Posted on: December 21, 2011 1:30 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 12:52 pm

Darvish is gone, but plenty of starters available

Among teams and agents with starting pitching for sale, there was some hope that the Yu Darvish decision would spur movement in a market that has been slow to develop.

That could still happen. But for now, there is still so much pitching available that it's hard to understand why any team would feel the need to panic.

The free-agent market still offers Hiroki Kuroda, Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt, among others.

On the trade market, Jair Jurrjens, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, Wandy Rodriguez, Matt Garza and more are all believed by other teams to be available, albeit at what buyers still consider to be inflated prices. Even with Mat Latos already having gone to the Reds, John Danks signing an extension with the White Sox and Gio Gonzalez gone to the Nationals, it's a long list (and others such as the Mets' Jon Niese are also out there, along with longer-shot names like James Shields).

Compare that to last July 31, when the Tigers were able to trade for Doug Fister and the Indians got Ubaldo Jimenez, but many teams trying to deal for pitching found no one of real value available.

Now, the question is the high cost in prospects, at least based on what the Padres and A's got for Latos and Gonzalez. Meanwhile, the Red Sox, Marlins, Blue Jays, Royals, Tigers, Mariners, Yankees, Rockies, Orioles and others are hoping to add at least one more starter this winter.

And the market is still so fluid that one person who talked to the Red Sox this week reported back that they are "in on everybody."

In part because so many pitchers are still available, many rival officials continue to think that the Padres did very well in what they got from the Reds for Latos, who is young (24), cheap (not even arbitration-eligible yet), controllable (can't be a free agent until 2016) and talented, but also is regarded as having questionable makeup.

The Reds would no doubt argue that the price for any top pitching remains high, and for now it does.

The question is where the market goes from here, particularly with so many pitchers available.

Posted on: December 2, 2011 7:17 am
Edited on: December 2, 2011 7:28 am

Spending on Bell shows Marlins are serious

If they're not serious, they're crazy.

I'll go with serious.

You don't spend $9 million a year on a closer if you're not serious about trying to win. And the Marlins just gave Heath Bell $27 million for the next three years.

If it's their only big move of the winter, it makes no sense. But if it's their only big move of the winter, that would be a shock.

As CBSSports.com colleague Scott Miller wrote Thursday, the Marlins are optimistic about signing Jose Reyes, one of the biggest free agents out there. They're aiming high on the starting pitching market, as well, with Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson both having admired the new ballpark in Miami.

Already, they've done what Marlins teams in recent years haven't, by committing significant money to the back of the bullpen. Sources confirmed to CBSSports.com that Bell agreed to a deal late Thursday night, and that it will pay him $9 million a year.

For a closer, that's serious money.

You know the only closers who are signed for $9 million or more next year?

Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, Jose Valverde . . . and Heath Bell.

The stat guys can argue about whether any closer is worth that much. I'll only tell you that Bell is the one and only closer in baseball with 40 saves each of the last three years, and that he has done it with an outstanding 90.4 percent conversion rate.

Having a good closer guarantees you nothing. Bell's Padres lost 91 games in 2011, even as he had another fine year.

But teams serious about winning understand that they'd better have an outstanding closer, even if it means committing big money (it doesn't always, as the Braves proved with rookie Craig Kimbrel).

At this point, we've got to count the new Marlins as serious.

And if they follow it up by signing Reyes and a starting pitcher, we'll count them as very, very serious.

Oh, and as for the Padres, the team Bell hoped to stay with?

There's no way they could justify spending $9 million a year on a closer. But this works out for them, too. They'll get two draft picks, a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds, and the ninth pick in the second round.

In the past, that second pick would have come from the Marlins, but under a clause in the new basic agreement between the players and owners, Bell's signing didn't cost the Marlins a draft pick.

Signing Reyes would cost them a pick, but that's fine. They can afford it -- just as they could afford $27 million for a closer.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 31, 2011 6:11 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 7:43 pm

Another year, another 6-game lead in the West

BOSTON -- The Padres were six games up on the Giants with 34 games to play.

The Diamondbacks began play Wednesday six games with 26 games to play.

The Padres were 76-59, even after losing 10 in a row. The Diamondbacks are 77-59, after winning eight in a row.

The Padres didn't make the playoffs last year. The Diamondbacks this year?

"Every year's different," said Adrian Gonzalez, who was part of that Padres team. "What happened to us was we had that 10-game losing streak. The baseball just didn't roll our way. But I said at the end of the year, when you know you gave it your all, you don't look back. You have no regrets."

As Gonzalez said, the Diamondbacks aren't the same as the Padres. The Giants of 2011 aren't the same as the Giants of 2010.

Gonzalez, of course, is out of the National League West now. But he retains a connection, because his former general manager in San Diego, Kevin Towers, now runs the Diamondbacks.

"KT's a great GM," Gonzalez said. "He goes by instincts. He doesn't let a computer tell him the character of a player. You can't tell that by computer."

Posted on: August 24, 2011 4:25 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 5:06 pm

Giants awarded claim on Heath Bell

The Giants have been awarded a waiver claim on Padres closer Heath Bell, which gives the teams 48 hours in which to work out a trade.

Sources confirmed the claim, which was first reported by ESPN.com. There's no guarantee of a deal, and if one is not completed by 1 p.m. ET on Friday, the Padres would pull Bell back and he won't be traded for the rest of the season.

The Padres talked to multiple teams about Bell in the days before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, but they stuck to their high asking price and in the end decided against a trade. The Padres are likely to continue asking a high price for Bell, and that could make a trade unlikely.

The Giants have bullpen issues right now, with closer Brian Wilson and setup man Sergio Romo on the disabled list. The Padres scored two ninth-inning runs to beat the Giants on Tuesday night.

In late July, the Padres told teams that they would weigh any offers against the value of two high draft picks they would receive if Bell signed elsewhere this winter as a free agent. But the Padres would only get those draft picks if they offer Bell arbitration, and if he turns it down. Bell has since suggested that he might accept arbitration, and that could figure into the Padres' thinking.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 24, 2011 4:07 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 8:18 pm

A few names on waivers, and what it means

The Red Sox put Carl Crawford on trade waivers Wednesday, which means nothing.

The Reds put Ramon Hernandez on the wire, which could be more interesting.

The White Sox put John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Paul Konerko and Matt Thornton on, which may or may not mean anything.

The waiver process is theoretically secret and absolutely prone to misunderstanding and misinterpretation.

Dozens of players are placed on waivers every day during August. Quite a few are claimed. Very few are traded.

Does it mean anything that the Rockies were awarded a claim on Wandy Rodriguez, or that the Giants were reportedly awarded a claim on Heath Bell?

Possibly. Or it could turn out meaning absolutely nothing.

Here's an attempt to explain to make a strange and complicated process a little simpler:

1. After 4 p.m. ET on July 31, players can't be traded without waivers until after the end of the season.

2. During August, teams routinely place nearly every player on waivers. Some they'd love to trade. Some they wouldn't trade under any circumstances. Sometimes they want to gauge interest. Sometimes they put players they're obviously not going to trade (Crawford, for example) on the wire to disguise which players they don't want to see get claimed. Sometimes they want a player to clear, sometimes they'd rather he get claimed.

3. If no team claims a player, he is said to have cleared waivers and then can be traded without restriction.

4. If one team claims a player, the team that put the players on waivers has three options. It can work out a deal with the claiming team, or simply allow the claim to go through, or pull the player back off waivers. If he is pulled back, he is basically untradeable for the rest of the season. Teams sometimes allow claims to go through because they want to be rid of the contract, as happened when the White Sox got Alex Rios from the White Sox.

5. If multiple teams put in a claim, the claim is awarded to the team that was lowest in the standings on the day the player went on waivers. If the teams have the same record, then the tie-breaker is which team finished lower in the standings last year. Then the process is the same as above, with the team having three options.

6. Teams sometimes put in claims in an effort to "block" players from going to teams ahead of them in the standings. The risk is that the claim can go through and the team ends up with the player. But sometimes that even works out, as it did when the Giants "blocked" Cody Ross from going to the Padres last year.

7. The process is theoretically secret, with massive fines threatened for revealing any information. That's why no one is ever quoted on the record until a deal is done, and also why information leaks out in bits and pieces, if at all.

According to sources, the Rockies were awarded the claim on Rodriguez, and the teams have until 1 p.m. Thursday to work out a deal. But as of Wednesday night, it appeared those talks were basically dead, because the Astros put a considerably higher value on Rodriguez than the Rockies do (and weren't simply interested in dumping his large contract).

Also, according to sources, the Giants were awarded the claim on Bell. Those teams have until 1 p.m. Friday to work out a deal, and just as with Rodriguez, sources were suggesting that a deal is unlikely.

Jon Heyman of SI.com reported that the Yankees were awarded a claim on Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena. Those teams also have until 1 p.m. Friday to work out a deal.

Posted on: July 31, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2011 2:48 pm

Rangers get Mike Adams from Padres

A day after acquiring Koji Uehara from the Orioles, the Rangers added to their bullpen again Sunday by acquiring Mike Adams from the Padres.

Adams, the most sought-after setup man on the market, has a 1.13 ERA in 48 appearances this year for San Diego. He has held opponents to a .453 OPS.

The Rangers paid a steep price for Adams, giving up both Joe Wieland, the pitcher who threw a no-hitter last week for Double-A Frisco, and Robbie Erlin, another top Double-A pitching prospect. The Padres had reportedly sought Wieland and Erlin in exchange for closer Heath Bell.

With the trading deadline a little more than an hour away, the Padres were saying it was likely they would keep Bell, who can be a free agent at the end of the year but very much wants to remain in San Diego. Even if Bell were to leave as a free agent, the Padres would get two high draft picks as compensation.

The 33-year-old Adams, in some ways, had more value to teams than Bell, because he is under control through 2012.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 29, 2011 11:26 am
Edited on: July 29, 2011 11:27 am

3 to Watch: The trade deadline edition

The starting pitching market is weak, so when news spread that Erik Bedard would come off the disabled list to start for the Mariners Friday night, scouts around baseball started calling their travel agents.

The Yankees and Red Sox are both expected to have scouts at Safeco Field to see Bedard. The Tigers will be there, too.

Scouts who saw Bedard before he got hurt reported that he looked close to his old self. He's been a successful pitcher when healthy, winning 15 games for the Orioles in 2006 and compiling a 3.64 ERA in 159 career games.

And he hasn't started more than 15 games in a season since 2007 (although Friday's start will be his 16th for the Mariners this year).

The good news on Bedard is that he was on the DL because of a knee problem, rather than an arm problem. Then again, Jarrod Washburn only had a leg problem when the Tigers acquired him from the Mariners in 2009, and he was a disaster in Detroit.

The Washburn experience makes the Tigers hesitant on Bedard, but with their desperation to find a starter and with the weak market, they'll have a scout there, anyway.

It should be quite a weekend around the big leagues, with the non-waiver trade deadline arriving at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. The Tigers will also have a scout watching Orioles at Yankees, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium, with Jeremy Guthrie starting for the O's. Guthrie has long been on the Tigers' list of possible targets, but he has rarely pitched well with Tiger scouts in the house. The Orioles have also been asking a high price for Guthrie, but again, on this market, anything's possible. A.J. Burnett starts for the Yankees, who have also been out shopping for starting pitchers. The Yankees keep hoping that Burnett will look like a true No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia, but they also keep watching Ubaldo Jimenez, who may be better.

2. Bedard is the main attraction in Rays at Mariners, Friday night (10:10 ET) at Safeco Field, but it's worth noting that Jeff Niemann starts for the Rays. The Rays have told teams that they won't move James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson or David Price, but Niemann and Wade Davis are much more available. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Rays offered Niemann to the Cardinals as part of a package for Colby Rasmus. The Tigers were offered Niemann, as well. They turned him down once, but they'll get another look when he faces Bedard.

3. Jimenez has always been the biggest name on this market. The Rockies claim that they will keep him if they don't get a great offer, but they would claim that no matter what, right? We'll see by Sunday, or maybe even by the time Jimenez is scheduled to start in Rockies at Padres, Saturday night (8:35 ET) at Petco Park. Aaron Harang, the scheduled starter for San Diego, is also available, and has been a possibility for the Tigers, Indians and others.

Posted on: July 27, 2011 4:38 pm

No Beltran, no Pence, but Phils want relievers

Yes, the Phillies made an effort for Carlos Beltran, before backing down and allowing him to go to the Giants. Yes, the Phillies talked to the Astros about Hunter Pence, although it appears now that nothing will happen, and the Astros will look to deal Pence in the winter, instead.

And as usual, the Phillies' biggest acquisition this month might well be a pitcher.

The Phillies remain among the teams most interested in Padres relievers Heath Bell and Mike Adams, although like others they continue to complain about the high prices. The Phils have looked at the Orioles and other teams, as well, in hopes of finding bullpen help.

I know, the Phillies bullpen has been among the most successful in the game this year. Their three blown saves are the fewest in the majors, and only one of the three came in the ninth inning. And after playing much of the year with three closers (Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras) on the disabled list, the Phillies now have Madson and Lidge back on the active roster.

Fine. But fast-forward to October, because the Phillies are all about October.

Do you feel comfortable with Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo pitching late in games in the playoffs? Are you sure about Madson as your playoff closer? Will Lidge be healthy and strong enough to help?

People who talk to the Phillies say they're asking all of those questions themselves, and that the answer can be seen in their efforts on the trade market.

The Phillies will likely still look to acquire a right-handed hitter, but it may well be more of a platoon bat off the bench. That could change, obviously, depending on who is available, and it would be interesting to see if the Phillies went after Carlos Quentin, if the White Sox really make him available.

The Phillies didn't get Beltran, and they almost certainly won't get Pence. Don't be surprised if they end up with a reliever.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com