|Cody Ross and the pursuit of a Josh Willingham deal||10.29.12 at 2:51 pm ET|
Cody Ross counts outfielder Josh Willingham as one of his closest friends in baseball. Both achieved status as big league regulars with the Marlins in 2006, when Willingham made a splash as a 27-year-old rookie who swatted 26 homers and Ross finally getting a big league opportunity with a Marlins team that acquired him for $1 from the Reds, hitting 11 homers in 91 games with Florida while showing the ability to play all three outfield positions.
The two outfielders spent three years together with the Marlins, but after the 2008 season, he was dealt to the Nationals, spending a couple years in Washington before going to Oakland in 2011. Ross, meanwhile, remained with the Marlins until 2010 before he was sent on a waiver claim to the Giants for the stretch run that yielded an unforgettable October. He remained in San Francisco for 2011, living near his former Marlins teammate.
But after the 2011 season, both Ross and Willingham found themselves on the same team — which is to say, none at all. The two were free agents, albeit ones in strikingly different boats.
Willingham had a strong walk year with the A’s, smashing 29 homers and driving in 98 while hitting .246/.332/.477/.810 in 136 games as a 32-year-old. Ross, as a 30-year-old, put up far more modest totals, hitting .240/.325/.405/.730 with 14 homers in 121 games for the Giants in 2011. Read the rest of this entry »
|Trade Deadline: Twins said to be unlikely to trade LF Josh Willingham||07.23.12 at 11:30 am ET|
Despite being 15 games under .500, the Twins appear unlikely to be willing to deal their most valuable trade chip.
The 33-year-old slugger is hitting .275, with a .389 on-base percentage, 23 home runs and 68 RBIs. Only six players in the AL have more home runs than Willingham, only seven have more walks, and only Miguel Cabrera and Josh Hamilton have more RBIs. Minnesota signed Willingham to a three-year, $21 million contract in the offseason.
According to Mackey and Wolfson’s sources, given Willingham’s outstanding production and team-friendly contract, it would take a lopsided offer to motivate the Twins to part ways with the slugger.
|Hot Stove: Twins reportedly offer Michael Cuddyer three years, $25 million||12.06.11 at 11:56 am ET|
The Twins have reportedly offered free agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer a three-year, $25 million contract to re-sign with Minnesota, according to a tweet from Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman.
A right-handed hitting outfielder, Cuddyer hit 20 home runs and 70 RBIs in 139 games last season for the Twins. Cuddyer has spent his entire 10-year career with Minnesota. The 32-year-old Cuddyer eclipsed 30 home runs just once in his career, in 2009, and has hit over 100 RBIs just once as well, in 2006. He made $10.5 million last season in the final year of a four-year, $33.5 million contract.
Heyman also reported that the Twins are talking to free agent Josh Willingham as another option if Cuddyer does not work out. Willingham has reportedly received interest from the Red Sox and the Rays, among other teams.
|Hot Stove: Rays reportedly interested in OF Josh Willingham||at 11:43 am ET|
The Rays are reportedly interested in making free agent outfielder Josh Willingham their designated hitter in 2012. Willingham had a career season last year, hitting 29 home runs and 98 RBIs for the Athletics, both seasonal highs.
Willingham spent the first five years of his career with the Marlins. He was traded to the Nationals following the 2008 season. At the end of 2010, Willingham was dealt to the Athletics. The 32-year-old has hit at least 20 home runs in every season in which he has played 133 games or more.
The Rays also will likely retain Andrew Friedman as their GM and executive vice president of baseball operations, as Friedman withdrew his name from the Astros general manager search.
|Hot Stove: Red Sox reportedly among nine teams to have called on Josh Willingham||12.05.11 at 12:01 pm ET|
According to a Monday morning tweet from ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Red Sox are one of nine teams to have contacted right-handed-hitting outfielder Josh Willingham. Crasnick also mentions the Twins, Indians and Reds among the group pursuing the 32-year-old free agent.
Willingham spent last season with the A’s, hitting .246 with a .332 on-base percentage and .477 slugging mark. He had 26 home runs and 98 RBIs.
Prior to that, he spent two seasons with the Nationals, after three full seasons with the Marlins. His career averages are .262./.361/.475.
|Darnell McDonald: ‘I’ll be ready [to pitch] for the playoffs’||08.27.11 at 12:53 am ET|
It was the most lighthearted moment from an otherwise dreary and dreadful night at Fenway for Red Sox fans and players alike.
Darnell McDonald coming in from right field to start and finish the ninth inning for the Red Sox, saving the bullpen an inning of work on a night where they were force to come in early and relieve an ineffective Tim Wakefield in a 15-5 loss to the A’s.
McDonald is not just any position player filling in for an inning. This was a player in high school in Colorado who impressed scouts with his ability to throw 95 off the mound as a pitcher. But that was also the last time he actually pitched in a game.
That is, before Terry Francona asked him coming off the field in the eighth inning if he could save the Red Sox pen an inning with the prospects of a split doubleheader just over 12 hours away.
‘I just came in [from right field after the eighth] and Tito just asked me if I could throw an inning and I said I was more than happy to do it.’
His first pitch – from the stretch – to Scott Sizemore sailed all the way back to the screen.
‘I haven’t pitched since high school. It’s been a few years and obviously, you can see the rust on me. Really, it was a lot tougher than it looks,” McDonald said. “Was trying to throw strikes. I was a little wild early on and couldn’t find my release point but a couple more bullpen sessions with [pitching coach] Curt [Young], I’ll be ready for the playoffs.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Trade Deadline: Red Sox, A’s reportedly discussed deal for Rich Harden and Josh Willingham||07.30.11 at 12:35 pm ET|
According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via twitter), the Red Sox and Athletics had conversations about a deal that would send both pitcher Rich Harden and outfielder Josh Willingham to Boston. It was not clear what prospects the A’s were seeking in such a deal, and Olney noted that it was “unclear whether [the deal] has a pulse now.”
Harden has made five starts this year, all in July, going 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA, 30 strikeouts and 10 walks in 29 1/3 innings. He has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, but when he is healthy, he has consistently produced excellent results, striking out more than a batter an inning. He worked for a number of years with current Sox pitching coach Curt Young while both were with Oakland.
Willingham is hitting .248 with a .334 OBP, .455 slugging mark and .790 OPS along with 15 homers while playing left field and DH-ing for the A’s. He has put up significant power numbers in 106 plate appearances against lefties this year, hitting .239/.340/.511/.850 with seven homers.
Both Harden and Willingham would be eligible for free agency after the season.
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