Can the Cardinals really lock up both Pujols and Holliday? (cont.)
Pressure increases to drive Wedge out in Cleveland
Eric Wedge's chances to keep the Indians managing job are decreasing by the day. The Indians have now lost 11 straight, so it should be no surprise that GM Mark Shapiro is now being pressured to fire Wedge, according to people familiar with the Cleveland situation.
Wedge is well-respected and well-liked around baseball, especially by Shapiro, a longtime supporter. And Wedge is said by Indians insiders to be just as consistent and calm as ever during this dreadful year. But a team doesn't often suffer this sort of collapse and carry on status quo.
Shapiro is believed to have had no intention to fire Wedge. But with the Indians having been outscored 71-30 in their 11-game slide, it's becoming increasingly difficult to make a compelling case to keep him as manager. His salary for 2010 is believed to be for $1.25 million, but the cash-strapped Indians saved about $15 million for next year with the trades of Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez.
Former Indians pitcher John Farrell, now the Red Sox's pitching coach, would be a candidate to replace Wedge.
Could Cubs try to unload Soriano, Zambrano, etc.?
Some teams are wondering whether the Cubs might consider drastic changes, considering a new owner, Tom Ricketts, is taking over the disappointing team. And that could include a potential sale of several big names.
If they do considering trading off some of their bigger contracts, there are lot to consider, including Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano. But two GMs said they belief Soriano is untradeable with his $136-million contract and lack of recent production, and a third GM said, "Zambrano isn't the same guy he was. Something was wrong this year." And that GM wasn't talking about Zambrano's temper tantrums, but rather his pitching. The Cubs would have to eat a decent chunk of Zambrano's $18 million-plus salary to trade him, as well.
Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and especially Derrek Lee would be much more popular if put on the block.
San Diego could be a good place for Milton Bradley
One Cub likely to find himself on a new team next year is troubled outfielder Milton Bradley, and judging by his recent remarks to the Arlington Heights, Ill. Daily Herald, he should be happy about that (of course, he's never happy). Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Morrissey dubbed him "Meltdown Bradley" after Bradley's negative comments about the alleged "negativity" surrounding the Cubs organization -- the final bad deed that got Bradley suspended for the year by the organization. (This seems like a harsh punishment, but perhaps all sides realized it'd be best if Meltdown Miltie wasn't around anymore.)
In any case, he's got to go somewhere else next year. The Cubs and their new owners can't possibly want to start their new regime with the meltdown man.
One team that may make sense for Bradley is the Padres. Bradley's tenure in San Diego didn't end well, as he tore his ACL while going after an umpire (he was spun to the ground by manager Bud Black, who was trying to protect Bradley from himself). But while that was a disastrous situation, San Diego was still one of the better stops for Bradley. San Diego has historically been a place for players to blend in successfully.
One GM said of Bradley, "He needs to come somewhere where he won't be noticed too much."
That sounds like the Padres.
Around the majors
Word is, Major League Baseball would like Rangers owner Tom Hicks to sell the team as soon as possible, and one person familiar with the situation said MLB has set a goal to sell by Thanksgiving. Hicks, who has encountered steep financial difficulties after making losing investments in soccer and hockey teams and apparently doing a little too much leveraging of other investments, had trouble meeting payroll at some points this season, and MLB helped him out. But MLB doesn't want to be in the business of running a team again. In addition to former superagent Dennis Gilbert, Reuters reported that Chuck Greenberg and Jim Crane are heading groups to buy the team. A source familiar with the situation said the goal price if $500 million.
A scout who recently saw struggling closer Brad Lidge said he believes the problem is that his breaking ball "has flattened out." Many theories abound as to how Lidge has gone from one of the greatest years ever for a closer (no blown saves) to perhaps the worst (11 blown saves). The Phillies like Ryan Madson as the setup guy (he's only 8-for-14 in save situations, too), and Brett Myers won't throw a bullpen session until Tuesday. Consideration has to be given to moving Pedro Martinez into the closer's role, but the question there would be whether he'd be able to bounce back day after day. J.A. Happ, the Rookie of the Year favorite, could be another possibility. If they fully commit to closer by committee, that strikes of desperation.
A.J. Burnett looks like he might have solved his difficulties after two strong starts on the West Coast. Burnett went to tapes of his games in the second half of last year in Toronto, and he made corrections to some mechanical issues. Generally, he was moving side-to-side too much and needed to go "downhill." If Burnett is back to himself, that would be a huge lift for the Yankees, whose only issue is their starting pitching.
Funny Mets trivia (well, not so funny if you're a fan): They had one day -- one day!! -- where all their big players were available and playing (yes, Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Gary Sheffield). Anyone who can guess the date wins a prize. Time's up. It was April 18. Johan Santana pitched, and the Mets beat the Brewers, 1-0.
The Mets' dismissal of Latin American scout Ramon Pena is more evidence embattled GM Omar Minaya will be returning. After Minaya made the tough call to fire his longtime friend Pena, who ran afoul of co-workers in both Detroit and New York, Minaya's bosses wouldn't then turn around and whack Minaya.
The Pirates' tank job is so bad (3-18 this month) it looks like an attempt to wrest the No. 1 draft choice from the Nationals and get a chance to grab young power prospect Bryce Harper.
Some rare good news for the Pirates: Pedro Alvarez is tearing it up for the U.S. World Cup team in Europe (he had a three-homer game). The U.S. has won 12 straight after beating Cuba Thursday and plays Sunday in the championship game in Rome.
The Rangers' Justin Smoak has hit a World Cup record eight home runs, breaking Tino Martinez's old record of six. The Rangers may be fortunate to have held onto him, as his name was prominent in Roy Halladay trade talks.
Execs think Halladay will be back on the block this winter. "He doesn't want to be there. It only makes sense (to trade him)," one exec noted.
Time for the Dodgers and Rockies to sign GMs Ned Colletti and Dan O'Dowd to new contracts, respectively. Both can become free agents.
The tweeting continues at: http://twitter.com/SI_JonHeyman.
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