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OFFSEASON | SPRING TRAINING | APRIL | MAY | JUNE July 11 News and Notes Gaskill, bird-dog scout who discovered Ryan, dies at 89 -- 5:14 p.m.

R.C. "Red" Gaskill, the bird-dog scout who discovered a Texas high school pitcher named Nolan Ryan, passed away on Saturday following a short illness. He was 89.

Gaskill began his scouting career while working for Union Carbide, and would provide tips on players he saw to Red Murff, the New York Mets scout who was credited with signing Ryan.

Gaskill was a World War II vet and survived his ship being torpedoed at the battle of Leyte Gulf.

In addition to playing baseball on the semi-pro level and serving as a summer-league coach, Gaskill scouted for 35 years for the Mets, Montreal Expos, Cleveland Indians and California Angels. He was honored by the Scout of the Year Foundation in 2002, the same year he was inducted into the Texas Baseball Scouting Hall of Fame.

July 10 News and Notes Sources: D-backs break off talks with their No. 1 pick -- 9:42 p.m.

Arizona has broken off negotiations with first-round draft pick Barret Loux, a right-handed pitcher out of Texas A&M, learned, in a move that might have played into the firing of general manager Josh Byrnes.

Loux, the sixth pick overall, saw his 2009 season cut short because of elbow surgery to remove bone chips, and in pre-draft discussions was considered a likely late-first-round or second-round pick in. Although he returned to pitch for A&M in 2010, Loux reportedly did not pass a physical required for signing with Arizona.

Loux, however, wound up being taken by Arizona even though scouting director Tom Allison and his scouting staff were debating right-handed pitcher Deck McGuire of Georgia Tech and left-handed pitcher Chris Sale of Florida Gulf Coast for the selection, according to several scouting sources.

Allison, however, was overruled by Byrnes and then-pro scouting director Jerry Di Poto, now the acting general manager. During the spring, Di Poto's professional scouting staff was assigned to evaluate talent for the draft instead of their normal assignments in pro scouting.

Sale was eventually selected by the Chicago White Sox with the 13th pick in the first round, and is already signed. McGuire went to Toronto with the 11th selection overall.

Arizona president Derrick Hall was did not respond to a voice message or text message on Saturday night.

-- Tracy Ringolsby

July 9 News and Notes Sources: Scouts flock to watch Haren, Nolasco -- midnight

With Cliff Lee gone to Texas, the search for starting pitching moved to Arizona, where potential trade targets Dan Haren and Ricky Nolasco paired up on Friday night.

The Phillies, Dodgers, Reds, White Sox, Angels and Yankees all had scouts in attendance, sources say.

It wasn't clear how many of the talent evaluators - if any - were there on specific scouting missions for Haren and/or Nolasco.

The Diamondbacks have maintained a very high price on Haren, sources say. Haren will earn $12.75 million in each of the next two seasons, followed by a $15.5 million club option for 2013.

Haren is Arizona's ace, making him difficult for the organization to trade - particularly when the general manager, Jerry Dipoto, has the job only on an interim basis.

Nolasco is earning $3.8 million this year. He has gone year-to-year with the Marlins and is on track for free agency after the 2012 season. -- Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal

Porcello pushed back to pitch for scouts? -- 1:27 p.m.

The Tigers have pushed Rick Porcello back one day in the Triple-A Toledo rotation -- and not because he's hurt, sources say.

One source told that the decision came from Detroit -- not the organization's minor league officials -- raising the possibility that Porcello will pitch before a special scouting audience on Saturday in Toledo.

Porcello has gone from Rookie of the Year candidate in 2009 to potential trade chip in 2010, even though some in the industry express doubt that the Tigers will actually move him. His struggles in the big leagues this season -- 4-7, 6.14 ERA -- prompted a demotion to the minors last month.

But he still has trade value, and the Tigers won't rule out the possibility that he could be moved in a deal for pitching before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

When asked this week if Porcello is absolutely untouchable, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski replied, "I don't ever use the word 'untouchable' on any players, but he's not a guy we're looking to trade."

The Tigers are reluctant to part with Porcello for a two- or three-month rental. It's more plausible that they would move him for a pitcher who would be under control for multiple seasons beyond 2010.

The current trade market includes two pitchers who match that description: Houston's Roy Oswalt and Arizona's Dan Haren. However, one source told senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal that Oswalt would not waive his no-trade clause to come to Detroit.

Haren will earn $12.75 million in each of the next two seasons, followed by a $15.5 million club option for 2013.

Haren is probably a better fit for the Tigers, anyway, because he has demonstrated that he can have success in the American League; Oswalt is a career National Leaguer. (The Tigers also pursued Haren via trade after the 2007 season, and it's worth noting that Detroit manager Jim Leyland picked Haren to start the 2007 All-Star Game.)

Other teams may shy away from Haren for payroll reasons. The Tigers, though, are in a more favorable position. They will have roughly $30 million in starting pitching coming off their books after the season, when Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis file for free agency.

One source indicated Friday that talks between the Tigers and Diamondbacks are not yet serious.

When asked if the pending free agency of those pitchers could enable the Tigers to add a big-dollar starter at the deadline, Dombrowski said, "Those would be things I wouldn't (discuss). Those are our issues to know. ... We do have payroll coming off." -- Jon Paul Morosi

July 8 News and Notes Sources: Phillies interested in Blue Jays reliever -- 7:46 p.m.

The Phillies, still uncertain of how they will approach the trade deadline, have shown interest in Blue Jays reliever Scott Downs, sources say.

Philadelphia has only one left-handed reliever on its active roster: J.C. Romero. The division rival Braves (Jason Heyward) and Mets (Ike Davis) have produced left-handed power hitters since the start of spring training, magnifying the Phillies' need for another lefty.

Left-handed hitters are batting .271 against the Phillies, the second-worst mark among contending teams.

Downs, who should be a sought-after free agent following this season, is 3-5 with a 2.65 ERA in 41 appearances this year.

Interest in Downs has been "constant all year" and then picked up recently, one source said. Toronto will demand a high price for him in any deal, since the left-hander is likely to carry Type A draft pick compensation this offseason. -- Jon Paul Morosi

July 7 News and Notes Rival GM says Rangers in lead for Lee -- 2:28 p.m.

One rival general manager believes the Rangers have become the favorite to land Cliff Lee.

In order to do that, they will likely need to part with Justin Smoak, currently their everyday first baseman. And sources say the Rangers' reluctance to include Smoak in an offer for Lee is one of the biggest remaining barriers in their talks with the Mariners.

Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik is said to covet Smoak, a switch hitter who is well suited for the Mariners' home ballpark.

The Rangers' ongoing sale -- through a bankruptcy process -- is a significant element in the trade dialogue, sources say. Lee has roughly $4 million left on his contract for this season, which is almost certainly too rich for the Rangers to afford right now. The Mariners can pay the remainder of Lee's salary to facilitate a deal, but they will ask for better players as a result. Smoak is likely to be one of them.

If the Rangers deal Smoak, 23, they will need to find a new first baseman in the near term. Smoak is hitting .208 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs in 69 games this year. He has started virtually every game at first since debuting on April 23.

Smoak, however, has struggled to hit left-handed pitchers; entering Thursday, he had a .143 batting average against them.

The obvious internal replacement for Smoak would be Chris Davis, who was the Rangers' everyday first baseman prior to Smoak's call-up. Davis, 24, has played first and third base at Triple-A Oklahoma City and is leading the team with a .354 batting average.

Many in the industry believe that Smoak is a superior player to Davis, although Davis has been the more productive hitter in the major leagues and is a better defender. One rival executive even suggested the Rangers would be "crazy" to trade Smoak.

First base is a relatively easy position for teams to fill externally, and the Rangers could invest more money there once their sale is complete. But Smoak will be affordable for years to come, so the team may prefer to keep him and allocate future free agent dollars toward pitching.

-- Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

The Reds also interested in Lee -- 6:29 p.m.

One year after the Indians dealt him to the Phillies, the other team in Ohio would like to acquire Cliff Lee.

A number of people in the industry say the Cincinnati Reds are motivated to get Lee -- and have the prospects to entice the Mariners.

Cincinnati has become a "sleeper" team in the Lee sweepstakes, one rival general manager said Wednesday. A separate source said the teams have exchanged names "in preliminary fashion" but have yet to discuss firm proposals.

Lee is the most-talked-about commodity on the midseason trade market, and there are several reasons why the Reds could be a fit.

... The Mariners need offense, and Cincinnati has two big hitters at Triple-A who could headline an offer for Lee: third baseman/first baseman Juan Francisco or first baseman/left fielder Yonder Alonso.

... The Reds also have pitching prospects to trade, including starters Matt Maloney and Travis Wood. (Both are currently on the major-league club.)

... Unlike the talent-rich Rangers, the Reds don't play in the same division as the Mariners -- or even the same league. (The Rangers are a strong suitor for Lee, but trading within the division can be problematic.)

... The recent injury to Aaron Harang, Cincinnati's Opening Day starter, has given the front office great incentive to trade for a pitcher.

One source said the Reds are aware that they would probably need to surrender Francisco or Alonso in order to obtain the Mariners' ace.

Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik was fond of Alonso leading up to the 2008 draft, when the Reds selected him in the first round. After a disappointing June, Alonso is batting .379 with three home runs in his first seven games of July.

The Reds entered Wednesday with a two-game lead in the National League Central despite having three starting pitchers on the disabled list: Homer Bailey, Edinson Volquez and Harang.

-Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

Mariners want too much to get Lee -- 1:20 p.m.

Executives from two different clubs interested in Cliff Lee say that the Mariners are seeking a mammoth return for the ace left-hander following a report of a substantial offer from the Twins.

One of the execs, labeling the Mariners' request a "crazy ask," said the M's proposal was in excess of the Twins' offer, as reported by AOL Fanhouse -- Triple A catcher Wilson Ramos and Single A outfielder Aaron Hicks.

The Mariners' aggressiveness can be interpreted in one of two ways: They are either close with the Twins and trying to determine if another team will top the Minnesota offer, or they are still trying to drive up the bidding.

Both the Twins and Mariners have denied comment on the AOL Fanhouse report, which is unconfirmed. The Twins, according to one major-league source, offered Ramos and right-hander Kevin Slowey, not Ramos and Hicks. Other sources say that the Mariners want players who are close to the majors; Hicks, while considered the Twins' top prospect, does not qualify.

The Twins, Mets, Yankees and Rangers are the teams engaged in the most active discussions with the Mariners, sources say. The Rays, Phillies, Reds and Dodgers are among the other clubs with interest in Lee.

-Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

July 6 News and Notes Yanks' interest in Lee hinges on price -- 3:30 p.m.

The Yankees' interest in trading for Mariners left-hander Cliff Lee is real, but only at a suitable price.

Lee, the biggest prize in this year's trade market, is a known target of the Twins, Rangers, Mets and other clubs.

The sincerity of the Yankees' interest has been in question, but they are indeed "kicking the tires," according to a source with knowledge of the team's thinking.

The source, however, estimates that the Yankees' chances of landing Lee are "less than 50 percent," and says that such a move likely would require the team to spin right-hander Javier Vazquez to another club.

Vazquez, like Lee, is a free agent at the end of the season. The difference is that the Yankees want to sign Lee but probably will not re-sign Vazquez -- even though Vazquez, after a rocky start, is 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA in his last seven starts.

The Rays -- who, despite limited resources, express interest in virtually every star player available in trade -- also are on the periphery of the Lee sweepstakes, sources say. The Mets, meanwhile, have made little progress in their attempt to land Lee.

As first reported by Peter Gammons, talk of B.J. Upton-for-Lee indeed surfaced Monday night among scouts attending the Rays-Red Sox game.

Such a deal, however, could be problematic both short-term and long-term for the Rays.

Ben Zobrist, who likely would take over in center field, is not nearly as strong a defender as Upton. Desmond Jennings, the Rays' top outfield prospect, might not be ready to assume such a prominent role.

Long-term, the Rays would be compromised offensively if they traded Upton, then lost left fielder Carl Crawford and possibly first baseman Carlos Pena to free agency. Upton has been a disappointment this season, but is under club control for two more years.

Then again, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg has said that he intends to reduce payroll after this season, leaving the team in somewhat of a win-now position.

Lee obviously would enhance the Rays' chances, even if the cost was Upton.

-Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

Twins shuffle minor league rotation ... but don't get excited -- 11:42 a.m.

Isn't this a great time of year?

Only in July would a reshuffling of the Class AA New Britain Rock Cats rotation make baseball fans take notice.

Right-hander Kyle Gibson, the Twins' No. 3 prospect according to Baseball America, didn't make his scheduled start on Monday.

Was it because the Twins and Mariners had agreed to a deal involving Cliff Lee ... and Gibson was in it?

Uh, no.

"They just gave him an extra day," said Jim Rantz, the Twins director of minor league operations. "He is pitching (today)."

So, he's not getting traded. At least not right now.

-- Jon Paul Morosi

July 5 News and Notes Phillies open to trade before deadline -- 5:30 p.m.

Few imagined that the Phillies would be willing to trade one of their most productive players before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

But the Phils' seven-game homestand before the All-Star break could determine the course of their season -- and the future of right fielder Jayson Werth.

The Phillies, five games back in the N.L. East, will face two first-place clubs -- the Braves and the Reds. Right-hander Roy Halladay and lefty Cole Hamels will pitch four of the seven games, beginning with Halladay's start Monday night against Braves righty Derek Lowe.

For now, the Phillies remain buyers. Sources say they have inquired on the Orioles' Ty Wigginton and Miguel Tejada, among others, following injuries to second baseman Chase Utley and third baseman Placido Polanco.

Clubs are currently demanding a high price from Philadelphia because they know how desperate the Phillies' situation is, a source said.

If the Phils remain in contention, they also would pursue a big-name starter, such as Mariners lefty Cliff Lee or Diamondbacks righty Dan Haren.

After opening the season with a $141.9 million payroll, fourth-highest in the majors, the two-time defending National League champions will not concede easily. But if the Phillies somehow fall out of contention, they likely would entertain trading Werth, major-league sources say.

"I could be buying and selling," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Monday, without referencing a specific player.

Werth, 31, is a free agent at the end of the season. The Phillies have made little progress in their efforts to extend his contract. If they made Werth available, he likely would become the most desired hitter on the market -- a potential fit for the Red Sox, Rays and numerous other clubs.

The Phillies are far from being ready to "sell" a popular veteran player. But after this week, they could be closer.

-- Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

Teams continue talks for Mariners' ace Lee -- 4:05 p.m.

With the All-Star break approaching, the Rangers, Twins, Yankees and Mets are among the teams having the most active conversations with the Mariners about left-hander Cliff Lee, major league sources told on Monday.

The Dodgers have also been involved in talks with the Mariners, sources say; a Dodgers scout was in attendance at Lee's start in Detroit on Sunday.

The Cardinals, Phillies and Tigers had talent evaluators on hand at Lee's last start, but they don't appear to be among the most serious suitors.

The Tigers are interested in Lee for an obvious reason: They have the worst rotation ERA of any winning team in the majors.

Some sources believe that Seattle, which has scored the fewest runs in the American League this year, will prioritize hitting over pitching in any package for Lee. Others believe that Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik will pick the most talented group, regardless of position.

Either way, sources say the Mariners prefer close-to-the-majors talent to Class A prospects.

-- Jon Paul Morosi

Tigers interested in D-Backs' Drew -- 1:15 p.m.

The Tigers are in the market for middle infield depth and have shown interest in Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew, major league sources told

And those sources continue to indicate that Drew is among the (many) Arizona players who will be in play before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

Interested clubs will pay especially close attention to Drew in the coming weeks. He was recently absent from the lineup because of a sore left knee and has only 13 at-bats in the team's last eight games.

Drew would be an offensive upgrade for the Tigers, who have had the second-worst shortstop production in the American League (.586 OPS). He would also be a long-term fit. Detroit doesn't have a set No. 2 hitter or everyday shortstop for the 2011 season; Drew, who won't be a free agent until 2012, could fill both roles.

The Tigers' middle infield depth has thinned since the start of the season. Adam Everett, the Opening Day shortstop, was released last month. Scott Sizemore, the Opening Day second baseman, is on the Triple-A disabled list with a hip strain.

Ramon Santiago and rookie Danny Worth are currently splitting time at shortstop, with veteran Carlos Guillen at second base. The arrangement has worked in the short term for the first-place Tigers, even though Worth is batting just .178 over his last 17 games. But the team is also cognizant of Guillen's injury history.

Guillen has already missed more than one month of the season with a strained hamstring. A recurrence of the injury would be problematic for the Tigers, who would be left with a middle infield of Santiago, Worth and utility man Ryan Raburn.

By acquiring middle infield depth now, the Tigers would effectively obtain an insurance policy to use if Guillen goes on the disabled list after the trade deadline. Other trade possibilities include Willie Bloomquist (Royals), Mike Fontenot (Cubs) and Ryan Theriot (Cubs), but it's unclear if the Tigers are involved in active discussions on those players.

-- Jon Paul Morosi

Behind Votto's snub -- 11:30 a.m.

Just to be clear, Charlie Manuel's selection of Braves utility man Omar Infante is not what cost Reds first baseman Joey Votto a spot on the National League All-Star team.

Infante made the team largely because of a new re-entry rule that all but requires each manager to select one player versatile enough to man several positions.

The rule, part of a series of changes mandated by the special committee for on-field matters, states that, "one additional position player . . . will be designated by each All-Star manager as eligible to return to the game in the event that the last position player at any position is injured."

Infante, who has played all three outfield positions and every infield position but first, will be that player for the NL.

The Orioles' Ty Wigginton, who has played every infield position and the outfield corners, will fill the same role for the AL.

Manuel's snub of Votto stemmed from his selection, in conjunction with Major League Baseball, of Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, whom the manager referred to, as "my player, my guy."

Never mind that Votto leads the NL with a .984 OPS, while Howard is 22nd at .850. Votto, at least, will be a strong candidate to win the final-man ballot, given the attention surrounding Manuel's oversight.

Manuel also snubbed the Padres' entire major-league leading pitching staff, but his failures to include right-handed starter Mat Latos and closer Heath Bell were less outrageous than his omission of Votto.

Latos could be a late addition; Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo, one of Manuel's selections, suffered a left oblique strain on Sunday. Braves righty Tim Hudson and Cardinals righty Chris Carpenter were the other starting pitchers that Manuel chose over Latos, whose .193 opponents' batting average is the lowest in the NL.

Bell essentially lost out to Reds lefty Arthur Rhodes; Pirates righty Evan Meek, the other reliever added by Manuel, made the team as his club's only selection.

Rhodes, a first-time All-Star at 40, is no slouch: He has a 1.09 ERA on the season, and recently had a 33-appearance, 30-inning scoreless streak.

-- Ken Rosenthal

July 4 News and Notes Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals scouting Lee -- 12:18 p.m.

The Yankees, Dodgers and Cardinals were among the clubs with a scout in attendance at Cliff Lee's start in Detroit on Sunday afternoon.

It marked the second straight start by Lee that the Yankees scouted.

Rival clubs believe the Yankees are pursuing Lee ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, although it's possible the Yankees are scouting Lee in preparation for his upcoming free agency.

The Mariners are widely expected to trade Lee this month. -- Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal

July 2 News and Notes Big dealers? Not necessarily, interim Arizona GM says -- midnight

Jerry Dipoto, the Diamondbacks' interim general manager, says the team's willingness to make trades is no different than it was under former GM Josh Byrnes.

Others in the industry, however, anticipate that the D-backs will become more aggressive following their front-office shakeup - and specifically, more inclined to trade ace right-hander Dan Haren.

Right fielder Justin Upton, right-hander Ian Kennedy and catcher Miguel Montero are the Diamondbacks' only untouchables, according to one major-league source.

Haren, the source said, "is the biggest and most talked-about potential trade chip." But Dipoto, previously the team's vice-president of player personnel, told that Haren is "no more likely and no less likely" to be traded than he was before the team fired Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch on Thursday night.

"We will move a player if we think that makes us a better organization," Dipoto said. "Obviously, we hold Dan Haren in high regard. It's hard to figure out what makes us a better team trading Dan Haren in today's market.

"There are things we have to consider. But we're not going to trade anyone just for the sake of trading them . . . How many guys are moved, the market tells you that."

Right-hander Edwin Jackson, second baseman Kelly Johnson, first baseman Adam LaRoche, catcher Chris Snyder and closer Chad Qualls are among the other Diamondbacks who could be traded. Byrnes, in fact, was discussing Qualls with another club Thursday shortly before he was fired.

Two factors, in particular, could motivate the D-Backs to increase their activity leading to the July 31 non-waiver deadline and then the Aug. 31 deadline for setting postseason rosters:

- A desire to cut payroll.

Byrnes had indicated that the Diamondbacks did not need to dump all of their high-salaried players to stay within the same $60 million payroll range next season.

Ownership, though, might want to pursue deeper cuts -- the team's average home attendance has declined from 30,986 in 2008 to 26,281 in '09 to 25,712 this season.

- Dipoto's desire to prove himself.

Dipoto, because of his close ties to Byrnes, seemingly faces long odds at becoming permanent GM. But he could make a strong impression by making a series of creative trades.

Still, the Diamondbacks' strategy is not entirely clear.

"In a perfect world, we don't blow this up," club president Derrick Hall said Friday at a news conference. "We make a change here or there, make a few tweaks to bring in a good, cohesive group that understands what it takes to win."

Dipoto added later, "This is a very talented 25-man roster. Now we have to figure out how to turn the right screws and turn 'em into a team." -- Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

July 1 News and Notes Sources: Three teams interested in unemployed Dye -- 5:19 p.m.

As teams scour the trade market for hitters, the unemployed Jermaine Dye continues to attract interest.

The Padres, Rockies and Rangers sent out recent feelers to Dye, according to major-league sources.

Dye, a free agent who has yet to play this season, turned down several offers last winter, most for financial reasons.

If he signed with a club, he would require time to get ready. But by contributing in the second half as an outfielder, DH or first baseman, he could build his value for next season.

On the other hand, if Dye sits out the entire year and wants to play in 2011, he might be forced to accept a minor-league contract, just as outfielder Jim Edmonds did with the Brewers this season before making the club at an $850,000 salary.

Dye, 36, batted .250 with 27 homers and 81 RBIs for the White Sox last season. Clubs expressed reservations about his age, his poor second half last season and declining defense in right field.

Yet several comparable free agents from last winter - including Garrett Atkins with the Orioles and Mark DeRosa with the Giants - have proven dubious investments because of performance and/or health reasons.

"It has only been 41/2 years since I was the World Series MVP," Dye told in Feburary. "I'm a winner. Hopefully some teams out there can see that." -- Ken Rosenthal