Friday, January 22, 2010

MLB Moves

Here are some MLB moves that have occurred over the past week or so.

Adam LaRoche signs 1-year, $4.5 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks

2010 should be a more stable year for the lanky first baseman. In 2009, LaRoche played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Boston Red Sox (for all of a week) and the Atlanta Braves. Despite all that moving around he hit .278 with 24 home runs and 80 RBI. The D'Backs need more offense in their lineup and LaRoche should fit in nicely with Mark Reynolds and Justin Upton in the middle of the order.

Jose Valverde signs 2-year, $14 million contract with the Detroit Tigers

After leading the NL in saves in 2007 and 2008, Valverde only saved 25 games for the Houston Astros in 2009. Valverde sustained a calf injury when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Orlando Hudson in late April.

But the Tigers are getting a bonafide closer. Yes, Fernando Rodney saved 37 games for the Tigers in 2009 but he is better suited as an 8th inning set up man and will be in that role with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Valverde's contract includes a club option for the 2012 season.

San Diego Padres trade third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff to the Oakland Athletics for outfielders Aaron Cunningham and Scott Hairston

Although Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals won the NL Gold Glove at third base there are those who thought Kevin Kouzmanoff was a more deserving candidate. Now the Athletics have a third baseman off the caliber of Eric Chavez.

The Padres meanwhile get a very crowded outfield with Hairston and Cunningham joining Kyle Blanks, Will Venable and Tony Gwynn, Jr. The loss of Kouzmanoff will see Chase Headley move to third base.

This will be Hairston's second stint with the Padres. He played for the Padres from late in the 2007 season until last July when he was dealt to the Athletics for pitcher Sean Gallagher. As it turns out he won't be the only Hairston wearing a San Diego uniform in 2010.

Jerry Hairston, Jr. signs a 1-year, $2.125 million deal with the San Diego Padres

The elder Hairston split the 2009 season between the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Yankees where he would collect his first World Series ring. These days Hairston contributes effectively as a utility player.

Although this is the first time the Hairston brothers have been teammates on a major league club they did share a uniform when they played for Team Mexico in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

The Pirates seek relief

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed a pair of free agent relief pitchers.

First, they signed veteran reliever Brendan Donnelly to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million. After a horrible 2008 campaign with the Cleveland Indians, Donnelly rebounded in '09 with the Florida Marlins. In 30 appearances, Donnelly went 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA and recorded two saves.

The Bucs also signed Octavio Dotel to a one year deal worth $3.25 million. Dotel is slated to be the Pirates closer in 2010. Dotel has saved as many as 36 games in a season. He accomplished that feat in 2004 splitting time with the Houston Astros and the Oakland Athletics. However, Dotel has been relegated to middle relief in recent years. He saved only one game in two seasons with the Chicago White Sox. Given these circumstances, Dotel has to be looked upon as a stop gap measure. The Pirates are the eighth MLB stop for the 36-year-old right-hander.

Doug Davis Returns to Milwaukee

Veteran starting pitcher Doug Davis has signed a one-year deal with the Brewers worth $5.25 million. Davis has spent the past three seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, Davis called Milwaukee home between 2004 and 2006.

Davis is the second southpaw the Brewers have signed this off season. Last month, the Brewers signed ex-Dodger Randy Wolf to a three-year deal. Throw Manny Parra into the mix and the Brewers have three lefties in their starting rotation.

Joel Pineiro signs a 2-year, $16 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The New York Mets lose out on yet another free agent. Pineiro opted for the gateway to the West. He had pitched with the St. Louis Cardinals since the middle of the 2007 season. Pineiro won 15 games for the Cards in '09. It represented his highest win total since he won 16 games with the Seattle Mariners in 2003. Of course, Pineiro was the number three pitcher in the rotation behind Cy Young candidates Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.

It would be wise to keep Pineiro as the number three starter behind Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders. Although Pineiro can be effective as a starting pitcher the Angels should not expect him to become the ace of their staff.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim trade outfielder Gary Matthews, Jr. to the New York Mets for relief pitcher Brian Stokes

One of the most widely panned free agent signings in recent memory was when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim agreed to pay Matthews, Jr. $50 million over five seasons prior to the 2007 season.

Little Sarge enjoyed a career year with the Texas Rangers in 2006 hitting .313 with 19 home runs and 79 RBI. Matthews has not replicated those figures with the Angels and it certainly didn't help matters when Torii Hunter joined the club prior to the 2008 season.

The Mets only have to pay Matthews, Jr. $2 million of his remaining $23.5 million on his contract over the next two seasons. With Carlos Beltran out with knee surgery until at least May, Matthews, Jr. will see playing time in center field.

Stokes, meanwhile, will add some depth in an Angels bullpen which includes Brian Fuentes, Fernando Rodney, Jason Bulger and Kevin Jepsen.

Rick Ankiel signs 1-year, $3.25 million contract with the Kansas City Royals

This deal includes a club option for 2011. After hitting a career high 25 home runs in 2008, Ankiel regressed somewhat in '09. Ankiel collided with a wall awkwardly in May and never seemed to get untracked. He hit only .231 with 11 home runs and 38 RBI last season.

Of course, Ankiel is no stranger to adversity. After a promising rookie season as a pitcher in 2000, Ankiel inexplicably couldn't throw a strike during the NLCS against the Cardinals. He tried to make a good of it as a pitcher with the Cards in both 2001 and 2004 without success.

In 2005, Ankiel gave up pitching altogether. After spending nearly three additional seasons in the minors Ankiel got a chance to return to the majors late in 2007. So a lateral move across Missouri seems such a short distance.

Jose Contreras signs 1-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies

Fianancial terms were not dislcosed. Look for Contreras to pitch in middle relief with the Phillies as he did with the Colorado Rockies late last season after being acquired from the Chicago White Sox. Contreras could be occasionally called upon for a spot start.

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