Posted on: July 28, 2011 2:22 pm

Mets keep Reyes, for now (and maybe later)

Way back when, Jose Reyes was the Mets player that the Giants coveted.

Way back when, Reyes was the player that you were absolutely certain the Mets would be trading this month. Even two weeks ago, at the All-Star Game, one person close to Reyes said he wasn't totally convinced Reyes would still be with the Mets after July 31.

And as for the chances that the Mets would be able to keep Reyes past this season? Way back then, that was laughable.

But after the Mets made the Carlos Beltran trade with the Giants official on Thursday, general manager Sandy Alderson said what had become apparent over the last week. He doesn't have plans to trade anyone else away this month, and he certainly doesn't have plans to trade Jose Reyes.

It's still hard to know exactly how much chance the Mets have of signing Reyes after the season. That's because it's hard to know what their financial situation will be, and also because it's hard to know how Reyes' outstanding 2011 season will affect his market value.

On the first point, it's worth noting that the Mets felt good enough about their money situation that they paid $4 million of Beltran's contract, in order to get the Giants to deal a better prospect (Zack Wheeler). There's no doubt that the lawsuit stemming from the Bernie Madoff mess has taken some favorable turns from the Mets' standpoint.

But even with that, Alderson was asked whether the $5 million saved in the Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez trades would be put back into the payroll, he said only that he was "fairly confident that at least a portion of it will be reinvested in players."

And Reyes?

"What about Reyes?" Alderson said, repeating the question on the conference call. "I don't know, $5 million is not going to get him signed. Hopefully, we'll engage him in the offseason."

For Mets fans who covet Reyes the way the Giants once did, that's sort of good news, because at least it is no longer a given that Reyes will be gone. Not only that, but it's now a given that he'll at least remain in a Mets uniform through September.

Way back when, that seemed impossible.
Posted on: July 28, 2011 1:33 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 1:51 pm

Giants' Sabean: 'We owed it to the city'

Anywhere you went this spring in Scottsdale, all you saw was orange and black. Anywhere you go this season when the Giants are on the road, you see orange and black.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean wasn't just blowing smoke when he said on the conference call to announce the Carlos Beltran trade, "We owed it to the city."

Look, I realize, teams don't just make trades to appease their fans. If they did, the Indians would be moving all their prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez, which is what many of their fans seem to want (even though it would be stupid).

But Sabean, traditionally cautious in moving his top prospects, understands where the Giants stand right now. He realizes that after winning the World Series last year, and with a pitching staff capable of getting them back there this year, this was the time for a bold move.

Sabean hates acquiring rental players, but he understands this is a different situation.

"We're at an interesting point in time," he said Thursday.

Yes, they are. And Sabean understands as well as anyone that it's a general manager's responsibility to read that calendar, and react properly to it.

He understands that the Giants have sold out every home game this season, that they're riding a high and ought to capitalize on it.

When I asked on Twitter the other day whether Beltran was worth a top prospect, given that the Giants could make it to the playoffs with or without him, a Giants fan quickly wrote back, "Back-to-back world champions sounds a lot better than back-to-back division titles."

Beltran doesn't guarantee the Giants anything, but this trade shows Sabean was serious about giving his team its best chance to win.

"Hopefully, this shows that we mean business," he said. "If I was a player, I'd appreciate it. And I think about them."

Sabean isn't necessarily done. The Giants would still love to upgrade, and could do so at any of three spots (catcher, shortstop or center field). But according to sources, nothing is close to hot at the moment on any of those fronts.

That's fine. If the Giants just get Beltran, they're a winner at this trade deadline.

Zack Wheeler, the prospect the Giants gave up for Beltran, is a big "get" for the Mets. But he's also still in Class A.

"It's our job to find another Wheeler, develop another Wheeler," he said.

The Giants have been outstanding at developing pitching, as their strong rotation shows. Dick Tidrow, Sabean's pitching guru, is mostly responsible.

Tidrow assured Sabean that the Giants have enough depth to make up for the loss of Wheeler, The Giants decided they would rather part with a pitcher than a position player.

They knew they wanted Beltran, "the player we coveted all along," according to Sabean.

And they knew the time was right for a move like this.

"We owed it to the city," Sabean said.

And he's right.

Posted on: July 26, 2011 8:03 pm

Brewers like Beltran, but Barmes is more likely

The Brewers have remained on the fringes of the Carlos Beltran talks, with great interest in adding a big-time player but without much left in the minor leagues to offer for him. Brewers people acknowledge that Beltran was always a longshot for them, but they have had scouts watch him during the Mets' last two series.

What's more likely, according to sources, is that the Brewers make a smaller move, and the name to watch now is Astros infielder Clint Barmes.

Barmes could fill in for weak-hitting Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop, and he could also fill in for struggling Casey McGehee at third base.

The Brewers have also talked to the Dodgers about infielder Jamey Carroll. And they've looked at other outfielders, including Coco Crisp of the A's and Jerry Hairston Jr. of the Nationals.
Posted on: July 24, 2011 1:22 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 3:53 pm

Beltran derby into final days, Rangers interested

With the Carlos Beltran derby heading into the final days, there were suggestions Sunday that the Phillies' interest has cooled, that the Rangers' interest has picked up and that the Giants are still heavily involved.

Meanwhile, the Mets continue to hold out hope that one team or another will agree to surrender its top prospect in return for Beltran, who is the best hitter on the free-agent market but is also strictly a rental player.

Beltran must approve any trade, and as many others have reported, his preference is to stay in the National League. But one person close to him said Sunday that it's possible that Beltran would approve a deal to the Rangers.

Texas fits some of Beltran's stated criteria, since the Rangers are likely to be in the playoffs and have a real chance of getting to the World Series. Also, the Rangers could offer Beltran regular playing time in the outfield, either by playing Beltran in center field or (more likely) by moving Josh Hamilton back to center.

Earlier this month, the Rangers seemed most focused on adding pitching, either in the rotation or the bullpen. They talked to the Rockies about Ubaldo Jimenez, and discussed relievers with the Padres.

But the Rangers sent a scout in to see Beltran at the end of the Mets' homestand last week, and by Sunday one rival official was suggesting that the Rangers could even be the favorite, because they had more prospects available and also could take on more of Beltran's salary.

The Braves, Red Sox, Pirates and even the Reds have been mentioned in connection with Beltran.

Because Beltran is easily the biggest impact hitter on the market, the Mets can justify asking for the world. What works against them actually getting it is that both the Giants and the Rangers (and the Phillies, for that matter) will very likely make the playoffs with or without a Beltran trade.

For those teams, the question is how much better Beltran would make them in October, and how much that's worth in terms of giving up top prospects.

The Mets are said by sources to have asked for pitcher Zack Wheeler from the Giants. According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, they asked for first Domonic Brown and then Jarred Cosart from the Phillies. It's no surprise that the Phils said no on both. There were also reports that the Mets had asked for Mike Minor from the Braves, and again it's no surprise that the Braves said no.

Posted on: July 21, 2011 2:22 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 2:31 pm

Cardinals finally steal a base (and it's Molina)

The strangest streak of the year ended in the strangest possible way.

Yadier Molina stole a base Thursday for the Cardinals.

Molina stole a base after no Cardinal had stolen a base in more than a month. Molina, who has 23 steals in 891 career games, broke a steal-less streak that had extended 33 games, since a Tyler Greene steal on June 9 against the Astros.

According to research through baseball-reference.com, the 33-game streak is the longest in baseball since 1977, when the Indians went 35 games without a steal. It's the longest by a Cardinal team since the 1950s.

"I don't want that record," manager Tony La Russa said Wednesday.

They won't get it. In the ninth inning of their 6-2 win over the Mets, Molina took off and reached second base without a throw.

Just like that, the strangest streak was over . . . in the strangest way.

Posted on: July 20, 2011 7:25 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 8:38 pm

Beltran is the big prize on trade market

The Mets aren't interested in trading Jose Reyes, who would have been the best player available on this July's trade market.

They will trade Carlos Beltran, the best hitter available on the market.

"He's the impact guy," said an official of one of the many teams hoping to acquire Beltran.

Beltran, who entered play Wednesday with 14 home runs and 59 RBI in 91 games, is good enough that even teams without a real need in the outfield have sent scouts to see him, just in case. The Rangers had a scout at Citi Field on Wednesday, even though their main focus this month has been on acquiring pitching.

The list of teams that could end up with Beltran remains a long one. The Phillies may be the most aggressive suitor, as Jon Heyman of SI.com has suggested, but the Red Sox, Giants and Braves are all still believed to be in the running. The Phillies and Giants both have had scouts in New York all week, and the Red Sox were in to see Beltran last weekend.

The Tigers and Pirates are also said to have shown interest, but the Tigers' focus continues to be on acquiring a starting pitcher, and it's not clear that Beltran would approve a deal to the Pirates. Beltran has a full no-trade clause in his contract, but it's believed he would agree to go to any of the other contenders.

The Mets are almost certain to deal Beltran, because he will be a free agent at the end of the season and won't be back in 2012, in any case. Also, they wouldn't get any draft picks as compensation when he signs elsewhere, because of a clause in his contract that doesn't allow him to be offered arbitration (and a high salary that probably would have kept them from offering it, anyway).

Because Beltran is the best hitter on the market, the Mets can try to hold out for a big price for Beltran, even though he's a true rental player. They have also suggested to teams that they would be willing to pay some or most of his contract, depending on the players they get in return.

For more trade deadline news, click here.
Posted on: July 15, 2011 6:57 pm

For $500,000, K-Rod waives option

Remember that $17.5 million option that made Francisco Rodriguez's contract so scary?

Well, forget it.

In exchange for bumping his 2012 buyout from $3.5 million to $4 million, sources confirmed that K-Rod has agreed to convert the vesting option (it would have vested with 21 more games finished) into a mutual option (which the Brewers will certainly turn down). As a result, the Brewers can use K-Rod however they want (he'll likely now become the full-time closer), and K-Rod can build up a resume that could allow him to hit the market as the top free-agent closer.

None of this should come as a surprise. As I wrote on Monday, the day before Rodriguez was traded from the Mets to the Brewers, Scott Boras, Rodriguez's new agent, preferred for him to become a free agent this year (at age 29) rather than next year (at 30). Boras believes that K-Rod can get a lucrative multi-year deal this winter.

There's no question that the switch is good for the Brewers, who can now use K-Rod as they please without worrying about the option. It's also good for Boras, since commission on the $17.5 million would have gone to K-Rod's former agent, Paul Kinzer.

Is it good for K-Rod? It could well be, if Boras is able to get him that multi-year deal this winter.

It's not good for Kinzer, but after what we learned this week, Kinzer can hardly complain. As first reported by David Waldstein in the New York Times, Kinzer never filed the list of 10 teams that would have been on Rodriguez's no-trade list. That's a stunning mistake, one which very likely cost Rodriguez some money (which he would have received for waiving the no-trade clause).
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 13, 2011 12:06 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 1:30 am

Brewers acquire K-Rod from Mets

Is there any doubt left that the Brewers are going for it this year?

On the same night that free-agent-to-be Prince Fielder was the star of stars in the All-Star Game, his Brewers team completed a trade to acquire closer Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets. The first-place Brewers will send two players to be named later to the Mets, who will pay part of Rodriguez's contract.

That contract was thought to be an obstacle to a K-Rod trade, because it includes a $17.5 million option for 2012, which vests if he finishes 55 games (he has 34 already). But things changed once Rodriguez switched agents and hired Scott Boras, because Boras would prefer for K-Rod to become a free agent at the end of the season.

It's possible that Boras will make a deal to buy out the option, probably by increasing the $3.5 million buyout that already exists in the contract.

Rodriguez is 23-for-26 in save situations this year for the Mets. He has a 3.16 ERA, but a career-high 1.16 WHIP. By adding a closer, the Brewers could move John Axford (23-for-25 in save situations) into a set-up role, helping what has been a middle-relief problem for them this year.

They could also have Axford close with K-Rod setting up, which would make it unlikely that the option vests. But again, Boras is not nearly as interested in the option as K-Rod's former agent was.

Rodriguez will be reunited with Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who was an Angels coach during the best years of K-Rod's career.

There was never much chance that the financially-strapped Mets were going to keep Rodriguez past this season. The Mets are also likely to trade outfielder Carlos Beltran by the end of the month. It's significantly less likely, but perhaps not impossible, that they would also trade shortstop Jose Reyes.

The Mets will likely use Bobby Parnell as their closer, now that K-Rod is gone.

Fielder is also eligible for free agency at the end of the season, but the Brewers made a decision last winter to keep him and try to win with him one last time. That decision looks good so far, as Fielder had an MVP-type first half and the Brewers entered the All-Star break tied with the Cardinals atop the National League Central.

Category: MLB
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