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Tag:Aramis Ramirez
Posted on: July 8, 2011 5:03 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Offense rules in NL Central

By C. Trent Rosecrans
2011 All-Star Game

SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL West

The National League Central has the most teams, some of the game's brightest stars and perhaps its best story in the Pittsburgh Pirates. How deep is the talent in the NL Central? The last two men to win the National League MVP are first basemen in the division and neither makes this NL Central All-Star team. The pitching isn't too deep, at least in terms of starters, but this lineup can absolutely mash the ball.

Ramon HernandezC Ramon Hernandez, Reds: This one is a surprise, as Yadier Molina -- perhaps the game's best defensive catcher -- is an All-Star and a deserving one at that. But the nod here goes to the guy Reds manager Dusty Baker calls "Clutch Man Monie." On opening day, his three-run homer gave the Reds a walk-off victory and he's been producing at the plate since, including a ninth-inning homer yesterday against Brewers closer John Axford and the delivered the game's winning hit in the 13th inning Wednesday night in St. Louis. Hernandez's overall line -- .316/.374/.526 -- makes up for the difference between his defense and Molina's. Molina is hitting a respectable .279/.329/.408, but Clutch Man Monie has been money, especially for a player who is still essentially splitting time with Ryan Hanigan.

Prince Fielder1B Joey Votto, Reds: Votto was the National League MVP in 2010, but Prince Fielder's been the league's MVP for the first half of this season. Fielder is hitting .302/.418/.588 with 22 home runs and 71 RBI, tied for the most in the league. Votto's been good as well, but Fielder's power numbers put him over the top. So why is Votto listed here instead of Fielder? Because as I filled out the lineup card, I looked and had Votto as DH and Fielder at first. Anyone who has seen those two with gloves on their hand know you'd rather have Votto (especially with Starlin Castro also in the infield) playing the field. So Fielder wins the spot, but Votto gets the nod, if that makes sense.

Lineup
No. Name Team Pos
1 Andrew McCutchen PIT CF
2 Rickie Weeks MIL 2B
3 Joey Votto CIN 1B
4 Prince Fielder MIL DH
5 Lance Berkman STL RF
6 Ryan Braun MIL LF
7 Aramis Ramirez CHI 3B
8 Ramon Hernandez CIN C
9 Starlin Castro CHI SS

Rickie Weeks2B Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Another Brewer nips a Red. While Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips is far and away a better defensive player, Weeks is having an incredible offensive season so far. Weeks is hitting .275/.345/.476 with 15 home runs. Phillips has 10 more RBI, but that's not all that surprising considering Weeks is used as a leadoff man. 

Aramis Ramirez3B Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: It's easy for Ramirez to get lost among the Cubs' mounting losses, but the 33-year-old is having a solid season, which may be his last with the Cubs. The Cubs hold a $16 million option on Ramirez for 2012, with a $2 million buyout. The Ricketts family may want to find a cheaper option, but Ramirez has produced this year, hitting .298/.346/.495 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI. He's also playing a decent third base, much better than his reputation would suggest. 

Starlin CastroSS Starlin Castro, Cubs: Sure, he's a mess defensively, but the kid can absolutely rake. Castro is hitting .305/.334/.428 with two home runs and 38 RBI, while stealing 10 bags as well. The 21-year-old is the player the Cubs will build around in the future, and for good cause. He also doesn't have a lot of competition in this division. The Pirates' Ronny Cedeno has been good defensively, but lacking offensively. The Cardinals' Ryan Theriot is hitting well, but was a below-average defensive second baseman and now he's playing short and then there's Yuniesky Betancourt, who has been terrible offensively and defensively.

LF Ryan Braun, Brewers: Talk about a stacked offensive division -- in left field you've got Matt Holliday and Braun. Braun, though gets the nod. He's been healthy (of course, Holliday's problems may make his numbers more impressive) and produced, hitting .320/.402/559 with 16 home runs and 62 RBI. He's also stolen 19 bases to boot.

Andrew McCutchenCF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: If Bruce Bochy doesn't want him, I'll sure as heck take him as my starter in center. A Gold Glove-caliber fielder, plus a .291/.389/.491 slash line and 12 homers and 15 stolen bases. McCutchen should be in the MVP discussion with the season he's had. If it weren't for McCutchen, Michael Bourn would be the pick. Bourn's hitting .288/.350/.399 with 35 stolen bases. Between those two and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs, you could put together a heck of a relay team.

Lance BerkmanRF Lance Berkman, Cardinals: Sure he's a first baseman playing in the outfield, but who cares because he's made up for his atrocious defense with an offensive rebirth. The Cardinals gambled on Berkman this offseason and have been rewarded to the tune of .287/.399/.598 with a league-leading 23 home runs and 62 RBIs. The division also has Jay Bruce, Corey Hart and Hunter Pence, so it has right fielders to spare (not to mention Jon Jay, who played right field while Berkman was playing first for Albert Pujols.)

Prince FielderDH Prince Fielder, Brewers: This is a bit of a cheat, since I initially picked Fielder at first base. The decision here was between Votto and Holliday, and in a toss-up, I went with the reigning MVP, although either has a good case. Votto's hitting .319/.434/.497 with 12 home runs and 52 RBI, while Holliday is hitting .320/.417/.570 with 13 home runs and 46 RBI. Votto's seen fewer pitches to drive than he did a year ago, but is still producing. And once I was filling out the lineup card, I went with Votto at first base and Fielder as the DH.

Johnny CuetoSP Johnny Cueto, Reds: This division doesn't have a Cy Young candidate in the bunch, but does have several good young pitchers, including the 25-year-old Cueto, who started the season on the disabled list but is 5-3 with a 1.77 ERA in 11 starts this season. The Cardinals' Jaime Garcia is 8-4 with a 3.23 ERA and one of the best young left-handers in the game and Chicago's Matt Garza has been a victim of pitching for the Cubs, going 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA and an xFIP of 2.86.

Sean MarshallRP Sean Marshall, Cubs: The Cubs' left-hander is 5-2 with a 2.40 ERA, striking out 43 in 41 1/3 innings, while walking just nine. His xFIP is 2.27 and he's induced ground balls on 60.4 percent of the balls put in play, a good characteristic for a middle reliever, who will often come into the game with runners on base. Apologies to the Reds' Bill Bray and the Cardinals' Jason Motte.

Joel HanrahanCL Joel Hanrahan, Pirates: Hanrahan leads the division in saves with 25 and hasn't blown a single save this season.  Of the eight runners he's inherited this year, none of scored. He has 33 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings and eight walks. He's allowed just six earned runs (good for a 1.37 ERA). The division has several good starters, including the Reds' Francisco Cordero (17 saves, 1.69 ERA), the Brewers' John Axford (23 saves, 2.90 ERA) and the Cardinals' Fernando Salas (15 saves, 2.41 ERA).

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: June 28, 2011 1:16 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Ramirez blasts two homers

Ramirez

By Evan Brunell


UpAramis Ramirez, Cubs -- Ramirez blasted two home runs, with Carlos Pena joining in on the fun too. But Ramirez gets the props here for a 3-for-4 showing, scoring three runs and driving in three while adding a double as the Cubs raked Jhoulys Chacin over the coals. Ramirez hasn't been the same the last couple of seasons but is still a quality hitter who was in sore need of a power display such as this, as his slugging percentage prior to the game was at .417. It's up to .446 now.

Brandon Phillips, Reds -- Phillips hadn't been performing up to expectations on offense this season but has turned things around since with his 4-for-5 evening pushing his batting average to .299 after collecting hits in half of his last 32 at-bats. Despite boasting the best run differential in the NL Central, the Reds have scuffled lately. Phillips' hot streak has allowed the Reds to more or less keep pace and are now a half-game behind the Cardinals for first place. The Brewers lead by three games over St. Louis.

Trent Oeltjen, Dodgers -- The 28-year-old Oeltjen, all due respect to him, is nothing more than an average backup outfielder. But Monday he was so much more, ripping four hits in four trips to the plate and making a case to get some more playing time. The Dodgers, who have struggled to find someone to fill left field with any measure of aplomb, will be all too happy to oblige. Despite hitting .350/.440/.650 in 20 at-bats, Oeltjen's career line only increased to .229/.286/.404 in 109 career at-bats.



DownNick Blackburn, Twins -- Blackburn, just like most other Twins pitchers, got raked over the coals Monday, dropping Minnesota's sixth straight game. The right-hander coughed up eight runs, seven earned, in a game the Dodgers would eventually go on to win 15-0. Blackburn got through 4 1/3 innings before he was yanked having given up 13 hits, walking and whiffing one apiece. Of the five Twins pitchers, only one -- Matt Capps -- was unscored upon, while the rest gave up at least two.

Michael Brantley, Indians -- The Indians haven't gotten much for their CC Sabathia trade. Matt La Porta only just claimed the full-time position at first base, but he's sidelined with injury currently and isn't quite a centerpiece. Brantley, meanwhile, hasn't delivered on his leadoff potential, striking out three times in five hitless at-bats against the Diamondbacks to drop his overall line to .272/.335/.392. For a punchless outfielder to start, he has to register a high OBP, which the 24-year-old certainly is not doing. Cleveland absolutely needs to continue playing Brantley, but he doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

Sean Burnett, Nationals -- Burnett couldn't give Davey Johnson a win -- or even a tie -- in his return to managing. The Nationals knotted the game at 3-all in the top of the ninth on a Danny Espinosa home run, but Maicer Izturis singled in a run in the bottom 10th to end the game. Burnett, who opened the year as closer and has been demoted to middle relief since, opened the frame by inducing an out, but quickly gave up a single and ground-rule double. Johnson ordered an intentional walk of light-hitting Bobby Wilson to set up a force at every base, but Izturis rendered that moot with a grounder that barely eluded Espinosa at second.

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Posted on: June 24, 2011 8:02 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 5:25 pm
 

With rebuild on way, who could Cubs trade?

Soriano

By Evan Brunell


The Cubs are gearing up for trade season, as GM Jim Hendry and his staff plan to determine the team's future leading up to the trade deadline. The Chicago Tribune says that Chicago will start taking bids on overpriced or underachieving players, as Hendry continues his third rebuild, although he could be out of a job once the season ends.

With those parameters in mind, who could the Cubs deal?

Kosuke Fukudome, right fielder
Original contract:
4 years, $48 million
Contract remaining (includes 2011):
1 year, $13.5 million

Fukudome is enjoying his most productive season and has gotten better with each of his four years in the majors. He's playing center field on Friday for the first time since 2009, which tells you the Cubs are trying to keep his bat in the lineup. He still doesn't hit for much power, but that doesn't matter when you have a .400 OBP. Even better is the fact he is no longer a platoon player against left-handed pitching.

Chance of being traded: Fukudome has never really seemed to fit in Chicago, although his disappointing production to start is partly to blame. The Cubs project to have an Alfonso Soriano - Brett Jackson - Marlon Byrd outfield next season, so Fukudome would appear to be the odd man out. There are several teams in demand of an outfielder and it will be hard to do much worse than Fukudome in production, salary and cost to acquire.

John Grabow, reliever
Original contract:
2 years, $7.5 million
Contract remaining: 1 year, $4.8 million

For a team rebuilding, do they really need a reliever tasked with getting left-handers out -- but isn't? Grabow's contract is obviously not a hindrance, but his performance this season isn't up to par. While he's still getting lefties out at a better clip than righties, he hasn't exactly been a lockdown reliever. In 31 innings, Grabow has walked 11 and whiffing 16, posting up a 4.94 ERA and 4.79 xFIP.

Chance of being traded: Grabow isn't getting the job done overall or against left-handers, and the contract is hefty for his (lack of) production.

Carlos Pena, first baseman
Original contract:
1 year, $10 million

Pena isn't really underachieving thanks to his power production, nor is his contract prohibitive, but a .220 batting average is disappointing even if it represents a 24-point increase over 2010. By trading Pena, the Cubs could give Tyler Colvin an extended shot at playing time in the second half, plus gear up for possible runs at Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. There are teams out there that would welcome Pena's 14 bombs and .350 OBP.

Chance of being traded: Pena will probably stay, as none of the clear contenders other than the Angels appear to have any interest or need of a first baseman. If Washington somehow stays hot and inserts itself in the postseason race, they could use Pena as Adam LaRoche is now lost for the season due to injury. Washington actually coveted Pena over LaRoche, but the former Ray opted for Chicago.

Aramis Ramirez, third baseman
Original contract:
5 years, $75 million
Contract remaining: 1 year, $14.6 million, plus $16 million club option ($2 million buyout)

Ramirez has a no-trade clause and has already said he won't allow a trade out of Chicago, but he could always change his tune based on where he would be traded or just by flat-out changing his mind. After all, as Alfonso Soriano said recently, why would you block a trade if the team wants you out? Ramirez had a brutal first half last season before recovering in the second half. He hasn't been much better this season.

Chance of being traded: Unless a team is really desperate and the Cubs agree to cover the buyout plus some of his current deal (fat chance), Ramirez is staying.

Alfonso Soriano, left field
Original contract:
8 years, $136 million
Contract remaining: 4 years, $72 million

Soriano's 2009 is looking more and more like an aberration -- at least for now. That's good, but he still hasn't reached the level of play he flashed in his first two years with the Cubs. The 35-year-old is a liability on defense, is showing regression in plate discipline without much difference in contact levels and is just overall a massive risk for a team to take on.

Chance of being traded: Unless Soriano is part of another bad contract trade (for Barry Zito?), he's going to be finishing out his deal. How this contract is going to look in two years is a scary thought.

Carlos Zambrano, starting pitcher
Original contract:
5 years, $91.5 million
Contract remaining: 2 years, $38.875 million, plus $19.25 million vesting player option

Out of all the players on the list, Zambrano looks the most appetizing. Unfortunately, it's almost by default. Big Z has just one year after this remaining on his deal and it's a long shot he will get that player option to vest as he has to finish in the top four of Cy Young Award voting next season to trigger it. But as everyone knows, he's quite a hothead and is too erratic and inconsistent in his pitching. His 4.50 ERA won't draw any fans, although he's always capable of ripping off a dominating stretch as everyone witnessed in his final 11 starts of 2010.

Chance of being traded: Teams are always in need of pitching, so Zambrano might be able to find a new home by July 31. The odds are that he stays and is part of the rumor mill during the offseason.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: June 7, 2011 3:30 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 5:00 pm
 

Agents says Ramirez wants to stay in Chicago

Aramis Ramirez

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Aramis Ramirez is still a Cub and he wants to keep it that way.

Ramirez's agent, Paul Kinzer, told the Chicago Tribune that his client doesn't want to be traded and is unlikely to OK a trade if the team asked. Ramirez has a full no-trade clause and is also a 10-and-5 player, meaning he must OK any trade because of his 10 years of Major League service time, inclujding the last five with the same team.

"He doesn't event want to take a trade. He took less years and less money to stay in Chicago [in 2006], so that is definitely his first option," Kinzer told the paper.

Ramirez makes $14.6 million this season and the Cubs have a club option for 2012 worth $15 million, one they'll no doubt decline and pay a $2 million buyout.

Ramirez is hitting a solid .288 with a .343 on-base percentage, but his slugging is down to just .394 with two homers in 216 plate appearances. Ramirez has a career slugging percentage of .495, but it has dipped each of the last seven seasons since he slugged a career-best .578 in 2004. Since then his slugging has decreased, sometimes gradually (.568 in 2005) and sometimes drastically, from .516 in in 2009 to .452 last season.

As I was watching the Cubs-Reds for a bit last night, they flashed some of Ramirez's career stats -- in his 14th season -- and ninth in Chicago, Ramirez has accumulated 291 home runs and 1,050 RBIs, all the while hitting .282/.340/.495. Even playing for the Cubs, I'm not so sure Ramirez has ever gotten his due for just how good of a player he's been over the years. He has earned just two All-Star nods.

Perhaps he has been overlooked among National League third basemen because he played in the time of Chipper Jones and Scott Rolen, as well as during the rise of David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman

Ramirez will turn 33 later this month and his power seems to be diminishing. Also, he has been at best an average defender. There's no way he makes $15 million next season and it appears his career is on its downside. Desppite that, there are teams that could use him for even his current skills. That said, it's unlikely to be the Cubs, unless he likes the team so much he'll take a huge paycut to stay in Wrigley.

By the way, Kinzer is also the agent for Geovany Soto, Starlin Castro and John Grabow. Kinzer told the Tribune he doesn't expect the Cubs to jettison Soto or Castro (duh), but it's possible Grabow could be on the market when the trade market begins to heat up. 

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Posted on: June 1, 2011 4:12 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 5:43 pm
 

Ramirez takes ball to face, leaves game

By Matt Snyder

Aramis Ramirez was struck in the face with a batted ball and was immediately forced to leave the Cubs game against the Astros Wednesday afternoon.

The play came in the top of the seventh inning. Chris Johnson hit a hot shot down the third-base line and Ramirez attempted to make a diving stop. On the last hop before it reached Ramirez, the ball skipped back a bit and ended up hitting Ramirez in the face. It appeared to be in the mouth and nose area. Ramirez laid on the ground for a bit before popping up with the help of trainer Mark O'Neal. He walked off the field under his own power with a towel over his mouth. He suffered a lip laceration, will need stitches and his status is day to day, Cubs.com reports on Twitter.

The incident comes less than two weeks after the Cubs lost center fielder Marlon Byrd to several facial fractures after he was hit in the face with a pitch. Fortunately, the Ramirez injury is far less serious.

Watch a video of the play on MLB.com

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Category: MLB
Posted on: May 27, 2011 9:58 am
Edited on: May 27, 2011 11:28 am
 

Pepper: 'Walk-off' was supposed to be bad



By Matt Snyder


BASEBALL TODAY: Can the Marlins be a player in the National League East all season? Will the Brewers extend their winning streak? Danny Knobler joins Lauren Shehadi to answer those questions and more. Click on the video above to watch.

ON "WALK-OFF:" Dennis Eckersley coined the term "walk-off" during the 1988 season when he was a lights-out closer for the A's. "There's nothing like it," Eckersley said. "It's so final. And it centers strictly on you (the pitcher), unless it's a grounder between the third baseman's legs or something. Ultimately, you're the one." From there, Eck meant "walk-off" to be the pitcher -- probably the closer -- walking off the field from the pitcher's mound. It's interesting in that it's evolved into a mainstream term for the winning team. (SFgate.com)

THREE-HEADED JAYS: With Frank Francisco struggling, Blue Jays manager John Farrell has announced he'll use three closers: Francisco, Jon Rauch and Octavio Dotel. Each has different strengths and weaknesses, so it's going to be a bit of a matchup thing. (MLB.com) I understand the mentality these days is to pick on closer and stick with him, the thought process being that everyone knows his particular role. This method, however, is much more logical when you don't have a lock-down closer.

WORST POSSIBLE OUTCOME: You think you've seen a bad at-bat, at any level? Doubtful you've seen one this poor. Check out this tweet about San Diego State. Apparently they had the bases loaded and nobody out with a 3-0 count ... and popped out into a triple play. I don't think any words could really do that justice, so we'll just let it stand on its own.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: Aroldis Chapman made a Triple-A rehab outing Thursday, and he didn't have the control issues that plagued him before his DL stint. Of the 40 pitches he threw, 29 were strikes. He also struck out five batters. On the down side, he allowed five hits and three runs. (Louisville Bats Twitter) I'd still say this has to be considered a success. He's working his way back and the biggest issue pre-injury was control. If Chapman gets back to good health and is throwing strikes, he'll get guys out. His stuff is too good not to.

RANKING THE OWNERS: Jim Caple at ESPN ranked the owners of baseball, 1-30. I was most interested to see who would "win" the title of worst owner between the McCourts (Dodgers) and Fred Wilpon (Mets). It was the McCourts, which is a correct choice but really illustrates just how bad they are. One thing I found interesting was Caple spent his entire paragraph on the Yankees defending the choice (he ranked the Steinbrenners fourth). I don't blame Caple, as it seems that everyone who isn't a Yankees fan likes to freak out about the Steinbrenners and how awful they are. But the bottom line is that they demand success in the on-field product and would rather spend any profits on making the team better than pocket it. Obviously, there's a vast difference in resources, but that doesn't happen in Kansas City and Pittsburgh. Those owners have kept revenue sharing money on several occasions.

HYPING HARPER: The hype for Bryce Harper just keeps growing, and it's because he's just toying with the pitching he's seeing in Class-A Hagerstown (1.056 OPS). Remember, he's only supposed to be a senior in high school. Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus runs through a scouting report on Harper, and the power section jumps off the page. Harper gets a perfect score of 80 and the words "freakish" and "Superman" are included. Goldstein notes Mike Stanton was previously seen as the prospect most likely to hit 50 homers in a major-league season, and now that person is Harper. One word of caution, from the "makeup" category: "While it never came close to outweighing his talent, Harper's arrogant, confrontational style of play turned off many during his high school and college years. He has yet to really temper his style as a pro, which has already led to a couple of near-brawls due to a propensity to stare down opposing pitchers or gesticulate toward dugouts." (Baseball Prospectus)

WHERE DOES HE FIT? Another interesting list over at ESPN.com is the top 50 prospects of the draft era. I don't know how easy it is to compile something like this and it's gotta be completely subjective. Still, it's fun to see the names on there and remember the hype. From Shawon Dunston to Ben McDonald to Todd Van Poppel to Gregg Jefferies to, of course, Brien Taylor. Mr. Harper is on there, too, and he's pretty damn high. (ESPN Sweet Spot blog)

CONTACT HITTERS: We hear plenty of whining from fans about high-strikeout players, so let's give some props to the guys who make great contact. JunkStats put together the best hitters in terms of swing-and-miss rate (that is, the guys who don't do it often). Juan Pierre, Brett Gardner, Jamey Carroll, Denard Span and Todd Helton are the top five. The site also broke down swing-and-miss rates inside the strike zone and outside it. (JunkStats)

GREAT CAUSE: Yankees reliever David Robertson and his wife, Erin, have started a "fund to help those affected most by the devastating tornadoes that his David's hometown of Tuscaloosa, AL." (High Socks For Hope)

SORE HAMMY: Aramis Ramirez has been battling a tight left hamstring for the last few weeks. Does it have anything to do with why he's lost his power? ‘‘It does, but I don’t want to make excuses,’’ he told the Sun Times. ‘‘I feel good enough to drive the ball. I hit the ball on the line and hit the ball hard. I guess that’s a swing that I’ve got to find.’’ Well, he kind of just did make an excuse, but I'm not going to go after Ramirez. He's a stand up guy and always has been. Him hiding the injury for a few weeks shows he doesn't want to blame his lack of pop on anything else.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: March 29, 2011 4:43 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 10:02 pm
 

Possible 2011 trade candidates, obvious and not

By Matt Snyder

One of the big reasons preseason predictions are often blown to bits is the number of games played by certain players for certain teams. Major injuries, for example, but also because players end up being traded. Underachieving and overachieving teams end up becoming sellers and buyers, respectively, by the deadline.

There are going to be names already being thrown around in rumors and on fan message boards from the get-go. We'll give you five obvious names sure to appear in trade talks. Then, because it's so much more fun to throw stuff at the wall, we'll dig deeper and find 10 not-so-obvious names that could end up being traded or at least discussed. In those cases, certain things have to happen in order to clear the way for a deal, but those things can't be absolutely outlandish.

Remember, many players have no-trade clauses or are 10-and-5 guys, so every possible deal is contingent upon that. We're just making a list and enjoying it as a fun discussion point.

Let's get it on.

FIVE OBVIOUS TRADE NAMES

Michael Young, Rangers. No explanation needed, really.

Heath Bell, Padres. He wants to stay in San Diego and the Padres might want to try and keep him (without having to pay much long term, of course), but when the market for late-inning relievers gets strong in July and the Padres are well out of the race, he'll be one of the most mentioned names.

Felix Hernandez, Mariners. For now, the Mariners have sworn up and down he's never going anywhere. Even if the team is brutal again this season, it's reasonable to believe the Mariners will immediately hang up the phone any time someone like Brian Cashman says the name Felix. But if they start listening and someone is desperate enough to absolutely bowl them over, it very well might happen. He's in the obvious category because I'm sure people will not stop talking about the possibility. My initial feeling is he ends the season in Seattle, however.

Fausto Carmona, Indians. Remember CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee? Carmona is a big step down, but he's still a starting pitcher on the Indians who is not going to re-sign. He only has a club option left on his contract after 2011. When (not if) teams become desperate to add starting pitching in the race -- Yankees and Cardinals come to mind as candidates, but it could be anyone if unforeseen injuries or ineffectiveness pops up -- teams will come calling for Carmona. That is, of course, assuming he's been productive and the Indians are out of it. And you know the Indians will listen. My prediction is he's the most sure bet on here to be traded.

Grady Sizemore, Indians. Same as Carmona, except Sizemore has tons more upside and tons more downside -- due to injury woes. If he shows he's healthy and the Tribe don't inexplicably stay in the AL Central race, he's gone. Only a 2012 club option remains on his contract after this season.

10 NOT-SO-OBVIOUS NAMES


Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers. He's a free agent at the end of the year and we know about the Dodgers' money woes. As long as they aren't in the midst of the race, some team is going to want to bolster its bullpen. This one is pretty feasible, actually.

Chris Carpenter, Cardinals. As with every player's present team on this list, the Cardinals would have to fall out of contention pretty early. If they did, Carpenter has already said he's not averse to a deal. Plus, he's a free agent after the season and there's some big-name soon-to-be free agent the Cards desperately want to keep.

Francisco Cordero, Reds. Only a '12 club option remains on his contract. What if Cordero loses his closing job to Aroldis Chapman early a la Frank Francisco yielding to Neftali Feliz last year? What if the Reds fall out of contention? Easy to see a chain of events here.

Prince Fielder, Brewers. Least likely candidate on here. The Brewers would have to fall really, really far out of the race. If that did happen, yet he was having a big season, another team might pay enough for him that the Brewers couldn't refuse, especially considering he's a free agent after the season and almost certainly leaving.

Travis Hafner, Indians. He's not obvious like Sizemore and Carmona because Pronk has that pesky $13 million due to him in 2012. Of course, let's give an example of someone that might pay: Say the Yankees are five games behind the Red Sox, Jorge Posada is hurt, Jesus Montero either gets traded for pitching or isn't hitting well in the minors and none of the other spare parts (like Eric Chavez) are working. On the flip-side, Pronk is raking. Would the Yankees make that move? I think they might. His pull power from the left-side would fit well in Yankee Stadium.

Aaron Hill, Blue Jays. The Jays are building a good foundation and a Hill deal would give them some flexibility both financially and defensively. They could move top prospect Brett Lawrie back to second base -- the only position he ever played professionally prior to this spring -- and then use Jose Bautista at third or keep him in the outfield, whatever worked best moving forward with the makeup of the roster. If Hill gets off to a hot start and the Jays don't, I like this move.

Francisco Liriano, Twins. He's here because it's already been rumored and the Twins have the option -- at least for now -- to move Kevin Slowey back into the rotation. As long as the Twins are in the thick of the AL Central, though, which should be all season, I don't see it happening.

Brandon Phillips, Reds. Not as far-fetched as you might think. OK, well, the Reds have to fall far out of the race in the NL Central (which seems incredibly unlikely), but if they do, Phillips is a big candidate to be shipped. He has a club option after the season and will be 30 by the deadline. Plus, his power has declined rather significantly since his breakout 2007 campaign.

Aramis Ramirez, Cubs. It's hard to see a scenario where the Cubs would pick up Ramirez's 2012 option, so this could easily be his last season in Chicago. If he stays healthy, hits like he can and the Cubs are not in the race by mid-July, he'll definitely be available.

Jose Reyes, Mets. A free agent at the end of the year, if Reyes proves he's healthy and produces numbers while the Mets fall behind in the NL East, he's certain to be dealt.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 12:52 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 1:24 pm
 

Cubs' Silva tells his side of fight

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos SilvaTwo days after his dugout scuffle with Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Silva gave his side to reporters on Friday.

Silva said he was unaware the team had made nine errors in their first three games even before the three the team committed in the first inning of Silva's start. Silva said he said the team needed to "start making plays" and Ramirez "took it personally."

From the Chicago Tribune:

"In spring training, it's a little harder because we don't watch every single game," Silva said. "I didn't even know my team had made that many errors, either. That was a very hard inning, not only for my team or for my coaches, but for me. I was trying to do something here, and I gave up those two homers, and I came to the dugout, I tried to take it easy, to relax, to let it go.

"The only thing I said was, 'We have to start making plays here.' He took it personally. I know it was my mistake. It was my fault because you don't say anything. But he took it personally and that's what happened. We argued in the dugout, and everything stayed there."

It's far from uncommon for starters to have no idea what's going on with a team as a whole in spring, especially this early. 

Silva said he's apologized to Ramirez, but they haven't talked about it since.

Silva added, "I don't like to have problems with anyone, my teammates. That's the worst thing that can happen to you. You spend more time with these guys than your own family. That's the last thing I want. I never had any problems with my teammates."

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