Well, we've now officially crossed into March, which means we're not that far away from Opening Day. The Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues are now well under way and as we get closer to the regular season, the baseball trade rumors will just continue to heat up.
Hey, it's only a few more months until July 31.
Already, there are a couple of names that have garnered attention in the trade market. Obviously the Brewers and Prince Fielder will be a team to watch all season. If the Brewers fall out of the race in the NL Central, the heat on the Brewers to possibly move Fielder will be even greater than it already is.
Then there's the situation between the Rangers and Michael Young and whether Texas will buckle and give Young his trade out of town. The Yankees, meanwhile, in their desperate search for pitching, are now keeping an eye on Francisco Liriano, according to reports.
And then there's Felix Hernandez. King Felix is the best pitcher on a Mariners team expected to struggle once again this season, and one has to wonder if it'll get to the point where Seattle starts to think about trading him.
All this and more are just some of the rumors we'll address today as spring training rolls on. So keep reading for all the latest news and rumors.
When Michael Young went public with his trade demand, it was pretty shocking to hear a guy who basically played every position the Rangers asked him to blast the organization.
Yet we've now reached March 3, and Young is still a Texas Ranger. The trade talks have cooled around him and last we heard, from Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated, the Rangers were looking for a very good player from Colorado, according to a source.
Either way, Young is going back to business, according to Heyman. And I doubt he'll be leaving town soon, which isn't a good thing.
I don't say it's a good thing because he's not a good player, and it's not because he's a bad teammate,
It's not for a lack of interested teams, either. For most of the offseason, the Rockies had shown interest in Young. But according to Heyman and other reports, the Rangers asking price was much too high. There were other teams reported as possible fits, but nothing materialized.
With Young's claims that he was manipulated and lied to, this is already building up to be a nasty finish to a 10-year relationship. That's not the kind of thing that can affect the play on the field but it can definitely create a lot of tension around the team. For a squad entering 2011 as the defending American League Champions, that's a lot of unnecessary pressure.
Eventually things like that blow up and cause problems. For the Rangers sake, they need to move him before it gets to that point.
The New York Yankees need to trade Joba Chamberlain.
There, I said it.
It won't work anymore. It can't work anymore. They've screwed with his head too much for it to work in New York anymore, especially when so much was expected after his 2007 debut.
Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com wrote recently that he felt Joba wouldn't make it to spring training with the Yankees in 2012, that he'd be somewhere else.
It's hard not to agree.
If you've watched him at all, you can agree that he has potential. His fastball can be electric when he's in the right mindset. However, thanks to the Joba Rules, the pitch counts, the innings limits and the bouncing back and forth between a starter and a reliever, he's lost that mentality that made him dominant as a set-up man.
Now even in relief appearances, Joba's lost it. Too many times he's given up the big inning, and now he's even lost the confidence of the organization, enough so that he was pushed back to middle relief and Rafael Soriano was brought in to be the set-up man Brian Cashman didn't want.
Chamberlain can still be a good pitcher, he can still be the pitcher no batter could touch and only Cleveland bugs could take down.
I just don't think he can be that in New York anymore.
Recently, Carpenter told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he wouldn't stand in the way of the Cardinals trading him, although he hoped to stay in St. Louis.
Obviously, a lot will depend on what happens with the Cardinals this season as well as what happens with team's negotiations with Albert Pujols. If the Cardinals can stay competitive without Adam Wainwright and stay in the N.L. Central race, then the Cardinals will be less inclined to deal their now No. 1.
However, if the Cardinals fall out of the race, freeing up the money to re-sign Pujols and also get some young assets back as well might seem very attractive.
Speaking of Pujols, the imposed contract deadline has now come and gone without a new deal, so the Cardinals and Pujols are going forward without a new deal.
Pujols has said he's just going to enjoy the season, according to the Sporting News, but it'll be hard to stay away from the questions surrounding perhaps one of the biggest free agents ever to come on the market. Especially when he plays in big markets like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago—all of which could use a first basemen.
Could you imagine Albert Pujols wearing Cubbie Blue?
The Cardinals know how important this is, so don't be surprised if some of the moves they make are based on trying to make sure they can keep Pujols.
You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I'm guessing Hank Steinbrenner doesn't believe in that little saying.
Either that or he wants to be just like his father in his heyday, going around bashing the face of the franchise and signing players the general manager didn't even want. Such has been the offseason for the Yankees, who missed out on the pitcher they really wanted in Cliff Lee and had reliable Andy Pettitte retire on them.
So now it's panic mode for the Yankees, who either need to get a pitcher or go forwards with A.J. Burnett (when he's not beaning his teammates) and a host of others. Which is why they've turned their attention to Minnesota's Francisco Liriano.
And they want him bad. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Yankees offered young pitcher Ivan Nova and infielder Ramiro Pena for Liriano earlier, but the Twins declined. Rosenthal continued that the Twins want one of the Yankees' top prospects in Manuel Banuelos and won't back down from that demand.
It wont be surprising if the Twins trade the oft-injured Liriano, but they want to maximize their return on him. Rosenthal was quick to point out the haul they got from the Mets for Johan Santana didn't exactly pan out. The Yankees, to their credit, are doing the right thing by refusing to part with Banuelos. They feel he can be a star in their rotation down the road, and one would think they want to protect him along with Phil Hughes and some of their other young pitchers.
But the Yankees are also desperate right now, and the Twins know that. New York just watched the enemy Red Sox make major improvements in the offseason and the Phillies steal their top target away. There's pressure throughout the organization to make a move and do it quickly to keep up with Boston.
So they'll look hard at Liriano, who's shown he can be a special pitcher when he's right.
The question is whether they'll bite at the Twins demands this time.
Let's face it, the Seattle Mariners have a lot of holes besides Felix Hernandez. They're still trying to find a power bat in the lineup and the rotation has question marks. Milton Bradley's still on the roster.
But there's only a couple of exclamation points on the Mariners. One's in right field and the other is the man called King Felix.
Hernandez has been the subject of trade rumors for the last year or so, even after signing an extension before the 2010 season. The Yankees specifically had shown interest in Hernandez during the offseason but were shot down, according to reports.
And frankly, that's not surprising.
The Mariners need Felix Hernandez in a multitude of ways. From a pure baseball perspective, they need him as a true ace and someone the Mariners can build a rotation around. From a marketing perspective, he's a star the team can promote (because Ichiro can't play forever). From a recruitment perspective, he can help lure other talented players to Seattle.
You can see where I'm getting at here.
I've always believed it never hurts to listen to trade proposals, but in this case it really doesn't do much because the Mariners can't afford to ship him off. Putting your Cy Young winner on the market is a bad message to send to a fan base that historically hasn't seen the best baseball and it makes little baseball sense.
Plus, the Mariners recently seem to do better when there's no expectations (2007, 2009) and worse when there are expectations (2008, 2010).
So by that pattern, it should be a better year. Another reason to keep him around.
Barring something major happening, the Cubs are going to enter the season with Zambrano in the rotation. It's not surprising, considering he's been one of the best pitchers to come through Wrigley Field in a while.
But he also had one of the most trying seasons of his career, one where he struggled enough on the field to be moved out of the rotation and one that will always be remembered for his blowup with Derrek Lee in the visiting dugout at U.S. Cellular Field.
He's coming back and, according to the Sporting News, has been in a good mood. If the Cubs fall out of the N.L. Central race again, then there could be a chance the Cubs could start dangling Zambrano out there as trade bait. If that happens, the Yankees could be interested.
It's pretty safe to say that for the financial investment the Giants made in lefty Barry Zito, he hasn't exactly been a world-beater.
Now, 40-57 with 4.45 ERA isn't horrible. It's not great, but it's not horrible considering the Giants didn't have great teams for those first two years. But is it worth $126 million? Not a chance.
So that's the background for Buster Olney's report on ESPN today that the Giants denied reports they were thinking about axing Zito after a rough spring training outing. Olney also went on to note that if the Giants were to cut ties with Zito, now would be the time to do so. He also pointed out that the Giants would only part with Zito if they had a suitable alternative to take his place in the rotation.
The Giants are sticking by Zito, and understandably so. They want to see how he performs during spring training. Those numbers in San Francisco don't include that he was lights out for the first half of 2010 before hitting a wall in the second half and not pitching in the playoffs.
That being said, in hindsight he hasn't performed up to the lofty contract he received back in 2006. And if the Giants can find someone to fill his rotation spot (Olney mentioned Jeff Suppan), then Zito's as good as gone.
Considering the Giants' ability to turn scrap heap players into productive role pieces, it might not be that hard.
It's no secret the Mets fan base has heard enough about Oliver Perez, the enigmatic lefthander who had an interesting year, to say the least, in 2010. The man who was moved to the bullpen, refused two minor league assignments and had a trip to the DL investigated (all while going 0-5 with a 6.80 ERA) has been one of the interesting players to watch coming into Mets camp.
So when Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported today that sources said the Mets could possibly cut Perez today after his scheduled start against the Cardinals if there wasn't any sign of improvement, ears perked up all around New York City.
Manager Terry Collins said in the report he was sure Perez would get another crack after today, regardless of performance. But Collins is just doing his managerial duty and protecting his player. The fact that this was supposedly leaked is at least a sign the Mets are finally fed up with Ollie Perez.
He's struggled the last couple of years ( albeit with some injury concerns). But when a player is making $12 million a year like Perez will be this season, it's more than okay to expect results. And when a player refuses to go to the minors like Perez did and then has a DL trip investigated, it's a little bit more than a hassle.
It becomes a headache.
Perez wants to start, but the Mets are understandably taking a stand by saying if you don't pitch well enough to start, you won't start.
The best thing for each side is to just move on from each other. Although as of this posting, Perez pitched two scoreless innings today allowing just two hits.
So we'll see what happens.
Can you remember a team that has been more public about trying to trade a player than the Pirates have been with Ryan Doumit?
On one side, the Pirates have players coming through the pipeline at catcher that's made Doumit expendable. But on the other side, the Pirates could still have a use for Doumit as a utility player, and they can definitely use his bat.
That's why, according to MLB.com, the Pirates are unlikely to trade Doumit unless they get a good package for him. There are two important things the report stresses that will decide what happens with Doumit: how will he be used and, as Opening Day approaches, and teams face injuries, what is the demand?
Either way, Doumit will probably open the season in Pittsburgh, but don't be surprised if he is moved at some point in the season.