Dodgers unable to pull the trigger (cont.)
Plenty of relief in sight
Scouts are following around Orioles closer George Sherrill like paparazzi follow Brangelina, a reflection of the need for relief by contenders. At least four relievers with closing capabilities -- Sherrill plus Damaso Marte, Brian Fuentes and Huston Street -- are possibly available at what is said to be steep prices.
The Brewers, who are riding an eight-game winning streak and are living up their promise to pursue trades aggressively, are believed to be looking at Sherrill. It appears that so are the Cardinals, whose bullpen was left somewhat bare by the mere fact they've ingeniously turned a few of their best relievers into effective starters.
Meanwhile, several interested teams are complaining vociferously about the asking prices for relievers. Teams generally don't want to mortgage their future by trading top prospects for relief rentals -- though not all requests are as outlandish as some.
It is believed the Mets could nab Fuentes if they were willing to part with the talented but frustrating Aaron Heilman. Says one scout, "Fuentes is throwing really great. He'd help someone, if the Rockies trade him.''
But Colorado, still only six games out in the pathetic NL West, may still decide to hold onto Fuentes, though. "If they trade him, that means they're out of it,'' the scout surmised.
Marte is an interesting case since he has a $6 million option for 2009, something the Pirates want no part of. However, there are those who think Pittsburgh may also be motivated by wanting to finish at .500 for the first time since Barry Bonds left town, and if that's true, their enthusiasm for a deal may be compromised. Marte has been lights-out lately, so he's on everyone's radar.
Street is seen as being tough and gutsy, but recent gun readings below 90 mph have discouraged a few teams. A's GM Billy Beane already has unloaded Rich Harden and Joe Blanton, so it still makes sense for Street to go even if he isn't throwing his best. The Dodgers (plus the Mets, White Sox and Brewers) have checked in on Street. But then again, we know about the Dodgers.
Several more set-up men spice up one of the more interesting relief markets in years, including possibly Ron Mahay, David Weathers, Chad Bradford, Jamie Walker, Cla Meredith, Eddie Guardado, Will Ohman, Mike Gonzalez, Scott Downs, and Arthur Rhodes.
Around the majors
The Rays still don't like the asking price on Xavier Nady and appear to be turning toward the versatile Casey Blake.
The D'backs and Mets are in on Raul Ibanez.
The Yankees are the most serious player for Jarrod Washburn and would take him as a salary dump (his 2009 pay will be $10.35 million). But Seattle is asking now for Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner, a non-starter for the Yankees.
The Yankees also are considering Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo. But Toronto apparently has led the Yankees to believe they either won't trade A.J. Burnett, or at least won't trade him within the division.
The Yankees discussed Bonds at their Thursday meeting in Tampa. But the possibility of signing Bonds is said to remain "highly unlikely.''
The Reds are seeking a top prospect for Adam Dunn. But so far, no one seems to be biting at that price.
The Cubs appear to only need relief, exacerbated by Kerry Wood returning to the disabled list Thursday.
A new reliever name that could be in the mix is the Toronto left-hander Downs, whose interest by the Mets was mentioned by Joe DeMayo of nybaseballdigest.com.
The Mets do not want to trade Fernando Martinez or left-handed pitcher Jon Niese, who are as close to untouchable as anyone in their system. Martinez hobbled out of a game for Doule-A Binghamton on Thursday but was said by the Mets to have only suffered a cramp in the hamstring area, not a recurrence of hamstring issues.
A Giants person said don't bother calling about their big three. That's Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez.
The White Sox, with their plethora of shortstops, have talked to the Red Sox about sending them Juan Uribe, who's been on the trade block since winter, for Alex Cora. Cora's brother Joey is a well-respected coach with the White Sox. CBSsports.com first reported this possibility.
The Padres started their dumping process by trading Randy Wolf to the Astros (who aren't in the race, they just think they are), and could be interested in several more deals, perhaps for Meredith, Greg Maddux (who has a no-trade clause) and Brian Giles. Some baseball people wouldn't be shocked if the Padres thought about trading shortstop Khalil Greene (down to .215 this year), as well. A couple baseball execs said they believe San Diego has soured some on Greene.