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Going south (cont.)

Posted: Friday March 21, 2008 12:39PM; Updated: Saturday March 22, 2008 7:50PM
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Huston to hit the street?

Huston Street
A's closer Huston Street has saved 76 games in his first three seasons.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Some executives believe Oakland closer Huston Street is available, for a price. And that price would be very steep. The A's obviously determined long ago that their time isn't now, but until now, Street's name hasn't often been linked to the fire sale that began with Rich Harden and Nick Swisher. Considering the supply and demand for top relievers, inquiring teams should expect to have to part with multiple top prospects. The A's asking price for Joe Blanton with the Yankees was Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. Not one, but both.

Sox want Juan gone

The White Sox's wish for one of the other 29 teams to claim Juan Uribe and thus pick up Uribe's entire $4.5 million salary is a long shot at best. But the move to put him on waivers left little doubt Chicago would like to be rid of its former starting shortstop who's logged a lot of time at second base this spring. Whether they'd take the drastic step to release Uribe isn't known, but the hope appears to be that they can still work out a trade, even if they have to pay half or more of Uribe's salary. Uribe's placement on the waivers was first reported by 620, The Score, the White Sox' flagship station.

One White Sox-connected person insisted they could still wind up using Uribe as their starter at second, but others believe the White Sox have determined he doesn't really fit. Cuban import Alexei Ramirez (.366 this spring) has won fans in the organization this spring with a strong offensive showing and obvious athleticism, but a scout on another team said he believes Ramirez isn't quite ready. That scout said, "He needs to go down to the minors to learn how to play.''

Rookie enters Dodgers 3B picture

With Andy LaRoche out with a hand injury, and Nomar Garciaparra's own hand injury appearing more serious than first believed (Joe Torre called him "doubtful'' for Opening Day), prospect Blake DeWitt, a former No. 1 pick known for timely hitting, has become a surprise entry in the third-base picture. DeWitt (listed at 5-11) hit .281 at Double-A Jacksonville last year. Versatile Tony Abreu also is said to be in the picture, but DeWitt definitely is drawing interest among Dodgers execs.

The Dodgers don't seem likely to trade for a veteran, but if they change their minds, Joe Crede actually makes more sense than Brandon Inge did, since Crede has only a year to go on his contract. For now though, the Dodgers apparently feel they can make do at third this year with Garciaparra and the youngsters, before one of the kids eventually asserts himself. Crede hasn't helped the Sox do a deal (they have Josh Fields ready to go as his replacement) by hitting .135 this spring, but one scout said, "I'd give him some leeway because of his experience.'' However, it looks like L.A. is favoring an in-house solution.

Around the camps

• Some scouts are saying the Braves are very impressive this spring, and maybe even better than the Mets and Phillies. One question is in center, though, where Mark Kotsay appears to be hurting, according to a scout's assessment. Kotsay's back has hampered him in recent years.

• It'll take quite an explanation for the Dodgers to give the starting leftfield job to Juan Pierre (.204 this spring) over Andre Ethier (.340, 5 HRs, 13 RBI).

David Murphy, who came to Texas in the Eric Gagne trade, has been very impressive in Rangers camp. He has four home runs, 11 RBIs and is hitting .405

• Meanwhile, Gagne hasn't looked great in Brewers camp; he has allowed nine hits and five runs in four innings (the low innings total is because he's been kept mostly on the minor-league side). Gagne refused to blame his poor performance last year on his new role as set-up man, but Brewers manager Ned Yost insisted that the role was Gagne's only problem.

• It's a stretch to call the Red Sox's 66-minute strike heroic. It's nice that they worked to get the pay of coaches boosted from $20,000 for the Japan trip. But why did the players have to be given a $40,000 bonus to go to Japan in the first place? And why didn't they just consider sharing the extra money with the lower-paid coaches? It should be considered an honor to go to Japan to play, not to mention part of the job description.

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