Dodgers unable to pull the trigger
The Dodgers are diving into the middle of a lot of trade talks, but skepticism remains steep about whether they'll actually pull anything off. "They're a mess,'' one NL executive says, flatly.
Several baseball people say there was a deal for the Dodgers either "in place'' for CC Sabathia -- or close to it -- when they suddenly pulled the plug, apparently at the behest of over-involved owner Frank McCourt. Big mistake, as Sabathia, 4-0 already with three consecutive complete games, appears bent on leading the Brew Crew into the playoffs for the first time in 26 years.
Word is the Dodgers, who could still steal the sad-sack NL West (at 49-52, they trail first-place Arizona by one game), are handicapped by some infighting within the front office. Logan White, who drafted much of the young Dodgers talent, is said by some to have unusual say-so for a recently-promoted assistant GM. Meanwhile, McCourt is telling confidants that he is displeased by the team's attendance and revenues, calling into question whether he'd even OK player expenditures.
Lately the Dodgers have been talking to several teams about a shortstop. The loss of Rafael Furcal has been "a killer'' for them, in the words of one AL executive, and they are seeking a veteran replacement along the lines of Jack Wilson, Orlando Cabrera or Edgar Renteria.
L.A. has been talking about bringing Cabrera back to that area, as first mentioned on Foxsports.com, and there would appear to be plenty of chance there for a deal since the White Sox are a rare team that's deep at shortstop -- if the Dodgers are capable of pulling a deal off, that is.
Cuban import Alexei Ramirez, who's showing some confused footwork at second base, is thought ready to man shortstop, giving the Sox unusual flexibility at a difficult position. It is believed the White Sox are targeting one or more of the talented Dodgers kids.
But the Dodgers, who at one time also showed interest in Sox third baseman Joe Crede, have been taking a hands-off approach on most of their prospects -- if not all of them. One executive who recently spoke to the Dodgers got the impression that not only are top young players like James Loney and Matt Kemp untouchable, but so are somewhat lesser talents such as Blake Dewitt and even Andy LaRoche, whose stock has been falling for many months in the eyes of some.
Word also has gotten around that the Dodgers have taken calls on free-agent-to-be Derek Lowe. However, a trade involving a standout pitcher like Lowe would likely leave them with a major rotation hole.
The reported talk of a trade that would bring Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano for Lowe and top young outfielder Kemp was shot down by those in the know. While some Dodgers people think Kemp still has some maturing to do, until further notice, I remain doubtful the Dodgers could execute a small deal, much less something that big.
Braves' new world: They're split on selling
There is believed to be something of a split among key Braves decision-makers about whether to buy or sell. And the big holdout in favor of going for it is -- no surprise -- manager Bobby Cox, who is likely in his penultimate season in the manager's chair.
Cox has been known to extend an argument -- no kidding, he holds the major league record for lifetime ejections -- but the guess here is that logic will eventually prevail. It is thought that legendary front-office fixture John Schuerholz and his replacement as GM Frank Wren will understand before the July 31 deadline that this just isn't the Braves' year.
Chipper Jones (hamstring) and Tim Hudson (elbow) joined an ever-expanding roster of Braves stars in sick bay. While Jones may only miss the weekend and the club is being cautiously optimistic regarding Hudson, there's still the reality that John Smoltz is out for the year, Tom Glavine is still days away from rehab and Mike Hampton is a longshot to become a contributor (they'll probably throw him into a game soon, but who can have faith at this point?).
All that being said, it would make little sense to hold onto start first baseman Mark Teixeira, or for that matter relievers Will Ohman and Mike Gonzalez.
The Braves have checked in with the Red Sox regarding Teixeira. But with David Ortiz looking great in rehab play and on the way back Friday vs. the rival Yankees, that would appear to be a long shot.
That could leave the Angels, Diamondbacks and Yankees as potential players to rent Teixeira. The Angels are playing about as well as anyone now despite having a lineup that may not produce even one 100-RBI man or 25-home run hitter, and their conservative bent may lead them to stand pat. The Yankees would prefer a right-handed hitting outfielder, and Jorge Posada's decision to forego surgery in the short-term could possibly lessen the Yankees' chances to play for Teixeira.
The D'backs, who pursued Teixeira a year ago, might actually be the favorite should he become available. Heaven knows, they could use the offense.
Rollins' head size growing
I have always been a big fan of Jimmy Rollins. But people around the Phillies sense a change in Rollins since winning the NL MVP award. Manager Charlie Manuel benched Rollins against the rival Mets for arriving too late Thursday (but before the game). Rollins disagreed with Manuel with this benching, as opposed to an earlier one for failing run out a ball. In any case, this isn't the Rollins I remember.