June 2009

Talkin’ Reds Baseball

Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer believes the Reds need to make a "bold" move to stay in contention, but doesn't think it will necessarily happen.

"The Reds chances of trading for Matt Holliday are slim and none," Daugherty begins, "and slim just left for the church festival. … Holliday would cost the Reds precious prospects and some $7 million in salary for the rest of the year.  The chances of him remaining a Red next year wouldn't be good. … There aren't a lot of reasons even to contemplate it."

Except one: "It's a bold move.  Without boldness, the Reds will never catch the Cubs, Cards and Brewers."

Walt Jocketty, the current GM in Cincinnati, has made bold moves throughout his front-office career (click here for his full trading history), but he's used to a bigger payroll than the Reds can offer.  Even if they are "buyers" in this market, Holliday is probably a bit of a stretch. That doesn't mean it's time to give up on the '09 season, however.  There are plenty of fish in the hot stove sea.  It's clear the Reds want a bat — who, besides Holliday, makes sense?

Odds & Ends: Nationals, Mets, Big Z

A roundup of links for a slow Monday evening in the baseball world…

  • According to Chico Harlan of the Washington Post, the Nationals have agreed to terms with second-rounder Jeffrey Kobernus, a second baseman from the University of California.  He was handed a $705K signing bonus.
  • Brewers prospect Jeremy Jeffress was suspended 100 games Monday for a second violation of the minor league drug program, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com).  Milwaukee assistant GM Gord Ash said the club is "concerned" about Jeffress, who is one positive test away from a lifetime ban.
  • Presented without comment: In a poll taken this afternoon, 57.2 percent of Chicago Tribune readers agreed with Phil Rogers, who opined Monday morning that the Cubs should waive Carlos Zambrano.     
  • Jay Schreiber of the New York Times wants to hear from Mets fans and want-to-be GMs alike.  "Does anyone have any suggestions for the woebegone Mets?," he asks.
  • According to MLB.com's Wayne Staats, the Cubs have signed 10 of their top 15 draft picks and 21 of 50 overall.  Top pick Brett Jackson, an outfielder out of the University of California, was inked early last week
  • Don't forget about MLBTR's weekly live chats.  Ben Nicholson-Smith will be your host Tuesday at 2pm CST.  

Brandon Backe: Free Agent

According to MLB.com's Alyson Footer, Brandon Backe has cleared waivers and rejected an assignment to Triple-A Round Rock.  He is now officially a free agent.

Backe was designated for assignment last week after allowing 15 runs and 21 hits in 13 innings (one start) for the Astros.  He's 31-29 lifetime with a 5.38 career ERA.  At just 31 years of age, perhaps a few clubs will have interest in providing the right-hander both a change of scenery and a fresh start.

Tribe In No Hurry To Deal Cliff Lee

Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com has heard that the Indians are in no hurry to deal Cliff Lee and would have to be "completely overwhelmed" by an offer to make it work.

This report is on board with the many rumblings SI.com's Jon Heyman has gathered, and the reasons behind Cleveland's stubbornness make complete sense.  Lee has an affordable $9MM option for 2010 and is currently the glue that holds the Indians' rotation together.  Without his presence, Cleveland would have some serious rotation question marks in 2010 and beyond.  
"I know this much: If Lee is traded this year, that would be a tough sell to the fan base," Castrovince concludes.

The 30-year-old lefty is 4-6 this season with a 2.96 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 79/26 K/BB ratio.

Amaro: Few Pitchers Available

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki that some pitchers aren't available no matter what prospects he offers up.

"if the guy is not going to go, he's not going to go," Amaro said. "You can give them your entire club."

So far Amaro's offered up prospects in vain and has relied on the inexperienced arms of J.A. Happ and Antonio Bastardo. Now that Bastardo has a strained shoulder, the Phillies will pluck another arm from their system, possibly Carlos Carrasco. Amaro admits he's looking for pitching, but says asking "pretty please" won't land him starters when many other teams need pitching as well.

Odds And Ends: DeRosa, Royals, Jays

The runner-up for Mark DeRosa, thoughts on the Blue Jays and a pair of discussions to listen in on…

Cardinals Now Have Limited Payroll Flexibility

ESPN.com's Buster Olney heard that the Cardinals have limited payroll flexibility now that they've added Mark DeRosa. Since he makes $5.5MM in total this year, the Cards are on the hook for about $2.75MM of DeRosa's contract.

Before the DeRosa dealm, they were considering Matt Holliday, who makes $4MM more than DeRosa between now and the end of the season. They appeared willing to take on his $13.5MM contract. Could the Cards add $4MM to their payroll for the right player?

International Free Agent Update

ESPN.com's Jorge Arangure relays the latest on a pair of international players with his Twitter account.

  • Cheslor Cuthbert, who agreed to terms over the weekend, will receive a bonus of about $1.2MM from the Royals.
  • The Rangers appear to be closing in on Jurickson Profar.
  • It looks like he'll receive a bonus of about $700k to play short.
  • He could probably have received more if he'd signed as a pitcher, but he doesn't want to pitch.

Our own Mike Axisa questioned Baseball America's Ben Badler about some other international players over at River Ave. Blues:

  • It looks like top Latin catching prospect Gary Sanchez will sign with the Yankees for about $3MM.
  • The Mariners seem to be the favorites to sign Guillermo Pimentel.
  • Ugueth Urbina's son, Juan, will likely sign with the Mets.
  • Badler says Miguel Angel Sano would have gone somewhere between fourth overall and the end of the first round if he'd been eligible in this month's draft.

No Offers For Adrian Gonzalez

Adrian Gonzalez hasn't been on the trading block, so no teams have even presented the Padres with  "serious trade offers," according to ESPN.com's Jorge Arangure.

That works for Gonzalez, who plans on honoring his contract until it expires after 2011, and for the Padres front office. As one executive joked, Kevin Towers & co. will have to walk around in suits of armor if they deal Gonzalez and Jake Peavy the same year they let Trevor Hoffman walk.

Check out the rest of Arangure's article for detail on kidnapping threats Gonzalez has received.

Odds And Ends: Gonzalez, Pirates, Batista

More links for the afternoon…