Posted on: August 9, 2009 4:29 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2009 4:31 pm

Rios gets claimed, Tejada gets blocked

The early word on trade waivers is that quite a few players are getting claimed, even some with large salaries.

Blue Jays outfielder Alex Rios, who is guaranteed nearly $60 million over the next five years, was claimed last week, two baseball sources confirmed to CBSSports.com. One source said that the claiming team is the White Sox. While the Blue Jays could simply let the claim go through and offload Rios' contract, it's believed that they keep Rios if the White Sox don't offer them enough in return. The teams had 48 hours to make a deal, a time period that is believed to run through Monday.

Also claimed, according to sources, was Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada. The claiming team isn't known, but also isn't important, because the Astros have already pulled Tejada back and now can't trade him. Tejada is making $13 million this year, on the final year of his contract.

The Rays aren't believed to be the team that blocked Tejada, but sources said that Tampa Bay has been active in claiming any low-salary players, effectively blocking them from being traded to the Yankees or Red Sox.

Teams put most of their players through waivers at some point in August. If the player goes through unclaimed, he is eligible to be traded to any team. If a player is claimed by one or more teams, that player can only be dealt in the 48 hours after the claim is awarded (to the claiming team that is lowest in the standings).

When a player is claimed, the team that put him through waivers has three choices: pull back the claim (at which point the player can no longer be traded), trade him to the team making the claim, or simply allow him to go to the claiming team without getting a player in return.

According to baseball rules, the waiver process is secret, and teams and officials are not allowed to comment or even confirm claims.
Posted on: March 23, 2009 10:20 am
Edited on: March 23, 2009 1:38 pm

Astros' Cooper: 'We should win 90'

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros have been one of the least impressive teams in Florida this spring. They haven't won (4-16-3, even after three straight wins), and they haven't looked good, either.

You wouldn't know it by talking to manager Cecil Cooper.

"We should win 90 games, without question," Cooper said this morning. "We have a terrific bullpen. We have one of the best closers in the game. We've got the ace in the National League. We've got three of the best offensive players at their position. We've got, if not the best, then one of the top catchers in baseball.

"I mean, c'mon. We've got what it takes. You're telling me we're not going to win that many games?"

The Astros do have a top closer in Jose Valverde. They have Roy Oswalt atop their rotation. They have Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee. Miguel Tejada can still hit, even if he's starting to look slow at shortstop. The Pudge Rodriguez signing can't hurt.

But 90 wins?

"He's not looking at the same pitching staff I am," said one scout who has followed the Astros this spring.

No one outside the Astros clubhouse is predicting 90 wins for this team. More people are predicting 90 losses.

"I've heard," Cooper said. "I don't care what they say. I've been with them everyday. I believe in what we have here. I do believe we'll win 90-plus."

Cooper's players agree with him.

"At least 90 games," first baseman Lance Berkman said. "We know what kind of team we have. I mean, why shouldn't we [win 90]? We won 86 last year, and we have a better team. This is the Houston Astros. We play better than we look on paper."



Category: MLB
Posted on: March 19, 2009 6:31 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2009 6:35 pm

Astros' Berkman: 'I'm not least bit concerned'

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- For years, I've told fans that spring training records mean absolutely nothing. For years, I've trotted out the 1984 Tigers' experience, since they went directly from an 11-17 spring into a record 35-5 start when it counted.

Spring training records mean nothing. So why do I care that the Astros are now 1-16-3?

Well, I don't. Not that much, anyway.

But the Astros sure aren't making it easy to defend them. They looked every bit of 1-16-3 in today's 12-1 loss to the Mets. You can't even blame this one on minor leaguers, because the Astros brought a representative lineup to Port St. Lucie for the game (Lance Berkman, Miguel Tejada, among others), and they still looked absolutely awful.

"The fans, I'm sure they're in full panic mode," Berkman said.

What about Berkman? He's an outstanding player, and from the looks of things he's stuck with one terrible team.

Except he insists that's not the way he looks at it.

"I think this [record] is an anomaly," Berkman said. "I'm not the least bit concerned. As long as we stay healthy, our front-line guys are as good as anyone in the league. So I think we're going to be fine.

"I put zero stock in it. If we were 15-1, does that make us World Series favorites? These games are meaningless."

I agree with that. I've always believed that. I know that the White Sox had the American League's worst spring record last year, and they won the American League Central. I know the Mets had the National League's worst spring record in 2007, and while they didn't win the division, they should have (and they did win 88 games).

I know spring training records mean absolutely nothing. I also know that 1-16-3 looks ridiculously bad, and right now, so do the Astros.

"We can't have a good spring now, so we might as well lose the rest of them, too," Berkman joked. "Then when we get to the regular season, we'll be owed a lot of wins."

By the way, if you're wondering who the Astros beat, it was the Nationals, in the very first game of the spring.



Category: MLB
Posted on: March 16, 2009 2:19 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2009 7:17 pm

Pudge to sign with Astros

The Astros have agreed to terms with catcher Pudge Rodriguez, one of the last of the remaining big-name free agents.

Rodriguez is expected to become Houston's everyday catcher. Playing time had been an issue in Rodriguez's talks with the Marlins, but with the Astros Rodriguez could catch as many as five games a week.

Houston's catchers have been awful this spring. The three catchers on the Astros' major-league roster have combined to go 8-for-50 with three RBIs. In just four games for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, Pudge is 9-for-15 with three doubles, two home runs and six RBIs.

The Astros had always made sense as a destination for Rodriguez, but until just the last few days, owner Drayton McLane had refused to commit the money. The Astros will likely keep Humberto Quintero as Rodriguez's backup. They still think that their catcher of the future will be Jason Castro, the club's top draft pick last June.

Rodriguez won't report to the Astros until Puerto Rico is done with the WBC.



Category: MLB
Posted on: March 14, 2009 7:54 pm
Edited on: March 15, 2009 1:22 pm

Astros have interest in Pudge

MIAMI -- The Astros always made sense as a potential destination for Pudge Rodriguez. Finally, the team is showing some interest in the free-agent catcher.

It's not yet clear how serious the Astros' interest is.

The three catchers on Houston's major-league roster are a combined 8-for-47 (.170) this spring. With three hits tonight against Team USA, Rodriguez is 9-for-15 in the WBC.

The Marlins also remain a potential Pudge destination. Guaranteed playing time has been an issue in talks with Florida, but it's possible that something could be worked out where Rodriguez would play some first base in addition to catching.

The Giants and Twins have also talked about Rodriguez, even though neither team is in the market for an everyday catcher. The Giants have been looking all winter for a bat at one of the corner infield positions. The Twins seem a more remote possibility, even with the possibility that Joe Mauer will have to begin the season on the disabled list.





Category: MLB
Posted on: December 2, 2008 4:41 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2008 4:52 pm

Brocail re-signs with Astros

Free agent reliever Doug Brocail has re-signed with the Astros, CBSSports.com has learned.

Brocail will receive the same $2.5 million he got in 2008. The Astros had previously declined a $3.25 million option, and Monday they declined to offer arbitration. The 41-year-old right-hander made 72 appearances with a 3.93 ERA.

While there has been talk that Houston will have to cut payroll this winter, Astros officials have been telling people that so far that's not the case. As of now, they're not interested in trading closer Jose Valverde or third baseman Ty Wigginton, although they acknowledge that could change if owner Drayton McLane orders a budget cut.

For now, the Astros are still looking to add, at least a little. They weren't interested in dealing for Jake Peavy and they say they're not interested in signing Ben Sheets, but Monday, they reached agreement with left-hander Mike Hampton.

Category: MLB
Posted on: October 29, 2008 7:46 pm

Another unforgettable game for Rays GM?

PHILADELPHIA -- There can't be too many people who were at both the Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS and Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

You know, the 16-inning playoff game between the Mets and Astros, and the Aaron Boone game.

Rays general manager Andrew Friedman attended both, each time as a fan. He was a 9-year-old Astros fan in 1986, and remembers Game 6 as "traumatic." He was a 26-year-old Wall Street investment analyst in 2003, with no great ties to either the Yankees or the Red Sox.

He went to Game 7 with Matt Silverman, now the Rays president. Silverman was in the restroom and missed the Boone home run.

"They didn't have the radio feed going in the bathroom, so he didn't know exactly what happened," Friedman said. "He just said that he felt Yankee Stadium was about to crumble around him."

As Game 5 of the World Series is set to resume tonight, Friedman may be in for another memorable night.

But will it match 1986 and 2003?

"Two phenomenal games," Friedman said. "(The '86 game) was an incredible game, quite possibly the best playoff game in the history of baseball. It was as intense a game as I can remember."

Posted on: October 4, 2008 12:51 pm

The marathon vs. the sprint

As he tried to explain what's happening to the Cubs, Mark DeRosa said the other day: "We were the best team in the marathon. We need to be the best team in the sprint."

DeRosa got it right. In the wild-card era, history shows that the best team in the 162-game marathon often can't make it through the one-month October sprint.

In fact, in the 13 years of the three-tier playoff system, only three times has the team with the National League's best 162-game record represented the NL in the World Series. The Braves did the double in '95 and '96, and the Cardinals made it in '04.

Meanwhile, the "best team" has been knocked out in the first round four times.

The story is a little different in the American League, where six "best teams" have made it to the World Series in 13 years (counting the '07 Red Sox, who tied for the best record with the Indians). But even there, four "best teams" have lost in the very first round.

Who knows why this is true? Maybe it's that a short series is too much of a crapshoot. Maybe it's that the "best team" is often the first to clinch (as the Angels and Cubs were this year), and loses its edge through too many meaningless games leading up to the playoffs.

It is unusual for the team with the best record to exit the playoffs in a three-game sweep, which both the Cubs and Angels are in danger of doing. It has happened, but only twice. The 2000 White Sox (95-67) were swept by the Mariners, and the 2001 Astros (who tied for the best record at 93-69) were swept by the Braves.

As for a 100-win team like the Angels losing in the first round, that's surprisingly common. The Angels would be the ninth 100-win team in the last 11 years to fail to make it out of the first round.

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