Tag:Jeff Francouer
Posted on: September 10, 2011 7:49 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 7:51 pm
 

Gold Glove rules change outfield eligibility

FrancouerBy Evan Brunell

Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes that Gold Glove balloting will change this offseason in a long overdue move.

Instead of awarding a Gold Glove to three outfielders regardless of specific position, outfielders will now be broken down by which outfield spot a player plays in. That means a left fielder, center fielder and right fielder will all win the award, with candidates limited to those who play a specific amount of games at said position.

It's a great move to make, as the previous system was antiquated. Perhaps it made more sense in the olden days, when it was believed the best defenders in the outfield were always center fielders. In addition, defense was not as heavily prioritized as it has become the last few seasons due to a downturn of offense. Also helping matters is an increased understanding of the impact on defense each specific outfielder can have on the game. With multiple advanced defensive metrics easily available -- to varying degrees of effectiveness -- it's easier to figure out which defenders truly shone through as opposed to just handing the award to those who looked good in center.

The change in the award could potentially help Kansas City sweep the AL outfield Gold Gloves, as the three outfielders -- Alex Gordon in left, Melky Cabrera in center and Jeff Francouer (pictured) in right -- are currently on pace to be the first outfield trio since 1978 to rank first or second at his position in assists. (The Expos had their outfielders all finish first: Warren Cromartie, Andre Dawson and Ellis Valentine.) Unsurprisingly, K.C. leads the majors in outfield assists with 48, including an impressive 25 at home. Credit is being given to first-base coach Doug Sisson, who is in his first year on the coaching staff after previously serving as minor-league field coordinator for three seasons for K.C.

“We throw every three days to the bases,” Francoeur, the only Royal with a previous Gold Glove award (Braves, 2007), said. “And if we don’t do it right, Siss will hit another one. I give him a lot of credit for that. Siss has been a huge part of this team this year. He’s put us in position to make plays.”

Sisson believes throws should arrive on one hop, which helps outfielders not overthrow cutoff men, and passes credit onto the outfielders.

“It’s a product of putting in the time,” Sisson said, “making it important and throwing to the bases without cut-off men. That way, in their minds, they’re thinking about throwing guys out. Not hitting cutoff men.

“I’ve always believed the cutoff man’s job is to get in the way of the throw. It’s not an outfielder’s job to hit a cutoff man. If you’re trying to throw guys out, but your mind-set is to hit the cutoff man, then you’re not really trying to throw guys out.”

Clearly, that approach has worked to date. Combined with the rule changes, it could lead to the Royals being the first-ever team to sweep the outfield Gold Gloves. Two outfielders on the same team winning the award has happened multiple times, most recently in 2010 when Seattle's Franklin Gutierrez and Ichiro Suzuki achieved the honor. Seattle has accomplished the feat four times (1996, 2001, 2003, 2010), tops in the majors.

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Posted on: September 2, 2011 9:40 am
 

Pepper: Royals could resemble Brewers soon

Hosmer
By Evan Brunell

Promising turnaround: The Royals figure to lose at least 90 games, but the chatter in baseball remains overwhelmingly positive for Kansas City, who is drawing comparisons to Milwaukee.

Boasting the best farm team in the bigs, K.C. has already begun integrating its young players into the team, especially on offense where the Royals have a brand-new infield. Shortstop Alcides Escobar kicked off the year with the Royals after coming over from Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke trade, while Eric Hosmer received the first minor-league promotion at first base. Mike Moustakas followed soon to play the hot corner, while Johnny Giavotella just came up to man second.

Greinke, a former Royal, faced Hosmer in a rehab start in April and remarked that it was like facing a 10-year veteran.

“You probably know this,” Greinke told Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star. “But Eric Hosmer is really good. I mean, really good.”

Greinke is now with the Brewers, a team Mellinger says could be how the Royals look like in a few years if and when their young pitching prospects start bearing fruit.

The offense seems to have it all -- two defensive linchpins in Escobar and catcher Salvador Perez, home-run threats in Hosmer and Moustakas, and a capable bat in Giavotella. And we haven't even talked about the resurgent Alex Gordon in left field, or the fine season that Melky Cabrera has turned in. Yep, baseball in K.C. is looking sharp.

Going yard: The 1,000th career hit for Jeff Francouer was a home run. "He told us he was going to get it in his first at-bat and he did, he didn't mess around with it," manager Ned Yost told MLB.com.

Baby giraffe: Brandon Belt has gained a nickname -- that of "Baby Giraffe." Well, he met the real thing when Six Flags Discovery Kingdom named its newborn giraffe after Belt, of which you can see pictures on Belt's blog. (A Veteran and a Rook)

MVP pitcher? Cole Hamels disagrees with my assessment that a pitcher should be eligible for -- and potentially win -- the MVP, calling the Cy Young Award the pitcher's version.

"We only play once every five days and I don’t know how much we can affect a team by winning all 33 or 34 starts because you still have to win 90 something games to make the postseason," Hamels told the Dan Patrick Show, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. You need an everyday player to really go out there and play 140 to 150 games to really be a sorta MVP candidate.”

My comeback? Don't look at games played. Look at at-bats. A hitter will generally receive roughly 600 plate appearances a year, while a pitcher will face a few hundred more hitters over the course of a season. Position players may play in significantly more games, but pitchers impact the games they pitch in far more than a hitter. It all balances out.

Bryce running: Bryce Harper, on the disabled list for Double-A, ran for the first time since straining his hamstringo on Thursday. The team is hopeful he can participate in the minor-league postseason. (Washington Post)

Baseball in the Netherlands: The Dutch look to be in prime position to host a baseball game in 2014, with the Netherlands preparing to submit a bid for a game to be played in Hoofddorp, a small city outside of Amsterdam. You don't hear much about baseball and the Netherlands, but interestingly enough, it's considered "the baseball powerhouse of Europe," Alex Remington writes. (Fangraphs)

Walk angry: Adrian Gonzalez struck out on a called strike to end the Yankees-Red Sox game on Thursday, with New York coming away with a victory after Mariano Rivera loaded the bases in the ninth inning. "That pitch was down, I should still be hitting. That's all I have to say," he told the Boston Globe. Maybe, but Gonzalez shouldn't have swung at two painfully obvious balls. For someone with his plate discipline, he sure looked antsy up at the plate.

Banged-up Sox: J.D. Drew's return to Boston figures to be delayed at least a week, but Kevin Youkilis could return as early as Friday. Another injured Sox player, Clay Buchholz, made 35 throws from 60 feet and reported no progress with his back. Buchholz's return may not happen until the playoffs, but if he can come back, it's a major shot in the arm. (Boston Globe)

Hobbled Yanks: Mark Teixeira had to leave Thursday's game with a bruised right knee after being hit by a pitch, and he looks as if he will miss a few games, the New York Post writes. Alex Rodriguez, meanwhile, is hopeful he can rejoin the starting lineup on Friday but admitted he just isn't sure to the Post.

Big step: Adam Wainwright will throw his first bullpen session shortly after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The season is lost for the Cards right-hander, but he can get himself ready to go for the 2012 season. It's possible that if a St. Louis minor-league affiliate goes deep into the playoffs that he could make a rehab start before baseball shuts down. (MLB.com)

Under the knife: Twins top prospect Kyle Gibson will wrap up a disappointing year by undergoing Tommy John surgery. Gibson was expected to win a rotation spot at some point during the year, but now Minnesota will have to cast its eye to 2013 for any significant production out of the first-rounder. (Minnesota Star Tribune)

Backpacking: A new trend is emerging in baseball as part of an old one. The junior member of a bullpen has always been expected to haul a bag full of snacks, drinks and pain medications to the bullpen. Lately, however, the bag has morphed into gear designed to embarrass the player -- a Hello Kitty backpack -- for example. The New York Times looks at the increasing trend.
 
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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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Posted on: August 1, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 5:24 pm
 

No moves at deadline is failure for five teams

Upton

By Evan Brunell

On Sunday, the trade deadline concluded with some teams coming away with the biggest pieces on the market (Indians with Ubaldo Jimenez, Phillies with Hunter Pence, Braves with Michael Bourn), some were able to get complementary pieces necessary for contention, and others continued their rebuilding phase by stocking up on prospects.

But there were other teams who bafflingly stood on the sidelines despite a necessity to make moves. That necessity is what excludes the Yankees from this group. While New York could have stood to make some moves, they have the AL's second-best record behind the Red Sox. The Yankees don't have any gaping holes, even if some of the band-aids over these holes may not hold through October.

Let's take a look.

A'sWhat the A's should have done: Traded two of their outfielders.

GM Billy Beane knows his A's aren't going anywhere this season, and he was in prime position to supplement the team over the next couple of years by dealing any of his three starting outfielders in Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and David DeJesus. Instead, all three stayed and could potentially leave Oakland after the year. In Beane's defense, he told Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal "ultimately, a trade is a bilateral and not a unilateral process.”

What Beane is getting at here is there has to be a second team willing to deal. The new wave of GMs into the game have changed things somewhat, setting prices for players and not budging from them. In other words, trading has gone from a negotiating and bargaining process to one where you peruse the shelves for what's available and have to buy it at sticker price. Still, there were no shortage of outfielders in demand and it's difficult to imagine that Oakland couldn't come to accord with another team for the services of one of the outfielders. Beane did make one deal, sending away reliever Brad Ziegler to Arizona, but that's hardly enough.

In Beane's defense, Willingham currently projects to be a Type-A free agent as MLB Trade Rumors points out, but he's right on the line and could easily slip into Type-B status. Beane may have taken the stance that he needed to do better than the two compensatory picks Willingham would have fetched as a Type-A free agent, but that's far from a lock. DeJesus will be a Type B, which doesn't preclude a trade. Crisp isn't set for any compensation.

AngelsWhat the Angels should have done
: Acquired a bat, possibly starting pitcher

The Angels bizarrely stood pat at the trade deadline, as owner Arte Moreno shut off the spigots for more money... but is still keeping the GM responsible for putting Los Angeles in this position. Tony Reagins is overseeing a broken-down club with Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter manning the outfield corners. Scott Kazmir has finally been mercifully released, but L.A. is still on the hook for money.

Somehow, even though Reagins' decisions the last couple of years have defied logic, they were two games out of first on Sunday. This despite a 69-run differential separating the Angels from the Rangers, who added two top-flight relievers to its team to gear up for the playoffs. For comparison, there are 57 runs separating Philadelphia and Atlanta, with the Braves six games behind. Even if Aramis Ramirez wasn't willing to waive his no-trade, there were other directions L.A. could have gone.

Instead, its fans will now watch the Angels slide into mediocrity, with not much on the horizon other than Mike Trout for help. With only Joel Pineiro and Fernando Rodney slated to be free agents and some hefty arbitration raises on the way, this team will be stagnant for  some time.

RaysWhat the Rays should have done: Traded B.J. Upton and fungible pieces

GM Andrew Friedman landed in the hospital Saturday for an emergency appendectomy, but said it didn't affect his work at all Sunday. Perhaps he should have pretended it did, because otherwise this is a poor showing for Tampa. Most notably, the Rays had B.J. Upton available, and despite his .224/.306/.394 batting line, was highly coveted. As a 26-year-old under club control through 2012, Upton (pictured atop the article) would have fetched a very nice price.

There were many discussions revolving around Upton, but obviously nothing came to fruition. But maybe it should have. The Rays need to restock for another move forward, and Upton won't be part of the next stretch of dominance. The Rays have some nice high-minors prospects nearing the majors, but there is still plenty of need for more reinforcements, especially given the value the Rays received from the Matt Garza trade in the offseason was mostly tied up in the low minors.

Upton should have been traded. It's hard to imagine his price being the same or higher in the offseason now that there's one less postseason race to handle. Plus, he'll now be looked at as a one-year rental whose contract will probably hit around $6 million. It's not just Upton that could have been dealt, though. While the Rays have a chance to walk away with the wild card if the Yankees collapse, it's the slimmest of chances.

KCWhat the Royals should have done: Traded anyone irrelevant for 2013

The Royals' inactivity at the deadline wasn't surprising only because GM Dayton Moore already indicated he would drive a hard bargain on the pieces he might otherwise be expected to be traded. So Melky Cabrera remains in town. Jeff Francouer, Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen... the list goes on. Moore did trade backup infielder Mike Aviles to Boston for a solid return, but that only underscores how K.C. failed here.

Instead of driving a hard bargain on Cabrera, who would have been in major demand once Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn came off the board, Moore decided to keep Cabrera, which in turn keeps the center fielder of the future in Lorenzo Cain down in Triple-A. It's possible Cabrera can keep up this production and the Royals will make him part of the long-term future once he becomes a free agent after 2012, but possible does not mean probable. The Royals received a replacement backup infielder for Aviles in Yamaico Navarro who has a chance to be more than that, plus a flier on a minor-league arm. Navarro is far more integral to Kansas City's bright future than Aviles is, just like whatever Cabrera or any of these other players might have fetched are more important than the incumbents by default.

Even when the Phillies, Braves and Pirates closed up shopping by dealing for other outfield arms, other teams could have still used upgrades. It's hard to imagine offers weren't there for Cabrera, nor that some teams wouldn't have liked a lefty in the back of the rotation the caliber of Francis or Chen. And Francouer, for all his warts, has a reputation as a fast starter for a new team, plus he can hit left-handers well. But instead, he's going to be in Kansas City sucking up valuable playing time with no clear benefit to the Royals.

RedsWhat the Reds should have done: Improved team

The Reds were a feel-good story last season, winning the division and playing baseball in October in Cincinnati for the first time since 1995. They looked like a team to beat entering 2011, but so far are comfortably in fourth place in the NL Central, winning on Sunday to push their record to 53-55 and edge closer to third and second place.

The Reds, lacking a bona fide ace, refused to part with the assets needed to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez despite no shortage of pitchers that profile as Nos. 3 or 4 starters in the majors and a healthy farm system. Fine, sometimes pitching depth with no discernible top-end talent can still end up a good thing. Injuries always strike, and there's a chance Edinson Volquez figures things out or Homer Bailey reaches his ceiling. But the Reds did absolutely nothing, including refusing to trade catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Giants, who would have been more than willing to send pitching or other help to the Reds. Top prospect Devin Mesoraco is probably ready, right now, to outproduce Hernandez.

And yet, Hernandez, plus every single other tradeable commodity, remained. The Reds didn't lift a finger to bring in outfield help or to shore up the left side of the infield, never mind decline to go big for an ace pitcher. It's a disappointing result for a team and a fanbase that knows October is possible again and could have used an injection of both talent and the mental optimism that would have come along with a trade.

We only looked at five teams and excluded the Cubs. But never fear, we have more on the Cubs' shocking futility at the trade deadline, plus here is what I wrote about the Cubs' performance at the deadline in the trade deadline winners and losers article:
You will hear much more on Monday [night] about the Cubs' massive failure at the trade deadline thanks to GM Jim Hendry, who really should be fired on the spot. But while we're here, we might as well recap the Cubs' situation. That situation is a 42-65 record, which is just a few losses away from a 100-loss pace. The Cubs are loaded with unseemly contracts, ranging from the obscene (Alfonso Soriano) to the bad (Carlos Zambrano) to the unnecessary (John Grabow).

And yet, not only was Hendry content not to move any pieces but he was fine encouraging Aramis Ramirez to stay in town. He was fine ruling out the trading of a backup platoon infielder in Jeff Baker. (Read that last sentence again.) The only player Hendry parted with was Fukudome, and he never had fans in the front office and was a lock to leave after the season, anyways.

Instead of trying to set the Cubs up for future success, Hendry seemed paralyzed by which direction to go and while choosing to become buyers would have been ludicrous, it would have been a more palatable direction than just staying pat. Of course, the Cubs aren't flush with a deep farm system, especially after trading for Matt Garza. So Hendry's stuck pretending to be a contender for what, at least from this side of things, seems to be nothing more than a desperate attempt to save his job by pretending his team is close to contention and does not need a fire sale -- a fire sale that would have been entirely Hendry's fault.
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Posted on: July 21, 2011 4:43 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 5:07 pm
 

Trade Deadline Primer: NL East

By Eye on Baseball team

Leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the National League East has an actual race -- as well as a team with a bloated payroll and no hope -- which leads to a great chance of some pretty interesting trades to and from the division. Here's a look at the five teams in the NL Eeast:

Philadelphia Phillies

Status: Buyers

Needs: Bullpen, RH bat

Notes: Manager Charlie Manuel said he'd love a right-handed bat (Philadelphia Daily News), probably in the outfield, but this is the Phillies and expect the team to focus on pitching -- at least that's what history tells us. And because their rotation is pretty good (you may have heard about some of these guys), they focus on relievers, likely ending a streak of five years of adding a starter midseason. The team is likely one of the many suitors for Padres closer Heath Bell, although some suggest the Phillies prefer Mike Adams. Padres owner Jeff Moorad has reportedly told Adams he won't be traded. However, according to Tom Krasovic of Inside the Padres, the Phillies are willing to give up Class A first baseman/left fielder Jonathan Singleton in return for Adams.

Another bullpen trade partner could be the Orioles, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler said. The Phillies could be interested in Jim Johnson or Koji Uehara.

MLB Trade Deadline

As for the right-handed bats, the Phillies are in on the same folks everyone's chasing -- Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence and maybe Jeff Francouer. The biggest hurdle of all for the Phillies is money, as in they've already spent it and they're worried about the luxury tax. The team has just between $2 and $3 million to spend and avoid the luxury tax.

According to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Phillies and Royals have already exchanged names in a possible Melky Cabrera trade. Cabrera is a cheaper, younger switch hitter for those who fall short in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes.

Now, if they're going big and bold, Buster Olney of ESPN.com, tweeted the Phillies could go for Pence, centering the deal around right-hander Vance Worley.

Atlanta Braves

Status: Bargain shoppers

Needs: Right-handed bat

Notes: The Braves need a right-handed bat like Roy Halladay needs air conditioning. Atlanta looks like the front-runner for the National League wild card, but don't have much money to spend. The biggest issue right now for Atlanta is its inability to hit left-handed pitchers. Braves hitters are hitting just .211/.285/.337 against lefties, with Jason Heyward, Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer all below the Mendoza line against southpaws. That's why Jon Paul Morosi's report of the Reds' Jonny Gomes drawing the interest of the Braves makes sense, Gomes kills lefties to the tune of a .340/.446/.547 slash line this season and .281/..377/.510 in his career. There's also the regular names such as Ludwick and Beltran.

To make room for more payroll, the team could trade right-hander Derek Lowe, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien wrote. The Tigers could be interested in Lowe, but would have to take up the rest of the $20 million he's owed through 2012.

New York Mets

Status: One-stop shopping

Needs: Young talent under team control; pitching

Notes: Outfielder Carlos Beltran is the top position player on the market, but his future is clouded by the number of teams that could use an upgrade in the outfield and the fact that he's not for sale, he's for rent. Whatever team gets him won't even get compensation picks if he leaves as a free agent after the season.

The Mets would reportedly rather pay Beltran's salary and get a good young player or top prospect in return. They could unload him to a team willing to pay the roughly $8 million left on his contract, but then they wouldn't get much in return. The Mets would prefer big-league ready pitching talent. New York seems confident it can re-sign Jose Reyes, meaning they're not ready to throw in the towel and go full-on rebuilding anytime soon. 

Beltran, however, does have a no-trade clause. According to Tim Brown of Yahoo!, Sandy Alderson gave Beltran a short list of teams interested -- the Phillies, Red Sox, Braves, Giants, Brewers and maybe the Yankees -- and Beltran hasn't ruled any of them out.

It's pretty certain now that the Mets won't deal Reyes, but it appears they may be holding on to Jason Isringhausen, too, Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweets.

Washington Nationals

Status: Listening to all offers

Needs: Leadoff man/center fielder of the future

Notes: The Nationals have pieces to deal -- from catcher Ivan Rodriguez to relievers Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Todd Coffey and Sean Burnett, plus starters Jason Marquis, Livan Hernandez and Tom Gorzelanny. In short, they're open for business, with GM Mike Rizzo saying no player is "untouchable" -- but then following that up with "we're not going to touch our core." That means, "after a while, they don't ask for [Danny] Espinosa," Rizzo told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore. Ryan Zimmerman is also likely untouchable, as well as catcher Wilson Ramos.

One name to watch is shortstop Ian Desmond, but that would take quite the return for the team to move the 25-year-old.

More likely to go are some of the team's relievers. The Nats are deep in the bullpen and it's a position that's always in demand. The top tier would be Clippard or even Storen, but that would require Washington receiving a leadoff-hitting center fielder in return, someone like B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Colby Rasmus or Denard Span, FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal writes.

Florida Marlins

Status: Sellers

Needs: Third baseman, starting pitchers

Notes: The Marlins have starting pitchers that would interest many teams, but they may not part with them. Next year they rename themselves the Miami Marlins when they move into a new stadium and ownership would like a competitive team on the field when that happens.

Ricky Nolasco is the top starter to be had, but Knobler says they'd have to get a younger, cheaper starter in return for the 28-year-old right-hander.

The one the team may part with is Javier Vazquez, but it's not really their decision. Vazquez has a full no-trade clause and isn't in any hurry to leave South Florida. There are few places he'd accept a trade.

Sure to be gone is closer Leo Nunez. The Phillies are interested in Nunez. The other teams desperate for bullpen help -- like the Cardinals and Rangers -- are likely to at least inquire what it may take to get him.

Randy Choate has been verbal this week about his problems with current manager Jack McKeon and could get shipped off for not being a good soldier.

Also on the block are free-agents-to-be Greg Dobbs and Omar Infante. Infante's value is a lot less than it was a year ago.

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

Posted on: December 6, 2010 11:42 am
Edited on: December 6, 2010 12:04 pm
 

Three teams in on Jeff Francoeur

Francoeur Jeff Francoeur's market may be heating up as he strives to find a gig as a starting outfielder.

The Royals, Phillies and Rockies are in on Francouer, as FOX Sports ' Ken Rosenthal reports.

The Phillies and Rockies would be looking to use Francoeur off the bench and playing against left-handers due to his ability to hit lefties. It's his play against righties that is cause for concern and limiting his market as long as he pursues playing time.

The Royals would offer the most playing time to Francouer, and GM Dayton Moore knows Frenchy from his time in Atlanta.

UPDATE : Add the Indians and Astros to the teams vying for Francouer, as Peter Gammons notes .

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 1:40 pm
 

How will Phillies address right-field vacancy?

Brown As the Phillies lick their wounds on failing to win three straight NL pennants, the big question around town is the future of right field.

Could Jayson Werth somehow return? Is Domonic Brown (pictured) ready for prime time? Where the heck is right-handed power going to come from?

"The problem is, length-wise of a contract, and also what direction we want to go in," manager Charlie Manuel said on 610-WIP on Wednesday, via the Philadelphia Daily News . "From my point of view, to me, right now, I look at our core players, I'm a hitting guy, and I think we can develop a hitter before we can get a top notch pitcher or a top bullpen piece."

The Phillies do have top prospect Domonic Brown who could step into Werth's shoes and seems destined to develop into a star. However, that takes an already lefty-heavy Phillies lineup and tips it even more.

The solution may be to find a platoon partner so Philly can focus on adding to the rotation or bullpen, as it seems Manuel wants to do. The club could start Ross Gload or Brown on the strong side of the platoon and import someone to bat against left-handers. If Brown proves he is able to handle lefties with aplomb, the club would also have the ability to switch the platoon over to left field and Raul Ibanez.

One thing Manuel is interested in is changing up the composition of the roster, citing Brown as one person who might be able to do that.

"We need a blend, a balance, a different look. We need to get back to what I call energy," Manuel noted. "We've got established big league players and they are good big league players, outstanding. Some of them are great. And they have their own way of playing. It's not like they don't hustle and things like that, but we could use a little different mixture."

If the solution is to platoon, who could Philadelphia go after?

The first person that springs to mind is Jeff Francouer, who can hit lefties but can't hit righties whatsoever. He also has a cannon for an arm and could impact games on defense. However, Francouer still considers himself a full-time player and there will likely be a misguided front office that allows him to be just that. (Paging Kansas City.)

The Braves have a mess in the outfield, and Matt Diaz could be non-tendered as part of a rehaul. If so, Diaz could be a perfect complement as his numbers against lefties in his career are excellent. The only negative is he is essentially limited to just left field, which wouldn't work in a right-field platoon.

Jose Guillen is an option should the Phillies find themselves desperate. The drawback? His attitude is questionable and his offense and defense are deterioriating with every given day.

How about internally? Ben Francisco has been a Phillie for roughly a year and a half and boasts a career line of .267/.347/.460 against lefties, which is not all that far off from Frenchy's career .299/.343/.481 mark. The Phillies wouldn't have to shoehorn Francouer into a platoon role or pay him to do that when Francisco could be much less of a headache.

Or how about Andruw Jones?

Jones seems to be a part-time player these days and hasn't amassed more than 281 at-bats in three years. As a part-time outfielder and DH for the White Sox, he banged 18 home runs before stumbling in the middle of the season and recovering. His career line against left-handers is .261/.361/.501 -- and that's not tied up in his previous value as a perennial All-Star. Jones hit .256/.373/.501 for the ChiSox against left-handers.

What helps is that Jones could be pressed into starting duty and not completely embarrass himself in right field should Philadelphia ask him to play more. If Jones doesn't care much for the offers on the free-agent market this year, headed to a team where he would be guaranteed to face lefties and see a healthy amount of time as a backup against righties could be enough for him to pull the trigger and perhaps amass more than 281 at-bats.

The Phillies have some work ahead of themselves to address the impending vacancy in right field, and going to a platoon situation might be the best way to handle the situation in 2010. It gives Brown some time to develop, assuming he wins the strong-side platoon job, and also imports someone to protect against Raul Ibanez looking hapless against lefties. That frees up Philly to commit its dollars to pitching and hopefully some relievers who understand the name of the game is to get outs.

  -- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 4, 2010 6:30 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2010 8:05 pm
 

Rangers to start Cantu, Francoeur in Game 1

Jeff Francouer The Rangers plan to continue starting right-handed players against left-handed starters, which means that Jorge Cantu and Jeff Francoeur (photo, right) will be appearing in Texas' lineup against the Rays in Game 1 as ESPN Dallas reports .

Jorge Cantu The Rays have Cy Young candidate David Price lined up to pitch, so Cantu (photo, left) will draw the start at first and  Francoeur likely will appear in right field. Cantu has lost playing time against right-handed starters thanks to his poor performance after being acquired from the Marlins but historically destroys lefties.

Francoeur, unlike Cantu, has impressed since joining Texas and also has his own established track record against lefties.

When righty James Shields takes the mound for Game 2, expect Mitch Moreland and either Julio Borbon or hobbled David Murphy to step into the lineup.

-- Evan Brunell

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

Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
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