Brent Lillibridge Rumors
Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the latest Pirates hot stove chatter.
- The Pirates are not opposed to creating a hole at shortstop for the rest of the year by trading Jack Wilson. They would just need the right return. Teams are still calling on Wilson, with the Dodgers confirmed and the Tigers possible.
- A Jason Bay deal seems less likely - the Pirates' price is high for their star.
- Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte continue to draw interest, with John Grabow in the mix as well. Nady or Marte would require two prospects each. Nady's suitors are the Rays, Mets, Yankees, and Braves. Marte has roughly a dozen suitors.
- Ed Price of the Newark Star-Ledger says the injury to Hideki Matsui led to heightened interest from the Yankees in Nady and Bay. They're also in on Marte and Grabow. The Bucs aren't interested in Melky Cabrera.
- Interesting stuff in this John Perrotto article found via DRays Bay. He names the Red Sox, Tigers, Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Cardinals, and Rays as teams interested in Marte. The Tigers, Phillies, and Cardinals also have an eye on Grabow.
- Perrotto runs through all kinds of names of interest to the Pirates: Anthony Reyes, Chris Duncan, Jeff Larish, Matt Joyce, Ross Ohlendorf, Brent Lillibridge, Brandon Jones, Jeff Niemann, Jon Niese, Eddie Kunz, and Bobby Parnell.
MLB.com's Mark Bowman writes about the Braves' trade deadline situation at the Trade Talk blog. The Braves are in that gray area between sellers and buyers at six games out.
Bowman says Braves GM Frank Wren isn't finding a reasonable deal for a power-hitting outfielder, but he's also disappointed by the Mark Teixeira market. Bowman believes the picture will be clearer and the offers better a few weeks from now. He adds that the Braves would seek a first baseman in a Teixeira trade. Perhaps James Loney, Casey Kotchman, or Kevin Youkilis would work.
If the Braves buy, Xavier Nady is one possibility. Bowman wonders if the Bucs could look to reacquire Brent Lillibridge.
In a move that could have trade implications for both players involved, Braves prospect Brent Lillibridge is making his major league debut today, as shortstop Yunel Escobar suffered a shattered fingernail in last night's game. To make room for Lillibridge on the 40-man roster, the Braves designated righty reliever Zach Schreiber for assignment. Lillibridge is pretty much blocked by Escobar, unless the Braves want to make him into a utilityman. However, with Escobar out until at least Tuesday, the slumping Lillibridge will have a chance to make an impression. Whether he'll be auditioning for manager Bobby Cox or for the many other organizations that covet him, however, is a toss-up.
Schreiber, for his part, is just 25 years old and posted a 2.43 ERA in 33 and a third innings at AAA Richmond last year and a 2.22 ERA in 44 and two-thirds innings in Double A. The Braves drafted Schreiber, then a starter, out of Duke in the 16th round back in 2004. Though he's struggled with his control so far this year, someone will want him.
One of the key components of the Adam LaRoche to Pittsburgh deal in early 2007 was shortstop Brent Lillibridge, who came over to the Braves along with Mike Gonzalez. Lillibridge, who had a decent shot of making the Braves as a utility player this spring, was one of the team's final cuts and will start the year in Richmond.
Lillibridge's instincts have always drawn raves and he's matured quickly. Many would argue he's Major League ready now. But for the foreseeable future he's blocked by Yunel Escobar, himself a newly appointed starter. Lillibridge managed a .400 OBP during two Class-A stops in 2006. In 2007 he hit 10 homers in 87 games at Triple-A Richmond and projects as a 15-20 HR guy in the bigs. He's got good, but not blazing speed. Yet in 309 minor league games he's swiped 105 bases, including 28 with an 85% success rate in Richmond. It's the instincts, man.
However, with Escobar's fantastic close to the 2007 season there was little doubt who the Braves starting shortstop would be going into 2008. Lillibridge had a shot to make the team as a utility player, and in early March was even given a surprise start at third by manager Bobby Cox despite not having played the position since the 2004 Cape Cod summer league. "He can play, man," said Cox after the game when questioned about the move. Lillibridge also saw time at second and in center (where he spent two seasons in college) during the spring.
The reason he didn't head north with the team this year was partly because he hit just .224 this spring (and led the team with 18 whiffs), but also because the team would like to get him regular at bats, something that wouldn't happen if he'd made the team as a bench player. At the very least a late season callup seems in order, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that he'd get some starts in center should Mark Kotsay's back flare up.
You get the feeling Cox would like to find a place for Lillibridge. His name often surfaces in trade talks, but that probably has more to do with other GMs coveting him than any willingness to deal on the part of the Braves. Still, it's fun to think about what an "intangibles" kind of player like Lillibridge might fetch. He could end up being a key piece to the Braves getting a top player for the stretch run.
Now we're really getting down to the wire; will Jon Daniels take this thing all the way to tomorrow's deadline, knowing that some teams will move on if he doesn't commit soon?
- Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes of serious talks with the Angels, Dodgers, and Braves. Grant was the one who still saw the Dodgers involved yesterday, and he's held fast to that. He believes Arizona's late interest may kick the Dodger talks back into high gear. Inclusion of Clayton Kershaw would get it done pretty quickly, it seems. In that scenario a reliever would go to L.A. as well.
- Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News has a source saying an Internet report that the Dodgers offered James Loney, Andre Ethier, and Jonathan Meloan to the Rangers for Teixeira and Joaquin Benoit is false. I'm not sure what Internet report Jackson is referring to; Jayson Stark mentioned Meloan recently but said nothing about an offer.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution adds that the shortstop going to Texas could be Brent Lillibridge instead of Elvis Andrus. John Schuerholz is still engaged in talks. Neither O'Brien or Grant mentions Matt Harrison's injury. Harrison is a top pitching prospect who was supposed to be included in the deal. O'Brien has the Braves, Angels, and Diamondbacks as the teams in the mix for Teixeira. In a separate article O'Brien adds that the Braves might be able to get southpaw Ron Mahay added to the deal.
- Yahoo's Jeff Passan says righty Tommy Hanson could replace Harrison in the deal. Hanson is 6-foot-6 but only throws in the 88-92 range. He's more known for his excellent command and is currently working on his secondary pitches in High A ball.