Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hart Drawing Interest

Brewers outfielder Corey Hart is drawing interest from several teams, including the Tigers, Giants, and Red Sox. Hart, who is hitting .256 with 5 home runs and a .330 on-base percentage, is making 3.5 million dollars this year. The Brewers are asking for pitching in return, something all three of those teams have.

Hart isn't a game changer or team leader, so he likely would not have the impact of a, let's say, Matt Holliday. However, a team like the Giants, who are in need of a corner outfielder who could hit 20 home runs, would benefit from him.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Astros Could Trade Oswalt

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Astros starting pitcher Roy Oswalt is at odds with manager Cecil Cooper and may be open to a trade. Oswalt has a full no-trade clause and would have to waive it for any trade. In 11 games this season, Oswalt is 1-2 with a 4.62 ERA and 47 strike outs. The White Sox, after missing out on Jake Peavy, could offer a similar package for Oswalt.

Oswalt has three years and 45 million dollars left on his contract, with a 16 million dollar club option with a 2 million dollar buyout. If anyone teams wants to trade for him, they would probably have to guarantee his 2012 club option.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rockies Could Trade Cook

Rockies ace Aaron Cook is off to a disappointing start since winning 16 games in 2008. He is 3-2 with a 4.82 ERA in 10 starts, including a complete game shutout. Cook is a solid pitcher, but is playing for a struggling ball club in a hitters heaven. Cook has two years and 18.25 million dollars on his contract, with a mutual option for 2012. The Rockies have several strong young pitchers in the minor league system, and it should only get better after June's amateur draft.

While there is talk that Erik Bedard will be traded, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik has not said they are going to move him. Peavy is expected to be made available, but his price could take a hit if his ankle injury does not heal. Cook will cost a couple prospects, but nothing like Peavy or Bedard. The Phillies would be smart to ask about Cook has only pitched once at Citizens Bank Ballpark, but is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in seven innings.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Mets Trade Castro To Sox

The Mets have traded backup catcher Ramon Castro to the White Sox for Triple-A pitcher Lance Broadway. Castro was hitting .253 with 3 home runs in 26 games for the Mets this season, but became expendable after Omir Santos established himself as a up and coming major leaguer. Broadway is 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA in Triple-A Charlotte and will be assigned to Triple-A Buffalo.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Myers Done For Season

Phillies pitcher Brett Myers will have surgery to repair his right hip and will likely miss the remainder of the season. This is a big blow for the Phillies, whose rotation is already in shambles. The Phillies have been linked to some starters on the market, and that will likely increase as we move forward. The Phillies could make a move for Jake Peavy, but could also settle for someone less expensive like Doug Davis or Jarrod Washburn.

The Phillies could also look to add Mark Mulder or Pedro Martinez, whose prices have both reportedly dropped. If the Phillies view this season as a must-win, they could make a move. However, it may be smarter to ride this season out, develop your younger pitchers, and then make a move next offseason where prices are expected to be low again. Rich Harden, Joel Piniero, and Todd Wellemeyer are viable options for the Phillies in 2010.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Rockies Fire Hurdle has confirmed that the Rockies have fired manager Clint Hurdle and replaced him with bench coach Jim Tracy. Hurdle led the Rockies to the World Series in 2007, but owns a .465 winning percentage since 2002. The Rockies decided it was best to let him go after the Rockies started 18-28 this year.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cubs' Zambrano Suspended For Six Games

The MLB disciplinary committee announced that Carlos Zambrano would be suspended for six games, meaning he will miss a start. Zambrano will not appeal the suspension, which he started serving today.

Zambrano was ejected in the seventh inning after arguing a play at the plate. After he was tossed, he ejected the umpire, threw the baseball into left field, threw his glove against the dugout fast, and then beat up the gatorade dispenser with a bat.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Trade Winds

Red Sox scouting Braves' Francoeur: Braves GM Frank Wren chose not to comment on a report that the Red Sox were scouting outfielder Jeff Francoeur. Francoeur is hitting .253 with 3 home runs this season, and a lot of local media outlets have been speculating that he could be traded.

Dodgers eyeing Peavy?: The Dodgers are in the market for pitching, despite a pretty strong showing from their pitchers right now. Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said that he has been in contact with the Padres, but hasn't spoken to them since Peavy vetoed the trade to the White Sox. One source I spoke to said he fully expects the Dodgers to get in on the Peavy chase in July.

Davis or Washburn to Minnesota: The Diamondbacks will likely shop lefty pitcher Doug Davis as we approach the trade deadline. Davis is 2-6, but has a 3.77 ERA and had four consecutive double-digit seasons before his season was cut short in 2008. Washburn is another option, probably the more likely option because he is already in the AL and is open to a trade to the Twins.  

Nick Johnson to Mets?: Johnson told reporters he would welcome a trade to the Mets, but who wouldn't if you were playing for the crowded Nationals. The Nats have been shopping Johnson for a couple seasons, and now that he is hitting .337 with 4 home runs, it is a good time to trade him. The Red Sox have been linked to them, but nothing appears serious. 

Pirates' Sanchez to Rays?: The Pirates will likely shop Freddy Sanchez at the trade deadline, and the Rays could be a possible fit. Sanchez is a solid fielder and hitter, and could be a long term option for the Rays. With Aki Iwamura out for the season and a club option for 2010, it would make sense that they would pursue him. 

Sanchez to Marlins or Phillies?: Lefty pitcher Jonathan Sanchez could be moved at the right deal, and if they start shopping him now, they could get a good value for him. They need a second baseman. They need a corner outfielder. The Marlins and Phillies have both. Dan Uggla is available.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gagne Signs With Canadian Team

Free agent pitcher Eric Gagne has signed with the Quebec Capitales of the Independent Can-Am League, is reporting. Gagne, who has worked almost exclusively as a reliever, will start for the Capitales, the team confirmed Wednesday. Gagne, 33, is a former NL Cy Young award winner with the Dodgers, but struggled once he left. He pitched for the Rangers, Red Sox, and Brewers, but was released on March 8th.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Nationals DFA Cabrera

After starting the year 0-5 with a 5.85 ERA, the Nationals have designated Daniel Cabrera for assignment. Cabrera has a pretty good fastball, but cannot command his secondary pitches, which has lead to 35 walks to just 16 strike outs. Cabrera will be 28 tomorrow, and will likely find a job somewhere soon.

I would think the Cardinals would be a good landing spot. Pitching coach Dave Duncan is the best pitching coach in baseball, having success with several pitchers that were considered busts. Other spots for Cabrera include the Padres and Indians.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Interview with Tanner Scheppers

For those of you who don't know Tanner Scheppers, it will only be a matter of time before you do. Scheppers was taken in last years draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but chose not to sign. His draft stock took a huge hit when he suffered a stress fracture just weeks before the draft. He has been rehabbing since and is now playing again for the St. Paul Saints of the Independent leagues. In two games this season, Scheppers has a 1.00 ERA with 9 strike outs and 6 walks. He projects well as front of the line starter, but is a few years away from contributing at the big league level. Scheppers was nice enough to give Eli's MLB Rumors 10 minutes of his time last week, and I appreciate every minute of it. Enjoy!

ELI: It had been awhile since your last start. What was it like getting back on the mound for the first time?

TANNER: It was great. It was nice to get back on the mound again.

ELI: What was working for you in that start?

TANNER: My fastball was there. I had controlled stuff, it was good.

ELI: You had a long road back to the mound, what sort of preparation did you have for this season?

TANNER: You know, I worked hard. I thought I prepared myself well. I just had to get myself into the right mindset.

ELI: Can you tell me a little bit about your recovery from the stress fracture in your throwing shoulder?

TANNER: Yeah, I did a lot of stretching at the Sports Medicine Institute. For four months, an hour and half each day of running, stretching, and light weights.

ELI: You are going through the draft for the second time now. Do you feel the first experience has prepared you better for this time around?

TANNER: Yeah, definitely. The biggest thing is that this time around I know what not to think about.

ELI: The Pirates have the fourth overall pick in this years draft. Would you have a problem with them drafting you again?

TANNER: Uh. [Pause] I'm not going to comment on that. No comment.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Francouer On The Block?

Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal Constitution thinks it may be time to unload Braves outfielder Jeff Francouer. Francouer is hitting .259 with 3 home runs, but has struck out 24 times and owns a .282 on-base percentage. Francouer has no plate discipline, and some talent evaluators believe he is the easiest guy to pitch to because he swings at everything. Francouer was once considered the Braves top prospect, so it is hard to believe that at age 25 he is a complete bust.

Francouer hit .293 with a .338 on-base percentage in 2007, but has hit .249 since then. The Braves probably won't get much in return for Francouer, but the Braves need a big bat in their lineup, and Francouer is not it. The Rangers are a possible landing spot, but a team like the Pirates could take a low risk chance on Francoeur and put him in right field.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rockies Sign Rincon

The Rockies and free agent Juan Rincon have agreed  to a deal, is reporting. Rincon elected for free agency after he was asked to report to the minor leagues. That was after seven games when he posted a 5.23 ERA. Rincon has a career 3.84 ERA, and might benefit from a switch to the National League.

Rincon will give manager Clint Hurdle another option to use in the bullpen.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Padres Shopping Kouzmanoff

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times says in a recent article that the Padres have expressed a willingness to move third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. Kouzmanoff would fill the void left by Aramis Ramirez, who will be out for six to eight weeks after separating his shoulder. Kouzmanoff is hitting .236 with 4 home runs in 42 games this season, and is a .260 career hitter.

Kouzmanoff shouldn't cost more than a pitching prospect or two, but I doubt the Cubs make a move for him. Even though the Cubs appear to be falling apart, it looks like they will ride this out and hope for a second half resurgence of Aramis Ramirez. Both Milton Bradley and Geovanny Soto have shown no signs of a turnaround, and Derek Lee is hitting just .248 with 5 home runs. It might be time to get Jake Peavy. It might be time to call up Jake Fox. If the Cubs do not turn things around this homestand, there should be some changes to the roster.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

2009 MLB Draft: Washington Nationals

The Nationals have the first and tenth pick in the draft this year, presenting them with an opportunity to add two very good young players to their farm system. The Nationals have a tendency to draft college pitchers and high school hitters, no matter the success rate. With Stephen Strasburg the presumptive number one pick, the Nats will have to wait nine more picks to make their next selection.

If Tanner Scheppers is around when they make their second selection of the first round, I recommend selecting him. To add two top arms like that in a span of ten picks would do wonders for their rotation. Other guys that could be around then include Alex White, Zach Wheeler, and Tyler Matzek.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Umps Out To Get Bradley?

Chicago Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley told reporters Sunday that umpires are forcing him to swing at bad pitches by widening his strike zone. Bradley, suspended for one game for allegedly bumping an umpire last month, said other umps were getting back at him for the incident.

"Unfortunately, I just think it's a lot of 'Oh, you did this to my colleague,' or 'We're going to get him any time we can," Bradley said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "As soon as he gets two strikes, we're going to call whatever and see what he does. Let's try to ruin Milton Bradley.'

I wonder if the Cubs will come out and support Bradley on this. Bradley has done a lot of talking this season, despite hitting just .188 with 4 home runs in 96 at-bats. The Cubs signed Bradley to a three year deal worth 30 million dollars, so he might be hard to move this season. But if Bradley continues to talk and not hit, expect him to be out of Chicago pretty quickly.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mariners Shopping Betancourt

The Mariners have started shopping struggling shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who is hitting just .266 with 2 home runs in 40 games. Betancourt is career .281 hitter, but has an unimpressive .304 on-base percentage in his career. Trading him won't bring back much in return, but he is under contract through 2011, with a 6 million dollar club option for 2012.

The Padres and Pirates have expressed interest, but maybe they could find a match with the Cardinals. It is obvious that Khalil Greene and the Cardinals is not going to work, and bringing him to Seattle might be good for his career. Seattle is not a hitters park, but with Ken Griffey, Adrian Beltre, and Russell Branyan in the clubhouse, he will have a lot of people to turn to. Not only that, but manager Don Wakamatsu looks like a great choice by the Mariners and he could prove to be beneficial to a struggling player like Greene.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Reds Option Bailey

It took less than 24-hours for Reds pitcher Homer Bailey to make his season debut and be sent back down again. Bailey, who was 3-5 with with a 4.57 ERA in eight starts at Triple-A Louisville, shows signs of a good pitcher, but needs to command the ball much better than he has been. He is only 23 years old, so I wouldn't be surprised if his breakout came in 2010. Sorry, Reds fans. 

Infielder-outfielder Wilkin Castillo will take his spot on the roster.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Phillies Eye Starters?

The Phillies are in dire need of pitching and need to act fast if they want to stay in contention in the NL East. After Hamels and Myers, the 3-4-5 pitchers all have ERA's over 6.80. J.A. Happ has made a couple good starts, but he has been pitching well out of the bullpen. Top pitching prospect Carlos Carrasco is 0-5 with a 6.31 ERA in 8 starts at Triple-A, and there aren't any other viable minor league options.

On the free agent market, you could probably get Pedro Martinez or Mark Mulder at a bargain rate, but they are no guarantee to be successful. The Phillies do have a lot of options though. They could look to the Mariners and ask about Erik Bedard, who is 2-2 with a 2.64 ERA. They could also inquire about Doug Davis of the Diamondbacks, who is in the last year of his contract and likely won't cost very much.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cubs Place Harden On DL

Don't worry, it's not shoulder related. The Cubs have placed pitcher Rich Harden on the disabled list with a lower back injury, the Chicago Tribune reported. Carlos Zambrano will take Harden's spot in the rotation, so no one will be sent down as a result of Zambrano coming off the DL. Harden is 4-2 with a 4.74 ERA in 8 starts this season, and will be set to return June 2nd.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

DeRosa to A's or Cardinals?

Indians third baseman Mark DeRosa is drawing interest from several clubs. The St. Louis Dispatch suggests the Cardinals could look to add DeRosa as a utility player, or at least at third base until Troy Glaus can return. DeRosa is hitting .253 with 6 home runs in 39 games this season, and the Indians would benefit from him getting on hot streak right now.

The Indians are looking for major league ready pitching to help in the bullpen. The Athletics are pretty deep when it comes to their bullpen, so a trade is possible. Mike Wuertz has a 2.08 ERA in 20 games this season, but he plays a pivotal role in the A's bullpen and may not be available.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Soriano to Second Base?

With current Cubs second baseman Mike Fontenot struggling at the plate, manager Lou Piniella has considered moving Alfonso Soriano to second and putting Micah Hoffpauir in the left field. Hoffpauir has been platooning between right field and first base, offering days off to both Milton Bradley and Derrek Lee. He is hitting .314 with 4 home runs in 70 at-bats for the Cubs this season, and the role he is in now may be best for the Cubs.

I still think Mike Fontenot can make adjustments and be an everyday player. It wouldn't look good for Jim Hendry if the Cubs released Ryan Freel, but they probably should. It does not make sense to have Aaron Miles, Mike Fontenot, and Ryan Freel on the same team. They are the same type of player and Freel's spot could go to someone who could be more productive. In fact, the Cubs could move Alfonso Soriano to second base and call up prospect Jake Fox, who is hitting .425 with 17 home runs with a .506 on-base percentage in just 117 at-bats at Triple-A Iowa.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jake Peavy Exclusive Part III

In the final installment of my exclusive interview with Jake Peavy, we talked about Kevin Towers and his time with the Padres. Little did we know that just a week after we talked, he would have to make a major career decision. I want to try out this new interview format for upcoming interviews, and I would appreciate it if you would leave a comment to let me know what you think of it.

Jake Peavy on Kevin Towers and the Padres front office

“I certainly have the utmost respect for Kevin [Towers]. He’s done a tremendous job through the years that I have been here. When the guys been given some money to spend – a competive payroll, so to speak – he’s put a very competitive team on the field. We’ve won a couple division titles since I have been here, competed down to the last days in ’04, ’05, and ’06. We played in a play-in game in ’07. With him mixing and matching talent and personality. It has been a great relationship.”

Jake Peavy on his time with the Padres and what the future will look like

“I certainly understand that I need to bring an attitude and a certain type of leadership to this team. I’m the longest tenured guy with the Padres here. It is very weird for me to say because it feels like yesterday that I was one of the youngest players in the clubhouse. We are starting over here, we are rebuilding. We have a lot of young guys searching and we need to be showing hopefully how to go about your business the right way. I certainly try to do that along with David Eckstein and some other guys."

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Mets Serious About DeRosa

FanHouse has confirmed that the Mets have engaged the Indians in talks concerning Mark DeRosa. DeRosa would be a huge upgrade over current utility man Ramon Martinez. DeRosa is hitting .253 with 6 home runs and a .319 on-base percentage in 39 games this season.

The value he brings a team is both on and off the field. DeRosa can play first, second, third, and shortstop adequately, and is a solid corner outfielder. Off the field, DeRosa is a great clubhouse guy and leader, who can handle the media at ease. The Mets do not have much depth in their minor league system, so it will interesting to see what type of package they put together. 

The Indians should ask about Brad Holt, 21, who is 2-1 with 3.99 ERA in six starts this season. Holt projects well long term and is showing some tendencies of a front of the rotation starter. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is 34/8, and he hasn't walked more than 2 since his first start, when he gave up 4.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Jake Peavy Rejects White Sox Trade

Padres pitcher Jake Peavy invoked his no-trade clause, rejecting the proposed trade to the White Sox. 

"As of right now, this is the best place for us to be. We made that decision for the time being," Peavy said before Thursday night's game against San Francisco.

Peavy, who is 3-5 with a 3.82 ERA with 69 strike outs, will make his scheduled Friday start versus the Cubs. I wonder if teams now know that the Padres are ready to deal if they will step up and make a big move. The Cubs, Mets, Phillies, Brewers, Astros, Rockies, and Dodgers are the most logical teams based on current situations. 

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Padres Acquire Gwynn Jr.

I'm sure he'll be a fan favorite. The Padres have acquired outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. from the Brewers in exchange for outfielder Jody Gerut. I like this move for both sides. The Brewers acquire an outfielder coming off a very good 2008 who can serve as a reserve outfielder. Padres great and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn delivered the news to his son.

Gwynn will be able to suit up tonight when the Padres face Tim Lincecum and the Giants.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

White Sox Trade Up To Peavy

The White Sox have agreed in principle to a trade that would send former Cy Young award winner Jake Peavy to the White Sox for pitching prospect Aaron Poreda and pitcher Clayton Richard, among others. Peavy, who has a full no trade clause, must decide if he wants to play in Chicago.

Peavy could choose to accept the trade just to get out of San Diego. While he is the longest tenured player there, reporters constantly question his desire to play for the Padres. He would be joining the White Sox, where his close friend Scott Linebrink currently sets up for closer Bobby Jenks. However, he would be jumping leagues and be joining a team where he might not have as a huge of an impact. Not only that, but some people wonder if he would want to play for manager Ozzie Guillen.


Here is what his agent, Barry Axelrod, said: "If I had to make a bet on it, I would guess that Jake would say he's not ready to take that step today. But he wouldn't necessarily preclude it at any time in the future.''

Peavy is obviously more comfortable in the NL. The White Sox are going to really have to sell the White Sox and American League to Jake Peavy. Guaranteeing his 22-million dollar option for 2013 would be a start. I think the White Sox should consider adding incenitve based bonuses each year into his contract. Throwing more money at this might not be the best move, but giving Peavy some motivation while making him the face of this rotation might work in the White Sox favor.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Strasburg Update

San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the presumtive number-one pick in this years draft, pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings, improving to 13-0 with a 1.24 ERA in 102 innings. He has struck out 180 this season. He exited the game with back cramps, but Strasburg said it is nothing serious.

The Nationals have a big decision to make in the next couple weeks. Strasburg is going to be tough signing, probably holding out all the way until the deadline, which isn't necessarily a bad thing considering he has set a new career high in innings pitched. The Nationals should seriously consider Tanner Scheppers at the number one pick. He has incredible stuff and is expected to rise quickly, assuming he can stay healthy.

Dustin Ackley Update: I wrote about Dustin Ackley last week, basically disagreeing with Peter Gammons' evalutation. I watched some more game footage of him at the plate and I have to admit, I was pretty impressed. However, his inability to play the outfield this season raises some issues for me as a top ten pick. Outfield can be very tough on a player, requiring a lot of conditioning. Be away from that for a year, and then being asked to adjust in the minor leagues while adjusting to wooden bats and professional pitching, seems like a tough adjustment.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Rays, Maddon Close To Extension

The Rays and manager Joe Maddon are closing in on a three year extension through 2012. This extension is long overdue. Maddon built this team up to win its first AL pennant, and has earned the love and respect of his players in the process.

"He built this," Pena said. "Obviously he deserves it. Any positive news is welcome. We feed off positive energy. When this gets done, everyone is going to be very happy for Joe, believe me."

Maddon, who won the AL manager of the year last season, is of to a 20-21 start this season.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Mariners Should Shop Branyan

Mariners first baseman Russell Branyan's trade value has never been higher. Branyan, who is a career .234 hitter, is hitting .305 with 10 home runs and a .379 on-base percentage. Branyan's 1.4 million dollar contract makes him much more desirable to a team like the Mets, who will be with out Carlos Delgado for two months.

The Mariners should look to unload Branyan if they fall out of contention. They could probably land a prospect with some potential by the way he is playing.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Peavy to White Sox? is reporting that the White Sox are making a push for Padres ace Jake Peavy. Peavy, who would have to waive his no-trade clause, reportedly met with manager Bud Black to discuss the possible trade. Peavy seemed open to the idea when I interviewed him, but he never directly said that to me. This trade is no guarantee, especially because Peavy has to decide if he wants to move to the AL and play for manager Ozzie Guillen.

Peavy, who is 3-5 with a 3.82 ERA and 69 strike outs, has also drawn interest from the Cubs and Braves. Expect the Padres to ask for Aaron Poreda, Tyler Flowers, or Gordon Beckham in a package for Peavy.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Foulke Pitching Well For Newark

Newark Bears closer Keith Foulke is off to a good start this season with a 0.75 ERA in 12.1 innings. Foulke is hoping to receive a major league offer soon so he can get back in the big leagues.

"I hope the phone rings today and it's the Diamondbacks and I can pack my stuff and get out of here."

Foulke is competitive, but he doesn't love some of the behind scenes work that goes with being a ballplayer. 

"Everybody laughs when I tell them I don't like baseball," Foulke said. "I don't like the fact that there's so much downtime and I don't like the downtime. It's not like I show up at 7 p.m. and watch a three-hour ballgame. I'm here at 2:30 p.m."

Foulke says that he is as healthy as he was in 2003, and if his strong play continues, someone could give him a look. 

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Red Sox Need To Find DH Replacement

We're now a month and a half into the season and David Ortiz is still struggling at the plate. He is hitting .203 with 0 home runs and a .317 on-base percentage. He can't hit anything but a fastball, and he struggles catching up to that depending on the pitcher. Ortiz is the only DH without a homerun, and is slugging just .293.

The Red Sox are 2.5 games out of first and will need to pick it up if they want to stay in contention. Ken Rosenthal suggests the Red Sox trade Clay Buchholz for Rangers prospect Justin Smoak or Cardinals prospect Brett Wallace. The Red Sox could approach the Indians about Victor Martinez. They are looking for major-league ready pitching in return and could ask for Buchholz or Bowden. Martinez is hitting .400 with 7 home runs in 155 at-bats.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Quick Hits: DeRosa, Martinez, Cubs, Peavy

Quick Hits:

  • Indians third baseman Mark DeRosa has been linked to a couple teams in the past couple days. There is some speculation that DeRosa could go to the Mets. However, the Mets are playing awful defense and DeRosa isn't the best fielder. He is versatile, but he isn't spectacular at any position.
  • Indians first baseman/catcher could be made available also, and he would probably draw a lot of interest. He has a 7.2 millon dollar contract, and is hitting .401 so far this season. The Mets could also take a look at him.
  • It was April of 2007 when the Cubs were put on the market and it looks like the sale will be finalized sometime in July. Just in time for a big blockbuster deal, perhaps. 
  • Stay tuned for Part III of my exclusive interview with Jake Peavy. 

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rickie Weeks Out For Season

Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks will miss the remainder of the season with a wrist tear. Weeks, who was hitting .272 with 9 home runs, was just starting to live up to his high expectations. 

"I was enjoying myself watching him play," Macha said. "This is one tough guy, a grinder, very intense. It's a shame."

The Brewers must scramble to fill the spot, which will go to Craig Counsell for now. They could talk to the Indians about utility man Mark DeRosa. They worked together a big trade last season and DeRosa would give manager Ken Macha a lot more options on the field. 

To read more on DeRosa, click here.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Jake Peavy Exclusive Part II

To see Part I of the interview, click here.

The MLB Draft is always an interesting event to follow because you cannot fully judge a team by the moves they make until you see how the player perform at the next level. A team will take a player based on his talent and potential growth, but has no control over how he performs at the next level. They can influence him, but if the player can't handle it than it throws off his entire development. In the 1999 draft, the Padres were excited about their three first-round picks: Vince Faison, Gerik Baxter, and Omar Ortiz. Little did they know that their fifteenth round pick would turn out to be a future Cy Young award winner named Jake Peavy. Faison and Ortiz never made it to the major leagues, and the Padres never had a chance to see what Baxter was truly capable of, as he was killed in an automobile accident in 2001.

It was June 1999 and high school senior Jake Peavy was sitting on an offer to play baseball at the University of Auburn in his home state of Alabama. The Padres liked Peavy's competitive nature and love for the game, so they drafted him in the fifteenth round From there, it was up to Peavy, who could decide to go pro or to Auburn and reenter the draft as a junior in 2002.

"We just weighed our options," Peavy said. "At the end of the day we came to the realization that I wanted to be a major league baseball player. Why not get in the system as an 18-year old kid and start developing towards becoming a major leaguer."

While current big leaguers Gabe Gross and Chris Bootcheck were playing at Auburn in 2000, Peavy was off pitching for the Padres in the minor leagues. Looking back on the situation and where he is now, Peavy stands by his decision to bypass college.

"I certainly was excited to go to Auburn, but at the end of the day and for the betterment of my career, I thought getting some professional training from coaches was best for me."

Part III coming out tomorrow!
This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Phillies Sign Bako

A nice story here. The Phillies and Paul Bako have agreed to a minor league deal, the Phillies official website reported. 

"Paul has a tremendous amount of Major League experience and he gives us the opportunity to add greater catching depth to our system," Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said in a statement.

Bako was signed by the Cubs this offseason, but was released on March 30th when Koyie Hill won the backup catching spot. He will report to extended spring training before he joins one of the teams minor league affiliates. 

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Interview with Jorge Arangure

A couple weeks ago, article caught my eye about some of the top international prospects in this years pool. The article was written by Jorge Arangure, and I was curious to find out more about the process. It is a lot different than the MLB Draft. In the draft, teams can select anyone from the U.S., Canada, or Puerto Rico. Following the draft, the team has until August 15th to sign the player and then assign him to one of the minor league teams. In the international pool, the process varies depending on the player and the team. So I emailed Arangure and asked him if he would be up for answering some of my questions. He was more than happy to and I appreciate his informative responses.

ELI: Is there an age a player has to be before he can be scouted by MLB teams?

JORGE: There is no particular age when a team can simply scout a player. Often, diligent scouts will know about a particular player years before they are eligible to sign. It's not uncommon for a scout to have seen a player when they were as young as 12 or 13. For example, this January, powerful trainer Edgar Mercedes had a showcase for several of his top prospects which was attended by scouts from almost every team. Among those prospects was Wagner Mateo, who is considered one of the top outfielder's in this year's free agent class. But also working out were several players who weren't eligible until 2010 and there were even a couple players working out who won't be eligible to sign until 2011. The distinction of course is that teams aren't supposed to even negotiate for those players at this point.

ELI: In some scouting videos, you'll see the same prospect wearing different uniforms. How much contact can teams have with players leading up to the international signing date when they are available?

JORGE: Really, there are no limits on how much contact a team can have with a player. The only limit lies in how much time a prospect can spend at a particular team's academy. MLB dictates that a prospect can spend a maximum 30 days housed at the academy. But that doesn't rule out that a player can basically work out for the team as much as he wants while not housed there.

ELI: Today, news travels pretty quickly. How connected are the different cities and towns when it comes to baseball. When there is touted prospect somewhere in the D.R. (for example), how do people usually hear about him and how long does it take before he is being talked about here?

JORGE: This is a bit complicated. Usually Dominican trainers will know about a particular prospect much earlier than teams do. Because trainers can sign a contract to represent a player at any age, they have an advantage over teams, who can't sign a player until they are 16. It's very rare these days for a top prospect to not be a linked with a well-known trainer (aka buscon). Trainers have their own scouts looking for players. And also, you'll get a low level trainer with a top prospect who simply sells or agrees to split the bonus commission with a more well-known trainer so the prospect gets more exposure. The more well known trainers can get teams to attend workouts simply because they have produced top players in the past.

Of course there are always exceptions. Many players who get small bonuses often blossom later because no one really can predict how 16 year old kids will develop.

ELI: After the international signing begins, how long does the team have to sign players?

JORGE: There is no time limit on when a team can sign a player. Once a player become a free agent he can sign with whichever team he wants whenever he wants. A player becomes eligible to sign in a certain year if he turns 16 in that year prior to Sept. 1. If he turns 16 after Sept. 1, then he won't be eligible to sign until July 2 of the following year. For example, if Player X turns 16 on May 12, then he can sign this year on July 2. But if he turns 16 on Sept. 12, then he must wait until July 2, 2010.

ELI: After a player is signed, what are the next steps for the player? Where is he assigned?

JORGE: Usually, 16-year-old kids signees will spend at least one season in the Dominican Summer League. Kids that young usually aren't deemed physically or mentally ready to travel to the United States to play against high school and college graduates. That isn't always the case if a player is signed when he's 18 or older. Then a team may deem the player ready to start his pro career in the US.

ELI: Who would you say is the top hitting prospect and pitching prospect in this years pool?

JORGE: The market is shaping up to be that SS Miguel Angel Sano and P Daniel Sanchez are the top hitters and pitchers this year. Sano is a Dominican power hitting shortstop with a strong body that makes likely that he'll end up playing another position at one point. Teams love his raw power and he has a strong arm, which means he could end up playing third base. Sanchez is a right-handed hard-thrower from Venezuela. He has an above average fastball and some teams think he will eventually develop a good slider.

ELI: What teams are most active in scouting players? What team, if there is one, the least active?

JORGE: It's hard to say which teams are more or less active than others simply because some teams choose to bypass paying the big bucks for the big name players and instead focus on cheaper players who they project can be successful major leaguers. I'd say the most active players on the big names this year are Texas, the Yankees, the Pirates, San Diego, the Dodgers, the Mets, among others. Every team is active in some way. Some just choose to be a bit more clandestine about which players they scout.

ELI: Is there was a way to improve the process? More media access to players, something in the regulations, etc. If there was something you could change, what would it be?

JORGE: If I could change something I'd say i would make it so that players aren't eligible to sign until they are 18. For me this would eliminate some of the age manipulation.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

WIll the Nationals Pass On Strasburg?

Nationals owner Stan Kasten is telling people that he will pay a fair-market rate for Stephen Strasburg. If that's so, you can expect these negotiations to carry out all the way until the August 15th deadline, when Strasburg will decide to either sign or sit out a year - which he has not ruled out. Strasburg is 12-0 with a 1.34 ERA and 174 strike outs in 13 starts this season, one of which was a no-hitter. Some say Strasburg is major-league ready, but would likely need a couple starts in the minor leagues to adjust to professional hitters.

Even if Strasburg comes up and proves he is ready for the big leagues, he has already thrown 94.1 innings this season, and would probably need to be cut off at around 130 or 140, at most. If the Nationals were to pass on him for another pitcher, perhaps Tanner Scheppers, they would be paying much less for someone who could be equally as effective. I would be surprised to see the Nationals pass on him, but they might be better off drafting and signing someone who is eager to sign and play.

First round draft picks have been given major league contracts before, so the Nationals are going to have a hard time not agreeing to that, especially because their 2007 first round pick Ross Detwiler has been on the 40-man roster since being drafted.

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Indians Could Shop Pavano, DeRosa - Not Lee

The New York Post suggests that the Indians would likely shop Carl Pavano or Mark DeRosa before they consider trading Cliff Lee. Both Pavano and DeRosa are in walk years and have bargain contracts, making them attractive to teams who may not have unlimited money to spend. DeRosa is able to play first, second, third, and the corner outfield spots, and can be slotted in several different spots in the lineup. He is a team player who emerged as a team leader in the Cubs clubhouse in just two seasons before he was traded for three prospects.

 The Giants could be a possible landing spot for DeRosa. He could fill in all across the infield as well as platoon in left with Fred Lewis. Not only that, but if they let DeRosa walk, they could land a draft pick in the 2010 draft. As for Pavano, he could be an option for the Marlins, who have already been linked to Brad Penny. But Pavano has a 6.33 ERA in 8 starts, and probably doesn't have much value.

The Indians would be smart to wait to shop Lee until after the season. This gives them the opportunity to scout young prospects, some of whom who may get an opportunity to play for their parent club. Not only that, but teams may be more willing to trade than sign a free agent, making him much more appealing. He will make 8 million dollars in 2010, a very modest contract for an ace.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Johnson to Red Sox?

Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson is off to a solid start this season hitting .333 with 3 home runs and a .421 on-base percentage. Johnson hasn't had a full season since 2006, missing all of 2007 and playing in just 38 games in 2008. Johnson would give the Red Sox offense a huge boost, especially because David Ortiz is not hitting. Johnson could platoon at first and DH, giving time off to Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, and Mike Lowell (Johnson at first, Youk to third).

The Nationals would definitely ask for pitching in return, possibly targeting Daniel Bard.'s Peter Gammons believes Manny Delcarmen could be a closer in the NL, so the Nationals could ask for Declarmen and a minor league position player. The Red Sox are very protective of their top young pitchers, and I would be surprised to see them trade Buchholz, Bowden, Tazawa, or Masterson.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Jake Peavy Exclusive Part I

Last Wednesday, I went to cover the Padres/Cubs game and had a sit down interview with Padres ace Jake Peavy. Coming to Chicago - a place where he was nearly traded to last offseason - everyone was curious to see how he would handle the pressure. Peavy gave up three earned runs his starts against the Cubs, striking out nine and walking two. Despite suffering the loss, he was happy to give Eli's MLB Rumors an exclusive interview.

In 2006, Peavy battled midseason shoulder tendonitis, something that was attributed to pitching in the WBC. Players since, including All-Stars Geovanny Soto and Joakim Soria, have had to battle back from injuries early on because of their increased workloads during the WBC.

"It is certainly hard to get going," Peavy said. "It is hard to get it going that early and being able to do what you know you are capable of doing. I think right now, us as Americans would have a lot better chance of competing and winning it all."

Teams may not like seeing their star players skip Spring Training, but players enjoy teaming up with guys they usually would not play with.

"No doubt about it, you play with a lot of great players. You get to know people you don't have the opportunity to get to know or play with for any set period of time - other than an All-Star game or something - so that is certainly a fun part about it."

Peavy, a two-year veteran of the WBC, would be open for a change to the scheduling, moving it to November rather than before Spring Training.

"I would love to see that simply because I went to the Japan series [in November 2004]. I got to go on that trip and I was right where I needed to be and I was able to pitch well against the same team that won [the WBC]. I would love to see that format and think we would have a better chance of competing."

Part II coming out tomorrow!
This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Ackley Seattle Bound?

With the Nationals already set on pitcher Stephen Strasburg, it is now the Mariners turn to pick the best player on the market. That player may be Dustin Ackley, who is hitting .405 with 17 home runs and a .511 on-base percentage for the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Mariners like his speed and ability to hit for average, but there are questions about his power and his ability to play the outfield as he still comes back from Tommy John surgery.

The Mariners should seriously consider Tanner Scheppers, who is pitching in the Independent Leagues right now. Scheppers is excited about the draft, a strong indication that he will sign. Scheppers, if you don't remember, so his draft stock fall after he injured his shoulder. He was drafted by the Pirates, but chose not to sign. Scheppers is a big time pitcher who has the potential to be a front of the line rotation starter.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Doug Davis and the Diamondbacks

In Friday's game versus the Braves, Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch pulled Doug Davis from the on-deck circle for a pinch hitter with two outs in the seventh inning. Davis, who had only thrown 80 pitches at that point, confronted Hinch in the dugout. 

"We've got seven outs [left] in the game," Hinch said. "Obviously, we're trying to get a guy on base in front of [Felipe] Lopez and [Gerardo] Parra, so with seven outs, I'm going to take a shot at getting a guy on base and hitting a ball in the gap to score him and tie the game. It's a tough decision, but at the same time, it's a decision I made."

Davis is a competitor, and a veteran like him probably hasn't been pulled after 80 pitches in a game like that. But the Diamondbacks have won three of the last ten, and trying to get a runner on base to start a rally with the top of your order coming up is a way to get your team going. I think Hinch made the right move, and I think he handled the situation well by talking with Davis during the game. Davis and Hinch have reportedly cleared the air, but with Davis' impending free agency, it makes you wonder if they would look to trade him. 

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Guzman Emerging As Reliever

Once considered a top prospect in the Cubs organization, Angel Guzman is starting to emerge as a solid reliever in the Cubs bullpen. Guzman was dominant in his first couple years in the minor leagues, but was forgotten after the 2003 season when he went down with a shoulder injury. It took him nearly three years to make it back, and when he did, his stuff was not nearly the same.

Yet, the Cubs were not ready to give up on the prized prospect. They used him in the rotation, but he was unsuccessful. He was 0-6 in 2006 with a 7.39 ERA, but he recorded more than a strikeout per inning.

It took him nearly three years to record a major league win, but on April 18th of this year he logged it in an extra inning victory. Guzman had to earn the role he is in now, mostly because of an awful spring performance. Now he is the seventh inning man in front of Carlos Marmol, with a 3.32 ERA with 19 strike outs in 19 innings. Hitters are hitting just .179 against him with a WHIP of 0.95. While he likely isn't a fantasy option just yet, Guzman is starting to earn the trust of manager Lou Piniella and he will likely see more time in those pressure situations.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Rangers and Ben Sheets

Free agent pitcher Ben Sheets visited his former coach and current Rangers pitcher coach Mike Maddux in Texas today. The Rangers have had interest in Sheets for a while, but will wait and see how he throws before making a decision. The Rangers have some good young pitchers and may not be in a position to spend money. However, Sheets has had seven double-digit win seasons, and has a career 3.72 ERA.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

2009 MLB Draft Order

Here is the order for this years MLB Draft, which is set to take place in June.

1. Washington Nationals
2. Seattle Mariners
3. San Diego Padres
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Baltimore Orioles
6. San Francisco Giants
7. Atlanta Braves
8. Cincinnati Reds
9. Detroit Tigers
10. Washington Nationals*
11. Colorado Rockies
12. Kansas City Royals
13. Oakland Athletics
14. Texas Rangers
15. Cleveland Indians
16. Arizona Diamondbacks
17. Arizona Diamondbacks*
18. Florida Marlins
19. St. Louis Cardinals
20. Toronto Blue Jays
21. Houston Astros
22. Minnesota Twins
23. Chicago White Sox
24. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
25. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim*
26. Milwaukee Brewers
27. Seattle Mariners*
28. New York Yankees*
29. Boston Red Sox
30. Tampa Bay Rays
31. Chicago Cubs
32. Colorado Rockies*

10 - Washington Nationals receive this pick as compensation for not signing 2008 1st Round Pick, Aaron Crow.
# 17 - Arizona Diamondbacks receive this pick as compensation for the Los Angeles Dodgers signing 2B Orlando Hudson
# 24 - Los Angeles Angels receive this pick as compensation for the New York Mets signing Francisco Rodriguez.
# 25 - Los Angeles Angels receive this pick as compensation for the New York Yankees signing Mark Teixeira.
# 27 - Seattle Mariners receive this pick as compensation for Philadelphia Phillies signing Raul Ibanez.
# 28 - New York Yankees receive this pick as compensation for not signing 2008 1st Round Pick, Gerrit Cole.
# 32 - Colorado Rockies receive this pick as compensation for Los Angeles Angels signing Brian Fuentes.
(Courtesy of 2009 MLB Mock Draft)

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pirates Eye Dominican Phenom

16-year old shortstop Miguel Angel Sano is the top international prospect in this years pool. The Pittsburgh-Post Gazette is reporting that the Pirates may have the inside track in signing Sano, who is 6'3'' and 189 pounds. Sano has also been coveted by the Cardinals, Cubs, Athletics, and Blue Jays, among others. 

"The Pirates are one of many teams interested, and they've got as good a shot as any team as long as the money is there," Sano's agent, Rob Plummer, told the newspaper. "There's no question they're interested, just as there's no question this is a special talent."

Sano, who has been compared to Hanley Ramirez and Albert Pujols,  is expected to land a bonus around 4 million dollars, which would be one of the highest bonuses ever given out. Sano is a long way from making it to the major leagues. He is just sixteen years old, and likely won't join the minor league system until the 2010 season. However, his body projects well and he could develop into a true hitter, hitting for both average and power. 

Here is a video  produced by the Global Post about Miguel Angel Sano. Check it out.

This story was approved by MLB Rumors.