Tag:Blue Jays
Posted on: December 7, 2011 3:20 am
 

White Sox trade Santos, and it's only the start

DALLAS -- The rebuilding process has officially begun on the South Side of Chicago, and by the time it ends the White Sox could look nothing like the disappointing team that finished 79-83 last year.

General manager Ken Williams took the first step Tuesday, trading closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays for pitching prospect Nestor Molina. Bigger steps should follow, with the White Sox signaling to other teams that pitchers John Danks and Gavin Floyd, outfielder Carlos Quentin and second baseman Gordon Beckham are among those available.

In fact, sources familiar with the Sox plans said, it is entirely possible that Danks, Floyd, Quentin and Beckham and others could all be elsewhere by opening day.

"It is the start of a rebuilding," Williams told Chicago writers. "And you guys know I have not used that word in 12 years."

Williams has been threatening to break up this team since the middle of last season, and only a few wins in the final week of July kept the Sox from shopping many players at the July 31 deadline.

Williams then said at last month's general managers meetings that he had trades in mind, and promised to use the word "rebuilding" by January if he could get what he wanted.

It turned out he used it in the first week of December.

The Santos move helps the Blue Jays, who have spent the first part of the winter looking for a closer. The White Sox got back a 22-year-old right-hander with sparkling minor-league numbers (27-7, 2.21, 277 strikeouts in 292 2/3 innings), but a pitcher who the Blue Jays and some other teams project as a middle reliever in the big leagues because of his slight build.


Posted on: December 7, 2011 3:20 am
 

White Sox trade Santos, and it's only the start

DALLAS -- The rebuilding process has officially begun on the South Side of Chicago, and by the time it ends the White Sox could look nothing like the disappointing team that finished 79-83 last year.

General manager Ken Williams took the first step Tuesday, trading closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays for pitching prospect Nestor Molina. Bigger steps should follow, with the White Sox signaling to other teams that pitchers John Danks and Gavin Floyd, outfielder Carlos Quentin and second baseman Gordon Beckham are among those available.

In fact, sources familiar with the Sox plans said, it is entirely possible that Danks, Floyd, Quentin and Beckham and others could all be elsewhere by opening day.

"It is the start of a rebuilding," Williams told Chicago writers. "And you guys know I have not used that word in 12 years."

Williams has been threatening to break up this team since the middle of last season, and only a few wins in the final week of July kept the Sox from shopping many players at the July 31 deadline.

Williams then said at last month's general managers meetings that he had trades in mind, and promised to use the word "rebuilding" by January if he could get what he wanted.

It turned out he used it in the first week of December.

The Santos move helps the Blue Jays, who have spent the first part of the winter looking for a closer. The White Sox got back a 22-year-old right-hander with sparkling minor-league numbers (27-7, 2.21, 277 strikeouts in 292 2/3 innings), but a pitcher who the Blue Jays and some other teams project as a middle reliever in the big leagues because of his slight build.


Posted on: November 2, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2011 8:05 pm
 

O's still need a GM, but who wants that job?

Now that Tony LaCava has turned down the Orioles' general manager job, who will get it instead?

Better question: Who would want it?

LaCava was very kind in his public remarks Tuesday, claiming in an interview with the Baltimore Sun that his decision "was about the Toronto Blue Jays more than it is anything about the Baltimore Orioles." And it's true that LaCava is very comfortable in his job with the Jays, where he has the title of vice president and works closely with general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

It's also true, according to multiple sources inside and outside the Orioles organization, that this was very much about the Orioles, and that it helps expose some of the problems that exist in owner Peter Angelos' regime at Camden Yards.

Specifically, those sources said, LaCava wanted to clear out some long-term front-office people whose jobs have been protected by Angelos. Angelos refused to do that, even though he was willing to pay LaCava a competitive salary and to bring in other front-office people that LaCava wanted to hire (including Mike Berger, currently the director of pro scouting with the Diamondbacks).

The Orioles GM job is a difficult one, one rival executive said, because Angelos is such a force from above, manager Buck Showalter exerts strong influence from below, and the Orioles play in the tough American League East. People who know LaCava said that Showalter (who has taken part in the interview process) was never an issue, and LaCava already works in the American League East.

That leaves Angelos.

So who gets the Orioles job now?

It won't be LaCava, and it won't be Jerry Dipoto, who interviewed with the Orioles before taking the general manager job with the Angels. And, according to sources, it's very unlikely to be either De Jon Watson or John Stockstill, the only two other candidates interviewed before LaCava was offered the job.

One official said that the Orioles have already set up more interviews this week, but he wouldn't say who was coming in. Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reported that the O's have asked permission to talk to officials from the White Sox, Rays, Phillies and Twins, and Dan Connolly of the Sun reported that Phillies assistant Scott Proefrock (a former Orioles assistant) will interview Thursday.

With the free-agent signing period beginning Thursday, and with the major-league general managers scheduled to meet starting Nov. 15 in Milwaukee, there's more pressure than ever on the Orioles to get someone in place quickly.

The problem, more obvious than it ever was before, is that too many potential candidates regard the Orioles job as a bad one. And the way the general manager search has been conducted has only added to that perception.

It was clear that Dipoto strongly preferred the job with the Angels, and it's now clear that LaCava preferred remaining in Toronto as an assistant to getting the bigger title (and better pay) with the Orioles.

Eventually, the Orioles will find a general manager. But how far down their list will they need to reach?



Posted on: September 23, 2011 12:06 am
Edited on: September 23, 2011 12:06 am
 

Rays: We need to run the table

NEW YORK -- The way the Rays made up ground on the Red Sox, you'd figure that they've been winning every game.

They haven't.

They have a chance in this wild-card race because they've played well . . . and mostly because the Red Sox haven't.

The Rays have swept just one series all month. They've had just one five-game winning streak, and none longer.

Now they figure they need one.

The Rays were sure they needed to beat the Yankees on Thursday, and they did, 15-8. They're sure they need to sweep the Blue Jays this weekend and home, and they believe they'll need to sweep the Yankees in the series that begins Monday at Tropicana Field.

They're two games back of the Red Sox with six to play, but the Rays have decided it's now must-win time.

"We pretty much have to win every game," Matt Joyce said. "We came here [Thursday], and we said, 'Let's win every game. Let's just win the rest of them, and see what happens.'"

Go 6-0, the Rays figure, and they'll count on the Red Sox losing at least twice in six road games against the Yankees and Orioles.

Go 6-0, the Rays figure, and they won't have to worry about the Angels, who fell to three games back of Boston (and one game behind the Rays) with their walkoff loss in Toronto.

"We're going to have to count on the Yankees taking care of the Red Sox," Johnny Damon said. "But we also have to take care of business. . . . We kind of feel we have to [win them all]. We can't rely on Boston losing all of them."

The Rays believe they missed a chance this week at Yankee Stadium, believe they should have been able to get a split of the four-game series, believe especially that they should have won Wednesday's day game with James Shields on the mound.

They got a break because the Red Sox lost three of four at home to the Orioles.

"We're kind of fortunate," manager Joe Maddon admitted.

They believe the schedule that looked to be against them when they left Boston on Sunday (also two games behind) may now have turned slightly in their favor.

They know that the Red Sox are on the road the rest of the way, and they believe that the Yankees may be more motivated to win this weekend against the Sox than they'll be in the three-game series against the Rays that follows.

"Boston playing Baltimore in Baltimore, that's not going to be easy," Maddon said, with a twinkle in his eye.

Maddon was in the unusual situation Thursday of rooting hard against the Angels, and his good friend Mike Scioscia. But there was no doubt he was happy to see the Blue Jays win.

The Rays have had plenty of help already, and they know it. Now, they believe, it's time for them to help themselves.

"We have to win every game, pretty much," Maddon said. "There might be room for one hiccup. . . . [But] you think you've got to run the table."

That would mean a seven-game winning streak, counting Thursday's game against the Yankees. That hardly sounds impossible.

There have already been 22 winning streaks that long in the major leagues this year. The Royals won seven straight. So did the Cubs. And the Twins.

Seven of the eight teams currently in a playoff position have had at least one seven-game winning streak (everyone but the Braves).

The Rays haven't. Not yet.

Now they think they'll need one.

Posted on: July 27, 2011 3:59 pm
 

Cardinals are about the now, not about the stats

The stat guys will wonder how the Cardinals could ever trade Colby Rasmus, who is 24 years old and ranked just behind Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Ryan Braun in OPS+ last year.

I'm wondering if the Cardinals just made the move that puts them in position to win the National League Central.

I'm not convinced, but I do know that the Cardinals had to improve their bullpen if they were going to have any chance to top the Brewers, Reds and even the Pirates in the bunched-up NL Central race. They did that already, and as CBSSports.com colleague Scott Miller reports, the Cardinals remain engaged with the Padres in an effort to acquire closer Heath Bell.

By acquiring Edwin Jackson (who the Blue Jays got from the White Sox Wednesday morning), the Cardinals could move Kyle McClellan back to the bullpen, where he had so much success last year. They also acquired veteran right-hander Octavio Dotel and young lefty Marc Rzepczynski from the Blue Jays, adding significant depth to a bullpen that is tied for second in the majors in most blown saves.

"Dotel is pitching good," said one scout who watched him in the last week. "He's not what he once was, but his velocity is up, and his slider is sharper."

According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals tried to obtain James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson in exchange for Rasmus, but the Rays held tight to their decision not to move either one. Strauss reported that the Cardinals turned down a package of Jeff Niemann and J.P. Howell, before settling on the Jackson-plus-bullpen-help package from the Blue Jays.

For Toronto, the Rasmus trade is another example of buying low on a top talent, much as the Jays did last year when they sent Alex Gonzalez to the Braves for Yunel Escobar. Escobar was an out-of-favor talent, much as Rasmus is now.

Rasmus feuded each of the past two years with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, and the word around the Cards was that Albert Pujols wasn't fond of him, either. As talented as Rasmus is, it was starting to appear that things would never work out for him in St. Louis, much as it appeared things wouldn't work out for Escobar in Atlanta.

Jackson is headed for free agency at the end of the year, and Dotel is 37 years old, so it's not as if the Cardinals were dealing with the future in mind. But with a team that is built to win now, and with Pujols in the final year of his contract, the Cardinals are understandably focused much more on 2011 than on 2012 and the future.


Posted on: July 27, 2011 1:44 pm
 

White Sox: All-in or white flag?

As of this very moment, the White Sox are going for it.

By the end of the week, who knows?

The Wednesday trade that sent Edwin Jackson to Toronto (and then on to St. Louis) fit the White Sox either way, as buyers or sellers. They unloaded Jackson, a free-agent-to-be who wasn't going to be re-signed, but added Jason Frasor, providing needed help for the overworked Jesse Crain on the right side of their bullpen, and got a top pitching prospect in Zach Stewart, as well.

The bigger question is what happens next, and the answer, according to multiple sources familiar with the White Sox plans, is that we'll have to wait and see.

One scenario: The Sox decide that they're too far behind the Tigers (4 1/2 games entering play Wednesday), or that this team is not going to win in October, anyway. In that case, the Sox try to turn over their roster, making players such as John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Carlos Quentin available in advance of Sunday's non-waiver deadline.

The other scenario: The Sox decide that this division is too winnable for them to give up now, and that this is still basically the same team that they thought could win when the season began. In that case, the Sox keep their team together, and go for it.

Jackson was expendable, because the development of Phil Humber gave the White Sox a six-man rotation. Mark Teahen, the other player traded to Toronto, was even more expendable.

This wasn't a white flag trade. The others would be, and the question the White Sox must ask in the next few days is whether it's time to raise it.

There's no doubt that the White Sox are frustrated with what has been the most disappointing team in the game in the first half of the season. There's no doubt that they're starting to question whether this group has what it takes to win.

There's also no doubt that they realize they're in a weak division, and that their starting pitching could still make them an October threat.

The White Sox are playing the first-place Tigers again on Wednesday afternoon. They play the Red Sox at home this weekend while the Tigers host the Angels (remember, the White Sox swept the Red Sox at Fenway at the end of May).

By Sunday, the White Sox could be a virtual tie with the Tigers for first place. Or they could be as many as nine games out.

That's why by Sunday, Danks, Floyd and Quentin could join Jackson on the way out the door. Or they could be going for it in Chicago.


Posted on: July 26, 2011 8:24 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 6:56 pm
 

Yankees have best shot at Ubaldo

Of all the teams that showed interest in Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez -- and there were a lot -- the Yankees have the best chance of actually landing him, according to major-league sources.

The Rockies are still telling teams that they don't need to trade Jimenez, who is 27 years old and is signed to a team-friendly contract that could run through 2014. But it's clearer than ever that the Rockies are willing to make a deal, with the Reds, possibly the Red Sox and even the Indians as other teams that match up well enough to get a deal done.

The Rangers showed signficant interest in Jimenez early on, but sources said Wednesday that they were all but out now, in large part because the teams just don't match up on the value placed on prospects. Another impediment to a Rockies-Rangers deal is the lingering frustration over last year's failed talks for Michael Young, but it appears the bigger problem was a lack of a match on prospects.

Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said earlier this month that he would require "a Herschel Walker-type deal" to trade Jimenez, but it appears that O'Dowd would be willing to accept something less than that, perhaps along the lines of deals that were made in recent months for Matt Garza, Zack Greinke and Cliff Lee.

The Yankees have basically declared top prospect Manuel Banuelos off-limits in talks, but they have enough depth that they could put together an attractive package without him. O'Dowd is said to want three or four players in return for Jimenez, and it's thought that some combination of Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova or Phil Hughes could convince the Rockies to make a deal.

The Reds also have enough prospects to make a trade work, but they have indicated a strong reluctance to deal catcher Devin Mesoraco, the prospect who most interests the Rockies.

Talks with the Red Sox apparently haven't advanced as far, but it's believed that they would need to build a package around pitcher Kyle Weiland.

The Indians are also in on Jimenez, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com. But a source familiar with the talks described them as a longshot at best.

Other teams that showed early interest in Jimenez include the Tigers and Blue Jays, but the chances of a deal with either of those teams appear far more remote at this point.

The Yankees' pieced-together starting rotation has performed well, but they still don't have a clear No. 2 starter behind ace CC Sabathia. The Yankees have looked at many available starting pitchers, including Hiroki Kuroda of the Dodgers and Wandy Rodriguez of the Astros, but Jimenez is the one guy who could slot in behind Sabathia in their rotation and make them more dangerous in October.


Posted on: June 30, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:08 pm
 

3 to Watch: The best in the game edition

The bar is set high, but then it would be anyway.

Roy Halladay returns to Toronto this weekend, to pitch at the Rogers Centre for the first time since the big trade that sent him to the Phillies 19 months ago. Cliff Lee follows Halladay on Sunday, with a chance to become the first pitcher since Orel Hershiser (1988) with four consecutive shutouts.

And they'll do it on the same field where Justin Verlander no-hit the Blue Jays eight weeks ago.

So maybe by the time this weekend is over, we'll have a better way of answering the question that has been bugging me for weeks.

Who is the best pitcher in baseball right now?

"To be honest, I think it's between me and Halladay," Verlander said when I asked him that question last week. "But if you asked anyone, they'd probably say that about themselves."

Not anyone. I know that, because I asked Lee, the guy with three straight shutouts, the guy who had a ridiculous 0.21 ERA in June (compared to 0.92 for Verlander and 2.00 for Halladay).

"In my opinion, it's not even debatable," Lee said. "Nobody else is in Halladay's ballpark. It's not even close."

I can't say I tried to argue with him, but I did point out the three straight shutouts.

"It takes longevity," Lee said.

Halladay has the longevity, and he has the great history in Toronto. So when you look at this weekend's schedule, it's hard to leave his big return to the Rogers Centre out of 3 to Watch.

But I'm going to do just that, because I always stick to one game per series and I can't pass up Lee's attempt at a fourth straight shutout.

For this weekend, though, think of this as 4 to Watch, and pretend I included them both:

1. If you check the ERA leaders, you might notice that neither Lee nor Halladay leads the National League. Instead, it's Jair Jurrjens of the Braves, at 2.07, and it's probably worth pointing out that he gets his next start in Orioles at Braves, Friday night (7:35 ET) at Turner Field. Jurrjens faces Jeremy Guthrie, who was throwing 96-97 mph in his last start.

2. If you check the ERA leaders again, you might notice that Verlander doesn't lead the American League. Instead, it's Jered Weaver of the Angels, at 1.97, and it's probably worth pointing out he makes his next start in Dodgers at Angels, Saturday night (9:05 ET) at Angel Stadium. His mound opponent, Clayton Kershaw, isn't bad, either.

3. I'll assume you already watched Halladay against the Jays on Saturday (1:07 ET). But I'm sticking with Lee, in Phillies at Blue Jays, Sunday afternoon (1:07 ET) at Rogers Centre. According to research through Baseball-reference.com, only eight pitchers in the last 90 years have thrown four straight shutouts. The last before Hershiser was Luis Tiant, in 1972.




 
 
 
 
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