Posted on: July 25, 2010 9:02 pm

Oswalt market heating up

Roy Oswalt The Boston Globe 's Nick Cafardo spoke to Astros president Tal Smith, who said that Roy Oswalt's market is with three-to-four teams, and talks should especially heat up Monday.

You can bet they will now that Dan Haren is officially off the market and an Angel.

Two teams that are in on Oswalt are clear: the Cardinals and Phillies.

St. Louis would certalnly love to add Oswalt to their already-dangerous rotation, as the backend has left much to be desired. That tends to happen when Jeff Suppan occupies a rotation spot. The Cards reportedly dangled shortstop Brendan Ryan among others to Houston who was not interested. That's fortunate, as it would make no sense for Houston to deal Oswalt for anything other than top young players. The team reportedly wants them major-league ready.

Oswalt would waive his 2012 club option of $16 million being picked up if he headed to St. Louis as he owns hunting property in Illinois. He reportedly won't do this for Philadelphia, as he agreed to make the 2012 year an option as long as he received a no-trade clause. Philadelphia desperately needs Oswalt and is dangling Jayson Werth in a companion trade to get additional prospects to try to facilitate a trade, but both trade fronts haven't borne the fruit desired.

Cafardo names Minnesota as needing "Oswalt probably more than any team." Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano are very good while Scott Bakers is deceptively having a solid season, but still is not strong. Nick Blackburn was just bumped from the rotation by reliever Brian Duensing and Kevin Slowey has regressed as well. Oswalt would immediately shore up the rotation, but is Houston interested in Minnesota's major trade piece of Wilson Ramos? The 'Stros are high on internal catcher Jason Castro, so there may not be a fit there. Indeed, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports chimes in and says the Twins have not engaged Houston in talks yet.

The Astros have talked to the Dodgers who have plenty of money woes due to the pending divorce of its owners, but have just $61.4 million commited to its big-league roster, according to Cot's Contracts. If the Dodgers can find a way to fit Oswalt into the budget for 2010, they may not have difficulty incorporating him into 2011's payroll (and even 2012's). Rosenthal says the Astros would prefer either Matt Kemp or James Loney, which L.A. will not even consider.

Not considering the immensely talented Kemp is understandable, but not Loney? Loney is not a gifted fielder and while he can hit for contact, is not a thumper in the lineup. At a position such as first base, his production is easily replaced. The Dodgers definitely shouldn't let Loney stand in the way of a deal, even if they have to go with a cheap piece for the remainder of the year although potential fits could be players such as Luke Scott, who would not require an arm and a leg in a trade.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: July 24, 2010 8:15 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2010 8:15 pm

Scouts watching Oswalt won't like what they see

Roy Oswalt The Houston Chronicle reports that scouts from the Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies and Cardinals -- all connected to the pursuit for the Astros' Roy Oswalt -- were on hand for Oswalt's start Saturday against Cincinnati.

There are scouts from multiple teams at every major-league game for various purposes, so it's not usually wise to read too much into the presence of a team. But in any case, all eyes are surely on Oswalt as the trade deadline approaches. And Oswalt didn't exactly help his cause against the Reds, giving up six runs in the first three innings, including homers by Joey Votto and Ramon Hernandez. He's only given up more than six runs in a start once this season.

Meanwhile, there are indications the Astros are playing hardball on the return package for Oswalt, asking for both major-league ready players and prospects. Considering the financial commitment the acquiring team will have to make for the rest of Oswalt's contract, that's a lot to ask for any player. It's conceivable that Oswalt won't be traded at all.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: July 23, 2010 7:18 pm

Deal for Lilly looking imminent

Ted Lilly Ted Lilly may have pitched his last game for the Cubs, the Chicago Sun-Times ' Chris De Luca reports .

Citing "major-league sources" talks for the left-hander have heated up and the trade "could be completed by the end of the weekend."

De Luca reports the Mets have had the most interest in Lilly. Also interested are the Tigers, Twins, Phillies and Dodgers.

Lilly is in the final year of his contract and a free agent after the season. He has a limited no-trade clause, allowing him to veto deals to 10 teams, including the Phillies, Twins and Rays. The Mets and Tigers aren't on his list, according to FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi .

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 23, 2010 11:51 am
Edited on: July 23, 2010 11:56 am

Late-night sacking for Phillies scapegoat

Milt Thompson
"Welcome home! You're fired!"

That's what happened to Milt Thompson, who was relieved of his duties as Phillies hitting coach late Thursday night, manager Charlie Manuel waiting until after the team's charter flight from St. Louis landed in Philadelphia.

What, they were afraid maybe he'd flip out and tip over the beverage cart? Order the fish and the chicken just to stick it to the team? Unless the decision was literally made on the plane, why make the guy a "dead man flying"?

Whether Thompson (who will be replaced by former Phillies hitting coach Greg Gross) deserved to lose his job at all is a matter of debate. Between 2004, when he joined the team, and 2009, the Phillies were the only National League team to score 5,000 runs. Two of the past three years under Thompson, the Phillies have led the NL in scoring. This season they're sixth in the NL in runs, fifth in homers, 12th in batting average, ninth in OPS and 10th in walks.

To be sure, there's room for improvement for the Phillies offense, but the ability of a hitting coach to affect in-season issues (such as Jimmy Rollins failing to find his stroke after being hurt) is always overrated.

"It's definitely not Milt Thompson's fault," Manuel said in June, defending Thompson as the team went through a rough patch offensively. "He doesn't do the hitting."

Apparently since then, it has become Thompson's fault. Maybe he was doing the hitting, sneaking up to the plate disguised as Wilson Valdez.

Hitting coaches are usually the first fired in a disappointing season because a team needs a scapegoat, needs to do something just for the sake of doing something. And it almost never works.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: July 22, 2010 9:28 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:51 am

Braves eyeing Marlins' Ross

Cody Ross The Braves have "multiple special assignment scouts at Sun Life Stadium this week" to look at outfielder Cody Ross, Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports .

Ross is hitting .275/.328/.408 and hit his eighth homer of the season in the Marlins 3-2 victory over the Rockies on Thursday. He now has 47 RBI.

The Braves are headed to Florida for a weekend series with the Marlins.

The Red Sox, Phillies, Dodgers and Yankees have also inquired about Ross, who has one year left of arbitration before becoming a free agent following the 2011 season.

"Anytime you hear your name mentioned around in trade rumors, it's not a good feeling," Ross told Rodriguez. "You want to be on a team that's looking for guys to get, it's not the first time I've been in trade talks and probably won't be the last."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 22, 2010 8:09 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:27 am

Arizona needs 'A-plus' deal for Haren

Dan Harren If the Diamondbacks are going to give up Dan Haren, it's going to take an "A-plus" deal, Arizona CEO Derrick Hall tells the Arizona Republic 's Nick Piecoro .

Haren is under contract through 2012 plus a club option for 2013, so it's not as if the team needs to get rid of him right now. However, the Diamondbacks are looking to slash payroll and Haren will make $12.75 million in each of the next two seasons and the team option for 2013 is for $15.5 million with a $3.5 million buyout, so it would make more financial sense than baseball sense if he is moved.

If the Diamondbacks do move Haren, it will take pitching, Hall told reporters.

The Tigers, Yankees, Phillies, Twins and Cardinals all have had reported interest in Haren.

"Ideally what we would ask for is major-league ready pitching, be it starters and/or bullpen, and prospects," Hall said. "The volume doesn't matter. It doesn't need to be four or five or six guys, it's really about the quality."

Hall told Piecoro that it didn't have to be a player who is already in the majors, but top-flight minor-league talent would work.

Hall also said the team wants to keep either Haren or Edwin Jackson, who is signed for $8.35 million next season.

Hall said there has been interest in other Diamondbacks and nobody's untouchable -- "if you're getting enough in return, you'd have to consider."

Other Diamondbacks of interest to other teams may be reliever Chad Qualls and Aaron Heilman, both free agents after the season. Shortstop Stephen Drew is arbitration-eligible after the season and could also draw interest.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 22, 2010 7:22 pm

Twins join Oswalt talks

Roy Oswalt Since Clff Lee isn't being traded again, the trade focus has quickly zeroed-in on Houston's Roy Oswalt. The latest team to throw their hat into the ring is the Minnesota Twins, the Houston Chronicle 's Zachary Levine reports .

Levine sources "a person with knowledge of the discussions" tells him the Twins have joined the Phillies and Cardinals in pursuit of the Houston right-hander.

The question then would be if Oswalt would OK a trade to Minnesota. The conventional wisdom is Oswalt would like to go to St. Louis and other reports have said he'd turn down a trade to the White Sox or Tigers, so it's unsure if he'd give the green light to another AL Central squad.

The Twins are in the thick of the AL Central race, 2 1/2 games behind the White Sox, but the back of the rotation has struggled and the team certainly needs an upgrade. Minnesota was thought to be a favorite in the Lee sweepstakes and are certainly willing to spend money with their new ballpark.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 22, 2010 6:00 pm

Haren market heating up

Dan Haren Reports were cropping up Thursday that numerous teams are in hot pursuit of Arizona right-hander Dan Haren. The Diamondbacks started the trading season saying they wouldn't move Haren unless they were bowled over by an offer, so apparently there's some bowling going on or Arizona is lowering its demands.

Nothing has been reported as being close, but ESPN's Buster Olney says it has reached the stage where names are being exchanged and the Tigers have serious interest. FOX Sports names the Yankees, Phillies, Cardinals and Twins as other Haren suitors.

One team official told ESPN's Jayson Stark that the Diamondbacks have backed off their initial high demands.

"They're starting to get more reasonable," the person said. "Before, they were asking for two starting pitchers off your major league roster. Now they're talking prospects, so I think they've gotten realistic. I definitely think he's moving now."

Trading for Haren is a major commitment beyond just the players he would cost to acquire, as he's due at least $29 million on the remainder of his contract ($12.75 million in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons and a $3.5 million buyout for '13). And while he's been exceptionally durable and consistent in his career, Haren's 2010 numbers (7-8 with a 4.60 ERA) are less than eye-popping.

-- David Andriesen

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