Posted on: July 28, 2011 1:26 am
Looking to plug an organizational hole in center field, the Nationals have approached the Twins about a possible deal involving center fielder Denard Span, sources with knowledge of the talks confirmed to CBSSports.com Wednesday night.
The Twins want Nationals closer Drew Storen in return in a deal that could expand. The talks were first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.com.
Washington has been involved in multiple talks for a center fielder this week, including Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton and, before he was dealt to Toronto, St. Louis' Colby Rasmus. The Nationals currently are going with Roger Bernadina but really are not in love with any of their long-term candidates going forward.
Minnesota, according to one source, is not shopping Span but became interested when approached by the Nationals. The emergence of Ben Revere this season could make Span expendable.
Furthermore, the Twins, who Wednesday gained another game on Detroit with a win over Texas, now are six games back and continue to view the AL Central as a winnable division. They came into July intent on acquiring bullpen help and think they could accomplish that in a Span deal to Washington.
The Twins are looking at relief help not only this year, but for 2012. Both Joe Nathan and Matt Capps could become free agents this winter.
Minnesota holds a $12.5 million option for 2012 on Nathan, or a $2 million buyout. The Twins are not expected to pick up the option, though they could negotiate a new deal to bring Nathan back.
Meanwhile, Capps' contract is up after 2011 and he will be a free agent this winter.
Acquiring Storen not only would add late-innings depth during this summer's stretch run, it also could give the Twins a long-term solution at closer if Capps and Nathan both leave this winter.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 11:49 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 12:03 am
You bet the rumors swirling around his Tampa Bay batting helmet have gotten B.J. Upton's attention.
"Thanks for all the support on twitter - I appreciate it," he tweeted from his @BJUPTON2 account Tuesday -- presumably as Atlanta, or Cincinnati, or San Francisco phoned Rays general manager Andrew Friedman yet again.
"Now I know how my brother felt this offseason," came another tweet from Upton. "Anyone hear any good trade rumors this week? Still here!"
Matter of fact, the buzz grew louder Tuesday surrounding Upton. Several industry sources believe that the Rays, at 9 1/2 games out in the AL East, will dump Upton by Sunday's non-waiver trading deadline the same way they dumped Matt Garza and bade farewell to free agents Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Grant Balfour last winter.
Money -- the lack of it, thanks in no small part to horrible attendance in Tropicana Field -- remains a significant problem for the Rays. And it's not getting any better.
Several clubs are looking for the kind of spark that Upton (.229, 15 homers, 53 RBIs, 23 steals, terrific defense) can provide. He would fit perfectly in San Francisco, especially if the Giants fall short in their quest to obtain the Mets' Carlos Beltran. The Giants, according to sources, have interest. So, too, do the Nationals, Reds, Pirates, Braves, Cardinals and, possibly, the Phillies writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
And B.J. is right -- brother Justin, Arizona's right-fielder -- went through a similar stretch last winter.
"I've talked to him, and we laugh about it," Justin told me Tuesday afternoon. "When it comes down to it, like last winter with me, it's out of your control. You just have to do your thing, see what happens and let it be."
Difference is, Arizona is committed to Justin Upton, 23. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers made that clear last winter when he traded third baseman Mark Reynolds to Baltimore.
The Rays? Not so much with B.J., 26 -- much to Upton's chagrin.
"Obviously, he's played his whole career there and he lives there," says Justin, who said the brothers probably talk four or five times a week. "He wants to stay. It's always tough in a situation like that."
Ubaldo Jimenez to Yankees?
The Yankees appear to be in the best shape to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez if the Rockies decide to deal him, as colleague Danny Knobler writes. Here are takes from two scouts who have watched Jimenez pitch in recent days:
Scout one: "Quite frankly, he's not the same guy as he was last year. Before, when he needed to go get it, he'd hit 100 m.p.h. When I saw him in Denver, he'd reach back to muscle up and it was 95. [Atlanta's] Scott Proctor threw harder. If Ubaldo at sea level is 91, 92, 93, he's not the same guy."
Scout two: "I can't imagine Jimenez going anywhere. If he's on a real frickin' contender, he's a No. 3 right now. Something's missing."
Short hops, quick pops and backhand stops:
--Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says he thinks Friday and Saturday will be the key days when the trade market loosens up and the action begins. "There are a lot of clubs out there with scouts looking at minor league clubs right now," Towers says.
-- While you might think they're looking to replace injured shortstop Stephen Drew, Towers says he is looking for pitching, pitching and pitching. Starting and/or relief.
-- The Giants, Rangers and Phillies have scouts in Cincinnati this week watching Mets' outfielder Carlos Beltran as New York GM Sandy Alderson enters the crucial final days before making one of the more significant decisions in recent Mets history. "Beltran looks real good right now," another scout who has been watching in Cincinnati this week says. "He's looking healthy."
-- One club that has spoken with Washington say closer Drew Storen can be obtained in the right deal.
-- Rival clubs say the Angels are diving into the trade market after owner Arte Moreno, hesitant at first, now has approved additional payroll for midseason help. While the Angels are looking for a third baseman, they would send shortstop Erick Aybar to the Mets for Jose Reyes straight up and take the rest of Reyes' $9 million 2011 salary if New York would bite (the Mets won't, they're keeping Reyes). "I'd do that if I'm the Mets," one NL executive says. "They're not going to be able to re-sign him. How can you give Reyes 10 years at $20 million [each] when he's hurt all the time?
-- Minnesota doggedly has insisted it can win a weak AL Central for the past month, and Tuesday night's comeback win in Texas was a big one. If the Twins do decide to become sellers, don't be surprised if they make outfielder Delmon Young available.
-- Well, in a weak market for starting pitchers, look who's coming off of the disabled list to start Friday for Seattle: Erik Bedard. He'll start against Tampa Bay unless something happens between now and Friday, and you can bet the scouts will swarm Safeco Field. Bedard has not thrown more than 100 innings in a season since 2007. He's at 90 now, so look out.
-- Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey continues to draw interest and Minnesota is expected to deal him.
-- The Marlins are looking to add, not subtract, and do not intend to deal closer Leo Nunez unless blown away with an offer. Florida is moving into a new stadium next season and has not gained near the momentum they had hoped this summer.
-- About that odd timing of Milwaukee acquiring closer Francisco Rodriguez and announcing it just after the All-Star Game ended? Rodriguez's former agent Paul Kinzer had failed to submit proper paperwork for K-Rod's 10-team no-trade list -- Milwaukee was on it -- and with K-Rod having hired Scott Boras recently, Mets GM Sandy Alderson was afraid Boras would correct the oversight. That's why, once the Mets and Brewers agreed to the deal, Alderson wanted it finalized as soon as possible, afraid that if they waited even one more day, Boras would get the list in and K-Rod would have power to scotch the deal.
-- Wonder what's taking so long for the trades to happen this week? Wonder why you read some rumors that turn out to be badly off the trail? Some insight from legendary executive Pat Gillick's Hall of Fame speech on Sunday: "As a young scout I, remember hiding up in trees with binoculars so no other scout would know I was interested in a prospect. I remember the assumed names or clever tactics we all used to get an edge and throw others off the scent."
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Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, B.J. Upton, Carlos Beltran, Drew Storen, Erik Bedard, Florida Marlins, Francisco Rodriguez, Justin Upton, Kevin Slowey, Kevin Towers, Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, Pat Gillick, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals
Posted on: June 28, 2011 1:33 am
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A handful of outtakes from Davey Johnson's first day back in the manager's chair since 2000:
-- The details: Johnson, who was working as a special assistant to general manager Mike Rizzo, is signed to a consulting contract through 2013 but has agreed to manage only through the end of this season. The thinking is, if things go well, he and Rizzo will assess things and Johnson could manage in 2012 and beyond. But right now, it's just for this year for two reasons: They will see how things go and, beyond that, the Nationals must comply with the Commissioner's directive for interviewing minority candidates. In other words, they can't hire somebody long term in-season (meaning: beyond this year) without also interviewing minorities.
-- Johnson is noticeably thinner than when he managed the Dodgers (1999-2000), the Orioles (1996-1997), the Reds (1993-1995) and even the Mets (1984-1990). He's overcome health issues (a ruptured appendix that nearly killed him in 2005, and he had a catheter inserted in a vein to the heart last February to correct an arrhythmic heartbeat. That, along with taking better care of himself.
"I've had a lot better eating habits," Johnson said. "I'm a lot lighter. We have a team nutritionist. I don't expect to balloon up to 200 pounds like I did in New York and other places."
-- With Johnson managing Monday, the Nationals now have had four managers in five days: Jim Riggleman last Thursday, John McLaren on Friday, hitting coach Trent Jewett on Friday after McLaren was ejected, and Johnson on Monday. Rizzo joked that he didn't even know who managed the team after McLaren's ejection. "I think there were about three coaches running things," the GM said.
-- Another odd stat: The Nationals have had two managers resign after victories over the past five days. The Nats won Thursday, after which Riggleman quit. Then McLaren left after Sunday's win out of loyalty to Riggleman.
-- Angels manager Mike Scioscia worked with Johnson during the spring of 1999 when Scioscia was on the Dodgers' staff as the Triple-A Albuquerque manager. "He has some incredible insight," Scioscia said. "He really studies the game. He understands what's important."
-- The fact that the Nationals have won 13 of 15, and two of three since Riggleman's resignation, is something the team is carrying with pride. "It shows the character of the team," Rizzo said. "Anybody can go through the smooth and easy times. But the test of character comes with the tough times, and this team has come through that with flying colors."
-- When McLaren came into the clubhouse after managing his final game Sunday, the Nationals gave him a standing ovation.
"He's a great baseball guy," Jerry Hairston Jr. said. "We have a lot of respect for him and what he endured. People don't realize that with the manager leaves, it doesn't just affect the players. It affects the coaches. Johnny Mac has his loyalty to Riggs, and that's why he decided he needed to leave. But Mac is a tremendous baseball man."
-- Following a 4-3 loss to the Angels in his Nationals' debut, Johnson said, "It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed every minute of it. There was a little bit of everything."
He may have enjoyed it even more had he two more relievers available. Closer Drew Storen was absent, attending his grandmother's funeral in Indiana (he's expected back for Tuesday night's game here). And Tyler Clippard was unavailable because of a "tired arm."
Likes: Wow, what a performance by Jim Leyland in getting the heave-ho Monday in Detroit. The Tigers manager got a standing ovation as he left the field. Make sure you check it out here. ... Joe Torre back in the Bronx for Old-Timers' Day. ... The Dodgers may be bankrupt, but not in the hits department. They got 24 in Monday's romp in Minnesota. ... Nothing says summer like the smell of a freshly mown lawn. ... Adele's latest disc, 21. Man, that voice is smoky and soulful. ... Hot Italian pizza in Sacramento. ... The breakfast burritos and the strong, excellent coffee (and everything else) at Pipes Café in Cardiff-By-The-Sea.
Dislikes: So, what, we're going to have a team in bankruptcy every summer? The Dodgers now, the Rangers last year.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Baby I have no story to be told
-- Adele, Rolling in the Deep
Posted on: August 17, 2010 1:10 am
On a warm August evening as the kids prepare to head back to school, the Washington Nationals' just-before-the-midnight-deadline signing of outfielder Bryce Harper really wasn't as urgent as the Padres extending their lead in the NL West, the Atlanta Braves' stirring comeback win over the Dodgers or the Mets' dilemma with the outrageous behavior of closer Frankie Rodriguez.
But a couple of years from now?
Oh, you bet an otherwise non-descript summer's evening has every chance to be historic if the Nationals continue to close the talent gap on their rivals with nights like this.
One year after signing Stephen Strasburg just before the clock struck 12 -- and you've seen this summer why Strasburg is so important -- Nationals' general manager Mike Rizzo hammered out a deal with agent Scott Boras that granted Harper a major-league contract worth a guaranteed $9.9 million, according to CBSSports.com sources.
It was déjà vu in that the two chief negotiators -- Rizzo and Boras -- were the same two men who battled to the deadline with Strasburg last year.
It also is déjà vu in the importance to the Nats' franchise: Down-and-out in the years after leaving Montreal with a farm system badly in need of restocking, Washington made history in becoming the first franchise to pick first overall in two consecutive drafts.
"No one ever had the opportunity to have two No. 1 [overall] picks two years in a row," Rizzo said in a post-midnight conference call, and just before taking a celebratory shaving-cream pie in the face from club president Stan Kasten. "And to be fortunate enough to have two picks this vastly talented is extraordinary, I believe."
The Nationals intend to assign Harper to their Florida Instructional League team at the soonest possible moment and, depending on how Harper fares there, he could wind up in the Arizona Fall League this autumn. Maybe.
Either way, he'll be in spring training with the big boys next year thanks to his major-league deal, and Rizzo said the Nats believe Harper capable of being "fast-tracked" to the majors despite his tender age of 17.
The signing was no surprise; Harper worked a loophole to get out of high school early, play ball at a Nevada community college and become draft-eligible at 17. That's how badly he's been wanting to get started on his professional career.
The Nationals, meanwhile, are committed under Kasten and Rizzo to building from the ground up. We saw this with the $15.1 million deal they handed Strasburg and the $1.6 million signing bonus granted Drew Storen last year and we saw it again Monday.
In addition to the $9.9 million guaranteed Harper, the Nationals spent roughly $3.8 million on three other players: Second-rounder Sammy Solis, a left-handed pitcher from the University of San Diego; fourth-rounder A.J. Cole, a right-handed high school pitcher; and Robbie Ray, a left-handed pitcher from Tennessee.
"It means a commitment from ownership," a pleased Rizzo said. "They gave us the resources to have an impactful draft.
"We picked four players that at some time during the amateur season were [projected] to be first-round picks on Baseball America's list. They're guys we're extremely happy about. ...
"Kris Kline and Roy Clark [the Nationals' director of scouting and the vice-president of player personnel, both of whom were hired last Oct. 16 as Rizzo constructed his front office after earning the GM job earlier last summer] did an outstanding job. We knew they would. That's why they were brought here."
Posted on: June 13, 2010 8:19 pm
CLEVELAND -- Sunday was the perfect glimpse into the future for Washington, and it wasn't simply because Stephen Strasburg was nearly unhittable again.
No, the future came in the combination of Strasburg and the Nats' other first-round pick last year, Drew Storen.
Storen, who beat Strasburg to the majors by a few weeks, relieved him in the sixth inning with one out, the bases loaded and the Nationals leading 6-1 Sunday. Storen induced a pop to second from Russell Branyan and then struck out Jhonny Peralta to end the threat.
It was the first time Strasburg and Storen, the Nats' closer of the future, have formed a tag team in the majors.
It should not be the last.
"I think I've blown two no-hitters for him this year [in the minors]," Storen said, chuckling. "Not tight spots like that. Hopefully, that's the first of many to come."
Storen and Strasburg now have been teammates in the Arizona Fall League, Double-A, Triple-A and, now with the Nats.
And while Strasburg is getting about 99.9 percent of the buzz, Storen now has inherited 12 runners and has not allowed any to score.
When he left the bases loaded Sunday, it not only helped preserve Washington's victory, it helped keep Strasburg's ERA low. It's 2.13.
"I was telling him I was probably more fired up for him in his last outing than I have been for myself in any of my outings," Storen said.
Likes: Washington third-base coach Pat Listach getting razzed from the elephant-memoried fans in the stands behind him who still hold a grudge that he won the 1992 AL Rookie of the Year award, when he was playing for Milwaukee, over Kenny Lofton. "A security guy came by and said, 'You know, your Rookie of the Year award is in dispute around here,'" Listach said, chuckling. "It was a long time ago, but these fans here are good. They don't forget anything. ... Paul Hoynes' press box hawk call Sunday. It's a Friday night tradition around here with Hoynes, the long-time beat writer for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, but he was off Friday and Saturday and so Sunday was this week's makeup date. He's been doing it for the better part of three decades now. At one time on Fridays they had a press box pool as to what inning Hoynes would do it. Not sure if that's still the case, but it's one of those cool and quirky moments in baseball that you appreciate -- even if it doesn't carry the Strasburg hype. ...The crawfish etouffee and gumbo at Fat Fish Blue, a downtown Cleveland Cajun joint.
Dislikes: Come on Tom Izzo, stay put at Michigan State. You don't belong in the NBA. You're too good for the NBA.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"It's a long way from Cedar Riverside to Cedar Sinai
-- The Hold Steady, The Sweet Part of the City