Posts Tagged ‘non-waiver trade deadline’

Victorino to the Dodgers: The Trade Winds at 5.5 Hours to Go . . .

One of the signatures of the Philadephia Phillies’ former grip on the National League East is departing, according to Fox Sports. The network says Shane Victorino was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers Monday for relief pitcher Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher Ethan Martin, whose name was raised earlier during conversations with the Chicago Cubs regarding Ryan Dempster.

Victorino returns to his first organisation . . .

The network quotes an unidentified source as saying the Dodgers for now are thinking, “Damn the money, make the club better,” as the Dodgers continue a push in the National League West. For Victorino it’s a sort-of homecoming: he was originally a Dodger draft (1999), but the Dodgers lost him twice in Rule 5 minor league drafts and he eventually haunted his first organisation in postseason play, helping beat them in 2008 and 2009—and triggering a bench-clearing when Hiroki Kuroda dusted him during the 2008 League Championship Series.

Victorino is a two-time All-Star with 40 runs batted in in 2012. He’s thought to have faded somewhat this season but he’s still only 31 and, according to the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers think he still has plenty of upside left for them, if you listen to general manager Ned Colletti.

We’re excited to add an All-Star caliber player with postseason experience. He plays the game with passion, gives us a top of the order bat from both sides of the plate, can steal bases and is solid defensively in the outfield.

Victorino has 24 stolen bases and came off a 2011 in which he scored 95 runs and led the National League with 16 triples.

What did the Phillies get for him? Martin is a starter who’s considered just about major league ready but the Dodgers have a decent rotation behind Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley; Lindblom has established himself as a solid enough late-inning relief option with a 3.02 ERA thus far in 48 2012 games.

The Phillies were said to have been listening to offers for Victorino from the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates as well, both of which NL Central contenders were said to be as weak in the leadoff spot as the Dodgers. Sports Illustrated noted the Reds might have felt the Phillies’ return demand might have been too high. On the Phillies’ part, unloading Victorino and/or Hunter Pence could free up some salary space, bring in a prospect, and possibly get them back in the NL East hunts for 2013. (Of course, possibly moving Cliff Lee would do even more in that regard.)

The Reds are at the bottom of the Show in batting average from the leadoff spot (.203) and on-base percentage (.248). With Victorino gone, the Reds may set their sights instead on Juan Pierre (also with the Phillies) or Minnesota’s Denard Span, but they may not want to give up a pitcher to get Span. The Pirates, on the other hand, merely need help in the lineup, especially in the outfield where Andrew McCutchen now seems like a one-man show, since they fixed their biggest problem when they landed Wandy Rodriguez from the completely-rebuilding Houston Astros.

Speaking of Dempster, the Dodgers are still thought to be interested in landing the veteran righthander whose scoreless innings streak ramped his value to his personal all-time high. Dempster himself has vetoed a potential deal to the Atlanta Braves, who need to shore up their rotation for a final postseason push, and the issue seems to come down to just what the Dodgers will have to send the Cubs to get him.

The Cubs, for their part, need to move Dempster in favour of continuing a rebuilding effort that began when they brought in Theo Epstein to run the organisation. They’ve already moved veterans Geovanny Soto (C) and Paul Maholm (P) for some attractive prospects.

What makes Dempster so attractive other than his apparent career year this year? To those who dismiss him as a mere .500 pitcher, here says SI’s Jay Jaffe: “Dempster has been a guy who has averaged 200 innings a year while striking out 8.2 per nine, with an ERA 17 percent better than league average. That’s a solid 2-3 starter. He’s not going to maintain that 2.25 ERA, but he should still be a help to the Dodgers, and he’ll command a pretty penny this winter.”

The Trade Winds, Approaching the Eleventh Hour, and other sorties . . .

The Ryan Dempster situation may be hovering in mid-air, but that didn’t stop the Chicago Cubs from dealing elsewhere Monday. They sent Geovanny Soto (C) to the Texas Rangers for a minor league pitcher; and, they sent Paul Maholm (LHP) and Reed Johnson (OF) to the Atlanta Braves for another pair of pitching prospects.

The early skinny has it that the Cubs moved two players they really no longer needed and landed a prime prospect, righthander Arodys Vizcaino, for their trading. Vizcaino was considered the Braves’ number two prospect, and with a 95+mph fastball until he went down for the season with Tommy John surgery. The Braves didn’t come out terribly in the deal; Maholm has been one of baseball’s most quietly successful pitchers this season, and Johnson brings a boatload of platoon outfield experience while having a solid season. These two should help the Braves’ postseason push.

The Rangers didn’t make out too badly, either. Soto may have been slipping since his 2008 Rookie of the Year campaign but he brings defensive depth to the Rangers’ catching corps. This allows them to think of Mike Napoli playing first base and even DHing and of the end of the line for Yorvit Torrealba, who’s expected to be designated for assignment. The pitcher the Cubs received in the Soto deal, Jacob Brigham, was a sixth-round 2006 draft who never appeared in the Rangers’ major league spring camp until 2012. Brigham is considered a) a hard thrower, and b) gravy for the Cubs if he ends up with the team productively.

Meanwhile, Matt Garza hasn’t gone anywhere yet but that doesn’t mean the Cubs aren’t still trying to move him, too. At last note, the Cincinnati Reds and the Toronto Blue Jays looked like potential matches for a Garza deal.

FURTHER TRADE WINDS . . .

* The Los Angeles Dodgers bumped up their bullpen for a postseason push, landing former All-Star Brandon League—who was one of six Seattle pitchers to collaborate on no-hitting the Dodgers in June—for minor league prospect Logan Bawcom (RHP) and Leon Landry (OF), both of whom could spell good things for the Mariners in the near future.

* The Mariners also sent righthanded relief pitcher Steve Delabar to the Blue Jays for outfielder Eric Thames.

* The Blue Jays landed another starboard-side reliever Monday, getting Brad Lincoln from the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder Travis Smith—the Pirates, for their part, had been looking for help at the plate and in the outfield as they continue pushing for their first postseason appearance since the first Clinton Administration.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE JUNGLE . . .

BOMBS AWAY—Bad enough the Los Angeles Angels flattening the Rangers 15-8 Monday. Worse: All hell breaking loose in the top of the sixth at the Rangers’ expense. Especially what Kendrys Morales did to the Rangers in the sixth inning to bust out of a slump and frame a nine-run inning. First, with the teams tied up at three, he hit one lefthanded with Albert Pujols aboard, nobody out, and Roy Oswalt on the mound. Then, after five straight singles, with Torii Hunter a punchout but Pujols given first on the house to re-load the bases at two out, Morales batted righthanded against Robbie Ross and hit a grand slam. It made Morales only the third player in Show history to go yard from both sides of the plate. (The others: Carlos Baerga, Cleveland, 1993; Mark Bellhorn, Chicago Cubs, 2002.)

He made it easy to forget that Mike Trout homered, drove in four, and scored thrice. Or, that Pujols doubled twice. Or, that Macier Izturis homered.

GOING LONG—Striking out 21 Oakland Athletics in fifteen innings wasn’t enough for the Tampa Bay Rays, when Jemile Weeks—all 0-for-7 of him on the night thus far—took advantage of a five-man infield alignment to sneak a sacrifice fly on which Brandon Inge beat a throw home for the 4-3 squeaker. The win extended the A’s major league walkoff win lead to twelve.

Zack the Knife Tops Non-Waiver Hit Parade Now . . .

Bank on it: With Cole Hamels signed to that delicious six-year extension, the Ryan Dempster scenario run into a (perhaps temporary) roadblock, no known actual move from Tampa Bay regarding a deal involving James Shields, and Josh Johnson apparently likely to stay while the Miami Marlins continue an apparent rebuilding fire-sale, Zack Greinke is now a) number one on the non-waiver trade deadline hit parade among starting pitchers; and, b) a certain bet to be gone before the 4 a.m. 31 July deadline. So says Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin to USA  Today, even if he hastens to make clear it’s going to be difficult for him, personally, to trade the righthander:

For four clubs, could that someone be Zack the Knife?

I’m very fond of him. He’s one of my favorite players I ever had. Really, he’s been like a son to me. I enjoyed talking baseball with him. He’s very passionate. He follows the game. It’s been a great experience having him for a year and a half. There are so many good things about him, it’s going to be difficult when we trade him.

Greinke made himself tradeable with the mid-market Brewers when his agent let it be known he planned to test the free agency market after his current deal expires at season’s end. For their part, the Brewers helped make him tradeable when they fell well enough behind even in the race for the second American League wild card; they’re 6-4 in Greinke’s last ten starts, with Greinke himself going 3-1 with six no-decisions in four of which he pitched well enough to win.

In hot pursuit: At least the Texas Rangers, the Los Angeles Angels (who are also said to have eyes for Shields), the Chicago White Sox, the Atlanta Braves, the Boston Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Los Angeles Dodgers—never mind that the Dodgers are known to retain eyes for Dempster. All those teams have had scouts on Greinke’s trail and in abudnance when Greinke pitched Tuesday.

In really hot pursuit: According to Jayson Stark, the Rangers, the Angels, the White Sox, and the Braves. And it may come down in the end to which of the clubs believes it’s worth a potential rent-a-pitcher in terms of what they’d have to surrender. Looking toward season’s end, it seems on the surface that the Rangers and the Angels each have, potentially, the best chance of coming up with the dollars possibly needed to secure Greinke on a long-term deal. Will they pass on dealing for him now, even if he could help them mean a trip to the postseason?

What they might have to give up to rent him: Stark cites an anonymous American League wheel as saying it would take “a special set of circumstances,” since there are no longer compensation picks to be had when Greinke files for free agency, for a team to want him that badly unless they think they have a good chance of signing him long-term. “And if you think you’re just going to be in the wild-card race,” the wheel told Stark, “do you really want to put a lot of chips on the table for one game?”

The good news, then: The Rangers, the Angels, the White Sox, and the Braves aren’t just looking to the single-game wild-card elimination—they’re gunning to win division titles if they can. The likely scenario seems to be the Brewers asking for at least two blue-chip prospects from any trading partner (which is, by the way, what they burped up to get CC Sabathia for a rental a couple of years ago), which the Angels and Rangers have and the Braves may have. But those clubs also want someone they think they can lock up long-term. The White Sox have a reputation for gambling on the big move for right this minute, but some have feared Greinke is reluctant to pitch in a large market as his home base.

That fear, according to Stark, was smashed by one scout who watched him pitch Tuesday: Nobody is really going to know if he can unless he actually gets to a major city. So all you can do is evaluate his ability, evaluate his stuff and say, ‘Can he make your team better?’ And that answer, obviously, is yes. The other thing to keep in mind is, if you’re afraid of whether he can pitch in your market, there’s no reason to even go there and watch him pitch, right? So any [team] that was at that game, that had any interest at all, must already have made that decision. Don’t you think?

At least one kicker: Greinke is believed to prefer Atlanta as his eventual home.

The call here: I could be wrong, but I can’t help thinking Greinke is going to be wearing either Texas or Los Angeles silks next week. If you agree that the teams in question want a fair crack at signing him long term if they deal for him by Tuesday, the Rangers and the Angels are in a slightly stronger financial position to make that happen. And they can make their own home markets and their clubhouse ambiences alike look very attractive to Greinke. Not that the Braves can’t do the latter, but it’s the finanial question that may cause them to hold back in the end.