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13 posts from December 2008

December 30, 2008

Report: Red Sox Fished for Hanley

Hanley_throwing              They had him once and gave him up.  Now, apparently, the Red Sox have a sudden hankering to bring back Hanley Ramirez. Of course, that would involve prying him loose from the Marlins.

             According to a report on SI.com, the Sox tried (but failed) to orchestrate a trade with the Marlins for the All-Star shortstop after losing out to the Yankees in the bidding war for Mark Teixeira. In return, the Marlins were entertained with a package of players, including outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and pitcher Clay Buchholz.

            The Marlins, according to the story, decided not to part company with Ramirez, who has emerged as one of the top offensive stars in the game after coming to South Florida in the 2005 trade with Boston for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. The Marlins signed Ramirez, 25, to a six-year deal early last summer.

            Thoughts?

          

            

                     

December 24, 2008

Nelson to the Rays

           Reliever Joe Nelson is a Tampa Bay Ray.

           On Wednesday, the right-hander, whom the Marlins non-tendered, agreed to terms on a one-year deal for $1.3 million.

           Nelson was contacted by 20 teams after the Marlins parted company with the 34-year-old reliever, who turned in his best major league season in 2008.

December 15, 2008

Joe Nelson Update and The Experience Drain

            While Joe Nelson has said he hasn't closed the door on the Marlins and would welcome a return, even after being non-tendered, the level of outside interest in the right-hander is so great that it appears highly likey he'll land elsewhere. Even Nelson, who is now a free agent, said he is surprised by the sudden frenzy.

            Nelson, who was non-tendered at midnight Friday, figured teams would start calling Monday when front offices re-opened and club executives returned to work. But more than a dozen teams had already contacted his agent by Sunday night.

           "I was shocked that, by noon Saturday, 10 teams had called," Nelson said. "My agent is fielding e-mails, text messages and phone calls. We've heard from at least 12 to 14 teams. It tells me the interest level is extremely high. My agent called the first day a 'home run.'"

          What it all means is that Nelson will likely end up receiving a far more lucrative contract -- perhaps even a multi-year deal -- than the estimated $700,000 to $800,000 the Marlins were willing to spend on him

        Since the end of the season, the clubhouse has lost a significant amount of veteran leadership (Luis Gonzalez, Paul Lo Duca, Matt Treanor, Mark Hendrickson, Arthur Rhodes, Kevin Gregg, Doug Waechter, Josh Willingham), with the bullpen taking the biggest experience hit. Assuming Nelson doesn't return, Matt Lindstrom, who is 28, has just two years major league experience under his belt, and is expected to close next season, is now the oldest pitcher -- starter or reliever -- on the 40-man roster. For that matter, Wes Helms (32) and Alfredo Amezaga (30) are the only players on the 40-man who are 30 or older.

         

         

       

December 13, 2008

Joe Nelson -- The Morning After

            Spoke this morning to Joe Nelson, who said he remains hopeful he can return to the Marlins even after being non-tendered late last night. Nelson, 34, has bounced around the minors for so many years that nothing shocks him anymore, even the somewhat surprising move by the Marlins.

            "I think that the door is still open," Nelson said of his relationship with the Marlins. "Part of me still wants to be a Marlin, and I believe that's still a possibility."

           On the other hand, Nelson is now a free agent and said he would test the market. He would be foolish not to. Nelson is not oblivious to the money being thrown at relievers, and he is coming off his best season ever in the majors, one in which he emerged as one of the most consistently reliable members of the bullpen after being promoted from Triple A in late May. He made 59 appearances for the Marlins, averaged more than a strikeout per inning, and finished with a 2.00 ERA. Nelson knows he doesn't have many opportunities left to cash in.

           "I’m in the best position of my career to test the market," he said.

           Earlier this week, I spent the day with Nelson at the winter meetings in Las Vegas. Players don't tend to show up at baseball's big winter pow-wow, but Nelson is fascinated by the business side of the sport and made the trip to Nevada from his home in West Palm Beach to network and witness the event first-hand. He said he would like to work in the front office following his playing career.

            "I'm one curveball away from being an assistant G.M.," he cracked.

           Nelson walked the hallways at the Bellagio hotel and casino, shaking hands with executives that had given him opportunities in the past. Later, he and his agent, Doug Shaer, cabbed over to the industry's trade show, where the pitcher chatted with company representatives and salesmen.

           "For the last 13 years, I've encouraged him to use his personality to build relationships," Shaer said of Nelson, who is friendly and engaging.

          Nelson managed to talk one salesman into sending him free samples of a hand-held misting device that he promised every member of the Marlins bullpen would use on those hot summer nights in South Florida. And he wrangled another company to send him a set of black stirrups bearing the Marlins logo. He told the rep that he would wear the socks during spring training and that he hoped to have everyone on the team wearing them by the start of the season.

          Now, after Friday's late-night news, Nelson could end up wearing another uniform in '09.

          If Nelson doesn't return to the Marlins, which now looms as a strong possibility, "I will send a nice care package to J.J. (Josh Johson) and the guys," Nelson joked of the socks.

         Nelson and the Marlins aren't that far apart on money. During the winter meetings, the Marlins presented his agent with an offer believed to be for slightly less than $700,000. Nelson probably wasn't going to ask for much more than $900,000 in salary arbitration. Now, in becoming a free agent, the landscape for Nelson are entirely different.

         

Joe Nelson -- The Morning After

            Spoke this morning to Joe Nelson, who said he remains hopeful he can return to the Marlins even after being non-tendered late last night. Nelson, 34, has bounced around the minors for so many years that nothing shocks him anymore, even the somewhat surprising move by the Marlins.

            "I think that the door is still open," Nelson said of his relationship with the Marlins. "Part of me still wants to be a Marlin, and I believe that's still a possibility."

           On the other hand, Nelson is now a free agent and said he would test the market. He would be foolish not to. Nelson is not oblivious to the money being thrown at relievers, and he is coming off his best season ever in the majors, one in which he emerged as one of the most consistently reliable members of the bullpen after being promoted from Triple A in late May. He made 59 appearances for the Marlins, averaged more than a strikeout per inning, and finished with a 2.00 ERA. Nelson knows he doesn't have many opportunities left to cash in.

           "I’m in the best position of my career to test the market," he said.

           Earlier this week, I spent the day with Nelson at the winter meetings in Las Vegas. Players don't tend to show up at baseball's big winter pow-wow, but Nelson is fascinated by the business side of the sport and made the trip to Nevada from his home in West Palm Beach to network and witness the event first-hand. He said he would like to work in the front office following his playing career.

            "I'm one curveball away from being an assistant G.M.," he cracked.

           Nelson walked the hallways at the Bellagio hotel and casino, shaking hands with executives that had given him opportunities in the past. Later, he and his agent, Doug Shaer, cabbed over to the industry's trade show, where the pitcher chatted with company representatives and salesmen.

           "For the last 13 years, I've encouraged him to use his personality to build relationships," Shaer said of Nelson, who is friendly and engaging.

          Nelson managed to talk one salesman into sending him free samples of a hand-held misting device that he promised every member of the Marlins bullpen would use on those hot summer nights in South Florida. And he wrangled another company to send him a set of black stirrups bearing the Marlins logo. He told the rep that he would wear the socks during spring training and that he hoped to have everyone on the team wearing them by the start of the season.

          Now, after Friday's late-night news, Nelson could end up wearing another uniform in '09.

          If Nelson doesn't return to the Marlins, "I will send a nice care package to J.J. (Josh Johson) and the guys," Nelson joked of the socks.

         Nelson and the Marlins aren't that far apart on money. During the winter meetings, the Marlins presented his agent with an offer believed to be for slightly less than $700,000. Nelson probably wasn't going to ask for much more than $900,000 in salary arbitration. Now, in becoming a free agent, the ground rules for Nelson are entirely different.

         

December 11, 2008

Marlins Take LHP Zach Kroenke in Rule 5 Draft

              The Marlins continue to stockpile arms, selecting left-handed pitcher Zach Kroenke in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. Kroenke, 24, belonged to the Yankees' organization and went 6-0 last season at Double A Trenton in 37 relief appearances.Zach

              Kroenke will be placed on the Marlins' 40-man roster, taking the place of catcher Matt Treanor, who was released late Wednesday night. Jim Fleming, the Marlins' vice president of player development, said Kroenke would compete for a bullpen spot on the big-league roster.

              Kroenke pitched at the University of Nebraska and was the Yankees' fifth-round draft pick in 2005. Fleming said he throws a slider, change-up and average fastball, with some deception in his delivery.

             You can see Kroenke's stats here:

             http://minors.baseball-reference.com/players.cgi?pid=23088

Matt Treanor Released

                         The Marlins released veteran catcher Matt Treanor to create room on their 40-man roster for Thursday's Rule V Draft. Treanor, who had been with the Marlins organization since 1997 -- longer than any active player in the system -- is eligible for salary arbitration.

                         The Marlins have been shopping around for outside catching help in support of John Baker, but could turn to Mike Rabelo for that role if nothing materializes between now and the start of the season

                         After the Orioles traded catcher Ramon Hernandez to Cincinnati on Wednesday, the Marlins tried to work out a deal with Baltimore for Treanor. But talks fizzled late.

                         The Marlins' 40-man roster now stands at 39 players, enabling  Florida to participate in Thursday morning's Rule V Draft.

                         Treanor, 32, was used primarily by the Marlins in a backup role the past five seasons. He hit .238 last season with two home runs and underwent a sports hernia operation in October.

                         He is married to Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Misty May-Treanor.                        

December 10, 2008

Cody Ross Sighting -- More on Hermida

              Just ran into Cody Ross, who is in Vegas to attend the National Finals Rodeo. Ross grew up in New Mexico and his father was big into the sport. Cody rode calves when he was younger. "They were my bulls from five to seven years old," he said.

              On the more pressing issue of his possibly moving to right field next season, with Jeremy Hermida shifting to left, Ross said no problem. "I don't feel more comfortable playing one more than the other." He said the Tigers were the first to try him in right field when he was in their system, a move designed to groom him as Bobby Higginson's replacement.

             Ross said having Cameron Maybin roaming center will make his job easier.

             "Anytime you have a burner like that, it's easier for the corner guys," Ross said.

            Chances remain strong that Hermida will move to left to start the season even though the rumors continue involving him a possible trade.

            Here's the latest: Texas and Seattle were involved with the Marlins in back-and-forth discussions for Hermida, with proposals and counter-proposals exchanged. The Marlins are likely targeting catching help and are thought to be interested in Adam Moore, a catching prospect for the Mariners. The Marlins have also had interest in Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden, catchers with Texas.

Hermida Trade Rumblings

              

            Just spoke with a team executive for a National League team, who said that it was the Rangers and Mariners who initiated talks about Hermida, not the other way around. Apparently, those talks didn't last very long. So it's back to square one with the outfielder, who must feel like a Ping-Pong ball the way his name continues to be bounced about. Remember, Hermida was to go to Pittsburgh at the July trading deadline in the Manny Ramirez discussions the Marlins had with Boston and the Pirates.

             The Marlins have dangled Jeremy Hermida in separate trade offers to the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners, but no deal is imminent and the team remains content to opening the season with the outfielder.

             It's unclear what the Marlins asked for in return for Hermida. But, considering their desire for catching help, possibilities include Rob Johnson from Seattle and either Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden from Texas.

            The Red Sox have also had discussions with the Rangers about their two catchers.

            Johnson is a right-handed hitter, which the Marlins are seeking to provide balance for their projected starting catcher, John Baker. He is considered better defensively than he is at the plate -- a "Dan Wilson type," according to one American League scout. He has spent most of the past three seasons at Triple A Tacoma, where he hit .305 with nine home runs last season.

            If Hermida remains with the Marlins, which remains a strong possibility, he'll likely shift from right field to left.

            

What Recession?

              They're still buzzing here about the preliminary, 7-year, $160 million deal the Yankees have worked out with C.C. Sabathia. Do the math on that, and the average comes out to close to $23 million a year -- an amount almost equal to the Marlins' entire Opening Day roster last season.

              Said Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen: "For $160 million, I could put two teams on the field! I just want to be (Sabathia's) agent or his wife."

              Standing next to him was Marlins president David Samson, who said, in comparing the resources of the Yankees and the Marlins: "I very much feel like the producer of an independent film trying to compete with a big-studio blockbuster for an audience. We are "Juno" going up against "The Dark Knight."