May 2008

Odds and Ends: Posada, Uribe, Wise, Red Sox

Today’s links…

  • Jorge Posada could rejoin the Yankees as early as Wednesday (a few reports suggested Tuesday). Kat O’Brien of Newsday says the Yanks will hold on to both Jose Molina and Chad Moeller for "a while" after Posada returns, but as Peter Abraham points out on the LoHud Yankees blog, the Yankees have a real need for a set-up man now that Joba Chamberlain is starting.
  • Juan Uribe has been activated from the 15-day DL, and although Ozzie Guillen said he wasn’t guaranteed  playing time, they had to make room on the roster nonetheless.  DeWayne Wise was designated for assigment. 
  • The news that Clay Buchholz has been optioned to Pawtucket comes as a shock to yours truly, but it underscores just how much starting pitching the Red Sox have right now, even with Daisuke Matsuzaka currently on the 15-day DL. Free agent pickup Bartolo Colon has worked out so far as a low-risk, high-reward signing. They’ve also got a good spot-starter in Justin Masterson, currently in Double A. And as if that weren’t enough, Curt Schilling could start throwing off a mound June 6. The odd man out could bring something useful in a trade. Just idle speculation, and I know there’s no such thing as too much pitching…but the Red Sox do have some holes to fill.

Sarah Green writes for UmpBump and the Boston Metro. She can be reached here.

Speculating on Sexson, Hatteberg

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes of "mounting speculation" about  Richie Sexson‘s situation with the Mariners and "a growing call among fans" for Seattle to acquire recently DFA’d Scott Hatteberg from the Reds to replace him. The Mets are reportedly also in the mix for Hatteberg, who was designated on May 27. Hatteberg is 38 and hitting .173. He did, however, hit .310 last year.

Sexson, only 33, is struggling to clear the Mendoza line at present.  The struggle began last year when he hit .205 in 121 games. However, of his 31 hits this year, nine have been homers. It’s also worth noting that his average has been much better (.333) against lefties, though of course, it’s a piteously small sample size (36 plate appearances). Even so, he wouldn’t be very useful as a role player considering that he has been a DH/1B since 2000. He’s in the last year of his contract, he’s not fragile, and yet I can’t think of a single team who would sign him if Seattle does release him. Possibly the Indians? The Rangers? Any other ideas?

Sarah Green writes for UmpBump and the Boston Metro. She can be reached here.

Odds And Ends: Duncan, Mather, Huntington, Trachsel, Rusch

A few notes to wrap up what I’ve come across this Saturday:

  • The Hardball Times has an interview with Pirates GM Neal Huntington. It’s plenty long. He talks about the dynamics in dealing with his former team, the Cleveland Indians.
  • Steve Trachsel might be on his way out with the Orioles. Tough to argue against that move. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the O’s are in the cellar, and might not climb out for the rest of 2008.
  • Chris Duncan down, Joe Mather up. Could Mather be the piece that rounds out a powerful outfield? Or could he be trade bait to bring back, say, a second baseman?
  • Glendon Rusch is back in the majors, having been recalled by the Rockies.

Posted by Joe Pawlikowski, who writes for River Ave. Blues, a Yankees blog, and can be reached here.

Possible Sellers: Detroit Tigers

Once again, we’re only two months into the season, and a lot can change between now and July. Using a familiar anecdote, the Yankees were 22-29 last May 31, and ended up being the best team in baseball in the second half. So while they looked like possible sellers on May 31, when July rolled around that would no longer be the case. The Detroit Tigers have a similar possibility this year.

Touted by a to-be-unnamed ESPN analyst as having the best offense in baseball history, the Tigers have faltered in 2008. They’re 23-31, good for fourth place in the AL Central. The good news is that they can turn it around. The bad news is that the division rival Cleveland Indians are also having a poor run, sitting at 25-29. Any potential run by the Tigers could be dampened by a potential Cleveland streak.

So if you’re Dave Dombrowski, do you consider reloading for next year? The armchair GM in us is likely to say yes. Clearly, though, Dombrowski won’t be so impulsive. He and manager Jim Leyland have been tinkering with the lineup to see if they can spark anything. Namely, the idea is to move Carlos Guillen, who has already switched from first to third this season, to left field. That would open up third base for Brandon Inge.

I’m not quite sure that’s the best idea, considering Marcus Thames is hitting better than Inge, though in fewer at bats. So it’s doubtful that this tinkering really gets things going. Just ask Joe Girardi. He’s been tweaking his lineup since Day 1. And while the Yankees have started hitting, I don’t think anyone is attributing it to his daily lineup shifts. Your players have to hit, plain and simple. And it stands to reason that the Tigers will hit, regardless of the lineup.

Who’s expendable? Magglio Ordonez? It’s not often you see a team trade their best hitter. But Maggs is 34 this year. I’m not saying he’ll tank next year, but the Tigers could be seeing his peak value pass this July. If they’re truly out of it, they could consider a Maggs move. Conversely, they could consider his potential production next year far too valuable to sacrifice. He’s signed through 2009, with a pair of $15MM team options for 2010 and 2011.

Edgar Renteria? He’s in the final year of his four-year deal, though he does have a $11MM club option for next year. That could be an attractive contract for an acquiring team. Placido Polanco? I only mention his name because he’s signed on the cheap, $4.6MM, through 2009. He could net some return for the Tigers because of his cheapness and consistency at the plate.

I know Kenny Rogers and Nate Robertson will enter the conversation at some point. I just don’t think the pair of lefties will get the Tigers anything attractive in return. They could be token trades for players in the lower minors, for high-risk players. But if they consider themselves out of contention, it’s better than nothing, I suppose.

Joe Pawlikowski is a writer for River Ave. Blues, a Yankees blog, and can be reached here.

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Possible Buyers: St. Louis Cardinals

Viva El Birdos has a piece up about the Cardinals’ surprise rise to contention this season. A potent question is raised within: Should the Cards be content with merely contending, or should they be gearing up for a real shot at the Cubs? It’s not the easiest of decisions. They’re just 1.5 games back of the Cubs on the day we wrap up the season’s second month. But there are plenty of places this could go wrong.

For instance, Ryan Ludwick is currently the team’s second best hitter. There is little in the outfielder’s past that suggests he can maintain his .406 OBP or his .689 SLG. But hey, maybe they catch lightning in a bottle. And even if Ludwick does cool off, maybe Troy Glaus improves upon his uncharacteristic .380 SLG. Or maybe, like many recent years, he gets hurt.

That kind of illustrates the massive risk of mid-season moves. Injuries and flukes happen. And they both play an enormous role in a team’s ability to contend. If I’m heading the Cardinals, I’d probably stand pat. Too much can go wrong between now and October. (Though they’ll probably take another month to see how things are going.)

Once place the Cardinals can stand to improve is second base. Adam Kennedy clearly isn’t cutting it. Aaron Miles hasn’t been bad, but he really isn’t the answer. One player Viva brings up — and you’re going to hate me for this — is Brian Roberts. The Orioles have hit the cellar in the AL East, and might not climb out this season. We know that Peter Angelos favors Roberts, but there has to be a point where you trade him in to get some younger players if you can.

The Cards could use Anthony Reyes as trade bait. But who else? Any Cards fans want to jump in and talk about who is available, if anyone?

If the team doesn’t want to deal with Angelos, and I wouldn’t blame them, they could look at other second base options. Ray Durham probably won’t cut it, as the Cards already have a handful of players hovering around a .355 OBP with no power. Mark Grundzielanek?  Too similar to Durham. Mark Ellis? He won’t come cheap.

I guess we’ll find out over the next month whether the Cards are in it for keeps. I’m sure those names will be mentioned plenty if they are.

Joe Pawlikowski writes for River Ave. Blues, and can be reached here.

Transaction Roundup: Athletics, Medders, Pena, German, Brower

I woke up to a ton of small transactions this morning, so let’s lead with them.

  • In MLBTR-friendly transactions, the A’s designated Lenny DiNardo and Kevin Melillo for assignment. The team made a bevy of other moves, though, recalling Travis Buck, Brad Ziegler, and Carlos Gonzalez, placing Joey Devine, Mike Sweeney, and Ryan Sweeney on the 15-day DL, and activating Kiko Calero and Eric Chavez from the DL.
  • Brandon Medders, recently DFA by the Diamondbacks, has cleared waivers and has been assigned to AAA.
  • Brayan Pena, recently DFA by the Braves, has been claimed by the Royals.
  • Rangers RHP Franklyn German has refused an assignment to AAA, and will hit the free agent market.
  • The Reds traded RHP Jim Brower to the Cubs for cash considerations. He has a double-digit major league ERA in limited time over the past two seasons.

Joe Pawlikowski writes for River Ave. Blues, a Yankees blog, and can be reached here.

Odds And Ends: Weaver, Mulder, Pena, Giambi

Here are a few random notes from the MLBiverse…

Cork Gaines writes for Rays Index and can be reached hereTim Dierkes also contributed to this post.

Draft Roundup

More draft action for you today.

  • ESPN’s Keith Law has an excellent draft overview, and it’s not behind the subscriber wall.  I wonder what kind of traffic ESPN would get if they freed up all their content.  Law also has his top 30 projections, if you’re a subscriber.
  • Is Rick Porcello a problem?  Matthew Futterman implies that teams like the Brewers couldn’t possibly afford him.  But the Crew spent $42MM on Jeff Suppan.

Heyman On the Rockies and Holliday

The idea of the Rockies trading Matt Holliday this summer is not a new one. Ken Rosenthal speculated on the possibility two weeks ago. Today, Jon Heyman goes a little deeper. While he feels trading Holliday is certainly possible, there are at least a couple of executives who think it is unlikely. To sum up:

  • The Rockies are tied for the worst record in baseball and several executives are now wondering if they will be willing to trade Garrett Atkins and/or Holliday.
  • Willy Taveras and Brian Fuentes will almost certainly be made available.
  • One GM thinks that last year’s mid-season turnaround may make Dan O’Dowd less likely to pull the trigger on a trade.
  • One exec said that the Rockies will have a tough time matching the deals that the Indians received for Bartolo Colon in ’03 and the Rangers received for Mark Teixera last year, as those were highly specialized situations.

Cork Gaines writes for Rays Index and can be reached here.

Several Giants Relievers Available

Earlier this morning we saw a report that indicated that Erick Threets may be available for the right price. Now, according to Andrew Baggarly, the Giants have made most of their middle relievers available as well as a couple of pitchers in Triple A.

The Giants have informed other clubs that relievers Tyler Walker, Jack Taschner and Vinnie Chulk are available in fair-value deals. The club also is soliciting offers for Erick Threets and Brad Hennessey, who is starting for Triple-A Fresno.

Walker, Chulk and Hennessey are all arbitration-eligible at the end of the season. Chulk is having the best season of the group with a 132 ERA+, though Walker has experience as a closer. Hennessey is 3-1 with a 3.48 ERA in four starts for Triple A Fresno after being demoted and converted to a starter.

Brian Sabean seems to be going against comments he made only two weeks ago when he suggested that the Giants would not trade away their veteran players during the season.

Baggarly indicates that this shift is due to the emergence of young pitchers as well as the earlier-than-expected demand for relief pitchers from contending teams.

Cork Gaines writes for Rays Index and can be reached here.