Tag:Kelly Johnson
Posted on: August 12, 2011 3:12 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 5:11 pm
 

Beat Down: Nick Piecoro on the Diamondbacks



By C. Trent Rosecrans

If newspapers still existed and you opened one up this morning, you'd open up the sports section and see that the Arizona Diamondbacks were in first place in the National League West. It's one of those things that nobody really expected to see on Aug. 12, but there it is. I sure didn't expect it, and wasn't sure I knew exactly how it happened. So, I figured I could research the whole thing and write something about it, or I could go to someone who has been there the entire season, so I e-mailed my buddy Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.

Piecoro is in his fifth season covering the Diamondbacks. I first met him in the press box at Chase Field in 2007 when he was surfing my iTunes library from his computer and sought me out to talk music. Since then, we've had numerous pizzas and beers together, talking baseball and, more often, music. So when I thought about the Diamondbacks, I quickly thought of Nick. And then I thought this might be a good weekly feature looking at some of the teams around MLB from the people who see them the most and know them the best. So, for the first installment of the Beat Down, here's Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic:

Eye On Baseball:  So, really, first-place Diamondbacks? Really? Give me the short version of how this happened...

Nick Piecoro: I know, right? Well, there are a bunch of reasons. I’ll start with the emergence of Justin Upton, who has turned into a force in the middle of the lineup, a threat to do damage every time he’s up. They lead the league in home runs, so there’s a real element of a quick-strike offense. And if you look at their Baseball-Reference page, pretty much everyone in the lineup is at least close to a 100 OPS+, meaning there are no black holes in the lineup.

Then there’s the pitching staff. Ian Kennedy has pitched like a No. 1, and Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders and Josh Collmenter (he of tomahawk-throwing fame) have slotted in well behind him. In the bullpen, they no longer cough up leads every night, and that’s thanks mainly to Kevin Towers acquisitions David Hernandez and J.J. Putz.

EOB: Did you see this coming? I sure didn't. I will say, our senior writers -- Scott Miller and Danny Knobler -- did say the D-Backs would be interesting this year, but I don't think any of us expected this.

NP: No way, not me. In spring training, they were a disaster. Part of the reason they’ve been able to turn it around is because they were quick to act to make changes with guys who weren’t getting the job done, and the list is long: Armando Galarraga, Barry Enright, Russell Branyan, Melvin Mora, Aaron Heilman, Juan Miranda, Zach Duke. Some got more rope than others, but the point is, anyone making predictions before the season was looking at a completely different roster than what they have now. Heck, Ryan Roberts, who has 15 home runs, wouldn’t have made the team in spring training if not for Geoff Blum’s injury.

EOB: How much of this is Kirk Gibson? Is the attitude he brought real? Has it actually changed things?

NP: You have to give him credit, certainly. You hear people talk about a manager’s personality rubbing off on his team, it’s hard not to see some of that with this group of guys, particularly when it comes to their penchant for comebacks and the whole never-say-die stuff. They’re a hard-nosed bunch and that’s exactly the kind of player Gibson was and manager he is. Personally, I’ve always been skeptical of a manager’s impact; I mean, all the stuff above explains their status as contenders well enough in my mind. (That and the fact the NL West and the NL as a whole is mostly devoid of good teams.) A friend likes to say that players win games, managers lose them and umpires ruin them. Well, if that’s the case, Gibson is doing an excellent job of not losing them.

EOB: Is Justin Upton your MVP?

NP:  Maybe not yet. But he could be.

EOB: I'm guessing he's not on the trade market this winter...

NP: Uh, no. I’m not sure I understand why he was out there last winter.

EOB: Are they set up for the long haul?

NP:  You would think so, yeah. They have literally no bad contracts -- not a one -- and they have a bunch of guys coming in the system, namely a few potential frontline-type starting pitchers in Jarrod Parker, Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer. They’ll have a few decisions to make in the next couple offseasons with core guys like Kelly Johnson, Stephen Drew and Miguel Montero set to become free agents, but they’re in great position to retain who they want to retain and even should have money to spend to plug whatever holes might exist.

EOB: Finally, you're perhaps the hippest beat writer in the loop, what are you listening to right now?

NP: Heh. Is that like saying someone’s the MVP of the Pacific Coast League? I’ve been fairly obsessed with the new Handsome Furs album (link to "Serve the People" with a note that the album art has a nekkid lady). And -- how’s this for timing? -- I’m actually going tonight to see Cut Copy, an awesome band from Australia that have this catchy 80s-dance-pop thing going on (link here to "Far Away"). I’ve also been really into the new ones from Cults, Destroyer, Foster the People and others I can’t think of right now.

Thanks to Nick and you can check out his blog here and on Twitter @NickPiecoro.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 7, 2011 4:24 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Introducing your 2011 NL West All-Star team

By Evan Brunell

2011 All-Star Game
SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL Central
For a number of years, the NL West has been fairly balanced. Every team except the Rockies has a division title in the past five years, and the Rockies advanced to the World Series as a wild-card team back in 2007. That balance is clearly seen in the representatives of the NL West All-Star team, which you can see below.

MonteroC Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks: Poor Buster Posey. He had this on lockdown until... well, no need to rehash it, but he's out for the year. Montero's a great consolation prize. He has ripped 10 home runs and has a .275/.346/.468 mark. Montero was actually in a close race with Chris Iannetta of Colorado for this gig, but Montero outstrips Iannetta in caught stealing, nabbing 12 of 37 baserunners.

Helton1B Todd Helton, Rockies: It's quite the renaissance year for the aging first baseman who was once known for his ability to hit for average and power while drawing walks. Now, it's just average and home-run power, but it's plenty enough to outpace any other first baseman in the division -- although, with all due respect to Helton, that says much more about first basemen in the division than it does Helton. Anyway, he's cranking to the tune of a .315/.394/.481 mark, with much of his power coming from an affinity for doubles.

Lineup
No. Name Team Pos
1 Chase Headley SD 3B
2 Justin Upton ARI RF
3 Troy Tulowitzki COL SS
4 Matt Kemp LAD DH
5 Chris Young ARI CF
6 Carlos Gonzalez COL LF
7 Miguel Montero ARI C
8 Todd Helton COL 1B
9 Kelly Johnson ARI 2B
Johnson2B Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks: What, you'd prefer Aaron Miles? In a case of having to take the best option, Johnson edges Miles despite the latter hitting .320 and Johnson a meager .217. So why does Johnson get the edge? Because he's a better fielder and boasts more power, and he has also swiped eight bases to Miles' three. That's how someone hitting .217/.298/.431 can post a higher Wins Above Replacement mark (1.5) than Miles at .320/.339/.377, who has a 1.0 WAR. (It should be noted that Johnson has about 100 more plate appearances, but even adding those 100 PA would probably not be enough to bump Johnson.)

Headley3B Chase Headley, Padres: Not usually a name you see at the top of leaderboards, but Headley is enjoying a career year -- and is taking advantage of injuries to notable third basemen in the game to put his name in the conversation. Due to playing in cavernous Petco Park, his slugging percentage this season is a meager .404, but it's an impressive .465 on the road. His value comes from taking a walk, which is why he leads off this All-Star team despite just eight stolen bases. He boasts a .302 batting average along with a .392 OBP. If Pablo Sandoval hadn't missed so much time due to injury, he probably would have claimed this spot.

TulowitzkiSS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: What is there left to say about Tulo, who right now can lay claim to being the best shortstop in the game? While he hasn't performed up to snuff compared to his last two seasons, he's still plenty valuable and easily the best shortstop in the division, hitting to the tune of a .271/.339/.495 line and 37 extra bases. Oh, and he can pick it on defense.

GonzalezLF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies: CarGo hasn't hit as well as his awe-inspiring 2010, but he can be forgiven for that as he set impossibly high standards. Colorado will take a .296/.363/.497 line, and so will we to honor him with the left-field starting job on the NL West All-Star team. He still has a remarkable home/away split, but no other left fielder truly threatened for this spot.

YoungCF Chris Young, Diamondbacks: Let's get this out of the way first. For those wondering where Matt Kemp is, hold your horses. We'll get to him in a minute. Young snags the center field job thanks to his strong defense and a power display that we haven't seen from him since 2007, when he slammed 32 home runs. He has exactly half that total (16) in 88 games so far, so he stands a shot of cracking the 30 HR barrier. He's currently hitting .255/.324/.478.

UptonRF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: Anyone else think Kevin Towers is relieved he didn't trade the 23-year-old in the offseason? Upton's walk rate is less than last season but not out of whack with the league, and he is striking out much less. That increased contact has lifted his batting average to .295 (.377 OBP, .502 slugging percentage), the second-highest of his career. (He hit .300 in 2009.) He's hammered 14 homers on the year, just three off his 2010 total.

KempDH Matt Kemp, Dodgers: And here Kemp is, occupying the DH spot. Yes, the DH doesn't exist in the NL West, but regardless of what team, league or stadium holds the All-Star Game, the DH is used. So there. Kemp earns this spot with a season that's already given him a 20 HR, 20 SB season -- and with three more home runs, he'll reach 25/25. So yeah, he'll definitely hit 30/30 this year, and 40/40 is not out of the question if he hits a hot streak. He DH's with a .324/.408/.603 line because the dude simply cannot field and needs to be moved to left soon.

KershawSP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Kershaw is one of the best pitchers in the entire game, never mind one of the best lefties or youngsters. One of the best, period. The 23-year-old has already tossed 122 2/3 innings on the season and posted a 3.23 ERA. That ERA would actually be the highest of his full seasons in the majors. But his third year actually boasts stronger peripherals, leading to a 2.66 xFIP that is currently a career best. He has punched out 138 and walked just 33.

RomoRP Sergio Romo, Giants: Romo or Mike Adams was a very, very difficult choice to make. So why did Romo get the spot over Adams? Simple: K/BB numbers. Romo has punched out 12.87 batters per nine innings and walked 1.26, good enough for a 2.20 ERA and 1.65 xFIP in 28 2/3 innings. Adams actually beats the ERA (1.35) and innings-pitched (40), but his K.9 is 9.23 and BB/9 at 1.13, with an xFIP of 2.59.

BellCL Health Bell, Padres: Bell won't be a Padre for much longer, I'm guessing, so better get him on here while we still can. He has had quite an impressive career so far as a closer, and this year is no exception. He has 26 saves, but his strikeout numbers are way down and would actually be a career-worst. Who knows why, but he's not having trouble getting by as his 2.55 ERA and 3.78 xFIP indicate.

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Posted on: June 12, 2011 12:42 am
Edited on: June 12, 2011 12:43 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Moustakas cranks first homer

Moustakas

By Evan Brunell

upMike Moustakas, Royals -- The latest Royal phenom banged his first career home run in his second game up; he was hitless in two other at-bats and added a walk. The blast came on a solo shot that pulled the Royals within two of a game they would tie and go on to lose 7-5. He blasted a pitch middle-away over the right-field fence, and Angels right fielder Torii Hunter spoke to the fans and got the ball back for the rookie.

Chase Utley, Phillies -- Utley had a solo home run just like Moustakas, which brought the crowd some measure of relief. Manager Charlie Manuel said recently that he felt Utley was beginning to come out of spring-training mode and was ready to hit. Boom, home run. He was 2 for 5 with a double and four RBI all told, pushing his line to a un-Utley like .252/.341/.394. The Phillies broke open the game late against the Cubs, with Utley's two-run shot capping the 7-1 victory.

Mike Leake, Reds -- In a matchup between Tim Lincecum and Mike Leake, Lincecum will win 4 out of 5 times. Well, this was one of those other times as The Freak imploded and Leake shined against a decrepit Giants lineup by going eight strong with four hits, one walk and eight whiffs. Bad offense or not, stellar outing with 113 pitches, 72 for strikes. Leake's ERA dropped all the way to 4.06 and has earned himself some rope with a second straight strong start.

DownBrandon Morrow, Blue Jays -- Morrow had a very bad day, skittering his ERA up to 5.63 by coughing up nine earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. Yikes. He added four strikeouts against three walks and quite a few Red Sox hitters had banner days. It turned into such a rout, Toronto put backup infielder Mike McCoy into the game to pitch, where he flashed a knuckleball en route to losing 16-4.

Colby Lewis, Rangers -- Lewis lasted much shorter than Morrow, only tossing 1 1/3 innings with 52 pitches allowing six runs, two walks and a whiff. David Bush stifled the Twins offense for 4 2/3 innings before leaving with an injury and was a laugher the entire game. That's two straight bad showings for Lewis. Is he slumping or is something else going on?

Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks -- Johnson deserves credit for punching in three runs on a double, but he did whiff in the four other at-bats. While striking out is really not any worse than grounding out, that many K's gets your attention. Johnson's hitting a moribund .221/.294/.442 and is trying to find the stroke that fueled his 26-homer season last year. He's been pulling out if it lately and has really been turning on the power but his batting average has gone backwards as of late. A couple lucky breaks, and things could be looking different.

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


Posted on: May 31, 2011 12:39 am
Edited on: May 31, 2011 7:59 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Local boy does good

Kyle Phillips

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Kyle Phillips, Padres -- Coming into Monday's game, the San Diego native was hitting just .138/.242/.172. So he was hardly Bud Black's first choice off the bench as a pinch-hitter, but Phillips hit the first homer of his big league career to lead off the 10th inning, leading the Padres to a 3-2 victory over the Braves.

Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks -- Johnson finished a single short of the cycle, hitting two homers. He accounted for 13 total bases -- four more than teammate Justin Upton, who went 5 for 5. Johnson hit for the cycle last season.

Tony Campana, Cubs -- On his 25th birthday, the Cubs rookie stole four bases. Coming into Monday, the Cubs as a team had stolen 10 bases all season. Starlin Castro led the team with four stolen bases before the day started.


Sean Rodriguez, Rays -- The Rays hadn't committed more than one error in a game all season -- until Monday when Rodriguez took care of that all by himself, making three errors in the game. The shortstop tied the Rays record for errors in a game, joining five others. The Rays' 52 games to start the season without more than one error is a major league record.

Jake Arrieta, Orioles -- The Baltimore right-hander gave up two runs in the first to the Mariners, but it was the fourth inning that did him in. Arrieta gave up back-to-back walks with the bases loaded in the third inning of the team's 4-3 loss to Seattle. Arrieta has now given up 16 walks in his last 24 innings. He was pulled after the two walks -- including a 12-pitch at-bat by Adam Kennedy and then another full-count walk to Miguel Olivo.

Jon Lester, Red Sox -- Going for his big-league best eighth victory, Lester was roughed up for seven runs on eight hits in just 5 2/3 innings. Still, he needed 127 pitches to get to that point, the second-most he's thrown in his career after the 130 he threw in his no-hitter in 2008. In two starts against Chicago's two teams, Lester has given up 20 hits and 12 runs in 11 2/3 innings.

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Posted on: February 15, 2011 12:19 pm
 

D-Backs, Johnson avoid arbitration

The Diamondbacks announced that they have reached agreement on a one-year deal with second baseman Kelly Johnson, avoiding an arbitration session that had been scheduled for Wednesday. Financial details were not immediately available, but it will likely be somewhere near the midpoint between the two sides' arbitration positions: $4.7 million and $6.5 million.

Johnson was the last unsigned arb-eligible Diamondback. The team has been to a hearing just twice in its history, and not since 2001.

-- David Andriesen

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: October 9, 2010 8:39 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2010 10:37 am
 

R.I.P. D-Backs: Headed in wrong direction

As the sports world waits for the crowning of a champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions through all of October. Today: The Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks were embarrassed by their last-place showing in 2009. They added, they tweaked, they hoped for a big rebound.

And somehow in 2010 they got even worse.

The Diamondbacks finished with 97 losses, the same record they posted as an expansion team 13 years earlier. Arizona featured one of the worst bullpens in history, an offense that set a major-league record for strikeouts, and a midseason turnover at manager for the second year in a row.

After 2010, there’s no illusion of tweaking. The Diamondbacks are rebuilding.

WHAT WENT WRONG

A lot went wrong, but nothing went worse than the bullpen.  Arizona relievers lost 32 games, on the hook for about a third of their losses, and finished with a 5.74 ERA. That’s more than a run worse than the next-worst bullpen and almost three runs – three runs a game, think about that – worse Chad Qualls than San Diego’s top-ranked ‘pen. The opening-day closer, Chad Qualls, was traded away with an 8.29 ERA.

Brandon Webb and Dan Haren were supposed to give Arizona a killer 1-2 punch. Yeah, not so much.

After Webb threw just four innings in 2009, the Diamondbacks picked up his $8.5 million option for 2010, assured he would be ready to go this spring. Instead his rehab went on … and on … and he never threw a pitch. Instead Arizona threw that $8.5 million right down the drain. And with the writing on the wall at midseason, Haren was shipped out.

The Diamondbacks weren’t terrible offensively, eighth in the NL in runs scored, but were painful to watch as they struck out a record 1,529 times. Mark Reynolds had the dubious distinction of becoming the first man ever to finish with more strikeouts (211) than batting average points (.198).

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Edwin Jackson threw a no-hitter on June 25 (or maybe it was a no-hitter and a half, since he threw 149 pitches), the single-game highlight of the season. The only thing that would be close was tying a major-league record with four consecutive homers August 11 in Milwaukee.

Chris Young bounced back from a lousy 2009 to raise his average 45 points and hit 27 homers and drive in 91 runs. Kelly Johnson proved a nice addition, bumping his average 60 points from the previous year in Atlanta.

On the mound, Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson provide hope for the future of the rotation.

HELP ON THE WAY

Arizona had some young players in deep reserve who might benefit from more exposure, such as Cole Gillespie, Rusty Ryal and Tony Abreu.

Another piece of potential help is first baseman Brandon Allen, who didn’t do well in his first season but put in a solid year at Triple-A and looked vastly improved ina  September callup. If Adam LaRoche isn’t back, Allen is probably the guy.
 
Kirk Gibson EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011

The Diamondbacks won’t have any luck convincing their fickle fan base that next year is going to be a run for the roses, though it’s unlikely for things to get worse and new manager Kirk Gibson has brought some legitimacy to the team.

SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011

Webb is a big question mark – do you bring him back at a discount and hope that if he does bounce back, you get something out of the money you poured in there the past two years? He seems to be getting some looks from multiple teams in instructional league, so I say walk away if the bidding gets serious.

New general manager Kevin Towers has said he wants to build the pitching staff from the closer down, so look for them to consider Rafael Soriano. Having a proven commodity in the key spot can only help the rest of the bullpen.

There are young starters in place, but there are not enough of them, and they could use an affordable veteran presence. Maybe somebody like Ted Lilly or Jake Westbrook?

2011 PREDICTION

This organization is in a pretty deep hole, and it’s not going to climb out overnight. Plus, the Padres, Giants and Rockies all have big upsides, and the NL West isn’t the cupcake it used to be. Tough to see the Diamondbacks getting out of the cellar, but in this situation you’re just looking for progress.

Check out the rest of the R.I.P. reports here.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .
Posted on: October 8, 2010 1:55 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2010 11:05 am
 

R.I.P. Cardinals: Zzzzzz

As the sports world waits for the crowning of a champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions through all of October. Today: The St. Louis Cardinals.

The highlight of the season was a fight and a three-game sweep over the Reds in early August. After that, the team seemed to think that one-game lead they left Cincinnati with was enough for the rest of the season. That, for the record, was not a sound strategy.

WHAT WENT WRONG

The Cardinals seemed to sleep through much of the season, waking up only when the Reds' Brandon Phillips called them out, but quickly falling back asleep as soon as they left Cincinnati.

St. Louis was 27-33 against the dregs of the NL Central -- and there are plenty of those. The Cardinals won 12 of their 18 games against the division-champion Reds, and the only other team in the division St. Louis had a winning record against was the Pirates.

Oh, and then there was Felipe Lopez, but who didn't see that one coming?

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Jaime Garcia Jaime Garcia was a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate and behind Wainwright and Carpenter was a legitimate No. 3, making one of the best front three of a rotation in baseball.

The team may have also found a decent third baseman in rookie David Freese. Freese hit .296/.361/..404 in 70 games, but then an ankle injury ended his season in June. The team also liked what it saw from John Jay, who hit .300/.359/.422 in 105 games in the outfield.

HELP ON THE WAY

Eh… well, not really. Shelby Miller is a great talent, but he's not ready for 2011. He'll be 20 at the beginning of next season and as good as he was in the Midwest League, that's still the Midwest League. Beyond Miller, the Cardinals' system is hardly the envy of any other big league organization.

EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011

In St. Louis, the expectations are always the same, win the division, sell out the joint and hopefully get to the World Series. With a payroll rising above the $100 million mark, expectations certainly aren't going to be tempered.

SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011

Tony La Russa It's unlikely to happen now, but maybe Tony La Russa's voice is being ignored in that clubhouse and the team could use a new voice. La Russa has run his course there. The team offered him another extension, but La Russa can always turn it down and stay at home, or find another job where he doesn't have to talk to the media every day. He's got that law degree to fall back on, after all.

It makes little sense to jettison Colby Rasmus, who is under team control for quite a while, just to satisfy La Russa, who won't be in St. Louis as long as Rasmus.

That said, if the Cardinals could trade Rasmus to Arizona for Stephen Drew and Kelly Johnson, it'd shore up the Cardinals' middle infield in the short term, but wouldn't be good for a long-term investment, especially with payroll continuing to raise. Johnson is a free agent after next season and Drew is a second-year arbitration-eligible player, represented by Scott Boras. Despite the immediate improvement, it's not a sound long-term strategy.

Oh, and it might be a good idea to pick up the $16 million option on Albert Pujols. That guy is pretty good.

2011 PREDICTION

It looks a lot like 2010, if the stars and role players stay healthy, the Cardinals can win the relatively weak NL Central. If one of the main four goes down, the team will finish second, just behind the division winner. With Pujols, Matt Holliday, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals can cruise to contention in the division, but we'll see if they can get back over the hump.

Check out the rest of the R.I.P. reports here.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .
Posted on: August 1, 2010 10:28 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Trade market still open


Adam Dunn Everyone refers to the last day of July as the "trade deadline" even if it's not exactly accurate. It's officially the "non-waiver trade deadline" and that first part may not roll off the tongue, but it's important. It's the reason why one of the most speculated-about players at the deadline, Adam Dunn, told me July 31 "doesn't mean [anything]" to him.

Dunn should know, in the last year of a two-year deal, Dunn's movement will be speculated upon throughout the next month. He also knows from experience, two years ago the Reds traded him to Arizona after the non-waiver trade deadline.

Waivers are certainly a complication, but deals still get done until the end of the month, when a player has to be on the roster to be eligible for the postseason. So how does it work?

First, most teams put most -- if not all -- their players through the waiver process since you don't have to give up a player who is claimed, you can just pull him off waivers.

Unclaimed players can be traded to any team. Claimed players can be kept, traded or just handed over to the claiming team for nothing but salary relief. That's what happened last year when the Blue Jays put him on waivers, the White Sox claimed him and Toronto was happy to shed his remaining five years for $59.7 million on his contract. So, if some team wanted to claim Carlos Zambrano or Kosuke Fukudome or Alfonso Soriano, the Cubs would likely dance for joy. But that's unlikely to happen (even though I would have said the same thing a year ago about Rios).

Now, if just one team claims a player, he can be dealt only to that team. If more than one team claims a player, he can be traded to the team with the worst record in his league that claims him. If no team in the same league claims the player, but more than one team in the other league claims him, he can be traded to the team with the worst record.

So now with the process out of the way, it's good to keep in mind that this isn't an unusual process. Last season Scott Kazmir, Jim Thome, Carl Pavano, Alex Gonzalez, Brad Penny, Aubrey Huff, Billy Wagner, Jon Garland and Ivan Rodriguez. So who could that be this year?

Obviously, Dunn is still out there. He realizes the real trade deadline is at the end of this month, not the beginning. If the Nationals can't agree to an extension, the Nationals need to get something for Dunn. Based on many of the rumors that were out there, it was hardly surprising he wasn't dealt. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was asking for the moon and nobody was willing to spend the money to get there. White Sox GM Kenny Williams hasn't exactly hidden his desire for Dunn, and a little thing like waivers won't stop him. However, he'll have to hope nearly the rest of the teams pass on the big man, and that's not likely.

The biggest name that could move would be Manny Ramirez. The Dodgers don't know what they're going to get out of him and could shed roughly $7 million. As CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller notes , Ramirez has a full no-trade clause, but would likely waive that to go to the American League and DH. If the White Sox can't get Dunn, Ramirez may be a solid backup option -- albeit a bit expensive.

Andy LaRoche Diamondbacks first baseman Adam LaRoche has a mutual option for 2011 that increases to $9.5 million if he's traded, though the buyout remains at $1.5 million. Kelly Johnson may not get through waivers, but could still be traded. He's arbitration eligible after the season.

The Royals would certainly love for another team to take Jose Guillen and what's left of the $12 million salary for this season. Guillen is a free agent after the season.

Mike Lowell is still -- sorta -- with the Red Sox, but would likely sail through waivers because he's owed the remainder of his $12 million salary this season and nobody's quite sure what they'll get out of him.

The reliever market didn't see much action on Saturday, but Toronto's Kevin Gregg, Seattle's David Aardsma and Colorado's Joe Beimel could be moved before the end of this month.

As for starters, Colorado's Aaron Cook is signed for $9.25 million next season with a mutual option of $11 million in 2012 and a $0.5 million buyout. His annual salary increases by $1 million for each season.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

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