Storylines: Fitting end for The Captain in New York
In this MLB News and Notes segment, I will be giving occasional reports on the latest news and rumors throughout the MLB. I also will try to tweet news and rumors as I see them, so feel free to follow me on Twitter: @AndrewIBI.
Here are the stories from Thursday, Sept. 25.
- Derek Jeter capped his Yankee Stadium farewell on Thursday night with a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning. In perhaps his last storybook moment in his charmed and illustrious career, the single gave New York a 6-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
- The Diamondbacks announced that they hired Dave Stewart as their new senior vice president and general manager, thereby filling the void that was created when Kevin Towers was removed from the role earlier this month. Additionally, De Jon Watson was hired away from the Dodgers to serve as senior VP of baseball operations. Both men will report directly to chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, according to the press release.
- The Indians' clubhouse got a little louder on Wednesday. After spending the past five weeks rehabbing in Los Angeles, Nick Swisher returned to spend the final four games of the regular season with the team, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reported. Swisher, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees on Aug. 20, was feeling much improved and looking forward to using the coming offseason to return to full strength for the Tribe. As he reflected on his lost season, the first baseman and designated hitter was willing to admit that he played too long through discomfort in his knees. The 33-year-old Swisher -- signed to a four-year, $56-million contract prior to last season -- said he first felt discomfort in his right knee in San Diego at the end of Spring Training. Bastian also noted that over the course of the season, he then began experiencing pain in both knees, which eventually sent him to the disabled list for good on Aug. 10 in New York.
News and Notes:
- After a rain delay put a premature end to the last start of the season for Phil Hughes of the Twins, the club offered him a chance to make a relief appearance this weekend to notch the last out needed to trigger a $500,000 contract bonus, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger reported. Even more remarkable than that offer, perhaps, is the fact that Hughes declined, saying that he "owe[s] too much to the organization over the next two years to risk getting hurt." (GM Terry Ryan said that it was not possible simply to give Hughes the cash, since the CBA would require a completely restructured contract, though Hughes also shot down that idea as setting a "bad precedent.") Needless to say, this interesting tale puts a shine on an already gleaming turnaround year for Hughes.
- Giancarlo Stanton's season-ending injury does not change the Marlins' plans to make a push at extending him this winter, the Associated Press reported (via the New York Times). "There's no hesitancy, no reservation or doubt he'll return and be even better," said Miami president of baseball operations Michael Hill. "We're going to do everything in our power to keep him a fixture in our lineup for many years to come."
- The Marlins are interested in Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Olivera recently defected with hopes of becoming an MLB free agent, and Miami is certainly one of several clubs that looks in need of an acquisition up the middle.
- The Red Sox are not giving up on Will Middlebrooks in spite of building frustration, but president Larry Lucchino did make clear that the team is "looking for a left-handed hitting third baseman," as he told WEEI's Dennis & Callahan (via WEEI.com's Andrew Battifarano). Though Lucchino said that prospect Garin Cecchini could be that player, he also emphasized that the team will not "make the same mistake that [we] made this year, which is to assume that so many of our young players are ready for prime time."
- Ryan Braun could at least theoretically be moved from the outfield to plug the Brewers' hole at first base, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Manager Ron Roenicke said that the team had discussed that possibility, but indicated that it was a hypothetical discussion that did not seem likely to go anywhere. If Braun stays in the outfield, the team will both need to find a new first bagger (both Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay are free agents) and will face a more difficult decision whether to tender a contract to Gerardo Parra. As McCalvy noted, there are currently three possibilities already on the club's 40-man roster in Matt Clark, Hunter Morris, and Jason Rogers. Otherwise, Milwaukee could turn to a free agent market that does appear to have a decent number of lumbering slugger types available.
- Two long-time Blue Jays — reliever Casey Janssen and DH Adam Lind — are approaching the possibility of finding new homes, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca wrote. Janssen, a free agent, said he does not yet know whether Toronto will make him a competitive offer. If not, he said, he will "embrace a new city and try to bring a championship to wherever that next stop is." Lind, on the other hand, is subject to a $7.5 million club option. Though expectations are that it will be exercised, Lind said he hopes the front office will give him a clear sense of its intentions before the season ends.
- Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux is hopeful that he will receive an interview for the team's managerial vacancy, and GM Jon Daniels expects to sit down with him at season's end, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan wrote. Even if Maddux isn't hired (or even interviewed), he's expected to return to the club as a pitching cocah in 2015, a club official told Sullivan, and he's "certain" to return if interim manager Tim Bogar gets the job. Maddux's contract is up after the current season.
- Kendrys Morales has interest in bypassing free agency to sign a new deal with the Mariners, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. reported However, the caveat is that he'd like a multi-year deal, which would obviously give the team pause. Morales, who sat out through the June draft this season to avoid being stuck with another qualifying offer, has batted just .217/.266/.330 between Seattle and Minnesota. Some of those struggles, of course, are likely due to the long layoff between Major League appearances. Morales did enter 2014 as a lifetime .280/.333/.480 hitter, making the extreme drop-off in his production rather surprising. One rival exec whose team is in need of a run-producing bat expressed concern over a multi-year deal for Morales when asked by Dutton, though he did concede that there's upside to the idea: "He's a big risk. I doubt he gets more than two (years) after the year he's had. But if he bounces back, a year from now we could all be talking about what a steal he was."