– ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports that the Blue Jays are the favorite to trade for Marlins’ 2B Dan Uggla. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal previously reported that the Nationals, Tigers, Braves, Red Sox, Cardinals, Giants, Orioles and Blue Jays all had interest in Uggla. The Silver Slugger winner will turn 31 in March and recently turned down Florida’s 4-year/$48M extension. Uggla is under team control for one more season via salary arbitration. Rosenthal reports that the Marlins are “down the road” with several clubs in trade discussions, so expect Uggla talk to pick up serious steam starting Monday at the GM meetings.
– According to ESPNBoston.com, the Red Sox are very interested in adding C John Buck, should they be unable to come to terms with their own free agent C Victor Martinez. Buck, 30, made the most of his 1-year deal with the Jays, hitting .281 with 20 home runs in 118 games played and being named to the All-Star Game. He also threw out 28% of runners trying to steal last season. Behind the plate, the Red Sox currently only have Jarrod Saltalamacchia and 26-year old career minor-league Mark Wagner on their 40-man roster at the position, as both Martinez and team captain Jason Varitek are on the open market.
– Mets’ OF Carlos Beltran would consider waiving his NTC if the Mets approach him with a deal. The 33-year-old was limited to 64 games this year and 81 the previous season because of right knee injuries. He is owed $18.5M in the final season of his contract.
“When they approach me, I have to call my agent. I have to listen. I know that I have the no-trade clause, but if the team is searching or looking to trade a guy, I have to listen. I want to be a Met. I want to finish my career with the Mets.”
A five-time all-star, Beltran also would consider a shift to a corner outfield spot with the Mets but prefers to stay in centre.
“In my heart, if that happens, I have to listen. Personally, me feeling the way I feel and looking forward to getting to spring training feeling 100 per cent, I still feel that I can play centre field, but if the organization has different things in mind, then we have to talk about it.”
Beltran is preparing for the opening next year of his high school with a baseball academy attached in Puerto Rico, and new GM Sandy Alderson plans to visit him this weekend to attend a fundraiser for the school Saturday night. After missing much of 2009, Beltran had knee surgery in January — the team claimed without permission — and didn’t return until mid-July. His season was cut short by a few days due to inflammation. He’s still using a knee brace and is working to strengthen areas around the knee. He’s working on a bicycle and plans to amp up workouts late next month or in January.
“Right now, my mentality is just to come back next year 100% to help this team win a championship, but at the same time, if the organization is looking at different options, I have to be aware.”
– The Pirates have agreed to a 3-year contract with Clint Hurdle to become their next manager. He was the leading candidate from the beginning, but the Bucs had to wait for him to first finish the World Series as Texas’ hitting coach, then wait to see whether he would fill the managerial void with the Mets. Hurdle was the manager of the Rockies when they made the World Series in 2007 and compiled an overall 534-625 record (.461) over eight seasons as manager in Colorado. Pittsburgh hasn’t had a winning season since 1992.
– According to the NY Daily News, a shipment of nearly 50 pre-loaded syringes of HGH arranged by OF Jose Guillen to be sent to his San Francisco home in September was intercepted by DEA agents. In 2008, Guillen was set to be suspended for 15 games after reportedly purchasing HGH, testosterone and other steroids but received amnesty for “past acts” as part of the Mitchell Report. Guillen was left off San Fran’s postseason roster when the original story broke, but manager Bruce Bochy said Guillen was inactive because of a neck injury. Baseball is investigating and a suspension could be looming.
– According to Adam Rubin of ESPN NY, Terry Collins is the new leading candidate for the Mets’ vacant managerial position. Collins is currently the organization’s minor league field coordinator. The 61-year-old managed the Astros from 1994-1996 and the Angels from 1997-1999, producing a 444-434 record. Collins has support in the organization, including new VP for player development and amateur scouting Paul DePodesta, who said: “First of all, he’s done it before. I think any of us who have been in these jobs in various organizations learn a lot every step of the way. I’ve been through four organizations now. I’m hopeful some of the things I’ve been exposed to over that time will be helpful to the Mets, and I think the same could be said for Terry. He’s been a major league manager a couple of different times. You learn an awful lot from that.”
– Twins’ 1B Justin Morneau says he and his Minnesota teammates are disappointed the Twins haven’t moved the outfield fences at Target Field to make it easier to homer. The Twins this week announced $4-6M in improvements at Target Field, but didn’t address players’ concerns about the outfield fences.
“Right-centre to left-centre is ridiculous. (It’s) almost impossible for a right-handed hitter to (homer to the) opposite field and very difficult for lefties. It affects the hitters a lot, and you start to develop bad habits as a hitter when you feel like you can only pull the ball to hit it over the fence. You take those habits on the road.”
The Twins hit 52 home runs at Target Field and 90 on the road, while their pitchers surrendered 64 homers at home and 91 on the road. Their 53-28 home record was the best in the American League, while they were 41-40 away from Target Field.
“We had a lot of discussions in the clubhouse with the manager and general manager, but right now there is no plan to alter the dimensions,” Twins President Dave St. Peter said.
Morneau, a native of New Westminster, B.C., said he hoped his comments didn’t sound selfish and was more concerned with his team’s success. He also said he’s still not 100% recovered from a concussion that kept him out of the final three months of the season, but is feeling better.
– Babe Ruth’s #702 homerun ball has been purchased for $264,500 during an auction Saturday at the Louisville Slugger Museum. Ruth hit the home run in 1934 and later signed the ball. It had been passed down by three generations of a Minnesota family before going to the auction block. The anonymous winning bid was more than three times the estimated sale price by Hunt Auctions. A Cy Young autographed bat from the 1903 World Series sold for $138K, while a Marilyn Monroe autographed photo signed to former husband Joe DiMaggio sold for $63,250. The picture was from the Yankee star’s personal estate and considered to be among his most coveted possessions.
– According to TSN, Canadiens’ D Andrei Markov (knee) has re-injured his surgically repaired right knee and will miss another 3 months. The 31-year old Russian blueliner suffered the injury when he collided knee-on-knee with Hurricanes’ F Eric Staal late in the third period. Markov punched the boards in frustration and had to be helped off the ice by teammates. He was unable to put any weight on his leg as he headed to the dressing room. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Sunday to determine the extent of the injury. It’s the third injury to Markov’s leg in 13 months. Markov has one goal and two assists in seven games.
– Lightning’ F Vincent Lecavalier (right hand) will undergo surgery to repair the non-displaced fracture. The procedure is not expected to change the original prognosis 3-4 week recovery timeframe. Vinny should be back on the ice in early to mid-December.
– The Canucks and D Christian Ehrhoff are reportedly very far apart in contract negotiations. The 33-year-old blueliner will be a UFA at the end of the 2010-11 campaign and is looking for a raise from the $3.4M he makes this season. The Canucks don’t appear to be willing to go above $4.5M, but Ehrhoff may be able to land something over $5M if he looks elsewhere.
– According to CBS Sports’ Ken Berger, the Blazers are “not sure” yet if F Brandon Roy (knees) is going to miss any games. The team is going to wait a few days and re-evaluate him, but all signs point to the negative. Roy has no burst or explosion anymore, and he could possibly do further damage to his young career by pushing it.
– Dr. James Andrews has reportedly determined that Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford’s (right shoulder separation) is not as severe as the injury suffered by Rams’ QB Sam Bradford during the 2009 college season (Bradford’s was season-ending and required surgery). According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Stafford initially injured the shoulder during the second quarter of last week’s loss to the Jets, but then aggravated it just before the end of regulation on a scramble attempt. Stafford is still scheduled to visit Andrews on Monday, but it looks like he could avoid surgery. Stay tuned.