Angels not counting on Escobar, may go after Halladay

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Kelvim Escobar went from the disabled list to the rotation to the
bullpen and then back to the DL in the span of about a week last month,
and now Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports that he “hasn’t picked up a baseball in weeks and has to be considered a long shot to pitch again this season.”

General manager Tony Reagins said yesterday that Escobar is still
experiencing “a deep ache” in his surgically repaired shoulder, adding:
“We wanted him to back off and that’s what he’s doing. We’re not
writing him off, by any means. We’re going to move forward cautiously.
If we get him back, great. If we don’t get him back, then we don’t get
him back.”

On a related note, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports
that the Angels “are looking for late-inning relief help” and have
targeted Scott Downs and Brandon League of the Blue Jays, Chad Qualls
of the Diamondbacks, and Rafael Betancourt of the Indians. And of
course DiGiovanna also notes that the Angels would be interested in a
front-of-the-rotation starter like … drum roll please! … Roy
Halladay.

In laying out potential deals for Halladay yesterday Matthew Pouliot speculated
that the Angels could give up Jordan Walden, Brandon Wood, Trevor
Reckling, and Matt Sweeney. On the other hand, DiGiovanna writes that
“Halladay would probably cost the Angels pitcher Jered Weaver, a top
pitching prospect such as Trevor Reckling or Jordan Walden, top hitting
prospect Brandon Wood and a young big leaguer such as Erick Aybar or
Howie Kendrick.”

Halladay is an exceptionally good pitcher and the Blue Jays should
be holding out for an exceptionally good package of players in return
for him, but there’s just no way that their asking price is anything
close to Weaver, Reckling/Walden, Wood, and Kendrick/Aybar if they
actually want to make a deal. For one thing, Weaver is 26 years old,
has a 3.60 career ERA, makes the MLB minimum, and is under the Angels’
control through 2012.

Does anyone think that upgrading from Weaver to Halladay–who’s 32
years old, makes about 40 times as much money, and becomes a free agent
after next season–is worth Wood, Walden, and
Kendrick? If the Blue Jays want prospects like Walden or Wood, they can
get them. If the Blue Jays want young major leaguers like Weaver or
Kendrick, they can get them.

But as the deals for Dan Haren, Johan Santana, CC Sabathia, Josh
Beckett, and various other top starters and the rumored offers for Jake
Peavy have shown in recent years asking for a couple of choice names
from Column A and a couple of choice names from Column B just isn’t how
these things tend to work.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.