Braves, Rockies still mulling big trades (cont.)
Around the Majors
Teams that sought a big-time starting pitcher needed to act early. Now, with CC Sabathia and Rich Harden off the market (and the less big-time Joe Blanton, too), the best starters on the market appear to be A.J. Burnett, Randy Wolf (and one executive with an AL club said they see him as an NL pitcher), Jarrod Washburn and Bronson Arroyo -- in other words, a lot of guys with a 5 ERA.
The relief market may be slightly better. The Royals should be able to get a pretty good price for Ron Mahay (5-0, 1.84). Then there's also the four closers who might be available: Pittsburgh's Damaso Marte, Colorado's Brian Fuentes, Oakland's Huston Street and Baltimore's George Sherrill.
The Yankees have been connected to Burnett. But one Yankees person said he feared Burnett's contract. They don't like that Burnett could opt for free agency after this year if he pitches well, or opt to keep the $22 million if he bombs or gets hurt. Understandable. The last time a Yankees player had an opt-out clause, it was A-Rod.
In a trade that made sense for everyone, the Giants picked up about half the $3 million remaining on Ray Durham's deal to complete the trade with Milwaukee that netted them two prospects, Darren Ford and Steve Hammond. Durham could get significant time at second base should Rickie Weeks regress.
The Red Sox seem determined to give impressive rookie Justin Masterson a shot to solve their set-up issue. Hard to argue with that.
No matter what's happening with Manny Ramirez, he isn't going to talk the Red Sox out of picking up that bargain $20-million option for 2009.
Everyone's focused on Philly and the Mets, who start a series Tuesday in New York. But Florida is getting overlooked again. With impressive rookie starter Chris Volstad up, Josh Johnson back and Anibal Sanchez on his way back, the Marlins' pitching is better than Philly's, at least. And you know they can hit.
Competing teams seem to love two of the players Oakland got for Joe Blanton, especially second baseman Adrian Cardenas. One executive with an AL team said they had Cardenas ranked as Philadelphia's second-best prospect, behind only Class AA catcher Lou Marson, who was recently named to the U.S. Olympic team.
Coincidence or not? Carlos Delgado has become a much better player since Jerry Manuel replaced Willie Randolph as Mets manager. Now suddenly, Delgado is having a year to rival Jason Giambi across town. (Delgado is hitting .261 with 18 HRs and 57 RBIs; Giambi .257 with 20 HRs and 56 RBIs).
The Steinbrenners like Randolph. And perhaps next year they'll have a job for him. But apparently it's not happening this year.
Speaking of the Mets, it's possible that either Cleveland's Casey Blake or Seattle's Raul Ibanez might cure the team's outfield woes. Mets GM Omar Minaya is especially known to be a fan of Blake, who's hitting .329 since mid-June.
Jose Contreras' elbow injury may have the White Sox looking even more closely for more pitching. They already inquired about the Oakland's Street, and presumably others. Meanwhile, manager Ozzie Guillen sounded upset that Contreras didn't mention his pain while toting around an 8 ERA over the past six weeks. Said Ozzie: "I wasn't too pleased with the way he handled the situation.''
Condolences to the family of well-respected, well-connected Chicago baseball writer Jerome Holtzman, who died after a long illness, at 82, according to the Chicago Tribune website. Holtzman, the author of "No Cheering in the Press Box,'' wrote for every Chicago paper at one time or another and is the inventor of the save, a stat that made a lot of money for relief pitchers everywhere.
There's been a little more buzz lately that the Mariners might want Phillies GM Pat Gillick for a top position to oversee their rebuilding project. If Gillick should take a big job there, it wouldn't be a shock to see him try to lure Cashman from the Yankees. Cashman has an expiring contract and is known to be close to Gillick.