Sunday, January 20, 2013

Angels Avoid Arbitration With Hanson, Vargas; Nearing Deal With Callaspo


          The Angels organization has announced that they have reached one year deals with LHP Jason Vargas and RHP Tommy Hanson, avoiding arbitration. The club is also close to signing third baseman Alberto Callaspo to a two year deal, however the deal cannot be made official until Callaspo returns from Venezuela to take his physical. Vargas, 29, and Hanson, 26, were both acquired this past offseason via trade while Callaspo, 29, has been the club's primary third baseman since being traded for back in 2010. Vargas and Hanson are expected to fill the holes left in the Angels rotation after the departures of Dan Haren, Zack Greinke and Ervin Santana this offseason. While there names may not be as big as Haren, Gerienke and/or Santana, stats have proven that the new duo may be just as good, if not better considering the money they saved while letting the threesome sign elsewhere. Vargas's deal is expected to be worth around $8.5 million while Hanson's deal is around $3.725 million. Callaspo was originally signed by the Angels in 2001 however never appeared in a big league game with the club until being traded from the Kansas City Royals back in July of 2010. The switch hitter has split time at third base with Macier Izturis however was the primary starter at the position for most of the 2011 and 2012 seasons. This past year Callaspo batted .252 while hitting 10 home runs and driving in 53 runs while playing exceptionally well defensively at the hot corner. His deal is expected to be around $9 million over two years. The deal through 2014 now gives time for the Angels' #1 prospect Kaleb Cowart to develop and eventually take over the third base spot. Cowart is expected to start out the season in double-A Arkansas after playing with Cedar Rapids and Inland Empire this past season. He is expected to crack the majors in 2014, right when Callaspo's contract is up. Hopefully all three of these players can have a sensational 2013 season and help lead the Halos to another World Series!    

Jo-Jo Reyes Released by Halos; Signs In Korea


          The Angels organization has announced that they have released LHP Jo-Jo Reyes, allowing him to sign with the SK Wyverns of Korea. Reyes was signed earlier this offseason to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training, however he requested to be released after the Wyverns began showing interest in signing him. The Angels will receive compensation from the Wyverns as a result of the club allowing Reyes to sign elsewhere. Reyes, 28, was originally drafted in the second round of the 2003 draft by the Atlanta Braves. He cracked the majors for the first time in 2007 appearing in 11 games (10 starts) for Atlanta while posting a 2-2 record with a 6.22 ERA. The southpaw stayed with the Atlanta organization, bouncing between the big league club and triple-A, until 2011 when he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays as part of the Yunel Escobar trade. Reyes pitched limited time with the Jays that season before being waived and claimed by the Baltimore Orioles, where he also pitched for a limited time on the big league club. Reyes then signed a minor league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates and spent the entire 2012 season with Pittsburgh's triple-A club before electing free agency and eventually signing with the club. I wish Reyes the best of luck in Korea and hopefully he can get his game back together.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

News From Around The League: 1/15/2013


Nationals Sign Rafael Soriano- In my last "News From Around The League" segment, I discussed how Rafael Soriano, one of the league's best closers since 2010, was seemingly drawing no interest from clubs around baseball. I mentioned teams such as the Royals, Tigers, and even the Angels as possible suitors for Soriano, but one team I forgot to mention was the Washington Nationals, who the right hander signed with on Tuesday, according to multiple sources. The deal is for two years and $28 million dollars, which narrows down to $14 million per year, exactly how much he would have earned with the Yankees in 2013 had he not voided his option. The deal also includes a $14 million option for 2015. However the contract is almost all back-loaded, with Soriano due to earn almost half of his contract from 2015-2018, after the two years which Soriano will be with the Nats. It's really almost something that I've never seen, nor heard of before. I have heard of back-loaded contracts, most recently Albert Pujols' monster 10 year contract with the Angels, but have never heard of a player getting paid that much after his contract expires. How will that fair? Well that is something we will find out in a few years.

Rangers Sign Kyle McClellan- The Rangers have signed RHP Kyle McClellan to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training, according to MLBTradeRumors.com. The 28 year old Missouri native was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002 and has remained in the organization since. McClellan made his major league debut in 2008 for St/ Louis, appearing in 68 games in relief. He remained a fixture in the St. Louis bullpen appearing in 66 games in 2009 and 68 games in 2010. In 2011 McClellan made his first major league start and ended up starting in 17 of his 43 games pitched, filling in a rotation hole after various injuries to other Cardinals starters and helping lead the club to a World Series Championship. The right hander was only able to appear in 16 games for the Cardinals before suffering tightness in his shoulder and eventually was forced to undergo season ending surgery. McClellan was expected to make $2.4 million in 2013 through arbitration with the Cardinals before being released earlier this offseason.

Who Is In On Kyle Lohse?- It has been a very busy offseason for super-agent Scott Boras, however it is not quite over yet. Coming into Tuesday Boras still had three of his premier clients on the market, one of which, Rafael Soriano, signed with the Nationals, leaving both Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse wondering when their time will come. The 34 year old right hander has put up some terrific numbers since coming to the Cardinals in 2008, highlighted by a 16-3 record with a sub-three ERA posted in 2012. The Cardinals did offer Lohse a qualifying offer earlier this offseason, which means that any team that signs him will now have to give up one or two of their draft picks. The teams that seem to be repeatedly tied to Lohse include the Angels, the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Dodger with the possibility of a return to St. Louis not out of the question. However recent reports say that the Angels are out of the running for Lohse and that their divison rivals, the Texas Rangers, seem to be the most logical fit for the righty, but according to sources close to the situation, Lohse hasn't even received an offer besides the qualifying offer by St. Louis, which was rejected. The question now is, will Scott Boras be able to pull another trick out of his hat, or is this finally the point where one of his clients gets hurt. We will see.

Angels Avoid Arbitration With Jerome Williams


          The Los Angeles Angels have avoided arbitration with RHP Jerome Williams on Tuesday by agreeing upon a one year deal worth around $2 million. The 31 year old pitcher is expected to come out of the bullpen as a long relief man for the Angels, a role he played for most of the 2012 season. Williams was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the first round of the 1999 draft. He cracked the bigs in 2003 appearing in 21 games, all starts, pitching to a 7-5 record with a 3.30 ERA. Williams remained with the Giants until mid 2005 pitching to a combined 17-14 record in over 275 innings before being traded to the Chicago Cubs midway in the season. Williams remained solid throughout the remainder of the season, but struggled in 2006 before being waived by the Cubs and picked up by the Oakland Athletics, where he was released just three months later. His career quickly took a turn for the worse. Williams battled with weight issues and struggled to stay in proper shape. He pitched one more poor season with the Washington Nationals in 2007 being released later that season. Williams then signed  minor league contracts with both the Los Angeles Dodgers (2008) and the Athletics (2009) but was not able to appear in the majors for either of those stints. He then turned to independent league baseball, where he pitched for the Long Beach Armada of the Golden Baseball League and then pitched in Puerto Rico and Taiwan before signing a minor league contract with the Angels in June of 2011. Williams' contact was then purchased by the Angels on August 16th and he was able to win his first major league game since 2005 on August 21st of 2011. Since then Williams has bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen. He was slated to be a possible fifth starter for the Angels in 2013, but after the acquisitions of Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson, Williams appears to be destined for the bullpen as a long relief man, a role Williams claimed to be okay with during an interview following the announcement.

          I wish Williams the best of luck in 2013. While he'll probably be a permanent fixture in the Angels bullpen, I can see him making three or four starts either in an "emergency starter" situation or as a result of an injury. Of course the Angels will have young Garret Richards in Salt Lake who will pry be the club's first option as a spot starter. All I can hope from Williams is that he keeps his mind in the game and will be ready to be called upon at any given time. As a long reliever you can easily go four or five days without an appearance, and given the Angels have four work horses in their rotation, the wait could even be longer. That is why mental preparation is so key in baseball or any other sport, as long as you have the mind set of "I might pitch tonight" you should be fine and ready to pitch once you finally do get the call. I have a feeling Williams is not ready to give up now. The guys has been through a lot, from loosing his mother to breast cancer in 2001, to battling back from his weight issues, which were mentioned earlier, I definitely see him as a guy that will keep that mentality and be able to pitch well in any situation that he is put into. Obviously time will tell how he will fair but for now, all we can do is sit back and speculate.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Phillies Interested In Vernon Wells?


          MLBTradeRumors.com, has posted some potential fits for the Philadelphia Phillies corner outfield spot, one of the names mentioned was Angels outfielder Vernon Wells. This isn't the first time that the Phillies have been linked to Wells, now 34, as they were one of a few teams who showed interest in Wells during the Winter Meeting in December, however none of the talks got "serious" and Wells, along with his big paycheck, remains on the Angels. Wells broke into the league in 1999 with the Toronto Blue Jays and posted very good numbers over his twelve years with the club, highlighted by three 100 rbi seasons and four Rawlings Gold Glove Awards for his impressive work in center field. The Blue Jays then offered wells a monstrous contract extention worth over $120 million in 2008, which was then taken over by the Angels after acquiring him from the Jays two offseasons ago. Since then Wells has put up less than respectable number batting a career low .218 with 25 home-runs and 66 runs batted in during his first season with the Halos in 2011. 2012 was no different for Wells, after a slow start to 2012 Wells found himself on the bench behind rookie sensation Mike Trout, who got called up in April. He remained on the bench for most of the season making occasional spot starts and coming off the bench as a pinch hitter. In the end Wells played just 77 games, his fewest since 2001, and batted .230 with just 11 home-runs.

          I personally don't care if the Angels trade Wells or not. Now what I do care about is what the Angels could dump. I've heard people saying that the Angels would only get $2 million off the giant contract, which in my opinion isn't worth trading. I've also heard some people saying the Angels should just eat his entire contract and dump Wells into free agency if they can't find a spot for him via trade. I entirely disagree with this reasoning. Right now the Angels don't have major options off the bench. Wells would most likely go up against rookie outfielder Kole Calhoun, who got some time in September of 2012, and Scott Cousins, who was acquired off of waivers from Miami this offseason. In my opinion Wells is as good of an option as either of those guys and if you can't find somebody that can take more than $4 million off the books, then I personally would rather see him stick with the team and try to become a valuable piece off the bench for the hopeful Angels. Now if they were to get more than $4 million off and a minor leaguer thrown in for some system depth, I see nothing wrong with trading Wells, just don't literally give him up for nothing. But for now Wells' future future with the Angels is as big of a question mark as ever, and only time will tell where Vernon Wells will be next.

News From Around The League: 1/8/2013

 

Is Anybody Interested in Rafael Soriano?: It's hard to imagine that possibly one of the league's best closers, Rafael Soriano, could be receiving such little interest from teams around Major League Baseball. Some say that Soriano, 33, is asking way too much money, others say that Scott Boras, Soriano's agent, could be causing this delay, but one thing is certain, Soriano should have picked up his option for 2013 that would of given him an outstanding $14 million dollars. According to the latest reports the New York Yankees, Soriano's club for the last 2 years, have no intentions of bringing the shut down closer back to the Bronx. Soriano opted out of contract earlier the offseason that the Yankees had signed him to just two offseasons ago and now it appears as if the club is much more content taking the draft compensation that comes with Soriano rather than locking him up for even a one year deal. Who can blame them? The league has quickly turned into a rookie's league with players like Jeremy Hellickson, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Craig Kimbrel stealing the spotlight the past two seasons. It is apparent that the Yankees will look for a diamond in the rough just like those outstanding, young phenomenons. Now the real question is, is even anyone interested in Soriano? The Tigers seem to be the best fit but have shown absolutely no interest in the right hander, teams like the Royals, Blue Jays, Phillies, White Sox and even the Angels have been linked to Soriano, but still none of those or any other clubs have had, or at least shown, any interest in him. Hard to imagine that a guy like Soriano, who has notched 40 or more saves in two of his least three seasons, could be practically begging for a job this late in the offseason.

Francisco Liriano's Deal On Hold: The Pirates agreement with left handed starter Francisco Liriano is now on hold due to any injury in his right shoulder found during his physical. The sometimes erratic lefty signed a two year year deal just shy of $13 million with the Pirates this offseason after posting a 6-12 record with an earned run average over 5 in 2012 with the Twins and White Sox. The Pirates and Liriano are now trying to reconstruct the contract and according to sources, neither side plans on giving up the new negotiations. This is the second time this offseason a contract has been placed on hold due to injury, the other of course being Mike Napoli's 3 year $39 million deal with the Red Sox last month, which is still unsettled to this point in the offseason.

Nationals Sing Adam LaRoche: The Washington Nationals have finally reached an agreement with first baseman Adam LaRoche on a two year about $24 million. The deal also has a mutual option for the 2015 season with a $2 million dollar buyout option. LaRoche has been believed to return to the Nationals for most of the offseason, however with the emergence of Bryce Harper this past season and the acquisition of center fielder Denard Span, LaRoche's return was in question. LaRoche, 33, is coming of a career year in which he hit 33 home-runs and 100 runs batted in, leading the Nationals the their first playoff appearance in team history. The 2012 Silver Slugger recipient had high demand in the offseason, drawing interest from teams such as the Red Sox and Mariners, but in the end it was obvious that Washington was where he wanted to be. The deal now leaves powerful outfielder/first baseman Michael Morse out of the picture in 2013. With LaRoche manning first base and Weth, Span, and Harper in the outfield, it becomes apparent that Morse in on the trading block and will be drawing plenty of interest from teams looking for a big bat, such as the Phillies, Mets, Rangers and Mariners, whom Morse was acquired from a couple of offseasons ago. He is expected to earn $7 million through arbitration for the 2013 season.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Former Halo Adam Kennedy Drawing Interest


          Former Angels infielder Adam Kennedy has been drawing plenty of interest from major league clubs as a potential super-utility man, according to MLBTradeRumors.com. Kennedy, 36, recently opened a baseball training facility in Anaheim, but said that if the right offer came along, he would accept and leave the operations of the facility to his brother. Kennedy was originally drafted in the first round of the 1997 MLB Draft out of Cal State Northridge by the St. Louis Cardinals. The Riverside, California native made his major league debut in 1999 and went on to appear in 32 games with the Cardinals before being shipped to the then Anaheim Angels that offseason. He quickly got a taste of everyday play and appeared in 156 of the 162 games that year for the Angels posting a .266 average with 9 home-runs and 72 runs batted in. Overall Kennedy posted seven strong seasons (992 games) with the Angels including a World Series ring in 2002, in which he played a major role in getting. Perhaps Kennedy's most memorable moment with the ballclub came in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series when Kennedy joined elite company becoming just one of now seven players to hit three home-runs in a post-season game, the Angels would later go on to win the game and clinch a World Series berth. Since his stint with the Angels, Kennedy has jumped around the league appearing with five different teams over six seasons including a second stint with the Cardinals (2007-2008), the Oakland Athletics (2009), the Washington Nationals (2010), the Seattle Mariners (2011) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2012). In his most recent major league stint with the Halos cross-town rival, Kennedy posted a .262 average with 2 home-runs and 16 runs batted, however his season ended early due to a strained right groin.

          I believe that Kennedy would be a great signing for any ballclub. The guy is a true professional and a winner at that. Last year the Dodgers were able to ink Kennedy to a 1 year 800k deal with some incentives. Due to his age and recent injuries, I'm sure he will get less than what he did from the Dodgers last offseason, possibly somewhere around $700k, which isn't too much more than the veteran's minimum. Overall it would be a very low-risk, if there is such a thing, contract. He may not light up that stat sheet, but coming off the bench and giving your everyday infielders a rest off is a job he can do very well, even at 36 years of age. Also Kennedy could be a terrific mentor to younger shortstops and second baseman like Omar Vizquel did with Yunel Escobar this past offseason. While Kennedy's career may not be comparable to someone like Vizquel (A future Hall of Famer), it is still a solid one and I'm sure he has plenty of trick up his sleeve that can help younger players, and it's tough to put a price on that. In the end I imagine him landing a deal, possibly with a team like the Marlins, Rays, or Braves, who all have some younger middle-infielders that could benefit from Kennedy's experience. I also wouldn't rule out a return to the AL-West possibly going back to the Mariners or Athletics, heck, I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up with the Angels. After all I think Kennedy could be just as good of an option as an Andrew Romine or Luis Rodriguez (Currently the favorites to compete for the back-up job). No matter where he lands I wish Adam the best in 2013, he is a class-act and in my opinion, an Angels legend.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Divisional News: Lance Berkman Signs with Rangers


          The Texas Rangers have accordingly signed free agent 1B/DH Lance Berkman to a one year contract worth approximately $10-11 million dollars. The deal also vests an option for the 2014 if Berkman makes at least 550 plate appearances, which may be a long shot due to his recent injury history and age. The now 36 year-old Berkman was originally drafted in the first round of the 1997 draft by his hometown Houston Astros. He got his first crack of major league experience with Houston in 1999 and quickly solidified his place as one of MLB's best first baseman/outfielders being named to five All-Star teams and making a trip to the 2005 World Series, where Houston was eventually beat by the Chicago White Sox. After parts of 12 seasons with the club, Berkman was dealt to the New York Yankees at the 2010 Trade Deadline. Berkman's time in the Bronx was short lived and certainly one to forget as he batted just .255 with only one home-run. Then, during the following offseason, Berkman found a home with the St. Louis Cardinals where he quickly returned to his old form hitting .301 with 31 home-runs and a total of 94 runs which earned him a trip to the 2011 All-Star Game, the League's Comeback Player of the Year honors and most importantly, a World Series ring. However 2012 was a different story, Berkman missed all but 31 games with the Cardinals due to injury problems, which lead to him debating on retirement or returning for another MLB season. He drew plenty of interest from contending teams who were looking for a veteran designated hitter before signing the deal with the Rangers.

          In my opinion the Rangers way overpaid Berkman. I am aware that the Rangers were looking for a big bat to replace Hamilton, Young, and Napoli, who all departed this offseason, but this is a guy who wasn't even sure if he was going to play in 2012 or not. This immediately sends sirens all over my head. Berkman, like almost all major leaguers, is a competitor and I'm sure that at 36, if he felt 100% confident in his ability and rehab process, he wouldn't of been questioning whether to retire or not, instead focusing on getting a deal and getting back on the diamond, this makes me wonder if Berkman knows something we don't, but that is what physicals are for and he will undergo one in Texas Monday afternoon before the deal is officially announced, that is unless Texas finds something alarming in his physical. I highly doubt the signing of Berkman will effect the Rangers interest in free agent outfielder Michael Bourn or Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton, whom the Rangers have been linked to since November, that is if the Rangers have any interest in them or not. Overall I would give this signing a C+. While Berkman is an upgrade over the other DH candidates that the Rangers have, there are just to many questions and concerns for me to give him $10 million dollars, but hey, maybe that's why I'm not a general manager.