Report: Indians acquire Derek Lowe from Braves

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Derek Lowe. REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting that the Atlanta Braves have traded Derek Lowe to the Cleveland Indians. WKNR in Cleveland is reporting that the Indians parted with minor-league pitcher Chris Jones.

This is a salary dump by the Braves. Olney reports that the Braves will cover $10 million of Lowe’s 2012 salary of $15 million. So the Indians get an experienced starter for the bargain price of $5 million for next season.

Lowe didn’t have a great 2011 season in Atlanta as he went 9-17 with a 5.05 ERA. He’s also 38 years old. Yet Lowe eats up innings and his stats from 2005-2010 we excellent and then solid. The Indians have a strong pitching staff led by Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, with Josh Tomlin and Fausto Carmona as well (the Tribe picked up Carmona’s 2012 option today for $7 million). But injuries have hurt their depth in the rotation, and Lowe gives them an experienced starter to add to the mix.

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Quick-Hits: The two players that cost the Rockies Ubaldo Jimenez

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez waits on the mound just before being pulled from the game in the fourth inning of their MLB National League baseball game against the New York Mets in Denver May 12, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

In Monday’s Quick-Hits, I discuss the two players that cost the Rockies their ace, Randy Moss’s decision to retire, yet another perplexing decision by Giants general manager Brian Sabean, and Braylon Edwards’ shrinking market.

– If Rockie fans are upset with the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, they might as well direct their anger at the club’s flubbed selections in the 2006 and 2007 MLB drafts. Colorado selected Greg Reynolds with the second overall pick in the ’06 and Casey Weathers with the eighth overall pick in ’07. Neither right-hander has developed and while there’s plenty of hope for LHP Tyler Matzek, he’s not projected to help the big league club until 2013. That’s why when GM Dan O’Dowd received an offer from the Indians of Alex White and Joe Gardner in exchange for Jimenez, the deal was too good to pass up. The Rockies aren’t rebuilding their farm system: they’re restocking. Granted, Jimenez may right the ship while White and Gardner fail in Colorado, which would obviously make O’Dowd look like a fool. But at the end of the day, this is a deal O’Dowd felt he had to make after blowing the first rounds in ’06 and ’07. He’s essentially trying to make up for past mistakes.

– I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Randy Moss is now the posterchild for what not to do when you’re seeking a new contract in the NFL. Early last season, Moss whined about how the Patriots hadn’t discussed giving him a new contract. When New England told him to be patient, he pouted even more and became a distraction. Worst of all, he stopped playing hard, which is always a fast ticket out of New England with Bill Belichick running things. So he winds up in Minnesota, where he’s a distraction there, too. Finally he lands in Tennessee, where the coaching staff apparently realized that he was done as an NFL-caliber receiver. And now? Instead of continuing his career as a role player, he has decided to retire. Moss has been one hell of a player. He ranks eighth in career receptions, fifth in receiving yards and second only to Jerry Rice in touchdowns. But there will be a debate about whether or not he’s voted into the Hall of Fame after he quit on the Raiders and got himself traded out of New England and Minnesota. It’s amazing what kind of numbers Moss could have put up if had possessed Rice’s attitude.

– SF Giants GM Brian Sabean has some explaining to do after the Phillies and Braves landed younger outfielders under team control (Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, respectively) without giving up their top prospects, while he traded for a 34-year-old free agent-to-be and had to give up his best farm arm. Oh, and Orlando Cabrera for Thomas Neal? Does Sabean have to overpay for every veteran talent that he wants? It’s like if he walks into an electronic store, sees a TV he likes and then asks the salesman if he could purchase said TV for triple the cost. Meanwhile, competing general managers walk into the same store and purchase newer models with comparable features for three-fourths of the price. I just don’t get Sabean’s philosophy when it comes to trades but then again, he has a World Series ring and I don’t so maybe I should shut my mouth. (Of course, when he overpays to keep Beltran this winter, I’ll be sure to open it again.)

– It took a while, but teams are finally starting to stay away with Braylon Edwards. At 6’3” and 214 pounds, he certainly looks the part of a No. 1 receiver. But his inconsistent hands coupled with the fact that football isn’t real high on his priorities list makes teams stay away. He’s on the verge of signing a one-year deal with the Cardinals because the receiver market is essentially dried up. Considering he’s only 28 and once caught 80 passes for 1,289 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in one season, he shouldn’t be accepting one-year deals. But teams aren’t stupid and know he’s a huge risk.

Giants’ Sabean throws all logic out the window, acquires Jose Guillen

April 12, 2010: Kansas City Royals' Jose Guillen (6) during the MLB baseball game between the Kansas City Royals vs Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.

Jose Guillen can’t play defense, can’t get on base and he can’t hit for average.

So naturally Giants’ GM Brian Sabean had to have him.

On Friday, the Giants acquired the 34-year-old former Royal, who is well known for having a poor clubhouse reputation. That’s something the close-nit Giants don’t need right now heading into a huge weekend series with the first place Padres (the team the Giants are trailing by 2.5 games in the NL West).

Clearly hypnotized by his 16 homers this season, Sabean felt the need to add the outfielder despite the fact that Guillen is more useless than a chair with only two legs. Plus, his acquisition means that Aaron Rowand, Travis Ishikawa (assuming Aubrey Huff moves back to first base) and Nate Schierholtz will receive less playing time than they already are, which is befuddling when you consider that Guillen isn’t a better option than any of them.

If I punch myself in the side of the head enough times and squint hard enough, I might see the need for Guillen as a pinch hitter. But there’s no way that the Giants actually believe this schmuck is a starter. Do you know how much ground there is to cover in right field at AT&T Park? Guillen would be an absolute train wreck and for what? A couple of home runs down the stretch? I thought that’s what Pat Burrell was for? Didn’t Sabean already acquire Pat Burrell already? I’m confused.

The worst part is, Sabean traded away two capable outfielders earlier this season in Fred Lewis and John Bower – two homegrown players that were better defensively than Guillen and who came with zero baggage. How does trading Lewis and Bowker and trading for Guillen make any sense? Tell me what the difference is between those players, or how Guillen makes the Giants better than Lewis and Bowker? And what happens to Schierholtz? The kid entered spring training as the favorite to start in right field and after a poor couple of weeks at the plate, he became Lewis’d, Bowker’d and Kevin Frandsen’d in the blink of an eye. If I were a Giants’ farm player, I’d want to be dealt immediately because Sabean will eventually block my position with a crusty old vet. It’s only a matter of time.

Sabean doesn’t have the slightest clue what it takes to build an offense. For every Burrell, Huff and Juan Uribe, there’s a Rowand, Edgar Renteria and Mark DeRosa (who clearly wasn’t healthy when Sabean decided to hand him a two-year deal this past offseason). For every Bengie Molina trade, there’s a Guillen, Ryan Garko and Freddy Sanchez deal right around the corner.

I’ve never see a man make so many stupid decisions and yet retain his job for 14 years. If Brian Sabean were the President of the United States, half the nation would be underwater right now.

Cardinals land Westbrook, Padres Ludwick in deadline deal

July 26, 2010 - Cleveland, OHIO, UNITED STATES - epa02262280 Jake Westbrook of the Cleveland Indians delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees in the first inning of their game at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 26 July 2010.

In a three-team deal involving the Cardinals, Padres and Indians, St. Louis acquired starter Jake Westbrook, San Diego nabbed Ryan Ludwick and Cleveland received prospect Corey Kluber. The Cards also acquired prospect Nick Greenwood from the Padres.

From MLB.com:

“I’m excited,” Westbrook said. “I’m excited to go to a club contending for a playoff spot and pitch in some meaningful ballgames. That’s why you play the game, for a chance to get into the playoffs, and I’m looking forward to doing that.”

Westbrook was so eager to get in the playoff chase that he actually forfeited some of the trade protection in his contract. He was set to receive a $2 million bonus if dealt, and that was a major roadblock in trade talks, given that Westbrook is already owed nearly $4 million in salary this season.

But Westbrook agreed for that bonus to be lowered. The exact details were not announced, but the stipulation had to be approved by the Players Association.

“It was one of the hold-ups for getting me traded,” Westbrook said of the bonus. “I don’t really want to comment on the details of that, but it was something. Any way that I could help out the Indians, I needed to do that, because I didn’t really feel like I honored my contract as well as I would have liked to, being hurt. It was in my best interest and the Indians’ best interest to do something like that.”

I like this deal for all teams involved. The Cards lost Ludwick, but they’re going to save money (money they’re going to need to retain Albert Pujols) over the next two seasons and they added a workhorse Westbrook. He’s not a great arm at this point in his career, but St. Louis doesn’t need a great arm. They needed an upgrade at the backend of their rotation and that’s exactly what they got today in Westbrook.

Remember when the discussion about the Padres was about whether or not they would trade Adrian Gonzalez at some point before the deadline? Now look at them. They strengthened their bench with Miguel Tejada and acquired an All-Star in Ludwick to boost their offense for the stretch run. Give San Diego’s front office credit – they’re going for it.

According to his scouting report, Kluber lacks big upside, but he has a chance to be a solid back-end starter. The key to this deal for the Indians is that they save money by trading Westbrook’s contract. Westbrook wasn’t going to have a role in the Tribe’s future, so trading him now saves the club money and landing Kluber gives them a prospect that projects to being a cheap major league-caliber starter.

It’s not often that three teams get exactly what they want out of a deal, but I think the Cardinals, Padres and Indians came pretty close today.

Yankees miss out on Cliff Lee…for now.

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Cliff Lee pitches against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Arlington, Texas July 10, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

When the news sprawled across my computer screen last Friday, I couldn’t help but say aloud, “Right on time, Yankees.” (And yes, I like to talk to myself.)

By the middle of last week, the Rangers had emerged as the favorites to acquire left-hander Cliff Lee from the Mariners. The sticking point in the deal appeared to be whether or not Texas would part with top prospect Justin Smoak, whom Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik coveted.

Either way, it seemed as though the Rangers were way out in front in the race for Lee. That was, of course, until the Yankees got involved.

Reports surfaced early Friday morning that Brian Cashman and the Yanks were on the verge of acquiring Lee. They were prepared to give up their top prospect, Jesus Montero, but the two sides couldn’t agree on whom the second player in the deal would be and the Rangers wound up getting Lee anyway.

But if history is any indication, Lee won’t be in Texas for very long. His contract is up at the end of the year and we all know Cashman does his best work at the negotiating table. (Not that throwing millions of dollars at a player with reckless abandon in attempts to sign him is difficult.)

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