Presenting my 2009 midseason awards (cont.)
Indians' sale gets going; Peralta available
After trading Mark DeRosa to the Cardinals for Chris Perez and a player to be named later, the Indians are now said to be dangling starter Carl Pavano and closer Kerry Wood -- neither of which is a surprise. But sources indicate shortstop Jhonny Peralta can be had, as well. Peralta has followed a big spring with a disappointing season.
One AL executive called Peralta a "solid'' player, fairly faint praise for a shortstop that was once seen as a home-run threat. However, diminishing power (only four home runs) has turned him into a fairly average player this year, a shortstop with so-so range or a third baseman with below-average power. The Red Sox would seem to be a candidate, but they have hopes for a Jed Lowrie return, and journeyman Nick Green is actually having a better year than Peralta.
"I think they'd listen on anyone,'' one competing executive said of the Indians. Listen, yes. However, there's still a lot of doubt as to whether they'd seriously consider trades for either Cliff Lee or Victor Martinez, who have club options for 2010 for $9 million and $7 million, respectively.
The Indians do not want to create the impression that they are giving up on 2010, too, so it would take an overwhelming offer to land either of those players. In Lee's case a contract extension seems unlikely. But Shapiro believes he can still trade Lee a year from now and get a decent haul for him. That may come from the fact that Shapiro got a decent return for CC Sabathia with a little more than a half-year to go. However, while Lee's very good, he's also no Sabathia.
Bannister available, but Soria is not
The Royals, despite all their issues, have several pitchers that interest teams. Their closer, Joakim Soria, would be of particular interest in a market devoid of closers or even exceptional setup men. But so far the Royals have resisted any temptation.
It also appears that the Royals are reluctant to trade Gil Meche, though the Phillies have been connected to Meche. The one pitcher the Royals seem willing to move appears to be right-hander Brian Bannister. According to one competing executive, in fact, they are "pushing Bannister.''
Bannister, who's 6-6 despite the Royals' weak offense, actually isn't such a bad fallback choice for teams interested in a starter in what appears to be a much weaker market than anyone envisioned.
Around the majors
Pedro Martinez intends to sign somewhere this coming week, according to a person close to him. This remains a tough one to pick. The Rays are one team thought to be in the mix and the Phillies have discussed Martinez internally. The Cubs have been unable to do anything with their ownership situation unsettled, and while the sale is reportedly about to go through, it may be too late for them to take action on this front. The Yankees do not seem to be in the mix (even with the loss of Chien-Ming Wang), while the Brewers and Cardinals are seen as being on the periphery. The Brewers missed the last public workout, as Pedro was slightly late (he was on Pedro time), and the scout bailed.
The A's' pickup of Scott Hairston continues to make them the most unpredictable team. Not many last-place, small-market teams do much buying, but they traded three players to get Hairston. The likelihood is they still trade Matt Holliday. But don't rule anything out with these guys.
Nolan Ryan is said to be in one of at least four groups trying to buy the Rangers from Tom Hicks, who tried very hard as an owner and seems finally to be getting the hang of it. However, Hicks is in financial distress after a failed investment in the Liverpool soccer team and various other reverses. Some folks think he may need to sell the NHL's Dallas Stars as well as the Rangers.
There was said to be "little progress" in trade talks involving Doug Davis and the Brewers. A source said Milwaukee was hindered by a lack of pitching prospects. Davis has an 0.86 ERA over his last three starts, so he'd make a worthwhile acquisition for anyone. But the Diamondbacks haven't ruled out trying to sign Davis to an extension, according to people familiar with their thinking.
Shortstop whiz Jose Iglesias is in negotiations with the Red Sox on a deal that sources say will pay him $8 million, or just a little bit more. Scouts liken the Cuban defector to Ozzie Smith for his hands and arm. "Deluxe,'' one AL exec said. However, his range is seen as only slightly above average, and there are questions about his hitting. Shortstop has been the one position of frustration for the Red Sox.
Aroldis Chapman, the left-hander who just defected from Cuba, is seen as a rare talent, one of the big three of under-25 star pitchers not currently in the majors (along with Stephen Strasburg and Yu Darvish). Though Chapman is "not as polished'' as Strasburg, according to an AL executive, his status as a free agent after all the paperwork is done means he's likely to get more money than Strasburg, who has better control and a better breaking pitch. Both are said to throw 100 mph.
Best of luck to good guy Xavier Nady in coming back from his second Tommy John surgery. A second ligament replacement surgery doesn't come with the same sort of 90 percent guarantee a first one does. But it is possible to come back from such a surgery.
Yankee Stadium isn't playing any longer lately. But if you think something will have to be done, consider how much it is benefiting the Yankees, who have 78 home runs at their new place. They are a team of fly ball hitters and strikeout pitchers. So it suits them.
There was a little birthday celebration for Yankees owner George Steinbrenner at Legends Field last Thursday (Steinbrenner's 79th birthday was Saturday). People there say Steinbrenner was responsive. He goes in to the office no more than once a week now, as it is well known that he has slowed considerably.
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