Position-by-position trade deadline preview: Left field & right field


This is the sixth in a series of articles looking at players who might be available in the days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Jayson Werth (Phillies) – It seemed inconceivable two months ago, but the Phillies have been willing to discuss Werth because of their need for pitching and their ability to plug the game’s No. 1 prospect, Domonic Brown, into his spot in right field. A trade, however, did seem a bit more likely a couple of weeks ago than it does now. The Rays, considered one of the top suitors, no longer appear to be in the mix, and the possibility of Roy Oswalt coming to Philly, a move that may have required a Werth trade, has diminished. Besides, teams have to be wondering if Werth is really worth that big of a ransom. He’s a free agent at season’s end, his production has dropped every month this season and he’s been downright ordinary outside of Citizens Bank Park (.259/.365/.414 with three homers in 174 at-bats). He’ll probably finish out the year in Philadelphia.
Corey Hart (Brewers) – Hart was up for grabs over the winter after back-to-back disappointing seasons, but no one bit. After losing playing time to Jim Edmonds initially, he’s come back with what could go down as a career year, as he has 22 homers and 70 RBI through 89 games. Like Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks, Hart is a free agent after 2011, and the Brewers may well have to part with at least one member of the group with all being due for big raises in arbitration over the winter. Hart, making $4.85 million this year, figures to see his salary jump to $8 million-$10 million if he goes on to have a 35-homer season. The Giants have led the way in trade talks regarding Hart, though those whispers were louder earlier this month than they are now. He could also be an option for the Padres and Rays.
Josh Willingham (Nationals) – The Nats probably can’t risk going long-term with both Adam Dunn and Willingham, so one could be moved this week. Another right-handed slugger, Willingham has less to offer defensively than Werth or Hart, but he’s just as good of a hitter as either. He’s batting .273/.401/.479 in 311 at-bats so far this season. A major cause for concern is his history of back problems, but that’s a bigger worry for the team that eventually signs him to a long-term contract. He’s played in 96 of the Nationals’ 99 games this season, and he hasn’t actually missed time because of his back since 2008. Willingham has the same contract situation as Hart: he’s making $4.6 million now and he’ll be eligible for free agency for the first time after next year. Since he doesn’t cover as much ground in the outfield, he should be less attractive to the Giants and Padres than Hart. However, he could really help the AL East powers with his bat.
Luke Scott (Orioles) – One of the game’s most underrated hitters, Scott has quietly batted .295/.364/.583 with 17 homers in 254 at-bats for the Orioles this season. Of course, Camden Yards has played a role there. In fact, Scott’s road OPSs the last three years are completely pedestrian: 753, 727 and 743 so far this season. Then again, he never gets to face Orioles pitching and that’d probably be good for an extra 50 points of OPS if he changed teams. While he’s been used primarily as a DH the last two years, Scott is a solid defender in left field and he’s gaining some experience at first base. He should be an option for NL teams as well as AL squads. Baltimore is willing to move him since he’s 32 and he’s due a nice raise before becoming eligible for free agency after next year. His left-handed bat would look very good in the middle of the heavily right-handed White Sox lineup.
Scott Podsednik (Royals) – The Royals have never been ones to admit defeat, and with David DeJesus down, they might just hold on to Podsednik just so that they don’t have to resort to committing so many at-bats to Alex Gordon and Mitch Maier. Still, they’d be crazy not to part with him if the price is right. Podsednik has been a fine top-of-the-order hitter this year, batting .308/.352/.400 with 30 steals in 42 attempts, but at age 34, it’s not like he’s a big part of the Royals’ future. Other than the injury-prone Coco Crisp, Podsednik is the one true leadoff man available, and that could be worth an extra prospect in trade talks. He’s another possibility for San Diego, and the Dodgers may want him as a fourth outfielder.
Garrett Jones (Pirates) – Jones took the league by surprise as a 28-year-old rookie last year, hitting .293/.372/.567 with 21 homers in 314 at-bats for the Pirates. NL pitchers, though, have had a lot more success against him in year two. His current .270/.333/.422 line is a lot closer to what his minor league numbers suggested he’d hit. Jones won’t even be arbitration eligible next year, so the Pirates may want to keep him around as an extremely cheap regular. Still, if they can get a couple of intriguing prospects for him now, they should go for it and then start looking to find the next Jones. The Angels are believed to have asked about him, and he could also be a fit with the White Sox or with the Rangers as a replacement for Magglio Ordonez.
Jose Guillen (Royals) – Guillen has been on the block for a year and a half, but now that he has just a bit more than $4 million left on his three-year, $36 million contract, a deal is finally realistic. The 34-year-old has 16 homers and 59 RBI this season, though his overall .271/.333/.457 line is less impressive. He’s also a liability in the outfield. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal suggested that the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Padres and Giants could be interested in Guillen, and it’s believed the Royals and Mets have discussed various forms of deals involving Guillen and Jeff Francoeur.
Austin Kearns (Indians) – It looked like Kearns might revive his career in Cleveland after he hit .373/.429/.627 in April, but the 30-year-old has done little while playing regularly over the last three months and he’s currently down to .266/.349/.408 on the season. On the plus side, he has hit .288/.366/.449 away from Progressive Field. Kearns also remains a quality defensive outfielder capable of playing part-time in center if necessary. The Padres, Red Sox, Dodgers and Giants are among the teams that could use him as a fourth outfielder.
Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs) – Just like in his previous seasons, Fukudome opened 2010 in grand fashion and then faded fast. He still has an adequate .253/.356/.410 line for the season, but he’s been a liability since his big April. The Cubs will be willing to eat a portion of the $4 million+ he’s owed over the rest of this year and the $13.5 million he’s due next year, but since he doesn’t seem like a good bet to help a contender right now, an in-season deal remains unlikely. He’ll probably get moved over the winter.
Jeff Francoeur (Mets) – Francoeur hasn’t posted a 700 OPS against righties since 2007, but he still thinks of himself as a full-time outfielder and he’s made it clear he’d welcome a trade away from the Mets if it came with more playing time. If he goes anywhere this week, it will probably be to Kansas City. However, even if the Royals truly want him, they’d be better off signing him after he’s non-tendered this winter.
Ryan Church (Pirates) – Church has had a disastrous season in Pittsburgh, hitting just .187/.242/.319 in 166 at-bats, and at this rate, he could well end up in Japan next year. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but he hasn’t been the same player since suffering multiple concussions in 2008. The Pirates will gladly give him away if anyone comes calling.
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Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.