Dodgers enter race for Roy (cont.)
Dodgers aiming high
The Dodgers already have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball -- statistically speaking, anyway. But they are looking for relief now. And their excellent performance thus far also won't prevent them from trying to enhance their playoff rotation with a major pitching pickup, which explains why Halladay and Cliff Lee apparently head their wish list of starting pitchers.
Of course, L.A. will have stiff competition for Halladay, and Lee's chances to be dealt still appear remote. One person familiar with the Indians' thinking said they are even more reluctant to trade Lee than beloved slugger Victor Martinez. Both players have 2010 options at club-friendly prices ($9 million for Lee, $7 million for Martinez), and while Martinez is a wonderful clubhouse presence, Lee is viewed as perhaps even more valuable to them because they don't have pitching reinforcements who could replace Lee. If the Indians were to deal either star, they'd insist on young pitching in return.
If Halladay and Lee can't be had, it's possible the Dodgers could consider one of two Seattle starters -- Jarrod Washburn or Erik Bedard -- should the Mariners fall out of the race. Beyond that, there won't be much else out there that could help them.
Around the majors
Top Red Sox pitching prospect Clay Buchholz has slipped a bit in recent starts, so the timing of his ascension to the bigs seems a tad curious. However, the Red Sox are wise to give him a big-league start Friday since it rewards him for an excellent first half and may help prevent him from becoming discouraged by his current plight as a pitcher ready for the big leagues who spent the entire first half in the minors. Buchholz's start also provides extra rest to the Red Sox's rotation. "They are very good about making sure their guys are rested,'' one competing executive said.
Buchholz also heads every other team's list of preferred trade targets. But there are others. One competing executive said regarding the Red Sox's ability to produce prospects, "They are a machine.''
Boston's Mike Lowell and Jed Lowrie are expected back soon. But Daisuke Matsuzaka will still be awhile, sources say.
The Yankees tried to trade for Jeff Francoeur this winter, perhaps with the intention of flipping him elsewhere (Kansas City?), but were told no by the Braves because of Francoeur's popularity in his hometown of Atlanta. But Francoeur's continuing offensive struggles gave the Braves little choice.
Francoeur's popularity was on display during his return to Atlanta with the Mets Thursday night, as he received a very nice ovation, with many standing, despite a year and a half of horrific production at the plate.
Brewers upper management seems disappointed by the team's first half. Their fine owner, Mark Attanasio, isn't ruling out a run at a star pitcher, but things haven't looked especially hopeful for Halladay or ex-Brewer Doug Davis. The Brewers used their farm system to acquire CC Sabathia last year but seem to want to hold onto hitting sensation Mat Gamel and shortstop whiz Alcides Escobar this time around. With shortstop J.J. Hardy, the Brew Crew would appear to have depth at that position, though.
The Nats may have new personnel and a new manager, but the result was the same in Jim Riggleman's first game at the helm. Nyjer Morgan was picked off first base by Cubs pitcher Carlos Marmol in the eighth inning with Nick Johnson up as the potential tying run.
Good move by Lou Piniella to use the on-base-challenged Alfonso Soriano (.298 on-base percentage) in the No. 6 hole.
If B.J. Ryan thrives with the Cubs in the National League, I'm going to think there's a real discrepancy in leagues.
Congrats to Ryan Howard, who hit to 200 home run faster than anyone in history (658 games). Ralph Kiner's 706 games was the previous record.
Business is booming for the Beverly Hills Sports Council, the longtime agency of Jeff Borris, Dan Horwits, Rick Thurman and Dan Lozano. They had then 11 players at the All-Star Game: Albert Pujols, Tim Lincecum, Trevor Hoffman, Brad Hawpe, Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Michael Young, Brian Fuentes, Aaron Hill and Francisco Cordero. They also narrowly missed with Mark Reynolds.
The Tweeting continues at: http://twitter.com/SI_JonHeyman.
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