Notes from around the majors
By Peter Gammons
Special to ESPN.com
If trades were based on baseball talent, the Rockies would have dealt Rolando Arrojo and Rick Croushore to Cleveland for fellow right-handers Tim Drew and Paul Rigdon, but they needed to dump Mike Lansing's salary. The Rockies are considering offers for Pedro Astacio, but may not deal any more, though GM Dan O'Dowd is feverishly trying to find young pitching.
|Mike Lansing is hitting just .206 away from Coors Field this season.|
Brian Rose, who the Rockies acquired from the Red Sox on Thursday, could surprise people if he's left alone and goes back to thinking about winning, not his mechanics. All he'd ever done in his life was win. His problems have been all mental.
The problem for the Rockies now is that they have a rotation that includes Rose, Astacio, Masato Yoshii and Brian Bohanon. And there's nothing of starter quality in the minors other than Jason Jennings and Chin-hui Tsao, who are both right-handers and pitching in Class A.
The Orioles do not want to rebuild, so they're trying to trade sideways. "I don't understand how they could trade Mike Bordick for a utility player, a fringe pitching prospect and two minor-league bodies," says one GM. Melvin Mora is a nice utility guy. Mike Kinkade a nice 4-A player. Then to talk about shopping B.J. Surhoff and getting Tino Martinez in return? OK, that deal would enable them to dump Jeff Conine's 2001 salary, but if they trade for Martinez they will also have to pay his entire salary ($6 million) next year as well. By the way, Orioles vice president of player personnel Syd Thrift has called around shopping Albert Belle.
Tampa Bay got a great arm in Jesus Colome from Oakland in the Jim Mecir trade as well as one of the great makeups in the game in Paul Wilson in the trade they made with the Mets. Jason Tyner, who the Devil Rays also obtained from the Mets, is a guy whose game is all about getting on base and running, has just nine extra-base hits in Triple-A this year. Tampa GM Chuck LaMar realized he had to get younger and quicker, and he did just that in the two deals.
Overlooked in the Yankees' recent frenzy of trades is the fact that lefty reliever Randy Choate has looked like a situational keeper.
Look at Matt Clement's 5.62 ERA, and you realize why the Padres have been shopping him despite his electric stuff. Two years ago, a scout was boasting about Clement's toughness because he led the Pacific Coast League in hit batsmen, and another baseball man said, "That may not be toughness, it may be lack of command." Of course, if you want Clement or Donne Wall, you're asked to also take a parting gift of the salary of Al Martin or Carlos Hernandez, $5 million and $3.25 million respectively, in 2001.
It's not like the Reds caved on Barry Larkin, because the present value of his deal is not $7 million a year. It's actually for $6 million a year with the rest deferred, started four years after he retires. It's a good contract for everyone involved.
The Cardinals have been looking for a taker for Ray Lankford, but his knees and strikeouts are scaring many teams off his contract.
As for Juan Gonzalez, Oakland and Seattle aren't on his no-trade list. "But how good is this guy, really?" asked one of his teammates recently. Gonzalez has been a great player, but his lack of regular playing time and star-driven demands and statements make him appear to be on the path of Jose Canseco, who plays a star on TV but in real life has just one 100-RBI season (107 in 1998) in the last eight years.
The Brewers needed arms and a catcher last offseason, and got both of them. This year, they needed a right-handed power bat, and got that in Richie Sexson. You must say they sure do try.
This and thatSays Braves general manager John Schuerholz, "I'm still positive our bullpen is going to come together. Mike Remlinger has come back healthy, and is as effective as ever. Scott Kamieniecki has been terrific while Kerry Ligtenberg's velocity is improving each and every day. I also think John Rocker will be fine, and instead of going back to the minors, he's worked hard and put in a lot of time with pitching coach Leo (Mazzone) on the side. Remember, the blister that developed on Rocker's thumb last month has bothered him more than he's actually said it has because it affects his grip.
"If we put Terry Mulholland in the pen, he can work every day. We're dinged up, and have to get Brian Jordan, Rafael Furcal, Andres Galarraga, Walt Weiss and Reggie Sanders back," Schuerholz said.
Schuerholz is trying to get an outfielder and an infielder who can also play shortstop. As of Friday night, he hadn't talked to Rangers GM Doug Melvin about John Wetteland.
For all the early hype about Rick Ankiel, it should be noted that Twins rookie lefty Mark Redman has two more wins than Ankiel, and that since mid-May the Twinkies have the best team ERA in the American League. If Joe Mays can maintain the changeup that Brad Radke taught him, he can start winning as well. And the Twins have more arms in the minors in right-hander Matt Kinney, who is pitching for Triple-A Salt Lake and is a real horse. Former No. 1 pick Ryan Mills, who is pitching in Class A for Quad City, is also healthy again and should take off. "He could come in a hurry," says Twins GM Terry Ryan.
As usual for this time of year, there is speculation that Ryan could step down at the end of the season, fueled by a change in upper management.
No place beats Dodgers Stadium for upper management rumors, however. Chairman Bob Daly recently gave GM Kevin Malone a vote of confidence, but reports resurfaced this week that Malone's assistant Bill Geivett still may get his job. Of course, L.A. keeps creeping closer to first place in the NL West as its pitching performs as originally expected and Darren Dreifort makes himself the No. 3 free agent pitcher after Mike Hampton and Mike Mussina.
Toronto general manager Gord Ash's installation of assistant GM Dave Stewart as pitching coach not only marked the first time in his respected managerial career that Jim Fregosi had a coach fired in midseason, but it also set off some bad feelings with the skipper. Stewart made some comments on Canadian television that riled Fregosi up last year, and when Stew replaced Rick Langford, he suggested there would be no problems between he and Fregosi because he would handle the pitching and Fregosi would handle the rest of the club. Does that mean the manager doesn't make pitching changes in Toronto?
Royals GM Allard Baird has listened to offers for Johnny Damon thus far, but told Seattle general manager Pat Gillick, "If I were you, I wouldn't trade what I have to get Damon." A lot of teams have zeroed in on pitcher Brett Tomko, who has been touching 96 on the gun, but has no starting role with the Mariners' depth.
The Giants are looking for bullpen help, but while GM Brian Sabean has usually been active, their system is a little dry at the top from all their deals of the past few years for Roberto Hernandez, Wilson Alvarez, Livan Hernandez and Robb Nen. If Joe Nathan, who has been out with a sore throwing shoulder, returns this week from the disabled list, they can put Russ Ortiz back in the pen.
Three years ago, Marlins GM Dave Dombrowski tried to get pitcher Manny Aybar in a deal for Kevin Brown, and was rejected. Two years ago, he tried to get Aybar in the Edgar Renteria deal, and was rejected. This month he got Aybar for little-known minor-league pitcher Jorge Cordova.
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