Posted on: January 25, 2012 8:04 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 10:40 pm
By Matt Snyder
The Rays are close to an agreement with free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has confirmed. The news was first reported Wednesday night by the Tampa Bay Times, which reported that we should expect the signing by the end of the week.
FREE AGENT TRACKER
Keppinger, 31, split last season between the Astros and the Giants. He only appeared defensively at second base, which was a departure from his utility infielder role in the previous five seasons. He hit .277/.300/.377 with 20 doubles. He is a career .281 hitter with a .332 OBP.
Keppinger won't be counted on as an everyday starter with the Rays. They already have Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez to play up the middle. Reid Brignac can backup shortstop, so Keppinger looks likely to be the backup at second base. That also means he's an available fill-in if Ben Zobrist plays in the outfield, where he started 33 games in 2011. But, again, this won't be happening regularly as the Rays have Desmond Jennings, B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce in the outfield.
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Posted on: January 25, 2012 3:26 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 4:41 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
With Prince Fielder finally off the market, we're officially in free-agent left-over time, with most of the big-name, big-money guys enjoying new contracts.
So, who is left? That's a good question. The best players available are starting pitchers -- with Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt leading the charge -- but in our free-agent tracker, only one position player (Derrek Lee) among the top 25 free-agent position players is available, while three top 25 pitchers remain (Jackson, Oswalt, Javier Vazquez).
Here's the best player -- and the rest -- among the remaining free agents at each position as we get closer and closer to spring training:
Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez. OK, he's a big name, a future Hall of Famer, but he's also 40 -- and a catcher. Rodriguez, 156 hits from 3,000, adjusted to being a backup catcher last season and it's the role he'll play if he can find a team for 2012.
Others available: Jason Varitek, Ronny Paulino, Ramon Castro, Jason Kendall.
First base: Derrek Lee. The 36-year-old finished the 2011 season in Pittsburgh and had a nice finish to the season, hitting .337/.398/.584 with seven homers in his return to the National League Central after struggling in Baltimore for most of the first half of the season. However, he did miss nearly a month after breaking a bone in his left wrist shortly after joining the Pirates. Lee could retire, CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman reported.
Others available: Casey Kotchman, Conor Jackson, Ross Gload, Russell Branyan.
Second base: Jeff Keppinger. The Giants non-tendered the 31-year-old infielder who struggled in his 56 games in San Francisco. Keppinger hit just .255/.285/.333 as the team's everyday second baseman, well off his career .281/.332/.388 line. Keppinger brings versatility with the ability to play any of the infield positions, and he's also played in the outfield. He could be a fit with the Mariners, Yankees or Rays.
Others available: Aaron Miles, Carlos Guillen.
Third base: Mark Teahen. Our top third baseman was recently released to make room for a 41-year-old relief pitcher, what does that tell you? The Blue Jays acquired the 30-year-old Teahen in three-team deal that sent Edwin Jackson and others to St. Louis and Colby Rasmus to Toronto. Teahen hit .200/.273/.300 with the White Sox and Blue Jays, playing both corner infield and outfield spots, in addition to handling some DH duties. Another positive is that he often tweets pictures of his two adorable boxers.
Others available: Eric Chavez, Bill Hall, Alex Cora.
Shortstop: Ryan Theriot. Theriot is versatile, with the ability to play pretty much anywhere on the field -- but he's best suited, defensively, to second base. He started the 2011 season as the Cardinals' starter at shortstop, but there's a reason the team went out to get Rafael Furcal. He hit .271/.321/.342 for the Cardinals last season, but at this point he's likely best suited as a utility player.
Others available: Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada, Felipe Lopez.
Outfield: Yoenis Cespedes. While we have J.D. Drew ranked higher, he's expected to retire soon, leaving the extremely talented Cespedes as the top available outfielder. Cespedes has just recently acquired citizenship in the Dominican Republic, so now the official courting of the Cuban center fielder can begin. The Marlins, of course, are said to be very interested, even if Cespedes is less interested in Miami. Both Chicago teams are said to have interest in him as well.
Others available: Kosuke Fukudome, Raul Ibanez, Juan Pierre, Magglio Ordonez, Corey Patterson, Rick Ankiel, Marcus Thames, Jeremy Hermida, Jay Gibbons, Milton Bradley.
Designated hitter: Johnny Damon. The 38-year-old Damon is hardly the prototypical slugging designated hitter, but he still has some value. Last season he hit .261/.326/.418 for the Rays with 16 home runs. He could be a fit in Detroit, where he hit .271/.355/.401 with eight home runs in 2010.
Others available: Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero.
Starting pitcher: Edwin Jackson. At 28, Jackson has already pitched for six different teams and could be looking at his seventh. With the White Sox and Cardinals, the hard-throwing right-hander went 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA in 31 starts and 199 2/3 innings. He struck out 148 batters while putting up a 1.437 WHIP. There are recent reports that he's willing to sign a one-year deal, and is drawing interest from the Tigers. He was 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA for Detroit in 2009.
Others available: Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez, Rich Harden, Jeff Francis, Brad Penny, Chris Young, Brandon Webb, Jon Garland, Livan Hernandez, Tim Wakefield, Scott Kazmir, Rodrigo Lopez, Kyle Davies, Ross Ohlendorf, Doug Davis.
Relief pitcher: Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes turned 42 during the World Series and still appeared in 51 games during the regular season and eight more in the postseason. The left-hander had a disappointing run with the Rangers after signing a two-year deal with Texas. But he returned as part of Tony La Russa's bullpen in St. Louis, earning his first World Series ring in his 19 years in the big leagues.
Others available: Chad Qualls, Brad Lidge, Dan Wheeler, Damaso Marte, Michael Wuertz, Zach Duke, Javier Lopez, Juan Cruz, Jason Isringhausen, Mike Gonzalez, Todd Coffey, Shawn Camp, Scott Linebrink, Hong-Chih Kuo, Jamey Wright, Chad Durbin, Brian Tallet, Hideki Luis Ayala, Micah Owings, Dan Cortes, Sergio Mitre, Tony Pena, David Aardsma, Pat Neshek, Danys Baez, Ramon Ortiz.
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Tags: 2012 free agency, 2012 MLB Free Agency, 2012 MLB Free Agents, 2012 MLB Hot Stove, Aaron Cook, Aaron Miles, Alex Cora, Arthur Rhodes, Bill Hall, Brad Lidge, Brad Penny, Brandon Webb, Brian Tallet, C. Trent Rosecrans, Carlos Guillen, Casey Kotchman, Chad Durbin, Chad Qualls, Chris Young, Connor Jackson, Corey Patterson, Damaso Marte, Dan Cortes, Dan Wheeler, Danys Baez, David Aardsma, Derrek Lee, Doug Davis, Edgar Renteria, Edwin Jackson, Eric Chavez, Felipe Lopez, free agency, free agent tracker, Hideki Matsui, Hideki Okajima, Hong-Chih Kuo, Ivan Rodriguez, Jamey Wright, Jason Isringhausen, Jason Kendall, Jason Michael, Jason Varitek, Javier Lopez, Javier Vazquez, Jay Gibbons, Jeff Francis, Jeff Keppinger, Jeremy Hermida, Johnny Damon, Jon Garland, Juan Cruz, Juan Pierre, Kosuke Fukudome, Kyle Davies, Livan Hernandez, Luis Ayala, Magglio Ordonez, Marcus Thammes, Mark Teahen, Micah Owings, Michael Wuertz, Mike Gonzalez, Milton Bradley, MLB Free Agency, MLB Free Agents, MLB Hot Stove, Pat Neshek, Ramon Castro, Ramon Ortiz, Raul Ibanez, Rich Harden, Rick Ankiel, Rodrigo Lopez, Ronny Paulino, Ross Gload, Ross Ohlendorf, Roy Oswalt, Russell Branyan, Ryan Theriot, Scott Kazmir, Scott Linebrink, Sergio Mitre, Shawn Camp, Tim Wakefield, Todd Coffey, Tony Pena, Vladimir Guerrero, Yoenis Cespedes, Zach Duke
Posted on: November 26, 2011 1:46 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no waivers, no minor- or major-league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams.
In 2011 the Pirates extended their streak of losing seasons to 19, finishing 72-90 after a promising start. However, there are signs of the team finally putting it together, with much of their talent coming from within the organization. Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker are among the future stars the team has drafted and kept. If Pittsburgh had been able to keep a couple more of its homegrown players, the Pirates could at the very least be looking at fielding a winning team.Lineup
1. Andrew McCutchen, CF
2. Neil Walker, 2B
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Ryan Doumit, 1B
6. Jeff Keppinger, SS
7. Ronny Paulino, C
8. Nyjer Morgan, LF
1. Paul Maholm
2. Bronson Arroyo
3. Tom Gorzelanny
4. Brad Lincoln
5. Chris Young
Closer - Juan Oviedo (Leo Nunez)
Set up - Matt Capps, Mike Gonzlaez, John Grabow, Sean Burnett, Tony Watson
Long - Tim Wakefield, Zack Duke
Notable Bench Players
Pedro Alvarez, Rajai Davis, Brent Lillibridge, Nate McLouth, Alex Presley
The top of the lineup is the envy of just about any organization -- there's speed at the top and power throughout the first four batters. Jose Bautista will forever be the one that got away, but not just for the Pirates, who drafted him in 2000, but also for the Orioles, Rays, Royals and Mets, who all acquired -- a got rid of -- Bautista at some point. But still, the Pirates had him twice and are now watching him blossom as one of the game's best players while in a different uniform. In addition to the top of the lineup, the bottom of the lineup isn't too bad, while the bullpen is stout.
The rotation isn't going to intimidate too many batters, but the team will put up some runs and leads have a good chance of being held with that bullpen. Keppinger is a solid bat and makes all the plays in front of him, but doesn't quite have the range most teams look for at shortstop. He can play there, but it isn't an ideal spot.
Comparison to real 2011
The Pirates rotation overachieved in the first half of 2011 and flopped in the second -- as Pittsburgh went 25-47 after finding themselves trailing by just a game in the NL Central at the All-Star break. While this lineup would put up more runs, its starters would allow more. That said, the improved lineup and bullpen would be good for several more wins and probably even give the team a winning record.
Up next: Chicago Cubs
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Tags: Alex Presley, Andrew McCutchen, Aramis Ramirez, Brad Lincoln, Brent Lillibridge, Bronson Arroyo, C. Trent Rosecrans, Chris Young, homegrown, Jeff Keppinger, John Grabow, Jose Bautista, Juan Oviedo, Leo Nunez, Matt Capps, Mike Gonzalez, Nate McLouth, Neil Walker, Nyjer Morgan, Paul Maholm, Pedro Alvarez, Pirates, Rajai Davis, Ronny Paulino, Ryan Doumit, Sean Burnett, Tim Wakefield, Tom Gorzelanny, Tony Watson
Posted on: October 12, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 3:51 pm
By Matt Snyder
Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...
Team name: San Francisco Giants
Record: 86-76, second place in NL West, eight games back.
Manager: Bruce Bochy
Best hitter: Pablo Sandoval -- .315/.357/.552, 23 HR, 70 RBI, 55 R, 26 2B
Best pitcher: Tim Lincecum -- 13-14, 2.74 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 220 K, 217 IP
2011 SEASON RECAP
The defending World Series champions entered the 2011 season with high expectations and as heavy favorites to win the NL West again. For most of June and July, they held first place, too. But the Diamondbacks played really well down the stretch and the Giants just couldn't get enough offense going to keep up. An eight-game winning streak in the middle of September -- teamed with the Braves' collapse -- got the Giants to within striking distance of the NL wild card, but it wasn't to be.
The Giants don't have a very strong farm system, according to most outlets, but a lot of the good talent on the major-league roster is young. Still, with the Diamondbacks and Rockies -- and maybe even the Dodgers, if they can get through the McCourt nonsense -- set to be strong in the upcoming years, the Giants window of contention with this nucleus won't last much longer. Don't get me wrong, three years from now, the Giants will be freed from some bad contracts and may never even fall below third place in the division, assuming they spend smarter in free agency than they have in the past. But in order to get back to first place in 2012, short-term moves need to be made to shore up the offense.
Getting Posey back will definitely help improve the team, as will full seasons of continued development from the likes of Brandon Belt, Madison Bumgarner and several other young players.
Orlando Cabrera, utility IF
Mark DeRosa, utility
Carlos Beltran, OF
Pat Burrell, OF
Cody Ross, OF
Guillermo Mota, RP
Jeremy Affeldt, RP ($5 million club option)
Javier Lopez, RP
Tags: Andres Torres, Barry Zito, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Brian Sabean, Bruce Bochy, Buster Posey, Carlos Beltran, Giants, Jeff Keppinger, Jimmy Rollins, Jonathan Sanchez, Jose Reyes, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Matt Snyder, Nate Schierholtz, NL West, Pablo Sandoval, R.I.P., Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum
Posted on: August 28, 2011 2:44 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Jeff Keppinger, Giants: For the second night in a row, the former Astro did in his old team. Saturday night Keppinger singled in Mark DeRosa from second with a single just over the head of 5-foot-7 Houston second baseman Jose Altuve to give San Francisco a 2-1 victory in 10 innings. On Friday, Keppinger hit a two-run double in the fifth, good for another 2-1 victory. Keppinger came to the Giants from Houston on July 19.
Chris Young, Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks center fielder made sure fans went home happy -- and it wasn't just the because of the bobbleheads in his likeness the team gave out before the game. Young hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning off of San Diego starter Aaron Harang and that was enough for Joe Saunders, who allowed just an unearned run on four hits in seven innings as Arizona beat San Diego 3-1 for their fifth consecutive victory.
Brad Lincoln, Pirates: The rookie right-hander not only notched his first victory of the season (and second of his career), but also had a two-run double off of Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter in the Pirates' four-run fourth. Lincoln allowed six hits and no runs in six innings, striking out four and walking one in the Pirates' 7-0 victory over St. Louis, breaking the team's five-game road losing streak.
Chris Marrero, Nationals: Making his MLB debut, the former first-round pick by the Nationals saw a ball hit to him on the very first batter of his big-league career come right at him -- and by him, allowing Brandon Phillips reach in the first inning of the Nationals' 6-3 loss. Phillips scored on a wild pitch with two outs later in the inning. Phillips also scored on Marrero's second error when the Nationals first baseman fielded a double-play ball and threw it into left field, allowing Phillips to score from second, starting a three-run inning for the Reds. Despite his two errors, Marrero did manage his first hit, a single off of Reds starter Mike Leake in the fourth inning.
Royals bullpen: The day after Tim Collins walked in the winning run for a Kansas City loss in Cleveland, Louis Coleman surrendered a three-run homer to Asdrubal Cabrera for an 8-7 Kansas City loss to the Indians. With two outs in the eight and the Royals leading by two runs, Coleman gave up a single to Lonnie Chisenhall and walked Kosuke Fukudome to set up Cabrera's shot. Blake Wood also gave up three hits and a run in his 1/3 of an inning of work.
C.J. Wilson, Rangers: The same day Texas manager Ron Washington told reporters Wilson was going to be the team's horse down the stretch, pitching every five days no matter what, the left-hander gave up six runs on 10 hits and a walk in five innings. The Angels also hit four of their five solo homers off of Wilson as Los Angeles moved to within two games of Texas with a 8-4 victory.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 19, 2011 5:07 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 5:11 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.
Big series: The Indians enter this weekend's three-game set in Detroit a game-and-a-half behind the American League Central-leading Tigers. As if that wasn't enough, Cleveland dodges Justin Verlander during the series, which is always a good thing if you're not the Tigers. The Indians took two of three in Cleveland earlier this month and the Tigers have lost six of their last 10, while the Indians have one four of their last five to tighten the race in the Central. However, the Tigers are 17-3 in their last 20 games against Cleveland at Comerica Park and won two of three against the Indians there in June. Indians at Tigers, 7:05 p.m. ET
Lowe struggling: Braves right-hander Derek Lowe is 4-7 with a 6.30 ERA in his last 12 starts and 7-11 with a 4.89 ERA on the season. He's been even worse at home, going 2-3 with a 5.34 ERA in 10 starts at Turner Field this season. Arizona right-hander Daniel Hudson followed a disastrous start on Aug. 8 in Houston with an eight-inning outing against the Mets last Saturday, improving his record to 12-8 with a 3.76 ERA. Diamondbacks at Braves, 7:35 p.m.
Just what the doctor ordered: San Francisco may be struggling, but the Giants get a nice shot of the lowly Houston Astros, facing the game's worst team for the first time this season tonight. Houston could be the gift that keeps on giving, as the Giants will face the AStros in seven of their next 10 games. The Giants have won just six of their last 20 games while putting Carlos Beltran, Andres Torres, Sergio Romo, Eli Whiteside and Barry Zito on the disabled list, while dealing with injuries to Brian Wilson and Jeff Keppinger. The Giants, though, hit the easy part of their schedule before starting a series with the first-place Diamondbacks on Sept 2. In addition to the Astros, the defending champs also face the Cubs and Padres before their three-game series against Arizona at AT&T Park. Giants at Astros, 8:05 p.m. ETFor more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 6:52 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 5:34 pm
By Evan Brunell
The Giants acquired middle infielder Jeff Keppinger in an attempt to shore up the infield, which has been a point of contention for the defending World Series champions, Houston announced.
In return for giving up Keppinger, the 'Stros received relievers Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel, while also tabbing infielder Jose Altuve as Keppinger's replacement.
Shortstop has been an issue in San Francisco all season long with the artist formerly known as Miguel Tejada passing the time at short with a .242/.274/.334 line in 322 plate appearances. To his credit, he's run up a .902 OPS in July but 45 plate appearances hardly means much. Rookie Brandon Crawford has also received playing time on the value of his glove as he's hitting an unimpressive .197/.281/.277 in 154 PA. Emmanuel Burriss and Mike Fontenot have also seen some time at short although they're occupied these days will playing second base as Freddy Sanchez is lost to injury.
Keppinger won't lack for playing time between second and shortstop, but could also spell Pablo Sandoval at third. That's the value of Keppinger: he can play all over the infield and has even made appearances in left and right field despite not being an exceptional fielder. He's hitting .307/.320/.436 on the season, racking up 169 PA for Houston, missing the first two months of the year due to left foot surgery. Last season, as a full-time player, he hit .288/.351/.393, so there's offense to be had.
The Giants also called up first baseman Brandon Belt and put him in the lineup for Tuesday night's game at first base. Belt lost his active-roster spot earlier when he went on the disabled list and was then optioned to Triple-A after starting the year with a .211/.328/.281 line in 67 PA. He's back after knocking seven home runs in 43 games for Triple-A, hitting a cool .324/.462/.549, with third catcher Hector Sanchez losing his roster spot. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports that the Giants may wait to see how Keppinger and Belt help the offense before deciding what price to pay for Carlos Beltran of the Mets, who could immediately inject a bopper into the middle of the lineup. Belt could be that bopper with the ability to move around from first base to left and right field, but won't get much time before July 31 to deliver.
From Houston's end, the deal made sense. Keppinger is appealing to San Francisco because of his $2.3 million contract plus the ability to retain him during the player's final year of arbitration in 2012. But Keppinger wasn't a vital part of the rebuilding process underway, while Jose Altuve, 5-foot-7 (that's listed height, so knock two-to-three inches off for real height) offers a brighter future. Altuve impressed many with his turn at the Futures Game during the All-Star festivities and will immediately start at second base in lieu of Keppinger after hitting .361/.388/.569 for Double-A. at age 21. He has 10 homers combined between Double-A and high-Class A. He still needs to refine his basestealing as he's been caught 14 times already but does have a set of wheels, with 24 stolen bases on the season.
The return for Keppinger was solid -- they acquire Henry Sosa, a live-armed 25-year-old who had recently been promoted to Triple-A and enjoyed a rude awakening. He did punch out 36 batters in 40 1/3 innings at Double-A and 21 in 23 1/3 Triple-A innings, so there is some potential there. Stoffel is the more impressive catch, as the 22-year-old has a future as a setup man. He's currently in Double-A, where he's posted a 3.98 ERA in 31 2/3 innings.
For such a marginal trade, there are quite a few ramifications here for each teams, which could signal a selling process for Houston, represents a gambit by San Francisco and takes some chess pieces off the board.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, check out Danny Knobler's trade deadline news and rumors.
Posted on: July 5, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 10:36 am
By Evan Brunell
The Houston Astros are in a bit of a sticky situation.
Incoming owner Jim Crane has yet to officially assume control of the club, and until he does, cannot and will not be publicly involved in the team's maneuvers, as Fox Sports reports. That approval is not likely to come until the next owner's meetings, which take place Aug. 17-18.
“The owner definitely will have a voice at the deadline regardless of whether they have transferred [ownership] officially,” a rival executive said. “No way he won’t have a voice. [Outgoing owner Drayton] McLane will make sure of that. He will want the guy who is buying the club to have a voice.”
That leaves Houston in limbo for the trade deadline, as Crane rightly deserves to influence the team's future. Despite the ability to make his opinions known privately, Crane will be working with one hand tied behind his back. In addition to being unable to wield complete power over the trading deadline, Crane has to work with a GM that he did not hire. While Crane is widely expected to fire Ed Wade eventually, that won't come until he can both assume control and evaluate Wade's work. Wade is in a sensitive situation, as he has to pull off the best possible deal he can for his incoming owner to save his job.
McLane has resisted for years the call to rebuild, hoping to recapture the glory of winning the 2005 NL pennant. The 'Stros have been in need of a rebuild for a few years, so they're already behind the eight-ball and boast no true superstar on the team, several solid players and a farm system ranked No. 26 by Baseball America. That's a tall task that no one trading deadline can fix, but Wade and Crane can begin the process.
The Astros' best player, Hunter Pence, isn't expected to go anywhere. While his current stature as an important part of Houston's future can always change, the fact remains that he is currently the face of the franchise and is under control for two more seasons. It would not make sense for the incoming owner to kick off his tenure in the eyes of fans by trading Pence; at least not yet.
That leaves Wandy Rodriguez as the next-best player available, although Michael Bourn, Brett Myers, Jeff Keppinger and anyone not named Pence and starting pitchers Bud Norris and Jordan Lyles will be considered. Rodriguez has quietly become one of the best left-handed starters in the league and boasts a long-term deal through 2013 with a club option that converts to a player option upon trade. With a total package of $34 million due Rodriguez from the start of 2011, it's an affordable deal for a big impact that many teams can take on.
How big of an impact can Rodriguez have, though?
A pretty big one. As Ken Rosenthal points out, Rodriguez's 2.44 ERA since June 23, 2010 is the second lowest in the majors behind Felix Hernandez's 2.36. Trailing Rodriguez are Jered Weaver and Roy Halladay at 2.45 apiece, with Cole Hamels rounding out the top five at 2.49. What team wouldn't like to have an affordable left-hander who ranks among the best in the game?
You can bet the Yankees are interested. GM Brian Cashman likes to talk game about how he doesn't need to upgrade his rotation. At first blush, you can't blame him. CC Sabathia, All-Star selection or not, is an ace. A.J. Burnett has a big-money deal and big upside. Phil Hughes could be the ace of the Yankees in a couple years, so he gets a spot. Bartolo Colon, thanks to a stem-cell rejuvenated shoulder, is pitching the best he has in years while Freddy Garcia somehow is on pace for a career-low ERA. Heck, they're deep to the point that Ivan Nova was just demoted to Triple-A despite a 4.12 ERA in 16 starts.
But let's look at that list again. Sabathia is fine. Burnett runs hot or cold and posted a 5.26 ERA last season. Hughes just got past a baffling case of decreased velocity, and it's anyone's guess if he can last long-term, while Colon and Garcia were scrap-heap pickups for a reason. Also, and there's a reason that the Yankees chased Cliff Lee so hard and really want a second left-hander. That's crucial in a division stacked with imposing left-handed hitters, especially in Boston.
If the Yankees see a deal for Rodriguez, they will pounce. There are plenty of other suitors chasing starting pitching, though, starting with the Tigers but extending to virtually every other team in the majors. Houston won't have a problem moving Rodriguez, but may find the going a bit tougher with Brett Myers.
Myers joined the Astros last season after eight up-and-down years with Philadelphia. He broke out last season with a 3.14 ERA in 223 2/3 innings, but an increased allowance in home runs has mostly accounted for this year's backsliding to a 4.67 ERA. All told, Myers is who he is, which is a solid No. 3 capable of putting up an ERA in the 4.00-4.50 range. He does have value as he makes $7 million this season, $11 million the next and then the club can pick up a $10 million option if they so choose. He simply has less value because he's being paid commensurate value and it's a lot easier to find a No. 3 or 4 starter than it is a No. 1 or 2, which Rodriguez is.
Another player that could be on the move in Houston is Michael Bourn, who has a rising price tag, is a free agent after 2012 and boasts Scott Boras as his agent. Bourn's value is probably at its highest right now; he's been consistent the entire year and boasts a career-best .290/.354/.402 line at age 28, leading baseball with 35 stolen bases. Even better, he's only been caught four times, so he has serious value on the basepaths. Add in being perhaps the best defensive center fielder in the game and you have a knockout package for a team looking for the perfect leadoff man.
The Nationals are seeking a long-term center fielder and need a leadoff hitter in the worst way. Bourn fills both categories, and the specter of Boras as agent won't bother the Nats; the team has a close working relationship with Boras and often drafts or signs his players. Other teams that could use Bourn to varying degrees are the Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Dodgers, Marlins (yeah, right), Padres and Rangers. Of that list, the teams that seem to have the best fit are the Jays, Braves and Brewers.
The Astros are in a challenging situation moving forward, as they clearly need to be rebuilt. Even an incoming owner with public relations issues to be concerned about has to see the situation in Houston for what it is. That makes it extremely important for Crane to communicate his intentions clearly, for Wade to not only see through Crane's wishes, but to extract a deal that solidifies both Houston's and his future.
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