Tag:Evan Brunell
Posted on: August 2, 2011 4:26 pm
 

Players that could be dealt before August 31

Rodriguez
By Evan Brunell

Although the trade deadline expired on Sunday, it... didn't. At least, not really.

What did expire was the non-waiver trade deadline, in which teams can trade players without restrictions that aren't built into a player's contract such as no-trade clauses and the like. However, trades can still occur for the rest of the season -- players just have to pass through waivers. These waivers are revocable, so if a team claims a player, the original team can revoke waivers. However, it then cannot deal the player, and if he goes on waivers a second time and is claimed, he is lost. That team can also choose not to revoke waivers and give away the player and his contract. This is what happened to Alex Rios when he joined Chicago in 2009 when Toronto no longer felt like paying his deal.

The original team and claiming team can also work out a trade, but a trade can only happen with the team that placed a claim. If the player passes through waivers, he can then be traded to any team. Most teams place the majority of players on waivers, both to hide players the team really wants to deal and to broaden options. Waiver claim priority works in order of worst record to best in the same league, then it moves to the worst record in the other league. These types of trades can happen through September, although August 31st is effectively the cutoff point.

While there have been September trades, they are few and far in-between for two reasons. First is that with the expansion to a 40-man rosters, most teams no longer struggle for depth. Secondly, and more important, is the fact that any player outside of the organization acquired after August 31 is not eligible for the playoffs.

Got all that? Good. Let's take a look at nine players or positions of interest who could be on the move in August (and possibly September).

Heath Bell, Padres
: Heath Bell surprisingly stayed at home at the trade deadline while setup man Mike Adams was sent out. This came as a surprise, as everyone assumed that Bell would be dealt. Clearly, the Padres didn't get an offer that was worth giving up the two compensatory draft picks they would have received once Bell rejected arbitration and signed a lucrative contract with another team, or re-upped with San Diego on a hometown-discount deal.

Except Bell said he plans to accept the Padres' offer of arbitration if they can't come to an accord on a contract. That's how motivated Bell is to stay in town, so the Padres can no longer bank on the compensatory draft picks. Unless traded, Bell is staying a Padre. That could motivate GM Jed Hoyer to kick him out in August, although with a $7.5 million contract on the season, Bell figures to be claimed by many teams who could use a top-flight reliever at little cost.

Randy Choate, Marlins: Not exactly a big name, I know, but Choate is the kind of player that gets dealt every August. He's a left-handed reliever who can plug in a gap for a contender. The Yankees, Red Sox and many other teams would be interested in Choate, who is signed for 2012 at just $1.5 million. He's got peanuts left on his $1 million deal this season and has a sterling 1.66 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. That's not much, but Choate's value is tied up in being able to get left-handed hitters out.

As we see every October, that's incredibly valuable, and Choate has held lefties to a .131/.185/.123 mark on the year, which comes out to a .398 OPS. That's really low. Choate has been linked to the Yankees, but he would have no shortage of suitors if the Marlins made him available.

Ramon Hernandez, Reds: There was plenty of consternation as to why the Reds stood pat at the trade deadline, as well as why Hernandez wasn't moved. With top prospect Devin Mesoraco waiting in the wings in Triple-A, one would think that GM Walt Jocketty would want to capitalize on Hernandez's value, especially to the Giants. Alas, nothing transpired, not even once the Giants and Reds completed their game on Sunday, which some felt might be holding up a deal.

Hernandez is still a good bet to go, even if Cincinnati climbs back into the race thanks to the presence of Mesoraco, as well as help at other spots that the backstop would fetch in a deal. If they begin rebuilding, they have even less need for Hernandez. The only problem is that catching depth is so thin in the majors and Hernandez's salary is so cheap that, like Bell, plenty of teams figure to be interested in placing a claim and blocking a deal.

Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: For some reason, GM Jim Hendry stood pat at the trade deadline and didn't bother to try and convince third-baseman Aramis Ramirez that accepting a deal would be to his benefit. Hendry wants to keep the core of a 90-loss team together for some reason, so even bandying about Ramirez as a possible piece to be moved probably is pointless. But if Hendry has a chance of heart, Ramirez might too.

You see, Ramirez loves Chicago and has his family based there -- except in mid-August, his wife and children pack up and head back to the Dominican Republic. Thus, where he plays to finish off the year becomes less important once his family leaves, which could convince Ramirez to waive his no-trade deal. If that happened, Ramirez could interest the Angels and White Sox, to name two teams. The White Sox would allow the ability to stay in the city, but the roadblock to that is that the Pale Hose are not looking to add payroll.

Athletics outfielder: Oakland really needs to subtract at least one of its outfielders in Coco Crisp, Josh Willingham or David DeJesus, as I mentioned Monday when looking at teams that stood pat at the deadline. Any of these outfielders can help a team, and Willingham and DeJesus may have a pulse in their bat if they can get out of the Coliseum. Free-agent compensation matters here, and Willingham will fetch a price commensurate with two compensatory draft picks, as he's currently set to be a Type-A free agent even if only tenuously. DeJesus is a Type-B free agent and Crisp does not need compensation.

Simply put, Oakland needs to look ahead at 2012 and what it can do to bolster the team. It's one thing if all they're being offered are organizational guys for these players. At that point, GM Billy Beane is probably best suited to just hang onto the players. But Willingham and DeJesus aren't the kind of players that would have scrubs offered. There's real value in these players, and given the unlikelihood of both returning to town, Beane needs to jump on any interest.

Jim Thome, Twins: Here's an interesting name. The Twins, if they fall out of the race, have no need for Thome. In fact, they may be looked upon as doing a favor to Thome in trading him to a contender for a chance to win a World Series in what is likely Thome's final season. Just three home runs away from 600, some have speculated that he will be moved after he reaches the milestone. But given how impressively the Twins draw and the fact Thome doesn't have deep roots with the team makes that hard to believe. He's a candidate to be traded before and after 600 home runs.

The Phillies have been linked to Thome, which would be a fantastic option. Philadelphia is obviously headed toward October, and Thome would be the big bat off the bench that becomes so paramount. Just like left-handed relief specialists, pinch-hitters increase in importance as the amount of games decrease. And if the Phillies somehow make it to the World Series, Thome is a fine DH. Jason Giambi is another player who could fit this mold.

Right-handed hitting platoon outfielder: Might not sound terribly appealing to discuss outfielders that wouldn't start regularly, but as has been mentioned, shoring up depth at the major-league level takes on added importance for the postseason. To be sure, several teams need starting outfielders like any of the A's outfielders or perhaps even the Twins' Jason Kubel, who is also a candidate to be traded in August. But players that can help counteract left-handed pitchers like Choate but don't require a full-time job and don't cost a lot of money are valuable.

Playing time and big bucks aren't necessary for players like Scott Hairston, Jeff Francouer, and Ryan Spilborghs, who can come off the bench and serve as injury replacements, pinch-hitters or platoon outfielders. Hairston and Francouer, especially, have noted success against left-handed pitching and were names to watch at the trade deadline for that very reason. Francouer, in particular, is used to being traded in August, as the Rangers acquired him last season on the 31st to fill the exact role that a team would want him this year for: to hit lefties.

Jeff Francis, Royals: The last two names on this list are both left-handed starters, but that's not why Francis is on the list. No, he's on the list because he's a cheap, back-end option in the rotation. While there might be some better pitchers on the market (see the next name), Francis would work well in the middle of the rotation, perhaps the last starter in a postseason four-man rotation. Injuries will continue to happen between now and the end of the year, and one of those injuries could be a big blow to a contender's rotation -- much like Boston has to deal with the absence of Clay Buchholz.

Francis has soaked up 135 2/3 innings on the year with a 4.38 ERA, which is impressive given he pitches in the AL albeit in a weak division. His peripherals are strong, so that 4.38 ERA isn't a fluke. He can be a real shot in the arm for a contender. While the Royals could really use him in the rotation, which has yet to be anything less than awful, Francis is also a free agent and will certainly parlay his season into a nice contract from a team closer to contending, so K.C. shouldn't be worried about long-term effects of trading Francis, only who they can get in return.

Wandy Rodriguez, Astros: Rodriguez is a step up from Francis, but it's not entirely clear how big of a step up he is. He's working on his fourth straight season of an ERA below 4, but there's serious question among American Leaguers as to whether he could withstand a league switch, which depresses his suitors and the price for the left-hander. His contract is also looking like a pill, as he has $34 million due him from 2011-13 with a club option for 2014 -- but becomes a player option with a trade, and not many teams have interest in Rodriguez choosing to stay with his club for $13 million in a year where he will be 35.

The Astros are willing to eat a good chunk of the contract though, even if they refuse to eat the $17 million that might have made Rodriguez a Yankee before the trade deadline. If the Yankees or another team want Houston to eat that amount of money, it would take a strong prospect surrendered. Rodriguez is a good pitcher, but it seems his stock has dropped just below that tier, so it may be difficult for Houston and other teams to agree to both a return and how much cash the Astros would cover. Still, he's certainly not being claimed on waivers and will be a top-end option for any desperate teams.

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Posted on: August 2, 2011 2:07 pm
 

Orioles release Duchscherer, claim Reyes

By Evan Brunell

DuchschererThe Orioles released right-handed starter Justin Duchscherer on Monday, the Orioles' website reports, while Jo-Jo Reyes has been claimed off waivers from Toronto, MLB Trade Rumors adds.

Signed as a free agent, Duchscherer didn't throw one pitch for Baltimore after struggling in spring training with a left hip strain that developed into requiring back surgery. It's the fifth straight year "The Duke" has required surgery and the third that has kept the righty out for a significant period of time.

Baltimore signed Duchscherer along with Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero in hopes the trio could push Baltimore into relevancy, but all three have suffered poor seasons and/or injuries, and Baltimore is in last place in the AL East, 23 games behind Boston.

The release is curious, given Duchscherer was on the 60-day disabled list and was not occupying a 40-man spot. Still, he was a lost cause for the rest of the season, so his release doesn't affect much.

Reyes is a flier, and not much else. Despite Toronto being fans of his talent, the lefty just couldn't put it together, posting a 5.40 ERA in 20 starts, striking out 64 and walking 35 in 110 innings. He was also smoked for 14 home runs, giving him 47 home-runs allowed in 304 career innings. It's a no-lose proposition for the O's to take a chance on Reyes for the rest of the season, but don't expect much.

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Posted on: August 2, 2011 12:25 pm
 

Johnson may be back with Marlins in September

By Evan Brunell

JohnsonJosh Johnson is a very good pitcher. He's also very injury-prone, only once cracking 30 starts in a season despite debuting back in 2005 as a 21-year-old. If healthy, Johnson would be a perennial Cy Young candidate, as evidenced by his fifth-place finish last year, when he racked up a 2.30 ERA in 28 starts.

Alas, Johnson only got through nine starts in 2011 -- with a scintillating 1.64 ERA -- before landing on the shelf with right shoulder inflammation that continues to keep him out. In fact, it's been widely believed that Johnson was done for the year -- except that the Palm Beach Post says the righty could be back in September.

"We'll try to start building him back up,' GM Mike Hill said Monday. Johnson will begin a throwing program on Tuesday in which he long tosses for a week before moving to the mound. Once the process on the mound finishes, Johnson would need a handful of rehab starts before rejoining the Marlins. However, while this all sounds optimistic, keep in mind that Johnson tried to start the program in June before being shut down.

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Posted on: August 2, 2011 11:50 am
 

Hughes could lose rotation spot with Yankees

Hughes

By Evan Brunell

On Tuesday night, Phil Hughes (pictured) will draw the ball for the Yankees against the White Sox. He'll do so as a member of a six-man rotation, as manager Joe Girardi wants to keep Ivan Nova in the rotation.

Nova was demoted to the minors after his July 1st start despite posting a 4.12 ERA. He returned to the majors to help out with a pitching crunch on Saturday, allowing just two runs in seven innings against the Orioles. That was enough for Girardi, who decided to go with a six-man rotation... albeit not for long, as the New York Daily News says.

After this upcoming Monday's off day after the pivotal weekend series in Boston, the Yankees are expected to revert back to a five-man rotation, and Hughes might be the odd man out in favor of Nova.

"Competition is a good thing," Girardi said. "I think it brings out the best in people so, I think they’re both working hard, going about their business, approaching the games the way they need to approach it.”

Hughes' struggles this year have been well-documented; he turned from an elite setup man in 2009 to a solid starter last season with a 4.31 ERA in 176 1/3 innings. This year, however, the 25-year-old was beyond bombed in his first three starts with decreased velocity on his fastball, running up a 13.94 ERA before he was stuck on the disabled list with a phantom injury to figure things out.

Hughes' velocity recovered and he has made four starts since. While one was a whitewashing, the other three have been solid enough, giving him an overall 5.48 mark since his return. That's not near enough to justify holding onto his spot, not when Hughes could become a big part of the bullpen moving forward. The Tuesday start should have a major influence on the decision, but Girardi noted Hughes' experience in the bullpen when discussing the issue.

“Let’s see how it goes through doing what we’re doing here," Girardi said. "See how the guys are throwing, and let’s see what our needs are. I don’t think one thing’s going to determine, but you’ve got to look at what your needs are, who’s throwing the ball well and what we need to do. ... If they both throw the ball the way we want them to, then decisions will have to be difficult on what we do."

Nova is expected to draw the ball on Thursday and put forth his own bid for remaining in the rotation.

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Posted on: August 2, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: August 2, 2011 2:10 pm
 

Pepper: Cubs stumble with Colvin benching

Colvin
By Evan Brunell

TO PLAY OR NOT TO PLAY: OK, let me get this straight.

First, GM Jim Hendry somehow avoids making any trade of significance to help the Cubs moving forward in a futile attempt to keep the team relevant. Now, he and manager Mike Quade are not even playing one such person that could have a big impact next season?

The only Cubs deal at the deadline saw outfielder Kosuke Fukudome head to the Indians, freeing up right field for Tyler Colvin. Colvin hasn't impressed in the majors this season, but has been coming off the bench for the most part, also struggling in Triple-A. Still, he's a year removed from 20 home runs.

"The most important thing was that Tyler had to play," Hendry said of the Fukudome trade. "We saw the Tyler last year, and the Tyler this year wasn't quite the same. He went down to Iowa and worked hard, and it looks like he's made some progress and he deserves to play the rest of the way.

"And we need to find out whether he's an everyday guy or not by the end of this year. No matter how you slice it, the outfield situation, just like a few other (positions) will have to be addressed in the offseason."

Great. Except Colvin hasn't been in the lineup for two straight games. Quade seems to believe Colvin will get plenty of playing time the rest of the way, but if he's benching the 25-year-old to get Reed Johnson -- an aging, backup player -- more at-bats, Quade has the wrong idea here. (Chicago Tribune)

STAYING IN SAN DIEGO: Heath Bell says that he will take an offer of arbitration if the Padres offer it after the season, as that's how important it is to him to stay in town. This could complicate things for San Diego, who didn't deal the closer at the deadline for two reasons -- the possibility of signing Bell to a hometown-discount extension, as well as the chance to get two compensatory picks should the two sides be unable to agree on a new contract. Now, it seems San Diego may have erred in keeping Bell if they will have no choice but to retain him. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

SPELLING BEE CHAMPIONS: The Giants definitely are not spelling bee champions, even if they remain the reigning World Series champions. Check out this amusing photo snapped that shows the spelling prowess of those on the team. (BayBridgeBaseball.com)

NEW AGENT: When Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma was posted last offseason, the A's won the bidding but talks quickly broke down when Iwakuma's agent asked for an exorbitant amount to sign and accused the A's of not showing any respect. Well, Iwakuma's taking no chances this time around and has hired Paul Cobbe of Sosnick-Cobbe Sports to be his new agent. Expect him stateside in 2012. (ESPN)

KEMP DOMINATION: How amazing has Matt Kemp been this year? How important is he to the Dodgers? Let Anthony Jackson tell you: "Kemp has hit 36 percent of Dodgers HRs, has 22 percent of their RBIs and 35 percent of their stolen bases. Only other player in past 100 years to have 30/20/30 percent of his team's total in those three categories over a full season was Hank Aaron, '63 Braves." Lofty company. (ESPN Los Angeles on Twitter)

COWBOYS FAN: When Mike Adams was traded to the Rangers, everyone knew that he was a Texas homeboy. But what people didn't know is he had a Cowboys jersey ready to go in the Padres clubhouse as he had worn it earlier in the week. Miles Austin, the player's jersey that Adams is wearing, said he will go out and purchase an Adams jersey. "It's a great feeling when anyone from any profession, especially baseball, [wears your jersey]," Austin said. "That's America's pastime. I used to play baseball, but I ended up not being able to hit the curveball when I hit the eighth grade." (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

STEWART ALMOST DEALT: The Rockies thought they had a deal for third baseman Ian Stewart with another National League team (the Pirates, I'm guessing) but talks fell apart with a half-hour to go. (Denver Post)

INJURIES ON THE RISE: Major League Baseball injuries are on the rise, the American Journal of Sports Medicine details in its latest study. You would think this is odd given how treatment of injuries and physical conditioning have improved over the years. Is there a concerning trend? Maybe, but you can't draw conclusions from this as Hardball Talk notes. After all, these days players aren't asked to, for the most part, play through their injuries. Plus, the advent of technology has improved diagnosing injuries. (Hardball Talk)

DONUT: Hey Hunter, you're supposed to take the donut off the bat before you step to the plate. (Mocksession GIF)

SMALL STEPS: Former Red Sox top prospect Ryan Westmoreland is gearing up to face live pitching for the first time since his brain surgery over a year ago. It's a major step forward, and Westmoreland doesn't care how he performs. Just that he's finally facing a pitcher. (Providence Journal)

MAJOR-LEAGUE EXPERIENCE: The Nationals have the right idea, promoting Ross Detwiler to the rotation on Thursday. The club wants to give all their young starting pitchers as much experience as possible. Brad Peacock and Tom Milone will also get long looks. Some room in the rotation will be made by the exiting Jordan Zimmermann, who has about four starts left before he reaches his innings limit. (Washington Post)

HITS PER NINE INNINGS: Here's an interesting look in the leaders in hits per nine innings. Obviously, the leaders in this category are all solid pitchers, anchored by Nolan Ryan in the top spot. (Beyond the Boxscore)

TORN: Freddy Sanchez will have surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. You won't see him again this season. (Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area)

KISS CAM: At the Reds game, a fan got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend on the kiss cam. Problem: he fished the ring out from his fanny pack. So many comments to make... (MLB.com)

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Posted on: August 1, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Rangers ban wave with funny message

Wave

By Evan Brunell

The wave is one of the most hotly contested "traditions" in baseball, with one side crying out that the wave has nothing to do with baseball and the other side just trying to enjoy themselves at the game, which they paid out of their own pocket to see.

The Rangers took it one step further, decreeing on the video scoreboard that there are no waves allowed at the ballpark. It's not meant to be taken seriously as you can tell by reading the message the Rangers show fans on the scoreboard (photo above, from stopthewave.net). There are no penalties and no official team policy against the wave.

"I was getting lots of emails and Tweets from fans during the game asking me to do something to stop the wave," Chuck Morgan, the Rangers' senior vice president for ballpark entertainment, told ESPN.com. "So I said, 'Let's see if we can have fun with it.'"

The backlash against the wave isn't just limited to Texas, though. The Rockies made a commercial earlier this season in where a fan gets yelled at by Rockies players for starting a wave during a critical moment in a game. Even Rangers reliever Darren O'Day can be found in a video on Rangers.com saying, "Don't distract really good-looking bullpen pitchers … by doing the wave."

StopTheWave.net's Greg Holland, who attends Rangers games, couldn't agree more with the movement. "There is nothing worse … than being stuck in a section with someone who is relentless in trying to get the wave started, especially if they're sitting in front of you," Holland said. "To me, doing the wave is basically giving the middle finger to the guys on the field. You're telling them you don't care about what's going on and that they are not entertaining you."

Despite Morgan's attempts to stop the wave, which Holland said has been working, Morgan says the fans don't really pay attention to the warnings. But he won't stop trying to spread the gospel.

"I'll probably keep doing it until somebody gets so mad they're not going to come to the game anymore," he said. "Or management tells me to stop."

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Category: MLB
Posted on: August 1, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 5:24 pm
 

No moves at deadline is failure for five teams

Upton

By Evan Brunell

On Sunday, the trade deadline concluded with some teams coming away with the biggest pieces on the market (Indians with Ubaldo Jimenez, Phillies with Hunter Pence, Braves with Michael Bourn), some were able to get complementary pieces necessary for contention, and others continued their rebuilding phase by stocking up on prospects.

But there were other teams who bafflingly stood on the sidelines despite a necessity to make moves. That necessity is what excludes the Yankees from this group. While New York could have stood to make some moves, they have the AL's second-best record behind the Red Sox. The Yankees don't have any gaping holes, even if some of the band-aids over these holes may not hold through October.

Let's take a look.

A'sWhat the A's should have done: Traded two of their outfielders.

GM Billy Beane knows his A's aren't going anywhere this season, and he was in prime position to supplement the team over the next couple of years by dealing any of his three starting outfielders in Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and David DeJesus. Instead, all three stayed and could potentially leave Oakland after the year. In Beane's defense, he told Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal "ultimately, a trade is a bilateral and not a unilateral process.”

What Beane is getting at here is there has to be a second team willing to deal. The new wave of GMs into the game have changed things somewhat, setting prices for players and not budging from them. In other words, trading has gone from a negotiating and bargaining process to one where you peruse the shelves for what's available and have to buy it at sticker price. Still, there were no shortage of outfielders in demand and it's difficult to imagine that Oakland couldn't come to accord with another team for the services of one of the outfielders. Beane did make one deal, sending away reliever Brad Ziegler to Arizona, but that's hardly enough.

In Beane's defense, Willingham currently projects to be a Type-A free agent as MLB Trade Rumors points out, but he's right on the line and could easily slip into Type-B status. Beane may have taken the stance that he needed to do better than the two compensatory picks Willingham would have fetched as a Type-A free agent, but that's far from a lock. DeJesus will be a Type B, which doesn't preclude a trade. Crisp isn't set for any compensation.

AngelsWhat the Angels should have done
: Acquired a bat, possibly starting pitcher

The Angels bizarrely stood pat at the trade deadline, as owner Arte Moreno shut off the spigots for more money... but is still keeping the GM responsible for putting Los Angeles in this position. Tony Reagins is overseeing a broken-down club with Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter manning the outfield corners. Scott Kazmir has finally been mercifully released, but L.A. is still on the hook for money.

Somehow, even though Reagins' decisions the last couple of years have defied logic, they were two games out of first on Sunday. This despite a 69-run differential separating the Angels from the Rangers, who added two top-flight relievers to its team to gear up for the playoffs. For comparison, there are 57 runs separating Philadelphia and Atlanta, with the Braves six games behind. Even if Aramis Ramirez wasn't willing to waive his no-trade, there were other directions L.A. could have gone.

Instead, its fans will now watch the Angels slide into mediocrity, with not much on the horizon other than Mike Trout for help. With only Joel Pineiro and Fernando Rodney slated to be free agents and some hefty arbitration raises on the way, this team will be stagnant for  some time.

RaysWhat the Rays should have done: Traded B.J. Upton and fungible pieces

GM Andrew Friedman landed in the hospital Saturday for an emergency appendectomy, but said it didn't affect his work at all Sunday. Perhaps he should have pretended it did, because otherwise this is a poor showing for Tampa. Most notably, the Rays had B.J. Upton available, and despite his .224/.306/.394 batting line, was highly coveted. As a 26-year-old under club control through 2012, Upton (pictured atop the article) would have fetched a very nice price.

There were many discussions revolving around Upton, but obviously nothing came to fruition. But maybe it should have. The Rays need to restock for another move forward, and Upton won't be part of the next stretch of dominance. The Rays have some nice high-minors prospects nearing the majors, but there is still plenty of need for more reinforcements, especially given the value the Rays received from the Matt Garza trade in the offseason was mostly tied up in the low minors.

Upton should have been traded. It's hard to imagine his price being the same or higher in the offseason now that there's one less postseason race to handle. Plus, he'll now be looked at as a one-year rental whose contract will probably hit around $6 million. It's not just Upton that could have been dealt, though. While the Rays have a chance to walk away with the wild card if the Yankees collapse, it's the slimmest of chances.

KCWhat the Royals should have done: Traded anyone irrelevant for 2013

The Royals' inactivity at the deadline wasn't surprising only because GM Dayton Moore already indicated he would drive a hard bargain on the pieces he might otherwise be expected to be traded. So Melky Cabrera remains in town. Jeff Francouer, Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen... the list goes on. Moore did trade backup infielder Mike Aviles to Boston for a solid return, but that only underscores how K.C. failed here.

Instead of driving a hard bargain on Cabrera, who would have been in major demand once Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn came off the board, Moore decided to keep Cabrera, which in turn keeps the center fielder of the future in Lorenzo Cain down in Triple-A. It's possible Cabrera can keep up this production and the Royals will make him part of the long-term future once he becomes a free agent after 2012, but possible does not mean probable. The Royals received a replacement backup infielder for Aviles in Yamaico Navarro who has a chance to be more than that, plus a flier on a minor-league arm. Navarro is far more integral to Kansas City's bright future than Aviles is, just like whatever Cabrera or any of these other players might have fetched are more important than the incumbents by default.

Even when the Phillies, Braves and Pirates closed up shopping by dealing for other outfield arms, other teams could have still used upgrades. It's hard to imagine offers weren't there for Cabrera, nor that some teams wouldn't have liked a lefty in the back of the rotation the caliber of Francis or Chen. And Francouer, for all his warts, has a reputation as a fast starter for a new team, plus he can hit left-handers well. But instead, he's going to be in Kansas City sucking up valuable playing time with no clear benefit to the Royals.

RedsWhat the Reds should have done: Improved team

The Reds were a feel-good story last season, winning the division and playing baseball in October in Cincinnati for the first time since 1995. They looked like a team to beat entering 2011, but so far are comfortably in fourth place in the NL Central, winning on Sunday to push their record to 53-55 and edge closer to third and second place.

The Reds, lacking a bona fide ace, refused to part with the assets needed to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez despite no shortage of pitchers that profile as Nos. 3 or 4 starters in the majors and a healthy farm system. Fine, sometimes pitching depth with no discernible top-end talent can still end up a good thing. Injuries always strike, and there's a chance Edinson Volquez figures things out or Homer Bailey reaches his ceiling. But the Reds did absolutely nothing, including refusing to trade catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Giants, who would have been more than willing to send pitching or other help to the Reds. Top prospect Devin Mesoraco is probably ready, right now, to outproduce Hernandez.

And yet, Hernandez, plus every single other tradeable commodity, remained. The Reds didn't lift a finger to bring in outfield help or to shore up the left side of the infield, never mind decline to go big for an ace pitcher. It's a disappointing result for a team and a fanbase that knows October is possible again and could have used an injection of both talent and the mental optimism that would have come along with a trade.

We only looked at five teams and excluded the Cubs. But never fear, we have more on the Cubs' shocking futility at the trade deadline, plus here is what I wrote about the Cubs' performance at the deadline in the trade deadline winners and losers article:
You will hear much more on Monday [night] about the Cubs' massive failure at the trade deadline thanks to GM Jim Hendry, who really should be fired on the spot. But while we're here, we might as well recap the Cubs' situation. That situation is a 42-65 record, which is just a few losses away from a 100-loss pace. The Cubs are loaded with unseemly contracts, ranging from the obscene (Alfonso Soriano) to the bad (Carlos Zambrano) to the unnecessary (John Grabow).

And yet, not only was Hendry content not to move any pieces but he was fine encouraging Aramis Ramirez to stay in town. He was fine ruling out the trading of a backup platoon infielder in Jeff Baker. (Read that last sentence again.) The only player Hendry parted with was Fukudome, and he never had fans in the front office and was a lock to leave after the season, anyways.

Instead of trying to set the Cubs up for future success, Hendry seemed paralyzed by which direction to go and while choosing to become buyers would have been ludicrous, it would have been a more palatable direction than just staying pat. Of course, the Cubs aren't flush with a deep farm system, especially after trading for Matt Garza. So Hendry's stuck pretending to be a contender for what, at least from this side of things, seems to be nothing more than a desperate attempt to save his job by pretending his team is close to contention and does not need a fire sale -- a fire sale that would have been entirely Hendry's fault.
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Posted on: August 1, 2011 1:59 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Report: Montero on verge of callup to Yanks

MonteroBy Evan Brunell

Hidden in the news about top Yankees prospect Manny Banuelos' promotion to Triple-A is the news that Jesus Montero will be promoted to New York "in the very near future," the Trenton Times reports.

The Yankees do need him at both catcher and DH, spots that Montero can fill in. While his promotion is overdue after hitting .289/.353/.517 with 21 home runs as a 20-year-old in Triple-A back in 2010, Montero did fall off this season when he couldn't come out of spring training with a roster spot. That has contributed to Montero hitting just .283/.342/.429 back at Triple-A, drawing reports that he is "bored," which may have contributed to a recent benching for "lack of energy."

But there's no question that the power Montero flashed last season that made so many teams drool and was almost enough to acquire Cliff Lee is still hiding in his bat. With the Yankees staying pat at the trade deadline, they need to upgrade themselves internally now that Russell Martin has cooled off behind the dish. Martin is hitting .225/.326/.366 on the season in 328 plate appearances, a line that further sinks to .203/.310/.288 in 63 games, from April 27 through July 31.

That just won't cut it, so with the addition of Montero, Martin could start losing playing time. Montero could quickly supplant catcher Francisco Cervelli and enter into a platoon of sorts with Martin provided Montero can keep up his defense behind the plate, which is a significant question mark.

In addition, Jorge Posada's new career as a DH just isn't working out, with nine home runs on the year and a .235/.318/.383 figure. Remember, this is from the DH spot, so he's adding zero defensive value. Here's where Montero can get most of his playing time.

In fact, Posada could be in danger of being released. If Montero is recalled, it stands to reason that one of Cervelli or Posada will lose his job. If it's Cervelli, all of a sudden Martin's two backups are defensively-challenged, and one of them will be starting at DH on any given day. It makes more sense to dump Posada, free up DH for a full-time audition by Montero and leave Cervelli to keep Martin fresh.

Worst case, Montero fails and puts up numbers similar to Posada's. In that case, they're no worse off and can just go acquire a bat at the end of August in advance of the waiver trade deadline.

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