and said the first check that came into his foundation for last week’s event was from the team.
Posada has found common ground with his former teammate and longtime friend Bernie Williams who went through a similar situation with the Yankees back in 2006.
If Posada decides to play next season, he guesses that he won’t make up his mind until closer to February but says he won’t let the decision linger.
“I’m not one of those guys that’s going to linger around and wait. I’ll tell you.”
- Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped at gunpoint in his native Venezuela outside his mother’s home and in captivity for 48 hours. The gang who kidnapped Ramos had carefully planned the abduction and told him they were going to demand a large ransom.
As part of the rescue mission, once nce investigators thought they had found the general area where Ramos might be, President Hugo Chávez personally authorised an aerial search mission and teams also set out on foot in the mountainous area. Teams searched most of the day on Friday and finally came upon the remote house where Ramos was being held.
Ramos said he was thankful to be alive and described his “hair-raising” final moments as a prisoner during the rescue on Saturday, when soldiers exchanged heavy gunfire with the kidnappers in the remote area where he was being held.
“I didn’t know if I was going to get out of it alive, It was very hard for me. It was very hard for my family.”
Albert Pujols’ former team, the St. Louis Cardinals have named former catcher Mike Matheny manager. The Cardinals will hold a press conference tomorrow morning to officially announce the move. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets that Matheny received a two-year deal with a club option for 2014.
Florida Miami Marlins are wasting no time and are trying to make some noise in the free agent market this winter. The team has already made ‘substantial offers’ to both Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes and have also offered a contract to Mark Buehrle. The team met with Pujols on Friday, Reyes on Wednesday and Buehrle on Tuesday. They’re also showing interest in Carlos Beltran.
Matheny, 41, doesn’t have managerial experience but is no stranger to the game. His Major League career spanned 13 seasons, including five with the Cardinals from 2000-2004. Several candidates interviewed for the job, with former Red Sox manager Terry Francona presenting Matheny’s most notable competition. Others included Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo.
The move figures to be a popular one for many in the organization,the Cardinals players and pitching coach Dave Duncan “love Matheny” and that they view him as the “ultimate leader.” That likely includes pending free agent Albert Pujols, who has “a ton of respect” for Matheny. It will be interesting to see what kind of impact, if any, this decision has on Pujols’ decision.
- St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols grabs his left wrist after colliding with Kansas City’s Wilson Betemit on Sunday. (Jeff Roberson/Associated Press)
St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols will be out for 4-6 weeks with a fractured left forearm.
The team announced the results of an MRI and CT scan Monday, a day after Pujols was injured during a home game against Kansas City. The team said Pujols has a non-displaced fracture of his left radius and his arm is in a splint.
The three-time NL MVP and crown jewel of the 2012 free agent market was hurt after Wilson Betemit hit a chopper up the middle off Cardinals starter Jamie Garcia.
After the game, Puljols did his best to describe the situation:
“He hit me on my wrist and my shoulder. He kind of jammed me back. It’s the toughest play to make as a first baseman. It’s a bang-bang play. I saw the replay a couple of times, but I didn’t really want to look at it.” - Albert Pujols
As for the other player involved in the play, Kansas City third baseman Wilson Betemit said there was no way to avoid Pujols.
“I was running hard and the ball arrived at the same time I got to the base, I couldn’t do anything about it. He hit me on my left arm, that’s why he dropped the ball. I hit him and then I saw him on the ground. That’s part of the game. I couldn’t do anything about it.” - Wilson Betemit
Pujols is hitting .279 this year, starting to heat up after a slow start. The team said his left shoulder was sore, but no structural damage was found.
As Albert Pujols explained, the play he was involved in is indeed the toughest play for a first baseman. Cliff Floyd was never the same after he suffered a similar injury and the same could be said for Derrek Lee who currently plays first base for the Baltimore Orioles. Lee suffered an injury almost identical to Puljols’ injury and has struggled mightily to regain his form prior to the injury.
ESPN’s Buster Olney echoed similar sentiments in regards to Pujols’ injury but he also floated the idea that Pujols’ wrist could cause the Cardinals to lower their initial contract offer to the free agent-to-be, which, in Olney’s doomsday scenario, would snowball into Pujols leaving town.
**photos and quotes courtesy of the Associated Press
Yesterday was Opening Day for Major League Baseball and we were treated to six games on day one. The other teams get the call Opening Day today. One of the best things about the season being underway is that all of the predictions and projections—we can finally get some real numbers to chew on. All teams have their aces on the mound and every team has a new beginning For me, there’s really no better feeling than Opening Day.
I’m not sure how you all feel about Opening Day occuring in March, but New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixierra loves it.
“I’ve been petitioning the league to start in March for years now, finally they let us start in March because everyone knows about my Aprils.” - Mark Teixeira
Something else that stuck out to me on a positive note, the Cincinnati Reds. The walk off win to be exact. I mean, is it just me, or do the Reds always seem to come back in games? This could be the toughest team in all of baseball. Down 6-3, the Reds loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth. At the time, they were 0-for-8 with RISP and had stranded 10 men on base.
John Axford was in to close it out for the Brewers, but it was not to be. Jay Bruce struck out, and Jonny Gomes hit a sac fly to bring the Reds closer.
Still down 6-4, Ramon Hernandez strolled to the plate. Already 3-for-4 on the day, Hernandez clubbed a walk-off, three-run home run to right field to give the Reds the 7-6 win on Opening Day.
Could this be a Red October, anyone?
Not so good was the Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson struck out 170 times, the most in the AL. While he did finish second in AL Rookie of the Year voting, batting .293 with 27 stolen bases and 103 runs scored as Detroit’s leadoff man, it would be nice to see him improve his .345 OBP by cutting down on the strikeouts.
He didn’t look very good today against the Yankees’ CC Sabathia. Jackson went 1-for-4 with a run scored and three strikeouts in the Tigers’ 6-3 loss. It’s still early, of course—very early, in fact—but it’s not good to see Jackson striking out three times, especially not when facing a lefty like Sabathia.
In St. Louis, it was not a good start for the hometown Cardinals. More importantly, the bullpen for the Cards was dreadful.
Ryan Franklin only had a one-run lead to protect, but he couldn’t get the job done. After Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday hit a go-ahead solo homer to right-center, Franklin gave up a two-out, game-tying home run to Cameron Maybin.
With the loss of Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals are going to have to score runs and make sure those runs stand up in the late innings. That means Franklin needs to have a good season. Unfortunately, he’s not off to a good start. The boo birds were out in force in St. Louis.
It wasn’t all due to the bullpen woes though. The boo birds were out for the Cardinals soon-to-be free agent slugger Albert Puljols who had a day to forget by going 0-4 and grounding into three double plays. If Pujols has a rough start to the season, fans will be quick to point to his contract situation as the cause. The only question will be if they’ll blame the Cardinals front office or Pujols himself.
Those were some notable happenings from Opening Day. Now, we have another Opening Day to sit back and enjoy and I’m ok with that.
Spring is in the air. What better way than to take a look at the happenings around Spring Training? Pitchers and catchers reported earlier this week and position players are soon to follow. Follow me, as I take a look around at the early story lines as camp gets going.
- After failing to reach a contract by his self imposed deadline of noon on Wednesday, Albert Pujols has arrived at camp “better than ever” and he “wants to be a Cardinal forever” according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). In the event that Pujols reaches free agency thankfully, Pujols says he will not announce his decision on a TV special like NBA superstar LeBron James did, according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan (Twitter).
- The Toronto Blue Jays and RF/3B Jose Bautista are close to agreeing to a five-year contract extension worth close to $65 million, a source told ESPNdeportes.com. Bautista, 30, requested a salary of $10.5 million for 2011, while the club offered $7.6 million. Bautista has a .244 career batting average with five teams in his seven-year MLB career but is coming off a dream season in which he led the majors with 54 homers and was selected to his first All-Star team.
- The Texas Rangers fully expect displaced veteren infielder Michael Young to report to Spring Training in the coming days. Young, who was the Rangers’ starting third baseman before Adrian Beltre was signed in early January, seemed like he would adapt to the new role as designated hitter and super utility infielder, backing up at first, second, third and short. Young last spoke publicly on February 7 and said: “I want to be traded because I’ve been misled and manipulated, and I’m sick of it.” Other teams that have been involved in trade chatter include the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Florida Marlins. However, possessing a $16 million contract this year makes trade talk difficult.
I know the Joba Chamberlain starter-vs-reliever debate has gotten old, but I also know plenty of people still have questions about the decision, and both Brian Cashman and Chamberlain talked about it today.
Brian Cashman: On vcelocity changes since the shoulder injury: “He used to throw 95-plus from pitch one as a starter. He doesn’t do that now. But he can do that out of the bullpen. And that also happens with the evolution of players regardless. Some guys come out of the minor leagues throwing gas, and eventually in their mid 20s start to settle in, and their stuff backs off over time. It could be that too.”
Joba Chamberlain: Is there frustration in being assigned this role? “No. I’m still fighting for a job on this team. Like I said, I don’t care what it is. If they feel like I’m a better fit to help us win in the bullpen, I’m not going to sit here and argue and stomp my feet like a little kid and pout about it. I’ve got the opportunity to win a job and help us have one of the best bullpens in baseball. I’ve got to take that and not worry about what the other stuff is.”
For more on the Joba debate, head over to the LoHud Yankees Blog. Chad and the rest of the gang do a great job.
A very pleasant Saturday to the masses. I hope those of you on the east coast have successfully dug out of the massive amounts of snow that have come the last few days. Frankly, I’m tired of it and can’t wait for warm weather.
Anyway, there have been lots of little nuggets from around the sports world that have caught my attention and are certainly worth mentioning, so lets get to it.
- New York Yankees team president Randy Levine ripped Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg for his public comments that the Rangers late push for Cliff Lee might have been what ultimately led Lee to sign with the Phillies. According to the Daily News, Levine called Greenberg “delusional” and said he would be impressed if Greenberg could get the Rangers off “welfare,” a reference to Major League Baseball’s revenue sharing. To be honest, I didn’t take Greenberg’s statement as any sort of boast or as a slam against the Yankees — he seemed to be saying that the Rangers made one last attempt to keep themselves in the mix and accidentally gave the Phillies time to swoop in —it’s hard to argue with Levine when he says Greenberg should “let Cliff Lee speak for himself.” Also, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Greenberg made some negative comments about Yankee fans during the playoffs.
- The Cardinals are not seriously exploring the possibility of trading first baseman Albert Pujols because the superstar slugger, who has full no-trade protection, would veto any swap, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com.
- On the basketball court, the Washington Wizards lost last night in OKC in double overtime and have fallen to a dreadful 0-22 on the road this season. After trading Gilbert Arenas earlier this season, it appeared that the Wiz have rid themselves of the headaches. So much for that. After getting “blown up” by head coach Flip Saunders after a poor game, Andray Blatche was critical of Wizards fans and called in to a local radio show to defend himself.
- The Miami Heat have been a popular source for controversey this season and for good reason. It started with LeBron’s comments on Twitter in which he educated us all on karma and then came out the next night and injured his ankle (Thanks again, LeBron). Now, the other two of the ‘big three’ are banged up and have missed time. After barely getting away with a win last night, Chris Perkins of FOX Sports Florida wonders if injuries will end up getting the best of the Heat.
- KU’s Thomas Robinson lost his mother to an apparent heart attack. Thomas Robinson’s 7-year-old sister Jayla Robinson called him about 11 p.m. Friday. In a three-week span, Jayla and Thomas, a sophomore forward for the sixth-ranked Jayhawks, lost their grandmother, grandfather and mother. The entire KU men’s basketball team attended the funeral in Washington DC.
The increasingly irrelevant Buster Olney has desperately tried to revive his waning reputation as a baseball insider by “breaking” news of the most preposterous trade rumor you will ever hear.
According to Buster Olney, the Phillies have “internally” discussed a Ryan Howard-for-Albert Pujols swap. That’s right: Albert Pujols. No word from Buter as to the Cardinals’ thoughts on this situation, but it’s nice to know the Phillies have internally discussed whether they would be willing to trade Ryan Howard for the best player of his generation. I wonder if the White Sox would be willing to swap Jake Peavy for Tim Lincecum?
This is the lowest form of Internet journalism. A mostly fabricated story published solely for the purpose of drawing hits and generating conversation. You can make the case that I’m giving ESPN exactly what it wants by linking to the story and wasting my time posting about it, but Olney, who declared in a popular book that the end of the Yankees’ run came eight years before their most recent championship, deserves to be skewered.
Here is the “logic” behind these so-called “discussions”:
The logic for a Howard for Pujols swap, as discussed within the Phillies’ organization, could fall along these lines: Pujols, 30 years old, is eligible for free agency after the 2011 season, and early conversations about a contract extension have not led to any long-term deal. The expectation within baseball is that Pujols may ask for a deal that would rival, in annual value, the record-setting 10-year, $275 million deal that Alex Rodriguez negotiated with the Yankees in fall 2007.
If the Cardinals were to decide, at any point, that they could not afford to sign Pujols, they could consider dealing him, in the way the Toronto Blue Jays traded Roy Halladay, or the Minnesota Twins traded Johan Santana.
And Howard, who is just a couple of months older than Pujols, would not be a bad alternative. In the past four seasons, Howard has hit 198 homers and accumulated 572 RBIs, and has finished in the top five of the NL MVP race.
Here’s the public relations kicker: Howard was born in St. Louis, and is regarded as a hometown kid in that city.
How could the Cardinals possibly justify trading Pujols over money after they just gave nine digits to Matt Holliday? I know: by brining back hometown hero Ryan Howard, who has a lot of RBIs!?!?!?! Who even knew Howard was from St. Louis before this story? I seriously doubt he’s so highly regarded that he would be seen as suitable return for one of the greatest players of this generation.
And the Cardinals would consider this trade because Albert is going to be a free agent after two more seasons? How do we know Howard, a rather large fella with slow feet and poor contact skills, is going to be any good two years from now? We don’t. But we do know that he will be nowhere near as good as Pujols in the intervening two years.
I’m not saying Howard isn’t an outstanding player. Obviously he is. But he’s not Pujols. And Olney’s report that the Phillies would “consider” trading Howard for Pujols is an insult to Pujols, the Cardinals, baseball fans and the fabric of the universe.
On the heels of a thrilling Championship Sunday in the NFL, as I awoke on what is a rainy and windy day it got me thinking. Since the stage is set for the Super Bowl and football season is coming to a close I can’t help but turn an eye towards Spring Training. Thinking of Spring Training got me on the subject of all the really exceptional wealth of talent in the Majors today. During a recent conversation with a buddy of mine I brought up the question: If you could assemble a starting line up of the best players right now to win ONE game who would you have? Keep in mind that you have a separate line up for the AL and NL. You cannot have any wrong answers here… this is your team! I’ll give you my team(s) and then feel free to give it a try in the comments section. This is similar to what Harold Reynolds and Al Leiter did on MLB Network*
C Joe Mauer – Clearly the best catcher. Pure hitter and a hard nose ‘Baseball Player’
1B Kevin Youkilis - No matter if you love or hate him, a clutch hitter who can play the corner infield positions at a gold glove caliber level
2B Aaron Hill – 37 doubles, 36 HRs 108 RBIs along with 95 runs scored by a second baseman… I’ll take it
3B Alex Rodriguez – Arguably one of the greatest players in the game with at least 35 HRs and 100 RBIs each year with two MVPs in his pocket and the big game jinx off his back
SS Derek Jeter - Based on name alone he would suffice. Multiple gold gloves and clutch moment after clutch moment. In addition the intangibles and leadership. The Captain.
LF Carl Crawford – Speed, power, solid defense, and a table setter
CF Adam Jones – A rising star who appears to have all the tools to be a special player for a long time. Developing power, speed, and superb defensive skills.
RF Ichiro Suzuki – Set a precedent for Japanese players to come to the Majors and have success offensively. A career low batting average of .303 in what was considered an ‘off’ year. 200+ hits in all 9 seasons, an All-Star. Need I say more?
SP Felix Hernandez - One of the best young pitchers in the game today. Power arm who could have – and arguably should have – won the CY Young Award in 2009. King Felix is my guy in a big game.
My NL line up will be soon to follow so check back here later on to see how it shakes out.
Feedback is much encouraged so let me know what you think and give it a shot yourself.
And now for the NL. In my opinion, this team wasn’t as clear cut as the AL. Sure, it has its no-brainers but a lot of guys would’ve filled out these positions. Lets take a look and then discuss how it would match up against the AL’s starting 9.
Yadier Molina – The best of the Molina catching trio. Exceptional handling of the pitching staff and a weapon behind the plate.
1B Albert Pujols - The best player in the game right now.
2B Chase Utley – Can do a lot of things for you. Hit the ball for power to all fields, runs well, and plays great defense
3B David Wright – Tough choice here. I almost went with Ryan Zimmerman of the Nats. To me, Wright is more suited for the big stage and brings all 5 tools.
SS Hanley Ramirez – The best pure athlete virtually goes unnoticed in Florida. He’s primed and ready for the big stage.
LF Manny Ramirez – Believe it or not, it was a really tough call here because of Manny’s history. In the scenario of having to win one game I wouldn’t want to have to question if a player is going to show up and give effort. Unfortunately with Manny, you would have to ask that question. All that aside, when he is in the line up and does decide to play he is a force to say the least.
CF Shane Victorino – “The Flyin’ Hawian” can do a lot of things for you and is a great table setter. His high energy style is infectious and can go a long way in building team chemistry.
RF Hunter Pence – Probably the least known commodity of the group. Pence is a solid player who can do some damage with the bat and displays a little power. Much like Victorino, he’s a good team guy.
P Roy Halladay – The newest Philadelphia Phillie is the same ace that dominated in Toronto. He’s a finisher, tossing multiple complete games year in and year out. As always, health is the key with him. In a big game, I’m calling on Doc to give my team the best chance to win.
There you have it. What do you think? If I had to win a game those are the two line ups I’d want to run out to give me the best chance to win. Now begs the question, who would win if these teams faced off against one another?