Baseball News Source Tue, 19 Aug 2014 21:44:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Jhonny Peralta is Having a Career Year for the Cardinals Tue, 19 Aug 2014 21:44:40 +0000 peraltaThanks to a recent surge, the St. Louis Cardinals are in position for the first wild card spot. They sit in second place in the National League Central, 2.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Though the team has the fewest home runs in the NL, shortstop Jhonny Peralta has supplied power to the Cards lineup.

Peralta had an excellent year for the Detroit Tigers in 2013. He hit .303/.358/.457 for a 123 wRC+ with 3.6 fWAR. However, his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal earned him a 50 game suspension, and he appeared in just 107 games. When he returned for the playoffs, rookie Jose Iglesias played shortstop, and Peralta saw time in left field.

The Tigers declined to make Peralta a qualifying offer, and most analysts predicted he would received something in the range of two years and $15-20 million. Some teams considered him for an outfield spot, thinking the 32 year-old shortstop would not be able to handle the position. But, the Cardinals swooped in and signed Peralta to a four year deal worth $52 million, with the intention of having him replace the punchless Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso.

Peralta has been a godsend for the Cardinals. Last season their shortstops combined to produce a .226/.282/.314 batting line and -0.4 fWAR. This year Peralta has produced a .266/.340/.453 line for a 124 wRC+ and 4.4 fWAR. With the exception of Troy Tulowitzki, who is undergoing season-ending hip surgery, there isn’t a shortstop that has been more valuable than Peralta.

This season Peralta has trimmed his strikeout rate to 17.3 percent while also drawing walks at a 9.2 percent clip. Busch Stadium isn’t a hitters’ paradise, but Peralta has hit very well at home. His .187 ISO is his best mark since the 2008 season, and he leads the Cards with 16 home runs. In August, Peralta is hitting .349/.397/.540, which has helped the Cardinals to a 10-7 record. With Yadier Molina out and Matt Holliday struggling to hit for power, his offensive contributions have been vital for the Cardinals.

Besides producing solid offensive numbers, Peralta is an underrated defender. With his stocky frame, he doesn’t look the part of a shortstop. Before he was traded to the Tigers, the Cleveland Indians had moved Peralta off shortstop to third base. He transitioned back to the middle of the field with the Tigers, and defensive metrics have consistently graded him as one of the premier fielders in baseball.

While defensive metrics don’t have the same type of reliability as offensive or pitching metrics, there’s a four year sample indicating that Peralta is an excellent fielder. His range is better than his physique might suggest, and he has very good hands.

The Cardinals decision to commit four years and $52 million to a player coming off a 50-game PED suspension was widely panned. To this point it’s worked very well, and their front office deserves credit for making the move.

]]> 0
Los Angeles Angels’ Garrett Richards Emerges as an Ace Tue, 19 Aug 2014 00:23:27 +0000 Angels RumorsEntering play on Monday, the Los Angeles Angels are locked in a tie with the Oakland Athletics for the best record in the American League East and all of baseball. Mike Trout captures most of the headlines for the Angels, and the 23 year-old is the best player in baseball. A huge reason for the Angels success has been the dominant performance of 26 year-old right-hander Garrett Richards.

Richards has always possessed elite fastball velocity. Prior to this season, his fastball has averaged just under 95 miles per hour. However, over his first three big league seasons he pitched to a mediocre 4.42 ERA. Over that time frame, his strikeout rate was just 15.7 percent, hardly a number befitting a hurler who regularly touched the upper 90s.

There were signs of improvement in 2013, as Richards threw a career-high 145 innings between the bullpen and the starting rotation. His ERA dropped to 4.16, and his peripherals were better. His ground ball percentage rose to 57.9 percent. Still, his strikeout rate was only 16.3 percent.

Richards has taken off in 2014. His 4.4 fWAR places him in the top ten among major league pitchers, and ahead of bona fide aces such as David Price and Adam Wainwright. He boasts a 2.58 ERA, and opposing hitters have batted just .195 against the Angels ace.

The biggest change has been Richards’ strikeout rate. That number has jumped to 24.6 percent. He’s now throwing his slider on 30 percent of his pitches, and it has garnered a 17.6 percent swing and miss rate. When batters have swung at his slider outside the strike zone, they’ve made contact just a little more than one-third of the time.

In addition, Richards is pumping in his fastball harder than ever. This year the heater is averaging 96.3 miles per hour. Among qualified starting pitchers, only Yordano Ventura has thrown harder. His velocity is trending up as the season has gone along.

Despite the fact that Richards relies primarily on a fastball and slider with the occasional curveball mixed in, he hasn’t exhibited a platoon split. In fact, he’s actually had a little more success against left-handed batters. His K-BB% is 17.5 percent against left-handed hitters, compared to 16.5 percent against righties. Righties have hit .204 against Richards, and lefties are batting .188.

Thanks to a harder fastball and an improved slider, Garrett Richards has been one of baseball’s best pitchers. It’s been a great season for the Angels, who have had the season everyone expected them to have last year. Their position players, led by Trout, are leading the major leagues in fWAR. Their rotation doesn’t have the depth that the A’s or Detroit Tigers do, but with Richards at the helm, they will be a formidable force in the playoffs.

]]> 0
Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy Keeping Brewers atop NL Central Mon, 18 Aug 2014 13:56:28 +0000 gomezIn one the season’s biggest surprises, the Milwaukee Brewers are enjoying a three game lead in the National League Central division. While 2014 was supposed to be the St. Louis Cardinals‘ year, Milwaukee’s convincing lead makes them the favorite to take home the division crown. The Brew Crew has been lead by two MVP candidates, Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy.

The 28 year-old Gomez has been in the major leagues since 2007 when he made his debut for the New York Mets. In his first five seasons, he managed just a .243/.291/.357 batting line. Starting in 2012, Gomez has blossomed as a power threat. Gomez possesses a .277/.331/.486 slash line with a wRC+ of 122 that is 50 points higher than his 2007-11 mark. In addition he has slugged 62 home runs.

This season Gomez is hitting .284/.346/.483 for a 131 wRC+. Add in his strong centerfield defense and speed on the bases and he’s tallied 4.4 fWAR. That places him in a tie for 5th in the National League, but he’s only half a win behind Giancarlo Stanton. That’s a minor difference, and given the Brewers surprising success, Gomez is a legitimate MVP candidate.

lucroyLucroy was a third round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft. The 28 year-old made the big league squad three years later and spent the first season of his big league career splitting time with Gregg Zaun and George Kottaras. He earned the starting role the following season, but hit a rather pedestrian .265/.313/.391 for a 92 wRC+. Since 2012, Lucroy boasts a .297/.357/.478 batting line for a 128 wRC+ which is on par with Yadier Molina and behind Buster Posey.

The Brewers backstop is turning in his best year yet. He’s bumped his walk rate to a career-best 9.6 percent while keeping his strikeout rate to a low 11.6 percent. Overall he’s slashing .302/.369/.481 for a 136 wRC+ which is easily the top mark among catchers. With Molina injured and Posey having an ordinary year by his standards, Lucroy has been the premier catcher in baseball.

While Lucroy doesn’t possess a cannon arm, he’s one of the best in the game at blocking pitches in the dirt. Also, he’s an exceptional pitch-framer. StatCorner ranks him second in baseball in that category. Pitch-framing isn’t included in the WAR models. Still, Lucroy also has 4.4 fWAR. Combine that with his pitch-framing prowess, and there’s a strong argument to be made that Lucroy has been the best position player in the National League.

It’s been a remarkable season for the Brewers, and one that stands a good likelihood of continuing into October. Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy have been the top contributors to this squad, and their performances deserve serious consideration when the time for MVP voting rolls around.

]]> 0
MVP Candidates: Clayton Kershaw, Yasiel Puig Emerging in Los Angeles Thu, 14 Aug 2014 15:18:10 +0000 "<strongWith a 69-53 record, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a commanding five game lead in the National League West. While the San Francisco Giants got off to a red-hot start, the Dodgers have surpassed them and now have a 92 percent chance of winning the division. The performances of two stars, Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig, have been key in propelling the Dodgers to the best record in the National League.

Despite missing six weeks with a back injury, Kershaw leads all NL pitchers in fWAR with 5.0. The 26 year-old left-hander was dominant last year, posting a 1.83 ERA. This season he’s improved his strikeout rate by six percentage points, dropped his walk rate by two percentage points and increased his ground ball rate by nine percentage points.

Overall, he has the best strikeout rate in the major leagues at 31.8 percent, and the best K-BB% at 28.1 percent. His slider has a swinging strike rate of 31 percent, which is a nine point increase from the previous year.

Earlier in the year, Kershaw had a scoreless innings streak of 41. With the exception of a disastrous start on May 17 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Kershaw has a 1.34 ERA. It’s rare for pitchers to be serious contenders for the MVP award, and his relatively low innings total will be an obstacle. But, Kershaw’s phenomenal season deserves consideration for the award.

puigAfter a sensational debut season in which he batted .319/.391/.534, in 104 games, Puig has showed no signs of dropping off. He currently owns a .306/.391/.517 batting line that is eerily similar to what he posted last year. His plate discipline and propensity to swing and miss were criticized last year. However, he’s shored up those areas of his game.

The 23 year-old has boosted his walk rate from 8.3 percent to 10.8 percent and cut his strikeout rate from 22.5 percent to 19.2 percent. Meanwhile, he’s dropped his chase rate from 37 percent to 27 percent. His base running scores have improved as well.

Puig is maturing as a player, and with his immense physical talents, he’s become one of the most fearsome hitters in baseball. Going back to last year, only Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera and Andrew McCutchen have a higher wRC+ than Puig’s 159 mark.

Puig’s 4.4 fWAR ranks 11th among all position players and fourth in the NL. With McCutchen going on the DL with a rib injury, Puig could overtake him in the voters’ minds. It’s been a sensational year for Puig, who’s had a meteoric rise to stardom after the Dodgers signed him as an international free agent in June of 2012.

With Puig and Kershaw leading the way, the Dodgers are rolling towards a division title and a possible No. 1 seed in the NL. McCutchen is the reigning MVP, and he deserves a lot of credit for the Pittsburgh Pirates surge. Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy are having excellent seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers who are surprising the rest of baseball atop the NL Central. But, Kershaw and Puig are the frontrunners for the NL MVP.

]]> 0
Anthony Rendon Key to Washington Nationals Success Wed, 13 Aug 2014 14:42:12 +0000 RendonThanks in large part to a catastrophic slide by the Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals own a five game edge in the National League East. Their odds of winning the division sit at 94 percent, and they have the best World Series odds of any team in baseball. A big reason for their success has been the superb play of second-year infielder Anthony Rendon.

Following a standout career at Rice University, the 24 year-old Rendon was the 6th overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. Injuries limited Rendon to 43 games in his first professional season, but he compiled a solid .233/.363/.489 batting line in 2012. He had his way with minor league pitching in 2013, producing a .319/.461/.603 slash line in 33 games in Double-A. Rendon played just three games in Triple-A before being called up to the big leagues.

Rendon’s first big league experience was solid if not spectacular. In 98 games and 394 plate appearances, he hit .265/.329/.396 for a 100 wRC+, spending most of his time at second base. However, the Nationals dealt with injuries and a disappointing start to the season and despite a late surge, they ended the year on the outside looking in.

In 2014 Rendon has been the Nats best player, and one of the best players in baseball. His batting line of .276/.331/.469 comes out to a 123 wRC+, and he’s been an excellent base runner and provided quality defense at second and third base. Rendon’s 4.4 fWAR ties him with Jose Bautista for 14th among position players. In addition, his positional flexibility has allowed the Nationals to deal with injuries to Ryan Zimmerman and the struggles of Danny Espinosa.

At the plate Rendon combines good contact skills with plus power. He’s striking out in only 15.2 percent of his plate appearances, which is significantly lower than the major league average of 20.3 percent. Furthermore, he has 16 home runs and a .192 ISO which is 55 points higher than the MLB rate.

Rendon’s performance isn’t a fluke. He got off to a blazing start in the first month of the season, ripping the ball to the tune of a .316/.352/.544 line. In May pitchers treated him differently. Opposing hurlers threw only 49 percent of their pitches in the strike zone after attacking him with a 55 percent zone rate the prior month. He batted just .212/.292/.323 in May. Since then he’s made an adjustment, and he’s posted at least a 107 wRC+ in each month.

The Nationals have an impressive collection of talent. Their rotation features Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister and Tanner Roark, who owns a 2.86 ERA. On the other side of the ball, they have Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman. Strasburg and Harper get the lion’s share of the attention, and few players in baseball can do what they do. However, Anthony Rendon is quietly having a better season than any of them.

]]> 0
Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano Leading Mariners’ Playoff Push Tue, 12 Aug 2014 23:48:24 +0000 hernandezThe Seattle Mariners own a 63-55 record, which puts them just one game behind the Detroit Tigers for the second wild card spot. Their playoff odds sit at 36.5 percent. It would be their first playoff berth since 2001, when they won an American League record 116 games. That squad featured Bret Boone, Ichiro Suzuki, Mike Cameron and Edgar Martinez, with Freddy Garcia leading the pitching staff. This M’s team is led by pitching star Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano.

Hernandez currently leads the major leagues in fWAR with 6.2. He’s made 16 consecutive starts of at least seven innings while allowing two runs or fewer. Overall he possesses a 1.95 ERA with strikeout and walk rates of 28.3 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively. In addition, he’s boosted his ground ball rate to 56.1 percent, which is his best mark since 2007.

After several seasons of seeing his fastball velocity decline, Hernandez has added a little more heat. He’s averaging 92.5 miles per hour with his fastball, up a little more than a mile per hour from last year. King Felix was devastating with a lesser fastball, with the added velocity, he’s that much more difficult to hit. His best pitch however is his changeup, which he throws in the 88-90 range. The change owns an 18.8 percent whiff rate, and when batters do make contact, 68.5 percent of the balls in play have been hit on the ground.

With the recent exception of Justin Verlander in 2011, pitchers are rarely considered as serious MVP candidates. With his outstanding season, a possible M’s playoff berth and string of “Super Quality” starts, King Felix might change that. This was supposed to be the year Mike Trout finally brought home the MVP, but Hernandez’ remarkable season might get in the way.

canoCano got off to a rather pedestrian start to the season. Through the first 44 games of the season the second baseman had just one home run. His .322 batting average and .372 on-base percentage were very good, but the M’s expected more than a .408 slugging percentage in the first year of a 10 year deal worth $240 million. Since May 20, Cano has been on an extended tear. The 31 year-old second baseman owns a .340/.421/.521 batting line with nine home runs.

Overall Cano is having an excellent year. He ranks 6th among position players in fWAR with 4.8. Cano is 3rd in batting average and 4th in on-base percentage. His ten home runs might not be much to speak about, but his .333/.402/.476 batting line comes out to a 144 wRC+, which is a shade higher than the 142 mark he posted with the New York Yankees last season. Projections have Cano finishing with a little more than 6 fWAR. It’s been a different kind of season for Cano, who hit at least 25 home runs in every season from 2009-13, but he’s made up for the lower home run rate by trimming his already low strikeout totals and posting a .357 in-play batting average.

The Mariners are running a stars-and-scrubs model. They have three of the top players of 2014 in Hernandez, Cano and Kyle Seager. At the same time, they’ve given significant playing time to Endy Chavez, Abraham Almonte and James Jones. Acquiring Austin Jackson at the deadline will give their lineup more depth, but Cano and Hernandez are carrying this team.

]]> 0
MLB Trade Rumors: Tigers Interested in Ian Kennedy or Joaquin Benoit Sun, 10 Aug 2014 17:08:06 +0000 KennedyThe San Diego Padres moved third baseman Chase Headley and closer Huston Street prior to the July 31 trade deadline. Still, they declined to move two key pieces in Ian Kennedy and Joaquin Benoit, both of whom were in high demand. With the recent hiring of A.J. Preller as the General Manager, an August trade could be in order. It figures to be at least a couple years before the Padres will be in a position to contend, and Benoit and Kennedy become free agents after the 2015 season.

The Padres picked up Kennedy from the Arizona Diamondbacks at last year’s deadline. Kennedy was in the midst of a rough year with Arizona after having three good years with the D’Backs, and the Padres got him for pennies on the dollar. He’s rebounded nicely this year, posting a 3.51 ERA with better peripherals. His strikeout rate of 25.5 percent is a career-high, and he’s lowered his walk rate from 9.2 percent in 2013 to 8.2 percent this season. Overall the 29 year-old right-hander has posted 2.4 fWAR and a career-best 90 xFIP-.  Going forward he projects as a solid starter, and his 2015 arbitration salary figures to be around $6 million.

benoitBenoit, who the Padres signed to a two-year deal worth $14 million, is having a second straight excellent season. His strikeout rate is sitting at 30.2 percent, and he owns a stingy 1.71 ERA. At age 37 he’s exhibiting a career-best average fastball velocity of 94.7 miles per hour, and his changeup and slider are both formidable weapons. His 18.0 percent swinging strike rate is higher than Craig Kimbrel. While the Padres have expressed an interest in keeping Benoit around, there’s a great opportunity to get a good return in trade for the veteran reliever.

The Detroit Tigers will test the waters if Kennedy and Benoit are available. They recently sent starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez to the disabled list with a pectoral strain, and the recently acquired Joakim Soria joined him with a left oblique strain. Their bullpen has struggled greatly this season, and Benoit is a familiar face who had a lot of success in Detroit from 2011-13. With the surging Kansas City Royals just 1.5 games back, the Tigers are in danger of slipping to wild card contention and the dreaded one game playoff.

This is a big year for Detroit and their 85 year-old owner Mike Ilitch. They made the biggest trade yet by dealing away Austin Jackson, Drew Smyly and prospect Wily Adames to get David Price. Now, they have a hole in their rotation with Sanchez on the disabled list. Robbie Ray, who they acquired in the Doug Fister deal this winter, made three starts earlier in the year, but he’s had blister issues and has mediocre numbers in Triple-A. Drew VerHagen made a spot start in July, but both he and Ray project for ERAs above 5.00. Meanwhile, the bullpen has a 4.49 ERA. Only the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies have fared worse.

Their farm system has been thinned with the Soria and Price trades, but there are still pieces available should they seek to make a deal with the Padres. The Tigers are all in for 2014, and the Padres should be looking to sell. There might be another big deal left this trade season.

]]> 0
August Trade Candidates: Tampa Bay Rays Ben Zobrist Thu, 07 Aug 2014 14:30:38 +0000 zobristAfter months of speculation, the Tampa Bay Rays finally traded David Price just hours before the July 31 deadline, sending him to the Detroit Tigers in a three-way deal that netted them Wily Adames, Nick Franklin and Drew Smyly.

Since the trade, their already slim playoff chances have dipped below five percent. More trades could be on the way for the Rays. One player that could be dealt is 33 year-old super utility player Ben Zobrist, who is under contract for $7 million this year with a $7.5 million team option for 2015 that includes a $500K buyout.

Zobrist’s contract is a bargain, but for the cost-conscious Rays it represents a significant dent in their payroll, hence their possible willingness to deal him. Thanks to a red hot second half where he is hitting .333/.416/.545, Zobrist is having a very solid year all-around.

While his power numbers are down again, he owns a .278/.363/.426 batting line that rounds out to a 127 wRC+, which is eight points higher than his career average.

Combine that with his usual solid defense, and Zobrist has tallied 4.0 fWAR. Despite his age and rather mediocre first half numbers, he’s on track to produce another +5-6 WAR season.

Zobrist has long been one of the game’s best players. Since 2009, only Miguel Cabrera has more fWAR. Second base is his best position, but he can also play corner outfield or shortstop and third base. Though his 20+ home run days are probably behind him, his strikeout rate has dropped to 12.6 percent.

Looking to the rest of the season, ZiPS and Steamer forecast a batting line in the neighborhood of .270/.360/.420, which is approximately 25 percent better than the major league average. Over the remaining 50-odd games, he could contribute +1.5 fWAR.

One team that had a lot of interest in Zobrist before the July 31 trade deadline was the San Francisco Giants. Second base has been a black hole for the Giants, who gave significant playing time to journeyman Brandon Hicks before releasing him.

They picked up Dan Uggla, who they recently released after he was predictably unproductive. Currently the position is being manned by Ehire Adrianza and Joe Panik. The Giants are within shooting distance of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and avoiding the one-game playoff is very important.

As Zobrist is more than a rental, and carries a bargain-priced option for the 2015 season, the Giants would have to give up a significant prospect to pry him away from the Rays. The Jake Peavy trade depleted a farm system that was far from loaded. Kyle Crick, a hard-throwing 21 year-old in Double-A is their top prospect. He’s striking out hitters at a very high rate, but is also issuing walks at an alarming rate. Other prospects such as Adalberto Mejia and Christian Arroyo have underperformed.

Of course, the Rays are in position to compete for the American League East in 2015. As such, they won’t feel pressure to trade Zobrist. It will take a big offer by the Giants or any other team to make a deal work. If they want to deal Zobrist, they can wait until this winter to drum up interest in a trade.

]]> 0
August Trade Candidates: Texas Rangers Alex Rios Wed, 06 Aug 2014 16:16:36 +0000 Trade RumorsIt seemed likely that Texas Rangers outfielder Alex Rios would be dealt before the July 31st trade deadline. The Rangers have been out of contention for some time, and while Rios’ numbers have declined this season, he’s only two years removed from an excellent 2012 campaign where he clubbed 25 home runs. Furthermore, his 2013 season resulted in a solid 3.1 fWAR.

Last season the Chicago White Sox sent the 33 year-old Rios to the Rangers in exchange for a player to be named later, which turned out to be Leury Garcia. He’s under contract for $3.75 million over the remainder of the season with a $13.5 million team option for 2015 which includes a $1 million buyout.

It’s a high price tag for an older outfielder whose skills appear to be in decline. The Rangers recently placed Rios on revocable waivers.

Rios has a .296 batting average this season, but in the meantime his power output has dipped significantly for the second consecutive season. After he posted a gaudy .212 ISO in 2012, he’s dropped to .154 last season and .120 this year. Overall he owns a .296/.326/.416 batting line.

Much of that is buoyed by an in-play batting average of .352 which is well above his career rate. In addition, his stolen base success rate has declined.

Last season he swiped 42 bags in 49 attempts, contributing eight runs on the bases. This year he’s stolen 16 bases in 25 attempts, and has added virtually no value on the basepaths. Defensive metrics indicate his outfield defense has dropped of as well.

Looking to the rest of the season, ZiPS and Steamer project similar lines for Rios. His projected slash line is .280/.315/.420. After an adjustment for a favorable home ball park, that is just a hair below the league average. As far as projections go, Rios isn’t an impact player.

However, an acquiring team could hope to catch lightning in a bottle as the New York Yankees did when they acquired Alfonso Soriano from the Chicago Cubs last season. Though his best seasons are behind him, it’s possible that Rios could go on a tear for 40-odd games and help propel his team toward a playoff berth. Of course, the same could be said of almost any major league regular.

Prior to the trade deadline, the San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds were among the teams that expressed interest in Rios. Seattle acquired Austin Jackson, and the Giants got Gerardo Parra from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Indians, Royals and Reds could still be interested as neither of these teams made significant moves at the deadline.

Kansas City has stated that they are looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder, and Rios fits that mold. Meanwhile, the Reds are giving lots of playing time to Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick, and the Indians have not received more than 0.4 fWAR from any outfielder other than Michael Brantley.

Rios’ salary is a lot for any of these smaller market teams to take on, but he shouldn’t cost more than a low-level prospect. Finally, the Yankees could be in play as well, as Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner have been their only productive outfielders and the recently acquired Martin Prado might see time in the infield.

]]> 0
Pittsburgh Pirates Andrew McCutchen Headed to DL Tue, 05 Aug 2014 14:14:10 +0000 McCutchenThe Pittsburgh Pirates are expected to announced that All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen will be placed 15-day disabled list due to an oblique muscle injury, according to the  the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

McCutchen may miss up to a month of playing time, significantly impacting the Pirates run at a playoff spot.

The injury occurred during Sundays game with the Arizona Diamondbacks during an eighth inning at bat.

McCutchen  has never been on the disabled list in his Major League career. He’s played in 843 of 868 games since his debut on June 4, 2009.

The Pirates are currently 1 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central. Last years National League MVP, McCutchen is hitting .311 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs this season.

Left fielder Starling Marte is the likely choice to replace McCutchen in center field, which leaves a hole in left field.

Josh Harrison and Travis Snider would likely be the replacements there.

]]> 0
August Trade Candidates: Philadelphia Phillies Chase Utley Tue, 05 Aug 2014 13:11:48 +0000 Trade RumorsThe Philadelphia Phillies stood pat at the July 31st trade deadline, and many pundits felt this was a missed opportunity for the club to sell. They have a firm hold on last place in the National League East.

With an aging roster and a minor league system that is short on impact talent, a rebuild is in order. While they didn’t make any deals at the deadline, several Phillies players could be dealt in August.

One of those players is second baseman Chase Utley. The 35 year-old Utley is under contract for $15 million this season, and at least $10 million next season with $5 million kicking in if he spends fewer than 15 days on the DL with a knee injury.

In addition, there are vesting options for the next three seasons at $15 million if he reaches 500 plate appearances the prior year. Though Utley isn’t the offensive force that he was from 2007-09, he’s still a very good player.

Utley’s power numbers have declined, and he’s managed just nine home runs with a pedestrian .142 ISO. Overall though his .280/.345/.422 slash line comes out to a solid 112 wRC+. He plays strong defense and runs the bases well, and as a result he’s accumulated 3.5 fWAR this year.

ZiPS and Steamer each project slightly more than +1 fWAR over the remainder of the season. Age and injury history are concerns, but he’s played in almost every game this year, and he’s been above +3 fWAR every season since 2005, and that includes the 2012 season when injuries limited him to just 83 games.

The San Francisco Giants desperately need an upgrade at second base. They recently signed Dan Uggla, who has been a disaster over the past two seasons. Seven different players have started at second base for the Giants, and Brandon Hicks, who was designated for assignment in July, has the most fWAR with 0.3. Utley would be a big upgrade for a team that is trying to catch the Los Angeles Dodgers and avoid the wild card game.

The Toronto Blue Jays were widely criticized for not making a move at the deadline. With Brett Lawrie returning, they won’t have to play Steve Tolleson or Munenori Kawasaki quite so much, but Adam Lind is out at designated hitter, and Juan Francisco could move into more of a platoon role with Lawrie playing more third base when he comes back.

Utley would be a big addition for either of these teams. Furthermore, he’s not just a rental. $15 million is a very reasonable price for his 2015 season, and the following options won’t come into play unless he’s healthy and plays well enough to receive 500 plate appearances.

It appears that the Phillies have been difficult to deal with, but a reasonable asking price for Utley would be a good prospect and perhaps some filler. Chase Utley has been a mainstay with the Phillies, but the time has come to trade him to a contender and rebuild.

]]> 0
August Trade Candidates: Los Angeles Dodgers Carl Crawford Mon, 04 Aug 2014 13:47:44 +0000 crawford2The July 31st trade deadline has come and gone, and the Los Angeles Dodgers still have a glut of outfielders. Yasiel Puig is one of the best hitters in baseball, Matt Kemp is swinging the bat very well, and Scott Van Slyke has posted very impressive numbers in just 179 plate appearances. Top prospect Joc Pederson is tearing up Triple-A Albuquerque.

Meanwhile, high-priced outfielders Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford have performed poorly.

With his hefty contract that pays him $20 million per year through 2017, Crawford is a candidate to be traded this month. If the Dodgers put him on waivers, it’s unlikely that another team will try to block a trade by putting in a claim.

If they do want to trade him, the Dodgers will have to eat a big chunk of his salary or in the alternative send a quality prospect along with Crawford to sweeten the pot.

Crawford, who turns 33 this week, doesn’t possess the speed he once did. After averaging 50 stolen bases a year in his eight full seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Crawford hasn’t topped 18 steals since. Also, injuries have taken their toll, and he’s reached 500 plate appearances only once. This season he possesses a meager .230/.267/.338 slash line in 217 plate appearances, good for a 71 wRC+. He has only 12 extra-base hits.

Still, an acquiring team could look to his 2013 season for encouragement. Despite the fact that injuries limited him to 116 games, Crawford produced 2.9 fWAR with a solid .283/.329/.407 batting line. While he stole only 15 bases, he had +5 base running runs and played solid outfield defense. Those aren’t star numbers, and they don’t justify his $21 million salary, but it’s good all-around production.

Looking forward, Crawford’s projections aren’t favorable. ZiPS forecasts a .257/.297/.392 batting line for a 95 wRC+. Steamer is slightly more optimistic, with a .270/.313/.407 projection for Crawford. Unless some team is hopeful that he can product like he did in 2013 or in his prime years with the Rays, Crawford is a platoon outfielder.

He’s struggled mightily against left-handed pitching over the course of his career, and his splits have been more pronounced in the last two seasons. He’s owed $62 million between 2015-17, and at least half of that is dead weight.

Unless the Dodgers are willing to part with a large amount of cash or deal one of their top prospects, which they appear reluctant to do, Crawford will likely occupy a spot on their bench. They have two very expensive outfielders which are essentially platoon players in Crawford and Ethier, and another very expensive one which should be a designated hitter in Kemp.

While they would like to part ways with at least one of those players, if any team can afford to keep them around it’s the Dodgers.

]]> 4
Madison Bumgarner Gem Leads Giants In Rout of Mets Sun, 03 Aug 2014 20:31:51 +0000 baumgarnerSan Francisco Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner twirled a two-hit gem and Hunter Pence homered twice to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 9-0 rout over the New York Mets.

Bumgarner struck out 10 and walked one in his second career shutout, tossing just 94 pitches.

Mets starter Bartolo Colon (10-9) was going for win No. 200 allowed six runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Pence’s two-run shot in the third was a line drive that went off the railing above the moved-in fence in left field and homered again in the ninth.

Bumgarner helped his own cause when he singled and scored his first of two runs on Pence’s double in the fifth.

With the win, only their third in the last 10 games, the Giants remain three games behind the first place Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West.

]]> 0
MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Players that Could be Traded in August Sat, 02 Aug 2014 14:20:45 +0000 Dodgers NewsThe July 31st trade deadline has come and gone, and there was a flurry of activity. However, impact trades frequently occur after the waiver deadline. The mechanics of an August trade are a little more complicated, as players have to clear waivers, but don’t think general managers have put down the phones yet. Here are a few players that could be moved this month.

Matt Kemp

"<strongThe Los Angeles Dodgers are stilling shopping outfielder Matt Kemp. With his hefty contract, Kemp is a good candidate for an August trade.

As of late, Kemp has been a potent force with the bat. He’s the owner of a .284/.351/.458 slash line for a 131 wRC+. Even so, he’s a poor defensive outfielder, and the Dodgers would have to eat a lot of cash to move him.

Alex Rios

Trade RumorsAlex Rios is under contract through 2015 and while the 33 year-old outfielder’s skills are on the decline, he’s still a useful player.

He has just four home runs in a hitter-friendly park, but with his .300 batting average and the 7.4 fWAR he totaled from 2012-13, a contender would claim him if the Texas Rangers placed him on waivers.

Marlon Byrd

"<strongMarlon Byrd did not get moved, as interested teams worried about his $8 million vesting option for the 2016 season, when he will be 38.

However, after having one of the best years of his career in 2013, Byrd is hitting .271/.319/.481 with 21 home runs this year. He’s a lock to be claimed if the Philadelphia Phillies place him on waivers, but they have been difficult to deal with the last two years.

Cole Hamels

"<strongCole Hamels is owed $90 million through the 2018 season, and the Phillies are supposedly asking for multiple top prospects. While his contract doesn’t have the potential for much surplus value, he’s throwing the ball very well, and could make an impact this year and beyond.

The Phillies might be unrealistic about their chances of competing, and appear inclined to hold onto the left-hander.

Neal Cotts

cottsNeal Cotts is posting a high strikeout rate for the second straight season after not seeing big league action from 2010-12.

A bevy of relievers tend to change teams in August, and Cotts is a strong candidate to be one of them.

Joaquin Benoit

benoitIt looked like Joaquin Benoit was going to get moved before the deadline. If the San Diego Padres place him on waivers, you can be sure the Dodgers will put in a claim, as they are in need of relief help.

For some reason or another, the Padres have expressed reluctance to deal Benoit within the division.

Josh Willingham

"MinnesotaJosh Willingham is a right-handed hitter with some power, and he’s owed $2.3 million over the remainder of the season.

The 35 year-old outfielder has a low .223 batting average, but he carries a 16.1 percent walk rate and a .463 slugging percentage.

Byrd might be drawing most of the interest, but Willingham is a good option that doesn’t come with a multi-year commitment.

Gordon Beckham

beckhamGordon Beckham could be an option for the San Francisco Giants if they can’t find a second baseman.

He’s heading towards being non-tendered, and hasn’t been worth more than +1 fWAR since his rookie year, but the Giants are looking anywhere at this point.

John Danks

"<strongJohn Danks is owed $14 million in each of the next two years. Making a trade would require the Chicago White Sox to eat some cash.

Several teams have expressed interest in Danks, who was very good from 2008-11.

Adam Dunn

"ChicagoAdam Dunn is in the last year of his contract, and the White Sox still owe him $5 million this year. He has an astronomical strikeout rate but still hits for power and draws walks.

He owns a solid 125 wRC+, and if a contending teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays or Baltimore Orioles sees a designated hitter go down, Dunn might draw interest.

The bulk of the activity has already occurred, but significant trades are still in the works. Don’t be surprised if several of the names from this list change teams before the end of the month.


]]> 0
For Boston Red Sox, 2015 Begins Now Fri, 01 Aug 2014 19:09:03 +0000 cheringtonIn the wake of a dizzying trade deadline day, 2015 begins now for the Boston Red Sox.

Over the span of hours yesterday, the club reshaped its present and future with deals that included left-handed ace Jon Lester, durable right-handed starter John Lackey, right-handed hitting outfielder Jonny Gomes, dominant left-handed reliever Andrew Miller and the expendable Stephen Drew.

In return, the Red Sox received power-hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig, right-handed starting pitcher Joe Kelly and a highly regarded 21-year-old left-handed prospect in Eduardo Rodriguez, veteran utility player Kelly Johnson along with a competitive balance round draft pick (from Oakland in the Lester deal).

Including the trade earlier in the week that sent left-hander Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later, and the transaction that shipped Jake Peavy to San Francisco earlier in July, Boston has dealt away 28 percent of its opening day roster in a matter of days.

Red Sox fans and players alike did not want to see Lester traded. The 30-year-old veteran of nine Major League seasons established himself as one of the top starters in baseball, and his 0.43 ERA in three World Series starts significantly contributed to Boston’s World Series titles in 2007 and 2013. Yet the Red Sox ownership group is reluctant to offer more than a five-year deal to a player who is already in his 30s.

Since it is likely Lester requires six or seven years, general manager Ben Cherington was tasked to yield a return beyond the draft pick Boston would have received had it extended a qualifying offer in the offseason.

It became apparent that the Red Sox were concerned that Lackey would not be happy with the $500,000 Major League minimum salary he is slated to receive in 2015, which was triggered by a contract clause when he underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the 2012 campaign.

The 29-year-old Miller has developed into one of the best set-up men in baseball. He is eligible to become a free agent at season’s end, and the Red Sox reportedly plan to pursue him in the off-season.

Getting Rodriguez, who was No. 65 on Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list entering the 2014 season, further bolsters Boston’s enviable pitching depth at Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. Left-hander Edwin Escobar and right-hander Heath Hembree – the prospects Boston received from the Giants for Peavy – add to the depth.

Trading Drew was necessary. The Red Sox have a logjam on the right side of their infield with current Major Leaguers Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt, and Will Middlebrooks along with top prospects Deven Marrero and Garin Cecchini at Pawtucket. Johnson, who can play multiple positions, is a free agent when the season ends.

At 48-60 and stripped of three veteran starters, the Red Sox are no longer contenders for a post-season spot, but the remainder of the 2014 campaign is critical for determining 2015 and beyond.

Here are key questions the Red Sox must answer in the final 54 games.

Is Will Middlebrooks the third baseman of the future?

Red Sox NewsAugust and September are key months for the 25-year-old Middlebrooks, who club officials believe has 30 home run, 100 RBI potential. He has shown flashes of power, but the athletic right-handed slugger has also struggled with pitch recognition and injuries.

Next season, Middlebrooks could be the team’s starting third baseman, or he could be dealt in the offseason. The Red Sox have Cecchini, who is a more patient hitter, at Pawtucket.

If the team believes that the defensively steady Marrero is the best option for shortstop, then Bogaerts can move to third and Cecchini or Middlebrooks to the outfield.

Is Xander Bogaerts a shortstop or a third baseman?

Red Sox ProsepctsThe Red Sox envision the 21-year-old Bogaerts as a fixture for the long-term future, but will it be at shortstop or third base? Bogaerts prefers shortstop, but he has the athleticism to play third base, though he has 16 errors this season, including several throwing miscues from the hot corner.

Drew’s departure paved the return to shortstop for Bogaerts. August and September are important months for the rookie to show he can be a run producer and a steady defensive presence.

Where does Brock Holt fit?

Boston’s version of Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist, Holt has carved a niche as a do-it-all player who is valuable for the present and the future.

Now that Cespedes and Craig have arrived, Holt will likely see little time at the corner outfield spots. He will likely see most of his action at all four infield positions, giving a breather to the regulars while keeping his bat in the lineup on a consistent basis.

How will the young arms react to their chance in the rotation?

Undoubtedly, the Red Sox will pursue frontline starting pitchers in the free agent and trade markets this off-season. They will try to bring back Lester, likely inquire about James Shields and attempt to acquire Cole Hamels with an enticing package of prospects.

World Series titles are not won with promising young arms, but the Sox have a plethora of high-ceiling starting pitching prospects that will give them a deep and talented rotation when combined with at least two veteran frontline starters. August and September are months when the club will get a long glimpse at Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman, Allen Webster and Anthony Ranaudo (who was summoned from Pawtucket to make his Major League debut tonight against the Yankees).

The Red Sox just promoted left-handed starting pitching prospect Henry Owens to Pawtucket, and fellow left-hander Brian Johnson will likely get some time at Triple-A before the season concludes.

Some of the aforementioned names will etch a spot in the rotation in 2015. Others will fill bullpen roles or serve as trade chips in the off-season. Thus another reason why these final 54 games are worth watching.

Will Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly be part of the plans in 2015?

Red Sox NewsAt times over the course of his eight-year Major League career, Buchholz has looked like a formidable frontline starter. Other stretches have seen him struggle to remain in the rotation. This year is a prime example.

At 29, Buchholz is now the elder statesman of the rotation. He is signed for $12 million next season, and then the club has a $13 million option or a $245,000 buyout before the 2016 campaign.

The remainder of this year is critical for Buchholz. Though the Red Sox will need to acquire at least two frontline starters this offseason, Buchholz could be expendable if he continues to flop this year.

As for Kelly, the 26-year-old right-hander represents a potential long-term middle of the rotation option. He is under team control through 2019 and posted a 10-5 record with a 2.69 ERA in 37 games (including 15 starts) for the Cardinals last year. He limited the Red Sox to two runs and two hits over 5.1 innings in his lone World Series start.

Is Jackie Bradley the answer in center field?

Red Sox RumorsThe Red Sox suddenly have a crowded outfield with Cespedes, Craig, Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr.  The most pivotal player in this group is Bradley, since the Sox must determine if he is the long-term answer in center field. Betts is also an intriguing prospect who can play all three outfield spots and second base.

On defense, Bradley is one of the best in baseball. He has speed, range and a powerful throwing arm. At the plate, the left-handed hitting Bradley produced at every level of the minors, recording a .297 average and a .876 OPS in 893 at-bats. He has now shown consistency in the majors so far, hitting .224 with a .604 OPS in 313 at-bats. July was his best month as he registered a .278 average in 72 at-bats, but Bradley has scuffled over the last 10 games with a .156 mark (5-for-32).

Victorino is under contract for $13 million in 2015. Cespedes is signed through 2015 as well. Likely, the Red Sox will retain Cespedes, Craig, Nava and Victorino for next season, unless a trade for someone like Giancarlo Stanton changes the outfield composition. Because of his exceptional defense, Bradley has appeal, but he must show he can consistently hit Major League pitching to serve as the long-term center fielder in Boston. If not Betts could be the answer.

Who will emerge out of the bullpen?

With Miller and Doubront traded; and Burke Badenhop and Craig Breslow eligible for free agency and not likely to be retained; there will be multiple openings in the Red Sox bullpen next season.

The club plans to bring back Koji Uehara, even if it takes paying him around $15 million by extending a qualifying offer. Junichi Tazawa is under team control. Edward Mujica is under contract for $4.75 million for 2015, but the Sox will probably trade him this off-season, even if they have to eat part of his remaining salary.

Workman, De La Rosa and Webster are guys whose futures could be as late-inning relievers. The Sox called up left-hander Tommy Layne to replace Miller, and Layne could carve a spot for 2015. Escobar is a potential closer, though he has opened his Red Sox tenure in the Pawtucket rotation.

]]> 0
Cleveland Indians Send Asdrubal Cabrera to Nationals Fri, 01 Aug 2014 02:52:18 +0000 Indians RumorsThe Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals agreed on a deal that will send infielder Asdrubal Cabrera and cash from the Indians in exchange for minor-league shortstop Zach Walters.

Cabrera, 28, is batting .246/.305/.386 (96 OPS+) in 97 games for the Indians this season. Across parts of eight big-league seasons, the two-time All-Star owns a slash line of .270/.331/.410 and is in the final year of a three year $21.05 million contract.

Walters, 24, has an OPS of .797 in 52 major-league plate appearances. In the minors, Walters has hit .280/.327/.479 in 2,101 plate appearances.

The move will help the Nats account for Ryan Zimmermans absence who is on the DL.

“He’s battle-tested,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said of Cabrera. “He’s been in the playoffs before. He’s been through pennant races. He’s a terrific two-way player. He’s a great defensive middle infielder.”

Nationals manager Matt Williams called Cabrera an “everyday player” who’ll see the majority of his time at second.

For Cleveland the trade opens the door for top prospect Francisco Lindor at Triple-A to make the move to the big leagues

]]> 0
Yankees Acquire Martin Prado, Stephen Drew, at the Deadline Thu, 31 Jul 2014 23:33:41 +0000 "<strongShortly before the 4:00PM Eastern time trade deadline, the Yankees managed to give its infield a makeover in exchange for a stopgap, designating a veteran for assignment and one solid prospect. New York parted ways with Kelly Johnson in a straight up deal for Red Sox middle infielder, Stephen Drew, designated  Brian Roberts for assignment and then traded 23-year-old catching prospect, Peter O’brien, for utility player, Martin Prado, from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

For the Yankees, the deals make a lot of sense just as Chase Headley‘s did last week. New York and Boston alike are playing for this season and next season simultaneously (albeit one competing for a division and the other competing for a top draft pick) and both did their  jobs on Thursday.

The Yankees are not quite out of the AL East race this season and Prado (.270/.314/5/42) and Drew (.370 OBP his last two weeks as he acclimates to the season after being signed late by the Sox) are almost certainly upgrades over Johnson (.219/.304/6/22 and Roberts (.253/.284/2/17).

Drew will play second base replacing Roberts for the duration of 2014 and then will likely shift over to shortstop if he is resigned in 2015, replacing Derek Jeter and maintaining Brendan Ryan as a backup, who is signed through 2015. It’s an $8 million dollar increase but Drew represents an upgrade this season and a hot lead for next year.

Martin Prado can pretty much play anywhere and may very well split time between 2B (when Drew is off), 3B (when Headley is off) and RF, which is where he will play the majority of the time as an upgrade over Ichiro Suzuki, relegating Carlos Beltran to a full-time DH role for the remainder of his contract.

Prado is signed just as long as Beltran, through the 2016 season, which is very likely not a coincidence. The Yankees now have the entire outfield and DH roles signed through 2016 and beyond in addition to catcher and first base.

Next season, New York will have Headley under contract, and the potential return of Alex Rodriguez and Drew, plus Ryan and Prado already under contract as well. All of a sudden a very thin infield has turned into an infield with a few different options and much needed depth in 2015.

The Yankees sacrificed Johnson and Roberts, neither of which are signed beyond this season or who were long-term plans and gave up the aforementioned O’Brien.

O’Brien has hit 23 HR in just 294 AB in AA Trenton this year and was one of the brighter bats in the farm system. It’s very likely O’Brien will grow out of catcher at 6’3″ and move over to first base, but either way he is blocked at the major league level. Brian McCann is the catcher for at least another year and Teixeira will be at first base until at least 2016.

With Beltran holding down DH most likely full-time, there wasn’t a lot of space for O’Brien to begin with and he’s not even the Yankees‘ top catching prospect (Gary Sanchez) or hitting prospect (Aaron Judge).

So suffice it to say the Yankees improved today, which was the goal all along, and added plenty of depth into the 2015 season, giving up one blocked but promising prospect in the process.

New York currently sit 5.5 games out of first place in the AL East and will resume action Friday night when Stephen Drew quickly faces his former teammates in a Yankees-Red Sox show down.

Drew Rumors

]]> 0
Detroit Tigers Get David Price In 3-Team Deal Thu, 31 Jul 2014 21:41:12 +0000 Tampa Bay David PriceAs it turns the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners had the players the Tampa Bay Rays wanted for David Price. The deal completed just short of the 4PM trade deadline sends Price to the Tigers in a three-team deal, that left many Rays fans scratching their collective heads.

Tigers center-fielder Austin Jackson will head to Seattle. Tampa Bay will get infielder Nick Franklin from Seattle, left-hander Drew Smyly and 18 year old shortstop prospect Willy Adames from Detroit.

The Rays former Cy Young winner, Price is 11-8 with a 3.11 ERA in 23 starts with the Rays so far this season.

It could be argued that Price is or was the face of the franchise.

The Rays brought him back this year at nearly $14 million in hopes of making a run at the World Series. With a salary of $20 million or so due next year, it was only a matter of time before he was dealt.

For Detroit, Price joins a rotation that features Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello. Scherzer may be allowed to walk after the season and the Tigers would look to extend Price.

Detroit is one of a handful of teams in Major League Baseball with that capability.

The Mariners add Jackson who immediately becomes the everyday center-fielder in Seattle. Jackson is hitting .270/.330/.397 and is eligible for final arbitration year for 2015.

The Mariners had been looking for an outfielder throughout the summer.

Smyly, 25, will likely join the Rays‘ rotation after posting a 6-9 record and 3.77 ERA in 20 appearances (17 starts) on the year. He is under team control through 2018 and that is not an issue to be taken lightly in the Rays way of building baseball teams.

Franklin was thought to be the second-baseman of the future for Seattle, that is until Robinson Cano was signed in the off-season blocking his path to the major leagues for the next 10 years or so.

Franklin hit .225/.303/.382 in 412 plate appearances in 2013 and has spent most of 2014 in AAA slashing .294/.392/.455 and has been assigned to AAA Durham for Tampa Bay.

The switch hitting Franklin may become an eventual replacement for Ben Zobrist, the do everything player for the Rays.

Adames, 18, has hit .269/.346/.428 with an 8.9% walk rate in low A ball and has been turning scouts heads this season. At 6-1 6-feet-1 and 175 pounds, some of those scouts think he could move to third base in the future. Adames was called a “fast-rising shorstop prospect” by Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. 


]]> 1
Brewers Acquire Gerardo Parra From Diamondbacks Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:16:20 +0000 Dbacks Rumors

The Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a deal that will send outfielder Gerardo Parra to the Brewers for Double-A outfielder Mitch Haniger and left-hander Anthony Banda.

Parra, 27, is hitting .259/.305/.362 in 440 plate appearances this year. Parra had a mostly successful six-year run in Arizona, winning Gold Glove Awards for his defense in 2011 and 2013 .

Rated as the third best prospect in the Brewers system Haniger, 23, is hitting .255/.316/.416 in 271 plate appearances this year.

Banda, 20, is a left-handed pitcher who was most recently with Low-A Wisconsin, where he was 6-6 with a 3.66 ERA and posted an 11-13 record with a 4.40 ERA over three minor league seasons. He has struck 171 batters in 186 innings while walking 87.

]]> 0
Red Sox Trades Continue: Lackey To Cardinals For Kelly, Craig Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:46:07 +0000 "<strongThe Boston Red Sox made another trade on the heels of the blockbuster deal that sent Jon Lester to the Oakland A’s . This time starter John Lackey was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-hander Joe Kelly and outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig .

Lackey, 35, is 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA in 21 starts and 137 1/3 innings this season two years removed from Timmy John surgery. Last year he went 10-13 with a 3.52 ERA in 189 1/3 innings.

Lackey’s is under contract for only $500,000 next season significantly raising his trade value.

Kelly is 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA in seven starts and 35 innings this year having had most of 2014 cut short with a hamstrung injury. Kelly is 17-14 with a 3.25 ERA in 38 starts and 30 relief appearances over three MLB seasons.

Craig, 30, is hitting .237/.291/.346 (78 OPS+) with seven home runs in 97 games this season.

The Cardinals added Justin Masterson earlier this week form the Cleveland Indians and have added starting pitching without giving up any of its prized prospects. Lackey will join Masterson, Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller in the rotation. 

The Red Sox have now dealt 4 of the 5 opening day starters from their rotation in that last week, in Lackey, Jake Peavy, Lester and Felix Doubront.

]]> 0
Twins Send Sam Fuld Back To Oakland For Tommy Milone Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:30:08 +0000 A's RumorsYou had to know the Oakland A’s were not finished dealing today. After sending Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox in a blockbester deal for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, the team has reacquired Sam Fuld from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Tommy Milone.

Milone has been a starting pitcher without a spot since the A’s acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. The chance for him to start got worse after the Lester deal.

Milone has pitched to a  3.55 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 38.4 percent fly-ball rate in 96 1/3 innings of work this year.

Fuld returns to Oaklnad where he started the season. Minnesota claimed him on waivers from the A’s after the team designated him for assignment this past spring.

Fuld is hitting .274/.370/.354 with a homer, and six stolen bases. He will likely platoon in left field with Gomes.

]]> 0
Red Sox, A’s Trade Analysis: Red Sox Trade About Future, A’s About Now Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:57:16 +0000 lester_gomes_cespedesOver the last few years, a debate that stoked wide-ranging comments circulated around New England and across baseball about Jon Lester. Is he a legitimate ace or a solid yet unspectacular No. 2 starter?

Perhaps Oakland general manager Billy Beane extended the most powerful answer this morning when he traded left fielder Yoenis Cespedes to Boston for Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes. Beane is taking a monumental risk consdering that Lester is eligible for free agency at season’s end and he will undoubtedly command a contract north of $125 million, and the power-hitting Cespedes is 28 and under team control through 2015.

In Boston, Lester has provided an undeniable answer to the “ace” question.

If you study his post-season numbers – especially in the World Series – the answer points to “ace” status. The 30-year-old left-hander is 6-4 with a 2.11 ERA in 13 appearances, including 11 starts. In the Fall Classic, he is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in three starts, including two wins in which he surrendered a total of one run over 15.1 innings against St. Louis last October.

Overall, Lester is 110-63 with a 3.64 ERA over nine Major League seasons, including a 10-7 mark with a 2.52 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP this year. A second round pick of the Red Sox in 2002, Lester is 5-1 with a 1.54 ERA over his last 10 starts.

Though it is unpopular among many Red Sox fans, the trade makes sense for the club. Boston’s ownership group has made it clear that it is unwilling to offer long-term deals to players who will be older than 35 at the end of their contracts. Jacoby Ellsbury is a prime example.

It is not yet known the number of years that Lester wants for his new deal, but chances are it is six or seven, and committing $20 million plus a season to a pitcher who is in his mid-30s is a risky proposition. Lester will be 31 in January. Will he produce his present-day numbers when he is 35? Perhaps. But likely not.

The Red Sox do not want to find themselves in the predicament that the Yankees have with CC Sabathia, who is in decline and now is sidelined for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Sabathia is 34 and is receiving $23 million this year. He is set to get $23 million in 2015, $25 million in 2016 and there is a vesting option for $25 million in 2017.

Moving forward, the Red Sox must find a legitimate frontline starter if they do not re-sign Lester in the offseason. The club has a plethora of high ceiling starting pitching prospects (Henry Owens, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes and Brian Johnson) and young arms already in the majors (including Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman and Allen Webster), but a rotation centered around youth does not generate World Series titles.

The Red Sox have the premium prospects that could pry Cole Hamels away from Philadelphia. The 30-year-old Hamels is appealing to Boston general manager Ben Cherington and the ownership group because he is a proven frontline starter and is signed through 2019 (when he will be 35) at $22.5 million per season (and $20 million in 2019 if his vesting option is triggered).

If Lester does not  sign a new contract with Boston this offseason, the sting of losing him will be lessened with the presence of Cespedes, who can serve as a middle of the order bat for the long term. Should Lester return to the Red Sox, then the club will have an ace and a middle of the order bat by renting Lester to the A’s in the latter part of a season where the Red Sox were not formidable contenders.

As for the A’s, Beane has seemingly added a piece that could get him his long-desired World Series championship. Lester is a proven winner in October – the type of pitcher who can hoist a team on his back. For that reason, the trade is worthwhile, even if Lester departs when the World Series parade is over.

]]> 2
Oakland Gets Jon Lester from Red Sox for Cespedes, Gomes Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:19:02 +0000 "<strongThe Oakland Athletics have acquired Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes from the Boston Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes. Oakland is also sending a competitive balance draft pick to the Red Sox in the trade, and the Red Sox will be sending cash to Oakland.

Lester has been the talk of the trade rumors of late and a number of teams were reportedly interested in acquiring the Red Sox ace, including the Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Miami Marlins to name a few.

Oakland traded for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel earlier this month to join Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir.

The A’s will get Lester for essentially the last two months of the season and the post season. Lester becomes a free-agent at the end of 2014 and could end up back in Boston, where he  has publicly stated he would like to play.

Lester, 31, was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2002 and has spent his entire career in Boston. Lester is 10-7 record with a 2.52 ERA and 149 strikeouts over 143 innings pitched spread out over 21 starts in 2014. He was also named an All-Star for the third time in his career this year.

Gomes will return to Oakland. The 33-year-old veteran has played for five different teams in his career and is batting .234/.329/.354 for a .683 OPS with 32 RBI and six home runs this season and was an integral part of the Red Sox 2013 World Championship team.

The Red Sox have wanted to add a right- handed power bat to the line-up and Cespedes certainly qualifies.

Cespedes has hit 17 home runs and driven in 67 runs this season to go along with a .256/.303/.464 slash line for a .767 OPS. The 28-year-old was named to the All-Star team for the first time this season. He will become a free-agent after the 2015 season.

]]> 3
MLB Trade Rumors: Los Angeles Dodgers Looking for Relief Help Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:51:08 +0000 dodgersThe Los Angeles Dodgers have reportedly backed off their pursuit of a starting pitcher and are looking for relief help instead. Of course, there’s a good reason to take any statements about a team’s plans with a grain of salt at this time of year. However, the Dodgers would benefit more from adding a good reliever or two than from adding a big name in their rotation.

As things stand, the Dodgers have the best pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw, two very good arms in Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu and veterans Josh Beckett and Dan Haren, one of which could fill out a postseason rotation. Beckett hasn’t pitched as well as his 2.74 ERA would indicate, and Haren has seen his strikeout rate dip. Still, adding a top notch starter for ten starts plus a postseason run would not represent a huge upgrade given the Dodgers already formidable rotation. In addition, adding Jon Lester or David Price would result in a significant cost in terms of prospects.

On the other hand, the Dodgers have relied heavily on relievers such as Brian Wilson and Chris Perez. Both have been terrible this year and project as replacement level pitchers. Kenley Jansen is sporting a higher ERA than last season, but his strikeout and walk rates are excellent and he’s been near unhittable as of late. J.P. Howell and Brandon League have shiny ERAs, but both project poorly.

Beyond that, nobody in the Dodgers bullpen has totaled more than 0.1 fWAR. Clearly they could use an upgrade in that area. With the extra off days in postseason play, relievers tend to pitch a much higher percentage of the innings than they do in the offseason. Thus the Dodgers could benefit significantly from picking up a quality bullpen arm or two.

The San Diego Padres have stated that they are reluctant to deal Joaquin Benoit within the division. This is a curious statement, as Benoit is only under contract through 2015 and the Padres aren’t close to contending. Perhaps it is just posturing. The 37 year-old is having another excellent season and boasts a strikeout rate of 31.1 percent. At just under 95 miles per hour, his average fastball velocity is the best of his career. Benoit could slot into a setup role for the Dodgers. Furthermore, he won’t cost the Dodgers one of their top prospects.

Neal Cotts of the Texas Rangers and Oliver Perez of the Arizona Diamondbacks would also improve the Dodgers bullpen. Cotts didn’t pitch in the big leagues from 2010-12, but he’s been very good since last season. He currently owns a 25.4 percent strikeout rate, and the southpaw has had success against right-handed bats as well. Perez revitalized his career in the Seattle Mariners bullpen, and he’s continued to pitch well with the D’Backs. The left-hander has a herky-jerky delivery and a sweeping slider that makes left-handed hitters very uncomfortable, but like Cotts, he’s had a good deal of success against righties as well.

If the Dodgers are willing to pony up some cash, they could acquire Jonathan Papelbon from the Philadelphia Phillies. Papelbon still has 1+ year left on his four year, $50 million contract, and there’s also an option for 2016. He doesn’t bring the heat that he used to, and as a consequence, his strikeout rate has dipped to 23.3 percent. Still, he’s managed to pitch quite well this year, and would be a big upgrade on what the Dodgers have right now. If they can get the Phillies to eat some cash, a Papelbon deal might be attractive.

There’s likely to be a flurry of activity in the next day or so as the July 31st deadline approaches. The Dodgers appear to have backed off their pursuit of front end starters. Relief help isn’t as splashy, but it might be just what the doctor ordered for the Dodgers.

]]> 0
Cardinals Make Trade to Acquire Justin Masterson Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:29:24 +0000 Indians NewsThe St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians have agreed on a deal that will send RHP Justin Masterson to the Cardinals for prospect James Ramsey according to Peter Gammons.

Baseball News Source speculated the Indians would be inclined to move Masterson earlier this week.

Masterson had excellent 2013 season, pitching to a 3.45 ERA with a 58 percent ground ball rate. Furthermore, he bumped up his strikeout rate from 17.6 percent to 24.3 percent.

Currently in the disabled list Masterson has had his usual ultra-high ground ball rate and a solid strikeout rate of 20.6 percent, but a very high 12.4 percent walk rate in 2014, contributing to a higher 5.51 ERA.

Ramsey is hitting .300/.389/.527 at Springfield with 13 home runs. He came into the 2014 season as the Cardinals #10 prospect and was a first round draft pick out of Florida State in 2012.

Ramsey is described as a hard-nosed defender with above-average speed. Miscellaneous injuries have slowed his 2104 season.

The Cardinals have been linked to David Price and Jon Lester of late in trade rumors.

]]> 0
Could the Colorado Rockies Deal Carlos Gonzalez? Wed, 30 Jul 2014 01:39:22 +0000 MLB RumorsIt’s been a rough year for the Colorado Rockies. They got out to a nice start, but things have been downhill from there. As of now they own a 43-62 record, which puts them in last place in the NL West. While they have several attractive trade chips, the front office and ownership are seemingly at odds with regards to whether or not they should be traded.

Carlos Gonzalez has been mentioned in trade rumors. The 28 year-old outfielder has been affected by injuries this season and is hitting only .244/.293/.437 for an 86 wRC+, far below his career norms of .295/.352/.522 and a 121 wRC+. He’s under contract through the 2017 season and will be owed a total of $53 million from 2015-17.

While this has been a disappointing year, Gonzalez is still an attractive player. ZiPS forecasts a .275/.338/.506 line with a 118 wRC+ for the rest of the season, and Steamer is slightly more optimistic, giving him a ten point boost in each of the triple-slash categories. Despite dealing with injuries and averaging only 129 games per season from 2010-13, Gonzalez totaled 16.5 fWAR and a gaudy slash line of .311/.370/.556. Even after adjusting for hitter-friendly Coors Field that comes out to a 134 wRC+.

Poor season aside, Gonzalez would be an interesting option both as an upgrade for the stretch run and as a long-term asset. Of course he doesn’t provide much on the defensive side, and there’s concerns about how he would hit after moving away from Coors. He does have a solid track record on the road. From 2010-13, he produced a 114 wRC+ on the road.

Since he’s more than a short-term rental, the Rockies would ask for a solid return in exchange for Gonzalez. The New York Mets might be interested in Gonzalez. Short of a near-miraculous stretch run, they aren’t in contention this year. But, with the possible return of Matt Harvey and an impressive array of young pitchers, the Mets could be a team to watch out for in 2015.

The Rockies could use some pitching help. Even after adjusting for Coors Field, they have the lowest fWAR of any starting rotation in the major leagues. Meanwhile, the Mets have a bevy of intriguing young arms.

Understandably, they are loath to deal Noah Syndegaard, unless the Rockies were willing to talk a Troy Tulowitzki trade. Still, there’s Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, who are both having success at the big league level, and Rafael Montero has had a cup of coffee as well. In addition, young catcher Travis d’Arnaud is coming around at the plate, and Kevin Plawecki could be major league ready by next year.

Young starting pitching is always in demand, and the Mets have plenty of prospects that fit in that category. If they have the desire to swing a trade with the Rockies, a deal could be in the works. Perhaps the Rockies don’t want to deal Tulo or Cargo during the season, but if they stick around, talks could heat up in the offseason. The Rockies could use a rebuild of sorts, and the Mets could be shaping up for playoff contention next season.

]]> 1
MLB Trade Rumors: Indians Could Deal Cabrera or Masterson Wed, 30 Jul 2014 00:55:30 +0000 Indians NewsThe Cleveland Indians are in a tough spot. At 52-53, they are in the mix for a playoff berth. Cool Standings gives them a 24 percent chance of reaching the playoffs. However, most of that is tied to a second wild card berth.

There’s very little chance of catching the Detroit Tigers, so at best they would be playing the Los Angeles Angels or Oakland Athletics on the road in a one game playoff. Accordingly, it seems likely that they will hedge their bets and focus on smaller moves.

Two players that the Indians could move are Justin Masterson, who will become a free agent after the season and Asdrubal Cabrera who will also hit free agency this offseason. Both are useful players, but won’t move the needle too much in either direction with regards to the Indians playoff chances.

Masterson, a 29 year-old right-hander, is currently on the disabled list with a knee injury, but will return Friday to face the Texas Rangers. He had an excellent 2013 season, pitching to a 3.45 ERA with a 58 percent ground ball rate. Furthermore, he bumped up his strikeout rate from 17.6 percent to 24.3 percent.

Before hitting the disabled list, he had his usual ultra-high ground ball rate and a solid strikeout rate of 20.6 percent, but a very high 12.4 percent walk rate. In addition, batters were hitting .350 on balls in play, a much higher rate than the league average. As a consequence, Masterson had a bloated 5.51 ERA.

Looking forward, Masterson projects for an ERA around 4.00. He’s probably a slightly better option than Jake Peavy, who the Boston Red Sox traded to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for two viable prospects.

With the Tampa Bay Rays looking less inclined to deal David Price, and the Philadelphia Phillies seeming loath to part with Cole Hamels, the pitching market is thinning. The Indians might be able to pick up a solid prospect or two from a team that’s willing to settle for a less flashy upgrade.

The 28 year-old Cabrera is carrying a .249/.309/.392 slash line for a 98 wRC+. He’s not a great defensive shortstop, but can hold his own at the position. After managing just 0.5 fWAR last season, he’s totaled 1.2 fWAR thus far.

Like Masterson, he’s not a game-changing upgrade by any means, but several teams could be in need of his services. Since 2009 he’s been a shortstop exclusively, but before then he played more than 1300 innings at second base.

The A’s might be on the lookout for a middle infielder. For all their success, their second basemen have been barely above replacement level. Cabrera would be an upgrade over Nick Punto or Eric Sogard, and he could spell Jed Lowrie at short as well.

Also, the Toronto Blue Jays might be looking for a second baseman. Brett Lawrie is currently on the disabled list and when he comes back, they might want him to play more third base in place of Juan Francisco. There are plenty of places to put a switch-hitting middle infielder, and several teams would welcome Cabrera’s versatility.

He won’t bring back a big prospect, but with Francisco Lindor in the wings, he’s not in the Indians long-term plans.

The Indians would like to be able to sell off veterans who are becoming free agents without killing their wild card chances. These are the types of moves teams in the hunt for a wild card spot should make.

It’s not wise to sell the farm for a shot at a one-game playoff, but smaller and less costly transactions can have short-term impact without mortgaging the future.

]]> 0
Red Sox Trades Could Come Fast and Furious Tue, 29 Jul 2014 02:08:39 +0000 Red Sox RumorsLiterally and figuratively, the Boston Red Sox aren’t the Houston Astros. Nor are they the Chicago Cubs.

Though the 2013 World Series champions are mired in the American League East basement and could remain there by season’s end, they will be in prime position to emerge as a formidable World Series contender in 2015 because of their deep farm system, a group of talented core players and enviable financial flexibility to accompany an ownership group that is willing to spend to fill holes.

These factors are why the Red Sox could still be buyers and sellers this week as Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline nears.

Boston landed promising pitching prospects Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree from San Francisco for free agent-to-be right-hander Jake Peavy last weekend. According to a myriad of media reports, outfielders Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp; relievers Andrew Miller, Craig Breslow, Edward Mujica and Burke Badenhop; shortstop Stephen Drew; swingman Felix Doubront and the premium prize, Jon Lester, could be traded.

Veteran closer Koji Uehara has also found his way into trade rumors, but it appears that the Red Sox would like to retain him next season, even if it takes extending a qualifying offer and paying him around $15 million for another year of service.

Boston’s deep farm system, which is now richer with Escobar and Hembree, is another reason why the club will be buyers and sellers this week. The Red Sox have an array of prospects they must place on the 40-man roster or risk losing in December’s Rule 5 Draft.

Top prospects like catcher Blake Swihart, right-hander Matt Barnes, infielder Sean Coyle, first baseman Travis Shaw, right-handed reliever Noe Ramirez, right-handed starter Luis Diaz and outfielder Keury De La Cruz are the most highly regarded names eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. The Sox will likely place some on the 40-man roster this offseason or include a few in trades this week or in August.

The Sox could also deal a few names already on the 40-man roster to free space for some of the aforementioned names. Catcher/first baseman Ryan Lavarnway, outfielders Alex Hassan and Bryce Brentz and right-handed reliever Alex Wilson are candidates fitting that description.

If they are not traded during the regular season, Drew, Gomes, Breslow and Badenhop will undoubtedly not be brought back. Lester could be in another team’s uniform next season as well. Doubront, Carp and Mujica will likely either be traded or non-tendered. That would open as many as 12  spots on the 40-man roster.

Miller is eligible for free agency and will get a generous raise, but the Red Sox might be willing to offer him an extension. Uehara, as mentioned, is someone the Red Sox would be willing to “overpay” on a one-year deal via a qualifying offer since there is no clear-cut closer to replace him.

Veteran catcher David Ross can also become a free agent, but Boston will likely bring him back for another season to mentor promising rookie Christian Vazquez, who has shown he is ready to claim the starting catcher’s role.

Off-season trades will also dictate how the 40-man roster is composed when December arrives. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington will be aggressive on upgrading the lineup, and that could mean a significant package of prospects offered to the Miami Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton or even Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzski.

If they are not included in deals, current Red Sox youngsters Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Vazquez and Brock Holt along with pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster will occupy the 40-man roster. So will the versatile Mookie Betts; right-hander Brandon Workman; and top pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo and the intriguing knuckleballer Steven Wright. All of those names are already part of the 40-man roster.

Two benefits of a deep and talented farm system is inexpensively filling holes at the Major League level internally, and using some prospects as trade chips to acquire difference-making players from outside the organization. Those factors will contribute to shaping what Cherington does through the end of August and this offseason leading to the Rule 5 Draft.

]]> 0
Red Sox Rumors: Lester, Miller, Drew Among Trade Chips Sun, 27 Jul 2014 22:07:24 +0000 Boston Red Sox newsA five-game losing skid that was snapped by his club’s 3-2 win on Sunday at Tampa Bay clinched the mindset of Boston Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington in the final days leading to Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

On Saturday, the Red Sox made the first of several expected transactions when they traded veteran right-hander Jake Peavy to San Francisco for highly regarded left-handed starting pitching prospect Edwin Escobar and 25-year-old right-handed reliever Heath Hembree, who has been viewed as a potential future closer for the Giants.

Bringing aboard Escobar and Hembree should strengthen the depth of Boston’s farm system, which is already rated as one of the best in baseball. More top prospects could be added this week.

According to Gordon Edes of, the Red Sox are considering  a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers that would send Jon Lester to LA for outfielder Matt Kemp.

Boston reportedly prefers a trade centered around top outfield prospect Joc Pederson, but the Dodgers are reluctant to part ways with the 22-year-old left-hander power hitter who is presently batting .323 with 21 home runs, 53 RBI and a 1.042 OPS at Triple-A Albuquerque.

The National League MVP runner-up in 2011, Kemp’s stock has fallen over the last few years because of chronic injuries. He is signed through 2019 and has $107 million remaining on his contract, which is an obstacle for the Dodgers.

Teams  do not find Kemp’s $21.5 million annual salary palatable since he is no longer producing MVP-caliber numbers and because of his injury history.

The Dodgers will have to pay a bulk of Kemp’s remaining contract to acquire premium starting pitcher like Lester, Edes believes.

That the Red Sox are linked to Kemp and Pederson is no surprise. The club has received little production from outfielders this season as Shane Victorino has been plagued with injuries, rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. has struggled and veterans Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp and Daniel Nava have performed below expectations.

Nava is expected to remain with the Red Sox, but the team is reportedly shopping Gomes and Carp.

Though there are so rumors of Boston shipping closer Koji Uehara elsewhere, the team is exploring a deal of veteran left-handed reliever Andrew Miller, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Biertempfel.

Miller is having the best season of his nine-year Major League career. After tossing a scoreless frame on Sunday, the 29-year-old Miller has a 2.45 ERA with 65 strikeouts and 25 hits allowed in 40.1 innings. He is eligible for free agency at season’s end.

Another name who could be wearing a new uniform this week is shortstop Stephen Drew. With the Red Sox fading out of contention, they would benefit from returning rookie Xander Bogaerts to shortstop and calling up 25-year-old third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who has recovered from a hand injury and is getting regular at-bats at Triple-A Pawtucket.

The Red Sox believe Middlebrooks has the potential to post 30 home run, 100 RBI numbers, and with the scarcity of right-handed power in the majors, he is still in the club’s future plans.

]]> 0
MLB Trade Rumors: Royals Should Move James Shields Sun, 27 Jul 2014 22:01:36 +0000 Royals RumorsThe July 31st trade deadline is coming up this week, and so far there has been a paucity of big deals. With the second Wild Card allowing more teams to stay in contention, teams have been reluctant to deal away star players. The pitching market is especially thin.

Earlier the Oakland Athletics sprung big for Chicago Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. However, the Philadelphia Phillies have stated they won’t be dealing Cole Hamels, and the recent good play of the Tampa Bay Rays makes it more likely that they will hang onto David Price.

While the Kansas City Royals don’t appear to be actively shopping James Shields, they should do so. After dropping a 10-3 decision to the Cleveland Indians, the Royals are sitting at 53-51. That puts them 5.5 games back of the Detroit Tigers and two games back of the Toronto Blue Jays for the second wild card spot. Their playoff odds are 17.8 percent, though almost all of that is tied up in the race for the second wild card.

Shields has pitched well for the Royals after they dealt him to the Rays for both Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi. He’s pitched to a 3.58 ERA this year, though with 13 unearned runs, that figure is a little misleading. His strikeout and walk rates sit at 19.8 percent and 4.8 respectively. It’s the second consecutive season where his strikeout rate has dropped, but he’s managed to offset some of that decline by posting his lowest walk rate since 2008.

Going forward, Steamer and ZiPS both project slightly over +1 fWAR, so even in limited time he could help a contending team. Of course he could also helps the Royals‘ playoff chances, slim as they are. Furthermore, he could play a key role in a playoff run. The St. Louis Cardinals are in need of starting pitching and they are flush with prospects. Even with their depleted farm system, the Los Angeles Angels should be looking to strengthen their rotation. Don’t think the Atlanta Braves want to keep relying on Aaron Harang, and the Los Angeles Dodgers could seek a replacement for Dan Haren.

The Royals have the longest active postseason drought at 28 years. There appears to be a feeling among ownership and the front office that they should be buyers rather than sellers in an attempt to end that drought.

However, the reward for making the playoffs this year is far less than what it used to be. If the Royals do manage to pass the three teams in front of them, they will be sent to the West Coast for a one game playoff with either the A’s or the Angels, owners of the two best records in the major leagues.

On the other hand, they could trade Shields and receive a big return. As a frame of reference, Jake Peavy was recently dealt to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for two actual prospects. If Peavy, a rental veteran who has struggled this season, can get two prospects, imagine what the Royals could get for Shields. The Royals should take advantage of the shrinking market for pitchers and trade Shields.

]]> 0
Giants Acquire Jake Peavy In Deal With Red Sox Sat, 26 Jul 2014 15:52:17 +0000 "<strong

The San Francisco Giants have made a move to acquire right-hander Jake Peavy in a trade from the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox will receive minor league pitchers in the deal. The deal helps the Giants to solidify their rotation and Peavy is no stranger to the National League West.

Peavy is 14-2 lifetime with 2.21 era and a .199 BA vs Dodgers from Padres days

The Red Sox acquired Peavy at the deadline last year. Peavy, 33, has posted a 4.72 ERA and 100/46 K/BB ratio over 124 innings this season. He’s due to be a free agent this winter.

The Red Sox are currently 10 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East and this may not be the first trade of a starting pitcher as the trade deadline, July 31, inches closer. Red Sox ace Jon Lester is drawing interest from a number of contenders. Peavy is set to become a free-agent after the season.

Lester said Friday night that he would not be surprised if the team elected to trade him before Thursday’s deadline, but said he still would be open to re-signing in Boston as a free agent.

The trade should remove David Price from the list of teams believed to be interested in Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price.

]]> 2
David Price Has Pitched His Way Into Staying With Rays Sat, 26 Jul 2014 03:52:44 +0000 Tampa Bay RaysStop with the David Price trade rumors. Jon Morosi, Jim Bowden, Jon Heyman, Chris Coltillo step away from your keyboards. No more Tweets about the availability and potential destinations for the Rays resident ace.

I love the guys at, but it is time to stop. David Price isn’t going anywhere, at least he shouldn’t be.

He has pitched his team back into the playoff chase and deserves to finish 2014 with the Rays.

The Rays, who were 18 games under .500 (24-42) after play ended on June 10, are 27-11 since. The proverbial handwriting was on the wall. I changed my cover photo on Twitter to an image of Price as a tribute.

Price himself seemed resigned to the inevitably of changing teams.

After a 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 25th, a game many thought would be his with the Rays, Price said, “Thank you,  “These fans are awesome. They love us. They support us very well. If this is my last game here, thanks.”

Now just three games under .500, the Rays are back in the race and Price has led the charge. It almost like he said, oh heck no, not on my watch.

After beating the Boston Red Sox, Price who struck out 10 in eight innings, won sixth straight start, pitching to a sparkling 1.31 ERA (48-IP, 7-ER) and is 5-0, July.

It’s rare to see a starting pitcher carry a team on his back.

That kind of heavy lifting is generally reserved for the home run hitters on a hot streak, but Price has been the guy for Tampa Bay.

There is not even a reasonable argument that proves otherwise.

He has made the bullpen better, giving them much needed rest.

The southpaw has now gone at least eight innings in eight out of his last nine starts.

Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, and Jake Odorizzi are better pitchers with him around.

Rays GM Andrew Freidman has a big decision to make in the next six days. He will be offered trade packages that will be blockbusters, loaded with prospects and controllable young stars.

It will be tempting, but David Price deserves to be with Tampa Bay on August 1st.

]]> 2
MLB Trade Rumors: Can the Braves Find a Suitor for B.J. Upton? Fri, 25 Jul 2014 01:08:05 +0000 "<strongThere’s just one week remaining until the July 31st trade deadline. Of course trades can and often do occur after that but players have to clear waivers. The Atlanta Braves would like to deal center fielder B.J. Upton, but given the 3+ years and $45+ million owed to him, it will be difficult to find a trade partner. Upton is not quite 30, but given his struggles with the Braves, his best years seem like a distant memory.

After seven seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays in which he accumulated 21 fWAR, Upton signed a five-year deal worth $75.2 million. That offseason the Braves also traded for Justin Upton, his younger brother. While Justin has succeeded in a Braves uniform, the change of scenery hasn’t been so kind to B.J. In his first season with the Braves, Upton’s strikeout rate shot up to 33.9 percent. His power abandoned him as he hit just nine home runs after dropping 28 the previous year. Overall he hit .184/.268/.289 for a 55 wRC+.

While the 2014 season has been better, it’s far from good. Upton is striking out in 30 percent of his plate appearances, and his power hasn’t returned. He’s hit only seven home runs and owns a meager .126 ISO. His batting line of .215/.279/.341 is an improvement, but it’s only a 74 wRC+, and he’s over replacement level by only the slimmest of margins. His contact rate have dropped by a wide margin, and when he does put the ball in play, he’s doing so with less authority.

The Braves recently dropped Dan Uggla, whose offensive production tanked over the past two years. They won’t do the same with Upton, but they appear eager to trade him. Unfortunately, his contract represents a heavy chunk of change, and he’s not very good. ZiPS and Steamer project a batting line in the .225/.295/.380 range, which is about 10 percent below the major league average. He can play center field, but he’s not an elite defender, and after stealing 195 bases from 2008-12, he’s swiped just 27 with the Braves.

It’s seems apparent that Upton is on the decline, and even though his projections paint a more optimistic picture than his performance in the last 1.5 seasons has, he’s a below-average player. If they want to move him, the Braves would have to eat a lot of the $45 million he’s owed from 2015-17. A team such as the Seattle Mariners that is in need of a right-handed hitting outfielder could potentially be interested, though they haven’t been linked with Upton.

With his devastating decline in his performance and the hefty salary, it’s unlikely that the Braves will be able to trade Upton. Perhaps they can convince a team to take him off their hands in the offseason when there’s more time to work a deal out. Right now it doesn’t look like Upton can be an upgrade for a contending team. His future might be a fourth outfielder, and he’s getting paid like a star player.

]]> 1
Kendrys Morales Heads Back to Seattle Fri, 25 Jul 2014 01:05:35 +0000 Mariners RumorsThe Seattle Mariners decided Kendrys Morales was the bat they needed for a stretch run in the American League West and sent right-hander Stephen Pryor to the Minnesota Twins to bring the switch hitting Morales back to the Mariners.

Morales became a free agent after rejecting a $14.1 million qualifying offer from Seattle last November.

Unable to get a deal elsewhere, largely because of the draft pick compensation baggage, he signed with Minnesota for $7.4 million on June 8,

Morales, 31, is hitting .234/.259/.325 in 39 games for Minnesota this season and is a career .277/.328/.470 hitter (116 OPS+). His best season came in 2009 with the Angels, when he hit 34 home runs and finished fifth in the AL MVP balloting.

“We know what Kendrys is, we know his career as a hitter, we know what he did here and now that he’s in a pennant race … I think we all feel that Kendrys is going to hit his stride and be the Kendrys Morales we all know,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said.

The Mariners were said to be interested in acquiring a bat and had been linked to trade rumors surrounding Philadelphia’s Marlon Byrd and Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist.

]]> 0
Rangers Trade Joakim Soria to Tigers For Prospects Thu, 24 Jul 2014 02:48:16 +0000 Rangers RumorsThe Detroit Tigers have reached an agreement with the Texas Rangers that will send Joakim Soria to the Tigers in exchange for prospects Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel.

Kyle Bogenschutz was first to report the news on Twitter. The trade is pending physicals of all players involved.

Thompson and Knebel were rated among Detroit’s ten best prospects coming into the year per Baseball America.

The 30-year-old Soria is 16-for-17 in save chances this year and carries a 2.67 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 40 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings. Joe Nathan the current closer for the Tigers is 4-3 with a 5.89 ERA and has converted 20/25 save opportunities.

It is unclear where Soria will fit in the Tigers bullpen, but he certainly will offer another option to consider.

The Tigers are 56-42 and lead the American League Central by 6 1/2 games over the Kansa City Royals.

]]> 0
Astros Send George Springer to DL Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:52:17 +0000 "<strongThe Houston Astros placed George Springer on the 15 day DL, technically with a right quad injury, although he has been experiencing right knee discomfort as well. The hope is his stay on the DL will not be an extended one. To take his place, the team recalled Marc Krauss from Class AAA Oklahoma City.

Springer sat out the last two Astros games and the Astros are taking the cautious approach in dealing with his injury.

“I just got to get through it,” Springer said on Tuesday. “Whatever happens, happens. I just have overall kind of discomfort.”

Springer is have a super season with 20 home runs, and 51 RBI through his first 78 games at the major league level.

Robbie Grossman will slide over to center field in Springers absence and L.H. Hoes with get time in right.

The Astros are 42-58 and in fourth place in the American League West two game ahead of the Texas Rangers

]]> 0
Padres Cameron Maybin Suspended 25 Games for PEDs Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:04:49 +0000 Padres NewsSan Diego Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin was suspended by Major League Baseball for performance-enhancing drug use and will miss 25 games. Maybin tested positive for amphetamines and it is the second time he has tested positive. Players who test positive for amphetamines are automatically given warnings the first time, and are subjected to subsequent testing and an automatic suspension if caught a second time.

Maybin took responsibility for the failed test.

“I have been undergoing treatment for several years for a medical condition, attention deficit disorder (ADD), for which I previously had a therapeutic use exemption (TUE),” Maybin said in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, in my attempts to switch back to a medicine that had been previously OK’d, I neglected to follow all the rules and as a result I tested positive, and added, “I want to assure everyone that this was a genuine effort to treat my condition and I was not trying in any way to gain an advantage in my baseball career. I understand that I must accept responsibility for this mistake and I will take my punishment and will not challenge my suspension.”

Maybin signed a 5-year $25 million deal with the Padres in 2012 and has been a disappointment. Maybin played just 14 games last season because of an array of injuries, and this season, is hitting just .247 with one home run and nine RBI in 62 games. For his career, he owns an OPS+ of 88 across parts of eight big-league seasons.

]]> 0
With Headley Deal Done, Expect the Yankees to Land Cliff Lee Wed, 23 Jul 2014 01:38:53 +0000 Philiies NewsChase Headley is the perfect type of low-risk, high-reward the Yankees target in all facets of Front Office action, whether it’s the MLB draft or the trade deadline. With Headley’s ability to play third every day or pop around corner infield and outfield, the Yankees added versatility, a glimmer of high upside and a young(er) bat, all at the price of a sell-high non-prospect and an A ball non-elite pitcher.

Those are the deals the Yankees need to make if they want to appease public perception and avoid crippling the future by trading the few gems in a fragile farm system. Unfortunately, it’s more than likely the only one they will make this month.

New York is unlikely to target relief help (nor is it much needed) and it’s difficult to visualize a scenario where it gets a second baseman better than a Roberts/Wheeler/Johnson platoon at little cost, so expect the Yankees to wrap up the trade deadline by trying to land the biggest “fish” it can; Cliff Lee.

Lee is coming off of an injury and is a Free Agent at the end of 2015. The spin here is he can help the team now and potentially replace Hiroki Kuroda should he not return next season.

The cost should be only slightly steeper than Headley’s. If the Yankees can land Lee and not give up Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, or Luis Severino, it might be worth it, but it’s realistic to expect one of the big but slowly fading outfield prospects (Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams or Tyler Austin) and a pitcher to get it done (Ian Clarkin, Jose Ramirez, Manny Banuelos).

It benefits the Phillies because Ruben Amero frees up some payroll and salvages at least something for not trading his biggest trade piece the past two offseasons and it benefits the Yankees who can make one more run in 2015 and then hope its farm or giant haul of international signings starts to assist the parent club.

Coming off of an injury, it may only cost one of the aforementioned caliber of prospects, absorbing the full salary and a couple of filler prospects, but regardless, the Yankees‘ only remaining target is likely going to be Lee.

]]> 0
MLB Trade Rumors: Elvis Andrus, Matt Kemp Contracts Make Trades Difficult Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:25:06 +0000 Dodgers NewsThe trade deadline is approaching, and trade talks are heating up. Earlier today, the New York Yankees traded for San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley, sending Yangervis Solarte and Rafael De Paula to the Friars. Headley had a sensational 2012 season, but his offensive production has dropped off since then. Two other players that have had star seasons in the not too distant past could also be moved before the July 31 deadline.

Matt Kemp, who nearly produced a 40-40 season in 2011 and Elvis Andrus, who had +4 win seasons in 2011 and 2012 might be on the move. However, their contracts could get in the way of a potential trade.

After his monster 2011 season where he batted .324/.399/.586 with 39 home runs, 40 stolen bases and 8.4 fWAR. Kemp has been besieged with injuries. He signed an eight year deal worth $160 million that offseason. He hit very well in 2012, with a .303/.367/.538 line and 23 home runs, but injuries limited him to 106 games.

Shoulder, hamstring and ankle injuries have robbed him of his great power and speed. While he’s still an above-average offensive player, he’s no longer a threat on the bases, and his outfield defense is atrocious. Kemp’s .267/.330/.425 batting line rounds out to a solid 116 wRC+, but he’s been worth -0.5 fWAR.

His contract is one of the biggest albatrosses in the game, and though he would be able to help out an American League team at designated hitter, the Dodgers would probably have to eat a huge chunk of that salary to trade the 29 year-old.

The Seattle Mariners have been linked to Kemp since the offseason, but at this point, Marlon Byrd is a much smarter acquisition.

Rangers ewsAndrus, who is in his 6th big league season, is still just 25. From an offensive standpoint, he hasn’t progressed like most fans and scouts thought he would. Other than his debut season in which he hit six home runs, his ISO has been below .100 every year. Thanks to fine defense and baserunning and good contact skills, he’s put together a couple of very good seasons. But, the last two seasons have seen his offensive output decrease. Since the beginning of the 2012 season, Andrus owns a .269/.322/.334 batting line, which rounds out to a 77 wRC+. Only four qualified hitters have a worse line.

Beginning in 2015, Andrus’ eight year deal kicks in, over which he is owed $118 million. That puts him under contract through the 2022 season, with a vesting option for 2023, at which point he will be 34.

Clearly the Rangers were banking on his power improving. His defensive value is declining for the second consecutive year, and after stealing 42 bases in 50 attempts, he’s only 20 for 30 this year. Presently he’s a solid-average shortstop, but that deal could start looking ugly pretty quickly, as defense and baserunning skills tend to age poorly.

The YankeesDetroit Tigers, Mariners and possibly Los Angeles Dodgers could all use help at the shortstop position, it appears that Andrus’ cumbersome contract will prevent him from getting moved at the deadline.

In the long-term, it makes much more sense to trade contracts, rather than players. Even in their current disappointing states, Kemp and Andrus could help a contending team. However, unless their respective teams are willing to send a lot of cash along with them, they won’t get traded. Both Kemp and Andrus require a commitment that isn’t worth the short-term value they might be able to provide.

]]> 0
Yankees Complete Deal for Padres Chase Headley Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:42:18 +0000 Padres RumorsThe New York Yankees completed a deal which will send Yangervis Solarte and minor league right-hander Rafael De Paula to the San Diego Padres in return for Chase Headley and $1 million.

Baseball News Source speculated the Yankees would complete this deal last week. Headley is a free-agent at the end of the year. New York is not eligible to make him a qualifying offer.

Headley has come down from his once lofty position as an annual trade deadline rumor favorite.

The switch hitting Headley has slumped this season, batting just .229 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs. He also struggled last season while dealing with injuries, batting .250 with 13 homers.

The Yankees are banking on a change of scenery and an opportunity to play in a playoff race to help him revert to his 2012 form when he had 31 homers and a league-leading 115 RBIs in 2012.

Solarte started the season hot for the Bombers but cooled off considerably and was sent back to the minors earlier this month. De Paula, 23, is 6-5 with a 4.15 ERA for Single-A Tampa. He has 104 strikeouts in 89 innings.

]]> 2
Blue Jays Add Prospect Aaron Sanchez to Bullpen Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:28:05 +0000 Blue Jays NewsThe Toronto Blue Jays will add highly-touted right-hander Aaron Sanchez to the roster in hopes of shoring up the Jays bullpen. Sanchez was just promoted to Buffalo last month and was 0-3 with a 4.19 ERA for the Bisons, starting six games before moving to the bullpen to monitor his innings pitched.

Sanchez was a first-round draft pick in the 2010 MLB Draft and ranked as a consensus top-50 prospect coming into this season.

“We really felt he started to turn the corner as a starter,’’ said GM Alex Anthopoulos.

That said like many young pitchers, Sanchez has struggled with control as 5.1 BB/9 ratio indicates. The plan to use Sanchez out of the bullpen would limit his exposure and control issues against major league hitters.

The move comes just one day after the Blue Jays designated reliever Sergio Santos for assignment, clearing up a 40-man roster spot so that Sanchez could be added.
The Blue Jays pitching staff was ambushed by the Boston Red Sox offense for 14 runs, giving up 18 hits, including two homers by David Ortiz.

Starter Drew Hutchison didn’t get past the third inning, giving up nine hits and six runs. Brad Mills surrendered eight runs in just two innings of work.
The Blue Jays (51-49) are tied with the New York Yankees for the second place in the American League East, four games behind the Baltimore Orioles and are 4-6 over their last 10 games.

The struggling Jays have been hit by injuries since leading the East by as many as six games in May.
Brett Lawrie, Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion are all on the disabled list adding fuel to the trade rumor fire.

]]> 0
MLB Trade Rumors: Bartolo Colon, A.J. Burnett Tue, 22 Jul 2014 00:38:30 +0000 MLB Trade RumorsDavid Price is the big prize among starting pitchers on the trade block. Jeff Samardzija has already been dealt, and it remains to be seen whether Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee will change teams by the deadline. Beyond that, there are plenty of mid level options.

Two veteran hurlers, Bartolo Colon and A.J. Burnett, have seen their names mentioned frequently in the last week or so. The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies are six and 12 games under .500 respectively.

Colon was signed to a two-year deal worth $20 million this offseason. The 41 year-old right-hander owns an ERA that is nearly 1.5 runs higher, but his strikeout rate has increased from 15.2 percent to 18.0 percent, while his walk rate has dropped from 3.8 percent to 3.4 percent. His park-adjusted xFIP is 100, exactly the same as last season. For the most part, Colon has been the same pitcher, though Citi Field isn’t quite as spacious as the Coliseum.

He throws his 89-90 mile per hour fastball over 80 percent of the time, and occasionally mixes in a slider or changeup. Colon won’t miss many bats, but walks are few and far between. Last year’s 2.65 ERA was an anomaly, but Colon is a pretty dependable  No. 3 or No. 4 starting pitcher.

That’s something the Mets don’t really need, as they aren’t in contention this year, and have a host of young starting pitchers that could be ready by next year. It would be wise for them to deal him and perhaps get a decent prospect in return.

MLB Trade RumorsAfter the Pittsburgh Pirates declined to extend a qualifying offer, the Phillies signed Burnett to a one-year deal for $16 million. It was a curious move, as the Phils weren’t in position to be a contender in 2014. Right now they are 43-55 and occupying last place in the National League East. The 37 year-old Burnett hasn’t replicated his success from last season. His ERA is up from 3.30 to 4.08, and his strikeout rate has dropped from 26.1 percent to 19.2 percent, while his walk and ground ball rates have also declined.

Burnett has lost a tick on his fastball, and his swing and miss rate of 7.9 percent is his lowest since the 2010 season when he pitched to a 5.26 ERA with the New York Yankees. After two very good seasons with the Pirates, his stuff is likely on a downward trajectory. The ZiPS and Steamer projections don’t see a whole lot of improvement over the remainder of the season. As far as the projection systems go, Colon has the slight edge.

Nevertheless, teams are still interested in Burnett, and he’s posted a couple of double-digit strikeout games this year. Maybe some team will catch lightning in a bottle with the talented right-hander. The Baltimore Orioles are supposedly in the hunt. Their rotation has been pretty mediocre this year, though they are in first place nonetheless. It likely won’t cost much to acquire the veteran right-hander, especially with his $16 million prorated price tag.

Beyond Price and possibly Hamels or Lee, the options on the starting pitching market are generally uninspiring. Perhaps the Kansas City Royals will decide to put James Shields on the block, or maybe the Boston Red Sox will pull a surprise and deal Jon Lester. Still, Colon and Burnett could represent upgrades for several contending teams, including the Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays.

]]> 0
MLB Trade Rumors: Koji Uehara on the Move? Mon, 21 Jul 2014 18:17:14 +0000 Red Sox RumorsShut down closers are difficult to find, especially one like the right-handed arm of Koji Uehara.

July is a month marked by escalating speculation by the media since the non-waiver trade deadline is July 31. With the Red Sox mired in the American League East cellar and needing a prolonged winning streak just to reach .500, much has been written about the club potentially dealing the veteran right-hander for promising prospects like those the San Diego Padres received from the Los Angeles Angels for Huston Street.

The Red Sox are unlikely to deal Uehara, though, considering that they have won seven of their last eight games and sit 7.5 games behind first place Baltimore and six games in back of Seattle for the second wild card spot. Boston is also reportedly interested in bringing back Uehara in 2015, though he can become a free agent at season’s end and will turn 40 next April.

Since Uehara does not rely on velocity – the splitter is his out pitch, and that offering makes his 89 m.p.h. fast ball seem potent – he can still be effective.

As long as they keep winning, the Red Sox are also not likely to part with 29-year-old power left-hander Andrew Miller, who is having the best performance in his nine-year Major League career with a 2.13 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 38 innings.

Miller can also become a free agent after the 2014 season, and Peter Gammons projects that the former Detroit Tigers first round pick can command a salary of $6 million to $7 million a year. The Red Sox have the payroll flexibility to give Miller that number, and since he has closer potential, the club could deem he is worth bringing back at a higher rate.

]]> 0
Red Sox Rumors: Winning Has Team Exploring Options Mon, 21 Jul 2014 18:09:00 +0000 Red Sox NewsFueled by brighter times that have seen them win seven of their last eight games, including a three-game weekend sweep of the Kansas City Royals, the Boston Red Sox face growing uncertainty about their plans as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline draws nearer.

Though they are six games under .500 at 46-52 and in the American League East basement, percentage points behind Tampa Bay, the Red Sox have drawn within 7.5 games of first place Baltimore and six games behind Seattle for the second wild card spot. Will general manager Ben Cherington opt for buyer or seller status? Likely, it will be both.

Last weekend, Boston activated outfielder Shane Victorino from the disabled list and optioned rookie Mookie Betts to Pawtucket. That was a logical decision since Betts is only 21, has rocketed through the Red Sox farm system and can use more seasoning at Triple-A. Cherington will have more difficult choices when the club deems that third baseman Will Middlebrooks is ready to return from a prolonged rehab assignment.

The 25-year-old Middlebrooks – who the organization believes has 30 home run, 100 RBI potential – has endured a rash of injuries over the last two seasons. He can provide the Red Sox with desperately needed right-handed power. Yet when the club decides to bring back Middlebrooks to the big league level, there will be a logjam on the right side of the infield.

Currently, the light-hitting Stephen Drew occupies the shortstop position while 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts (whose preferred spot is shortstop) mans third base. Boston’s farm system is loaded with promising prospects, including third baseman Garin Cecchini and shortstop Deven Marrero, both of whom are in Pawtucket’s starting lineup. Red Sox manager John Farrell must also keep a lineup spot reserved for the versatile Brock Holt, who is an American League Rookie of the Year contender with his .326 average, .825 OPS and above average defense at every position except pitcher and catcher.

The most expendable Red Sox players appear to be the left-handed hitting Mike Carp since switch hitter Daniel Nava also plays the corner outfield spots and first base; Drew, because the Red Sox can return Bogaerts to shortstop and insert Middlebrooks or Holt at third base; and Middlebrooks himself.

Middlebrooks has trade appeal because he is under affordable team control and has the aforementioned power potential. The Miami Marlins covet him, though they appear unwilling to trade Boston’s desired target – right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. Of course, landing Stanton would require a package that would likely include Middlebrooks or Cecchini, a top pitching prospect such as Rubby De La Rosa or Anthony Ranaudo, one of the premium catching prospects (Christian Vazquez or Blake Swihart) and an outfielder like Jackie Bradley Jr. or Betts (whose natural position is second base).

Veteran outfielder Jonny Gomes might also be expendable since he can become a free agent at season’s end, and he mashes left-handed pitching. Yet, because of his right-handed power and his beloved presence in the clubhouse, Cherington will likely keep Gomes as long as the club keeps winning.

Though they have started to produce more offense over the last week, the Red Sox still need a lineup upgrade. Cherington is reportedly still searching for outfield help. Middlebrooks could offer that jolt if he continues to prove he can stay healthy and keep slugging at Pawtucket. There has been talk that he will be moved to left field, but so far he has remained at third base during his rehab.

Victorino collected three hits in his first two games back from the DL, and the Red Sox have missed his presence resulting from extended hamstring and back ailments. Bogaerts has a high ceiling and is unlikely to go back to Pawtucket or be dealt, even though he is batting just .234 with a .663 OPS. Holt is safe, as are core bats like Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, which is why Carp and Drew are the position players who are most likely to wear a new uniform by the trade deadline.

]]> 0
Rays Joel Peralta Thinks He May Have Chikungunya Virus Mon, 21 Jul 2014 18:03:43 +0000 Tampa Bay Rays NewsTime for the truth. I wasn’t sure what Chikungunya virus was, but it didn’t sound like something I would want. Tampa Bay Rays reliever Joel Peralta thinks he may have contacted the virus during the All-Star break while visiting the Dominican Republic.

The virus is transferred by mosquitoes in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It has also recently been found in Caribbean countries.

The symptoms of the chikungunya virus include virus infection, fever and joint pain. Headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and rashes can also occur.

Peralta took ill on Friday and was seen by Minnesota Twins doctors. Peralta has not pitched since the break and was unavailable to pitch in Sunday’s series finale with the Twins and may have to be placed on the disabled list.

Meanwhile the streaking Rays are trying to climbing back into the thick of the American League East having swept the Twins in their first series since the break.

Since June 11, the Rays are 23-11, the best mark in the AL East, and have closed to within six games of .500.

Despite their winning ways trade rumors persist about ace David Price , with just about every team in MLB expressing an interest at some level.

Add Ben Zobrist to the list of eligible trade candidates for the Rays . The Rays super utility  veteran is said to attracting attention for Seattle, Oakland and San Francisco.

]]> 0
MLB Trade Rumors: Chase Headley on the Move? Sat, 19 Jul 2014 21:51:15 +0000 "<strongThe San Diego Padres have been out of the playoff hunt for some time. General Manager Josh Byrnes was fired earlier in the year, and more changes are on the way. Huston Street was sent to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for a trio of prospects last night. It seems very likely that more trades are on the way. One big name that should get moved is third baseman Chase Headley.

Headley, who will hit free agency after this season, had an MVP-caliber season in 2012. The third baseman produced an impressive .286/.376/.498 batting line with 31 home runs. Impressive numbers to be sure, but especially so considering that he played half his games in very spacious Petco Park.

Along with his 145 wRC+, he played good defense at the keystone and played in 161 games. All told he totaled 7.2 fWAR, the 6th best mark among position players.

Though solid, his 2013 season was less impressive. Headley’s batting line dropped to .250/.347/.400 and he slugged just 13 home runs. 3.5 fWAR in 141 games is still quite good though, and his name was tossed around in offseason trade talks as the Padres were unable to sign him to an extension.

Headley got off to a brutal start in 2014. In the first month of the season he managed an ugly .186/.250/.314 line, and the next two months of the season weren’t much better. July has been more kind to the 30 year-old, as he’s currently hitting .321/.321/.446 for a 118 wRC+.

Despite his offensive struggles, (and Headley is hitting just .226/.295/.348 overall), he’s managed to accumulate 1.3 fWAR, and projects as an above-average offensive player going forward.

Unless they plan on signing him to a long-term deal, Headley is just a rental for any team that acquires him. He’s owed $10.5 million for this year, a good chunk of which has already been paid out by the Padres.

In terms of prospects, he shouldn’t come at a very high cost, as he doesn’t have long-term value and he’s been an average hitter over his last 900 plate appearances. Nevertheless, he could still help many teams out.

The New York Yankees are interested in Headley. Their infield situation, particularly on the left side, has been problematic. Yangervis Solarte got off to a hot start, but he’s since cooled off, and spent some time in the minors while Zelous Wheeler filled in. Kelly Johnson has been mediocre and as a whole Yankees third basemen have hit just .242/.319/.391, with most of that coming from Solarte’s early season heroics.

Headley would represent an upgrade, and Yankee Stadium’s short porch would be a nice fit for his switch-hitting bat.

It appears that General Manager Brian Cashman is going to be aggressive, and he has already acquired Brandon McCarthy. Trading for Headley would add some punch to the Yankees lineup.

Meanwhile, the Padres would be able to get some value for a player that is likely to leave after this season. More moves are in store for the Padres, and sending Headley to the Yankees is a logical next step in the rebuilding process.

]]> 0
Braves Release Dan Uggla With $18 Million Owed Sat, 19 Jul 2014 04:08:55 +0000 Braves Spring TrainingThe Atlanta Braves finally decided to cut the cord with Dan Uggla and released the struggling second baseman requesting unconditional release waivers on a former starter still guaranteed over $18 million for the remainder of this year and next.

The Braves have tried for the better part of a year to trade Uggla without success and made the decision to release him.

“We’ve been very active making calls for the last month,” general manager Frank Wren said. “We got to a point where we realized that this was probably our only avenue.”

The 34-year-old Uggla was hitting a paltry .162 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 48 games and 130 at-bats this year.

The team suspended Uggla for one game on Sunday for just 30 minutes before the start of a game at the Chicago Cubs.

Atlanta acquired Uggla on Nov. 16, 2010, when Wren traded infielder Omar Infante and reliever Mike Dunn to the Marlins. Wren soon signed Uggla to a five-year contract worth approximately $62 million.

The Braves recalled utility man Tyler Pastornicky from Gwinnett to take Uggla’s spot on the 25-man roster. Going forward, rookie Tommy La Stella will remain the Braves’ regular second baseman.

The team maintains a one game lead over the Washington Nationals in the National League East, with a 53-43 record heading into the post All-Star half of the 2014 schedule.

]]> 0
Padres Set To Trade Huston Street to Angels Sat, 19 Jul 2014 03:54:21 +0000 "SanThe Los Angeles Angels have reached an agreement with the San Diego Padres on a six-player trade that will send All-Star closer Huston Street to the Angels.

The trade is pending all players involved passing physicals.

The Padres will receive second baseman Taylor Lindsey, right-hander R.J. Alvarez, shortstop Jose Rondon and another minor leaguer from the Angels.

Street has 24 saves to go with a 1.09 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP this season with San Diego and saved 33 games with a 2.70 ERA in 2013.

The Angels swapped closers with the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier in the year, but new acquisition Jason Grilli is historically inconsistent, although in in eight games for the Angels since the deal, is 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA.

ESPN Radio’s Jim Bowden was the first to report a deal was near early Friday evening.

More details on the other names involved will be forthcoming.

]]> 1
MLB Trade Rumors: Huston Street, Joakim Soria Sat, 19 Jul 2014 02:13:20 +0000 "<strongBaseball is finally back, and trade talks are heating up. Less than two weeks remain before the July 31st deadline. Of course trades can be and often are made after that deadline when players clear waivers, but a good chunk of the action will occur in the next two weeks.

Two names that are receiving a lot of interest are Texas Rangers closer Joakim Soria and San Diego Padres stopper Huston Street. Both are pitching very well in relief for teams that won’t be around in October.

Rangers Romors2014 is Soria’s first full season after coming back from his second Tommy John surgery. He served as the Kansas City Royals closer from 2007-11 and notched 160 saves. However, he missed the entire 2012 season, and appeared in just 26 games for the Rangers in 2013.

This season Soria has been excellent. Over 32 appearances and 30.1 innings, he’s authored strikeout and walk rates of 33.6 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. Furthermore, he’s yet to allow a home run, so he owns a ridiculous 0.90 FIP.

Going forward, Soria will probably allow a few longballs, but he’s producing his best swing and miss rate since 2009. The Detroit Tigers are looking to shore up their bullpen, which has been an issue for the second straight year.

Last season they dealt Danry Vasquez and David Paulino to the Houston Astros in exchange for Jose Veras who transitioned to a setup role with the Tigers. Offseason acquisition Joe Nathan has struggled, though his recent results have been better. Still, his walks are up and his fastball velocity is down. Soria would help solidify the bullpen for a postseason run, and with a $7 million team option for 2015, he’s more than a rental.

Street somehow saved 33 games with a 2.70 ERA in 2013 despite allowing 12 home runs in 56.2 innings and posting the lowest strikeout rate of his career. In 2014 he’s done much better, with strikeout and walk rates of 28.1 percent and 5.8 percent. Like Soria, he’s not endowed with an overpowering fastball, as his heater averages just a shade over 89 miles per hour.

He does have an excellent slider which he throws quite often. For his career he possesses a 13.4 percent swing and miss rate. While a lot of that can be chalked up to his slider, he also throws a good changeup, which has a career 18.7 percent whiff rate. Also like Soria, his contract has a $7 million team option for 2015.

The Tigers will take a hard look at Street as well. The Angels are also interested. They swapped closers with the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier in the year, but new acquisition Jason Grilli is historically inconsistent. They would prefer to utilize Joe Smith in a setup role.

Either Soria or Street would be a solid pickup for the Angels or Tigers, two teams that are loaded offensively and could make a serious playoff run. Unlike the Tigers, who have the AL Central all but locked up, the Angels are in a tight race with the A’s where one or two games could make a big difference.

]]> 1
MLB Trade Rumors: Should the Phillies Deal Hamels and Lee? Sat, 19 Jul 2014 01:31:30 +0000 Philiies NewsThe Philadelphia Phillies are currently occupying last place in the National League East. While they hung on to unrealistic hopes of contending last season, they appear to be facing up to reality this year. It’s time for the Phillies to rebuild their aging roster, and their farm system could desperately use some fresh faces. Ace pitchers Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are receiving plenty of interest. Either would could make a big difference for a contending team.

Lee has been one of the five best pitchers in baseball since 2008. The 35 year-old hurler was having an excellent 2014 season before hitting the disabled list with an elbow injury. Through ten starts he was striking out 21.1 percent of hitters with a miniscule 3.1 percent walk rate.

That’s par for the course for the left-hander, who pounds the zone with a fastball and cutter while mixing in a curveball and changeup. He rarely walks anyone, induces plenty of groundballs, and while his contact rate is higher than the major league average, he throws so many strikes that he consistently manages high strikeout rates.

If he returns healthy, he’s one of the best 5-10 pitchers in baseball. However, he’s playing out a five year, $120 million deal that he signed after the 2010 season. At that price he doesn’t have a lot of extra value. Still, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will be looking for at least one top prospect in return. Any team would be improved by acquiring Lee, but with his hefty contract, he’ll only be in play for those with money to spare.

It’s less likely that the Phillies will deal Hamels, who is under contract for approximately $22 million a year through 2018 with an option for 2019. The 30 year-old left-hander has been very durable and very good since slotting into the rotation full-time in 2007.

Since then he’s averaged over 200 innings per year while posting between 3.5 and 4.6 fWAR. His walk rate of 8.6 percent is the highest he’s posted since his 23 start debut in 2006. Nevertheless, he’s managed a 2.93 ERA with similar peripherals thanks to a 24.1 percent strikeout rate and a 48.6 percent ground ball rate.

Hamels’ changeup has long been one of the best pitches in the game, and the 2014 season is no exception. Hitters have swung and missed at 27.5 percent of his changeups.

He missed some time at the beginning of the year with biceps tendonitis, but he appears to be healthy. His fastball velocity has remained steady throughout his career. That contract might not look too pretty in a few years, but for now Hamels is one of the best pitchers in the game and just a shade behind a healthy Cliff Lee.

Unlike Lee, the Phillies might see Hamels as being in their long-term plans, making them more hesitant to deal him. While his contract doesn’t allow for much in the way of surplus value, an acquiring team would get an ace-level pitcher for the foreseeable future.

He might be more difficult to pry away than Lee, whose contract will run out after next season. Still, the Phils would be wise to deal him away if they can get a big return. This team isn’t close to contending and needs a rebuild badly. Trading two star pitchers will hurt in the short run, but they aren’t on the verge of playoff contention in any case.

]]> 0