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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Marlins Loria wining and dining Jose Reyes all for show-Bill Madden

11/12/11, Bill Madden, "In the week leading up to the GM/owners meetings, Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria put on quite a show, wining and dining Jose Reyes in South Beach, making very public overtures to Albert Pujols and Mark Buehrle and reportedly leading a contingent to the Dominican Republic to personally scout Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, who is acclaimed to be a five-tool center fielder. But according to most baseball insiders, that’s all it was — show. Even with the expected huge bump in revenue from their new stadium in Miami’s Little Havana section, baseball officials are skeptical that Loria has the money to be a big player in the free-agent market. If he is able to sign Reyes, it will be mean having to move Hanley Ramirez, who last week made it fairly clear he has no intention of moving off shortstop, and who is owed another $46 million through 2014. There is no way Loria could afford the minimum eight years/$200 million Pujols is going to get, while those close to Buehrle, a St. Charles, Mo., native, believe his desire is to finish his career with a team in the Midwest. As for Cespedes, the word around the industry is that his agent Adam Katz, is looking for a record signing package
  • between $30 million-$40 million, which is too rich for even the Yankees....
As for Crane and the Astros, the last remaining sticking point in his takeover as owner from Drayton McLane was the “discount” he’d demanded on the original sale price of $680 million to compensate for his agreeing to allow MLB to move them from the NL Central to the AL West in 2013. Sources told the Daily News that “approximately $50 million” was lopped off the sale price. What remained in question was who was going to foot that bill, McLane, MLB or both. If MLB is to pay anything, Selig will no doubt face strong objections from the other owners at having to help finance the sale of the Astros and further enrich McLane, who
  • bought the team from John McMullen in 1992 for $117 million.
The returns of Ryan and Duquette to the GM ranks last week were both surprising, but for different reasons. The Twins, who never fire anyone, apparently decided somebody had to be held accountable for only their second losing season since 2000 — which also happened to coincide with a record $112 million payroll — and chose Bill Smith. Team owner Jim Pohlad was said to be especially distressed at the inordinate number of injuries and lengthy stays on the disabled list by so many of the Twins’ key players last season. But while it’s tough to blame that on Smith, his trading record — in which he came up on the short end in almost all his deals, most notably Johan Santana to the Mets, shortstop J.J. Hardy to the Orioles, catcher Wilson Ramos to the Nationals, outfielder Delmon Young to the Tigers, ultimately cost him. There was also considerable dismay on Pohlad’s part over the three-year $10 million deal Smith doled out to Japanese free agent infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, one of the bigger busts of 2011. Ryan, one of the most respected and accomplished GMs in the game until his self-imposed step-down in 2007, has a yeoman task ahead of him in restoring the Twins to their accustomed contending status in the AL Central. For one thing, outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel and closers Joe Nathan and Matt Capps are all free agents. Cuddyer, especially, is going to be difficult to re-sign as he’s attracting considerable interest. For another, catcher Joe Mauer, signed to a $184 million contract through 2018, has struggled mightily with leg problems while first baseman Justin Morneau, their second-highest-paid player, has battled concussion syndrome for two seasons now. Ryan’s first move — signing veteran shortstop Jamey Carroll, who hit .290 and had an OBP of .385 in 146 games for the Dodgers last season — will surely be welcomed by manager Ron Gardenhire, who lamented the deterioration of defense and fundamentals by the Twins last year.... Meanwhile, Duquette, who’d been out of baseball since 2002 when the Red Sox fired him as their GM, seemingly wound up with the Orioles job because none of their other favored candidates wanted any part of it. Whether he can succeed in Baltimore where eight previous GMs left in exasperation at working for O’s owner Peter Angelos remains to be seen. An equally interesting dynamic will be how Duquette will co-exist with hands-on manager Buck Showalter. “This is right up my alley,” Duquette said at his introductory press conference last week, “turning around a ballclub and building a farm and scouting system.” That will take money — something Angelos refused to give his predecessors. For the present, they do not figure to be players for any of the big-ticket free agents, even though signing Prince Fielder or the Norfolk, Va.-born Cuddyer would go a long way
  • toward giving the O’s instant credibility with their disillusioned fans.

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