Posted on: March 5, 2012 9:34 pm
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In a perfect world, where money was no issue, perhaps the Giants would have signed Jose Reyes to be their leadoff hitter.
But money is an issue, and the Giants are saving as much of it as they can to pay Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and the rest of their pitchers.
So Angel Pagan, who cost about $100 million less than Reyes after the Giants acquired him in a trade with the Mets, is the new leadoff man.
He's not Reyes, but he did learn from him. And he won't need to be Reyes to be a lot better than what the Giants had atop the order in 2010.
As much as the Giants' offense suffered from the loss of Buster Posey, another huge problem last year was that their leadoff men combined for a .292 on-base percentage. Only the Orioles and Nationals were worse.
Pagan has a .341 on-base percentage in 154 career games leading off for the Cubs and Mets.
"To me, Jose's one of the best leadoff hitters in the game," Pagan said Monday. "I've played with good leadoff hitters, Jose and Juan Pierre. I know what it's all about. My job is to set the table for the big boys, Pablo [Sandoval] and Buster."
But Pagan knows from playing with Reyes that a top leadoff man does more than just set the table. He knows how much the leadoff man can influence the game.
"When you have an energetic person at the top, you have that spark," Pagan said. "You want to bring that type of energy. [Reyes] injected that energy in the lineup.
"Hopefully, I can be that. I'm ready to help this team."
In the first couple of Cactus League games, manager Bruce Bochy has paired Pagan and Melky Cabrera (also acquired in a winter trade) atop the lineup. It's not clear whether they'll both stay there once Freddy Sanchez is healthy, but the plan has been for Pagan to lead off.
Bochy knows that getting the leadoff man on base is crucial if the Giants are to score more runs. They scored just 570 last year, a dropoff of 127 from the championship team of 2010.
"I think it played a critical part in our lack of run production," Bochy said. "We know we'll be more consistent with Angel and Melky.
"Plus, it's hard to imagine we won't do better with runners in scoring position."
The Giants figure they'll get the best effort possible out of Pagan and Cabrera, both of whom are entering their free-agent years.
Posted on: July 10, 2011 8:13 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 9:55 pm
The Marlins could be one of the most interesting "selling" teams as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches, with a closer/setup man (Leo Nunez) and a starter (Ricky Nolasco) both potentially available.
That's assuming that the Marlins decide to sell.
First, team officials seem content to give their team (43-48 at the break) a chance to get back to .500 in the first week to 10 days after the break. With a post-break schedule that sees the Marlins playing the Cubs and Padres, that's not impossible.
The Marlins took a five-game winning streak into the break, but that still left them 14 games behind the division-leading Phillies and 10 1/2 games behind the wild-card leading Braves. Even a run to .500 wouldn't get them back in the race, but sources said that if they do get to .500, the Marlins likely wouldn't pull the plug on their season.
Even if the Marlins decide to sell, it won't be another fire sale. With a new stadium opening next year, the Marlins would be looking for deals that would set them up for 2012.
That means that even though they'd be willing to listen on Nolasco, they'd almost certainly need to get a major-league ready (or nearly ready) starting pitcher in return.
Nunez, who is eligible for free agency after 2012, would be easier to move. The same goes for Omar Infante (free agent after this year), left-hander Randy Choate (signed through 2012) and utility man/pinch hitter Greg Dobbs (free agent after this year).
While the Marlins have played better in July, they understand that they'd need a spectacular run to have any chance at catching the Phillies or Braves. They also understand that with ace Josh Johnson out until sometime in August, that kind of run isn't likely.
When people talk about the slow-moving July trade market, the main factor mentioned is the parity in the game. There just aren't that many teams that are totally out of contention.
But baseball officials say that another big factor is the overall financial health of the game.
There just aren't many teams that need to dump big contracts.
The Marlins, for example, don't need to dump contracts simply to save money. Same goes for the Royals, who would be very willing to trade Melky Cabrera or Jeff Francoeur but aren't under financial pressure to deal either one.
The Marlins are trying to decide whether they have any realistic chance to catch either the Phillies or the Braves.
The Mariners need to make the same decision in the American League West. Seattle has had a much-better-than-expected season, but they find themselves 7 1/2 games behind the Rangers and 6 1/2 games behind the Angels.
Realistically, they're not as good as either of their two division rivals. Would it really make sense for the Mariners to spend assets on adding a veteran hitter?
Posted on: December 22, 2009 1:59 pm
As general manager Brian Cashman rightly pointed out last week, the Yankees still have every starting pitcher they used on the way to a 52-22 second half and eventually a 27th World Series title.
As Cashman rightly showed with Tuesday’s trade for Javier Vazquez, the Yankees still badly needed to add another pitcher.
Is Vazquez the right guy?
That depends on the answer to two questions: First, will Vazquez handle the pressures of New York better as a 33-year-old number four starter than he did as a 27-year-old presumptive ace? Second, was Vazquez’s outstanding 2009 season an indication that he has figured things out, or a sign that he was just a lot more comfortable pitching in Atlanta for Bobby Cox than he has been at other stops?
No matter what, the Yankees are getting a pitcher who can be counted on for 200 innings. They’ve added veteran depth to a rotation that already has CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte, and they’ve set themselves up to allow Phil Hughes and/or Joba Chamberlain to go to the bullpen.
They’ve given themselves a potential fourth starter for the postseason (which they didn’t have in 2009), and a little protection in case one of their big three gets hurt. Remember that the durable Pettitte will be pitching at age 38 by the end of 2010, and the not-always-durable Burnett is coming off pitching 234 1/3 innings and working into November for the first time in his career.
Expect both Hughes and Chamberlain still to go to spring training as starters, but unless someone gets hurt, there’s only room for one of them -- at most -- in the Opening Day rotation. The question of who goes where will likely be asked for months to come.
Other questions must be answered a lot sooner than that -- for both teams involved in Tuesday’s Vazquez-for-Melky Cabrera swap (and for one team that wasn’t). The biggest ones:
-- The Braves always intended to trade either Vazquez or Derek Lowe for a much-needed bat. Cabrera could help them, but he’s not really that bat. So the Braves will take the approximately $9 million they save and keep shopping. They say they still can’t afford Matt Holliday or Jason Bay (and probably not even Johnny Damon), but who does that leave them with? Jermaine Dye? Marlon Byrd? Or another trade?
-- If the Braves believe that the 25-year-old Cabrera can be a long-term answer in center field, does that mean they’d make Jordan Schafer available in a trade?
-- With Cabrera out of the picture, the Yankees will shop for a better left-field option than Brett Gardner. But who will that be? Will they break their promise to cut payroll this winter and jump in on Holliday or Bay? So far, they’re suggesting they won’t, but their history says don’t count them out. Would they reverse course from last week and go back to Damon? Unlikely. So far, the only suggestion is that after adding left-handed hitters Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson (to replace Damon and Hideki Matsui) this winter, they’d prefer a right-handed bat.
-- And what to make of the Angels, who earlier in the offseason lost out on top targets Roy Halladay and John Lackey? They were considered a prime suitor for Lowe, and possibly even Vazquez (although they would have had to buy him out of a no-trade clause and a longstanding desire to remain on the East Coast). They seemed to have a match, with Juan Rivera available to trade. Yet sources said they never truly joined the talks.
Posted on: December 22, 2009 9:52 am
Edited on: December 22, 2009 12:15 pm
The Yankees and Braves have agreed to a trade that will send Javier Vazquez back to New York, CBSSports.com has confirmed.
Melky Cabrera will go to the Braves, along with pitcher Mike Dunn and top prospect Arodys Vizcaino. The Yankees will also get left-hander Boone Logan.
The New York Post first reported the deal this morning.
The 33-year-old Vazquez, who is coming off maybe the best season of his 12-year career, fills the Yankees' need for a proven starter to team with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. The Yankees are still expected to have both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes come to spring training as starting pitchers, but barring an injury at least one of them will open the season in the bullpen.
Vazquez wasn't very good in his first stay in the Bronx, going 14-10 in 2004, with a 4.91 ERA that is still the second-highest of his career. He was included in the Randy Johnson trade with Arizona after the season, then went on to the White Sox before landing with the Braves in a trade last winter.
He found a home in Atlanta, where he was second in the National League in strikeouts (238), and third in WHIP (1.026). The Braves weren't anxious to trade him, but they could afford to move a starting pitcher and needed a hitter, and they found that Vazquez had much more value than Derek Lowe.
Lowe has three years and $45 million remaining on the contract he signed last winter. The Braves were willing to pay some of that money in the right deal, but still weren't able to find anything to their liking.
So Lowe stays, in a rotation that also includes Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson and Kenshin Kawakami. Cabrera moves into the Braves outfield, and there's a chance that his arrival could make Jordan Schafer more available in a trade.
The Braves still need another hitter, and by trading Vazquez for Cabrera, they've freed up about $9 million. That's not enough to bid seriously for Matt Holliday and Jason Bay (Braves people say both remain out of their price range), but it could be enough to add a second-tier free agent such as Jermaine Dye, Marlon Byrd or Johnny Damon, or to add money in a trade.
Cabrera, 25, hit .274 with 13 home runs and 68 RBIs for the Yankees in 2009. He lost his spot in center field when the Yankees traded for Curtis Granderson, but he was still the leading candidate to play left field.
Brett Gardner remains as an outfield option, but it seems almost certain that the Yankees will acquire another left fielder before Opening Day. To this point, they haven't seemed to show great interest in either Holliday or Bay, and they appeared last week to be cutting ties with Damon.
The addition of Vazquez, who will make $11.5 million in 2010, pushes the Yankees' salary commitments very close to $200 million. General manager Brian Cashman insisted last week that the Yankee payroll, just over $200 million last year, will fall in 2010.
The Yankees have said similar things in the past, only to break the promises. But if they keep their word this time, Holliday, Bay and even Damon would almost certainly be out of their price range.
Posted on: December 11, 2008 11:58 am
Edited on: December 11, 2008 8:22 pm
They've spent the winter meetings flashing their checkbook.
Then they asked the Brewers to pay part of Mike Cameron's salary.
A Cameron-or-Melky Cabrera deal stalled when the Yankees asked Milwaukee to pick up some of Cameron's $10 million 2009 salary, according to two sources familiar with the talks. Later Thursday, it appeared that the Cameron-for-Cabrera talks had resumed, and a deal was once again possible.
It's possible the Yankees and Brewers could also talk about players other than Cameron.
The Brewers, who have to shed a salary or two to help them sign a free-agent starting pitcher, were dead against paying any of Cameron's money as part of a deal to get Cabrera. The Brewers want to chase a lower-level free-agent starter to replace Sabathia and Ben Sheets, who they will also lose to free agency.
Based on what they've seen this week, the Brewers had no reason to believe mere money would be a problem for the Yankees.
So far, it has been.