Posted on: December 10, 2008 1:24 pm

Rockies still trying to deal Taveras

LAS VEGAS -- The Rockies haven't been forced into the fire sale they feared, but they're still trying to deal center fielder Willy Taveras, a source familiar with their plans said.

When the Rockies acquired Huston Street as part of the deal with Oakland for Matt Holliday, the plan was that they would deal Street to another team, and also that they would trade third baseman Garrett Atkins. The situation has changed, though, and for now ownership is content to let the Rockies keep Street, Atkins and most of their other arbitration-eligible players.


Posted on: November 11, 2008 3:51 pm

Rays showed interest in Holliday

Before agreeing to trade Matt Holliday to the A's, the Rockies discussed Holliday with the Cardinals, the Phillies . . . and the Rays.

Colorado officials were surprised (and perhaps disappointed) that they could never get the Mets, Yankees or Red Sox interested in Holliday, but they did have at least preliminary talks with Tampa Bay, according to sources.

And even though those talks didn't result in a trade, they serve as a reminder that the Rays have a need in the outfield and may be williing to spend significant money to fill it.

Asked Tuesday if the Rays could be a player for a big-name position player this winter, club president Matt Silverman said Tuesday: "For next year, it's unlikely, but not out of the realm of possibility."

Silverman wouldn't confirm the Rays' previous interest in Holliday. But he did say that the Rays won't shy away from a player who is due as much as $13.5 million, which Holliday will make in 2009.

"A price tag isn't necessarily a deterrent," Silverman said. "It's just a little harder to make the math work."

The Rays had a $43.7 million opening day payroll in 2008, up from $24 million in 2007. They have 10 players signed for $39 million for 2009.


As CBSSports.com reported Monday, the Rockies are prepared to spin Huston Street to a third team, after acquiring him in their Holliday deal with the A's. While there's still a chance the Rockies will keep Street, it seems more likely that he'll be dealt, possibly to the Indians.

The Rockies are also willing to talk about outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, but sources said they didn't acquire Gonzalez with the idea of trading him. Rival scouts called Gonzalez the key player in the Holliday trade, and some raved about his ability.

"He's a five-tool player, a real stud," one scout said. "And he's got a 70 arm (on an 20-80 scouting system)."

Official announcement of the Holliday trade remains on hold, until all players pass physicals. That's not a formality in the case of Street, who spent part of 2008 on the disabled list, or in the case of left-hander Greg Smith, who had an operation to remove bone chips from his elbow just last month. But even if the Rockies turn down Smith and/or Street, it's expected that they would be able to agree on other players and still send Holliday to Oakland.

Posted on: November 10, 2008 3:57 pm

The unbuilding of the Rockies has begun

In Game 1 of the 2007 World Series, Willy Taveras led off for the Rockies, with Matt Holliday batting third and Garrett Atkins hitting fifth.

Now, not even 13 months later, Holliday is being traded to the A's, and the Rockies are making plans to have Taveras and Atkins follow him out the door. Add in closer Brian Fuentes' departure via free agency, and you can see that the Rockies of 2009 will look nothing like the team that went to the World Series in 2007.

Given the payroll restrictions that Rockies ownership has imposed on the Colorado front office, it will be hard for general manager Dan O'Dowd to put together a team that can return to the postseason anytime soon. But it may not be his problem for long, because O'Dowd has told people that if the Rockies aren't any better in 2009 than they were in 2008, he expects to lose his job.

The Rockies never had a chance to sign Holliday long-term, and their negotiations with Fuentes went nowhere.

The Rockies will get some major-league players back from Oakland as part of the Holliday trade, but sources said that reliever Huston Street will be traded to another team. Meanwhile, the Rockies are shopping Atkins (the Twins are among the interested teams), Taveras and backup catcher Yorvit Torrealba.


Posted on: October 21, 2008 4:44 pm

Leyland: Long layoff hurts

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Phillies had yet another workout today.

Since beating the Dodgers in the NLCS last Wednesday, the Phillies have had four workouts but no games (unless you count simulated games). They've tried to stay sharp, and tried to avoid what happened to the Tigers and Rockies after long layoffs the last two Octobers.

Jim Leyland says, good luck.

"I don't know that it will be a problem for them, but it's a problem in general," said Leyland, whose Tigers lost the 2006 World Series after having a week between games. "Any time you sit around for a week, it's a problem. We tried simulated games and all that, but it's just not the same."

Leyland's Tigers scored 22 runs in their four-game ALCS sweep of Oakland. They scored just 11 runs and batted .199 as a team while losing the World Series to the Cardinals in five games.

"You get such a great rush from winning the league title," he said. "Then you work out, but you just get a little rusty, mentally and physically. It's just hard to avoid. You're used to 50,000 people in the stands, and action, and you can't simulate that.

"So did it hurt us? Yeah it did. But would I use that as an excuse? Not at all."

Lloyd McClendon, who was Leyland's bullpen coach in 2006 and is the Tiger hitting coach now, said he thinks hitters are more affected than pitchers by the long wait.

"That's assuming you're hot," McClendon said. "If you're in a slump, it's probably an advantage to take time off. I think it had some effect on us. We were in a groove (against Oakland)."

McClendon speculated that the layoff could affect Ryan Howard, who was 6-for-20 in the five NLCS games against the Dodgers.

"I think it's harder for the big power hitters," he said.

Posted on: September 4, 2008 11:21 am
Edited on: September 4, 2008 11:24 am

Yanks are down, and it obviously stings

I was at Yankee Stadium a couple of times last week, and it seemed to me that Yankee fans were taking losing surprisingly well. Sure, they booed Alex Rodriguez a few times, but it almost seemed that they were booing because it was the thing to do, and not because they actually cared.

So imagine my surprise when I open my mailbox and find a whole bunch of hatred from Yankee fans, just because I had the gall to point out that -- well, that the Yankees just aren't very good.

From Kurt: "Feel compelled to write about Cleveland or Detroit or St. Louis or Colorado with no hope? No, you try to bury the Yankees. Typical response from a fiction writer who gave no credit when the Yanks did dominate."

Hmm. I guess all those World Series columns I wrote from 1996-2000 didn't make it into your hands. And I guess you missed the column I wrote last month on the Tigers, or the one I did in June on the Rockies.

From Jon: "Danny Boy, what great insight. I for one believe that if it wasn't for the Yankees you wouldn't have anything relevant or interesting to write about. You inane drone!"

I guess Jon didn't like those columns on the Tigers and Rockies, either.

From Hyam: "The Yankees have won 26 titles since 1920 and the Red Sox 2. What rivalry? You appear to be just another jerk Red Sox fan."

Did you notice that the Astros are closer to a playoff spot right now than the Yankees are? Uh oh. Now you'll accuse me of being a Houston fan.

Posted on: July 29, 2008 1:20 pm

Are Dodgers interested in Paul Byrd?

The Indians haven't been optimistic that they'll find someone to take Paul Byrd off their hands, but perhaps the Dodgers will bite.

A Dodger scout who had been in Cleveland watching Casey Blake was told to stay in town through Monday night's game, and he was watching as Byrd threw seven shutout innings against the Tigers.

Byrd is 4-10 with a 5.28 ERA, but he has won two straight games. The start before he beat the Tigers, he allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings against the Angels.

Besides, said another scout who watched Byrd Monday, he'd be an even better fit for a National League team.

"I would take Byrd, especially if I was a National League team, because the (other) NL teams haven't seen him," the scout said. "He pitched well (Monday). He would have beaten anybody."

The Denver Post has reported that the Rockies have talked to Cleveland about Byrd, but the Rockies did not have a scout watching him Monday night.


The Mariners have yet to make a trade, but  you'd think they should be able to make several before Thursday's 4 p.m. deadline.

One name to keep in mind: Arthur Rhodes.

The veteran left-hander hasn't allowed a run in 11 2/3 innings since the end of May, and he was impressive in an inning Monday night in Texas. The Brewers, who definitely need bullpen help, were among the teams in attendance (so were the Tigers).

"He had a very good slider, he was throwing 92 and his arm angle was good," said a scout from another team. "He was outstanding."


The Mets have reason to be concerned about John Maine, who is to have an MRI on his right shoulder today in New York. While Maine didn't want to leave Monday night's game against the Marlins, Mets officials got worried when he had trouble getting loose in 85-degree heat.

The Mets do get one break if it turns out that Maine's injury isn't severe. With off days Thursday and Monday, and with Pedro Martinez returning to pitch this weekend, they could conceivably go nearly two more turns through the rotation before they would need to pitch Maine or find a replacement for him.

In any case, the Mets continue to chase both relief help and a corner outfielder. It's not clear which one should be a bigger priority. In fact, one Mets person said that seems to shift from day to day.


The Marlins keep looking for catching, but they keep running into roadblocks. They felt that Texas's price for Gerald Laird was too high, and when they asked the Giants about Bengie Molina, they were supposedly asked for three top prospects who they wouldn't give up.

Maybe they can revisit Pudge Rodriguez, especially if the Tigers have a couple more nights like Monday.
Posted on: July 28, 2008 6:44 pm

Schedule favors Red Sox, Rockies

For all the focus on this week's non-waiver trade deadline, the remaining schedule could have as big an impact on who wins as any trades that actually occur this week (and today seems to have been a particularly slow day for trade talk).

So who does the schedule favor?

The Red Sox. Big time.

While both Tampa Bay and New York will play more than 55 percent of their remaining games on the road, the Sox will play 55 percent of their remaining games at Fenway Park, where they're a major-league best 37-13. The Sox have no games left on the West Coast; the Yankees still have to go there twice. And the Yankees will play 10 of their remaining 58 games against the Angels, maybe the team they would least like to face.

The Rockies' remaining schedule is also favorable, which helps justify Colorado's decision (so far) to refrain from selling off at the deadline. The Rockies will play an incredible 45 percent of their remaining games (25 of 56) against the National League's three worst teams: Washington, San Diego and San Francisco. The Dodgers have almost as many games against those three teams, but the Rockies also have series remaining against Houston and Pittsburgh. Also, the Dodgers still have two three-city trips, while the Rockies are on their final three-city jaunt this season. The Diamondbacks have 16 games against the Padres and Giants, but none against Washington.

In the American League Central, the Tigers have the easiest path, although with a 6 1/2-game deficit, an easy schedule might not be enough to save them. But look at what's ahead for the two teams the Tigers are chasing:

The White Sox play 14 of their remaining 59 games (24 percent) against the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels. The Twins still have a three-city trip and a monster four-city trip remaining. And the Tigers are done with all their trips to the West Coast.

A trade could still change the balance of power in any of these divisions. But maybe the schedule will decide it.
Posted on: July 23, 2008 4:02 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2008 7:26 pm

Phillies focus on Grabow, Sherrill

The Phillies, who had been among the more aggressive teams pursuing Colorado closer Brian Fuentes, have shifted their attention to Pittsburgh left-hander John Grabow and Baltimore lefty George Sherrill, according to sources.

Phillies special assistant Charley Kerfeld has been in Houston watching the Pirates, and the Phillies had three different scouts in to watch the Orioles during their current homestand. While the Phillies have also shown interest in Pittsburgh outfielder Xavier Nady, a deal for Grabow is considered a much stronger possibility.

As for Fuentes, there's still some question about whether the Rockies will trade him. Even if they do, the Phillies now consider him too expensive in terms of the players they would have to give up.

The Orioles seem increasingly likely to trade Sherrill. The Baltimore Sun reported that both St. Louis and Milwaukee have shown interest, but the Angels might have a better chance to get him by offering shortstop Erick Aybar. As one scout who has followed the Orioles said: "Baltimore is dying for a shortstop, and Aybar could be a regular for them."

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail has told people that his phone has been ringing off the hook since Sherrill pitched so well in the All-Star Game last week.


One scout who has watched Seattle regularly this season said that while he doesn't really like left-hander Jarrod Washburn, he still thinks Washburn would be a decent fit with the Yankees.

"That's who he needs to pitch with, because he needs runs," the scout said. "He's another Bill Bavasi mistake. If the Mariners can get rid of Washburn, they should. If they get rid of him, that would help whoever gets that (Seattle GM) job next year."


The Mets know they have little chance of winning without closer Billy Wagner, and they also know there's no way they have enough chips to trade for someone who could successfully replace Wagner if he can't pitch. That's why they still list a corner outfielder, preferably one who bats right-handed, as their primary need, with relief help and even another starting pitcher behind that.

The Mets have talked about Nady and also Jason Bay, but it's doubtful they have enough to get either one from the Pirates. It might be more realistic to think that they could get Casey Blake from Cleveland, or Austin Kearns from Washington. Seattle's Raul Ibanez has also been discussed, even though he bats left-handed.


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