Report: Diamondbacks aiming for ‘premier’ starting pitcher

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UPDATE: A deal could still happen, but if it does, Justin Upton will NOT be involved.

3:22 AMThat’s the word from FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal. He doesn’t know who it is they’re targeting, but he believes they might be willing to use Justin Upton and/or a top pitching prospect to get it done.

There’s maybe only one possibly available starter in baseball worth both Upton and an arm from the group of Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley, but the Mariners keep saying that they aren’t trading Felix Hernandez. The Diamondbacks would likely be aiming for a young, cost-controlled starter, but any team willing to trade one of them might not be interested in taking on Upton’s salary.

So, who could it be? Tampa Bay’s James Shields? I don’t think he fits the bill here. Jeremy Hellickson might be more to Arizona’s tastes, but the Rays can’t really afford to pair both Uptons and they’re isn’t much incentive for them to trade Hellickson for two top pitching prospects when they have plenty of pitching as is.

Boston’s Jon Lester? That might make sense, given that the Red Sox have asked about Upton in the past, and he shouldn’t require one of those elite pitching prospects to be involved.

Oakland’s Jarrod Parker? It’d be awfully interesting, given that Parker was a Diamondback before being shipped off for Trevor Cahill. Parker doesn’t fit as a “premier” pitcher just yet, but he’s an extremely valuable property, and the A’s have been looking for a big bat after flirting with Hanley Ramirez.

Miami’s Josh Johnson? The word is that the Marlins aren’t moving him, and besides, he doesn’t rate that big of a return when he’s making close to his market value through free agency.

Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee? Lee only has big-time trade value if the Phillies swallow a whole bunch of the $25 million per year he’s due through 2015. Lee for Upton would make some sense on the surface, but that’d be a whole lot of money for Arizona to take on. I’d rather have Upton.

Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo? The Brewers bled a lot of talent trying to make their run in 2011, and they could use an infusion. I don’t think Upton would fit in here, but if the Diamondbacks are willing to give up two of their big three pitching prospects, the Brewers would have to take a long, hard look at such a deal. Gallardo and Hellickson are the two pitchers here (Felix, too, if he counts) that would be worth two from the group of Bauer, Skaggs and Bradley.

Who are the candidates for the Cardinals managerial job?

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If you logged off over the weekend, you may not have heard that Mike Matheny was sacked as the Cardinals manager late Saturday night. I wrote about the reasons for this yesterday morning. Mike Shildt was named the interim manager and he will keep the job through the rest of the season. Between now and then the Cardinals’ brain trust is going to figure out who they want for the job full time.

Today Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch goes over a list of potential candidates. No, the Cardinals have not identified any officially, but Goold is a smart cookie and hears stuff and what wasn’t heard is informed speculation. At the very least, expect to hear many of the names he lists several times as the process goes on.

You gotta read his article to get the list, but there are a couple on there I want to talk about for a second.

The first one is Joe Girardi, who makes it because (a) he is the most prominent marquee manager who doesn’t have a job at the moment; (b) he played 16 games with the Cardinals in his final season; and (c) far more important than that is that he is tight with John Mozeliak. But while Girardi seems like a perfect candidate for a club in win-now mode, I question whether he’s truly the right guy given that he left New York for many of the same reasons Matheny left St. Louis (i.e. not relating well with young players). We can’t overstate that, however, because Girardi is, by every other measure, a superior manager to Matheny, primarily when it comes to managing a bullpen, so his rapport with the kids is not the be-all, end-all.

Goold also mentions Mark McGwire. He’s obviously a legend in St. Louis and, unlike a lot of former players who talk about wanting to get into managing these days, McGwire has been putting in his time as a coach for a long, long time. He’s currently the Padres’ bench coach. I’d like to see McGwire get the job for petty, personal reasons: a lot of people would get really, really mad about a PED guy getting the gig, they’d say and write a lot of dumb stuff and that, for me, is the key to a lot of content. Not gonna lie about that.

A lot of other interesting names on that list too. And there will likely be a lot of people, beyond those who the Cardinals initially identify, who express interest in the job too. It’s a sweet gig with historic job security for a marquee franchise in a baseball city, so what’s not to like?