Posted on: November 29, 2010 6:40 pm

Astros talking extension with Rodriguez

Rodriguez The Astros are discussing a multi-year contract extension with lefty Wandy Rodriguez, as the Houston Chronicle reports.

"It makes all the sense in the world to at least consider it," GM Ed Wade said about the extension talks. Rodriguez is slated for his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent. However, given Rodriguez will be 33 when the 2012 season opens, free agency doesn't hold the allure that it might for a young pitcher.

Rodriguez wouldn't get a large contract extension regardless, so if the two sides can come to an agreement on a deal similar to Ted Lilly's three years and $33 million with the Dodgers, re-upping with the Astros makes sense for both sides. Houston would be able to lock Rodriguez into its rotation at ages that it would be reasonably confident in the left producing.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez would be set up for life and not have to worry about making sure he has a strong season in 2011 for the benefit of free agency -- taking the ball when injured, for example.

Rodriguez has been one of the better left-handed starters over the last three seasons, but injury and spells of ineffectiveness make him far from a sure thing. Coming off a career-best 3.02 ERA in 205 2/3 innings in 2009, Rodriguez stumbled in the first half thanks to a 4.97 ERA. He was able to turn around the second half with a 2.11 ERA coming to a cumulative 3.60, but the warning signs remain.

Meanwhile, Wade ruled out long-term extensions for fellow arbitration-eligible players Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence.

"On Bourn and Pence at least, we're really pretty far from free agency," Wade said.

Bourn isn't due to become a free agent until 2013 and Pence 2014, so the Astros are understandably waiting it out to see if both players retain their effectiveness. Bourn is coming off a year in which he didn't play up to expectations while Pence was named the team MVP.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: November 29, 2010 10:06 am

'A bunch of teams' contact Berkman

Lance Berkman
Lance Berkman is still coming to grips with not being welcomed back by the Astros, but after briefly considering retirement, he's ready to see what the next chapter will be.

"After a couple of days, I realized I can still be a really good player and would be doing myself a disservice if I didn't play," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I believe God blessed me to be able to play baseball at a high level, and that's not something I take lightly."

After 12 years, the Astros, Berkman's only team, shipped him to the Yankees at the trade deadline for reliever Mark Melancon and prospect Jimmy Paredes. His agent called the Astros after the season to inquire about Berkman returning to finish his career there, but was told the team is moving on.

"It wasn't a long conversation," Berkman said.

The first baseman is still just 34, and even though his production has fallen off -- his .781 OPS in 2010 was his lowest for a full season by more than 100 points -- he said early indications are that there will be plenty of opportunities for next season.

"After initially being pretty disappointed, I've gotten over it," he said. "Now my focus is on who is going to contend that wants me to play for them. There's been a lot of interest — Cardinals, Cubs, Rockies, A's, Pirates, Blue Jays, a bunch of teams. I haven't had a single offer in terms of X amount of dollars, but I think this is the time of the year when there's a lot of tire-kicking."

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: November 28, 2010 4:08 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2010 4:12 pm

Cubs interested in Pena, Berkman

Carlos Pena The Cubs are looking for a first baseman, but appear to be targeting the second-tier to Adam Dunn, including Carlos Pena and Lance Berkman, FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi writes .

Pena, a Scott Boras client, may be looking for just a one-year deal to re-establish his value after his 2010 below the Mendoza line. Although Pena hit 28 home runs and had 84 RBI, he hit just .196/.325/.407.

Pena, 32, was not offered arbitration after he hit $10.125 million last season in Tampa.

The Cubs don't have a left-handed power bat on their roster, and Pena would certainly benefit by playing half his games at Wrigley Field. He is also a good defensive first baseman.

Berkman, a switch-hitter, hit .248/.368/.413 with 14 home runs and 58 RBI with the Astros and Yankees. Berkman, who will be 35 next season, hit all but one of his home runs as a left-handed batter in 2010. Berkman has struggled in his career at Wrigley, where he's hit just .220/.355/.384 with 11 home runs in 327 plate appearances.

Although Dunn has reportedly lobbied to play for the Cubs, he doesn't appear to be within their budget.

If the Cubs don't sign a first baseman, outfielder Tyler Colvin could move there.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 22, 2010 1:34 pm

McCarthy drawing interest from multiple teams

McCarthy Brandon McCarthy is getting a lot of interest from teams and could wind up with a major-league contract, as Jon-Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reveals.

McCarthy was sent from the White Sox to the Rangers in exchange for John Danks. While Danks has flourished on the South Side, McCarthy has struggled both on the mound and with injuries. Spending the entire 2010 season either shelved or in the farm, he is now a minor league free agent and has flourished in the Dominican Winter League thanks to posting a 1.96 ERA in four starts.

There are tons of teams interested according to Morosi, but the main ones are the Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers. (Ken Rosenthal adds the A's to the list, and Oakland makes sense after talks with Japanese lefty Hisashi Iwakuma broke down.)

Any signing team would have McCarthy for two years, as he doesn't have the service time just yet to qualify for major-league free agency.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: November 19, 2010 12:53 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2010 3:16 pm

Cuban won't bid on Astros

Having been thwarted twice in attempts to buy major-league teams, including a court battle this summer over the Rangers, it would be natural to assume Mark Cuban's ears perked up at the news Drayton McLane has enlisted an investment firm to begin earnest efforts to sell the team. Jim Crane, Cuban's partner in the Rangers bid, nearly bought the Astros in 2008.

Cuban has told several reporters today, however, that he has no interest in buying the Astros.

A Houston TV station reported that the asking price will be $800 million. The latest Forbes valuation of the franchise was $453 million, but the sale would also include some portion of the new regional sports network CSN Houston, which has the contract to air Astros and Rockets games.

McLane has scheduled a news conference at 3:30 p.m. Eastern to discuss the sale.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: November 19, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: November 19, 2010 11:25 am

'Dynamic pricing' = 'price gouging'

You've got to love marketing speak. The Cardinals say their ticket prices next season will be subject to a new "dynamic pricing" model in which ticket prices "float" to "create a better match of supply and demand."

Hear that? It's dynamic! It floats! Who doesn't like things that float? Balloons. Fluffy clouds. Inner tubes down a lazy river.

It sounds so much better than saying "we've come up with a new way to make sure we can drag every possible penny out of our fans," which is really what "dynamic pricing" is. The system, previously employed on a limited basis by the Giants and Astros, will allow the Cardinals to tweak the prices on tickets daily using factors such as pitching matchup, weather and bobblehead nights.

"It's something that people are familiar with in other industries, such as the airline industry, where prices are floating based on factors that change over time," Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch . "We just felt like there's been enough research to see it as a win-win for the fans and for the club."

Yes! It's a win-win for fans! Wait, let's think about this. You ever hear of things "floating" downward?

The Giants admit that their dynamic pricing resulted in increases 90 percent of the time. Plus, the Cardinals say they can't lower prices on tickets to levels lower than what season-ticket holders paid for similar seats, or the season-ticket holders would riot. So even the actual demand would dictate that tickets for a lousy game (like a September game, in the rain, against the Pirates, with both teams eliminated and throwing call-up pitchers) might cost $2, you're not going to see that adjustment. But every time Tim Lincecum rolls into town, the Cardinals cash in.

Doesn't that sound dynamic?

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: November 19, 2010 9:44 am
Edited on: November 19, 2010 11:29 am

Friday morning rumor roundup

The owners have taken over for the GMs in Orlando, but the hot stove has been kicked up a notch this week. Here are some current storylines.

* The Diamondbacks are increasingly inclined to move Justin Upton, with the Blue Jays, Mariners and Marlins having expressed "a high level of interest." (USA Today )

* The Giants want Aubrey Huff back, and he wants to come back, but talks haven't gotten serious. (CSNBayArea.com )

* Hal Steinbrenner says the Yankees and Derek Jeter are working with "mutual respect," but it's a "business negotiation." (Star-Ledger )

* Drayton McLane has ramped up his efforts to sell the team by retaining an investment firm. Asking price: $800 million. (bizofbaseball.com )

* Bad news for Phillies fans who want to keep Jayson Werth around: GM Ruben Amaro is already referring to the outfielder in the past tense. (Philadelphia Inquirer video)

* The Tigers' three-year deal with Joaquin Benoit is officially official. (Tigers.com )

* The incentive clauses built into Felix Hernandez's contract make his Cy Young worth an extra $4.25 million (bizofbaseball.com )

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: November 18, 2010 1:48 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2010 6:31 pm

Astros trade for Rockies' Barmes

Clint Barmes
The Astros announced they have acquired second baseman/shortstop Clint Barmes from the Rockies in exchange for right-hander Felipe Paulino.

Houston was looking to upgrade at both positions, and Barmes will, as it stands now, share playing time with Jeff Keppinger and Tommy Manzella. Barmes, 31, put up a .235/.305/.351 line last season.

Paulino, 27, started 14 games for the Astros last season, going 1-9 with a 5.11 ERA and 4.5 walks per nine innings.

"We're excited to add Clint to our club," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "He's a plus defensive player at two positions, has gap and some home run power
and has great makeup. It's tough to give up a power arm like Felipe's, but Clint fits a need that we had to address."

-- David Andriesen

UPDATE: Barmes has been told he will play shortstop by Wade and manager Brad Mills, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com -- and he couldn't be more excited.

"I looked at myself as a shortstop playing second base," Barmes said of his last couple of years in Colorado. "I'm very excited to get the opportunity to play on that side of the field."

With Barmes headed to short, his new double play partner figures to be Jeff Keppinger. That will push either Tommy Manzella or Angel Sanchez into a reserve role or off the team completely.

-- Evan Brunell

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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