Ben Maller's MLB rumors
Yanks Abreu to NL team?
One major league executive said there's "a pretty good chance" Abreu will attract interest from a National League team this month, assuming the Yankees are willing to pay a significant portion of the $10 million he's still owed. -- Bergen Record
ChiSox could deal for D-Backs Hudson?
If Iguchi does get traded or departs as a free agent, the White Sox probably will look at trading for Diamondbacks second baseman Orlando Hudson, a terrific player who isn't happy in Arizona. Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is tight with Minnesota Twins second baseman Luis Castillo, a potential free agent, but he no longer runs like he once did, and the Sox need to add as much speed as possible. -- Chicago Daily Herald
Tigers and Indians battle for Rangers Gagne?
The Tigers and Indians are battling for first place in the AL Central and for right-handed reliever Eric Gagne, who would be a welcome addition to the Yankees' bullpen if they were willing to sacrifice the young pitching the Rangers want. Gagne was 2-0 with 10 saves and appears to be recovered from elbow and back surgeries in 2005 and 2006. Because GM Brian Cashman has been reluctant to talk about including minor-league pitchers Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain in a trade - Phil Hughes is untouchable at all costs - the Yankees likely don't have what it will take to get Gagne, in whom the Tigers are very interested. -- NY Post
Dodgers don't want to trade Kemp?
Dodgers OF Matt Kemp became the central figure in a rumor that had the Dodgers trading him to the White Sox for left-hander Mark Buehrle. But with the Dodgers only a game behind the division-leading Padres, there's no need for General Manager Ned Colletti to make a trade just yet. "For us to move a young player, it's got to be the absolute right deal," Colletti said, "and the players that are being talked about right now don't equate to the absolute right deal." -- Los Angeles Times
White Sox Buehrle close to deal but not close enough?
The White Sox are in New York to play the Yankees on July 31. In the worst-case scenario for the Sox, Mark Buehrle hops on the subway and heads over to Queens after being traded to the Mets. As has been widely reported, the White Sox and Buehrle are close to a new deal. They've agreed on years (four) and money ($56 million), both big concessions on Buehrle's part. But the workhorse starting pitcher is holding out for full no-trade protection, which the White Sox adamantly are refusing to include. As Buehrle said Monday, both sides are being stubborn. But Buehrle can't give in on the full no-trade, and the Sox have their reasons for standing firm as well. So close, yet so far away. -- Chicago Daily Herald
Will Yanks pay for Santana?
Ah, yes, the $200 million question that is likely to loom rather ominously for the Twins over the next year: can they find a way to keep Johan Santana from becoming a free agent after the 2008 season and going to the highest bidder? Or, to put it another way: how much do you think the Yankees would pay to have the best pitcher in baseball take the mound on Opening Day as they christen their sparkling new ballpark in 2009? -- NY Daily News
Iguchi wants to stay with ChiSox
White Sox second baseman Tadahito Iguchi is not the type to cut in front of the line and say, ''What about me?'' But the third-year major-leaguer from Japan did want to set the record straight on his desire to stay on the South Side. ''First, I never said that I want to go play in warmer weather,'' Iguchi said Wednesday through his translator, David Yamamoto. Iguchi, who like Mark Buehrle and Jermaine Dye is in his walk year, went on to say he hopes to stay with the Sox. ''My family really blends in here now,'' he said. ''We've gotten used to life here.'' -- Chicago Sun-Times
Red Sox want Lidge
If a market does develop for Brad Lidge, who has recovered from a strained oblique only to have his knee lock up, the Red Sox will likely be in it because they've coveted him for years. -- Boston Globe
Pads eye Cubs OF Murton?
As part of the clubs' discussions last month, the Padres also inquired about Cubs corner outfielder Matt Murton, a right-handed hitter whose ability to work the count fits a Padres preference. But the Cubs firmly made it known that they highly value Murton, 25. -- San Diego Union-Tribune
NL Scout: Yanks Farnsworth has trade value
As hard as it is to believe, an NL talent evaluator predicted there will be a market for Kyle Farnsworth if the Yankees are willing to swallow a piece of the $8.13 million remaining on Farnsworth's contract for this year and next. Farnsworth worked an inning yesterday. In 35 games this season, Farnsworth has pitched 321/3 innings and given up 37 hits, 16 walks and hit a batter. That's more than 1½ runners allowed per inning. --NY Post
Braves Smoltz to miss All-Star game
John Smoltz will fly back to Atlanta Thursday to have his sore shoulder examined, and will miss at least one start and next week's All-Star Game in San Francisco. The Braves pitcher remains confident the soreness is lingering inflammation, not structural damage, and that complete rest for 10 days will take care of the problem without a stint on the disabled list. -- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Cubs Brenly up for Reds job?
Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly said Wednesday that the Reds haven't contacted him about their managerial vacancy, though he would be happy to listen if they come calling. "I'm interested in listening to anything," Brenly said. "But I haven't heard from anyone." According to reports out of Cincinnati, Brenly is among the candidates the Reds are looking at to replace fired manager Jerry Narron. Pete Mackanin, the interim manager, is considered to be a seat-holder for the next manager, who could be hired soon after the All-Star break that starts Monday. -- Chicago Tribune
Rockies manager gets vote of confidence?
Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd dismissed national speculation Wednesday that manager Clint Hurdle's job is in danger. Hurdle received a two-year extension on opening day that carries through the 2009 season. "There is nothing to that. Clint has done a very good job, and we are happy to have him," O'Dowd said through a team spokesman. -- Denver Post
Sources: Santana wants $25 mil a year from Twins
Industry sources say that Santana's agent, Peter Greenberg, has floated a $25-million-a-year pricetag in informal discussions with the Twins, at which the club has balked. Indeed, for a club with a $75 million payroll, logic says the Twins won't be able to afford him. -- NY Daily News
Tigers bench Monroe?
His slump has gone from bad to worse. Meanwhile, Craig Monroe has gone from scratching his head to shrugging his shoulders as he struggles in vain to get out of it. But he hasn't gotten out of it. He has only sunk deeper -- so, on the heels of hitting .129 in his last 19 games, Monroe was replaced in the starting lineup Wednesday night by Marcus Thames as the Tigers' starting left fielder. -- Detroit News
O's will pass on Halos relief pitcher?
Despite their bullpen struggles, the Orioles don't have much interest in right-hander Hector Carrasco, who was designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels. -- Baltimore Sun
Umps penalize Indians pitcher for taking too long?
Twelve seconds seems like long enough to throw a pitch. Then again, nobody actually put a stop watch on it until Tuesday night, when Indians reliever Rafael Betancourt was twice penalized for the infraction by second-base umpire Doug Eddings, who was doing the counting. The essence of the rule is this: With nobody on base, the pitcher has 12 second to get rid of the ball once the batter is in the box and ``alert to the pitcher.'' A ball was added to the count of Carlos Guillen's at-bat in the eighth inning and Brandon Inge's at-bat in the ninth, which made it 3-and-2. Betancourt retired both batters. The question is, after three months and 82 games, why did the umpires wait until now to flag Betancourt, whose slow pace dates to his time in the minor leagues? At first, manager Eric Wedge assumed that someone from the Detroit Tigers -- possibly manager Jim Leyland -- asked the umpires to keep an eye on Betancourt. By Wednesday, the manager had revised his thinking. ``Jim didn't have anything to do with it,'' Wedge said. ``But somebody gave them a heads up. Why last night?'' -- Akron Beacon Journal
Phils manager opposed to replay
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he was against the use of replay to review disputed calls. "I think you'd lose the human element in the game," he said. "That's what makes baseball." Some memorable calls that have gone against the Phillies recently could have gone in their favor had umpires been able to use instant replay. Most notable was the call that took away a home run from Chase Utley in a loss against Washington at RFK Stadium in September. "We have our share of coming out on the short end," Manuel said. "I still think the game's been going on for all these years and if we keep tinkering with it, games will last five and six hours." -- Philadelphia Inquirer
AL Exec: Mets won't get old Pedro till '08
Mets starter Pedro Martinez is projected to be back next month, and while the expectations are going to be very high, one AL team executive said yesterday, "Most people think that Pedro will not be the same guy until sometime next year." The exec added that many believe Martinez could be "more like a back-end starter that will need extra rest" this year. -- NY Post
Marlins excited about top pick Dominguez
Matt Dominguez might be the Marlins' third baseman of the future, the heir to perennial All-Star Miguel Cabrera. Dominguez, who was the 12th overall pick in last month's amateur draft, would love to take the fast track to the major leagues, like Cabrera did, and emerge as a middle-of-the-lineup hitter who pitchers fear. Dominguez, 17, graduated from Chatsworth High less than two weeks ago, the same school where Marlins general manger Larry Beinfest was a two-time all-city shortstop in the early 1980s. Marlins scout Tim McDonnell and Dominguez's high school coach, Tom Meusborn, said Dominguez is a gem. He can hit for power, but the thing that astounded them the most is his fielding ability. He's such a slick fielder, with a strong arm and terrific range, that McDonnell said, ``He can go play third base in the big leagues tomorrow.'' Dominguez's path to the majors hasn't started officially because contract negotiations with the Marlins are ongoing. -- Miami Herald
Houlton or Tomko could get Dodgers start?
Dodgers manager Grady Little said he was still undecided who would take Randy Wolf's spot in the rotation Sunday against Florida and that he probably wouldn't decide until Saturday. Little named Eric Stults, D.J. Houlton and Brett Tomko as possibilities. -- LA Times
Alomar Jr. joins Mets
The Mets now have three catchers and an extra pinch-hitter. The team promoted 41-year-old Sandy Alomar Jr. from Triple-A yesterday, sending pitcher Jason Vargas back to New Orleans a day after Vargas was lit up by the Rockies. Assistant GM John Ricco said the move was done "to get another bat in here" and also to protect the team with Paul Lo Duca's suspension-appeal hearing tomorrow. Alomar Jr. was hitting .323 with four homers at Triple-A. His father is the Mets' third-base coach. -- NY Post
LaRoche: Pirates fans should stop booing Bay
Adam LaRoche was asked, after his big day in the Pirates' 5-3 victory against Milwaukee, how it felt to get cheered by the crowd of 35,878 after nearly half a season of being booed. And he responded by calling upon the team's fans to lay off struggling left fielder Jason Bay. "It's nice. It's really nice after, obviously, getting booed a lot," LaRoche said of the crowd's standing ovation for his two-run home run in the sixth inning that broke a 3-3 tie. "But now ... it's unbelievable, but I'm hearing boos for Jason Bay." He paused and shook his head. "I can understand booing me. I was the new guy here, there were some expectations, and I sucked. But, I mean ... you're talking about Jason Bay, one of the most consistent hitters in the big leagues. That's pretty weak to boo him. If you're loving that player when he's going well, you've got to stick with him when he's not." -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Williamson surprised O's dumped him
The Baltimore Orioles parted ways with reliever Scott Williamson on Wednesday, designating him for assignment. Because of Williamson's veteran status, the Orioles will trade him, release him or wait until another team claims him off waivers. "I don't understand it, really," Williamson said. "I don't know what else to tell you. We'll see what happens. Hopefully, somebody signs me." The Orioles signed Williamson this offseason to a one-year, $900,000 contract. Williamson was 1-0 with a 4.40 ERA, but he pitched in only 16 games this season because of a series of injuries. -- Washington Post
Braves Davies struggling
Braves starter Kyle Davies allowed five runs, six hits and two walks in two innings as his ERA climbed to 5.85. He's 0-4 with an 8.06 ERA in his past five starts. Bobby Cox offered an uncharacteristically frank postgame assessment afterward. "It [ticks] you off, to be honest with you," Cox said. "You get six runs in the first three innings, you've got to win. ... "He couldn't get anything going. Fastball wasn't going, for location or velocity. He tried to throw Betemit a change-up after missing up high, and he hits it out." Davies, 23, is 3-7 in 15 starts this season, and 12-18 with a 6.04 ERA in 43 career starts. -- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Heroin addict on way back to Marlins
Jeff Allison, the much-troubled former first-round pick for the Marlins, is working his way back into playing shape at the team's training facility in Jupiter. But when and where the right-handed pitcher winds up this summer is yet to be determined. ''We don't have a return date to action,'' said Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest, adding that Allison could end up with any number of the Marlins' minor-league affiliates, including the Gulf Coast League Marlins. Allison was taken off the restricted list and re-joined the organization for formal workouts June 20. ''He's done everything that was required and asked of him,'' Beinfest said of Allison, who overcame a heroin addiction and last October was charged with the felony possession of a stolen vehicle while with Single A Greensboro (N.C.). -- Miami Herald
Glover to fill in as Rays "closer"
The pain in Al Reyes' right shoulder is apparently slight compared to the frustration he feels in being unable to pitch for at least the next two weeks. The Devil Rays put their most (only?) dependable reliever on the 15-day disabled list with what they're calling a "slight strain" of his rotator cuff, hoping he will be back around July 18. They are left without any relievers who have proved they can successfully close out games. LHP Jon Switzer was called up from Triple-A Durham, but closing duty is likely to be shared, with Gary Glover, who has one major-league save, first in line. -- St. Petersburg Times
Stinnett won't report to Cards AAA team
Catcher Kelly Stinnett alerted the Cardinals on Wednesday that he will not report to Class AAA Memphis, though he gave the Cardinals no indication that he plans to retire. Stinnett was acquired to help the Cardinals through a stretch without Yadier Molina (wrist fracture), and the veteran played in 10 games, starting nine. The Cardinals offered him a spot at Class AAA Memphis and promised a September call-up. Stinnett, 37, remains in the Cardinals' control. -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Cards Pujols not invited to HR Derby
Cards 1B Albert Pujols has not received an invitation to participate in the annual Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game festivities, but he said he doubts he would participate even if asked. He would not want to risk his swing or health -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Contreras needs rest for ChiSox
White Sox pitcher Jose Contreras, who made his final start of the first half Wednesday night, is scheduled to make his next start July 16 at Cleveland—that means 11 days between starts. Contreras leads the pitching staff with 17 starts, but his velocity has dipped to around 90 m.p.h. The extended rest between starts could help keep him healthy for the remainder of the season. -- Chicago Tribune