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.

John Heyman Rumors: Gary Matthews, Vicente Padilla, and Mets Rumors

John Heyman, of Sports Illustrated, has some interesting notes in today’s article.  Let’s summarize:

  • According to Heyman, one unnamed American League executive predicted the Angels would now try to move Gary Matthews, Jr. “if they can.”   This makes sense given the outrageous deal they recently gave Torii Hunter.  Replace one fleece with another, right?
  • Rangers pitcher Vicente Padilla is apparently on the block.   Padilla is entering the second year of a 3 year, $33.75M contract (with a 2010 option).   That contract is a lot more attractive than the free agency options like Kyle Lohse, who wants $40M over 4 years.
  • Regarding the Mets, Heyman believes GM Omar Minaya is real interested in Livan Hernandez, that Lastings Milledge will probably be traded (no speculation on the receiving team, though) and that the Mets are interested in acquiring Brian Schneider from Washington.    Hey, how about Milledge/Estrada for Cordero/Schneider?  Thoughts?  Too much of a fleece for the Mets?

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.

Bitter Hicks Mulls Over CF

 

The Dallas Morning News reported that Tom Hicks is bitterly disappointed that Torii Hunter accepted the Anaheim offer and not theirs.

Moving on…..Texas needs to find someone to man centerfield for them. Surprisingly, it seems that Andruw Jones is only an option for them if he accepts a 1 year deal, which is not likely, according to Boras. Aaron Rowand doesn’t excite them, especially for the money he wants.

So, look for Texas to score a Mike Cameron or Coco Crisp for CF and thereby fleece themselves by assuring mediocrity for years to come.

Hunter Agrees with Angels

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Torii Hunter has agreed to sign a 5-year deal worth $90 million with the Los Angeles Angels.  We had been hearing all about Texas and Chicago as the front-runners, but the Angels swooped in and gave Hunter the length and money he was seeking.

Last off-season, the Angels gave a big contract to CF Gary Matthews, Jr.  Reggie Willits also provided speed from CF last year in Matthews’ absence.  CF did not appear to be a major position of need for the Angels.  Willits appears to have become expendable at this point.

According to Rotoworld.com, Matthews figures to move to a corner outfield position.  Hunter will provide some thump to a lineup that had been all about Vladimir Guerrero.   The range in the outfield will be excellent with Hunter and Matthews, whom are both Gold Glove caliber defenders.  The Twins will now receive the Angels 27th pick in the upcoming amateur draft. 

If the Angels are still able to land Miguel Cabrera or Miguel Tejada via trade, the middle of their batting order becomes very dangerous.

Fleece? Torii Hunter has had only 2 seasons in his career with over 100 RBI. While his glove is superb, he is indeed 32 years old, and will be earning $18 million per season until he is 36. He has never batted over .289 in his career. A comparable contract would be the one Carlos Beltran earned from the New York Mets (7 years, $119 million) in 2005. Beltran, however, was younger when he signed his deal (27). He also has more speed and more power. The NY Mets were thought to have overpaid on this deal. What does this mean for the Hunter deal? They paid way too much money here.

Five offers for Torii Hunter

 

 According to the Chicago Sun Times, Torii Hunter has received offers from at least 5 teams with a possible 6th (Yankees) sitting on the fringe depending on what happens with Melky Cabrera.

Of the 5 offers, it is believed that all are for 5 years, except for Texas’ offer of 6 years. What a surprise…Tom Hicks is trying to make the market. The Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers are expected to be the front-runners, while the Los Angeles Dodgers offer could be sweetened if Miguel Cabrera goes elsewhere (LAA).

Hunter, 32, should get the grand prize this offseason (aside from A-Rod). In the end, you’d have to expect he gets a 5 year deal worth $75-80 million, unless he chooses Texas, where that number will likely be higher.

The other 2 “offers” are from Kansas City, who has been rumored to have a good amount of cash to spend, but lately have been linked to Andruw Jones more than Hunter. The last offer is likely from Washington. If Washington could land Hunter, it would be a huge boost to their franchise and could possibly be the start of more FA’s going to the capital city.

All in all, Hunter fits in well with all of these teams, and if the deal is around 5 years, I don’t think it is a bad move for any of these teams. I think he ends up in Chicago.

More Japanese Free Agent Rumors: Kobayashi, Kuroda

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  • Courtesy of Fox Sports, the Cleveland Indians are having Japanese reliever Masahide Kobayashi in for a physical Tuesday and could potentially complete a deal later this week.  Kobayashi, 33, has spent his entire nine-year career with the Chiba Lotte Marines and has an impressive 2.79 ERA with 227 saves over that span.   A signing by the Indians would be great fleece insurance against the Joe Borowski signing from last year.  They can’t possibly press their luck and roll the dice on Borowski again, can they?  Plus, Rafael Betancourt was used heavily last year and could use some help.
  • In other Japanese free agent news, the Mariners are considering sending front office memeber to Japan in order to negotiate with free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.  Kuroda has a career record of 103-89 with an ERA of 3.69.  Last season, he tossed 180 innings with a 12-8 record, 3.56 era with 123 K’s.  Scouts say Kuroda has a 96 mph fastball, a slider and forkball.  Sources told the Tacoma News Tribune that Kuroda is asking for three or four years at $11 million per season.  If you ask me, this has FLEECE written all over it.  Besides the Mariners, the Rangers, Cubs, Dodgers and Phillies have expressed interest in Kuroda.

Update: Kobayashi has signed a 2-year pact with the Indians.