Cafardo On Betancourt, Lester, Vargas, Liriano

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe spoke about Florida baseball with Bud Selig and he had mixed emotions on how successful it is, as he's frustrated with the Rays' attendance figures but noted that the Marlins' numbers are up significantly after the opening of their park.  "They’ve run a great operation," the commissioner said. "They’re a very competitive organization, a very competitive team. As I study the attendance every day and looking at where they are, to see they’re No. 29 [in attendance] is inexcusable. Nobody can defend that."  Here's more from today's column..

  • The Red Sox have shown interest in Rockies right-hander Rafael Betancourt and have scouted him a few times.  Boston likely wouldn't want to give up prospects for him but could offer an outfielder.  Recently, Buster Olney of reported that Colorado would have to be overwhelmed to part with the reliever.
  • Jon Lester has been on Pirates' radar along with Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Ryan Dempster, and Matt Garza but it doesn’t appear the Sox would move him unless they got an outstanding deal.  Pittsburgh probably won't part with pitching prospect Gerrit Cole which makes a trade unlikely.
  • The Mariners' Jason Vargas has emerged as a hot name for contending teams and one American League GM told Cafardo that teams were hoping to "slip in and take him for less than full value."  Now, however, the M's know that he's in demand and won't just give him away.  The Orioles, Blue Jays, Pirates, Cardinals, and Tigers are among teams that may have interest.  
  • The Blue Jays, Yankees, and Braves have all scouted Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano, who Cafardo suggests should be traded before he falters again.
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan will have to be blown away to part with outfielder Josh Willingham.

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