In his weekly Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by taking a look at a messy situation in Philadelphia. Heyman hears the same rumblings that were first reported by CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury — that Andy MacPhail could very well be in line for an executive role with the Phillies. The hiring of MacPhail would bring into question the status of both GM Ruben Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg. While one exec notes that no one could have had much success with the hand Sandberg has been dealt, his calm demeanor hasn’t motivated the team much, and he may have lost the clubhouse at this point. Heyman notes that partial owner John Middleton, who is believed by some to be calling the shots in Philly, may have extra impetus to get a new decision-maker in the door so that a lame-duck GM (Amaro’s contract expires at season’s end) isn’t the primary decision-maker on what could be a franchise-altering Cole Hamels trade. Speaking of Hamels, Heyman notes that interested teams will want to see him pitch at least twice now that he had a start pushed back due to a hamstring strain, thinning the window of opportunity to trade him. As far as Jonathan Papelbon goes, the belief is that he’d approve any trade that sent him to a contending team, though the Cubs might be his preferred fit at this point if he had a say in the matter.
Some more highlights from Heyman’s latest (though there’s more in the column than we can cover here)…
- The Braves have tried to trade Chris Johnson and even offered to substantially pay down the remaining money on his contract, but there’s been little interest. The Johnson deal was widely questioned from the start, and there’s still about $21MM owed to Johnson through the end of the 2017 season. Johnson’s a viable weapon against lefties, but he’s a sub-par hitter against right-handed pitchers and is not well-regarded from a defensive standpoint.
- Rival teams are beginning to wonder if the Red Sox might sell some pieces this summer, with Mike Napoli, Clay Buchholz and Koji Uehara among the possible names listed by Heyman. Napoli isn’t hitting for average but has shown good power and a nice walk rate. Buchholz has improved after a rocky start and Uehara again has strong numbers in the ’pen.
- The White Sox are beginning to think about selling, Heyman hears, but they’re not quite ready to move their bigger pieces. Emilio Bonifacio might be the first name they make available, but eventually, Jeff Samardzija’s name could be out there. Heyman writes that while Samardzija isn’t pitching well in 2015, his big arm is so tantalizing to scouts that there will still be interest in him.
- The Reds aren’t expected to sell until after the All-Star Game and would be very open to shedding Brandon Phillips’ contract, per Heyman, though I have a difficult time envisioning too many teams lining up to take on the remainder of that deal. Phillips is owed about $34.1MM through the end of the 2017 season and has seen his power more or less vanish. Heyman speculates that Everth Cabrera could be a fit in Cincinnati with Zack Cozart out for the year, and there’s some logic to that scenario, though they may first prefer to see what they have in Eugenio Suarez. The Mets aren’t interested in Cabrera, he adds later.
- The Marlins aren’t selling yet, according to GM-turned-manager Dan Jennings. “We’re in it, we’re not jumping off the ship. No doubt about that,” Jennings told Heyman. If their attitude changes, Heyman thinks they’ll find interest in Martin Prado and Mike Dunn.
- The Astros like Aaron Harang but are said to be aiming higher when looking at potential trade targets to bolster their rotation.
- The Dodgers are on the hunt for a top-tier starting pitcher and a late-inning arm to help bridge the gap to Kenley Jansen. In other Dodgers-related news, Heyman hears that No. 35 pick Kyle Funkhouser is strongly considering returning to Louisville. Funkhouser was once looked at as a potential Top 10 pick, but he fell to a slot with a $1.756MM value. He’d have less leverage in 2016 as a senior sign, of course, but he could certainly improve his draft stock and his bonus with a big senior year.
- Yankees chief international officer/executive vice president Felix Lopez is no longer listed on the team’s web site and some indicate that he’s been gone from the organization for three months, Heyman writes. Lopez was said to have angered Yoan Moncada’s camp after calling to express displeasure with their decision to sign in Boston over New York. The team hasn’t made a statement on his departure.
- The Rays are looking for first base help with James Loney on the disabled list, but Loney’s said to be returning around the All-Star break. Heyman speculates on the possibility of Ryan Howard ending up in Tampa Bay if the Phillies eat some or all of the contract, but I’d think there’d be something of a logjam there once Loney is activated in that scenario.
As a Red Sox fan, I personally wouldn’t mind them selling both Napoli and Uehara as Napoli doesn’t bring much to this team anymore, and the Red Sox have plenty of young relievers in AAA who could make the jump later this season. The return for Napoli wouldn’t be anything more than maybe a bit of salary relief, but I could see Uehara landing a nice prospect, though there seems to be quite a few relievers on the market, which could bring his price down. As for Buchholz, I think he has become a better pitcher this year. He has used his two-seamer more which provides an upgrade over his four-seamer, and his other pitches have always been good. I personally wouldn’t want to see him traded as he is cost-controlled for the next two years, and he best represents the potential ace of the staff if they choose to keep this rotation intact for next year. Also, I really don’t think a team would pay a significant cost for him as he arguably comes with a lot of risk and for that reason specifically, I think he brings more value to the Red Sox than his return would.
I am a Sox fan too, but this organization needs an overhaul. Cherington and Farrell have to go, strip the rotation down to Porcello (we’re stuck with him) Buchholz, and a prospect, Find an ace and another solid starter (Miley if we can’t dump him). Put Kelly in the pen and add a back end arm. Let Ortiz walk, get rid of Napoli, Uehara, Victorino, etc by seasons’ end. DH Hanley and find competent yet unspectaular players for 1B and LF. Pair Swihart with a veteran C, and do what you can to sell off Craig. The lineup wouldn’t be as great, but still one of the best in the game, and adding a 1 and a 2 with a new regime of management would hopefully put this team back on track
Agreed almost across the board with everything you said. If Boston ate some of Napoli’s contract, I could see him bringing back a middle of the road prospect since his contract is expiring.
Uehara should be able to bring back a solid prospect since he’s on a modest contract thru next year. Similar to Papelbon, money would have to be eaten if Boston would be willing to trade him in the division to Toronto. I consider Uehara at $9 mil/year to be a good value, but to get back a good prospect in this market (where teams value their prospects more and more despite it being a sellers market), a little money would still probably have to be kicked in to receive a better youngster.
I’ve never been a big fan of Buchholz. Every time I think he’s turned a corner, he seems to turn right back around. I definitely think he has more value to Boston than he would on the trade market and should be kept for that reason. Still hoping to see him put it all together and become a more consistent pitcher. Looking at him from year to year, I feel like only once has he had some success in having good back to back seasons.
I wish we could still up-vote comments, lol.
This commenting system is not my preferred thing that’s for sure.
Agree, I really dislike this new system. I can’t figure out how to get my profile picture back either. Disqus was way better.
The Red Sox are a tough team to evaluate as so many players are underperforming and when you look at the roster it doesn’t look like the disaster it has been. I still think the team could go on a run and get right back into contention
However, I agree with you that its time to trim the fat. This team can’t be blown up and rebuilt Cubs style but could use some reorganization of resources. Dump Nap, trade Koji, bench Ortiz or Panda or both vs. lefties, try Hanley at 1B, call up JBJ, and put Kelly in the pen.
I think a rotation of Clay, E-Rod, Porcello, Miley, and Wright would be solid enough. Lineup is going to start producing with time and JBJ will greatly help the defense.
I like Kelly in the rotation more so than Wright. One has a lot of potential, the other, not so much. I think they should look into an upgrade next year by getting an ace. Doing that really makes that rotation a lot better.
Rotation of Clay, E-Rod, Porcello, Miley and Wright???
Where’s the change? What you suggested is what already has you in last place.
Boston fans adore their prospects so much, why not call up Owens and whoever else you think is the next ace of the Red Sox?
Extending Porcello was a HUGE Mistake…
I won’t deny we love our prospects, but if a number 2 or ace could be acquired with prospects that aren’t fulfilling MLB needs at the moment, I would deal anyone short of Moncada
” Lopez, who didn’t return calls left when he still had a phone line at the Yankees’ Tampa office (more recently, messages were taken by hand), was famous in Yankees circles for some unusual ideas; he is recalled for once suggesting they gather up used baseballs and wash them so they can re-use them to save money.”
I KNEW the Steinbrener’s were related to Charlie O somehow.. Must have been some marriage elsewhere along the lines.. My question? Where did Lopez hide the orange paint for after he cleaned all those baseballs?
Will the Dodgers get compensation if Funkhouser does not sign?
Yes, an extra pick in next year’s draft
I wish the Red Sox could trade Panda and do platoon of Hanley and Papi where Papi DH against RHP with Hanley at 3B and against LHP Hanley plays DH with Holt at 3B. JBJ in CF in both situations
The problem with Ryan Howard to TB for a shortterm starting role and longterm part time is Howard has a full ntc and i think starting matters to him more than being on a contender. I think he would rather be on a contender than the Phillies, but not with a bench role.
Howard also has a palace in/near Clearwater so I think he’d welcome a trade to Tampa. But I definitely think he will want close to regular at bats as a platoon 1B or DH. I think the bigger issue is how much money the Phils would eat to get Tampa to take him rather than if Howard would want to go to Tampa. But that’s just my two cents.
Flyerzfan12 you beat me to it. Howard’s palace is on the Gulf of Mexico. Despite the $$$ issues. The Rays need a DH and a backup 1B. And living in one the nicest neighborhoods in all of Florida, well he isn’t getting any younger.
Is Howard guaranteed a starting role in Philadelphia? If the Phillies can’t trade him and they may acquire a young 1B in another deal, Howard might relegated to the bench in Philly. I’d guess he knows he isn’t the long-term starter there.
Sounds like Howard would be living the good life to me if he got traded to Tampa (well he already is, but you get my point)
Why wouldn’t Howard be the full-time DH? Longoria needs protection.
1) Butler (cf)
2) Cabrera (ss)
3) Souza (rf)
4) Longoria (3b)
5) Howard (dh)
6) Forsythe (1b)
7) Guyer / DeJesus (lf)
8) Rivera (c)
9) Franklin (2b)
Because Howard isn’t good. The two most common DHs for the Rays this year have been Butler and DeJesus and they are both better hitters than Howard. They also can at least fake a defensive position in LF.
Butler: .336/.367/.536/.903, 150 OPS+
DeJesus: .299/.355/.446/.801, 124 OPS+
Howard: .236/.279/.480/.759, 107 OPS+
The only regular players that Howard has a better OPS+ are Keirmaier, Rivera, Cabrera and a little improvement over Loney. The first 3 are a SS, CF and C, so Howard can’t replace them. Loney is a very good defensive 1B, while Howard is not. The Rays value defense very heavily and I’m sure would have rather take the 10 point decrease in OPS+ to have the much better glove in Loney.
But if the Phillies eat a large chunk of Howard’s contract, he would make sense financially. Yes, they value defense, but obviously that isn’t an issue if Howard is the primary DH. Plus, the Rays love to platoon, and Howard bats primarily against righties anyway. A Howard trade isn’t about whether he’s good or not, it’s about getting a cheap bat. Interestingly, Howard isn’t bad when he bats sixth: .333/.429/.833/1.262. Admittedly a small sample size, only 6 ABs, but there you have it. He might actually be MORE productive if he isn’t protecting Longoria.
At some point people may look at Samardzija and just say “eh”. The gentleman has a career ERA+ of 100, and has averaged less than bWAR per 100 innings. That’s better than replacement, better than a lot of 4th and 5th starters, but it’s still kind of eh.
Let’s face it, the Sox are a mess!
The Cubs, Astros, Yanks, Toronto, and the Nats look to be buyers at the deadline. The sellers look to be the Phil, Brewers, Sox, Sox, A’s, Rockies, Padres, and and Cincy!
The Padres won’t be sellers, They put too much into this season, The A’s won’t be making win-now moves, but I think they will be keeping a core in tact for another run in a year or 2, and the Red Sox don’t have much to sell, it would most likely be a few minor pieces for salary relief and middling prospects (a decent one for Koji). There are probably 15+ teams looking to buy at some level.