Tag:White Sox
Posted on: November 17, 2011 5:29 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 6:43 pm

Would expanded playoffs change past results?

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Commissioner Bud Selig wants one more team in the playoffs as soon as the 2012 season, with the two wild card teams facing off in one game to decide which team moves on to the next round. The idea is to expand the playoffs and at the same time giving division winners an advantage over a team that doesn't win its division.

Not only does the extra team mean there's more playoffs, but the wild card teams will have to juggle their rotation to try to get their best pitcher pitch in the one-game playoff.


American League: No baseball fan will forget watching Game 162 for the Rays and Red Sox -- a once-in-a-lifetime finish to the regular season that wouldn't happen under the new format. Of course, it was there only because of the wild card -- something that many people were against when Selig first introduced it. There will still be fantastic finishes -- just not one exactly like there was this year. Not that I was expecting to see anything like that ever again. If the new format eliminates the rule barring teams from the same division playing in the first round, the first-round match ups would have been different, with the Tigers and Rangers meeting in the divisional series instead of the ALCS.

National League: The Cardinals and Braves would have faced off in the one-game playoff, with the winner going on the face the Phillies. Chris Carpenter wouldn't have had to pitch the final game of the regular season and could have been held back for the wild card game.

What would have changed? Maybe Terry Francona would still have a job, but other than that, who knows? The Cardinals wouldn't have had Carpenter for the wild card game, but if they were indeed a team of destiny, who's to say they don't go on and win the whole thing? The American League is a tossup, really, it's tough to say exactly what would have happened.


American League: The Red Sox beat out the White Sox for the second playoff spot and set up yet another Yankees-Red Sox showdown in the one-game wild card.

National League: Atlanta and San Diego would face off for the right to face the seemingly unbeatable Phillies, while the Giants and Reds would have met in the other division series.

What would have changed? Instead of facing the Yankees, the Twins would get the Rangers, but the result probably wouldn't have changed. As for the National League, San Diego was reeling at the end of the season and probably wouldn't have challenged the Braves. However, the Phillies wouldn't have played the Reds in the first round and we wouldn't have gotten Roy Halladay's no-hitter. Or maybe we would have, the Reds had the National League's best offense, so maybe the opponent didn't matter that day.


American League: Instead of just one one-game playoff in the AL, in 2009 there would have been two. Boston and Texas would have been the two wild card teams, but both teams had better records than the Twins and Tigers, who met in a one-game playoff to determine the American League Central champ.

National League: The AL East isn't the only division that can squeeze three teams into the playoffs -- the Rockies and Giants would face each other for the right to play the Dodgers in the NLDS.

What would have changed? Probably little, the Yankees and Phillies would likely face off in the World Series no matter what other teams were in the mix.


American League: The Twins would have been the extra wild card team, facing the 95-win Red Sox for the right to face the Angels

National League: The Brewers and Mets would have had to face off in the wild card game, with the winner getting the 97-win Cubs, while Philadelphia would face Los Angeles in the NLDS instead of the Cubs.

What would have changed? The Red Sox beat the Angels 3-1 in the ALDS, so it's not a stretch to see Boston burning a pitcher and still beating the Angels in that series. The Phillies likely would have gone on to the World Series, but the Cubs may have had a better shot to advance to the NLCS and break some more hearts by failing to reach the World Series.


American League: One one-game playoff not good enough for you? How about a playoff for the playoff? The 94-win Yankees would have to wait a day to see who they'd play in the wild card game, as Seattle and Detroit both finished 88-74.

National League: This time we have a pretty good idea what it would look like -- the Rockies and Padres would face off in a one-game playoff, just as they did anyway. A 13-inning thriller, the Rockies beat the Padres to advance to the NLDS. But instead of playing the Phillies in the first round, the Rockies would have faced the Diamondbacks, who had the best record in the National League with 90 wins.

What would have changed? Probably not too much -- every series was a sweep, meaning the best teams were more or less identified.

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Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:22 pm

The 2011 Anti-Managers of the Year

By Matt Snyder

Some of the best managers in baseball for 2011 were listed on ballots that were revealed Wednesday. Joe Maddon and Kirk Gibson came out on top in a completely unsurprising movement. But what about the other end of the spectrum? Who were the worst managers? We'll exclude guys who were fired during the season because they've already suffered enough. But what about the managers who kept their jobs well into September despite failing to meet preseason expectations? Let's check them out.

AL Anti-Manager of the Year candidates

Terry Francona, Red Sox. No, he wasn't fired during the season. He walked away after the season, so he's "eligible" in this fun little exercise. And with the fallout of the historic collapse we've already heard far too much about, you have to question everyone in the Red Sox organization. Francona built up a ton of credibility throughout his years at the helm in Boston and rightfully so, but in looking at just 2011, the awful September is a real black eye on his resume.

Ozzie Guillen, White Sox. He wasn't fired either. He walked away to take a new job after having a colossal disappointment of a season. The White Sox were picked by many to win the AL Central with what looked like a stacked offense and very good starting pitching. Instead, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios were albatrosses, Gordon Beckham took a step backward in his development and the back-end of the bullpen was a mess for the first several weeks of the season. There were some positives, but the negatives far outweighed those on a high-priced roster that failed to meet expectations.

Ron Gardenhire, Twins. It's hard to completely blame Gardenhire for the disaster that was the Twins' 2011 season, considering all the injuries, but, frankly, I needed a third name here. And with the Twins getting 31 games worse in one season, Gardenhire has to shoulder at least some of the load.

The pick: It's gotta be Francona with that monumental collapse. And the funny thing is, I'd hire him in a heartbeat if I was running a team with a managerial opening. He just had a bad month, along with many of his players.

NL Anti-Manager of the Year candidates

Fredi Gonzalez, Braves. His ballclub lost a double-digit lead in the NL wild card in one month. That's not always on the manager, as the offense was sputtering just as it had most of the season, but I'm placing a lot of blame on Gonzalez because the back-end of his bullpen started to falter down the stretch. All season, people had been pointing out the overuse of Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters. And all season, Gonzalez just ignored it, and continued running the duo out there, even with three-run leads. Just because the save rule says a three-run lead means a save opportunity doesn't mean you have to use your guys. What was wrong with using Scott Linebrink and George Sherrill with a three-run lead in the middle of July, for example? Plus, there were times Gonzalez used either Venters or Kimbrel with a lead bigger than three. That's just unexcusable.

Dusty Baker, Reds. The Reds got 12 games worse in a mediocre division (yes, there were two good teams, but three pretty bad ones) with very similar personnel to their division-winning team in 2010. In four seasons, Baker has only had a winning record once.

Mike Quade, Cubs. Flawed roster? Yes. Injuries? Sure. But Quade was still pretty overmatched and appeared to lose control of his locker room by July. This was coming from a guy many players endorsed prior to the season.

Jim Tracy, Rockies. The Jorge De La Rosa injury hurt, just as some underperformance from a few players, but the Rockies entered the season with far too much talent to end up a whopping 16 games under .500. Manager of the Year voting seems to always use performance versus expectations, so it's only fair the Anti-Manager does the same. Thus, Tracy's inclusion here.

The pick: Gonzalez, and I'd actually think about firing him due to the aforementioned overuse of Kimbrel and Venters. It cost his team the season. Hopefully the wear and tear doesn't alter the career paths of the young fireballers.

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 7:45 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 8:29 pm

Manager interviews finishing for Cubs, Cards, Sox

Sandy Alomar Jr.By C. Trent Rosecrans

The interviews, it seems, are done for the three managerial openings. The Cubs, Cardinals and Red Sox are all done with their first round of interviews and it appears the hirings could come relatively soon.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Cardinals' next manager will come from one of the six candidates the team interviewed. The Cardinals interviewed former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, Ryne Sandberg, third base coach Jose Oquendo, former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny, Triple-A manager Chris Maloney and White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing.

"I'm fairly confident that it will," Mozeliak told Goold when asked if the team's next manager would come from that list.

That does not mean there will not be further questions asked of any of those six, but it doesn't appear that a surprise candidate will emerge.

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer wasn't quite as definitive about his team's next manager coming from the list of four interviews that they have already conducted.

"I wouldn't guarantee that it is (the entire list), but we feel really good about the four guys we brought in," Hoyer told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "We had four very good interviews. I wouldn't rule out an additional candidate, but it's not a certainty."

The team interviewed Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. on Friday. It has also interviewed Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum and Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux.

The "additional candidate" could be Francona. Hoyer said Theo Epstein has already talked to Francona, and with the history between the two, a formal interview wouldn't be a necessity. There's also Rays manager Joe Maddon, who was the other finalist when Epstein hired Francona in Boston. Maddon's resume would certainly make an interview unnecessary, although the Cubs would have to work out a deal with the Rays for compensation -- something they've still been unable to accomplish with the Red Sox.

As far as Francona's successor in Boston, Alomar, Sveum and Mackanin have already interviewed with the Red Sox. Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo interviewed on Friday and Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont will interview on Saturday. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told reporters after Louvullo's post-interview news conference that the team had no plans on bringing in additional candidates after interviewing Lamont on Saturday. He also added that the team had not been formally turned down by another other organization when seeking permission to interview candidates.

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 2:01 pm

Closer look at all 30 closing situations

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 and Matt Snyder

It appears the first domino in closer market has fallen (at least, we're pretty sure this time), but that leaves Heath Bell and Ryan Madson as the top relievers still available. But who needs a closer? Here's a look at the closing situation for all 30 teams.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gregg is still under contract -- much to the chagrin of new general manager Dan Duquette's chagrin. Gregg will make $5.8 million in 2012, not exactly ideal for a guy with a WHIP of 1.642 last season and an ERA of 4.37 while picking up 22 saves. Jim Johnson recorded nine saves and threw just 91 innings, but doesn't exactly miss a ton of bats. The Orioles could move Johnson to the rotation.
Possibilities: Gregg, Johnson, Bell, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton.

Red Sox: Well, obviously Papelbon is gone. Papelbon was the Red Sox closer for the last six years, recording the final out of the 2007 World Series among other memories. Still, As untouchable as he was in his first four years as the closer (1.74 ERA and 0.917 WHIP from 2006-2009), he had a 3.43 ERA and 1.104 WHIP over the last two seasons. Daniel Bard is unhittable at times, but struggled in the last two months of the season (which certainly wasn't uncommon among Red Sox), posting a 6.95 ERA in 21 games in August and September.
Possibilities: Bard, Madson, Bell.

New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera. Enough said.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays let the Yankees overpay for Rafael Soriano and then picked up Kyle Farnsworth off the discard pile, signing him to a two-year, $6 million deal. In retrospect, it was genius -- Farnsworth had 25 saves with a 2.18 ERA in 2011 and the Rays will keep him another year and let someone else overpay him for 2013.

Toronto Blue Jays: Frank Francisco was the team's closer for much of 2011, but he's a free agent and the team could be looking to spend some money on a  closer.
Possibilities: Madson, Bell, Cordero, Rodriguez, Casey Janssen.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: Right-hander Sergio Santos converted 30 of 36 save opportunities, liming batters to just a .181/.282/.314 slash line and he should be in line to keep his job in 2012. If he falters, Addison Reed has a chance to take over.

Cleveland Indians: Chris Perez is on solid ground as the team's closer, picking up 35 saves in 2011.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers picked up the $9 million option on Jose Valverde.

Kansas City Royals: The Royals picked up the $6 million option on Joakim Soria and have options for 2013 and 2014.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins declined their $12.5 million option on incumbent Joe Nathan, but have expressed interest in bringing him back. Although his overall numbers -- 4.84 ERA, 1.164 WHIP, 14 saves -- weren't too impressive, he did convert all 11 of his saves in the second half of the season. Left-hander Glen Perkins had two saves in 2011 and struck out 65 batters in 61 2/3 innings. If the team doesn't sign a free agent -- or trade for someone -- Perkins would have the best shot.
Possibilities: Nathan, Perkins, Jon Rauch, Broxton.

AL West

Los Angeles Angels: Jordan Walden recorded 32 saves as a rookie and made the All-Star team. He did blow 10 saves last season, so it wouldn't be a complete shock if the team looked for an upgrade, but it's not expected, especially with tight purse strings this winter. The team could bring in a veteran for cheap that could close if Walden falters.
Possibilities: Walden, Scott Downs, Broxton, Rauch.

Oakland Athletics: Andrew Bailey is the team's closer, but a trade is always possible with Oakland.

Seattle Mariners: Brandon League had 37 saves and a 2.79 ERA in 2011.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers could be a wild card in the free agent closer market if they decided to move Neftali Feliz to the rotation. The Rangers tried that last spring but decided to keep Feliz in the bullpen. If they bring in a big-name, that would mean they believe Feliz can make the move. If not, there's still a chance of Mike Adams taking over for Feliz. Or they could bring in a low-cost veteran to have in reserve in case Feliz does work in the rotation.
Possibilities: Mike Adams, Madson, Cordero, Rauch, Broxton.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: Craig Kimbrel. Period. 

Miami Marlins: While the artist formerly known as Leo Nunez gets his name issue sorted out, the Marlins have a gaping hole at closer. The current members of their bullpen combined for four saves last season. Do the Marlins try to go with an internal option like Edward Mujica or make a splash on the free agent market (as they've been connected to several huge names already)? 
Possibilities: Nunez, Mujica, Madson, Cordero, Rodriguez, Bell.

New York Mets: If they stay internally, which is entirely possible, it looks like Bobby Parnell. But he wasn't awesome by any stretch when given save chances last season. The Mets have spent big on a free agent closer before (K-Rod), so would they be gunshy in doing so again? It's possible. But it's also possible they try to land someone like Ryan Madson. 
Possibilities: Parnell, Madson, Bell.

Philadelphia Phillies: Papelbon. 

Washington Nationals: Drew Storen closed 43 of 48 games in 2011, his first full season in the majors. One would think that would be enough to earn him at least another year on the job, but Storen's name keeps popping up in trade rumors and the Nationals have been reportedly interested in Madson. The Nats have plenty of money, so if they wanted to ink a big-name closer and deal Storen as part of a package for a center fielder (Denard Span, perhaps?), they would be able to do so. 
Possibilities: Storen, Madson, Bell, Cordero.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: It's probably going to be Carlos Marmol again, but he better get himself in gear. Not only did he blow 10 saves, but his once-astronomical strikeout rate lowered a bit in 2011 and control continues to be a serious problem. With new brass at the helm, 2011 will likely be his last chance to get things fixed. 

Cincinnati Reds: Cordero had a great four-year run with the Reds, amassing 150 saves with a 2.96 ERA, but he's a free agent now. Fireballer Aroldis Chapman is ticketed for the starting rotation and Nick Masset seems to be awfully inconsistent. The Reds don't have the money to spend in free agency, so would they make a trade for, say, Huston Street or Andrew Bailey? Seems unlikely. Either Chapman doesn't make it as a starter and sticks as closer or someone internally (23-year-old Brad Boxberger?) gets a shot. This one is totally up in the air. 
Possibilities: Cordero, Chapman, Boxberger, Bailey, Street, Broxton.

Houston Astros: Mark Melancon saved 20 games with a 2.78 ERA last season. There are far bigger problems with this team to believe they'll try hard to make a change here.

Milwaukee Brewers: John Axford and his award-winning 'stache.  

Pittsburgh Pirates: All-Star Joel Hanrahan nailed down the job last season. 

St. Louis Cardinals: Jason Motte was never officially named closer by the stubborn Tony La Russa, but he did more than enough down the stretch and in the playoffs to earn the job for 2012, closing nine of 10 saves during the Cardinals' late run and five more in the postseason. 

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: It will again be J.J. Putz with David Hernandez filling in if (when?) Putz falls injured.

Colorado Rockies: Street is reportedly on the trading block. If he's is dealt, look for Rafael Betancourt to take over. He collected eight saves with a 2.89 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning in 2011. 

Los Angeles Dodgers: Rookie Javy Guerra came on to save 21 games in 23 chances with a 2.31 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings in 2011. That's enough to have nailed down the job for the 2011 season, one would think. 

San Diego Padres: Bell is a free agent, but the Padres may just offer him arbitration, and he actually might accept it. If he does stay, the choice is obvious. If Bell leaves, there's a decent internal option in Chad Qualls. Qualls, 33, has 51 career saves. As far as free agency, if the Padres want to pay for a closer, they'll be paying for Bell. 
Possibilities: Bell, Qualls.

San Francisco: The Beard. 

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Posted on: November 10, 2011 4:38 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 9:51 pm

Five hits, misses on recent Cuban imports

By Matt Snyder

With 26-year-old Cuban star Yoennis Cespedes ready to join Major League Baseball, it's worth taking a look at some of the recent Cuban players to defect to America. Obviously, there have been lots of players in history to come to America from Cuba and the interesting twist is that not near as much is known about these players as ones from other international destinations due to the embargo. So it's often a bit of a guessing game, in conjunction with Cuban numbers (which sometimes vary) and individual team workouts. Here are five recent hits and misses on Cuban imports -- at least as things appear now.

So far, so good

Yonder Alonso, Reds. The 24-year-old slugger looks like a rising star, if the Reds can either find a defensive spot for him or trade him somewhere that he can play everyday (or trade Joey Votto and play Alonso at first?!). In only 98 plate appearances in the majors, the highly-touted prospect hit .330 with five homers, 15 RBI and a .943 OPS this past season.

Aroldis Chapman, Reds. He went through a stretch of command problems in 2011 -- in six appearances he allowed 13 walks and 11 earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings -- but was strong once again after he was recalled from the minors. We've seen the phenom hit 105 on the radar gun and the strikeout rate (90 K in 63 1/3 innings) bodes well for the success of the 23-year-old lefty moving forward. Plus, considering the aforementioned horrifying stretch of six games, Chapman still has a 3.27 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 69 appearances.

Kendrys Morales, Angels. He finished fifth in American League MVP voting in 2009 and was having another good season in 2010 before a broken leg hit the pause button on his career.

Alexei Ramirez, White Sox. In four big-league seasons, the average line for the Cuban Missile has been .279/.323/.421 with 17 homers, 71 RBI, 75 runs and 12 stolen bases. Lots of teams would take that from their shortstop.

Dayan Viciedo, White Sox. Sure, I'm banking on him blossoming at the major-league level, but Viciedo has shown good power at every stop. Last season, he hit .296 with 20 homers, 78 RBI and an .856 OPS in Triple-A. Those who have seen him in person know he's capable of some prodigious shots, too, like Mark Reynolds-level power. Considering Viciedo's only 22, there's definitely a good shot he becomes a 25-to-30-homer guy in the majors.

So far, not so good

Francisley Bueno. The 30-year-old left-handed pitcher has logged over 500 mediocre minor-league innings. His shot in the bigs lasted just 2 1/3 innings for the Braves, in which he allowed five hits and two earned runs.

Barbaro Canizares. He actually mashed in the Mexican League (Triple-A) in 2011, hitting .396/.499/.653 with 20 homers in just 83 games, so maybe he'll back. But he always hit in the minors before, too, it was getting a shot in the bigs that was a problem for Canizares. He only received 21 plate appearances for the Braves in 2009, getting just four hits (.190). He's 31 years old.

Yoslan Herrera. His major-league stint came back in 2008, when Herrera put together five unimpressive outings (9.82 ERA, 2.56 WHIP). He last pitched in the minors in 2010 for the Twins' Triple-A affiliate, putting together a 6.08 ERA in 26 2/3 innings.

Yuniesky Maya, Nationals. He's 1-4 with a 5.52 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 58 2/3 innings at the big-league level. He hasn't fared much better in Triple-A and he's now 30 years old.

Amauri Sanit, Yankees. He's good if he's facing Double-A or worse competition, but after that it's been pretty bad. Sanit has a 5.99 ERA and 1.67 WHIP in 50 Triple-A appearances and was horrible (12.86 ERA, 2.14 WHIP) in seven major-league innings this season. He's 32 and first made an appearance in the minors in 2008, so it's hard to see much changing.

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 7:54 pm

Buehrle popular on free agent market

By Matt Snyder

Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle has pitched 12 seasons for the White Sox, but he may be heading to a new address in free agency this offseason. And there's no shortage of suitors. Multiple outlets have reported that Buehrle is meeting with the Marlins Tuesday, but they aren't alone in their pursuit. According to Fox Sports, the Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees all have interest in Buehrle, while the Blue Jays are looking for starting pitching as well. The report didn't specifically say the Jays were among the Buehrle suitors, but if they need pitching they'll surely at least kick the tires.

The Yankees would greatly benefit from adding Buehrle behind CC Sabathia, and lefties fare better in Yankee Stadium. The Marlins need pitching depth and are looking to make a strong push in free agency with a new ballpark set to open. Plus, Ozzie Guillen had previously managed Buehrle in Chicago and he's now the Marlins' skipper. The Rangers likely have Buehrle in their sights in case C.J. Wilson signs elsewhere and the Red Sox, well, we know how badly they need better pitching.

Hot Stove Season
The interest in Buehrle makes sense. Not only is he a left-hander, but he's as durable as they come. He's made at least 30 starts and thrown at least 201 innings in each of the past 11 seasons. Because he doesn't rely on velocity, Buehrle's skills shouldn't deteriorate much as he ages, either. The four-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glover isn't an ace, but he'd be a strong two or three in most rotations. And while it seems like he's old since he's been around for so long, Buehrle's only 32.

We've previously passed along that Buehrle is open to any team, and it looks like he'll have plenty of choices.

Hat-tip: MLB Trade Rumors

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Posted on: November 7, 2011 3:00 pm

Monday trade sets stage for busy Hot Stove season

By Matt Snyder

Sure, Derek Lowe was dealt to the Indians in a salary dump and we've seen a few signings, but things have been pretty slow of late in Major League Baseball news. When the biggest name to sign a contract with a new team thus far is a backup first baseman/pinch-hitter (Jim Thome), it says everything you need to know about this past week in actual transactions. So forgive us for loving Melky Cabrera and Jonathan Sanchez swapping addresses. It's something, and it serves as a nice little unofficial start to the Hot Stove season.

With just one week to the general manager meetings in Milwaukee, it's time to focus on other potential trade candidates. Obviously rumors don't always come to fruition and we're shocked with non-rumored trades going down on occasion, but here are some names that either make sense or have been rumored to be on the move in the recent past.

• The White Sox's farm system is in absolute shambles and the major-league club doesn't appear ready to compete with the Tigers any time soon, so it's possible general manager Kenny Williams decides to rebuild. Since Adam Dunn and Alex Rios have no trade value, Gavin Floyd, John Danks and Carlos Quentin would be the parts most likely to move.

Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie is a free agent after the 2012 season and he could be a helpful four or five starter for a contender. He's thrown at least 190 innings in each of the past four seasons.

Hot Stove Season
• Do new Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer look to cut the sunk costs of Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano? They'd have to eat a significant portion of the remaining salaries (and for Soriano it's $54 million left on the deal), but the duo isn't helping the Cubs win in 2012. Also, Marlon Byrd only has one year left on his contract and prospect Brett Jackson will likely be ready to take over in center soon. The guess is Byrd has more value by the trade deadline in '12, though.

Rays center fielder B.J. Upton has long been rumored to be a trade candidate, and this winter it might finally happen with Desmond Jennings clearly ready to take over in center. Also, if the Rays are ready to deal a starting pitcher, Jeff Niemann is most likely.

Denard Span was rumored to be a trade candidate back in July, and the Twins could part with their center fielder to shore up the pitching staff.

We've already heard the rumors about Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado from Atlanta, but it's possible since talks fizzled with the Royals that the Braves just hold both.

• Do the Angels try to shed Alberto Callaspo and/or Maicer Izturis and then land free agent Aramis Ramirez at third? They probably would need to shed more payroll in order to do so.

• Starting pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers could easily be on the move from Houston, but the guess is the ownership situation would need to be resolved first.

• After a disappointing 2011 season, the Rockies have plenty of trade candidates. Chris Iannetta probably stays put, but Huston Street, Ian Stewart, Seth Smith and Ty Wigginton all make sense in potential deals.

Dodgers first baseman James Loney finished 2011 with a bang, which might mean it's the Dodgers last chance to get something of value in return for him. There are a few small-market matches, too, including the Indians.

• Finally, as we've already noted, the A's have put basically the entire team on the block.

So fasten your seatbelts, the action has only just begun.

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Posted on: November 4, 2011 1:46 pm

Agent: Mark Buehrle open to any team

BuehrleBy Evan Brunell

It's always been assumed that free agent starting pitcher Mark Buehrle would either return to the White Sox or bolt for his hometown Cardinals, but his agent assured Fox Sports that the left-hander is open to joining any team.

Buehrle should be in demand this winter as he is coming off his 11th straight season of at least 200 innings pitched. He doesn't have the stuff that makes him an ace, but he can chew up innings and with his sharp control, the 32-year-old will be coveted. Agent Jeff Berry is doing what he can to open up Buehrle's market and says he may even prefer to pitch in the National League.

“Mark is not going to eliminate any team from free-agent consideration,” Berry said. “But having pitched 12 years in the American League, the National League certainly will have some appeal to him. There is no DH. It’s obviously less of a hitter’s league. And Mark has had great success in his career against the National League.”

Buehrle has a career 3.32 ERA against NL teams, running up a 24-6 record in 271 innings with 164 strikeouts and 50 walks. Compare that to his career, which sports a 3.83 ERA. It's no surprise that Buehrle is more successful against the NL than AL as you can say that about virtually any pitcher. But the soft-tosser may especially be suited to the NL and if he lands in a situation where his home stadium is a pitcher's park as opposed to Chicago's launching pad in U.S. Cellular Stadium, he could be in line for some impressive seasons.

The only NL team that has been attached to Buehrle other than his hometown Cardinals are the Marlins, who are on the hunt for a starting pitcher and have as manager Ozzie Guillen, who oversaw Buehrle in Chicago for eight seasons.

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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