Results tagged ‘ Scott Boras ’

Turning things around, Braves sign Kawakami

The off-season has not been what the Atlanta Braves had in mind when they entered the market with money to spend. With the fall-out of John Smoltz‘s departure fresh on their minds, Atlanta agreed to terms with one of their free-agent pitching targets on Saturday, signing Japanese right-hander Kenshin Kawakami to a three-year contract.

Financial terms have not yet been announced, as the deal is still pending a physical which will take place on Monday. During an 11-year career with the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Central League, Kawakami is 112-72 with a 3.22 ERA in 1642.1 innings.

Kawakami.jpg

Kawakami was 9-5 with a 2.30 ERA in 117.1 innings last season, missing some time with a back strain late in the year. Though he was part of a six-man rotation for the Dragons, most project Kawakami to fit into the middle of the Braves rotation, behind Javier Vazquez and Jair Jurrjens.

Some have compared Kawakami to Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who signed a 3-year $35 million deal with Los Angeles last winter, but his career ERA was nearly half a run better than Kuroda’s 3.69 mark. Kawakmi’s achievements include the 1998 Rookie of the Year award and the 2004 Sawamura Award, which is the Major League equivalent to the Cy Young Award. Kawakami hurled a no-hitter in 2002 against the Yomiuri Giants.

Signing Kawakami is the first of what Atlanta hopes will be a two-step process to take the bad taste out of the mouths of all involved with the “Winter Not to Remember.” The second, and more major move, could be the signing of veteran hurler Derek Lowe over the next few days.

Atlanta put on the full court press for Lowe this past week, meeting for more than three hours with the righty and his agent, Scott Boras. Reports had the New York Mets making a three-year $36 million offer last week, but Boras disputes that claim and has made it clear that those parameters will not get a deal done for Lowe.

Lowe is coming off a 14-11 season with a 3.24 34 starts. His 211 innings mark the fifth time in seven seasons that Lowe has surpassed the 200 inning plateau. His durability and his average of 15 wins per season since 2002 would fit the bill of the front of the rotation starter Atlanta was seeking this off-season. 

How Lowe can we go?

Lowe_LA.jpgThe really big contracts have already gone out this winter, but all the major players in the free agent pitching market are not yet off the table. Secondary pursuits should start to fill the empty seats for the clubs that missed out on the likes of CC Sabathia, and in the Braves case, A.J. Burnett.

Look, I’m just excited to see a pitcher who doesn’t go by two initials attracted some attention on the market. It was starting to get a little weird. Although, I bet Derek Christopher Lowe would be more than happy to go by “D.C.” if he knew it would land him the rumored $16 million per year over four seasons that he desires. Were it not for the fact that he will turn 36-years old in June, his track record and post-season experience would easily net him a bigger deal than Seattle handed Carlos Silva last winter (4-years and $48 million). 

If the Braves were willing to go the distance in the Burnett bidding, only to fall short, then it would seem the money would still be available to put toward bringing Lowe to Atlanta. Injury was the question with Burnett, but age is the major point of contention for handing a multi-year deal to Lowe. His durability is not in question, however. Over the past seven seasons, Lowe has won 106 games and averaged 208 innings. Adding his veteran presence to that of Javier Vazquez and perhaps John Smoltz would give the Braves the experience factor. Throw in talented young right-handers, Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson, and you could have the makings of a strong rotation. Tim Hudson will likely miss the entire 2009 season as he recovers from his Tommy John surgery.

Atlanta’s interest in Lowe has been tepid at best thus far. It does not rule out their involvement altogether. However, to get into the bidding for Lowe, Frank Wren would have to approach the Mets initial offer of 3-year and $36 million that Lowe has already rejected. Also working against bringing Lowe to Atlanta is his agent, Scott Boras. The Braves history of signing and even retaining Boras clients is not exactly inspiring. It is doubtful that Boras and his team view Atlanta as anything more than leverage at this point, useful for driving up the price the New York Mets or Boston Red Sox would be willing to pay. Those two clubs also fit a certain criteria that every free agent is looking for, the ability to win now.

As most GM’s do, Wren has other irons in the fire, including Japanese hurler Kenshin Kawakami. There are reports that he has narrowed his choices to the Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Cardinals and Minnesota Twins. The AJC’s David O’Brien reports to the contrary after speaking with Kawakami’s agent this week. Perhaps Atlanta will remain in the mix. Kawakami will be 34-years old midway through next season, making him a few months younger than Hiroki Kuroda, who was signed to a 3-year $35 million deal by the Dodgers last winter. That price tag brings us back full circle to Lowe.

Though he may not be a clear ace, Lowe would fill Atlanta’s off-season goal of adding two quality veteran starters. Lowe is not Jake Peavy, but that ship sailed long ago.

Till next time,

G-Mc

That’s just Manny being… a Yankee?

It is not hard to imagine that the New York Yankees still have money to spend and needs to fill. The question is, how much money and on who will with they spend it? How about Bronx native Manny Ramirez?

manny_being_manny.jpgKeep in mind, this is the same Manny Ramirez who was reportedly mulling retirement if he did not receive an offer which matched the criteria he is seeking this off-season. Perhaps that is just Manny being ridiculous (thanks Ben K. from RiverAveBlues.com). This is the same Manny Ramirez who was suspected of feigning injury in his final days in Boston. This is the same Ramirez who was reportedly involved in some kind of altercation with a clubhouse attendant over ticket requests. Keep all that in mind.

And keep this in mind. Ramirez is a game changing, clutch-hitting, power machine that can strike fear into the heart of any opposing pitcher. This is the Ramirez who carries a career .314 average, 527 homers and 1,725 RBI in 2,103 contests (that’s an average of 41 homers and 133 RBI per 162 games). This is the Ramirez who hit .396 and drove in 53 runs down the stretch to lift the Dodgers into the play-offs. This is the same Ramirez who may be the greatest right-handed hitter of his generation.

So which one of these scenarios is truly, Manny being Manny?

Agent to the stars, Scott Boras, has at least one interested suitor in the L.A. Dodgers. Negotiations there have been somewhat of a mini-soap opera, with Dodgers GM Ned Colletti  spending some time pondering over why the team did not hear from Ramirez and Boras regarding the offer they extended in mid-November when clubs had exclusive rights to their free-agents to be. That deal was reported to reach up to $60 million, if a third year option was exercised.

Manny_Arod.jpgThe Yankees may just choose to let the Angels, Red Sox and Nationals have a spending frenzy over switch-hitting first baseman Mark Teixeira. We know Teixeira will get his money from some club, but is anyone really pondering giving Ramirez a 5-year pact north of $100 million? He would certainly provide significant power to a Yankees line-up that is in state of flux. Not many teams would look forward to going through an A-Rod and Manny 1-2 punch.

In many ways, Ramirez’s fate is inextricably linked to that of former Brave and fellow Boras client, Teixeira, who is looking to land the kind of contract Ramirez did back in the winter of 2000 (8-years $160 million). In fact, it is believed that most teams who are seriously looking into Teixeira’s services are probably only viewing Ramirez as a fall-back option – with one notable exception, the Boston Red Sox. For them, it is Teixeira or bust.

Ramirez has shown to be both a lightning rod and a clutch-performer, a defensive liability and an offensive power-house. These night and day qualities are all part of the package that a team is getting when they sign Manny Ramirez. It’s up to the club to decide if the headaches (and there willbe headaches) will be worth the pay-off

Until Boras can line up a potential match, it looks like Manny will have to spend more time working out, playing video games and watching cartoons. Or maybe selling another grill on Ebay?

Now that is just Manny being Manny.

Till next time,

G-Mc

What’s the price tag for Teixeira?

I’m going to make a departure from talking about the quest for the holy rotation, and take a moment to look at a free agent race the Braves will not be taking part in. That would be the courting of premier first baseman Mark Teixeira.

There have been a few rumors, but nothing really to report in the way of offers just yet. With plenty of time left, and the Winter Meetings still a couple of weeks away, the teams that are serious about signing Teixeira are going to have pony up some serious cash for a long term commitment. 

It’s been reported
that Miguel Cabrera‘s 8-year $153 million contract is thought to the jumping off point for any offers submitted for Teixeira’s services. It seems logical to me. Teixeira’s physical conditioning and gold glove defense add two aspects that are not present in Cabrera’s list of attributes. Statistically, Cabrera holds the edge in career batting average, at .309 to Teixeira’s .290. Otherwise Teixeira has the lead in both homers (203 to 175) and RBI (676 to 650). The two players are practically identical in OBP (Cabrera leads .381 to .378) and dead even in slugging (.541). For those wondering, Teixeira has played in 24 more games, so this statistical analysis is pretty spot on.

The biggest difference (on paper anyway) in the two players is Cabrera being three years younger than the 28-year old Teixeira. While an eight year deal is likely to see Teixeira give what should be the prime years of his career for the club that signs him, it is worth noting that he has already turned down an 8-year $140+ million extension from the Texas Rangers. That prompted the trade that brought him to Atlanta in July of 2007.

tex_fist_pump.jpgAtlanta GM Frank Wren stated that the Braves made Teixeira and agent Scott Boras an offer that would have given the first baseman a salary that was among “the highest in baseball.” It seems pretty clear after the trade with the Angels that it was likely the length of contract where the two sides could not come together. No one knows exactly what that means, but I’d project that any deal with the Braves was probably worth about $19 million per season. Not exactly underwhelming in and of itself, but there may be a team out there willing to pay more. If knowing that the previous offer was an eight-year pact, would the Braves go shorter in duration? We may never know.

What I do know is that the Braves traded a considerable bundle of talent to the Texas Rangers, a team which has gotten markedly better rather quickly. They may even trade what was once the center piece of the deal, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, this off-season. They have plenty of depth at catcher. Anyway you look at it, the Rangers made off much better than just receiving compensation picks in next years draft. Shortstop Elvis Andrus hit .295 with 54 stolen bases at AA, while starter Matt Harrison went 9-3 with a 5.49 ERA in 15 starts for the Rangers.

This is the point I would usually stop because I’ve seen enough, but there were two more prospects in that deal. Perhaps the brightest spot for Texas will be righty Neftali Feliz, who won 10 games at two stops and struck out 153 batters in 127.1 innings. More sickening? He surrendered just three homers in doing so. Lefty Beau Jones looks destined as a career in relief, but his low to mid-90s fastball and plus curveball show it could become a nice piece of the puzzle in Arlington within the few years.

One of these days, I am going to stop laying out the merits of this deal in hindsight. It was a risk/reward deal from the beginning, and the Braves gave themselves at least two shots to win with Teixeira. It didn’t work out. Not all trades do.

Getting back to the subject at hand, the race to sign Teixeira looks to have at least five possibilities that we know of. The Angels, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Washington Nationals – as of yesterday, and perhaps the Baltimore Orioles. Rest assured though, we all know that the words “hometown discount” will not be factoring in to any deal for the last two teams on that list. And the word “discount” will not be making an appearance in any deal Teixeira ends up signing… in case you were wondering… which you shouldn’t be at this point.

It’s hard to handicap the sweepstakes in my view. I could see Boston. I could see a return to the Angels. Then the Nationals had to go and make me wonder. One place I don’t see being Teixeira’s plans is the Bronx. He just doesn’t strike me as a New York kind of guy. Then again, a teary-eyed Jason Giambi didn’t when the Yankees bounced Oakland out of the post-season in 2001. I reserve the right to be wrong.

Ok, I’ll say that Mark Teixeira is a member of the Boston Red Sox.

Merry Christmas Red Sox Nation.

Till Next time,

G-Mc

I’ll trade you, but no take-backs!

As those that have followed the Braves rise to the top and subsequent slide back to the middle of the pack over the past two decades, one would notice that many of the key acquisitions during this time have come via the trade. It is a part of baseball that garners anticipation, excitement and sometimes disappointment for an organization and its fans.

I thought it would be fun to look at some of my favorite Braves trades, and some of my not-so-favorites, because we may have some trading fun to talk about here in the near future. I always like to hear the bad news first, so I can enjoy the good news a littler more… or at least temper my expectations. Here goes:

Top 5 Least Favorite Braves Trades:

10_player_trade.png5. Ryan Klesko, Bret Boone & Jason Shiell  to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Reggie Sanders, Quilvio Veras & Wally Joyner

Sanders was utterly terrible in his one season with the Braves while Veras tore an ACL and never appeared in the majors again after Atlanta. Despite there being no way to know these things would happen, Klesko, just 28 at the time, was a part of three World Series team and a product of the system. Boone had been the big off-season acquisition just one season earlier, so why trade these central pieces coming off a World Series appearance?

4. Jermaine Dye & Jamie Walker to the Kansas City Royals for Michael Tucker & Keith Lockhart

Here’s one where you can just say,”what if?” What if the Braves had held on to Jermaine Dye? Would he be the same player he became in Kansas City after some struggles? He’d more than likely have contributed at least as much as Tucker (the 10th overall pick in the ’92 draft) did in his two season with Atlanta. Lockhart proved to have the most staying power, lasting six seasons as a chief reserve and pinch-hitter. Hardly an even up swap for Dye and his 286 homers since 1997.

3. Adam Wainwright and Ray King to the St. Louis Cardinals for J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero

This is one reason the Braves find themselves looking for two front-line starting pitchers this off-season. J.D. Drew has moved on to greener pastures twice since having a career year for Atlanta in 2004. And I’m just going to say it now, Drew was not the second coming of Mickey Mantle. All Wainwright has done is prove the scouts that signed him right, developing into a staff ace by the age of 25. Too bad he doing so for the St. Louis Cardinals.

2. David Justice and Marquis Grissom to the Cleveland Indians for Kenny Lofton and Alan Embree

This is the ultimate in head-shakers. I couldn’t fathom the logic as a teenager and I still struggle to find anyone who would do this deal. Granted, Lofton was the ultimate lead-off hitter in 1997 and not the rent-a-player of the past seven or eight years, but still. Justice, who’s homer gave the Braves their lone World Series title of the 90s, was coming off an injury-plagued season but was still a potent middle of the order threat. Grissom was a consummate professional and still, in my opinion, every bit the center fielder Lofton ever was… and then some. To make matters worse, all three men would be playing in the same outfield in 1998… when Lofton signed a free-agent contract with Cleveland. Ouch. Atlanta did get 86 appearances out of Embree though. Heck of a silver lining.

1. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Beau Jones and Neftali Feliz to the Texas Rangers for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay

We have not even seen this trade bear fruit for the Texas Rangers, but it may be the deal that just keeps on getting worse for Atlanta. Teixeira was dealt away for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek almost a year to the day later. Would you do that prospect buffet deal for Kotchman? Me neither. Of all the deals I’ve covered here, this is a trade that simply should have never been made. Teixeira turned down an 8-year $140 million extension from the Rangers and I would have to say that common sense logic would dictate the Braves would have to pony-up even more to keep him. Mahay bounced to Kansas City for a richer deal than the Braves wanted to give him, so the Braves really came out of this deal having seriously depleted their rich farm system for a calender year of Teixeira and 30 appearances from a 36-year old left-hander.

In Closing…

Boras.jpgThe Braves may not have known that Teixeira had already turned down that extension, but this trade was unable to push Atlanta in the play-offs. Maybe it was just all the poor luck of injuries this season that forced Frank Wren‘s hand when it came to trading Teixeira. Maybe it was Scott Boras and his hope of a $200 million pay-day for his client that forced the deal. If it underscores anything, it is that there are no promises in the game in this day and age. Even a player who spent his college years in Atlanta wants what he has coming. That’s why Boras claims a nice finder’s fee for that big contract Tex has coming.

So who is ready for a big trade this off-season?

Up next, my Top-5 Favorite Braves trades of the past 20 years.

Till then,

G-Mc