What caused Alex Rodriguez to turn it around? (cont.)
Abreu loves his time in Southern California, where his ingrained patience and laid-back style have been widely appreciated and his reluctance to crash into outfield walls largely ignored. Abreu is recognized there for what he is: an underrated, low-key star. He is also one of only three players to have driven in 100 runs over the past seven seasons, along with Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod earns $30 million a year, and Pujols seeks that much. Meanwhile, Abreu's latest per-year salary offer is for little more than a quarter of that figure.
Abreu's greatest attribute is his patience. It's being tested again now.
Jaramillo makes sense to resurrect Cubs
If a contract can be worked out, hitting guru Rudy Jaramillo makes a lot of sense as the person to try to revive the Cubs' woeful offense. Jaramillo was said to be in talks with the Cubs only one day after turning down the Rangers' offer for him to return, and the Cubs badly need to solve an underachieving offense that frustrated two hitting coaches last year (first Gerald Perry, then Von Joshua).
The Cubs have spent a lot of money on their hitters (i.e. Alfonso Soriano's $136 million deal), so it's no wonder they have designs on the best-paid hitting coach. Jaramillo became the personal guru for a few hitters on other teams, including Andruw Jones before he joined Jaramillo in Texas and Jeff Francoeur. After turning down a contract believed to be worth at least $600,000 with Texas, the Cubs are thought to be weighing a $750,000 salary for Jaramillo, who would be entrusted to try to solve the hitting woes of Soriano and Geovany Soto. As a team, the Cubs were 10th in runs and OPS in the National League.
A couple other teams are believed to have been in contact with Jaramillo, as well. But he is thought to be leaning toward going to Chicago.
Next Acta could be as manager or coach
Manny Acta is in as good a position as is possible after guiding the woeful Nationals to a 28-61 record this year before being fired. He is under consideration for the managing openings in Houston (where he once worked) and Cleveland. And while he isn't necessarily viewed as a favorite for either of those jobs, he also has an offer to return to the Mets as a coach. There are two openings on the Mets' staff, probably for a third-base coach and bench coach assuming holdovers Razor Shines and Sandy Alomar Jr. fill different roles. But if he takes either coaching job, Acta may be viewed as much as a manager in waiting in New York.
Tony La Russa is expected to have his decision within a week or two as to whether he'll return to manage the Cardinals after leading them to the NL Central crown. La Russa made clear in interviews in St. Louis on Wednesday that if he decides to manage next year, it will be with the Cardinals. And while La Russa didn't rule out other baseball alternatives, there seems to be positive momentum toward a return building. Owner Bill DeWitt told SI.com in a phone interview before the season ended that he was "hopeful" La Russa would return to manager, and DeWitt upgraded that slightly on Bernie Miklasz's St. Louis radio show, saying he was "confident" that La Russa would return. Meanwhile, La Russa's trusted pitching coach and right-handed man Dave Duncan told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he'd come back if La Russa did.
In addition to their more high-profile attempts to sign Pujols and free agent Matt Holliday to long-term contracts, the Cardinals are expected to try to keep free agents Mark DeRosa and John Smoltz. They may let free-agent pitcher Joel Pineiro go, and are planning to go on without three more free agents -- Troy Glaus, Khalil Greene and Rick Ankiel.
There's been talk that the Rockies might trade outfielder Brad Hawpe. But Rockies people see him as the "glue" in the clubhouse, so they'd probably have to be overwhelmed to consider that.
The Rockies will not make an offer to free agent pitcher Jason Marquis, who did a terrific job in the regular season. Colorado has Jeff Francis returning to take Marquis' spot, anyway. But Marquis did not react well to his relief role in the postseason. Marquis, a Staten Island product, has told folks he'd like to go home to play for the Mets, which would make it five NL teams for him. He is a durable pitcher, so he makes more sense for them than, say, a Rich Harden. Marquis has been a good-luck charm, as his team has made the postseason every year he's played (not even Derek Jeter can say that).
Jose Reyes underwent surgery on his hamstring tendon Thursday. The Mets announced that they expect him ready to be back on a field after the new year and ready to play come spring training. They didn't say whether that prediction came from one of their own doctors or the Dodgers' doctor ...
The San Diego Union-Tribune suggested the Padres GM job may be between Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer and Yankees front-office person Billy Eppler, a San Diego product. Eppler gets high praise from Cashman, but Padres owner Jeff Moorad said a couple weeks ago that he is well under way in the process, and Yankees people say they have yet to hear from the Padres about permission to interview Eppler.
Congrats to Rangers executive A.J. Preller, a workaholic who helped make the Rangers a major presence in Latin America and was just promoted to become their senior director of player personnel. Preller first made his presence felt (to me anyway) when he introduced himself as a Cornell student at the 1999 baseball Winter Meetings.
If the Dodgers win the World Series, when Bud Selig looks to hand out the trophy, it could make for an interesting tug-of-war between the McCourts.
MLB Truth & Rumors