Saturday, July 20, 2013
Which relievers could be on the move?
By Buster Olney
Francisco Rodriguez's recent success has some believing he could be traded in the near future.
BOSTON -- The Farmers' Almanac weather forecast might be more reliable than a guesstimate on how relief pitchers will fare. The Boston Red Sox added Eric Gagne at the deadline in 2007, when his ERA was 2.16, and within a few weeks he appeared to develop a case of the yips. He allowed 17 runs in his 25 innings with the Red Sox, another way of saying they didn't get their money's worth.
Reliever Heathcliff Slocumb had a 4.13 ERA for the Mariners after joining them in a deadline deal -- after Seattle surrendered Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for him, in what turned out to be one of the most one-sided swaps in history.
Bullpen investments are frightening for general managers. In an era in which a six-inning outing is considered good work by a starting pitcher, there are almost always outs to be accounted for at the back end of each game, and no good team wins without good work from its relievers. You have to have it.
But most relievers work like tides, with their flows and ebbs, and teams will try to catch them when they're on the rise.
There are a lot of teams looking for bullpen help. Boston might head the list, given the devastating shoulder injury to Andrew Bailey. Arizona. Detroit. The Dodgers. The Indians. Atlanta.
There just aren't a lot of good options on the market, some general managers report, and in so many cases, it's unclear what you'll be getting.
Some of the available relievers who are throwing effectively of late: (And yes, these are small sample sizes -- which matter in July in a way they don't any other time of the year.)
He has pitched effectively the past couple of months, pushing his ERA down to 1.14. Some evaluators believe he'd be a solid add for Boston because of his history as a closer -- and he's 10-for-10 in save chances. He could be a good fit for Arizona, too.
His whole career has been built on streaks, from All-Star-worthy bursts of success to the slumps that caused him to be dropped out of the closer role. Since May 15, Axford -- working as a piece in the middle of the Milwaukee pecking order -- has allowed a run in just one of 30 outings, taking his ERA from 9.00 to his current 3.63.
He hasn't allowed a run in his past seven outings and has allowed just three hits in his past seven innings. Interestingly, it appears that he has gone away from using his changeup as much in that time.
If he shows he's healthy in the next 11 days, he'll be coveted, and could make sense for just about any contender. From Crain's perspective, it'd better for him to take as much time as possible to recover from shoulder soreness because he'll be a free agent in the fall. For the White Sox, it'd be better if he were back on the mound sooner rather than later.
• Rival executives believe the Mariners, despite their ugly situation in the AL standings, are extremely ambivalent about trading before the deadline. It is important for Seattle to demonstrate progress the rest of this year, the officials say, and the Mariners might be focused on winning as many games as possible rather than on adding prospects.
• The Dodgers keep winning, with a whole lot of help from Hanley Ramirez.
From ESPN Stats & Information:Yasiel Puig has received most of the credit for the Dodgers' resurgence, but, overall this season, Hanley Ramirez has a better batting average (.382 versus .381), more home runs (9 versus 8) and more RBIs (27 versus 19). Their season stats are very close, but, since the Dodgers' recent run, Ramirez has clearly been the team leader on offense.
From the Elias Sports Bureau: Weaver is 7-1 with a 0.84 ERA over his past 10 starts against Oakland. That's the lowest earned run average for a major league pitcher over 10 starts against one team since Jerry Reuss had a 0.81 ERA in a 10-start span versus the Astros from 1979 to 1982.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. There is a lot of speculation about whether Justin Morneau might be traded. A key question from the Twins' perspective: Can they get enough in return for what Morneau is at this stage -- a two-month rental -- to justify dealing an established franchise player? Presumably, some of the teams they're dealing with will want a financial adjustment, given that he is due about $6 million for the rest of this season.
2. Keeping Carlos Beltranmakes sense for the Cardinals, writes Bernie Miklasz.
3. The Yankees might have to spend this winter.
4. The Yankees need to trade for a bat now, writes Anthony McCarron. The first question the Yankees have to ask before they do that is: Are we good enough to invest in? And you could make a strong case that they are not -- and not really even close to being good enough.
5. An Orioles call-up will get a start tonight.
6. Michael Cuddyer won't be traded, says a Rockies owner.
7. Chase Headley has been moved to the No. 2 spot in the San Diego lineup.