[MLB] Riding the Pine…

“Bo Junior. After my dad. That’s just straight redneck-ology, right there.”
–Free agent B.J. Ryan, on how his given name “Robert Victor” became “B.J.” (The Toronto Sun).

Here is a special Rumor Mill edition. Here are the big rumors for all the teams (if there are any).

Angels
The Orioles are said to be one of only three teams still in the bidding for Chicago White Sox slugger Paul Konerko. The others are the White Sox and the Los Angeles Angels…The Angels are apparently still interested in Manny Ramirez, and would be willing to take on most of his contract. Anaheim, along with Seattle, are at the top of Ramirez’s list…If the Angels can’t land Konerko or Ramirez, they will look at Mike Sweeney and Nomar Garciaparra…Paul Byrd wants to stay with the Angels, but they have only offered a 1-year deal. Byrd wants at least 2 years, which has been offered by the Orioles (for $12 mil with an option)…There were rumors of a Steve Finley for Ryan Klesko deal circulating, but they have died down…

Astros
The Astros have begun to speak with their free agents…Brad Ausmus would prefer to stay in Houston, with San Diego his second choice…Roger Clemens hasn’t said if he will play another season or retire…

Athletics
The Athletics are still interested in bring Mike Piazza in as a DH/backup catcher…They are also interested in Frank Thomas if his ankle is healed…With Esteban Loaiza in the rotation, Barry Zito could be expendable. They have been checking interest with other teams…

Blue Jays
The Jays are pursuing A.J. Burnett and Brian Giles, but the BJ Ryan deal re-sets those offers. Burnett was expected to come in at five years and $70 million. Ryan could be the piece that lures Burnett to Toronto, because the team is showing they want to win…There was something going around that said the Jays were interested in Bobby Abreu and offered Vernon Wells for him…

Braves
With Chipper Jones restructured contract, the Braves have freed enough money to make a run for Rafael Furcal. He is searching for a 5 yr, $50 mil deal…If Furcal were to leave, the Braves would have interest in free agent Alex Gonzalez, trading for Julio Lugo, or hand the position to Wilson Betemit…They are also interested in bringing in a top notch closer. With Wagner and Ryan off the market, Trevor Hoffman and Todd Jones are their targets…

Brewers
The biggest thing for the team is will they move Lyle Overbay. Boston is pushing the hardest for him…Jarrod Washburn is rumored to be interested in the team, since he grew up in the area…

Cardinals
Jacques Jones is the leading candidate to be signed for the Cardinals outfield, since Brian Giles has said he is going to the highest bidder…The Cardinals are interested in Octavio Dotel…GM Walt Jocketty and Tony Larussa have met with AJ Burnett about coming to St. Louis…The Cards have also been linked to Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell, Alfonso Soriano, Barry Zito, Steve Finley, Darin Erstad, and Garret Anderson…

Cubs
The Cubs are the favorites for picking up Rafael Furcal, Juan Pierre, and Milton Bradley (who figures to be a Dodger non-tender and is someone who doesn’t scare Dusty Baker)…The Cubs could deal for Alfonso Soriano and Kevin Mench, spinning off several pitching prospects in the deal…

Devil Rays
The Mets have offered Anderson Hernandez to the Rays for Toby Hall, but Tampa Bay is holding out for Aaron Heilman. Hall has been getting interest from Dodgers, Mets, Marlins, Rockies and Diamondbacks…The Devil Rays also have been called on Joey Gathright by Dodgers, Marlins, White Sox, Cubs, Angels and Giants…The Mets are interested in deal for Aubrey Huff, Danys Baez, and Julio Lugo. Huff and Baez are said to be favorites with Boston Management and could be flipped there for Manny…

Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks are interested in Paul LoDuca, but the Marlins don’t want anything Arizona has to return. LoDuca almost came to the team when Randy Johnson was being offered to the Dodgers a few years ago…They are also interested in free agent catcher Ramon Hernandez…The Diamondbacks are checking the interest in Troy Glaus and Chad Tracy…

Dodgers
The main rumors right now are about the manager. Current favorites are Jim Fergosi and Grady Little…Milton Bradley could be non-tendered by the Dodgers due to locker room problems…The Dodgers are interested in Mike Piazza and Nomar Garciaparra…Dodgers are interested in Rafael Furcal, but are considered a long shot to land him…They are willing to listen to offers on Odalis Perez to help fill holes…

Giants
The Giants are trying to find a starter, and have decide to focus on Matt Morris…They are interested in Devil Rays outfielder Joey Gathright…

Indians
The Indians are interested in Tom Gordon as their closer. They haven’t ruled out bringing back Bob Wickman…Kevin Millwood will probably leave the Indians due to money. They will look at replacing him with Kenny Rogers…They may look into acquiring Adrian Gonzalez or Matt LeCroy to help at first base…

Mariners
The Mariners will not trade ICHIRO because he is an international icon and brings in revenue from Japan…Manny Ramirez has said the Mariners are a team that he would like to play for. It’s assumed it is because of manager Mike Hargrove, who managed Ramirez in Cleveland…The Mariners are interested in bringing back Jamie Moyer, along with pitchers Matt Morris, Kenny Rogers, and AJ Burnett…They would also like to see if they could get Jacques Jones or Aubrey Huff…With Kenji Johjima as the starting catcher, Yorvit Torrealba would like to be traded…

Marlins
The fire sale has started…Since Beckett, Lowell, and Delgado have been moved, LoDuca, Luis Castillo, and Juan Pierre are expected to be next…LoDuca is drawing interest from the D’backs, Mets, Yankees, and Rockies…Castillo’s name has come up with the Cardinals and Mets, among others…Lastly, Pierre is coveted by the Rangers, Cubs, Yankees, and Cardinals…

Mets
The Mets have 2 things left: a catcher and Manny…They have talked with free agents Ramon Hernandez and Bengie Molina. They would also entertain the idea of a trade for Toby Hall. Brad Ausmus would be a long shot…While New York wasn’t high on Manny’s list of teams, the Mets continue to try to do it. They are supposed to meet with the Red Sox soon…

Nationals
The Nationals are interested in AJ Burnett, but without an owner and a stable payroll they won’t be a serious contender for him…

Orioles
The Orioles are said to be one of only three teams still in the bidding for Chicago White Sox slugger Paul Konerko. The others are the White Sox and the Los Angeles Angels…The Orioles are interested in Kevin Millwood or trading for Carl Pavano, especially if Paul Byrd re-signs with the Angels…They are also have their eye on Nomar Garciaparra (for first base or the outfield), Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza, Rondell White, and Ramon Hernandez…

Padres
Now that Brian Giles has essentially told the Padres he’s not coming back, they can get to business with Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman was unhappy with the initial offer from the team…They would like to get David Wells from Boston, and have offered Dave Roberts…They are fascinated with Adrian Gonzalez, and would offer pitching to the Rangers for him…

Phillies
The Phillies have emerged as the most aggressive suitor for Tom Gordon, and are also interested in Trevor Hoffman and Bob Wickman…They have been rumored to be checking interest on Bobby Abreu…

Pirates
The Rangers called the Pirates about the availability of Oliver Perez and were told he isn’t. The Pirates are interested in Kevin Mench, but won’t give up Perez to get him…

Rangers
The Cubs could deal for Alfonso Soriano and Kevin Mench, spinning off several pitching prospects in the deal…Many other teams are interested in Mench; one rumor has him going to Toronto for Miguel Bautista…The Rangers have had talks with free agent pitchers AJ Burnett, Matt Morris, Paul Byrd, Octavio Dotel, Braden Looper, Roberto Hernandez, Kyle Farnsworth and Felix Rodriguez…There is speculation that the Rangers would send Alfonso Soriano or Hank Blalock to the Twins for Kyle Lohse and Scott Baker…

Red Sox
Travis Lee and John Olerud are fallback options if the team can’t acquire a first baseman. They have checked availability on Sean Casey, Chad Tracy, Adrian Gonzalez and Lyle Overbay…Overbay is the player the Red Sox want, and rumors said they offered Matt Clement for him…The Red Sox are going to move David Wells at his request. The Padres have offered Dave Roberts and a pitcher…The Sox offered Johnny Damon a 3 yr contract for $27-30 mil, but it was well short of the 6-7 years Damon wants. His days in Boston are numbered…

Reds
The Reds are looking for a few veteran role players for the team. They are interested in bringing back Pokey Reese as a back-up infielder…Rumors have been circulating about the Reds outfield. Wily Mo Pena has demanded to be a starter or wants a trade. With Adam Dunn arbitration eligible, he could be move…

Rockies
The Rockies are willing to part ways with Larry Bigbie if he can help get Yorvit Torrealba from the Mariners. They are also looking at Paul LoDuca and Josh Bard…Todd Helton is staying put. The Rox have begun working with Ryan Shealy in the outfield…The Rox are also revamping the bullpen. They are interested in Elmer Dessens, Jose Meja, Brian Meadows, and Chris Hammonds…Starters Shawn Estes, Pedro Astacio, and Matt Morris have been contacted about pitching in Colorado…

Royals
The Royals have had free agents Reggie Sanders, Mark Grudzlielanek, and Elmer Dessens…There is still rumblings that Mike Sweeney could still be moved, most likely after Konerko is signed…They also talked to the Rangers about Kevin Mench, but they won’t move Zach Greike to do it. They offered Jeremy Affeldt…Affeldt has also been offered to Toronto (along with another player or 2) for Orlando Hudson…

Tigers
The Tigers are expected to make a run at reliever Kyle Farnsworth…They have also spoke with starters Kenny Rogers and Matt Morris…At one time, there were rumors floating that the Tigers would send Ivan Rodriguez to the Mets for Kaz Matsui, or a pitcher…

Twins
The Twins are looking for offense, and have contacted Reggie Sanders and Rondell White…Nomar Garciaparra is another bat that the Twins would like to add…GM Terry Ryan continues to deny that he is shopping Torii Hunter. Hunter sold his home in Minnesota recently thinking he was going to be traded…

White Sox
If Paul Konerko leaves, expect the White Sox to bring back Frank Thomas as DH…The ChiSox plan on filling their hole in Centerfield with rookie Brian Anderson, not through free agency or trades…

Yankees
The Yankees told Johnny Damon’s agent flat out they don’t want him…Instead they will continue to talk with Brian Giles, who will take the highest offer on the table. If Giles is their man, the Yankees will use a rotation of Hideki Matsui, Giles and Bubba Crosby in centerfield…They have asked numerous teams about their centerfielders, but have been continually shot down…The Yankees want to trade Jorge Posada, but his complex contract is scaring away teams…They are going to focus on the bullpen also, with Kyle Fransworth the top guy…

On a side note, one of the best part of the Hot Stove Season is listening to agents pimp their clients. The best comes from Johnny Damon’s agent Scott Boras, who put together a packet for interested teams. Sections included “Best Leadoff Man in Baseball”; “Most Durable Active Player in the Major Leagues/Deserving of a 7-Plus-Year Contract”; and “Better Than Future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson.” Apparently, teams that saw this thought it was quite comical.

Speaking of pimping…
Nick pulls double duty.

Steve is back, and does the same (I will be this week, but they normally make the rest of us look bad).

Patrick talks a little baseball and a little of his own balls.