Cardinals manager Tony La Russa urged the front office and ownership to "use every resource we can" to improve as quickly as possible, citing the Brewers' trade Monday for Cleveland Indians righthander CC Sabathia and the Cubs' acquisition Tuesday of Oakland A's starter Rich Harden and reliever Chad Gaudin as "not the best news we've heard this year if you're a Cardinal fan." La Russa was not comforted by recent front-office suggestions that the expected return in August of starting pitchers Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright from elbow and finger issues would offset those deals. His statements Wednesday come as general manager John Mozeliak insists the club will not reflexively answer moves by its rivals, especially for pending free agents or so-called rental players. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Comment
A few contending teams have contacted Houston regarding infielder Mark Loretta and outfielder-first baseman Darin Erstad in case the Astros, currently in last place in the NL Central, decide to become sellers. Loretta, who started the 2006 All-Star Game for the American League at second base, can handle a number of positions and is a very good pinch-hitter. Erstad, a Gold Glove-winner who can play all three outfield spots, is batting .301. (MLB.com) Comment
With the market for starters thin, there's growing buzz that Rockies closer Brian Fuentes will be the next pitcher traded this month. Tampa Bay has been the most aggressive team pursuing Fuentes, followed by the Yankees, Mets, Cardinals and Marlins. Fuentes is arguably the most attractive and versatile reliever available - he can close, set up or work exclusively against lefties. Fuentes will be a free agent at season's end. The Rockies could offer arbitration in order to get two first-round draft picks if he signs with another team. So any trade proposal has to be better than what the Rockies believe they could get in the draft. (Denver Post) Comment
The Philadelphia Phillies interest in A.J. Burnett was established long before CC Sabathia and Rich Harden were traded but now the Toronto Blue Jays have reciprocated, dispensing J.P. Ricciardi's top personnel advisor, Tony LaCava, to Reading, Pa., to scout the Double-A Reading Phillies. Phillies officials met Thursday morning, but there is still real concern about Burnett among their upper echelon after his near-meltdown Wednesday night against the Baltimore Orioles and because of his high ERA. The Blue Jays, like most major league teams, covet Phillies outfielder Greg Golson, the organization's first pick (21st overall) in 2004. Sources say the Blue Jays have also zeroed in on the Los Angeles Dodgers, and have had people at games involving their Single-A Great Lakes Loons affiliate. (Globe and Mail) Comment
If the Cubs have another area of need to address this month before the non-waiver trade deadline, they're still looking for it. "You never get out of the mind-set that you might still try to do some things that make you better, but you also don't want to be in the mode of, 'We've got to keep adding guys,'" general manager Jim Hendry said Wednesday. "Let's not forget we've got seven guys in the All-Star Game and we just added a high-end starter. And guys that aren't going to the All-Star Game have done a real good job here." The Cubs seem more likely to move some of their pitching depth, such as Jason Marquis, if they do anything at all. (Chicago Sun Times) Comment
Following the injury to Matt Treanor, the Florida Marlins have stepped up their pursuit of a veteran catcher. They have inquired about Yorvit Torrealba, but the $5.2 million remaining on his contract remains prohibitive. As it stands, the only way something could be worked out with the Marlins is if the Rockies ate a portion of Torrealba's contract, something they have no interest in doing. (Denver Post) Comment
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