Tag:B.J. Upton
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:52 pm
 

Playoff race: Breaks going Rays' way

Evan Longoria

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Things are certainly breaking the Rays way right now -- especially B.J. Upton's bat.

Thanks in small part to the flying end of Upton's bat, the Rays took the opening game of their crucial four-game set at Fenway Park, beating the Red Sox 9-2.

WIth two outs in the third inning and runners on first and second, Upton's bat splintered on a slow roller to shortstop. Just as Boston shortstop Marco Scutaro was about to field the grounder, the barrel of Upton's bat reached him and he had to dodge the piece of the bat, allowing the ball to go between his legs and John Jaso to score the game's first run and extend the inning. The next batter, Evan Longoria, homered to give Tampa an early 4-0 lead -- all thanks to the bounce of a bat.

The win pulls the Rays to within three games of the American League Wild Card, with three more games agains the Red Sox. A sweep here and it's a whole new ballgame.

Boston Red Sox
Remaining schedule: 3 vs. TB, 4 vs. BAL, 3 @ NYY, 3 @ BAL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 80.6 percent

Tampa Bay Rays
83-66, 3 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 @ BOS, 4 @ NYY, 3 vs. TOR, 3 vs. NYY
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 7.8 percent 

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
82-67, 4 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 @ BAL, 4 @ TOR, 3 vs. OAK, 3 vs. TEX
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 2.5 percent

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Posted on: September 13, 2011 7:45 pm
 

Don't count out Mets in B.J. Upton sweepstakes

Upton

By Evan Brunell

B.J. Upton spoke to Craig Heist of WTOP (via MLB.com) in Washington on Tuesday, indicating that he wanted to stay with the Rays, but would also love to play in Washington. Interestingly enough, Upton also mentioned the Mets as a potential bonus to playing in the NL East.

“If I’m not, playing in Washington would kind of be playing close to home. I just want to play anywhere. … Since you brought up Washington, it would be kind of cool to play close to home and definitely play with the guy in Ryan Zimmerman that I played with growing up," Upton said. "That would be kind of a cool thing. I’ve known him for a long time. … To be on the team with him and playing in the division [against Mets third baseman] David Wright, who I also grew up with, that would be a cool thing, but right now, my heart is with the Rays.”

The Rays seem a lock to trade the center fielder in the offseason as he enters his final season of arbitration. Tampa had solicited offers at the trade deadline for the slugger, but couldn't agree on anything. With a rising salary, Upton is a prime candidate to be moved, especially as the Rays undershoot financial projections. Washington hasn't been secret in its desire for a long-term center fielder, believing Upton could be that man.

But now that Upton has mentioned the Mets, it's fair to wonder if that could end up a possible destination. The Mets play in a large market, which is enticing to many players, plus it would be near Upton's home of Virginia. While the Nats are obviously closer, the Mets are not especially far, plus would visit Washington quite a few times during the season. Add in the fact that Upton appears to be interested in playing against Wright (so why not with?), then the Mets could have a chance for Upton's services.

However, that chance will likely come in free agency, not trade. As a rebuilding team, it wouldn't make much sense for New York to deal prized prospects for Upton, despite being just 27 years old. But as the Mets increasingly appear to be looking past 2012 toward 2013, Upton's hitting the free-agent market after next season is just in time for New York's ability to get back into the big-contract business. The 2013 class is looking quite healthy, as Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, Matt Kemp, Shane Victorino, Andre Ethier and Carlos Quentin all project to be free-agent outfielders. That would only help the Mets more, who could make a play for Upton or any other outfielder and pay less due to the ample supply available.

The odds remain that Upton winds up with the Nationals, because both sides clearly have an interest in doing so. But given Upton's comments, don't count out the Mets.

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Posted on: September 13, 2011 1:38 am
Edited on: September 13, 2011 9:06 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Rays streak to win, Francisco bombs

Zobrist

By Evan Brunell

B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist, Rays: Zobrist (pictured) helped propel the Rays to three games behind Boston for the wild card, ripping a double and driving in three. His three-hit night lifted his overall line to .274/.356/,464, strong numbers anywhere but especially powerful from a second baseman, notwithstanding that Zobrist can also fill in elsewhere in a pinch, making him tremendously valuable. Upton, meanwhile, doubled twice and received two jwalks, setting a franchise record by reaching in nine straight appearances. He struck out in the eighth to snap the streak.

Juan Francisco, Reds:  Francisco hammered a 502-foot home run off of the Cubs' Rodrigo Lopez, the first time a ball has ever been hit completely out of the park over the right-field bleachers, landing on the southern sidewalk of Mehring Way. It's the second-longest ever hit at the park, second to Adam Dunn's 535-footer in 2004 off of the Dodgers' Jose Lima, which went out over the bullpen and bounced into the river, technically into another state as the river belongs to Kentucky. Oh, the rest of game? Francisco went 2-for-4 as the third baseman in a 12-8 loss.


Brett Myers, Astros:
Myers stupified his former team of Philadelphia, who were also returning ex-Astros in Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence. While Oswalt got roughed up, Myers went eight strong, allowing just one run while walking one and striking out four. A nice debut season last year with Myers earned him an extension, but he's regressed this year. He's come around as of late and has a 4.52 ERA on the season and is a prime candidate to be traded this offseason.



Dontrelle Willis, Reds: The D-Train had walked at least five batters in three straight starts coming into Monday's game. He paid for it against the Cubs, lasting just 3 1/3 innings as he was teed off for eight runs, walking three and whiffing zero. It was a massive dose of reality for the lefty, who had enjoyed a brief run of success mixed in with luck. His ERA is all the way up to 5.04 after coming in with a 4.10 ERA at the beginning of the month.

John Danks, White Sox: It was a bad night in a season of disappointment for Danks, who has been consistently good the last three seasons, but seemed like he could break out this season. Instead, he's regressed. After Monday's stinker, his ERA is now 4.36, the highest since his rookie season of 2007 when he had an unsightly 5.50 ERA. Danks gave up eight runs, seven earned, in five inningsm walking three and striking out five, allowing two home runs to the Tigers, who won their 10th straight. "I don't know if there is hotter team out there right now," Danks told the Associated Press. "It's embarrassing but at the same time you have to realize how good they're playing."

Mike Trout, Angels:  Trout had been making noise lately, riding a hot streak into more playing time and optimism. But he's still just 20, and his bat has cooled as of late. The sky is the limit for Trout, but he was exposed on Monday night by striking out three times in four hitless trips to the plate, dropping his overall line to .220/.282/.420 in an even 100 at-bats. Trout may or may not start the season with the Angels, but he will absolutely be a rock in that lineup for years to come. This night is just the early struggles of a blossoming star.

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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 30, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2011 2:04 pm
 

Saturday afternoon trade rumors

By Matt Snyder

We're approaching the 24-hour mark on the countdown to the MLB's non-waiver trade deadline and things are definitely starting to heat up. We've seen the Phillies make a huge splash by acquiring Hunter Pence, and already Saturday two trades have been agreed upon -- the Tigers getting starting pitcher Doug Fister (Knobler) and the Brewers acquiring Jerry Hairston (Miller). There's bound to be more on what should be a big day in Major League Baseball. Let's dive in to what we've seen thus far -- and remember, everything is fluid right now. Things could change in a literal heartbeat, so make sure to follow us on Twitter for the latest.

Ubaldo Jimenez's name just won't go away, so let's sum up all the rumors here. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports not much has changed, as the Yankees and Red Sox have the best shot, while the Indians and Blue Jays are on the fringe -- also reporting that the Rockies might just keep Jimenez. The Yankees are "all over" him, reports ESPN's Tim Kirkjian. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports the price for Jimenez may go down, though Troy Renck of the Denver Post says it won't. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports the Yankees and Rockies aren't even close to finding "common ground" on Jimenez's value. SI.com's Jon Heyman has the Red Sox, Reds, Blue Jays, Indians and Yankees in on Jimenez.

• The Twins are unlikely to trade Jason Kubel or Michael Cuddyer, reports Miller.

MLB Trade Deadline
• The Rangers are after White Sox reliever Matt Thornton, reports Rosenthal. He added that the White Sox want starter Derek Holland in return, but the Rangers wouldn't do that unless they got a starter like John Danks in return.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports the Red Sox have discussed a deal for Josh Willingham and Rich Harden with the A's.

Jim Bowden of ESPN reports the Red Sox have pulled out in front in the race for Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda, though he was emphatic the Cardinals wouldn't trade Colby Rasmus. Rosenthal reports the Red Sox interest picked up after Erik Bedard's bad start Friday night. Olney reports the Yankees and Dodgers haven't discussed Kiroda for a bit.

• The Phillies called the Twins about Jim Thome, reports ESPN's Jayson Stark.

• Finally, having lost out on Pence, the Braves are looking for outfield alternatives. Marlon Byrd of the Cubs could be an option, reports David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Rosenthal reports the Braves are "almost certain" to land someone before the deadline, naming B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham and Carlos Quentin. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports Bourn is definitely on the Braves' radar. Bob Nightengale of USA Today says the Braves are heavily in on Quentin. Of course, Nightengale also notes the Red Sox are hot after Quentin. And Fox Sports reports the Indians, Nationals, Braves and Reds are after Bourn.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 30, 2011 1:36 am
 

Friday night trade rumor roundup

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Now that Hunter Pence is off the table, it seems Heath Bell is the latest big name certain to move. But that doesn't mean he's the only one. There are plenty more rumors out there.

One of the most interesting is the Cardinals having interest in Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports

This comes after the Post-Dispatch's Joe Strauss tweeted shortstop had become the team's "priority" at the non-waiver trade deadline. 

Furcal, 33, is struggling this season, hitting .195/.267/.241 coming into Friday's game but could still help the Cardinals -- which tells you all you need to know about the team's struggles at the position.

• A new hot rumor is that the Tigers are making a push for Ubaldo Jimenez and have offered top prospect Jacob Turner, according to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. Turner, the team's 2009 first-round pick, is 3-5 with a 3.48 ERA at Double-A Erie this season. He has 90 strikeouts and 32 walks in 113 2/3 innings. The Tigers would prefer not to deal anyone from their big-league roster.

The Tigers are also dangling lefty Andy Oliver in return for a pitcher that can help them now, such as Jimenez, Hiroki Kuroda or even the Nationals' Jason Marquis, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! tweets. Oliver was rated as the team's No. 3 overall prospect by Baseball America heading into the season. He's 6-7 with a 4.64 ERA at Triple-A Toledo with 102 strikeouts and 52 walks in 106 2/3 innings. He was the team's second-round pick in 2009. He made five starts for Detroit last season and two this season. Overall he's 0-5 with a 7.11 ERA in the big leagues with 23 strikeouts and 21 walks in 31 2/3 innings.

• The Astros dealt Pence on Friday, but MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets the Astros have told inquiring teams that shortstop Clint Barmes is unavailable.

• The Pirates are still looking for an outfield bat, Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com tweets, and that bat may be the Twins' Jason Kubel, MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch writes.

• Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that the odds of his team making a deal are "50/50."

Towers also said there are six or seven prospects he doesn't want to deal.

• Brewers general manager Bob Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he is still looking at deals, but wasn't hopeful of completing another. On Thursday the Brewers acquired Felipe Lopez from the Rays and brought him from Triple-A Durham where he was playing for Tampa Bay before bringing him to Milwaukee to replace the injured Rickie Weeks.

Melvin said the team would love to find another infielder, but isn't seeing many on the market. The Brewers have rumored to have talked to the Dodgers about both Jamey Carroll and Furcal.

However, the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez tweets the Dodgers' conversations about Carroll "have died."

• Orioles reliever Koji Uehara is a hot name, Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweets. He says Uehara will go somewhere. He'll make any bullpen better. However, Rosenthal tweets that it's only a 50-50 chance the Orioles move Uehara. He is 13 appearances shy of a $4 million vesting option for 2012. The Baltimore Sun links Uehara with the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Phillies and Tigers and notes all five of those teams have had scouts around the Orioles in recent series.

• The Rangers are certainly interested in bullpen help, but San Diego may not be their only trading parter. Brady Tinker of Fox Sports Southwest, tweets Andrew Bailey of the Athletics is the "most likely top bullpen addition" by Texas.

• The Braves may be reluctant to make much of a deal at the deadline so they don't repeat the Mark Teixeira mistake when the team sent, among others, Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus to Texas, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. The Braves are refusing to give up any of their top four pitching prospects -- Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Randall Delgado or Mike Minor. They could look at dealing from that grow in the offseason when the team could be searching to fill more holes. Atlanta has placed center fielders Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer on the disabled list in the last two days with Jose Constanza starting on Friday, making his big-league debut. Yahoo!'s Passan tweets the team is targeting center fielders. Rosenthal writes Atlanta is looking not only at center fielders such as B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn, but also corner outfielders such as Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Quentin and Josh Willingham.

• The Marlins appear to be holding pat at the deadline, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports. That means they'll keep closer Leo Nunez and left-handed reliever Randy Choate.

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 5:57 pm
 

Braves looking for bat, talk Ludwick with SD

By Scott Miller

Looking for an outfield bat, the Braves are engaging the Padres in trade discussions regarding Ryan Ludwick, multiple sources have told CBSSports.com.

Ludwick is not the only outfielder with whom the Braves are exploring a trade, but they are described as having significant interest in the 33-year-old. The Braves also have talked about Oakland's Josh Willingham, the White Sox's Carlos Quentin, Houston's Hunter Pence and Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton.

The difference is that Ludwick and Willingham will cost less than Pence, Quentin and Upton.

Ludwick was held out of San Diego's lineup Thursday afternoon against Arizona, though manager Bud Black brushed off any suggestion that it was because a trade was imminent. The Padres acquired Ludwick from St. Louis at last year's trade deadline during a surprising season in which they won 90 games.

However, Ludwick was a bitter disappointment down the stretch in 2010 (.211, six homers, 26 RBIs in 239 plate appearances). While he's been better in 2011 (.238, 11, 62 in 412 plate appearances), he clearly is not in San Diego's future plans. A free agent this winter, it is believed that Ludwick will seek something in the neighborhood of a three-year deal. With his game not translating well in Petco Park, the Padres are not interested.

Willingham is hitting .240 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs for an Oakland team that long ago fell out of the race this summer.

There are two problems with the White Sox's Quentin, whom the Braves really like and have serious interest in:

One, he's more expensive than Ludwick or Willingham, according to sources. And, two, the Tigers apparently refuse to allow the White Sox to become full-blown sellers. Detroit lost again on Thursday, this time to the Angels, allowing idle Chicago to pull to within three games of the AL Central lead despite a 51-52 record. The White Sox are only two games behind Detroit in the loss column.

As for Pence, his market has exploded since San Francisco traded for Carlos Beltran. My colleague Danny Knobler writes that the Braves, Phillies and several other clubs checked in with the Astros on Thursday.

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 12:14 am
Edited on: July 28, 2011 1:36 am
 

Span-Storen rumor highlights Wednesday buzz

By Evan Brunell

A possible trade between the Twins and Nationals has surfaced on the rumor mill in recent hours, with CBSSports.com's Scott Miller reporting that Washington is zeroing in on Denard Span to be its center fielder of the future, while the Twins target closer Drew Storen in a possible multi-player trade.

It's possible that shortstop Ian Desmond and catcher Wilson Ramos could be part of a deal, as they did not play on Wednesday, fueling speculation that the two could be part of a trade for Rays' center fielder B.J. Upton, who also rode the pine Wednesday.

Of course, the Twins have Joe Mauer at catcher, so it's doubtful they're looking to re-acquire Ramos even if they're regretting the deal that sent him to the Nats for Matt Capps last season, who recently lost his closer's job. But Desmond? The Twins do need infield help, but Alexi Casilla and Tsuyoshi Nishioka crowd the middle infield spots, while Danny Valencia is still starting regularly at third, even if he should hit the bench against right-handers. All this is probably more smoke than it is fire.

What clearly is something, though, is the Span-Storen deals. The Twins need to stabilize their bullpen, both for 2011 and in the future, and adding a young reliever like Storen would go a long way toward locking the ninth inning down for years. We'll find out by Sunday if there's any truth to these rumors.

Here are some other trade rumors to whet your appetite:
There is a live trade deadline chat this Sunday, starting at 2 p.m. Write it into your calendar now!

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