Posted on: July 26, 2010 4:40 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2010 4:41 pm

Red Sox ratings falling

Is the Red Sox bandwagon getting boring?

For the first time since 2003, the Red Sox don't lead Major League Baseball in local television ratings.

The Sports Business Journal has the latest numbers , and the Red Sox have dropped to fifth, behind the Cardinals, Twins, Phillies and Reds. The bottom five of the ratings are the White Sox, Dodgers, Nationals, Angels and A's.

The Nationals aren't last in ratings for the first time since they moved to Washington in 2005. The Nationals are aided by the Stephen Strasburg effect -- the team has an average rating of 1.34, but jumps to 4.4 when Strasburg starts.

The Red Sox find themselves behind the Yankees and Rays, eight games out of first in the American League East.

The Cardinals are the new top team in ratings, and that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. St. Louis is the country's best baseball town and has its most loyal and educated baseball fans. The Cardinals are also third in average rating per radio broadcast, behind the Reds and Tigers.

Ratings of national games on Fox, ESPN and Turner are all about the same as last year.

-- 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 25, 2010 9:56 pm

Jays asking high price on relievers

Scott Downs The relief market may have just heated up in Boston.

Hideki Okajima continued his worst major-league season to date and was directly responsible for giving up three runs in a Mariners rally on Sunday.

That might be good news for the Blue Jays, who have Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg on the market. Downs would give the Red Sox a second lefty in the bullpen -- and their only reliable one. The Jays, however, are asking a ton for Downs.

As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal says , the price is so high that the Dodgers went scurrying away.

Other teams named in the hunt for one or more of the Jays relievers include the Yankees, Mets, Reds and Twins, says Rosenthal's co-writer, Jon Paul Morosi. None of these names comes as a surprise -- virtually every team in contention every year is always in the market to add more relief pitching.

Toronto won't give away any for pennies on the dollar, though. Frasor is a free agent after the year and should theoretically be the easiest to get. By the same token, however, he's not as sought after as Gregg or Downs. Gregg has an affordable club option for 2011 -- and potentially one for 2012 as well. He's had a successful year closing for the Jays.

Downs, a lefty, has been one of the best setup men in the game for a while and will likely qualify as a Type A free agent. This means that if he signs with another team, the Jays could potentially get a first-round and complementary pick after the first round. That's keeping Downs' price up as even accepting arbitration wouldn't make Downs' 2011 salary prohibitive for Toronto. Understandably, then, they are asking a significant amount.

A deal can't get done, though, if Toronto doesn't realize that for all of Downs' talents, he's a reliever. You don't trade top prospects for a reliever unless young and extremely good -- like Joakim Soria. Downs' value is suppressed somewhat by saves, but he's still better than some of the closers in the game.

-- Evan Brunell

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

Posted on: July 23, 2010 7:18 pm

Deal for Lilly looking imminent

Ted Lilly Ted Lilly may have pitched his last game for the Cubs, the Chicago Sun-Times ' Chris De Luca reports .

Citing "major-league sources" talks for the left-hander have heated up and the trade "could be completed by the end of the weekend."

De Luca reports the Mets have had the most interest in Lilly. Also interested are the Tigers, Twins, Phillies and Dodgers.

Lilly is in the final year of his contract and a free agent after the season. He has a limited no-trade clause, allowing him to veto deals to 10 teams, including the Phillies, Twins and Rays. The Mets and Tigers aren't on his list, according to FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi .

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 22, 2010 8:09 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:27 am

Arizona needs 'A-plus' deal for Haren

Dan Harren If the Diamondbacks are going to give up Dan Haren, it's going to take an "A-plus" deal, Arizona CEO Derrick Hall tells the Arizona Republic 's Nick Piecoro .

Haren is under contract through 2012 plus a club option for 2013, so it's not as if the team needs to get rid of him right now. However, the Diamondbacks are looking to slash payroll and Haren will make $12.75 million in each of the next two seasons and the team option for 2013 is for $15.5 million with a $3.5 million buyout, so it would make more financial sense than baseball sense if he is moved.

If the Diamondbacks do move Haren, it will take pitching, Hall told reporters.

The Tigers, Yankees, Phillies, Twins and Cardinals all have had reported interest in Haren.

"Ideally what we would ask for is major-league ready pitching, be it starters and/or bullpen, and prospects," Hall said. "The volume doesn't matter. It doesn't need to be four or five or six guys, it's really about the quality."

Hall told Piecoro that it didn't have to be a player who is already in the majors, but top-flight minor-league talent would work.

Hall also said the team wants to keep either Haren or Edwin Jackson, who is signed for $8.35 million next season.

Hall said there has been interest in other Diamondbacks and nobody's untouchable -- "if you're getting enough in return, you'd have to consider."

Other Diamondbacks of interest to other teams may be reliever Chad Qualls and Aaron Heilman, both free agents after the season. Shortstop Stephen Drew is arbitration-eligible after the season and could also draw interest.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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.

Posted on: July 22, 2010 6:00 pm

Haren market heating up

Dan Haren Reports were cropping up Thursday that numerous teams are in hot pursuit of Arizona right-hander Dan Haren. The Diamondbacks started the trading season saying they wouldn't move Haren unless they were bowled over by an offer, so apparently there's some bowling going on or Arizona is lowering its demands.

Nothing has been reported as being close, but ESPN's Buster Olney says it has reached the stage where names are being exchanged and the Tigers have serious interest. FOX Sports names the Yankees, Phillies, Cardinals and Twins as other Haren suitors.

One team official told ESPN's Jayson Stark that the Diamondbacks have backed off their initial high demands.

"They're starting to get more reasonable," the person said. "Before, they were asking for two starting pitchers off your major league roster. Now they're talking prospects, so I think they've gotten realistic. I definitely think he's moving now."

Trading for Haren is a major commitment beyond just the players he would cost to acquire, as he's due at least $29 million on the remainder of his contract ($12.75 million in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons and a $3.5 million buyout for '13). And while he's been exceptionally durable and consistent in his career, Haren's 2010 numbers (7-8 with a 4.60 ERA) are less than eye-popping.

-- David Andriesen

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

Posted on: July 19, 2010 8:33 pm

Tigers talking about Lilly

Ted Lilly A bidding war is sparking for the Cubs' Ted Lilly, with the Tigers inquiring on the left-hander, reports ESPN's Jayson Stark.

While the Tigers have asked, talks have not accelerated and are still in the preliminary stage. The Tigers currently have a rotation in flux, with only Justin Verlander performing up to snuff. While Jeremy Bonderman and Max Scherzer's holds on a rotation spot are fairly firm, it's by virtue of the Nos. 4 and 5 spots being in flux with Rick Porcello, Armando Galarraga and the recently demoted Andrew Oliver.

Adding a pitcher of Lilly's caliber would give opponents a different look, coming from the first-base side of the mound and giving the Tigers another starter capable of going deep into games and giving the Twins and White Sox a run for their money for the division title.

However, a second source told Buster Olney that the two teams haven't been in contact in over a week. The Mets have also been linked to Lilly, although their interest has cooled recently in favor of Jeremy Guthrie. However, the Tigers have another suitor to be wary of: the Twins.

Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune notes that the Twins are in the hunt for Lilly after missing out on Cliff Lee. The Twins have been angling for a starter all season long to slot in behind Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano after the disappointing seasons of Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn.

As Stark notes, the Tigers are also looking for a veteran player who can play shortstop -- could the Cubs package both Lilly and Ryan Theriot to the Motor City? Stay tuned.

-- Evan Brunell

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