Jays give away Rios, White Sox take advantage

Leave a comment

<a href=”http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/32364650/ns/sports-player_news/”>Score another one for Kenny Williams</a>.  It almost never happens that players as talented Alex Rios can be acquired without surrendering anything in return.  The White Sox didn’t even have to outbid 29 teams or surrender a draft pick.  In Rios, they brought in a player who is about to start getting expensive, but one who figures to age well and live up to his contract.

 

The Jays can point to the fact that Rios’ numbers have dipped in an effort to justify the move, and it is entirely possible that his OPS will end up declining for a third straight year this season.  However, Rios is more than just his OPS.  He’s a legitimate center fielder who had no business being shoved to a corner for a declining Vernon Wells.  He’s a very durable player whose only DL stint in six years as a major leaguer came about because of an infected leg.  He’s an excellent basestealer, succeeding on 82 percent of his attempts over the last three years.

 

Rios will make $9.7 million next year and then $49 million over the following four years, so it’s not a move without risk for the White Sox.  Still, his durability and defensive value makes a collapse very unlikely.  Even if he wanders aimlessly and never lives up to his potential, his athleticism should guarantee that he’s something close to an average regular.  It’s more likely that he’ll have a couple of All-Star campaigns in Chicago and prove to be a modest bargain.

 

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, free up $9.7 million next year to spend as they see fit.  A lot of it could go towards re-signing Marco Scutaro, who is five years older than Rios.  Those absent $12 million-$12.5 million salaries in 2011 and beyond might just help the Jays keep Roy Halladay.  Or Rios’ absence could help drive Halladay away when the team goes on to finish in fourth or maybe even fifth place next year.  The Jays simply don’t have any Rios replacements on the way.  While the farm system has been productive, it’s been developing pitchers and unathletic hitters.  The Jays’ defense, already considerably worse without Scott Rolen, just took another major hit.

 

As did the franchise as a whole.  Rios never would have been sacrificed if the Jays still weren’t paying for the awful Wells and B.J. Ryan contracts.  It’s understandable that fans were frustrated with Rios and some might even be glad to see him gone.  Still, at best this move will help Rogers Corporation.  With or without Halladay, the Jays wouldn’t seem to have any October baseball in their future.

Pirates looking for outside outfield help

Omar Rawlings/Getty Images
2 Comments

Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.

Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.

Matt Barnes ejected after throwing at Manny Machado’s head

Matt Hazlett/Getty Images
11 Comments

On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.

For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”

Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.

MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”

Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.

The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.