June 2011

Mike Cameron on the move

Veteran outfielder Mike Cameron was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Thursday, a move that’s likely to result in Cameron being traded or released after 10 days. He could accept a Minor League assignment, but that’s not a likely scenario, considering his track record and the fact that he could bring something to the table for a contending team that could play him with some consistency.

“We have some time, by virtue of the designation method, to explore a trade for him,” general manager Theo Epstein said at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, before the finale of a three-game series with the Phils. “That’s always a possibility. We’ve talked to him about how he might benefit from playing every day and trying to get on track a little bit. It’s a remote possibility, but there’s always the possibility that he could accept an outright assignment to the Minor Leagues and try to get on track that way. Everything is on the table. We’ll stay in touch and see what happens.”

Cameron, 38, is a free agent after the season and is owed about half the $7.25 million he’s making this year — a high salary for a team to take a gamble on, considering Cameron’s hit just .149 in 94 at-bats this year. The Sox, though, have already committed to eating Cameron’s salary if he ends up being released, so they’re likely prepared to eat most of the money in a trade, too.

Cameron hasn’t adjusted well to a bench role and wasn’t effective against even left-handed pitching this season, going 9-for-63 against southpaws (.143) when he’s historically hit them well. Still, there’s the possibility that regular at-bats could allow him to find his rhythm.

– Evan Drellich

Franklin resolution imminent

The Cardinals will be making an announcement on Ryan Franklin’s status within the hour. One way or another, he is being removed from the active roster. Manager Tony La Russa said that the club expects to have someone in Baltimore to take Franklin’s roster spot for Thursday’s game.

A source familiar with the situation indicated that Franklin will be released, but the club has yet to confirm that.

The club is holding a meeting to discuss other matters at 4:45 pm ET, and at that time, players will also be notified of Franklin’s status.

–Matthew Leach

Franklin situation still fluid

We’ll know a good deal more perhaps even within half an hour, but for now the status of Ryan Franklin remains somewhat up in the air for the Cardinals. He turned in another rough outing on Tuesday night, the fourth straight in which he’s allowed at least one home run. That run follows the first really encouraging stretch all year from the Cards’ former closer, in which he pitched eight strong innings over five games.

Following Tuesday night’s game, the three primary decision-makers for Cardinals’ pitching matters all made somewhat cryptic comments about Franklin’s future with the club, all of them suggesting that some kind of change could well come before the team leaves Baltimore on Thursday night.

Manager Tony La Russa referred to potential “creative” solutions. Pitching coach Dave Duncan expressed sympathy for the veteran right-hander but also acknowledged that some adjustment could be made soon. And general manager John Mozeliak even broached the possibility that some sort of physical malady may be bothering Franklin, while saying that some sort of roster adjustment could come today, tomorrow… or not at all.

The situation is complicated not only by Franklin’s four strong seasons in St. Louis prior to 2011, but the high regard in which he is held in the clubhouse. However, with the season halfway over, it gets tougher and tougher for the Cardinals to carry a pitcher struggling so mightily.

Another issue is a relative dearth of options. The Cardinals could recall Bryan Augenstein from Triple-A Memphis, or take another shot with Maikel Cleto, but aside from that they don’t have many pitching alternatives.

Stay tuned, because this is most definitely a developing situation. Resolution may not come Tuesday afternoon, but it’s not likely to linger all week.

–Matthew Leach

Tigers have decision to make with Brad Thomas

Tuesday marked the two-week point in Brad Thomas’ rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo. He has six appearances out of the Mud Hens bullpen, including three two-inning stints, and is expected to get his first crack at pitching back-to-back days on Tuesday. Yet there has been no talk about when Thomas might be activated from the disabled list and brought back into a Tigers bullpen that currently has three left-handers.

If you’re wondering at this point whether Thomas is headed back to the Tigers bullpen at all, you wouldn’t be the only one.

Speculation from those watching the Tigers has centered on Detroit potentially trying to find a landing spot for Thomas somewhere else, and easing their sudden lefty logjam. FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi cites a Major League source saying the Tigers “gauging trade interest” in Thomas and willing to move him. Even if they can’t deal him somewhere, they could still end up moving on without him.

It didn’t seem like a strong option when Thomas went on the disabled list a month ago with elbow inflammation, his elbow having locked up when he tried to warm up in the bullpen during a game. But high-strikeout starting prospect Charlie Furbush, who was called up to fill Thomas’ spot, has more than held his own, allowing six runs on 18 hits over 19 2/3 innings with 16 strikeouts. He has progressed from long relief and mop-up work to some late-inning lefty specialist situations. Add in veteran David Purcey and curveballer Daniel Schlereth, and the Tigers like their look from the left side right now, and manager Jim Leyland doesn’t want to go back to four lefty relievers.

Thomas got off to a rough start before his DL stint, allowing 11 earned runs on 17 hits over 11 innings. Left-handed hitters went 8-for-20 (.400) with three walks and three doubles against him, compared with 9-for-24 (.375) from right-handed batters. Thomas has said his elbow had been bothering him earlier, so it could have had an impact.  By comparison, lefty hitters batted .252 (29-for-115) against Thomas last year, his first full season in the Majors. But he was more long reliever than LOOGY in 2010.

Pitchers can stay on rehab assignments for up to 30 days, so the Tigers conceivably could keep Thomas in Toledo for a couple more weeks and buy time to work out something. But Thomas is out of Minor League options, so they’d have to clear him through waivers and outright him if they wanted to keep him in Toledo beyond that. For now, Thomas was expected to pitch Tuesday for the Hens and be re-evaluated from there.

New crop of free agent starters not a great one

Unless CC Sabathia opts out of his contract with the Yankees — and even then, few expect him to sign anywhere else — the class of 2011 looks rather unspectacular in the way of free-agent starting pitchers.

A list of starters who are potentially on expiring contracts can be found here. From that, you can pluck out some names who may be available at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. As is usually the case in this department, though, it’s slim pickings.

– Alden 

6/27 Are the Cubs buyers or sellers?

The trade deadline is July 31 but it was a topic posed to some Cubs players after Monday’s 7-3 win over the Rockies. Will the Cubs be buyers or sellers? Aramis Ramirez said the front office will do what’s best for the team.

“We haven’t been healthy,” Ramirez said. “Right now we’re playing better but we’re missing Marlon Byrd and [Darwin] Barney [who are on the DL].”

Pitcher Matt Garza ignores the talk.

“I know what my job is and that’s to pitch and get outs,” he said. “None of that stuff concerns me. If my name gets called, it gets called. I’m just going to keep going out there and keep pitching.”

Carlos Pena has been red-hot lately. Maybe he’ll draw interest? He doesn’t think about such things.

“Not at all,” Pena said. “I’m a Cub. I don’t even look that far ahead. In my mind, I’m a Cub until the end.”

Does he feel the Cubs can still make a run in the NL Central?

“We still have faith in this ballclub,” Pena said. “Everyone here believes we can do it. We undrstand we need to play today’s game today. I think we’re playing great baseball in the last few weeks. Now we have to make the sure the tight ballgames go our way.”

– Carrie Muskat

Braun back in Brewers lineup

Ryan Braun is back in the Brewers lineup tonight after missing Monday’s series opener with an illness. Manager Ron Roenicke said Braun had been feeling under the weather for the previous four days, struck by an upper respiratory viral infection. Considering the way the Brewers have been battered of late by their opponents, they need all the offense they can get.

Here’s the lineup for Game 2 against the Rays:

Rickie Weeks 2B
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Corey Hart RF
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Zack Greinke RHP

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