Posted on: July 23, 2011 10:46 am
Edited on: July 23, 2011 10:55 am

On Deck: Jumble atop NL Central standings


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jaime GarciaKevin CorreiaKeeping pace: With Friday's victory, the Cardinals are now tied with the Pirates -- a game behind Milwaukee in the National League Central. The Cardinals have lefty Jaime Garcia on the mound. Garcia pitched well in his first start since his new extension last Sunday, but he picked up the loss against the Reds despite allowing just one earned run (two total) in seven innings. In his only career start at PNC Park, he lost in similar fashion, allowing a run and seven hits in six innings in a loss last season. Pittsburgh's Kevin Correia has struggled at home this season, going 2-5 with a 5.94 ERA at home and 9-2 with a 2.85 ERA on the road. Cardinals at Pirates, 7:05 p.m ET (Follow live)

Adam DunnProgressive steps for Dunn: Chicago's Adam Dunn was 2 for 5 in Friday's victory over Cleveland, raising his batting average from .158 to .163. He's 6 for 15 with a homer at Cleveland's Progressive Field this season and is 2 for 2 with a double against Indians starter, lefty David Huff. Sure, that's not a whole lot of reason for optimism, but for the White Sox version of Dunn, it's about as good as you can get. White Sox at Indians, 7:05 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Sneak peak at fall? Milwaukee took the first game in this weekend's only series between two first-place teams behind Shaun Marcum's performance and has lefty Randy Wolf on the mound for Game 2. Wolf's had success in his career at AT&T Park and against the Giants. He's 3-2 with a 2.59 ERA in nine career starts in San Francisco and 9-5 with a 2.77 ERA against the Giants. Ryan Vogelsong has already beaten his previous career best for wins with seven and has a 2.02 ERA. Brewers at Giants, 9:05 p.m. ET (Follow live)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 22, 2011 12:43 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 1:08 pm

Trade Deadline Primer: NL Central

By Eye On Baseball Team

We're approaching the one-week mark in the countdown to the trade deadline, and on this Friday afternoon we'll take a look at the one division in baseball with six teams. In addition to having six teams, the NL Central also shows four teams that are 100 percent in contention, so things should be quite interesting here as we move closer to July 31. Let's dive in.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Status: Buyers (now that just looks weird, no?).
Needs: Big bat -- likely corner infielder or right fielder -- setup reliever, shortstop.
Notes: The best news for Pirates fans is the increased attendance will help the budget and that the Pirates are looking to buy -- and they'll even trade prospects to help the present cause. That's quite the change, but a good one. Hunter Pence is the hot name here, but there are conflicting reports about whether he's available (see Astros below). Josh Willingham and Conor Jackson have been connected to the Pirates. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN adds Ryan Ludwick to that list, and ESPN's Buster Olney throws in David DeJesus. Remember, the Pirates don't really need a right fielder, but acquiring one would allow them to move Garrett Jones to first base and take Lyle Overbay's spot. Could Carlos Beltran be a fit? It's been reported he's a possibility. At first, the Pirates are reportedly not interested in Carlos Pena (Fox Sports). They haven't really been rumored to be in on other first basemen, either, so it would appear they prefer to move Jones from right. Some relief pitching names in the mix: Koji Uehara, Rafael Betancourt, Grant Balfour, Jason Frasor and Jon Rauch (via John Perratto). Olney reports the bullpen is the main focus. Finally, as if to rain on the parade, Olney reports that the Pirates are actually being pretty careful and don't want to cough up "major assets." So if everything is true, it sounds as if we'll see the Pirates add a lesser bat and some middle relief, but not make a huge splash.

MLB Trade Deadline
Milwaukee Brewers
Status: All in.
Needs: Shortstop, third base and outfield depth.
Notes: The most likely outcome this coming offseason is Prince Fielder signing elsewhere, so the Brewers are pushing all their chips into the pot for a run at the 2011 World Series. The farm system has very few trading chips, but the Brewers will still do pretty much anything they can to get better for the short term. Yuniesky Betancourt and Casey McGehee definitely show as weaknesses for this season, so the Brewers are looking for upgrades. They were looking at Wilson Betemit, but the Tigers snatched him up. Jamey Carroll could be a fit, and the Brewers have asked about him (Olney via Twitter). The Brewers have had "internal discussions" about Clint Barmes (Crasnick via Twitter). Also, it appears the Brewers will seek outfield help now that Carlos Gomez is injured (Tom Haudricourt), but no names have surfaced -- and they most certainly don't have the resources to get Beltran.

St. Louis Cardinals
Status: Buyers.
Needs: Pitching, possibly middle infield.
Notes: Colby Rasmus' name won't go away in terms of trade speculation, but the Cardinals continue to insist the young center fielder isn't going anywhere (Olney via Twitter). If the Rays worked up some creative proposal sending B.J. Upton and James Shields to the Cardinals for a package that included Rasmus and some prospects, however, that tune could always change. For now, though, we'll set that aside and concentrate on more realistic scenarios. The Cardinals are reportedly aggressive in trying to get a starting pitcher, with names like Chris Capuano and Jeff Francis being in the mix. Those names aren't really sexy, and that's likely because the Cardinals' budget is tight (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Some reports make it seem as if the Cards are desperate for a right-handed reliever (Olney). How about former closer Jason Isringhausen, who said he feels as if there's "unfinished business" for him in St. Louis (Post-Dispatch)? Also, the Cards have reportedly shown interest in Blue Jays relievers -- such as Jon Rauch and Jason Frasor.

Cincinnati Reds
Status: Buyers.
Needs: Starting pitching, middle relievers, possibly shortstop or left field.
Notes: The Reds have been connected to the Rockies in the Ubaldo Jimenez rumors, but Jeremy Guthrie is much more likely, per Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. The interesting new name is James Shields, as the Rays are reportedly at least considering moving the All-Star starter who outdueled CC Sabathia last night. Hiroki Kuroda and Francisco Liriano could also surface, but those are long shots. Something to watch: Catcher Ramon Hernandez is having a good season and is a free agent after the season. Devin Mesoraco could be ready to step in, making Hernandez someone the Reds could part with, and several contending teams could use a rental catcher. The prospect-rich Reds could certainly make a huge splash if they wanted to -- and they're definitely buying (MLB.com) -- but the inability to add tons of salary might prevent a blockbuster.

Chicago Cubs
Status: Sellers, kind of.
Players available: Not nearly enough.
Notes: General manager Jim Hendry is insistent that the Cubs can be competitive next season, so he's holding on tightly to far too many players. You want left-handed reliever Sean Marshall or utilityman Jeff Baker? Nope. Can't have them. Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza are also reportedly unavailable, per Peter Gammons of MLB Network. Aramis Ramirez has publicly stated on several occasions he wants to remain with the Cubs and won't waive his no-trade clause for anyone. Meanwhile, Alfonso Soriano said he'd waive his, but he has an albatross of a contract. Still, the Cubs are reportedly willing to eat a large chunk of his remaining salary just to move him (ESPN Chicago) -- the only question is if he's attractive enough to anyone to add. An American League team could make him a DH and just hope he gets hot, as he's been known to do for stretches. Marlon Byrd and John Grabow do appear to be available, and the Indians have reportedly shown interest in Kosuke Fukudome. Still, the most interesting storyline with the Cubs appears to be Hendry holding on to so many players so tightly. Shouldn't Starlin Castro be the only truly untouchable player?

Houston Astros
Status: Sellers
Players available: Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers ... Hunter Pence?
Notes: There have been conflicting reports on Pence's availability for the past week or so. Every time someone says the Astros are shopping Pence, another reporter has a source say they really aren't. Jon Heyman of SI.com reported Friday that the Astros were asking for so much for Pence that opposing general managers weren't sure he was being seriously shopped. Heyman did note the Astros are working much harder to move Rodriguez and Myers, even willing to absorb salary in order to trade either. Gammons reported the Astros want as much for Rodriguez as the Rockies do for Ubaldo Jimenez, which doesn't seem realistic. As for Michael Bourn, he doesn't seem available. One reporter noted the only reason you hear his name is that reporters keep asking about him.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 20, 2011 10:59 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 12:16 pm

On Deck: Dueling out west


By Matt Snyder

With six day games -- including several of pretty solid intrigue -- we'll hit you with On Deck early on this Wednesday. Why? Well, we aim to please. It is a full slate, as usual on a Wednesday, as there are nine night games. The last one of the night is one of the most exciting matchups, too. Let's dive in.

Follow all game action on CBSSports.com's live scoreboard

Pair of aces: How does Clayton Kershaw (10-4, 2.88) vs. Tim Lincecum (8-7, 2.99) sound? Pretty awesome, right? Because that's happening Wednesday afternoon. Kershaw's Dodgers are 14-1/2 games behind Lincecum's first-place Giants in the NL West, but Kershaw has owned the offensively challenged Giants in his career. The major-league leader in strikeouts is 3-1 with a 1.62 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 60 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings against the defending champs. The Giants have a new toy in infielder Jeff Keppinger and have added prospect Brandon Belt to their punchless lineup in hopes to get things kickstarted, but Kershaw's a tall order. Then again, two-time Cy Young Award winner Lincecum is likewise a tall order for the Dodgers. Don't expect this one to last long, unless it goes 0-0 or 1-1 to extras. Oh, and did I mention that whole Dodgers-Giants rivalry? This is a must-watch. L.A. Dodgers at San Francisco, 3:45 p.m. ET.

Haren's tough task: While the afternoon game out west is a must-watch, so is the last game of the night. The Texas Rangers have opened up a five-game lead in the AL West on the strength of a 12-game winning streak. They had some huge offensive games early in the streak, but the pitching is doing the heavy lifting at this juncture. The Rangers have only allowed two runs in the past six games, which include four shutouts. Toeing the slab late Wednesday night is Derek Holland (8-4, 4.32), who just happens to have thrown a complete-game shutout in each of his last two outings. So the Angels need to find a way to scratch across some runs against one of the hottest pitchers -- and pitching staffs, for that matter -- in baseball, meanwhile cool off one of the best hitting teams in baseball. Dan Haren (10-6, 2.75) certainly has the ability to do so for the Angels. He's looking to stop the Rangers' 12-game winning streak and the Angels' three-game losing streak. Texas at L.A. Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET.

More pitching:
The most underrated pitching matchup of the day just happens to include the first-place Pirates, who are catching the eye of the nation. Did you know the Pirates haven't had a winning season in 18 years? Of course, you did, but we aren't gonig to let you forget it if they continue to play like this. Tuesday, the Pirates got a 1-0 win in Cincinnati. Wednesday, one of the most -- if not the most -- surprising starters in the league takes the hill for the Bucs. Jeff Karstens (8-4, 2.34) ranks third in ERA in the NL among qualifiers, trailing only a pair of All-Stars in Ryan Vogelsong and Jair Jurrjens. Karstens has been lights-out since the beginning of June, though, as he's 5-0 with a 1.26 ERA in that time. His counterpart Wednesday, Johnny Cueto (5-3, 2.01), is no slouch either. The Reds need a win to avoid a sweep and falling six games back in the NL Central. Of note: Karstens has a pretty bad career history against the Reds, though the Pirates are 7-1 against the Reds this season. Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 12:35 p.m. ET.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 10:04 am
Edited on: July 19, 2011 10:15 am

Pepper: Victorino rounds bases on foul ball

By Matt Snyder

Let's go the light-hearted route in leading off Pepper on this Tuesday morning. Phillies All-Star center fielder Shane Victorino had a moment in a rehab assignment Sunday that prompted him to say he was embarrassed. No, it wasn't an angry embarrassed caused by poor play. In fact, Victorino crushed a ball down the left-field line in his first at-bat. As he rounded first base, he heard a loud cheer from the crowd and assumed it was a home run. The umpires evidently signaled home run, but no one ever verbally told Victorino. He had his head down and was running hard, so he just keep on running, until manager Jeff Parent -- who was coaching third -- told Victorino.

“Parent stopped me at third and said, ‘It wasn’t a home run,’” Victorino said (NJ.com). “I said, ‘Well, I appreciate you letting me trot around the bases.’ No one stopped me. It was an embarrassing moment.”

Don't be so hard on yourself, Shane. Could've happened to anyone who was getting around the bases quickly.

There is a GIF of the play over at SB Nation.

CATCHING THE FEVER: As the Pirates moved into sole possession of first place Monday night, the popularity of the team has continued to rise. It's been 18 years since the Pirates have had a winning season, so the fans are taking everything in here in 2011. Merchandise sales are reportedly on a huge rise in the Pittsburgh area, with one store owner saying he had to pull some Penguins gear to make room for Pirates' merchandise. That's a great sign for a franchise that had for so long seemingly lost its fan base. (Pittsburgh Live)

MORE SUPPORT: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen isn't shy in speaking his mind, we know that. This time around, he's saying Major League Baseball should do more to support the Negro League Museum in Kansas City, which is having financial troubles. (Chicago Tribune)

ON-AIR RESIGNATION: A minor-league play-by-play announcer quit on the air. He went out in a blaze of glory, going with a near-four-minute speech on how people in the organization are treated unfairly and mentioning how he hasn't been paid in full. He had lots of good points and was quite measured and sane. Check it out over at Awful Announcing.

PARALYSIS ONLY A 'SETBACK?' Former San Jacinto pitcher Buddy Lamothe would have been drafted much higher than the 40th round, had he not suffered a swimming accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He was in Houston Monday to throw out the first pitch and called the accident "just a little setback," and said he hopes to be on the mound one day as an Astros pitcher. That would be amazing. (Ultimate Astros)

OH, TORII: Torii Hunter of the Angels occasionally throws out a tweet that is funny in a "did we really need to think about that," kinda way. On his 36th birthday, Monday, he did it again. He thanked everyone who had tweeted him birthday wishes and noted that, at the ripe old age of 36, he still doesn't need Viagra. Well, that's a relief. I'll sleep tonight. (Torii's tweet)

NEW MENTAL APPROACH: The Nationals have brought in a sports psychologist to work with some of the players, including the struggling Jayson Werth. The psychologist is one that has been previously used by the Braves -- back in the early 1990s. You might recall a lengthy streak of division title beginning around that time. Maybe this guy knows what he's going? (Big League Stew)

SAFETY FIRST: Big league ballparks are focusing more on safety after the tragic death at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington a few weeks ago. They're looking at everything from the railing to security guards to discussing with the players how to throw the ball into the crowd. This is all good, but we as fans need to keep the surroundings in mind also. The Texas thing was a freak accident where a man simply lost his balance, but I saw several people doing pretty stupid things at the Home Run Derby in Arizona just to catch a baseball. If you're stepping one leg over the rail, maybe some priorities need to be re-examined. (San Jose Mercury News)

ABOUT THAT BOOING: Remember how one of the dominant themes of the All-Star Game was how the Arizona fans were booing everyone? I certainly do. Giants closer Brian Wilson does, too, and he doesn't understand it. Wilson has basically the same point of view as I do, in that it's not anger, but it's not understanding the point of view. Why spend all that money to just be angry the entire time? (Big League Stew)

END OF AN ERA? It's possible we're seeing the last few months of Mark Buehrle's career. The veteran pitcher is only 32 and surely has several more season's worth of production in that left arm. But he has openly discussed retirement and is a free agent at the end of the season. He's also made it known there aren't many other places he'd want to play. So this could very well be it. If he's content with his earnings and career achievements, there's nothing wrong with retiring to spend time with his family. (Chicago Tribune)

BARTON AND KOUZMANOFF TOGETHER IN TRIPLE-A: Daric Barton and Kevin Kouzmanoff opened the season as the A's first and third basemen, respectively. They're still working opposite corners of the infield together, it's just in the minors. MLB.com has a lengthy update on the duo, including Barton taking full accountability for his futility at the plate and Kouzmanoff discussing how he was surprised by the demotion.

PITCHERS IN THE BOX: Here's an interesting stat. Seeing pitchers get a base hit occurs almost as frequently as position players triple. (WSJ.com blog)

STILL IN LIMBO: Brewers All-Star left fielder Ryan Braun is not going on the disabled list for the time being, at least that's the plan, despite Braun having missed 10 of the Brewers' last 13 games. He did pinch hit Sunday, so the Brewers are definitely taking a risk that a possible DL stint would go deeper into the season. (Journal-Sentinel)

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

Posted on: July 18, 2011 8:51 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 11:29 pm

Mets willing to pick up Beltran's salary

Carlos BeltranBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The willingness to spend money isn't just important to the buyers at trade deadline time -- a loose pocketbook can also help sellers.

It could really help the Mets, who have outfielder Carlos Beltran available to interested parties. And because the Mets are willing to pay the remainder of his $18.5 million contract this season, the team can ask for more talent in return.

"From what I gather, they are asking a lot for him because they are willing to pick up all of his salary," a source told ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin.

Beltran would be due nearly $6 million on July 31, but if the team takes on that money, they can possibly get a top-tier prospect in return, something they didn't get for closer Francisco Rodriguez in last week's trade with the Brewers.

Beltran will be a rental, but if the rent is cheap, more teams may be interested. Among those teams would be the Diamondbacks, Pirates, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves and Angels.

Some teams, however, would rather give up money than prospects. Andrew Baggarley of the San Jose Mercury News writes that the Giants would rather pay in dollars instead of players. The Tigers would also prefer to pay cash, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, as would the Indians, CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler notes.

Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman reports the Mets don't expect Beltran to pass through waivers in August, so if he's going to be traded, it'll be this month. The Mets are 8.5 games behind the Braves in the National League East, but don't have any games against either the Braves or Phillies before July 31. 

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

Posted on: July 18, 2011 5:45 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 8:20 pm

Ramirez could move after July 31

Aramis RamirezBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez isn't going anywhere… for now.

Ramirez has a full no-trade protection as a player with 10/5 rights, 10 years of service and five with the same team. Ramirez, 33, could be a target for many teams, including the Angels, Tigers and Pirates, but his agent, Paul Kinzer, tells FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal that Ramirez wouldn't approve a trade before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

That last part is the key, though -- Ramirez may approve a trade in August if he clears waivers or the Cubs can make a deal with a claiming team. Last year Chicago moved Derek Lee in August. The issue for Ramirez is his family. His wife and children will return to the Dominican Republic for the start of school in August, and at that point he might be more open to moving.

"When his family goes back, and his kids go back to school, that could possibly loosen it up," Kinzer told Rosenthal. "As of now, he has no interest. He loves Chicago. He always wanted to finish his career there."

Later, Ramirez confirmed to the Chicago Tribune that his family is the reason he isn't interested in a trade.

"It is for family considerations," Ramirez said. "If I were to be single, by myself, yeah, I'd move anywhere and be in a hotel the last two months. But it's too tough with my family. I've earned the right to be in this position."

Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune writes that teams think this is a bluff and Ramirez would accept a trade. He also said the Tigers could send Brandon Inge and prospects to Chicago in return for Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano

The Cubs have a $16 million option on Ramirez for 2012 that becomes automatic, plus another $1 million if he's traded. Kinzer, though, said Ramirez would prefer to have that option dropped if he's traded, making him a free agent after the season. He'd be the second player to decline a guaranteed option for big bucks in 2012 in a trade, as Francisco Rodriguez made a similar move to become a free agent after the season following his trade to Milwaukee.

"Most teams wouldn't have a problem with that," Kinzer said. "They would be renting a player for the rest of the season. That's all stuff we'd have to look at."

If he stays with the Cubs through the end of the season, it's unlikely Chicago would pick up his option.

Ramirez is hitting .300/346/.504 with 16 home runs and 56 RBI this season, and since June 1 he's been on fire, hitting .313/.345/.631 with 14 home runs and 37 RBI. He would help any team that needs a little pop in the lineup, that's for sure. It would be interesting if he were to return to Pittsburgh, where he started his career. The Pirates need a third baseman and they need a power jolt to the lineup. Pittsburgh has come out and said it would look to upgrade its lineup heading into August.

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

Posted on: July 18, 2011 5:06 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 5:40 pm

On Deck: Pirate proving ground


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Crucial stretch: The Pirates enter Monday's game a half-game behind the Brewers in the National League Central, but if they are to stay in the race, the next 13 games will be huge. Pittsburgh has three against Cincinnati and three more at home against St. Louis before hitting the road for four in Atlanta and three more in Philadelphia. The Pirates are 11-17 against teams with winning records and 34-23 against teams with losing records, including a 9-3 mark against the Astros. Pittsburgh is 5-1 against Cincinnati heading into Monday night's game. The Reds are one of those teams with a losing record, but they are the defending champs in the division and are just 3.5 games back of the lead. Reds at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Scott DiamondDiamond debut: Twins left-hander Scott Diamond will make his big league debut in the second game of a double header with Cleveland. Diamond is 4-8 with a 4.70 ERA in 17 starts for Triple-A Rochester this season. The Twins fell six games behind the Indians earlier in the day thanks to Asdrubal Cabrera's three-run homer in the third and seven shutout innings from David Huff. The Twins have two more games against the Indians this week before welcoming Detroit for four in a crucial stretch. Fausto Carmona (4-10, 5.78 ERA) will be activated from the disabled list before the game. Carmona injured his right quad when he tripped over first base in Cincinnati on July 2 but only missed one start thanks to the All-Star break. Indians at Twins, 8:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Chad BillingsleyYou want it, you got it: The Dodgers re-shuffled their rotation after the break to make sure Chad Billingsley would face the Giants. Billingsley is 3-1 with a 1.32 ERA in his last four starts before the break. In his career, the right-hander is 7-4 with a 3.01 ERA, but 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA in three starts against the Giants this season. He goes against San Francisco's Ryan Vogelsong (6-1, 2.17 ERA), who hasn't faced the Dodgers this season. Dodgers at Giants, 10:15 p.m. ET (Follow live)

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

Posted on: July 18, 2011 12:57 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 2:39 pm

Pence to Pirates is hot new trade rumor

By Matt Snyder

As the Ubaldo Jimenez speculation fire continues to burn, we now have our next hot trade rumor: The Pirates have scouted Hunter Pence (PittsburghLive.com). Pence is hitting .321 with 11 homers, 61 RBI and an .852 OPS. He also has a great throwing arm, as we saw in the All-Star Game.

Now, just as with the Jimenez talk, let's not get carried away here. Scouting a player doesn't mean the teams have exchanged names or will ever talk about a trade. It's just the first of many steps. Still, this could make sense for both teams.

The best argument for the Astros to keep Pence is that they need to rebuild around someone and he's their obvious best player. You can say he's young, but he's 28. The Astros aren't anywhere near contention, so he could be 31 (or older) before they're ready to make a run at the NL Central again. Why not deal him and get a big prospect package back? I feel like that would make more sense, because the likes of Carlos Lee and Brett Myers aren't landing much in return at this point. Pence and Wandy Rodriguez are the ones who need to be moved in an effort to start the rebuilding process.

As for the Pirates, first of all, it's pretty cool to see them as buyers. Variety can be good and the Pirates fans have suffered for quite a while. But let's talk baseball.

There are more pressing needs than right field for the Pirates. Shortstop and third base are weak -- unless Pedro Alvarez all of a sudden is promoted and explodes -- and Lyle Overbay could be upgraded at first. A catcher upgrade would help, though there aren't really many, if any, good ones available. Some extra help in middle relief couldn't hurt either. But if the Pirates could get a star like Pence, it would enable them to move Garrett Jones to first and it does strengthen the lineup as a whole in a pretty big way. Plus, Pence still has a decent chunk of his prime left and the Pirates' cornerstones would be a duo of outfield stars with Pence and Andrew McCutchen.

So, yes, this feels like a move that could benefit both teams, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen or is in the works. Just a rumor, for now.

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

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