Carlos Gonzalez close to $80 million extension with Rockies

3 Comments

Over the weekend Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional reported that Carlos Gonzalez was close to signing a long-term contract extension with the Rockies worth as much as $80 million.

Initially the Colorado-based media was pretty quiet about the possibility, but Troy Renck of the Denver Post just tweeted that he “would be surprised if deal doesn’t get done” and pegged the details as $80 million for seven years.

Gonzalez won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2012, so a seven-year contract would cover his final season of pre-arbitration, all three seasons of arbitration, and his first three seasons of free agency. By comparison the six-year, $119 million extension teammate Troy Tulowitzki signed recently covers only free agent seasons, which is why Gonzalez’s deal is so much cheaper.

Acquired from the A’s in 2008 as part of the Matt Holliday package, Gonzalez won the batting title as a 24-year-old last season, hitting .336 with 34 homers, 117 RBIs, 26 steals, and a .974 OPS. Coors Field inflated his raw numbers significantly, as Gonzalez hit .289 with a .775 OPS on the road compared to .380 with a 1.161 OPS at home, but he’s an elite all-around outfielder and one of baseball’s premier young players.

Colorado now has two young superstars locked up through at least 2017, but their previous long-term commitments to Todd Helton and Mike Hampton turned sour well before the end of those massive contracts and there’s plenty of risked involved in committing $200 million to Gonzalez and Tulowitzki when they were both already under team control through 2014 anyway.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

Getty Images
1 Comment

Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

Getty Images
1 Comment

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.