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Tag:Marlins
Posted on: February 22, 2012 5:05 pm
 

Zambrano with Marlins: 'Happy to be here'

JUPITER, Fla. -- Carlos Zambrano kept coming back to the same thing.

"I'm just happy to be here," Zambrano said, on his first day of work with the Marlins. "I'm just happy."

Zambrano's first day of spring was certainly less eventful than it would have been had he remained with the Cubs, where he would have had to answer to teammates and to others about his troubled Cubs career, including his outburst and "retirement" last August. With the January trade that sent Zambrano to the Marlins, the Cubs became part of his past, although not a forgotten part.

"I do apologize for all the things, but in my head and in my heart, I wanted to do good," Zambrano said. "They're good fans there. They deserve a championship in Chicago."

Zambrano said he's happy with the Marlins because Miami is closer to his native Venezuela, and because of the city's large Latin American population.

He's also close with manager Ozzie Guillen.

"If there was anybody who could keep him on the right track, I think it would be Ozzie," new teammate Mark Buehrle said Wednesday.

For now, there's no work to do.

For now, Zambrano is just happy to be here.
Category: MLB
Posted on: February 22, 2012 4:48 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 4:19 pm
 

Interest in Marlins is up, and ticket sales . . .

JUPITER, Fla. -- The new Marlins attracted a big media turnout for their first workout Wednesday . . . and only a few fans.

Will the regular season be the same?

Club president David Samson said Wednesday that the team expects to have sold around 15,000 season tickets by the time they officially open their new ballpark on April 4 against the Cardinals.

"That's a record for us," Samson said. "That's what we've been budgeting."

Is it enough to prove that fans will show up, now that the Marlins are in a ballpark that is built for baseball, has a roof to guard against the rain and the heat and is, by all reports, beautiful? While 15,000 season tickets isn't bad, executives from other teams say it would only put the Marlins in the middle of the pack among major-league teams, and probably translates to about 2.6 million or so in full-season attendance -- and that's assuming they have a good year.

The fact is that there's still plenty of skepticism around the game, skepticism that will be erased only if the Marlins draw well this year and into the future in the new park.

As Samson rightly pointed out, even 15,000 season tickets represent nearly half the seats in the new park, which has a capacity of around 36,000. It could be enough to push demand, while also leaving enough seats available for single-game sales.

But other executives say that 15,000 is a lower number than they expected to hear, given the Marlins' offseason push, and factoring in the new park.

Interest in the team is obviously up, and up significantly.

Is it up enough? Later this summer, maybe we'll know.



Category: MLB
Tags: Marlins
 
Posted on: February 13, 2012 1:34 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 4:54 pm
 

A's shock us with not-so-crazy Cespedes signing

Yes, it's a shock.

"Oakland?" one baseball executive repeated to me after I told him the A's were the team signing Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

Yes, Oakland.

Yes, it's a shock. But that doesn't necessarily make it a crazy idea for the A's, and here's why:

When Cespedes' agents approached the A's recently after finding a softer-than-expected market elsewhere, the A's saw opportunity. They know that signing Cespedes for $36 million over four years is a risk -- an expensive risk for a team that doesn't have any other player signed for more than $6 million this year.

But they also know that the upside is great. The scouts who like Cespedes compare his combination of power and speed to Bo Jackson.

You just don't find players like that. The A's don't find them, anyway, not in their price range.

The A's know they're not going to win this year, and probably not next year, either. That's why they spent this winter trading Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey for young prospects.

But the plan has been to build a team that can win in 2014-15. If the A's are right about Cespedes, that's when he will be emerging as a true star.

As one A's person said Monday, "We're not trying to finish in last place."

They're trying to build a team in a challenging environment, one that won't get much less challenging until a new stadium is on the way. For now, the A's are operating with a low budget, but also with a difficult image.

When they've tried to spend, they haven't been able to. A year ago, they tried to sign both Adrian Beltre and Lance Berkman. They chose the right players; the players didn't want to come.

They have to take chances, which is why they're one of the few teams willing to consider signing Manny Ramirez.

The A's were also one of the higher bidders on Aroldis Chapman, who until Monday held the record for most money given to a Cuban free agent.

"The problem is no one wants our money," the A's person said.

So when Cespedes' people approached them and said that the outfielder was interested in coming to the A's, the A's were willing to consider it. They were even willing to make a deal that will allow Cespedes to become a free agent again after four years (a condition that Cespedes demanded of every bidder, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Detroit Free Press).

They weren't one of the many teams involved in the Cespedes bidding from the start, but the A's have liked the player since watching him several years back in the World Baseball Classic.

In the end, Cespedes got a better deal from the A's than the one the Marlins offered ($36 million over six years, according to sources). But Cespedes had also told officials from other teams that he preferred not to go to Miami, because of the potential circus playing in a city with a huge Cuban exile population.

That won't be an issue in Oakland, unless Cespedes turns into an instant star and leads the A's into contention this year.

Now that would really be a shock.


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 23, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 5:41 pm
 

Yankees, Red Sox may not bid high on Cespedes

While the market for Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is unpredictable, the word this week is that neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox plan to be heavily involved.

The two baseball superpowers have both followed Cespedes carefully, and some in the Yankee front office want him badly. But the decision this week, according to sources, was that Cespedes is too raw a talent to justify the price, and may not be suited to playing in a big market, anyway. While the Yankees are not out on Cespedes, the plan as of now is to treat him the way they treated Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, making a modest bid that is unlikely to be successful.

The Red Sox are said to have similar concerns.

People familiar with the international market say that there is also a divide on Cespedes in the Marlins' front office, and that it's not a given that the team will go after him hard. Also, Cespedes has told people that he plans to make his permanent home in the Dominican Republic, rather than in Miami, and may prefer to go to a team other than the Marlins.

The interest in Cespedes remains strong, and the market could change by the time he becomes a free agent, which should happen in January. The Cubs, Tigers, Nationals, White Sox and Rays, among other teams, are still expected to pursue him.

Because of the strong interest, the belief is that Cespedes will still get as much as $40 million, even if the Yankees and Red Sox hold back from heavy bidding. One possible issue is that Cespedes' agents apparently want him to go straight to the major leagues, while many if not most scouts believe that he should spend time in the minor leagues first.

The Cubs, Nationals, Braves and Red Sox, among others, are also said to be interested in Jorge Soler, a 19-year-old Cuban who is also expected to become a free agent this winter. Soler is further from the big leagues, but talented enough that some predict it could take $15 million to sign him.

Because of new limits on bonuses that will go into effect next winter, teams may feel free to bid higher on Cespedes and/or Soler this winter.



Posted on: December 21, 2011 1:30 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 12:52 pm
 

Darvish is gone, but plenty of starters available

Among teams and agents with starting pitching for sale, there was some hope that the Yu Darvish decision would spur movement in a market that has been slow to develop.

That could still happen. But for now, there is still so much pitching available that it's hard to understand why any team would feel the need to panic.

The free-agent market still offers Hiroki Kuroda, Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt, among others.

On the trade market, Jair Jurrjens, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, Wandy Rodriguez, Matt Garza and more are all believed by other teams to be available, albeit at what buyers still consider to be inflated prices. Even with Mat Latos already having gone to the Reds, John Danks signing an extension with the White Sox and Gio Gonzalez gone to the Nationals, it's a long list (and others such as the Mets' Jon Niese are also out there, along with longer-shot names like James Shields).

Compare that to last July 31, when the Tigers were able to trade for Doug Fister and the Indians got Ubaldo Jimenez, but many teams trying to deal for pitching found no one of real value available.

Now, the question is the high cost in prospects, at least based on what the Padres and A's got for Latos and Gonzalez. Meanwhile, the Red Sox, Marlins, Blue Jays, Royals, Tigers, Mariners, Yankees, Rockies, Orioles and others are hoping to add at least one more starter this winter.

And the market is still so fluid that one person who talked to the Red Sox this week reported back that they are "in on everybody."

In part because so many pitchers are still available, many rival officials continue to think that the Padres did very well in what they got from the Reds for Latos, who is young (24), cheap (not even arbitration-eligible yet), controllable (can't be a free agent until 2016) and talented, but also is regarded as having questionable makeup.

The Reds would no doubt argue that the price for any top pitching remains high, and for now it does.

The question is where the market goes from here, particularly with so many pitchers available.


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 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.


 
 
 
 
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