The No-Star team (cont.)
Meche could hit trade market
A year after signing a controversial $55-million, five-year Royals free agent contract, Gil Meche is expected to be shopped by the Royals at the trade deadline. The Cubs could become an interested party, according to one GM.
Meche (3-8, 5.25) did a better than expected job last year for the Royals after drawing a lot of attention for that eye-popping contract. But with some young Royals pitchers like Zack Greinke thriving, Meche is no longer the obvious ace and appears overpriced for a middle-of-the-rotation starter in that market. So in other words, the Royals may not have to eat much, or even any, of that contract.
If the Cubs don't want to take the entire contract, one possibility would seem to be to take back the contract of Jason Marquis, who has spent some time in the doghouse of Cubs manager Lou Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
Overhaul in Seattle?
There are rumblings throughout baseball that there may be sweeping changes coming in Seattle.
The Mariners recently fired hitting coach Jeff Pentland and replaced him with Lee Elia, 71, in an attempt to spark the team. However, word is going around the upper reaches of MLB that by season's end everyone in power could be in trouble. At 23-42, the Mariners are one of baseball's most disappointing teams.
Manager John McLaren, whose spirited blowup came with the team at 21-39, isn't the only one in peril. GM Bill Bavasi and even club president Chuck Armstrong could be as well, according to talk among top baseball executives. Armstrong said publicly a few weeks ago said that both McLaren and Bavasi are safe. But there's now speculation that in the end it may not be his call.
Bavasi made a number of logical moves that seemed to improve an 88-74 team, but they haven't worked. Armstrong has been in Seattle forever. Following the trade for Erik Bedard and signing of Carlos Silva, Seattle was expected to contend for the AL West title. Instead, they have the worst record in baseball (23-42).
Around the Majors
Mets hitting coach Howard Johnson is being questioned for the team's lack of hitting lately. If things don't turn around soon, he could be the first to go. What they should do is bring back Rick Down, who was fired with the team in first place at the All-Star break last year. Of course they won't, because no one likes to admit mistakes.
Florida's Dan Uggla's a shoo-in for the All-Star Game. First, he deserves it. Second, NL manager Clint Hurdle loves him.
Padres lefty Randy Wolf should be a viable deadline pickup for someone.
Maybe the demotion to Class-A will help Dontrelle Willis figure out what's wrong with him. The same tactic worked for Edinson Volquez last year, and also for Roy Halladay back in 2001. Two years later, Halladay won the AL Cy Young award.
The A's Justin Duchscherer has made a smooth and much quieter transition into the starting rotation than Joba Chamberlain. So has four-fifths of the Cardinals rotation.
Sidney Ponson sounds like he may need a little help. A few days after reportedly going ballistic over having his drinks cut off at the hotel bar, he threw a fit over being pushed back a day in the rotation by Texas. This is a guy who was lucky to have had a job in the first place. Now that he's been cut, what he really needs is a strong friend to get him help rather than another job.
Tom Glavine's elbow pain landed the 42-year-old on the disabled list for the second time this year. That pain should ensure that this will be the last year of his superb career. Rough year for all the Braves' older pitchers, as 41-year-old John Smoltz is out for the season and 35-year-old Mike Hampton continues on his never-ending comeback attempt.
Hard to believe Cardinals pitcher Mark Mulder may be close to the end. He's been told he needs a third shoulder surgery.
Jacque Jones looks like he may not make it with the Marlins after being cut by the Tigers. His hitting hasn't improved since the move (.165 for Detroit, .121 in Florida).
When Rays manager Joe Maddon, who's doing a great job in Tampa, said that catcher Dioner Navarro "wasn't the irritant'' in his dugout scuffle with pitcher Matt Garza, he made it obvious Garza was at fault.
Some are a little surprised that the Rays didn't grab Florida State catcher Buster Posey with the No. 1 pick in the draft since catching is so scarce and they don't have a star at the position (though Navarro has done fine this year). In any case, the Rays' loss was the Giants' gain. Few teams have developed fewer positional prospects than the Giants, and Posey is seen as a sure thing.
The Mets' second first-round choice, Reese Havens, was coveted by a few teams that picked after them, including the Yankees. Havens played shortstop at South Carolina. But some see him as a possible catcher.
The Pirates are being praised for taking Vanderbilt hitting prodigy Pedro Alvarez, who's seen as a "lefthanded Manny Ramirez.'' (Both hail from the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.) And nobody expects the Pirates to fail to sign him, even if they are now run by Frank Coonelly, the king of the slot system. "He'll do what it takes,'' one competing executive insisted.
Ken Griffey Jr. got to hit his 600th home run in Florida, where it was easier for his family to attend the games since he's a resident of Orlando. He played sparingly the series before in Philadelphia due to "general soreness' and seemed thrilled to hit No. 600 in front of family. Nice for him that it worked out that way. Or, that he worked it out that way.