Tag:Philadelphia Phillies
Posted on: September 29, 2011 12:10 am
 

Rays pass Boston, seize wild-card on wild night

This Dan Johnson character ... c'mon.

He's not real, is he?

He can't be. Because what he did on Thursday night ... again ... was beyond fiction. He stepped to the plate batting .108, with Tampa Bay's season down to its final strike ... and he did it again?

He sliced a low liner of a gloriously colorful Tampa Bay rainbow that rifled into the seats just inside the right-field foul line to push the game into the 10th.

Then Mr. Triple Play, Evan Longoria, took it from there in the 12th, smashing a game-winning homer against Yankees reliever Scott Proctor within 10 minutes of Boston blowing one, final game in Baltimore.

And just like that, Tampa Bay's in.

Just moments after St. Louis staged the greatest comeback ever when Atlanta lost, the Rays topped them.

Tampa Bay's in.

It was unreal, unbelievable and for so long for the Rays, unattainable. They trailed 7-0 by the fifth. They were still trailing 7-0 in the eighth. Then they scored six runs, then came Johnson in the ninth and. ...

Dan Johnson? The guy is like the Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus. Daniel Ryan Johnson. In his fourth season, 31 years old. He shows up once or twice a year and ... wham!

When the Rays were staging their miracle World Series run in 2008, he clobbered a huge, late-season home run against Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon in Fenway Park at a time when the young Rays were trying to believe in themselves. The homer sent the game into extra innings.

He belted a game-winning home run against Boston's Scott Atchison at Tropicana Field last August that helped the Rays' playoff bid.

He crushed two go-ahead home runs against Phil Hughes and the Yankees last September that helped pave the Rays' way to last October even more.

That should have been enough, right? I mean, who does this kind of thing? Who does he think he is, Gates Brown?

On one of the most exhilarating nights of baseball in memory, the playoff field is set.

Detroit at the Yankees and, incredibly, Tampa Bay at Texas.

And Arizona at Milwaukee and, yes, incredibly, St. Louis at Philadelphia.

Posted on: September 24, 2011 12:40 am
 

Rangers back-to-back AL West champs

Cliff Who?

Maybe if they run into the Phillies in this year's World Series the guy will return to haunt them. But on a wild Friday when the Rangers became the third team in one night to clinch a division title, a budding dynasty continued to grow without Cliff Lee.

Yes, C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando helped prove there should be no doubting the Rangers' rotation. Adding Mike Napoli and Adrian Beltre to a core featuring Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Ian Kinsler was plenty.

And in the end, after beating Seattle 5-3 and then watching the Angels lose to Oakland 3-1, the Rangers proved it once and for all.

AL West champions for a second consecutive year, and that's not the autumn wind blowing in. It's a changing of the guard.

Where once the road to the AL West title led through Anaheim, that trail is now as dusty and abandoned as some of the old California gold mining spots. Where the Angels won five of six AL West titles between 2004 and 2009, the Rangers now have gone back-to-back for the first time since 1998-1999. Clmbing the charts with a bullet, and looking to finish with a better record than AL Central champ Detroit so they can open the playoffs at home on Friday.

Apparently, losing Lee didn't gut them as badly as just about everyone but the Rangers themselves thought it would. More impressively, Texas, 14-6 so far in September, is playing as well this month as it has all season.

Posted on: August 18, 2011 3:14 pm
 

Love Letters: The Thome & Zambrano edition

Jim Thome. Carlos Zambrano. Discuss. ...

FROM: Jack M.
Re.: Thome's 600th HR, like his career, comes with class, style

I attended a charity auction in the Peoria area in the winter following the 2002 season. The organizers reached out to Thome, asking if he could attend. He said he couldn't, due to a prior commitment, but donated various autographed items to the auction. Then, on the night of the auction, he showed up unannounced about a half-hour before it began, donated a sizable check, and gave a short speech. After this, he went to the airport and flew back to his prior commitment -- being introduced as a member of the Phillies. The guy's whole life was changing, and he made time for a small auction back home. Ever since then, I root for Jim Thome -- even against my favorite teams.

I know there are those who say, bottom line, it's about what they do on the field. And that's true. But watching a class act like Thome join the 600 club sure is more fun than watching a miscreant who can barely squeeze his enlarged head through the front entrance to 600.

FROM: Jay

Greetings! The difference between the Big Zero and Jim Thome, there is a reason why I cannot support certain players. And for the Union to file a grievance? The Big Zero CLEANED OUT HIS LOCKER. One may say that was done in the Heat of the Moment but, having played COLLEGIATE baseball, do you realize just how long it takes to do that ? The Big Zero has earned his nickname, and I wish the spoiled little child well with whatever he does in life.

You must be hell on wheels at the dart board, your points are so accurate. And very magnanimous to wish Zambrano well, by the way.

FROM: Wayne A.

Scott: If you check the background of Jim Thome, I believe you will find he went through high school at Limestone H.S. in Bartonville, Ill., which is across I-474 from Peoria. Almost everyone says he is from Peoria. If I am incorrect on this matter please correct me.

I checked, and you're right. Apologies to good ol' Limestone/Bartonville. I expect to see a Paul Bunyan-like statue of Thome there one day.

FROM: Tom
Re.: After yet another Zambrano meltdown, will Cubs learn lesson?

ZOOM-brano -- the Jim Piersall of this decade. Haven't we all seen enough of this emotional infant? A bowel movement with teeth is what he is.

Oh, man ... hold on ... I'm still doubled over in laughter ... I'll get to an answer in a moment. ... hahahahahaha.

FROM: Terry F.

I don't think that Z should be on the DQ List. This isn't really about Zambrano. He is what he is. This is about the Cubs. I agree with you in that they need to pay him whatever they owe him and move on. They supported him in his first fight, which was a mistake. When the second fight occurred, or perhaps before as there were plenty of other incidents like throwing the umpire out, they should have traded him or released him. Zambrano is responsible for his own actions, but the Cubs deserve far more blame than Zambrano this time, because they knew what they were dealing with and they let it happen.

Really hard to argue against those well-reasoned points. Cubs, your move.

FROM: Dan

Scott,

Well done. Great article. However, it's not so easy cutting loose a guy making that much cabbage knowing you're NOT going to get ANYTHING in return. Are you forgetting the Cubs had two extensive injuries in their starting rotation this year? They even tried trading Carlos before the deadline. They even put him on waivers. NOBODY claimed him. Nobody wants him. The Cubs best hope is Carlos really does retire so it voids the contract. The very last thing the Cubs will do is let him go via release and by suggesting that, you don't know as much as you think you do.

Yeah, the Cubs never should have extended him in the first place. But if you remember, at the time of his extension, MANY teams would have paid top dollar for him based on his numbers. He was one of the top pitching free agents out there that year. The Cubs best solution is to do what they did. Let him sit for a month and NOT pay him. Let things cool off. See what he says in a month. If he retires? Awesome. If not? Move him to the Restricted list so he doesn't pitch again this year and try once again to move him in the offseason. If by Spring Training he's still hanging around like a snot, THEN you release him.

Cabbage. Love the term. And you're right, Zambrano is making so much cabbage even Peter Rabbit would be exquisitely jealous -- and better behaved.

FROM: Dorothy B.

He should be fired. I didn't watch all the game, but figured with that many home runs against him, he'd throw a fit and he did.

See? If you can see these things coming, why can't the Cubs?

FROM: Gary

I know he's a f------ nut, but why was he still in the game after giving up five homers?

Legitimate characterization of the Big Z(ero), and legitimate point regarding the Cubs.

FROM: Dan S.
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Giants need to fix their puny offense

Understand your column about Giants offense, but on the other hand they have three people in the ERA leaders and one at 3.5. Their game is low scoring, if they keep the opposing team in the game then they have a chance. If they had an offense like Cincy, for example, and score seven to eight runs but the pitchers give up eight or nine, what good is the high scoring offense? Sure it would take pressure off their pitchers to get four runs early.

Valid points, and we see the troubles the Reds are having. But isn't there a middle ground somewhere the Giants could find? The best argument right now is how banged up they are.

FROM: Frank

Scott,

You're right on target. As a longtime Giants fan, it's really frustrating to see such futility at the plate. Outside of maybe Sandoval and Schierholtz, all the rest are hitting well below their career avg's. Belt could be a spark...two dingers [the other day] in Florida was a good start.

The Giants need a few new Belt loops.


Likes: The season Michael Young is having for the Rangers. ... Merle Haggard's take on Texas manager Ron Washington's lovely phrase, "That's the way baseball go." It's now a Haggard song, and you can download it on iTunes. The money goes to Rangers charities. ... Modern Family. Terrific characters and snappy writing. ... Steve Earle's book I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive. Very entertaining read, with lots of colorful, skid-row characters. Let's just say one of the main characters is a junkie doctor who helped country legend Hank Williams score dope and may have been the last person to see Williams alive (fiction, this book is fiction). Earle's CD of the same name is terrific, too -- especially the track Waiting For the Sky to Fall.

Dislikes: Being a captive audience to merchants on the other side of the airport security screening and paying something like $12 for a small "breakfast" to go at Starbucks. Highway robbery is what it is. In this crappy economy and in these days in which airplanes have scrapped food, that's got to be a great business to go into: Running a food shop between the security screening and the flight gates. I imagine those people all live in mansions, with servants, eating prime rib and lobster every evening.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Kiss a little baby
"Give the world a smile
"And if you take an inch
"Give them back a mile
"'Cause if you lie like a rug
"And you don't give a damn
"You're never going to be
"As happy as a clam"

-- John Prine, It's a Big Old Goofy World
Posted on: August 12, 2011 1:50 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 1:52 pm
 

Love Letters: The Colt (not Indy Colts) edition

Waaaay behind in the mailbag department. The problem? Duh: I haven't been able to get to the Post Office to get stamps. ...

FROM: Rochelle:
Re.: Newest Phillie a perfect fit in Pence-ylvania

Great article. I think it's funny you referred to Hunter as a young colt ... because he was. He went to Arlington High School with me and we were the Colts.

I'll bet you were.

FROM: Ben

Hey Scott, guess the Yanks didn't fleece everyone when they gave up Ian Kennedy, Phil Coke and Austin Jackson for Curtis Granderson in that 3-way trade with Detroit and 'Zona. For all the crap the Yankees take about them not being able to raise pitchers, looks like Kennedy is doing great as the No. 1. of the D'Backs staff. So let me get this straight going forward so we're consistent in our analysis. When it is a young pitcher and he is in NY, he has zero time to grow and improve himself, otherwise he is an overrated NY prospect. But if he comes into his own elsewhere, then it is OK? Plus I'm assuming all the other young pitchers in other systems are allowed to be eased into the big leagues with no stupid scrutiny that the media pays to young NY players? I'm convinced that the media, not the Yankees, ruined Joba's chances at having a normal chance of becoming a frontline starter. Anywhere else, he would've been given the chance, but since it is preposterous in the media's eyes to allow the Yankees to grow their own starters, he failed.

Hey Ben, you play in New York, you pay in New York. Your points are accurate. The problem is inherent in the Yankees' $200 million payroll and in who they are: They themselves will tell you their goal every year is not simply to compete, but to win the World Series. By that self-proclaimed definition, no, the young pitchers do not get fair time to grow and develop in the Bronx. It's true.

FROM: David
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Pirates, Indians on the move, fortified by July

Scott,

Are we jumping the gun here? Cleveland is one game over .500 and Pittsburgh is two. The Sox and Yanks are not going to get worse as we head into the home stretch and the Phillies may have the best rotation ever assembled. I realize you have to keep people from all areas of the US interested in your smack, but I have to give you the NFL version of C'mon Man!!!

Fair enough, my man. You bet I was jumping the gun. When it's July and the Pirates are in first place, you jump! We'll have plenty of time in September, October (and November, December, January and beyond) to dissect the Yankees, Red Sox and everyone else.

FROM: Robert W.
Re.: With slump behind Jimenez, why would Rockies deal him?

Well, I can see you are obviously a Yankees and Red Sox hater. Why, when writing a story about a pitcher getting traded, you have to make a comment like that when the Phillies are the team that is buying the pitching? Way to go with an unbiased opinion, jackass!!!

I'm not quite sure to which comment you're referring. Lots of pithy, witty and intelligent comments leave me open to being called "jackass" by those who wish they were as creative as yours truly. My compliments, by the way, to your read of me being both a Yankees AND Red Sox hater. Most of the time, I get one of those sides accusing me of hating their team.

FROM: Doc

I don't think people give the Rockies pitchers enough credit. It's a miserable place to pitch. Curves don't curve, so you end up screwing around with your pitch selection, always fearful of the long ball. Typically N.L.pitchers coming to the A.L see their ERAs go up anywhere from 0.5 to 1.0 runs. I'll bet Jimenez injected into a pennant race will see his go down. I wish him good luck!! Seems like a good kid.

He is a good kid and Cleveland can really, really use the help.

FROM: Tony D.

Be honest. Have you seen Sabathia pitch even once this season. And I don't mean on Sports Center.

Several times. Next question?

FROM: Chuck

No-no is a stupid expression. Before ESPN had to rename everything to be cute, the universally accepted term was no-hitter. No-no comes from no hits, no runs. Ervin Santana gave up a run. He pitched a no-hitter. Pass that on to your headline writer.

Done. And good take on ESPN and cute.

Likes: Atlanta's Dan Uggla and the streak. Hope it keeps going, in case you hadn't read. ... The Braves retiring legendary manager Bobby Cox's No. 6 tonight. It was terrific seeing him in Cooperstown at the Hall of Fame induction last month. ... What a fun week with the Tigers and Cleveland and the Brewers at Cardinals. Good stuff and a great glimpse of September. ... The turnaround of the Arizona Diamondbacks. ... The Iowa straw poll this weekend. ... My Weber grill. ... Late-summer blueberries. In pancakes, on cereal, in cobbler, topping vanilla ice cream. One of life's greatest treats. ... The new one from Fountains of Wayne, Sky Full of Holes. Good stuff.

Dislikes: Seeing all the back to school sales already. No, no, no! Can't be that time already, can it?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Every day's so caffeinated
"I wish they were Golden Gated
"Fillmore couldn't feel more miles away
"So, wrap me up 'Return to sender'
"Let's forget this five-year bender
"Take me to my city by the Bay
"I never knew all that I had
"Now Alcatraz don't sound so bad
"At least they'd have a hella fine Merlot
"If I could wish upon a star
"I would hitch a cable car
"To the one place that I'll always call my home"

-- Train, Save Me, San Francisco
Posted on: August 9, 2011 2:47 pm
 

"Little pieces" add up to big things for Phillies

LOS ANGELES -- All credit to the all-world Phillies rotation. With Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels leading the way, it is pitching for a place in history.

And we've all seen the damage wreaked by a highly decorated lineup led by Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

But you don't compile baseball's best record based behind just eight or nine players. And as such, the Phillies are getting plenty of help from these easily overlooked parts in their machine:

-- Reliever Antonio Bastardo: With closer Brad Lidge on the shelf for most of the season, Bastardo has played a key, late-innings role and currently is holding opponents to a .128 batting average -- second lowest among NL relievers. His 1.49 ERA is fifth-lowest among NL relievers.

-- Starter Vance Worley: With Joe Blanton done for the year, Worley is 8-1 with a 2.35 ERA and currently has won six consecutive decisions. He's fanned 66 hitters against only 28 walks in 84 1/3 innings.

-- Infielder Michael Martinez: With third baseman Placido Polanco hurt again, it is Martinez, plucked from the Nationals as a Rule V pick last winter, who is providing steady relief. Martinez's 15 RBI during the month of July ranked third among all NL rookies, behind Atlanta's Freddie Freeman (18) and the Padres' Jesus Guzman (18).

-- Outfielder John Mayberry Jr.: Acquired from Texas in a trade in November, 2008, Mayberry, 27, continues to develop into a serviceable backup outfielder with an intriguing future. Of his past 23 hits, 17 have gone for extra bases (and overall, 52.5 percent of his major league hits, 31 of 59, have been for extra bases).

-- Infielder Wilson Valdez: He's plugged in at second base, third base and shortstop at various times this season and, in an extra-innings pinch against the Reds on May 25, became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1921 to start a game in the field and then become the winning pitcher. Though light-hitting overall, Valdez is batting .390 with runners in scoring position this season.

Shane Victorino, twice a Rule V pick himself (the Phillies took him from the Padres in 2004 after the Padres took him from the Dodgers in 2002), raves about Martinez and the "energy" he brings.

"Little pieces," Victorino says. "It always takes 25 guys. Somebody gets hurt, somebody else steps in."

Recalling when the Phillies signed pitcher Pedro Martinez for the stretch run in '09, Victorino said he was extremely wary of Martinez because of the reputation the pitcher brought as a fiery headhunter. But Martinez went 5-1 for Philadelphia in nine starts, pitched the Phillies into position to beat the Dodgers in a key NLCS game and Victorino now calls Martinez "the greatest teammate I've ever had."

"Here, it's all about winning, and winning right now," Victorino says. "If you don't care about winning, don't show up.

"We have so many superstars in here -- MVPs, Cy Young winners, All-Stars, Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers. But Martinez is no different from me because it's all about winning."

That's the way it is throughout the Phillies' clubhouse right now, an impressive culture that is steamrolling everything in its path.

Likes: With the trade deadline having passed and at least a little more free time in August, looking forward to a big date night with my wife to see Crazy, Stupid Love sometime soon. ... Lots of TV to catch up on as well: Last couple episodes of Treme, last five episodes of Friday Night Lights (that's only with trepidation, though, because it's the last season and while I can't wait to see the last few FNLs, I don't want to get through them because then one of my favorite shows in recent memory will be done, sniff, sniff) and the first few episodes of Entourage. ... Haven't gotten all the way through it yet, but I'm liking Sky Full of Holes, the new Fountains of Wayne disc.

Dislikes: I realize there are plenty of parents out there who disagree with me, but man I hate to see summer dwindle down to its last few weeks before school starts again. Summer is never, ever long enough.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Then she wakes me with coffee
"And kisses my head
"And she starts to explain
"About something she's read
"I say, 'Darlin', you haven't heard a word that I've said'
"And I love that girl."

-- John Hiatt, I Love That Girl
Posted on: July 31, 2011 11:55 am
 

Yankees join Rangers, Phils, Cards in Bell talks

With the top-shelf starting pitchers off the market, the Yankees contacted the Padres about closer Heath Bell on Sunday morning just hours before the deadline, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The Yankees' last-minute entrance into the Bell derby is not surprising: Having failed to get Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez and the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda, and if they find no other satisfactory starter, the Yankees are expected to fortify their bullpen today. It's what they did last winter after failing to acquire Cliff Lee on the free agent market. Then, they signed free agent closer Rafael Soriano.

The Yankees were one of at least four clubs continuing to call the Padres about Bell on Sunday morning, according to CBSSports.com sources. The Rangers, Phillies and Cardinals continue to talk with San Diego, though to varying degrees.

"They're stalling," one rival source with knowledge of the talks said Sunday morning.

"They aren't being fair," said another.

Clearly, the Padres are taking the Bell talks up to the very last minute while seeking as big of a return as they can get.

All along, Padres sources have insisted that they will keep Bell if they do not get a deal they like, based on the compensatory draft picks they expect to get if they lose him as a free agent this winter. Because Bell will be a Type A free agent, San Diego is expecting one first-round compensatory pick roughly 20 or so picks into the draft, and a sandwich pick in the 40s between the first and second round.

Texas' acquisition of Koji Uehara from Baltimore on Saturday well could have chipped away at the Padres' return for Bell. The Rangers once were viewed as both the most desperate club in the Bell talks and as one with such a deep farm system that the Padres could get a healthy package of prospects back. The latter part of that still holds true because, in sending Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis to Baltimore for Uehara, the Rangers did not dip into their minor-league pool.

Now, with Texas' need not quite so dire, the Rangers are described as not pushing quite so hard on Bell.

Meantime, a source said the Phillies continue to stay in touch on Bell and Padres set-up man Mike Adams, but after their acquisition of Hunter Pence they appear to be unmotivated shoppers in San Diego. The Phillies are building for October, and with Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in their rotation, they easily can move Roy Oswalt and/or Vance Worley into the bullpen to strengthen it.

The Cardinals, according to another source, remain in the Bell talks, but only slightly. They added pitchers Edwin Jackson and two relievers from Toronto the other day and shortstop Rafael Furcal trade became official Sunday morning.

Bell certainly makes sense for the Yankees, especially because earlier this month he said he would be fine with working as a set-up man for a contender down the stretch this season, as long as he returns to closing in 2012. The Yankees, of course, have Mariano Rivera for the ninth innings, but Bell could help them significantly shorten games by teaming with Soriano and All-Star David Robertson to take care of the seventh and eighth innings.


Posted on: July 27, 2011 1:27 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 4:27 pm
 

Giants deal for Mets' Beltran in place

San Francisco struck trade-deadline gold Wednesday, agreeing acquire Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran in exchange for minor league pitcher and former first-round pick Zach Wheeler, according to multiple CBSSports.com sources.

The Mets also will pick up the "majority" of the $5 or so million owed Beltran this year before he becomes a free agent this winter, believed to be around $4 million.

The deal cannot become official until Thursday because of rules surrounding Beltran's 10/5 status. This came up last year when the Yankees acquired Lance Berkman from Houston. When a player has been in the majors for 10 seasons, the last five with the same club, he has no-trade rights and a deal does not become official until 24 hours after it's been agreed to.

In this case, sources say that Beltran will agree to accept a deal to San Francisco, and that the Mets and Giants have agreed that the right-handed Wheeler will go to New York.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has been fielding offers for Beltran for weeks, and Philadelphia, Texas and Atlanta have been among the most intense suitors. The deal began breaking the Giants' way earlier this week when the Phillies cooled on Beltran because the Mets refused to reduce their asking price, and Texas dropped out Wednesday morning.

The Giants clinched the deal with the inclusion of Wheeler, a top pitching prospect who was San Francisco's first-round pick in the 2009 draft. Beltran's bat will be a huge addition to a San Francisco team already in first place in the NL West.







Posted on: July 26, 2011 11:49 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 12:03 am
 

Upton draws interest, gets advice from brother

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."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com