Posted on: July 28, 2011 1:45 pm
The Rangers are targeting Padres closer Heath Bell and pushing hard in trade talks today, talks that one source with knowledge of the clubs terms "good talks." But as of midday Thursday, a source said that the talks have not yet reached the point where a deal is imminent.
Talks remain fluid as the Rangers look to strengthen their bullpen and it is hard to say whether a deal can be reached yet today, or even before the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline. One Padres source said the other day that the club believes Bell would sign a discounted multi-year deal in San Diego as a free agent this winter and, as such, suggested the club could keep him this summer.
Still, it's hard to see the Padres not dealing him and getting something in return, even if talks between the closer and the team would lead toward belief that they could reunite this winter.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 8:38 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 8:49 pm
Aaron Harang does not want to be traded.
No. I mean, the Padres' starter REALLY does not want to be traded.
"You hear the rumors and hope it doesn't happen," says the native San Diegan, who signed with his hometown Padres as a free agent last winter.
His wife just gave birth to a twin son and daughter seven months ago. Three uncles, two aunts, both of his grandmothers and six cousins all live in San Diego. Two of the cousins have children the same age as Harang's oldest daughter, who will turn 5 in October. Not only do Harang's parents live in the area, so, too, do his wife's parents.
No, this guy wants nothing to do with a deal.
Yet ... with the Padres out of the race, Detroit is interested in Harang. Boston is watching. So, too, are several other clubs.
Somebody is not going to land Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez. Somebody is going to miss on the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda. After that ... well, there's just not a lot out there this summer in the starting pitcher department.
"I'd like to stay here," says Harang, who has bounced back from back, appendix and forearm issues over the past three seasons to go 9-2 with a 3.45 ERA over 17 starts this season. "I want to stay here.
"It's been nice for me. My family is here. It's a comfortable fit. I like the guys in the clubhouse.
"I feel like this is where I'm meant to be."
Over the next four days, we'll see whether the Padres feel the same way.
In his favor to stay: He and the Padres have a mutual $5 million option for 2012. That's very affordable, even for the Padres, for a starting pitcher.
Working against him: The Padres need a major influx of talent and are not exactly overloaded with trade chips. And there is no reason why they can't trade Harang while at the same time telling him they'd like to re-sign him as a free agent this winter.
Amid the uncertainty in the Padres' clubhouse, Harang has plenty of company with whom to discuss things. Closer Heath Bell, set-up man Mike Adams, reliever Chad Qualls and outfielder Ryan Ludwick all are in play at the trade deadline.
"We talk about it a little bit," Harang says. "We're all in the same boat. We don't know what's going on. Until we get told something ... we hear all the rumors. We get family and friends texting us telling us, 'We hear this' or 'We hear that.'
"There's nothing we can do to control it."
The bright side for Harang is, hey, at least he's healthy and productive. That's the whole reason he's in this fix.
"Obviously, people who are seeing me know I've been throwing well," Harang says. "I had a little fluke setback with my foot, but that had nothing to do with my arm or my back."
Posted on: July 27, 2011 7:53 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 10:08 pm
While the Rangers and Cardinals led a hard-charging pack Wednesday focused on San Diego relievers Heath Bell and Mike Adams, according to CBSSports.com sources, the Padres' asking price remains high.
One club source cautions that the Padres could reach Sunday's trade deadline without having made any deal for Bell, who has made it clear wants to remain in San Diego and who the Padres think would re-sign for a discount this winter.
That isn't diminishing enthusiasm shown on Wednesday. And there is no reason why the Padres couldn't trade Bell now, get some pieces back and then re-sign him this winter as a free agent if he'll take such a discount.
The Padres have several trade chips that have general manager Jed Hoyer working overtime: Bell, Adams, reliever Chad Qualls, starting pitcher Aaron Harang and outfielder Ryan Ludwick.
"Our guys who are being talked about are handling it well," Padres manager Bud Black says. "It's part of baseball. It's happening in 29 other clubhouses right now, too. You can't stop it.
"Our players know their focus is on our game at 7:05."
Bell is a free agent after the season, the Padres control Adams through 2012. Among the other clubs who are checking: The Phillies.
Harang and the Padres have a mutual club option for 2012 at a $5 million salary. Ludwick is a free agent this winter, while the Padres own a $6 million club option on Qualls for 2012 with a $1.05 million buyout.
"Qualls gets less out of good stuff than anybody I've ever seen in my life," one NL scout says. "His fastball has great movement, he has great sink, and yet he comes in and screws up more games than anybody I've seen."
As for Bell, sources from several rival clubs say the Padres' price right now is high. Another scout, noting that as a Type A free agent the Padres (or an acquiring club) would receive two picks for Bell -- "probably one in the 20s and then probably a compensation pick in the 40s" -- if he flees via free agency, says, "My opinion, if they think they're getting two big-time prospects for Heath, I don't see it. Because I think he's a short-term rental" before he becomes a free agent.
Cleveland, Atlanta and Pittsburgh are among those clubs who have inquired on Ludwick, who is hitting .240 with 11 homers and 62 RBI this summer.
While the Padres are expected to deal Ludwick because there is virtually no interest on either side of his returning in 2012, one source says, as with Bell, they could opt for draft picks as compensation for losing him via free agency. The Padres believe Ludwick wants at least a three-year deal via free agency and they are not interested in doing that.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 7:54 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 8:11 pm
PHOENIX -- San Diego closer Heath Bell, a man now expecting to be traded, said Monday that he would be fine working as a set-up man for a contender down the stretch this season as long as everyone understands that he will return to being a closer in 2012.
With St. Louis already believed to be hot on his trail, this revelation could spark even more interest in Texas (where Neftali Feliz is closing) and in New York (where the Yankees need help in front of Mariano Rivera).
Bell, a free agent this winter, briefly talked contract extension with the Padres this spring -- but those talks long since have been tabled.
When San Diego won 10 of 13 at one point in late June and early July, it delayed what appeared to be the inevitable. General manager Jed Hoyer certainly wasn't going to unload Bell, reliever Chad Qualls and outfielder Ryan Ludwick and lose what's left of the Padres' fan base at that point.
But a 3-7 trip to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles to close the first half has left the Padres both 12 games under .500 (40-52) and 12 games behind first-place San Francisco in the NL West.
Worse has been the manner in which the Padres have been losing. They lost 1-0 to the Dodgers on Friday night despite loading the bases with nobody out in the ninth, then they lost 1-0 to the Dodgers on Saturday despite pitching a tag-team no-hitter for 8 2/3 innings.
In fact, the Padres were swept by the Dodgers over the weekend despite holding Los Angeles to 12 hits in the three games. It was a historic weekend: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no team has held another to 12 hits while getting swept in a three-game series since 1966. Then, the White Sox won three over Washington.
"The last two or three months of the year, I'm good, I'll set up," Bell, who has 27 saves in 37 appearances, said Monday. "Because I think I showed everyone that I can close.
"But I definitely want to close next year."
Posted on: May 24, 2011 6:27 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2011 6:56 pm
Bell is a closer who isn't getting much work, and he's headed for free agency this winter. The Padres briefly broached a contract extension with him this spring, but those talks were very general and have not been revisited since camp ended.
"I love it here, and I don't want to go anywhere," says Bell, who just had a house built in the area. "But because I've beat that drum into the ground, I think people are tired of hearing it."
Because the Padres were 19-29 and last in the NL West heading into the middle game of a three-game set with St. Louis on Tuesday, the reality is that odds of a trade are increasing.
Several clubs -- including Texas, according to CBSSports.com sources -- have inquired recently about Bell. The Padres, not yet eager to pull the trigger, are in listen-only mode and, sources say, want to wait a little longer and see how things play out.
As for the Padres, barring a dramatic turnaround, there will be no reason not to deal Bell.
He's pitched in just three of the last 14 games. Petco Park, where the Padres went 45-36 last summer, has turned into their very own little shop of horrors in these post-Adrian Gonzalez days.
The Padres are 8-19 at Petco, the worst home record in the majors. Six of their nine shutouts this season have come at home. The splits bear out the carnage: In 27 home games so far, the Padres are hitting .202 with just 60 runs scored. In 21 road games, the Padres are hitting .265 with 106 runs scored.
Manager Bud Black held a stern team meeting following Sunday's loss, the finale of a three-game sweep by Seattle.
"I'll give it everything I have for the Padres until the team says otherwise," Bell says. "Until Jed [Hoyer, Padres general manager] tells me I'm no longer a San Diego Padre.
"In my own quirky head, I still think something will happen at the end of the year and I'll stay here. It's wait-and-see. But I understand the business part. We've got to play well and get some fans in here."
Likes: Boston at Cleveland meaning something for both teams in late May. ... Kyle McClellan, the Cardinals' starter who is doing a great job of stepping in for fallen mate Adam Wainwright. ... The job general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson are doing in Arizona. ... Secretariat. Caught up with it on DVD the other night. Very enjoyable. ... The Reagan Diaries. Whatever your political persuasion, it's a fascinating peek behind the Oval Office curtain. But jeez, does the man ever whine every time Nancy leaves town. ("With Nancy gone, I think this must be the loneliest place in the world."). ... The music of Treme, the great HBO show starring New Orleans (along with real actors).
Dislikes: Aw, Animal Kingdom ran second in the Preakness. There goes my interest in horse racing for the season.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Sittin' in the kitchen, a house in Macon
-- Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:14 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 11:37 pm
SAN DIEGO -- Last time baseball came this close to Osama bin Laden, it went dark for a week while the United States shook off the horror and the world regained its breath, both slowly staggering forward after 9/11.
I was in Dodger Stadium on the night baseball returned in September, 2001, and the raw emotion still resonates from a night that did what baseball does when it is at its best: It brought communities together. Coaxed smiles. Provided, for a couple of hours, a shelter from the storm.
Monday night, 24 hours after bin Laden's death, you could trace a line drive straight back to that horror and tragedy.
In Pittsburgh's clubhouse here, three ballgames played out silently on the televisions in the background before batting practice. But the television with the sound up was tuned to CNN and its news coverage. Pitcher Chris Resop talked with a teammate about Homeland Security.
Over in San Diego's clubhouse, pitcher Mat Latos hung a navy blue "USA" basketball jersey in front of his locker. For the first time on a non-Sunday, the Padres were wearing their camouflage jerseys honoring the military.
"We never take it lightly," Padres closer Heath Bell said. "But it means a little more tonight."
The game might exist in its own corner of the world, but so much of that corner is woven into the rest of life the way a baseball is stitched together by its seams. And so there was no stepping away Monday, no tuning out. Not that anyone wanted to.
Several clubs offered various forms of free tickets to games. As the Padres offered two free tickets to any active or retired military member for Monday night's game, infielder Orlando Hudson was lobbying to take that several steps forward.
"I think there should be free tickets all around the game of baseball," Hudson said. "And free tickets to the playoff games, basketball games and hockey games."
Emotions came from every angle, probably much like you encountered on a Monday unlike any we've had in a long, long time.
"I just think everybody feels like they have the pride of the United States in them today," said Bell, the Padres closer and son of a U.S. Marine. "But I don't think it should be a day of celebration.
"I don't think killing a guy is a reason to celebrate, because I don't think we should stoop to their level. After 9/11, they were jumping up and down. I don't want us to be doing the same thing. ... I'm totally behind my country, but it's hard. Half of me wanted to kill the dude, and the other half of me thinks killing is wrong.
"I was proud when I heard we gave him a proper burial. I think it was a class act by the United States.
The Pirates earlier in the day visited the Navy SEAL training base on Coronado Island, just minutes from the team hotel and Petco Park. It was a tour planned long before Sunday's historic day, and it reinforces the fact that baseball -- all sports -- is not an island unto itself.
Pittsburgh trainer Brad Henderson has been bringing small groups of Pirates to the Navy base for the past several years, since a former minor-league trainer in the Pirates' system left and went to work as a trainer for the Navy SEALS (which stands for the Navy Sea, Air and Land teams).
There is a man on base named John McTighe, who serves as a special assistant at the Navy Special Warfare Command center -- where all of the Navy SEALS report to run through their early training -- and he is a native of the Pittsburgh area. He sets up the tours when the Pirates come to town. Sometimes the players are able to shoot the Navy's guns. Monday, they went out on boats.
Anyway, a couple of years ago, McTighe invited Henderson to write letters to the other major league clubs, and now many take the same tour the Pirates do when they come to San Diego.
"It's a treat for us," Henderson said.
It's not just a one-way street. In gratitude, the Pirates -- and other clubs -- leave behind autographs and memorabilia to be auctioned off. Last year, Henderson said, these baseball items helped the Navy SEALS raise some $90,000 for the families of fallen soldiers.
With adrenalin still in the stratosphere on both sides as news tidbits continued to rocket around the globe, the feeling as Pittsburgh visited Monday was unlike any in the past.
"There was a sense of accomplishment in the air," Henderson said. "This is what those guys do. They go and look for the bad guys.
"They weren't patting themselves on the back. They completed their task, and now they've moving forward."
Shanksville, Pa., where Flight 93 crashed on that horrific day after the heroic "Let's roll" passengers overtook the hijackers, is about an hour east of Pittsburgh
"It was fun for us, knowing we were standing in the same spot where all the Navy SEALS stood," Henderson said. "Knowing that this is where they all started, including the group that got bin Laden."
Knowing that, he said, was pretty darned special.
Posted on: July 13, 2010 8:39 pm
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A few things as we get set for the 81st All-Star Game:
-- National League pitching plans: Florida's Josh Johnson and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay will follow starter Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound. After that, manager Charlie Manuel plans to review the game situation, see where the AL lineup is and go from there. With lefties Joe Mauer, Robinson Cano and Carl Crawford hitting 7-8-9, you could see one of a couple of lefty relievers, Hong-Chih Kuo or Arthur Rhodes if the situation dictates.
-- AL pitching plans were unclear as for who would follow Tampa Bay's David Price to the hill. But in Price, Texas' Cliff Lee, Boston's Jon Lester and the Yankees' Andy Pettitte, the AL is loaded with lefties. Which could mean right-handers Justin Verlander and Phil Hughes will be interspersed with them.
-- Boston's David Ortiz on the legacy of the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner: "Unbelievable. When you give a team that many dreams, that many possibilities to win, that's something you've got to respect no matter what."
-- This is how stacked the AL is: Mauer, last year's MVP, is hitting seventh. Last time he did that? "The minor leagues," Mauer said. His reaction to hitting seventh? "Where do you want to put everybody?" Mauer said. "Somebody's gotta bat down there."
-- The pressure is on Padres closer Heath Bell if he pitches late in a close game. San Diego has provided three of the past four losing pitchers: Bell last year, Chris Young in 2007 and Trevor Hoffman in 2006.
-- Atlanta's Omar Infante, the most unlikely of All-Stars, is having a ball. His favorite moments? Tuesday afternoon in NL clubhouse, and Monday watching the Home Run Derby on the field, holding his one-year-old son, taking as many photos as he could. As for the game? "It's very important," said Infante, whose Braves are in position to benefit if the NL can win home-field World Series advantage. "Everybody's psyched."
-- The turf is in good shape here in Angel Stadium. But it almost was in even better shape. The rock band U2 was scheduled to play Angel Stadium in early June, after which the contract called for new sod to be laid at Angel Stadium. Instead of a new playing surface, however ... well, Bono underwent emergency back surgery, U2 canceled its tour and the turf remains the same.
Posted on: July 12, 2010 11:31 pm
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Adrian and Heath's Excellent Adventure 2010 sure was a lot more tame than the 2009 All-Star version.
But last summer, when the Padres closed the first half in San Francisco and the game was in St. Louis, their journey turned into a fiasco.
They had a late flight out of San Francisco and were delayed on their lengthy layover in Las Vegas, which caused them to miss their connection to St. Louis. So they wound up flying into Indianapolis and renting a car.
Except, because of a convention, the rental cars were scarce and the only thing left was a van. So Gonzalez and his wife Betsy, Bell and batting practice pitcher Ray Krohn (Gonzalez was in the Home Run Derby last year) piled into the van and Gonzalez drove most of the 250 miles from Indianapolis to St. Louis. The quartet stopped for a meal at Steak 'n' Shake somewhere along the overnight journey and arrived around 10:30 Monday morning following an 18-hour trip.
"We sang, we talked ... ever seen the movie Dumb and Dumber?" Bell said. "It was that."
After the Padres beat the Rockies in Colorado on Sunday, the team chartered home. And then both Bell and Gonzalez drove the 90 miles from San Diego to Anaheim with their families.
"Hey, it wasn't that easy," Bell quipped. "We had a baby crying and three kids in the back going, 'Are we there yet?'"