CBS Rumors and News: Rowand, Headley, Hunter, Wood

We mentioned the Peavy rumor, but CBS Sportstline also had some other good rumblings today:

  • Sportsline expects the Phillies to be “aggressive” in trying to keep Aaron Rowand.  If true, this would be another lie by the Philly brass, who claimed to only be in on free agent pitchers this offseason, but was then exposed as offering Mike Lowell a 4 year, $50M deal. 
  • The Pirates are making a serious run at Padres third base prospect Chase Headley (.330, 20, 78 for Double-A San Antonio), by offering outfielders Xavier Nady and Nate McClouth.  In my eyes, this would be a fleece for Pittsburgh.  I like McClouth, but San Diego should definitely be able to get a better package for Headley.
  • Texas (6 years, $70M) and Kansas City (5 years, $75M) made serious runs at Torii Hunter before the centerfielder fleeced the Angels.   Hunter, however, wanted to play for a contender.  Allllllllriiiiiiiiight, Torii.  Just admit it….you took the highest bid.
  • Kerry Wood had a two year offer from Milwaukee before he showed his loyalty and returned to the Cubs for a one year deal.
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Rumor: Peavy is Available for Right Price

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According to CBS Sportsline, “rival clubs say that San Diego GM Kevin Towers is discussing Cy Young winner Jake Peavy in trade talks this winter, though the feeling is that it’s just to gauge interest as the Padres attempt to work an extension with Peavy. ”  Sportsline speculates that the Padres may look to fill their holes – particularly in centerfield and second base – this offseason using a Peavy trade.

I tend to disagree with the idea of trading Peavy this offseason. Peavy is only owed $6M this year, with a club option of $8M in 2009.  That’s cheap. Even if it’s true that the Padres can’t’ sign the Cy Young winner to a long term deal, why would the Padres move him now?  They can win the NL West next year if they keep Peavy.

Then again, if they can completely fleece someone – say the Yankees for Cano and Hughes – why not?   Stay tuned on this one….

Astros Sign Doug Brocail

brocail.jpgAs noted by Fox 26 in Houston, Texas, the Astros have agreed to a 1-year contract with free agent relief grandfather Doug Brocail.  Brocail, who is 40, pitched to a 5-1 record last season with the San Diego Padres, and sported a 3.05 ERA.  Contract terms were not disclosed. 

With last season’s trade of Dan Wheeler to the Devil Rays, and the trade of Brad Lidge this offseason to the Phillies, Brocail can step right into a late-inning role with the Astros.  And while Doug had a 1.17 WHIP and .228 BAA in 2007, his career numbers in those categories are 1.36 and .263, respectively.  Even given his age, and past health problems, Brocail isn’t a bad one-year signing for the Astros, assuming the money doesn’t get into the $4M range, which I sincerely doubt.    

Great Moments in Fleece History: Chan Ho Park Robs the Rangers

Let’s take a look at another one of the worst free agent fleecings in MLB history:  Chan Ho Park’s robbery of the Texas Rangers in 2002.  (By the way, you can always take a look at all of our inductees into the Greatest Moments in Fleece History by clicking on the category to the left). 

In 2001, the Texas Rangers offense was dominant.  They managed to score 890 runs as Alex Rodriguez joined Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Ruben Sierra and Gabe Kapler (17 hr’s, 72 RBI in 2001) to form a dangerous middle of the lineup.  However, the Rangers also had the worst pitching staff in the majors that year, giving up a whopping 968 runs, leading to a record below .500.   Needless to say, owner Tom Hicks and new GM Jon Hart were desperate for pitching that offseason.  And desperation often begets fleecing when it comes to Major League Baseball Free Agency.   Enter Chan Ho Park.

The Date:  January 16, 2002

The Players:Rangers owner Tom Hicks and GM Jon Hart (The fleecees), and right handed pitcher Chan Ho Park and his agent, none other than Captain Fleece, Scott Boras (the fleecers).

 The Fleece:  The Texas Rangers signed Park to a 5 year, $65M deal.

The Result:  In short, miserable.   After winning 75 games in 5 years for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chan Ho Park won just 22 games for the Rangers and lasted just 3 and a half years in Arlington.  He threw only 381 innings for the Rangers over that span.  He made just 7 starts in 2003 and only 16 in 2004, mainly due to annoying injuries like hamstring strains, back strains and blisters.   (Note that Park’s last year in LA was marked by recurring back problems, something that should have prevented Jon Hart from giving him $65,000,000.00. )

Performance-wise, Chan Ho Park’s Texas ERA’s for 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 were surely Texas sized:  5.75, 7.58, 5.46, and 5.66, respectively.   His WHIPS for those years were just as awful: 1.59, 1.99, 1.44 and 1.68.  He was a complete disaster from the start and embarrassed himself in nearly appearance.  (In some starts, he even looked like he felt bad, as he saw Jon Hart sweating to death wearing a big fleece in the Texas heat).   Even in 2005, when Park finally managed to stay healthy enough to throw 20 straight starts, opponents still hit nearly .300 against him and his 8 wins were mainly the product of that deep Texas offense. 

Finally, in the summer of 2005, Texas jumped at the chance to rid themselves of Chan Ho by flipping him to the San Diego Padres for Phil Nevin.   Park finished out his obscene contract with the Padres in 2006, posting a horrendous (by Petco Park standards) 4.81 ERA in 24 appearances.  Park won just 33 times during his 5 year contract, equating to almost $2M per win.  Pathetic. 

John Hart stepped down as Texas GM after the 2005 season to take another job in the Rangers front office.   The team went 331-337 during his reign as general manager.  Awful.   Rumors are that he still wears the heavy fleece Chan Ho Park gave him on cold nights.

Small Market Hot Stove Rumblings

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Some teams have been noticeably quiet so far in this Hot Stove Season.  Let’s take a peak at some smaller market teams and see what’s going on:

  • The Oakland A’s are still deciding whether or not to rebuild this offseason.  If they decide to rebuild, General Manager Billy Beane will entertain offers for young ace Dan Haren, of whom they can expect a bounty in return.   The A’s have also seemingly taken themselves out of any Barry Bonds sweepstakes due to the whole federal indictment thing. 
  • The Arizona Diamondbacks have been relatively quiet so far.  However, they have been tied to possible bottom barrel bargains like Matt Clement or Bartolo Colon if the price is right.   My guess is they’ll let Livan Hernandez fleece someone else.
  • The Washington Nationals have been mentioned as a sleeper in the Torii Hunter sweepstakes, but it appears more likely that they’ll sit back and try to grab a leftover center fielder like Corey Patterson or Mike Cameron, if anything.  Also, GM Jim Bowden is known to fire up a huge fleece every now and then, so don’t take your eye off of the Nats.  The Padres are interested in Ryan Church, for example, and Bowden is apparently asking for a lot.
  • Kind of an old rumor, but the Tampa Bay Rays are one of ten teams interested in Troy Percival.  Not a bad idea for a small market team – take a chance on an old fire baller and see what happens.   The Rays are also in on Juan Uribe.

Rocky Mountain Fleece?

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It’s official, Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies SS, has won the 2007 NL Most Valuable Player award.  Rollins edged Colorado Rockies OF Matt Holliday by 17 points, to take home his second piece of hardware this offseason, after winning the NL Gold Glove just days earlier.

Did Holliday get a raw deal here?  The argument can certainly be made that Rollins wasn’t even the best player on his own team, with Chase Utley possibly having that honor.  But Utley did miss a month of the season due to injury, while Rollins played in all 162 games.  Rollins was 1st in the NL in runs scored (139), 2nd in hits (212), and 1st in triples (20)… but he also lead the league in AB’s.  Holliday on the other hand, was 1st in hits (216), 1st in batting average (.340), 1st in RBI (139), 1st in total bases (216) and 1st in doubles (50)… despite having 80 fewer AB’s than Rollins.  J-Roll did have 30 HR’s, 94 RBI and 41 steals to add to his resume however, as well as the aforementioned Gold Glove, while Holliday added 36 homers to his slate. 

And then there is the fact that both these players lead their respective teams to the playoffs.  Rollins and the Phillies overcame a 7-game September deficit against the Mets to make the postseason for the first time in the last 14 years, even though the Mets collapse down the stretch was largely a factor.  However, the Rockies run to the postseason was even more improbable.  This team won an unthinkable 15-of-16 games to close out the season, and won the wild card in a playoff game against the San Diego Padres.  And guess who was a key component of that victory?  You guess it, Matt Holliday. 

I guess that maybe voters couldn’t go wrong with either player, but the debate remains… was a FLEECE delivered to Colorado and its star player today?  I leave that to you to debate…

Matt Clement: Who is interested?

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Matt Clement, 33, is coming off two injury plagued seasons, as he has made a combined 12 starts in the past two seasons (all in 2006), yet he figures to have no shortage of suitors this winter. With the lack of SP available in the FA market this winter, there figures to be a number of teams to inquire about the right-handers availability. Clement pitched for the Chicago Cubs from 2002-2004, where he combined to go 35-36 with a 3.80 ERA while striking out 576 batters in 587 innings. He failed to find equal success in his switch to the AL with Boston, but he did manage the fleece the pants off Theo Epstein during his stay there. If Matt Clement would like to return to form, a switch back to the NL would be most beneficial.

Accoridng to Toronton Sun, The Blue Jays have expressed an interest in Clement. I am not sure he’ll be thrilled about a return to the AL East. Other teams said to be rumored include the Arizona Diamonbacks, San Diego Padres (with whom his MLB career began), and the Colorado Rockies.