Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dodgers Acquire Manny Ramirez from Memphis Grizzlies

Mitch Kupchak must have been working the phones for Ned Colletti today because there's no way in hell Colletti was involved in the grand theft superstar that took place today when the Dodgers thieved Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox, giving up what basically amounts to Kwame Brown and Javaris Crittenton.

Colletti somehow swung this deal without giving up Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier, AND convinced the Red Sox to pay the remainder of Manny's 2008 salary. The Dodgers will send the Pirates Andy LaRoche, who was made expendable after Blake DeWitt passed him on the depth chart, and Bryan Morris, an A-ball pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery. It should be noted that the Red Sox get Jason Bay from the Pirates, but had to give up two good prospects in addition to Manny.

Manny can only make the Dodgers better. He's immediately the team's best hitter and this means less playing time for Andruw Jones. Worst case scenario, Manny leaves after the season and the Dodgers get a couple of draft picks to replace LaRoche and Morris in their farm system. Meanwhile the Diamondbacks struck out on Mark Teixeira and just about everyone else they were going after. Thanks for coming out Arizona, see you in the 2009 playoff race.

In conclusion, the Dodgers get a Hall of Fame outfielder for an expendable third baseman and an A-ball pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery. Thank you, Boston.

White Sox to Add Ken Griffey Jr.

The Reds and White Sox have reached a tentative deal that would land Ken Griffey Jr. in Chicago.

The Chisox, clinging to a 1.5 game lead over the Twins in the AL Central, uncrossed their fingers when Griffey signed off on the deal. As a 10 and 5 player, Griffey has veto rights over any trade, but the 38-year-old is in his 19th season and may see this as his last best chance to play in a World Series.

While hitting only .245 this year, Griffey would bring an impressive resume and a veteran presence to the Chicago clubhouse, along with his 608 career home runs. Junior has been hot of late, extending his hitting streak to 12 games on Wednesday with a home run.

Kevin Millar Thinks Edwar Ramirez 'Cute'

The Orioles Kevin Millar had a glorious take on last night's ejection of Yankees pitcher Edwar Ramirez, who was tossed for throwing over Millar's head:

"He's a cute little fella. He doesn't throw very hard and doesn't have very good stuff. It was probably a good idea that they did throw him out because it probably would have been [a shot to] Monument Park. He's good hittin'." Nicely done, Kevin.

It's never a good sign when an opposing hitter is calling you "cute," or "fella" for that matter. And I'm guessing it's not because Millar likes dudes, since he has a wife. It must have been those goofy glasses, or Ramirez's 6-foot-3, 165-pound (WTF) frame, or maybe the fact that his mom forgot to stick a 'd' on the end of his name.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Manny to Florida Dead

The Red Sox have tentatively agreed to send Manny Ramirez to the Marlins in a three team deal also involving the Pirates. The Pirates would acquire Jeremy Hermida, while the Red Sox would receive Jason Bay. The Pirates would also receive at least two additional prospects.

UPDATE:  this deal is dead

Jered Weaver Needs a Haircut


Red Sox, Marlins on Verge of Manny Ramirez Trade

According to Baseball Prospectus and multiple other sources, the Red Sox are "on the verge" of trading Manny Ramirez to the Marlins for three players.  One of those players is believed to be highly regarded low-class A outfielder Mike Stanton, 18, who has hit 26 home runs this year.  Josh Willingham and Jeremy Hermida have also been mentioned today, so it is possible that one or both will be included in any deal.

This sounds like a terrific deal for the Red Sox.  Trade the Hall of Fame anchor to your lineup when you are a World Series favorite.

Manny is in the lineup tonight against the Angels.  Mark Teixeira is also in the lineup, batting third in front of Vladimir Guerrero, and wearing #25.

Desperate Yankees Trade for Ivan Rodriguez

Days after losing catcher Jorge Posada to season ending surgery, the Yankees have acquired Ivan Rodriguez from the Tigers for Kyle Farnsworth.

The Rays and Red Sox still seem better positioned to make the playoffs, but time will tell if this will help the Yankees squeak in. It's a low risk move for the Yankees. Farnsworth is an average relief pitcher and even if Pudge continues his low offensive production, his ability to handle young pitchers such as Joba Chamberlain will be very valuable. All that said, Brian Cashman may have to make another move for this team to contend.

This is a strange move for the Tigers, who are only 5.5 games behind the struggling White Sox, and are now stuck with Brandon Inge behind the plate.

Marlins Talking to Red Sox About Manny Ramirez

Although a trade is unlikely (UPDATE:  ESPN now calls these discussions "serious") at this point, the Marlins have been talking to the Red Sox about acquiring Manny Ramirez.  Players being mentioned are Jeremy Hermida, Josh Willingham, and Jeff Allison.

Aubrey Huff Has Read the Book on Aubrey Huff

Fastballs, high and tight. Fastballs, high and tight. Fastballs, high and tight. Then if that fails, more fastballs high and tight. The book on Aubrey Huff has been out so long that even Aubrey Huff has read it.

Now the Orioles slugger has torn out that page about him not being able to get around on high inside heat, taking the formerly sure-fire out pitch away from opposing pitchers and enabling himself to hit at a .500 clip over his last 34 at-bats, including a 4-5 outing Tuesday in which he doubled and hit the decisive blow with a homer off Mariano Rivera in a 7-6 victory over the Yankees.

This is much more than a veteran slugger hitting mistakes, make no mistake about it. Huff has raised his average beyond the .300 threshold and is on a pace to hit a career high 40 homers for the season.

It appears as though Huff has opened his stance slightly to get around on those formerly true fastballs up near the numbers, then sit on them, thus forcing the League to rummage around for something else from their bag of tricks -- so far to no avail. Until they figure something out, look for Huff to continue to take full advantage.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hard to Acquire Manny When Dodgers a 'Mess'

The Dodgers remain interested in Manny Ramirez, but Newsday reports that "someone in the loop" says any trade of that magnitude will be difficult because the organization is a "mess." Sounds about right.

Yankees, Mariners Faceoff Over Jerrod Washburn

The Yankees and Mariners stand face to face in a standoff over, with the first one to blink likely to be the lose the services of left-handed, flyball starter Jerrod Washburn.

A decision must be made by the July 31 trading deadline, or both teams come up empty.

The Mariners desperately need to dump the remainder of Washburn's approximate $50 million, five-year contract but are holding out for a prospect, and the Yankees are refusing to give up anything of significant value but cash, according to WFAN 660 Radio reporter Sweeny Murti speaking live from Yankees batting practice Tuesday for the SNY television network.

Meanwhile, various other media outlets speculate that crafty, left-handed Japanese strikeout artist Kei Igawa -- so far a bust against major league pitching but currently pitching relatively well for Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre -- is the most the Yankees would be willing to give up, plus pay part of his contract.

Angels Acquire Mark Teixeira

The Braves have traded Mark Teixeira to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Stephen Marek.

This move is a little surprising, since Arte Moreno is known to be adamantly opposed to trading young talent for potential two-month rentals, but giving up only Kotchman for the biggest bat on the market would have been really tough to turn down. The club also has Kendry Morales to fall back on if they cannot resign Teixeira, who could command a $200 million contract this winter. It would have been nice to upgrade at a different position, since Kotchman has arguably been the team MVP. That being said, this addition definitely makes the Angels, who already have the best record in baseball, THE World Series favorite.

Braves brass probably has mixed opinions of this trade. On the one hand they did not get the top pitching prospect they were seeking, and only got one major league ready player, but that player is a gold-glove caliber first baseman, who is under team control through 2011, and has arguably been the best of the best team in baseball.

Absurd Dodgers Rumors

Despite Ned Colletti's inability to ever make a worthwhile trade, the New York Post claims that the Dodgers are the most likely team to acquire Manny Ramirez.  A Ramirez trade would be centered around either Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier and the Red Sox would pay almost all of Manny's remaining 2008 salary.  If the Red Sox can trade Manny, they will make a hard run at Mark Teixeira.

The Post also claims that the Dodgers may instead try to acquire Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts.  This would leave shortstop completely unresolved and push Jeff Kent to a utility role. It might be time to stop using that publication as a source.  

Yankees OF Hideki Matsui Ahead of Schedule

Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui's recovery from a knee injury appears to be ahead of schedule -- going so well in fact that he might be back in early September, if not the end of August.

Matsui -- now wearing a new brace -- initially had stated his goal was to begin a rehabilitation program instead of undergoing season-ending surgery. The plan was that if the rehab was successful, he would be back shortly before the playoffs.

However, after fewer than 14 days, Matsui has resumed limited baseball activities, swinging with a bat and soft tossing and catching a baseball, according to The New York Daily News.

Though there is no timetable for his return, Matsui hopes -- barring any setbacks -- to take the field in minor league action in a week or two, The News said.

$100 Million Burning Hole in Steinbrenner's Pocket

Expect Yankees Co-Chairman Hal Steinbrenner's money to burn a hole in his pocket as he awaits a more than $100 million windfall with which to purchase at least a couple more veteran free agents or three -- plus hold onto younger prospects.

Steinbrenner not only actively seeks help now -- including the possible addition of lefty Jerrod Washburn -- but also next fall when he potentially can trade Kei Igawa then cull Bobby Abreu, Mike Mussina, Kyle Farnsworth, LaTroy Hawkins, Andy Pettitte, Carl Pavano and Jason Giambi from the 40-man roster because the team's debt obligations to them can be retired. That would free up more than $100 million to spend elsewhere.

In addition to Washburn -- available without the loss of prospects because the Triple A Mariners probably want to dump the remainder of his near $50 million five-year contract -- other immediate additions might include righty Vicente Padilla of the Rangers, who could be acquired in exchange for talent.

A-Rod a Victim of Emotional Kidnapping

Several of Alex Rodriguez's friends have revealed that he permitted his former live-in wife to brainwash him, MLBnewsonline has learned.

"Once she found out how vulnerable he was, she got into his head," an anonymous source said of Cynthia Rodriguez, who possesses an extremely useful master's degree in psychology. The source further claims that she disliked A-Rod's Dominican heritage so much (although not enough to prevent her from marrying a guy with the last name Rodriguez), that she tried to prevent him from participating in Hispanic community events, banned him from eating Spanish food, and disposed of his matador costumes.

It's amazing to me that this guy didn't end up with a hyphenated last name..."now batting, Alex Rodriguez-Scurtis." Or worse, just become Alex Scurtis. Then I could mock A-Skirt instead.

In other, perhaps more promising news, A-Rod has signed with the high-profile William Morris Agency. The talent agency hopes to repair his image, which hopefully consists of him endorsing something really feminine. Maybe man-purses or those ridiculous pants in the picture above.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Surprise: Nomar Garciaparra Hurt Again

Dodgers shortstop Nomar Garciaparra underwent an MRI today and is not in tonight's lineup. Nomar twisted his knee Sunday making a play at first base. He suffered a bruised ovary on the same play.

Joe Torre hinted at additional trades on Sunday, and if Nomar's injury ends up as anything more than day-to-day, Angel Berroa's inadequacy might force General Manager Ned Colletti to trade for a shortstop before Thursday's trade deadline. Knowing Colletti, that probably means a mediocre hitter with no power and a near eight-figure salary. Jack Wilson and Edgar Renteria both fit the bill.

UPDATE: Broadcaster Vin Scully reports that Nomar has a "stage one MCL sprain" and will rest several days before resuming baseball related activity.

UPDATE: The Dodgers do not expect Nomar to go on the DL.

It's Over for Barry Bonds, Yankees, Yogi Berra Says

"It ain't over until it's over," Yankees immortal Yogi Berra has often been quoted as saying, and for unemployed home run king Barry Bonds, it's over.

Berra -- special advisor adviser to the Yankees front office -- said Monday in comments to MLBnewsonline that any chance of Bonds signing with the team is dead.

"They're not going to do anything with it," the former Yankees catcher, coach and manager said flatly at the conclusion of National Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at Cooperstown, N.Y. The returning 1972 Hall of Fame inductee dismissed any speculation to the contrary as "a lot of paper talk."

A confidential clubhouse source at the same said that the speculative signing of Bonds had been a subject under consideration at the urging of team Co-Chairman Hank Steinbrenner, but that it had been rejected largely after the team had weighed the terms of the deal.

Though the source last week said a proposed contract had been drafted, it could not be learned whether it had been tendered to Bonds or his agent Jeff Borris. General Manager Brian Cashman had earlier been reported in The New York Times as virtually confirming Borris had been contacted, saying without elaborating: "I would not say that I have not."

Borris had claimed Bonds was working out and would be ready to face major league pitching in 10 days.

Bonds has maintained his innocence as he he faces trial next March on federal charges of justice obstruction and lying to a grand jury about his alleged abuse of performance enhancing substances.

Bonds had been the subject of vague speculation that he was under consideration to be signed by the Red Sox and Diamondbacks, but had been directly confirmed as being up for discussion last week as Steinbrenner and the Yankees brain trust met in Tampa. But the idea was undermined shortly thereafter when the team traded prospects to acquire Pirates outfielder Xavier Nady.

A key impetus to sign Bonds in the first place had been that no prospects would be be given up to acquire him, as Bonds contract was not renewed last year by the Giants and he was unattached to any team.

Rockies Try Jason Hirsch -- Alias 'Colorado Lode'

Because those big bad National League batters have been kicking around poor Kip Wells so much -- with his 1-2 record and 5.14 ERA -- the Rockies speculatively are about to call up Triple A prospect Jason Hirsch, who has a 2-3 record with a 5.37 ERA against teams with names like Modesto Nuts.

Won't those bullies be sorry now?

Wells sealed his fate last week when he gave up eight runs in a third of an inning against the Dodgers. He is 59-91 with a 4.77 ERA lifetime as a starter, but after struggling all year with injuries and other setbacks has been demoted to the bench as a desperation mop-up candidate.

Toot! Toot! Next stop: Colorado Springs.

The 6-foot-8, 250-pound Hirsch -- alias 'The Colorado Lode' -- was sensational pitching in the Astros system before being acquired in the Jason Jennings trade.

Hirsch still has potential but has done little since. If the Rockies think Hirsch can skate by in a one-game, test shot against the Pirates this week, a surprise may be in store. Even without Xavier Nady -- off to join the Yankees -- the Pirates can hardly be considered pushovers.

The Rockies have a 25-year-old youngster named Steven Register also waiting at Colorado Springs, but he apparently hasn't registered. Register has shown enormous improvement recently with a 5-1 record and 2.78 ERA, but looks to be cultivated as an end-game reliever.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Giants Appear Ready to Deal

Shipping Ray Durham to the Brewers may have only been the start to a drastic remake of the Giants roster.  The Yankees are rumored to be interested in both Randy Winn and Bengie Molina due to the injuries to Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui.  Rich Aurilia and Tyler Walker have also been mentioned as possible trade bait as the July 31st trade deadline approaches.

It is anyone's guess as to why anyone in their right mind would be interested in acquiring Walker, but GM Brian Sabean could insist that he be included in any deal.  Patience with Walker is growing extremely thin, especially after blowing what would have been wunderkind Tim Lincecum's 12th win.  Lincecum struck out a career-high 13 without issuing a walk, exiting after the 7th inning with the Giants leading 3-2.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pointless to Sign Barry Bonds, Says Pete Rose

All-Time hit leader Pete Rose says free agent slugger Barry Bonds should be considered innocent of crimes until proven guilty and thus should not be prevented from playing baseball, but it would be pointless for the Yankees to sign him.

"He could play, but is he going to be effective?" asked Rose during a storefront autograph session coinciding with National Hall of Fame induction week in Cooperstown. "...I don't care what any body says, you need spring training and he's let it go on too long. When I played I needed two weeks just to get callouses on my hands."

Bonds is preparing to defend himself a federal indictment charging him with purjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to a grand jury about performance enhancing drugs. Rose is seeking reinstatement to the major leagues after being banned for betting on the game, and has formerly served time for income tax discrepancies.

The three-time batting champ and all-time record holder with 4256 hits questioned whether Bonds would even have a position to play with the Yankees, and doubted whether the longtime National League veteran could make a dramatic switch to the American League as a designated hitter.

"It's a pinch hitter. That's what it is. You're asked to pinch hit four times in a single game, and that (kind of hitter) is a difficult breed," Rose said in an exclusive interview with MLBnewsonline.

Rose, 67 -- wearing a beige ostrich skin hat with matching cowboy boots -- scoffed at Bonds' agent Jeff Borris' claims that his 44-year-old client would be ready to face major league hitters in 10 days. "You just can't get ready that fast, as good as he is, at that age," Rose said.

Bonds has been the subject of speculation that he would sign with the Yankees, a rumor underscored by a recent MLBnewsonline report from a confidential clubhouse source that the team had drafted a proposed contract which would be offered to Bonds once injured right fielder Hideki Matsui is declared out for the season. Matsui is continuing to try to make a comeback and has put off season ending knee surgery.

Co-Chairman Hank Steinbrenner has since acknowledged that the Yankees front office has discussed signing Bonds. However, cryptic comments by General Manager Brian Cashman have been interpreted in some quarters as indicative that the proposition to sign Bonds is no longer on the table.

Rose considers Bonds one of the top five all-time greatest players along with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, but contends he would be a superfluous addition to the Yankees as the team is playing well enough without him.

"You don't fix what ain't broke."

Cashman Won't Deny Talk to Barry Bonds' Agent

In an already widely quoted report in The New York Times -- the city's quaint left-wing alternative newspaper -- Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman in a cryptically circumspect response stopped short of saying he had not spoken to Jeff Borris, Barry Bonds' agent.

“I wouldn’t say I have not,” Cashman was quoted as saying with discernable hesitation. Then he added: "I don’t want to take this down the wrong path.”

Clearly, whatever Cashman intended to convey by his comment, he hardly could be expected to desire another rash of internet rumors that the Yankees are about to sign Bonds. And still -- even with the acquisition of outfielder Xavier Nady -- it cannot be altogether ruled out that Cashman yet would find room for the free agent home run king.

Has the team reversed course? Has another option been chosen? Is Bonds still on the table? It would seem one is left to draw the conclusion: Where there is smoke, there is more smoke.

Though the prospect of signing Bonds appears more and more remote, team Co-Chairman Hank Steinbrenner, after all, is on the record as having confirmed Bonds would be under consideration, whether briefly or not so briefly.

The key is that a confidential source already had intimated to MLBnewsonline that Cashman had his legal department draw up a proposed contract to have inked and ready for Bonds' signature once right fielder Hideki Matsui was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. It would be difficult to imagine that Cashman had that far without at least a cursory communication with Borris.

The main question remaining is, what does it all boil down to now? It would be a simple matter merely to deny any interest in Bonds, yet the team continues to stop short of so doing, even to the point of neither confirming or denying the speculation on the record when flatly confronted.

One thing for sure, if the Yankees fail to sign Bonds at this point, the whole matter must be filed under the topic: Anticlimax.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Xavier Nady Deal Clouds Barry Bonds Picture

The Yankees trade of four minor leaguers to acquire Pirates outfielder Xavier Nady appears to cloud the outlook for the team to acquire free agent home run king Barry Bonds, as a key impetus of the theoretical Bonds deal was to have been the avoidance of giving up prospects.

Though the Yankees had virtually confirmed a recent MLBnewsonline report that the Yankees were contemplating a contract for Bonds, it would appear that the Nady deal might have superseded other considerations, especially since the team traded away coveted young pitcher Ross Ohlendorf, plus additional prospects Jose Tabata, Phil Coke and another, unnamed minor leaguer, according to's Jon Heyman.

As a matter of course the consummation of the deal awaits a medical evaluation of all the players.

Nady -- in the midst of a career year with 13 homers and 57 RBI while hitting .330 -- bats right-handed, meaning that the Yankees still might want Bonds to hit from the left side of the plate. But just exactly what the team is up to now would be anyone's guess.

Before the deal had been reported, Co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner confirmed the team had been discussing Bonds, but indicated the former Giant was only one of a number of options, according to the Associated Press.

An inside source previously had told MLBnewsonline that a Bonds contract had been drafted, but that it would not be tendered until it became clear that right fielder Hideki Matsui would be out for the season. Matsui is still attempting to avoid season ending surgery, and will reach a crossroads in about one more week, according to various published reports.

In addition to Nady, the Yankees also will acquire reliever Damaso Marte from the Pirates.

Jimmy Rollins Returns to Phils Lineup From Bench

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has wiped the slate clean -- at least for now -- and restored benched leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins to his rightful spot at the top of the batting order. Rollins had been told to take a seat in the dugout Thursday after being tardy.

"Jimmy was late getting to the yard," Manuel was quoted as saying in The New York Post. "I called him in and talked to him. That's all I got to say. It's an in-house thing between him and I."

It's the second time Rollins has found himself in Manuel's doghouse for a day, having been benched June 5 for failing to hustle on a dropped pop fly.

Rollins was ordered to take a seat Thursday after he showed up late for the Phillies 3-1 loss to the Mets, then claiming he was following the team bus to Shea Stadium from his hotel but was held up in traffic. It was the second time he was late this season.

"...You can't change the (traffic) lights," Rollins said, refusing to apologize to his teammates.

Mets Tap Ex-Yankee to Replace Pedro Martinez

Brandon Knight -- a 32-year-old ex-Yankee veteran -- has been called to Shea Stadium to take the place of starter Pedro Martinez, who remains on indefinite bereavement leave following the death of his father in the Dominican Republic.

Knight had a 5-1 record with a 1.60 ERA for the Triple A New Orleans Zephyrs.

Yankees Consider Barry Bonds, But Wait for Now

An unnamed participant emerged from a meeting of the Yankees heirarchy at Tampa late last night, telling The New York Daily News that free agent home run king Barry Bonds is being considered but that the team's top executives "aren't ready to jump on that."

The report followed an acknowledgement by team co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner before the meeting that Bonds -- currently facing a federal indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice -- would be discussed. But after the group broke up, the unnamed executive said Steinbrenner talked about Bonds but "wasn't pushing it," according to the News.

Because of the lateness of the meeting, the report made it only into the city edition.

In a report from a contributor writing under the pseudonym Bronx Bomber, a confidential clubhouse source told MLBnewsonline last week that a contract had been prepared in anticipation of offering it to Bonds, but that it would be withheld until it became clear that injured right fielder Hideki Matsui would miss the remainder of the season. The loss of Matsui would leave the team without a key left-handed hitter, a void Bonds likely could fill.

Matsui continues to put off making a decision on season-ending knee surgery, opting for rehabilitation. The Yankees, however, are bracing for the worst, the MLBnewsonline source has previously reported.

Others participating in the talks are co-chairman Hal Steinbrenner, president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman and special adviser and former general manager Gene Michael, ESPN said.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Jim 'Mudcat' Grant Likens Barry Bonds to Obama

Former two-time All Star and author Jim "Mudcat" Grant likens home run king Barry Bonds to a high profile politician, explaining that it is as though the former Giants slugger has become a target of mudslinging while standing for public office.

"He's like Barack Obama or John McCain or President Bush or anybody else," Grant, 73, said during his ongoing appearance in Cooperstown, N.Y. for weekend National Baseball Hall of Fame induction activities. "When you run for election you open yourself to all kinds of criticism, abuse and slander -- dirt really."

In an exclusive interview with MLBnewsonline, Grant asserted that Bonds is entitled to a constitutionally guaranteed presumption of innocence of charges that he lied before a federal grand jury. The public should not jump to conclusions, Grant said.

"Barry Bonds says what he says and he's willing to go to court to prove it, and I don't think we have a right to say what is going to be the outcome," Grant said. "When I played people had opinions and opinions were opinions, but nowadays everybody has an opinion and they think they are right. They don't look at it as an opinion anymore. They look at it as if they know what they are talking about."

Grant, who resides in Los Angeles, played for seven major league teams from 1958 to 1971, including a seven-year stint with the Indians. He is the author of "The Black Aces," a book about African American major league pitchers, and was a personal friend of Barry Bonds' father Bobby Bonds, who died in 2003.

"We all (should) think Barry Bonds is innocent; everybody's innocent until you're proven guilty," Grant said. "Barry has a right to defend himself."

Bonds -- currently under consideration to be signed by the Yankees -- is scheduled to go to trial in March on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, but has steadfastly denied knowingly taking steroids. Though he has 756 home runs to his credit, Bonds so far this season has found no takers for his services.

Yankees Discussing Barry Bonds, AP Reports

Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner -- in a statement possibly underscoring an exclusive report last week by MLBnewsonline -- has acknowledged that free agent home run king Barry Bonds will be among the subjects undertaken during a meeting of the team hierarchy in Tampa over the next few days.

"I'll mention it. We'll cover everything. No stone will be left unturned," Steinbrenner told the Associated Press in a report carried by ESPN.

Steinbrenner's statement could be interpreted as suggesting that this would be the first time the Yankees have considered signing Bonds. However, the aforementioned previous report by an MLBnewsonline contributor writing as " The Bronx Bomber" quoted a confidential clubhouse source saying that Bonds has been under consideration in recent days, and that a proposed contract was already being composed.

Before tendering the contract, the team was only waiting to see whether injured right fielder Hideki Matsui would be out for the season, the source said.

Others participating in the talks are co-chairman Hal Steinbrenner, president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman and special adviser and former general manager Gene Michael, the AP said.

Though majority partner George Steinbrenner resides in Tampa, there was no indication he would participate.

A team spokesman previously would neither confirm nor deny the MLBnewsonline report about Bonds, though it was generally ridiculed in legitimate media and across the blogosphere.

Matsui -- on the disabled list with a knee injury since June 23 -- is still attempting a rehabilitation regimen to see whether he can put off surgery until after the season. The surgery would likely sideline him until next spring or later.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Huston Street Might Be Next To Go

Athletics closer Huston Street could very well become the next player dealt by notorious wheeler-dealer Billy Beane. The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the Dodgers have been actively scouting the hard-throwing righty in recent days. The Mets and Reds are also reported to have an interest in Street, a fan favorite in Oakland.

Giants GM Brian Sabean Not Clear on Concept

After years of watching Athletics General Manager Billy Beane turn overrated and unaffordable assets into stockpiles of blue chip prospects across the bay, Giants General Manager Brian Sabean decided to get in on the action.

Sabean dealt second baseman Ray Durham, the Giants best hitter, to the Brewers last week for two minor-leaguers. Unfortunately, the one part of the Beane's formula that Sabean failed to employ was the part where you acquire players with the potential to help your major league club at some point.

The two "prospects" involved in the deal are "long shots to have any major league value" according to ESPN insider Keith Law. Not exactly what Giants fans had in mind when the team vowed to "get younger". At least the deal relieves San Francisco of the remainder of Durham's $7.5 million salary, somewhat easing the pain of [over]paying Barry Zito to the tune of $14.5 million.

Zito Giving Giants a Glimmer of Hope

Barry Zito improved his record to 5-12 Tuesday, beating the Nationals and picking up his second win at home this year.  Zito won his second consecutive decision for the first time this season.  Striking out five and scattering seven hits over six innings, Zito is finally beginning to quiet the boo-birds that dogged him during his horrendous start this season.  With the Giants on the hook for another 5 years at $101.5 million, the team's fan base is desperately looking for reasons to cheer their $126 million man.  After starting the season 0-8, his 5-4 record and sub-5 ERA since are reasons to believe that, although he will likely never live up to his monster contract, he at least has the ability to provide San Francisco with a rotation-worthy starter for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More Disgusting News About Madonna and A-Rod

The Daily Star brings us the unfortunate news that a hidden camera captured self-proclaimed Catholic Madonna and her alleged buddy A-Rod engaging in sinful congress. In other words, a sex tape. Or in other words, vomit inducing footage of Madonna.

Basically what it sounds like is that some photographer, no doubt of French descent, set up a hidden camera in an apartment that these two misfits visited. Things happened and now Pierre wants 1 million euros.

The Daily Star is making a huge deal about all the legal ramifications of such a tape. Who really gives a crap. If this tape exists, this is terrible news for just about everyone who hears about it (God help those who accidentally watch it). It's also excellent news for Cynthia Rodriguez, whose divorce may become even more lucrative.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dodgers Make Another Big Splash, Sign Pablo Ozuna

Realizing that his job might be in jeopardy because the Dodgers never score any runs, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti has given the offense a shot in the arm by signing utilityman Pablo Ozuna, who was released last week by the White Sox.  

Ozuna joins Colleti's other big mid-season acquisition, Angel Berroa, on the Dodgers bench.  The 34 year-old Ozuna had hit .281 in 64 at-bats with the White Sox.  0 home runs, 6 RBI.  Good one, Ned.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Scranton Next Stop for Yankees SP Phil Hughes?

Injured Yankees starting pitcher Phil Hughes -- now in a rehabilitative throwing program at the team's training complex in Tampa -- may be among a handful of players who may appear within the next couple of weeks or so at Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre, according to a speculative report by The Sunday Voice.

"Nothing is set in stone and the Yankees have not announced a full rehab plan for Hughes and his rib injury, but it's safe to speculate that he could make a Triple A start or two on his way back to Yankee Stadium," according to the report by Voice staff writer Chad Jennings.

It was noted that Yankees manager Joe Girardi has indicated Hughes might return in August, though it is not clear how much the 22-year-old, 6-foot-5 former first-round pick may be vulnerable to a setback.

Meanwhile top pitching prospect Alan Horne -- previously the subject of numerous rumors as the July 31 trading deadline approached -- remains in Scranton for conditioning of what he described as an arm that felt "dead" after he was removed from a June 29 game at Yankee Stadium.

Some observers theorized Horne at that time was being showcased to be traded, though his mysterious injury may have dampened any such talk.

Also remaining at Scranton is former Japanese standout Kei Igawa, who likely could not be considered much more than a major league bust at this point. However, the 28-year-old lefty has an 8-3 record for the Triple A club with a respectable 3.80 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 106 innings. He would be a probable callup when rosters are expanded in September, perhaps sooner if necessary.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Justin Duchscherer Questions Athletics Trades

The recent trades of Joe Blanton, Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin have confused Athletics starter Justin Duchscherer, who himself has been the focus of trade speculation in recent weeks.

"Sometimes you wonder as a player what the organization is doing, giving up on the season or what? But I'm just going to go out there and do my best to help us win," Duchscherer recently told The Oakland Tribune.

Having hinted he prefers to stay with the A's, Duchscherer hardly can be expected to enjoy seeing his name mentioned in trade rumors, especially given General Manager Billy Beane's penchant for dealing away the team's best arms.

"...When you start trading these three guys within 10 or 15 days, you start thinking, 'Are we trying to get guys in here that are going to help us get to there, or are we trying to rebuild because they don't think we're good enough this season?' " he said.

If a Trading Chip, Aubrey Huff Resigned to Fate

As the once surprising Orioles slip deeper into last place, first baseman Aubrey Huff is resigned to his fate as a trading chip if that's what operations chief Andy MacPhail has in mind.

"We can't worry about what they may or may not do in the front office," Huff recently told Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck. "We've got to play baseball. If I get traded, I get traded."

Huff -- currently on pace to hit 30-40 homers -- is regarded as one of the more productive players the Orioles might be willing to trade before the July 31 non-waiver deadline. Most top playoff contenders' greatest needs, however, do not include first basemen, even if Huff has somewhat dubious experience at third base and the outfield.

Other Orioles speculatively regarded as being on the block include Kevin Millar, Jay Payton and especially left-handed closer George Sherrill. Brian Roberts has most assuredly been shopped, but likely will remain in Baltimore because of a probable high pricetag and costly contract.

The team hardly can afford to part with starting pitchers, though anyone may be available if the price is right.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hank Blalock Makes Room for Rookie Chris Davis

As predicted more than two weeks ago by, Rangers manager Ron Washington has backtracked on his promise to use veteran Hank Blalock exclusively at first base, returning him to third in order to keep the bat of slugging first baseman Chris Davis in the lineup.

Blalock -- returning from a torn hamstring -- was originally a third baseman but moved to first base after Mark Teixiera was traded to Atlanta last July. Blalock agreed to make the switch on the condition that Washington keep him in one place.

But that was before the emergence of Davis, who was initially called up from the minors as a mere stopgap at first base when Blalock was injured.

Davis, 21 -- hitting in the .260 range -- has hit six homers, about one every 10 at-bats, a Ruthian pace that has gained him an unexpected attention.

It will be interesting to see how long Davis can keep it up. The former fifth round pick's power from the left side of the plate is well documented throughout the infancy of his career, but so is his streakiness.

Rumors Foreshadow Justin Duchscherer 's Trade?

Given Athletics General Manager Billy Beane's penchant for dealing his coveted pitchers -- 2008 standout Justin Duchscherer in all probability will be the next to go if the latest rash of MLB rumors can be believed.

With the July 31 trading deadline fast approaching, the 6-foot-2, right-handed curveball specialist will be in his walk year next season, and Beane is unlikely to agree to an extended contract at $8-10 million or more a year when negotiations intensify over the winter.

Beane has been highly successful dealing established pitchers, Joe Blanton's trade to the Phillies being only the latest in a string dating back to the spinoffs of former Oakland stars Tim Hudson to Atlanta and Mark Mulder to St. Louis.

Duchscherer, 30 -- known a "Duke" to his friends -- has been held back at various points of his career by a successive string of injuries and has been used primarily as a bullpen shortman since joining the Athletics. But he is currently in the midst of a career year as a starter.

With a record of 10-5, Duchscherer has a .144 ERA over his last 10 games, all of which were quality starts, including a complete game shutout.

Barry Bonds Deal Hinges on Hideki Matsui

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is in the process or has completed a proposed contract offer for free agent slugger Barry Bonds, an offer that hinges on the medical condition of left fielder Hideki Matsui, a confidential source within the Yankees organization told

Having signed former Seattle first baseman Richie Sexson, the Yankees remain perhaps the most logical destination for Bonds, providing a left-handed bat once it is clear Matsui is out for the season, the source said.

"When you hear that Matsui is out for the season, that's when the contract will be offered to Bonds," the source said.

The Yankees would neither confirm nor deny the report. "We have no comment on any reports," team spokeman Michael Margolis told

A number of other media outlets, however, cast considerable skepticism on the original report, including the New York Daily News:

"....There's no truth to a pinstriped pursuit of Bonds, according to a Yankee official, who said, "It's all nonsense."

The rumors even made their way down to Wall Street, the official said. The official had calls from friends who work there.

At the same time, Yahoo Sports quoted Bonds agent Jeff Borris saying, "I'm not in negotiations with the Yankees. I'm not in negotiations with anybody." While possibly true, the Borris comment would not necessarily be at variance with the facts as outlined by the confidential source.

Cashman favors signing Bonds to a 1-year deal with options not only because of his demonstrable skills from the left side of the plate, but because he comes without contractual obligation to another team, the source said.

Moreover, the Yankees would not have to give up prospects as trading chips, as the team would be forced to do to acquire other talent being shopped throughout the major leagues, the source said.

The Yankees were awaiting a decision from doctors as to whether Matsui would require surgery that would sideline him for the remainder of the season. The source said that the team had already braced for the worst, and that Bonds was the key option as a replacement.

Francisco Liriano Not Happy

Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano and his agent have asked the players union to "investigate" why Liriano has not been called up from Triple A. What a jackass!

Liriano, an All-Star during his rookie year of 2006, is 7-0 with a 2.73 ERA over his past nine games. But he missed all of 2007 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and began the year in the big leagues by going 0-3 with a piss-poor 11.32 ERA, so its understandable why the team is being cautious.

Not to mention the fact that they don't need him. The team is currently 1.5 games behind the first place White Sox, in large part due to its rotation.  Scott Baker, Glen Perkins, Nick Blackburn, and Kevin Slowey have anchored a rotation that also includes veteren Livan Hernandez. Of that group, Hernandez is the only one close to losing his spot, but he is an innings eater and has won nine games.

If and when the Twins decide to recall Liriano, he may be headed to the bullpen, according to

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Clarification on Barry Bonds' 'Talks' with Yankees

(See update, 7/18)

The Bronx Bomber's report that former Giants outfielder Barry Bonds is in contract negotiations with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman comes from a source within the Yankees organization, though not through conventional channels.

The variously reported denials eminating from the office of Bonds' agent Jeff Borris give us pause, but the world of free agent signings and negotations, historically being one of thrusts and parries, blocks and feints, cannot absolutely be taken at face value. There is no intent here to cast aspersion in Borris' direction. However, it is only logical that he would seek to deflect any notion that his client has a done deal with the Yankees rather than risk discouraging other suitors.

There is no reason to believe any news or speculation from this source has ever been wrong. The source has described what is tantamount to a news blackout imposed by the front office as a result of a longstanding edict from George Steinbrenner that absolutely no information from unofficial outlets will be tolerated.

Yet, within this isolated culture it is impossible to entirely forbid an exchange of knowledge which may or may not leak from the core of the club's inner sanctum. publishes news and other confirmed facts, but also is a conduit for ephemeral rumors which may or may not pass the traditional authentication test that might be imposed by mainstream media. At this time, the Bronx Bomber's source has not backed away from his assertion, and until such time as that occurs we have no reason to retract it, even though it has created a good deal of healthy skepticism.

Further complicating the matter is Mr. Steinbrenner's edict that absolutely nothing should be permitted from unofficial sources under penalty of suspension or dismissal, and therefore no concrete denial can be anticipated from the Yankees.

Information has since been reported that the Yankees have a tentative deal in place with Richie Sexson. Still, as Sexson is a right-handed bat, the signing of Bonds, a lefty, would not necessarily be precluded. We expect an update within 24 to 48 hours and will not hasten to draw any other conclusion at this time except to say the report has yet to be debunked.

- Publisher,

Yankees Reach Tentative Agreement with Sexson

The Yankees, who have no interest in Barry Bonds*, have reached a tentative agreement with Seattle send-off Richie Sexson.  

Before his release, Sexson was hitting .218 with 11 homers this year, but was hitting .344 against lefties.  This sounds like a move the Dodgers would make - using success against lefties to justify the signing of sub-.220 hitter - but the Yankees beat them to it.  

By the way, Sexson's "success" against lefties is based on 61 at-bats.

Diamondbacks Serious About Contending

In desperate need of a bat, the Diamondbacks have acquired .236 hitting first baseman Tony Clark from the Padres.  He also has hit a home run and....wait for it..... THREE doubles.  

This is a big move for the D'Backs, who sit only one game ahead of the hapless Dodgers. They must be hoping Clark can return to his 2007 form, when he hit .249 for them.

Did Anyone Know Hideo Nomo had not Retired?

I thought he did about 10 years ago, but he officially retired this morning.  With the exception of 3 embarrassing games for the Royals in April, Hideo Nomo last pitched in 2005, so this announcement is of little consequence.

Nomo made the announcement on his blog, saying "I want to continue, but I don't think I can deliver a professional-level performance anymore.  I believe many clubs feel the same way."  I'd say that's accurate.  Getting released by the Kansas City Royals is never a good sign.  Neither is an 18.69 ERA.

In 11 MLB seasons, Nomo won 123 games, throwing 2 no-hitters.  If you include his career in Japan, he won 201 games.  Not Hall of Fame numbers, but the voters will have to consider the enormous impact he had on the game by paving the way for players such as Ichiro.

Source: Bonds-Yankees Deal Imminent

(See New Update 7/18)

Embattled former Giants slugger Barry Bonds has entered into formal contract negotiations with the Yankees, and a consummation of the deal is anticipated forthwith, a confidential clubhouse source told

The incentive-laden deal, being hammered out between Bonds' agent Jeff Borris and general manager Brian Cashman, will well exceed the major league $200,000 minimum but has a number of protective clauses to isolate the Yankees' exposure to the possibility of Bonds missing time due to legal distractions or recurring injury, the source said. (And until he reports that Barry Bonds is climbing the Empire State Building and the Navy is dispatching biplanes, I'm sticking with my source.)

Cashman was reported to have arrived at the decision to sign Bonds during the All-Star break when he determined that the all-time home run leader would be needed to replace injured left fielder Hideki Matsui, who is out indefinely with a knee injury. Cashman was persuaded largely because the team will not have to sacrifice any coveted prospects who had been targeted by various other potential trading partners.

Bonds faces a perjury indictment but is not schedule for trial until March and Borris has assured the team that barring other unforeseen entanglements his client is unencumbered and ready to play.

Saito Out, Dodgers Potentially Screwed

The Dodgers Takashi Saito will be out a minimum of six weeks after being diagnosed with a sprained elbow ligament. Heavyset reliever Jonathan Broxton moves into the closer role for the time being.

Saito has saved 17 games so far this season with an ERA of 2.18 and likely would have replaced Kerry Wood in the All-Star game but for his injury. Broxton, whose fastball reaches 100 mph, filled in temporarily for Saito last season with mixed results. He is widely regarded as the Dodgers closer of the future, but any struggles may force the Dodgers to make a trade, since pitching is the only thing keeping the team in the playoff hunt.

This may also mean the return of phenom Clayton Kershaw, as the Dodgers consider returning Chan Ho Park to the bullpen to compensate for Saito's loss.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rays Need Jason Bay, Other Right-Handed Bats

With 30 major league general managers in the process of leaving New York after the All-Star break, the town is abuzz about clandestine gatherings for unprecedented, behind-the-scenes trade talks -- no small thanks to upstart Tampa Bay Rays operations chief Andrew Friedman and his top executive Gerry Hunsicker.

Fresh off a seven game losing streak and what may be a precipitous fall from first place, Friedman has an urgent need for a right-handed bat, especially with outfielders Jonny Gomes underperforming and Rocco Baldelli still quesionable after a series of injuries and illnesses.

Friedman must be considered a leading contender for the services of Astros outfielder Carlos Lee, and Pirates outfielders Jason Bay and Xavier Nady, not only because of Friedman's dire need for a more balanced offense but because more than any other rival he has stockpiled enough high draft picks which whom to barter.

In addition to Lee, Bay and Nady, switch-hitting Rangers All Star Milton Bradley might be acceptable, as Bradley is strongest from the right side of the plate.

Among Friedman's potential bargaining chips are coveted pitchers David Price and Jeff Niemann, both first rounders; Chris Mason, a second-rounder; and Wade Davis, a third rounder, all of whom at one time or another have been variously described as off limits or too cherished. However, all bets are off now that the Rays have suddenly emerged as serious contenders for a playoff berth.

All things considered, the Rays hardly can be expected to come away empty-handed after the July 31 trading deadline.

Madonna's Chums Join Alex Rodriguez at Nightclub

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez -- having skipped the MLB Home Run Derby the night before -- reportedly showered, dressed and left 11 innings early Tuesday after going 0-2 and stranding a runner with a strikeout in the American League's 4-3 victory in the All Star game, then rendezvoused with two of Madonna's chums at a trendy, upscale Manhattan nightspot.

Rodriguez , 32, -- who was unaccompanied by an escort as he entered the 40-40 Club in New York's Flatiron District for the second night in a row -- disappeared into a private VIP party room, where he was seen huddling with two of Madonna's closest gal friends, Fox 5 television reported.

Madonna was nowhere in sight.

Meanwhile, attorneys for Rodriguez's estranged wife Cynthia Rodriguez, 34, have recently filed a motion in Dade County Court in Miami as part of her divorce action. The filing seeks to discover whether her husband has hired detectives to spy on her or eavesdrop on her telephone conversations, according to a wire report carried in The Miami Herald. The motion is considered routine in such cases.

Citing her husband for alleged infidelity, she seeks to take sole possession of their $12 million waterfront mansion in Coral Gables, Fla., win an alimony award and financial support for their two young children.

Madonna, 49, has denied a romantic interest in Alex Rodriguez.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Angels Willing to Part with Adenhart

The emergence of all-stars Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders has caused the Angels to rethink their stance on trading previously untouchable pitching prospect Nick Adenhart, if it means acquiring a prized bat such as Matt Holliday or Mark Teixeira.  Saunders, previously regarded as a future 4th or 5th starter, and Santana, previously regarded as crap, now combine with John Lackey to form arguably the most formidable front end rotation baseball. suggests that the Angels would have to part with either Adenhart, Jeff Mathis, Howie Kendrick, or Ervin Santana to get their hands on Holliday.  The latter three have all been integral parts of the Angels MLB best 57-38 record and are unlikely to be traded.  A package including Adenhart, Rivera or Matthews, and another pitching prospect could get a deal done.

The Angels are thought to be more interested in Holliday than Teixeira.  He would likely take over left field for Garret Anderson in '09.   Assuming that Vladamir Guerrero's $15 million option is picked up, the Angels would then only have to focus on resigning Francisco Rodriguez and signing a 5th starter to take the spot Adenhart would have otherwise occupied (although Kelvim Escobar is signed through '09). 

Monday, July 14, 2008

Yankees Reported to be Persuing Richie Sexson

First, be disabused of a certain, unsavory rumor that out-of-work slugger Richie Sexson has moved into a tree house at the top of a Pacific Coast redwood in protest of his being cut by the Mariners. More to the point, Richie Sexson IS a Pacific Coast redwood tree.

The lumbering, 6-foot-8, 245-pound Northwest native -- tallest position player ever to play in the major leagues -- intends to make a comeback with one of several teams reportedly making offers to him, including the Yankees, according to the New York Post.

"I can tell you we are interested," Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman was quoted as saying.

Sexson has struggled all season, hitting .218 with 11 homers and 30 RBI in 74 games, but is crying all the way to the bank considering he will collect from the Mariners $14 million guaranteed in the last year of his contract.

Brett Myers Ready to Return to Phillies After Break

Phillies starter Brett Myers -- who recently accepted a demotion to the minors after going 3-9 with a 5.84 ERA over the first half of the season -- has told The Reading Eagle he is ready to return to Philadelphia after rediscovering his form while facing Triple A and Double A hitters.

"Sometimes you need to take a step back and take a deep breath, and I was able to do that," said Myers. "I think I'm ready to get back up there. I feel like I'm ready."

Appearing against Akron in a Reading home game as General Manager Pat Gillick, assistant Mike Arbuckle and senior adviser Dallas Green looked on, Myers struck out 10 while holding opposing batters to a 1.61 average in his most recent outing, in which he gave up three runs. Though he lost 3-2, he gave up just five hits and two walks over eight innings while throwing 118 pitches. Myers had also been effective in two Triple A appearances for Lehigh Valley -- allowing five earned runs on 12 hits over a total of 12.1 innings.

The Phillies are set to play the Mets in New York on July 22, though it appears likely the team will wait to decide on bringing up Myers until he makes one more appearance at Lehigh Valley or Reading.

Mariners May Deal Raul Ibanez to National League

Various published reports indicate the Mariners favor dealing outfielder-first baseman Raul Ibanez to a National League team, if behind-the-scenes chatter is any indication.

The Mets, Diamondbacks and Dodgers are among the potential suitors, all offering a buffer to keep Ibanez from coming back to haunt his former team.

Yankees Interested in Damaso Marte, Xavier Nady

The jury is out as to whether the Yankees will be buyers or sellers as the July 31 trading deadline approaches.


Is a bear a Catholic? Does the Pope poop in the woods? Of course the Yankees will be buyers. With $250 million on the line, they can't afford to be anything else.

Those who are still skeptical should watch for a deal with the Pirates, says Daily News columnist Joel Sherman. General Manager Brian Cashman has his eye on lefty reliever Damaso Marte, and outfielder Xavier Nady, says Sherman.

Likewise, the Pirates are believed to be interested in several prospects, key among them young righty Ross Ohlendorf.

Madonna Catholic, A-Rod Faithful

Madonna's Brother outed her as a Catholic on Good Morning America this morning, so her affair with A-Rod must not have happened.

According to her brother, "she's still a Catholic girl" and for that reason it's "highly unlikely" that any fornication took place.

"It seemed absurd to me," he continued.  Yes, absurd.  Absurd like the time she tried to crucify herself.  Absurd like the time she tried to have David Letterman smell her underpants on the air.  None of that happened either.  A Catholic would never do such things.

Alex Rodriguez Back With Wife, Awaits Madonna

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez reportedly was spotted holding hands with his estranged wife Cynthia as he entered a restaurant in Toronto over the weekend, yet he plans to meet with Madonna tonight as he and other patrons of the 40-40 Club in Manhattan watch the MLB Home Run Derby on 60-inch plasma television screens.

Video broadcast by Fox 5 television in New York showed what was purported to be fresh video of the couple -- looking tanned and fit -- amicably walking together, she, 34, wearing a simple blue, printed blouse with a scoop neck and dark Capri slacks, and he, 32, wearing white chinos, a black belt and white polo shirt.

Currently entangled in an anticipated divorce action -- Rodriguez and his wife were described as being enroute to be united with their four-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, The Daily News reported that Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, had met the couple with the intention of working out some type of reunion or settlement.

Yet tonight Rodriguez plans to dine at the posh, 700-seat 40-40 hip-hop club at 6 West 25th Street in the Flatiron District -- and Madonna, 49, is on the guest list. Using numerous 60-inch plasma television screens throughout the facility, patrons will watch the MLB Home Run Derby being broadcast from Yankee Stadium.

Rodriguez, who recently hit home run No. 537 to pass late Yankee great Mickey Mantle, has declined to participate in the derby out of fear that it will disrupt his patented, smooth power stroke.

Though Rodriguez -- who has an apartment on Park Avenue -- has been widely reported as being seen entering Madonna's building on the Upper East Side, Madonna has denied any romantic link to the superstar slugger.

Mets Seek Matt Holliday as Token Anglo American?

An MLB Rumor is circulating that Mets General Manager Omar Manaya is attempting to acquire Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday, adding his name a roster with such names as Carlos Delgado, Luis Castillo, Argenis Reyes, Fernando Tatis, Jose Reyes, Endy Chavez, Carlos Beltran, Chris Aguila, Ramon Castro, Moises Alou, Claudio Vargas, Carlos Munoz, Tony Armas, Duaner Sanchez, Johan Santana, Oliver Perez, Pedro Feliciano and Pedro Martinez.

Wait a minute. Does Manaya know what he's doing? What's Matt Holliday's Latin venue of derivation?

Oh, of course, Colorado.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Randy Wolf's Preference May Not Include New York

With pitchers CC Sabathia and Rich Hardin off the market, speculation has intensified that the Yankees and Mets will continue to press for the acquisition of lefty Randy Wolf from the Padres -- but Wolf may have a thing or two to say about that.

Though Wolf's 14-team no-trade clause is widely believed to leave both New York teams as a possibility, the Southern California native native has had diminished interest in pitching for an East Coast team since leaving the Phillies, having recently explained to that he left guaranteed money on the table for the chance to pitch along the Pacific.

"I wanted to play here and I thought I would be a good fit here," Wolf was quoted as saying.

Wolf -- whose one-year $4.75 million contract expires at the end of this season -- was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, attended Pepperdine University in Malibu and owns a mansion in the Hollywood Hills not far from the home of former San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds.

Wolf indicated he would consider staying in San Diego, which is little more than a two-hour drive from his residence, depending on traffic.

Wolf currently owns a 6-8 record with a 4.38 ERA , and has notched 12 quality starts in 19 appearances. The Mets are also rumored to be interested in his services, but West Coast teams may discover they have an edge.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pitchers Keeping Ichiro Suzuki Close to the Bag

Speedy Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has stolen only one base in more than two weeks, as opposing pitchers are holding him close to the bag, according to manager Jim Riggleman.

"When you steal enough, at some point the other manager won't let you," Riggleman recently explained to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "They change how they pitch. Right now they're not letting Ichiro run. They're...about 1.2 seconds to the plate. When other guys are on base, they pitch. When he's on base, they make sure they slow down the run."

Riggleman largely discounted what apparently is a minor hamstring issue.

Suzuki has 33 steals for the season.

Milton Bradley Highlights Future Rangers Fire Sale

The Texas Rangers are trying to burn the candle at both ends -- pretending to compete for a playoff berth while at the same time planning to acquire prospects as proceeds from an anticipated fire sale to include outfielder Milton Bradley, pitchers Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla and others.

That's the perspective of Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Randy Galloway, who says unnamed sources both inside and outside the Rangers organization have hinted as such.

Bradley -- signed only through this year -- is having an outstanding year offensively, but Galloway cautions that his value is hurt by his difficult personality. So how do you market such an individual? Perhaps with comments like this:

"...People talk about his anger issues," says batting coach Rudy Jaramillo. "Well, he’s aiming that anger at pitchers. It’s an intensity that our other guys feed off of. In the clubhouse, or on the field, Milton is a leader for us, and I don’t care what his so-called reputation says. Our players love him. I love him."

As for Padilla, he can be dealt for a "boatload" of prospects because his value will never be higher in light of his career-best first half. But Galloway warns that the team should "never trade any pitcher with this kind of stuff and with age (he’s 30) not a factor."

Millwood's value is tarnished by his huge contract -- up to $23 million including incentives over the next two years --yet "there is interest from other teams," Galloway says.

Outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher Gerald Laird fall into the "good things come in small packages" category, though Galloway predicts Byrd is more likely to stay with the Rangers as a valuable spare part.

Friday, July 11, 2008

July Finds Orioles George Sherrill Rocked, Doubted

Physicists have calculated that given its wingspan, weight and dimensions, the ungainly bumble bee should be unable to fly. Likewise, stat geeks have shown that a left-handed specialist like George Sherrill of the Orioles -- given his age, propensities and statistical limitations -- should be unable to face everyday hitters on a regular basis.

The bumble bee doesn't understand physics and therefore can fly. Sherrill perhaps doesn't study sabremetrics, and therefore can close games -- uh -- at least until now.

It's a bit early to panic, but the fact is that Sherrill has been and is in uncharted territory, as for the first time in his career he is on a pace to pitch 70 innings out of the bullpen, almost doubling the maximum number of innings he has notched historically when he primarily faced only lefties in the minors and for Seattle in 2006-07.

Though Sherrill is also on pace to notch 49 saves -- eclipsing Randy Myers' 45 team record in 1997 -- an MLB Newsonline statistical analysis warns that Sherrill may be approaching his physical limits.

Not only has he blown four saves since June 2, his ERA was 2.25 in May but jumped to 4.15 for the month of June and 10.12 so far in July.

Yankees Trading Chip Dan McCutchen Adds Slider

Key Yankees trading chip Daniel McCutchen has added a slider to his multi-pitch repertoire, enabling him to lower his ERA to 3.32 after surrendering just three runs over his last 25 innings for Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound, 24-year-old righty's somewhat lopsided record now stands at 3-6 after it initially appeared as though he was overmatched when first promoted to Triple A. But his ability to find himself has marked a considerable improvement, with his most recent victory being a win over Columbus 7-3.

Most intriguing about the former 13th-round pick is his ability to consistently find the plate often without the wildness so common among hard throwers, as he can occasionally reach the high 90s with his fastball. His willingness to grove it potentially makes him vulnerable to gap balls and deep flies, but he has won praise at various stops in the infancy of his career by generally keeping runners off base.

General Manager Brian Cashman refused to deal him as part of recent, potentially costly trade packages, as McCutchen's name has been widely thought to have been been included in the failed attempt to land CC Sabathia from the Indians.

Along with prospects Alan Horne and Mark Melancon, McCutchen has also been seen as being included in talks for the acquisition of San Diego's Randy Wolf or Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo.

Don Mattingly Set to Return to Dodgers

Normally when a team has basically the worst offense ever, the general manger might expect a "screw you guys, I'm going home" speech from the hitting coach. Which is why Dodgers fans are probably surprised by Don Mattingly's enthusiastic desire to take the job.

Mattingly is set to become the Dodgers full-time hitting coach after the All-Star break.