Posted on: April 3, 2009 12:17 pm
Edited on: April 3, 2009 12:58 pm

Mets join Phils and Reds with Sheffield interest

The Tigers decided they were better off without Gary Sheffield.

Could the two best teams in the National League East both believe they'd be better off with him?

The answer is yes, because major-league sources said both the Mets and Phillies have serious interest in signing Sheffield, who the Tigers released with $14 million remaining on his contract. The third team known to have interest is the Reds.

The Mets see Sheffield as a part-time player, but one who could be a more imposing presence off the bench than Fernando Tatis. General manager Omar Minaya has always liked big names, and Mets officials believe that the 40-year-old Sheffield has something left in his bat, to go along with his name. Sheffield can't be that big bat all the time (his .225 average last year and .178 average this spring are evidence enough of that), but the Mets believe there's a chance he could thrive in a part-time role. For now, the Mets starting corner outfielders are Daniel Murphy and Ryan Church, and Tatis is the main option off the bench.

The Phillies, meanwhile, have been searching for a right-handed all spring. Sheffield represents a better option off the bench than Miguel Cairo, whose roster spot he would likely take. And while the Tigers determined that Sheffield can no longer play the outfield, the Phillies figure that they won a World Series with Pat Burrell in left field, and that Sheffield couldn't be much worse than that.

The Mets also believe that Sheffield is healthy enough to see some time in the outfield. Last year, Sheffield played just six games in the outfield, all in a short stretch in early May.

Sheffield, who was primarily a designated hitter in his two years with the Tigers, has never had many pinch-hit opportunities. According to baseball-reference.com, Sheffield has only 34 pinch-hit plate appearances in his entire 21-year career. The Tigers used him as a pinch hitter just four times in the last two seasons, and he pinch-hit just twice in three seasons with the Yankees before that.

One important factor for the Mets and Phillies is that they would be getting Sheffield without any long-term commitment. They would have to pay him just the prorated $400,000 major-league minimum for the number of days he spent on their roster. If they later determined that he can't play, or if he complained too much about not getting enough playing time, they could release him without owing him any more money.


Category: MLB
Posted on: December 9, 2008 6:45 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2008 9:20 pm

Orioles make room for Wieters

LAS VEGAS -- The Orioles traded catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Reds in exchange for Ryan Freel, clearing the way for Matt Wieters to take over as the O's catcher.

The Orioles love the 22-year-old Wieters, who manager Dave Trembley has compared to Joe Mauer. While they're not committed to breaking camp with Wieters as their starting catcher, they believe he'll be ready at some point in 2009.

"This trade was more about Matt Wieters," Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail said in announcing the trade.

The Orioles included $3 million to pay part of Hernandez's $8 million contract, sources told CBSSports.com's Scott Miller.

In addition to Freel, the Orioles received a pair of minor leaguers, third baseman Brandon Waring and second baseman Justin Turner.

Wieters was Baltimore's first-round pick in 2007, and he has drawn raves reviews from scouts inside and outside the organization.

The Orioles will look to add a veteran catcher to work with Wieters and also be ready to begin the year as the starter if they determine that Wieters isn't ready. It could benefit the Orioles financially if they start the year with Wieters in the minor leagues, because it would put off free agency for the Scott Boras client.

One other note on Wieters: A scouting director said today that out of the 2007 draft, he had Wieters ranked second only to David Price, the left-handed pitcher who was so impressive for the Rays in the playoffs.

"I also had (Wieters) ranked fifth as a pitcher," the scouting director said. "He had a 95-96 (mph) fastball, with an 84-87 slider."

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 31, 2008 5:20 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2008 5:23 pm

Griffey was great, but can he play CF?

There's a real chance that Ken Griffey Jr. helps the White Sox offensively. Forget the .245 batting average he had in Cincinnati. Over the last 25 games, he's closer to .300, with six home runs and 25 RBIs.

"You make a mistake, he's going to hit it a long way," said one National League scout who has seen him play this week.

Here's the problem: To get Griffey in their lineup, and to get Paul Konerko (.214, with nine home runs all year) out of their lineup, Chicago has to play Nick Swisher at first base and Griffey in center field.

"Oh God!" another scout said when told of the White Sox's plans.

"I doubt he can do it," the first scout said. "That's a little bit of a stretch for me."

Griffey was once one of the best center fielders in the game, maybe the best. But he's 38 years old, and he hasn't played center field since 2006. In fact, scouts will tell you that Griffey is a below-average  corner outfielder at this stage of his career.

There's a real chance that Griffey will be energized by moving to Chicago, and moving into a pennant race. It never really worked for him in Cincinnati, not the way it was supposed to when he left Seattle to go play in his hometown.

If the Sox could use him as a designated hitter, or even in right field, it would be hard to find any fault with this trade. The Reds are paying most of Griffey's salary, and the two players the White Sox gave up aren't their best prospects.

But the Sox have Carlos Quentin in left field. They have Jermaine Dye in right field. They have Jim Thome as their DH.

Griffey basically has to play center field. I'd love to say he can do it, because Griffey has been one of the game's great stars.

I'm just not sure he can.

Posted on: July 3, 2008 12:49 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2008 1:00 pm

Yanks or Red Sox? They'll take the Rays

David Ortiz says in this morning's Boston Herald that he still thinks the Red Sox and Yankees are the two best teams in baseball.

Two scouts who watched the Red Sox get swept at Tropicana Field don't agree.

"If you look at the two clubs out there last night, there's no comparison," the first scout said. "And I'm serious. Tampa Bay has a better ballclub."

"It's not even close," the other scout agreed. "In every facet but the closer."

There are still questions about the Rays, particularly about whether their bullpen can hold up (especially if Troy Percival can't stay healthy). And there are those who wonder whether a young team that hasn't been through a pennant race before can survive through August and September.

"The second half is tougher," the scout admitted. "And they have a younger club. But they've got some talented guys, and talent overrides that."

The Rays are in the market for another bat in the outfield, with Xavier Nady the name most mentioned. They're also in on the C.C. Sabathia sweepstakes, even though their rotation is already the best in the division.

Another weakness is at first base, where one scout said that Carlos Pena "looks just like he did when he was playing for Detroit."

As for the Red Sox, they have to be looking for bullpen help.

"If the guys they have don't get any more consistent, I can't see them winning," the scout said. "Other than (Jonathan) Papelbon, there's no one there to rely on, that I can see."


Could the Braves actually be sellers in this month's trade market?

It's almost hard to imagine, because the Braves of recent years have always been a team that goes for it. And despite being five games under .500, the Braves are only six games behind the first-place Phillies.

But one club that has spoken with the Braves said that Atlanta officials intend to meet in the near future and decide whether or not they have a realistic chance of winning. If not, they'll sell, with Mark Teixeira the biggest and most interesting name available.

The Braves don't believe they have any chance of signing Teixeira long-term, and he's a free agent at the end of this season. Teixeira told reporters in Atlanta that he hopes the Braves don't trade him, but with no chance of keeping him past this year.


One scout's handicap on the C.C. sweepstakes has the Brewers leading, followed by the Rays, Dodgers, Phillies and Cubs. The Indians seem prepared to move fast.

"It could happen tomorrow, or it might not happen until the 31st," said one person who speaks regularly with GM Mark Shapiro.


The Royals have told teams that they would at least listen on Zack Greinke, because he's one of the few players they have who could bring a big return. "It's going to take three good pieces to get him, but (GM Dayton Moore) will listen," one official said. . . . The Reds have told teams that only five players are off-limits in trade talks. The five? Edinson Volquez, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto and Edwin Encarnacion.


Posted on: June 26, 2008 2:56 pm

Will someone take Chacon? Probably so

The Atlanta Braves have a saying that applies to players like Shawn Chacon, who admitted to grabbing Astros general manager Ed Wade by the neck and is now on the way out in Houston:

"Not a Braves-type player."

I heard exactly that a couple of weeks back, when I asked a Braves person about Sidney Ponson. I knew the answer, but I asked, anyway. After all, the Braves were looking everywhere for starting pitching help.

"Not a Braves-type player."

When Ponson had his trouble with the Rangers, causing disturbances and causing Texas to designate him for assignment, officials from several organizations predicted that he wouldn't get another job. Of course, he did, and now he's scheduled to start for the Yankees Friday night against the Mets.

I wouldn't have done it. They did. And when a team like the Yankees is willing to sign a player with as bad a track record as Ponson, you start to figure that almost anyone can get another chance these days.

Anyone but Barry Bonds.


Yes, the Cubs winning this year would be a great story, now that it's been 100 years since they last won. Just don't expect the Cardinals to buy in.

"I feel like our story's just as good as theirs," Cards outfielder Ryan Ludwick said. "There were people picking us to finish fifth. We saw one magazine that said we'd only win 56 games. That'll get your blood boiling."

The Cards survived their two weeks without Albert Pujols, who returned today (a week earlier than expected).


Did you notice that Tigers manager Jim Leyland batted Gary Sheffield, Edgar Renteria and Pudge Rodriguez in the 7th, 8th and 9th spots in his batting order for two days this week?

That's three guys who each have 2,000-plus career hits (and two who have 2,500-plus). That's 897 combined home runs, 3,591 combined RBIs.

Sheffield hadn't hit lower than sixth since 1989, according to research through baseball-reference.com. Before this year, Renteria hadn't hit lower than seventh since 1996. And before this year, Rodriguez hadn't hit lower than sixth since 1995, and hadn't hit ninth since 1992.

In case you're wondering, it's not unheard of for a future Hall of Famer to bat near the bottom of the order, even in the middle of his career. Johnny Bench actually hit eighth for Cincinnati two times in the 1979 season.

Posted on: June 25, 2008 12:17 am

Who called J.P.?

Cito Gaston looks great.

Relaxed. Happy to be back.

And then there's J.P. Ricciardi. Even on a night when fans were cheering his new manager and his Blue Jays team was pounding the Reds, 14-1, the Jays general manager was trying to put out another fire.

It started Tuesday afternoon. No, it started last week, with Ricciardi's ill-advised critique of Adam Dunn on his Toronto radio show. But it got going again Tuesday afternoon.

Ricciardi, who had been trying for days to apologize to Dunn, said that Dunn had called him (on his cell phone, no less) and that he'd finally delivered the apology. The only problem was that Dunn said he hadn't called.

Could Ricciardi have made up his story about the call? Doubtful, since he had to know that reporters would check with Dunn (who was, after all, in the same stadium).

Could Dunn have made the call and then lied about it? Doubtful, because he seems to want this all to be over with, almost as much as Ricciardi does.

So who made the call? Good question, and one you can bet that J.P. Ricciardi would like an answer to.

Posted on: June 24, 2008 7:48 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2008 7:50 pm

Friends don't let friends ... win games?

Jim Leyland hates managing against his friends, because either you lose or they do. Dusty Baker says the same thing.

"You'd rather manage against adversaries," the Reds manager said today. "It's more fun."

As it turns out, though, there are a whole bunch of friendly matchups around the majors this week. Leyland against Tony La Russa. Baker against Cito Gaston. Bobby Cox against Ned Yost. Cox against Gaston.

Leyland worked for La Russa in Chicago, and worked with him in St. Louis. Yost worked for Cox in Atlanta. Gaston played with Cox, played for him and then coached under him in Toronto. Gaston and Baker were teammates when Baker broke into pro ball in Austin, Texas, in 1967.

"My first game was in Little Rock, and I dropped a fly ball," Baker said. "I cried, and I said I was going home. Cito said, "Don't worry, kid, I'll take care of you. . . . He helped raise me in the game."

So how does Gaston feel about facing both Baker and Cox in his first week back on the job? He doesn't mind it. He has no problem facing his friends.

"I've always felt that if someone's going to lose, let them lose," he said.


Tonight's A.J. Burnett-Bronson Arroyo matchup didn't attract any special-assignment scouts to the Rogers Center, something of a surprise since both starters are candidates to get traded.

While the Jays are willing to move Burnett, they're said to be setting their sights high, looking for an established outfielder (preferably left-handed hitting) in return.

As for Arroyo, it's just as well for him and for the Reds that no scouts were here. He didn't record an out in the second inning and left trailing, 9-1, after the shortest start of his career.


Atlanta advance scout Bobby Wine was at the game, because the Braves play the Blue Jays this weekend. Wine was just happy to be somewhere where a manager isn't about to be fired.

"I was in New York the weekend before Willie (Randolph) got fired," Wine said. "Then I was in Seattle for (John) McLaren's last game. Then I was in Milwaukee for (John) Gibbons' last game (with Toronto). Holy cow, I'm like a black cat."


You've seen the numbers that show the American League is once again dominating the National League in interleague play. The difference between the two leagues isn't lost on the players.

"We know what we're capable of doing against the National League teams," Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels said, after the Phils lost five straight to the Red Sox and Angels.

Did he mean that the Red Sox and Angels are better than any NL teams?

"Hands down," Hamels said. "They're a lot better than the NL teams. Even playing in an NL park."

Posted on: June 1, 2008 4:55 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2008 5:03 pm

No 600 for Griffey, but at least he got 2,610

I came to Cincinnati hoping to see Ken Griffey Jr. make history, and sure enough he did. Yeah, sure did.

With  a single and a double (but no home runs) Sunday, Griffey tied Omar Vizquel for 68th place on baseball's all-time hits list, with 2,610. Bet you didn't know that before Sunday, Vizquel had more career hits than Griffey. Vizquel might be ahead again as you read this, because as I write it he's playing for San Francisco against San Diego.

The Vizquel/Griffey stat comes courtesy of Hal McCoy, the Hall of Fame Reds beat man for the Dayton Daily News. But it's more than just a curiosity, because it should remind you exactly how many at-bats Griffey lost to injury. Griffey and Vizquel debuted in the major leagues on the very same day, April 3, 1989, when they were both playing for Seattle. Entering play Sunday, Vizquel had 513 more career at-bats -- nearly one full season more than Griffey.

As Braves manager Bobby Cox said Sunday: "I'd have thought at this time in his career, (Griffey) would be going for 700 (home runs). If he hadn't had the injuries, he might have passed up (Barry) Bonds."

Griffey can actually catch Bonds this week -- in career singles. His one Sunday was his 1,490th. Bonds has 1,495.

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