bernie miklasz dropped this open-ended rumor in his online pressbox last night: "Jocketty says he has nothing going. He says its quiet all around MLB -- very little activity, and a scant amount of rumors ... but keep an eye on the Cardinals and Texas Rangers. We are hearing things...."
the feed-frenzy of speculation ensued, with the pressbox chatters tabbing phil nevin as the likely target of any trade. superficially, he's a fit: right-handed power bat, can play third base, and has cleared waivers. he drove in 105 runs last year with a .368 obp, .860 ops; had only 226 AB in 2003 but very productive ones (13 hr, 46 bi, .826 ops). but this year he has been beyond awful: obp below .300, slugging in the mid .300s. . . . one word: steroids. he hasn't played third base since 2002, and he's owed $9m next season, which the padres and rangers are splitting. if the cards and rangers were to split the rangers' portion, stl would still be on the hook for ~$3 million next season. that's not a jocketty-type trade, and i don't think he is desperate enough to jettison discipline for a player this bad.
but if it's not nevin . . . . who?
alfonso soriano: didn't clear waivers (claimed by minnesota)
david dellucci: didn't clear waivers (reportedly claimed by cleveland)
kevin mench: waiver status uncertain. rangers broke off negotiations with him on a multiyear deal earlier this month, leading to speculation that he would be moved. 2005 stats: 22 hr, .281 avg, .350 obp, .868 ops. he's a career .501 slugger, right-handed hitter, 27 years old. stats are not nearly as impressive away from hitter-friendly arlington stadium . . . . if he cleared waivers -- and i think it's unlikely -- i could easily imagine the rangers (always desperate for pitching) being interested in jason marquis. given jason's recent struggles, maybe we'd need to sweeten the pot with brad thompson or tyler johnson ...... this scenario strikes me as not likely, but not impossible.
gary matthews jr: switch-hitting outfielder, 31 years old. . . . . a poor man's randy winn: has a little pop, a little speed, can play centerfield. had his best year in 2004 -- 11 hr, .461 slg, .811 ops were all career highs, and .275 avg, .350 ops were near-highs. after a slow start in 2005 he has caught fire: 13 hr in 173 at-bats since july 1. for the season he's at .264 with 16 dingers, 45 rbi; low obp (.318) but pretty good slg (.470). he has hit better on the road (.878 ops) than at home (.694), a good sign; and he is slugging .582 against left-handers. not under contract for next season; current-year salary is only $1.1 million. i think he's our man, and i think the rangers will have a scout at rfk on sunday to watch jason marquis pitch. . . . . .
richard hidalgo: hitting .221 this year with a .289 obp, .705 ops . . . . . only attractive thing about him is that his contract is up at the end of the season.
the rangers also have a good LOOGY on their roster, brian shouse, but he reportedly did not clear waivers.
as long as we're rumor-mongering, the dayton daily news thinks st louis is interested in rich aurilia: right-handed bat, can play all three infield positions, hitting .274 / .331 / .451 this season with 13 hr . . . . ops of .922 since the all-star break. not under contract for next season . . . . they could do worse. he would not be a terrible pickup. but here's a big caution flag: his ops in the reds' cozy great american ballpark is .972. everywhere else, it's .582 .....
today's pitching pairing: mulder and his 7.50 daytime era vs rookie matt white, making his 1st big-league start.