Posted on: July 31, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2011 5:01 pm

Red Sox get Bedard in 3-team deal

A day after their trade for Rich Harden fell through over reported concerns about his health, the Red Sox traded for another oft-injured pitcher, acquiring left-hander Erik Bedard from the Mariners in a three-team trade that also included the Dodgers, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The deal was completed just before the 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline.

The Red Sox traded Double-A catcher Tim Federowicz and pitchers Steven Fife and Juan Rodriguez to the Dodgers, who then sent outfielder Trayvon Robinson to the Mariners. Bedard and minor-league reliever Josh Fields go to the Red Sox, who will also send Chih-Hsien Chiang to Seattle.

Bedard didn't make it out of the second inning in a horrible showcase start Friday night, when he came off the disabled list to pitch against the Rays. But the Red Sox obviously came out of that game convinced that Bedard was healthy, and with Hiroki Kuroda and Ubaldo Jimenez unavailable, and with Harden deal having collapsed, the Red Sox took a chance.

The Red Sox had been looking for rotation depth, especially with Clay Buchholz in California to see a back specialist early this week. All five pitchers who began the year in the Red Sox rotation have missed at least one start with a health issue, and Daisuke Matsuzaka is out for the year after Tommy John surgery.

Scouts who saw Bedard before he went on the DL said he was pitching like he did in his prime, when he was a 15-game winner with the Orioles in 2006. The Mariners acquired him from Baltimore in February 2008, in a deal that cost Seattle a package that included center fielder Adam Jones.

Posted on: July 30, 2011 10:25 am
Edited on: July 30, 2011 1:57 pm

Tigers call up Turner, trade for Fister

The Tigers have found their starter. And a reliever.

In a bold move that addressed both their main needs at once, the Tigers acquired starter Doug Fister and reliever David Pauley from the Mariners, for a four-player package that is headed by Double-A third baseman Francisco Martinez and also includes pitcher Charlie Furbush, outfielder Casper Wells and a player to be named later.

Fister should solidify a Tiger rotation that includes Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and Brad Penny. The Tigers called up 20-year-old super-prospect Jacob Turner to make a spot start Saturday against the Angels, but they said Turner would return to the minor leagues immediately after the game. Fister will make his first Tiger start next Wednesday against the Rangers.

The Tigers were reluctant to trade Turner, and even more reluctant to pay the price that the Rockies were putting on Ubaldo Jimenez (thought to be at least Turner and Porcello, with outfielder Brennan Boesch also mentioned). With Rays starter James Shields unavailable (at least to them), they settled on Fister as the next best option.

Upgrading the rotation was a huge priority, because the Tigers are 19 games over .500 when using one of their top three starters (Verlander, Scherzer and Porcello), but just 4-16 (and 0-7 since mid-June) when they have used a fifth starter.

Adding to the bullpen also became a priority lately, because of concerns about how well middle reliever Al Alburquerque would hold up. So the Tigers, who were already talking to the Mariners about Fister, expanded the deal to include Pauley.

Seattle had at first expressed a reluctance to trade Fister, but the Mariners relented. Wells, who spent part of this year in the big leagues, could help their woeful offense immediately. And Martinez, a 20-year-old in Double-A, gives them a potential big bat for the future.

The Tigers were willing to include Martinez because they have depth at third base, in 19-year-old Nick Castellanos, currently at Class A West Michigan.

Wells has hit .286 in 100 career big-league games. Martinez is hitting .282 with 46 RBI at Double-A Erie. Furbush, who has a 3.62 ERA in 17 big-league games this year, should also help the Mariners.

Turner, who has been pitching at Double-A Erie (and was scheduled to start for the SeaWolves Saturday night), is expected to return to the minor leagues after making his big-league debut.

The 27-year-old Fister is just 3-12 in 21 starts this year for the Mariners, but that has more to do with Seattle's woeful offense. His ERA is 3.33, and his 1.17 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) is less than that of Tim Lincecum, C.J. Wilson, Felix Hernandez and Jon Lester, among others.

The Tigers scouted each of Fister's last two starts, including when he allowed just three runs in seven innings in a 4-1 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night. In Fister's five starts this month, the Mariners have scored just three runs total while he was in the game.

Fister makes just $436,500, and came into this season with just over one year of major-league service time, so he won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season.

The 28-year-old Pauley has a 2.15 ERA in 39 appearances for the Mariners this year.

Posted on: July 29, 2011 11:26 am
Edited on: July 29, 2011 11:27 am

3 to Watch: The trade deadline edition

The starting pitching market is weak, so when news spread that Erik Bedard would come off the disabled list to start for the Mariners Friday night, scouts around baseball started calling their travel agents.

The Yankees and Red Sox are both expected to have scouts at Safeco Field to see Bedard. The Tigers will be there, too.

Scouts who saw Bedard before he got hurt reported that he looked close to his old self. He's been a successful pitcher when healthy, winning 15 games for the Orioles in 2006 and compiling a 3.64 ERA in 159 career games.

And he hasn't started more than 15 games in a season since 2007 (although Friday's start will be his 16th for the Mariners this year).

The good news on Bedard is that he was on the DL because of a knee problem, rather than an arm problem. Then again, Jarrod Washburn only had a leg problem when the Tigers acquired him from the Mariners in 2009, and he was a disaster in Detroit.

The Washburn experience makes the Tigers hesitant on Bedard, but with their desperation to find a starter and with the weak market, they'll have a scout there, anyway.

It should be quite a weekend around the big leagues, with the non-waiver trade deadline arriving at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. The Tigers will also have a scout watching Orioles at Yankees, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium, with Jeremy Guthrie starting for the O's. Guthrie has long been on the Tigers' list of possible targets, but he has rarely pitched well with Tiger scouts in the house. The Orioles have also been asking a high price for Guthrie, but again, on this market, anything's possible. A.J. Burnett starts for the Yankees, who have also been out shopping for starting pitchers. The Yankees keep hoping that Burnett will look like a true No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia, but they also keep watching Ubaldo Jimenez, who may be better.

2. Bedard is the main attraction in Rays at Mariners, Friday night (10:10 ET) at Safeco Field, but it's worth noting that Jeff Niemann starts for the Rays. The Rays have told teams that they won't move James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson or David Price, but Niemann and Wade Davis are much more available. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Rays offered Niemann to the Cardinals as part of a package for Colby Rasmus. The Tigers were offered Niemann, as well. They turned him down once, but they'll get another look when he faces Bedard.

3. Jimenez has always been the biggest name on this market. The Rockies claim that they will keep him if they don't get a great offer, but they would claim that no matter what, right? We'll see by Sunday, or maybe even by the time Jimenez is scheduled to start in Rockies at Padres, Saturday night (8:35 ET) at Petco Park. Aaron Harang, the scheduled starter for San Diego, is also available, and has been a possibility for the Tigers, Indians and others.

Posted on: July 28, 2011 3:43 pm

In weak pitching market, Kuroda is a star

The fact that Hiroki Kuroda has emerged as one of the biggest names on the starting pitching market tells you all you need to know about that market.

Kuroda is 37 years old. He's a free agent at the end of the year, with very little chance of re-signing with any team he is traded to. He has won just six of his 21 starts this year (and none of his last four). The Dodgers won't just give him away; in fact, they're targeting top prospects for him.

Oh, and he has a full no-trade clause, and there's much doubt (and some debate) about where he'd be willing to go -- if anywhere.

"At this point, I can't imagine myself wearing another uniform," Kuroda told reporters after his start Wednesday night.

Sounds like a perfect guy to go get.

But in a marketplace where the Rockies are holding out for a huge return on Ubaldo Jimenez, where the Rays insist to teams that they won't trade James Shields, where the Mariners won't discuss Felix Hernandez and probably won't even trade Doug Fister ("Zero chance they move him," said one official from an interested team), Kuroda has started to look good.

The Tigers seem to have him at the top of their shrinking wish list, which began with dozens of names and now may be down to Kuroda, Jeremy Guthrie and Aaron Harang.

The Yankees, not thrilled about the price on Jimenez, remain involved on Kuroda.

Same goes for the Red Sox, who are telling teams they are focused on getting a right-handed hitting outfielder, but remain active with both Jimenez and Kuroda.

According to sources, the Dodgers continue to believe that Kuroda will eventually agree to go somewhere, with New York and Boston thought to be his top two picks.

"You'd think he'd be glad to go somewhere where they might score him a run," said one interested scout, noting that the Dodgers have scored just 15 runs in his last nine losses.

The Dodgers remain interested enough in the Tigers that they sent a scout to Grand Rapids, Mich., to see 19-year-old third baseman Nick Castellanos. Castellanos is one of the Tigers' top prospects, and many in the organization doubt that they would move him for Kuroda.

The Tigers don't seem terribly interested in Erik Bedard, the Mariners pitcher who will come off the disabled list to start against the Rays Friday night. Both the Yankees and Red Sox have some interest in Bedard, although obviously that depends on how healthy he looks Friday.

Posted on: July 26, 2011 1:21 pm

From .500 to 16 straight losses? I've seen worse

Three weeks ago, the Mariners were a .500 team.

Now they're in a losing streak that feels like it will never end.

Three weeks ago, the Mariners were playing over their heads, without doubt. Now, they look like one of the worst teams ever.

The Mariners are the first team ever to have a losing streak this long after starting with a .500 record that late in the season. The 1944 Brooklyn Dodgers were three games over .500 (33-30) before their 16-game skid, but that began in June, not July.

But this isn't the worst turnaround ever. It's not even the worst turnaround I've ever seen.

I was there for the 1993 Tigers.

They were 43-25 on June 20. They were leading 7-1 in the fourth inning in Baltimore. They lost that game, and nine more right after it, for a 10-game losing streak.

They lost 29 of their next 39.

Bill Krueger remembers.

Krueger is the link between the 1993 Tigers and the 2011 Mariners. He pitched for the '93 Tigers, and now does the M's pre- and post-game shows for Root Sports.

"We really were going good," Krueger said this week, thinking back to June 1993. "We just beat people into submission with our offense. But we had to test the bullpen, because we didn't have dominating starters. Sparky [Anderson] was running the bullpen out there for 3-4 innings a night."

The '93 Tigers went from 43-25 to 53-54, before recovering to finish the season over .500.

In some ways they were the polar opposite of the 2011 Mariners, relying almost totally on their offense. But like the Mariners, they totally collapsed, and it was hard to see it coming.

As M's shortstop Brendan Ryan said Monday, if you had asked him when they were 43-43 if they'd lose the next 16 games, he'd have told you: "Zero percent.

"I don't even know how many stars have to be aligned for this to happen," Ryan said. "It's Friday the 13th, and a full moon. Every day."

It felt like that with the 1993 Tigers. In that first game of the streak, when they led 7-1 with Bill Gullickson on the mound, Chris Hoiles hit a grand slam off Kurt Knudsen to cap an eight-run Orioles sixth inning.

A night later, I got a call from Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun.

"I have a bad feeling about this," I told him.

I never guessed they'd lose 10 straight, or 29 of 39.

Just like I never guessed the M's would go directly from .500 to losing 16 in a row.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 25, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 1:17 pm

M's want a win -- but they don't want out

NEW YORK -- Felix Hernandez said Monday that his feelings haven't changed. He still wants to be a Mariner.

He still wants to remain a Mariner.

"Why not?" he asked me.

Why not? I can think of 15 reasons why not, 15 reasons why the Mariners must be the most miserable team to play for right now.

Make that 16 reasons now, after a 10-3 Mariner loss to the Yankees that was so ugly that it seemed to explain the 15 straight losses that came before it.

If you believe King Felix and his teammates, they don't agree with me. They don't want out. They just want a few wins.

They want one win -- fast.

They've set a club record already, with 16 straight losses. They've lost more consecutive games than any team since the 2005 Royals lost 19 in a row, more consecutive games than all but six teams in the history of the American League. They've lost fans, they've lost admirers, and they've lost believers among baseball people who had started to think a month ago that general manager Jack Zduriencik might be building a future contender.

"Their offense is absolutely non-existent," said one scout who watched the Mariners last week. "They've got Miguel Olivo hitting cleanup -- Miguel Olivo! [Justin] Smoak is still sort of a prospect. And Chone Figgins? I might as well be playing third base for them."

Olivo hit cleanup again Monday night, going 0-for-4 to drop his batting average to .220. It was the 36th time he has hit cleanup for the Mariners this year, after hitting cleanup a total of 11 times in his nine previous big-league seasons.

You'd think that any player who could get out would want out. You expect to walk into the Mariner clubhouse and see players checking the CBSSports.com Eye on Baseball blog.

It's not like that, or at least it wasn't like that Monday.

"I'm very proud to say I'm a member of the Seattle Mariners," Doug Fister said.

Unlike Hernandez, who the Mariners have consistently declared off-limits in trade talks, Fister seems to have some chance of getting dealt this week. The Tigers and Reds scouted him last week in Toronto, and the Tigers continue to have a scout following the Mariners. Fister starts Tuesday night against the Yankees, with the weight of the 16-game losing streak transferred to his shoulders.

The Mariners seem more interested in talking about Jason Vargas, the pitcher who started against the Yankees on Monday. Vargas allowed eight runs (four earned) in four innings, in an outing that wasn't as bad as all that, but wasn't real good, either. Fister has more value. Erik Bedard, who comes off the disabled list to start Friday against the Rays, could have value, as well.

Both Fister and Vargas have losing records with a decent ERA. Fister is 3-11 despite a 3.30 ERA, and he's 0-6 since the beginning of June, with a 3.38 ERA and a .578 opponents OPS.

As that scout said, the Mariners' offense is basically non-existent. It's why their 43-59 record isn't exactly a surprise, even if the way they got there is.

The M's were 43-43 when the losing streak began. They were just 2 1/2 games out of first place.

If you'd asked shortstop Brendan Ryan then if there was a chance that they'd lose the next 16 games, he'd have told you no.

"Zero percent," Ryan said. "I don't even know how many stars have to be aligned for this to happen. It's Friday the 13th, and a full moon. Every day.

"With our pitching staff, it would have been much more believable to win 15 in a row."

The strong starting pitching is the reason the Mariners got to 43-43 in the first place. But even then, they seemed to be playing over their heads, an idea that manager Eric Wedge basically agreed with Monday.

"I don’t think we were as good as we looked back then, and we're not as bad as we look now," Wedge said.

Wedge pointed to the Mariners' young talent (eight players have made their big-league debut with the M's this year), and insisted that the long-term plan remains solid.

"Grand plan, big picture," he called it. "We're building something here."

And he said this 16-game losing streak will end up being part of it.

"We'll be stronger for it," Wedge said. "This is something you'll never forget, that you'll draw from. Having lived through this makes you stronger.

"Believe you me, they'll be a whole lot tougher after going through this."

Perhaps they will be, but the way the Mariners have played over the last week isn't exactly encouraging. Three times in the last week, they had runners get picked off (including Ichiro, who fell for the third-to-first move that never works).

But they don't seem to be blaming each other, and they don't seem to want out -- at least not openly.

"We've got a good group," Wedge said. "They're together. They're good teammates."

They may be good teammates, but they're not a good team.

At this point, maybe they should trade King Felix, but they don't want to. And if you believe him, he doesn't want out, either.

Not even after 16 in a row.

Posted on: July 25, 2011 7:44 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 8:59 pm

Rays won't deal Shields, would talk others

In the ever-evolving trade market for starting pitchers, quite a few teams were holding out hope last week that the Rays would make All-Star James Shields available.

No such luck.

The Rays have now told teams that they won't discuss Shields, and also that David Price and Jeremy Hellickson are off-limits. At the same time, according to sources, they would be willing to talk about Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis, their other two starting pitchers. And, of course, the Rays are willing to discuss outfielder B.J. Upton.

The Rays have continued to hold out hope they could stay alive in the wild-card race, but after losing two of three to the Royals, they began play Monday 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

The Tigers, Reds, Cardinals and other teams had shown interest in Shields, with the Tigers sending two scouts to see his start against the Yankees last Thursday. It doesn't appear that the Tigers are nearly as interested in either Niemann or Davis.

The Tigers continue to follow almost every starting pitcher available. They scouted Seattle's Doug Fister and Jason Vargas last week in Toronto, and have a scout watching the Mariners again this week in New York. They have had scouts present at least the last two times that Aaron Harang started for the Padres, and they've also watched Hiroki Kuroda, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Marquis, John Lannan and Derek Lowe, in addition to Shields and Ubaldo Jimenez.

The Tigers don't match up well with the Rockies on Jimenez, and Guthrie and Lowe seem to be further down the list for them. It's believed that they have strong interest in Kuroda, but it's still uncertain whether he would consider waiving his no-trade clause for them (or for anyone else).

Posted on: July 24, 2011 9:01 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 11:16 pm

3 to Watch: The White Sox (or white flag) edition

The White Sox are having the most disappointing season in baseball. The White Sox could still win the American League Central.

The White Sox could be 1 1/2 games out of first place by Wednesday. Or the White Sox could be sellers by Wednesday.

It's a time of year where things change quickly, with teams assessing their needs and chances daily.

Even by that standard, the White Sox are a team to watch this week.

They begin the week two games under .500, and 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers. The Tigers are in Chicago for three games starting Monday night.

By the time the series ends Wednesday, the White Sox could be a true contender. Or they could be so far out of it that they go into full sell mode, looking to deal a pitcher like Edwin Jackson and perhaps outfielder Carlos Quentin.

Or maybe they're still left guessing whether they're in it or not. Maybe all they can do is to contemplate possible deals like the one the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Sunday, where they would trade a major leaguer for another major leaguer (in this case, a pitcher like Jackson for Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus).

There are other teams to watch this week, notably the Rays, who have fallen 6 1/2 games out in the wild-card race after losing two of three in Kansas City. But the Rays were already telling teams that they don't plan to move pitcher James Shields.

But no team has been as disappointing this year as the White Sox, and no team will be as interesting to follow over the next few days.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Partly because of the trade deadline, and partly because Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee won't start in the series, the Giants' visit to Philadelphia doesn't feel as big as it probably should. It's still worth watching, and it's worth noting that the Phillies allowed fewer runs over the first 100 games of the season (332) than any team since the 1989 Dodgers. Vance Worley is one of the surprising reasons for that, and Worley faces Tim Lincecum in Giants at Phillies, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park.

2. The White Sox began the second half by beating Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer on back-to-back days in Detroit, then missed a chance to sweep the series when they lost to Brad Penny. They get Verlander and Scherzer again in this series, with Verlander facing Mark Buehrle in Tigers at White Sox, Tuesday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field. Also worth watching: Jake Peavy's velocity when he faces the Tigers on Wednesday. In Peavy's last start, in Kansas City, his average fastball was below 90 mph.

3. The Mariners are also a team to watch this week, and not just because they've lost a club-record 15 straight. On a market short of starting pitcher, the M's have made Jason Vargas and Doug Fister available, and those two start Monday and Tuesday against the Yankees. They have not made Felix Hernandez available, and they're hoping that Felix won't be trying to break a 17-game losing streak when he faces Phil Hughes in Mariners at Yankees, Wednesday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees will be hoping that Hughes looks a lot better than he did in his last start, last Friday against the A's. The M's have won each of Hernandez's last five starts against the Yankees.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com