Posted on: July 5, 2010 11:46 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:51 am

Lee talks getting 'interesting' with Twins

Trade talks between the Mariners and Twins regarding Cliff Lee are getting "interesting" and "have possibilities," Sports Illustrated 's Jon Heyman reports .

There's no deal, but "one person familiar with the talks" are quoted by Heyman.

Heyman notes another source tells him the Mariners are interested in Twins catching prospect Wilson Ramos and that Seattle wants a catcher that's ready to play right away. Ramos isn't going to play every day in Minnesota anytime soon.

The Twins are hardly alone in having interest in Lee. The Rays, Phillies, Yankees, Mets and Reds have all  reportedly been in contact with Seattle about Lee.

The Seattle Times' Geoff Baker reports nothing is going to happen tonight . AOL Fanhouse's Jeff Fletcher tweets he's heard that in addition to Ramos, the Twins have offered outfielder Aaron Hicks, the team's 2008 first-round pick.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 4, 2010 6:13 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2010 6:14 pm

Plenty of names available to Mariners for Lee

Cliff Lee Could Jack Zduriencik of the Mariners be trying to engineer a three-team trade?

Buster Olney of ESPN speculates on Cliff Lee's future -- as everyone will do up until he is traded -- and notes that Seattle wants a "difference-making hitter" in any Lee trade.

Olney suggests Justin Smoak from Texas, but it's hard to imagine the Rangers agreeing to that. Perhaps Chris Davis is a more viable alternative, but Texas would then have to upgrade other elements of the package.

Another player that may catch Seattle's eye is Yonder Alonso of the Reds. Alonso was drafted as a first baseman but since Joey Votto has that position locked up, has been playing left. The Mariners could return him to his natural position of first or even slot him as DH, and the Reds would certainly love Lee as they make a push for the NL Central crown.

Olney then turns his attention to Brett Lawrie of Milwaukee. When Jack Z worked for the Brewers, he selected Lawrie in the first round of the 2008 draft. Lawrie has since emerged as one of the best prospects in the game while manning second base. Even though the Brewers are out of the race and wouldn't be interested in a Lee-for-Lawrie swap, Olney speculates that Zduriencik could engineer a three-way trade, sending Lee to the Reds, a stable of pitching prospects from Cincinnati to Milwaukee (fulfilling the Brewers' need for pitching) and Lawrie to the Mariners.

There's nothing to support this trade, but it's an intriguing idea.

All that said, Charley Waters of the Pioneer Press hears that the Twins are the frontrunners for Cliff Lee and are currently deciding whether Wilson Ramos should be made available to Seattle, who craves a young catcher. Interestingly enough, Waters says the Mariners love their 26-year-old catcher, Adam Moore, so Ramos may not be as available. Hard to imagine any team turning Ramos down who is head and shoulders above Moore but even if that's the case, Minnesota has more chips they can send out.

That starts with center fielder Ben Revere, who -- despite a clear lack of power -- has advanced well in the system since being selected in the 2007 draft. Joe Benson is another outfielder in the system that could be available, as well as major-league starting pitcher Nick Blackburn. It's doubtful Seattle would entertain Blackburn as the last thing they need is another back-of-the-rotation starter.

The Cliff Lee sweepstakes are heating up, and it's anyone's guess who plucks the prized left-hander with an obscene 89/6 K/BB ratio.

-- Evan Brunell

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

Posted on: July 3, 2010 6:37 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2010 7:41 pm

Thome cracks top 10 on homer list

Jim Thome Entering the top 10 in career home runs seems like it should be a bigger deal than it was on Saturday.

Sure, there was a standing ovation, a curtain call and the rest as Jim Thome tied Harmon Killebrew for 10th place with a second-inning home run off of Tampa's Wade Davis and then passed him in his next at-bat, in the fourth inning with his 574th career home run.

It's an amazing feat, 574 home runs is an amazing number when put in its historical perspective -- but in recent history, it seems like just another record going down.

It was just nine years ago when Mark McGwire passed Killebrew for the fifth spot. Since then five others -- Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and now Thome have jumped over Killebrew, and Manny Ramirez needs just 20 more to do the same.

I know records are meant to be broken and all that crap, but don't they lose something when they're broken over and over -- and when Sammy Sosa is involved?

Jimmie Foxx is now 17th on the all-time home run list, and somehow that seems wrong. Eddie Matthews isn't in the top 20.

And it's a shame that Thome, who by all accounts did things the right way and is a decent person, has his accomplishment overshadowed by making it such a common occurrence. Thome stands next to Killebrew, both bigger-than-life physical figures, yet gentle Giants.

it seems a combination of steroids, new ballparks, expansion, the designated hitter and emphasis on homers has devalued the career totals. Oh, and Sammy Sosa.

Congrats to Thome, though. It's too bad it's not a bigger deal than it is.

All-time home run leaders
1. Barry Bonds 762
2. Hank Aaron 755
3. Babe Ruth 714
4. Willie Mays 660
5. Ken Griffey Jr. 630
6. Sammy Sosa 609
7. Alex Rodriguez 595
8. Frank Robinson 586
9. Mark McGwire 583
10. Jim Thome 574

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Category: MLB
Tags: Jim Thome, Twins
Posted on: July 3, 2010 1:16 pm

Twins open to adding payroll

Howie Mandel isn't the biggest impediment for a deal or no deal come trade deadline, much of the time it is a willing owner to shell out a couple extra (million) bucks.

Dollars won't get in the way for the "small market" Minnesota Twins, team president Dave St. Peter tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune 's La Velle E. Neal III .

"We think we have some flexibility," St. Peter said. "The last couple of years we have had some flexibility to try to make the team better."

He's right. Last year the Twins added Orlando Cabrera, Carl Pavano, Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay to help push the Twins into the playoffs. This year, any added payroll could push the Twins into the $100-million club. They currently stand at $97 million.

St. Peter told Neal every option -- even Cliff Lee -- would be explored.

"We feel like we are well-positioned, if we so choose, to make a move to make the team better," St. Peter said. "Ultimately, we are about trying to get better. If that means trade, if that means kids from the minor leagues, great."

The Twins lead the Tigers by one game and the White Sox by two heading into Saturday's game, and none of the three seem to be going anywhere. The American League Central could be decided by which team makes the best moves -- and it's easier to make moves when you're not afraid to open your wallet.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 1, 2010 12:25 pm

Teams lining up for Haren

Dan Haren While Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee are the marquee starting pitchers thought to be available at the deadline, it looks like plenty of teams are turning their attention toward the Diamondbacks' Dan Haren.

Various reports have listed the Yankees, Twins, Phillies, Nationals, Angels and Tigers as having interest in Haren, and Haren told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this week that "I'd like to play [in St. Louis] again."

Why all the attention for a guy with a 4.56 ERA and $29 million left on his contract for the next two years? For one thing, this season looks like an anomaly. Haren has given up a ton of hits this season, leading the National League at 131, but his high BABIP of .345 indicates he's having some bad luck with balls finding holes.

Haren is fifth among all active pitchers in fewest walks and hits per inning (WHIP) in his career, he's won a minimum of 14 games each of the past five years, and he's a workhorse -- 33 or more starts and at least 216 innings for five straight seasons.

Haren is pitching better lately, and his June ERA was 3.19 in six starts. He also figures to benefit from getting out of Arizona and off the worst pitching staff in baseball.

If Haren, 29, settles back into the consistency he's always shown, he'd be a nice pickup despite his contract. Oswalt is due at least $18 million for 2011 (including a $2 million buyout of a club option for 2012), and after this season Lee is going to get a contract that makes Haren's look like pocket change. 

-- David Andriesen

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

Posted on: June 26, 2010 2:26 pm

When Harry met Citi

Prince Harry If the world were aligned correctly, the Mets would have been playing Milwaukee instead of Minnesota on Saturday. Because really, the only person who should be catching a ceremonial first pitch from Britain's Prince Harry is Prince Fielder.

As it happened, it was the Mets' Rod Barajas doing the honors at Citi Field. Harry, on a three-day trip to New York, threw a pretty decent pitch, especially considering he might never have held a baseball in his life before Saturday. The 25-year-old royal got some pitching tips from knuckleballer R.A. Dickey prior to the game.

Harry reportedly was given a Mets jersey with "Wales" and No. 22 on the back, but he opted for a T-shirt and Mets cap.

-- David Andriesen

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

Category: MLB
Tags: Mets, Twins
Posted on: June 21, 2010 8:39 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2010 1:15 am

Twins could be buyers

Brandan Harris The Twins are sitting pretty, leading the American League Central and playing to big crowds at their new ballpark, Target Field.

There is room for improvement, however, and Minnesota could be active as the trade deadline approaches, with third base and the rotation their priorities according to MLB.com.

The Twins have gotten nothing offensively at third base -- a league-worst 20 RBI and a .222 average. Brendan Harris (pictured), their current starter, is batting .157. Rookie Danny Valencia, called up this month, has been impressive (.317) in 14 games but is apparently not a long-term answer at this point.

Mike Lowell, being shopped by Boston, is the most obvious solution to the third base void. Actually, 2008 Mike Lowell would be a great solution. The 2010 Mike Lowell is 36 years old, coming off hip and thumb operations and has batted .215, though he's played so sparingly it's understandable he hasn't been able to find his groove.

Minnesota's starters are eighth in the AL in ERA (4.27), and a big gun would help put the Twins over the top. The two biggest names, obviously, are Seattle's Cliff Lee and Houston's Roy Oswalt.

The Mariners are reportedly asking for a big return for Lee and are very thin at catcher, so if the Twins are willing to part with prospect Wilson Ramos for a half-season rental it could be a fit. Oswalt and his huge contract would be a much bigger financial investment.

-- David Andriesen

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

Posted on: June 18, 2010 7:21 pm

Twins activate Hudson

The Twins have activated second baseman Orlando Hudson from the disabled list in time for Friday's game against the Phillies. Hudson was back in the lineup, batting second and grounded out in his first at-bat since going on the DL with a sore left wrist. To make room for Hudson, the team put pitcher Jose Mijares on the family medical emergency list. Mijares flew to Venezuela following Thursday's game.

The Twins are 29-20 with Hudson in hte lineup this season and 9-8 without him.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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