Tag: Eric Chavez

Eric Chavez Joins Angels Front Office as Special Assistant to GM Billy Eppler

The new Los Angeles Angels front office is working with a former adversary, as the American League West team has hired Eric Chavez

According to Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area, Chavez will work as a special assistant to new Angels general manager Billy Eppler. 

Stiglich noted there is a built-in connection between Eppler and Chavez. The pair were together with the New York Yankees in 2011-12 when Chavez was still playing and Eppler was the team’s scouting director in 2011 before being promoted to assistant general manager under Brian Cashman in 2012. 

Chavez also worked as a special assistant for the Yankees last season. At the time, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, he was a special assignment scout, and “some teams viewed him as a potential hitting coach” if he wants to do that. 

Per Stiglich, Chavez was also able to do commentary on 20 games for the Oakland Athletics last year, even though he worked for the Yankees, but “it’s unknown if his new role would still allow him to continue any broadcasting.”

He knows the American League West as well as anyone, having played 13 years in Oakland from 1998-2010. He was one of the best third basemen in baseball at his peak, winning six consecutive Gold Glove awards from 2001-06 and hitting at least 25 homers in six straight seasons from 2000-05. 

The Angels fell short of expectations in 2015, missing the playoffs by one game, and need to take bold chances if they hope to compete for a championship.

Chavez may not have a significant role under Eppler, but his voice clearly means something to the new general manager, and that is valuable in a pressure-filled job. 

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Best Available First-Base Options After James Loney Deal with Rays

And then there was one.

With news Friday that James Loney has re-upped with the Tampa Bay Rays for $21 million over three years, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, there aren’t many first basemen of note left on the free-agent market.

In fact, it’s pretty much just Kendrys Morales, the former Seattle Mariners slugger, who hit .277 with 23 homers and 80 RBI last year.

Recently, other free agents like Mike Napoli (Boston Red Sox), Justin Morneau (Colorado Rockies), Corey Hart (Seattle Mariners), Garrett Jones (Miami Marlins) all inked new deals, leaving the pickings rather slim.

And yet, there are still teams searching for and in need of help at first base, including the Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland Athletics, New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros.

That’s why aside from Morales and the few other bottom-of-the-barrel free agents, there’s also a trade market developing at the position. Here, then, are some names to follow among readily available first basemen.

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Offseason Moves the Angels Can Make to Compensate for Albert Pujols’ Decline

If the owner of your favorite baseball team has a “win at all cost” attitude, that’s usually a good thing, right? Yes! Being aggressive and spending money has paid off for many eventual World Series champions. But it’s also resulted in some very dire situations, notably in the case of Arte Moreno and the Los Angeles Angels

Saddled with two of the worst contracts in baseball—Albert Pujols, whose numbers have declined in three consecutive seasons, is still owed $212 million through his age-41 season in 2021; Josh Hamilton, also in the midst of his worst big league season, is due $106 million through his age-36 season—the Angels are headed for an extremely important offseason that is likely to be challenging in terms of a limited payroll and limited trade pieces in the minors. 

General manager Jerry Dipoto, assuming he still has a job after a very disappointing season, will have to be creative if he wants to improve this ballclub.

It’s hard to do any worse than he did last offseason, when he took on the risk of signing Hamilton, signed Joe Blanton to a two-year, $16.5 million deal—Blanton was recently banished to the bullpen after pitching poorly out of the rotation—and acquired Tommy Hanson from the Braves for reliever Jordan Walden—Hanson was recently optioned to the minors while Walden has been a key component on a very good Braves team. 

In addition, Dipoto‘s two big bullpen acquisitions haven’t worked out due to injuries—Ryan Madson never made it back from Tommy John surgery before being released; Sean Burnett has pitched just 9.2 innings and is out for the season with an elbow injury. And to cap it off, Ervin Santana, who was traded to Kansas City for a 27-year-old minor league relief pitcher, has been Cy Young-caliber in 2013. 

Pointing out the few minor roster moves that have worked out won’t make things look much better. In order to make the Angels a playoff contender once again in 2014, they’ll need to utilize the few resources they have and get as much value out of them as possible. 

Despite the overall struggles of the pitching staff, three-fifths of the starting five—Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards—are pretty solid. Fixing the back of the rotation on a limited budget isn’t impossible.  

Making up for Pujols’ decline and the production he’s given them versus what they’re paying him is the bigger challenge. Here’s my suggestion on how they can make up the difference on a shoestring budget and with no farm system talent to deal.

Trade Howie Kendrick to Free Up Salary and Clear Spot For Grant Green

Could it be that Dipoto fleeced the division rival A’s by trading a light-hitting third baseman for a guy with the potential to be a very good one? Grant Green (pictured), who was drafted as a shortstop and has played all over the diamond before settling into second base this season, has been on fire (14-for-51, 2 2B, 5 BB) since being acquired for Alberto Callaspo at the trade deadline. 

Callaspo is doing a fine job in a part-time role with Oakland (.785 OPS in 17 games), but he was miscast as an everyday third baseman in Anaheim, and the Angels needed to shed his $4.875 million salary for 2014.

Not only will they save close to $19 million over the next two seasons by trading away Kendrick, but they could also add a starting pitcher or a couple of prospects in the deal—it’s tough to find a match for a team in need of a second baseman and that is willing to give up a quality third baseman in return. 

Trading Kendrick to the Dodgers, who were reportedly in talks with the Angels last month regarding the second baseman, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, could be revisited. While top pitching prospect Zach Lee was part of the trade package being discussed, there’s a chance that the insistence of his inclusion might be the reason why the deal didn’t happen. 

If the Angels took back Stephen Fife (2.47 ERA in nine MLB starts) instead to fill the fifth spot in their rotation and asked for the team’s top outfield prospect, Joc Pederson, who likely won’t make it to the majors on a Dodgers team deep in outfield talent, we could have a deal.  

Trade Peter Bourjos for Chase Headley

With Pederson on board, the Angels would be free to shop Peter Bourjos with Mike Trout moving over to center field. While he’s been injured for much of the season, the 26-year-old Bourjos has been productive when on the field. 

In 45 games, Bourjos has a .780 OPS with three homers and four stolen bases. If he can stay healthy, a team could get a terrific defensive center fielder with an ability to hit 10-15 homers and steal 25-30 bases. With third base the target, the Angels need to find out if the Padres are interested in three seasons of Bourjos—he won’t be a free agent until after the 2016 season—in exchange for one season of Chase Headley (pictured).

While the Padres already have an injury-prone Cameron Maybin signed long-term to play center field in San Diego, adding another speedy outfielder like Bourjos could still be a possibility.

Here’s why. The Padres have likely figured out that oft-injured Carlos Quentin isn’t capable of holding up for an entire season in the National League. Moving him to an American League team that will be able to place him in the designated hitter role for a majority of the time makes a lot of sense. They’ll need an outfielder to replace him, and that’s where Bourjos fits in. 

With an alignment of Maybin, Bourjos and Will Venable, the Padres’ outfield defense could be one of the best in baseball. Losing Headley and Quentin will leave a huge hole in the offense, but neither player factors into the future plans of the team. How they replace the loss of offense in 2014 is another story. 

As for the Angels, they might have to include a mid-level prospect to get the deal done, but the 29-year-old Headley‘s value has plummeted with his subpar season. It might not take much to get him. His projected $9-10 million salary for 2014 is likely affordable with Kendrick and Callaspo off the books.

Sign Eric Chavez in Case Pujols Misses Time

A native San Diegan, Eric Chavez (pictured) could get closer to home by signing with the Angels this winter after two consecutive productive seasons (.855 OPS, 25 HR in 2012-13) as a part-time player for the Yankees and Diamondbacks.

Because the 35-year-old still can’t shake the injury-prone tag—he’s been on the disabled list multiple times over the past few seasons—coming back to the American League is likely so he can log at-bats from the designated hitter spot. It’s also the reason his salary demands will stay low enough for the Angels to afford him and the reason he won’t be offered a full-time starting gig elsewhere. 

Resulting Lineup Projection

1. Mike Trout, CF
2. Chase Headley, 3B
3. Albert Pujols, DH
4. Josh Hamilton, RF
5. Mark Trumbo, 1B
6. Joc Pederson, LF
7. Grant Green, 2B
8. Erick Aybar, SS
9. Chris Iannetta, C

Hank Conger, C
Eric Chavez, 3B/1B
Andrew Romine, IF
J.B. Shuck, OF

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New York Yankees: 3 Yankees Who Must Be Replaced After Disappointing Postseason

After an embarrassing end to the 2012 postseason, the New York Yankees will be looking to upgrade their roster and make another run at a twenty-eighth World Series title.

Age was a huge factor in the Yankees laying an egg in this year’s ALCS. This team will have to get younger to stay competitive in a league full of rising young stars.

The quieting of the Yankee bats come playoff time is beginning to feel like a perennial postseason phenomenon in New York.

This Yankee clubhouse is in need of a change in atmosphere and philosophy, something that can be fixed by replacing the players with reoccurring postseason slumps.

Here are three Yankees who need to be replaced after disappointing postseason performances.

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Is Yankees’ Best Shot at a Playoff Run Platooning Alex Rodriguez, Eric Chavez?

Alex Rodriguez is being paid $29 million this season by the New York Yankees. For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume he still has approximately $10 million of salary to be paid through the rest of the regular season. 

For that reason alone, the idea of platooning Rodriguez with Eric Chavez at third base once A-Rod returns from a broken hand seems absurd. But just look at some numbers and consider the possibility for a moment.

In 197 plate appearances against right-handed pitching, as of Aug. 14, Chavez has a triple-slash average of .315/.376/.590 with 13 home runs and 27 RBI. Meanwhile, Rodriguez is batting .275/.346/.425 with eight homers and 27 RBI in 269 plate appearances. 

With Chavez’s .990 OPS against right-handers versus Rodriguez’s .771 mark, don’t the Yankees have to at least consider the possibility when Rodriguez is activated from the disabled list sometime in September? 

Regardless of platoon matchup, Chavez is having an outstanding August. Yes, eight games and 29 plate appearances is a small sample size, but Chavez is batting .464/.483/.964 for the month. He’s been more than a capable replacement for Rodriguez at third base. 

Still, we’re talking about platooning the highest-paid player in baseball here. No, it shouldn’t be just about the money. Although with the Yankees, isn’t it typically about the money? But it’s not like Rodriguez was stinking up the pinstripes before a Felix Hernandez changeup broke his hand on July 24 in Seattle

Prior to suffering the injury, Rodriguez was also swinging the bat as well as he had all season. For July, he batted .315/.367/493 with five doubles, two homers and nine RBI in 79 plate appearances. Rodriguez also hit his first triple of the year during the month. 

No, Rodriguez is highly unlikely to just resume that sort of production when he returns to the lineup. His timing and swing mechanics will surely be off. If it took three months for everything to start clicking for him, how can he be expected to do so in a couple of weeks during September?

That could be one argument for platooning Rodriguez when he’s ready to play again. He’s going to be rusty, so why not keep a player in the lineup who’s sharp and hitting well? Of course, that’s presuming that Chavez will continue his current production into August and through September.

But Rodriguez needs all the plate appearances he can get once he returns to the Yankees’ lineup. Playing just against left-handed pitching isn’t going to get him nearly the repetitions he’ll need to get back into baseball shape, both at the plate and in the field. 

Fortunately, the Yankees play in the American League, so this dilemma is easily solved.

Chavez and Rodriguez can be rotated between third base and designated hitter through the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs. Either player would probably be a better choice at DH, though Raul Ibanez has an .819 OPS, 15 homers and 48 RBI against right-handed pitching this year. 

Given that Chavez is appearing in the most games he’s played in five seasons, Yankees manager Joe Girardi might feel it necessary to give him some rest down the stretch to keep him as fresh as possible for the playoffs. That would allow Girardi to give Ibanez and Andruw Jones at-bats while also providing days off in the field for players like Nick Swisher or Mark Teixeira.

This question could be revisited later on, however.

If the Yankees make it to the World Series and Chavez is still swinging a strong bat, while Rodriguez is trying to work back into form, Girardi might have a decision on his hands. Who would Girardi play at third base in the National League city with no DH available in the lineup? 

Oooh, you can almost see the New York media rubbing its collective hands together and turning on laptops at the mere thought of writing about a possible third-base dilemma during the World Series. Can’t you also imagine FOX cameras trained on a cheerleading A-Rod in the dugout, with eyebrows furrowed in appropriate intensity during a pivotal at-bat? 

Rodriguez tends to attract controversy anyway, so this would be nothing new for him or the rest of the Yankees’ clubhouse, really. 

We probably shouldn’t be trying to stoke controversy before it’s even developed, either. Oh, who am I kidding—this is what we do! The $275-million man benched because a $900,000 reserve is outplaying him? That would be delicious. 

But until it happens (if it happens), we should probably snack on other stuff. There will surely be plenty of fretting over Phil Hughes to do in the meantime. 


Follow @iancass on Twitter

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Eric Chavez Deserves Our Cheers and Ovation, Even as a New York Yankee

The A’s first round pick of the 1996 draft, Eric Chavez made his professional debut with the Oakland Athletics on September 8, 1998 in a pinch-hit role against the Baltimore Orioles. Over the course of the next 13 seasons “Chavvy” would become the second longest continuous tenured player to wear an Oakland Athletic uniform.

Chavez reached free agency for the first time this offseason when his club option was not picked up by Oakland. After four consecutive seasons in which Chavez spent the majority of the season on the disabled list, there was no doubt that the A’s would not exercise his high priced option.

Earlier this week Chavez agreed to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training with the New York Yankees. If he is able to make the team he will spend his time as a backup to Alex Rodriguez at third base as well as backing up first baseman Mark Teixeira and occasionally seeing some at-bats as the designated hitter to spell Jorge Posada.

Oakland A’s fans will have their first opportunity to see Chavez in a Yankee uniform up close May 30 to June 1 when the Yankees visit the Oakland Coliseum for their only trip to the Bay Area in 2011. As a lifelong A’s fan, I know all too well the temptation that exists to boo anyone wearing the Yankee uniform while playing against the A’s. Eric Chavez, however, is not deserving of any negative response from A’s fans.

Over his 13-year tenure with Oakland, Chavez gave A’s fans everything he was capable of producing. He batted .267 for his A’s career with 1276 hits and 230 home runs while setting the standard for defensive third basemen throughout the American League.

Chavez won six consecutive Gold Glove Awards between 2001 to 2006. Chavez also won a Silver Slugger award as an Oakland Athletic in 2002 when he posted a slash line of .275/.348/.513 with 34 home runs and 109 RBI. Chavez finished 14th in MVP voting as a result of this campaign.

Chavez was a key member of the A’s playoff runs in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006.

Before injuries derailed his career he was a consistent presence in the A’s lineup hitting in the .270 to .280 range while remaining steady with 29 home runs in 2003 and 2004, and 27 home runs in 2005.

The stretch from 2006 to 2010 proved frustrating for Chavez as well as A’s fans as he was unable to stay on the field due to several trips to the disabled list. Chavez was finally replaced as the A’s No. 1 option at third base last season with the trade for Kevin Kouzmanoff from San Diego. Chavez did his best to stay on the field and help the A’s win, and in the end it proved costly for his offensive statistics.

While he never lived up to the contract he was awarded by the Oakland A’s following the 2004 season, it certainly was never for lack of effort. Eric Chavez gave his best and everything he could offer to the only professional organization he had ever known.

Yankee stadium is very friendly to left-handed hitters and should provide Chavez with an opportunity to resurrect his once promising career if he is able to remain healthy.

The New York Yankees will likely be only a one-year stop for Chavez if he is able to prove his health over the course of a complete season. The Yankees have Alex Rodriguez entrenched at third base, and Mark Texeira at first base. Chavez will be granted his free agency again next offseason and hopefully compete for a starting position with another team, one in which it will be easier for A’s fans to show him support.

For the three-game visit the Yankees make to Oakland this year, A’s fans owe Chavez their appreciation. A long standing ovation is owed to Chavez in his first at bat back in the Coliseum, and anything less is completely unacceptable. There are plenty of other Yankees that we can boo.


Eric Chavez’s Oakland A’s career statistics:

1320 4783 730 1276 282 20 230 787 565 922 .267 .343 .478 .821

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New York Yankees Depth: Can Justin Maxwell, Ronnie Belliard or Eric Chavez Help?

Earlier in the week, the Yankees acquired outfielder Justin Maxwell from the Washington Nationals in exchange for minor league righty Adam Olbrychowski.  Just yesterday, the team signed veterans Ronnie Belliard and Eric Chavez to minor league deals with invitations to spring training. 

Now that GM Brian Cashman is likely done bringing in possible bench options, I’ll predict how helpful each of the aforementioned players can be to the Yankees in 2011.

Maxwell is a very, very big boy.  He’s listed at 6’5” and 235 pounds, but he may very well be a little bigger.  He’s always been considered a superior athlete, and that athleticism could translate well into a reserve outfield spot on the Yankees.

Once a top prospect in the Nationals organization, Maxwell broke into the bigs in 2007 in grand fashion.  In his third pinch-hit appearance, just six days after being called up to the club for his debut, he smacked a grand slam off of an 0-2 pitch against the Florida Marlins.

The promising talent missed just about all of the 2008 season with a fractured wrist that he suffered while diving for a fly ball.

Most of Maxwell’s 2009 season was spent at AAA Syracuse, but he was called up late in the season to cover for the injured Nyjer Morgan.  The highlight of his 2009 season was a walk-off grand slam that he hit off of Francisco Rodriguez to give the Nationals the win on Fan Appreciation Day.

He again spent a significant amount of time in AAA Syracuse in 2010, but returned to the majors later in the season to hit yet another grand slam, this time off of the Braves’ Mike Minor.  That gave him three career grand slams in four at-bats with the bases loaded.

Maxwell is currently recovering from an October Tommy John surgery, but he’ll be given every opportunity to make the club out of spring training.  Who knows?  He might regain his top prospect form in the Bronx.

Infielder Ronnie Belliard has been a journeyman of sorts throughout his major league career.  He has had stints with the Brewers, Rockies, Indians, Cardinals, Nationals and Dodgers. 

He has been very inconsistent throughout his career, and has always battled constant issues with his weight.  The one-year, $850,000 deal he signed with the Dodgers last January had a clause in it that Belliard could be given his official release if he failed to report to camp under 215 pounds.

Hopefully weight won’t be an issue this season with the Yankees.  Even if he comes into camp at 230 pounds, the Yankees won’t care as long as he produces.  Realistically, he’ll be battling with Eric Chavez for a bench spot this season.

Speaking of Chavez, he’s finally healthy.  Or, so he says.  It’s hard not to feel sympathy for this guy.  A lifetime Oakland Athletic up until yesterday, Chavez has battled his fair share of injuries throughout his career.

His most recent string of injuries began in 2008, when he hit the disabled list due to pack pain.  That same season, he found himself on the disabled list again with right shoulder inflammation.  In Jun. 2009 he was placed on the disabled list due to back pain, effectively ending his season.  Chavez played in just 33 games in 2010.

When healthy, Chavez was one of the best third basemen in the league.  He won six consecutive Gold Glove awards from 2001-2006 and he won a Silver Slugger award in 2002.

Chavez will be competing with Belliard, as well as Ramiro Pena and Eduardo Nunez, for a reserve role this year for the Yankees.  Although both Pena and Nunez are superior fielders (at this point in his career, it’s hard to know the kind of defense you’ll get from Chavez), Belliard and Chavez are superior bats.

It should be interesting this spring to see who gets the call.  Chavez is only useful as a corner infielder, while Belliard can play all over the infield.  Pena and Nunez are best suited for up the middle, but they both can play third base as well.

The acquisitions of Maxwell, Belliard and Chavez could very well help the team this season, but we’ll have to wait and see as to what capacity they actually will.

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Albert Pujols: Would Phat Albert Ever Really Leave St. Louis?

Albert Pujols contract is up at the end of the year.  Oh, did you already know that?

Everyone in the baseball universe already knows that, of course, and we’ve got 19 days and counting left before his self-imposed deadline to reach an agreement with the Cardinals on an extension.  The two sides aren’t releasing much info on the progress of talks (to each side’s credit), but indications are that they’re still not especially close on their numbers.

If Pujols becomes a free agent in nine months, where could he go?  He’s been a model citizen in St. Louis, and is more the face of their franchise than any other player in any city.  He’s never played anywhere else, and he’s certainly seen how the LeBron drama played out last summer, with all the bad press he got for leaving Cleveland.  I can’t help but think that even if this reaches that point, he’d come back into the fold with the Cardinals.

Unlike LeBron in Cleveland, Pujols knows that the Cardinals are capable of putting together a team that can win it all, especially since they already did back in 2006.  With Matt Holliday locked up for another six years, he’s also got great lineup protection already in place for the long haul.  Fans of other teams can dream about him jumping ship to a rival (like the Chicago Cubs), but once they get the final questions ironed out, expect to see Pujols mashing in middle America for a long time to come.

MLB Spring Training: Joe Nathan, Chipper Jones Look to Return From Injuries

MLB Spring Training is now just a few weeks away, and two of the biggest names looking to rebound from lost seasons in 2010 are Joe Nathan and Chipper Jones.

Nathan missed the entire season after blowing out his arm early last Spring Training and having Tommy John surgery.  But prior to that, he had been one of the best and most consistent closers in baseball.  He’s looking to regain that form in 2011.  As reported on TwinCities.com, Nathan expects to be ready to throw with no restrictions when pitchers and catchers report on February 17th.  His return to full strength is a key for a Twins team that lost a number of relievers this offseason.

Meanwhile, Chipper Jones has also quietly been rehabbing in his attempt to return from suffering a torn ACL last August.  He had previously been contemplating retirement, walking away into the sunset with the only Major League manager he had ever known, Bobby Cox.  But the injury was one factor that convinced him to give it one more go.  As reported by MLB.com, he’s battled some tendinitis recently, but has had no other setbacks, and is also planning on being ready to go in a few weeks.  With a more potent Braves lineup around him, like offseason acquisition Dan Uggla, Jones’ ability to get back in the swing of things is one of the team’s major question marks.

But if he is healthy, he’ll be another reason why the Braves can again contend this year.

Vladimir Guerrero: Does the Impaler Have Any Options Left At This Point?

Vladimir Guerrero joining the Baltimore Orioles is something that seems inevitable, but nonetheless, it hasn’t happened yet.

The O’s are still the only team confirmed to have offered Vladdy a contract, supposedly a one year deal for between $3 to $5 million.  The holdup is that Guerrero is looking for something more along the lines of $8 million.  Even that is a far cry from the 2 year deal for $16 million that he was said to be seeking at the beginning of the offseason.

The problem for Vlad seems to be that he’s past his sell by date.  Most other AL teams in need of a DH have found their solution for 2011.  Minnesota kept Jim Thome.  The Yankees signed Andruw Jones.  The Rangers are using Michael Young after Adrian Beltre supplanted him at third base.  The Rays took a chance on Manny Ramirez.  The A’s signed Hideki Matsui.  The Angels committed significant money to bring in Vernon Wells.

So while he’s certainly still a feared hitter, whatever market he once had has dried up.  His camp has tried to make the Orioles outbid themselves by floating a rumor of a better offer being out there, but that offer has never materialized, and the O’s seem to be standing firm.  Maybe he just doesn’t like Baltimore?

He’s still got a gun for an arm, but his dwindling mobility have limited his value.  Whenever he finally swallows his pride and goes to Baltimore, expect another big year from a seriously ticked off (read: motivated) Guerrero.

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