I just got done interviewing Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro. The interview will air on NBC SportsTalk tonight on Versus at 6PM Eastern. In the meantime, though, I can give you the gist:
- Amaro said that he does not comment on rumors and thus didn’t have anything to say about the Gio Gonzalez stuff that was floating around last night, but he did say that whatever else they do, it will not impact what the future of Cole Hamels.
- This is significant, because part of that Gonzalez stuff was tied to the notion of having him replace Hamels in the event he were to be traded or to walk when he becomes a free agent. To the contrary, Amaro told me, the team wants Cole Hamels to be a member of the Philadelphia Philles for a long, long time, and they would address an extension for him “at the appropriate time.”
- The team’s clear priority right now is “addressing the shortstop position,” which is obviously a reference to the team’s reported imminent re-signing of Jimmy Rollins. I tried to bait him a bit by mentioning the Brewers’ reported interest in Rollins. Amaro — because he’s smooth — gave a sly smile and said “I can’t comment on what the Brewers are doing.”
- He acknowledged that it was tough balance to address the flaws that were exposed in the team during the playoffs without screwing up what worked so well for 162 games. He’s confident, however, that team health — specifically Chase Utley and Hunter Pence — will be a big key to helping an offense that looked overmatched in the playoffs. Pitching, he said, is obviously still this team’s strength; finally
- Amaro reiterated what had been previously reported: Ryan Howard, at present, is only expected to miss about the first month of the season and that some combination of Jim Thome and existing parts would fill the void in the big man’s absence.
I did not ask him about Domonic Brown because I heard that Amaro is capable of Jedi mind control and would use it on me if I suggested that the kid needs a freakin’ chance to play. After all, Keaton once said “I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of him.” Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Ruben Amaro being mad at me.
Tune in to NBC SportsTalk on Versus at 6PM Eastern to see my interview with Ruben Amaro.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.