J.P. Howell Rumors
While many of baseball's contenders are set to stock up on talent, the Rays and Rangers may not be among them. Oh, they're contenders, all right. They just may not add to what they have.
In Tampa Bay's case, MLB.com's Bill Chastain points out that the Rays have already dealt Jason Hammel and Edwin Jackson within the past year, making any further pitching depletion a risky move. He adds:
"Ben Zobrist's improvement has made the right field and second base situations look better, while the double-dose of Gabes in right field -- Gross and Kapler -- has begun to look like what the Rays hoped it would prior to the season. Both are producing when facing either a right-hander in Gross' case or a left-hander in Kapler's. Finally, a proven closer would be nice, but, again, look at what the bullpen is doing without one and you wonder how much better could the bullpen be with such an addition. Meanwhile, J.P. Howell appears to be taking charge of the closing role."
As for the Rangers, it simply comes down to money, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, though Texas would like to add starting pitching.
"The Rangers are also limited in their ability to take on significant payroll with a possible sale of the club by owner Tom Hicks still pending," Sullivan writes.
Of course, it also hurts Texas that Roy Halladay won't approve a trade to Texas, and Cleveland won't trade Cliff Lee, according to Sullivan.
More from Jayson Stark's Rumblings and Grumblings column today...
- Stark rattles off a bunch of starting pitchers teams are "tracking" in advance of the trade deadline: Roy Halladay, Jake Peavy, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Aaron Harang, Erik Bedard, Kevin Millwood, Mark Buehrle, Doug Davis, Chris Young, Andy Pettitte, Bronson Arroyo, Jonathan Sanchez, Andy Sonnanstine, Jeff Niemann, Jason Marquis, Vicente Padilla, Jeff Suppan, and Russ Ortiz. Not all of these guys are actually available, so check out the article for more analysis.
- Teams are "backpedaling away" from Vladimir Guerrero as a free agent option after the season. One scout sees Vlad as a DH right now.
- C.C. Sabathia downplayed the importance of the out clause in his contract, talking to Stark. Sabathia said it was "just something my agent came up with, and I just went with it." Stark is skeptical though; he thinks the clause was specific to New York.
- Stark talked to a baseball man familiar with the Rays' thinking who sees "zero chance" they don't exercise Carl Crawford's $10.125MM option for 2010. The Rays have a three-year outlook on the budget.
- With Jason Isringhausen ready within a few weeks, the Rays may have a surplus in the bullpen. Stark doesn't expect Dan Wheeler or J.P. Howell to be moved, but teams are tracking them.
- Stark sees Jorge Cantu as a trade candidate after the season. He figures to make $5-6MM through arbitration.