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Tag:Evan Brunell
Posted on: July 19, 2011 11:24 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 5:34 pm
 

Indians on hunt for outfielders, pitching

LudwickBy Evan Brunell

Both Jim Bowden of ESPN and Jon Heyman of SI.com report that the Indians are chasing either Ryan Ludwick or Josh Willingham to add to the club's offense.

While two separate reports give some credence to the rumor, don't forget that both people could be drawing from the same source. Regardless, it's no surprise to see Cleveland nosing about for a right-handed outfield bat, given the struggles of Grady Sizemore to stay on the field and Shin-Soo Choo's broken thumb keeping him out until late August. Add in DH Travis Hafner's brittle body, and despite ranking 10th in baseball in runs scored, you can see how offense is a question mark for the Indians.

Ludwick has seen his offense depressed since being traded to the Padres midway through the 2010 season but has drawn trade interest from quite a few teams and could be a nice complementary piece. Willingham has had his own offensive dropoff since joining Oakland before the season but has been hot in July after an injury and slump dragged down his numbers in June. He's a safer bet than Ludwick to produce, but he also costs more and would come with a higher price tag. Carlos Beltran has also come up as a possible target, although it's unlikely Beltran would waive his no-trade clause to go to Cleveland -- plus the Indians wouldn't want to surrender a top prospect.

More important to Cleveland is shoring up the pitching as CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports. One name to note here is Aaron Harang, as Heyman reported Cleveland's interest on Tuesday. The right-hander is having a bounceback season with the Padres, but pitching in Petco Park is a big reason why. His 3.19 ERA will command a higher price than he's truly worth, while another of Cleveland's targets, Hiroki Kuroda, may not pan out because he has a no-trade clause and wants to stay on the West Coast. As a result, the Dodgers' trade market for Kuroda is quite thin.

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 19, 2011 10:24 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 5:34 pm
 

Could Crow make conversion to starting pitcher?

Crow

By Evan Brunell

The Royals drafted Aaron Crow with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2009 draft, but just two years later, converted the starting pitcher to relief. While he's delivered by earning an All-Star nomination on the backing of a 2.00 ERA in 45 innings and punching out 45 while walking 20, it was always curious that K.C. put Crow in the bullpen.

Yes, Crow had an unsightly 5.73 ERA last season in 29 starts, 22 of which came at Double-A. His peripherals didn't hint at much of an improvement, but it was still curious to see Kansas City give up so fast on Crow as a starting pitcher.

Well, apparently they didn't. GM Dayton Moore told Jim Bowden of ESPN that Crow will be moved into the rotation for 2012. Not only will that bolster the Royals' starting pitching depth -- which, despite no shortage of pitching prospects in the minors, is always in demand -- but it seemingly keeps Joakim Soria a valuable part of the Royals, as there was speculation Soria could be traded with Crow becoming the new closer.

Is there some use to Crow becoming a starter? Well, as Baseball Prospectus displayed earlier today in discussing Orioles reliever Jim Johnson being shifted to the rotation, you can apply a rule of 17 to relief pitchers to see how well they would fare as a starter.

"A reliever moving to the rotation should expect his earned run average to increase by a run, his strikeout rate to dip by 17 percent, his walk rate to remain static, his home run per contacted plate appearance rate to increase by 17 percent, and his batting average on balls in play to increase by 17 points," R.J. Anderson writes.

How would that translate to Aaron Crow? Let's check it out:

Role ERA K/PA BB/PA BABIP
Reliever (2011) 2.00 25.0% 11.1% 23.6%
Starter (projected)

3.00

20.75% 11.1% 27.6%


The average pitcher has struck out 18.3 batters per plate appearance in 2011, while walking 8.2 percent. A starting pitcher's BABIP, or batting average on balls in play, tends to normalize around 28-30 percent, so Crow is still getting quite a bit of credit in that category. All told, his season as a reliever projects Crow to be a dominating starter, but it's never that simple. If Crow can carry over the progress he's made as a reliever, you could easily see him as a No. 3 in the rotation but a No. 1 starter is a ways off without improving his game, especially when his 3.15 xFIP is so at odds with his 2.00 ERA.

Still, the way Crow has pitched this season lends credence to the idea he can be a valuable starter. Given the average velocity on his fastball is 95.5 percent, even a 2-mph dropoff from converting to a starter wouldn't adversely affect his chances of being a quality pitcher. It's the type of move the Royals should absolutely do as it can only make them better. And if the conversion fails, they have an elite setup man.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.



Posted on: July 19, 2011 8:26 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 5:34 pm
 

Report: Giants, Red Sox hard after Beltran

Beltran

By Evan Brunell

The top suitors for right fielder Carlos Beltran are the Phillies and Red Sox, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.

Both Philadelphia and Boston are hunting for a right-handed hitter to balance lefty-heavy lineups; Beltran is a switch-hitter, but that only works to his advantage. Both clubs also have two youngsters (Josh Reddick in Boston and Domonic Brown in Philly) getting playing time, but their ability to play full-time down the stretch and produce is unclear. The Mets' Beltran would certainly answer those questions as the 34-year-old is having a resurgent season with a NL-leading 28 doubles and 14 homers, checking in with a .287/.381/.512 line in 381 plate appearances.

There are other teams also in on Beltran -- the Braves, Giants, Indians and Tigers have also been connected -- and not only is demand so high that Beltran may be moved earlier than July 31, but the Mets may not need to pay all of his salary. Previously, it was reported that New York was willing to eat all of the money on Beltran's $18.5 million contract in order to receive a top prospect back in trade. Now, Rosenthal says the bidding is so high that covering the entire deal may not be necessary. Any way for the Mets to save money on the $6 million or so remaining on his deal at the deadline will be a boon to the Mets, who already cleared out part of their financial issues by dealing closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers.

Both the Phillies and Red Sox don't have much financial flexibility as they are bumping up against the luxury tax cap of $178 million. Cot's Contracts has the Sox at $163.8 million and the Phillies at $165.9 million, but these figures are incomplete. Philadelphia, for its part, is telling other teams they can only take on up to $2 million in any deal. Beltran would be the cherry on top for these clubs, as he would give the Phillies a strong offense to go with a suffocating rotation while the Red Sox would make an already filthy lineup that much filthier to hide the chinks in the rotation.

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 19, 2011 6:52 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 5:34 pm
 

Giants acquire Keppinger; Astros call for Altuve

Keppinger

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 19, 2011 4:59 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 5:35 pm
 

On Deck: Rangers go for 12; Jimenez on hill

On Deck

By Evan Brunell


TEXAngelsGONE STREAKING: The Rangers have won 11 in the row while the Angels are scrambling to stay in the hunt. Four games back, Los Angeles needs to cool Texas off or risk falling out of contention by the time the trading deadline hits. The Angels will offer up rookie Tyler Chatwood who has walked as many as he's struck out. Somehow, he's got a 3.52 ERA, but there you go. He's opposing sensation Alexi Ogando, who has shown no sign slowing down with a 2.92 ERA, but how long can Ogando go before running out of gas? Rangers vs. Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

GarzaLeeDUELING ACES: The best pitching matchup on Tuesday night involves a pair of aces. Cliff Lee of Philadelphia goes up against Matt Garza of the Cubs. While Garza is technically an ace, it's not to the level of Lee, who also has Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and (when healthy) Roy Halladay alongside him. Garza has been an ace despite a 3.97 ERA suggesting the contrary. His 2.96 xFIP on the strength of his ability to strike out batters and limit baserunners. Lee's still better than that, though, pairing a 2.76 xFIP with a 2.82 ERA and striking out a career-high 25.1 percent of batters. Philles vs. Cubs, 8:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

JimenezWATCH THE RADAR GUNS: Ubaldo Jimenez is easily the biggest name on the trade market, but it's still unclear if there's any feasible chance of prying Jimenez away from Colorado, at least this season. Jimenez will be on the mound Tuesday night as teams try to determine just how much they'd give up for the right-hander if a deal could come together. He's opposing the Braves, so it's a stiff matchup and will be opposed by Brandon Beachy, who was not selected in the amateur draft back in 2008, and has a 3.21 ERA in 12 starts as a 24-year-old. Braves vs. Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET (Watch live)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com