Here are some interesting notes from Lee Sinins' ATM Reports from earlier today:
A Tale of Two Pitchers
Orioles P Scott Erickson will have surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder and could miss the entire season.
Orioles co-GM Jim Beattie says the team is always interested in adding starting pitching, but this news won't necessarily intensify their efforts to sign someone. Beattie says the team is interested in free agents Chuck Finley and Kenny Rogers--but only if the price is right.
After a 7.87 ERA/-33 RSAA in 16 starts in 2000, Erickson missed the entire 2001 season and had a 5.55 ERA/-21 RSAA in 28 games (29 games) in 2002. He has a 4.51 career ERA, compared to his league average of 4.53, and -6 RSAA in 355 games.
Twins P Eric Milton will knee surgery and may miss the first month of the season. It will be his 2nd knee surgery in 7 months. Johan Santana is expected to move into Milton's spot in the rotation.
Milton's 4.84 ERA/-9 RSAA in 29 starts in 2002 marked the 3rd consecutive year in which his performance declined. He has a 4.80 career ERA, compared to his league average of 4.69, and 3 RSAA in 163 games.
Santana has a 4.58 career ERA, compared to his league average of 4.63, and 5 RSAA in 72 games in his 3 year career, including a 2.99 ERA/17 RSAA in 27 games (14 starts) in 2002.
Both Erickson and Milton have been on the decline for some time. Milton (who I think has declined for each of the last four years) is at least still effective and young. Erickson is a waste of a roster space.
For the Orioles, it's the best thing that can happen. Erickson has one year left on a 5-year $32 M contract. He is 35 and has not had a better than average year since 1998 (right after signing the contract). His last two years have been atrocious (7.87 and 5.55 ERAs). The injury happens early enough that the Orioles will now not have to throw useless spring-training innings to a man who has no purpose on the club other than to play out his contract. He is out for the year, so certainly the club's insurance will bail out the contract. The Orioles could not deal him because of his contract, performance, and age. It's such a windfall, one has to wonder if Tony Soprano were not contacted to help with the injury (a joke of course).
Milton is expected back by May 1, but until then the Twins will have to carry on without their probable number-two starter. So what may have been a decent fight for the number 5 spot between Kyle Lohse and Johan Santana, will now end with them both starting the year in the rotation. This may end up being a break for the Twins since Lohse was expected to win the 5th spot, Santana was expected to work out of the pen, and Santana has the potential to be the staff leader. As the fifth starter, Santana may not have much of an opportunity given the usually sparse April schedule, but he should make the most of it. This just moves his timetable up for eventually becoming the Twins' number-one pitcher, if they are not so dumb as to move him back to the pen. Maybe Tony Soprano can prove useful again.
O Yes-Padres Have a Base-A-Ball Jones
According to the Rocky Mountain News, the Orioles are still talking to the Rockies about OF Jack Cust, but the Orioles aren't interested in taking P Todd Jones. The Orioles are reportedly offering OF-1B Chris Richard for Cust.
The Orioles are apparently learning from past mistakes. Why employ Jones when he is two years and three franchises removed from being an effective starter and is soon to be 35 years old? Besides he won't come cheap ($3 M).
Sinins reported the other day that the Padres are interested in acquiring Jones to replace Trevor Hoffman until he recuperates. He did not report what Kevin Towers was smoking at the time.
Slouching Toward Kansas City
According to the Kansas City Star, the Royals and Rangers are both admitting to contacting trade talks regarding Carlos Beltran. According to the paper, the Royals are very interested in Hank Blalock, but also want more than just him, while they are believed to have also asked for 2B Michael Young and OF prospect Layne Nix.
The Royals have three good-to-great players in Mike Sweeney, Raul Ibanez, and Carlos Beltran. Beltran is probably the one with the lowest ceiling of the three, he just earned $6 M in losing his arbitration case with the team, and is a potential free agent after the 2004 season. He rejected a three-year, $25+ M deal this offseason. All of this adds up to Beltran's head being on the chopping block.
Blaylock star's has been falling since his disappointing 2002 start. He was set to start at third but has become expendable because his eventual replacement Mark Teixeira is reportedly crushing balls in Spring training.
What complicates matters are current Royal third sacker Joe Randa and his $4.5 M contract in 2003. I would have to think that the Royals do not pull the trigger on this deal without haven't another set up to move Randa (perhaps the Mets are listening).
Yankees P David Wells claims that he was "half drunk" when he pitched his perfect game in 1999.
This is a nonstory, mentioned only to put the story into context. Wells is trying to hype his new book. Yankees P Roger Clemens may have accurately assessed the situation when he said, "I call him Ely because if a story goes over 30 seconds, he's lying."
I wonder how long Wells' testimony in his attack case earlier this winter lasted.