Contenders step up pursuit of big four (cont.)
The Red Sox have been pursuing Martinez for weeks, leading some to wonder whether a deal can be made. The teams appear to match up well, as Boston has the types of young pitching prospects the Indians covet. The Red Sox retain interest even after acquiring first baseman Adam LaRoche, who one competing exec said was "cheap" ($3 million) insurance for them.
Competing teams suggest they don't believe the Red Sox would part with their top young pitching prospect, Clay Buchholz. Assuming Buchholz is off limits, the Indians might seek a two-pitcher package from a group of Junichi Tazawa, Casey Kelly, Michael Bowden, Daniel Bard and some others -- though the Indians prefer starters and Bard is a classic closer type and Bowden is viewed as a possible reliever. Bowden's stock actually seems to be falling a tad.
The Rays, whose starting catcher Dioner Navarro has struggled offensively, are an interesting new entry in the Martinez sweepstakes. Tampa Bay seems intent on doing something big this year as it endeavors to catch the big-market Red Sox and Yankees and repeat as division champions. But ultimately, both they and the Red Sox value their prospects dearly.
Shapiro, speaking generally about all teams' recent valuations of prospects, said, "There is an understanding of the value of young prospects in roster construction. But it's almost to the point where there's an over-evaluation of these guys. There's almost an over-correction."
Around the majors
The Mets bowed out of talks with the Jays for Halladay at the mention of top outfield prospect Fernando Martinez in a four-prospect package. Shapiro is right that the value of prospects is way up, and the Mets especially don't want to trade young players when they understand this season is close to a lost cause. The mention of Martinez made Mets people think of the failed Scott Kazmir deal (for Victor Zambrano, as if anyone has forgotten), and how they don't want to repeat it. While Martinez struggled in a cameo this year, he is sill very highly regarded.
The Rays were looking to clear money to set up a big move, and one way to do that would be to find a taker for the very same Kazmir, who is no longer a prospect and is scheduled to make $22 million over the next two seasons. Sources say the Rays were scouting the Angels' minor-league system. AOL Fanhouse first reported that Kazmir could be an Angels target.
The Mets' investigation of feisty assistant GM Tony Bernazard is under way, and while there are three altercations being looked at, it appears that so far a couple of the stories of his combativeness are slightly exaggerated. One, whereby he demanded a scout get up from his seat and told a subordinate to shut the (bleep) up, lasted no more than 30 seconds. Meanwhile, the Binghamton paper reported that the incident where he yelled at the struggling Double-A team was somewhat overblown and quoted players saying they had no problem with Bernazard. It also appears that when Bernazard removed his shirt while challenging the Double-A Binghamton Mets, at least he was wearing a t-shirt underneath. A small detail, perhaps. But the image is better. Bernazard continued to get ripped in the New York papers, and while the Mets do notice the papers, the prevailing belief is still that he will survive thanks to strong relationships with GM Omar Minaya and COO/owner Jeff Wilpon.
The Yankees seek pitching, and a starter would make the most sense now that Hughes and Alfredo Aceves are thriving in relief. Meanwhile, Chien-Ming Wang has been referred to Dr. James Andrews as his pain persists.
The Rockies made a nice move to pick up Indians reliever Rafael Betancourt for a big, strong pitching prospect Connor Graham. They also plan to promote top pitching prospect Jhoulys Chacin sometime soon.
Colorado has dangled Garrett Atkins. But no takers have come forward so far.
The Nationals should deal veterans Nick Johnson, Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn, though there's been no buzz about Dunn, as it's possible the market isn't as great as one might expect for a consistent 40-homer hitter.
Nationals executives are expected to travel to California soon to meet with the Stephen Strasburg camp. The vibe thus far is negative for a deal. One competing exec said, "The Nationals absolutely have to sign him."
Congrats to the amazing Mark Buehrle, who's known for his durability but can obviously also be spectacular in short bursts. He became the 24th pitcher to throw multiple no-hitters when he beat the Rays 5-0 in a perfect game aided DeWayne Wise's incredible over-the-wall, ninth-inning catch. Buehrle is the sixth pitcher to have thrown at least two career no-hitters, including a perfect game. Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Jim Bunning, Addie Joss and Cy Young are the others.
Thanks to you (well, some of you), I have moved into third place behind @NickSwisher and @CC_Sabathia in the MLB category of Twitter. You can follow me at http://twitter.com/SI_JonHeyman.
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