Adrian Beltre Talking with Texas Rangers, Remains Risky Signing

The Rangers and free agent Adrian Beltre are reportedly close to finalizing a deal to bring the All-Star third baseman to Texas. The deal is said to be worth between $90 and $96 million over six years.

Adrian Beltre first broke into the league with the Dodgers as a teenager. He developed into one of the best young players in the game and peaked in 2004 when he hit .334 with 48 home runs, 32 doubles, and 121 RBIs. It just so happened that that was the final year of his contract with the Dodgers, and he used the monster year to cash in as a free agent.

Beltre headed to the Pacific Northwest to join the Mariners on a five-year $64 million deal. He dropped off in most offensive categories averaging 21 home runs, 34 doubles 79 RBI, and a .261 average with Seattle. The numbers were not bad, but not worth the kind of money he was given. However, you can’t knock his defense — Beltre was in the discussion for the Gold Glove every year and won it in 2007 and 2008.

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Rockies, Carlos Gonzalez Finalizing 7-Year 80 Million Contract Extension

Two years after the Oakland A’s gave up on Carlos Gonzalez who underperformed as a 23-year-old, the youngster put together the type of season people had expected from him. In his second year with the Colorado Rockies, CarGo hit .336 with 34 home runs 117 RBIs and 111 runs scored while stealing 26 bases and OPSing .974. He finished third in MVP balloting in the NL and proved he was one of the premier players in baseball.

A month after signing shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to a new contract extension, the Rockies are doing the same with Gonzalez. Both Gonzalez’s Venezuelan publicist and The Denver Post’s Troy Renck say CarGo will travel to the U.S. to take a physical and sign a seven year $80 million extension.

The Rockies had wanted to sign Gonzalez to an extension in order to keep the team’s young, studly core together for years to come. They already have Tulowitzki under contract for the next decade and will have Gonzalez along with him. Next up for an extension will be pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.

One has to wonder if the Rockies aren’t getting too aggressive with a player who’s only produced for one season. That could be the case, but Gonzalez appears to be a star, and if he keeps it up the Rockies would be getting a good deal based on arbitration rates and CarGo’s value as a free agent. At first reaction, I lean towards saying this is a great deal for Gonzalez and more of a risk for the Rockies. They clearly believe in him heavily to invest that type of money in a player who’s only put in one full season in the majors.

Baltimore Orioles Upgrade Infield with Derrek Lee Signing

After finishing a disappointing 66-96 last season, the Baltimore Orioles have made strides to upgrade their team this off-season. First they acquired Mark Reynolds from the Diamondbacks in a trade, and then they brought in shortstop J.J. Hardy from Minnesota in another deal. Now, The Baltimore Sun reports they have agreed on a one-year deal with first baseman Derrek Lee.

Lee is coming off a down year where he only hit .260 with 19 home runs. He got traded mid-season to the Braves and did well, but he only managed three home runs in 129 at-bats for them. Given that Lee smashed 35 home runs with a .972 OPS in 2009, this is a strong signing for Baltimore. On top of consistently playing good defense, he’s a good bounceback candidate for 2011.

Baltimore may not be anywhere near competing in the AL East, but at least they’ve improved their team. The infield consisting of Reynolds, Hardy, Roberts, and Lee is nothing special, but at least it’s respectable. Their pitching is another story, but at least they’re moving in a competitive direction, and I’d much rather have Lee on a one-year deal than Adam LaRoche on a three.

Was Oney Guillen Out of Line for Calling Out Bobby Jenks on Twitter?

Much like his father, the outspoken Ozzie Guillen, Oney Guillen isn’t bashful about sharing his feelings. Oney was fired by the White Sox last Spring Training for being critical of the organization. Now he’s no longer a member of the organization, but his father remains the team’s manager, and he still defends his dad no matter what. Take for instance what happened this week.

Former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, who signed with the Red Sox after not receiving the type of offer he wanted from Chicago, expressed some disappointment with the White Sox. He event went so far as to criticize Ozzie:

“With the way Ozzie was talking this winter and the way he treated me, I don’t want to fight with the guy. How many times did he question my ability, and then saying how he would love to have me back, but I would have to come to Spring Training and fight for the closer’s role like anyone else?

“Why would I come back to that negativity?” Jenks said. “I’m looking forward to playing for a manager who knows how to run a bullpen.”

Well it’s that type of criticism, and the last zinger about a manager who knows how to run a bullpen, that had Oney livid. The fiery youngster lashed out against Jenks with a couple of nuclear bombs on his twitter account.

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MLB Free Agent Contracts Have Gotten Completely Out of Hand

It almost feels like Christmas in December. It’s baseball’s annual right of passage, winter free agent signings that net sums of money so ghastly even hedge fund managers are blushing. At this rate, the good folks at Major League Baseball may have to change the name to World $eries. The holidays are upon us, but don’t be confused. That slightly rotund fellow wearing red ain’t Santy Claus, it’s Lance Berkman, who last season ho-ho-hummed his way to a .248 batting average yet still Madoff with eight million dollars from the Cardinals. Nope, there’s no jolly old Saint Nick Punto or Johnson (they haven’t been signed yet).

What’s a Jayson worth you ask? Well, aside from the gross misspelling (someone should let him know already), how about a tidy $126 million over seven years. Forget a spruce, the Nats’ new addition may now hang his ornaments on a sequoia. I thought the folks in Washington DC were trying to rein in wasteful spending. He’d better do well in the nation’s capital or else someone in the Nationals’ front office made a huge Boehner. Ostensibly, there were no three wise men behind that deal.

Each year, baseball’s general managers descend on Florida like so many aging retirees who sport various shades of vibrantly-colored plaid pants. Both come in search of early bird specials. The only difference is that Dave Dombrowski is more likely to splurge on an overcooked piece of meat than, say, Uncle Mort. One can only imagine the reaction of Joaquin Benoit, a 33-year-old right-hander signed by the Tigers for $16.5 million despite the fact he has a career ERA approaching the Michigan state sales tax and a less-than-stellar 31-28 career record. He may be dashing through the snow in the Motor City, but can probably now afford more than one horse to pull that open sleigh (though convertibles are not really trendy in the D in the middle of winter).

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Brewers Dangerously Give Up the Farm to Win Now with Greinke, Marcum

By now all of you know that the Royals traded Zack Greinke to the Brewers in exchange for much of their top talent. The deal sent Greinke and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt — basically an incidental piece — and cash to Milwaukee for two Major League ready players in shortstop Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain. The Royal also received two right-handed pitching prospects — Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odirizzi — the latter widely regarded as the Brewers’ top pitching prospect.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Brewers sent their top prospect, second baseman Brett Lawrie, to the Blue Jays in exchange for right-handed pitcher Shaun Marcum — a move thought to pave the way for Greinke’s trade to Toronto. In a two-week span, the Brewers have simultaneously strenghtend their team considerably for next season and seemingly bankrupted their farm system — not to mention the two players who had already reached the majors.

As recently as last season, Escobar was considered a top prospect — though last year, in his first full season in the majors, he hit only .235 with a .288 on-base percentage. At 24, Escobar still has plenty of room for growth. Betancourt, who will be 29 when the season starts, is hitting .272 for his career and has an on-base percentage of just .292. It appears that he has hit his ceiling, and it’s not very high. Betancourt does however offer slight upgrades defensively and in terms of power.

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Did Blog Comment Tip Bernie’s Crew Blogger Off to Zack Greinke Trade?

Late Saturday evening, we passed along word of a reported Zack Greinke to the Brewers trade. The report was met with skepticism because a fan blog called “Bernie’s Crew” published the news, while no mainstream reporters had any information on the deal. Between Greinke’s trade demands and Milwaukee’s candidacy to make a deal, we thought the report was significant and it turned out to be accurate.

Credit goes to Bernie’s Crew blogger Jim Breen for blowing away the competition when it came to the Greinke trade. He was ahead of information men like Buster Olney, Ken Rosenthal, and even Brewers reporter Tom Haudricort. So how did Breen come out of nowhere to break the news? He told LBS in an email “I do not feel comfortable giving much information on my source, as I do want to adhere to his wishes as far as anonymity and the like. I was simply lucky enough to make the right connections at the right time.” His wishes to protect his source makes complete sense. But did he get tipped off to the news by a commenter on his blog? Sure seems like a possibility.

As D.J. Short informed us via Fantasy Fix, a commenter left this informative comment on a Bernie’s Crew post Saturday afternoon:

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