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Tag:Ricky Nolasco
Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:33 pm
 

Spring primer: Miami Marlins



By Matt Snyder


All of a sudden, in just one offseason, the Miami Marlins have undergone a complete makeover. They have a new name, logo and stadium. New, more colorful uniforms are part of the deal as well. Still, that's all window-dressing if the on-field product resembles the 72-90 one from 2011. And it doesn't. Not only did the Marlins bring in three highly-coveted and high-priced free agents, but they traded for fiery Carlos Zambrano and brought in one of the most outspoken -- and, at times, effective -- managers in baseball. How Ozzie Guillen's new-look troops fare in the 2012 season remains to be seen, but two things are certain: More people will be in attendance to find out and it's not going to be boring.

Major additions: SS Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Carlos Zambrano, RHP Heath Bell, LHP Wade LeBlanc
Major departures: RHP Javier Vazquez, C John Baker, RHP Burke Badenhop, RHP Chris Volstad

Probable lineup
1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. Emilio Bonifacio, CF
3. Hanley Ramirez, 3B
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF (a.k.a. Mike Stanton)
5. Logan Morrison, LF
6. Gaby Sanchez, 1B
7. John Buck, C
8. Omar Infante, 2B

Probable rotation
1. Josh Johnson
2. Mark Buehrle
3. Anibal Sanchez
4. Ricky Nolasco
5. Carlos Zambrano

Wade LeBlanc is the injury replacement.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Heath Bell
Set-up: Edward Mujica, Mike Dunn

Important bench players

C Brett Hayes, IF Greg Dobbs, OF Scott Cousins, OF Bryan Petersen

Prospect to watch
For this year, there really aren't many guys on the radar ready to jump in and immediately help. Third base prospect Matt Dominguez is in Triple-A, but he's now blocked by one of the team leaders in Hanley Ramirez. All the other highly-ranked Marlins prospects are in the lower-levels of the minors. So we'll go with Dominguez here for this reason: Should he have a big first three months in Triple-A while the Marlins are in the thick of the pennant race, he makes for good trade bait at the deadline. Maybe they could use him to upgrade the bridge to Heath Bell or even as part of a package to landing a really good center fielder.

Fantasy breakout: Logan Morrison
"Morrison's track record suggests both his walk rate and BABIP should rebound, and in fact, his .268 BABIP from a year ago looks like the result of some horrendously bad luck. He is a strong bet to improve on his OBP and, at worst, maintain the home run power he displayed in 2011. Add in some improvement and subtract out his minor league demotion and DL time from last season, and Morrison suddenly profiles as a No. 3 mixed league OF." - Al Melchior [Full Marlins team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bounce-back: Hanley Ramirez
"Ramirez had a miserable first half last season, and just when he started to get untracked, he suffered a shoulder injury that led to season-ending surgery. As the season progressed, Ramirez adjusted and started hitting more line drives and flyballs, and his batting average and power numbers rose accordingly. Even though his overall stats were pale compared to his norms, a good sign for Ramirez was that his home run per flyball rate was not much lower than usual." - Al Melchior [Full Marlins team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Everyone behaves, Ramirez and Johnson stay healthy and have big seasons while the youngsters (Stanton, Morrison) develop into stars. Especially now that there are two wild cards, the Marlins have a great shot at the playoffs with this group. And once you get there, anything can happen, so I'd say an optimistic outlook has them winning the third World Series in franchise history. If you look at the upside in the offense and rotation in particular, it's hard to argue against a best-case scenario being a championship. Then again ...

Pessimistic outlook
Utter disaster. The club doesn't respond to Guillen, Johnson injures his arm again, Zambrano melts down, Morrison quibbles with management over Twitter, Ramirez starts slow and demands a trade due to wanting to play shortstop again ... you get it. I can't think of another club with such high-peak and low-valley potential entering the 2012 season. This group of personalities could be the new Bronx Zoo champion or a catastrophic mix on the field that finishes last. Almost literally, anything could happen. As I said in the intro, it certainly won't be boring. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: November 27, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, 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. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.

When we discuss the Chicago Cubs, no baseball fan is lacking an opinion -- specifically, everyone seems to have some pet theory as to why the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. I've long argued with the people who believe the streak has something to do with a stupid "curse" or somehow now has something to do with playing so many more day games than everyone else. No, the real problem is they've never put a top-to-bottom management system in place that has done the job consistently for more than a small handful of seasons. It's possible current Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has done so with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, et al (in fact, I'd argue it's likely), but that's a different discussion for a different forum.

For now, we're left looking at one of the worst Homegrown Teams in our series.

Lineup

1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Tyler Colvin, LF
5. Casey McGehee, 3B
6. Eric Hinske, 1B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Sam Fuld, CF

Starting Rotation

1. Ricky Nolasco
2. Kyle Lohse
3. Andrew Cashner*
4. Carlos Zambrano
5. Randy Wells
* - if Cashner fell injured like he did in the real 2011 season, the options would be: Jon Garland, Dontrelle Willis and Casey Coleman.

Bullpen

Closer - Kyle Farnsworth
Set up - Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Al Alburquerque, Juan Cruz, Michael Wuertz
Long - Jeff Samardzija, Rich Hill, Sergio Mitre

Notable Bench Players

Robinson Chirinos, Ryan Theriot, Ronny Cedeno, Brandon Guyer, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Tony Campana, Lou Montanez. In fact, feel free to grab any of these guys, plug them in the lineup and play around with it. There's really no wrong answer, because it's one marquee player (and he's only 21) amidst a heap of mediocrity at this point. Maybe Guyer proves a good player, McGehee bounces back and/or Colvin becomes a good everyday player, but we have to go on what we've seen up to this point.

What's Good?

The bullpen is really strong. It's well-rounded with righties and lefties, depth, power pitchers and specialists. Of course, there could be an issue with the lack of a reliable closer when it comes to either Farnsworth or Marmol, but a new-age manager might just abandon that idea and use whoever makes the most sense in the ninth.

What's Not?

The starting rotation doesn't have a true ace (or No. 2, for that matter). The infield defense sorely lacks range and the outfield isn't great either. The team speed is minimal, there isn't a good option at leadoff (or in the two-hole, or cleanup, or fifth ... you get the point) and who is the best power hitter? Colvin? Soto? Basically, everything other than the bullpen and Starlin Castro is lackluster.

Comparison to real 2011

You have to give former general manager Jim Hendry credit for scraping together a team good enough to win three division titles in six years, considering this bunch. Then again, he was in charge as the organization was assembling nothing more than a mediocre foundation (Baseball Prospectus now says the minor-league system is "not bad" but is more "depth than starpower."). Let's leave out the excuses, because there are far more bad picks (Montanez at third overall as a shortstop, for example) than there are instances of bad luck (Mark Prior, for example).

The amazing thing is that the 2011 Cubs were 71-91 and I actually think that team was better than this Homegrown unit. When we do the Homegrown rankings in mid-December, expect to see the Cubs toward the bottom. That probably changes in five years, but we're doing this exercise in the present. And this team would probably win somewhere in the ballpark of 65 games. Maybe fewer.

Up Next: Seattle Mariners

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 26, 2011 4:55 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Kansas City Royals

By C. Trent Rosecrans

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: Kansas City Royals
Record: 70-89, 22 games back in AL Central
Manager: Ned Yost
Best hitter: Alex Gordon -- .303/.376/.502, 23 HR, 87 RBI, 101 R, 45 2B, 17 SB
Best pitcher: Aaron Crow -- 4-4, 2.80 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 64 K, 61 IP

Few seasons that end with a team 22 games back will garner as much optimism as the 2011 Royals, a team with few expectations other than playing time for young players and giving a glimpse of the future. Even before 2011, that future was bright -- but with some of the performances by the Royals' youngsters and even its less-youngsters -- have made that future seem even brighter.

2011 SEASON RECAP

For the 2011 Royals, the wins and losses were never part of the proposition, it was progress by the likes of Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas, Johnny Giavotella and Salvador Perez. What the Royals found was that Hosmer is an absolute stud, Escobar can contribute enough at the plate to keep his glove in the lineup and Moustakas, after a rough start, has shown the ability that had so many excited. 

Not only were the new toys impressive, so were some of the other, slightly older types, such as Gordon, Billy Butler, Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur (none of whom are older than 27). In all, the Royals were sixth in the American League in runs (719), fourth in batting average (.274) and fifth in OPS (.743) -- all marks better than league average.

The problem for the Royals was finding pitching, finishing 12th out of 14 AL teams in team ERA at 4.46, allowing the third-best OPS by opponent batters (.763) and their starters had a 4.83 ERA. 

2012 AUDIT

The rotation remains a mess, and without a significant trade or two in the offseason will likely stay that way. It's never a good sign when your best starter was Bruce Chen. There are, of course, good pitching prospects, but the arms the organization was banking on breaking through all took steps back in 2011, with lefty John Lamb undergoing Tommy John surgery, another lefty, Mike Montgomery, struggled in Triple-A, while yet another lefty, Chris Dwyer, struggled in Double-A.

Left-hander Danny Duffy had his ups and downs, going 4-8 with a 5.64 ERA in the big leagues, but his stuff was never in question. Many talented young pitchers have struggled in the big leagues before finding their control.

Former Astro Felipe Paulino (an actual right-hander) pitched relatively well this season for the Royals, going 3-6 with a 4.10 ERA for the Royals in 118 2/3 innings. Luke Hochevar, a former No. 1 overall pick, has teased with his talent -- but seems to do so every year. If this is the year he puts it all together…

FREE AGENTS
C Jason Kendall
RHP Kyle Davies
LHP Bruce Chen
LHP Jeff Francis

OFFSEASON FOCUS

The offseason focus is pitching, namely starting pitching. Of course, few teams aren't looking for starting pitching. The difference is the Royals still have some talented prospects to dangle.

  • Every offseason there seems to be a pitcher that most didn't think was available, but yet the thoughts of a big-named prospect can get another GM excited (think Shaun Marcum last offseason). The Royals have the prospects to flip for a high-quality pitcher -- and any chance they get, they should take.
  • The Royals missed their shot to trade high on Joakim Soria, who went from one of the game's best closers to being that guy in Kansas City. That said, he has a track record and team-friendly contract. He could bring back a starter for a team desperate for a reliever. The Royals have a $6 million options or 2012 and options for 2013-14. He does have a limited no-trade clause, but that could be waived.
  • Move Crow from the bullpen to the starting rotation. He can always go back, and going back is easier during the season than moving into the rotation. Crow was a starter until this season and still projects as one.
  • Offer arbitration to Melky Cabrera -- sure, he's due to regress and he'll probably make more than he's worth right now, but he could bring something at the trade deadline if nothing else works out. It also doesn't seem like the team has a center fielder ready to take over quite yet.
  • Ricky Nolasco has talent, but his recent struggles mean the Royals won't have to give up much to get the right-hander from Florida. A middle-tier Royals prospect is better than some team's top-tier prospects and it may not even take that to get Nolasco. Kauffman Stadium is a place where pitchers can succeed, so a change of scenery could help. He's owed 20.5 million over the next two seasons, but the Royals are said to have some money to play with. If they take his salary, they won't even have to give up much in prospects.
The Royals are unlikely to contend in 2012, but the promising start of 2011 should continue and if the pitching talent develops or the team makes some big moves to get pitchers to Kansas City, the playoffs could reach KC by 2013.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 25, 2011 11:45 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Rockies raze Astros, Matusz bombs

Ianetta and Co.
By Evan Brunell

3 UpRockies hitters: Colorado exploded for 19 runs, led by Kevin Kouzmanoff who scorched the ball for two homers, driving in five. But there were plenty of other contributors, with seven of nine players getting at least two hits, six of them with three or more. And even Kevin Millwood got in on the fun with a home run, the second of the season. He now has a .474 slugging percentage with a .180 career mark. Ty Wigginton, Thomas Field and Jordan Pachecho each had four hits, while Chris Iannetta tied Kouz with five RBI and a three-run blast. Only the first and ninth marked scoreless innings for the Rox.

Gavin Floyd, White Sox: It was a good year for Floyd, who posted a career-low 4.37 ERA this season. The cap to his successful year came with an eight-inning, three-hit performance against the Royals. He allowed only two walks and punched out 10 over 121 pitches. The White Sox considered moving him earlier this year and if he hits the market this offseason, there should be quite a bit of interest, especially given the weak free-agent market. He ended up losing because minor-league lifer Luis Mendoza out-dueled him, but Floyd gets the up for not just the game, but his season overall.

Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox: The outcome of the game isn't why Papelbon's here. In his longest outing since May 2010 (and before that, 2006), Papelbon dominated the Yankees by throwing just 29 pitches over 2 1/3 innings, striking out four. The stumbling Red Sox seem to have everything going wrong for them, but Papelbon is the one thing going right. Get Papelbon a lead this year and he will hold it. Until giving up a run in his last relief appearance on Sept. 20, Papelbon hadn't given up a run since July 16.



3 DownAstros pitchers: The Rockies did most of their damage against the bullpen, knocking Lucas Harrell out of the game after just three innings and five runs (two unearned). Then began a procession of four pitchers, each of whom gave up at least four runs before Juan Abreu stopped the bleeding in the ninth. Rule 5 selection Aneury Rodriguez was lit up for four runs in two innings and Lance Pendleton surrendered five in his own two innings of work. Xavier Cedeno gave up five runs in the eighth after two one-out appearances marked the start of his career. Cedeno's ERA is now 27.00.

Brian Matusz, Orioles: The left-hander's season is finally over. Coming off a strong 2011, the youngster was primed to take the next step toward becoming an ace... and instead now ends 2011 with a 10.69 ERA that was actually lowered Sunday when he coughed up six runs over five innings to the Tigers, with a three-spot in the fifth as Matusz's last taste. That ERA will set a record for a pitcher with at least 40 innings, STATS LLC reports -- but he's in good company, as the previous record of 10.64 was held by Roy Halladay (2000).
"I'm going to have a lot of motivation going into this winter, because I'm never going to forget what this has felt like," Matusz told the Associated Press. "I've got a lot of mistakes to learn from." I'd say so.

Ricky Nolasco, Marlins:
Wrapping up this edition of horrible pitching performances is Nolasco, who lasted just two innings and gave up six earned runs (plus another unearned). He was ripped apart for nine hits, spiking his ERA to 4.67. Nolasco has long been a pitcher whose peripherals have portended future success, but he simply can't put it all together, and it's time to stop expecting him to. He's a fine middle-of-the-rotation starter, but that's really all he can aspire to be at this point.

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

Colorado Rockies' Chris Iannetta (20) is congratulated by teammate Ty Wigginton (21) and Jordan Pacheco (58) after all three scored on his home run as Houston Astros catcher J.R. Towles (46) watches during the eighth inning of a baseball game on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011, in Houston. The Rockies defeated the Astros 19-3. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Posted on: July 27, 2011 4:56 pm
 

Wednesday afternoon trade rumors

By C. Trent Rosecrans

We actually got the big trades on Wednesday with a three-way deal sending Colby Rasmus to Toronto and Edwin Jackson to St. Louis, as well as the biggest domino of the non-waiver trade deadline falling, as Carlos Beltran will join the Giants on Thursday. But that doesn't mean the rumors stopped, boy oh boy, are they still hot and heavy. Here's our roundup of the morning and early afternoon's rumors:

• One official for a contender told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that he believes the Rockies will move Ubaldo Jimenez. Apparently there's too much smoke for there not to be fire. The same official told Stark, "You don't do this with your best pitchers unless you're ready to trade him." 

• Even with the Cardinals rebuilding their bullpen in Wednesday's Rasmus deal, they're still talking to the Padres about Heath Bell and Mike Adams, CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller tweets.

• The Cubs are apparently interested in dumping two of their higher-priced players, Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano. Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweeted the Cubs are offering up much of the money left on their contracts. A rival front-office member told Heyman, "They'd have to pay 95 percent." Zambrano is making $17.875 million this season and $18 million next season. He has a $19.25 million vesting option for 2013 that takes effect if he is first or second in the 2011 Cy Young vote (not likely) or is in the top four of the 2012 Cy Young vote and is healthy. He has a full no-trade clause. Soriano is signed through 2014 at $18 million per season. The Cubs are hoping the Yankees bite, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.

• A's general manager Billy Beane tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he's not interested in giving away any of the available A's players on the cheap. He said the team isn't looking to dump payroll.

• After Beltran turned down the Indians (or his agent did), Cleveland has moved on and is trying to land Rasmus, B.J. Upton and Hiroki Kuroda, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! tweets. Of course, that was before Rasmus was off the table.

• The Astros say they want a "very top" pitching prospect in return for Hunter Pence, Heyman tweets. He notes with that price tag, most expect Hunter to stay in Houston.

• FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal tweets the Braves are now the most interested in Pence, but are also interested in the Padres' Ryan Ludwick.

• The Phillies have done background work on White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin, Olney tweets. Philadelphia is searching for a bat that would basically replace what Jason Werth did for them last season.

• Rockies outfielder Ryan Spllborghs is a possibility for the Red Sox, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes. He also adds the Twins are listening to offers for right-hander Kevin Slowey.

• The Yankees have asked about Florida's Ricky Nolasco, but was told the team would deal him, Heyman tweeted.

• The chances of the Dodgers trading Andre Ethier are "very slim" FoxSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports. But there's a chance as Ethier will be a free agent after 2012.

• The Reds are telling teams catcher Devin Mesoraco and shortstop Billy Hamilton are "untouchable," Rosenthal writes. However, he also notes the Rockies wouldn't require either of those two. If a deal didn't include those, it would take some other big pieces, though. The Reds' system is deep enough to have those pieces, such as Yasmandi Grandal, Yonder Alonso, Travis Wood and Mike Leake.

• Even though the Rays have said James Shields is unavailable, Rosenthal tweets Cincinnati is targeting Sheilds over Ubaldo Jimenez.

• With Rasmus off the table, the Nationals are targeting the Twins' Denard Span and could move closer Drew Storen to get the outfielder, Rosenthal said on MLB Network.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 4:43 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 5:07 pm
 

Trade Deadline Primer: NL East

By Eye on Baseball team

Leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the National League East has an actual race -- as well as a team with a bloated payroll and no hope -- which leads to a great chance of some pretty interesting trades to and from the division. Here's a look at the five teams in the NL Eeast:

Philadelphia Phillies

Status: Buyers

Needs: Bullpen, RH bat

Notes: Manager Charlie Manuel said he'd love a right-handed bat (Philadelphia Daily News), probably in the outfield, but this is the Phillies and expect the team to focus on pitching -- at least that's what history tells us. And because their rotation is pretty good (you may have heard about some of these guys), they focus on relievers, likely ending a streak of five years of adding a starter midseason. The team is likely one of the many suitors for Padres closer Heath Bell, although some suggest the Phillies prefer Mike Adams. Padres owner Jeff Moorad has reportedly told Adams he won't be traded. However, according to Tom Krasovic of Inside the Padres, the Phillies are willing to give up Class A first baseman/left fielder Jonathan Singleton in return for Adams.

Another bullpen trade partner could be the Orioles, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler said. The Phillies could be interested in Jim Johnson or Koji Uehara.

MLB Trade Deadline

As for the right-handed bats, the Phillies are in on the same folks everyone's chasing -- Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence and maybe Jeff Francouer. The biggest hurdle of all for the Phillies is money, as in they've already spent it and they're worried about the luxury tax. The team has just between $2 and $3 million to spend and avoid the luxury tax.

According to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Phillies and Royals have already exchanged names in a possible Melky Cabrera trade. Cabrera is a cheaper, younger switch hitter for those who fall short in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes.

Now, if they're going big and bold, Buster Olney of ESPN.com, tweeted the Phillies could go for Pence, centering the deal around right-hander Vance Worley.

Atlanta Braves

Status: Bargain shoppers

Needs: Right-handed bat

Notes: The Braves need a right-handed bat like Roy Halladay needs air conditioning. Atlanta looks like the front-runner for the National League wild card, but don't have much money to spend. The biggest issue right now for Atlanta is its inability to hit left-handed pitchers. Braves hitters are hitting just .211/.285/.337 against lefties, with Jason Heyward, Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer all below the Mendoza line against southpaws. That's why Jon Paul Morosi's report of the Reds' Jonny Gomes drawing the interest of the Braves makes sense, Gomes kills lefties to the tune of a .340/.446/.547 slash line this season and .281/..377/.510 in his career. There's also the regular names such as Ludwick and Beltran.

To make room for more payroll, the team could trade right-hander Derek Lowe, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien wrote. The Tigers could be interested in Lowe, but would have to take up the rest of the $20 million he's owed through 2012.

New York Mets

Status: One-stop shopping

Needs: Young talent under team control; pitching

Notes: Outfielder Carlos Beltran is the top position player on the market, but his future is clouded by the number of teams that could use an upgrade in the outfield and the fact that he's not for sale, he's for rent. Whatever team gets him won't even get compensation picks if he leaves as a free agent after the season.

The Mets would reportedly rather pay Beltran's salary and get a good young player or top prospect in return. They could unload him to a team willing to pay the roughly $8 million left on his contract, but then they wouldn't get much in return. The Mets would prefer big-league ready pitching talent. New York seems confident it can re-sign Jose Reyes, meaning they're not ready to throw in the towel and go full-on rebuilding anytime soon. 

Beltran, however, does have a no-trade clause. According to Tim Brown of Yahoo!, Sandy Alderson gave Beltran a short list of teams interested -- the Phillies, Red Sox, Braves, Giants, Brewers and maybe the Yankees -- and Beltran hasn't ruled any of them out.

It's pretty certain now that the Mets won't deal Reyes, but it appears they may be holding on to Jason Isringhausen, too, Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweets.

Washington Nationals

Status: Listening to all offers

Needs: Leadoff man/center fielder of the future

Notes: The Nationals have pieces to deal -- from catcher Ivan Rodriguez to relievers Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Todd Coffey and Sean Burnett, plus starters Jason Marquis, Livan Hernandez and Tom Gorzelanny. In short, they're open for business, with GM Mike Rizzo saying no player is "untouchable" -- but then following that up with "we're not going to touch our core." That means, "after a while, they don't ask for [Danny] Espinosa," Rizzo told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore. Ryan Zimmerman is also likely untouchable, as well as catcher Wilson Ramos.

One name to watch is shortstop Ian Desmond, but that would take quite the return for the team to move the 25-year-old.

More likely to go are some of the team's relievers. The Nats are deep in the bullpen and it's a position that's always in demand. The top tier would be Clippard or even Storen, but that would require Washington receiving a leadoff-hitting center fielder in return, someone like B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Colby Rasmus or Denard Span, FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal writes.

Florida Marlins

Status: Sellers

Needs: Third baseman, starting pitchers

Notes: The Marlins have starting pitchers that would interest many teams, but they may not part with them. Next year they rename themselves the Miami Marlins when they move into a new stadium and ownership would like a competitive team on the field when that happens.

Ricky Nolasco is the top starter to be had, but Knobler says they'd have to get a younger, cheaper starter in return for the 28-year-old right-hander.

The one the team may part with is Javier Vazquez, but it's not really their decision. Vazquez has a full no-trade clause and isn't in any hurry to leave South Florida. There are few places he'd accept a trade.

Sure to be gone is closer Leo Nunez. The Phillies are interested in Nunez. The other teams desperate for bullpen help -- like the Cardinals and Rangers -- are likely to at least inquire what it may take to get him.

Randy Choate has been verbal this week about his problems with current manager Jack McKeon and could get shipped off for not being a good soldier.

Also on the block are free-agents-to-be Greg Dobbs and Omar Infante. Infante's value is a lot less than it was a year ago.

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

Posted on: July 21, 2011 1:29 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Rollins bashes two home runs

Rollins
By Evan Brunell

UPJimmy Rollins, Phillies: Rollins was a wrecking ball, contributing three hits, two home runs, four runs scored and three RBI to the 9-1 thrashing of the Cubs. His homers came from both sides of the plate and boosted his season line to .277/.344/.410, which is solid. It was the second time he had done that in his career. Rollins is an impending free agent, but if he continues to hit like this, won't have much difficulty getting good contract terms with the Phillies. Even though Rollins isn't the MVP of old, he's still a solid shortstop and there aren't many out there.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Kershaw's dominating performances are getting a bit repetitive, the true sign of an Ace. And he's only 23. He twirled eight shutout innings, striking out 12 and giving out zero free passes in a 1-0 victory over the Giants. He's driven his ERA and WHIP down to a career-best 2.88 and 1.02, respectively, throwing 137 2/3 innings and punching out 155. Did I mention he was left-handed? It's going to be fun watching him in the coming years.

Travis Snider, Blue Jays: Snider has been on a tear since returning from the minor leagues, racking up a .357 batting average and 11 extra-base hits. On Wednesday, he was 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBI, defeating the Mariners 11-6. It was his second five-RBI game in 13 games and if he can keep this up, will start delivering on the promise he's always had.



DownRicky Nolasco, Marlins: Nolasco got murdered by the Padres -- the Padres -- by giving up nine earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. This happened with San Diego putting up a four- and nine-spot in the first two innings, respectively. Burke Badenhop absorbed part of the brunt after that but then settled down to go 2 2/3, with two other relievers also adding two innings apiece. The only home run of the game was hit by Will Venable to lead off the game against Nolasco, who saw his ERA spike to 4.08. "You could’ve brought [Bob] Feller back and Tom Seaver back and [the Padres] probably would’ve done them just as well," Marlins manager Jack McKeon told reporters, via MLB.com.

Alfonso Soriano, Cubs: Soriano went 0-for-3 against the Phillies. A fairly unremarkable night and perhaps not quite deserving of this call-out, but it just furthered a 1-for-21 slump he's been in for the second half. It's part of a larger trend with his batting average at .249 now, over 20 percentage points lower than it was earlier in the season. He's hit 14 home runs on the year, a solid number, but nowhere near the power binge he was enjoying and his contract looks as onerous as ever.

Sergio Santos, White Sox: The White Sox were up 1-0 entering the eighth, but Jeff Francouer doubled home a run off of Jesse Crain, the run counting against Matt Thornton. Chris Sale went three innings, faltering with two outs to go in the bottom 11th by issuing a walk and single. Closer Sergio Santos came in and promptly issued a wild pitch, allowing Gordon to score from third. Well, that'll do it.

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Posted on: July 18, 2011 2:05 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 2:14 pm
 

Trade Deadline Primer: AL West

By Eye on Baseball Team

Baseball's trade deadline is just 13 days away. The rumor mill is certainly spinning, but we've only really seen one big move -- the Brewers acquiring Francisco Rodriguez. In the upcoming days we'll take a glance around baseball and sort out what we can expect to see from each major-league team. First up, the AL West, a division that saw several deadline deals last season, including an intradivisional Cliff Lee deal (though that happened in early July). It doesn't appear the landscape is ripe for another blockbuster like that, but let's dive in.

Texas Rangers
Status: Buyers
Upgrade needed: Pitching, both starting and relief.
Possible matches: Padres, Marlins, Nationals, A's, Mariners
Notes: If the Rangers continue to win at this pace and create big separation in the AL West -- they're currently up four games and have won 11 in a row -- they won't feel the need to make a big splash. They have reportedly talked to the Marlins about pitching, with Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco and Leo Nunez as possibilities (Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports). Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports, however, that the Marlins aren't going to move Nolasco or Sanchez. Evan Grant of Rangers Blog reports the Rangers are interested in Heath Bell, Mike Adams, Andrew Bailey and Brandon League -- though Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle says the A's would have to be overwhelmed to move Bailey, since he's under team control until 2014. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports also has the Rangers in on Bell, Adams, Bailey and throws in Tyler Clippard of the Nationals. Buster Olney of ESPN says the Rangers are the "leaders" in the Bell/Adams sweepstakes. I'd expect the Rangers to do whatever it takes, within reason, to get to the World Series again.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Status: Frugal buyers
Upgrade needed: Could use more pitching and another bat.
Possible matches: They'd have to shed payroll first, so none at this point.
Notes: Thanks to several high-priced acquisitions in recent memory (Vernon Wells, c'mon down!) the word is the Angels don't want to increase the payroll -- even though general manager Tony Reagins denies that assertation, there's evidence to suggest it. So, while they'd probably like to upgrade several areas -- coincidentally, an upgrade over Wells would be nice -- there won't be much flexibility. Expect the Angels to make minor trades at the absolute maximum. UPDATE: Rosenthal reports Aramis Ramirez is on the Angels' wish list, but that Ramirez still has no intention of waving his no-trade clause for anyone -- at least until after July 31. This is interesting on several levels. Going after Ramirez would completely contradict the notion that the Angels aren't adding payroll. Not only is Ramirez making a pretty penny this season, but a trade would cause a $16 million option for next season to vest. Also, Ramirez's insistence on not leaving starts to make you wonder if he knows the Cubs will pick up his option after the season.

Seattle Mariners
Status: In limbo, but probably sellers.
Players available: Doug Fister, Jason Vargas, Erik Bedard, Brandon League.
Notes: We can't really be sure how things stand just yet. The Mariners were all set to be buyers and were reportedly interested in upgrading the offense, for example. But they've now lost nine in a row and -- teamed with the Rangers' winning streak -- that has buried them. I can't see a reason to move Felix Hernandez, and the Mariners won't, but some are sure to speculate about him. Just take those "rumors" with a grain of salt. All-Star reliever Brandon League could fetch a decent return and, when the Mariners decide to start selling, Bedard seems like a name that could be involved in any trade talks. Knobler also reports that Vargas and Fister are available -- and points out Hernandez and Michael Pineda are not.

Oakland Athletics
Status: Sellers
Players available: Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, Conor Jackson and Michael Wuertz. Probably several more, too.
Possible matches: Pretty much any buyer.
Notes: You have to figure at least three of the above players are shipped somewhere. Things will probably go down to the wire, as none are huge difference makers and will probably be last resorts on July 31. Willingham could go sooner, as he's being dangled, it's just that not many teams are overly excited about him. The Pirates are said to be in on him, but could be setting their sights higher on Hunter Pence.

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