Estrada or Molina?

Looks like Johnny Estrada’s stay in Flushing could be very short. Ken Rosenthal has the scoop. 

Molina has long been a target of Minaya and the newly-acquired Estrada could be one of the chips to go for Molina, who is owed $6 million the next 2 seasons.

Molina is a better defensive catcher and is a similar offensive player compared to Estrada. Estrada is a switch-hitter and better from the left side, which mixes well with Ramon Castro on the roster already.

Depending on who else is in a package for Molina, this could be a fleece for the Giants, since they would love to get out of that contract.

Cafardo Rumors: Cabrera, Lincecum, Andruw, etc.

  • The most significant rumor from the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo this Sunday:   “It appears (Giants GM) Sabean is after Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera and is willing to offer a package that could include prized right hander Tim Lincecum.”   Could that deal be straight up?  Not sure who would wear the fleece in that one.  That would be a nice bounty for Florida although Lincecum’s size and delivery worry me.  I think they’d want at least one more top prospect.  But if Lincecum is available, the Giants have to be considered the new Cabrera front runners, especially since…..
  • If you listen to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, it seems like LA will not be making any major moves this offseason but instead moving forward with their young crop of prospects (Matt Kemp, Andy Laroche, James Loney, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw) and hoping 2007 acquisitions like Jason Schmidt and Juan Pierre can step up in 2008.  Says McCourt: “I think we’re in a good position right now.  We don’t have to make a deal. We made the biggest move we needed to make in signing Joe (Torre).  I don’t anticipate any nonsense in that clubhouse. He gives us instant credibility and we’re thrilled to have him.”
  • Andruw Jones will not accept a one year deal, according to Scott Boras.  The Nationals seem to be the most interested in Jones.
  • Bump the Chicago White Sox up the list on prospective teams that may acquire Coco Crisp from Boston.   According to Cafardo, the ChiSox might be interested after being spurned by Torii Hunter.  An obvious match for Chicago and Boston doesn’t jump out at me, however.
  • Cafardo speculates that the A’s trade of Marco Scutaro could be a signal that the team will take the rebuilding route this year, meaning Danny Haren, Joe Blanton and Huston Street could be traded next month in three separate fleeces for Oakland.
  • Cafardo ruins the Mets acquisition of Johnny Estrada, pointing out that Estrada threw out only 6 of 79 baserunners last year and had clubhouse issues.  Apparently he “had conflicts with Brewers pitching coach Mike Maddux, and got into a shouting match in the dugout with teammate Tony Graffanino late in the season.”

Brian Sabean may be Preparing to Re-gift the Molina FLEECE

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What is up with the free agent catchers market?  Yorvit Torrealba almost secured 3 years, $14M.  Paul LoDuca is demanding at least 3 years and $6M per.  Michael Barrett may cost teams a 1st round pick if signed.  Etc. It’s just not a very good buyer’s market for catchers. 

Perhaps that’s just what San Francisco GM Brian Sabean is thinking by putting his pudgy catcher, Bengie Molina, on the trade market.

Sabean shocked the baseball rumor world last December when he signed the then 32 year old Molina to a 3 year, $16M contract.   It was inconceivable, common sense argued, that an aging, overweight catcher on the backside of his career with a lifetime OBP hovering around .300 could attain that kind of a contract, especially for a team that was already too old.   By all accounts, it was an instant fleece.   And Molina didn’t disappoint, posting a .276/.298/.433 line and letting 16 passed balls by (a career high).

Sabean may have wisely accepted that he was fleeced on this one and is now trying to move Molina, who is still owed a “hefty” $6M in 2008 and 2009.  It’s a smart move by San Francisco, who may be able to take advantage of this awful catching market by dumping Molina on a team in need, such as the Mets (who where interested two winters ago), Rockies, Marlins and Rays.   It would be a great way to re-gift the fleece he was given by Molina and his agent last year.

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A Look Back: Barry Zito, Year 1

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Two Words: FRIGGIN FLEECE!

Last winter, Barry Zito signed a 7 year contract with the San Francisco Giants worth $126 million, with an 8th year option worth $16 million. In his first year with the Giants, he went 11-13 while posting a 4.53 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. And yes, this was in the National League. He also failed to reach the 200 inning mark, while giving up 24 long balls. As a result of this contract alone, Zito and his agent, Scott Boras, set a bench mark for premier starting pitchers. Johan Santana is going to most likely cite this contract alone in his quest to make $20 million per season as he becomes a free agent next off season.

His lack of dominance is no suprise. His lack of effectiveness, at times, was the major shocker. His primary pitch is a wicked 12-6 curveball when on..it’s a gopher ball when it’s off. He lacks a commanding fastball, clocking in at 86-88 MPH most of the time. When a pitcher relies so heavily on the curveball, it can spell elbow and shoulder issues later in their careers. With youngsters like Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum on the rise, the pressure might not be on Zito to be the “ace” of the staff. Unfortunatly for San Francisco, however, he’s being paid like one.

This pretty much sums up how Brian Sabean and the Giants organization made out in the deal…  

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Nick Cafardo’s Sunday Rumors: Cabrera, Gagne, Crisp, Clement, Colon

gagne.jpgcrisp.jpgcolon.jpgOne of my favorite Sunday morning reads is Nick Cafardo’s Boston Globe piece.  Here are the highlights from today:

  • Cafardo sees Miguel Cabrera as a perfect fit for Boston, likening him to Manny Ramirez.  Cafardo believes, however, that the Red Sox will try to avoid the fleece from Florida, who allegedly is interested in both Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury.  He sees the Dodgers as the best match for Florida with it’s stable of top prospects (James Loney, Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, Clayton Kershaw, and Andy LaRoche), but quotes Dodgers special advisor Bill Lajoie as saying, “As far as giving away three or four regular players, I don’t believe you do that.”  Translated: ‘We also won’t get fleeced.’
  • Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell confirms that the club has talked about opening the season with a 6 man rotation, seeming to indicate to me that there are no active plans to trade Clay Buchholz or Jon Lester.
  • Interestingly, Cafardo points out that, “A National League playoff team gave its scouts a whopping $200 bonus for their good work. We will not embarrass them by identifying the team.”  Which team do you think this could be?  They should have just bought the poor scouts nice fleeces instead.
  • As mentioned earlier on this site by my colleague, Mr. Fleece, Boston may be interested in Kerry Wood as a reliever.
  • Eric Gagne wants to fleece someone into giving him a closer job.  Cafardo mentions Texas, Houston or possibly Detroit as potential landing spots.
  • Minnesota is “very interested” in Coco Crisp.
  • Possible one year bargains Matt Clement and Bartolo Colon are drawing some interest.   Clement is being sought by the Padres and Royals, while Colon may catch on with the Giants, Cubs, White Sox or Phillies.
  • David Wells is interested in fleecing a team into a one year contract for 2008.  Good luck with that, Boomer.

Winter Meetings Overview

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With the much anticipated Winter Meetings roughly 2 weeks away, here is a quick overview of just some of the things to keep an eye on:

* The 2B Market

– Tadahito Iguchi, David Eckstein (perhaps?), Luis Castillo, Caesar Izturis, Kaz Matsui, Brian Roberts, Orlando Hudson

Here are some of the names we’ve been hearing. With teams like the NY Mets, Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies, SD Padres,  and perhaps the LA Angels in the market for a second baseman, who will land where? If the LA Angels include Howie Kendrick in a deal to get Miguel Cabrera, Iguchi could be a nice fit. Luis Castillo and his cranky knees are looking for at least 4 years. According to the NY Daily News, Eckstein could be looking for a 4 years deal similar to the one Julio Lugo scored from the Red Sox. Orlando Hudson and Brian Roberts’ names have surfaced in scattered trade rumors, but at what cost? The NY Mets have asked about Orlando Hudson, but with limited trading resources, Minaya might have to sign a FA and save his chips to obtain a SP via trade.

* Center Fielders

– Aaron Rowand, Andruw Jones, or Torii Hunter? Each expect to get multi-year lucrative contracts. The LA Dodgers have shown interest in Rowand. Jones had a nightmare of a 2007 season, could he be had for a “bargain”? Expect the SF Giants to make a run at Jones.

* Starting Pitchers on the move?

– You’ve heard the names. Erik Bedard, Dan Haren, Joe Blanton, Jose Contreras, Jon Garland, Dontrelle Willis, and the crowned jewel Johann Santana. Lots of teams would be involved in such a trade market, especially considering the FA pitching market is as thin as ever with Carlos Silva and Kyle Lohse leading the charge. The NY Mets will be working the phones, but the LA Dodgers, NY Yankees, and LA Angels have the chips. Keep an eye on the Boston Red Sox here, amongst other teams, as well.

cabrera.jpg* Miguel Cabrera Sweepstakes

– Cabrera is determined to lose weight this off-season, as he should be. He’s young, can hit the cover off the ball, yet can barely manage to bend down to snag his grounders at 3rd base. He could be eligible for a move to the OF or 1B. The LA Angels could be in hot pursuit of this young super-star, but will they give up Howie Kendrick in such a deal? If the Red Sox lose Lowell, could they make a push? Once again, the Dodgers would be heavily involved as well with young chips such as Matt Kemp possibly heading to Florida.

* High Risk, High Reward?  Buyer beware…

– Kris Benson, Bartolo Colon, Matt Clement. Kris Benson is due to throw in Arizona in the coming weeks for interested parties. No word on whether or not Anna Benson will be present. All three pitchers are coming off injuries, but all are also intriguing options to be had “on the cheap”. They could pay high dividends for teams looking to bolster their starting rotations and willing to take a chance, or they could fleece the pants off you. Time will tell.

 These are a few of the items to keep an eye out for, and of course we will bring you all the great fleeces that will likely occur during this time. The Winter Meetings get under way December 3rd in Nashville, TN.