Tag:Reds
Posted on: August 8, 2010 6:25 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2010 6:29 pm
 

Baker not removing Cordero from closer's role

Francisco Cordero Reds manager Dusty Baker doesn't want to hear any criticism of closer Francisco Cordero, who has a 4.11 ERA -- second-worst of his career, worst as a closer -- for a team struggling to stay atop the NL Central and hold off the Cardinals.

“I don’t get nervous handing him the ball,” Baker told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer after yanking Cordero Saturday when the closer gave up two runs and three walks, getting just one out in the ninth of a 4-1 lead. Nick Massett closed the game out, much to Cordero's chagrin:

I could tell he didn’t want to give me the ball. He gave me the ball. I got no problem with not wanting to do something — as long as you don’t show me up. That’s not going to happen.

He’s supposed to have problem with coming out. But I’ve got to do what I got to do to help us win. I’ve also got to stick with him enough for him not to lose confidence, not to think we lost confidence in him, because he could lose confidence in himself.

Cordero's problem this year has been walks, with his 5.7 BB/9 the third-highest in his career behind two partial seasons in 1999 and 2001, totalling 21 1/3 innings in all. All told, he has 32 walks in 50 1/3 frames.

“He has a good delivery, but like anyone else it can go south on him," pitching coach Bryan Price said of Cordero's struggles. "From my perspective — this is second time we’ve talked about it over the course of the year — he collapses his back leg and then he throws off his heel. That’s why we saw [Saturday] a lot of his pitches were getting pulled to one side of the plate. He got away form being in a good position to throw strikes. The last time it happened it was a quick adjustment.

“It’s been pretty easy for him to clean it up in the past.”

Meanwhile, Baker wasn't done defending Cordero.

"We’ve got 63 wins and he’s got 30 saves," the skipper noted. "How many other closers have that ratio of saves-to-wins? That shows you how many close games we’ve played."

Well, even though saves-to-wins is an inherently flawed ratio using two flawed statistics to begin with, let's see if Baker is spot on about how high Cordero ranks in saves-to-wins.

The answer? Not very -- out of closers with enough saves to rank in the top 15 in the majors, Cordero ranks sixth. The leaderboard:

Name Saves Wins SV/W
Joakim Soria, KC 31 47 .660
Matt Capps, WAS* 26 44 .591
Brian Wilson, SF 32 63 .508
Heath Bell, SD 31 63 .492
Leo Nunez, FLA 26 54 .482
Francisco Cordero, CIN 30 63 .476
Matt Lindstrom, HOU 22 47 .468
Rafael Soriano, TB 31 67 .463
Neftali Feliz TEX 29 64 .453
Francisco Rodriguez, NYM 24 55 .436
Kevin Gregg, TOR 25 58 .431
Jonathan Papelbon, BOS 27 63 .429
Billy Wagner, ATL 27 63 .429
Bobby Jenks, CHW 23 63 .365
Mariano Rivera, NYY 23 68 .338
*Wins and saves are only during Capps' tenure with the Nationals. Capps was traded on July 29.

The one saving grace Baker has after seeing Cordero so roundly defeated in this leaderboard, with Soria almost .2 points higher than Cordero, is that Cordero ranks fourth of teams still considered in the postseason race, although the sample size of these closers shrinks down significantly.

It's not so much about how many saves one has against how many wins. It's how used that closer has been over the season. After all, a closer's job is just as important in a tie-game in the ninth inning as it is with a one-run lead -- even moreso than a three-run gimme that Cordero, as well as other closers, grab without a sweat here and there.

Of relievers that are on the above leaderboard, Cordero is the second-most used closer with 50 1/3 innings, trailing K-Rod's 55 1/3 innings. Now that's a much better indication of how much Coco has been asked to throw.

While Cordero has been struggling, he still remains one of the team's better relievers. As Baker points out, it's hard to find lockdown closers.

Everyone wants you to go get somebody else and put them in there. Who are you going to find out there that’s better?

The fact it’s not a clean 1-2-3 ... if you put them out there soon or later something is going to happen. You can’t be getting out of it all the time. How many clean 1-2-3 save people are there in the world?

Unlike his saves-to-wins point, this one is an excellent point. Legitimate, shutdown relievers are rare. It's why there is such volatility in the position and why teams are increasingly leery of handing closers long-term contracts. Even the best can fall, as Eric Gagne once proved.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 7, 2010 12:39 pm
 

Chapman debut will have to wait

Aroldis Chapman
The anticipated major-league debut of Aroldis Chapman won't happen this weekend.

The Reds, as anticipated, put right-hander Russ Springer on the disabled list Saturday with a hip strain, but called up to take his place was right-hander Carlos Fisher. There had been speculation that the roster move might bring up Chapman, the Cuban defector the Reds signed to a huge contract in January.

Chapman has spent the entire season at Triple-A Louisville. He spent an uneven stretch in the rotation (5-5, 4.11 ERA) and was moved to the bullpen, where he has dominated (3-1, 2.61). The Reds still see him as a starter down the road, but he'll probably debut in the Reds bullpen before the season is out.

Manager Dusty Baker told reporters Fisher was called up because he could make longer appearances than Chapman, who hasn't thrown more than  two innings in his past 10 appearances.

"We needed some length," Baker said. "That's the one thing we were still missing in the bullpen when we sent Fish down. We didn't have a guy that could go three innings comfortably and a guy that could save the bullpen for the next day and the next day. That's what he gave us when he was here before."

MLB.com Reds reporter Mark Sheldon thinks an additional factor might have been the Reds' desire to make Chapman's call-up as comfortable for him as possible. The Reds are in Chicago, and Wrigley Field is a chaotic environment with a ton of media. The Reds might prefer that Chapman get acclimated in Cincinnati.

-- David Andriesen

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


Posted on: August 6, 2010 5:10 pm
 

Reds talking extension with Baker

Dusty Baker As anticipated, now that the trade deadline has passed, the Reds have turned their attention to getting a contract extension for manager Dusty Baker.

"I've been approached in the last couple days," Baker told MLB.com on Friday. "There are some things starting."

Baker is in the final year of a three-year deal. He was 152-172 in his first two seasons but is 61-48 this year, and the Reds are battling the Cardinals in a close National League Central race.

Some like to quibble with Baker's in-game management, but he's as good as they get at the biggest part of a manager's job: managing people. It makes sense for the Reds to keep him onboard with the team on the upswing.

-- David Andriesen

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

Category: MLB
Tags: Dusty Baker, Reds
 
Posted on: August 5, 2010 9:06 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2010 9:10 pm
 

Pirates manager likes Cards in NL Central race


John Russell The Pittsburgh Pirates have played back-to-back to the top two teams in the National League Central, getting swept in St. Louis and winning one of three against the Reds in Pittsburgh.

After seeing both teams up close, Pirates manager John Russell says he likes the Cardinals down the stretch. From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 's Rob Biertempfel :
"Because of the experience,” Russell said. “They’ve got a lot of guys who’ve been there and who’ve been through it. They know what to expect. They’ve got two horses in their rotation who’ve been to the playoffs and know what those games are like.”

Russell rated the teams’ bullpens as even. When it comes to bats, he gave Cards sluggers Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday an edge over the Reds’ Joey Votto and Scott Rolen. “Those two (Pujols and Holliday) have consistently shown they can put up great numbers,” Russell said.

Even with Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright anchoring the St. Louis rotation, Russell said Cincy’s group could be the better of the two.

“The five guys they run out there are pretty good,” Russell said. “The potential downfall is the two young guys — (Mike) Leake and (Travis) Wood. As they get close, how those guys react when it’s time to make a push for a playoff spot.
Maybe the best reason to like the Cardinals -- St. Louis has nine games remaining against Russell's Pirates to Cincinnati's three. Six of the remaining games between the Pirates and Cardinals are in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh travels to Cincinnati the second week of September.

The Reds are 8-5 this season against the Pirates and the Cardinals are 5-1.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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



Posted on: August 3, 2010 5:39 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2010 7:01 pm
 

Busy day for DL

Kevin Youkilis With most injuries, you never quite know how bad they are until the next day.

As for last night? It wasn't a real good night for some of baseball's better players.

As was mentioned already, Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis went to the disabled list today, and the news on that injury is a little up in the air.

Youkilis had an MRI this morning that found a torn muscle in his thumb that could require surgery. According to the Boston Globe 's Peter Abraham , doctors are uncertain about the extent of the injury and Youkilis will get a second opinion soon.

"They're searching for some answers because this is, I think, quite rare," Red Sox manager Terry Francona told Abraham and other reporters. "How it happened is a little hard to explain. … In the meantime, there's no way we're going to let him play and take a swing and hurt his career."

Francona said there's a chance that it could scar up and allow Youkilis to return after the 15 days are up.

Ryan Howard Youkilis isn't the only big-time first baseman to go to the disabled list today -- the Phillies placed Ryan Howard on the disabled list with a  sprained left ankle. The team called up John Mayberry Jr. to take his place.

Howard hurt the ankle sliding into second base in Sunday's game in Washington. He went with the team to Florida, but returned to Philadelphia on Monday to get the ankle checked out. With Howard on the DL, Jayson Werth becomes the only Phillie regular not to have visited the DL this season.

It wasn't all bad news for first basemen, as Reds manager Dusty Baker told the Cincinnati Enquirer 's John Fay that Joey Votto (wrist) will return to the lineup for Wednesday afternoon's game against the Pirates. However, the Reds did put starting shortstop Orlando Cabrera on the disabled list with a strained left oblique.

The Reds will replace him in the lineup with Paul Jansih, a superb defensive shortstop who has hit well (.270/.370/.413) in spotty playing time this season. To replace Cabrera on the roster, the Reds called up third baseman Juan Francisco.

As for Monday's most gruesome injury, test on Carlos Santana's left knee showed a high-grade strain of the LCL and hyperextension of the left knee, according to a tweet from the Cleveland Plain Dealer 's Paul Hoynes . Surgery is still a possibility for the Indians' top young player. The Indians also placed Travis Hafner on the DL and called up catcher Lou Marson and starter David Huff.

UPDATE: Hoynes has more on his blog abotu Santana's injury -- Indians trainer Lonnie Soloff says the injury isn't as bad as the Indians feared. "We do feel fortunate," Soloff said.

As for Howard, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters, including David Hale of the News Journal , that the team isn't sure how long Howard will be out.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: August 3, 2010 1:00 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2010 1:03 pm
 

Sale headed to Chicago?

Move over Mike Leake, Chris Sale may be on the way.

As impressive as Leake's complete skipping of the minor leagues was this season, an even more impressive feat would be pitching in the big leagues the same year you're drafted.

The Chicago Tribune 's Mark Gonzalez speculates the White Sox's first-round pick from June's draft could be making his debut as soon as tomorrow.

Sale has made 11 appearances in the minors, including seven at Triple-A Charlotte, where he has a 2.84 ERA with 15 strikeouts and four walks in 6 1/3 innings.

Sale was taken No. 13 overall out of Florida Gulf Coast University and signed less than two weeks following the draft. Only two of the players drafted ahead of Sale have even signed.

Gonzalez notes White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn scouted Sale two weeks ago.

The left-hander projects as a starter, but has been used in relief in the minors after he threw 103 innings in college. Coincidently, Monday the Cubs' Casey Coleman became the first-ever Florida Gulf Coast University prospect to make the big leagues. Coleman was drafted in the 15th round of the 2008 draft.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: August 2, 2010 12:33 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2010 2:20 pm
 

Chapman closer to the big leagues

Aroldis Chapman Aroldis Chapman is getting closer to the big leagues, Reds manager Walt Jocketty told the Cincinnati Enquirer 's John Erardi .

"We'll see how he is in the next couple of weeks," Jocketty said.

The Reds moved Chapman from the rotation to the bullpen in June and after a rough start, Chapman has dominated. In his last nine relief outings, Chapman hasn't surrendered an earned run. In 10 1/3 innings, he's allowed six hits, walked six and struck out 17, allowing an unearned run.

Overall, he's 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 15 appearances as a reliever, walking nine and striking out 29 in 18 2/3 innings, limiting batters to a .186 average against. In his first six outings, he allowed six earned runs in 8 1/3 innings.

The Reds still view Chapman as a starter in the future, but hope to use him out of the bullpen in a pennant race and potential playoff push, much like the Rays did with David Price in 2008.

The Reds currently have two lefties in their bullpen, Arthur Rhodes and Bill Bray. The team sent right-hander Carlos Fisher to Triple-A following Sunday's game and will call up 41-year old Russ Springer before tonight's game in Pittsburgh. Springer and Jason Isringhausen (who has given up an earned run in each of his two outings at Triple-A since signing with the team last week) are part of Jocketty's retirement home fishing for bullpen help.

The bullpen, especially the middle relief, has the Reds biggest concern through the first three months of the season, but in July, the bullpen had a 2.52 ERA, allowing 21 runs in 75 innings. In the first three months of the season, the bullpen had a 4.57 ERA.

One of the big reasons for the turnaround is that Nick Masset, who sported a 2.37 ERA last season, but had a 5.88 ERA through the first three months of the season. In July, Masset allowed just one earned run in 15 appearances with batters hitting .184 against him with 14 strikeouts and seven walks. Rookie Logan Ondrusek has allowed just two runs in 24 games since being recalled from Triple-A at the beginning of June and hasn't allowed a run in his last 17 outings, totaling 18 2/3 innings. Another rookie, Jordan Smith, has also been good with a 2.53 ERA in 18 games. He hasn't allowed a run in his last eight appearances.

A lefty out of the pen could give 40-year old Rhodes a little relief. Rhodes has appeared in a 50 games. He earned his first All-Star bid after an amazing start -- in his first 35 games of the season, Rhodes had a 0.28 ERA, giving up just one run in his first 33 innings pitch of the season with batters hitting .140/.220/.187 against him. In his last 15, Rhodes has a 5.79 ERA with batters hitting .270/.333/.568 against him in 9 1/3 innings.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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





Posted on: July 31, 2010 7:11 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2010 4:19 pm
 

Winners/losers of trading deadline

Now that the non-waiver trading deadline is past, it's time to take a look back at the winners and losers. While players aren't done switching teams and plenty more will find new zip codes on their mailing addresses in August via the waiver process, it becomes far harder to pull trades off.

Grades are relative to the team's window of contention, goals at the deadline and outcome -- not to other teams.

Angels: L.A. imported Alberto Callaspo from the Royals to plug the dike that was the third-base gaping hole, then absolutely pilfered Dan Haren away from the Diamondbacks. They promptly lost Joel Pineiro to injury, but do have a greater chance at competing this season, even as the Rangers improved themselves. For 2011 and 2012, they kept themselves right in contention to be division champions. With money coming off the books the next season and two, they should be players in free agency and now can trumpet Haren as a front-line pitcher for free agents to play with. Grade: B+

J.A. Happ Astros: The Astros did well in the idea of trading away Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt to begin the trading process. The return for Oswalt from Philadelphia met with a few raised eyebrows. The team is high on J.A. Happ (pictured, left) even though no one else is. The deal was salvaged by flipping Anthony Gose from Brett Wallace. The Lance Berkman trade was tough to swallow. They traded a face of the franchise to the Yankees, picking up salary along the way for retread prospects. This was a deal strictly about money, not about helping the team -- although it did free up a spot for Wallace. Grade: C+

Athletics: The Billy Beane-led A's did nothing at the deadline, which wasn't the wrong choice. Texas and Los Angeles made too many steps to outpace a team that was going to have a hard time keeping pace anyways. What didn't make sense was their adamant position that they wanted to keep Ben Sheets and not trade him. But whoops -- a torn flexor tendon that knocks Sheets out for about a year and causes $10 million to go down the drain in Oakland happened. Grade: D

Blue Jays: Toronto had to give up intriguing prospects Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky to ship out Alex Gonzalez to the Braves, but got back young shortstop Yunel Escobar and pitching depth in Jo-Jo Reyes. Gonzalez was a great flier for the rebuilding Jays rather than the short-term Gonzalez -- There's tons of upside with Yunel. Demerits are assessed by a reportedly high price to trade Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg or Scott Downs. None of them will help Toronto contend anytime soon, and the fact that Jesus Montero and Casey Kelly were prices for Downs is outrageous. They should have done everything they could to move Frasor, and probably could have gotten nice value for Gregg. The only defensible non-trade is Downs, who probably will be a Type-A free agent. Grade: C+

Braves: The Braves made moves for this year, but severely damaged their long-term chances in the process. Selling Yunel Escobar off for Gonzalez, Collins and Pastornicky was questionable enough, but then turned Collins, fungible reliever Jesse Chavez and outfielder Gregor Blanco. Huh? Grade: C- ... and it's not a D because they did at least improve their chances this year.

Brewers: The Brewers did nothing except try to improve their pitching and determine whether it was time to trade Prince Fielder or not. Fielder is likely a goner in the offseason or next season's trade deadline, but there's nothing wrong with hanging onto him. There wasn't much Milwaukee was in a position to do. Jim Edmonds reportedly didn't want to ship out, and past that they didn't have much in the way of valuable trade chips. Grade: N/A

Cardinals: The Cardinals brought in Jake Westbrook. That was good. They traded Ryan Ludwick. Not so good. There are hints that the Ludwick dealing was financially motivated to keep Albert Pujols in town. That's well and good, but Ludwick-to-Westbrook is largely a lateral move, even factoring in more playing time for Colby Rasmus. Grade: C

Cubs: It's tough to begin a rebuilding process once again, but Ted Lilly was a free agent so there was no overwhelming reason to keep him. Ryan Theriot has become punchless at the plate, and they upgrade with Blake DeWitt from the Dodgers anyways. Kyle Smit and Brett Wallach -- two young, minor-league pitchers -- are decent arms. They tried to deal Derrek Lee, but Lee nixed it with his no-trade clause. Can't penalize GM Jim Hendry for that. Grade: B-

Diamondbacks: The Dan Haren trade was odd, no two ways about it. Yes, Joe Saunders won quite a few games in Los Angeles, but so what? He's a No. 4 starter who has a shot at being a No. 3 by virtue of being in the NL, but that's about it. The prospects acquired were underwhelming, although the expected acquisition of Tyler Skaggs will soothe jilted D-Backs fans somewhat. Snyder was a pure cash dump -- but not indefensible. If the team's not contending, why pay a backup catcher millions? Even without receiving anyone of true value, except perhaps D.J. Carrasco, it was high time for Arizona to move on from Snyder. They won out on Edwin Jackson big time, shedding salary for an underperforming starter and getting a young, cost-controllable starter (Daniel Hudson) along with prospect David Holmberg.

Dodgers: The Dodgers gave up quite a bit for Octavio Dotel, even if Dotel is cost-controllable through 2011 on a team option. That trade may come back to bite them hard, even if they needed Dotel to challenge for the division. The Ted Lilly acquisition was nice, and if you concede that Blake DeWitt was the price for Lilly, then Ryan Theriot wasn't a bad grab either. They definitely put the pieces together to contend, but is it too little, too late? Grade: C+

Giants: San Francisco tried to bring in a bat. They really did. They tried for Adam Dunn, David DeJesus (and if he hadn't gotten hurt for K.C., might be in San Fran right now), Scott Podsednik... but nothing came together. They instead settled for two middle relievers: Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez. Giving up John Bowker and Joe Martinez for Lopez is a curious move, even if they have strong outfield depth. Jonathan Sanchez was a popular name in talks for a bat, but S.F. was understandably leery of dealing the lefty. The Ramirez trade cost them an average middle relief prospect. They'll continue mixing-and-matching on offense, and the bullpen is definitely better off for the adds. Grade: B

Jake Westbrook Indians: The Indians wanted to get rid of people they didn't want and had no need for. The millions they saved in shipping Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns off -- even without getting any players of consequence in return -- were worth it. Westbrook (pictured, right) finally was shipped out as well, and while prospect Corey Kluber isn't an exciting name, he's enough of an intriguing player that the Indians clearly came out ahead in this season's trade deadline, which was all about shedding irrelevant pieces. Would have been nice for a rebuilding team to get a good prospect, though. Grade: B

Mariners: The Mariners dealt Cliff Lee to get Justin Smoak and a bevy of prospects. That was a solid deal, even if Smoak has just been demoted to Triple-A. That was it, however. While Seattle is in a different place than most rebuilding clubs because they are contenders just struggling through an awful season (advice to GM Jack Zduriencik: bring in some bats next year for a change). Still, it's surprising they weren't more active. The reason Russ Branyan was acquired and then not flipped is... heck, I don't know. Grade: C

Marlins: The Marlins shipped off Jorge Cantu, who was playing third base. That temporary lack of depth at third hurts, although Chris Coghlan will man the hot corner once he returns from injury. It was nice to see the Marlins bring in Will Ohman to contribute out of the bullpen, however. Florida was in a tough place: a team good enough to contend, but not quite good enough to be true buyers. They essentially held serve here while saving a bit of money and importing Evan Reed from the Cantu trade, who has a chance to develop into a nice arm. Grade: B-

Mets: The Mets did nothing here, even though they would have loved to get rid of Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez and Jeff Francouer. No one was having any of it, though, and New York was adamant in not trading its top prospects. You can argue they should have loosened the purse strings a bit to bring in someone, but there was no one overwhelming that made sense for a team slipping out of the division race. A middle-of-the-rotation starter would have been a lateral move, while only a major hitter could have been considered an upgrade -- and then you're back to having to deal top prospects. One problem: their window of contention is now. Grade: C-

Nationals: The Nationals failed to trade Adam Dunn. There is zero reason why they shouldn't have. Grade: F

Orioles: The Orioles are once again a team with no plan, trading away reliever Will Ohman for a fringe major-league reliever. For a squad headed to one of the worst finishes in team history, why exactly they weren't more aggressive sellers is baffling. Ty Wigginton is still on this team... why? The one saving grace is shipping Miguel Tejada off for Wynn Pelzer, who might turn into quite a relief arm. Grade: D+

Ryan Ludwick Padres: I think this Jed Hoyer guy is going to end up a nice GM. The Miguel Tejada trade was OK -- nothing special, but didn't exactly cost much either and the Padres had a real need for someone with decent pop who can play the infield. The Ryan Ludwick (pictured, right) trade was incredible -- he immediately becomes the team's second-best hitter, trading away no one of consequence. Grade: B+

Phillies: The Phillies gave up J.A. Happ and two far-away prospects for Roy Oswalt, emphatically closing the book on the idiotic idea to trade Cliff Lee in the offseason. It would have been nice if they could have imported a utility player like Ty Wigginton or Willie Bloomquist for the stretch run, as Chase Utley isn't exactly on the verge of returning and the depth on the bench is thin. However, after the initial trade for Lee and later the Oswalt deal, the Phillies are near tapped out on money and prospects. Bottom line: they did what they could. Grade: B+

Pirates: The Bucs were quiet then exploded in a frenzy, acquiring Chris Snyder in a buy-low move that saw them give up absolutely no one of consequence . Ryan Church is a backup outfielder, D.J. Carrasco is a solid middle reliever and not much else and backup infielder Bobby Crosby. If he plays full-time, Snyder has a real chance to reclaim the value that made Arizona sign him to a contract extension in the first place -- which 'Zona will help pay. Pittsburgh then shipped out a lefty reliever best used against just lefties for a swingman in Joe Martinez and a solid outfielder who can give them years of cheap production, even if he never morphs into a starting regular. The Octavio Dotel trade to L.A was sublime , getting a viable starter who could end up a strong reliever and one of the Dodgers' best prospects in Andrew Lambo. Grade: A

Rangers: Boy howdy, was Texas busy. They bit the bullet to bring in Cliff Lee, which instantly made it viable World Series contenders, then continued to supplement with Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman. Obviously, the Rangers are going for it this year and it's hard to fault them when they have such a strong team. It hurts to lose Smoak, but there are questions about his long-term success anyways, and first-base is not exactly impossible a void to fill. Cantu and Guzman cost them a few average prospects, ones that can easily be mortgaged for a chance like this to win a ring. Grade: A

Rays: Tampa Bay brought in a reliever with an ERA over 8, and that was it. (Okay, so Chad Qualls has a chance to be a solid reliever for the team.) The team desperately needs a thumper, although Matt Joyce is currently making everyone smile since being recalled from Triple-A. Tampa is in an interesting position: able to take on payroll for a playoff push, but which is slashing payroll to around $60 million next year. Adam Dunn would have been a great fit, but Tampa can't concede future seasons just for one "win-now" year -- that would be irresponsible. Grade: C+

Red Sox: The Red Sox were largely quiet until the very end, when they shipped off Ramon Ramirez to San Francisco for an average middle-relief prospect. This trade was more about opening space for intriguing names at Triple-A. The team then struck for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, long coveted by the team, for an average first-base prospect and intriguing, but raw, Class A arm. They were unable to make anything come together to supplement the major-league roster, but figure to be active in waiver trading. For a team falling out of the race, besieged by injuries, it was probably prudent not to do anything drastic and instead build until next year while integrating its returning players and seeing who pops up in August. Grade: C

Reds: Cincy is in the hunt for the division but may have benefited by seeing the Cardinals trade away Ryan Ludwick. They have Aroldis Chapman presumably coming up to help the bullpen shortly and no overwhelming holes. Making a trade would have smacked of making a deal for deal's sake. It would not be surprising to learn that they shot high with their targets and couldn't make anything come together. They could stand to add a middle reliever, but also have Aaron Harang and Homer Bailey on the recovery trail. Staying pat was probably smart. Grade: B

Rockies: The Rockies couldn't make anything happen despite a team falling out of the race which had a really good shot at the division. They couldn't trade Brad Hawpe with Todd Helton's struggles. When Troy Tulowitzki went on the disabled list two months ago, it was very disappointing that Colorado decided to stand pat and see how the team played without Tulowitzki to determine whether to be buyers or sellers. They were already planning to buy to help the team with Tulowitzki, so it should be no surprise Colorado found itself out of the race. They should have done more. Grade: D

Rick Ankiel Royals: It's not often there are good things to say about the Royals, but there's a time for everything. Kansas City did fantastic in shedding Rick Ankiel (pictured, left) and Kyle Farnsworth to Atlanta. Farns is a strong middle reliever, but that's all he is while Ankiel was blocking other players with a better impact at helping K.C. contend in 2012. The return for Callaspo wasn't terrible, but not great. Grade: B-

Tigers: Detroit had far too many holes to do much of anything. They lost Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge all to the disabled list in a short span of time. They bought low on Jhonny Peralta who hammered two home-runs in his Tiger debut. You would have liked to see the Tigers be a bit more aggressive with the AL Central division crown available, but it's hard to blame them for holding onto their major prospects. There is no silver bullet available to make up for all the losses. Grade: C +

Twins: The Twins really love saves, as they traded one of the best prospects in Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps of Washington. Take the saves out, and Capps is an approaching-overpriced solid middle reliever. Even though Ramos had lost his luster somewhat, it's still a confusing move. They didn't get the starting pitcher they coveted either. Grade: D

White Sox: The ChiSox did everything they could and more to bring in Adam Dunn, but refused to sacrifice their future in Gordon Beckham. They acquired Edwin Jackson for Daniel Hudson and a minor leaguer, perhaps hoping to flip Jackson to the Nationals. That's a no-go, so while the White Sox did technically upgrade their rotation, it's unclear whether they would have done so if they knew they wouldn't get Dunn. Plus, Jackson makes $8.35 million next year. Grade: C

Yankees: The Bronx Bombers wielded their financial might to bring in Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns and Kerry Wood at minimal cost. Berkman has the most chance to make an impact, taking on the role the Yankees thought Nick Johnson would. Kearns and Wood are supplemental pieces to the bench and bullpen, respectively, and won't be a huge loss if they don't work out. Overall, they gave up next-to-nothing in talent and cash they could burn anyways. The team made an aggressive push for Cliff Lee, but fell apart. In a market with no other clear upgrade than Lee, the Yankees decided to play it safe and keep their minor-league chips. Grade: B

-- Evan Brunell

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


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