Posted on: January 11, 2012 5:10 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 7:07 pm
So why hasn't Prince Fielder signed yet while Albert Pujols has been sitting back and counting that 10-year, $254 million deal for weeks?
Plenty of reasons. Mostly, as Boras would tell you, because the market is still developing.
Start with the fact that the two clubs who in recent years have helped establish the ga-zillion dollar markets -- the Yankees and Red Sox -- are sitting this one out. New York has a long-term first baseman in Mark Teixeira, as Boston does with Adrian Gonzalez.
Beyond them, only a small handful of clubs can play ball at Fielder's asking price. Which, you can be sure, is a dollar or two more than Pujols is getting annually from the Angels.
From the start, barring a stunning early offer, Boras was in no hurry to sign Fielder. It was clear that Pujols would sign, the bar would be set, and then Boras/Fielder would look to exceed it.
Within that, as Boras has explained many times this winter, free agents at this level are ownership decisions. As he did when he represented Alex Rodriguez in 2000 and scored the 10-year, $252 million deal, Boras meets directly with owners (then-Rangers owner Tom Hicks, in that case).
That, too, takes time.
With the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels out, the Cubs, Mets and Dodgers are among the few who could afford Fielder.
The Cubs are under new management, and president Theo Epstein philosophically does not believe in awarding long-term contracts to the tune of seven, eight or more years to free agents. Consequently, they acquired Anthony Rizzo from the Padres this month, the idea being Rizzo will be Chicago's first baseman of the future.
The Mets and Dodgers, of course, have serious financial issues of their own. The Mets, who lost Jose Reyes to the Marlins this winter, are rebuilding and broke. The Dodgers are in the process of being sold.
So that leaves the next tier of suitors. And one other key component: With the Yankees and Red Sox on the sidelines, there is nobody to help drive up the price up via a bidding war.
Boras met with the Nationals several weeks ago. Those two have done several multi-million dollar deals in recent years, including the $126 million Jayson Werth contract last winter, and deals with recent top draft picks Stephen Strasburg (four-years, $15 million) and Bryce Harper (five years, $9.9 million).
The Mariners desperately need a middle-of-the-lineup bat. But whether the M's would spend that kind of dough remains to be seen ... as does whether Fielder would want to play in Safeco Field, notorious for diluting offensive numbers.
Asked at the winter meetings last month whether his client had a geographical presence, Boras quipped, "I just think he likes fences that are close to home plate. That's the geographics he likes."
Baltimore is another city that continues to be linked with Fielder. The Orioles are desperate for a clean-up hitter, not to mention a winner. Owner Peter Angelos has the money, though he is notoriously slow in wading through the free agent market.
Texas? The Rangers' deadline for signing pitcher Yu Darvish is next week. Some industry sources think the Rangers are holding off on Fielder while they negotiate with the Japanese free agent. Then, they'll either go full bore after Fielder if they don't sign Darvish (unlikely, they're expected to sign the pitcher) or see if there's a way to fit Fielder in after signing the pitcher.
The Blue Jays? Hmmm ... interesting thought, and lots of speculation surrounding them. Maybe the exchange rate is slowing those talks down.
Milwaukee remains in on the fringes, but only if the price falls.
Always, with Boras, there is the threat of a "mystery team" stepping up. No other agent in the game is as skilled at luring suitors down the path ... and then obtaining a pot of gold ... as Boras.
But now, as it gets deeper into January and an industry awaits Fielder's decision, it may take Boras' biggest play yet to get what he and his client want.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 4:08 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 4:28 pm
Turns out, bankruptcy was a minor little inconvenience on the road to forever between the Dodgers and Matt Kemp: The two have agreed to an eight-year, $160 million contract extension pending the outfielder passing a physical examination, CBSSports.com has confirmed.
Talk about a serious commitment. Only six men in baseball history had reached the $160-million mark: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and Manny Ramirez.
For those with a sense of humor ... or a sense of irony ... Kemp's deal is for the same numbers -- years and dollars -- that Ramirez received from Boston before the 2001 season.
In becoming the face of the Dodgers for years to come and en route to serious MVP consideration, Kemp first had to blow past comeback player of the year.
It was barely more than a year ago when Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti delivered harsh criticism of Kemp's defense and focus.
But after the disappointment of 2010 came a sensational 2011 in which Kemp batted .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBI. He led the league in homers, RBIs, runs (115) and total bases (353), and he swiped 40 bases.
And in one more bit of irony, the man who now will remain in Hollywood will stay in part because he went a little less Hollywood last summer. Those close to Kemp do not think it is a coincidence that he took his game to a different level after his high-profile romance with Rihanna blew up.
"I think he has less distractions in his life -- from my perspective," third baseman Casey Blake, one of Kemp's closest friends on the 2011 team, told me late last summer. "This game, some guys can do it with a million things going on. But this game is tough enough by itself.
"It's a hard game, and it seems like you're always dealing with a lot of thoughts of failure. The more you can lessen those thoughts, the better. The fact that he doesn't have some of those distractions anymore. ..."
Blake told me he thought Kemp had made a conscious effort to simplify things in his life, and it worked.
"I think he was embarrassed by a lot of things," Blake said, referring to Kemp's 2010 season in which he batted just .249 with a .310 on-base percentage, 28 homers and 89 RBIs. "And he made up his mind he was going to get serious about it."
The off-field stuff, the Rihanna romance, "I think they all directly related," Blake said.
Blake could tell Kemp was more focused in 2011 from the first day of spring training.
"He showed it in his attitude and in his play," Blake said. "How he went about it, from day one.
"He's respecting the game a lot more this year. He has an understanding that to be a complete player, you can't take a day off -- whether it's on the bases, on defense, anywhere."
Today, that respect is coming right back at Kemp to the tune of $160 million ... and a trust the Dodgers are placing in him that maybe you can't even hang a price tag on.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 3:42 pm
On Tuesday, they held a conference call with Brian Cashman, fresh off of signing a thee-year deal to remain as the club's general manager.
"I don't anticipate a bat being of need at all," Cashman said on the call Tuesday afternoon.
As for what the Yankees will focus on, here's a hint:
"Pitching, pitching, pitching," Cashman said.
Offense, the GM said, is "not a problem with this club at all, despite what happened with Detroit." The Yankees ranked second in the American League in both runs scored and on-base percentage and third in slugging percentage this summer and, despite Tigers pitching shutting the Yankees down earlier this month, Cashman said he thinks New York has enough sticks to contend again in 2012.
While he maintains that "that doesn't mean I'm not open-minded, realistically, offense is not something we're focusing on." Improving the depth in both the rotation and the bullpen? Now you're talking.
With Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano and a post-surgery Joba Chamberlain on the horizon, Cashman called the New York bullpen "one of the strongest in the game." He would like to add another lefty to team with Boone Logan, if possible.
All of this is why Cashman's time the past few days was monopolized by making sure that Sabathia did not become a free agent.
"We all know what CC brings to the table," Cashman said. "Pitching in front of the rotation, he he's created a great atmosphere in the clubhouse, he's one of our team leaders, he's influential in the community ... regarding all aspects of what you want the team to be, he's a major, major piece.
"You're comfortable every time he takes the ball."
His continued presence also allows the Yankees to approach free agency differently this winter because they can play from a position of relative strength.
"Securing CC allows us to be very open-minded and conservative in our approach," Cashman said. "We're in position now to take out time, explore and digest, pursue things at our own pace and not be over-reacting because we're vulnerable."
Some other Cashman thoughts heading into the winter:
-- On Alex Rodriguez's health: "I don't have any health concerns with Alex." Cashman said time will heal his sprained thumb, and it already has helped his surgically repaired knee.
-- On the club's interest in Jorge Posada: "He's been one of the best catchers in Yankees history, he's a borderline Hall of Famer and he's a free agent. That's something we'll have discussions on in the short term. It's not something I'm prepared to talk to you about today. He's been part of a lot of special moments here. He's created a lot of special moments."
-- On whether he feels more in control as GM with a three-year deal: "I don't think it's healthy to feel like you're in control. ... If you feel like you're in control, you've probably very vulnerable to some severe disappointments coming down the line."
-- He called catcher Russell Martin "Thurman Munson-like" in what he meant to the 2011 Yankees both on the field and in the clubhouse. Will that translate into a multi-year contract for the former Dodger, whom the Yankees control for one more year? Cashman said the Yankees right now enjoy the flexibility to go one more year with Martin, or "more than one if we find common ground."
-- He said the club will not consider moving A.J. Burnett to the bullpen. "If he is with us, without a doubt he is in the rotation," Cashman said. Cryptic? Maybe. The GM said "it would be hard to replace his innings. But I'm open-minded if anybody wants to approach us on anybody on the roster who does not have a no-trade clause. The worst that can happen is I say no. I'm open to creatively listening to anything anybody has to offer."
-- The biggest thing, Cashman said, is, like always, he has to improve the club's talent. He noted that the club "did not play to the best of our ability" against Detroit, and "part of that was under our control and part of that is what the Tigers put forth." With 97 wins, the Yankees were one of the best teams in baseball, Cashman said, "but October is a lot different. That's not an excuse. October is a lot different from April to September. You saw it with the crowning of the world championship team in St. Louis. They finished in the money the last day of the season, and then they ran the table. ... Is there a way to make it better? I'd like to think so. That's my job. I don't think all of our answers are in the clubhouse. Not at all. But I think some of the answers are in our clubhouse."
Posted on: November 1, 2011 3:34 pm
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Posted on: August 24, 2011 12:35 am
ANAHEIM, Calif -- Highlights have been few and far between for the 2011 Chicago White Sox, but Paul Konerko put up one for the books when he cracked his 2,000th career hit in the eighth inning of Tuesday's series opener here.
The hit surely was especially meaningful to Konerko in that it was an RBI single against Ervin Santana that tied the game at 4-4 at a point in the season where the White Sox are desperate for every run, every win they can get. Konerko, a beloved figure on Chicago's South Side and widely respected throughout the game, becomes only the 13th player in club history to collect his 2,000th hit.
It's been a boom season for the 2,000-hit club: Konerko is the sixth man to join that club this summer. Previously this summer, Houston's Carlos Lee, San Francisco's Orlando Cabrera (then with the Indians), Cincinnati's Scott Rolen, St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Texas' Michael Young each collected his 2,000th hit.
The White Sox dugout immediately erupted in cheers, then most of the players began waving for the baseball as soon as the play concluded with Alejandro De Aza crossing the plate. With the game 4-4, White Sox manager removed Konerko, who was DHing, for pinch-runner Brent Lillibridge.
Konerko also is at 393 career homers and soon could become only the sixth active player with 400 homers and 2,000 hits, joining Pujols, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, Atlanta's Chipper Jones, Baltimore's Vladimir Guerrero and Minnesota's Jim Thome.
Tags: Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Carlos Lee, Chicago White Sox, Chipper Jones, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Jim Thome, Michael Young, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Orlando Cabrera, Paul Konerko, San Francisco Giants, Scott Rolen, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Vladimir Guerrero
Posted on: February 16, 2011 12:11 am
Edited on: February 16, 2011 10:30 am
JUPITER, Fla. -- With just hours remaining before Albert Pujols' self-imposed deadline to reach a contractual agreement with the Cardinals, sources with knowledge of the talks say there is zero momentum toward a deal and that Pujols is expected to report to camp on Thursday ready to focus on the season and then, likely, free agency.
At the conclusion of a wild day Tuesday on which St. Louis manager Tony La Russa ripped the Major League Players Assn. for pressuring Pujols to push for a record-setting contract and an apparently erroneous report surfaced on SI.com that said the Cardinals made an eight-year offer to their star first baseman, Pujols and the Cardinals were said to be no closer to a deal than they were at the beginning of the week ... or last week ... or the week before.
Despite pushing the deadline back 24 hours out of respect to Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial, who was in Washington D.C. on Tuesday to receive the presidential Medal of Freedom, the two sides continue to move in different universes.
Union boss Michael Wiener earlier in the day strongly denied to multiple news outlets that the players assn. had anything to do with the Pujols talks. This after La Russa said before the Cardinals pitchers and catchers worked out Tuesday that "I know what he's going through with the union and, to some extent, his representatives. His representatives are getting beat up by the union. 'Set the bar. Set the bar.' That's bull----."
Later came the report that the Cardinals had ponied up an eight-year offer to Pujols.
Late Tuesday night, however, a source familiar with the negotiations told CBSSports.com that no such offer had been made.
"That's completely inaccurate and false," the source said.
Failing some sort of last-ditch effort that suddenly kicks these talks into overdrive Wednesday morning, the Cardinals will enter 2011 with a major, major distraction on their hands by failing to lock up a franchise icon, and Pujols will sail into the summer charged with blocking out an uncertain future.
It is not the optimal condition for either side, to say the least. And there will be plenty of opinions as to who's at fault.
Pujols, for insisting on a deal that compares with or surpasses Alex Rodriguez's 10-year, $275 million contract despite the fact that the Cardinals don't have Yankee money?
The Cardinals, for failing to move earlier to sign Pujols long-term and thus avoid the very kind of feeding frenzy that is taking place at their spring camp?
You can argue that Pujols, who has never made more than $14.545 million, has been one of baseball's biggest values over the past decade and that the Cardinals now owe him.
You can also argue that if Pujols indeed is seeking something like a 10-year, $300 million deal, then, despite his iconic status in St. Louis, it would be a financial disaster that could cripple the Cardinals from being competitive in future years.
Despite Wednesday's deadline, the Cardinals, of course, will retain exclusive rights to Pujols until the 2011-2012 free agency period begins five days after the conclusion of next fall's World Series.
Little is certain at this point on how this epic staredown will play out.
But at the moment, the overwhelming indications are that Wednesday's deadline will come and go, with a major gap remaining between the Cardinals and Pujols.
Posted on: October 16, 2010 5:31 pm
Halladay's regular spring training routine was to arrive in the weight room in Clearwater, Fla., by 5:30 or 5:45 a.m. By the time most of the rest of the Phillies arrived at 7:30 or 8, Halladay was finished with that part of his day and on to something else.
When I visited the Phillies' camp, a couple of players talked about how this was a perfect example of his competitiveness. A coach told me it isn't that, it's just that Halladay is so focused on what he's doing that he did not want to share the weight room equipment. As he moves through his circuit, he wants what he wants when he wants it.
Whatever, his near-maniacal zeal was legendary in Toronto, and it's already the stuff of legend in Philadelphia.
"We had some guys try to latch on and stay with him this spring," pitching coach Rich Dubee said Friday before the Phillies worked out in preparation for Game 1. "That lasted a short period.
"If you're going to try and stay with him, you'd better start in the off-season."
One of those who experimented with the early-bird special in the weight room with Halladay this spring was fellow starter Cole Hamels.
"I did that one time, I think," Hamels said, chuckling. "I realized it was insanity.
"I had a newborn. I needed every ounce of sleep I could get. He would get there at 5:30, I was waking up at 5:30. That means he was waking up at 4:30."
Likes: Roy Halladay vs. Tim Lincecum to start the NLCS playoffs. What fun. ... I don't think we've heard enough of this Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira as former Rangers story. I think we'll hear much more of it before this ALCS is finished. ... Tweet of the Day, and I had to pass this one alone, from ESPN baseball writer Jorge Arangure late Friday night when the Rangers blew the 5-0 lead to the Yankees in the eighth inning with a certain former President and Rangers owner in attendance: "I bet George W Bush authorized a sign that read "Mission Accomplished" after the 7th inning." ... The Conan O'Brien ads they're papering the house with during the playoffs are pretty funny. Which is no small thing, given how most ads they consistently blast at us start bad and quickly turn grating. ... Congratulations to the Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central Falcons and Coach Jack Giarmo, who clinched another Huron League high school football title with Friday's 63-21 whipping of Milan. Excellent work to all as the tradition continues. Great job. ... Great run Saturday morning down Ben Franklin Parkway, past the Philadelphia Art Museum and along the Schuylkill River. Beautiful, especially the trees along the river. ... Geography lesson for the day: How do you pronounce "Schuylkill"? I admit, not being from the Philadelphia area, I didn't know. Until I checked with a bellman at the hotel when I returned: "Skoo-cull." ... John Lennon, still relevant on what would have been his 70th birthday the other day.
Dislikes: Bedbugs. I keep hearing about them. I've yet to see them.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"People asking questions lost in confusion
-- John Lennon, Watching the Wheels
Posted on: June 27, 2010 7:20 pm
LOS ANGELES -- For those who can't get enough of the Joe Torre-Alex Rodriguez Cold War, we have news of a thaw.
As the Yankees were preparing to take the field here before Sunday night's game, Rodriguez approached Torre by the batting cage and the two of them chatted for about 45 seconds. As they did, Torre held onto the handshake until the end, looked him in the eye and appeared to deliver a message that Rodriguez seemed eager to digest.
"It was just a convenience thing before that," Torre said a few minutes later as to why he and Rodriguez hadn't spoken this weekend when several other Yankees -- Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and others -- had made it a point to come over and visit during batting practice on Friday.
"He came over and he was who he always is," Torre continued. "I was never uncomfortable with Alex. I just told him again, I said, 'I hope you got my message about sort of getting that monkey off of your back.'
"He's a good kid. He's a good kid and, to me, I think too much is always made of this stuff. I think we know in our hearts what goes on."
Torre said nothing came up about the book he co-authored with Tom Verducci in 2009, The Yankee Years, that portrayed Rodriguez in an unflattering light.
"First of all, anything that was concerning him and me in the book had already been in the public," Torre said. "There was never anything Alex could have read in that book that he hadn't talked to me about. And even the stuff that Tom Verducci found out about the A-Fraud thing, players were doing that in front of him. They were kidding with him. That was just a jab. They always jab in the clubhouse all the time.
"So it was never anything that was a behind-anybody's-back thing. We never did anything behind anybody's backs in that clubhouse. That's why I never really had any concern that he wasn't talking to me because I knew that wasn't the case."