Posted on: July 27, 2010 2:07 pm

Dunn may well be dealt, but not for Garza

Teams that have spoken to the Nationals about Adam Dunn believe there's a good chance Dunn will be traded by the end of the week.

They also think that the price Nats GM Mike Rizzo is asking for Dunn right now is ridiculously high. Rizzo has been telling teams that to trade Dunn, he would need to get a young starting pitcher who is either major-league ready or close to it.

How ready? Well, according to a source familiar with the talks, last week the Nationals asked the Rays for Matt Garza.

Obviously, that wasn't happening, even before Garza threw the first no-hitter in Rays history on Monday night against the Tigers.

While there's no way for them to know for sure, rival teams believe that Rizzo plans to move Dunn, who is in the last year of his contract. Because of that, they believe that Rizzo's asking price will eventually drop, and that a deal will get done.

The Rays and White Sox have shown interest in Dunn, but a scout from another American League team said he thinks it would be a mistake for an AL team to trade for him. Dunn has said many times that he has no interest in being a designated hitter, and the scout believes that Dunn wouldn't be happy with an AL team.

The Giants, who have also checked on Dunn, would seem to be a better fit. But Giants GM Brian Sabean has been reluctant to move any of his best pitchers, and it's hard to believe he would include them in a move for a rental player like Dunn.


In other trade talk Tuesday, opposing teams increasingly believe that the Phillies want to move Jayson Werth. The asking price for Werth has been similar to what Washington wants for Dunn: a young starting pitcher. Werth will also be a free agent this winter, and while there's believed to be little chance he'll re-sign with the Phillies, one scout said: "He should never leave that ballpark." . . . Other teams still don't count out the Phillies in the Roy Oswalt sweepstakes, even though it's well-known that Oswalt would prefer to be dealt to St. Louis, Atlanta or Texas. The Cardinals have interest, but some people who know Astros owner Drayton McLane don't believe he would send Oswalt to the Cards -- or to the Rangers. And the Braves have not shown interest.
Posted on: July 21, 2010 6:44 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2010 7:43 pm

Phillies seek pitcher, focusing on Oswalt, Haren

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 18, 2010 8:28 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2010 8:45 pm

3 to watch: The Do we care? edition

Yankee fans cared very much about George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard. Baseball fans everywhere have cared very much about Stephen Strasburg.

Now Alex Rodriguez is approaching 600 home runs.

Do you care?

There's been amazingly little A-Rod buzz, and from what I was told, there wasn't much reaction from the Yankee Stadium fans when Rodriguez hit his 598th home run Sunday against the Rays.

You'd think it would be a meaningful milestone. Only six players have hit 600 home runs, and A-Rod (who turns 35 on July 27) will be the youngest ever to get there -- unless it takes him more than a year to hit two more home runs.

So why is there no buzz?

Is it that Rodriguez admitted using steroids earlier in his career? Is it that the steroid era has made 600 home runs seem that much less significant? Are we waiting for him to approach Willie Mays (660 home runs), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762), the numbers that earn A-Rod $6 million bonuses in his most recent contract? Do we just not like A-Rod?

Or maybe the buzz is suddenly going to appear Tuesday night, when A-Rod gets his first legitimate chance at reaching 600. He needs two more home runs, and he has hit two or more in a game 55 times in his career.

Not only that, but he has hit 67 career home runs against the Angels, by far the most he has hit against any opponent.

For the record, none of the six guys with 600 home runs hit Nos. 599 and 600 in the same game. Ruth came closest, hitting them on back-to-back days in St. Louis, in 1931.

A-Rod took nearly two weeks between 498 and 500, and also between 398 and 400.

So this countdown could take a while. But unless the buzz builds, this may be the only time it appears in 3 to watch:

1. Two years ago, when Ken Griffey Jr. reached 600 before a sparse crowd in Miami -- maybe there wasn't that much buzz then, either -- Rodriguez told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times that it's always better to reach big milestones at home. Rodriguez has six chances to get to 600 on this homestand, starting with Angels at Yankees, Tuesday night (7:05 EDT) at Yankee Stadium . At least Rodriguez won't be facing Scott Kazmir, who has held him to four hits -- and no home runs -- in 29 career at-bats. Kazmir went on the disabled list Sunday, and the Angels told reporters that they plan to call up a starter from the minor leagues to pitch Tuesday. A-Rod is also homerless in 35 plate appearances against Wednesday starter Joel Pineiro. He has four homers in 19 at-bats against Jered Weaver, who won't pitch in this series.

2. The fans want to see Strasburg. The scouts, most likely, will instead head for Chicago, to watch potential trade targets Brett Myers and Ted Lilly face off, in Astros at Cubs, Wednesday afternoon (2:20 EDT) at Wrigley Field . In a pitching market that no longer includes Cliff Lee, Myers and Lilly could be two of the more attractive properties.

3. Nothing against Bronson Arroyo, who will be Strasburg's opponent in Nationals at Reds, Wednesday night (7:10 EDT) at Great American Ball Park , but wouldn't it have been more compelling if Strasburg was starting a day earlier, against fellow rookie Mike Leake, or a day later, against Edinson Volquez? Apparently ESPN didn't care, as yet another Strasburg start has been scheduled for national television. Can't say I blame them.

Posted on: June 11, 2010 6:25 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2010 7:08 pm

Oswalt says 'anywhere,' but he may go nowhere

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.

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 21, 2010 10:21 am

3 to watch: The Mind the gap edition

Since this time a year ago, the National League has added Roy Halladay, Matt Holliday, Jason Bay and Jason Heyward, with Stephen Strasburg on the way.

The American League has added Javier Vazquez, Milton Bradley and Juan Pierre, with Mike Cameron on the way back from the disabled list.

You'd think the NL would finally be catching up, except that everything you see on the field tells you it isn't. Or, at least, that despite all the catching up the NL seems to have done, there's still a massive gap in talent between the two leagues.

"This league stinks," seems to be the most common refrain from scouts who cover the NL.

Which should be good news for the 14 American League teams that plunge into interleague play this weekend, at least until they realize that all their rivals get to face NL teams, too.

On to 3 to watch for the weekend:

1. The Yankees did everything they could to avoid having the struggling and unpopular Vazquez start against one of their rivals (the Red Sox). But they seem to have no problem having him open the Subway Series against their other rival, as he'll do in Yankees at Mets, Friday night (7:10 EDT) at Citi Field . The other pitching matchups in this series are much better, with the improved Mike Pelfrey against the even more improved Phil Hughes on Saturday, and the aces CC Sabathia and Johan Santana colliding on Sunday night. But with the Yankees losing key players by the day, and the Mets self-destructing, even the Vazquez-Hisanori Takahashi matchup in the opener is tough to skip. One question: If Vazquez gets booed at Citi Field, will the Mets fans or Yankees fans be doing the booing? Or both?

2. The Rays are the best team in the better league, or at least they have been so far. The Astros are the worst team in the worse league, or at least they have been so far. So naturally, they get matched up on the first weekend of interleague play. At least it should provide a nice homecoming for Houston native Andrew Friedman, the Rays general manager, and for Houston natives Carl Crawford and Jeff Niemann, who is the scheduled starter in Rays at Astros, Saturday night (7:05 EDT) at Minute Maid Park .

3. The Reds were the NL's hottest team, at least until they stumbled badly the last two days in Atlanta. The Indians may well be the American League's worst team, and they proved it by losing two straight at home to the Royals. So if the NL truly is getting better, maybe it will show by the time we get to Reds at Indians, Sunday afternoon (1:05 EDT) at Progressive Field .
Posted on: April 23, 2010 9:37 am

3 to watch: The best, worst and we'll see edition

The Yankees just turned their first triple play since 1968. They won their first five series of a season for the first time since 1926.

Now they try to make it six straight series wins to start a season for the first time since . . . ever?

That can't be right. But it is.

So in honor of the Yankees and their series wins, this weekend's 3 to watch will focus not on three games, but on three series.

1. Until last September, a Yankees series win in Anaheim would have seemed a touch historic, all by itself. They lost seven straight regular season away series to the Angels from 2004-08, and lost to the Angels in the 2005 playoffs, too. But the Yankees won a series in Anaheim last September, and even though they lost two of the three American League Championship Series games played in Anaheim, they won the ALCS in six games. Still, an ALCS rematch is a big deal, and a chance for the Yankees to make history is a bigger deal. They can do it this weekend, Yankees at Angels, Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon at Angels Stadium.

2. Scouts who saw the Astros this spring came away convinced that they might be the worst team in the game. "Worse than the Pirates?" the question went. And the debate went on. It continued when the Astros began the season with eight straight losses, and may have gained steam when the Pirates just played a three-game home series against the Brewers in which they were outscored 36-1. Worse than the Pirates? They're going to need to prove that. Perfect, because this weekend brings us Pirates at Astros, Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.

3. It may not matter. It may be that no one is going to challenge the Cardinals in the National League Central. But if someone's going to do it, it's most likely going to be either the Cubs or the Brewers. They've both had their troubles in the early going. Until the three games against the Pirates, the Brewers had a 6.06 team ERA, bringing back memories of last year. The Cubs have enough trouble that Lou Piniella felt the need to move Carlos Zambrano into the eighth-inning setup role. It should be an interesting weekend, with Zambrano debuting in the bullpen, Ted Lilly debuting in the rotation, and the Brewers trying to find out if all those runs in Pittsburgh mean that their season has turned around. It's Cubs at Brewers, Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at Miller Park.
Category: MLB
Posted on: December 10, 2009 12:01 am
Edited on: December 10, 2009 12:19 am

Astros near 3-year deal for Lyon

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Astros are closing in on a three-year deal with reliever Brandon Lyon, CBSSports.com has confirmed.

The deal, according to major-league sources, is worth $15 million.

The 30-year-old right-hander had a 2.86 ERA in 65 appearances for the Tigers in 2009. He has 54 career saves, including 26 for the Diamondbacks in 2008.

Earlier Wednesday, the Astros acquired reliever Matt Lindstrom in a trade with Florida. It's possible that Lyon and Lindstrom will split closing duties.

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 21, 2009 4:08 pm

Fired Cooper fell short in Houston

Cecil Cooper predicted that the Astros would win 90 games. They won't win 80.

If you're looking for a simple answer for why the Astros fired their manager today, there it is.

His expectations, and the team's, were high. Ridiculously high, if you asked most people in baseball.

But the questions on Cooper went farther than absurd predictions and unreasonable expectations, and the disconnect went farther than seeing a 75-win team as one that "should win 90 games, without question."

As pleasant as he could be to deal with, and as easy as he could be to quote, Cooper never seemed to earn the respect of his players. Even last year, when the Astros won 86 games and stayed on the fringes of the wild-card race until the final week of the season, the talk out of Houston was that the players would have preferred a change.

The Astros stuck with Cooper, and he said exactly what out-of-touch owner Drayton McLane loved to hear.

Like the 90-win prediction, delivered during a spring in which the Astros were losing game after game and looking like a team more likely to lose 110 than to win 90.

"I mean, c'mon, we've got what it takes," Cooper said, when the look on my face said I didn't believe they could win 90. "You're telling me we're not going to win that many games?"

They weren't going to win 90. They aren't going to win 90. They're 70-79 with 13 games left on the schedule, and third-base Dave Clark is going to manage those 13 games in Cooper's place.

Category: MLB
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