October 2005 - Baseball Wiretap
Looper And Mientkiewicz Bought Out, Option Exercised On Trachsel
Closer Braden Looper's $5.5 million option was declined Monday by the New York Mets, who will pay the reliever a $250,000 buyout. New York also exercised right-hander Steve Trachsel's $2.5 million option and declined a $4 million option on first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who gets a $450,000 buyout. "Even though we declined Braden's option, we still plan on having conversations with his agent,'' Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. Looper went 4-7 with a 3.94 ERA and 28 saves in 36 chances and had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder on Oct. 3, the day after the season ended. The Mets might decide not to re-sign Looper and land another closer. Trachsel missed most of the season following back surgery in March and went 1-4 with a 4.14 ERA. Mientkiewicz, acquired from Boston last winter after the Mets failed to sign free-agent Carlos Delgado, hit .240 with 11 homers and 29 RBIs.
Astros Give Garner An Extension Through '07
The Houston Astros rewarded manager Phil Garner on Monday for leading the club to its first World Series by extending his contract by one season 2007. With his trademark mustache and occasionally unexpected moves, Garner has guided the Astros to a 137-99 record over 1 1/2 seasons. Houston won its first playoff series last year and made the World Series this season before getting swept by the Chicago White Sox. The Astros needed big comebacks to win wild-card berths both seasons, overcoming a 15-30 start this year to become the first team since the 1914 Boston Braves to reach the World Series after falling 15 games under .500. "We are very pleased about the performance of our team under Phil," team owner Drayton McLane said. "It is an exciting time for the Houston Astros, and we feel Phil's leadership and efforts have contributed greatly to our success. We look forward to having him as our manager as we continue our mission toward a World Series championship."
Theo Leaves Sox
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein resigned Monday, surprising Boston and the baseball world just one year after he helped build the franchise's first World Series championship team since 1918. The team said in a statement that Epstein will continue working for several days to assist in the transition and prepare for the offseason. The Boston Herald, which first reported the news on its web site, said the Yale graduate has told associates that he may leave baseball, or at least take a year off. The Dodgers, Phillies and Devil Rays have GM openings, but none has a $120 million payroll to match the one Epstein was given in Boston. The 31-year-old Epstein was reportedly offered about $4.5 million for a three-year extension -- quadruple his previous salary. But it was still short of the $2.5 million a year the Red Sox offered Oakland's Billy Beane in 2002 before making Epstein the youngest GM in baseball history.
Blue Jays Kick Off Burnett Tour
The Blue Jays will be in full recruit mode early this week when free-agent pitcher A.J. Burnett begins his off-season tour of potential employers with a stop in Toronto. The Florida Marlins right-hander will be wined, dined and romanced by the Jays, who hope they can eventually land him on a multi-year contract. It will be like a high-school athlete visiting a college campus: See what a great facility the Rogers Centre is. Check out our workout room. Wanna tour the city? See how beautiful the lakefront is. Burnett is the best of the free-agent starters on the market this off-season and has a strong relationship with current Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, from when the two were together with the Marlins. Unlike most free agents, Burnett, of North Little Rock, Ark., isn't drawn to the large-market eastern teams, such as the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox, or the sun of California, either with the Los Angeles Angels or the now headless Dodgers. Burnett, his friends say, would rather be under the radar, which would put the Jays in a position to entertain with their roughly $85-million US budget. Of course, the Baltimore Orioles, the Seattle Mariners and the Washington Nationals will also be players.
Rusch Agrees To Two-Year Contract With Cubs
Glendon Rusch agreed to a $6 million, two-year contract with the Cubs on Monday, replacing a $2 million option he had for next season. The left-hander will get $2.75 million next season and $3.25 million in 2007, and he could earn up to $500,000 each season in performance bonuses. "Glendon wanted to re-sign with them. He didn't want to go anywhere else," said Tommy Tanzer, Rusch's agent. "He loves pitching for Dusty, and [pitching coach Larry Rothschild] and [bullpen coach] Dick Pole, and he loves playing for Jim Hendry." Rusch has been the ultimate utility player for the Cubs the last two years, moving back and forth between the bullpen and the starting rotation and giving the team flexibility when Kerry Wood and Mark Prior were hurt. He is 11-9 with a 3.94 ERA in 35 starts over the last two seasons, and 4-1 with two saves and a 4.30 ERA in 43 relief appearances.
Eight First Time Silver Sluggers For NL
The New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez and Boston's Manny Ramirez both won their eighth Silver Slugger Awards on Monday, while eight of the nine members of the NL team were first-time winners. Los Angeles second baseman Jeff Kent, who won for the fourth time, was the only member of the NL team to have previously won the award. He was joined in the NL by Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett and first baseman Derrek Lee, Cincinnati shortstop Felipe Lopez, Houston third baseman Morgan Ensberg, Atlanta outfielder Andruw Jones, Florida outfielder Miguel Cabrera, Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Lee and St. Louis pitcher Jason Marquis. Winners were picked by major league managers and coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own players. Selections for each position were based on a combination of offensive statistics, such as batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, as well as impressions of a player's offensive value. Rodriguez, who won seven Silver Sluggers at shortstop, won for the first time at third base and was joined on the list by Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield, a four-time winner. Ramirez was among three Boston players on the team, joined by catcher Jason Varitek, a first-time winner, and designated hitter David Ortiz, who made the list for the first time in 2004. Texas first baseman Mark Teixeira repeated, and Rangers shortstop Alfonso Soriano made it for the second straight year and third time overall. Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada also repeated.
Spot Starter Needed In The Rockies
The Rockies wanted to add a right-handed pitcher who can work in relief and spot start. Two most mentioned names are Elmer Dessens and former Rockies starter Pedro Astacio. The Rockies have had off-season flirtations with Dessens for several years, and indications last week are that Dessens will fit into the Rockies payroll structure but wants a two-year guarantee so he can feel some stability. Left-hander Shawn Estes, another former Rockies pitcher who was with Arizona last season, is also a candidate to fill a need for a veteran in the rotation. The Rockies would have liked to have retained Estes a year ago, but payroll considerations because of the arbitration leverage of Shawn Chacon and Joe Kennedy made it unrealistic to bid for Estes. Chacon and Kennedy were traded during the 2005 season, and the Rockies have additional payroll freedom this winter because they have unloaded contracts.
Rockies Could Go After DePodesta
Add former Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta to the list of possible off-season additions for the Rockies. Fired by the Dodgers on Saturday, 20 months into a five-year contract, DePodesta will be smart to take a few months off to clear his mind. Initial speculation is he will return to Oakland, where he was the top aide to general manager Billy Beane before being hired by the Dodgers. For DePodesta's own good, he would be better to move on and expand his exposure. The Rockies would be a likely choice, because DePodesta has said time and again that Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd is his closest friend in baseball. It was O'Dowd who first hired DePodesta in Cleveland, and it was O'Dowd who convinced good friend Beane to make DePodesta the A's assistant general manager.
Matsui To Talk New Contract With Yanks This Week
Arn Tellem, the agent for Hideki Matsui, said in an E-mail yesterday that he expected to begin talking to the Yankees about a new contract for his client this week. Matsui, who just completed a three-year, $21-million deal, will become a free agent Nov. 16. GM Brian Cashman said last week of Matsui: "He's a Yankee, as far as I'm concerned."
Angels Emerge As Favorite For Manny
The Los Angeles Angels appear to be the likeliest partner if/when the Sox explore dealing unhappy slugger Manny Ramirez, who again has asked out of Boston. Ramirez representative Geno Mato told Sox owner John W. Henry Friday that Ramirez wants to be dealt and will not report to spring training if he remains a member of the Red Sox. The Sox' foremost need is pitching, and any conversation with the Angels is expected to begin with the Sox asking about 22-year-old Ervin Santana, the righthander who went 12-8 with a 4.65 ERA as a rookie. Los Angeles is looking to unload salary, specifically 40-year-old center fielder Steve Finley ($7 million in 2006) and 31-year-old Darin Erstad ($8.5 million). The Sox aren't likely to touch Finley, but they might be willing to absorb Erstad's salary, given that he could play first base or center field. Ramirez, during an August visit to play the Angels, confided in a veteran teammate how much he liked Anaheim. Ramirez remarked that no one bothered him during a visit to a local mall. The teammate explained the lack of fan pestering by telling Ramirez that if he played in Southern California he might be making $20 million a year, but his next-door neighbor would be making $25 million.
Three More Years With Theo
Theo Epstein and the Red Sox have agreed to an extension of that length, keeping the Brookline native in place as the team's GM through the 2008 season, according to multiple major league sources.
Dodgers To Interview Former Mariners GM
The Los Angeles Dodgers have received permission to interview Seattle Mariners adviser Pat Gillick to replace fired general manager Paul DePodesta.
Dye Could Move To First If Konerko Bolts
If first baseman Paul Konerko leaves via free agency ? and that picture is very cloudy ? the Sox could move Dye to first because of the outfield depth they have.
Mets Back In Manny Chase
Manny wants out of Boston and Omar Minaya is back in the hunt. Ramirez's agent said that his client wouldn't want to come to the Mets, but they are one of the only clubs that could pull the trigger o
The DePodesta Experience Ends In Failure
"Our high expectations were not met," said Frank McCourt. "I like Paul. He has many positive attributes. It was difficult, but at the end of the day, that's my job, to make difficult decisions."
ManRam Asks To Be Dealt Again
Gene Mato, one of Manny Ramirez's representatives, communicated to the Red Sox yesterday that Ramirez wants to be traded, and will not report to spring training if his wish to be dealt is not met.
Damon Files For Free Agency
Johnny Damon took one step closer to potentially leaving the Red Sox on Friday by filing for free agency. He has expressed a desire to return to Boston, but he may be lured away by a big payday.
Schmidt Interviews For Rays Position
Mike Schmidt joined the growing list of candidates for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' vacant manager's job, emerging from an interview Friday optimistic about the prospect of getting the position.
Konerko Leads The Free Agent Class Of 2005 To File
Less than 24 hours after helping the Chicago White Sox win their first World Series since 1917, AL Championship Series MVP Paul Konerko was among 62 players who filed for free agency Thursday.