Red Sox Option Buchholz

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Red Sox announced today that pitcher Clay Buchholz will be optioned to Triple-A. Although this comes as a surprise to many Boston fans, it just shows how much pitching they have. The Red Sox can afford to do this with Bartolo Colon pitching well, and it will allow Buchholz to get back into a groove. Buchholz will likely be down in Triple-A for a couple weeks, maybe a month, to work himself into a good rhythm. Pitching prospects Justin Masterson and David Pauley are wheeling and dealing down in Triple-A also, so the Red Sox can be patient with Buchholz.

I think this will be good for Buchholz and the Red Sox in the long run, but more for Buchholz. To be able to go down to Triple-A and pitch and analyze his pitching away from the spotlight should help him better develop his stuff. The Red Sox are currently one game out of first place, but face the first place Rays at home next week, so we could see a change in the standings by the end of next week.


Tigers Pitching Options

According to sources, the Tigers are looking to make a move at the deadline for a starting pitcher. With Robertson and Bonderman both struggling, it makes sense that they would look into another long term investment. Here are a couple options:

  • Rich Harden, Athletics: Although he is oft-injured, Harden would be a great addition for the Tigers. He is 3-0 with a 2.60 ERA and is just twenty-six. The only problem with that is that it would be a big risk for the Tigers to take. They are better off trading for Joe Blanton.
  • Vicente Padilla, Rangers: Padilla has been inconsistent throughout the years, but he is 7-2 with a 3.67 ERA so far this season and has done fairly well at Comerica Park.
  • Jon Garland, Angels: Angels pitcher Jon Garland is doing fairly well for the Angels so far compiling a 5-3 record with a 3.89 ERA. He is a free agent after this season and the Angels could trade him because of their pitching depth.
  • Randy Wolf, Padres: If the Tigers are looking for a short term replacement, Wolf would be that guy. He is inexpensive and he wouldn't cost the Tigers nothing but a pair of mid level prospects.
Of course there are better options, but it would hurt the Tigers minor league system even more. One of the younger guys from the list above makes sense, or buying low on a struggling pitcher elsewhere. The Tigers don't currently have anyone dominating in the minor leagues, so a replacement down there isn't likely. Rick Porcello won't be ready probably till late next season, at the earliest.


Saturday Headlines

Here is what is making news this Saturday:

  • People are starting to pay closer attention to Cardinals pitcher Todd Wellemeyer. He has put together pretty good years here and there, but never as good as this one. He is 6-1 with a 3.16 ERA in twelve starts this season and it is starting to sink in that he is no fluke. One theory is that pitching coach Dave Duncan taught him a better way to attack the strike zone. If the Cardinals pitching keeps it up, it is safe to say that Duncan is the top pitching coach in baseball.
  • Cubs set up man Carlos Marmol is starting to receive some contract extension talk, and the Cubs would be smart to lock him up soon. He is 1-1 with a 1.54 ERA with 52 K in 28 games. The Cubs are not ones to give out long term deals for pitchers, but they might need to make an exception.
  • June is when we start seeing teams top prospects after they have proven themselves in the minor leagues. Jay Bruce has come out for the Reds and is dominating, and we saw Athletics top prospect Carlos Gonzalez as well.
  • More and more umps are starting to come around to instant replay, but for homeruns. The fact that instant replay has not been used all this time shows just how good these umps really are.


Mets Looking To Make Move?

Friday, May 30, 2008

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Mets GM Omar Minaya is looking to acquire an outfielder or first baseman. The paper mentions Jason Bay, Kevin Millar, and Xavier Nady as possibilities. The Mets were in serious discussions a couple of months ago about Nady, so he makes the most sense. He is a former Met, and would fit nicely in both left and right field. Not only that, but Nady is hitting .321 with 9 HR in 52 games this season and is not a free agent until 2010. As for Bay, he would cost the Mets more players and more money in the long run, so they would probably look at him as a last resort. He is also drawing interest from the Indians and Padres, so the Pirates would be smart to look to those teams first because they are definitely more desperate than the Mets right now.

Millar looks like a late season pick up, if at all, for the Mets. He is hitting .241 with 8 HR in 52 games, which isn't that much better than Delgado. The Mets definitely need a corner outfielder, and I think Nady would make all the difference for the Mets


Giants Fire Sale Update

The Giants are starting to make some noise about a fire sale. Here is what they are doing as of late:

  • Giants GM Brian Sabean recently told reporters that veteran players Randy Winn, Ray Durham, and Rich Aurilia are all available. All three are not big impact players, but could be picked up if there is an injury on a different team.
  • The Giants have some interest in Angels DH Juan Rivera, but nothing is serious just yet.
  • The Giants have told several teams that all relievers except Brian Wilson are available. So take your pick of Tyler Walker, Jack Taschner and Vinnie Chulk. Sabean also said that Triple-A pitchers Erick Threets and Brad Hennessey are available as well.
The Giants really don't have much to offer when it comes to trades. What they need to do is trade what they can for some low level prospects and hope they can live up to their potential. It is hard to say with the draft, but I recommend taking the best college player available when there spot comes and hope he can make it to the MLB by 2011 or 2012, at the latest.


Cards Option Duncan

The Cardinals announced today that they are sending outfielder Chris Duncan down to Triple-A Memphis. Duncan is hitting .252 with 4 HR in 47 games this season, but has good power and should have been given time to find his swing. The Cardinals will call up Joe Mather, who is tearing it up in Triple-A batting .315 with 12 HR in 28 games. The Cardinals have never been very high on Duncan, so this move isn't very surprising. I wouldn't be surprised if a team like the Indians moved in to make a move. Duncan would give the Indians a corner outfielder who might turn it around and live up to 2006 potential.

In 273 major league games, Duncan has hit .269 with 48 HR and 132 RBI.


The Morning Word: Cubs Need To Protect Arms

The Cubs have gained a reputation for over using their pitchers, going back to 2003 with Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Although this may not be the case, the everyday fan believes it is. They back up their point with examples like top pitching prospect Angel Guzman, who missed most of last season and is expected to be out most of this one as well. This season, the Cubs are relying heavily on Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster to anchor the rotation. Ted Lilly is doing his part as well, but Marquis is struggling and rookie Sean Gallagher has not proven to be consistent, yet.

Let's start with Carlos Zambrano, who is 7-1 with a 2.33 ERA in 81.0 innings of work. In his last start, he through 130 pitches in a game where he wasn't pitching like himself. He was wild, his release point was inconsistent, and the offense really wasn't there. In his start before that, he threw 109 pitches, so the Cubs really weren't thinking when they extended him like they did. Personally, I think they are pitching him to win the Cy Young, and not to help the Cubs. The Cubs bullpen has been very good in the later innings with Howry, Marmol, and Wood closing it out, and it would nice to see the Cubs show some faith in that tandem.

Ryan Dempster has been one of the biggest surprises this season, compiling a 6-2 record with a 2.56 ERA. Despite moving from the bullpen to the rotation, the Cubs really have not spent much time easing him in to the pitch counts. Over his last four starts, he has averaged 115 pitches over about seven innings each time out. Dempster has already pitched in more innings than he did last season, so the stress they are putting on his arm really could hurt them in the long run. Maybe I am being cautious, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cubs pitching crumble in September or October because of the excessive amount of stress put on their arms.

One good sign coming from this story is that Lou Piniella acknowledged the amount of pitches being thrown and said he plans to limit Zambrano in his next couple of starts. Hopefully, this does not come back to haunt the Cubs.


Astros Sign Sosa

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Astros have agreed to a minor league deal with Jorge Sosa. Sosa will work with pitching coach Burt Hooten, who has worked with several of the teams major league relievers lately. Sosa has had success at the major league level before, so the Astros are hoping that Hooten can help him find his command. Sosa went 9-8 with a 4.47 ERA last year for the Mets, but struggled early on in 2008.

His best year came in 2005 when he went 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA with the Braves. If he can come back and return to 2007 form, he should help the Astros as they surprisingly make a run for the playoffs.


Hatteberg to Mariners?

Scott Hatteberg, who was recently DFA'd by the Reds, has been linked to the Mets recently, but it appears the Mariners are his top suitor. Hatteberg has lived in Seattle most his life and they would love to bring him in to replace Richie Sexson, who has a .197 OBP through May.

Hatteberg put up good numbers last year for the Reds, but struggled to find his swing in a pinch hit role. Moving back to a starting role could benefit him, and it would definitely benefit the struggling Mariners.


Padres Smart To Wait On Headley

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Although Padres prospect Chase Headley is hitting .302 with 9 HR in 49 games at Triple-A, the Padres are smart to wait on calling him up. Yes, left fielder Paul McAnulty is hitting just .209 with 3 HR, but calling up Headley now would only put pressure on him to turn around the struggling Padres. Calling him up now while the Padres clubhouse is down in the dumps won't do his first taste at the big leagues any good. Not to mention that there really isn't anyone to send down to the minors. McAnulty is out of options, Huber is out of options, and it wouldn't make sense to send down any reliever at this point.

Of course money is somewhat of an issue, but history proves calling up players to struggling teams does not work. The Cubs called up top prospect Angel Guzman in 2006 when they were in a fight to stay in contention. Guzman, at the time, was considered the next Cubs phenom. However, he struggled to get into a rhythm as the Cubs clubhouse was 'down in the dumps.' Guzman went 0-6 with a 7.39 ERA as the Cubs finished 66-96. This is just one example of many, but the Padres are smart to have patience, as it should pay off in the end.


Hernandez On The Block?

Livan Hernandez has earned the reputation as a work horse, having pitched in at least 200 innings over the last ten seasons. Not to mention that he is very consistent in the playoffs as well. He couldn't find too much interest during the offseason but landed with the Twins for modest five million dollars. So far, he is earning every penny. Hernandez is 6-2 with a 4.22 ERA in eleven games, and will likely be traded if the Twins fall out of contention. Hernandez has proved that he can pitch early on, but always improves as the season goes on. A team in playoff contention that has a solid young prospect to spare may bite on Hernandez for that final push.

Hernandez would definitely help an NL team more than an AL team, mostly because of his ability to keep a lower ERA in the NL. A team like the Astros, whose pitching is okay now but could use a push for the end of the season, would be a good fit. The Phillies pitching is weaker than expected and they could use a push to compete in the second half of the season. Cubs manager Lou Piniella is not happy with Jason Marquis and may push upper management to get a solid innings eater like Hernandez for the second half. All three teams make a lot of sense, and I expect Hernandez to be traded by the All-Star game to help the Twins offense for this season and beyond.


Quick Hits: Soriano, Giants, Hatteberg, Street

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quick hits:

  • Alfonso Soriano enjoyed a nice reunion with Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who he hadn't seen in eleven years. The two happened to be dorm mates when they were in the Japan minor leagues together.
  • The Giants seem poised to trade veteran Randy Winn, Rich Aurilia, and Ray Durham at the trade deadline. All three have big time contracts and probably would not get much in return on the market, but it is time for the Giants to shake things up.
  • The Reds called up Jay Bruce to be there everyday center fielder and designated Scott Hatteberg for assignment. The Mets had interest in Hatteberg before Delagdo started showing signs of life. Delgado still does not own a good batting average, but he is doing better than Hatteberg. The Giants seem like a good fit.
  • Although the Athletics are playing well, you cannot help but believe they will try and make a move at the deadline. Whether it is Joe Blanton or Huston Street, something will go down. The Brewers could have interest in Street, and the Rockies seem like a good fit for Blanton. We'll see what happens.


Fielder Safe, Sheets On Block

Despite Fielder's slow start, the Brewers have no intention of trading Prince Fielder, who is hitting .276 with 6 HR and 25 RBI. The Brewers are low on pitching, but Fielder is still years from free agency, so it does not make sense to give up on him so early. Fielder is still a big part of this Brewers lineup, who will hurt you if you make a mistake. He is adjusting early right now and is having trouble. Ryan Howard went through a similar transition, and although he has not returned to form, he has not fallen off the charts.

The Brewers, however, won't be as patient with pitcher Ben Sheets. Sheets has battled injuries but is starting to prove that he is healthy. He is 5-1 with a 2.93 ERA in 10 games this season, and if he continues to pitch well, they will likely trade him while his stock his high. Maybe the Orioles and Brewers could line up on a trade with Sheets and a package that included George Sherrill. Seems risky for the Orioles, who are 5.5 games out of first. The Phillies seem like a good fit as well.


Lofton to Mets?

Free agent outfielder Kenny Lofton has been rumored going just about everywhere since the beginning of last off season, but might finally be closing in on a home. The Mets are in need of a back up outfielder who can play everyday, mostly to protect Moises Alou. Lofton's speed, consistency at the plate, and above average fielding make him a good, low risk pick up for the Mets.

This signing would likely make Randolph's job a little bit easier, mostly because it would allow him to shake up the lineup. No deal appears imminent, and don't be surprised if the Cubs swooped in and made a move. Jim Edmonds is playing worse than prospect Felix Pie was and bringing in Lofton would allow the Cubs to drop Edmonds and play Lofton, who had great success in Chicago. This is speculation on my part, but it definitely makes sense. Lofton is a career


Draft Tidbits

Monday, May 26, 2008

Here is what is making news in the draft:

  • Boras client and high school prospect Eric Hosmer might be leaning towards heading to college. He will likely be a late first rounder because of signability issues.
  • The White Sox are very interested in Gordon Beckham and Brett Wallace. Coincidentally, I had the White Sox taking Brett Wallace last week and Gordon Beckham this week.
  • The Brewers are interested in Anthony Hewitt, but will look to see if he is around in later rounds. His struggles with a wood bat will drop his back a couple of rounds.
  • Look for the Phillies to select Jason Knapp with their sandwich or second round pick. He is a pitcher with poor command, but has some upside.
  • One of the biggest sleepers in the draft in is Ryan Westmoreland, who has set his signing bonus demands very high, but has a lot of upside. His above average fielding and good bat make him a candidate to rise fast in any system. The Red Sox are known to be interested.
  • I talked with one scout who said the Cubs and Rockies are pondering taking Jake Odorizzi with their first round pick. For what it is worth, Odorizzi is a native of Illinois.
  • The Cubs are also interested in Zach Collier, but he is drawing serious interest from the Nationals, who invited him to their tryout in Washington.
  • The Mets are interested in catcher Adrian Nieto, but I talked with one scout who said he is not as high on the Mets draft board is people may think.
  • As for first pick speculation: It is all up in the air. From what I am hearing, though, it is down to four players: Tim Beckham, Pedro Alvarez, Aaron Crow, and Buster Posey.


Brewers Close In On Tavarez

The Brewers and Julian Tavarez are closing in on a deal with pitcher Julian Tavarez, suggesting that Jeff Weaver will likely opt out of his contract. Tavarez will not take a 'rehab' assignment in the minors. Once he passes his physical he will join the bullpen as a long reliever. Tavarez was 0-1 with a 6.39 ERA in nine games for the Red Sox, but the Brewers are hoping he will turn around his season and return to 2007 form.


Fantasy: Stock Rising or Falling

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The fourth edition of Stock Rising or Falling:

Evan Longoria, Rays: Although he is batting .247, Longoria is turning into Mr. Clutch for the Rays. If he has not been picked up in your league, sign him soon.

Bengie Molina, Giants: Molina would be a great pick up for your team right now if available. He is batting .652 over the past six games and is really carrying the Giants. If you have a surplus of pitching, he would be a cheap pick up.

Jesse Litsch, Blue Jays: Litsch was good was for the Blue Jays last year but is off to an excellent start this year. He pitched a complete game in his last start to improve to 6-1.

Honorable Mention: Jason Bay, Pirates

Fausto Carmona, Indians: A hip injury has sidelined him for over a month.

Willie Randolph, Mets: He has a meeting with owners next week to talk about his job, and if things go bad, he could be gone.

Colorado Rockies: They are ten games out of first and are now without Tulowitzki, Barmes, Hawpe, and Matt Holliday.


Brewers To Dump Hall?

The Brewers called up Russell Branyan today in an attempt to help the Brewers versus righties. That means that Bill Hall, who is hitting .189 versus righties, will likely lose playing time. Hall is batting .220 with 9 HR in 47 games this season, and if he doesn't pick it up, he will likely be traded. Hall is twenty-eight and has the ability to hit for power, but not a very good average. The Giants remain a good possibility with Jose Castillo at third. The Rangers could be in need of a corner infielder with Hank Blalock on the DL for an extended amount of time. Hall would be a cheap investment for them who could help short term. Teams have not been afraid to designate players with little interest on the market, and it is possible that could happen to Hall as well.


Quick Hits: Tavarez, Davis, Indians, Edmonds

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Quick Hits:

  • Pitcher Julian Tavarez opted for free agency instead of accepting his minor league assignment. The Rockies were not interested in making a trade for Tavarez after Glendon Rusch pitched well in Triple-A, but now that he is a free agent, it is possible they would sign him.
  • The feel good story so far this season: Just a month after being treated for thyroid cancer, Doug Davis pitched seven strong innings to beat the Braves 11-1. "Every time I hugged somebody I felt like I was, you know, I don't know," he said. "I just felt blessed to have them behind me as much as they are." Davis has always been a middle of the road pitcher, but with his team and the fans behind him, he could be in for a good year.
  • Indians GM Mark Shapiro refused to comment on other players, but it is becoming apparent that the Indians will make a move at the deadline. Whether it is for Garrett Atkins or Matt Holliday, the Indians will make a move.
  • Cubs outfielder Jim Edmonds is off to a slow start with the Cubs, despite a savvy defensive catch in Houston. He if 2-for-15 with the Cubs and looks lost at the plate. His swing is inconsistent and looks completely different than what it was in 2007 or 2006. If he does not turn it around soon, the Cubs will likely release him and recall Felix Pie, who was actually doing better than Edmonds.


Minor Leaguer Traded For Ten Bats

Minor league pitcher John Odom was traded by the Calgary Vipers to the Laredo Broncos for ten maple bats. "I don't really care," Odom said Friday when asked about the trade. "It'll make a better story if I make it to the big leagues." Odom never actually pitched for the Vipers because of passport issues, prompting a trade. You would have thought that the Vipers GM would have been able to land a player, at most. "They just wanted some bats, good bats -- maple bats," Broncos general manager Jose Melendez said. Odom originally pitched for the Giants for three seasons down in Low-A, but never really made the adjustments that would have pushed him through the system. We'll know who this trade benefits soon enough.


Long Term Deal For Hamilton?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is off to the best start of his young career and may have a long term deal in his future. Hamilton, 27, is batting .335 with 12 HR and 53 RBI in 48 games this season, but does not even have two years of major league service time. He was taken in the Rule 5 Draft by the Cubs before the 2007 season, but was traded to the Reds. You would think that Hamilton would be excited about the possibility of earning that big contract, he is just happy to be alive, healthy, and helping the Rangers win: "I feel like I'm where I'm supposed to be. I feel like I mix well with these guys and have felt that way since the first day at spring training. Since I started playing baseball, this is the most comfortable I've ever felt."

Hamilton is probably looking at a four or five year deal worth 12-16 million dollars, at most. Although he has played well over his MLB career, he is a lot older than most of these guys getting long term deals.

Here are a couple other guys that should have long term deals in their future:

- Hunter Pence, Astros

- Justin Upton, Diamondbacks

- Nate McLouth, Pirates

- Geovany Soto, Cubs

- Cole Hamels, Phillies

- B.J. Upton, Rays

- Joba Chamberlain, Yankees name a few.


The Morning Word: Top Five Managers To Be Fired

Several managers are off to rocky starts this season and are on the firing line. Here is a look at the top five candidates:

1. John McLaren, Mariners
- John McLaren did a good job for the Mariners towards the end of last season, but is not off to a good start this season, even with the improvements of GM Bill Bavasi. With Bavasi on the wire as well, he may look to shake things up and fire McLaren, who could easily be replaced by former manager and current bench coach Jim Riggleman.

2. Ned Yost, Brewers
- Ned Yost's aggressive attitude in the clubhouse and on the field has turned some players off, in turn, dampening the mood in the clubhouse. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have expressed a lack of confidence and that comes directly from the manager's attitude in the clubhouse.

3. Willie Randolph, Mets
- The Mets stacked lineup and solid pitching should have given them the easy ride to the playoffs, but manager Willie Randolph has not been able to put it together. Not only has he compiled a 22-23 record, 4th in the NL East, but he continues to dig a deep hole with New York media. Eliminating his distraction alone could turn this team around.

4. Bud Black, Padres
- The Padres have the worst record in baseball and they will soon have to look for someone to blame. General manager Kevin Towers is the longest tenured GM in baseball and is very close with manager Bud Black, so this isn't imminent. But, if the offense does not pick up, expect a move to shake things up.

5. Ron Washington, Rangers
- A couple weeks ago, the Rangers were a total mess. They were not showing any signs of life on the field or in the clubhouse. With the offense asleep, it looked as if Washington was going to be fired. However, the Rangers are starting to turn it around and are now just one game under .500. Still, the Rangers' plan to bring in play their young players should be under the guidance of an experienced manager, and it appears President Nolan Ryan knows that and will make a move when he feels the time is right.


Kershaw To Be Called Up?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dodgers top pitching prospect Clayton Kershaw was pulled after just one inning, suggesting that he is on his way to the majors. Kershaw is 0-3 with a 2.28 ERA in Double-A, but he has not gotten the run support needed to put wins on the board. Having thrown one inning of baseball with pregame warm ups, it is possible to see him pitch Saturday, giving Brad Penny an extra day of rest. Kershaw was taken in the first round of the 2006 draft and has risen fast in the Dodgers system. However, he has only played in forty-four games in his minor league career, compiling a 10-10 record. Spending more time in Double or Triple-A would definitely help in the long run, but the Dodgers are desperate for a change.

We'll likely see him in Tuesday's game against the Cubs if not this Saturday, replacing Brad Penny.


Mark Ellis To The White Sox?

In thirty-eight games so far this season, White Sox second baseman Juan Uribe is hitting just .198 with 3 HR and an OBP of .262. The White Sox have shopped him to several teams, but no one is willing to pick up the majority of his five million dollar salary. Back up Alexei Ramirez isn't hitting much better, so they cannot play him, making a move likely for the first place White Sox. The Chicago Sun-Times reported this past off season that the White Sox had interest in Brian Roberts, but the Orioles high asking price pushed them away. If the Sox are still in first by the All-Star game, don't be surprised if they make a move for a second baseman, especially if Uribe is still struggling. Several teams have not been afraid to dump big salaries, and that could be the case with Uribe this season.

The White Sox probably would not make a push for Dan Uggla, but they could go after Mark Ellis of the Athletics. Ellis is notoriously a slow starter and picks it up towards the end of the season. Although he could be a free agent after this season, bringing him in for the final push makes sense for the White Sox, who could easily surprise everyone again like they did in 2005. Although they surrendered three prospects to the A's earlier this off season, trading a pair of prospects wouldn't hurt their depleted farm system too much anyways.

Speaking of the farm system, the White Sox have taken big steps in Latin America and are looking to be big players come the International signing date in July. This hopefully would jump start their minor league system.


MLB Mock Draft: Updated

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Over the past couple of days, I have had time to think the Mock Draft over and read up on the latest news. I have made a few changes, not too extreme, but a few.

1) Tampa Bay Rays -- Tim Beckham, SS
Last Week: Buster Posey, C

2) Pittsburgh Pirates -- Pedro Alvarez, 3B
Last Week: Tim Beckham, SS

3) Kansas City Royals -- Brian Matusz, LHP
Last Week: Brian Matusz, LHP

4) Baltimore Orioles -- Justin Smoak, 1B
Last Week: Pedro Alvarez, 3B

5) San Francisco Giants -- Aaron Crow, RHP
Last Week: Aaron Crow, RHP

6) Florida Marlins -- Yonder Alonso, 1B
Last Week: Tim Melville, RHP

7) Cincinnati Reds -- Eric Hosmer, 1B
Last Week: Gordon Beckham, SS

8) Chicago White Sox -- Gordon Beckham, SS
Last Week: Brett Wallace, 3B

9) Washington Nationals -- Christian Friedrich, LHP
Last Week:
Tanner Sheppers, RHP

10) Houston Astros -- Kyle Skipworth, C
Last Week: Kyle Skipworth, C


Is Zambrano DL Bound?

Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano is off to a great start this season, but has complained of shoulder/neck stiffness since his last start against the Pirates. Zambrano said he slept the wrong way and that is why he was sore on Saturday, but he doesn't need to make excuses for every bad start. Zambrano has thrown over two hundred innings over the past five seasons, and has thrown over one hundred pitches in seven of his last nine starts. Cubs trainers said the stiffness is minor, and that no one should worry, but Cubs officials should watch Zambrano's next start very closely to make sure he is okay, because he is really holding the rotation together right now.

So far this season, Zambrano is 6-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 46 K.


White Sox Still Interested In Figgins

The White Sox have expressed interested in Angels infielder Chone Figgins for nearly a year. His speed, consistency, and above average fielding makes him a desirable lead off man for the Sox. Crede is hitting .275 with 8 HR in 42 games this season, and it is likely they will trade him if he continues to hit well by the trade deadline. The Giants remain interested in acquiring Crede, but the Brewers have shown some interest as well. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Angels are interested in signing free agent to be Joe Crede this coming off season and moving Brandon Wood back to his original position at shortstop.

This would not be a problem if Josh Fields was doing well at Triple-A, but he is hitting just .240 with 4 HR. If the White Sox packaged a pair of prospects with a reliever, they might be able to land Figgins for an infield role. Figgins is hitting .306 with 0 HR in 32 games this season, but has an OBP of .421. The White Sox will continue to build up Crede's value to the deadline, but do not be surprised if either player is traded following the All-Star Game.


Victorino On The Block?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

With Jayson Werth doing well in center field, the Phillies have the option to shop Shane Victorino for pitching help. Victorino is a career .270 hitter with 21 homeruns since entering the league in 2003. He drew a lot of trade interest last season and would probably draw a significant amount around this time too. If Victorino was put on the market with a prospect or two, it is possible they could land someone like Chris Young, that is, if the Padres go through with their fire sale. Phillies top prospect Carlos Carrasco is doing fairly well in Double-A right now, but the Phillies won't push him to the big leagues. Other than him, they do not have any standout pitching prospects that could try out for a big league spot.

With two question marks in the rotation, it would make sense for the Phillies to trade Victorino and a pair of mid level prospects for a Grade B type pitcher.


MLB Prospect Report

ATL LoA Heyward, Jason RF 5 1 2 1 .329
BAL AA Reimold, Nolan RF 5 1 2 1 .280
BOS LoA Tejeda, Oscar SS 4 1 3 0 .244
BOS HiA Still, Jon 1B 4 2 3 6 .306
CHC LoA Donaldson, Josh C 4 0 1 0 .203
CIN LoA Mesoraco, Devin DH 4 2 1 1 .154
CIN HiA Stubbs, Drew CF 4 1 2 0 .272
CIN AA Valaika, Chris SS 4 1 2 0 .250
CLE AA Rodriguez, Josh SS 1 2 1 0 .260
CLE AAA Brown, Jordan 1B 3 1 2 0 .283
COL AA Fowler, Dexter CF 4 1 2 1 .289
COL AAA Stewart, Ian 3B 4 0 1 1 .288
DET AA Ramirez, Wilkin LF 4 1 2 0 .314
DET AAA Hollimon, Michael 2B 4 1 1 0 .259
FLA AA Coghlan, Chris 2B 3 1 2 2 .311
FLA AA Maybin, Cameron CF 5 2 2 1 .247
FLA AA Raynor, John LF 4 1 2 1 .289
HOU LoA Cusick, Matt 2B 3 1 1 0 .350
HOU AA Einertson, Mitch CF 4 0 3 1 .233
KC LoA Moustakas, Mike SS 5 0 1 0 .238
LAD LoA Lambo, Andrew LF 4 0 2 1 .265
LAD AA De Jesus, Ivan SS 3 1 2 0 .314
LAD AAA LaRoche, Andy 3B 1 1 0 2 .300
MIL LoA Gindl, Caleb RF 4 1 3 0 .271
MIL AA Gamel, Mat 3B 4 1 2 2 .372
MIL AA Escobar, Alcides SS 5 0 2 1 .287
MIN LoA Revere, Ben CF 4 0 3 2 .432
MIN AA Plouffe, Trevor SS 4 1 3 1 .294
NYM AA Murphy, Danny 3B 5 1 4 1 .329
NYY AAA Gardner, Brett CF 4 1 2 2 .288
OAK AAA Gonzalez, Carlos CF 4 1 1 0 .305
PHI LoA Galvis, Freddy SS 4 0 2 1 .196
SD LoA Carvajal, Yefri LF 5 1 2 0 .255
SD HiA Hunter, Cedric CF 5 1 2 2 .318
SD AA Huffman, Chad DH 4 1 2 1 .340
SD AAA Headley, Chase LF 4 0 1 0 .289
SEA AA Saunders, Michael CF 5 2 3 0 .301
SEA AAA Clement, Jeff C 4 0 1 0 .390
SF HiA Rohlinger, Ryan 3B 4 2 3 2 .301
SF AAA Schierholtz, Nate RF 4 2 2 2 .308
STL AA Craig, Allen 3B 5 1 3 0 .294
TB AA Jaso, John C 3 1 2 1 .252
TEX LoA Beltre, Engel CF 6 0 0 0 .254
TEX HiA Whittleman, John 3B 5 2 4 1 .296
TEX AA Davis, Chris 1B 4 1 3 2 .323
TEX AA Ramirez, Max C 3 1 1 1 .377
TEX AAA Teagarden, Taylor C 5 1 1 2 .283
TOR LoA Tolisano, John 2B 3 0 1 0 .252

DET LoA Hamilton, Brandon 4.0 5 3 3 3

FLA AAA Hernandez, Gaby 5.0 4 2 2 0

LAD HiA Loaiza, Esteban 3.0 3 1 1 0

MIN AAA Duensing, Brian 5.0 6 3 3 1

MIN AA Rainville, Jay 7.0 3 1 0 0

NYM LoA Rustich, Brant 1.0 2 1 1 0

OAK HiA Cahill, Trevor 5.0 9 8 8 2

OAK LoA Italiano, Craig 5.0 5 1 0 5

SD AA Garrison, Steve 5.2 6 4 4 2

STL AAA Garcia, Jaime 5.0 8 5 5 1

STL AA Mortensen, Clayton 6.0 9 3 3 0

TB HiA Hellickson, Jeremy 5.0 7 4 4 0

TEX AA Hunter, Tommy 7.0 5 1 1 0

TOR HiA Rodriguez, Kenny 7.0 5 2 2 0

Courtesy of Baseball America


News and Notes: Mike Piazza Retires

12-time All-Star Mike Piazza officially retired today, putting an end to his sixteen year career. "After discussing my options with my wife, family and agent, I felt it was time to start a new chapter in my life," he said in a statement released Tuesday by his agent, Dan Lozano. "It has been an amazing journey ... So today, I walk away with no regrets." Piazza did not find much interest on the market this past off season, cutting short his career, but he knew the end was coming: "I knew this day was coming, and over the last two years I started to make my peace with it. I gave it my all and left everything on the field." Piazza is one of the best steals in draft history, being taken in the 62nd round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Over his career in which he played for the Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Padres, and Athletics, Piazza hit .308 with 427 HR and 1,335 RBI. He is remember by teammates and fans as friendly, a leader, and one of the great catchers in the history of baseball.

"It's the end of a Hall of Fame career," Mets manager Willie Randolph said.

Martinez to retire?: Pedro Martinez is hoping to spend more time with his family, something he feels he has not done enough recently, and may retire at the end of this season. His injuries recently make this possible, but Martinez's dad has cancer, and he would like to be there for him and his family.

Padres to have fire sale?:
The Padres have always been able to put a good team together, but their hitting really has not connected this season. It is possible they will build their team around Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jake Peavy, and trade away the rest. As for players they could trade, they have: Adrian Gonzalez, Khalil Greene, Greg Maddux, Brian Giles, and Chris Young.

Cabrera switching to DH sooner than expected?:
Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera is slowing down faster than expected, and it is mostly because he refuses to condition. Many feared that he would stop after he got his big contract, and so far, they are correct.

Tavarez to Rangers?:
The Rockies recently signed Glendon Rusch, suggesting that Tavarez is not heading there. The Rangers need some help at the pitchers spot and could make a trade for Tavarez without surrendering much.

Rivera to Pads or Giants?: According to, Angels outfielder/DH Juan Rivera is drawing interest from the Padres and Giants. He would be a huge addition to both teams, considering their offenses are among the worst in baseball.


Orioles To Trade Sherrill?

When the Orioles traded Erik Bedard, the supposed center piece of the deal was Mariners closer George Sherrill. However, it is becoming more apparent that Sherrill was acquired to only swing in a different deal this season and the younger pitchers they got were really the future of the team. Sherrill is currently 1-0 with a 3.43 ERA and 17 SV, and would likely net several prospects in a trade. Several teams need a closer right now and could trade for him at the deadline. The Rockies could trade for Sherrill and move Fuentes to a set up role, knowing that he will likely leave via free agency this off season. The Rockies have several solid prospects and the Orioles and Rockies are on pretty good terms when it comes to making a trade. The Cardinals currently do not have a closer and could trade for Sherrill, but it could cost them a top prospect or two. Sherrill is very cheap and very good, so it might be worth it for the Cardinals.

Other options, although less likely at this point, include the Brewers, Padres, Angels, Indians, and Braves.


Is Mauer A Better 'Jason Kendall'?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Twins catcher Joe Mauer was considered the top catcher in baseball in 2006 after hitting .316 with 28 HR and a .390 OBP in 306 games. However, he is starting to settle around the .300 mark and averaging anywhere between 7 and 10 homeruns. Mauer is currently hitting .316 with 0 HR in 38 games, but is not doing bad for the Twins. He has nine doubles and eighteen walks, so he is getting on base and scoring runs, in turn, helping the team win. Jason Kendall got his MLB career off to a similar start, and hit 3-6 homeruns over a span of four or five seasons. In his first three seasons, Kendall hit .307 with 23 HR and a .390 0BP, so you can see how similar they really are.

Mauer is much better than Kendall, but it is very possible that Mauer will become a leadoff type hitter hitting .300 with 3-6 homeruns like Kendall has. It is early and Mauer could easily breakout, but the Twins might have made a big investment to a future leadoff man who will add little offensive help for the Twins. If I were GM Bill Smith, I would definitely look to add a power hitting outfielder or corner infielder next offseason to provide protection for Justin Morneau, because it is likely that the Twins will try Mauer in different spots in the lineup.


What A Story: Lester Throws No-Hitter

Not two years ago, Jon Lester was sitting at his Boston home wondering if his career was over. It was then that Jon Lester was diagnosed with large cell lymphoma, and it was uncertain how long it would take to recover. When he was clear to play before the start of the 2007 season, the Red Sox planned to work him in very slowly, hoping he would find his 'top prospect' stuff. During the 2007 season, Lester worked his way through the minors building up his stamina and arm strength, and was surprisingly overpowering most hitters. He made his debut in 2007 and helped the Red Sox win the World Series against the Rockies. Lester wass 3-2 with a 3.41 ERA and 42 K before his last start tonight, in which he threw a no-hitter. Although he walked two, he did not surrender a hit or run. The last hitter to be thrown was also by a Red Sox, and it was by his close friend Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox expect these two to lead the rotation in a couple years. With no-hitters under their belts, they will be more than ready.

Another great story, although not nearly as exciting, came in Houston. Cubs catcher Geovany Soto has been with the Cubs since 2001, when he was taken out of Puerto Rico at the age of 18. He was once regarded as the future catcher of the Cubs, before a couple years ago when the Cubs felt he would never be ready. In 2007, Soto lost nearly thirty pounds and came back showing that he could be the everyday catcher. He won the Pacific Coast MVP and came up and helped the Cubs in the playoffs. Soto was hitting .321 with 8 HR before tonight's game, where he added an inside the park homerun, and caught a great game to get the Cubs the win.

A great day in baseball.


Has Smoltz Thrown His Last Pitch?

John Smoltz was closing in on a return from the disabled list but faced another setback that could lead to surgery. Smoltz faced the setback in his Thursday bullpen session when he reported discomfort in his throwing shoulder. The discomfort was still there Saturday during his next session, and it is likely the Braves will shut him down indefinitely. Smoltz said he could return as early as next week, or as late as next season, if he pitches: "It could be anywhere between the [late May] timetable I discussed and a lot longer."

This brings up the possibility that John Smoltz may never throw another pitch in the major leagues again. Smoltz has dealt with shoulder problems periodically throughout his career, but has always had time to come back successfully. With time not in his favor, the future Hall of Famer might have to hang it up.


What Is Pedroia Worth?

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is currently getting paid 575,000 dollars and is in for a big pay day. After breaking out in 2007 and proving in 2008 that it was not a fluke, it is unclear whether he has a long term deal in his future. He is hitting .307 with 2 HR in 46 games, but his defense shoots his value up even more. Pedroia will be twenty-five in August, and a four or five year does make sense. However, he is not a huge force in the lineup and does play second base, a position that is easy to fill on the field. Jose Lopez of the Mariners received a four year deal worth 6.07 million dollars, but Pedroia is definitely better and more proven than Lopez.

A four year deal worth between 13-14 million dollars seems reasonable, considering Pedroia has not been in the league for two full seasons yet. It has not gotten to Pedroia yet, but several teams are starting to lock up young players which brings into question when the Red Sox will do so with Pedroia.


Uggla Will Likely Be Traded

Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla is proving to Marlins executives that last season was an adjustment period and that he has the potential to be an All-Star. He is currently batting .316 with 13 HR in 42 games and is just 28. The Marlins could give him a deal similar to Joe Mauer, who signed a four year deal worth 33 million dollars in 2007. That seems pricey for the Marlins payroll, but they could adjust his annual salary to work it into their payroll. However, there are several other players on the Marlins who will need extensions that could force the Marlins to make a tough decision. There are several teams in need of a second baseman though that would be willing to part with several top prospects to acquire Uggla, making him the obvious choice to go.

The Rockies seem like the perfect fit. Jayson Nix struggled at the MLB level and bringing in Uggla would definitely help their offense. The Marlins could probably use a couple of their solid pitching prospects, maybe Brandon Hynick or Franklin Morales. If the Rockies were interested in signing Garrett Atkins long term, they could trade Ian Stewart as well. Another option for Uggla is the Dodgers, who will have an opening next season when Jeff Kent departs. The Dodgers do have other in house options and will have to sign Furcal first, but it is a possibility. The Indians seem very serious about getting offensive help and have the prospects that could suit the Indians. They probably do not want to part with a top pitching prospect with Sabathia unsigned, but I wouldn't put it past GM Mark Shapiro to sneak in and make a deal.


Hernandez to Reds?

The Orioles first round draft pick last year Matt Wieters is tearing it up in Single-A batting .338 with 11 HR and 29 RBI in 40 games this season. He has a call up to Double-A in his future and could see time in the MLB if he does well. That is the beauty of drafting a solid player out of college. Most first round picks out of college already have the ability to play at the level of Single or Double-A players, so they jump into the minors and nothing changes. Ramon Hernandez is batting .209 with 3 HR in 35 games this season and won't be eligible for free agency until 2009. The Reds have one unproven catching prospect in Devin Mesoraco, but he won't be ready for a couple years. The Reds currently have Paul Bako starting at catcher, and Hernandez would definitely be an upgrade.

It may take a pitcher or two to satisfy the Orioles, who typically demand a lot in trades. It is possible the Reds and Orioles would swap big salaries and trade Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo is making 3.95 in 2008, but will make 9.5 in '09 and 11 '10. Hernandez is making between 9-10 million over the next two years, so they would match up pretty well. And a change a scenery could benefit both.


Rosenthal: Delgado, Sexson, Crisp, Byrd

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ken Rosenthal has some good ideas in his Latest Full Count:

  • With Carlos Delgado and Richie Sexson both struggling, Rosenthal suggests the idea of swapping the struggling first basemans. Delgado is hitting .228 with 5 HR while Sexson is hitting .197 with 7 HR. Sexson is making 14 million in the final year of his contract while Delgado is making 16, with a four million dollar buyout for 2009. If the Mets were to include cash with the deal, it makes perfect sense.
  • The Red Sox would be smart to hold onto Coco Crisp until the offseason, because free agent center fielders are not abundant like last off season. A team desperate for a good center fielder might offer something worth the Red Sox while.
  • When Jake Westbrook comes off the DL, the Indians will have a crowded pitching staff. Rosenthal believes they will want to keep Aaron Laffey in the rotation, forcing the veteran Paul Byrd out. The Brewers are looking for pitching and could offer a low level prospect or two for Byrd to help their pitching. The Indians, in turn, could use that prospect, along with others, to go out and land a bigger name player to help their offense. Perhaps Garrett Atkins or Brian Roberts.


Royals Lock Up Soria

The Royals and Joakim Soria have agreed to a six year deal through 2014 worth a total 32.75 million dollars. He will make 8.75 million over the next three seasons, but then club options kick in for the final three seasons. So far this season, Soria is 0-0 with a 1.04 ERA and 11 SV. Soria was taken from the Padres organization in 2006, and put together a great 2007 season for the Royals. Dayton Moore has done a great job keeping his young players together, in turn, keeping the players happy: “Oh, I’m very happy,” he said. “It’s a big deal for me, for my career and my family. It’s a lot of security for me and my family.” There are several perks in the deal for Soria, but this is very good deal for the Royals that doesn't make a huge dent in their payroll.


Marlins Close In On Jones

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Marlins and Jacque Jones are closing in on a one year contract, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Jones is looking to get back on the field as soon as possible and the Marlins make a lot of sense, considering they have had interest in him since July of last season. Jones saw a huge drop in power from 2006 to 2007, leading to him being traded in the off season. He was batting .165 with 1 HR in 24 games for the Tigers this season, but the Marlins hope a move could jump start his season.

Jones typically does not get off to the best starts, usually heating up in July. That was the case last season, and I'm sure the Marlins would like him to help lead the Marlins to a surprising first place finish. His agent, Damon Lapa, denied a comment on the deal, but said there are still other teams in on Jones' services.

A deal should come by early next week.


Would The Phillies Trade Howard?

Back in 2006, Ryan Howard was the best first baseman in baseball. He hit for power (58), had a good average (.313), and kept the Phillies in the playoff hunt for most of the season. The following season, Howard still hit for power, but his average dropped dramatically and strikeouts went way up. He is back again in his third full season, but has failed to make the proper adjustments. He is batting .188 with 9 HR and an OBP of .294. That is not going to cut it as your three hitter. Luckily, Chase Utley has stepped up big time early on and kept the Phillies in it. Howard is making 10 million dollars this season and won't be a free agent until 2011, so that is bound to go up.

The Phillies minor league system has decent depth, but it is not great, and trading Howard would help fill that. He appears DH bound at some point in his career, but he could probably handle first base for another couple of seasons. It is a little early, but several teams could use his bat in their lineup. Teams that go after Mark Teixeira will likely look to Howard sometime next season as a fall back option. The Yankees and Phillies are on good trade terms and could swing a deal similar to the one that sent Bobby Abreu to the Yankees.


Will Rockies Host Fire Sale?

The Rockies have several players closing in on free agency that would draw considerable interest on the market. Several journalists are already calling Matt Holliday the 'Mark Teixeira' of this years trade deadline. Holliday is a free agent after the 2009 season and with Boras as his agent, it is unlikely that they would negotiate during the season to keep him there. There are several teams with deep farm systems that could use a power hitter like Holliday, but might not be willing to surrender the prospects the Rockies will be looking for. The Rockies are going to be looking for top of the line prospects while the team acquiring him will only want to surrender mid to low level prospects. This is because Holliday's road numbers are so slanted. Holliday is a career .364 hitter at home with 73 HR while hitting .274 with 36 HR on the road. A team acquiring him might not want to pay him 100 million dollars to a player if he is only going to hit around .280 with 20 HR.

As for teams that could be interested, the Yankees seem like a good fit. They need a middle of the lineup type of hitter and bringing him in would allow them to shop one of their aging outfielders. I doubt the Red Sox would try to respond and fight the Yankees for him, but if they are not interested in brining Manny Ramirez back, Holliday would be a good option in left field. The Cardinals need a hitter to protect Albert Pujols in the lineup and Holliday would definitely do that job. Not to mention that he would be a big upgrade over Chris Duncan in left field. It could cost them several prospects, but it would be worth it for the Cardinals.

Rockies closer Brian Fuentes is off to a good year and will probably also be traded by the Rockies before he becomes a free agent. One possible option for him is the Cardinals because they need a closer with Jason Isringhausen unable to find his groove. Packaging him and Holliday makes a lot of sense.

For more on Garrett Atkins, click here.


Should The Rays Move?

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Rays are working very hard to get out of Tropicana Field as soon as possible. They have a waterfront stadium picked out, and are taking the other steps required in hopes of passing the referendum. However, if the referendum fails, don't expect the Rays to wait until 2027, when the lease on their current stadium runs out. Owner Stuart Sternberg said that the stadium has become obsolete among other stadiums and moving to a new one should motivate players and fans. It has worked in D.C. so far with the Nationals, and it should with the Rays, who appear on the brink of being a serious contender in the American League.

I spoke with one MLB player (who asked to remain anonymous) through email and he said that Tropicana Field is a "dry place." He went on to say that having a stadium that looks like other stadiums would motivate players and fans: "Everyone would be happy, and it would probably show in the standings." Staying in Tampa is their number one choice, but it is possible they would move to Charlotte to start their new franchise. I doubt a move to Las Vegas would happen because that would throw off the whole standings alignment, so Charlotte seems like the best fit.

Nothing will be solved for a couple seasons, but if it doesn't look good for the Rays, we could start hearing rumors that they are planning a move. Any change for the Rays would probably be for the better.


Brewers Looking For Pitching?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The beauty of having pitching depth is that when someone goes down, you have more to back it up. However, the Brewers lost both Yovani Gallardo and Chris Capuano, limiting their options. It is unfortunate because their offense is such a force in the league, but teams win on pitching. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, the Brewers have room in their payroll to add another pitcher, opening up speculation to who that could be.

Ben Sheets is going to be a free agent at the end of this season and I think they would be smart to lock him up. Unless they are going to open the bank on CC Sabathia, there really aren't too many other pitchers that could step up and be their ace. Here are a couple options for the Brewers to look at this trade deadline:

  • Joe Blanton, Athletics: Blanton is 2-6 with a 3.69 ERA, but really has not been pitching bad. A move to the NL and playing on a run scoring team would definitely help his numbers. Although, it would probably cost the Brewers several low level prospects.
  • Greg Maddux, Padres: Maddux has been mentioned recently about possibly going to the Braves or Cubs, but don't rule out reunion in Milwaukee. Maddux's brother, Mike, is the pitching coach for the Brewers.
  • Mark Hendrickson, Marlins: If Hendrickson continues to pitch well, the Marlins could trade him while his stock is high for a couple of prospects. The Orioles did it last year with Steve Trachsel, and got two pretty good prospects. Because Hendrickson is younger and pitching better, he could net the Marlins a pretty good prospect or two.
Don't forget, the Brewers do have Jeff Weaver in Triple-A, so he could help them out if he can continues to be consistent. He is familiar with the NL Central, so that is a definite possibility.


Vizquel to Boston?

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there is a rumor circulating through baseball that the Red Sox have interest in Omar Vizquel. This doesn't make any sense considering the Red Sox have Jed Lowrie, but a trade for a shortstop is possible. Furthermore, Lugo is batting .285 in 35 games, so he is not doing terrible for them. Vizquel is batting .385 in four games, but has started to slip over the past couple of seasons. Vizquel has 5.2 million dollar club option for 2009, but that will probably be bought out 300,000 dollars.

The Red Sox may very well be scanning the market for a shortstop, but they wouldn't get serious until closer to the deadline.