Kaz Matsui Signs With the Astros

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ESPN is reporting that the Houston Astros will be signing second baseman Kaz Matsui to a 3 year deal, worth somewhere between $15-17 million. We had this story here on Mlb Fleece Factor on November 19th.

It appears Matsui has cashed in on a strong post season with Colorado. His numbers away from Coors field were down right horrible in 2007, however, as he hit only .249 with a .304 OBP. He is serviceable at second base defensively, at best. This signing has “fleece” written all over it.

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Tigers After Hawkins

l-hawkins.jpgAccording to the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit Tigers are after right handed reliever Latroy Hawkins and “there were indications” the team has offered him a multi-year contract.

The Tigers, of course, are in need of relief help due to the freak injury to Joel Zumaya who will miss at least the first half of the season.  But Hawkins? Sure, he did post a respectable 3.42 ERA in Colorado last season, but the 34 year old is not what he once was back in the day for Minnesota.  He has lost his ability to miss bats, striking out only 56 batters in the 116 innings he has pitched the last two years.  (Compare that to his best years – 2002 and 2003 with the Twins – when he struck out 138 batters in 157 innings).  Plus, his last stint in the American League was a disaster, as he posted a 4.48 ERA in 2006 for the Orioles.   A multi-year deal for Hawkins has “fleece” written all over it.

Rockies Close to Re-signing Torrealba and Herges

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According to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post, the Rockies could announce the signings of catcher Yorvit Torrealba and relief pitcher Matt Herges as soon as Thursday.  Both players played solid roles in getting the Rockies to their 1st World Series apperance in franchise history, where they were ultimately swept by the Boston Red Sox. 

Torrealba hit .255 last season, with 8 HR’s and 47 RBI in 113 games for the Rox.  He was however battling a shoulder injury, and his defensive numbers also suffered because of it.  Matt Herges was a wonderful surprise for the Rockies, posting a 5-1 record with a 2.96 ERA in 35 appearances.  He also boasted a sensational .198 BAA for the season and a remarkable 0.89 WHIP after the All-Star break! 

Yorvit Torrealba has had quite an odd offseason so far.  He was all but signed to a multi-year deal with the New York Mets about a week ago, when it seems that Omar Minaya had a change of heart in the final hours.  The logical move for Torrealba after that was to return back to the Rockies.  Assuming he gets a 3-4 year deal from the Rox, it all turned out alllllriiight for him in the end.  The rumor is however that the Rockies will give him a 2-year deal at around $7M, with a 3rd year option.  Herges may call for a 2-year deal to get it done. 

Also mentioned in the article, the Rox are interested in bringing back RP LaTroy Hawkins as well.  2B is still a postion of need this offseason.  Maybe they play star prospect Ian Stewart there?

Great Moments in Fleece History: The Mike Hampton Signing

In light of Mike Hampton’s newest comeback, let’s take a look at his greatest accomplishment, and induct it into the Great Moments in Fleece History.

Even though former Astro and Met Mike Hampton was the prize pitcher on the market that winter, when the Colorado Rockies signed Mike Hampton in 2000, it seemed a bit excessive.  But I do not think anyone imagined the extent to which Hampton fleeced Colorado at the time.  It is a fleece that keeps on fleecing as 3 teams have now been involved and there is still one more year of fleecing to go. 

The Date: December 9th, 2000

The Players:  Colorado General Manager Dan O’Dowd (the fleecee) and Mike Hampton and his agent Mark Rodgers (the fleecers).

The Fleece:  The Colorado Rockies signed 28 year old pitcher Mike Hampton to an eight-year, $123.8M contract which, at the time, was the largest contract in baseball.

The Result:  Well, not so good for Colorado.  Hampton lasted just two years in the Mile High city, posting a disastrous 21-28 record with a disgusting and hideous 5.75 ERA.  (Note to Dan O’Dowd:  This was actually LOWER than Hampton’s career ERA at Coors Field prior to the signing – 6.88!  What were you thinking?  Seriously, were you alright at the time? We need to know.  Because this was just plain awful management, sir.)

After the 2002 season, the Rockies actually paid the Florida Marlins to get Hampton out of their sights.  That same winter, the Marlins then shipped him to Atlanta, who hoped that pitching guru Leo Mazzone could fix him. 

Hampton’s first two years in Atlanta were slightly above average as he won 27 games and posted an ERA close to 4.0.   But he was anything but the $16M per year pitcher he was being paid (mostly by Colorado) to be.   In 2006 and 2007, the fleecing increased even more as Hampton was out for the entirety of both seasons (collecting nearly $32M in the process) with elbow problems.  Hampton is currently rehabbing and hoping to be in the Braves rotation by April so that he can hit the free agent market next winter and attempt to fleece again.

Strangely, Dan O’Dowd (pictured above), who was also fleeced by Denny Neagle that same winter and later by Todd Helton, survived this signing.  He changed his philosophy (although probably forced by management) and lead the team through a rebuilding phase that has recently paid huge dividends in the form of a 2007 NL pennant.   Still, Dan O’Dowd will probably most be remembered for being fitted for a huge fleece by the likes of Mr. Hampton. This fleece was one of the worst free agent decisions of all time.

Joe Kennedy, 28, Passes Away

It is with great sadness that we pass along the news today that pitcher Joe Kennedy has passed away.

Kennedy, 28, pitched 7 years in the majors for five different teams (Tampa, Colorado, Arizona, Oakland and Toronto).  Our thoughts are with the Kennedy family today. 

Mile High Update

 

The Denver Post  has some interesting tidbits on the Rockies offseason.

  • Rockies are close to a deal with middle reliever Matt Herges. Herges was very effective for the Rockies last season, sporting a 2.96 ERA in 35 games.
  • The Yorvit Torrealba saga continues as he is now looking to re-up with the Rockies after Omar Minaya told him that he was not alright. Speculation is the Rockies won’t budge on the 2 years for 7 million offer.
  • Lastly, Kaz Matsui looks to be leaving town as both the Cubs and Astros have offered more loot than the Rox.

Yankees Call to Arms (Bullpen)

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The Yankees starting pitching rotation is currently in flux, with the retirement decision of Andy Pettitte still looming large over their heads.  But the state of the team’s bullpen is also largely in question. 

As George King of the New York Post reports, Yankees brass have stood on both sides of the fence trying to decide where to put Joba Camberlain next season – rotation or bullpen?  In 19 relief appearances last season, Joba had a 2-0 record with a ridiculous 0.38 ERA.  He allowed only 1/2 hit an inning, and had 34 K’s in 24 innings of work.  If Joba breaks spring training in the rotation next spring, the question remains about which Yankee will bridge the gap to Rivera, as Joba so brilliantly did to close the season?  Right now, it has to be considered Kyle Farnsworth.  Ouch!

Which brings me to the topic of free agent relief pitchers.   King’s article mentions that the Yankees are interested in FA lefty relievers Jeremy Affeldt and Trever Miller.  Affeldt went 4-3 for the Rox last season with a 3.51 ERA, but was actually much tougher on right-handed hitters.  Trever Miller had a 0-0 record with a 4.86 ERA for the Houston Astros, but posted a decent .211 BAA vs. lefties.  And as we’ve mentioned here on previous posts, the Yankees also appear to be in the bidding on FA lefty Ron Mahay.  With no current lefty arms in the bullpen, the Yanks will surely overpay for one of these guys.  In addition, the team appears very interested in bringing back Luis Vizcaino (8-2, 4.30) next season, who is also a FA.