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 19, 2011 4:15 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 5:01 pm

Do the Yankees need relief?

With the development of David Robertson, the probability that Rafael Soriano will return from the disabled list and the continued excellence of Mariano Rivera, the Yankees have been suggesting to teams that they're happy with their bullpen.

But eyes were raised in the scouting community when the Yankees had one high-level person in San Diego last week, then dispatched another to Kansas City this week.

The Yankees have long had interest in Royals closer Joakim Soria. They've also shown interest this summer in Padres relievers Mike Adams and Heath Bell.

The Royals haven't been very open to trading Soria. Teams that have spoken to them say the most available players on the roster are starting pitchers Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen and Kyle Davies, outfielder Jeff Francoeur and utility man Wilson Betemit. It's unlikely that the Yankees would see any of the Royals starters as a significant upgrade. Betemit could be a short-term fit, while Alex Rodriguez is out after knee surgery.

Many teams have shown interest in the Padres relievers, including the Rangers, Reds and Phillies, in addition to the Yankees.

For more trade deadline news, click here.
Posted on: June 29, 2011 8:06 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 9:33 pm

GMs say trade market slow to develop

PHILADELPHIA -- As colleague Scott Miller explains in a column on CBSSports.com Wednesday night, the Padres are the center of almost all the early summer trade-market buzz.

There are two reasons for that.

One, as Scott points out, the Padres have talent available to trade, and they're just about ready to move. Two, so few other teams are where the Padres are now.

In conversations with general managers and other executives this week, just about every one of them has made the same point. The conversations so far have been slow to develop, because there just aren't enough sellers yet.

"There's so much parity, which is good for baseball," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said. "But it'll heat up when it's supposed to happen."

Amaro and others pointed out that a month still remains before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, and that those extra 32 days could provide some more separation in the standings.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 19, 2011 7:39 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2011 7:46 pm

3 to Watch: The Miller and Maybin edition

Andrew Miller was supposed to be an ace. Cameron Maybin was supposed to be a star.

When the Marlins got Miller and Maybin in the December 2007 Miguel Cabrera trade, everyone in baseball said they'd done well. Everyone with the Tigers said they had done well.

We all know now that it didn't work out that way. We all know now that Miller still hasn't become an ace, and Maybin still hasn't become a star.

And we all know now that not even a year after they fired the manager who was supposed to benefit from that Miller-Maybin deal, the Marlins now find themselves in search of yet another manager.

Meanwhile, Miller and Maybin find themselves at Fenway Park.

Monday night, Miller will make his first start for the Red Sox, the latest team trying to unlock what still seems like enormous potential. He'll face the Padres, the latest team hoping Maybin's power and speed will translate to baseball wins.

This Padres-Red Sox series would be fascinating regardless, with Adrian Gonzalez going up against the hometown team that traded him away, and Anthony Rizzo facing the team that had to include him in that trade for Gonzalez. And with Dave Roberts, the unsung hero of those 2004 Red Sox, returning to Fenway as a Padres coach.

But we know about Roberts and we know about Gonzalez, and we think we know about Rizzo.

We're still trying to figure out Miller, who is either one of those late-developing tall left-handers or one of those hard throwers who never make it. He's getting his chance now with the Red Sox, because Clay Buchholz is on the disabled list and because the Sox didn't want to lose Miller, who had an opt-out in the contract he signed to go to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Miller was 3-3 with a 2.47 ERA in 13 games for the PawSox, and in his last start he struck out 10 in 5 1/3 innings, while allowing just one run.

We're still trying to figure out Maybin, too. His numbers this year with the Padres (.254/.316/.404) are decent, but by no means great. One thing I do know: When I saw Maybin last month, he was smiling more than he had in the last two years with the Marlins.

Maybin smiled wide when I mentioned a spring training conversation I had with Miller, who said the two have remained close friends.

They've both been through a lot and they've stayed close, communicating mostly by text message.

This week, they'll meet again.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Jack McKeon was 42 years old when he managed his first major-league game, with the 1973 Royals. Now he's 80, and there's a real chance he'll be back in the dugout, as the interim replacement for Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez. If McKeon takes over for Angels at Marlins, Monday night (7:10 ET) at Sun Life Stadium, he'll be trying to keep the Marlins from equaling a team record with an 11th straight loss (they lost 11 straight twice in 1998, the year of the fire sale). It won't be easy, not with Jered Weaver starting for the Angels. Weaver last lost on May 18 (the Marlins were 24-17 back then), and he has a 1.36 ERA in his last five starts.

2. Miller appeared in 58 games over three seasons with the Marlins, going 10-20 with a 5.89 ERA. He lost his last five starts in 2010, with a 12.74 ERA and an incredible 52 baserunners in 17 2/3 innings. It'd be hard to do that against the weak-hitting San Diego team he'll face in Padres at Red Sox, Monday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. Then again, maybe Gonzalez (.481 batting average in his last 12 home games) will tell his old buddies how much fun it is to hit at Fenway.

3. Bob Melvin began this season working for the Mets, then went to work for the Diamondbacks, before going to Oakland to try to rescue the A's. Melvin helped the Diamondbacks over the weekend, when his A's swept the Giants to help Arizona stay close in the National League West. Now Melvin comes to New York to see his other former employers, in A's at Mets, Tuesday night (7:10 ET) at Citi Field. The Mets interviewed Melvin when they were looking for a manager last fall, but Terry Collins has given them no reason to regret their choice. They haven't regretted putting Dillon Gee in their rotation, either. Gee (who starts Tuesday) is 7-0, the longest winning streak by a rookie to open a season since Weaver started 9-0 with the 2006 Angels.

Posted on: June 16, 2011 11:36 am
Edited on: June 16, 2011 6:03 pm

Eventually, they all return

For years, the Tigers wouldn't retire Sparky Anderson's number.

For months, the Yankees wouldn't speak Joe Torre's name.

On June 26, the Tigers will retire Sparky's No. 11. That same day, Torre will put on No. 6 for Old-Timers' Day in the Bronx.

The honors are deserved. The feuds were petty. They usually are.

And at least Torre has made up with the Yankees while he's still alive. The Tigers waited for Sparky's death last November to finally do the right thing and honor him.

Sparky left the Tigers on not-so-good terms at the end of the 1995 season. He came back for one Sparky Anderson Day, convinced that the Tigers were going to retire his number -- and they didn't. He came back two years ago, for the 25th reunion of his 1984 champions, but the honor was for the team, and not really for him.

Torre left the Yankees on not-so-good terms at the end of the 2007 season. When they closed old Yankee Stadium a year later, the Yankees pointedly left Torre's name completely off a video tribute. He came back last year for the unveiling of a monument to George Steinbrenner, but the Old-Timers' return feels more significant.

Old-Timers' Day means more for the Yankees than it does anywhere else -- do they even hold Old-Timers' Day anywhere else anymore? -- and thus Thursday's announcement of the 2011 participants held some significance.

Torre is on the list for the first time. So is Bernie Williams, who had his own not-so-good departure, but has since returned with some regularity -- and always to huge cheers. So is Lou Piniella.

They should be there. Torre should feel welcome at Yankee Stadium, just as Sparky Anderson should have always felt welcome at Comerica Park.

At some point, everyone remembers that. You just hope it's not too late.


Speaking of not too late, good for the Padres for announcing Thursday that they'll retire Trevor Hoffman's No. 51 on Aug. 21. Not that it's a big surprise. Hoffman left the Padres on not-so-good terms in 2008, but he returned in a front-office role after retiring last year.
Posted on: June 1, 2011 2:45 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 3:02 pm

With Padres, is the problem Petco or players?

The Petco Park debate is alive and well again in San Diego, and with good reason.

The Padres, shockingly good last year when they won 90 games and stayed in contention to the final day of the season, have been shockingly inept at home this year, which is why they're in last place in the National League West.

Their 15-11 road record is the best in the division. Their 9-20 home record is the worst in the league.

The problem could be the ballpark.

Or maybe the problem is the players the Padres picked to play in that ballpark.

One scout who has seen the Padres both at home and on the road this year is convinced that the team is particularly ill-suited for the park.

"They're a different team when you get them out of Petco," the scout said. "They've got a lot of hackers, and when you play them in San Diego, you can just pitch them down and away and let the hackers hack away."

The numbers seem to bear that out. The Padres have a .199 team batting average at home, where they've scored just 65 runs in 29 games (and have been outscored, 116-65).

On the road, the Padres are hitting a much more respectable .263, with 122 runs in 26 games (and have outscored their opponents, 122-96).

No team in at least the last 50 years has hit under .200 at home for a full season.

Category: MLB
Tags: Padres
Posted on: May 11, 2011 1:17 pm

Padres face decision on Flores

Need a left-handed reliever?

Randy Flores could be available this week.

The 35-year-old Flores, who has pitched for four teams over eight major-league seasons, has a May 15 out in his minor-league contract with the Padres, according to sources. Flores isn't great -- left-handers hit .295 against him last year -- but with so many teams searching for lefty relief, it wouldn't be a surprise at all to see him back in the big leagues.

In 18 games this season at Triple-A Tucson, Flores has held lefties to a .205 average. His fastball has been its normal 89-91 mph.

The Padres currently have one left-hander in their bullpen, Cory Luebke, who has allowed just three hits in 24 at-bats to left-handed hitters.

Quite a few teams could use a lefty. The Yankees have just one in their bullpen, and Boone Logan has a 5.40 ERA and has allowed eight hits (three for extra bases) in just 22 at-bats vs. lefties.
Category: MLB
Posted on: May 10, 2011 1:42 am
Edited on: May 10, 2011 11:21 am

It was 'Magic Johnson' -- or just magic

MILWAUKEE -- Some plays you want to see again.

Some plays you know you'll see again . . . and again . . . and again.

And if you didn't see what Yuniesky Betancourt did Monday night at Miller Park, don't worry, because you will. And no, no matter what you've heard about the Brewer shortstop, this won't be on the blooper reel.

No matter what you think about the Brewer shortstop, when you see this, you'll admit that he just made the play of the year.

It came in the eighth inning of the Brewers' 4-3 win over the Padres, and it had Brewers fans cheering even louder than they cheered earlier in the night for Zack Greinke. It had Betancourt, the other guy the Brewers got in that Greinke trade, smiling the biggest smile of the night.

And it had everyone else saying, "No, he didn't just do that."

But he did.

Will Venable was on first base, with nobody out. Jason Bartlett hit a ground ball up the middle, far to Betancourt's left. He gloved it, then shoveled from his glove, behind his back, to second baseman Rickie Weeks. Weeks caught it bare-handed, then threw to first to double up Bartlett.


"I didn't really know what happened until I looked at the replay and saw he did the Magic Johnson piece," first baseman Prince Fielder said. "Then I was trying to throw the ball around to Rickie, and he was still high-fiving."

In a one-run game, it was a huge play. Try to remember that when you see it later this week . . . and later this season . . . and for years to come.

Or just watch it here, with a great call from Brewers TV guy Brian Anderson ("Oh my goodness! Did that just happen?")

"It was a pretty awesome play," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "An incredible play."

I saw it live, and I've seen the replay six or seven times.

And I still want to see it again.

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