Alex Rios signed a seven-year, $70 million extension with the Blue Jays just 13 months ago, but on Monday afternoon general manager J.P. Ricciardi decided to simply dump the remainder of that contract on the White Sox when they put in a waiver claim for the 28-year-old. “This allows us to get out from under a contract and enables us to do more to address our club going forward,” Ricciardi said.
Rios is a career .285/.335/.451 hitter who’s at just .264/.317/.427 this year, so it’s tough to blame Ricciardi for not wanting to pay him an average of $12 million per season through 2014. However, Rios’ great glove and baserunning mean that his value goes far beyond production at the plate and if he returns to pre-2009 levels the White Sox will gladly pay that to replace impending free agent Jermaine Dye.
For now though Dye remains the starting right fielder and Carlos Quentin is fixed in left field, so most of Rios’ playing time figures to come at the expense of Scott Podsednik in center field. Calling the White Sox’s power-boosting ballpark home gives Rios a much improved chance of finally cracking 25 homers at some point, but in the short term a crowded outfield could take a chunk out of his value.
While the Blue Jays shed payroll and the White Sox add an underrated outfielder in his prime, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Just when an eight-game winning streak finally had the Nationals headed in the right direction, the team received bad news during Monday’s off day. Dr. James Andrews has recommended Tommy John elbow surgery for Jordan Zimmermann after reviewing his MRI exam. Zimmermann may seek a second opinion, but the 23-year-old right-hander is done for the season and figures to go under the knife.
Zimmermann looked extremely promising before suffering the injury around three weeks ago, posting a 4.63 ERA and 92/29 K/BB ratio in 91.1 innings spread over 16 starts after basically skipping Triple-A. With a bit more seasoning and a better defense behind him Zimmermann looked like a possible ace and he may still get there, but it likely won’t be until at least 2011.
* Chris Young certainly earned a demotion to Triple-A by hitting .194/.297/.359 in 103 games, but it was still surprising to see the Diamondbacks actually make the move Monday. His sub-.200 batting average shouldn’t shock anyone after Young hit .237 as a rookie and .248 last season, but just seven homers in 315 at-bats stands out after he showed about twice that much power coming into the year.
Young will likely be back once rosters expand in September and remains part of the long-term plans, so he may be a bargain in NL-only leagues next year. In the meantime Arizona added Rusty Ryal to play some second base, Ryan Roberts is likely to see time in left field along with Trent Oeltjen, and Gerardo Parra is the everyday center fielder. Ryal has a cool name and 20-homer pop, but little else.
* Pedro Martinez will join the Phillies’ rotation Wednesday against the Cubs, with Charlie Manuel announcing that Jamie Moyer and his 5.47 ERA will be moved to the bullpen. Previously the Phillies said that Moyer wasn’t a relief option, but J.A. Happ has simply been too good to pull from the rotation and Martinez striking out 11 in his third rehab start apparently convinced the team that he’s an upgrade.
AL Quick Hits: Justin Duchscherer (elbow) had an encouraging first rehab outing Sunday at Triple-A, throwing 55 pitches … Jacoby Ellsbury topped last season’s total with his 51st stolen base of the year Monday … Torii Hunter (groin) is set to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Single-A … Gil Meche (back) is scheduled to come off the disabled list Thursday against the Twins … Magglio Ordonez had three extra-base hits Monday and is batting over .400 this month … Joe Maddon speculated Monday that Troy Percival will retire rather than come back from his latest injuries … Tim Wakefield (calf) tossed a simulated game Monday, but had to take three rests during the 51 pitches … Edwin Jackson needed 104 pitches to complete four innings Monday versus the Red Sox, allowing four runs … Mark Grudzielanek was released by Minnesota after the 39-year-old veteran struggled in eight games at Double-A.
NL Quick Hits: Johnny Cueto left Monday’s start after suffering a hip flexor hitting in the third inning … Billy Wagner (elbow) threw his fifth straight scoreless inning while rehabbing Monday at Single-A … Chad Billingsley (hamstring) is unlikely to make his scheduled start Wednesday … Leo Nunez notched his 12th save after Matt Lindstrom struggled with a five-run lead Monday … Aaron Cook (toe) is now on track to start Friday against the Marlins … Tom Gorzelanny headed for X-rays after being hit on the foot Monday, but gave up six runs in 1.1 innings first … Tim Hudson (elbow) is slated to begin a rehab stint Thursday at Triple-A … Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang have both cleared waivers … Former second overall pick Greg Reynolds has been shut down with shoulder problems that surfaced in April … LaTroy Hawkins (shingles) reported no issues after Monday’s simulated game … Troy Tulowitzki had a monster game Monday, hitting for the cycle while knocking in seven runs, and is slugging over .600 since June 1.
One of the weirder stories of the offseason was Ruben Amaro going from the Phillies front office to the Red Sox, where he’ll coach first base. That kind of transition is almost unheard of but it’s happening with old Rube.
Today Pete Abraham of the Globe has a story about how Amaro is preparing for the role. And how, while it may look weird on paper, the move actually makes a lot more sense than you might suspect given the Red Sox’ coaching staff and Amaro’s own background. It’s good stuff. Go check it out.
On a personal note, it serves as a signal to me to keep my eyes peeled for reports about Amaro from Fort Myers once camp gets started:
Amaro has been working out in recent weeks with his nephew Andrew, a Phillies prospect, to get ready for throwing batting practice and hitting fungoes.
Could we be so lucky as to get the first-ever Best Shape of His Life report for a coach? God, I hope so!
One of the more amusing things to spin out of the Super Bowl were Peyton Manning’s little Budweiser endorsements in his postgame interviews. It was hilarious, really, to see him shoehorn in references to going and cracking a crisp cool Budweiser multiple times. It was more hilarious when a Budweiser representative tweeted that Manning was not paid to do that. Of course, Manning owns an interest in alcohol distributorships so talking about The King of Beers was in his best financial interest all the same.
After that happened people asked whether or not Manning would face discipline about this from the NFL, as players are not allowed to endorse alcoholic beverages. This seemed crazy to me. I had no idea that they were actually banned from doing so. Then I realized that, huh, I can’t for the life of me remember seeing beer commercials with active athletes, so I guess maybe it’s not so crazy. Ken Rosenthal later tweeted that Major League Baseball has a similar ban in place. No alcohol endorsements for ballplayers.
I mean, I can fully anticipate why the leagues would say athletes can’t do it. Think of the children! Role models! Messages about fitness! All that jazz. I suspect a more significant reason is that the leagues and their partners — mostly Anheuser-Busch/InBev — would prefer not to allow high-profile athletes to shill for a competitor. How bad would it look for Alex Rodriguez to do spots for Arrogant Bastard Ale when there are Budweiser signs hanging in 81% of the league’s ballparks? Actually, such ads would look WONDERFUL, but you know what I mean here.
That aside, it does strike me as crazy hypocritical that the leagues can rake in as much as they do from these companies while prohibiting players from getting in on the action. If it is kids they’re worried about, how can they deny that they endorse beer to children every bit as effectively and possibly more so than any one athlete can by virtue of putting it alongside the brands that are the NFL and MLB? Personally I don’t put much stock in a think-of-the-children argument when it comes to beer — it’s everywhere already and everyone does a good job of pushing the “drink responsibly” message — but if those are the leagues’ terms, they probably need to ask themselves how much of a distinction any one athlete and the entire league endorsing this stuff really is.
That aside, sports and beer — often sponsored by active players — have a long, long history together:
And the picture at the top of this post certainly shows us that Major League Baseball has no issues whatsoever in having its players endorse Budweiser in a practical sense.
Why can’t they get paid for doing it?
Last summer we posted about Rafael Palmeiro coming out of retirement to play for the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters. The reason: to play a game with his boy Patrick. In that game the elder Palmeiro went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored. His son, who is now 26, went 2-for-4 with a grand slam.
Did that serve as an audition for Patrick? Possibly, as Jon Meloi of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles just signed him to a minor league deal.
As Meloi notes, it’s certainly just an organizational depth move, as Patrick is no prospect. And it’s actually likely something of a coincidence that it’s the Orioles who signed him, as Palmeiro doesn’t have any real contacts with the Orioles baseball operations people, all of whom are different folks now than back in his day.
This may not be the last of the Palmeiros, by the way. Peter Gammons tweeted this morning that Patrick’s younger brother, Preston, is a first baseman at North Carolina State who could be drafted this june. Gammons says he has a swing “remarkably similar to dad.”
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.