Posted on: July 29, 2010 11:27 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 11:54 pm

Capps supplants Rauch as Twins' closer

As reported earlier Thursday by Scott Miller of CBSSports.com, the Twins acquired Nationals closer Matt Capps in exchange for prize catching prospect Wilson Ramos.

It was initially unclear how the Twins would handle the late innings, but Kelly Thesier of MLB.com reports via Twitter that Capps will take Jon Rauch's place as closer and Rauch will set up. Manager Ron Gardenhire called Rauch to give him the news.

Rauch has 21 saves and has blown four. He has a 3.05 ERA.

-- David Andriesen

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 29, 2010 12:19 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 5:28 pm

Trade deadline profile: Adam Dunn

Leading up to Saturday's trade deadline, the MLB Facts & Rumors team takes a look at the biggest names on the trade block. Wednesday examines one of the best home-run hitters in the game, Washington's Adam Dunn.

Adam Dunn Career stats: .251/.382/.522, 339 HR, 840 RBI
2010 stats : .275/.362/.553, 23 HR, 63 RBI
Contract status: Signed a two-year, $20 million contract prior to the 2009 season with Washington. Making $12 million in 2010 and projects to be a Type-A free agent after season.

Why he's desirable
Adam Dunn can change the game with one swing as one of the most prodigious home-run hitters of the 21st century. Dunn is currently enjoying a renaissance in batting average over the last two years as well (2005-08: .245 batting average, .270 since) which makes him more attractive, although his value remains tied up in walks and home runs. He is an absolute butcher on defense, although has been minimized somewhat by a move from left field to first base.

Dunn would immediately add sock to any lineup trying to make a push for the playoffs and does so at an affordable price. Any team could also offer Dunn arbitration (and be thrilled if he picks it up). If not, they grab two top draft picks to restock their farm system with. It's rare a player comes along like Dunn who fills such a perfect need with a win/win proposition in arbitration.

Why he's available
Simply by virtue of being a free agent on a team going nowhere, Dunn has been bandied about as a trade candidate all year. Reports surfaced earlier that Dunn approached the Nats about a contract extension, but these talks have gone nowhere.

While Dunn would prefer to stay with an up-and-coming team, it seems that Washington isn't prepared to commit a four-year extension to Dunn. Just 30, the odds are that the lefty stays productive for at least a couple more years and probably longer given his "old people" skills, but it's understandable why the Nationals would be sketchy of a four-year deal. A three-year deal might be in the cards, but it's not known if Washington is interested in that scenario as well.

There is no first-base prospect banging on the door, although the Nats may be gearing up for a big financial payout to Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez after 2011.

Who is interested
The fact that Dunn is anti-DH hasn't stopped AL clubs from taking a look at the slugger. The White Sox have been hot to trot after Dunn for a while, at one point reportedly making their entire farm system available for him -- and the Nats weren't biting. You can bet GM Kenny Williams will do everything he can to integrate Dunn into the fold. There is a ready-made DH position for him to get at-bats in a ballpark that is a dream for home-run hitters.

The Yankees have also been linked to Dunn, who would pepper the right-field bleachers like nobody's business. The Rays have also checked into Dunn, who could really use his pop at DH as they scramble to keep pace with the Yankees. The Angels are seeking an upgrade, although the loss of Joel Pineiro for over a month may have adjusted their thinking on a contention window. The Giants are also hot after Dunn and may have a leg up on the competition both due to losing out on Scott Podsednik (although one argues that may be a good thing) and the appeal of being a NL team.

Adam Dunn The problem here is that Dunn is anti-DH. He does not want to DH, and there are questions around just how happy and productive he would be as a DH. Fortunately for Dunn, as an impending free agent, he can control his future after the year. For the next two months, Dunn can just deal with being the DH, and the high probability of playing in October might adjust his thinking -- Dunn's only taste of contention came when he was dealt to Arizona in 2008.

The D-Backs finished two games behind the Dodgers. Back then, Dunn said he truly enjoyed playing meaningful baseball down the stretch, although he then found himself frozen out of the free-agent market and joining a down-and-out team like Washington.

The Rangers, Rockies and Tigers have also been connected to the lefty.

Expected return
Nats GM Mike Rizzo has reportedly attached a high price to Dunn, considering Dunn just as good as Ryan Howard. (And he's not far off the mark when talking just offense.) He proposed swapping Dunn to the White Sox for Gordon Beckham, something the ChiSox rejected out of hand, telling Beckham he would not be traded.

The Nats came back with an offer of Daniel Hudson along with a prospect -- either Jordan Danks, Tyler Flowers or Brent Morel says Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago. The Nationals might be able to make the White Sox blink as the trade deadline approaches and make a swap, but it would be a tough pill to swallow. Many in the game believe Rizzo's demands will dwindle the closer the deadline is.

No names have been considered from the Yankees' end, although it wouldn't be a surprise if the Nationals asked for Ivan Nova, a similar quality pitcher to Hudson -- young and breaking into the majors. The Rays likely won't deal Jeremy Hellickson for Dunn, but Jacob McGee is a possibility.

What happens
It would be a disservice to the Nationals' future for Dunn to stay in town. Staying in town has no bearing on any possible contract extension with Washington, in addition to the fact the Nats are going nowhere. The quality of prospects being discussed for Dunn means that, at the very least, Washington should get a solid building block for the future. Washington needs to think of an actual contention window of 2012-2015, and the player acquired for Dunn has a far better chance of having an impact in those years.

The guess is that the White Sox will send Hudson along with a prospect slightly below the tier of Danks/Flowers/Morel for Dunn. Dunn won't be pleased about DHing, but will do his job, try to get Chicago into October, then run back to the NL in the offseason.

More trade deadline targets -- Jorge Cantu (trade profile ) | Scott Downs (trade profile ) | Roy Oswalt (trade profile )

-- Evan Brunell

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

Posted on: July 29, 2010 10:43 am
Edited on: July 29, 2010 11:57 am

Strasburg on DL, shut down for 10 days

Stephen Strasburg Stephen Strasburg is being shut down for 10 days and has been placed on the 15-day disabled list.

This means the righty will miss his second start Sunday after having trouble getting loose in the bullpen in advance of Tuesday's start.

The injury was described as inflammation, and the Nationals took every precaution available to them by shutting Strasburg down. Strasburg chalked up the inflammation to "hitting the wall a little bit," according to ESPN.

Manager Jim Riggleman appeared on MLB Network Radio on SIRIUS XM Thursday to say that the right-hander will be shut down for about 10 days.

"We will shut him down probably for ten days or so and get him ready for some more starts," Riggleman said.

Washington backdated Strasburg's DL assignment to July 22, the day after his last start, as expected. It gets Strasburg off the disabled list as early as August 6 -- nine days into the 10-day shut-down period. It's a smart move by Washington -- there's no reason why he shouldn't hit the disabled list if he's being shut down for 10 days.

In a corresponding move, lefty Scott Olsen was activated to start Thursday against the Braves.

Riggleman isn't concerned about a long-lasting injury, saying Strasburg will not be shut down for the rest of the season.

"All the reports are good, the MRI, the exams, everything came back negative in terms of injury," he noted. "So he’s got some basic pitching stiffness but we’re going to be very precautionary and very cautious and basically shut him down for a little while. Get him back throwing some sides and bullpens and maybe a simulated game and see how he feels and then get him back in the rotation."

According to White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, however, he wouldn't be surprised if Strasburg has shoulder issues continue to plague him -- not just for the season, but for his career.

"The real concern is what I call an upside-down arm action," Cooper told MLB Network Radio.

"I am not wishing this guy bad, but for him to be having problems right now when they are really, really watching him what are they going to see when they are trying to get 220 innings from him? He does something with his arm action that is difficult, in my mind, to pitch a whole lot of innings on."

Cooper compared Strasburg to Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, two pitchers who have had their promising major-league careers derailed by arm woes. Unfortunately for Strasburg, Cooper doesn't think anything can be done to save him and adjust his arm action, which is too difficult to pull off.

Strasburg is entering, in his words, uncharted territory. In 2010, he has thrown 109 2/3 innings total -- 2/3 of an inning more than his total for San Diego State in his final college season. This means that every pitch from now on is adding extra stress on the arm, to say nothing of 109 professional innings being far more taxing than 109 college innings.

"You are talking about a guy coming out of college, probably pitching on Friday nights, and now he has a major-league workload," Cooper added. "I guarantee you throwing pitches in the major leagues is a whole lot different than throwing pitches in college. There’s physical and mental stress that goes along with every major-league pitch."

Strasburg will not pitch more than 160 innings on the season. Given he has averaged six innings a start, that leaves roughly eight or nine starts to go. Even though Strasburg will not do so, if he takes the mound as soon as the 10 days are up, that would be August 8. Eight starts from then leaves him with a final start of September 12.

Riggleman, for one, can't wait to get him back on the mound.

"He’s just been a tremendous challenge to hitters," Riggleman said. "With all the stats and everything that have come about one of the little subtle things that gets overlooked sometimes is just, does the other team hit your guy?

"And he’s tough to hit."

-- Evan Brunell

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 29, 2010 12:31 am

Grumpy old man mocks Strasburg

Kentucky senator and Hall of Famer Jim Bunning mocked Stephen Strasburg for skipping his Tuesday start.

Politico.com has the story :
“Five-hundred twenty starts, I never refused the ball,” Bunning, a Kentucky senator who hurled a perfect game in 1964 and struck out 2,855 batters in his Major League career, told POLITICO. “What a joke!”

Bunning had taken an interest in Strasburg, who like the Kentucky senator is a fire-ball hurling right-hander. The senator has seen the Nationals ace four times and was at the ballpark Tuesday night, he said.

But he clearly didn’t like what he saw – or rather didn’t see – when the youngster didn’t take the mound.

“My arm!” Bunning sarcastically cried as he pretended to clutch his shoulder in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.
Bunning then yelled at the kids to get off his lawn.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 28, 2010 7:33 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 3:15 pm

Bautista explains his Miss Iowa comment

Miguel Batista It should be little surprise that the year's best quote comes from Washington Nationals' pitcher Miguel Batista, a published author.

After starting in the place of Stephen Strasburg, Bautista faced boos from his own home fans, but he said he understood: "Imagine if you go there to see Miss Universe and you end up having Miss Iowa, you might get those kind of boos."

Although Miss Iowa, Kateherine Connors, got some mileage out of the publicity, Bautista stood by his colorful quotation. Here's Ben Goesslin of MASN :
And Batista knew immediately he'd stirred up something.

"I did talk to my attorney, and I said, 'Look, you better send her flowers and explain exactly what I meant,'" Batista said. "People took it in a different way. But there was no offense. It was actually the other way around. I did play in Iowa (in the minors)."

Batista added: "What I meant was, the first thing you listen to is Miss Iowa, and you go, 'Oh, here we go.' And when you take a look at the woman, you go, 'Well, hold on. She might be from Iowa, but she's gorgeous.' That's what I wanted people to see is, I walk to the mound, and people start booing, and they haven't even seen me throw a pitch. It's like what I'm saying - you go to see Miss Universe, and you hear Miss Iowa. And you want to turn around until you see the woman, and you go, 'Hello!' That's actually what I meant. She is a pretty woman. Katherine Connors, she's a very beautiful woman."

It didn't end up too badly for Batista; according to the Des Moines Register, he's been extended an invitation to judge the Miss Iowa USA pageant in October.
Batista has written a book of poetry in Spanish and released a novel, The Avenger of Blood, in 2006.

Last year, Batista was nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award because in the offseason he traveled throughout the U.S. and Latin America to deliver baseball equipment, medical supplies and telling kids of the importance of education.

UPDATE : Connors will throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Friday against the Phillies as this humorous story continues.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 28, 2010 6:16 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:59 am

Strasburg's next start in doubt

<img alt="Stephen Strasburg" src="http://sports.cbsimg.net/images/mlb/photogallery/072810strasburg.jpg" style="float: right; border: 1px solid black; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" height="256" width="180" /> Stephen Strasburg's next scheduled start, Sunday against the Phillies, is in jeopardy.<br /> <br /> Strasburg will be shut down for "a couple of days" reports Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider.<br /> </a> <br /> "We don't have an update whether he's going to pitch Sunday or when he'll pitch again if not Sunday," manager Jim Riggleman said. "We're just really going to give it another day or two before we do anything like that."<br /> <br /> The Nationals would need to OK Strasburg after watching him throw on flat ground before progressing to a bullpen session.<br /> <br /> Strasburg couldn't get warm before Tuesday's start against the Braves and he told his skipper that he had similar issues in college.<br /> <br /> Riggleman was optimistic that Strasburg wouldn't be shut down for an extended period.<br /> <br /> "I think there's a way we could keep him fresh and ready to go without extending the time down where he faces major-league hitters," Riggleman said. "It wouldn't be that along a time where he was down, as opposed to what [Jason] Marquis and [Scott] Olsen and all those guys had when they went down. They had a long period of time without throwing, so they had to start over. I don't think we're at that point with Stephen."<br /> <br /> Strasburg underwent an MRI and everything came back fine. However, the Nationals' actions on Tuesday showed they're not going to take too many chances with Strasburg's arm, which is a good sign.<br /> <br /> -- C. Trent Rosecrans<br /> <em><br /> For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb</a> on Twitter.</em> <br /> <br />

Posted on: July 27, 2010 7:43 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2010 7:45 pm

Strasburg scratched as precaution

Nationals rookie star Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday night when he had trouble getting loose in the bullpen before the game. General manager Mike Rizzo told reporters the move was just a precaution and that Strasburg would be sent for an MRI and X-rays.

Miguel Batista started in Strasburg's place, and fans reportedly booed when it was announced Strasburg would not start.

Strasburg is 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 54 1/3 major league innings. The right-hander is about 50 innings shy of the limit set for him this year by the team. It doesn't sound like this is a huge reason for concern at this point, but expect the Nationals not to take any chances with their golden goose.

-- David Andriesen

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

Posted on: July 27, 2010 12:36 pm

Twins interested in Capps

Matt Capps The Twins may be worried enough about closer Jon Rauch that they're considering the Nationals' Matt Capps, according to ESPN's Tim Kurkjian.

Rauch pitched a scoreless inning on Saturday against Baltimore, but allowed a hit and a walk. In his previous two outings, he gave up two runs in each, a loss to the Indians and a win against the White Sox.

Rauch has 20 saves in 24 opportunities and a 3.22 ERA, along with 26 strikeouts to go along with nine walks in 36 1/3 innings. His WHIP is 1.376 and hitters are hitting .283/.323/.400 off of Rauch. This month, though, they're hitting .379/.472/.414 off of him and he has an ERA of 7.11.

Capps has 24 saves in 28 opportunities to go along with his 2.86 ERA. Batters are hitting .283/.317/.428 against him, along with 36 strikeouts and nine innings. While Rauch has struggled this month, Capps has three wins and two saves to go along with a 0.96 ERA and hitters are just batting .229/.270/.371 against him since July 1.

Capps is signed to a one-year deal for $3.5 million this season after being non-tendered by the Pirates and is arbitration-eligible for 2011.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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