Tag:Heath Bell
Posted on: August 9, 2011 2:08 am
Edited on: August 9, 2011 2:11 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Mighty Casey (Kotchman)

Casey Kotchman

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Casey Kotchman, Rays: Kotchman recently qualified for the batting title and is now second in the American League with a .341 average behind Boston's Adrian Gonzalez. But he's not here because of his two singles (though his seventh-inning single tied the game at 1), it's because of his final plate appearance of the 2-1 victory over the Royals -- leading off the ninth inning with a walk-off homer, his seventh of the season, second in the last two days and third in the last six games.

Shane Victorino, Phillies: It's a good thing for the Phillies that Shane Victorino appealed his suspension. Because of the appeal, Victorino was able to play Monday night against the Dodgers and he made the most of his opportunity, doubling twice and adding a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Phillies' 5-3 victory. He scored three times against the team that drafted him in 1999 but allowed him to be drafted twice in the Rule 5 draft -- first by San Diego in 2002 and then against in 2004 by the Phillies.

Charlie Morton, Pirates: Morton threw eight shutout innings, allowing six hits and three walks, while striking out four as the Pirates snapped their 10-game losing streak with a 5-0 victory over the Giants


Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks: Just a half-game out of first place going into the series against baseball's worst team, Hudson may have been feeling a little too confident before Monday's outing against Houston. The Diamondbacks' right-hander allowed five first-inning runs and two more in the second, falling to 11-8. In his shortest outing of the season, Hudson lasted just three innings, allowing seven runs (four earned) on 11 hits.

Heath Bell, Padres: The All-Star closer came into the game in the ninth with a two-run lead. All-Star closers are supposed to close those types of games, especially against a team so beat up by injures as the Mets. But Bell allowed four singles in the ninth inning to the Mets' Jason Pridie, Justin Turner, David Wright and Lucas Duda to score three runs and give the Mets a 9-8 victory.

Josh Bell, Orioles: Baltimore's third baseman was charged with an error in the sixth inning of the Orioles' game against the White Sox, but it was a play he should have made that didn't get ruled an error that he really regretted. With a runner on second and two outs in the eighth inning, Bell had a shot at Alex Rios' smash but the ball went under his glove and into left field, allowing the eventual winning run to score in Chicago's 7-6 victory.

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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 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)

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


Posted on: August 1, 2011 9:44 am
 

Pepper: Pelfrey finds sinker; Buchholz finished

Pelfrey

By Evan Brunell

SINKING: Mike Pelfrey thinks he has his sinker back and is hoping to reclaims some optimism during a season where Pelfrey crumbled under the weight of being considered an ace, regressing from a 3.66 ERA in 204 innings last night to a 4.55 mark to date.

"Mike takes such pride in what he does," pitching coach Warthen told the New York Daily News. "I see a guy who was forcing his pitches instead of throwing them."

Pelfrey, for his part, believes that mechanics were an issue. The right-hander's bread and butter has been his sinker, but that lost effectiveness when he altered his arm slot to make his secondary pitches more effective. While Pelfrey isn't scrapping his arm slot, he did say he has to make sure to get his arm out in front of his body more when he throws the sinker. Perhaps then, Pelfrey thinks, he can start racking up the numbers he produced last season even though his peripherals in both 2010 and 2011 are rather similar.

"... I've never seen anybody that can command a baseball as well as he can," Warthen added. "So when he goes out and walks three, four, five guys, I'm just baffled. It's beyond my belief that that can happen with a guy who can do the things he can with the baseball."

Pelfrey will face the Marlins on Monday night and has long struggled against Florida with a career 1-7 record and 5.25 ERA in 15 starts. He'll look to use his sinker, which pushed him to a complete-game victory last time out, to walk away with a win. (New York Daily News)

TOP GMS
: You usually see a winners or losers list come out of the trade deadline, but what about a list of best GMs for those who focused on the short-term and then long-term? Unsurprisingly, contending teams dominate the first list, rebuilding the latter. (ESPN's Jim Bowden)

BAD BACK
: Clay Buchholz appears to have a stress fracture in his back, which will shut him down for the rest of the season and most likely the postseason as well. David Wright recently missed two months with a stress fracture. (CSNNE.com)

BELL EXTENSION: Now that Heath Bell is staying in San Diego, the talk can turn toward the Padres potentially signing him to a contract extension. Bell, for his part, continues to stand by his proclamation that he will accept a three-year deal with a hometown discount to stay with the Pads. (North County Times)

Dodgers DEAL: The Dodgers are considered one of the biggest losers of the trade deadline, dealing a blue-chip prospect for three organizational players. Steve Dilbeck pens a defense, saying the blue-chipper in Trayvon Robinson clearly didn't fit in Los Angeles' plans, plus they finally got the prospect catcher they coveted in Tim Federowicz. GM Ned Coletti says Federowicz could make the roster next spring training. (Los Angeles Times)

Cubs DON'T DEAL: Carlos Pena, who is expected to resign with the Cubs should Chicago miss out on Prince Fielder in free agency, was thrilled the Cubs stood pat at the trade deadline.

"I'd rather have someone really working toward our common goal, instead of (trading players) just for show," Pena said. "Our GM is not like that. He's not trying to 'look' like he's working. He's working. It's totally different than [thinking] 'I can fool the world by switching a couple pieces here,' and it really looks like he's making moves, making changes. When in reality it's just all for show.

"He's not like that. He's doing something that's going to mean something at the end of it all, something substantial, and we're going to reap the benefits. I'd rather have that. We put all our heads together, all our energy together, and personally, I'm excited about the possibility of me being part of that team. Even with our record at this point, with our difficulties, I can say the same thing. I'm excited about what's coming."

Sorry, Carlos. Hendry still messed up. (Chicago Tribune)

THAT'S NICE: That's the reaction of columnist Dejan Kovacevic on the Pirates' haul at the trade deadline, bringing in Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick. Unfortunately, they may be arriving aboard a sinking ship as Pittsburgh's pitching regresses. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

BEHIND THE SCENES
: Here's a quick look behind the scenes of the Francisco Rodriguez trade that sent the Mets closer to Milwaukee. K-Rod requested that his vesting option for 2012 be waived so the Mets were free to make baseball decisions about Rodriguez's usage. Alderson used that information to convince other teams the closer would void the option, which is exactly what happened once the righty moved to Milwaukee. (New York Times)

LOOKING FORWARD: Manager Eric Wedge won't let the Mariners get complacent the rest of the way, even if the trades made at the deadline deleted two strong pitchers from the staff and clearly set Seattle back this season. "What we're not going to do is spin our wheels," Wedge said. (MLB.com)

TOP DH: One of the best DHs in baseball history is Frank Thomas, who wasn't afraid to proclaim David Ortiz an all-time great at the position. Also, Thomas is a believer that DH gets a bum rap when it comes to Hall of Fame voting and perception of the position. "You ask any DH in the league how tough it is to sit there and pinch hit four times a day and put up monster numbers,” he said. (Boston Herald)

OPTION VESTS: Bobby Abreu's option for 2011 vested with his 433rd plate appearance of the season, reaching the milestone in the ninth inning Sunday against the Tigers. Abreu is now tied to Los Angeles for one more season at $9 million.

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Posted on: July 31, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Yankees join Rangers, Phils, Cards in Bell talks

By Scott Miller

With the top-shelf starting pitchers off the market, the Yankees contacted the Padres about closer Heath Bell on Sunday morning just hours before the deadline, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The Yankees' last-minute entrance into the Bell derby is not surprising: Having failed to get Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez and the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda, and if they find no other satisfactory starter, the Yankees are expected to fortify their bullpen today. It's what they did last winter after failing to acquire Cliff Lee on the free agent market. Then, they signed free agent closer Rafael Soriano.

The Yankees were one of at least four clubs continuing to call the Padres about Bell on Sunday morning, according to CBSSports.com sources. The Rangers, Phillies and Cardinals continue to talk with San Diego, though to varying degrees.

"They're stalling," one rival source with knowledge of the talks said Sunday morning.

"They aren't being fair," said another.

Clearly, the Padres are taking the Bell talks up to the very last minute while seeking as big of a return as they can get.

All along, Padres sources have insisted that they will keep Bell if they do not get a deal they like, based on the compensatory draft picks they expect to get if they lose him as a free agent this winter. Because Bell will be a Type A free agent, San Diego is expecting one first-round compensatory pick roughly 20 or so picks into the draft, and a sandwich pick in the 40s between the first and second round.

Texas' acquisition of Koji Uehara from Baltimore on Saturday well could have chipped away at the Padres' return for Bell. The Rangers once were viewed as both the most desperate club in the Bell talks and as one with such a deep farm system that the Padres could get a healthy package of prospects back. The latter part of that still holds true because, in sending Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis to Baltimore for Uehara, the Rangers did not dip into their minor-league pool.

Now, with Texas' need not quite so dire, the Rangers are described as not pushing quite so hard on Bell.

Meantime, a source said the Phillies continue to stay in touch on Bell and Padres set-up man Mike Adams, but after their acquisition of Hunter Pence they appear to be unmotivated shoppers in San Diego. The Phillies are building for October, and with Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in their rotation, they easily can move Roy Oswalt and/or Vance Worley into the bullpen to strengthen it.

The Cardinals, according to another source, remain in the Bell talks, but only slightly. They added pitchers Edwin Jackson and two relievers from Toronto the other day and shortstop Rafael Furcal trade became official Sunday morning.

Bell certainly makes sense for the Yankees, especially because earlier this month he said he would be fine with working as a set-up man for a contender down the stretch this season, as long as he returns to closing in 2012. The Yankees, of course, have Mariano Rivera for the ninth innings, but Bell could help them significantly shorten games by teaming with Soriano and All-Star David Robertson to take care of the seventh and eighth innings.

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Posted on: July 29, 2011 10:29 pm
 

Padres, Rangers find no middle ground on Bell

By Scott Miller 

The Padres have vowed they will not deal closer Heath Bell for anything less than a highly attractive return, and heading into the final hours toward the trade deadline, they're putting the Rangers to that test.

The Padres and Rangers continue to discuss Bell, sources with knowledge of the talks told CBSSports.com, though those discussions did not advance much Friday from where they were a day earlier. The Padres' price has not come down, and Texas' offer has not increased.

Even at that, however, Bell still may be the Rangers' player to lose (if there is such a thing as "losing" a player you've never had): St. Louis continues to stay involved, according to sources, but only on the "fringe." And the Angels, who are said to be looking to boost their bullpen, currently are not involved.

That isn't to say the Angels or other clubs could not jump into the talks Saturday or sometime before Sunday's 4 p.m. EDT deadline. But as of now, the Rangers remain the biggest presence at the trade table, and they and the Padres continue to engage in a staredown.

According to CBSSports.com sources, the Padres are asking a three-player return for Bell, which surely could be adjusted down to two players if Texas produces the right two players. The Padres watched left-handed pitcher Robbie Erlin's last start for Double-A Frisco and are believed interested in him. A few other key names in the Texas system: Martin Perez, a left-hander pitching at Triple-A Round Rock, Frisco right-handers Tanner Scheppers and Joe Wieland, and shortstop Jurickson Profar, 18, currently playing at Class A Hickory.

Bell, who collected his 30th save on Thursday, owns a 2.34 ERA and said of a trade, "It's going to happen."

He predicted: "It probably will be down to the wire."

That's the way it looks now. Texas is intent on improving its bullpen: Its 4.46 ERA is fourth-highest in the AL and the Rangers' 15 blown saves were tied for the third-highest. And as highly regarded as closer Neftali Feliz is, Rangers manager Ron Washington said the other day that he would like to see "a little more fire" from the closer.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels traveled to Toronto for this weekend's series with the Blue Jays, and several of his key advisers are with him as they sort through final offers and final moves between now and Sunday's deadline.

If the Padres elect to hold on to Bell and he leaves as a free agent this winter, they would receive two compensatory draft picks for him, the first one likely 20-something picks into the draft and the other in the 40s.

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 5:38 pm
 

Thursday afternoon rumor roundup

By C. Trent Rosecrans

It appears the Padres' Heath Bell may be the next big name off the trade board. CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller writes the talks are heating up, but there's still plenty of other trade rumors out there, so here we go:

• The Red Sox are looking at starting pitching, but they are telling team's they're focused on a right-handed-hitting outfielder, CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler tweeted.

• Knobler also reports the Tigers are down to three options for a starter -- Hiroki Kuroda, Aaron Harang and Jeremy Guthrie.

• Have the Red Sox and Mariners matched up for a deal? FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reports the Mariners had two scouts watching the Red Sox's Triple-A team on Wednesday and another eyeing the Double-A team. The Red Sox are "all over" left-hander Erik Bedard, a source told Rosenthal. Boston could also be interested in right-hander Doug Fister or closer Brandon League, too.

• Bell expects to be a Ranger by Friday. Why? His parents are flying in from Texas on Thursday to spend 10 days with his family in San Diego, Bell joked to reporters after Wednesday night's game. Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune also says the Braves, Indians and Reds are the most interested in Ryan Ludwick, but you may want to cross the Indians off the list after they acquired Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs on Thursday. Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweets that the Philles are also interested.

• After Wednesday's loss to the Rockies, Kuroda -- who has a no-trade clause -- told reporters, "My honest feeling is that I can't fathom wearing another uniform [other] than the Dodgers uniform right now." Still, MLB.com's Ken Gurick writes the Indians, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Tigers are still making a push for the right-hander. 

• The Brewers are interested in the Dodgers' Rafael Furcal and Jamey Carroll, but the Dodgers will only trade one of the two, Rosenthal writes. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark said the Giants have talked to Los Angeles about Furcal.

• La Valle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune says the Twins aren't looking to deal Denard Span, but notes the Nationals may be interested in Ben Revere or prospects Joe Benson and Aaron Hicks.

The rumor on Wednesday was that the teams were considering a Span for Drew Storen trade, but MLB.com's Bill Ladson cites a "baseball source" as saying the Nationals wouldn't do that deal.

• The Twins are looking for bullpen help, FoxSports.com's Tracy Ringolsby writes, and could be targeting the Rockies. Colorado could deal right-handers Rafael Betancourt, Matt Lindstrom and Matt Belisle, and could even give up closer Huston Street for the right price. The Rockies would be interested in Minnesota's Kevin Slowey.

• Rangers manager Ron Washington reiterates his call for bullpen help. The team is apparently interested in Bell and Leo Nunez, with Robbie Erlin and Chris Davis being dangled.

• The Phillies have given up on getting Houston's Hunter Pence, Heyman tweets. The Braves are the last team in on Pence, he said.

• The Mariners will be busy selling off pieces between now and Sunday's deadline, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes.

• The Cardinals are focusing on middle-infield help, Rosenthal tweets, as shortstop Ryan Theriot struggles.

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 1:58 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 4:32 pm
 

Bell talks continue, Rangers balk at high price

By Scott Miller 

What we know right now is that the Rangers and Padres have spent significant time on the telephone over the past 24 hours with Texas taking a hard run at acquiring closer Heath Bell.

But while talks have been significant, substantive, pick your word, the potential deal continued to just sit there Thursday while the Rangers balked at the Padres' asking price, sources with knowledge of the talks told CBSSports.com.

The Padres, according to sources, are asking a three-player return for Bell, a price Texas is not eager to pay. Whether Texas' pause could open the door for St. Louis, the Los Angeles Angels or another suitor to move in is unclear. The Rangers remain very interested in Bell, according to sources, and talks are said to be ongoing -- though, as of early afternoon Thursday in San Diego, they were not hot.

San Diego had a scout watching Texas pitching prospect Robbie Erlin at Double-A Frisco the other night. Erlin, Texas' third-round pick in the 2009 draft, is 5-2 with a 4.32 ERA in 10 starts this season, with 61 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings.

The Rangers and Padres have had "good talks" over the past 24 hours, one source said, though Thursday's cooling is an indication that if there is to be a deal reached, it likely will not happen before Friday. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels is said to be traveling with the Rangers to Toronto for this weekend's series and further trade deadline discussions.

Texas has settled on bullpen help as its top priority, and manager Ron Washington lately has become disenchanted with closer Neftali Feliz, saying publicly the other day that he wants to see "a little more fire" from the closer.

"I just don't see the urgency," Washington said. "I'm not saying it's not there, but he's not exuding urgency."

Bell, tied for third in the NL with 29 saves and a three-time All-Star, is full of energy, and his presence -- or that of another reliever like him -- probably would jack up Feliz a little bit.

The Rangers are said to be honed in on Bell, and indications are that they do not believe the Padres are going to trade set-up man Mike Adams.

One Padres source said the other day that the club believes Bell would sign a discounted multi-year deal in San Diego as a free agent this winter and, as such, suggested the club could keep him this summer.

Still, it's hard to see the Padres not dealing him and getting something in return, even if talks between the closer and the team would lead toward belief that they could reunite this winter.

Padres GM Jed Hoyer was not available at Thursday afternoon's Arizona-San Diego game. But on Wednesday, he told AM1090, the Padres' flagship radio, "I think we should [trade]. We don't have the talent base here that we need two have in order to be successful."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com