Posted on: August 4, 2011 7:30 pm

Mariners dump Jack Cust, Greg Halman

By Evan Brunell

PenaThe Mariners have an open roster spot after culling two hitters from the team in Greg Halman and Jack Cust.

Cust, the longtime A's DH who has fallen on hard times and inked a deal to join Seattle in the offseason, but hit just .213/.344/.329 in 270 plate appearances with just three home runs, 30 less than what he hammered in 2008. Halman, meanwhile, came up from the minor leagues after healing a left wrist fracture and producing in the short time he was in Triple-A. The 23-year-old floundered at the bigs, however. Halman was sent down as he had lost much of his playing time to Casper Wells, who was acquired at the trade deadline in the Doug Fister trade with Detroit.

As for who will step into the DH spot, there are conflicting reports. Greg Johns of MLB.com is convinced it's Wily Mo Pena, while Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune is betting on Trayvon Robinson, also acquired at the trade deadline, but this time from the Dodgers in what was a baffling deal.

Robinson's power is certainly ready for a promotion, as he's slammed 26 homers down on the farm, posting an overall .289/.374/.552 mark in 428 plate appearances, with 12 of those in the Seattle organization. The knock on his game is making contact, as he also strikes out at a high rate, with 126 whiffs. If Robinson can maintain a .250 batting average or higher, he should turn out to be a great hitter. Any lower will sap his value, and he could end up having a tough go of it int he early going of his career like Chris Davis.

Pena (pictured), meanwhile, has power in spades but like Robinson, strikes out far too much. He can launch a fastball into the stratosphere, but continues to struggle with breaking balls and plate discipline. Arizona brought him to the majors for interleague play to function as the DH, being called up for the minors in his return to the bigs, last appearing back in 2008 with the Nationals. His power was on display with five home runs in 46 plate appearances, but hit .196 with 19 strikeouts. Pena would certainly inject power into the middle of Seattle's lineup, but he continues to look like the overmatched youngster of his earlier days.

The Mariners are expected to announce the replacement in advance of Friday's game.

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Posted on: August 4, 2011 9:47 am

Pepper: Some Cubbie love from Lee

By Matt Snyder

At this time last week, we were busy pouring through rumor after rumor as the non-waiver trade deadline approached. There were a few Cubs' veterans we knew weren't going anywhere, despite playing for one of the worst teams in baseball. Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood in particular weren't going to waive their respective no-trade clauses. It might seem baffling to some people, but former teammate Derrek Lee says it's too great a place to play to want to leave.

"It's not that easy," Lee said (Chicago Tribune). "It's easy to look from the outside and say, 'Well, go play on a contender. This team is winning, so why don't you want to go there?' But you build roots in a place.

"Those guys have families. It's not that easy just to pack up and go. And how many cities are there as good as Chicago? You're going to have great crowds there every day, an atmosphere, and also those guys probably want the challenge of turning it around and winning there."

Baby steps: We've opined in this space several times about the sheer idiocy that are the MLB blackout rules and it appears there might be some ever-so-slight progress. Evidently MLB Extra Innings subscribers in northeast Ohio were all of a sudden blacked out from watching Pirates and Indians games due to a merger of several local cable providers. For once, Major League Baseball rectified an issue and lifted the blackout. So I guess that's a step in the right direction, but the rules are still absurd. (Biz of Baseball)

Remember me? Wednesday, we posted a video of an apparent Ichiro Suzuki fanatic in the Mariners crowd, who interfered with play by accident. Well, he was back at the ballpark the following day, once again dressed in full Ichiro garb. (Super Ichiro Crazy)

Bat-flavored beer: In Seattle, a brewing company has made a beer that soaked maple bats in it for three weeks. Interesting idea. Personally, I'm not sure I'd want to try it -- it just sounds weird, no? -- but who knows, maybe it's great. (ESPN.com)

Trade bait: Fangraphs.com has an excellent flow chart showing all the trades of Edwin Jackson, who has been dealt six times (and he's only 27 years old). Roughly 15 players have been traded for Jackson, though it's tough to very accurately say the proper number, as there have been a pair of three-way trades involving him.

Bad signings: Once you get past the Yankees, the Red Sox are generally maligned by casual fans for being a huge spender in free agency and just throwing money at players. The truth, however, is that the Red Sox are actually pretty good at developing their own. Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and more came directly from the system. Meanwhile, many free agent signings, like John Lackey and Carl Crawford, have thus far been a disaster (ESPN.com). Maybe Theo Epstein should stop spending so much on external players?

Back off, Tony: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa took exception with some comments from Brewers fans earlier this week, and I got his back. On this, however, I will not be doing so. He heard a Brewers announcer say the Cardinals throwing at Ryan Braun was "bush league" and called said announcer to discuss. I mean, really? The two did "clear the air," so I guess all's well that ends well. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Chipper return: Chipper Jones hasn't been in the starting lineup for over a week. He returned from the disabled list only to come down with a new injury and has been relegated to pinch-hit duty since. He's planning on returning to the lineup Friday, not surprisingly, against the Mets. He's hit more homers against the Mets than any other team in his career. (AJC.com)

Moose rests: Royals rookie Mike Moustakas has struggled, for the most part, since his promotion to the bigs. Manager Ned Yost gave Moustakas Wednesday night off to work on his swing mechanics. (Kansas City Star)

Alonso at third: Reds rookie Yonder Alonso projects as a very good major league hitter, according to most scouts, but he's a first baseman by trade. Not sure if you've heard, but the Reds have a decent 1B. Alonso has been played in left field, but most scouts see him as a bit of a butcher out there. Maybe third base could be a fit, with Scott Rolen being out for the next four to six weeks? He's been working out at third recently. (MLB.com)

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Posted on: August 3, 2011 11:10 am
Edited on: August 3, 2011 11:14 am

Video: Faux-Ichiro interferes with Ackley hit

By Matt Snyder

Fortunately, this Ichiro fan won't go down in history with the likes of Steve Bartman, but a Mariners fan did get a bit overzealous in grabbing a souvenir baseball Tuesday night. Dustin Ackley hit the ball down the right field line and was clearly headed for a triple, when a fan dressed in what appears to be a full Ichiro Suzuki uniform reached onto the field and picked up the ball. So Ackley was given a ground-rule double as the fan put his head down in shame. Eventually the umpires awarded Ackley third base, so it didn't end up hurting them at all.

The best part of the video -- as you can see below -- is probably the announcer's indignant "dude" call. Either that or the fan sitting next to the fake-Ichiro pointing to the field and scolding him. The Ichiro fan was ejected from the game, which seems to be a bit much.

Check it out below.

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Posted on: August 2, 2011 11:45 pm

Mariners' Ryan gets to third on infield single

Brendan Ryan

By C. Trent Rosecrans

You want to see the best hustle play you may see all year?

Witness Brendan Ryan in the first inning of Tuesday's game against Oakland. WIth one out, Ryan hit the ball to shortstop Eric Sogard, but beat it out for an infield single. First baseman Connor Jackson caught Sogard's wide throw, and held onto the ball. Ryan noticed nobody was covering second and took off to take the extra bag. Once he slid into second, he noticed nobody was on third and took that base, as well. Kurt Suzuki stayed at home or else he could have scored on an infield single. 

Dustin Ackley followed with a walk and then Mike Carp doubled in both runners to give Seattle a 2-0 lead.

Watch the play here.

That's the kind of thing you just have to love seeing, especially in a game featuring two teams a combined 25 1/2 games out of first place. Bravo, Brendan Ryan, bravo.

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Posted on: August 1, 2011 9:44 am

Pepper: Pelfrey finds sinker; Buchholz finished


By Evan Brunell

SINKING: Mike Pelfrey thinks he has his sinker back and is hoping to reclaims some optimism during a season where Pelfrey crumbled under the weight of being considered an ace, regressing from a 3.66 ERA in 204 innings last night to a 4.55 mark to date.

"Mike takes such pride in what he does," pitching coach Warthen told the New York Daily News. "I see a guy who was forcing his pitches instead of throwing them."

Pelfrey, for his part, believes that mechanics were an issue. The right-hander's bread and butter has been his sinker, but that lost effectiveness when he altered his arm slot to make his secondary pitches more effective. While Pelfrey isn't scrapping his arm slot, he did say he has to make sure to get his arm out in front of his body more when he throws the sinker. Perhaps then, Pelfrey thinks, he can start racking up the numbers he produced last season even though his peripherals in both 2010 and 2011 are rather similar.

"... I've never seen anybody that can command a baseball as well as he can," Warthen added. "So when he goes out and walks three, four, five guys, I'm just baffled. It's beyond my belief that that can happen with a guy who can do the things he can with the baseball."

Pelfrey will face the Marlins on Monday night and has long struggled against Florida with a career 1-7 record and 5.25 ERA in 15 starts. He'll look to use his sinker, which pushed him to a complete-game victory last time out, to walk away with a win. (New York Daily News)

: You usually see a winners or losers list come out of the trade deadline, but what about a list of best GMs for those who focused on the short-term and then long-term? Unsurprisingly, contending teams dominate the first list, rebuilding the latter. (ESPN's Jim Bowden)

: Clay Buchholz appears to have a stress fracture in his back, which will shut him down for the rest of the season and most likely the postseason as well. David Wright recently missed two months with a stress fracture. (CSNNE.com)

BELL EXTENSION: Now that Heath Bell is staying in San Diego, the talk can turn toward the Padres potentially signing him to a contract extension. Bell, for his part, continues to stand by his proclamation that he will accept a three-year deal with a hometown discount to stay with the Pads. (North County Times)

Dodgers DEAL: The Dodgers are considered one of the biggest losers of the trade deadline, dealing a blue-chip prospect for three organizational players. Steve Dilbeck pens a defense, saying the blue-chipper in Trayvon Robinson clearly didn't fit in Los Angeles' plans, plus they finally got the prospect catcher they coveted in Tim Federowicz. GM Ned Coletti says Federowicz could make the roster next spring training. (Los Angeles Times)

Cubs DON'T DEAL: Carlos Pena, who is expected to resign with the Cubs should Chicago miss out on Prince Fielder in free agency, was thrilled the Cubs stood pat at the trade deadline.

"I'd rather have someone really working toward our common goal, instead of (trading players) just for show," Pena said. "Our GM is not like that. He's not trying to 'look' like he's working. He's working. It's totally different than [thinking] 'I can fool the world by switching a couple pieces here,' and it really looks like he's making moves, making changes. When in reality it's just all for show.

"He's not like that. He's doing something that's going to mean something at the end of it all, something substantial, and we're going to reap the benefits. I'd rather have that. We put all our heads together, all our energy together, and personally, I'm excited about the possibility of me being part of that team. Even with our record at this point, with our difficulties, I can say the same thing. I'm excited about what's coming."

Sorry, Carlos. Hendry still messed up. (Chicago Tribune)

THAT'S NICE: That's the reaction of columnist Dejan Kovacevic on the Pirates' haul at the trade deadline, bringing in Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick. Unfortunately, they may be arriving aboard a sinking ship as Pittsburgh's pitching regresses. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

: Here's a quick look behind the scenes of the Francisco Rodriguez trade that sent the Mets closer to Milwaukee. K-Rod requested that his vesting option for 2012 be waived so the Mets were free to make baseball decisions about Rodriguez's usage. Alderson used that information to convince other teams the closer would void the option, which is exactly what happened once the righty moved to Milwaukee. (New York Times)

LOOKING FORWARD: Manager Eric Wedge won't let the Mariners get complacent the rest of the way, even if the trades made at the deadline deleted two strong pitchers from the staff and clearly set Seattle back this season. "What we're not going to do is spin our wheels," Wedge said. (MLB.com)

TOP DH: One of the best DHs in baseball history is Frank Thomas, who wasn't afraid to proclaim David Ortiz an all-time great at the position. Also, Thomas is a believer that DH gets a bum rap when it comes to Hall of Fame voting and perception of the position. "You ask any DH in the league how tough it is to sit there and pinch hit four times a day and put up monster numbers,” he said. (Boston Herald)

OPTION VESTS: Bobby Abreu's option for 2011 vested with his 433rd plate appearance of the season, reaching the milestone in the ninth inning Sunday against the Tigers. Abreu is now tied to Los Angeles for one more season at $9 million.

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Posted on: July 31, 2011 6:50 pm

Red Sox get Bedard in 3-team deal

By Danny Knobler

A day after their trade for Rich Harden fell through over reported concerns about his health, the Red Sox traded for another oft-injured pitcher, acquiring left-hander Erik Bedard from the Mariners in a three-team trade that also included the Dodgers, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The deal was completed just before the 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline.

The Red Sox traded Double-A catcher Tim Federowicz and pitchers Stephen Fife and Juan Rodriguez to the Dodgers, who then sent outfielder Trayvon Robinson to the Mariners. Bedard and minor-league reliever Josh Fields go to the Red Sox, who will also send Chih-Hsien Chiang to Seattle.

Bedard didn't make it out of the second inning in a horrible showcase start Friday night, when he came off the disabled list to pitch against the Rays. But the Red Sox obviously came out of that game convinced that Bedard was healthy, and with Hiroki Kuroda and Ubaldo Jimenez unavailable, and with Harden deal having collapsed, the Red Sox took a chance.

The Red Sox had been looking for rotation depth, especially with Clay Buchholz in California to see a back specialist early this week. All five pitchers who began the year in the Red Sox rotation have missed at least one start with a health issue, and Daisuke Matsuzaka is out for the year after Tommy John surgery.

Scouts who saw Bedard before he went on the DL said he was pitching like he did in his prime, when he was a 15-game winner with the Orioles in 2006. The Mariners acquired him from Baltimore in February 2008, in a deal that cost Seattle a package that included center fielder Adam Jones.

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Posted on: July 30, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: July 30, 2011 12:24 pm

On Deck: Turner's spot start


By Matt Snyder

Expect heavy action on the trade market with the deadline being Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET, but there's still a full slate of games to watch Saturday. It's a baseball fan's delight. Let's start with a game that ties into the trade deadline. And remember, you can follow all the action on CBSSports.com's live scoreboard.

Turn to Turner: Big-time pitching prospect Jacob Turner will get the ball Saturday for the Tigers against the Angels in what will amount to a spot-start. The 20-year-old right hander is 3-5 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in Double-A. The reason it's only a one-time start is because he's filling the rotation spot that will be occupied by newly acquired Doug Fister, who comes over in a trade first reported by CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler. The Tigers hold a 2 1/2 game lead in the AL Comedy Central, despite being only six games over .500. Turner will have his work cut out for him, as he'll attempt to best Dan Haren (10-6, 3.01). L.A. Angels at Detroit, 4:10 p.m. ET

Different directions: The Nationals have lost six in a row and are in a season-defining tailspin. Meanwhile, the Mets have won five in a row and are within realistic striking distance of the Wild Card. A win for the Mets Saturday would match their longest winning streak of the season. Despite trading away Carlos Beltran, the Mets' offense is currently firing on all cylinders, with now-healthy David Wright as the catalyst. An added storyline Saturday is this could possibly be Jason Marquis' (8-5, 3.95) final start for the Nationals. He's been rumored to be on the move prior to the trade deadline. The Mets will run R.A. Dickey (5-8, 3.74) to the mound. N.Y. Mets at Washington, 7:05 p.m. ET

Speaking of Beltran: In a decidedly small sample size, new Giants outfielder Carlos Beltran hasn't yet made a huge dent for his new club. He's 1-9 with an RBI in his two games as a Giant. He'll attempt to bust out of the incredibly slight funk -- which is so small I refuse to even call it a slump -- Saturday night in Cincinnati. He'll be squaring off against Mike Leake (8-6, 4.04). The Giants send Madison Bumgarner (6-9, 3.56) to protect their four-game lead in the NL West.

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Posted on: July 29, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2011 3:23 pm

Friday afternoon trade rumor roundup


By Evan Brunell

Today's the last weekday prior to the trade deadline, which expires on Sunday. Will there be a flurry of activity much like there was Wednesday when Colby Rasmus was part of a three-team deal and Carlos Beltran headed to San Francisco? It's too early to tell, but here's the latest rumors, headlined by Hunter Pence. If you're looking for information on Ubaldo Jimenez, we've broken that off into its own story -- head here and check it out.


MLB Trade Deadline
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal says the Reds are on Michael Bourn, Houston's center fielder. An odd fit, given the team has Drew Stubbs, but Stubbs has been struggling this year and Bourn can impact Cincinnati at the top of the lineup. The team is also in on Hunter Pence, but Rosenthal tabs Pence as the "Phillies' to lose."

On Thursday, a deal between Philadelphia and Houston was so close that Pence was told during the game that night he was being removed due to a trade, as Heyman reports, but he never came out of the game. That's because a potential deal Philadelphia would have engineered with Jonathan Singleton, Jared Cosart and a third piece fell through when the 'Stros wanted Domonic Brown. Both sides are so close, though, it's hard to imagine a trade doesn't eventually happen. Heyman, for his part, thinks a deal will happen if it's Brown and Cosart for Pence.

However, Joel Sherman of the New York Post isn't ready to count out Atlanta. The 'Stros appear to prefer the Braves' prospects, but Atlanta refuses to deal Mike Minor. If that changes, Pence could be a Brave. Will that be enough to keep him out of Philly, a team Heyman says will "do whatever it takes" to get Pence?
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com