One scout who watched Kansas City shortstop Tony Pena Jr. pitch the ninth inning Monday night against Detroit joked about trying to trade for him as a reliever.
At least I think the guy was joking.
Seriously, though, you have to wonder whether Pena should be pitching rather than playing shortstop. There's a shortstop shortage in baseball, but there's not much demand for guys who hit .152 with no power.
There is demand for guys who can throw the ball over the plate with some velocity, especially when they can also throw 75 mph breaking balls over the plate.
"He was throwing 91, with sink," the scout who watched Pena said. "I guarantee you someone is thinking about (a position change)."
Pena told the Kansas City Star that he pitched as an amateur, and that some teams that scouted him wanted to sign him as a pitcher.
"I liked playing short more," he said.
If it means staying in the big leagues, maybe he'll change his mind.
On the one hand, it's no shock to see the Astros trade for Randy Wolf, because owner Drayton McLane has been demanding that his team approach the July 31 deadline as buyers rather than as sellers. On the other hand, are you kidding?
But McLane refuses to give up. At last week's baseball dinner at the White House, McLane apparently told President Bush that the Astros will win the National League Central.
Speaking of the Brewers, they seem serious in their pursuit of Oakland closer Huston Street. Milwaukee scout Dick Groch followed Oakland from New York to Tampa Bay.
"If they get a closer, that would put them ahead of the Cubs, in my opinion," said one scout familiar with both teams.
But that same scout expressed concerns about Street's velocity, which has been down this year.
The Dodgers are still looking all over for a shortstop, but they don't seem nearly as concerned about replacing injured closer Takashi Saito. Jonathan Broxton has always been seen as Saito's eventual successor, and the Dodgers were very impressed with Broxton's first two outings in Saito's absence.
One good sign: Broxton, who never threw above 97 mph, threw his first two pitches at 99 and 101 the other day in Arizona.
Condolences to the family of longtime Chicago baseball writer Jerome Holtzman, who was definitely one of the legends of our business.