Posted on: July 21, 2010 6:44 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2010 7:43 pm
It's July, so the Phillies are trying to trade for a starting pitcher.
Of course they are. They do every year.
The Phillies have dealt for a starter each of the last four years , and sources familiar with the organization said they're trying hard this week to make it five in a row.
The top target has been Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt, but it appears that Diamondbacks right-hander Dan Haren could be a strong fallback position. Last year, remember, the Phillies tried first for Roy Halladay, before switching to their second choice and acquiring Cliff Lee (before then trading Lee and acquiring Halladay over the winter).
While sources said that no deal was close, as of late Wednesday afternoon, it's entirely possible that a trade for one of the pitchers could be completed before the July 31 non-waiver deadline. While the Phillies have two openings in their rotation this weekend, after demoting Kyle Kendrick and losing Jamie Moyer to an injury, the team apparently doesn't feel pressure to get a trade completed in the next 2-3 days.
The Phillies expect to activate left-hander J.A. Happ from the disabled list to start Sunday's game against the Rockies, although in some scenarios that have been discussed, Happ would be part of the package the Phillies would give up in a trade.
Astros owner Drayton McLane told the team's website that "nothing's imminent" on the trade front, and suggested that any deal would wait until closer to the July 31 deadline.
A deal for Oswalt remains complicated, for all the reasons we explained last month and more. ESPN.com reported Wednesday that Oswalt would require a team to pick up his 2012 option as part of agreeing to any deal, and sources said the Phillies aren't inclined to do that. Oswalt may not really want to pitch in Philadelphia in any case, having told people in Houston that he would rather not go anywhere with a large and aggressive media contingent.
The Phillies' urgency to make a trade could also be affected by the way the team plays the rest of this week. The Phils lost five of their first six games after the All-Star break, falling a season-high seven games behind the Braves in the National League East. The Phils have also fallen four games behind in the wild-card race.
The standings provide part of the reason that the Phillies have focused on Oswalt and Haren, because both pitchers are signed past this season, so neither would be a pennant-race rental. In effect, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro would be doing what White Sox GM Ken Williams did last summer, when he traded for Jake Peavy and claimed Alex Rios on waivers with one eye on 2010.
By acquiring either Oswalt or Haren, the Phillies would accomplish two things: First, they'd have a somewhat better chance of making the playoffs this year, and a great playoff rotation of Halladay, Cole Hamels and either of the two targets if they did get there. Second, they'd basically complete their shopping for 2011, adding the pitcher to their rotation with the understanding that they'd make room financially by allowing Jayson Werth to leave as a free agent and replacing him with top prospect Domonic Brown.
The Phils have also discussed the possibility of trading Werth this month, but at this point a Werth trade seems less likely than a deal for a pitcher.
Posted on: July 11, 2010 7:37 pm
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- You could call it the Summer Meetings.
Not the All-Star Game, because so few baseball executives show up for it anymore. But Sunday's All-Star Futures Game might be the biggest gathering of baseball people outside the Winter Meetings.
Here's what some of them were talking about Sunday:
-- How well did the Mariners do in Friday's Cliff Lee trade? That depends what you think of first baseman Justin Smoak, the acknowledged centerpiece of the package that the Rangers sent to the Mariners. And among a handful of baseball people surveyed Sunday, the reviews on Smoak are decidedly mixed. "He's not [Mark] Teixeira," one veteran scout said. "They think they're trading for a batting champion. I'm not sure he's that." Other scouts were much more positive, one going so far as to say he has no questions about Smoak's value. And this was a decidedly top-heavy package, in part because that's how the Mariners asked for offers to be made.
-- While New York newspapers quoted some Yankee officials as being upset with the way the Mariners handled the Lee talks, officials from other teams scoffed at the idea that the Yankees could be upset. "The Yankees?" one official asked. "How can they say anything. They held up [last winter's three-team trade] by insisting that Curtis Granderson first get his eyes checked and then insisting that [Granderson] agreed to wear contact lenses."
-- The Rangers were among the teams that scouted Dan Haren on Friday night in Arizona, although by the time that game began they had completed the Lee deal and no longer needed to trade for a pitcher. Could the cash-poor Rangers have afforded Haren, who makes $12.75 million each of the next two years? Only in the highly unlikely event that their long-delayed sale is completed by the end of this month. The Rangers were able to afford Lee because the Mariners kicked in $2.25 million to help pay his salary, but also because they spent less than usual on things like Latin American scouting, specifically so they could make a trade like this one.
-- As one scout said, the group watching Haren included all the usual suspects, the teams still in need of a top starting pitcher. The White Sox, Phillies, Reds, Cardinals and Angels were all represented. So were the Yankees, although it's unlikely they would be interested in trading for Haren.
-- The Twins never had a real chance to get Lee, because while they have depth in prospects, they didn't have anyone Seattle would accept as a centerpiece of the deal (as Smoak was with the Rangers, and as Jesus Montero would have been in the proposed deal with the Yankees).
-- One thought on Roy Oswalt, whose $16 million contract for 2011 is a big obstacle for teams thinking about trading for him: A team, such as the Twins, could acquire Oswalt with the idea of trading him away after the season. Oswalt has a full no-trade clause, though, so he still needs to approve any deal, now or in November.
-- While the Yankees are still the best bet to sign Lee as a free agent this winter, don't discount the possibility that the Rangers could try hard to keep him. Rangers officials believe their chances at retaining Lee would hinge on two necessities: First, obviously, the ownership situation would need to be resolved. Second, the team would need to win, which would generate both the revenue and good feelings needed to get a deal done.
-- On Friday morning, the Rangers had given up on the idea of getting Lee, because the Mariners told them they were moving on a deal with the Yankees. But while the Rangers were deciding what to do next, Zduriencik sent word that there was "a window" in which he would field other offers. That's when the Rangers decided to offer Smoak and the package that got the deal done, replacing a four-player package that didn't include Smoak (but which some Rangers people considered superior).
-- Cubs people say the Ricketts family, which took over ownership of the team last winter, are committed to spending money. But they also say that money may not show immediately in spending at the major-league level, because the new owners plan to concentrate first on upping the budgets for scouting and player development.
Posted on: June 11, 2010 6:25 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2010 7:08 pm
NEW YORK -- Roy Oswalt says he'd consider going anywhere.
"Location doesn't matter," the Astros ace said Friday. "It's only for a year and a half."
Roy Oswalt says he'd be willing to pitch in either league.
"Actually, I'd be excited to pitch over here [in the American League]," he said. "Everybody keeps bragging that it's better."
Listen long enough, and you could almost be convinced that an Oswalt trade won't be that complicated, after all.
The key word there is almost.
An Oswalt trade remains so complicated that many people around the Astros remain convinced it won't happen -- that despite Oswalt's request that the Astros consider dealing him, he'll still be with Houston when the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline passes.
And while Astros owner Drayton McLane is the biggest potential obstacle, and Oswalt's contract ($15 million this year, $16 million next year, and a $16 million option or $2 million buyout for 2012) is the second biggest obstacle, Oswalt's full no-trade clause figures in, as well.
Despite what Oswalt said Friday, people who know him remain convinced that there are only a few teams he would actually agree to move to. And while Oswalt insisted Friday that there's no "list," the feeling is that there are fewer than half a dozen teams that he would even seriously consider.
Remember, Oswalt never said that he would definitely go to any one team.
"I'm just kind of leaving all options out there," he said Friday.
The one requirement he will admit to is that he will only go to a team that is pretty sure bet to make the playoffs this year.
"Pretty much," Oswalt agreed.
Not many teams fit that requirement. Not many of those teams can afford a pitcher who is signed for $16 million next year. And not many of that subgroup would give up top prospects and pay all of Oswalt's contract.
So yes, Roy Oswalt says he'd go anywhere.
But it's still a good bet that he'll go nowhere.
Posted on: May 28, 2010 10:42 am
Edited on: May 28, 2010 1:30 pm
A month ago today, we told you that the Mets were a mess to figure out.
Well, guess what? A month later, the Mets are a mess to figure out.
One week, they're changing three-fifths of the starting rotation, and everyone thinks they might change the manager, too. There's a mess with John Maine, a mess with Darryl Strawberry and a mess with Francisco Rodriguez.
Then the Mets win a series from the Yankees, and sweep a series from the Phillies -- on three straight shutouts . Anyone need reminding that the Yankees and Phillies are the defending league champions?
So now the Mets are rolling again, just two games behind the Phillies in the National League East. Now we see all the Mets' potential, with two ace-like starting pitchers atop the rotation (Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey), with grit that they haven't shown in years, with Jose Reyes looking like himself atop the lineup, with Carlos Beltran coming back sometime (although not soon), with a rebuilt rotation, and with a team that sure does seem to respond for Jerry Manuel.
And a team that still owns the worst road record in the entire National League. A team that plays in a ballpark where it sometimes seems impossible to hit a home run, and still features a key middle-of-the-order hitter (Jason Bay) who has homered only at home.
Oh, and a team that's about to open a road series against the team with the worst home record in baseball.
Sounds like a perfect place to begin this weekend's 3 to watch:
1. At this point, we'll have to assume that Manuel's job is safe for another . . . no, we're not going to say it, because with the Mets, there's always another crisis around the corner. But what about Ken Macha? A week ago, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel , "I can tell you unequivocally, we are not making a manager change on Monday." That was last Monday he was talking about, and the Brewers unequivocally did not change managers that day. Macha was still the manager when the Brewers finally won a home series (against the awful Astros), and we're going to have to assume he'll be there when Santana faces Yovani Gallardo in Mets at Brewers, Friday night (8:10 EDT) at Miller Park .
2. There's still a lot of doubt that Roy Oswalt will actually get traded, given the limited list of teams he's said to be interested in going to, and Astros owner Drayton McLane's limited (or non-existent) history of trading away his favorite players. But one popular destination, at least when baseball people talk about Oswalt, is the Angels, who have been searching for an ace for more than a year now. The Astros aren't on the Angels' interleague schedule, so they won't get to see Oswalt in person. They will, however, get a close look at another even more likely-to-be-available ace, Cliff Lee, in Mariners at Angels, Friday night (10:05 EDT) at Angel Stadium . Lee starts Friday, Felix Hernandez starts Sunday, and Chone Figgins will be back in Anaheim for the first time in a Mariner uniform.
3. Josh Johnson hasn't allowed a run in more than two weeks. The Phillies haven't scored a run off a starting pitcher in a week. Josh Johnson is the scheduled starter, against Roy Halladay, in Phillies at Marlins, Saturday night (7:10 EDT) at Sun Life Stadium . Sounds like maybe the Phillies ought to think about scoring a run Friday night against Chris Volstad.
Posted on: August 4, 2008 7:38 pm
I suppose you have to admire Drayton McLane's confidence, his determination and his willingness to spend money.
Or waste money.
It still makes no sense that the Astros were buyers at last week's non-waiver trading deadline. It still makes no sense that the Astros, 13 games out of first place and eight games out of the wild-card lead (with five teams in front of them) traded for Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins, let alone that they didn't get a start on rebuilding an organization that badly needs it.
It makes no sense to me, I should say. Because after talking to McLane before the Astros' game tonight at Wrigley Field, I'm convinced that it makes sense to him.
"We never considered selling," he said. "It's not in my makeup. That was never in consideration. We had a lot of offers. You heard about (Miguel) Tejada. There was interest in Carlos Lee. Even Lance Berkman's name was mentioned. Roy Oswalt's, too. We wouldn't ever consider any of those things."
The natural question is "Why the heck not?" But McLane has an answer for that, too.
Quite simply, he expects this team to win. He still expects it.
"Absolutely," he said. "Look at 2004. We were in about the same position we're in now. In 2005, same thing, and we went to the World Series."
So he thinks the Astros are going to win in 2008?
"Yeah, I think we're going to make a great run for it, and I think we have the capacity to win," he said.
Sorry, but I still think it's nuts. I do, however, admire his confidence.
Oh, and for the record, on Aug. 4, 2004, the Astros were 14 1/2 games out of first place and five games back in the wild-card race, which they ended up winning. A year later, they were nine games out of first place, but were already leading the wild-card race (which they won again enroute to the World Series.