“With Nick, its just growing pains,” Zduriencik said. “He looked great right off the bat. He wound up hitting 12 home runs. But there are growing pains. You’ve got to remember, this guy was primarily a shortstop. Now, he’s learning to play second base in the big leagues. I think all those things are factors. You’re talking about August and September, when we’re playing a lot of clubs that were in pennant races. We’re playing Tampa [Bay], Oakland, Detroit. These clubs were right in the midst of it. This guy was thrown right in a pennant race, and he’s a kid. I was happy with him. There are things he needs to work on, but I think you’ve got to be pleased with what you saw. I think he showed you one thing. He’s talented.”
There are some in the organization who felt Franklin fell in love with his early home runs and tried to be more of a power hitter than the line-drive gap-to-gap threat that suits him best. As a 6-foot-1, 180-pound switch-hitter, he has surprising pop.
But 113 strikeouts in 102 games was a red flag that Franklin was either overswinging or overmatched, or both, as Major League pitchers found ways to attack him after his initial success.
“In the beginning, I felt like I was just being myself,” Franklin said at season’s end. “And I think as the year progressed, I started to struggle a little bit. I knew I’d go through it, but it was just a learning experience. It’s something you’re going to have to go through. Everybody does. Sometimes it takes longer than others and sometimes it’s short, but more importantly, it’s just about getting out there every day and still playing hard.” —Greg Johns at MLB
Let’s get a few more cliches in there, Nuke.
The New York Yankees are interested in bringing back Raul Ibanez to serve as their designated hitter against right-handed pitchers, the New York Post writers George King and Ken Davidoff reported Monday. From the report: “The Post has also learned the Yankees have an interest in bringing back the popular and productive Raul Ibanez to be the DH against right-handed pitching. Some voices within the organization believe it was a mistake to let Ibanez leave following the 2012 season, when Ibanez grew impatient waiting and signed for a second stint with the Mariners.”
In his brief first stint with the Yankees, Ibanez hit 19 homers and had 62 RBIs while gaining a reputation for coming through in significant times — particularly in the playoffs, when he became the only player in MLB history to hit three home runs in the ninth inning or later in a single postseason. All of those homers either tied or won the game. —Brett Logiurato at Sports Illustrated
AL West Commentary
Alden Gonzalez, the Angels MLB.com beat writer, wrote a piece titled “Angels sizing up potential Hot Stove partners.” This is his view on the Mariners: “Mariners: The Angels and Mariners hooked up last December in the one-for-one trade that sent Kendrys Morales to Seattle and brought Vargas back to Southern California. This offseason, the Mariners seek outfield help. It’d be hard for them to part ways with top pitching prospects Taijuan Walker or Danny Hultzen, but the young Erasmo Ramirez and Blake Beavan, among others, could be had.”
No mention of Paxton, but Beavan is mentioned? Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, get your ass out there and find us a stick!
So they said
“A thought on closer market: What does it tell us that for 3 years in a row the team that won World Series ended with a different closer than it started with?” —Jason Stark at ESPN
“Two guys I believe in for next season — Derek Jeter returning strong from his ankle injury and Roy Halladay pitching effectively for some team. Two of the most committed competitors you’ll ever see.” —Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
“Carlos Ruiz, Marlon Byrd, Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon are owed a combined $54.6 mil in 2015. Philly’s next GM hates Ruben Amaro.” —Joe Giglio at Joe Giglio Sports
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Corey Seidman at CSN Philly has written a series of off-season choice comparisons by position and their value to the Phillies. Of course they are of similar value to teams with similar needs. The following is from his comparisons of backup catchers Dioner Navarro and Ryan Hanigan. They have been edited for brevity.
Dioner Navarro: Age: 30 in February, 2012-13 stats: .298 BA, .352 OBP, .482 slugging; averaged eight homers, 23 RBIs in 170 plate appearances, Most recent contract: One year, $1.75 million. Navarro hit .300/.365/.492 with 13 home runs and 34 RBIs in 266 plate appearances for the Chicago Cubs in 2013, batting .361 from the right side and .279 as a lefty. It was his first solid campaign since 2008, when he was the Rays’ starting catcher. In ’08, Navarro hit .295 in 120 games. Then from 2009-12 he hit just .215 with a .270 on-base percentage for the Rays, Dodgers and Reds. He went from being a starter on a World Series team to a spare part released by one team and given minor-league and one-year deals by others.
Navarro isn’t in the same stratosphere as Brian McCann, nor is he in that second tier with Ruiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski. The Venezuelan is by himself in Tier 3. The reason he’d make some sense is financial. Navarro is not in line for a three-year deal like Saltalamacchia, and he’s not going to come close the $8-10 million annual salary Ruiz and Pierzynski are looking for. A contract like two years, $6-8 million seems logical for Navarro, who made $1.75 million with the Cubs a year ago. Navarro is a player to consider.
Ryan Hanigan: Age: 33, 2012-13 stats: .243 BA, .341 OBP, .306 slugging; averaged two homers, 22 RBIs in 316 plate appearances. Remaining contract: One year, $2.05 million. The Reds plan to trade Hanigan following the signing of Brayan Pena, who will back up Devin Mesoraco in Cincinnati. Hanigan has been an underrated catcher for some time. He has elite defensive skills and a very disciplined eye at the plate. He led the National League in both 2012 and 2013 in caught stealing percentage, at 48 percent and 45 percent, respectively. Offensively, he has 30 more career walks than strikeouts, to go with a .359 on-base percentage. But still, he’s a 33-year-old part-time catcher with no power, so he won’t cost a lot on the trade market. The Reds think they’ll land a decent prospect for him, but don’t be surprised if that prospect is a minor-league reliever. Like Navarro, Hanigan would be an inexpensive short-term solution at catcher. His ability to control the running game is valuable in itself, and his patience in the eight-hole makes him a legitimate candidate to start, even if he’s never received the lion’s share of duty behind the plate.
Rajai Davis, OF, free agent —stole 45 bases last season and played for John Farrell in Toronto. Could he be a Red Sox target if they are in the market for speed? Davis has a few shortcomings — career OBP of .316 and career OPS of .693 — but he can run. —Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
Draft and Prospects
Erasmo Ramirez made his first start of the VWL for Lara on Saturday, pitching five no-hit innings, striking out six and walking one. Ryan Divish at the Seattle Times
Owner:“Serious reservations” among clubs about posting process. Possible no agreement is reached, which means no Tanaka this off-season. From Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports
Nippon Professional Baseball will reopen talks with Major League Baseball over a new bidding system for Japan by no later than Tuesday after MLB pulled its proposal last week. Representatives from the 12 teams in Japan met on Monday, when they were told by NPB negotiators that they will strive to maintain a system somewhat resembling the existing one.
“We will negotiate to try to keep what we have,” NPB’s general secretary Atsushi Ihara said. “We have to go over a timetable with them.”
On Thursday, MLB said it withdrew the proposal that was on the table, arguing the Japanese took too long to act on striking a new agreement. MLB’s new proposal had set the winning fee at a figure in between the two highest bids, and if a club failed to sign the player, it would be subject to a fine. The Japanese players association relented over the proposal after initially balking at the idea, saying it offered little for NPB, its club or the players. By Jason Coskrey at the Japan Times
Masahiro Tanaka might not be available this winter after all. MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred said Thursday that because Japanese baseball officials are taking too long to respond to MLB’s proposal on overseas player transfers, the deal is no longer on the table. Manfred said MLB would amend its proposal on how it acquires players from Japan. This could further delay the process of Tanaka being auctioned to major-league teams, and it’s not out of the question that the 25-year-old right-hander might not be auctioned at all this winter. “We told them that if this sat too long, there could be shifting winds out there and, suffice to say, there are shifting winds,” Manfred said. Earlier in the day, the Japanese players’ union agreed to the terms of the new proposal. The union had previously opposed the deal because players couldn’t negotiate with multiple MLB teams.
“We made a proposal to the Japanese,” Manfred said. “When we made that proposal, we told them it was important that they give us a timely response. Unfortunately, they’ve not been able to do that. In today’s [owners] meeting, there was discussion that will require us to go back to the Japanese and have some further conversation about the proposal that sat out there for a long time. We’ll have to go back and talk to them about where we are right now.”
Dylan Hernandez at the LA Times
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.com reports that the Yankees and shortstop Brendan Ryan have agreed to terms. Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported that the sides were close last week. Ryan is one of baseball’s worst hitters, but he’s perhaps the best defensive shortstop this side of Andrelton Simmons. His signing by the Yankees is an indication that, nope, the Yankees don’t plan on going out and getting a new everyday shortstop. Rather, they’ll hope Derek Jeter can handle the job for one more season, with Ryan around to spell him and replace him late in close games. Craig CalcaterraatHardball Talk Good for Brendan. Between him and Jeter the Yankees have almost a whole shortstop.
Yuniesky Betancourt has drawn interest from 5 MLB teams as a 2B and 3B, according to agent Alex Esteban of Miami Sports Management. From Ben Nicholson-Smith at sportsnet.ca
The San Francisco Giants have re-signed catcher Guillermo Quiroz who sent time with the Mariners in 2006-7 and 2010. From Matt Eddy at Baseball America