Posted on: July 28, 2010 1:58 am
Edited on: July 28, 2010 1:59 am

Reality bites for Lilly

Ted Lilly Ted Lilly walked off the mound in a Cubs uniform for what was probably the final time Tuesday, and it was a day of resignation.

The Cubs are going nowhere, and it's time to sell. Lilly is a proven veteran starter who's an impending free agent. He wants to stay, and by all accounts his teammates don't want to see him go, but baseball reality will probably have the final say.

''That's how it goes," Lilly told the Chicago Sun-Times. "And I've said what I want before, but there's a lot of things I don't get the final say in. That's the way it is.''

Lilly and manager Lou Piniella, who both arrived in Chicago in 2007, shared a cab to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. They talked about Lilly's likely departure.

''As a manager you get attached to your players, and Teddy, for instance, has been here with me for four years,'' Piniella said. ''He's been a huge part of my four years. He's a good young man. He's a professional. And I've got nothing but admiration for him.''

Lilly is 3-8 with the worst run support in the majors, but has a 3.88 ERA. One scout told the Sun-Times that if they were making the same money, he'd still rather have Lilly than Houston's Roy Oswalt.

At least three teams in the market for a starter had scouts watching Tuesday: the Yankees, Twins and Dodgers.

-- David Andriesen

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

Posted on: July 26, 2010 7:06 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:57 am

This week in free stuff: July 26-August 1

A look at this week in promotional giveaways from around baseball:

Tonight, July 26
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (International League) -- Andy Tracy bobblehead
Binghamton Mets (Eastern League) -- mustache giveaway. Who doesn't love mustaches?
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Eastern League) --kids batting glove giveaway. I love that they're going old school and just one. Ask your parents, kids.
Bristol White Sox (Appalachian League) -- kids batting helmet. Another old-school favorite.

Tuesday, July 27
Washington Nationals -- t-shirt. A classic, grey shirt. I hate when teams try to go too fancy and do some lame busy design, the simpler, the better.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (International League) --Magic 8 Baseball. This is just awesome. It'd be great if they made the manager use this for all their decisions on the night. Bill Veeck woulda done it. This would have been my favorite of the day…
Toledo Mud Hens (International League)-- mustache giveaway. It must be a trend.
Arkansas Travelers (Texas League) -- Jared Weaver kids t-shirt jersey
Fredrick Keys (Carolina League) Bryan Voltaggio bobblehead. Who is Bryan Voltaggio you ask? Only the runner-up from Top Chef Season 6. If it were a Kevin Gillespie bobblehead, I'd drive there for it.
Princeton Rays (Rookie Appalachian League) --super mug. Apparently, it's a mug and it's super.

Wednesday, July 28
Houston Astros -- orange retro cap. The team wore those glorious 80s uniforms on Saturday, and now it's the orange hats. If only the Astros could skip the 90s and 2000s uniforms and pick one of the great old ones.
State College Spikes (New York-Penn League)  --golf umbrella
Tri-City ValleyCats (New York-Penn League) --reusable grocery bag

Thursday, July 29
New York Mets -- umbrella
Joe Biden Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) -- Joe Biden bobblehead. It'd be really cool if it was a one of those that talked and it cussed at you.
Lakewood BlueClaws (South Atlantic League) -- Goonies night. While not technically a giveaway, and I usually do just giveaways, but this one is too cool not to share. The BlueClaws are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Goonies, with Jeff Cohen (Chunk) at the game, signing autographs and judging a Truffle Shuffle contest.
Tri-City ValleyCats (New York-Penn League) County Executive Kathy Jimino bobblehead. Good for you, Kathy.

Friday, July 30
St. Louis Cardinals -- Vince Coleman bobblehead. No fireworks, though.
San Francisco Giants --Beat LA beach towel
Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League) nutcracker -- I'm not normally a fan of Christmas in July promotions, but the Flying Squirrels giving out nutcrackers is awesome.
Arkansas Travelers (Texas League) -- camouflage hat
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Carolina League) -- christmas ornament
Potomac Nationals (Carolina League) -- mini bat
Lexington Legends (South Atlantic League) Big L soap dispenser. I'm seriously considering going to this. I love giveaways of practical items, and this is a good one.
Clinton LumberKings (Midwest League) -- John Danks bobblehead
Boise Hawks (Northwest League) -- Boise Whistle Pigs T-shirt. Part of Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda Night, honoring one of the other finalists for nickname of the team.

Saturday, July 31
Cincinnati Reds -- Homer Bailey bobblehead
Kansas City Royals -- Kansas City Monarchs cap. I love Negro League tributes, and Kansas City, home to the Negro Leagues Hall of Fame, always does a good job.
Los Angeles Angels -- Rally Monkey soap dispenser. OK, forget the Lexington Legends… I'll be hitting eBay for this batboy.
Washington Nationals -- Nyjer Morgan bobblehead. Really, it's great for the stirrups if nothing else.
Houston Astros -- Jeff Bagwell bobblehead
St. Louis Cardinals -- Whitey Herzog bobblehead
Colorado Rockies -- Jason Giambi t-shirt. With sleeves, oddly enough.
San Diego Padres -- Clayton Richard bobblehead
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League) --  Buster Posey bobblehead
Carolina Mudcats (Southern League) -- pint glass
Arkansas Travelers (Texas Leage) -- Hank Conger bobbleheads
Corpus Christi Hooks (Texas Leage) -- Hooks retro jersey. Which is  odd, since the franchise has only been around since 2005. It's more old-school Astros style, which I'm always in favor of.
Springfield Cardinals (Texas League) -- Cardinals/Royals I-70 Series throwback shirts. The Cardinals are playing the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the Royals' AA affiliate.
Bowling Green Hot Rods (South Atlantic League) -- Farmer Axle Bobblehead
Auburn Doubledays (New York-Penn league) --  William Seward bobblehead. The team is honoring the former governor of New York and Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. Seward also helped procure Alaska and was blasted for it at the time.
Brooklyn Cyclones (New York-Penn League) -- sleeved blanket. Yeah, not a Snuggie.
Greenville Astros (Appalachian League) -- aluminum bottle

Sunday, Aug. 1
Minnesota Twins -- Target Field bat
St. Louis Cardinals -- Ozzie Smith bear. This is in honor of the 1985 NL championship, but I'm disappointed there's no Willie McGee bobblehead. Really, if anyone is screaming for a bobblehead, it's McGee.
Harrisburg Seantors (Eastern League) -- autographed baseball grab bag
Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League) --  wooden bat
Trenton Thunder (Eastern League) kids fielding gloves
Inland Empire 66ers (California League) -- skate deck
Beloit Snappers (Midwest League) -- Kevin Slowey bobblehead
West Michigan Whitecaps (Midwest League) -- dog bowl
Lowell Spinners (New York-Penn League) --  Heidi Watney bobblehead. A bobblehead for the NESN Red Sox reporter.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 26, 2010 1:42 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2010 1:43 pm

Trade deadline profile: Roy Oswalt

Leading up to Saturday's trade deadline, the MLB Facts & Rumors team takes a look at the biggest names on the trade block. First up is the best starting pitcher left on the market, Houston's Roy Oswalt.

Roy Oswalt Career stats: 143-82, 3.24 ERA
2010 stats : 6-12, 3.42 ERA
Contract status: Oswalt is under contrac through 2011 with a club option through 2012. He'll be paid $16 million in 2011 and has a club option for the same amount for 2012 with a $2 million opine. Oswalt can opt out of the 2012 option and take a reduced buyout. He also has a full no-trade clause.

Why he's desirable
Oswalt is the last difference-making starter on the market (unless the Royals are giving up on ever winning and trade Zack Greinke). His W-L isn't good, but that's because he plays for the Astros, and if you haven't noticed, they're not very good. His ERA is its lowest since 2007 and he has his lowest WHIP (1.109) since his rookie season. Looking across the board at Oswalt's numbers, he's really not performing any different than he has for most of his career. He's not necessarily an ace, but he's a good pitcher to have on your side.

Why he's available
The Astros aren't very good and don't seem to be getting much better -- that's why Oswalt has asked for a trade. To get better, the Astros need more talent and wouldn't mind having $16 million taken off the total payroll for next season, because if you're going to stink, it's best to at least do it on the cheap.

Roy Oswalt Who is interested
Dodgers, Phillies, Cardinals. The Twins would be a decent fit, but they're not making too much noise about it. Of course, the Angels weren't a team too many people were talking about in connection with Dan Haren.

The Astros asked the Dodgers for James Loney and front-line prospects. The Phillies aren't willing to give up more than one of their top-end prospects and the Cardinals don't have enough prospects to deal.

Expected return
The Astros want a big-league player to contribute immediately, two high-end prospects and another player. Considering the Diamondbacks didn't get anything near that for Haren, it seems like that's a bit much to ask for Oswalt and the rest of his contract.

What happens
Roy Oswalt is an Astro for the rest of 2010 and we go through this in 2011, as well. Oswalt is one win shy of setting the franchise record for pitching wins and is an icon in the city. If the Astros aren't overwhelmed by an offer, they'll hold on to him and what's left of the goodwill owner Drayton McLane and the team has in Houston.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 26, 2010 9:55 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:57 am

Cardinals not optimistic they can get Oswalt

Roy Oswalt If you take most trade market musings from general managers with a grain of salt, this week keep a salt lick ready, because there's more bluffing this week than ever.

In that vein, here's a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch 's Joe Strauss that says the Cardinals are bowing out of the Roy Oswalt sweepstakes.

"At this point, it's entirely possible that there may not be a deal out there," Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said. "We're continuing to explore avenues, but as we speak I can't say I'm encouraged."

What may have been left out is Mozeliak starting that sentence with "awww shucks" while pawing at the ground with his foot, before finishing it by pushing up his hat and adding another offer.

As it stands, Mozeliak would be more encouraged if the Astros had any interest in taking Brendan Ryan off his hands in return for Oswalt, but for now, the Astros seem to think they can get more than a nice hosiery model for the three-time All-Star.

Oswalt, for his part, reportedly wants to be a Cardinal and the Cardinals want him. He'd certainly be better than Jeff Suppan or the wildly inconsistent Kyle Lohse. The Cardinals may believe Lohse is just as good of a gamble as any of the other starters on the market, such as Jake Westbrook, Ted Lilly or Jeremy Guthrie.

Lohse is scheduled to pitch tonight at Triple-A Memphis and hopes to join the team next month. Brad Penny, on the other hand, may not be able to return this season, Mozeliak said.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 25, 2010 9:02 pm

Oswalt market heating up

Roy Oswalt The Boston Globe 's Nick Cafardo spoke to Astros president Tal Smith, who said that Roy Oswalt's market is with three-to-four teams, and talks should especially heat up Monday.

You can bet they will now that Dan Haren is officially off the market and an Angel.

Two teams that are in on Oswalt are clear: the Cardinals and Phillies.

St. Louis would certalnly love to add Oswalt to their already-dangerous rotation, as the backend has left much to be desired. That tends to happen when Jeff Suppan occupies a rotation spot. The Cards reportedly dangled shortstop Brendan Ryan among others to Houston who was not interested. That's fortunate, as it would make no sense for Houston to deal Oswalt for anything other than top young players. The team reportedly wants them major-league ready.

Oswalt would waive his 2012 club option of $16 million being picked up if he headed to St. Louis as he owns hunting property in Illinois. He reportedly won't do this for Philadelphia, as he agreed to make the 2012 year an option as long as he received a no-trade clause. Philadelphia desperately needs Oswalt and is dangling Jayson Werth in a companion trade to get additional prospects to try to facilitate a trade, but both trade fronts haven't borne the fruit desired.

Cafardo names Minnesota as needing "Oswalt probably more than any team." Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano are very good while Scott Bakers is deceptively having a solid season, but still is not strong. Nick Blackburn was just bumped from the rotation by reliever Brian Duensing and Kevin Slowey has regressed as well. Oswalt would immediately shore up the rotation, but is Houston interested in Minnesota's major trade piece of Wilson Ramos? The 'Stros are high on internal catcher Jason Castro, so there may not be a fit there. Indeed, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports chimes in and says the Twins have not engaged Houston in talks yet.

The Astros have talked to the Dodgers who have plenty of money woes due to the pending divorce of its owners, but have just $61.4 million commited to its big-league roster, according to Cot's Contracts. If the Dodgers can find a way to fit Oswalt into the budget for 2010, they may not have difficulty incorporating him into 2011's payroll (and even 2012's). Rosenthal says the Astros would prefer either Matt Kemp or James Loney, which L.A. will not even consider.

Not considering the immensely talented Kemp is understandable, but not Loney? Loney is not a gifted fielder and while he can hit for contact, is not a thumper in the lineup. At a position such as first base, his production is easily replaced. The Dodgers definitely shouldn't let Loney stand in the way of a deal, even if they have to go with a cheap piece for the remainder of the year although potential fits could be players such as Luke Scott, who would not require an arm and a leg in a trade.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Posted on: July 25, 2010 4:15 pm

Ausmus calling it quits after season

Brad Ausmus Brad Ausmus' playing career is finished after the season.

"This year is it," Ausmus said, responding to a reporter's question according to ESPN. The 41-year-old backstop put in one game in April before hitting the disabled list with back soreness. He underwent surgery and has only now finally returned.

As to why he didn't just hang it up and instead chose to rehab?

"I signed a contract,'' Ausmus said. "It was my job to get back on the field and do it as quickly as possible, hopefully without having any setbacks.''

Ausmus, considered by many to be a future major-league manager, played 10 of his 18 seasons with the Houston Astros. He was originally drafted by the Yankees, then was plucked by the Rockies in the 1992 expansion draft. He was traded to the Padres in 1993 and made his major-league debut later that season. He increasingly received playing time, sharing time behind the dish until 1996 when he was shipped to Detroit along with Andujar Cedeno and a minor-leaguer for John Flaherty and Chris Gomez.

After the season, he was sent to the Houston Astros along with Jose Lima, Trever Miller, C.J. Nitkowski and Daryle Ward for Doug Brocail, Brian Hunter, Todd Jones, Orlando Miller and cash -- perhaps the greatest collection of average relievers ever dealt. He started two seasons for Houston then was sent right back to Detroit along with Nitkowski for two minor-leaguers, two non-descript major-leaguers and Paul Bako.

Another two years went by, and Ausmus went right back to Houston. He did so as one of the better catchers in the game, combining for his two best seasons according to OPS. His career year was in 1999, when as a 30-year-old, he hit .275/.365/.415 in 527 plate appearances and was named to his only All-Star team.

But it wasn't enough. In the latest trade back to Houston was with Doug Brocail (these two teams really loved exchanging the same players, eh?) and Nelson Cruz -- no, not that Nelson Cruz -- for Roger Cedeno, Chris Holt and Mitch Meluskey.

Ausmus then ripped off eight straight seasons with the Astros before joining the Dodgers as a backup for 2009.

And now, he's at the end of the line.

Ausmus will never be considered a good hitter -- a career OPS of .670 to date -- but produced enough in his prime years to go along with impeccable character and defense (three Gold Gloves) to be one of the better catchers of the '90s and '00s.

Don't be surprised to see him collect a World Series ring as a manager someday to go along with his NLCS championship ring from 2005.

-- Evan Brunell

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 24, 2010 8:15 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2010 8:15 pm

Scouts watching Oswalt won't like what they see

Roy Oswalt The Houston Chronicle reports that scouts from the Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies and Cardinals -- all connected to the pursuit for the Astros' Roy Oswalt -- were on hand for Oswalt's start Saturday against Cincinnati.

There are scouts from multiple teams at every major-league game for various purposes, so it's not usually wise to read too much into the presence of a team. But in any case, all eyes are surely on Oswalt as the trade deadline approaches. And Oswalt didn't exactly help his cause against the Reds, giving up six runs in the first three innings, including homers by Joey Votto and Ramon Hernandez. He's only given up more than six runs in a start once this season.

Meanwhile, there are indications the Astros are playing hardball on the return package for Oswalt, asking for both major-league ready players and prospects. Considering the financial commitment the acquiring team will have to make for the rest of Oswalt's contract, that's a lot to ask for any player. It's conceivable that Oswalt won't be traded at all.

-- David Andriesen

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

Posted on: July 22, 2010 7:22 pm

Twins join Oswalt talks

Roy Oswalt Since Clff Lee isn't being traded again, the trade focus has quickly zeroed-in on Houston's Roy Oswalt. The latest team to throw their hat into the ring is the Minnesota Twins, the Houston Chronicle 's Zachary Levine reports .

Levine sources "a person with knowledge of the discussions" tells him the Twins have joined the Phillies and Cardinals in pursuit of the Houston right-hander.

The question then would be if Oswalt would OK a trade to Minnesota. The conventional wisdom is Oswalt would like to go to St. Louis and other reports have said he'd turn down a trade to the White Sox or Tigers, so it's unsure if he'd give the green light to another AL Central squad.

The Twins are in the thick of the AL Central race, 2 1/2 games behind the White Sox, but the back of the rotation has struggled and the team certainly needs an upgrade. Minnesota was thought to be a favorite in the Lee sweepstakes and are certainly willing to spend money with their new ballpark.

-- 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