Is Prince Fielder Destined to Be a Washington National?

December 8, 2010

Based on the deal for Jayson Werth and what Adrian Gonzalez is expected to earn via an extension, the Milwaukee Brewers are well aware they will not be able to re-sign Prince Fielder to a long-term contract.

Tons of teams have looked into the big first baseman, including the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. With the Cubs not in yet, it appears they will go with a shorter-term fix like Carlos Pena. However, look for the Cubs to be players if Fielder reaches free agency.

With Scott Boras as his agent, Prince is likely to become a free agent, but there is one team which might be able to keep Fielder off the market.

Why not the Washington Nationals for Fielder? Boras is Fielder’s agent, and he just moved his outfielder Jayson Werth to Washington. The Nats are a natural fit for Fielder as they need a first baseman for 2011, but might be able to wait another season to sign the free agent to be.

However, if the Brewers are not in contention for the playoffs come July, could the Nats trade for Fielder, then sign him to a long-term extension thus keeping other potential suitors away.

The Nats have some pitching they can give up, with quite a few guys at the major league level and Triple A.

At the Winter Meetings, I asked Boras if he will push for a Fielder trade to the Nats. His reply? “I would love to be able to dictate things, but I can not force deals to happen.”

And he gave me a questioning look.

Boras appears to have a great relationship with Nats GM Mike Rizzo and the Lerners, having already worked on deals for the last two top draft picks, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper plus the recent Werth contract.

If Fielder is not traded to the Nationals this off season, look for him to be in a Nationals uniform by 2012, if not sooner.

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MLB Winter Meetings: Jayson Werth to Washington Nationals, Adrian Gonzalez Deal Dead?

December 5, 2010

On the ground at the winter meetings in unseasonably cold Orlando, Fla., there has been quite a bit of action already.

Actually, in much colder Boston, the Adrian Gonzalez trade is currently off, as the slugging first baseman and the Boston Red Sox could not agree on an extension. They had a window until 2 p.m. today, and while the Red Sox were willing to given Gonzalez a six-year extension, the player wanted eight years and “Mark Teixeira money.”

Many people here believe that if Gonzalez tests the free-agent waters after this season, there would be up to six potential suitors for the type of money (eight years/$180 million) Teixeira signed for two winters ago. Those teams include the Dodgers, Angels, Nationals, Cubs and, of course, the Red Sox.

The Cubs were the other teams heavily involved in trying to trade for Gonzalez last week. Could talks with the Cubbies begin anew?

While the deadline for an extension has passed and the trade is now dead, it does not mean it is completely done. The teams could talk trade again (same players involved), and the Red Sox could up their offer.

I believe the Red Sox need Gonzalez so bad that they at least go to a seventh year (he would only be 35 in that last season), and this trade eventually gets done.

It gets done because of the major news today from the meetings that former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth, he of the 120 career home runs at the age of 31, signed a big-money contract with the Washington Nationals.

That deal is for seven years and $126 million. Are you kidding? This deal will turn out just as bad as the deal Jason Bay signed with the New York Mets. Maybe it’s the name.

Well, Scott Boras did his work here and earned every penny of what he is getting paid by Werth.

But the right-hand hitting Werth was also on the Red Sox radar, to complement the trade for the left-hand hitting Gonzalez.

Now Werth is out, and the Gonzalez deal is done, for the time being. Even if the Red Sox do eventually get Gonzalez, they need another bat.

And that means going after Carl Crawford. The Sox can put a dent in the Yankees and Angels’ pursuit for CC No. 2 and improve their own lineup, too.

Let’s say the Red Sox then do sign Crawford. That means the Angels are needing to improve their team. They would like to get lineup help and want Crawford to be their No. 3 hitter.

But if Crawford signs elsewhere, the Angels can improve their team by getting better starting pitching.

And that means going heavy for Cliff Lee. What better way to crush the rival Texas Rangers, hurt the Yankees and improve your own team?

I have always thought the Angels were going to be a dark horse for Lee. However, many people here believe that Lee does not want to go back to the west coast. Valid point.

Also, the Angles aren’t hurting for starting pitching, with five starters already in the fold, including Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, Joel Piniero, Dan Haren and Scott Kazmir. But Kazmir is mostly ineffective and could be moved, as he only has one year left before free agency. They could also move the more desirable Santana to make room.

However, money does talk (ask Werth), and the Angels will certainly be able to go $150 million for six years for Lee. That might get it done. Angels owner Arte Moreno has never been shy about spending his hard-earned cash.

Plus, I have always believed the Angels don’t really need Crawford with speedy youngsters Peter Bourjos (ready now) and Mike Trout probably ready in 2013 or sooner. Trout could be the best overall prospect in the major leagues.

Going after and signing Lee would make the Angels the leading contender in the AL West and would severely alter the Yankees pitching plans for their rotation.

If Lee signs elsewhere, what do the Bombers do then? I have several thoughts on what they could do,  but they will be held for another piece.

These possible moves are the domino effects of the Gonzalez trade being called off (for now) and Werth strictly showing us money was the only factor in signing with the Nationals.

So much has gone on here at the winter meetings, and they haven’t even officially begun.


New York Mets: Carlos Beltran Angry over Arizona Immigration Law

July 20, 2010

I just read this article which discusses Carlos Beltran’s displeasure with the new Arizona Immigration Law. If you would like a concise analysis of the law as it is written, click here.

Beltran stated that he was “against this law… there are a lot of Latinos who come here and try to have a better future. It’s hard for the people who come here from Mexico to this country.”

When asked if he would play if selected to next year’s All Star game, “Would I come? I don’t know,” Beltran said.

Base upon history, Beltran will probably be hurt and on the disabled list and will have no chance at playing. Realistically, however, Beltran will probably be playing hard next season because 2011 is the last year of his seven-year deal he signed with the Mets prior to the 2005 season, and he will be a free agent after 2011.

A free agent, by the way, which will bring NOTHING back to the Mets in the form of draft pick compensation.

Why? Because Beltran and his agent, Scott Boras, had Omar Minaya agree that the Mets would not offer arbitration to the Center fielder after the 2011 season. It is written in his contract and can be seen here.

You know Beltran will play often and play hard next year. He will be looking for a new multi-year deal from a team that needs a switch hitting middle of the order hitter. He will likely be better suited next year in the American League where the Designated Hitter role can help him easy the strain on his wobbly legs.

And Beltran’s legs look wobbly and he appears very sluggish in the field and on the base paths. Even though the team was crushed last night, the triple by Justin Upton to right center saw Beltran get a late start and not even come close to that ball.

It looks like he can still hit, as his mechanics are good and he is making quality contact. Doesn’t it seem like Beltran swings the heaviest bat. Maybe it is because the bat is pure white looking so it appears bigger.

As I said earlier, Beltran looks like more of an AL/DH type of guy who can play the outfield a few times a week.

But he shouldn’t be worried about the Arizona Immigration Law, after all he is a US Citizen.

He should worry more about how he ripped off the NY Mets for $119 million over seven seasons and, assuming he stay healthy over the next year and a half, has helped provide the team with one division title…their only playoff appearance.


Johnny Damon May Have Overplayed his Hand

December 12, 2009

I thought he was better than this. I thought that this time it would be more about the team, more about the fans, more about the prestige of putting on the Yankee Pinstripes.

I was wrong.

With Johnny Damon, no matter what he said in November after helping the Yankees win the World Series, is still only about the money.

And that is just plain stupid of Damon.

I wrote a piece recently saying it would be in Damon’s best interest to stay with the Yankees as long as he can. To stay hitting behind Derek Jeter, who gets on base an average of 40% of the time, and to hit in front of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez would greatly enhance Damon’s career stats.

And after winning two rings and making $100 million during his career, Damon’s only section to fill on his career resume is consideration for the Hall of Fame. And playing in New York always increases your chances for the Hall consideration. (Sorry Padre and Royal fans). This is not to say that Damon is HOF material (I don’t believe he is Hall worthy), but other voters might see differently if Damon hangs on to get 3,000 hits. Check out his stats here.

And padding career stats would be easier in that Yankee lineup rather than say, the Chicago White Sox lineup or the San Francisco Giants lineup.

Damon is saying through his windbag agent, Scott Boras, there are teams who might be willing to pay for 3 or even 4 years of his services. Even now, after the Winter Meetings trade which brought Curtis Granderson to Yankees, reports indicate Boras and Damon are insisting on four years and around $45 million, while the Yankees are looking at two years at the most.

Damon and Boras thought they could outlast the Yankees.

Damon and Boras thought wrong. Although Boras has worked with Yankees GM Brian Cashman on several occasions (Teixeira, Alex plus Damon 4 years ago), they underestimated Cash, who had other ideas for the Yankees 2010 outfield.

Cashman traded for Granderson – getting younger, getting faster and getting better defensively. Manager Joe Girardi could easily slide Melky Cabrera to left field and have speedster Brett Gardner as the fourth outfielder. Also, newest Yankee, Jamie Hoffmann, (who is that guy sponsoring his BR.com page?) acquired in the Rule 5 draft is a right handed power bat who can play all three outfield positions. He is really good defensively, too, ranked the last few years as the Los Angeles Dodgers best minor league defensive outfielder.

What Damon and Boras keep spouting is that there is a market for Damon’s services. There isn’t. What teams are going to give Damon three or four years? What teams have seriously looked at Damon at all?

None. The teams often mentioned as possible destinations, the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox, have actually been media speculations based upon team needs, not actual attempts by those teams to sign Damon.

And if the Yankees decide after their internal deadline (likely Christmas) for Damon to accept a one or two year deal, then the Yankees will turn elsewhere. And Damon might end up like Bobby Abreu last season, signing only a one year deal at $5 million. But again, what team is going to pay Damon considerable money like the Yankees?

Many big market teams like the Yankees (why they only want Damon for one year), Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels are trying to nurse through one year of a stop gap in left field. Get through one more year in order to participate in the expected Carl Crawford free agent sweepstakes next off season. Although the Red Sox offered Jason Bay a four year deal to play left field (and still could be interested in Matt Holliday), right fielder J.D. Drew could be gone after next season, either in a Mike Lowell type trade where the Red Sox pick up most of Drew’s 2011 salary, or through two escape clauses the Red Sox put into the original contract regarding Drew’s propensity for injury.

Crawford is widely expected to test the waters in his first opportunity at free agency, but with the prospects of the talented player going to one of those rivals, especially the Yankees or Red Sox, I expect the Rays will come to their senses and sign Crawford to a five year deal for around $80 million to keep him in Tampa. Even though Crawford was upset at the Rays a few months ago, a big contract with the only organization that he has known will soothe any ill will he might hold.

Although I want Damon back in New York in the #2 hole behind Jeter for 2010, what the Yankees should do just after Christmas is go Damon-lite.

With an ever crowded outfield corps with the additions of Granderson and Hoffman, the Yankees should package Gardner and a minor league pitcher (maybe Ivan Nova?) to the Kansas City Royals for LF David DeJesus, a New Jersey product. At 30, DeJesus is six years younger than Damon, a better defender and has been durable the last couple seasons. DeJesus put up a line of .281/.347/.434 with a 106 OPS+ last season and hit 13 home runs, the most he has had in one season. He also hit double digits in homers (12) in 2008.

DeJesus is similar to Damon that he was once a center fielder and was eventually moved to left field. He is a lefty hitter who hits left handed pitching well and would likely put up even better power numbers in Yankee Stadium.

As a bonus, the Yankees would save money, too. In this tough economy, even the Yankees are looking to save dollars (trading Brian Bruney to save $2 million, non tendering Chien-Ming Wang) and DeJesus is signed through next season for $4.6 million with a club option of $6 million ($500k buyout). If the Rays do not sign Crawford, the Yankees would definitely go after him with gusto, but he does re-sign, the Yankees could pick up DeJesus’ option. At that rate, both seasons would cost the Yankees less than it would take to have Damon in the lineup for only 2010 alone.

Johnny Damon is a good player, fits well in the Yankee lineup and would help the team immensely in 2010. But, his presence is not mandatory as the Yankees have other options at their disposal.

Damon has overplayed his hand to his detriment, both for his overall career numbers and possibly his bank account – which is the only thing it appears he cares anything about.


Johnny Damon Needs the Yankees More Than the Yankees Need Damon

November 29, 2009

While every one is pondering why Roy Halladay is needed on the Yankees (he isn’t), I want to focus on the first free agent deal that Brian Cashman will attempt to get done.

After Johnny Damon finally helped the New York Yankees back to the World Series, and winning their first title since 2001, he is a free agent again. And every time Damon has been a free agent, he has changed teams. He was the good corporate guy who said all the right things before, during and after the big parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

Damon would “love to be a Yankee again,” and he wants “to end my career in New York.”

But after making the defining play of this years World Series with his double steal, smart dash to third base, it appears Damon does want more of the Yankees…more of their money and more years in his contract.  

Before his breakout in the 2009 post season, it was widely thought that the Yankees and Damon would agree to a one year deal with incentives, similar to what Andy Pettitte signed with New York last off season. That type of situation would work well for both sides; the Yankees would retain the popular Damon with reasonable dollar figures and Damon would continue to play his usual 150+ games per season.

Damon would play mostly left field and occasionally DH to give his 36-year-old legs a rest.

Now Damon (his wife, Michelle and agent Scott Boras) says that many teams are interested in his services, and he has told friends that he will not give the Yankees a discount to stay with the World Champs.

There is no other way to say this – Johnny Damon is a moron. Simply put, if he leaves the Yankees then he is a very stupid individual.

While a member of the Boston Red Sox, Damon was considered one of the “idiots” of their 2004 World Series title team.

That name aptly fits this older version of Damon, too.

After finally experiencing a World Championship in the best city to win a sports title of any kind, Damon wants more money. His agent has bandied about needing a four year deal for the 36-year-old outfielder. But Boras’ free agent rants never get his client wha he says they deserve.

In separate interviews Boras has said that Damon should get the same type of deal that Yankee catcher Jorge Posada (also 36 at the time) received prior to the 2008 season. Then Boras said that Damon “made Derek Jeter” by hitting behind him this season and his client compares favorably (saber and fantasy stat wise) to the Yankee Captain over the last three seasons. He stated that “whatever the Yankees plan on doing with Jeter long-term, Damon deserves similar consideration.”

Problem for Boras and Damon is that the decision on Johnny will come well before any work on Jeter’s new deal begins.

Also, Boras does not realize (or maybe he does and is just blowing his usual smoke), that the Yankees really needed Posada that off season, as they had nothing in their system at the catching position remotely close to the major leagues and the other choices available in free agency or via trades were terrible.  At that time Francisco Cervelli had finished his first full season in the minors at High-A Tampa.

In fact, the Yankees were willing to give Posada a three-year deal, but had to go the extra year because Jorge was being courted by Omar Minaya and the New York Mets, and at that time, the best available catcher was their own backup Jose Molina or free agent Paul LoDuca. Also, Alex Rodriguez had already opted out of his Yankee deal at that time, and the Yankees were in desperate need of  right handed power, something the switch-hitting Posada provided.

Also, Posada plays a more demanding position (although not as well as his younger years) and was a mainstay Yankee from their dynasty years, part of the vaunted Core Four.

Not quite the same situation as with Damon is it Mr. Boras? But when have you ever been reasonable in your free agent demands?

And in regards to comparing Damon to Mr. Jeter, a five-time World Series winner, de facto leader of the Yankees over the last 10 years, this generation’s version of Joe DiMaggio and a sure fire first-ballot Hall of Famer… well I guess I just said all their needs to be said.

As the title of the piece says, Damon needs the Yankees more than the Yankees need him. Their are quite a few left fielders available via free agency (Jason Bay and Matt Holliday) and within the Yankees own system – they can promote Austin Jackson, and have a trio of Jackson, Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner man center and left field. Lefty power can be supplied by Juan Miranda or re-signing Eric Hinske.

Or the rumored trade involving the Yankees and Detroit Tigers for center fielder Curtis Granderson would move Cabrera or Gardner to left field and Granderson in center will supply the lefty power Damon provided last season. While I personally do not like Granderson for the Yankees, it is another option for Brian Cashman.

According to reports Damon has options, too. Remember that even Damon said several teams have shown interest. Those teams include the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox (very early reports). But lefty hitters are a dime a dozen. What most teams need is righty power such as Bay and Holliday. The Red Sox, Rangers, Rays and a dozen other teams fit this category.

And from what I remember, Damon hits left handed. So I do believe some teams are interested in a guy who put up a line of .284/.365/.489 this season with an OPS+ of 126. It is just that those teams are not good and would be in Damon’s worst interest to sign with them.

Damon needs to think about himself first, but not in the monetary sense, but in terms of legacy. It is what every person wonders – how will I be remembered in this game, business, job, family etc? And in major league baseball, legacy is determined by World Series Championships and the Hall of Fame.

According to baseball-reference.com, Damon has made a tick over $97 million in his baseball career. Assuming he hasn’t blown it all (and TMZ is more busy following Tiger Woods’ life), he is pretty well set, as are his children, his future grandchildren AND THEIR future grandchildren!

Unless you are Montgomery Brewster, a person can’t even begin to spend all that cash.

In other words Damon doesn’t need any more money.

What Damon does need is more career hits, runs, doubles,  HR’s and RBI’s. Evidenced by his never being in the Top 10 of any MVP vote, Damon has not been dominating in any aspect of his game during any part of his career.

Damon needs to accumulate stats to even get a whiff of the Hall of Fame. He has two World Series rings, but Damon needs to get 3,000 hits, needs to get to around 1,800 runs scored, needs 600 doubles, needs 300 homers and needs about 1,300 RBI’s.

Is Damon going to get to those numbers hitting second in the White Sox lineup? Will he get there hitting in spacious AT&T Park in San Francisco, hellish for a lefty hitter? No and no. The Red Sox might need a left fielder this year, but Damon can never go back there.

Damon bests interests  for HOF consideration (and a great legacy) in playing for the Yankees where he gets to hit in cozy Yankee Stadium, hitting behind a Hall of Famer in Jeter and in front of Mark Teixeira (potential HOFer) and Alex Rodriguez (lock HOFer). Hitting in that lineup, while in that park will get Damon more of the accumulated stats he needs to get serious Hall of Fame votes somewhere around 2020.

It would be great for Damon if they can work out that two year deal, and a TEAM OPTION for a third, which would keep Damon hungry for more.

Here is what Damon said during the parade, “I want to continue to be on a team that can win and to play in front of great fans – and we know that the Yankees fill both of those,” Damon said. “I think everyone knows my desire to come back. Still, every time I’ve been a free agent, I’ve ended up switching teams. It’s the nature of the beast. If people are interested, I’m going to listen.”

Go ahead and listen to them Johnny, because when you take that bigger contract in San Francisco for more money and years, but fall short in career numbers for the Hall of  Fame, you only have yourself to blame. Imagine a 70-year-old Damon sitting on the front porch answering another reporter’s question about his thoughts on falling short of the Hall of Fame?

Don’t be an “idiot” this time around Johnny, but be a man and tell your agent, Mr. Boras, to get a deal done with the Yankees.

It will be in your legacy’s best interest.


Stephen Strasburg should sign the contract offered him and pitch

August 16, 2009

What are the Washington Nationals doing?

No, nothing concerning Stephen Strasburg–yet, but they are now winning games. They have won three in a row, and 11 of their last 14.

How are they to really hold Strasburg (and agent Scott Boras) hostage if they keep winning games in 2009? The Nationals need to finish with the worst record in baseball to solidify last place and get the first pick in the draft next year, too.

Then they can have both top picks next season because if they don’t sign Strasburg this year, they automatically get the #2 overall pick next year. If they finish in last place, they can take Strasburg again next year (with his permission) and can reduce his value for next year.

There are currently five amateur draft picks in the top ten of this past June’s draft who have not yet signed. They need to sign by midnight Monday night or those teams which picked them will lose their draft rights. Any team which loses a pick would then garner a compensatory pick one spot after the missed pick in the next draft.

The Nationals went through that scenario last season. They picked ninth overall last year and took Missouri RHP Aaron Crow, he of the “winged arm” action and is very susceptible to injury. Crow thought he was hot stuff and did not sign with the Nationals. Crow went to pitch for Fort Worth in the American Association, a highly regarded independent league.

But it is not the major leagues. And Crow only pitched one inning last year.

The Nationals then had a compensatory pick at #10 overall this year because they did not sign Crow last year. At #10 this year the Nats drafted Stanford closer Drew Storen, who signed immediately and is currently in AA Harrisburg. He already was promoted from High A ball and just recorded his third AA save Sunday afternoon.

While picking Storen at #10, the Nats bypassed a still available Aaron Crow, who ended up going #12 to the Kansas City Royals. Crow has not learned his lesson, and still has not signed with the Royals yet either. And the price keeps dropping.Las tyear Crow was offered $3.5 million while he is only offered $3 million by the Royals.

Although Crow has not wised up regarding his signing of a contract, he was smart enough to pitch in independent ball which does not force him to sign a contract by Monday night’s deadline.

Will Strasburg do the same thing as Aaron Crow? That can also be asked in the manner “Will Strasburg be an idiot like Crow?”

Don’t for a minute believe the Boras hype at Strasburg maybe signing with a team from Japan, or going back to school, although Tony Gwynn would surely love that!

The only thing that matters is playing in the Major Leagues in America. There are two players from the 2008 draft who are already in the majors: Gordon Beckham of the White Sox and Brian Matusz of the Orioles. Matt Wieters and David Price form the 2007 draft are already in the majors.

These good young players are getting to the big leagues quicker than ever, and that is where they will make the bigger money. By playing in the majors!

Strasburg needs to be smart (like Storen) and sign with the Nationals to begin his major league career immediately. I love what current Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said regarding Strasburg. According to Boras, who also represents four of the top five unsigned draftees, it is Strasburg’s decision.

Strasburg then needs to make the smart decision. If he does, maybe he can get his first major league victory in September, with Storen getting the save.

That would make last year’s first round pick Aaron eat some crow.