Results tagged ‘ Carlos Ruiz ’

A look at the Rockies’ plans with Hawkins and Brothers, plus notes on batting and pitching pursuits

The Rockies’ pursuit of veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, which resulted in a one-year, $2.5 million guarantee that will become official once Hawkins passes a physical, can be seen in an odd way as a compliment to young lefty Rex Brothers, who served capably as closer when veteran Rafael Betancourt was injured.

Brothers, who turns 26 on Dec. 18, went 19-of-21 on save chances and finished with a 1.74 ERA last season. At times he struggled putting away hitters early in innings but he still struck out 76 (against 36 walks) in 67 1/3 innings. It certainly is a signal that he could become even more effective.

But before Betancourt went through a right groin strain, an appendectomy and finally a season-ending elbow injury, many of Betancourt’s save opportunities came partly because of Brothers’ effectiveness as a setup man. Brothers’ club-record 30-inning scoreless streak, which covered 32 games, ran from April 10 to June 27. Only the final nine games of the streak came while he was in the closer role.

As the season progressed, several games ended with Brothers not even taking the mound, because the middle relief and setup men pitched away the lead. It’s the old sabermetric argument: Why have the best option sitting in the bullpen while lesser pitchers blow it?

Hawkins ended up an effective closer for the Mets late last season. He earned all 12 of his saves and blew just one from Aug. 6 to season’s end. He struck out 18 against one walk and held opponents to a .222 batting average in those 23 appearances. At 41, he still throws hard enough and deceptively enough to be trusted with the final inning. The Rockies believe if he holds the closer job, it frees them to use Brothers when the game is tight before the ninth. And if plans change and Brothers at some point ends up the closer — which has been his plan his entire career — Hawkins gives them an attractive option in a setup role.

The Rockies still want to shore up the setup roles through free agency. Signing Hawkins as closer likely takes them out of the chase for Brian Wilson and Grant Balfour, who could be invited to pitch the ninth inning by another club. But a hard throwers such as Jesse Crain, Joe Smith or Jose Veras could further fill the Rockies’ needs.

The attempt to load up the back of the bullpen makes for intriguing competition and decisions when it comes to holdovers from last season. The club likes the 96 mph-plus fastball that righty Chad Bettis brought last season when used in relief, and will keep him there rather than revisit him in the rotation. They tested righty Adam Ottavino in late innings and there were some encouraging numbers, such as a 2.00 ERA at Coors Field. Righty Mitchell Boggs finished up with the Rockies after struggling mightily with the Cardinals when forced into the closer role, and the club is having internal discussions about returning him to a starter role. Boggs started 15 of his first 24 big-league appearances when breaking in with the Cards in 2008 and 2009.

The Rockies also continue to be in the market for starting pitching, although it’s unclear exactly where they’ll look. They’re often leery of accomplishment elsewhere because of the Mike Hampton-Denny Neagle experiment a few years back, but Tim Hudson profiled well. However, Hudson decided to take his passion and intensity to the NL West with the Giants.

Left-handed hitting outfielder-first baseman James Loney continues to be a prime candidate for the corner bat the Rockies seek. Corey Hart, coming off a knee injury, told a satellite radio audience on Tuesday that the Rockies, Red Sox and his former team, the Brewers, have checked in with him. Not much will be known until next month, when he is cleared for full activity. What isn’t clear is how strongly the Rockies are pursuing first baseman Mike Napoli, whose ability to make a pitcher work would fit nicely at first base. However, with his 2013 team, the World Series champion Red Sox, and others in the mix, the Rockies may drop out of the bidding the way they did with catcher Carlos Ruiz, who re-signed with the Phillies on Monday.

– Thomas Harding

Reports: Phillies bringing back Carlos Ruiz

Multiple news outlets have reported that the Phillies have re-signed catcher Carlos Ruiz. FOX Sports‘s Ken Rosenthal had it first on Monday morning, and the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Matt Gelb reported it is a three-year, $26 million deal. 

Ruiz, 34, was an All-Star in 2012 and hit .268 with five homers and 37 RBIs in his 2013 season which was limited to 92 games because of a suspension for an amphetamine, which began at the beginning of the year.

– Joey Nowak

11/14 Roundup

Although the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla., finished on Wednesday, the baseball world remained plenty busy on Thursday.

The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera’ and the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen were named the American and National League Most Valuable Players, respectively. The owners gave unanimous approval for funding an expanded instant replay system at their quarterly meeting, another key step on the way toward implementing it for the 2014 season. And Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s chief operating officer, revealed that MLB and Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball have hit a snag in their negotiations over the posting-fee system, casting doubt on whether highly touted right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will become available to MLB teams this offseason.

Even with the meetings over, rumors continued to circulate, with Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reporting that free-agent right-hander Ricky Nolasco already has received multiple four-year offers, in the neighborhood of $52-60 million. In other news from around the league:

AL East

  • With rumors flying about whether the Rays will trade ace left-hander David Price, our Bill Chastain examines the pros and cons of such a deal, which would be nothing new for the Rays. The club previously has gotten strong returns for pitchers Matt Garza and James Shields.
  • Jake Peavy’s championship-winning stay in Boston could be short-lived, with our Phil Rogers writing that the Red Sox could look to deal the veteran right-hander. He speculates that the Angels could be one of several clubs to have interest in Peavy.
  • Speaking of players leaving Boston, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes reports that shortstop Stephen Drew will not return to the Red Sox, who aren’t likely to match other teams’ multiyear offers.
  • Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos might have his work cut out for him as he tries to improve his club while staying within Toronto’s budget this offseason.
  • The Orioles might be considering trading catcher Matt Wieters and closer Jim Johnson, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network.
  • Derek Jeter said he feels healthy and is “100 percent” sure he will be the Yankees’ everyday shortstop this season.

AL Central

  • Our Rhett Bollinger addresses some Twins issues, including Joe Mauer’s move to first base and the club’s interest in A.J. Pierzynski.
  • The Royals believe they need to add only one starting pitcher this offseason, writes Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star. That could mean re-signing Ervin Santana or replacing him.

AL West

  • The Rangers agreed to a one-year contract with versatile infielder Adam Rosales, who was eligible for arbitration.
  • Free-agent outfielder and Houston native Chris Young tells our Brian McTaggart that he would like to play for the Astros.

NL East

  • The Marlins are looking to build around their young core, including Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez, rather than continuing to deal away pieces. On the other hand, Rosenthal tweeted that Miami is listening to offers for first baseman Logan Morrison.
  • Veteran right-hander Alfredo Aceves “appears to be a good possibility” to sign with the Mets, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney.
  • Free-agent catcher Carlos Ruiz has been drawing plenty of interest this offseason, but our Todd Zolecki says he still could be a fit in Philadelphia.

NL Central

  • The Brewers have a hole to fill at first base, and while they could look to sign a free agent like James Loney or Justin Morneau or trade for someone like the Mets’ Ike Davis, another appealing option is to bring back Corey Hart. The veteran missed all of last season while recovering from knee surgery and is a free agent.
  • Speedy Reds prospect Billy Hamilton is playing winter ball in Puerto Rico and could get a chance to be the club’s center fielder if free agent Shin-Soo Choo signs elsewhere.

NL West

  • Dodgers club president Stan Kasten isn’t ruling out anything but said he doesn’t expect to make any splashy moves this offseason that would add significantly to the team’s already large payroll.
  • As the Rockies seek a replacement for retired first baseman Todd Helton, sources have told The Denver Post’s Troy Renck that they are interested in free agents Mike Napoli and James Loney.

– Andrew Simon

Teams inquire about Rockies’ Fowler

The idea that the Cardinals and Rockies would discuss a trade involving shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was the big rumor going into the General Managers Meetings in Orlando this week, but that never happened. However, industry sources said several teams inquired about the availability of center fielder Dexter Fowler. As the Denver Post’s Troy Renck reported this week, the Rockies have asked Carlos Gonzalez, who has extensive experience in center, if he would switch from left to center if Fowler is dealt.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com explains the Rockies’ position, and his report involving the Mets and first baseman Ike Davis could point to a possibility, and Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com (via Twitter) identifies the Mariners as a suitor. ESPN Insider AJ Mass reports that the Reds and Rockies have talked, with three-time Gold Glove second baseman Brandon Phillips possibly coming to Denver, and the Reds moving speedy Billy Hamilton from center field to second.

But the Rockies have a lot of thinking to do before dealing Fowler. Although Fowler suffered finger, ankle and knee injuries and saw his numbers drop (.263, .369 OBP, .407 SLG, after .300/.389/.474 in 2012), the Rockies aren’t forgetting his .399 OBP before he was hit on the right hand by a pitch in June and the spiral began. Fowler also finished with 12 home runs, one shy of his career high, in 119 games.

The Rockies are already seeking a power bat for a corner position, either right field or first base, help in the starting rotation and a hard-throwing veteran for their bullpen. Any deal would most likely have to address one of the existing needs and replacing Fowler.

Fowler is due $7.35 million in 2014, and is still under club control for 2015.

In other Rockies Hot Stove-related developments:

–The Rockies, who have depended on the Draft and player development (more successfully in the past than with the current team), are reluctant to lose a 2014 pick by signing a player who received a qualifying offer from his former club. It wouldn’t hurt the Rockies as much as another team because the pick would be their second-highest rather than the first-rounder because the Rockies select in the top 10. Still, if the Rockies fill their corner bat hole through free agency, it will more likely be a player that doesn’t cost compensation — for example, James Loney, Justin Morneau, Corey Hart — than Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz or Mike Napoli, all of whom turned down qualifying offers.

– The Rockies made a play for catcher Carlos Ruiz but got sticker shock after hearing rumors he had received a two-year, $20 million offer, but they continue to monitor the situation and could be in play if the bidding doesn’t go that high.

– Thomas Harding

11/12 Late-night Roundup

The second day of the General Manager Meetings in Orlando got off to a quick start, as the Phillies and outfielder Marlon Byrd agreed a two-year, $16-million deal.

Byrd, 36, hit .291/.336/.518 last season with the Mets and Pirates and now returns to the organization where he played his first 3 1/2 seasons after being a 10th-round selection in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft.

While that was the day’s only significant transaction, there was no shortage of other news, including a late-breaking rumor that has the Phillies making an even bigger splash.

NL East

  •  The Phillies are discussing a deal that would bring Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista to Philadelphia for a package including outfielder Domonic Brown, according to Howard Eskin of FOX 29 TV and WIP radio in Philadelphia.
  • The subject of trade speculation only a year after the Nationals acquired him from the Twins, center fielder Denard Span is hoping to return to Washington.
  • The Mets are looking for outfielders, with free agent Curtis Granderson representing one appealing option.

NL Central

  • While rumors continue to swirl about the Cardinals executing a blockbuster deal for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, our Jenifer Langosch plays down the likelihood of that scenario. St. Louis could choose to sign a free agent such as Stephen Drew or orchestrate a trade for a shortstop who wouldn’t demand such a hefty return.
  • Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer confirmed his club’s interest in Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and acknowledged that other teams have asked about Chicago righty Jeff Samardzija.

NL West

  • The Rockies offered free-agent catcher Carlos Ruiz a two-year deal worth about $15 million, according to The Denver Post’s Troy Renck, but it seems that won’t be enough to entice Ruiz to Colorado. Renck writes that the veteran backstop has a two-year, $20 million offer from another, unspecified club.
  • The Padres could consider trading third baseman Chase Headley if they can’t agree on a contract extension to keep him in San Diego beyond this season, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes.

AL East

  • The Yankees’ David Robertson isn’t a lock to inherit the ninth inning from the retired Mariano Rivera, with general manager Brian Cashman saying he will explore the free-agent and trade markets for relievers, including closers.

  • The Yankees’ reported interest in free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran is legit, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch hears.
  • The Blue Jays have some money to spend and could look to use it on a free agent starting pitcher.
  • Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal speculates that the Red Sox could be the frontrunners for Ruiz.

AL Central

  • The White Sox are prepared to welcome back Paul Konerko for his 16th season with the club, but Konerko remains undecided about his future.
  • The Indians have interest in free-agent closers Fernando Rodney and Brian Wilson, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
  • According to Heyman, the Twins are exploring a reunion with free-agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, whom they took in the third round of the 1994 Draft. Pierzynski, however, figures to have several suitors, including the Phillies.
  • Meanwhile, Minnesota may be closer to signing veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Mike Berardi.

AL West

  • Heyman reports that multiple teams are interested in Astros catcher Jason Castro, who hit .276/.350/.485 with 18 home runs last season. Our Brian McTaggart downplays the likelihood of a Castro trade, however.
  • The Mariners would like to add free-agent outfielders Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, who also reports that their interest in Jacoby Ellsbury is lower.

– Andrew Simon

How would Carlos Beltran look in purple pinstripes?

Open-market musings:

How would Carlos Beltran look in right field for the Rockies?

The club is weighing various options in free agency, with a big bat being one of the priorities. While trads are an option, the Rockies are more likely to go the free agency route. That’s what they did two years ago when they signed Michael Cuddyer, who paid off for them by winning the National League batting title this year.

Don’t be surprised if the Rockies don’t at least seriously consider making a run at Beltran, who made his first World Series appearance this year while with the Cardinals. He’ll be 37 to start next season, but was quite productive in 2013 — .296, .339 OPB, .491 SLG. Those aren’t far from the numbers over his career. With a team that includes Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and Cuddyer, it could be a fit. He could come in at two years and $30 million, as the MLB Trade Rumors Web site predicts. The Rockies had interest in him in the past.

Of course, there are many was for the Rockies to spend their money on a slugger, who can fit in at either first base or right field with Cuddyer playing the other position. Nelson Cruz, who is expected to turn down the Rangers’ qualifying offer and test the market, Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd, James Loney (.338, nine home runs, 54 RBIs, .957 OPS in 55 games at Coors Field) and Corey Hart also could fit the bill. Brian McCann can catch and play first base, but at the top of his earning value in terms of money and years it’s doubtful the Rockies will be a serious competitor for his services.

The Rockies will attempt to bring in a pitching leader, and are expected to inquire about Tim Hudson — despite the fact the Braves, Royals, Indians and and Red Sox have already identified themselves as contenders — and Josh Johnson. The price figures to be high for Ricky Nolasco or Ervin Santana, as SI.com and others report, but the Rockies need a stalwart and can’t be counted out in those sweepstakes. Matt Garza, who could score big in free agency, and Jason Vargas also could be possibilities.

Also, add the name of righty reliever Jesse Crain to the list of publicly identified free-agency targets. The Denver Post has identified Brian Wilson, Grant Balfour, Joe Smith and Jose Veras as bullpen possibilities. ESPNNewYork.com reported the club is looking at LaTroy Hawkins.

The Rockies are also pursuing free-agent catcher Carlos Ruiz, although the Phillies are making a push to keep him. If the Rockies sign him, the intriguing situation is what becomes of catcher Wilin Rosario, a slugger who doesn’t have Ruiz’s experience or ability defensively.

– Thomas Harding

Rockies seek experience

The early reports on the Hot Stove have the Rockies seeking power and experience in the bullpen and skill behind the plate.

The Denver Post has reported the Rockies have expressed interest in Brian Wilson, Grant Balfour, Joe Smith and Jose Veras. In addition, ESPNNewYork.com reported Thursday that the Rockies are courting veteran LaTroy Hawkins, who was a leader and effective pitcher on the 2007 World Series team and is still going strong at age 41.

The Denver Post also mentions Carlos Ruiz as a catching target. To sign Ruiz, the Rockies are going to have to be creative to get Wilin Rosario’s power bat into the lineup with regularity. The team used Rosario at first base last season and right field has been mentioned. Still, there are forces in the organization who see Rosario as an asset because of his power. However, Ruiz is considered strong defensively and in working with a pitching staff, while Rosario is a work in progress. Another possibility behind the plate is Brian McCann, although the price tag may be higher than the Rockies are willing to pay. McCann also can play first base.

– Thomas Harding

Still, the team is looking for improvement offensively, with first base and right field as the positions to target. Look for the Rockies to evaluate Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd, James Loney, Corey Hart and Nelson Cruz among others.

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