Tag:Danny Knobler
Posted on: July 31, 2011 10:18 am
 

Astros trade Michael Bourn to Braves

By Danny Knobler

The Braves have acquired center fielder Michael Bourn from the Astros.

After starting out looking for a big outfield bat (the Braves were one of the teams most interested in Carlos Beltran), the Braves shifted their focus some after putting two center fielders (Jordan Schafer, Nate McLouth) on the disabled list. Bourn, regarded by some as the fastest player in baseball, should help.

In return for the 28-year-old Bourn, who leads the National League with 39 steals, the Astros get Schafer and three minor-league pitchers, Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens and Juan Abreu. Thus, the Braves were able to add an outfielder without surrendering any of their top pitching prospects (as they would have had to do to get Beltran, Hunter Pence or Carlos Quentin). The Astros also included cash to pay part of Bourn's $4.4 million contract.

Bourn will be under Braves control through next year, when he can become a free agent.

Schafer was once considered one of the Braves' top prospects, but he has mostly struggled in the big leagues, with a .223 career batting average and .613 OPS. The Braves put him on the DL this week with a chip fracture in his left middle finger.

"Michael Bourn is a perfect fit for our club, which focuses on speed and defense to match up with our strong pitching," Braves general manager Frank Wren said in a statement.

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Posted on: July 29, 2011 10:31 pm
 

Jimenez: Tigers out, at least for now

By Danny Knobler

The Tigers, trying hard to add a starting pitcher before Sunday's non-waiver deadline, circled back late this week to make another run at Ubaldo Jimenez, the Rockies right-hander who is the best starter on the market.

By Friday night, it appeared that attempt had failed.

According to sources, the Tigers were once again basically out of the Jimenez derby, with the door remaining only slightly open for the Tigers to come back for another try. That appears unlikely, and the Rockies were proceeding with the idea that Jimenez likely gets dealt to the Yankees, the Red Sox or to no one. The Indians and other teams have been involved in Jimenez talks, but as of Friday night, those talks seemed to be quiet.

It's not clear how strong the interest is from either New York or Boston, but both teams could use the rotation upgrade that Jimenez would provide. The Rockies have long regarded the Yankees as being the best fit, because of the wealth of prospects they could choose from, but talks between the two teams haven't been that smooth.

The Red Sox could be more motivated, with the news that Clay Buchholz is headed to California for an exam by noted back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins.

The Tigers were in on Jimenez early, but sources said that the Rockies weren't high on the Tiger prospects. It's believed that they insisted that top prospect Jacob Turner be included in any offer, and Jon Heyman of SI.com reported that they at one point asked for Turner and either Rick Porcello or Max Scherzer.

The Tigers could hardly include one of their big-league starters, since their rotation isn't deep enough, as is. The Tigers are just 4-16 when they use their fifth starter.

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Posted on: July 29, 2011 9:10 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2011 10:06 pm
 

Phillies to get Pence from Astros

By Danny Knobler

The Phillies have acquired outfielder Hunter Pence from the Astros, sources told CBSSports.com Friday night.

The deal was described by two sources as "very close," and was expected to be announced later in the evening.

Pence, a 28-year-old two-time All-Star, gives the Phillies the strong outfield bat that manager Charlie Manuel has been asking for. Pence hit .308 with 62 RBI in 100 games this year for the Astros.

While Pence isn't as dynamic a player as Carlos Beltran, the outfielder the Giants got this week from the Mets, he fits the Phillies' pattern of acquiring players they can control past the end of the year. Pence can't become a free agent until the end of the 2013 season. That's why the Phillies were willing to pay a bigger price for him than they would have for Beltran.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro also has a history of being able to make deals with Astros GM Ed Wade. The two worked together when Wade was with the Phillies, and last year they engineered the trade that sent Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia.

First baseman Jonathan Singleton, who was pulled out of Friday night's game at Class A Clearwater in the eighth inning, is thought to be one of the players going to Houston in the trade. Pitcher Jarred Cosart, who starred in the All-Star Futures Game, was also thought to be in it. CSN Philadelphia reported that minor-league pitcher Josh Zeid and a player to be named will complete the four-player package.

Pence started for the Astros Friday night, but was pulled out of the game in the fifth inning.

The Braves had also tried to get Pence, but they weren't willing to surrender any of their top pitching prospects. The Phillies, who valued Pence more, were willing to come up with the players to convince the Astros to make the deal.

The Phillies originally expected that Domonic Brown could take over in right field this year, after they allowed Jayson Werth to leave for Washington as a free agent. But Brown got hurt in spring training and has struggled since then, and Manuel told reporters Friday afternoon that he would be better off developing in the minor leagues.

Earlier this week, the Phillies were still trying to decide whether to prioritize an outfielder or bullpen help. They decided to make Pence their top target, in part because they believe the bullpen will be strengthened in the playoffs by the addition of whichever starter they don't use in their postseason rotation (either Vance Worley or Oswalt).

The big question then was whether the Astros would truly consider dealing Pence, who is a favorite of outgoing Houston owner Drayton McLane. At one point this week, Astros officials were telling friends with other teams that they were much more likely to trade Pence this winter.

Once Beltran was dealt to the Giants on Wednesday, however, the Astros realized that the time to maximize Pence's value was now. Incoming owner Jim Crane intends to start a complete rebuild in Houston, likely dropping the Astros' payroll to around $60 million next year. So moving Pence, who makes $6.9 million this year and will be due for an arbitration raise, began to make more sense.

The Astros have also shopped center fielder Michael Bourn (the Reds are interested), and starting pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers. But Pence was always the one who would bring the biggest return.

The Braves move on to other targets. They could try to make a deal for White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin, but the Sox are believed to be asking for the same high-end pitching prospects that the Braves refused to deal for Pence. Atlanta could also step up efforts to get Ryan Ludwick from the Padres, or potentially try to get B.J. Upton from the Rays.

Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com first reported that the Phillies and Astros were close to a deal.

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 10:24 am
Edited on: July 28, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Indians deal for Cubs' Fukudome

Kosuke FukudomeBy Danny Knobler

The slumping Indians have acquired outfielder Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs.

The 34-year-old Fukudome has been mostly a disappointment in his time with the Cubs, but he has a .374 on-base percentage this year, and is in the final year of his contract. The Indians will give up two low-level and low-value prospects in exchange (Abner Abreu and Carlton Smith), and the Cubs will pay most of the remaining money on Fukudome's contract.

In other words, this is the kind of low-risk acquisition that fits the surprising Indians the best.

The Indians were no-hit on Wednesday by the AngelsErvin Santana, and they've scored just seven runs in their last five games. They remain just one game behind the Tigers in the American League Central, despite going just 22-35 in their last 57 games.

The Indians are in a somewhat tricky situation. They want to show their players and fans (attendance has been up at Progressive Field) that they're trying to make the most of this surprising opportunity to win, but at the same time they need to preserve their best prospects in order to have an even better chance to win big in the years to come. So while the Indians showed interest in both Carlos Beltran and Ubaldo Jimenez, the two biggest names on the trade market, a deal for either one never seemed likely, and wouldn't have made much sense.

Fukudome costs much, much less in prospects, but could give the Indians at least an incremental boost.

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Posted on: July 27, 2011 5:01 pm
 

No Beltran, no Pence, but Phillies want relievers

By Danny Knobler 

Yes, the Phillies made an effort for Carlos Beltran, before backing down and allowing him to go to the Giants. Yes, the Phillies talked to the Astros about Hunter Pence, although it appears now that nothing will happen, and the Astros will look to deal Pence in the winter, instead.

And as usual, the Phillies' biggest acquisition this month might well be a pitcher.

The Phillies remain among the teams most interested in Padres relievers Heath Bell and Mike Adams, although like others they continue to complain about the high prices. The Phils have looked at the Orioles and other teams, as well, in hopes of finding bullpen help.

I know, the Phillies bullpen has been among the most successful in the game this year. Their three blown saves are the fewest in the majors, and only one of the three came in the ninth inning. And after playing much of the year with three closers (Brad LidgeRyan Madson and Jose Contreras) on the disabled list, the Phillies now have Madson and Lidge back on the active roster.

Fine. But fast-forward to October, because the Phillies are all about October.

Do you feel comfortable with Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo pitching late in games in the playoffs? Are you sure about Madson as your playoff closer? Will Lidge be healthy and strong enough to help?

People who talk to the Phillies say they're asking all of those questions themselves, and that the answer can be seen in their efforts on the trade market.

The Phillies will likely still look to acquire a right-handed hitter, but it may well be more of a platoon bat off the bench. That could change, obviously, depending on who is available, and it would be interesting to see if the Phillies went after Carlos Quentin, if the White Sox really make him available.

The Phillies didn't get Beltran, and they almost certainly won't get Pence. Don't be surprised if they end up with a reliever.

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Posted on: July 27, 2011 3:39 pm
 

Yankees have best chance at Ubaldo

By Danny Kobler

Of all the teams that showed interest in Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez -- and there were a lot -- the Yankees have the best chance of actually landing him, according to major-league sources.

The Rockies are still telling teams that they don't need to trade Jimenez, who is 27 years old and is signed to a team-friendly contract that could run through 2014. But it's clearer than ever that the Rockies are willing to make a deal, with the Reds and possibly the Red Sox as other teams that match up well enough to get a deal done.

The Rangers showed signficant interest in Jimenez early on, but sources said Wednesday that they were all but out now, in large part because the teams just don't match up on the value placed on prospects. Another impediment to a Rockies-Rangers deal is the lingering frustration over last year's failed talks for Michael Young, but it appears the bigger problem was a lack of a match on prospects.

Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said earlier this month that he would require "a Herschel Walker-type deal" to trade Jimenez, but it appears that O'Dowd would be willing to accept something less than that, perhaps along the lines of deals that were made in recent months for Matt GarzaZack Greinke and Cliff Lee.

The Yankees have basically declared top prospect Manuel Banuelos off-limits in talks, but they have enough depth that they could put together an attractive package without him. O'Dowd is said to want three or four players in return for Jimenez, and it's thought that some combination of Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova or Phil Hughes could convince the Rockies to make a deal.

The Reds also have enough prospects to make a trade work, but they have indicated a strong reluctance to deal catcher Devin Mesoraco, the prospect who most interests the Rockies.

Talks with the Red Sox apparently haven't advanced as far, but it's believed that they would need to build a package around pitcher Kyle Weiland.

Other teams that showed early interest in Jimenez include the Tigers and Blue Jays, but the chances of a deal with either of those teams appear far more remote at this point.

The Yankees' pieced-together starting rotation has performed well, but they still don't have a clear No. 2 starter behind ace CC Sabathia. The Yankees have looked at many available starting pitchers, including Hiroki Kuroda of the Dodgers and Wandy Rodriguez of the Astros, but Jimenez is the one guy who could slot in behind Sabathia in their rotation and make them more dangerous in October.

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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