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Buzz: Latest news from around the horn

FOX Sports Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi
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June 30 News and Notes

Scouting presence for Lee not as extensive as you might expect — 3:44 p.m.

The scouting presence at Cliff Lee’s start at Yankee Stadium was not as extensive as one might think.

The Mets, Yankees, Rangers and Phillies were the only teams represented. The Twins, Dodgers and several other teams with interest in Lee did not attend.

The relatively low turnout was somewhat surprising, but it is still early in the trading season, with the non-waiver deadline is a month away.

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik continues to say that the team wants to win. One rival executive says Zduriencik has been “coy” in his discussions on Lee.

In theory, Zduriencik could hold Lee until left-hander Erik Bedard returns from shoulder surgery, which could happen after the All-Star break.

Lee threw his third consecutive complete game against the Yankees, working the ninth inning even though the Mariners had a 7-2 lead.

One scout questioned whether the Mariners are overusing him, noting that Lee topped out at 92 mph after reaching 94-95 in the late innings of his previous start.

However, Lee’s pitch counts in the complete games were reasonable — 110, 115 and 115. He has yet to exceed 115 in his 12 starts.

— Ken Rosenthal

June 29 News and Notes

Braves looking to upgrade? — 9:53 p.m.

Even though the Braves lost a big left-handed hitter to injury – Rookie of the Year candidate Jason Heyward – they remain focused on upgrading their offense with a right-handed slugger, one major league source said.

Atlanta officials are considering Josh Willingham (Washington), Corey Hart (Milwaukee) and Jose Bautista (Toronto), but it doesn’t appear that any deal is imminent.

All three players will be free agents after the 2011 season. So, for the time being, their current teams aren’t under extreme pressure to move them.

But they are earning reasonable salaries, making them attractive to Atlanta and other suitors. Bautista has roughly $1.2 million left on this year’s contract; Willingham $2.3 million; Hart $2.4 million.

David DeJesus, a left-handed batter, is a less appealing option to the Braves.

The Braves are pitching-rich, and potential trade partners are certain to ask for arms in return. It remains to be seen whether Atlanta would deal away a top pitching prospect, such as Mike Minor or Craig Kimbrel.

On Tuesday, in the Braves’ first game since placing Heyward on the disabled list, their starting outfield consisted of Eric Hinske in left, Gregor Blanco in center and Melky Cabrera in right.

Baseball Hot Streak

— Jon Paul Morosi

Latest on Valentine — 1:15 p.m.

Is Bobby Valentine in or out as the Marlins continue their managerial search?

How about in and out?

While the Marlins informed the commissioner’s office that they no longer are considering Valentine, one major-league source described Bobby V’s status as merely “out for now.”

Edwin Rodriguez could remain interim manager the entire season, the source said. The Marlins then would broaden their search in the off-season. At that point they could revisit Valentine – if they do not turn to him sooner.

As of noon ET Tuesday, there remained two differing versions of how the Marlins’ initial talks with Valentine disintegrated:

• Marlins officials were turned off by Valentine during their initial phone conservations with him.

• Valentine grew disenchanted with the Marlins and decided to pull back and consider other options.

The Marlins’ need to interview other candidates to satisfy the commissioner’s guidelines on minority hiring also might have contributed to the process slowing down, sources said.

Rodriguez, a native of Puerto Rico, and Diamondbacks third base coach Bo Porter, an African-American, both have interviewed for the position that opened when the Marlins fired Fredi Gonzalez.

-- Ken Rosenthal

The Marlins have since announced that Rodriguez will remain the manager for the rest of the season.

June 28 News and Notes

Prior to work out for scouts — 5:31 p.m.

Right-handed pitcher Mark Prior, who came out of USC with a hype along the lines of Stephen Strasburg, is still trying to piece his injury-plagued career back together.

Prior, 29, will work out for major league clubs at USC on Wednesday. Prior, who has not pitched in the big leagues since going 1-6 in nine games with the Cubs in 2006, has been working with USC pitching coach Tom House, the former big-league pitching coach who has worked with Prior since his high school days in San Diego.

Most major league teams are expected to have a scout in attendance.
Prior was the second player selected in the 2001 draft, Minnesota opting for high school catcher Joe Mauer, and then Twins general manager Terry Ryan being criticized at the time for passing on a pitcher that many claimed was ready to step directly into a big-league rotation.

Prior did receive a then-record $10.5 million signing bonus, and appeared to validate the Cubs decision in 2003, his first full big-league season, when he was 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA. Prior, however, developed shoulder problems that required surgery after that season, and has made only 57 big league starts since.

— Tracy Ringolsby
 

June 27 News and Notes

Yankees must make decision on Triple A right-hander — 11:55 p.m.

As the Yankees dispatch their usual legions of scouts to monitor available players, they will watch one of their own closely on Monday night.

After Triple A right-hander Dustin Moseley pitches against the Twins’

Rochester affiliate, the Yankees must decide whether to add him to their major-league club.

Moseley, 29, can exercise an out in his minor-league deal Thursday.
If the Yankees do not promote him, he can become a free agent and sign with another team.

The decision will not be easy.

Moseley, who made only three starts for the Angels last season due to an elbow injury and a hip problem that required arthroscopic surgery, is 4-4 with a 4.21 ERA.

But before his most recent outing, a five-inning, six-run effort against Pawtucket, he had a brilliant eight-start stretch in which he produced a 1.35 ERA.

The Yankees, if they promote Moseley, probably would put him in the bullpen. Right-hander Chan Ho Park has allowed a combined seven runs in his last three relief appearances. Right-hander Chad Gaudin, the team’s 12th pitcher, has a 4.50 ERA in eight appearances after getting released by the A’s.

Moseley was 8-7 with a 5.41 ERA in 64 career appearances in the Angels, 23 starts.

— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

 

Giants' Sandoval still struggling — 9:37 p.m.

In the coming month, we will hear plenty of industry chatter about the Giants’ search for another hitter.

But the team would probably be satisfied if the current cast performed up to its ability – particularly Pablo Sandoval.

Sandoval’s OPS is nearly 200 points lower than it was last season. He is hitting just .238 with three home runs over his last 47 games.

Sandoval was the No. 7 hitter against the Red Sox on Sunday – four spots lower than on Opening Day in Houston. No one would have predicted during spring training that Sandoval would be hitting seventh at this stage of the season.

Consider his first at-bat on Sunday: Famous for his free swinging, Kung Fu Panda took a Jon Lester cutter down the middle for a called third strike.

“That was a strike,” Sandoval admitted afterward. “He made a good pitch.”

During his next trip to the plate, Sandoval swung at all four pitches. Another strikeout, this one on a breaking ball in the dirt. Scattered boos were heard at AT&T Park. He finished 0-for-3.

It was hardly the first time this season that a left-handed pitcher got the better of the switch-hitting Sandoval. He’s slugging around .300 from the right side.

“I don’t know what’s going on with the right side,” he said, “but I feel good from both sides.”

Sandoval had 15 homers by the All-Star break last year – and is stuck on six now.

When asked if confidence has become an issue, he replied, “I think I’m trying to do too much.” The end result is that he’s not doing enough. — Jon Paul Morosi

 

June 23 News and Notes

BoSox eyeing ex-Tiger Everett? — 11:40 p.m.

Eventually, the Red Sox will determine that they need Mike Lowell’s roster spot more than they need Lowell.

Maybe they will clear the spot for free-agent shortstop Adam Everett. Maybe they will add another infielder or outfielder.

For now, the Sox essentially are playing with a 24-man roster; Lowell has only 13 at-bats in June. Their outfield Wednesday night, with J.D. Drew nursing a strained right hamstring, consisted of Josh Reddick, Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava.

Everett, released by the Tigers on June 15, is drawing interest from the Sox, but taking his time figuring out his next step, according to a major-league source. To sign Everett, the Sox first might need to move Lowell, the source said.

When asked on Wednesday about Boston’s interest, Everett told FOXSports.com, “I haven’t heard that, but great team, great city, and it sounds interesting.”

Perhaps the Red Sox view Everett as a super-utility player, even though he has no experience in that role. If so, it wouldn’t be the first time that they acquired a veteran player with an unfamiliar role in mind; Mark Kotsay, an outfielder by trade, played first base for them in the 2008 playoffs.

Everett has played 846 games in the big leagues. He has made only one appearance anywhere other than shortstop – a game at second base with the Twins two years ago.

The Twins and Rangers are among the teams that have shown interest in Lowell. The Sox are willing to pay the remaining portion of Lowell’s $12 million salary, but only if they receive a better player in return. — Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi
 

Rockies wait to deal until after tough stretch — 5:15 a.m.

If you want to know why the Rockies are in no rush to acquire a second baseman now that Clint Barmes is back at shortstop, take a look at the team’s upcoming schedule.

The Rockies on Tuesday night began a trying stretch of seven straight series against opponents with winning records.

Club officials, before determining whether to become actual buyers, want to make sure the team stays in contention without injured shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

As FOXSports.com’s Tracy Ringolsby reported Monday, the OriolesTy Wigginton is of interest to the Rockies. Under the right circumstances, a trade could come together quickly. But rather than make an immediate run at Wigginton or the Marlins’ Dan Uggla, the Rockies prefer — for now — to stick with Jonathan Herrera at second.

If Herrera proves inadequate, the team could turn to Chris Nelson or eventually Eric Young Jr., who is recovering from a stress fracture in his right tibia. But Young, while intriguing offensively, is a poor defender.

The Rockies believe their pitching is only getting stronger — Huston Street came off the disabled list Tuesday night, and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa and righty Taylor Buchholz are close to beginning rehabilitation assignments.

Tulowitzki, recovering from a broken left wrist, likely will be out until at least Aug. 1. By mid- to late July, the Rockies will have a better idea of who they are — and what they need to do.
 

— Ken Rosenthal

 

June 22 News and Notes

 

A's need strong motivation to deal Sheets — 10:30 p.m.

The A’s do not plan to trade Ben Sheets unless they receive a compelling offer, according to major-league sources. The team is not under financial pressure to move Sheets’ $10 million salary, and views the veteran right-hander as a valuable mentor for its younger starters.

Sheets, though, figures to attract significant interest — he has worked at least six innings in each of his past nine starts, producing a 3.79 ERA. He will be no more than a Type B free agent, so the most the A’s could receive would be a compensation pick if he signed with another club.

If the A’s end up sellers — and it certainly appears that they will — center fielder Coco Crisp could be another trade possibility. Crisp, who had suffered from a strained right intercostal muscle, returned from his second trip to the disabled list on Tuesday night.

Yet, even with Crisp, the A’s will need to be motivated to move. They hold a $5.75 million club option on Crisp for next season, and that salary could fit easily into their budget. The team has a mere $39 committed for 2010.

— Ken Rosenthal


Astros owner willing to absorb part of Oswalt's salary — 3:55 p.m.

The odds of the Astros trading right-hander Roy Oswalt improved significantly Monday when owner Drayton McLane said he was willing to absorb part of Oswalt’s remaining salary to facilitate a deal.

“He has told me that for the last two weeks,” Oswalt’s agent, Bob Garber, said Tuesday. “I’m encouraged by it for sure. Drayton is very open-minded. I think he’s looking to do what is best for Roy and what is best for the team.”

Oswalt, who turns 33 on Aug. 29, is signed for $15 million this season and $16 million next season. Major-league sources previously had said that McLane would not assume part of the contract and wanted top prospects in any trade.

McLane told the Houston Chronicle that his willingness to be flexible on finances is “totally and completely dependent on the offers you’re getting in return.”

McLane’s stance makes Oswalt potentially more appealing to interested clubs. But Oswalt, who possesses a full no-trade clause, is in position to effectively choose his next team. He even could require a club to exercise his $16 million option for 2012 as a condition of the trade.

“He is only going to go to a team with a chance to advance to the World Series this year,” Garber said. “That’s his criteria.”

Garber said that geography is not an issue for Oswalt, who is a native of Weir, Miss., and has spent his entire career in Houston.

“Maybe years ago he wouldn’t have considered the West Coast and the East Coast,” Garber said. “But it’s absolutely no factor whatsoever.”

— Ken Rosenthal
 

June 21 News and Notes

Giants interested in Royals OF DeJesus — 2:35 p.m.

The Giants have interest in Royals outfielder David DeJesus, two major league sources said, but it doesn't appear that the clubs are engaged in serious talks.

DeJesus would be a good fit for a number of contenders, including the Padres, Red Sox and Braves.

In any case, San Francisco may have a hard time meeting Kansas City's price. DeJesus has an affordable $6 million club option for next year, so the Royals don't have a pressing need to move him. A left-handed batter, DeJesus is hitting .328 this season.

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy has used Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff in the outfield corners recently; DeJesus would be a defensive upgrade over either.

Burrell has performed well since joining the Giants, but the team might still be one bat short. Aaron Rowand is hitting just .220, and Mark DeRosa is hurt.

If Andres Torres continues to shine as Rowand's short-term replacement, the Giants would have less incentive to part with a prospect for DeJesus.

DeJesus has experience at all three outfield positions, which increases his trade value.

— Jon Paul Morosi

 

June 20 News and Notes

Rockies have eye on O's 2B? — 11:59 p.m.

With the Rockies looking for a right-handed power bat to come off the bench even before shortstop Troy Tulowitzki suffered a broken left wrist, Baltimore second baseman Ty Wigginton has been of interest to club officials.

Now, with Tulowitzki out at least six weeks because of the broken wrist, the talks about Wigginton could intensify.

Baltimore pro scout Lee MacPhail, who had been in Denver to watch the Rockies, was dispatched to Colorado Springs on Sunday to see Rockies right-handed pitching prospect Esmil Rogers pitch for the Triple-A Colorado Springs SkySox.

Wigginton would add salary to the Rockies payroll. He is on a $3.5 million deal, and whether that would fit the budget remains to be seen.

The 32-ytear-old, however, would give the Rockies a proven second baseman to step in while Clint Barmes moves to shortstop during Tulowitzki’s absence.

More than that, Wigginton could fit into the Rockies’ plan even after Tulowitzki is healthy. In addition to second base, he has played third base and shortstop this year, and he played shortstop, left field and right field in the past.

Wigginton is hitting .274 with 13 home runs and 39 RBI. — Tracy Ringolsby

June 18 News and Notes

Colorado suddenly has pitching surplus — 9:49 p.m.

The Rockies pitching staff is getting crowded.

Closer Huston Street, out since spring training, is expected to be activated on Tuesday. Juan Rincon most likely will be returned to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Also this week, the Rockies will send left-hander starter Jorge De La Rosa and right-handed reliever Taylor Buchholz on rehab assignments.

De La Rosa started Wedneseday for Triple-A Colorado Springs with the idea he will make three starts for the SkySox and be activated July 7. It will be interesting to see what the Rockies do when De La Rosa is ready.

Does Jhoulys Chacin get sent back to Colorado Springs or could the Rockies move Aaron Cook into a bullpen role, and send lefty Franklin Morales to the minor leagues?

Buchholz isn't expected back before the All-Star Break.

As it is, Rockies went into Saturday with a club record nine shutouts in only 67 games. The Rockies had allowed 42 home runs, fewest in the majors. The club ERA at Coors Field was 3.44. The lowest Coors Field ERA in franchise history was 4.34 in 2007. Overall, the team was fourth in the NL with a 3.57 ERA.

— Tracy Ringolsby

 

Will Nyjer Morgan be on trade market? — 3:22 p.m.

On Thursday afternoon, the Nationals’ starting lineup included Roger Bernadina in center field and Mike Morse in right.

If that starts happening with greater frequency in the weeks to come, it may signal that Nyjer Morgan has surfaced on the midseason trade market. But one major-league source said the Nationals haven't made him available — yet.

Bernadina and Morse have been hitting lately, with June OPS marks of .945 and 1.378, respectively. The Nationals could trade Morgan and keep a starting outfield of Josh Willingham in left, Bernadina in center and Morse in right.

Because of his power, Willingham would have more trade value than Morgan. At this point, there is no indication that Willingham is available — or will become available anytime soon. The Nationals have turned down several opportunities to trade him during the past 15 months.

While Morgan is hitting a career-low .248, his speed could make him an attractive platoon or fourth outfielder to a team that wants a left-handed hitter.

The Red Sox have sustained injuries in their outfield ranks, but it's unclear if they will pursue Morgan. At the moment, they are somewhat preoccupied with trying to move veteran infielder Mike Lowell.

Meanwhile, the Giants are in the market for outfield help but probably wouldn’t view Morgan as an upgrade over the versatile Andres Torres. — Jon Paul Morosi

June 17 News and Notes

O's might have unique plan for a new manager — 6:14 p.m.

The Orioles, if they hired a new manager before the end of the season, would not necessarily put him in the dugout immediately.

Instead, the new manager would help evaluate the organization, working closely with Andy MacPhail, the team’s president of baseball operations, before taking over officially in 2011.

While the Orioles have yet to formally discuss such a plan, the idea could make sense as their managerial search evolves, major-league sources say.

The approach, while novel, could make sense for several reasons:

• The Orioles already have replaced Dave Trembley with interim manager Juan Samuel. Another managerial change in a lost season would accomplish little.

• A high-profile candidate such as Bobby Valentine, Buck Showalter or even Eric Wedge might not want his record sullied by a team that currently is 18-48.

• The new manager could watch not only the major-league club, but also visit the team’s minor-league affiliates.

The Orioles’ farm system has thinned out – most of their top young players are in the majors – but the new manager could assess the team’s approach to player development and perhaps suggest changes.

The drawback to such a plan is that it would put Samuel and his coaches in an uncomfortable position. The staff would lose credibility with the players if a new manager already were in place.

On the other hand, everyone in the Orioles’ organization knows that a major shakeup is coming, and that Samuel and most of his staff are unlikely to return.

For the right candidate, the two-step takeover would be worth exploring. The Orioles could turn a negative into a positive by giving their next manager a head start. — Ken Rosenthal

Tigers not rushing into trade market — 1:02 p.m.

The Tigers are taking a wait-and-see approach to the midseason trade market, team sources said this week.

“It’s been quiet,” one club official said.

The team has won five straight games -- albeit against last-place National League teams -- so there is little incentive to act quickly.

But there are two areas where the team may want to upgrade before July 31: shortstop and the starting rotation.

The Tigers have had the second-worst shortstop production in the majors, as determined by OPS. Ramon Santiago and rookie Danny Worth have split time at the position since Adam Everett was cut earlier this month.

If team officials decide that they need more offense at the position, they could pursue Stephen Drew (Diamondbacks) or Ryan Theriot (Cubs). The Diamondbacks are in sell mode, and the Cubs may make Theriot available if rookie Starlin Castro settles in as the everyday shortstop.

Meanwhile, the next couple outings for second-year starter Rick Porcello could go a long way toward determining the Tigers’ pitching pursuits. Porcello is 4-6 with a 6.09 ERA and was skipped in the rotation this week.

The Tigers play in a home ballpark that caters to left-handed starters, but they don’t currently have one. Andrew Oliver, a 22-year-old southpaw, has excelled at Double-A while pitching in a hitter-friendly park; some in the organization believe he will be ready to pitch in Detroit before the end of this season.

-- Jon Paul Morosi

 

June 15 News and Notes

 

Scout: Westbrook 'back to where he was' — 2:50 p.m.

A scout who witnessed right-hander Jake Westbrook’s most recent start for the Indians uttered the words that teams interested in the pitcher will want to hear:

"He’s back to where he was."

Westbrook, who missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, has pitched seven or more innings in three of his last four starts.

His 4-3 record and 4.62 ERA are unspectacular, but the scout noted an important sign of progress, saying that Westbrook’s trademark sinker is again working.

Westbrook, 32, is a free agent at the end of the season. The Indians are somewhat reluctant to move him, fearing that it will hurt their chances of bringing him back.

On the other hand ...

“They have so many needs that if they get offered something decent, they’ve got to take it,” the scout said.

Westbrook’s $11 million likely will be the primary obstacle to any deal. But two years ago, the Indians paid the rest of third baseman Casey Blake’s $6.1 million salary to secure better prospects from the Dodgers.

One of those prospects turned out to be catcher Carlos Santana, who is now considered one of the game’s top young talents. -Ken Rosenthal

June 14 News and Notes

Cubs put Fukudome on the trade market — 9:35 p.m.

The Cubs have made right fielder Kosuke Fukudome available on the trade market, major-league sources said Monday.

But it won’t be easy to move him.

Reason No. 1: Fukudome, benched Sunday in favor of rookie Tyler Colvin, is hitting .236 with one home run since May 1.

Reason No. 2: Manager Lou Piniella told reporters that Colvin will play more often, so it will be difficult for Fukudome to improve his trade value.

Reason No. 3: He will earn $13 million this year and $13.5 million in 2011; the Cubs will probably have to eat a portion of his salary or take on a bad contract in order to move him, as was true in the Milton Bradley-for-Carlos Silva trade.

Fukudome is batting .276/.370/.453 in 58 games this season — good numbers, but with the caveat that he traditionally performs much better in the first half of seasons.

Still, he’s a good defender who can play both center and right field. He also bats left-handed. So, he would be very valuable as a platoon/fourth outfielder.

The Red Sox and Yankees have sustained injuries to their outfield ranks in recent weeks, but it’s not clear if either team has interest in Fukudome.

Fukudome has a no-trade clause that allows him to block trades to 15 teams. The Red Sox and Yankees are not on that list, so they could acquire him without his permission.

Of those two teams, Boston has the greater need for an outfielder. Jacoby Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida are on the disabled list, and Mike Cameron is playing through an abdominal injury. (The Yankees recently placed outfielder/DH Marcus Thames on the DL.)

The Padres, who pursued Fukudome as a free agent under a different owner and general manager, have also sustained multiple injuries to their outfield. But it’s doubtful that they could afford him at full price, given their current payroll structure.

San Diego has had the lowest production in right field, as determined by OPS, among all major league clubs.

Washington has been looking for a right fielder off and on since spring training. Fukudome’s no-trade protection would allow him to block a deal to the Nationals.

— Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal

 

Rangers exploring right-handed hitter options — 1:06 p.m.

The Rangers are not simply waiting on a trade for the Red Sox’s Mike Lowell. They are exploring deals for a number of right-handed hitting corner players, including Diamondbacks left fielder Conor Jackson, according to major-league sources.

Jackson, 28, could serve as a platoon partner for rookie first baseman Justin Smoak, a switch-hitter who is only 5-for-52 (.096) against left- handed pitching this season.

The Rangers and Diamondbacks have discussed Jackson, but Texas also is considering other options and “nothing is remotely close,” one source said.

While Rangers officials believe that Smoak’s at-bats against lefties are better than his numbers suggest, they are looking to add right- handed help for their bench. Jackson, who has played mostly left field this season, offers positional versatility, if not lights-out defensive ability.

The Rangers, in the middle of an ownership transition, must weigh finances even more than most clubs when considering trades. Jackson is earning $3.1 million this season and under club control for 2011. The Rangers, deep in prospects, could part with better players if they wanted the Diamondbacks to pay part of Jackson’s salary.

The prospect price for Jackson likely would be modest in a deal that did not involve money. Jackson is hitting .238 with a .657 OPS, though he has picked it up in June, batting .289 with a .778 OPS. In 151 at- bats, he has one homer and 11 RBIs.— Ken Rosenthal

 

June 11 News and Notes

Red Sox trying to trade Lowell — 7:21 p.m.

Mike Lowell could be in his final days with the Red Sox.

The team is actively talking about a trade of Lowell with the Twins and Rangers, while the Angels are “hovering,” according to major-league sources.

In addition to trying to move Lowell, the Red Sox are seeking to add an outfielder after placing Jeremy Hermida on the disabled list Friday, sources said.

Hermida suffered fractured ribs in a collision with third baseman Adrian Beltre. Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury also is out with a new fractured rib – he originally broke four in a separate collision with Beltre — and center fielder Mike Cameron still is not 100 percent because of an abdominal strain.

Lowell, 36, made his first start in eight days Friday night, playing first base. His at-bats, already limited, have been further reduced by the resurgence of designated hitter David Ortiz.

The Twins badly need infield help with both shortstop J.J. Hardy and second baseman Orlando Hudson on the disabled list. The team currently is carrying two rookie infielders, third baseman Danny Valencia and shortstop Trevor Plouffe. Lowell likely would serve as a part-time third baseman and occasional DH.

The Rangers have less of a need for Lowell; rookie first baseman Justin Smoak entered Friday night batting .350/.469/.575 in his last 49 plate appearances, and the team is set at DH with Vladimir Guerrero and third base with Michael Young.

The Angels could use Lowell as a part-time replacement for first baseman Kendry Morales, who is out for the season with a broken left leg. — Ken Rosenthal

Braves facing decision deadline on Resop — 10:12 a.m.

The trade market for Braves minor leaguer Chris Resop has yet to develop. Perhaps that will change, given his performance Thursday in the final start prior to his June 15 out clause.

The line: 9 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, in a win over Norfolk.

Resop has had a superb season at Triple-A Gwinnett, going 5-2 with a 1.84 ERA in 13 starts. The Braves, source say, believe he deserves to be in the major leagues.

Now, it’s a question of where and when.

If a suitor emerges with an enticing offer, the Braves will trade him.

If that doesn’t happen, the Braves will promote him to the majors, possibly at the expense of reliever Jesse Chavez.

Atlanta had high expectations for Chavez this season, after acquiring him from Tampa Bay in the Rafael Soriano trade. But he has struggled mightily, with a 7.33 ERA and more than one hit allowed per inning.

Resop has a 3-3 record and 5.61 ERA over 57 big-league appearances, all as a reliever, from 2005 through 2008. But the 27-year-old has thrown well since transitioning to the rotation and could help a team that needs starting pitching.

One way or the other, Resop should be in the big leagues soon. The Braves have determined that they won’t lose him without getting something in return.— Jon Paul Morosi

 

June 10 News and Notes

Twins eyeing possible relief help — 7:20 p.m.

Other teams need relief help more than the Twins, who lead the American League in bullpen ERA even without injured closer Joe Nathan.

The Twins, however, could seek reinforcements for their bullpen, which is why they are monitoring the Diamondbacks’ Chad Qualls, Mariners’ David Aardsma and other relievers, according to major-league sources.

Twins general manager Bill Smith declined to address any of the Twins’ specific needs on Thursday, saying, “Our biggest need right now is to get healthy.”

Smith was referring not only to second baseman Orlando Hudson and shortstop J.J. Hardy, both of whom are dealing with wrist injuries, but also right-hander Clay Condrey, who has yet to pitch this season because of a strained right elbow. Condrey soon could begin a rehabilitation assignment, Smith said.

Still, the addition of a late-inning option such as Qualls or Aardsma would give the Twins protection against wear-and-tear on other relievers, specifically closer Jon Rauch, who has converted 15 of 17 opportunities with a 2.63 ERA.

“Right now they’re doing well,” Smith said of the Twins’ relievers. “Rauch is doing very well. Alex Burnett is doing well. The three lefties – (Brian) Duensing, (Ron) Mahay and (Jose) Mijares. (Matt) Guerrier has been tremendous.

“It’s a long season, but other than Condrey, our bullpen is healthy. That’s a good thing.” — Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

 

June 9 News and Notes

Kevin Millwood value is declining — 6:30 p.m.

Orioles right-hander Kevin Millwood is expected to be one of the most available starting pitchers on the trade market. His value, however, already might be diminishing.

Millwood, 35, is winless in 13 starts, in part because he is receiving the worst run support in the American League. Yet, after posting a 3.71 ERA in his first 10 starts, he has produced an 8.31 ERA in his last three — though two were against the Yankees, the top-scoring team in the majors, and one was against the Blue Jays, who are tied for fourth.

Perhaps more disturbing, a scout describes Millwood as “Freddy Garcia-ish,” comparing him to the White Sox’s right-handed junkballer. The description might not be far off. Millwood, 35, has an average fastball velocity of 89.4 mph, down about two mph from 2007 and one mph from last season, according to the PitchFx data on fangraphs.com.

He also is throwing far fewer fastballs — 55.7 percent last season, 27.1 percent this season — while significantly increasing his use of cutters and two-seamers and incorporating a split.

Factor in Millwood’s $12 million salary and his decline in the second half of last season, and the Orioles might be better off trading right-hander Jeremy Guthrie if they want a higher return. Guthrie, 31, is younger than Millwood, more affordable at $3 million and under club control through 2012. At this stage of his career, he also has better stuff.

Of course, the Orioles might prefer to keep Guthrie as a stabilizing force for their young rotation. Millwood, a free agent at the end of the season, is more expendable.

— Ken Rosenthal

 

June 8 News and Notes

Sons of Leyland, Guillen, Bochy drafted — 10 p.m.

On one of the proudest days of his life, Tigers manager Jim Leyland thought about the other fathers whose buttons had burst because of news that squawked over a Major League Baseball conference call.

“I didn’t do anything different than anybody else,” he said, reflecting on all the years spent on ballfields with his son, Patrick. “Obviously, I didn’t do as good of a job as some of them, or he would have been taken higher.”

Leyland laughed. He was trying to be modest. The eighth round – where Detroit selected Patrick, a catcher, in baseball’s amateur draft on Tuesday – was surely as thrilling as the first.

Patrick Leyland is an honor student at Bishop Canevin High School in Pittsburgh and has a baseball scholarship to the University of Maryland.

But it certainly sounds like he is ready to start a career in professional baseball.

“Nothing’s official yet, as far as what he’s going to do,” Leyland said. “He’s got a scholarship to Maryland. They’re going to talk to him. We’re just going to relax for a day or so and enjoy it.

“I think he’s probably going to be a Tiger in the near future, but I can’t swear to that. That’s going to be a decision he’s going to discuss with his mom. The University of Maryland has been awful good to him. We’ll wait and see.”

On multiple occasions, Leyland gave credit to his wife, Katie, for doing “a great job” with their son.

“I’m proud of him,” the manager said. “He’s a high honor student. A little mischievous at times, but he’s an 18-year-old kid. … I wish my dad was here to see it. But when you’re a 65-year-old father of an 18-year-old, your dad’s not normally around.

“Some of those kids are going to buy their mom and dad a house. Katie’s got a chance of getting a grilled cheese and lemonade.”

When a reporter asked Leyland if his son would use an adviser in contract negotiations with the Tigers, the manager replied, “You’re looking at him.”

So, what are the odds that Leyland will manage his son? (The elder Leyland is under contract with the team through 2011.)

“I doubt very much that’s going to happen,” he said. “But it’s nice that when I go to spring training next year, I can take him with me.”

This marks the second time in three years that the Tigers drafted the catching son of a prominent team official. Alex Avila, son of assistant general manager Al Avila, went in the fifth round in 2008.

Avila was Detroit’s starting catcher against the White Sox on Tuesday night.

The draft also made news in the home clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday: The White Sox picked Ozney Guillen, son of manager Ozzie Guillen, in the 22nd round. But Ozzie Guillen wasn't happy about where Ozney was selected. "Obviously, it's a disappointment," Guillen said, according to the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. "Twenty-second round? Anybody can go 22nd round."

Of his son’s selection, Leyland said, “It’s a moment of truth. You find out. I didn’t help him get to this point, and I can’t help him now. He’s on his own. Like I told him, it doesn’t mater where you went. … Once you put on a uniform, everybody’s the same.”

Also drafted was the son of San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy. Brett Bochy, a right-handed reliever from the University of Kansas, was picked by the Giants in the 20th round. The younger Bochy was 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA and five saves before having Tommy John surgery in April and missing the rest of the season for the Jayhawks. — Jon Paul Morosi

 

Street a step closer — 10:43 a.m.

Colorado Rockies closer Huston Street is in line to make his first appearance of the big-league season as soon as Sunday. Street has made two one-inning appearances since resuming his medical rehab at Triple-A Colorado Springs last week, and now will pitch on back-to-back days on Thursday and Friday, after which he will report to Coors Field to be re-evaluated on Saturday.

Street began the season on the disabled list with shoulder weakness, and had his initial rehab assignment put on hold by a groin strain. He did give up a two-run home run for Colorado Springs on Monday, but threw only 14 pitches, 11 strikes, in one inning after a 12-pitch, eight-strike effort for the SkySox on Friday. — Tracy Ringolsby

 

June 1 News and Notes

Willis trade a good deal for Arizona — 9:17 p.m.

Dontrelle Willis represents one of the worst dollar-for-victory investments in baseball history. He earned $29 million over three seasons with the Tigers — and delivered two wins.

But in acquiring him Tuesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a very good trade. The Diamondbacks need all the pitching help they can get, and Willis wasn’t a complete failure for the Tigers this year. He made some decent starts, but the Tigers understandably grew tired of living with his inconsistency.

Consider the trade from Arizona’s standpoint: The Diamondbacks gave up a pitcher (Billy Buckner) who had failed with them at the big-league level, and they are only paying Willis the prorated portion of the league minimum salary.

A team with the worst ERA in the major leagues just traded for a left-hander who was a 22-game winner five years ago. Hard to argue with that, isn’t it?

Remember that Willis spent time on the disabled list last year with an anxiety disorder. If getting in the right frame of mind is the key to his revival, then Arizona might be the best place for him. Willis recently purchased a home in Scottsdale, Ariz., so he should be comfortable in the Phoenix area.

He also likes the National League style of play, because he’s a good hitter who wants to feel like he’s part of the game. Frankly, he might be able to help as a pinch hitter, too. This was a no-lose proposition for a last-place team. — Jon Paul Morosi

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