So who's on the trading block?

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Thumbnail image for Cliff Lee M's throwing.jpgJon Heyman runs down the big ticket trade targets this summer.  Heyman’s candidates:

  • Cliff Lee.  Makes sense to me on some level but I’m a bit skeptical. The Mariners are a disappointment this year, but I don’t think they’re a team that thinks it’s tearing down and rebuilding. If they have a chance to sign Lee, I have to think they’ll stick with him.
  • Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman: Heyman has a hard time seeing anyone who both (a) can pick up Oswalt’s salary; but who is also (b) a team Oswalt wants to play for.  But we heard the same thing about Jake Peavy last year too, didn’t we?   I think that the longer the Astros suck and the more teams who express a moderate interest in Oswalt, the more flexible he becomes on his no trade.  It would not surprise me at all to see him in Queens or Los Angels sometime this summer.
  • Prince Fielder: Heyman is sharply pessimistic about the Brewers’ chances to sign Fielder. Given the agent involved, it’s probably worth giving such an impression more than the usual credence.
  • Ben Sheets:  Heyman quotes an AL GM who says Sheets needs to show more consistency before he’s a legit trade chit, but the deeper we go into the season the easier it is to make an argument for consistency. By mid July, the definition of consistency might be 2-3 decent starts.
  • Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski: Konerko can veto a trade and Pierzynski will be able to within a couple of weeks due to his 10-5 rights kicking in.  Heyman thinks that people will be more interested in Bobby Jenks and J.J. Putz. I think he’s right.
  • Other candidates: Adam Dunn, Kevin Millwood, Jake Westbrook, Dan Haren, tons of Royals players, Adrian Gonzalez, Heath Bell.  From this list all I can note is how crazy it is that Adrian Gonzalez is only considered a marginal trade candidate this year.  One wonders if the Padres’ great run in the early going — which makes Gonzalez all but indispensable — isn’t hurting them in the long run.  They’re not going to sign the guy, right?  How worse will the prospects they ultimately get for him this offseason be than the ones they could have gotten this summer?

Anyway, it’s only Memorial Day weekend, but it seems like the trade winds are blowing stronger than usual for this time of year.  A lot of guys are going to be available.  It’s really going to be a buyer’s market, it seems.

Kolten Wong lashes out after losing his starting role with the Cardinals

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Kolten Wong is no longer the only second baseman being considered for a starting role on the Cardinals’ roster, and he’s not happy about it. On Saturday, GM John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny hinted that Wong could lose playing time to Jedd Gyorko or Greg Garcia in 2017 — in other words, an infielder who brings a little more pop at the plate. Prior to the Cardinals’ game against the Marlins on Sunday, Wong gave his heated response to the media. Via Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

I don’t think you give somebody a contract for no reason,” Wong said. “When you are given a contract, you are expected to get a chance to work through some things and figure yourself out. Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, all these guys never figured their stuff out until later on down the road. It’s the big leagues. It’s tough, man. For me, the biggest thing is I just need people to have my back. When that comes, it will be good. But, I think right now, it’s just staying with my play, understanding I’m working toward getting myself more consistent, understanding what kind of player I can be. If that’s going to be with another team, so be it.

When pressed, Wong said that he would rather be traded away from St. Louis than step into a limited role with the team. “I don’t want to be here wasting my time,” he told the press. “I know what kind of player I am. If I don’t have the belief here, then I’ll go somewhere else.” The 26-year-old was inked to a five-year, $25.5 million extension prior to the 2016 season, complete with a $12.5 million option and $1 million buyout.

Part of Wong’s frustration stems from the Cardinals’ backtracking on their stated commitment to him as their starting second baseman last winter. Mozeliak admitted that while Wong had the defensive tools necessary to hold down the position, he failed to impress at the plate. It’s an argument that Wong hasn’t been able to rebut this spring, going 8-for-44 with two extra bases and 10 strikeouts in camp. He hasn’t looked much better in the regular season, sustaining a career .248/.309/.370 batting line with a .678 OPS and 5.1 fWAR over four years with the organization.

Still, the second baseman feels that he should have been given some heads up that he was playing to keep his starting role this spring, admitting that he entered camp with the mentality of someone who had a guaranteed spot on the Cardinals’ roster and not someone whose job security was dependent on his day-to-day results. “I need the time to consistently figure out how to be me and succeed at this level,” said Wong. “Everybody goes through it. Not everybody is Mike Trout.”

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.