Annoyingly, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi have been doing a blog that’s not a blog for FOXSports. Rosenthal is the best in the biz at putting legitimate rumors out there, but FOX has made it more and more difficult to access his latest tidbits, with too much content that doesn’t carry over to RSS and nothing being carried over to twitter. FOX just wants people checking the website at random intervals, apparently.
Also, in many cases, there’s no way to tell what is written by Rosenthal and what comes from Morosi, who simply doesn’t have Rosenthal’s track record in this game. That’s not a knock on Morosi, but it’s a ridiculous call from FOX and it’s incredible that Rosenthal puts up with it.
OK, enough complaining. Let’s check out the latest to see what Rosenthal, or perhaps Morosi, has for us:
*The Mariners have discussed Edwin Jackson with the Tigers and also like center fielder Curtis Granderson, though talks “are not all that serious,” according to FOXSports.com’s source.
The Tigers have way too much money tied up in horrible contracts and may choose to move Jackson, who is due $5 million-$6 million in arbitration and is two years away from free agency. Granderson is less likely to go, particularly to the Mariners, who already have an excellent center fielder in Franklin Gutierrez.
The report mentions right-handers Brandon Morrow and Shawn Kelley as possibilities for the Tigers in a Jackson trade. Detroit would insist on more than those two, though. Morrow still hasn’t made it as a closer or a starter, and Kelley is probably a setup man at best.
The Tigers are in need of a closer and could well target David Aardsma instead. Aardsma likely has more trade value than Morrow and Kelley combined, and the Mariners have the potential to cobble together a pretty good bullpen without him, particularly with top prospect Phillip Aumont on the way. Aumont is another pitcher the Tigers are surely asking about in return for Jackson, though he’d be hard to pry away.
Aardsma and a second-tier prospect for Jackson may well make sense for both teams. The Tigers would get a closer who is under control for three more years and save some money in the process. The Mariners would win from a talent standpoint.
*Agent Bean Stringfellow said the Red Sox, Braves, Nationals, Astros and Orioles are five of the eight clubs currently showing interest in free agent Billy Wagner.
That’s awfully straight-forward talk from Stringfellow, but of the five teams mentioned, only the Astros come as much of a surprise. It seems unlikely that they’ll come up with the cash to bring Wagner back to Houston. Atlanta, Washington and Baltimore all have to be rather appealing to Wagner from a location standpoint. The Virginia native likely would prefer to remain on the East Coast, and he’ll have the opportunity to do so.
There’s been talk of Wagner potentially accepting arbitration and staying with the Red Sox, but it’s highly unlikely that he’ll go that route. He’ll get a fair amount of cash and a guaranteed deal as a free agent. If he accepted arbitration, perhaps he could get a higher salary on a one-year deal, but it wouldn’t be in the form of a guaranteed contract. If he struggles or gets hurt during spring training, the Red Sox could cut him and owe him just one-sixth or one-quarter (depending on the timing) of his salary. The Red Sox are also perhaps the only interested team that wouldn’t use him as a closer.
*The Nationals are “drawing strong trade interest” in 30-year-old outfielder Josh Willingham.
The Nats buried Willingham at the beginning of last season, giving him just 35 at-bats in April, but as Lastings Milledge, Austin Kearns and Elijah Dukes all faltered, he stepped up and went on to hit .260/.367/.496 with 23 homers in 427 at-bats. That’s not out of line with his career 840 OPS. The problem is that he’s a big liability in the outfield, and he has a history of back problems.
Washington’s current plan is to go with an outfield of Willingham, Nyjer Morgan and Dukes next year, with Adam Dunn at first base. The team has been trying to upgrade its defense, though, and Willingham’s departure could help in that regard.
Willingham is due about $5 million next season and is under control for two more years, so he’s an attractive piece. The Nationals won’t give him away like the Marlins did last year, but they should consider moving him if it’d bring in a legitimate young starting pitcher.
As the Mets were wrapping up a 9-0 shellacking of the Phillies on Tuesday night, reliever Jacob Rhame threw a pitch up and in to first baseman Rhys Hoskins with two outs in the ninth inning. The pitch sailed behind Hoskins’ back. The slugger wasn’t happy about the scare, understandably. Players began to trickle out of their respective dugouts, but a fracas was avoided.
Hoskins was skeptical that Rhame simply missed his spot. Per MLB.com’s Thomas Harrigan, Hoskins said, “He didn’t miss up and in the rest of the inning, so I’ll let you decide. I would assume teams are pitching me in because that’s where they think they can get me out, and that’s fine. That’s part of the game. Again, I think most guys are capable of pitching inside and not missing that bad.”
Teammate Bryce Harper said, “I don’t get it. I understand that two of their guys got hit yesterday. But, I mean, if it’s baseball and you’re going to drill somebody, at least hit him in the [butt]. Not in the head. You throw 98, it’s scary now. You could kill somebody. Lose your eyesight. That’s bigger than the game.”
Indeed, two Mets were hit by pitches on Monday night. José Álvarez hit Jeff McNeil in the seventh inning, which advanced a base runner. In the very next at-bat, Juan Nicasio hit Pete Alonso with a first-pitch fastball. It was obvious neither was intentional as the Phillies were only down two runs and hitting both batters advanced base runners and led to runs scoring. It is less obvious that Rhame’s pitch to Hoskins was unintentional, but he showed empathy in his post-game comments. Rhame said, “When you accidentally sail one, it’s probably pretty scary. I’d get [angry], too.”
Will Wednesday night’s series finale be contentious? Despite being “fairly upset,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said, “We do not retaliate, and we do not throw at anybody intentionally,” Jake Seiner of the Associated Press reports.
Mets manager Mickey Calloway didn’t give as straight an answer. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Calloway said, “I think at this point, you just go out there and beat people, and win. … For now, I don’t feel like anything has been intentional at us that has warranted anything from our side.” If that changes, however, Calloway said, “They’re going to have each other’s backs.”
Hopefully, neither side decides to take justice into their own hands. But, welcome to the NL East in 2019. The Mets lead the Phillies by one game, and the Braves and Nationals by 1.5 games. It’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out division fight all year long.