Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Who will win the 2006 World Series?

The regular season hasn't even begun, but anaylists and fans around the nation are taking a guess at who will win the 2006 World Series. They crunch the numbers, factor in all the statistics, and review the teams' rosters.

Sportsbook.com's pick: New York Yankees

Sportsbook.com has listed odds for the 2006 World Series after the 2005 championship was decided with the Chicago White Sox's 4-0 series sweep of the Houston Astros. Despite the successful run of both teams, including Chicago's 11-1 post season record, neither team is among the top three favorites to win next year's World Series.

The early bet is New York at 6-1. Despite the fact they have not won the World Series since 2000, the Yankees come into every year as the favorites based on the talent of their roster and the money they are willing to spend to make their team competitive. St. Louis is listed at 7-1 followed by the Boston Red Sox at 8-1. Both the White Sox and Astros come in at 12-1.

"The Yankees have gone through a bit of a dry spell, in spite of their talent. But you look at the roster and they have to be considered the best team on paper," said Peter Childs, Odds Maker, Sportsbook.com.

FoxSports.com's pick: New York Yankees

PREDICTION:The aging Yankees core not only mustered yet another division title, but they also laid claim to their first World Series trophy of the millennium. An MVP-caliber season from Alex Rodriguez and solid offerings from Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada helped New York lead the majors in runs scored, and an improved team defense and deep rotation kept runs off the board at a reasonable clip.

NBC Sports pick: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Just about everything is in place for a championship: Arguably the best owner in the game, huge attendance and revenues that make a $100-million-plus payroll possible, one of the best managers and coaching staffs, an excellent pitching staff and a couple of superstars. Offense is the biggest need, but they will make a run at the top free agents, have a ton of minor-league talent to deal if necessary, and very likely could get some help from within if Dallas McPherson and Casey Kotchmann emerge. No team has won two championships in this new millennium, but look for the Angels to be the first to do so.

These are just a couple of the picks out there. The American League title will be very close, in my opinion. Boston and New York will once again be in a fight for the number 1 spot. I think the Yankees have the deeper pitching staff and will most likely go to the World Series. The Cardinals and Mets will be fighting for the National League title. Both of these teams will be great this coming season. The Mets are totally revamped, with some great new pitching ( Billy Wagner) and a new firstbaseman ( Carlos Delgado). Maybe we'll see another Subway Series? I hope so...but anything could happen between now and October.

Any thoughts?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Piazza Signs With Padres

All-Star catcher Mike Piazza agreed Sunday to a $2 million, one-year contract with the San Diego Padres, giving the defending NL West champions a marquee player they think can still contribute.

Piazza, 37, had been interested in signing a free-agent deal with an AL team to become a designated hitter. Instead, he'll stay in the NL and return to the West Coast for the first time since the Los Angeles Dodgers traded him to Florida in 1998.

The 12-time All-Star holds the major league record for most career home runs by a catcher (374). He has 397 homers overall, and is a career .311 hitter.

The deal is expected to be announced on Monday. Piazza gets a $1.25 million salary this year, and the contract includes a mutual option for 2007 at $8 million with a $750,000 buyout. He can earn an additional $750,000 this year in performance bonuses.

"The Padres told Mike that he could pretty much catch as much as he wanted to," said Piazza's agent, Dan Lozano.

Piazza is hoping to catch about 90-100 games this season, along with playing some first base and being the DH in interleague games.

Piazza became a free agent after last season, when he hit .251 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs in 113 games for the New York Mets. It was his lowest batting average since he hit .232 in 69 at-bats with the Dodgers in 1992, his first season in the big leagues.

A-Rod presented with MVP Award

Alex Rodriguez was presented with his second MVP award Sunday night by an old friend and longtime adviser, former Baltimore Orioles great Cal Ripken Jr.

"The last two times I've been up here my two favorite players of all-time have introduced me, Mr. Keith Hernandez and Mr. Cal Ripken," Rodriguez told the crowd at the 83rd annual New York baseball dinner. "To the New York fans, thank you very much for making me feel very welcome."

The New York Yankees third baseman, who also won the 2003 AL MVP with Texas, then took a moment to congratulate manager Ozzie Guillen and three other members of the World Series champion Chicago White Sox who were seated with him on the dais.

"You guys showed the whole world from April 1 to the last game of the season that you truly were the best team in baseball," A-Rod said.
Read the whole article here.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Mets Sign Julio

Jorge Julio agreed Friday to a $2,525,000, one-year contract with the New York Mets, who acquired him six days earlier from the Baltimore Orioles.

The 26-year-old right-hander, Baltimore's closer from 2002-04, had a 1.99 ERA in 2002 and a career-high 36 saves in 2003, then lost the closer's job to B.J. Ryan. Julio was 3-5 with a 5.90 ERA in 67 appearances last season, when he made $2.5 million.

He had asked for $2.8 million in arbitration and had been offered $2.3 million. He was the last Mets player remaining in arbitration.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Yankees Sign Small

New York Yankees pitcher Aaron Small was rewarded Tuesday with a $1.2 million, one-year contract Tuesday after he went unbeaten following a midseason callup from the minor leagues.

Small went 10-0 with a 3.20 ERA in nine starts and six relief appearances during the regular season, joining Tom Zachary (12-0) of the 1929 Yankees, Howie Krist (10-0) of the 1941
St. Louis Cardinals and Dennis Lamp (11-0) of the 1985 Toronto Blue Jays as the only pitchers to finish a major league regular season unbeaten with 10 or more wins.

However, Small lost Game 3 of the AL playoffs against the Los Angeles Angels.

In addition to his base salary, Small could earn $80,000 in performance bonuses: $15,000 each for 15 and 20 starts, and $25,000 each for 25 and 30 starts. He had asked for $1.45 million in arbitration and had been offered $1,025,000.

Small made $149,180 last season after he was brought up from the minor leagues on July 17. The most he ever made in a season before this year was $197,500 in 1998.
New York has one player remaining in arbitration. Pitcher Shawn Chacon asked for $4.15 million and was offered $3.1 million.

Notes: After receiving a telephone call from Mike Piazza's agent, Dan Lozano, the Yankees are weighing whether to start negotiations for the free agent catcher, who would join Bernie Williams as a designated hitter. A Yankees official said the club hadn't decided whether it was interested in Piazza, who has attracted little interest on the open market.

Aaron Small is such a great asset to the Yankees! He can start and pitch out of the bullpen! So this is a great signing for NY.

Do the Yankees really need Mike Piazza? I mean they have Bernie as the DH... I don't think Piazza is necessary at all...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Mets Trade Benson to Baltimore

The Baltimore Orioles added much-needed experience to their starting rotation Saturday, acquiring right-hander Kris Benson from the New York Mets for right-handers Jorge Julio and John Maine.

Benson went 10-8 with a 4.13 ERA in 28 starts for New York last year. Despite spending all of April on the disabled list, he finished third on the Mets' staff in wins and starts.

"This gives us credibility in our starting rotation. We needed a veteran presence," Orioles first-year manager Sam Perlozzo said. "We don't need him to carry this staff; we just want him to pitch well. It's a great addition."

Perlozzo believes Benson has a decent shot of seizing the No. 1 spot in a rotation that tentatively includes Rodrigo Lopez, Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera and Bruce Chen.

"I think Kris certainly has that potential," Perlozzo said. "I don't want to put too much pressure on him, but I think he can be a major force in this rotation. Regardless, this gives us five days in a row that we can feel good about the guy we've got starting on the mound."

The 31-year-old Benson spent parts of five seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates'before being traded to New York in July 2004. He missed the entire 2001 season after elbow ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow.

For his career, he is 57-61 with a 4.25 ERA in 165 starts.

"I was shocked when I heard about the trade this morning, but the more I thought about it, the more excited I got," Benson said. "I'm looking forward to helping out the rotation and doing everything I can to make this team a contender."

I think this is a loss for the Mets. Benson is a much better pitcher then Julio and Maine are. The Mets now have to hunt for some more starting pitching after losing Benson to Baltimore and Seo to Los Angeles.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Return of Epstein

The Boston Red Sox still need a shortstop and a center fielder. They brought back the guy who can find them. Theo Epstein will return to the team he built into a World Series winner, he and the team said Thursday night in a joint statement that did not say what his role would be.

His long-rumored return comes 2 1/2 months after he turned down a contract extension and fled Fenway Park in a gorilla suit to avoid the encamped media.

"As you know, we have spoken frequently during the last 10 weeks," the statement said. "We have engaged in healthy, spirited debates about what it will take over the long-term for the Red Sox to remain a great organization and, in fact, become a more effective organization in philosophy, approaches and ideals.

"Ironically, Theo's departure has brought us closer together in many respects, and, thanks to these conversations, we now enjoy the bonds of a shared vision for the organization's future that did not exist on Oct. 31. With this vision in place, Theo will return to the Red Sox in a full-time baseball operations capacity, details of which will be announced next week."

Epstein declined to elaborate on the statement, which also came from principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino. The team would not comment on how Epstein will fit into the organization's hierarchy, but Henry denied that Lucchino's role was diminished to lure Epstein back.

Oh, the drama in Boston.......

Arroyo Signs a 3-year Deal with Boston

The departure of fun-loving teammates Johnny Damon and Kevin Millar didn't dissuade Bronson Arroyo from staying with the Boston Red Sox.

The 28-year-old right-hander took a hometown discount from the Red Sox on Thursday, agreeing to an $11.25 million, three-year contract. Arroyo said he took the deal against the advice of his agents because he liked playing in Boston.

"I signed at a pretty good discount," Arroyo said in a conference call with reporters. "They felt going year-to-year would be more beneficial for me financially. ... They felt like I was leaving close to $4 million on the table. But I could be in a car wreck tomorrow. So, at this point in my career, it's obviously."

Arroyo went 14-10 with a 4.51 ERA last season, pitching 205 1-3 innings. But as a young, relatively inexpensive pitcher, he is always among the first names mentioned when the Red Sox talk with small market teams looking to unload salaries.

"I love playing here. I love the fans. I love the city. I want to stay here for my whole career," he said. "I feel that's going to beneficial for me as well as the team. Hopefully, they see it that way and don't trade me."

Arroyo made $1,925,000 last season and gets a $750,000 signing bonus, $2.75 million this year, $3.8 million in 2007 and $3.95 million in 2008.

He had asked for $4.2 million in arbitration and the team had offered $2.95 million. Arroyo said neither of the Red Sox co-general managers, Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington, could promise him that he won't be traded.

The Sox continue to work on their starting pitching. They have a lot more work to do with that messed up pitching staff.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


After a month of talking about baseball matters, I decided it was WAY too hard to try to cover everything. So from now on, Baseball Mania will just be covering the Yankees and the Mets. :) They are my favorite team so... I'll enjoy it more, it'll be easier on me, and hopefully, my readers will enjoy it too.


Friday, January 13, 2006

Millar Signs with Baltimore

First baseman Kevin Millar agreed to a $2.1 million, one-year contract Thursday with the Baltimore Orioles, who hope the former Boston Red Sox star can provide leadership and some punch in the lineup.

"I see him playing a lot of first base, designated hitter and in the outfield," Orioles first-year manager Sam Perlozzo said. "We get a guy with playoff experience, someone who was part of a
World Series team. We can use that kind of player in our clubhouse. It gives us a little chemistry."

The 34-year-old Millar, who can make an additional $2.6 million in performance bonuses, hit .276 with 25 home runs and 96 RBIs with the Red Sox in 2003. It was during that season that he coined the phrase, "Cowboy Up!" — which became Boston's battle cry in September and into the playoffs.

Millar also fell in love with the with the intense competition of the AL East, and the opportunity to stay in the division made Baltimore his first choice among the teams that tried to sign him.

"This division is where you want to be as a baseball player. There's nothing like it," Millar said. "It's like 162 playoff games."

Millar batted .297 with 18 homers and 74 RBIs for the World Series champions in 2004, but his production dropped last year, when he hit .272 with nine homers and 50 RBIs. He did, however, remain a leader in the Boston clubhouse, and he hopes to do the same in Baltimore.

Read more about the signing here.

The Red Sox team is kinda falling apart. They lose Damon to the Yankees. They lose 3B Miller to the Padres. And now they lose Millar to the Orioles! Boston better take some serious action and try to hold on to some players, because it seems that EVERYONE wants to get out of Boston! There are rumours that the Red Sox are vigorously trying to GET RID of Manny Ramirez! ( Read more about those rumours here.) The whole Red Sox team is falling apart. ( Which is fine with me!)

The Orioles are shaping up a bit. They now have a lot more offense, and are trying to get even more by landing Manny Ramirez. But even if there offense is spectacular, they're going to need some decent pitching before they can go anywhere.

Wise to Milwaukee; Embree to San Diego

Wise Agrees to Two-Year Deal with Milwaukee

Reliever Matt Wise and the Milwaukee Brewers agreed Thursday to a $1.7 million, two-year contract that avoided salary arbitration.

The 30-year-old right-hander made 49 appearances for the Brewers last season, going 4-4 with a 3.36 ERA. He had his first major league save on Aug. 5 at Philadelphia, then went on the disabled list with a strained muscle.

He gets a $100,000 signing bonus and salaries of $600,000 this year and $700,000 in 2007. In the second year of the contract, he can earn up to $100,000 in performance bonuses.
"Matt's ability to retire batters in tough situations makes him one of the premier setup relievers in baseball," Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said.

Alan Embree to Padres

Left-handed reliever Alan Embree agreed to a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres on Thursday and was invited to spring training.

He would get an $850,000, one-year contract if he makes the big league roster.This will be Embree's second tour with the Padres. In 2002, he went 3-4 with a 1.26 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 36 appearances prior to being traded to Boston.

The 35-year-old Embree went 2-5 with one save and a 7.62 ERA in a combined 67 games with the Red Sox and New York Yankees in 2005.

Pitching Notes

Mariners Sign Julio Mateo

The Seattle Mariners agreed Thursday to a $1,875,000, two-year contract with reliever Julio Mateo that avoided salary arbitration.

The 28-year-old right-hander made $390,000 last season, his fourth with Seattle. He was 3-6 with two blown saves, a 3.06 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 17 walks in a career-high 55 games. That likely would have been his third consecutive season with 50 appearances, had he not spent six weeks of 2004 on the disabled list with elbow tendinitis.

He is 8-8 with a 3.56 ERA, two saves, five blown saves, 181 strikeouts and 58 walks in 162 career games.

Mateo's deal, contingent on the successful completion of a physical, calls for a $150,000 signing bonus and salaries of $625,000 in 2006 and $1 million in 2007. Seattle holds a $1.5 million option for 2008 with a $100,000 buyout. Mateo could increase his 2008 base salary by $50,000 each for 55 appearances and 60 appearances in 2007 and another $100,000 if he appears in 65 games.

Brett Myers Sign with the Phillies

Brett Myers avoided arbitration, agreeing Thursday to a $3.3 million, one-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The 25-year-old right-hander went 13-8 with a 3.72 ERA in 34 starts with two complete games for the Phillies last year. His 208 strikeouts were a career high and tied for third-most in the NL.

"Brett had a solid year in 2005, and we are hopeful that he will step up even further in 2006," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. Myers is 42-33 with a 4.47 ERA in four seasons.

Miceli Signs Two-Year Deal with Tampa

Reliever Dan Miceli agreed to a two-year, $1.5 million contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Thursday.

Miceli was 1-2 with a 5.89 ERA in 19 appearances with Colorado last season. The 35-year-old right-hander has appeared in 598 major league games with nine clubs, posting a 42-50 record with 35 saves and a 4.51 ERA.

He will make $650,000 in each of the next two seasons. The deal also has a $1 million team option for 2008 that could escalate to $1.45 million. He would receive a $200,000 buyout if the team declines.

To make room for Miceli, the Devil Rays designated right-hander Franklin Nunez for assignment. Nunez made 13 relief appearances with Tampa Bay over the past two seasons.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Red Sox Sign Graffanino and Tavarez

Graffanino signs a One-Year Contract-

Infielder Tony Graffanino agreed Wednesday to a $2.05 million, one-year contract with the
Boston Red Sox that avoids a salary arbitration hearing.

Graffanino, the Red Sox starting second baseman after being acquired from Kansas City last July 19, is expected to compete for a utility position after Boston acquired Mark Loretta from San Diego.

In 51 games with Boston last year, Graffanino hit .319 with four homers and 20 RBIs. In 110 games with the Red Sox and Royals, he hit .309 with seven homers and 38 RBIs.

Read more about the signing here.

Tavarez Agrees to a Two-Year Deal-

Julian Tavarez and the Red Sox reached a preliminary agreement Wednesday on a $6.7 million, two-year contract as Boston added another newcomer to its rebuilt bullpen.

The reliever must pass a physical for the deal to be finalized, a person familiar with the negotiations said, speaking on condition of anonymity because Boston has not yet announced the agreement. The physical is likely to take place Thursday.

Tavarez, a 32-year-old right-hander, gets a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $3.1 million in each of the next two seasons. The agreement also includes a club option for 2008 of $3.85 million. That option would become guaranteed if Tavarez appears in a total of 125 games in the next two seasons or 65 games in 2007.

Read more here.

Well now, the Red Sox have an over-abundance of second basemen! Way to many!

But Tavarez is a good catch for Boston. They were baseball's worst bullpen last year and Tavarez, if he's healthy, will give them some help.

Signings from around the American League

Rangers Sign Joaquin Benoit to a One-Year Contract:

Joaquin Benoit and the Texas Rangers agreed Wednesday to a one-year contract worth $775,000.

The 28-year-old right-hander went 4-4 with a 3.72 ERA last year. He pitched in 32 games and started in nine. He is 19-19 with a 5.17 ERA in his career.

Benoit missed the early part of the season with shoulder tendinitis and saw some time on the disabled list with right elbow tendinitis. He can earn $25,000 bonuses for appearing in 55 and 60 games.

Maroth, Inge Sign with Detroit

Mike Maroth agreed Wednesday to a $5.25 million, two-year contract with the Detroit Tigers and third baseman Brandon Inge signed off on a $3 million, one-year deal.

Maroth was 14-14 with a 4.74 ERA last season, when he had 115 strikeouts and 51 walks in 209 innings. The 28-year-old left-hander went 9-21 in 2003, becoming the first pitcher since 1980 to lose 20 games. He bounced back the next year with an 11-13 record and a 4.31 ERA.

Detroit will pay Maroth $2.3 million this year and $2.95 million in 2007.

Inge, who also is 28, batted .261 with 16 homers and 72 RBIs last year. Primarily a catcher during his first four seasons in Detroit, he played 160 games at third base last season — the most by a Tiger at that position since Aurelio Rodriguez's 160 in 1973.

Eduardo Perez Agrees to a One-Year Deal with Indians

The Cleveland Indians finalized their one-year contract Wednesday with free agent Eduardo Perez, who could end up in a platoon at first base with Ben Broussard.

Perez, son of Hall of Famer Tony Perez, batted .255 with 11 homers and 28 RBIs last season for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In 2004, he drove in 82 runs.

The 36-year-old will give Indians manager Eric Wedge a much needed right-handed hitter off the bench when Broussard plays. In his career against left-handers, Perez has batted .263 with 47 homers and 168 RBIs.

Perez had his best season in 1997 for Cincinnati, when he batted .253 with 16 homers and 52 RBIs. A first-round pick by the California Angels in 1991, Perez has also played for St. Louis.

Bradley and Calero sign with Athletics

Outfielder Milton Bradley and right-hander Kiko Calero agreed to one-year contracts with the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, avoiding arbitration.

Bradley, hoping to return to his top form after a season-ending left knee injury Aug. 23 that required surgery, will receive $3 million with the chance to earn an additional $200,000 in performance bonuses. Calero receives an $850,000 salary.

"We've been discussing them for the last couple weeks," assistant general manager David Forst said. "We felt good about it and we were confident we'd get them done before we had to file numbers."

The A's acquired the switch-hitting Bradley in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Dec. 13 to upgrade their offense and hit around Eric Chavez. Bradley, who became known for his volatile behavior last season that included a run-in with teammate Jeff Kent, is expected to be Oakland's starting right fielder.

A's general manager Billy Beane said when he dealt for Bradley that the past is the past and he believes the outfielder will fit in well in Oakland's laid-back clubhouse. Bradley agreed, and said he has been misunderstood at times.

"I'm all about winning. I'm not going out there to just go through the motions and have fun," he said last month.

The 27-year-old Bradley batted .290 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs in 283 at-bats last season. He was limited to 75 games, missing extensive playing time because of a torn ligament in his right ring finger.

Bradley hit .267 with 19 homers and 67 RBIs in 141 games for the Dodgers in 2004, and .321 with 10 homers and 56 RBIs in 101 games for the Indians in 2003.

The 31-year-old Calero made 58 relief appearances in his first season for the A's in 2005, going 4-1 record with a 3.23 ERA and earning one save. He allowed opponents to hit .216 against him, including .170 to first batters faced — which ranked sixth lowest among American League relievers.

Read the whole story here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Relief Pitcher, Bruce Sutter Elected to Hall of Fame

After falling short a dozen times, Bruce Sutter was relieved. He became only the fourth reliever given baseball's highest honor, gaining election to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

"When the phone call came and the caller ID said `New York,' I thought, oh, maybe this is it," he said.

And when he found out he had made it, Sutter flashed a signal, giving a "thumbs-up" to his wife, sons and daughters-in-law."They started screaming," he recalled, "and, actually, I started crying."

Becoming the first pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame with no career starts, the split-finger pioneer was listed on 76.9 percent of the ballots, collecting 400 of a record 520 votes cast by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America who have been in the organization for 10 consecutive years or more.

"It was a call that you always hope for, but you never really expect it to happen," Sutter said. "I didn't think it would affect me or hit me as hard as it did."

Players needed 390 votes (75 percent) to gain election. Boston Red Sox slugger Jim Rice fell 53 short, finishing second with 337 votes (64.8 percent), one ahead of reliever Goose Gossage.

Sutter was the first player elected on the 13th try or later since Ralph Kiner in 1975. Rice was appearing for the 12th time and has three years remaining on the writers' ballot. Gossage was on the ballot for the seventh time.

It might be difficult for Rice and Gossage to gain votes next year, when Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn and Mark McGwire appear on the ballot for the first time. Each voter may select up to 10 players.

Mets sign Top Pick, Pelfrey

The New York Mets and top draft pick Mike Pelfrey finalized a $5.25 million, four-year contract on Tuesday after the pitcher passed a physical.

The 6-foot-7 right-hander was 12-3 with a 1.93 ERA in 19 games for Wichita State last year, throwing seven complete games and two shutouts. He struck out 143 in 139 2-3 innings and walked 30. Pelfrey went 33-7 with a 2.18 ERA in 52 games at Wichita State in three seasons, throwing 14 complete games.

Pelfrey was the ninth overall pick in June's amateur draft. He is scheduled to be at a news conference Wednesday at New York's spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Read more about the signing here.

In other news, Devil Rays sign Ty Wigginton to a one-year contract.

Angels Take Their Name to Court

Charles Richter roots for the Angels. Not the Anaheim Angels, not the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, not the California Angels. Just the Angels.

For Richter, that's the easiest way to keep ahead of a game that took a strange twist last year. That's when owner Arte Moreno renamed the 2002

World Series champions the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — and the city slapped the team with a lawsuit, claiming tens of millions in lost publicity.

"It's the players, the team, it's the Angels we root for. Not what's behind the word 'Angels' or in front of it," said Richter, 35, who runs the popular fan site

But many fans do care, and say the war of words obscures what the debate is really about: A general failure to recognize that Orange County, population 3 million, is a strong community with its own identity that doesn't need LA's cachet.

Opening statements will begin Friday. Jury selection began Tuesday and was scheduled to continue on Wednesday.

Read more here.

I don't think it's fair that the Angels were forced to put Los Angeles at the beginning of their name. I hope they win this suit and return to the Anaheim Angels...

Mets Sign Castro; Dodgers Get New Hitting Coach

Castro to Mets

Backup catcher Ramon Castro and the New York Mets agreed Tuesday to an $800,000, one-year contract.

He hit .244 in 99 games last season with eight homers and 41 RBIs, getting more playing time than anticipated because Mike Piazza got hurt. Piazza became a free agent, and the Mets acquired Paul Lo Duca from Florida.

Castro also has the chance to earn $50,000 bonuses for 60, 70 and 80 games played.
Infielder Chris Woodward and pitcher Victor Zambrano are the only Mets remaining eligible for arbitration.

Dodgers Hire Eddie Murray

Hall of Famer Eddie Murray was hired Tuesday as the hitting coach for the
Los Angeles Dodgers.

Other newcomers who will work on first-year manager Grady Little's staff are pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, first base coach Mariano Duncan, third base coach Rich Donnelly, bench coach Dave Jauss and bullpen coach Dan Warthen.

In addition, Manny Mota will return for his 27th season as a Dodgers coach, and Rob Flippo will be back for his fifth season as the team's bullpen catcher.Murray, Honeycutt, Duncan and Mota all played for the Dodgers.

The 49-year-old Murray, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003, hit .287 with 504 homers and 1,917 RBIs in 21 seasons.

Read more about the story here.

National sign Tucker and Ayala

Free agent outfielder Michael Tucker agreed Monday to a one-year contract with the Washington Nationals, who also gave a $2.2 million, two-year contract with reliever Luis Ayala.

Tucker is a career .257 hitter during 11 seasons with Kansas City, Atlanta, Cincinnati, the
Chicago Cubs, San Francisco and Philadelphia. He was traded late last season from the Giants to the Phillies and wound up with a combined .239 average with five homers and 36 RBIs in 268 at-bats.

Ayala, who had been eligible for arbitration, is 24-22 with a 2.75 ERA in three seasons with the Expos/Nationals. He was 8-7 with a 2.66 ERA in 68 appearances last year as the primary setup man before an elbow injury ended his season. He had surgery in October to remove an elbow bone spur.

He gets $900,000 this year and $1.3 million next year.

The Nationals get some MUCH needed offense and are putting together a pretty good team. Keep in mind that just a couple of weeks ago, the National signed second baseman Alfonso Soriano to help boost their offense.

Cubs Trade Patterson to the O's; Kielty re-signs with the A's

Cubs Trade Patterson to the Orioles-

Outfielder Corey Patterson, once projected as the Chicago Cubs' star of the future, was traded to the Baltimore Orioles on Monday for a pair of minor leaguers: shortstop Nate Spears and left-hander Carlos Perez.

The 26-year-old Patterson hit .252 with 70 homers in parts of six major league seasons with the Cubs, appearing in 589 games. He was the Cubs' first-round pick and third player taken overall in the 1998 amateur draft.

Patterson tore a knee ligament midway through 2003 during a breakout season, when he batted .298 with 13 homers.

He started 111 games in center field for the Cubs last year, struggling with .215 average and just 13 homers in 126 games. The Cubs demoted him to Triple-A Iowa to work on his batting stroke, and he played 24 games in the minors before returning.

Read the whole story here.
Bobby Kielty signs with Athletics-

Outfielder Bobby Kielty agreed to a $1.85 million, one-year contract with the Oakland Athletics on Monday, avoiding salary arbitration.

Kielty, who has spent parts of five seasons in the big leagues, struggled in his first season with the A's in 2004 and appeared in only 83 games. He changed his mental approach last season and bounced back with a strong year.

Kielty's new deal includes $50,000 in incentives based on plate appearances. He had a base salary of $875,000 last year, but it was bumped to $925,000 with incentives.

"I'm very happy with it. It's a fair deal for both sides," Kielty said in a phone interview from Canyon Lake, Calif. "It basically happened in a day."

Read the whole story here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Reds sign Aurilia; Astros sign Miller

Rich Aurilia will remain with the Cincinnati Reds.

The infielder agreed to a $1.3 million, one-year contract Sunday, a deal that includes a $2 million mutual option for 2007.

Aurilia batted .282 with 14 homers and 68 RBIs for the Reds last season, his first in Cincinnati. He started 68 games at second base, 30 at shortstop and 18 at third.

If the 34-year-old Aurilia has 400 plate appearances this year, a $100,000 buyout would kick in if the option is declined. If he has 450 plate appearances, the buyout amount would increase to $200,000.

The Reds declined a $2 million mutual option on Aurilia in October and offered him salary arbitration last month.


Relief pitcher Trever Miller and the Houston Astros reached a preliminary agreement on a one-year contract Sunday.

Miller is scheduled to be in Houston for a physical on Monday, and he must pass for the deal to be completed.

The left-hander spent the past two seasons with Tampa Bay, then became a free agent when the Devil Rays did not offer him a contract by the Dec. 20 deadline. He appeared in 61 games last season, going 2-2 with a 4.06 ERA.

Miller's deal with the NL champion Astros would include an option for 2007 that could become guaranteed depending on his performance next season.

Miller has a 10-11 career record with a 4.66 ERA and seven saves in 305 major league games. He spent 1998-99 with Houston, and has also pitched for Detroit, Philadelphia, the
Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Koskie traded to Milwaukee; J.T. Snow signs with Boston

Koskie to Milwaukee:

After the shock of being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers had worn off, the next thing Corey Koskie thought about was steak.

"Milwaukee has one of my favorite steakhouses," Koskie said Friday night by phone from his offseason home in Minnesota. "I don't know these guys at all, so I don't know what I bring yet. I've watched them play, and I've been impressed with the way they play the game."

Koskie was traded by Toronto to Milwaukee late Friday night for minor league pitcher Brian Wolfe. The third baseman became expendable after the Blue Jays acquired slugger Troy Glaus last month.

"Corey brings a presence to a ballclub," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "I've seen enough of him through the years, we felt we could upgrade defensively with him."

Koskie hit .249 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs in 97 games last season, his first with the Blue Jays after spending the first seven years of his career with the Minnesota Twins. He was on the disabled list from May 20 to July 26 because of a broken right thumb.

Read the whole story here.

Snow to Boston:

First baseman J.T. Snow and the Boston Red Sox agreed to a $2 million, one-year contract on Friday.

The deal was announced late Friday night after Snow passed a physical. A six-time Gold Glove winner from 1995-00, Snow spent the past nine seasons with San Francisco. He is likely to share playing time at first base with Kevin Youkilis in Boston.

The 37-year-old Snow is a career .268 hitter in 14 major league seasons with 189 homers and 873 RBIs. He has also played for the California Angels and New York Yankees.

Snow's best offensive season came in 1997, his first year with the Giants, when he hit .281 with 28 home runs and 104 RBIs. He helped San Francisco win the NL pennant in 2002 and batted .407 (11-for-27) with a homer, four RBIs and six runs scored in the World Series, which the Giants lost in seven games to the Angels.

Snow hit .275 with 17 doubles, four homers and 40 RBIs in 117 games last season. He
batted .313 with runners in scoring position, including a .373 mark in those situations after July 2.

His deal with the Red Sox does not contain any provisions for performance bonuses.

Marlins on the Move

Florida Marlins' representatives plan to meet next week with Portland, Ore. officials about the team's possible relocation to the city in the event it can't get a baseball-only stadium in South Florida.

Marlins president David Samson will travel to Portland on Monday for a one-day visit, team spokesman P.J. Loyello said Friday. Samson will be accompanied by Marlins vice chairman Joel Mael and Claude Delorme, who is in charge of stadium development.

Since their inception in 1993, the Marlins have shared the Miami Dolphins' home, owned by Wayne Huizenga. The Marlins' lease with the stadium is in effect until 2007, and the team could move after that.

If the team relocates, Las Vegas and Portland appear to be the early front-runners.


Marlins in Oregon? They'll definitely have to change their name. But I do think they need to move; their Florida stadium is horrible and they are bringing in very, very few fans.

2005 Baseball Final Payrolls List

Final 2005 payrolls for the 30 major league teams, as determined by the commissioner's office:

( Figures include salaries and pro-rated shares of signing bonuses for players on Aug. 31 rosters and disabled lists. In some cases, parts of salaries deferred without interest are discounted to reflect present-day values. )

N.Y. Yankees- $207,152,931 ( Highest payroll in the history of the sport!)

Boston- 116,640,070
New York Mets- 103,985,823
Los Angeles Angels- 96,951,322
Philadelphia- 94,848,907
Los Angeles Dodgers- 87,753,000
St. Louis- 87,368,220
Atlanta- 85,873,582
San Francisco- 83,316,989
Baltimore- 81,041,711
Chicago Cubs- 76,598,500
Houston 76,186,763
Chicago White Sox- 73,162,000
Seattle- 70,513,167
Detroit- 68,751,682
San Diego- 66,333,633
Washington- 62,866,000
Arizona- 60,803,968
Oakland- 58,425,354
Minnesota- 56,338,000
Florida- 56,273,212
Texas- 49,870,201
Cincinnati- 49,501,275
Toronto- 45,698,000
Milwaukee- 42,752,833
Cleveland- 40,684,100
Kansas City- 34,903,000
Colorado- 32,504,000
Pittsburgh- 30,139,200
Tampa Bay- 26,615,413

Well, I'm not surprised with the Yankees being first or the Red Sox being second, but I didn't realize who high the Met's and Angel's payrolls are. And how come the Texas Rangers are so low?

Mets Seek Ramirez

Carlos Beltran has heard the rumors, that the New York Mets inquired about a possible trade for Manny Ramirez.

While trade talk between the Boston Red Sox and Mets appears to have cooled, Beltran would love to have Ramirez alongside him in the Mets outfield this year.

"If it happens, that would be great," Beltran said Thursday during a telephone conference call. "Who doesn't want to have Manny on the ballclub? Who doesn't want to have that bat on the ballclub?"

Beltran spoke several times during the offseason with Carlos Delgado, the hard-hitting first baseman the Mets acquired from the Florida Marlins to boost their offense and said that he spoke with Delgado just as reports of the trade were breaking. Beltran acknowledged that a deal for Ramirez likely was a long shot.

"I think for the Mets to be able to get that done, it has to be a perfect deal," he said. "If it doesn't happen, I think right now with what we've got, we can accomplish what we need to do."

As Beltran said, this would bea absolutely perfect for the Mets! Their offensive problems would be solved ( more then solved) and their pitching would get a lot of support.

If this deal does happen, the Red Sox will be cease to be a threat in the American League East.

Pitching Notes

Phillies sign a 1-year contract with Ryan Franklin:

Ryan Franklin is ready to put what he considered an unlucky 2005 behind him.

His first step was changing teams, agreeing Thursday to a $2.6 million, one-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies after six lackluster seasons in Seattle.

"I don't want to say I wore out my welcome in Seattle, but I was ready to move on," he said.
Franklin had some of the worst run support of any starting pitcher last year, when he went 8-15 with a 5.10 ERA in 190 2-3 innings with the Mariners. They averaged only 3.4 runs per game for him, the second-lowest amount in the American League and tied for fifth-lowest in baseball.

Braves sign relief pitcher, Chris Reitsma:

Relief pitcher Chris Reitsma and the Atlanta Braves avoided arbitration by agreeing Friday to a $2.75 million, one-year contract.

Reitsma was 3-6 with a 3.93 ERA and led the team with 15 saves last season, takingover as closer for several months after Dan Kolb was bounced from the job. Reitsma moved back to a more familiar setup role following the trade-deadline deal for Kyle Farnsworth.

Reitsma's new deal includes a $25,000 bonus if he finishes 40 games or $50,000 if he finishes 45. The right-hander pitched in 76 games last season and made a club-record 84 appearances in 2004, his first season with the Braves after being acquired from Cincinnati.

Read more here.

Kim stays with Colorado:

Pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim stayed with the Colorado Rockies, agreeing Friday to a one-year contract.

Kim rejected salary arbitration on Dec. 19 and had until Sunday to re-sign. He is scheduled to take a physical next week before the contract is finalized.

Kim went 5-12 with a 4.86 ERA in 22 starts and 18 relief appearances last season. He allowed 42 earned runs in 84 innings at Coors Field, making his 4.50 ERA the fourth-lowest home ERA in franchise history for pitchers with at least 81 innings.

Colorado acquired the 26-year-old right-hander from the Boston Red Sox in a trade late in spring training.

Also, Al Lieter signs a Minor League Contract with the Yankees.

Rangers, Padres Six Way Trade

The Rangers completed their six-player trade Wednesday with the San Diego Padres to acquire right-hander Adam Eaton, another piece of Texas' completely overhauled starting rotation.

Texas also got reliever Akinori Otsuka and minor league catcher Billy Killian, sending right-hander Chris Young, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and outfielder Terrmel Sledge to San Diego.

Eaton won 11 games in each of the past two seasons, going 11-5 with a 4.27 ERA last year when he had two stints on the disabled list because of a strained middle finger that limited him to 22 starts. He didn't pitch in the postseason for the NL West champion Padres — even after rejoining the rotation for the final month of the regular season.

In other San Diego news:

Starting pitcher Shawn Estes and the San Diego Padres reached a preliminary agreement Wednesday on a one-year contract.

The left-hander must pass a physical before the deal is completed. Estes was sidelined for two months last season with an ankle injury that limited him to 21 starts for the
Arizona Diamondbacks. He went 7-8 with a 4.80 ERA. Estes would be the only lefty in the Padres' rotation, although they're known to still be interested in reacquiring David Wells from the Boston Red Sox

The 32-year-old Estes is 99-89 with a 4.71 ERA in 11 major league seasons. He has also pitched for San Francisco, the New York Mets, Cincinnati, the Chicago Cubs and Colorado. His best season was 1997, when he went 19-5 with a 3.18 ERA for the Giants.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Kolb to Milwaukee;Conine to Baltimore

The Brewers and Dan Kolb agreed Wednesday to a $2 million, one-year contract, a month after Milwaukee reacquired him from Atlanta.

Milwaukee allowed Kolb to become a free agent Dec. 21, a move that ensured he would not be eligible for salary arbitration.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said the team is confident the 30-year-old can return to his form of 2003 and 2004, when he had 60 saves and a 2.55 ERA with Milwaukee. Kolb is expected to serve as a setup man for Derrick Turnbow.

"Dan is comfortable with the role of working with Matt Wise in setting up Derrick Turnbow, and he provides additional depth to our stable of relievers," Melvin said.

Kolb was traded to Atlanta after the 2004 season and was given the closer's role as John Smoltz's successor. But he quickly lost the job and went 3-8 with a 5.93 ERA and 11 saves in 65 appearances.

Atlanta dealt Kolb back to Milwaukee Dec. 7 for right-hander Wes Obermueller.

Kolb pitched four seasons for Texas before he signed with the Brewers in 2003 as a free agent.


Jeff Conine and the Baltimore Orioles finalized a $1.7 million, one-year contract on Wednesday.

The outfielder, who was with the Orioles from 1999-03, hit .304 and had a .374 on-base percentage in 131 games for Florida last season, batting .327 after the All-Star break. He played left field, right field, first base and designated hitter.

Conine's deal includes a $2 million mutual option for 2007 that would become guaranteed if he has 450 plate appearances this year. He also can earn $750,000 in performance bonuses, getting the whole amount if he plays in 140 games and has 550 plate appearances.

Conine was an original Marlin who won World Series rings during two separate stints with the team, in 1997 and 2003.

Read more here.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Seo to Dodgers; Mackowiak to White Sox

The Los Angeles Dodgers, in search of starting pitching, acquired right-hander Jae Seo and left-handed reliever Tim Hamulack from the New York Metson Wednesday for right-handed relievers Duaner Sanchez and Steve Schmoll.

Seo, a 28-year-old South Korean, made 14 starts for the Mets last season, going 8-2 with a 2.59 ERA. He walked 16 and struck out 59 in 90 1-3 innings. He also had a 7-4 record with a 4.29 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Norfolk. Seo, who went 5-10 with a 4.90 ERA in 2004, has a 22-24 career record and 3.85 ERA in 66 starts and five relief appearances, all with the Mets.

"The thought process behind this was Seo's going to get a chance to start," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "He had a real good year with the Mets and in Triple-A, pitched close to 200 innings. Seo is a no-frills guy who knows how to pitch.

"This gives us a little more depth in the starting rotation. I don't think this will prohibit us from getting another starter in either free agency or in a trade. One more would be good. I think we have a rotation now that's capable of throwing 180 innings, 200, 210 through all five starters."

Read more here.

The World Series champion Chicago White Sox agreed Wednesday with Rob Mackowiak on a $5.3 million, two-year contract that avoided salary arbitration.

Mackowiak, who was eligible to become a free agent following the 2007 season, will receive $2.25 million in 2006 and $2.75 million in 2007. The White Sox hold a 2008 option at $3.25 million with a buyout of $300,000.

Acquired from Pittsburgh on December 13 for left-handed reliever Damaso Marte, Mackowiak hit a career-best .272 with nine homers and 58 RBIs in 142 games with the Pirates last year. The left-handed hitter and utility player made 50 starts at third base, 31 in center field, 17 at second base, 13 in right field and one at first base.

Mackowiak is a .258 career hitter with 52 homers and 221 RBIs in 593 games, all with Pittsburgh. Third baseman Joe Crede is the only White Sox player still eligible for arbitration.

Jeromy Burnitz Changes His Mind

Jeromy Burnitz finalized his $6.7 million, one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates after taking a physical Wednesday, but only after the unhappy Baltimore Orioles said the outfielder's agent backed out of a two-year deal.

Burnitz's Pirates contract calls for a $6 million salary this year and a $6 million mutual option for 2007 with a $700,000 buyout if the team declines its option. Baltimore thought Burnitz had agreed to a $12 million, two-year contract with the Orioles last week.

"My feeling is we had an agreement," Orioles vice president of baseball operations Jim Duquette said Wednesday. "Obviously, the agent didn't feel we did. My personal feeling is it sets a bad precedent when that's allowed to happen."

Burnitz never took the physical called for in that agreement. Burnitz's agent, Howard Simon, said that language regarding the physical resulted in the breakdown of Baltimore's deal.

Exactly one week after the sports world was announcing that Burnitz had signed with Baltimore, Burnitz rejects the Orioles' offer and signs with the Pittsburg Pirates.

I think this is a very good move for Pittsburg, since they really needed offense. Pittsburg is a young team that could go very far if they acquired the right players.

Why did Burnitz leave? He must have read my blog. :)

Astros sign Preston Wilson

Hoping to bolster an offense that was one of baseball's worst last season, the
Houston Astros agreed Tuesday to a contract with outfielder Preston Wilson that will pay him $4.5 million for one season or $28 million over four years.

Wilson gets $4 million this year. Under the unusual deal, the Astros must decide at the end of the season whether to exercise a $24 million, three-year option that carries a $500,000 buyout.
The right-handed Wilson hit .260 with 25 home runs and 90 RBIs with Colorado and Washington last season. He also struck out 148 times.

"I like it here — I don't like the pitchers here," Wilson said. "As long as I don't have to face those guys, I'll be all right."

A 31-year-old free agent, Wilson has 171 career homers, 591 RBIs and a .264 batting average in eight major-league seasons.

Houston made the World Series despite batting .256, 13th among the 16 NL teams. The Astros hit .203 in the World Series and were swept by the Chicago White Sox

"One of our main objectives this offseason was to add a run-producing bat to the middle of our order," Astros general manager Tim Purpura said. "Today, we feel that we have done that."

Finally, the Astros get some offense!!!