Cheap Seats

Rumor Mill: Relievers

The Cubs say that they don't anticipate making any moves to try to improve their team. And with the team's hands tied financially because of its pending sale, that most likely includes snatching any pitchers off the waiver wire in effort to keep them from the Cardinals.

But the Brewers, who recently fired their pitching coach, designated Bill Hall for assignment and demoted J.J. Hardy to the minors as they slip to the periphery of contention, are still making moves. According to reports, Milwaukee has placed a waiver claim on their former pitcher, Doug Davis, who currently makes his home in Arizona with the Diamondbacks.

Davis might have been a reasonably priced insurance policy for the Cardinals, who have seen stuggling starting pitcher Todd Wellemeyer's status go from bad to worse due to swelling in his elbow.

Manager Tony La Russa and Pitching Coach Dave Duncan are said to like recently released Anaheim righthanded reliever Justin Speier and John Smoltz who was designated for assignment by the Red Sox.

From the LA Times:

Speier, who became a free agent after two stellar years with the Toronto Blue Jays, signed a four-year contract with the Angels in November 2006 worth $18 million. But he struggled through much of the last two seasons, going 2-8 with a 5.03 earned-run average in 2008 and posting a 5.18 ERA in 40 innings this season.

Despite that, he said he wasn't expecting to be let go.

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Former Angels pitcher Justin Speier could be the righthanded reliever Tony La Russa craves. AP photo.

"It was a surprise. It's always a surprise," said Speier, who has been traded four times and claimed off waivers twice in a 10-year major league career. "You never really expect these things and you really can't expect these things. This is just another one of those situations that you don't expect or plan for.

"You have to roll with the punches. I'm going to roll with the punches on this one and we'll see what happens next."

Although the Angels are responsible for the approximately $6.5 million remaining on Speier's contract, by the weekend the pitcher will be free to sign with any club that wants him.

"I know that there's a lot of life in my heart and my arm," said Speier, 35. "It just hurts a little bit because I felt like I could have helped this team win here."

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John Smoltz (AP)

Smoltz struggled to an ERA over 8.00 since returning to Boston from an injury that delayed the start of his season. While Speier is a guy who seems like a classic case for some Duncan style tweaking, Smoltz seems like he has had some bad luck in limited time back from his injury. Maybe he would be better suited to carry a lighter load in the bullpen and be the righthanded presence the Cardinals could use there.

Meanwhile, would it hurt Jason Motte, a confirmed THROWER, to spend some time with one of the best power PITCHERS on the last 15 years?