Posted on: July 11, 2010 1:05 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2010 1:12 pm

Bagwell named Astros hitting coach

The Astros, who have a miserable .237 team batting average, have tapped retired star Jeff Bagwell to take over as hitting coach after the All-Star break.

Bagwell, who retired in 2006 after playing his entire 15-year career in Houston, replaces Sean Berry, who will be offered a different role with the organization. The Astros have the worst on-base percentage (.295) and slugging percentage (.348) in the National League.

Bagwell and Berry were both members of the original "Killer B's" Astros lineup (along with Craig Biggio and Derek Bell).

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Tags: Astros
Posted on: July 9, 2010 2:38 pm

Oswalt doesn't like the Midwest

Roy Oswalt Once the Cliff Lee deal goes down, Roy Oswalt may become the next hot name on the trade block. Yesterday he showcased himself to scouts with a complete-game one-hitter, but it's not just who wants Oswalt, but also where he'll go. Oswalt has a full no-trade clause in his contract, so he must sign off on any trade.

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets Oswalt won't accept a trade to the White Sox or Tigers, along with others.

The other difference between Lee and Oswalt is that he still has another year on his contract for $16 million, a team option at $16 million for 2012 and he can opt out of 2012 for a reduced rate from the $2 million team buyout. Not only that, he's still owed the remainder of his $15 million 2010 contract and the Astros don't want to pick up too much of the money themselves. So with all that, maybe the Yankees are the leader.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: July 8, 2010 5:18 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2010 5:24 pm

Four sent scouts to see Oswalt's gem

The other high-profile pitcher on the market, Roy Oswalt, is garnering plenty of attention for his start against the Pirates.

MLB.com's Brian Taggert tweets that scouts from the Dodgers, Phillies, Rays and Mets were in Houston to watch Oswalt. Oswalt didn't disappoint, throwing a complete-game one-hitter. He struck out eight and walked two.

Oswalt still has hefty pricetag in a $16 million contract for next season and a club option on another $16 for 2012, plus the remainder of $15 million left on his contract for this season.

That could be an impediment for the Dodgers and Mets, while the Rays' owner, Stuart Sternburg, has said he'll take on more payroll, but they seem to need a bat more than a starter.

The Phillies seem to be wondering if they're going to sell -- rumors swirl that they're shopping Jayson Werth, a free agent after the season.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Category: MLB
Posted on: July 7, 2010 7:23 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2010 7:23 pm

Dodgers searching for pitching

Roy Oswalt The Dodgers have spoken to the Astros, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Indians and Mariners about solutions to the Dodgers' pitching conundrum, reports Evan Drellich of MLB.com. The Dodgers need both starters and relievers.

Manager Joe Torre said that pitching is what the Dodgers are focusing on in any particular deal and expects a deal to eventually be swung. Complicating things is that Los Angeles doesn't have much left in the budget to add, thanks to the brewing divorce between owner Frank McCourt and his wife as well as a current payroll of $102 million according to Cot's Contracts.

So which pitchers could the Dodgers get from the aforementioned teams? Let's take a look.

Astros: Houston has starting pitcher Brett Myers available who is on a one-year deal and has been the second-best starter on the team with a 3.57 ERA. Of course, there's also Roy Oswalt (pictured), who has a standing trade "request" but is due $15 million over the balance of 2010 and $16 million in 2011. And who's to say Oswalt won't demand the $16 million team option for 2012 be picked up if he's traded? With a full no-trade clause, Oswalt has that ability.

The Astros also have a number of relief arms, but none that stand out as an optimal replacement for the Dodgers' current arms -- at least, that would be available. Brandon Lyon is near untradable and it's tough to imagine Houston parting with Matt Lindstrom.

Blue Jays:
The Jays have lost 12 of the last 15 and are in fourth place in the AL (B)East, 11 1/2 games out. It's safe to say the honeymoon is over, and the Jays have plenty of pitching available. Their starting pitching are all young, cost-controllable and quality so it's hard to imagine Toronto dealing any of those. The relievers, on the other hand, should be plentiful.

Kevin Gregg has extensive experience pitching in the NL and in close games. He's posted a 3.94 ERA over 32 innings. Left-hander Scott Downs, one of the best setup men in the bigs, is having another fantastic season and Shawn Camp has emerged as another qualty bullpen arm. Casey Janssen is just 28 and is a quality middle relief arm but certainly fungible to a rebuilding squad.

Now that the GM and manager have been offered a ticket out of town, interim GM Jerry DiPoto has a lot of decisions to make. One of which is if Dan Haren should be traded, something outgoing GM Josh Byrnes also grappled with. Haren is inked through 2012, getting $8.25 million in 2010 and $12.75 million in 2011 and 2012, affordable for a perennial Cy Young contender. The question here is two-fold:

First being if the Diamondbacks would be willing to swap Haren to an intradivision rival, the second if the Dodgers have enough in the farm system to acquire Haren. The Dodgers were ranked No. 21 in minor-league talent rankings by Baseball America prior to the season and Haren figures to command more than Lee will.

The Indians have Jake Westbrook most available, who is finishing up a contract that pays him $11 million on the season. Cleveland is ready to have a fire sale (as detailed here ) but has yet to find anyone to their liking that has been dangled for Westbrook. Westbrook would cost significantly less than one of the top-tier pitchers on the market in terms of prospects due to the contract and the fact he is a mid-rotation starter.

Kerry Wood, provided the Indians chipped in a healthy sum of money to make up for about $5 million remaining on Wood's deal, could also head to the Dodgers.

The obvious one is Cliff Lee, of course. With about $4 million remaining to Lee, he would easily fit into the Dodgers' payroll. He would also allow Los Angeles a way to beef up its farm system by offering arbitration to the lefty after the season -- which Lee would certainly decline. The Dodgers' payroll collapses to a projected $61 million next year, so a Lee extension is possible as well.

Other potential names that may have been swapped could include closer David Aardsma who could fit in a pitcher's park throwing gas as a setupman. Relief pitcher Brandon League is having a solid season as well.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: July 7, 2010 6:17 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2010 2:56 pm

It's not easy being Norris

Bud Norris Major leaguers are notorious for their pranks -- shaving ceam pies, clothes in the freezer, Icy Hot in the jockstrap -- but the Astros really outdid themselves Wednesday.

Someone drove right-hander Bud Norris' car onto the warning track at Minute Maid Park prior to batting practice, putting a "for sale" sign on it and painting a shaving cream bull's eye on the windshield. Astros social media guru Alyson Footer snapped this picture and put it on Twitter.

Seems Norris, 25, is a regular target for razzing by teammates. Hopefully Norris got the car moved before Lance Berkman stepped into the cage.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: July 4, 2010 2:37 pm

Astros willing to pay some of Oswalt's contract

Roy Oswalt The Astros are willing to take on part of Roy Oswalt's contract, reports Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated.

It's a smart move by Houston, as they simply won't get anything of value if they request other teams pay the balance of Oswalt's deal. Oswalt is due $15 million over 2010, gets a bump to $16 million in 2011 and has a $16 million club option for 2012 with a $2 million buyout. He has a full no-trade clause as well.

Despite not getting the call to the All-Star Game (unless an injury develops), Oswalt has certainly had an All-Star caliber year. He's 5-10 (a function of how bad the Astros have been) with a 3.32 ERA over 111 innings (17 starts). He's whiffed 104 and walked just 31 with a strong xFIP of 3.49, which would be his best since 2005 when the Astros won the NL pennant.

However, Oswalt is also 32 coming off a season in which he lost some of his luster, posting a 4.12 ERA (3.88 xFIP) in 30 games and 181 1/3 innings. Teams just aren't going to pay a ton of money and deal away top prospects for aces on the wrong side of 30. It's too rare that those deals work out, as Johan Santana is proving -- with three more years after 2010 to go.

The Nationals have been linked to Oswalt, as have the Mets and most notably, the Rangers -- as unlikely as a move to the cross-state rivals is.

If Houston is willing to eat some of Oswalt's deal, the chances they can get a young player who can play a significant part in Houston's future is that much higher. While Oswalt still won't command top-tier prospect talent, he would command enough that a trade suddenly becomes more viable.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 30, 2010 12:56 pm

Clemens vs. Clemens in Texas

There's apparently no drug-testing for the Texas League All-Star game, as Roger Clemens is scheduled to pitch to his son , Koby in the home run derby tonight in Midland, Texas.

Koby Clemens, a first baseman for the Astros' Double-A team in Corpus Christi, is second in the Texas League in home runs (16) and RBI (53).

The younger Clemens was drafted as a third baseman in 2005, he's since played catcher and left field.

Clemens has dealt with not only being the son of a legend, but also has had to deal with his father's disgrace in the face of accusations of the use of performance enhancing drugs.

"The media, they have jobs to do," Koby Clemens told the Houston Chronicle this spring . "Everyone's going to have a different opinion, but I've never let what other people say really bother me. I take the good stuff as it comes and tired not to listen to any of the bad."

Clemens is hitting .258/.367/.496 for the Hooks. Although he hasn't been considered a prospect in the past, Clemens had a good season last year, hitting .341/.415/.620 at Single-A, but that was his second year in high-A, inflating his numbers some.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 28, 2010 6:02 pm

Cash an option for Red Sox

Kevin Cash There was no word Monday afternoon whether Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez, who suffered a thumb fracture on his glove hand Sunday, would be placed on the disabled list. There's a chance he could continue to catch with some extra protection for the thumb.

If Martinez is going to be out for a while, Boston is going to have to go outside the organization for help -- the top two Triple-A catchers in the organization are out, naturally, with thumb injuries.

WEEI.com points out an obvious solution: Kevin Cash. Cash is currently at Triple-A in the Astros organization, and with Houston giving Jason Castro his big break, there's not likely to be a need or a place for Cash at the major-league level. The Astros would probably let the Red Sox have him for practically nothing (or, if they want to be literal, they could trade Cash for cash).

Cash, 32, played for the Red Sox in 2007 and 2008. He has experience catching several Red Sox pitchers, most importantly knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Cash batted .204 in 20 games at the major-league level this season, so he's not exactly an offensive replacement for Martinez (.289, 38 RBI), but the injury-plagued Red Sox are not really in a position to pick and choose right now.

-- David Andriesen

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