Posted on: July 8, 2010 10:57 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2010 10:59 pm

Ramirez might back out of Derby

Hanley Ramirez If this trend continues, will anyone be willing to compete in the Home Run Derby a few years from now?

Hours after Hanley Ramirez was announced as a participant in next week's event, the Marlins shortstop said Thursday night he was pulling out. Then he changed his mind back. Halfway.

"I'm not doing that," Ramirez told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I'm going to cancel it." A few moments later he said it was "50-50."

Ramirez said he was worried about how participating might affect his swing in the second half, a sentiment that's getting very familiar.

It doesn't seem like participating in one unconventional batting practice, which is essentially what the Derby is, could throw off a player's swing on a long-term basis, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of the "Derby curse," and participating is becoming seen as a real risk.

Where sluggers used to clamor to get into the showcase, baseball seems to have more trouble filling the field every year. And teams are telling players not to participate, as the Yankees did this week with Robinson Cano.

At the moment, assuming Ramirez is in, he's on the NL squad with Corey Hart and Matt Holliday. The AL squad is Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz and Vernon Wells. Both leagues still need to add one hitter. If they can find one.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 8, 2010 1:14 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2010 2:23 pm

Ranking the suitors for Lee

Cliff Lee Is your team in on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes?

Chances are -- unless you're a Pirates or Orioles fan, the answer is yes.

An anonymous source tells Newsday's Ken Davidoff that "pretty much every team within five games of the playoffs" has called the Mariners about Lee.

So, if you're counting, that's 17 teams, nine National League squads and eight American League clubs.

Besides the whole 15 games under .500 thing, Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik must feel like the prettiest girl in school.

This is far from a final list, and I could be completely wrong -- but here's a listing of the possibilities in some semblance of an order. Feel free to offer your own favorites.

1. Twins -- still a good possibility, they've got the desire, the prospects (Wilson Ramos, Aaron Hicks) and with a new ballpark, they also have an influx of cash and urgency to do something special. With Lee, we could have some postseason snow-outs.

2. Mets -- the other New York team is always out there trying too hard -- like your one friend who gets a little too dressed up and has that extra spray (or four) of cologne when you go out. Sadly, he always seems to strike out.

3. Reds -- never underestimate the desire of an owner to make a splash. Bob Castellini is an emotional owner and believes firmly in his town's desire to see a winner and ultimately support it. If the Mariners want corner prospects, the Reds could dangle Yonder Alonso and Juan Francisco -- blocked by Joey Votto and Scott Rolen's three-year extension, respectively. There's also Todd Frazier, who can play about anywhere, and pitchers Matt Maloney and Travis Wood, who could be added to the rotation right away.

4. Rangers -- they're not as long of a long shot as you might think. Lee's not about money. It's about prospects, and Justin Smoak is a prospect that would fit perfectly. Roy Oswalt would be costly; Lee is only $4 million for the rest of the season. If money's still an issue, they could sweeten the pot with another prospect. MLB -- the organization -- has a vested interest in the Rangers and they'd likely loan the Rangers the money to make it work. A Rangers team in the playoffs is more valuable to a bidder than one that breaks down in August.

5. Yankees -- the team could go get him, but why rent him now and give up prospects when you've still got a good shot at winning and will just buy him in the offseason, anyway. That way you keep the prospects. But with the Yankees, you've always got to have them in the discussion. They're a courtesy top five, due to the fact they're the Yankees.

6. Rays -- pitching depth isn't a problem in this system, but they have a potential impact bat in B.J. Upton, and a serviceable catcher in Dioner Navarro. A Lee-David Price front of the rotation could be lights-out in a short series.

7. Phillies -- yeah, the Phillies could add the former Phillie, but it would likely cost them Domonic Brown -- who GM Ruben Amaro Jr. wouldn't give up for Roy Halladay. The desire is there, but the prospects may not be.

8. White Sox -- the news on Jake Peavy makes them the highest-riser on the list, plus GM Kenny Williams loves to make a splash, and this would certainly qualify.

9. Cardinals -- despite needs to fill out their rotation, the Cardinals are reportedly looking for bats more than arms. Still, it's tempting to think of a playoff rotation of Lee, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright -- that would make them a favorite based on "the great" Albert Pujols' offense alone.

10. Tigers -- Detroit could use him, that's for sure. GM Dave Dombrowski has never shied away from a big deal, but it's unclear whether Detroit has the juice in either prospects or cash to get it done.

11. Red Sox -- a lot of needs with all their injures, Lee would be a luxury -- not that they haven't indulged in those in the past.

12. Braves -- Atlanta could certainly use Lee -- who couldn't? -- but they don't seem like a fit in either needs or assets. The Braves, more likely will be crossing their fingers that Lee doesn't land in the NL East, which is still up for grabs.

13. Rockies -- they are more likely to fine-tune than to do anything big. GM Dan O'Dowd has prized prospects and is unlikely to mortgage the future for a rent-a-player.

14. Padres -- sure, they're broke and they're pitching well, but there is some reason here. 1. Owner Jeff Moorad has said he'll deal for an arm if he can, and 2. most of the Padres arms are young arms. Mat Latos, Wade LeBlanc and Clayton Richard may not only tire down the stretch, Latos, at least, is on an innings count of 150 to 180 and he's already an out away from 100 innings on the season.

15. Giants -- looking for bats, not arms.

16. Angels -- ditto.

17. Dodgers -- Jamie McCourt is unlikely to give any of her alimony to help Frank out.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 7, 2010 7:39 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2010 8:56 pm

Cano in Derby, then out, then in, then out

Robinson Cano The story that Robinson Cano would participate in the Home Run Derby has taken several dizzying twists and turns.

Cano was named to participate in the Home Run Derby on Tuesday, but pulled out of the event due to a minor back problem after the Yankees were displeased Cano agreed to participate without conferring with the team.

The problem is the Yankees didn't confer with Cano when announcing Cano would not play. When reporters entered the clubhouse prior to Wednesday's game for the Yankees, it was news to Cano that he wasn't playing, according to the Journal News .

Cano noted that he's been dealing with a stiff back but it hasn't been a problem and no one has told him he is pulling out. Manager Joe Girardi and GM Brian Cashman confirmed that Cano was out, with Girardi saying that the miscommunication would be worked out "in house," according to Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse.

The GM and manager will certainly win this war, and hopefully this little saga now comes to an end. It is not yet known who will replace Cano in the Derby.

It's unfortunate that Girardi and Cashman are trying to get Cano out of the Derby. Putting the stiff back aside for a moment, baseball needs its biggest stars to perform on the stage that the All-Star events present: near-undivided attention from the sports world. Baseball only gets three major storylines a season to itself where it far outpaces other sports coverage: free agency, the playoffs and the Home Run Derby/All-Star Game.

Home Run Derby curse or not, having a bunch of no-names to showcase isn't good for baseball.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 7, 2010 3:10 pm

Report: Cano out of Derby

The Yankees weren't happy with Robinson Cano's decision, apparently without discussing it with the team, to participate in the Home Run Derby next Monday.

Well, it looks like the Yankees have gotten their way. The New York Daily News reported Wednesday that Cano has pulled out of the event, and the given reason is going to be a minor back problem, though it hasn't been enough to keep him out of the lineup.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 7, 2010 10:42 am
Edited on: July 7, 2010 3:11 pm

Yankees not happy with Cano's Derby debut

Robinson Cano Teams don't get to choose whether their players participate in the Home Run Derby.

That doesn't mean they have to like it.

Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano will be one of eight players in the hitting contest next Monday, but the team would prefer he weren't involved. There is mounting anecdotal evidence that participating in the Derby -- which involves repeating an unnatural, go-for-the-fences swing dozens of times -- can have lasting effects on a player.

In 2008, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton put on an amazing display at the Derby, hitting a record 28 home runs in the first round. His home run production took a pronounced drop, 21 in the first half of the season and just 11 in the second, and Hamilton has said the Home Run Derby threw off his swing. Bobby Abreu and Albert Pujols have similarly slumped and said the Derby affected them.

More and more players are declining Derby invitations, but Cano couldn't resist the chance to take center stage. He'll be joined by Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers, David Ortiz of the Red Sox, Vernon Wells of the Blue Jays, Corey Hart of the Brewers and Matt Holliday of the Cardinals. The National League has yet to name its two other participants.

"I would prefer he's not involved in it, but that's not my decision," Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long said of Cano in the New York Daily News. "History suggests that guys that do the home run hitting contest get fatigued and exhausted from the process. I'm happy for the fact that he's maybe getting the opportunity, but in the same breath we have to be careful in how he goes about this."

Cano has said he's just going to take the normal swings he would take in batting practice, and manager Joe Girardi hopes that's true.

"I think it's a lot of swings for a player; physically, I think it's somewhat of a grind, but it's an honor to be involved," Girardi said. "The biggest thing is that we keep Robinson Cano healthy and strong the whole year. If that in any way would fatigue him, then I would prefer that he didn't get fatigued."

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 6, 2010 7:07 pm

Weaver gets All-Star nod

Jered Weaver Joe Girardi has righted one of the All-Star wrongs, naming Angeles right-hander Jered Weaver as the replacement for CC Sabathia, the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand tweets .

Sabathia is starting Sunday, meaning he won't be eligible to pitch in the All-Star Game two days later. The rule should also make Oakland's Trevor Cahill ineligible to pitch in the game, meaning another pitcher will be added in the next week.

Cahill and Sabathia will pitch against each other tonight in Oakland.

Besides being the hometown pick, Weaver has been the Angels' ace this season, going 8-3 with a 2.82 ERA and an American League-best 124 strikeouts.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 5, 2010 8:22 pm

Pettitte added to All-Star team

Andy Pettitte Andy Pettitte is officially an All-Star. Joe Girardi announced the move after Boston Clay Buchholz was put on the disabled list on Monday.

Girardi told reporters that Pettitte was the next pitcher on the players' ballot.

It's Pettitte's first All-Star selection since 2001.

With CC Sabathia and Oakland's Trevor Cahill out of the game because he'll start on Sunday, here's hoping Girardi has taken care of "his guy" (as Charlie Manuel would say) with Pettitte and adds Anaheim's Jered Weaver to the staff when it's time to finish filling out the roster.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 5, 2010 3:29 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 3:46 pm

Bench player Bloomquist attracting attention

Willie Bloomquist It's not often you hear of teams in demand for a backup player, but that's happened quite often so far in 2010.

The Red Sox, Phillies, Tigers, Yankees, among other teams, need backup infield help which is like music to the ears of a team such as the Royals, who have Willie Bloomquist as a viable backup.

Bloomquist has a leg up over other versatile backup infielders such as Ty Wigginton by virtue of the fact he's simply not as good as Wigginton. That's not to say Bloomquist is terrible -- he can play multiple positions adequately. His bat won't nab him any Silver Sluggers, but it's adequate enough for someone in his position. The case for Bloomquist is also bolstered by his speed. He stole 25 bases in 2009 over 486 plate appearances.

Despite the .243/.288/.392 line on the season, he's hitting .368 in the past six weeks with 38 at-bats to his name.

"I’m not advocating Willie going anywhere," manager Ned Yost told the Kansas City Star , finding Bloomquist too valuable. "I can’t tell you how valuable he is. He’s at the top of his position. I can’t think of another super-utility player who is as good as Willie outside of maybe Jamey Carroll [of the Dodgers].

"[Bloomquist] gives you a great at-bat," Yost continued. "You can pinch-run him. You can double-switch him. Once you get him in the game, you can move him around. There’s just so much you can do with a player like Willie."

Bloomquist is also very affordable as he would cost just $850,000 if acquired. It works both ways, however, as Kansas City wouldn't be desperate to deal the utility infielder for financial reasons. One thing that may push KC into swapping him is the fact he is a free agent after the year and won't bring back any draft-pick compensation.

"It’s kind of fun to hear you name [in trade rumors] once in a while," Bloomquist said of all the speculation. "It shows that people still know who you are. If there’s some interest in you, that’s not a bad thing. That means people like you, and you’re doing something right."

That's certainly true, if contending clubs with World Series aspirations are casting an eye towards Bloomquist.

One team to watch out for is the Red Sox. In years past, Boston has not had a true utilityman but has found Bill Hall working wonders for the squad this year. Manager Terry Francona has fallen in love with the flexibility Hall offers. With all the injuries suffered in Beantown, adding a second utilityman would free up a lot of pressure to bring up a specific player who can play a specific position. Even if Bloomquist doesn't end up in Boston, they figure to give him a call once free agency starts.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com