Tag:Andy LaRoche
Posted on: October 28, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2011 1:19 pm
 

Free agent third base rankings: Aramis or bust



By Matt Snyder

If your favorite team is looking for a really good run producer to play third base next season and free agency is the route it's taking, there is only one choice. Otherwise, this free agency class is mostly backups or guys who will retire. It's a pretty embarrassing position in terms of how thin it is. How it affects Aramis Ramirez's ability to get a big deal remains to be seen, but it seems like he should have a lot of leverage, no? You need a third baseman? It's Wilson Betemit after me.

List of MLB free agents

1. Aramis Ramirez. He's only 33 and showed he can still swing the bat with authority in 2011, as he hit .306/.361/.510 with 26 homers and 93 RBI. He's also not the butcher many believe he is at third base -- though he's not exactly Adrian Beltre, either. Ramirez is unlikely to have his option picked up by the Cubs, so it seems like he'll have a new home for the first time since 2003, when he landed in Chicago on a July trade. As already stated, if someone wants to sign a good free agent third baseman, the buck stops here.
Potential teams: Marlins, Brewers, Tigers, Rockies, Angels, Orioles (mercifully making Mark Reynolds a DH) ... and the Cubs are still possible

2. Wilson Betemit. He hit .285/.343/.452 with 22 doubles and eight home runs this season in 97 games. He's a decent to slightly above-average hitter who can play several infield positions, but not really an everyday starter. The dearth of good free agent options at third base could very easily land Betemit a starting job, though. I'd just be weary of a multiple-year deal, as he hasn't played in more than 97 games since 2007.
Potential teams: Brewers, Tigers, Rockies, Marlins, Angels

3. Casey Blake. He only hit .252/.342/.371 and had serious neck issues, causing him to contemplate retirement. The Dodgers have declined Blake's option, so he's headed elsewhere. Retirement is possible, but Blake is seeking a one-year deal and probably willing to be a backup.
Potential teams: Yankees, Brewers, Tigers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Marlins, Reds, retirement

4. Eric Chavez. He hit .263 with two homers and 26 RBI in his first non-Oakland season, but he still couldn't avoid an extended trip to the disabled list. According to various reports, Chavez isn't sure if he wants to play again in 2012 or retire. If he decides to play, he'll likely get the Yankees' backup third base job again. If he doesn't, he'll be free from the aggravation of constantly being injured. My guess is he retires and the Yankees grab Blake.
Potential teams: Yankees, retirement

5. Greg Dobbs. Dobbs enjoyed lots of playing time in 2011, gathering the most plate appearances of his career. He hit .275 with 23 doubles and eight homers while showing versatility on defense. He's not a great option to start every day, but a really good player to have off the bench. The Marlins reportedly want him back, but a dry free agency crop might land him a decent contract and starting job elsewhere.
Potential teams: Marlins, Brewers, Rockies, Phillies

6. Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Once a decent prospect with power potential -- he did hit 23 home runs while playing half his games in Petco Park in 2008 -- Kouzmanoff's stock has plummeted. He hit .255 with three homers in 27 games after joining Colorado, and the Rockies reportedly haven't ruled out bringing him back. It's possible he has a good full season in a hitter's park, if he stays there (he'd only previously played extended stretches in pitcher's ballparks).
Potential teams: Rockies, Brewers, Cubs, Marlins, Reds, Tigers

7. Omar Vizquel. The 44 year old just keeps hanging on. Is he trying to get to 3,000 hits? He currently has 2,841, but only collected 42 in 2011. So it doesn't really seem to be happening any time soon. Vizquel might just love the game so much he refuses to go until someone won't sign him. And someone will this offseason. He'll be playing again in 2012, bet on it.
Potential teams: White Sox, after that it's a complete guessing game. Any team looking for a veteran backup infielder would have interest, and that could be anyone.

8. Bill Hall. At age 26, Hall hit 35 homers for the Brewers. At age 31, he finished the season in the minors after hitting just .158/.220/.211 for 16 games with the Giants. He might get a shot with the Yankees if neither Blake nor Chavez are there, or someone could use him as a pinch-hitter off the bench. Regardless, don't expect there to be tons of interest. He hasn't been a good player for five years.
Potential teams: Orioles, Nationals, Yankees, retirement

9. Jorge Cantu. The 29 year old was once a run producer, but Cantu had a dreadful 2011 season, hitting .194/.232/.285 in 155 plate appearances for the Padres. He was decent after signing with the Rockies ... in Triple-A.
Potential teams: Rockies, Marlins, Brewers -- but this would be a desperation move to start him. He's basically going to be a backup or retire.

10. Andy LaRoche. Once a top-20 prospect -- for two straight seasons -- LaRoche's career has been a monumental disappointment. The only season he approached being a decent player was 2009 for the Pirates, but last season LaRoche was designated for assignment by the lackluster A's. So that should tell you where his stock stands. It's possible a team strapped for cash attempts to catch lightning in a bottle, as LaRoche is still only 28.
Potential teams: Reds, Marlins, Brewers, Cubs, Orioles, Mariners, Red Sox, Indians, many more.

11. Alex Cora. Cora's on-field value has dwindled all the way to zero, but he's reportedly a great clubhouse guy and baseball mind. Several reporters, fellow players and coaches have noted in the recent past that Cora will make a great manager someday. Cora has said he wants to keep playing in 2012, but it might behoove him to get a start on his next career quite soon.
Potential teams: Nationals, retirement

Other free agents who could play third: Jamey Carroll, Edwin Encarnacion, Jerry Hairston, Ramon Santiago, Willie Bloomquist, Aaron Miles, Ronny Cedeno, Jack Wilson, Mark DeRosa, Nick Punto, Willie Harris, Craig Counsell, Jose Lopez, Orlando Cabrera

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Posted on: August 24, 2011 11:22 am
Edited on: August 24, 2011 11:25 am
 

Report: Nationals not interested in Fielder

Fielder

By Evan Brunell

Cross out the Nationals as a destination for Prince Fielder, a source in the Nationals organization tells Bill Ladson of MLB.com.

It's not every day that a team would turn down Fielder, but the Nationals have two first basemen under contract -- Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse. LaRoche is done for the year due to injury, but hit a disappointing .172/.288/.258 in 43 games before going down. All due respect to LaRoche, but the $8 million on his 2012 contract shouldn't preclude Washington from going after Fielder as it would be a clear upgrade. No, where the catch comes is Morse, who is currently the first baseman in LaRoche's absence.

After tantalizing Washington the last two years with his potential to break out, the 29-year-old has done so in style with a .317/.373/.550 mark this season with 21 taters in 440 plate appearances. By the time the season ends, he will have doubled (or come close to it) his previous career high in plate appearances. Morse will move back to left field to make room for LaRoche, and he's the real reason why the Nats may not need to go after Fielder. If LaRoche fails, the team simply moves Morse to first base.

But why not just keep Morse in left permanently and sign Fielder? If it's the best upgrade the team can make, it's one that it should pursue. Thing is, it may not be the best upgrade the team can make; the depth at first guarantees that. What the Nationals really need are a center fielder and leadoff hitter, which isn't mutually exclusive. Washington had been chasing Denard Span of the Twins, B.J. Upton of the Rays and Michael Bourn of the Braves, formerly of the Astros. However, GM Mike Rizzo balked at the price, so no move was made. Things could change in the offseason, and if and when it does, it will cost a good package of young players. In that case, the Nats may elect to hang onto its draft picks that it would have to cough up in any Fielder signing in order to replenish the system after the trade.

Assuming Washington truly isn't going to go after Fielder (and I don't buy that), it dwindles Fielder's market even lower to the point one has to seriously consider if Fielder could head back to Milwaukee. All but one team currently with a payroll over 100 million (in order from highest to lowest: Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels, Mets, Cubs, White Sox, Giants, Twins, Cardinals, Dodgers, Tigers) won't make a run for various reasons. The Cubs could make a go of it, but that would be a bold step for an incoming GM to make for a team that needs a lot more than Fielder to become competitive again. Other than that, the other teams either have financial issues or are blocked at first base. The only team in which Fielder makes sense are the Angels, and as we've seen over the last few years, Los Angeles' decisions when it comes to free agency are curious, and it's no sure thing it will pony up for Fielder.

So, suddenly, Fielder's next-biggest suitors are in a payroll bracket that Milwaukee might be able to contend with. Fielder previously turned down a five-year, $100 million contract to stay in Milwaukee. If that was within Milwaukee's budget, then any eventual deal with Fielder could be right in the Brewers' wheelhouse. Fielder has long been considered a goner for quite some time, but his future in town is far from certain.
 
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Posted on: July 27, 2011 8:48 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 1:25 am
 

Holliday deal part of best trade deadline deals

By Evan Brunell

As the trade deadline kicks into gear, teams who consider themselves buyers -- much like the Cardinals in acquiring Edwin Jackson and relievers, but sending away young center fielder Colby Rasmus -- are hoping that years from now, those teams will land on articles detailing moves that worked out at the trade deadline.

This is one such article looking back at the three previous years and the deadline deals that occurred. Which of these deals ended up being fantastic ones for teams? Looking strictly at those who were "buyers" -- that is, they went after the best player in the deal or made a trade clearly geared toward winning, let's take a look at the top five in reverse order.

Sanchez5. FREDDY GOT FINGERED

July 29, 2009: Pirates trade 2B Freddy Sanchez to Giants for minor league RHP Tim Alderson.

The Giants were seven games out of first place, but leading the wild card when they added second baseman Freddy Sanchez from Pittsburgh. Sanchez was supposed help settle the Giants' offense en route to a playoff berth. "A kid that has distinguished himself as an All-Star three out of the last four years and a batting champ within that time frame," GM Brian Sabean told the Associated Press at the time of the trade. The timing's great."

Unfortunately for Sabean, Sanchez has neither been an All-Star or batting champion since, but this trade still comes away as a win. That's because Sanchez wasn't acquired with just 2009 in mind, as he limped to the finish line with his new team that season. Battling a leg injury, Sanchez appeared in only 25 games, hitting .284/.295/.324. But in 2010, Sanchez hit .292/.342/.397 as an important part of the team, which would eventually win the World Series that October.

This deal was actually considered a loss for San Francisco at the time, as they coughed up Tim Alderson, then ranked the No. 4 prospect in the Giants organization by Baseball America. But declining velocity took all the luster off of the lefty, who is 22 years old and attempting to reinvent himself as a reliever for Double-A and won't reach the majors unless something changes.

4. BACK TO ATLANTA

July 31, 2009: Red Sox trade 1B Adam LaRoche to Braves for 1B Casey Kotchman.

LaRocheMark Teixeira's replacement in Casey Kotchman wasn't bearing fruit, so the Braves gave up and shipped Kotchman north for Adam LaRoche, who came up with Atlanta and spent three years with the team before being dealt to Pittsburgh in the offseason prior to 2007. At just one game over .500, the Braves were looking for an offensive punch that could get them into the wild card and division mix.

It worked, as the Braves finished the season 10 games over .500, but they still fell short of the playoffs, despite LaRoche's patented second-half surge aiding the team with 12 home runs in 242 plate appearances, hitting .325/.401/.557. That's fantastic production with a cost in only Kotchman, who was traded after the season to Seattle for Bill Hall and hit .217/.280/.336 in full-time duty. Kotchman has rebounded this season in Tampa Bay with a .328 batting average as the club's starting first baseman, but Atlanta's happy with rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman.

3. IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA

July 29, 2009: Indians trade LHP Cliff Lee and OF Ben Francisco to Phillies for minor league RHP Jason Knapp, RHP Carlos Carrasco, SS Jason Donald and C Lou Marson.

LeeThis ended up being a fantastic deal for the Phillies. While the players Philadelphia coughed up have either not yet started their major-league careers or have just started -- making full evaluation of the deal impossible -- we can try. Let's go in order, starting with Knapp. What made him so highly regarded is obvious when he steps on a mound, but that's not often. He briefly pitched for the Indians following the trade, then checked in with just 28 2/3 innings all of last season and has yet to pitch this year after undergoing his second major shoulder surgery since being acquired. He could still end up an ace, but it doesn't look good.

Carrasco has developed into a solid middle-rotation starter for Cleveland. That's all well and good but Philly doesn't lack for prospects and while Carrasco has value, he's not going to make the deal worth it all by himself. It'll be up to Donald and Marson. Donald hit .253/.312/.378 in 325 plate appearances for the Indians last season and is the man with the lone hit in Armando Galarraga's not-perfect game. He's toiling in the minors and isn't much more than a backup infielder, while Marson isn't much more than a backup catcher, hitting .208/.279/.296 in 424 PA over the last two seasons in that capacity.

So the Phillies benefit by giving up a package that, so far, isn't much for an ace like Lee. The left-hander would go on to post a 3.39 ERA in 79 1/2 innings for Philadelphia, giving the club an ace it desperately needed to defend their 2008 World Series title. Philly didn't do that against the Yankees (although Lee did win the only two games Philadelphia came away with in the series), but they did capture a second straight NL pennant and established Philadelphia as a big-market team that would be around for a while.

And of course, while Lee's stay in Philadelphia would be brief as he was moved to Seattle in the offseason to make way for Roy Halladay, Lee's time in Philly was so good that he returned to town as a free agent, taking less years to get back in the City of Brotherly Love. (And we haven't even mentioned Francisco, who has continued his fine career as a fourth outfielder in Philly, although he stumbled this season when handed more playing time.)

2. MANNYWOOD

RamirezJuly 31, 2008: Red Sox trade LF Manny Ramirez to Dodgers, with 3B Andy LaRoche and minor league RHP Bryan Morris going to the Pirates in a three-team trade.


Manny Ramirez wore his welcome out in Boston so badly, the Red Sox would have given anything to get rid of ManRam. They ended up walking away with Jason Bay in a three-team deal, sending Ramirez to Los Angeles. (The full details: Morris and LaRoche to the Pirates along with Boston's RHP Craig Hansen and OF Brandon Moss.) The Red Sox ended up pleased with their investment, giving up essentially nothing. But the Dodgers had the bigger coup, as LaRoche was a colossal bust in Pittsburgh and is now in the farm system of Oakland. Morris is now 24 and has an outside chance of making the majors.

But Manny was all the rage in Los Angeles for the rest of the year back in 2008, hitting an unconscionable .396/.489/.743 with 17 home runs in 53 games. Even Jose Bautista can only aspire to these levels. Ramirez took a .500 team to the division title and boasted a .520 batting average in October as the Dodgers fell to the Phillies, who would eventually win the World Series. He hit well enough in 2009 for Los Angeles at .290/.418/.531 in 431 PA, but was suspended 50 games for violating baseball's drug program. A year later, Ramirez was no longer the toast of town and quickly forced his way out to the White Sox. Still, Ramirez helped revive the Dodgers, if only for a brief period of time before Frank McCourt would do Manny one better in demoralizing Dodger fans.

1. A HOLLIDAY IN ST. LOUIS

HollidayJuly 24, 2009: Athletics trade LF Matt Holliday to Cardinals for minor league 3B Brett Wallace, OF Shane Patterson and RHP Clayton Mortensen.

This is the fourth 2009 deal on this list. It was certainly a good time to be a buyer back then, as the Cardinals well know. They picked up a slugger for ... well, nothing special. Holliday had been acquired from the Rockies in the offseason by Oakland, who offered up (gulp) Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street and Greg Smith. They didn't get anywhere close the return for Holliday after he failed to produce in Oakland's cavernous stadium. Wallace was supposed to be a good hitting prospect -- his luster had yet to dim. But it did in the next two years, with Wallace being flipped to Toronto after the season, the Jays then immediately sending him to Houston. Opening the year as the starting first baseman for Houston, Wallace has hit .275/.352/.382 and just lost his starting spot.

Mortensen was a fleeting -- and failing -- pitcher in Oakland before being traded for next to nothing to Colorado and has been a solid swingman this season but is currently in Triple-A. Peterson was just promoted to Triple-A and has a shot to develop into ... well, something. But that's a very weak return for a man who has paired with Albert Pujols for a devastating 3-4 punch. He was so overjoyed to be back in the NL that he hit .352 the rest of the way, and is at .320/.400/.549 after inking a contract extension. That's even better than his Colorado numbers, so this was a masterstroke for St. Louis. Odd to say that on a day where the Cardinals did the opposite of a masterstroke by dealing Colby Rasmus to Toronto.

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Posted on: April 7, 2011 2:32 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:23 pm
 

Escobar won't be put on DL

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Yunel Escobar was diagnosed with a "very mild" concussion and will not go on the new seven-day disabled list.

"We don't think he'll be out that long," Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulus said according to John Lott of the National Post.

Yunel EscobarEsobar is feeling better and has been cleared to travel with the team on their upcoming 11-day road trip through Anaheim, Seattle and Boston.

"CT scans last night of the head and neck all were negative," Jays manager John Farrell said. "I actually spoke to him this morning. He felt good this morning."

Escobar hit the knee of Oakland's Andy LaRoche when he slid head-first into third on a triple in the fifth inning of last night's game. He stayed in the game after being examined by the team's trainer, but was then pulled when he was seen shaking his head and acting erratically in the top of the sixth.

Escobar did not stay in a hospital last night, as had been reported, but was back at his hotel, with a trainer who stayed with him and checked on him every two hours.

Escobar underwent the league-mandated neurological testing this morning.

"That's a new rule and we're working through it with Major League Baseball," Anthopoulos told the Toronto Star. "This is the first case, they even told us this is the first case they've had. So under further clarification, he's not forced to take the DL, he just had to pass tests mandated by Major League Baseball."

He has not passed those tests yet. The Blue Jays will have to send their reports to an MLB-certificed doctor for clearance before that can happen. Anthopoulos said he expects that to come next week.

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Posted on: April 7, 2011 1:15 pm
Edited on: April 7, 2011 3:53 pm
 

A's Ellis out with inner ear problem

UPDATE: Ellis entered Thursday's game with the Blue Jays in the eighth inning. After the game he said he'll be able to fly with the A's tonight.

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Mark EllisAnyone up for a road trip?

The A's are considering finding a ride for second baseman Mark Ellis to get from Toronto to Minnesota because it's unclear if he can fly with an inner ear problem that has kept him out of Thursday's lineup.

The drive would be, according to Google maps, around 16 hours, not including the stop for customs.

"That doesn't sound like a lot of fun," Ellis told MLB.com.

Ellis said he has a feeling of fullness in his left ear and is also suffering from dizziness. He went 0 for 4 in Wednesday's loss to the Blue Jays.

Ellis also said he feels "like a two-year-old missing a game because of an earache."

Andy LaRoche will start at second base for the A's after playing shortstop on Tuesday and third base on Wednesday. The A's have a charter flight from Toronto to Minnesota after Thursday afternoon's game.

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Posted on: November 19, 2010 10:13 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2010 10:23 pm
 

Friday evening rumor roundup

Well, this week has kind of been the March of the Hot Stove League season, in like a lion, out like a lamb -- but there is still some action out there. So here's another roundup.

• The four teams on Justin Upston's no-trade list are the A's, Royals, Tigers and Indians. (FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, via Twitter )

• The Diamondbacks have made a two-year, $3 million offer for Japanese starter Hiro Kobayahsi. (NPB Tracker via Twitter )

• The Braves and Dan Uggla are both open to multiyear contract extension. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution )

• The Braves have made an offer to free agent Eric Hinske. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution )

• The Red Sox are "undecided" whether they will bid for Japanese infielders Tsuyoshi Nishioka. (WEEI.com )

• Larry Stone of the Seattle Times notes Bob Engle, the Mariners vice president for international operations, signed both Cy Young Award winners, Felix Hernandez and Roy Halladay. He's also got 2005 Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter and 1996 Cy Young-winner Pat Hentgen on his resume.

• The Yankees released reliever Jonathan Albaladejo, who signed with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. (Star-Ledger )

• There were plenty of 40-man moves on Friday, as teams set their rosters in the deadline for the Rule 5 draft. The most interesting moves belonged to the Pirates, who designated Zach Duke, Andy LaRoche and Delwyn Young for assignment. The only other name that really jumped out at me was that the Mariners put Josh Lueke on their 40-man roster. Lueke was part of the trade that sent Cliff Lee to Texas. In 2009, Lueke plead no contest to charges of false imprisonment with violence after an incident in 2008. Lueke will be a controversial figure if he gets called up to Seattle.

UPDATE: The Pirates tried to negotiate a contract with Duke, who is arbitration-eligible, and also explored a trade. (MLB.com )

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 2, 2010 10:27 pm
 

White Sox have plenty on plate

Pierzynski The White Sox may be bracing for life without Paul Konerko, and have plenty of other question marks to address if they hope to reclaim AL Central Division crown in 2011.

A life-long White Sox, Konerko eschewed an offer from the Angels after winning the 2005 World Series to re-up with the ChiSox. However, it sounds like Konerko's time in town could be done, even as Chicago hopes to retain him.

At the end of the season, Konerko said it was possible another team could lure him away from the White Sox even if Chicago makes a better offer, "because of what I'm feeling for myself and everybody involved in that moment," as ChicagoBreakingSports.com recalls.

The hint dropped, everyone caught it.

Fortunately for Chicago, there is no shortage of first-base options on the free-agent market, so they shouldn't have too much trouble replacing Konerko. One of said first-basemans joined the free-agent list Tuesday when the Diamondbacks declined his option -- Adam LaRoche. LaRoche could play very well at The Cell and give the White Sox close to what Konerko would give at significantly less dollars and years.

Meanwhile, the need for a left-handed hitter (LaRoche alert!), closer and catcher also keeps GM Kenny Williams awake at night.

The White Sox have always had interest in Colby Rasmus, who could solve their conundrum of a lefty (and an outfielder to boot, where the ChiSox can add a player) but given he is a young, up-and-coming star with the Cardinals, it will take a pretty penny to excise him -- troubles with Tony La Russa be damned.

More important at this time is the future of Bobby Jenks, as Mark Gonzales of ChicagoBreakingSports.com says "it would be stunning" if the White Sox allowed Jenks to return to the team for his final year of arbitration and pay him $9 million. The Red Sox have their same issue with Jonathan Papelbon, but are expected to retain him. Not so in Chicago, when the team has had frustrations with Jenks in the past.

They could elevate Matt Thornton to closer, if not even push Sergei Santos in the role, but Chicago could also ask J.J. Putz to return to town and entice him with the possibility of winning the closer's job. They could also be players for Rafael Soriano.

Lastly, the White Sox may be ready to see the A.J. Pierzynski (pictured) reign as backstop end. Prospect Tyler Flowers is an option to take over, and the club recently exercised a club option on Raul Castro to be a backup. They will dabble in trades (Mike Napoli?) and free agency (Miguel Olivo, John Buck, Victor Martinez?) to find their next catcher if Flowers is deemed ready.

The White Sox have a chance to make some noise this offseason. They have a good amount of money to spend, a desire to win and a GM that pulls no punches in doing so. Watch this team.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: August 6, 2010 12:23 am
Edited on: August 6, 2010 12:23 am
 

Cardinals interested in Pirates' LaRoche


Andy LaRoche With rookie David Freese out for the rest of the season, the Cardinals are looking at the Pirates' Andy LaRoche.

Assuming LaRoche clears waivers, the Cardinals could trade for the third baseman, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review .

LaRoche is hitting .223/.290/.299 with three homers and 14 RBI. He will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason.

With Pittsburgh's top prospect, Pedro Alvarez, playing in the big leagues, LaRoche has been relegated to a pinch-hitter role. He's only started one game since the All-Star break.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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