July 2006

Lieber Rocked In Philly

In case you forgot, there is an actual baseball game going on today.  Jon Lieber has been taken out of today’s game after just four and two-thirds innings, but not because of an impending deal.  He was yanked because the Marlins destroyed him with eleven hits and nine earned runs.  Looks like Lieber’s staying put.

At this point, if David Dellucci or Pat Burrell is pulled from the game, it may just be to rest them because it’s become a blowout.  With Burrell, I think there’s little sense of urgency because his contract would probably pass through waivers.

UPDATE: My knowledgable colleague Matthew Pouliot of RotoWorld reminds me that Burrell has a no-trade clause, so he has the option of rejecting any waiver claim made on him.  Todd Zolecki of the Philadelphia Inquirer recently discussed this very topic in regards to Burrell and Mike Lieberthal.

Olney: Red Sox Discussing Andruw Jones

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney:

"The Red Sox and the Braves have talked about a deal that would send Andruw Jones to Boston for Coco Crisp, Craig Hansen and a prospect. But according to an executive familiar with the discussions, the Braves made a counter offer, asking for Jon Lester to be the third player."

This may be the surprise blockbuster that’s been rumored; it’s a testament to Theo Epstein that there hasn’t been a whisper of this til now.  We’ve got just 2.5 hours to go.

If I’m John Schuerholz, I’d just try to get Lester involved and not worry about the rest.

UPDATE: Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe tells us that the Andruw Jones talks are dead, and that they didn’t really go anywhere.  He says the Sox may still be in on Soriano.  He also throws Chris Young of the Padres into the mix for the first time.

Stark: A’s Making Run At Soriano

With three hours and change left to go, add Oakland to the list of teams interested in Alfonso SorianoJayson Stark’s latest also indicates that the Twins are "all over the Soriano scene."

Soriano doesn’t work the count, but he adds slugging.  The A’s are last in the league with a woeful .393 SLG.  Hasn’t been any better in July, either – they’re at .375 this month.

Justice: McLane Orders Lidge Trade

According to Richard Justice on his SportsJustice blog:

"I’m told Drayton McLane ordered Purpura to trade Brad Lidge. I got this information from an official with another team. I would expect the Astros to deny it."

Justice also mentions that Roger Clemens is pushing Drayton McLane for help, who has in turn orderd GM Tim Purpura to make something happen.

Mets closer Billy Wagner is campaigning for Omar Minaya to bring Lidge in so Wagner can fix him.

Also, I’m told Justice was recently on 610 AM in Houston.  He mentioned that if the Astros trade Lidge for Hank Blalock straight up, the subsequent move would be to swap Morgan Ensberg and Adam Everett for Scott Linebrink and Khalil Greene

Reds Acquire Lohse, Cormier

Wayne Krivsky did some tinkering this morning, picking up Kyle Lohse and Rheal Cormier in separate trades.

Lohse, 27, was demoted on May 17th.  After four solid efforts in Rochester, he was recalled and used in middle relief.  Maybe, just maybe, he can get by as a fifth starter in the NL. 

The aggregate line of all the hitters Lohse has faced this year is .269/.334/.426 (.760 OPS).  In comparison, Bronson Arroyo‘s batters faced have managed an aggregate .756 OPS and Aaron Harang‘s competition is at .754.  So it’s not like the NL Central is that much easier than the AL Central based on quality of batters faced.

Cormier has posted a 1.59 ERA and 1.18 WHIP this season in 34 innings for the Phils.  I’m surprised Krivsky didn’t give up Homer Bailey to get him.  One note about Cormier is that he has not been used in high leverage situations this year.  Baseball Prospectus ranks him fifth in leverage on his own team.  Among pitchers who haven’t started or closed this year, Scott Linebrink leads in leverage.  He’s followed by Scot Shields, Kyle Farnsworth, Matt Wise, Duaner Sanchez, and Roberto Hernandez

Red Sox Trade Rumors

It’s tough to get anything out of Boston these days; Theo Epstein has plugged all of his leaks.  Let’s see what we can piece together though.

According to Sean McAdams of The Providence Journal:

"Friends of the Rocket insist he’s sorry that he chose the Astros over the Red Sox."  McAdams mentions that Clemens would love a trade to Boston if it could be done without infuriating the Houston fanbase.  Also, a source of mine tells me that the Mets have inquired about Clemens.

Then there’s the possible three-way trade with the Rockies and Padres.  The Padres would get Mike Lowell, the Red Sox would get Ryan Shealy and a starter, and who knows what the Rockies would get. 

Don’t get that rumor confused with the other three-team scenario from Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe.  In that case, the Red Sox get Julio Lugo and Scott Linebrink, the Padres get Mike Lowell, and the D-Rays get prospects.      

Plus, Jayson Stark mentioned last night that the Red Sox are "making a late run at Alfonso Soriano."  He doesn’t have much more than that, but it can’t be dismissed.  Stark has also connected Boston to Jason Schmidt and Brad Lidge.

Tigers Trade For Sean Casey

Latest from Ken Rosenthal: the Tigers have found their left-handed bat in Sean Casey.  Detroit gave up a minor league pitcher in the deal.

Casey makes $8.5MM this year, but the Reds are paying one million of that.  That leaves approximately $2.6 mil for the Tigers to cover.

Casey should get most of the time at first base, as the Tigers demoted Chris Shelton to make room for him.

In return the Pirates received right-hander Brian Rogers, not among Detroit’s top 30 prospects entering the season.  The 24 year-old has worked in relief at Double A this year, posting a 2.39 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 9.7 K/9.  Rogers, a product of Georgia Southern University, was an 11th round pick in 2003.  He switched to relief last year and has put up good numbers since.

Olney: Would Yanks Exercise Sheff’s Option?

With Bobby Abreu now under contract for 2007, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Yankees would not exercise Gary Sheffield‘s $13MM option.  He seems poised to head up a small group of free agent right fielders.

However, Buster Olney makes a good argument for the Yankees to exercise his option even with Abreu in the fold.  Remember, the Yankees are a team Olney knows well; he wrote a book about them.  Sure, Sheffield may not be worth the full $13MM next year.  But one of New York’s competitive advantages is its ability to take on salaries.  How many teams would salivate at the idea of getting Sheff on a one-year deal to minimize their risk? Think Theo Epstein wouldn’t jump on that?  It’s like last winter’s Furcal contract, only better.

After considering Olney’s argument, I realize that it would be silly to let a premium player walk away from a reasonable short-term contract just because of a position logjam.  As many have speculated, Sheffield could learn to play first base. 

Mets Trade Rumor: Milledge For Oswalt Or Schmidt

Jon Heyman busts out a big one early Monday morning: the Mets are in "serious talks" for Jason Schmidt or Roy Oswalt.  The key to any deal would be Lastings Milledge.

Heyman mentions that Brian Bannister would be needed to pry Oswalt away but not Schmidt.  He also says Aaron Heilman could be used to "enhance" a deal.

It seems now that Oswalt really is in play, which is strange given the Astros’ lack of depth behind Roger Clemens.  Speaking of which, why not put the Rocket on the block instead?   

Carroll: Marquis For Heilman?

Fueled by pierogis, time to write up another rumor before I hit the hay.  Monday should be good times.

According to Will Carroll this evening, the Mets and Cardinals are talking about an Aaron Heilman for Jason Marquis swap. Most Mets fans seem up in arms at the possibility.

After all, Marquis will be a free agent after this season and currently sports a 5.67 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. "But wait!" you’re saying.  "What about those times Tony La Russa sacrificed his ERA to save the bullpen?"  Alright, alright, let’s take those out (which is more than a tad generous).  Removing Marquis’s 12 and 13 earned run starts, he’s got a 4.39 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.  That actually makes Marquis look like an above average pitcher.  Indeed, he is a pretty solid back of the rotation guy.

Heilman has stumbled a bit this season, posting a 4.32 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 58 innings of relief.  He’s actually improved upon his control a bit, but his strikeout rate is down significantly and his hit rate is subsequently way up.  It’d be interesting to see what a Dave Duncan or Don Cooper could do with him.  Could he be worked back into a starting role?  It’s not out of the question but success as a starter is no slam dunk.  Just ask Ryan Madson