Marc Rzepczynski Rumors

AL East Notes: Hughes, Montero, Blue Jays, Rays

Just when it seemed like the AL East standings were becoming a little less bunched up, the Red Sox dropped four straight and the Rays won seven of eight. New York, Boston, and Tampa Bay are now separated by just two games, as the Rays look for a sweep in Houston while the Sox hope to avoid one in Pittsburgh. Here are today's links from around the division:

  • The Yankees will need to add another starting pitcher if they hope to win a championship this season, writes Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News. He notes that starter doesn't necessarily have to come from outside the organization though – it could be Phil Hughes.
  • Rival evaluators have taken note of Jesus Montero's decline in offensive production this year, says ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider only). According to Olney, it's led to some speculation that the Yankees could push to trade Montero this season "in an effort to recoup some value."
  • Within Nick Cafardo's Sunday column for the Boston Globe, he writes that Jason Frasor may be the prize of the Blue Jays' bullpen at next month's trade deadline. Cafardo adds that teams figure to inquire on Marc Rzepczynski, but he's the one Jays' reliever who definitely "isn't going anywhere."
  • DRaysBay's Steve Slowinksi breaks down Andrew Friedman's trade history in a piece for the St. Petersburg Times. Slowinski concludes that Friedman has netted the Rays 20 extra wins while also saving a sizable chunk of salary.

Quick Hits: Sabathia, Cashman, Rzepczynski

Jason Vargas and Zach Britton both threw nine shutout innings in a remarkable pitcher's duel tonight in Baltimore.  After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the 12th, the Orioles came back to win the game in the bottom half of the inning on a bases-loaded single from J.J. Hardy.

Some news from around the majors…

  • "The C.C. Sabathia opt out situation is sure to be messy," predicts Mike Axisa of the River Avenue Blues blog, but Axisa thinks Brian Cashman's upcoming contract negotiations with the Yankees "will be messier."  Cashman is in the last year of his deal with New York and, as per club policy, the team won't discuss an extension in mid-season.  There has been some speculation about Cashman's future in the Bronx given his disagreements with upper management about the Rafael Soriano and Derek Jeter signings last winter, but Axisa thinks those signings give Cashman the leverage in negotiations, "plus the fact that there‚Äôs no ready-made, in-house replacement available."
  • As for Sabathia, Axisa thinks he will almost surely opt out of his contract, and the southpaw will look at Cliff Lee's five-year, $120MM deal with Philadelphia "as a starting point."
  • The Blue Jays lost Scott Downs to free agency last winter, but as MLB.com's Arden Zwelling writes, Marc Rzepczynski has been a superb fit as Downs' replacement in Toronto's bullpen.
  • Fangraphs' Reed MacPhail wonders why teams are still paying top-dollar for relief pitching.
  • When the sale of the Astros to Jim Crane is finalized, Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle reports that former Houston Rockets president George Postolos will be the Astros' new CEO.  Justice also speculates that Crane may try to get Andrew Friedman to return to his hometown to become the Astros' new GM, but it's extremely doubtful Friedman would leave Tampa Bay just to start another rebuilding process elsewhere.
  • In his latest chat with fans, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star would be "astounded" if the Royals didn't quickly pursue signing Eric Hosmer to a long-term extension, though it could be "a tough sell" given that Scott Boras is Hosmer's agent.  Earlier today, Dutton's Star colleague Sam Mellinger, proposed a six-year, $25MM extension for Hosmer (with three option years and possibly $40MM more added on), though MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith pointed out that Hosmer and Boras would surely turn down such an offer.

Eveland May Not Be Long For Toronto’s Rotation

MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports that Dana Eveland "might be pitching on a start-to-start basis at some point" given that the Blue Jays have several potential starters with longer-term futures with the club soon coming off of the disabled list.  Eveland is out of options, which is part of the reason why he was designated for assignment by the A's in February and dealt to Toronto a week later. 

This news doesn't come as a surprise given that the left-hander was acquired by the Jays as a veteran stop-gap for the rotation, but it has perhaps been surprising how well Eveland has performed thus far in 2010.  Aside from one disastrous (7 ER in 3 IP) outing against Boston on April 26, he has a 2.23 ERA over his other five starts.  It represents a strong turn-around fom Eveland's garish 7.16 ERA in 13 appearances for Oakland in 2009. 

As Bastian points out, given Eveland's success and the lack of concrete timetables for the injured hurlers' returns, Eveland could remain in the rotation into June.  The two pitchers who are probably closest to returning at Brian Tallet and Marc Rzepczynski, but Bastian tweeted last week that Tallet may be headed to the bullpen and Rzepczynski's struggles in the spring opened the door for Eveland to claim the rotation spot in the first place (a decision that was cinched when Rzcepczynski broke a fingertip and went on the DL).

Probably the best-case scenario for the Blue Jays would be if Eveland keeps up his solid performance so that the southpaw might create some measure of trade value when and if Toronto decides to remove him from the rotation.  The Mariners and Diamondbacks reportedly had interest in Eveland when Oakland DFA'ed him.  If the Jays could flip Eveland for even a low-level prospect, it would make their acquisition of the lefty into a nice all-around success.