Is Atlanta interested in Matt Holliday?

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Dave O’Brien mentions — and then almost immediately scotches — rumors of a Yunel Escobar for Matt Holliday trade:

While the Braves have made it known they are taking calls from teams
interested in potential Yunel Escobar trades, I’m told that three’s
nothing to the report out of Oakland of discussions between the teams
about an Escobar-and-prospects trade for Oakland’s Matt Holliday and
Orlando Cabrera.

Not saying they haven’t talked to Oakland at some point about
Holliday. Just saying the Braves haven’t talked to them about trading
Escobar and prospects for Holliday and Cabrera, two pending free
agents.

As O’Brien goes on to note, such a trade would be ree-dic-ulously awful
for Atlanta, as Escobar is both (a) useful; and (b) not even
arb-eligible until after 2010, and given that both Holliday and Cabrera
are free agents after the season. Oh, and Cabrera stinks and both he
and Holliday are expensive. If anything, such a deal would need
prospects coming back Atlanta’s way to make up for the virtual
certainty that both of those guys would bolt after the season is over.

Still, I’ve been reading O’Brien for many years, and one thing is
clear: he has some good sources in the Braves’ front office. So while
this particular trade makes little sense for Atlanta, I have to believe
him when he says that there are talks between Oakland and Atlanta
involving Escobar and Holliday. Stay tuned.

Pirates looking for outside outfield help

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.

Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.

Matt Barnes ejected after throwing at Manny Machado’s head

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On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.

For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”

Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.

MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”

Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.

The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.