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Tag:Athletics
Posted on: August 13, 2011 1:21 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Fun homecoming for Wells



By Matt Snyder


Vernon Wells, Angels. Wells was the Blue Jays' first-round pick all the way back in 1997. He first grabbed a cup of coffee in the bigs in 1999 and stuck for good in 2002. He amassed 223 home runs, more than 1,500 hits and an .804 OPS for the Jays. He was traded to the Angels this past offseason. Friday night, Wells returned to Toronto for the first time as an enemy, but the Blue Jays faithful hadn't forgotten him. Wells was greeted with a nice ovation before his first at-bat. He then proceeded to hit his 126th career home run in the Rogers Centre, only this time it hurt the Jays. Wells' new team would go on to win 7-1 and stay two games behind the Rangers in the AL West.

Prince Fielder, Brewers. Going 3-for-4 with a home run wouldn't normally land the big man here. That's what he's paid to do and what he's going to be paid a gigantic amount this offseason to continue to do. But one of his singles Friday is worth noting. In the bottom of the fifth, Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm completely jammed Fielder inside, and the result was what should have been a routine grounder to the shortstop area -- with the shift on, it was third baseman Pedro Alvarez making the play -- but Fielder beat it out. There wasn't even a bobble on the defensive end. He just legged out a single. And the Brewers won for the 14th time in their last 16 games.

J.J. Hardy, Orioles. The shorstop hit two more home runs Friday night, giving him 23 on the season. His career high in homers is 26, which he in 592 at-bats in 2007. He also hit 24 home runs in 2008 ... in 569 at-bats. He has just 343 at-bats so far this season. If Hardy can stay healthy -- which is a big if -- his contract extension earlier this summer by the Orioles was a great decision. He's still just 28 years old.



CC Sabathia, Yankees. For the first time in his career, Sabathia allowed more than three home runs in a game. He actually allowed five in the Yankees 5-1 loss to the Rays. The funny thing is, Sabathia is a such a competitor he still kept the game within striking distance and lasted eight innings. I almost wanted to make him an "up" for such an effort. Then I realized CC himself is probably livid he coughed up five bombs to a team that came in averaging less than one per game.

Giants offense. Matt Cain told reporters after the game he cost his team the game. You know, because he allowed two runs. If a starting pitcher is blaming himself for a loss when he allowed two runs -- against a team that entered the game with a seven-game losing streak, mind you -- that's a problem. Pablo Sandoval told reporters the Giants aren't having any fun right now, too (SFGate.com). Will things suddenly turn around when Carlos Beltran and Nate Schierholtz get healthy? They better, for the Giants sake, or else Arizona is taking the West while the Giants watch from home in October.

The Oakland A's. So Rangers starter C.J. Wilson talks about how much everything in Oakland sucks this week and then he takes the hill Friday night in Oakland. And the A's come out and get their teeth kicked in, 9-1.

And in case you missed it, the biggest clown down of the night was Carlos Zambrano. Click here and here to see why, again, if you missed it.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 12, 2011 4:41 pm
 

On Deck: Spotlight on Turner Field

OD

By Matt Snyder

We've got our usual full slate of Friday night games, with 15 starting in a three hour and five minute window. There is, of course, the possible drama of the Giants heading to Florida to square off against the team that knocked Buster Posey out for the season, but it sounds like nothing will come of that. So we'll grab three other intriguing storylines here. And remember to keep those eyes glued on the CBSSports.com live scoreboard all night with up to the second updates.

Uggla goes for 32, Braves lead Wild Card: The Braves return home Friday with second baseman Dan Uggla bringing in the longest major-league hitting streak since Chase Utley's 35-gamer in 2006. We've already covered the matchups for this series in terms of Uggla's history against the Cubs' pitchers, so let's instead focus on the game itself here. The Braves have a five-game lead in the NL Wild Card race and host the team with the second-worst record in the National League. Still, it may not be as easy as it sounds. The Cubs come in having won nine of their past 11 and are playing solid baseball for the first time in 2011. Carlos Zambrano (9-6, 4.46) of the Cubs faces off against Mike Minor (1-2, 4.85). Cubs at Braves, 7:35 p.m. ET.

Oakland's Public Enemy: Rangers starter C.J. Wilson (10-5, 3.35) had some strong words for the Oakland A's, the stadium, their fans, etc. earlier this week. He basically said everything sucks, so that couldn't have endeared him much to the A's or the Oakland fans. Wilson's former teammate Brandon McCarthy (5-5, 3.31), now of the A's, responded by saying the A's need to beat Wilson and the fans need to show up and send Wilson a message. And wouldn't you know it, the two pichers just happen to be squaring off Friday night. There doesn't seem to be any bad blood, so much as Wilson just speaking his mind and McCarthy trying to stand up for his ballclub and fans. Still, it's too bad the ptichers don't bat. It would be cool to see them go head-to-head. Rangers at A's, 10:05 p.m. ET.

Wells returns to Toronto: Vernon Wells played almost 1,400 games in 12 seasons for the Blue Jays. He was a fixture in center field for over a decade, making three All-Star Games and hauling in three Gold Gloves. This season, however, he's playing for the Angels and Friday night he'll take the field at the Rogers Centre wearing enermy garb for the first time. Wells hasn't fared well at all for the Angels, as his .208/.241/.373 line is the worst of his career. He is, however, in a pennant race of the Angels are just two games behind the Rangers in the AL West. Wells' Angels will send red-hot Ervin Santana (8-8, 3.21) to the hill as the Blue Jays counter with Brandon Morrow (8-6, 4.51). Santana is 5-0 with a 1.57 ERA -- and a no-hitter -- in his past eight starts. No word yet on the Man in White's availability, but the Jays may need him. Angels at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 2:23 pm
 

C.J. Wilson slams Oakland stadium, fans, team

Wilson
By Evan Brunell

You can cross Oakland off the list of potential destinations for C.J. Wilson.

"I hate pitching there," Wilson told MLB.com. "The mound [stinks]. The fans [stink]. There are no fans there. It's too bad, because the fans that are there are really adamant and stoked on the team. They play drums and they wave flags, and it's cool. But some games you go there and there are, like, 6,000 people there. It's kind of sad, because that's a Major League team, and there are guys out there that are obviously pretty good players. Guys like [Trevor] Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, obviously, they are All-Star pitchers, and I just wish the fan base supported them a little bit more."

Wilson, who is with the Rangers, is eligible for free agency after the year and is currently the top arm slated to hit the market. That could change if CC Sabathia opts out of his contract with the Yankees or Yu Darvish follows through on his plan to come stateside from Japan, but even then, Wilson will be a coveted arm. The left-hander came up through the Rangers system as a starter and made six starts in his rookie season of 2005, appearing in 24 games overall.

The 30-year-old pitched exclusively as a reliever through 2009 and collected 50 saves from 2007-09 and was converted back to the rotation for 2010, where he posted a 3.35 ERA in 33 starts over 204 innings, a smashing success that no one saw coming. This year, Wilson has the same ERA but has pitched even better, striking out more batters and significantly dropping his walk numbers. That will leave him in high demand once he hits the free-agent market.

Wilson has a point about the fans in Oakland. The attendance and interest has gotten so bad that the A's have been trying to move out for quite some time. A deal to move to Fremont fell through, and now the A's have been waiting years to see if they will be approved to relocate to San Jose, a territory that the San Francisco Giants hold rights to. In the interim, the A's have to deal with limited revenues and a ballpark that is not conducive to fan enjoyment, or position-player enjoyment, as hitters tend to avoid signing in Oakland due to the cavernous park.

Wilson would actually benefit from pitching in the dimensions of O.co Coliseum, but he would prefer to stay in Texas over moving west even though Rangers Ballpark is a hitter's haven and situated in Texas, where brutally hot temperatures are the norm in the summer.

"I'd rather pitch here than in Oakland, regardless of the weather," he said. "I don't like their fans. You don't need to worry about me signing there after the season. They hate me anyway, so it doesn't matter. The players on their team hate me, whatever. I don't care. It's true -- dudes on their team don't like me. I get it."

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Posted on: August 9, 2011 3:07 pm
 

Hot streak could have Matsui on the move

Matsui

By Evan Brunell

When the trade deadline closed on July 31, the focus immediately turned toward which players could be traded by August 31 through the waiver system, fronted by closer Heath Bell of the Padres.

Nowhere was the name Hideki Matsui mentioned, which was for obvious reasons. Here was a 37-year-old on his third team in three years, the free-agent market so poor he had to accept a job with the Athletics and ply his trade in the cavernous O.co Coliseum (yes, it really is named that). To no one's surprise, his aging bat and park limited him to a .209/.290/.327 line through July 10 in 302 plate appearances. At that point, his trade value was nil, and even a .466/.515/.724 in the 16 days running up to the deadline weren't enough to send him packing.

Except Matsui has continued to hit. Since the All-Star Game, Matsui is scorching hot, racking up a .451/.495/.720 line in 93 plate appearances, and it's time to sit up and take notice. Matsui is now a prime candidate to be dealt in August, especially if he keeps up the production. Given his poor season to date, teams may opt to wait until closer to Aug. 31 before jumping on Matsui, but suitors will be there, including the Yankees.

New York is where Godzilla plied his trade for seven years before departing after 2009. The Yankees recently benched Jorge Posada and are moving forward with an Andruw Jones - Eric Chavez platoon, with Posada getting the occasional start. Matsui's fit in New York isn't entirely clear as the team plans on calling up top prospect Jesus Montero to give DH a try once they evaluate the Jones/Chavez combo. But it's no sure thing that Montero can impress before Aug. 31. If he doesn't start off with a bang, you can easily see GM Brian Cashman calling Oakland and asking about Matsui, who won't fetch an exorbitant price due to his age and the limited timeframe of his hot streak. Even Cashman, who is evermore adamant about hanging onto his prospects, will be willing to give up a midlevel prospect to inject some more thump for the postseason.

Surprisingly, the Yankees may be Matsui's only chance of getting out of Oakland, unless a NL team was interested in his pinch-hitting capabilities or was willing to live with the Japanese import's defense in left field, which is possible. But for a starting job, Matsui is essentially limited to DH. And therein lies the problem.

Despite only three AL teams recording average production out of the DH spot, the Yankees remain Matsui's best -- if not only -- bet. These three teams' DHs total at least 2 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). That figure is representative an average full-time player, so there are 11 teams that are getting substandard production. Those that are not are the Rangers, Red Sox and Twins. That leaves the Yankees, Tigers, Indians, White Sox, Angels and Rays with hopes of the postseason and yet substandard DH production -- but no obvious fits.

The Twins and Indians won't be interested now that Jim Thome and Travis Hafner, respectively, are back from the DL, The White Sox are stuck with Adam Dunn, while the Tigers are pleased with rotating Victor Martinez and Magglio Ordonez through the DH spot. The Rays are pretty distant in the wild-card chase, so it's unlikely they strike for Matsui. That leaves the Angels, Matsui's former employer -- but Bobby Abreu occupies the DH spot, and there's no real interest in Los Angeles for shifting Abreu back to left, moving Vernon Wells to center and taking youngster Peter Bourjos, one of the team's few bright spots, out of the lineup. Of these teams, the White Sox are the best bet as they can simply sit Adam Dunn (which they are currently doing) in favor of Matsui, but it's still a long shot.

While any of these teams could take a different direction and grab Matsui, the odds are low. If it isn't the Yankees, Matsui may have to finish out his year in Oakland or on the bench in the NL. Only a truly desperate team at this point would consider Matsui for left field -- but all it takes is one desperate team for a deal to come together.

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Posted on: August 7, 2011 12:18 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Ellsbury goes off for six RBI

Uribe

By Evan Brunell


Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: Ellsbury slammed a three-run home run that helped propel the Red Sox to victory, but he wasn't done driving in runs despite his career high coming into the game was at three. He doubled that figure to six by adding a sac fly for the game's first run, then contributing to Boston's three-run outburst in he bottom of the eighth to clinch the game by driving a two-run RBI single. The leadoff hitter continues to be red hot with a .321/.377/.522 line and is receiving heavy AL MVP consideration. While he'll have to contend with teammates Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia along with Toronto's Jose Bautista, Ellsbury is certainly deserving of the honor, and BoSox fans serenaded him with "MVP!" chants on Saturday.

Prince Fielder, Brewers: Fielder crushed four RBI in a victory over the Astros. Losses by third-place Pittsburgh and fourth-place Cincinnati left them nine and 9 1/2 back, respectively, of Milwaukee. That leaves St. Louis as the only serious contender for the division title, but the Brewers are rolling now. Fielder went 3 for 3 with two runs scored and adding two walks to push his season line to .300/.416/.562, leaving him in fantastic shape with less than two months to go before the regular season ends and he becomes a free agent. He blasted his 25th home run of the year, tying him for fourth in the NL with Mike Stanton, three behind Lance Berkman for the league lead.

Brandon McCarthy, Athletics: "He was terrific," A's manager Bob Melvin told the Associated Press of McCarthy after the righty fired a five-hitter over eight innings to shut out the Rays in a 8-0 victory. "He's been as consistent a guy as we've had." The former top prospect was dealt from Chicago to Texas, but was never able to deliver on his promise amid injuries. While he still has a shoulder issue that's flared up from time to time, he's sandwiched 16 starts in the year and has a 3.31 ERA to show for it. In five starts since the All-Star Game, he's given up just 10 runs. After limiting Tampa to no walks and five hits, pushing his K/BB on the year to 74/16, it's time to take McCarthy seriously.



Neftali Feliz, Rangers: Feliz gave up three of four runs in a ninth-inning rally for Cleveland, with Texas' own last gasp in the bottom of the frame going for naught, scoring one run en route to a 7-5 loss. Feliz has been shaky all season, and the Rangers importing two top setup men spoke volumes about how secure the brass feels the late innings are down south. Feliz was able to register two outs, but didn't strike out anyone en route to giving up three hits and three earned runs, getting into trouble immediately in the inning and being gifted an out in the form of a sacrifice bunt that eventually led to the inning's first run. Feliz has a 3.64 ERA, but he's pitched worse than that, and the Rangers have to be looking forward to getting him into the rotation next season.

Adam Dunn, White Sox: At this point, it's bordering on abuse to keep slotting Adam Dunn in 3 Down. But what is one supposed to do, when Dunn consistently is one of the worst players to step on a field? At least those who can't hit a lick provide value on defense or baserunning. What exactly does Dunn provide value with? It was supposed to be hitting, but Dunn is having a season for the ages (in a not-good way) and whiffed three times against the Twins on Sunday in four hitless trips to the plate, sinking what already seems to be an unsinkable line to .163/.294/.302. Look, we get that Dunn needs to keep playing. He needs to hit for Chicago to do well, and there's a lot of years and money left on his deal, But does Ozzie Guillen really need to bat him cleanup?

Livan Hernandez, Nationals: Two home runs -- both solo shots in the bottom of the fourth -- were bad enough for Livan Hernandez, but he ended up letting seven other runs cross the plate, giving up nine all told. Sure, two runs were unearned, but that's still a lot of bad pitching in 3 2/3 innings, with the ageless pitcher giving up nine hits against zero strikeouts and walks. That's how you know you've got nothing, and Colorado hitters enjoyed teeing off Hernandez, whose ERA rose to 4.41. The 36-year-old has had several poor starts in his most recent outings, and one has to wonder if he's running out of gas.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: August 3, 2011 7:14 pm
 

Stairs to retire after 19 seasons, 13 teams

Matt Stairs

By C. Trent Rosecrans


After being released by the Nationals earlier this week, Matt Stairs will retire, he told CBC News on Wednesday.

"I'm not sad. I had a great career, a long career," Stairs said. "And it's one of those things where I can walk away today and not be sad about it."

Stairs, 43, played in parts of 19 seasons for a Major League-record 13 teams -- starting his career with the Expos in 1992 and ending it with the same franchise in a different location in 2011 with the Nationals. He also played for the Red Sox, Athletics, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Royals, Rangers, Tigers, Blue Jays, Phillies and Padres

Stairs mostly played first base, the outfield and DH, but was best as a pinch hitter, holding the record with 23 pinch-hit home runs. He finishes his careers with 265 home runs and a slash line of .262/.356/.477.

As a side note, a year ago in spring training, I went out to dinner with a couple of other baseball writers and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! challenged us to name all of Stairs' teams -- I think the group of six other writers managed to get 12 of the 13 before we gave up. It's a fun game to try with friends.

Anyway, Stairs hit just .154/.257/.169 in 74 plate appearances for Washington this season and was designated for assignment after the Nats acquired Jonny Gomes from the Reds.

A native of Canada, Stairs said he's ready to return to his homeland and spend time with his family. He's also a shoe-in for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame when he is eligible in three years.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
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 2, 2011 4:26 pm
 

Players that could be dealt before August 31

Rodriguez
By Evan Brunell

Although the trade deadline expired on Sunday, it... didn't. At least, not really.

What did expire was the non-waiver trade deadline, in which teams can trade players without restrictions that aren't built into a player's contract such as no-trade clauses and the like. However, trades can still occur for the rest of the season -- players just have to pass through waivers. These waivers are revocable, so if a team claims a player, the original team can revoke waivers. However, it then cannot deal the player, and if he goes on waivers a second time and is claimed, he is lost. That team can also choose not to revoke waivers and give away the player and his contract. This is what happened to Alex Rios when he joined Chicago in 2009 when Toronto no longer felt like paying his deal.

The original team and claiming team can also work out a trade, but a trade can only happen with the team that placed a claim. If the player passes through waivers, he can then be traded to any team. Most teams place the majority of players on waivers, both to hide players the team really wants to deal and to broaden options. Waiver claim priority works in order of worst record to best in the same league, then it moves to the worst record in the other league. These types of trades can happen through September, although August 31st is effectively the cutoff point.

While there have been September trades, they are few and far in-between for two reasons. First is that with the expansion to a 40-man rosters, most teams no longer struggle for depth. Secondly, and more important, is the fact that any player outside of the organization acquired after August 31 is not eligible for the playoffs.

Got all that? Good. Let's take a look at nine players or positions of interest who could be on the move in August (and possibly September).

Heath Bell, Padres
: Heath Bell surprisingly stayed at home at the trade deadline while setup man Mike Adams was sent out. This came as a surprise, as everyone assumed that Bell would be dealt. Clearly, the Padres didn't get an offer that was worth giving up the two compensatory draft picks they would have received once Bell rejected arbitration and signed a lucrative contract with another team, or re-upped with San Diego on a hometown-discount deal.

Except Bell said he plans to accept the Padres' offer of arbitration if they can't come to an accord on a contract. That's how motivated Bell is to stay in town, so the Padres can no longer bank on the compensatory draft picks. Unless traded, Bell is staying a Padre. That could motivate GM Jed Hoyer to kick him out in August, although with a $7.5 million contract on the season, Bell figures to be claimed by many teams who could use a top-flight reliever at little cost.

Randy Choate, Marlins: Not exactly a big name, I know, but Choate is the kind of player that gets dealt every August. He's a left-handed reliever who can plug in a gap for a contender. The Yankees, Red Sox and many other teams would be interested in Choate, who is signed for 2012 at just $1.5 million. He's got peanuts left on his $1 million deal this season and has a sterling 1.66 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. That's not much, but Choate's value is tied up in being able to get left-handed hitters out.

As we see every October, that's incredibly valuable, and Choate has held lefties to a .131/.185/.123 mark on the year, which comes out to a .398 OPS. That's really low. Choate has been linked to the Yankees, but he would have no shortage of suitors if the Marlins made him available.

Ramon Hernandez, Reds: There was plenty of consternation as to why the Reds stood pat at the trade deadline, as well as why Hernandez wasn't moved. With top prospect Devin Mesoraco waiting in the wings in Triple-A, one would think that GM Walt Jocketty would want to capitalize on Hernandez's value, especially to the Giants. Alas, nothing transpired, not even once the Giants and Reds completed their game on Sunday, which some felt might be holding up a deal.

Hernandez is still a good bet to go, even if Cincinnati climbs back into the race thanks to the presence of Mesoraco, as well as help at other spots that the backstop would fetch in a deal. If they begin rebuilding, they have even less need for Hernandez. The only problem is that catching depth is so thin in the majors and Hernandez's salary is so cheap that, like Bell, plenty of teams figure to be interested in placing a claim and blocking a deal.

Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: For some reason, GM Jim Hendry stood pat at the trade deadline and didn't bother to try and convince third-baseman Aramis Ramirez that accepting a deal would be to his benefit. Hendry wants to keep the core of a 90-loss team together for some reason, so even bandying about Ramirez as a possible piece to be moved probably is pointless. But if Hendry has a chance of heart, Ramirez might too.

You see, Ramirez loves Chicago and has his family based there -- except in mid-August, his wife and children pack up and head back to the Dominican Republic. Thus, where he plays to finish off the year becomes less important once his family leaves, which could convince Ramirez to waive his no-trade deal. If that happened, Ramirez could interest the Angels and White Sox, to name two teams. The White Sox would allow the ability to stay in the city, but the roadblock to that is that the Pale Hose are not looking to add payroll.

Athletics outfielder: Oakland really needs to subtract at least one of its outfielders in Coco Crisp, Josh Willingham or David DeJesus, as I mentioned Monday when looking at teams that stood pat at the deadline. Any of these outfielders can help a team, and Willingham and DeJesus may have a pulse in their bat if they can get out of the Coliseum. Free-agent compensation matters here, and Willingham will fetch a price commensurate with two compensatory draft picks, as he's currently set to be a Type-A free agent even if only tenuously. DeJesus is a Type-B free agent and Crisp does not need compensation.

Simply put, Oakland needs to look ahead at 2012 and what it can do to bolster the team. It's one thing if all they're being offered are organizational guys for these players. At that point, GM Billy Beane is probably best suited to just hang onto the players. But Willingham and DeJesus aren't the kind of players that would have scrubs offered. There's real value in these players, and given the unlikelihood of both returning to town, Beane needs to jump on any interest.

Jim Thome, Twins: Here's an interesting name. The Twins, if they fall out of the race, have no need for Thome. In fact, they may be looked upon as doing a favor to Thome in trading him to a contender for a chance to win a World Series in what is likely Thome's final season. Just three home runs away from 600, some have speculated that he will be moved after he reaches the milestone. But given how impressively the Twins draw and the fact Thome doesn't have deep roots with the team makes that hard to believe. He's a candidate to be traded before and after 600 home runs.

The Phillies have been linked to Thome, which would be a fantastic option. Philadelphia is obviously headed toward October, and Thome would be the big bat off the bench that becomes so paramount. Just like left-handed relief specialists, pinch-hitters increase in importance as the amount of games decrease. And if the Phillies somehow make it to the World Series, Thome is a fine DH. Jason Giambi is another player who could fit this mold.

Right-handed hitting platoon outfielder: Might not sound terribly appealing to discuss outfielders that wouldn't start regularly, but as has been mentioned, shoring up depth at the major-league level takes on added importance for the postseason. To be sure, several teams need starting outfielders like any of the A's outfielders or perhaps even the Twins' Jason Kubel, who is also a candidate to be traded in August. But players that can help counteract left-handed pitchers like Choate but don't require a full-time job and don't cost a lot of money are valuable.

Playing time and big bucks aren't necessary for players like Scott Hairston, Jeff Francouer, and Ryan Spilborghs, who can come off the bench and serve as injury replacements, pinch-hitters or platoon outfielders. Hairston and Francouer, especially, have noted success against left-handed pitching and were names to watch at the trade deadline for that very reason. Francouer, in particular, is used to being traded in August, as the Rangers acquired him last season on the 31st to fill the exact role that a team would want him this year for: to hit lefties.

Jeff Francis, Royals: The last two names on this list are both left-handed starters, but that's not why Francis is on the list. No, he's on the list because he's a cheap, back-end option in the rotation. While there might be some better pitchers on the market (see the next name), Francis would work well in the middle of the rotation, perhaps the last starter in a postseason four-man rotation. Injuries will continue to happen between now and the end of the year, and one of those injuries could be a big blow to a contender's rotation -- much like Boston has to deal with the absence of Clay Buchholz.

Francis has soaked up 135 2/3 innings on the year with a 4.38 ERA, which is impressive given he pitches in the AL albeit in a weak division. His peripherals are strong, so that 4.38 ERA isn't a fluke. He can be a real shot in the arm for a contender. While the Royals could really use him in the rotation, which has yet to be anything less than awful, Francis is also a free agent and will certainly parlay his season into a nice contract from a team closer to contending, so K.C. shouldn't be worried about long-term effects of trading Francis, only who they can get in return.

Wandy Rodriguez, Astros: Rodriguez is a step up from Francis, but it's not entirely clear how big of a step up he is. He's working on his fourth straight season of an ERA below 4, but there's serious question among American Leaguers as to whether he could withstand a league switch, which depresses his suitors and the price for the left-hander. His contract is also looking like a pill, as he has $34 million due him from 2011-13 with a club option for 2014 -- but becomes a player option with a trade, and not many teams have interest in Rodriguez choosing to stay with his club for $13 million in a year where he will be 35.

The Astros are willing to eat a good chunk of the contract though, even if they refuse to eat the $17 million that might have made Rodriguez a Yankee before the trade deadline. If the Yankees or another team want Houston to eat that amount of money, it would take a strong prospect surrendered. Rodriguez is a good pitcher, but it seems his stock has dropped just below that tier, so it may be difficult for Houston and other teams to agree to both a return and how much cash the Astros would cover. Still, he's certainly not being claimed on waivers and will be a top-end option for any desperate teams.

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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