Kevin Mench Rumors

Rumor Roundup

Here are some trade rumors from the last day or so that we haven’t covered.  All come from various newspapers or other published reports.

Yesterday ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported some Bobby Abreu interest coming from the Brewers.  It was a longshot from the start given Abreu’s contract.  Today it’s been revealed that Doug Melvin hasn’t even spoken to Pat Gillick on the topic, and the rumor was placed by a rival GM.  Any guesses who?

Something seems to be brewing between the Yankees and Royals, and Reggie Sanders is the name that makes sense. The Royals would do well to unload the 38 year-old right fielder’s $5MM commitment for ’07.  A deal could also include reliever Elmer Dessens, who’s signed through next season.  For the second trading deadline in a row, Brian Cashman seems to be taking a more level-headed approach.

Another option for the Yanks is Kevin Mench of the Rangers.  Mench has been jerked around a bit this year by Buck Showalter and could come at a reduced price.  I recently outlined a couple of possible career paths for Mench over at RotoAuthority.  His career may be at a fork in the road; he should take it.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Mariners have become a major player for Alfonso Soriano.  Bill Bavasi has stumbled with some questionable signings, but Seattle remains just four games out in a weak division.  Don’t forget that Bavasi loves to deal with Kevin Towers more than any GM, so he may try to match up with the Padres somehow.

Royal Rumblings

Today’s KC Star reports this morning that the Royals, with the first waiver wire claim, will probably snag Tony Graffanino to plug into a utility role once again.  They have a spare $4-5MM with which to do so.  Take that, Mets! 

Furthermore, a new Royals source of mine (yes, they do exist) mentions that lefties Jimmy Gobble and Jeremy Affeldt are currently on the trading block.  Mike Wood may also be available.  According to the source, a deal might happen before the end of the week.

Affeldt is probably the most intriguing of the bunch.  The 26 year-old has a 4.53 career ERA and 6.9 K/9 in 329 innings.  He’s currently slotted in as the Royals’ fourth starter after relieving exclusively in 2005.  According to RotoWire, the return of Mark Redman and Zach Greinke may push him back out of the rotation. 

Back in November, Affeldt’s name was tossed around in Kevin Mench rumors.  The Rangers could still use a starter, especially one with Affeldt’s extreme groundball tendencies.  Although they already have a host of injury-prone starters in the current rotation.  The Royals seem fairly committed to Emil Brown and his atrocious left field defense, but you have to figure they’d want Mench if at all possible.  He could hit twice as many homers as Brown.  Mench’s $2.8MM salary could probably be squeezed into the payroll for 2006.

Gobble?  Well he’s fairly young and he won nine games once.  He looked kind of promising when he was called up in 2003.  Wood?  It was nothing short of a miracle that he managed a 4.46 ERA with a 1.57 WHIP.  Maybe he can keep it under 5 this year but I doubt it. 

Cards Looking For A LF

You can’t help but be a little skeptical that the Cardinals plan to go with Larry Bigbie and So Taguchi as their left fielder all year long.  Bigbie’s had a few tolerable years in ’03-’04, but let’s face it: he’s basically Todd Hollandsworth.  You want him coming off the bench.  Taguchi is in his mid-30s and certainly won’t manage league average production for a left fielder.  Not to mention he’ll be needed to back up Jim Edmonds for a signficant amount of time.  And third-stringer John Rodriguez may be on the outs.

I did what I always do when I want to dissect the Cardinals – I talked to Larry of Viva El Birdos.  Most of the following is culled directly from Larry, who has his finger on the pulse of the team.

About a week ago, Cardinals’ beat writer Matt Leach opined that by the time the playoffs roll around, an impact bat or at least someone else will be starting in left field.  According to Larry, other journalists covering the team are on the same page.

I threw out five guys that I thought could fit the bill:  Luis Gonzalez, Carlos Lee, Kevin Mench, Ryan Church, and Jay Payton.

Larry considered Mench the frontrunner, saying, "Mench could come over during Spring Training; I
have this feeling a Mench-for-Marquis trade has been sitting there, shrink-wrapped and ready to be run through the bar-code reader, for two or three months. If the Cards decide in the next 2-3 weeks that Ponson-Reyes-Wainwright can cover them, they’ll pull the trigger."

I agree entirely.  It’d be a deal that would help both teams, and Jason Botts could probably approximate Mench’s numbers for the Rangers.  Botts’s 2005 season in Triple A was roughly the equivalent of a .252/.315/.444 line in the Majors.  I have a lot of faith in Reyes, so the only wild card would be Ponson in the fifth spot.

On Gonzo, Larry said:  "If they add Gonzalez, it won’t be until mid-season due to his large 2006 salary."  That’d be $11.5MM, and don’t forget that Luis has trade veto power.  My hunch is that he’d be willing to come to St. Louis if the D’Backs aren’t contending.  A very solid candidate to be acquired by the Cards.

Larry rightfully dismissed Payton, Lee, and Church.  The Cards don’t really have anything the A’s need for Payton; Lee presents a division rival trade, something that Jocketty hasn’t done for quite some time (perhaps dating back to Fernando Vina).  He said that the front office may not see Church as a major improvement over what they have, though we both agree that he would be.  Jose Guillen‘s current status doesn’t look too bad, but the Nats will still have a strong need for Church unless Soriano moves to center field.

To throw one more name into the mix, Cardinals Diaspora was researching a possible Craig Wilson trade.  In a nutshell, Ryan says that while Wilson seems like a good fit, the Cards may be looking for a lefty and the Pirates may prefer to deal Sean Casey at the deadline.  Good read.

There you have it.  Granted this is all just educated speculation, but we did unearth the Cards’ interest in A.J. Burnett the last time we put our blogs/heads together.

Kevin Mench To The Cubs

The Cubs are hot on the trail of Kevin Mench to fill one of their vacant outfield spots.  Given that the Rangers have a need for a center fielder, it’s been speculated that Corey Patterson would be sent to Texas.

At age 27, Mench may have already reached his ceiling offensively.  His AVG, OBP, and SLG all took a dip in 2005, his first full season.  Mench didn’t rely on Ameriquest for his 25 home runs, as his splits are pretty even.  He still has three years until free agency.  Mench might be better served as a lefty-masher in a platoon – he slugged .600 vs. lefties in ’05.

Corey Patterson is long on potential, but has absolutely no ability to control the strike zone.  The Rangers are hoping 2005 was rock bottom for Patterson. 

Given the Cubs’ need for bullpen help, Jim Hendry may try to get Joaquin Benoit in the deal.  Despite throwing a solid 87 innings in 2005, the 28 year-old righthander probably won’t be considered for the Rangers’ starting rotation in 2006.  Benoit has an electric fastball and great K rate, but his problems with walks and home runs may run him out of town.  He’s a great sleeper if he ever snags a starting gig.