The Buzz- Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and the Chicago Cubs

We are six weeks away from the MLB Trading Deadline, and we are already beginning to hear rumblings that some of the games top pitchers maybe on the move. As well as teams that are beginning to become sellers and look forward towards the future. With that said, lets take a look at the rumors going around the MLB rumor mill.

Cliff Lee becoming a Twinkie?

Arguably, Seattle Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee is the best starting pitcher available on the trade market. While the Mariners have not made Lee available yet, running speculation is that soon he will in deed be made available for trade. Many baseball writers have already reported that the Twins may have the best chances at landing the former Cy Young pitcher.

One things that makes Lee’s name so interesting, is that this could be the second straight year in which he is traded at the deadline. If you remember last year, the Phillies acquired Lee from the Cleveland Indians, and Lee lead the Phillies to a world series berth, but fell short against the New York Yankees.

If the Twins were to acquire Lee, that would go a long way in insuring the Twins of a run at a World Series berth this postseason. As I’ve mentioned before, Lee after being traded to Philadelphia in the 2009 season, went 7-4 with an ERA of 3.39 in 12 starts. While in the postseason that year, Lee  posted a 4-0 record in 5 starts while producing an ERA of 1.56.

So far in 2010, Lee is 5-3 through 10 starts with an ERA of 2.55 while averaging 7 strikeouts per nine innings.

Along with the Twins, the Dodgers, Mets,  and Yankees are all rumored to have interest in Cliff Lee.

Roy Oswalt, the new star of the Texas Rangers?

Earlier this week, a report had it that the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers were closing in on deal that would have sent Houston starter Roy Oswalt to the Texas Rangers. However, that report was later refuted by sources from both the Rangers and Astros. But, despite the denial from both clubs, the Ranger still have “serious interest” in Roy Oswalt. Although, the Rangers are currently in the middle of a transfer of ownership, which could hinder them from taking on a large portion of salary at the trade deadline.

Despite the concern over Ownership, Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan confirmed that the ranger have a high level of interest in Oswalt…

“You know, we definitely are looking to improve our ballclub, and when you have an opportunity, or might have an opportunity, to acquire someone like that, you have to look at it and evaluate it and see if that’s a possibility and see if it’s doable,” Ryan said.

“I think he’s[ Roy Oswalt] phenomenal,” Ryan said. “I think he’s been one of the top four or five pitchers in the league for quite a while. He’s a big-game pitcher and consistent with his stuff, as we see this year, with the way he’s approached each game he’s been in. He’s special.” ESPN.COM

Given Ryan’s comments, one could infer from his statements that Rangers are determined to acquire Oswalt.  But as the report mentioned, if the Rangers ownership transfer is not completed by the trade deadline, then the Ranger would be limited to two ways of acquiring Oswalt. First, would be that they would have to seek the approval from the MLB to spend extra, which is considered to be highly unlikely. Or, the Rangers would have to have the Astros eat most of the remaining salary on Oswalt’s contract, which sources within the Astros organization calling that a highly unlikely scenario.

Oswalt has been the victim of poor run support this year as he has a record of 5-8 while posting an ERA of 3.12 while averaging 8 strikeouts per nine innings.

Chicago Cubs looking towards the Future

Under their previous ownership regime, the Chicago Cubs have always shied away from entering a “rebuilding process” and they have always made big money deals to try an appeal the Cubs to the fans. However, with new owner Tom Ricketts, it appears the Cubs are going to be entering the rebuilding process and look sell off some of their veterans at this years trading deadline.

I cover the Cubs over at Cubbies Crib, and here is what I said about the possibility of the Cubs becoming sellers…

It makes all the sense in the world for the Cubs, who have a bloated payroll, to become sellers. Not only would it open some flexibility it would give them the chance to play young players such as Tyler Colvin, who has looked very good in limited action. One thing, that Sullivan mentions is that both Derrek Lee and Kosuke Fukudome have no trade clauses. But, it is likely Lee would waive his no trade clause for a contending west coast team, specifically the Angels or Giants. CUBBIES CRIB

As is the case for most fan bases, the Cubs fans are afraid that what the term “sellers” actually means for the Chicago Cubs. Many do not want to see the Cubs trade Derrek Lee, or Ted Lilly, but that is why baseball is a business and not based off of fan desires.

At 30-38, the Chicago Cubs are 7.5 games behind the St Louis Cardinals, and Cincinnati Reds for first place in the National League Central. And, with the Cubs having one of the highest payrolls in baseball, it would make baseball sense for the Chicago Cubs to try to sell off whatever pieces they can. Among players that could potentially be shopped are Ted Lilly, Derrek Lee, Kosuke Fukudome, Ryan Theriot, and Tom Gorzelanny.

The only player of the above that is known to be available, is Kosuke Fukudome. The Cubs placed Fukudome on the trading block as he has virtually been replaced by Tyler Colvin in their lineup. The Cubs have approached the Boston Red Sox regarding Kosuke Fukudome, however Boston did advance the talks, as the Cubs were unwilling to eat the majority of the $21MM that is left on Fukudome’s contract.

I personally feel the Cubs will be one of the active sellers at this years trading deadline, as they look to acquire pieces to help build for the future.

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Tags: Boston Red Sox Chicago Cubs Cliff Lee Derrek Lee Houston Astros Kosuke Fukudome LA Dodgers Minnesota Twins New York Mets New York Yankees Nolan Ryan Roy Oswalt Seattle Mariners Ted Lilly Texas Rangers Tom Gorzelanny

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