UPDATE, 7:18 PM: Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle has reported the Phillies are in “tire-kicking” mode with Lance Berkman. The Astros were the only team known to be in contact with the Big Puma previous to today about a possible return to Houston. Berkman missed time last season with two knee surgeries but was a key contributor to the 2011 World Series Champion Cardinals. He has said recently that in order to return, he wants to be paid like a three-hole hitter and that he would give the Astros a discount. For the price of a three-hole hitter, I’d pass on Puma.
The biggest news today from the Hot Stove is that, per Jon Heyman, the Phillies view Josh Hamilton as a fall-back option in the event they don’t sign Michael Bourn or B.J. Upton. Heyman described the market for Hamilton as a “bona fide mysetery market”, with the Mariners out, the Orioles and Brewers on the periphery, and the Rangers, Braves, Phillies, and Red Sox having the strongest interest.
In an Insider-Only piece yesterday, Buster Olney believes the Phillies may start the dominoes going in the center field market. He had a pretty comprehensive piece about the Phillies’ center field targets, but if you have been following our Hot Stove coverage, including our new mailbag feature, a lot of that information would look very familiar. In short, Olney states: Bourn is good lead-off fit but is too expensive, Hamilton’s power translates well but is another lefty and has a great deal of off-the-field issues, Upton is probably the best fit but is a case of never reaching his believed potential and may be too expensive, Victorino is a really good fit but would not be seen as something new or fresh by the fan base, and Pagan would be a nice add but may be a beneficiary of teams spending early, often, and way too much this year. Additionally, Olney has a really nice piece about the current market, which is required reading for this year’s Hot Stove followers.
Ryan Howard is now represented exclusively by CAA Sports. Howard was previously represented by both CAA Sports and Excel Sports Management.
Last year’s starting left fielder Juan Pierre has signed a one-year, $1.6 million deal with the Miami Marlins. Pierre had an outstanding year for the Phillies last year, hitting .307/.351/.371, stealing 37 steals in 44 tries last year so the dollar figure involved comes as sort of a surprise although Pierre will turn 36 next August.
Finally, Raul Ibanez, fresh off receiving a Tenth Place MVP vote from John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press despite only being the sixteenth most valuable Yankee in terms of fWAR, is getting closer to re-signing with the Yankees. Ken Davidoff of he New York Post is reporting the club has “significant interest” in bringing back the 40-year old outfielder. Ibanez hit .240/.308/.453 with 20 HRs last year with 85% of his plate appearances coming against righties.