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Inside Dish: Teams not biting on Devil Rays' Upton

By Mike Berardino - SportingNews

 

The Devil Rays have been willing to talk about trading top hitting prospects OF Delmon Young and IF B.J. Upton all winter, but the player teams are more wary of might surprise you. It's not Young, who was suspended for 50 games last summer after throwing his bat at an umpire in a Class AAA game. Rather, it's Upton, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft but is a shaky fielder and has struggled to find a position. A rival scout says he soured on Upton when he refused to pick up baseballs at the end of a batting practice at Class AAA Durham last year and brushed off a Bulls coach in the process. "There are serious questions about that kid," the scout says. "I just don't know how much he wants to play." . . .

 

If the Giants really were trying to get out of their oral agreement with OF Barry Bonds, they easily could have had one of their doctors flunk him on a physical exam. This delay is all about leverage as the Giants seek to protect themselves if Bonds becomes unavailable for a large chunk of the season, either for physical or legal reasons. . . .

 

Pirates G.M. Dave Littlefield completed a quest of sorts when he acquired 1B Adam LaRoche from the Braves. Back in 1999, when Littlefield was an assistant G.M. with the Marlins, Florida drafted LaRoche out of a community college in the 42nd round but failed to sign him. The Braves grabbed him in the 29th round in 2000. Hitting isn't LaRoche's only strength; he also figures to improve the Pirates' defense. "Having him at first is like having another shortstop on the field," a rival scout says. "He's a really slick, comfortable, fundamentally sound defender. He's agile and mobile. That's a big upgrade for Pittsburgh.". . .

 

The Marlins, who already boast one of the most respected scouting departments in the game, recently got stronger with the addition of legendary scout Roger Jongewaard. Best known for his two decades with the Mariners, a period in which they drafted Ken Griffey and Alex Rodriguez, Jongewaard spent the past two years with the Devil Rays. He chose the Marlins over a handful of suitors, including the A's and Red Sox, in large part because of his strong relationship with Marlins G.M. Admin Beinfest and personnel director Dan Jennings, who worked under Jongewaard in Seattle. . . .

 

The Blue Jays offered Alex Rios to the Marlins, who desperately need a center fielder, but Toronto was unable to pry away LHP Scott Olsen (their preferred target) or any other member of the game's best young rotation. "They won't break those pitchers up," a rival scout says, "and with the cost of pitching right now, I can't blame them." Rios is seeking $3.1 million in arbitration, and the Jays are offering $2 million. If Rios wins, his salary could make him more likely to be dealt before opening day. No matter what happens with Rios, the Jays will talk about trading productive LF Reed Johnson. He is seeking $3.6 million in arbitration; the club is offering $2.5 million. . . .

 

An official from one team monitoring the Armando Benitez saga still believes the Giants will deal the embattled closer before opening day. "I really think in the end Benitez will not be there," the official says. The Giants have hinted they are willing to eat more than half the $7.6 million that remains on Benitez's contract, but they might have to swallow even more to get a decent prospect in return.

 

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1. Interesting to know that Upton has some attitude problems.

 

2. I never knew that we drafted LaRoche.

 

3. Our scouting department is awesome.

 

4. Good to see that we wouldn't give up Olsen or anyone else for Rios. While I really like Rios, I still would be very reluctant to give up Olsen for him.

 

5. I expect Armando to be dealt too, if he proves to be healthy.

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BJ Upton's price is going down everyday . Tick Tick TickTick Tick! The D-Rays want Olsen...Ill trade them Olsen for Delmon Young straight up! Upton should be had in exchange of Petit that is his real price right now or if they want they can have Messenger as well, we can be generous

Alex Rios is better for us than anyone the D-Rays have. if the FO won't give up Olsen for him, Olsen's not moving.

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The Blue Jays offered Alex Rios to the Marlins, who desperately need a center fielder, but Toronto was unable to pry away LHP Scott Olsen (their preferred target) or any other member of the game's best young rotation.

 

Wonder if that part's true...

 

With our depth of starting pitching between here & the minors, you'd think at least Nolasco might be available for that deal, but hard to say whether that would've done it for the Jays.

 

Interesting stuff on Upton too.

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BJ Upton's price is going down everyday . Tick Tick TickTick Tick! The D-Rays want Olsen...Ill trade them Olsen for Delmon Young straight up! Upton should be had in exchange of Petit that is his real price right now or if they want they can have Messenger as well, we can be generous

Alex Rios is better for us than anyone the D-Rays have. if the FO won't give up Olsen for him, Olsen's not moving.

 

Alex Rios of the 14 career games at CF and career .763 OPS? Including a .736 OPS in the minors? The one who is 26 years old and entering arbitration? He's better than Delmon Young (Minor league OPS: .880), or Rocco Baldelli (major league OPS of .780, + defensive center fielder), or BJ Upton (.847 OPS in the minors), or Elijah Dukes (.824 minor league OPS)? He's better for us than anyone of those guys? Even though all of those guys are younger, better, and cheaper?

 

Alex Rios had one extremely flukey year last year, hitting for a higher Slug than he has in all but one year in the last 9 years. He's going to cash in at someone's expense and underperform, and I'd rather not have it be him. The guy isn't a CFer, which is our biggest need, and his offense isn't enough to offset the potential loss caused by his defense. I believe if we are going to stick someone unproven in there, it should be a guy like Upton or Hanley whose offense can still make them a positive contributor even if they play atrocious defense.

 

Alex Rios is definetly not the answer for the Marlins in Center.

 

The difference I see between Olsen for Young and Olsen for Rios is the monetary obligation contractual wise the Marlins would take on in the Rios case (worth it in my opinion but i don't pay the bills)

 

There is no universe where a 26 year old outfielder who steals bags at a 70% clip and has a career OPS floating between .760 and .730 depending on which level of play he is at is worth a 22 year old left handed starting pitcher who strikes out a batter per inning and who gave up less than half a home run per 9 innings in the minors.

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BJ Upton's price is going down everyday . Tick Tick TickTick Tick! The D-Rays want Olsen...Ill trade them Olsen for Delmon Young straight up! Upton should be had in exchange of Petit that is his real price right now or if they want they can have Messenger as well, we can be generous

Alex Rios is better for us than anyone the D-Rays have. if the FO won't give up Olsen for him, Olsen's not moving.

 

Alex Rios of the 14 career games at CF and career .763 OPS? Including a .736 OPS in the minors? The one who is 26 years old and entering arbitration? He's better than Delmon Young (Minor league OPS: .880), or Rocco Baldelli (major league OPS of .780, + defensive center fielder), or BJ Upton (.847 OPS in the minors), or Elijah Dukes (.824 minor league OPS)? He's better for us than anyone of those guys? Even though all of those guys are younger, better, and cheaper?

 

Alex Rios had one extremely flukey year last year, hitting for a higher Slug than he has in all but one year in the last 9 years. He's going to cash in at someone's expense and underperform, and I'd rather not have it be him. The guy isn't a CFer, which is our biggest need, and his offense isn't enough to offset the potential loss caused by his defense. I believe if we are going to stick someone unproven in there, it should be a guy like Upton or Hanley whose offense can still make them a positive contributor even if they play atrocious defense.

 

Alex Rios is definetly not the answer for the Marlins in Center.

 

The difference I see between Olsen for Young and Olsen for Rios is the monetary obligation contractual wise the Marlins would take on in the Rios case (worth it in my opinion but i don't pay the bills)

 

There is no universe where a 26 year old outfielder who steals bags at a 70% clip and has a career OPS floating between .760 and .730 depending on which level of play he is at is worth a 22 year old left handed starting pitcher who strikes out a batter per inning and who gave up less than half a home run per 9 innings in the minors.

I would say you have made a valid point except that Rios did not play over his head last season in fact most Blue Jays fan were scratching their heads in reference to Rios waiting for him to have his breakout year. If my memory served me correctly he had some injuries in his first couple of season. I believe Rios will only get better. Can he handle CF in DS? I have no doubt he could. He has a great glove for sure

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The Blue Jays offered Alex Rios to the Marlins, who desperately need a center fielder, but Toronto was unable to pry away LHP Scott Olsen (their preferred target) or any other member of the game's best young rotation.

 

Wonder if that part's true...

 

With our depth of starting pitching between here & the minors, you'd think at least Nolasco might be available for that deal, but hard to say whether that would've done it for the Jays.

 

Interesting stuff on Upton too.

I'd consider our rotation being Johnson, Olsen, Sanchez and Willis, with the 5th spot and Nolasco's role undetermined. He's certainly the natural choice for the spot, but there's a couple of months left before the season, and it would appear Beinfest and crew are still exploring their options.

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Olsen has been attached at the hip to Beinfest through two years of fan appreciation/season ticketholder nights. He isn't going anywhere. Not for Delmon Young. Not for anyone. And every time Beinfest speaks publically Scott Olsen is the first of the baby Fish (read besides DW & Miggie) to be mentioned.

 

I've been saying all off-season I doubted any of the starting rotation would be moved because if they even get through season two performing no better than their individual record in 2006, their market value will be twice what it is today.

 

The only scenario where I see one of them moved is if a Benitez comes in, proves himself capable of closing 40+ games in 2007 and either Garcia or Pinto (or fillintheblank) proves so dominating in spring training that he forces himself onto the 25 man roster. The earliest I think you'll see even a chance of moving one of them will the July trading deadline.

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Olsen has been attached at the hip to Beinfest through two years of fan appreciation/season ticketholder nights. He isn't going anywhere. Not for Delmon Young. Not for anyone. And every time Beinfest speaks publically Scott Olsen is the first of the baby Fish (read besides DW & Miggie) to be mentioned.

 

I've been saying all off-season I doubted any of the starting rotation would be moved because if they even get through season two performing no better than their individual record in 2006, their market value will be twice what it is today.

 

The only scenario where I see one of them moved is if a Benitez comes in, proves himself capable of closing 40+ games in 2007 and either Garcia or Pinto (or fillintheblank) proves so dominating in spring training that he forces himself onto the 25 man roster. The earliest I think you'll see even a chance of moving one of them will the July trading deadline.

 

I agree with you about the olsen point. To add to it he is an elite young lefty Power pitcher, something every team in MLB wants and craves. He might be asked for by every single team out there, but that doesnt mean we will be moving him.

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Olsen has been attached at the hip to Beinfest through two years of fan appreciation/season ticketholder nights. He isn't going anywhere. Not for Delmon Young. Not for anyone. And every time Beinfest speaks publically Scott Olsen is the first of the baby Fish (read besides DW & Miggie) to be mentioned.

 

I've been saying all off-season I doubted any of the starting rotation would be moved because if they even get through season two performing no better than their individual record in 2006, their market value will be twice what it is today.

 

The only scenario where I see one of them moved is if a Benitez comes in, proves himself capable of closing 40+ games in 2007 and either Garcia or Pinto (or fillintheblank) proves so dominating in spring training that he forces himself onto the 25 man roster. The earliest I think you'll see even a chance of moving one of them will the July trading deadline.

 

If we're willing to move them for Armando Benitez, but not Alex Rios, there are serious serious issues.

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...The only scenario where I see one of them moved is if a Benitez comes in, proves himself capable of closing 40+ games in 2007 and either Garcia or Pinto (or fillintheblank) proves so dominating in spring training that he forces himself onto the 25 man roster. The earliest I think you'll see even a chance of moving one of them will the July trading deadline.

 

If we're willing to move them for Armando Benitez, but not Alex Rios, there are serious serious issues.

 

Re:, the "willing to move them" quote, perhaps I wasn't clear, I was speaking about a slim scenario playing out where Nolasco would be made available. Reading it again I could have been clearer but it was not my intention to suggest Olsen or Johnson or Sanchez would be put on the block. "One of them" was on my part a poor choice of words, I was really only thinking about Nolasco. But you never know. I don't think there is any question though that Olsen is the last one they'd think about trading.

 

And may I add, Iwasn't suggesting any of them were being traded FOR Benitez, rather a Benitez comes in (assuming Nolasco winds up as the closer otherwise) and because Pinto or Garcia or someone else is doing tremendously well as a starter in spring training, the Marlins can consider moving RN. It's not trading one "for" Benitez, it's trading RN because Benitez is the closer and a true fifth starter emerges. I don't think SF gets more than a prospect or at worst Garcia or Pinto (and I don't really want to trade either) for Benitez. But first he has to be healthy enough to closer 40+ games.

 

Also there's big difference between signing a Benitez for one season at minimal cost (although with a prospect going back), and Rios who will probably get his $3.1 million arb demand PLUS have to trade mutliple frontline prospects to get him. From my perspective it's comparing apples and oranges.

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I would say you have made a valid point except that Rios did not play over his head last season in fact most Blue Jays fan were scratching their heads in reference to Rios waiting for him to have his breakout year. If my memory served me correctly he had some injuries in his first couple of season. I believe Rios will only get better. Can he handle CF in DS? I have no doubt he could. He has a great glove for sure

 

It was the second time in his entire 8 year professional career that he had an OPS above .800. I don't know about you, but to me tha hs fluke written all over it, and I certainly don't think he's going to be worth an Olsen or even a Nolasco plus 3 million bills. He's not the long term solution for us.

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Olsen has been attached at the hip to Beinfest through two years of fan appreciation/season ticketholder nights. He isn't going anywhere. Not for Delmon Young. Not for anyone. And every time Beinfest speaks publically Scott Olsen is the first of the baby Fish (read besides DW & Miggie) to be mentioned.

 

I've been saying all off-season I doubted any of the starting rotation would be moved because if they even get through season two performing no better than their individual record in 2006, their market value will be twice what it is today.

 

The only scenario where I see one of them moved is if a Benitez comes in, proves himself capable of closing 40+ games in 2007 and either Garcia or Pinto (or fillintheblank) proves so dominating in spring training that he forces himself onto the 25 man roster. The earliest I think you'll see even a chance of moving one of them will the July trading deadline.

 

I agree with you about the olsen point. To add to it he is an elite young lefty Power pitcher, something every team in MLB wants and craves. He might be asked for by every single team out there, but that doesnt mean we will be moving him.

I think last year his fastball was topping in the low 90s so I wouldn't call him a power pitcher.

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Olsen has been attached at the hip to Beinfest through two years of fan appreciation/season ticketholder nights. He isn't going anywhere. Not for Delmon Young. Not for anyone. And every time Beinfest speaks publically Scott Olsen is the first of the baby Fish (read besides DW & Miggie) to be mentioned.

 

I've been saying all off-season I doubted any of the starting rotation would be moved because if they even get through season two performing no better than their individual record in 2006, their market value will be twice what it is today.

 

The only scenario where I see one of them moved is if a Benitez comes in, proves himself capable of closing 40+ games in 2007 and either Garcia or Pinto (or fillintheblank) proves so dominating in spring training that he forces himself onto the 25 man roster. The earliest I think you'll see even a chance of moving one of them will the July trading deadline.

 

I agree with you about the olsen point. To add to it he is an elite young lefty Power pitcher, something every team in MLB wants and craves. He might be asked for by every single team out there, but that doesnt mean we will be moving him.

I think last year his fastball was topping in the low 90s so I wouldn't call him a power pitcher.

 

He strikes out more than a batter per inning. He's a power pitcher.

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Blue Jays have a useful young C in AAA named Curtis Thigpen. Isn't star material, but should be an OK regular or at worst, a good backup in a year. I'd take Olsen and Anibal off the table, say we'll give you Johnson and X in the farm system for Rios and Thigpen. What else do you want? If they don't respond with Volstad, Gaby, Thompson, West, Tucker, or anyone in the 06 draft class, I think we have a deal.

 

Alex Rios of the 14 career games at CF and career .763 OPS?

 

Alex Rios had one extremely flukey year last year, hitting for a higher Slug than he has in all but one year in the last 9 years. He's going to cash in at someone's expense and underperform, and I'd rather not have it be him. The guy isn't a CFer, which is our biggest need, and his offense isn't enough to offset the potential loss caused by his defense.

 

Alex Rios is definetly not the answer for the Marlins in Center.

Just to let you know, you are 100% wrong about him defensively. He's a natural CF and is only in RF because of Wells. They don't come much better defensively then Rios. He's the full package. If you want to make some offensive argument, sure. Go right ahead. But please cite his .923 OPS in AA, and how he was fast tracked to the majors after which it's understandable that his performance dropped for a season or two at the MLB level (see Hermida 2006). He probably hit a little to much last year, but I don't think it's very unrealistic to get, and this is at absolute minimum, .280/.340/.475 years out of Rios. He's absolutely the answer in CF if the Marlins are willing to spend any sort of money and trade quality to get quality.

 

I like Rocco, Upton, etc, all those guys too. But Rios is right up there in the discussion. Any of them could be the best in 3-4 years down the road.

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Just to let you know, you are 100% wrong about him defensively. He's a natural CF and is only in RF because of Wells. They don't come much better defensively then Rios. He's the full package. If you want to make some offensive argument, sure. Go right ahead. But please cite his .923 OPS in AA, and how he was fast tracked to the majors after which it's understandable that his performance dropped for a season or two at the MLB level (see Hermida 2006). He probably hit a little to much last year, but I don't think it's very unrealistic to get, and this is at absolute minimum, .280/.340/.475 years out of Rios. He's absolutely the answer in CF if the Marlins are willing to spend any sort of money and trade quality to get quality.

 

I like Rocco, Upton, etc, all those guys too. But Rios is right up there in the discussion. Any of them could be the best in 3-4 years down the road.

 

If I cite his .923 in AA I should also probably state that he never had an OPS above .752 in any year before that.

 

I just can't see a guy who has had an OPS over .800 twice in 11 different stops on the circuit can all of a sudden start averaging an OPS of .815. He's better than anything we have, but he's not the answer. He's a below average base runner, has a low walk rate, and aside from two seasons when he slugged .520, he's never hit for anything more than Kenny Lofton power. And Kenny Lofton power isn't good unless accompanied by his .370 OBP and his 90% stolen base percentage.

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The Blue Jays offered Alex Rios to the Marlins, who desperately need a center fielder, but Toronto was unable to pry away LHP Scott Olsen (their preferred target) or any other member of the game's best young rotation.

 

Wonder if that part's true...

 

With our depth of starting pitching between here & the minors, you'd think at least Nolasco might be available for that deal, but hard to say whether that would've done it for the Jays.

 

Interesting stuff on Upton too.

I'd consider our rotation being Johnson, Olsen, Sanchez and Willis, with the 5th spot and Nolasco's role undetermined. He's certainly the natural choice for the spot, but there's a couple of months left before the season, and it would appear Beinfest and crew are still exploring their options.

 

That is the way I look at it as well, and Beinfest is making the right move holding onto the big four this offseason.

 

As far as Rios goes, I do wonder about those who think he would be such a great fit in CF. With his frame, he is best suited for where he is right now ? a corner outfield position. Especially when he fills out more like I think he will. He could probably be a slightly below average to passable CF in 2007, or good by Marlins standards, but I would have concerns about his ability to play CF long term.

 

I find this Beradino blurb interesting:

 

"Rios is seeking $3.1 million in arbitration, and the Jays are offering $2 million. If Rios wins, his salary could make him more likely to be dealt before opening day. No matter what happens with Rios, the Jays will talk about trading productive LF Reed Johnson. He is seeking $3.6 million in arbitration; the club is offering $2.5 million"

 

That would argue for the Marlins to wait on any deal involving Rios and see how much the Jays want to dump Rios' contract. I doubt that they will get so desperate, but they might be willing to accept something not involving the big four.

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