The Brewers and White Sox are two of the teams to have inquired about A's closer Huston Street, SI.com has learned.
Milwaukee's interest is no surprise since the contending Brewers have a willing owner, an aggressive general manager, a stash of prospects to trade and a deep desire to improve their bullpen.
The interest of Chicago's South Side team is more curious since its bullpen has been among the best in baseball this year. The White Sox usually seem to favor flamethrowers, too. But they have traded for a variety of relievers in recent years, and their GM, Ken Williams, has been A's GM Billy Beane's most frequent trading partner.
The Red Sox have hinted at interest in Street, but there's every indication to believe that they intend to solve their setup issue with young, 95-mph throwing Justin Masterson.
Street could follow Rich Harden, Chad Gaudin and Joe Blanton out of Oakland, and logic tells you he probably will since the A's appear to be baseball's most eager seller. But Beane is also baseball's most unpredictable GM. Just when you're sure he's a seller, he can turn into a buyer.
So Street isn't guaranteed to find a new address.
Street has saved 17 of 22 opportunities, and he's 2-3 with a 4.19 ERA. But he hasn't been his best lately. Street blew a save Saturday against the Yankees, allowing a ninth-inning run after Oakland had broken through against Mariano Rivera to gain the lead in Oakland's 4-3 extra-inning defeat at New York.
The Brewers are in a hurry to improve their relief corps with Eric Gagne and Guillermo Mota struggling badly and Derrick Turnbow struggling so badly that he's in the minors. The Brewers are also talking to the Giants about lefthanded reliever Jack Taschner, a Wisconsin native.
Other closers who could be dealt include Colorado's Brian Fuentes, Baltimore's George Sherrill and Pittsburgh's Damaso Marte. A $6-million option on Marte for 2009 means the Pirates are unlikely to bring him back. But they won't trade him unless they can do better than the draft choices they'd be awarded if he left as a free agent.
The Brewers would have to be considered a favorite if Street is dealt since they have one of baseball's deepest farm systems. The Brewers have shown they mean business with their excellent trade for star pitcher CC Sabathia, and owner Mark Attanasio said a few days ago in this space, "If there's something to do, we're going to do it. We're going for it.''
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported that a top Brewers scout was seen watching the A's-Yankees series at Yankee Stadium. Street's performance Saturday probably didn't help his trade chances, though.
Should Tampa Bay become involved, they'd also have a good shot at Street, who's been a generally effective closer. The Rays are said not to have talked to Oakland about Street to date, however.
The Los Angeles Dodgers could eventually show interest, as well, since they've lost their closer Takashi Saito until at least September, and maybe for the year. The Dodgers aren't believed to be heavily involved to this point, though, and haven't exactly consummated a ton of trades in recent years (their owner Frank McCourt was reported to have killed a deal for Sabathia that was being discussed.)
A deal that would send Taschner (2-1, 3.03) and veteran second baseman Ray Durham from San Francisco to Milwaukee is "in the wind,'' according to a National League executive. That possibility was first mentioned by FOXSports.com
It was reported in the Journal Sentinel that a Brewers' minor leaguer, Class-A Brevard outfielder Darren Ford, was removed from a game Saturday, and that paper speculated he could be dealt soon, perhaps to San Francisco. Triple-A first baseman Brad Nelson, who has 12 homers and is batting .301, could be another player who'd interest the Giants.
With young Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks playing better lately, it is believed Durham would serve as a utilityman in Milwaukee and possible second-base insurance in case Weeks went back into a hitting funk. The Brewers are being patient with Weeks since he was a No. 2 pick overall. Durham wouldn't be much of an upgrade over Weeks defensively. But as one NL scout said, "He gives you a good at-bat.''
Taschner, a native of Racine, Wis. likely would be thrilled to go to his home state team. The lefthanded Taschner is known to be a huge Packers fan and even bigger Brett Favre fan.
The Giants would also like to find new homes for vets Randy Winn, Dave Roberts and Rich Aurilia ... if anyone will take them.
• There is word that a blockbuster trade that could have sent star outfielder Matt Holliday along with Fuentes to Philadelphia had been discussed. Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd is very close to Phillies GM Pat Gillick. But word also is those talks have cooled, perhaps after the Phillies sent three good prospects away for Blanton.
• Scouts love Adrian Cardenas, the second baseman Oakland received from the Phillies who would be blocked by Chase Utley for years. But I like pitcher Josh Outman (a great name for a pitcher). Oakland intends to employ him as a starter, whereas Philly was using him as a reliever.
• Seattle's year just got a little worse, and interim GM Lee Pelekoudas' task just got a little tougher. It was reported in Seattle-area papers that pitcher Erik Bedard probably won't pitch again until after the July 31 trade deadline. So apparently, the Mariners are stuck with Bedard for now.
• One scout on Matt LaPorta, the main piece that went to Cleveland in the Sabathia trade: "He's going to hit 40 home runs in the majors one year.'' But he was blocked in Milwaukee by Prince Fielder at first and Ryan Braun in left.
• Despite his bosses' support for him in the scout skimming investigation, there's increasing buzz that Nationals GM Jim Bowden will be replaced before next year.
• The Dodgers are telling people shortstop is their top priority. Pittsburgh's Jack Wilson and Toronto's David Eckstein have been mentioned as possible trade targets. But how about All-Star Cristian Guzman, who hasn't yet signed an extension with the Nationals?