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Tag:Orioles
Posted on: February 9, 2012 1:09 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 1:24 pm
 

Orioles scouts banned in Korea after signing

The Orioles usually upset their own fans by not being aggressive enough, or not spending money.

Now they've found their way into something of an international incident with a very aggressive signing.

According to Korea's Yonhap News Agency, the Korean Baseball Association announced Thursday that it will ban Orioles scouts from attending games, after the team signed 17-year-old pitcher Kim Seong-min for a reported $550,000. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is looking into the signing, after a request from the Korean Baseball Organization, which runs professional baseball in that country.

The KBA objected to the signing, because Kim was not yet in his final year of high school. The association also said that any other teams signing players that young would also be banned from scouting in the country.

The KBO was upset enough that secretary general Yang Hae-Young referred to "hegemonic rookie signings" in an interview with Yonhap.

The Kim signing has stirred emotions in Korea, where some people feel that even if the Orioles didn't break any rules -- it appears that they didn't -- they may have broken with accepted procedure and/or offended some sensibilities.

Unlike in Japan, where most players have come to American baseball through the Japanese professional system, quite a few Koreans have signed with major-league teams direct from the amateur ranks. Neither Hee-Seop Choi and Byung-Hyun Kim, for example, played professional baseball in Korea before coming to MLB, although both played in Korea after their major-league careers ended.

Choi and Byung-Hyun Kim, though, were both older than the pitcher the Orioles signed. According to reports from Korea, Kim Seong-Min is just the second player signed by an MLB at such a young age (the first was a player the Braves signed in 1997).

The influx of players from Asia has always been complicated, because of concerns in the home countries about the effect on their local leagues. The issue is whether taking the top players to major-league organizations would harm the leagues and development systems left behind, and whether fans in those countries would simply watch major-league games on television rather than support the local game.

It's no surprise that the Orioles are in the middle of it, because new Orioles general manager Dan Duquette hired longtime scout Ray Poitevint, who is known for his aggressive style in signing Asian players.

The Orioles expect Kim Seong-Min to report to their minor-league camp this spring in Florida.




Posted on: February 4, 2012 3:03 pm
 

Orioles, A's show interest in Manny Ramirez

When Manny Ramirez said in December that he wanted to return to baseball, it was fair to ask if any team would -- or should -- care.

Two months later, Ramirez hasn't yet signed but there is interest. According to sources, Ramirez has been talking to both the A's and Orioles about a deal to play in 2012, and indications are both teams have significant interest in signing him.

Ramirez still needs to serve the drug suspension that pushed him into "retirement" last April, and he would miss the first 50 games of the season.

The A's and Orioles both make sense for Ramirez, as both had designated hitters are gone via free agency (Hideki Matsui for the A's, Vladimir Guerrero for the O's). And both teams take a chance, because neither is expected to contend this year.

The Orioles also have a connection, as new Orioles general manager Dan Duquette signed Ramirez to a six-year, $120 million contract 11 years ago with the Red Sox. As for the A's, owner Lew Wolff said last week that he wasn't opposed to adding Ramirez.

It's hard to know how effective Ramirez can be now, at age 39 (and he'll be nearly 40 by the time the 50-game suspension is up). Ramirez was 1-for-17 in his five games last April with the Rays, and he drove in just two runs in 24 games for the White Sox after they picked him up at midseason in 2010.


Category: MLB
Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:49 pm
 

Cespedes is a free agent, and bidding can begin

The bidding for Yoenis Cespedes can finally begin.

The 26-year-old Cuban outfielder has established residency in the Dominican Republic, and Major League Baseball told teams on Wednesday that he is now officially a free agent.

But where will he go, how much will he cost, and how fast could he make an impact?

First, the where: Cespedes himself told reporters in the Dominican that the Cubs have shown the most interest in him, with the Marlins, Tigers, White Sox and Orioles also involved. The Nationals have also shown interest in Cespedes, and the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies scouted him, although it's believed that none of the three will be among the top bidders.

The Marlins have made no secret of their interest, but according to sources, Cespedes has told other teams that he would prefer not to play in Miami. He plans to make his home in the Dominican, rather than in Florida, and may believe that the huge Cuban community in South Florida would add too much pressure and too many distractions.

The Tigers have long been interested, with general manager Dave Dombrowski making a surprising trip to the Dominican Republic to see Cespedes for himself. But Detroit's resources for signing Cespedes could be more limited after signing Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract.

How much will Cespedes cost? No one seems to know for sure, but many teams have been in contact with agent Adam Katz, and it seems clear that he'll get more than the $30 million that the Reds paid for Aroldis Chapman.

How fast does he make an impact? Several of the teams that have scouted Cespedes heavily believe that he would be best served by beginning 2012 in the minor leagues. Given his age and the amount of money he'll likely cost, there will be pressure to move him to the big leagues fast, however.

Cespedes is described by those who like him as a Bo Jackson type, with an unusual combination of speed and power.

Cespedes may not have helped his value by playing briefly and ineffectively in the Dominican winter league, but he may have had other motives for playing for Aguilas. It's believed that people involved with the team also have ties to the Dominican government, and that Cespedes' decision to play may have sped up the process of establishing residency.

In any case, that process is complete, and Cespedes is a free agent.

And the bidding can begin.
Posted on: December 20, 2011 4:33 pm
 

From Yu to Yoenis

If not Yu, maybe Yoenis.

It's time to move from one international man of mystery to another. It's time to move from one player fans crave without really knowing much about him to another.

Yu Darvish is off the market, his rights awarded to the Rangers late Monday night for a cool $51.7 million.

Next up, Yoenis Cespedes.

The 26-year-old Cuban outfield (and YouTube) sensation isn't technically available yet. His agent told ESPNDeportes.com that Cespedes should be able to establish residency in the Dominican Republic this week. There's another step after that before he can become a free agent, but the expectation in baseball is that he'll officially go on the market sometime in January.

And the expectation in baseball is that the bidding for him could get crazy.

Unlike Darvish, the Japanese pitcher who had to go through the blind-bid posting system, Cespedes will be a true free agent, meaning that competing teams can bid up the price.

Rival teams say that the market is still hard to call, but some regard the Marlins as the early favorite. In the latest Cespedes video to hit the internet, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen and owner Jeffrey Loria are featured prominently.

The video also shows Cespedes with Willie Horton of the Tigers, with Pat Gillick of the Phillies, with Theo Epstein of the Cubs and with Dave Magadan of the Red Sox. The Yankees are also expected to be involved, although their interest has been described as moderate.

Also, word in the international scouting community is that the White Sox watched Cespedes in a private workout recently. The White Sox have had recent success with Cuban players, having signed Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo.

There is also some talk that the Orioles will bid. There could be more. When Cespedes had an open workout last month, 150 scouts showed up.

An official of one team involved said that Cespedes' agents expect him to land a contract of between $25-45 million, but some in baseball have even speculated that the final price will be higher.

As with Darvish, there's no doubting Cespedes' natural ability. Many scouts have compared him to Bo Jackson, with a combination of speed and power that is rarely seen.

"He can beat out an infield hit to beat you, or he can come up the next time and hit it 500 feet to beat you," said one scout who has watched Cespedes. "He has a compact swing, with power. The swing plays, and the speed plays."

So what's the risk?

As with Darvish, Cespedes has never faced anything close to major-league competition day-in, day-out. No one knows how quickly he'll make the cultural adjustment.

Scouts from two teams said that they would feel more comfortable starting him off in the minor leagues first, to ease the adjustment.

As with Darvish, fans around baseball dream of Cespedes in their favorite team's uniform. On Twitter, I get more Cespedes questions than Prince Fielder questions.

With Darvish off the market, and with Cespedes about to enter it, let the madness begin.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 12:04 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 12:20 pm
 

Orioles shake up scouting staff

The Orioles have completely overhauled their scouting department, drastically cutting their pro coverage and saying that they will rely instead on statistics and video to evaluate professional players.

Six of the team's eight pro scouts were told Thursday that they will now be primarily responsible for amateur coverage, in moves that were seen as demotions. Each of the six was given an area to scout, and was told that they will not be involved in any professional coverage until after the June draft.

In addition, the scouts were told that the Orioles no longer will have separate pro and amateur scouting departments, but that new scouting director Gary Rajsich will be responsible for running all scouting.

"It's basically going back to the scouting system teams used in the 80's and early 90's," said one person who was told about the plan.

The six scouts who were demoted were Ted Lekas, Todd Frohwirth, Jim Howard, Lee MacPhail IV and Jim Thrift.

Rajsich made the calls Thursday, but the moves were instigated by new general manager Dan Duquette.

The shakeup was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com.


Category: MLB
Tags: Orioles
 
Posted on: December 12, 2011 5:09 pm
 

As Brewers move on, Cubs, Mariners look at Prince

With Monday's signing of Aramis Ramirez, the Brewers seem to have moved on from Prince Fielder.

But where will Fielder move on to?

The Cubs and Mariners are both in on the Fielder market, new CBSSports.com colleague Jon Heyman reported Monday. The Rangers, Blue Jays, Marlins, Orioles and Nationals, among others, could also be interested.

Fielder could be a particularly good fit in Chicago, especially with Dale Sveum as the new Cubs manager. Sveum was the Brewers hitting coach, and has a very good relationship with Fielder.

When Theo Epstein came over from the Red Sox to run the Cubs baseball operations, the thought was that he would stay away from high-priced free agents this winter, because the rebuilding process at Wrigley Field is expected to take several years.

But Fielder is just 27, young enough to fit into a long-term plan. Also, new rules that limit spending on draft and international signings leave the Cubs unable to speed up the process by outspending other teams on those markets.

The Mariners desperately need offense, and Fielder has long been considered a possibility. Like Sveum, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik has ties to Fielder. Zduriencik was the scouting director who drafted Fielder for the Brewers.

The thought among many in baseball, though, has been that Seattle won't be Fielder's preferred landing spot. It's as far as possible from his Florida home, the Mariners are unlikely to contend, and Safeco Field isn't friendly to power hitters.

The Rangers, with a team that has gone to the World Series two straight years and a ballpark that favors hitters, would no doubt be an attractive destination. But club president Nolan Ryan has played down any interest, insisting that he likes first baseman Mitch Moreland and that Fielder would be a difficult fit in the Rangers' budget.

The Blue Jays will eventually need to play on free agents like Fielder if they're as serious about being a big-market team as they say they are. But Toronto people have also suggested that they don't want to give out the type of long-term contract that Fielder will command.

The Marlins have given conflicting signals about their possible interest in Fielder, but at this point it seems safe to say they're not as excited about him as they were about the possibility of signing Albert Pujols.

The Orioles have long liked Fielder, but it's unclear how much money owner Peter Angelos is willing to spend this winter, and also uncertain how interested Fielder would be in going to a team that has shown little sign of being competitive in the American League East.

Nationals officials repeatedly insist that they won't pursue Fielder, but others in the game look at the team's strong working relationship with agent Scott Boras and wonder if that could change. The Nationals have Adam LaRoche signed to be their first baseman in 2012, and the long-term plan is to move Mike Morse from left fielder to first base.


Posted on: December 7, 2011 3:47 am
 

Latest on Rangers, and other meetings notes

DALLAS -- More baseball talk from the second full day at the winter meetings:

-- The hometown Rangers have watched the Marlins dominate the first two days of the meetings, and they spent Tuesday night meeting with the representative for pitcher C.J. Wilson, who they very likely will not re-sign. But the Rangers have been active on many other fronts, according to sources. They're in on free-agent pitcher Mark Buehrle, and potentially in on free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder. Also, despite already signing closer Joe Nathan, the Rangers have considered a run at A's closer Andrew Bailey, who is available in trade.

-- The Phillies have decided against pursuing free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez, and will instead keep Placido Polanco at third and fully concentrate their efforts on retaining shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Ramirez still has interest from the Brewers and Angels, and the Brewers could be the best fit (assuming they don't re-sign Fielder).

-- While much of the day Tuesday was dominated by the Albert Pujols chase, agent Scott Boras has decided to let the Fielder market develop more slowly. Interested teams include the Cubs, Rangers, Mariners, Orioles and possibly the Nationals, plus the Brewers.

-- The Reds have continued to pursue starting pitching. They've been probably the most aggressive team after Jair Jurrjens of the Braves, and have also continued a dialogue with the Rays that began last July.

-- While the Marlins pursued Pujols, they also continued to look at starting pitching. The Marlins have tried for both of the top two free-agent starters (Wilson and Buehrle), and have also made trade inquiries on Gio Gonzalez of the A's and Wandy Rodriguez of the Astros, among others.

-- The Cardinals have been so focused on trying to retain Pujols that they have yet to have a full-group meeting on what path they would pursue if he leaves. Some think they could pursue Rollins or Ryan Madson, and others believe that they could jump in on Buehrle.


Posted on: November 21, 2011 5:50 pm
 

Orioles working to sign Korean reliever

New Orioles general manager Dan Duquette is particularly well connected in the international market, so it's no surprise that the Orioles could now make some international baseball history.

The O's are working on signing Chong Tae-Hyon, a 33-year-old relief pitcher who could become the first player to go directly from the Korean league to the majors. Reports out of Korea indicated Monday that the deal was close to being done, and that Chong could sign a two-year deal.

Chong pitched for Korea in the 2000 Olympics, and also in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic. He became a free agent last week, calling off negotiations with his former team, the SK Wyverns.

"I've long wanted to pitch in the majors, and I want to find out if I can compete there," Chong told the Yonhap News Agency.

Chong is described by scouts as an "extreme sidearmer."

Shin-Soo Choo of the Indians was the only Korean player in the major leagues in 2011. Choo didn't play in the Korean league, instead signing with the Mariners as a 18-year-old amateur free agent in 2000.

Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
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