Tag:Blue Jays
Posted on: July 19, 2010 11:15 am
Edited on: July 19, 2010 3:56 pm

Tigers on the trade prowl

Ben Sheets After being swept by lowly Cleveland, the Tigers may be looking to make several moves to help bolster their American League Central title hopes.

CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller writes the Tigers were the only team to send a scout solely to watch Dan Haren against the Padres on Friday and the team's also interested in Oakland's Ben Sheets.

Sheets is starting tonight for the A's, but the Tigers have already been checking out the Athletics, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle . The Tigers have been eyeing relievers Michael Wuertz and Craig Breslow.

Wuertz is under control through 2012, under contract through next season with a club option for 2012, while Breslow will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this year.

Sheets may be easier to dump for Oakland thanks to Vin Mazzaro's recent performance. Sheets signed a one-year, $10 million deal before the season. He's 4-8 with a 4.63 ERA in 19 starts.

Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail notes the Tigers could make a play for Blue Jays' John Buck.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 14, 2010 12:35 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2010 1:49 pm

Braves send Escobar to Toronto for Gonzalez

Yunel Escobar The Braves' search for offense has taken a strange turn, with Atlanta trying to upgrade offensively at shortstop, acquiring Blue Jays shortstop Alex Gonzalez and two prospects for shortstop Yunel Escobar and lefty Jo-Jo Reyes .

Getting rid of Escobar may be an early retirement gift for Bobby Cox, who has long been frustrated by the talented but inconsistent Escobar, as well as his attitude and "hustle."

Still, Gonzalez, 33, had a career first-half in Toronto, hitting .259/.296/.497 with 17 home runs and 50 RBI. His 17 homers are already the second-best total of his career. He hit 18 in 2003 and 23 in 2004. As much as anything, the clock seems to be ticking on Gonzalez, who has already played 85 games this season. He hasn't played in more than 112 games since 2005.

Gonzalez at one time had the reputation as one of the top defensive shortstops in the country and has returned to an above-average status after dealing with lower leg injuries in the last few years. He's been healthy so far for the Blue Jays and also been helped by the artificial surface in Toronto.

Escobar may be the best defensive shortstop in baseball, but has been disappointing offensively this season, hitting .238/.334/.284 with no homers after hitting 14 last season.

Reyes is a throw-in, as are the prospects going to Toronto, Tim Collins and Tyler Pastronicky. The Blue Jays designated Ronald Uviedo to make room on the 40-man roster.

Overall, it seems an odd move. Sure, Cox may be tired of Escobar, but the Braves better have a backup ready at shortstop. It's also doubtful Gonzalez's power carries over to Turner Field. Escobar's reputation alone deserves more in return than Gonzalez. Look for Braves pitchers to notice a difference in the defense behind them soon.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 13, 2010 5:51 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2010 5:52 pm

Blue Jays put three relievers on market

Scott Downs The Toronto Blue Jays have made three veteran relievers available, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.

Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor and Scott Downs may all be on the way out shortly as the Blue Jays have fallen out of the AL East race. Now, the Jays can take their veteran commodities and turn them into young, cost-controllable players.

Bradford notes that the intradivision rival Red Sox are on the hunt for bullpen help and may be prime candidates for one of the three relievers.

It is hard to imagine the Red Sox being interested in Gregg, who is a middling reliever that has snagged 20 saves on the season. He has a 3.67 ERA and is making an affordable $2.75 million on the year. However, whichever team he is on has a $4.5 million option for 2011, or a combined $8.75 million option for 2011-12.

By virtue of being a closer, the Jays would likely give Gregg a higher price tag than either Downs or Frasor, and since Boston already has a closer (Jonathan Papelbon) plus an elite setup man (Daniel Bard), why would they pay a higher price to import a closer worse than either Papelbon or Bard?

Frasor, on the other hand, is a solid middle reliever who wouldn't cost much and could slide in nicely to the back of the rotation. However, is he any better than Michael Bowden? Bowden has been a long-time starter in the minors for the Red Sox who has been on a tear lately and was just converted to relief.

The scuttlebutt is that his promotion is nearing, so it's difficult to envision Boston grabbing Frasor when they have Bowden, Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez in relief. Something else Frasor has in common with Ramirez is that both struggle against left-handers. One pitcher that does is OK. Two that does suddenly eats into depth. Frasor is also an impending free agent, making $2.65 million.

Downs (pictured) is the most intriguing name. Part of his appeal is the fact he is left-handed. The other part is that he actually produces, having been one of the best relievers the last four years. In the final year of his contract paying out $4 million on the year, Downs has a 2.65 ERA and is a lefty-killer. The Red Sox prefer to have two lefties in the bullpen and while Dustin Richardson figures to be a staple in the bullpen eventually, his time is not now.

-- Evan Brunell

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

Posted on: July 8, 2010 1:11 pm

Jays have pieces to deal

With their recent slide, the Blue Jays have slipped into the seller's mode as the trade deadline approaches and ESPN's Buster Onley points out they may have the best-stocked store.

Every contender needs bullpen help, it's the nature of the beast, and the Blue Jays have three relievers they could dangle -- left-hander Scott Downs, right-hander Jason Frasor and closer Kevin Gregg, who has 19 saves and would be a boost as a set-up man to most teams.

Jose Bautista has 22 homers and can play multiple positions, making his trade value as high as it may ever be.

John Buck is solid behind the plate and having a good season and is a free agent after the season. He's a low-risk move for any team that needs insurance behind the plate.

Lyle Overbay isn't sexy, but he is in the final season of his contract and could help a team looking for corner infield help. Overbay is hitting .244/.322/.405 with nine homers and 30 RBI. He has been hot, though, hitting .284/.370/.407 over the last four weeks.

Toronto was a nice early-season story, but they're now a game under .500, 9 1/2 out in the wild card and stuck in the American League East. There are blocks to build upon for the future, and the right moves now could add to those blocks.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

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

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

Posted on: June 29, 2010 6:26 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 12:12 pm

Do interleague games really bring out fans?

Every time we hear an argument about interleague play, about the only defense of it is "fans love it" backed up by attendance numbers.

But do fans love interleague play as much as they love going to the ballpark in the summer?

Each year we hear about these great gains in attendance, but this season five of the six National League series that took place during interleague play had better-than-average attendance.

Two National League teams hosted weekend series against both American League and National League foes, the Marlins and the Rockies.

The Rockies drew 28,554 more fans for their intraleague series against the Brewers than they did for their interleague show-down with the Blue Jays. The Marlins drew more for their in-state rivals, the Rays, than they did the Padres, but only by 667 for the three games.

Of the six intraleague series (Braves at Pirates, Cardinals at Diamondbacks, Dodgers at Reds, Brewers at Rockies, Giants at Astros and Padres at Marlins), only one team, Arizona, drew fewer fans per game in the series than average, and that was less than 1,000 per game.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 25, 2010 1:42 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 12:01 pm

Strange series on tap

Roy Halladay Ever since his trade to Philadelphia last winter, Blue Jays fans have dreamed of seeing Roy Halladay again, facing the Jays as the visiting pitcher.

Fans in Toronto will get to see that Friday night -- on television.

The weekend series originally slated for Rogers Centre was moved to Philadelphia because of security concerns with the G20 Summit taking place in Toronto. That deprived the Blue Jays of a chance to honor Halladay, who played 15 years in Toronto and was the team's most popular player.

Halladay, who pitches Friday night, doesn't seem too broken up about it. He's never been the sentimental type. He's the completely focused, ultra-competitive, all-business type. As such, he thinks the change of venue might be a good thing.

"In certain respects, it's going to be a little easier being [in Philadelphia]," Halladay, who already faced the Jays in spring training, told MLB.com. "The media stuff and being in the city hopefully is a little easier here. From that respect, I think hopefully it's probably beneficial."

The Blue Jays will be the home team this weekend and bat last at Citizens Bank Park. That's unusual, but not unheard of, in baseball history. What is unprecedented is that it's an interleague game, which means the designated hitter will be used in a National League park.

Some have suggested, as a way to spice up the somewhat stale practice of interleague play, having teams play by the rules of the visiting team rather than the home team. That would give fans in NL cities a chance to see games played with the DH and AL fans a chance to see their pitchers hit.

Phillies fans will get to test drive that concept this weekend.

-- David Andriesen

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 23, 2010 2:20 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2010 2:50 pm

Are Blue Jays buyers or sellers?

Shaun Marcum Sports Illustrated 's Jon Heyman tweeted that the Blue Jays may be a source of pitching-rich depth as the trade deadline approaches.

Heyman specifically names Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and Shaun Marcum (pictured) as pitchers that can be traded, although Ricky Romero is in the "untouchable" camp.

Toronto is likely grappling with the decision on whether to buy or sell.

The Blue Jays are currently fourth in the highly-competitive AL East with an impressive 38-33 record that places them six games behind the Yankees for first place. With the Rays and Red Sox nipping at the Yankees and all three teams boasting baseball's best records, it's hard to imagine Toronto has a realistic shot at the playoffs.

However, this season certainly has to be considered a success so far. It's not often one trades the best pitcher in the game (Roy Halladay) and improves. In addition, public relations has to be taken into account: with the team's success, how would it look if Toronto started selling off parts?

Frasor, 32, currently has a 5.40 ERA in 28 1/3 innings, but ERA has to be taken with a grain of salt with relievers as their innings total is so low. He is striking out 9.8 batters per nine innings, which is a career-high although he is also giving up 5.1 walks per nine, which would be the second-worst mark of his career. He's still one of the game's better middle relievers who has experience closing.

Given his poor performance to date, Toronto could probably justify dealing him, especially if they replace Frasor with Josh Roenicke, dominating Triple-A and having been acquired in last season's Scott Rolen trade.

Downs is older than Frasor at age 34, but is having a better season and continuing a four-year streak of being one of the best left-handed relievers in the game. The lefty has a 3.34 ERA in 29 2/3 innings and would most likely bring back a better piece than Frasor. Journeyman left-hander Sean Henn  has a sub-2 ERA for Triple-A Las Vegas, so there is a ready-made replacement for Downs, but it's possible Henn has mastered Triple-A but not the majors. Additionally, even with strong replacements available in the minor leagues, to trade the team's two best relievers doesn't exactly send a positive signal to the fanbase.

The last pitcher named a possibility to be traded, Marcum, has made 15 starts on the year for an impressive 3.24 ERA. He was one of the league's burgeoning young pitchers before going under the knife and missing all of 2009. He hasn't missed a beat in his return and while the Jays are flush with plenty of starting pitching, it would be especially tough to justify to the fan base the dealing of Marcum. It's simply not likely to happen, especially when the team can slot Marcum in the rotation for at least two more years.

The Blue Jays are caught in no-man's land between having a season that dictates not rebuilding, but being in a division and with a team that isn't likely to have long-term success. The club has quite a tough road to navigate between now and the trading deadline.

-- Evan Brunell

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