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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 239

post #7141 of 73668
Dontrelle Willis retired.
New York Yankees | New York Jets
New York Yankees | New York Jets
post #7142 of 73668
Thread Starter 
Heyward is having a decent year, it's not that far-fetched. Cutch has been better this year. Melky deserved a spot IMO. Bumgarner got snubbed but Greinke is the WORST snub laugh.gif but that's what happens when you let the clown TLR still pick All Star players and have a big effect on this supposed game that counts even though he's retired.
post #7143 of 73668
That Mets article is assinine...I'm fine for making a trade for a reliever but there is no way its worth it to give up a top prospect.
post #7144 of 73668
Originally Posted by Proshares

Greinke is the WORST snub laugh.gif but that's what happens when you let the clown TLR still pick All Star players

QFT. Dude has been one of the best starters in the majors, if not the best.

Edit:  Of course he was gonna get lit up tonight. smiley: laugh
post #7145 of 73668
Uggla is struggling he's not deserving of being starter at 2nd base let alone making the team.

i don't agree with Crasnick that Heyward should replace Melky 
post #7146 of 73668
Originally Posted by Naija Nitemare

Originally Posted by dako akong otin

4 Angels in the all-star team smiley: pimp      

smiley: pimpsmiley: pimpsmiley: pimpsmiley: pimp

Ernesto smiley: nerd

yeah, i kept voting him in yesterday...   so if Frieri makes it, we're gonna have T 'n T for offense then WWF for pitching (Weaver, Wilson, Frieri) smiley: laughsmiley: tongue
post #7147 of 73668
laugh.gif Yall know damn well he's not beating out Darvish.
post #7148 of 73668
Gardy with his 900th win tonight. pimp.gif
post #7149 of 73668
Billy Hamilton: 100 stolen bases in 78 games.

post #7150 of 73668
Anthony Rizzo went 2-4 yesterday. This kid is a good defensive player as well. Bright Future.
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Minnesota Vikings

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Chicago Blackhawks
post #7151 of 73668
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by airmaxpenny1

That Mets article is assinine...I'm fine for making a trade for a reliever but there is no way its worth it to give up a top prospect.


They were bringing up Wheeler and Harvey as part of a Greinke deal.
post #7152 of 73668
Thread Starter 

Trevor Plouffe: A Something to Enjoy in Minnesota.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

The reader may very well be totally and irretrievably drunk at the moment, but it’s not for that reason that he’s seeing Trevor Plouffe‘s name near the top of the preceding [leaderboard]. As of Tuesday night, at least, Plouffe had hit the most home runs (nine) among major leaguers in June.

– Carson Cistulli, Daily Notes

If you are a self-respecting, perfectly rational human, then you have no doubt been ignoring the Minnesota Twins. Even fans from the Northstar State have been watching their beloved team — now at 34-45 — through face-covering hands of anguish.

So it is likely you, like me, did not really think about Trevor Plouffe before right now or perhaps earlier this month. I knew his name, but it was not until a fan suggested he deserved a movie in his honor that I realized something was askew.

And a askew it is: Plouffe — a utility infielder with a consistent history of ~95 wRC+ in the minors — has 18 home runs and a .371 wOBA (137 wRC+). Not only has he earned the starting third base job in Minnesota, he has shot up the MLB leaderboards and would currently have the 3rd best wRC+ among third basemen if he had the qualifying plate appearances.

And though his home run power may be partly mirage, there is enough evidence now to think Plouffe’s re-birth is for real.

There are three major changes in Plouffe’s game from 2010-2011 to 2012: (a) more walks, (b) more fly balls and (b) more home runs.

More Walks
Plouffe had not sustained a double-digit walk rate in the minor leagues except since 2006 in High-A. Since that season, he has hung around a 7% walk rate. In 2012, he is at 10% on the button.

This is a good improvement, no doubt. But according to FI wOBA, if he have a 10% walk rate in 2011, he would still have only been around only a .312 wOBA (up from .305 wOBA), so it is not a really thrilling difference.

The upped walk rate has certainly been a component of his improvement, but not the material element of it. In fact, he might be getting more walks purely out of pitchers showing him more respect. The PITCHf/x zone data suggest pitchers are throwing him a career-low Zone%, but only but a little (0.5% down from last year).

More Fly Balls
Plouffe’s line drive rate, despite his strong hitting this year, has gone down from 17% in 2011 to about 15% in 2012. Meanwhile, his fly-ball rate has ballooned from 40% to 47%. And many of these fly balls have departed for dingers.

And if we can believe Plouffe, and I’m not sure why he would lie, then we can assume he is not deliberately lofting more balls:

“When you start to hit home runs, there’s a tendency to try to hit more,

post #7153 of 73668
Originally Posted by Kevin Cleveland

Billy Hamilton: 100 stolen bases in 78 games.


pimp.gif I can't wait until he gets up here.
post #7154 of 73668
found an MLB NTer 

smiley: roll!/VANIMAL_49/media/slideshow?!/VANIMAL_49/media/grid!/VANIMAL_49

Vance Worley Phillies P
post #7155 of 73668
Carpenter to have season ending shoulder surgery. This guy couldn't stay healthy if his life depended on it. He should consider hanging it up.

One again...Lord Stanley Resides In The Windy City.


One again...Lord Stanley Resides In The Windy City.

post #7156 of 73668
Originally Posted by dyyhard

found an MLB NTer 

smiley: roll!/VANIMAL_49/media/slideshow?!/VANIMAL_49/media/grid!/VANIMAL_49

Vance Worley Phillies P

thats whats a fan of him even though the mets killed him yesterday smiley: laugh
post #7157 of 73668
Thread Starter 
Previewing the AL trade market.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

No team illustrates the whole buying/selling quandary better than the Tampa Bay Rays. They reside in third place in baseball's toughest division, sitting behind the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles and in front of the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays, and their offense is -- how can we say this politely? -- challenged.

Tampa Bay has a team OPS of .688, which ranks 25th among 30 MLB teams. The Rays' defense, usually among the best in the majors, ranks second in errors, and Tampa Bay has allowed 40 unearned runs, three more than the entire 2011 season. Only three teams have allowed more this season -- the San Diego Padres (46), Texas Rangers (41) and Detroit Tigers (44).

So there is a lot to not like about the Rays.

But think about this: Evan Longoria is going to be back sometime in the next month, in all likelihood, and he has the ability to stabilize the Rays' offense and defense. Fernando Rodney has been an All-Star closer in support of a rotation that ranks second in the AL in ERA -- and it could get better, as Matt Moore continues to settle in. Every manager in baseball would feel good about taking a rotation of David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson and Moore into the postseason.

The Rays are forward thinking, generally, and if they trade Shields, B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce before July 31, they could get some excellent value.

On the other hand: Some folks in the organization believe that the team's window for consistently contending for titles is slowly closing, given its growing need for high-end young talent. There is no guarantee that the Rays could assemble a pitching staff as good as this year's staff might be anytime soon.

Buy? Sell? It's way too early for the Rays and other teams to decide for good, but the AL trade market is already taking shape.

Boston: The Red Sox have been focused on adding starting pitching, despite some surprising performances from Franklin Morales and Aaron Cook. That Morales was asked to contribute four outs of relief on Wednesday while being lined up to start against the Yankees this weekend tells you that Boston's pitching is stretched.

Seattle Mariners: Seattle isn't going to trade Felix Hernandez, but the Mariners do have some usable parts to sell off, such as Kevin Millwood, who will return to the rotation Friday after battling a groin problem. Millwood's splits are the complete opposite of Jason Vargas -- the 37-year-old right-hander has pitched better on the road (3.10 ERA) than at home (5.29 ERA), and he's allowed only four homers in 83.1 innings. Most impressively, Millwood's had three strong outings against the Rangers, in a year in which his base salary is just $1 million. He'd be a great fit for the Washington Nationals, who will shut down Stephen Strasburg sometime in the next couple of months. Other parts up for grabs: Chone Figgins, Vargas and Brandon League.

Oakland Athletics: Some teams have called about Seth Smith, but the Athletics need his offense and will keep him. With the emergence of Derek Norris, the Athletics would trade Kurt Suzuki and will listen on Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour (who has an affordable $4.5 million option for 2013).

Rangers: They will be an intriguing entity in this summer's market, and some rival executives believe they will make a big play for one of the Tier 1 starting pitchers, like Zack Greinke or (perhaps) Cole Hamels. It's far too early to write off Roy Oswalt, but the fact that the veteran right-hander has generated almost as many extra-base hits (14) as strikeouts (16) is a bad early sign -- and it's unclear what Neftali Feliz might contribute the rest of the year, if anything. As one executive noted, it's very possible that this is the Rangers' last season with Josh Hamilton, which could be a reason for Texas to pursue a big move now. And really big moves -- like the midseason deal for Cliff Lee -- have become part of their pedigree under GM Jon Daniels.

Los Angeles Angels: The back problems of Dan Haren might shift GM Jerry Dipoto into the market for a second-tier starter, like a McCarthy, Colon or Millwood.

Kansas City Royals: Every time they run off a few wins, they eventually slide back because of their significant problem -- they just don't have much in the way of starting pitching, ranking 28th in baseball in ERA. The Royals might be candidates for some incremental moves to improve the rotation, but with the team now 7 1/2 games out of first in the AL Central, it seems just as likely K.C. will swap some of its secondary pieces. The Royals don't look ready to climb quite yet.

Cleveland Indians: They were among the finalists in the Kevin Youkilis trade talks because they need right-handed hitting. The Indians' OPS against left-handed pitching is the second-worst in the AL, just ahead of the Mariners, so you can bet that Cleveland will be fishing for right-handed hitting. Carlos Quentin would be a nice addition, although San Diego will have multiple bidders vying for the slugger.

Chicago White Sox: Chris Sale has never thrown 130 innings in any season in his life as a ballplayer, and he's already got 102.2. It's hard to imagine the White Sox are going to let him rack up 200 innings, so like the Nationals, they could be in the market for a relatively inexpensive rotation stopgap, like Millwood. The White Sox already have been asking around about bullpen help.

Tigers: It's easy to suggest that the Tigers could use an upgrade at second base. But who would it be? Would Marco Scutaro -- who has a .609 OPS outside of Coors Field -- represent worthwhile improvement? Kelly Johnson? Mike Fontenot? Placido Polanco? Chris Getz? The Tigers' problems are not easily fixed. They could use bullpen depth, though -- someone like the Padres' Huston Street or Balfour.

Yankees: They're waiting for their needs to be better defined, and maybe they'll be in the market for an outfielder if there is an indication that Brett Gardner's elbow injury could affect him the rest of the season. Remember that over time, GM Brian Cashman has gotten much more conservative about trading prospects, especially for prospective free agents; he passed on the opportunity to get CC Sabathia in the summer of 2008, for example.

Blue Jays: The Blue Jays' intention is to get to the All-Star break and then make an honest assessment of their chances -- which are not good. Toronto is 7 1/2 games out of first place, with major injury problems in the rotation -- problems that have placed significant stress on the bullpen the last few weeks. Some rival officials believe the Jays are likely to be sellers before the deadline, and in a summer in which few good hitters are available, Edwin Encarnacion could be attractive to Cleveland, et al.

Orioles: It's no secret that the Orioles need pitching, but given Dan Duquette's track record, it's more likely he'll go for value upgrades rather than any major deals that would involve him surrendering top prospects. If you don't think the Orioles' chances for glory are real, you might want to check the standings; the Orioles would be one of the wild-card teams if the playoffs started today.

Minnesota Twins: They have had a terrible season and need pitching, and presumably Terry Ryan will focus on adding young pitching as other teams call him about Francisco Liriano, Josh Willingham, Denard Span and others. As he said recently, the Twins badly need pitching and a whole lot of it.

Lee goes to Miami

A source said to me about the Marlins' trade for Carlos Lee: "They have to do something."

Yes, because Miami first basemen went into Wednesday's games with the worst OPS at the position in the majors by about 40 points. There is no guarantee that Lee is going to make the Marlins better, but they can't be any worse with him.

The Marlins demoted Gaby Sanchez right after he had generated a big hit in a Miami win, and Ozzie Guillen was particularly blunt in explaining the move, using the past tense when speaking of Sanchez, as Joe Capozzi writes. From Joe's story:

Guillen was asked if it was difficult to tell Sanchez he was being demoted just moments after he hit a clutch home run.

"I don't think he should be blaming anybody. He should blame himself. We gave Gaby a lot of opportunities. The reason they made this move is ... obvious. We did not have that much production from him,'' Guillen said.

"You don't send people down when they are playing good.''

Lee had become the face of the Astros' futility, writes Jerome Solomon.

The Astros are paying all but a prorated minimum of the roughly $9.25 million still owed to Lee. That was sunken cost, however, and it made absolutely no sense for Houston to keep him around. Matt Dominguez is a highly regarded defender who was drafted ahead of both Jason Heyward and Giancarlo Stanton, but there are questions about whether he'll ever hit in the big leagues; he was hitting .234 in Triple-A.


• Youkilis was The Man for the White Sox, writes Mark Gonzales. White Sox fans have the whole "Youk" thing down pat.

Matt Kemp told me he had asked others who he should pick for the Home Run Derby, and the most popular response, by far, was Stanton. But now it appears Stanton may not participate in the derby and the All-Star Game.

• After opening the season with baseball's toughest April schedule, the Pittsburgh Pirates are rolling: Pittsburgh is 35-22 since May 2 after getting a big hit from Pedro Alvarez, as Michael Sanserino writes. Watched almost all of this game, and you can see the confidence of the Pirates growing day by day.

• This could be a huge problem: Dustin Pedroia needs more tests on his right thumb.

Chipper Jones is on the verge of setting an RBI record for third basemen, as mentioned within this David O'Brien notebook.

Matt Holliday is scorching hot, with 33 hits in his last 64 at-bats.

Trevor Bauer shook off Miguel Montero constantly the other day. Bauer does a lot of things differently than other pitchers, and so long as he gets hitters out, he'll be left alone. If he struggles, as he did the other night, then it wouldn't be at all surprising if the Arizona Diamondbacks push him to be more conventional.

Dings and dents

1. Just as the Los Angeles Dodgers brought back Mark Ellis, they lost Dee Gordon, who dislocated his thumb in L.A.'s victory Wednesday. Andre Ethier was placed on the disabled list.

2. Joe Saunders is set to make a rehab start, as mentioned within this notebook.

3. Jaime Garcia had a throwing session.

4. Jesus Montero suffered a mild concussion.

5. Haren may be headed to the disabled list, leaving the Angels short-handed.

6. Alex Avila doesn't have any structural damage in his knee.

7. Joba Chamberlain is feeling good, as George King writes.

8. Brian Roberts is going to undergo more tests.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. McCarthy would be open to the idea of talking about a multi-year deal with the Athletics. His is an interesting case, because as Susan Slusser writes, he's pitched extremely well when healthy -- but his injury history is daunting. McCarthy has made just 59 starts in the last four seasons. And Oakland is so steeped in young pitching that any deal with McCarthy might have to be at the team's price, which may or may not be in line with what the union would want him to take. My guess (and that's all it is): two years, $14-16 million. I can't see the Athletics giving him a three-year deal.

2. With Lorenzo Cain nearing his return to the big leagues, the Royals designated Mitch Maier for assignment.

3. The Jays' No. 1 pick could pitch for them this season.

4. Andrew Cashner landed on the DL, as old pal Chris Jenkins writes.

5. The Cincinnati Reds don't know when they'll promote Billy Hamilton, who racked up his 101st stolen base in Single-A on Wednesday.

6. What the New York Mets really need is a right-handed bat, writes Andy Martino.

7. Nick Blackburn was sent to the minors.

8. Yu Darvish will skip his final turn before the All-Star break.

By The Numbers

From ESPN Stats and Info

5: Complete games for Justin Verlander this season (most in MLB)
8: Straight games with an RBI for Robinson Cano
10: Ryan Zimmerman is hitting .370 with four home runs in his last 10 games
14: Starts for Cliff Lee to get his first win of the season
15: Games above .500 for the Nationals (season high)
100: Mark Teixeira hit his 328th career homer, tying Mo Vaughn and Shawn Green for 100th all-time.

NL West notes

• You can't stop the Padres, you can only hope to contain them: Yasmani Grandal went deep again, and San Diego swept Arizona.

• The Diamondbacks were swept at home by the Padres, and Justin Upton was booed.

• Watched a lot of the Giants' loss at Washington, and it just felt like an 11 a.m. East Coast start time was a lot to ask of a West Coast team.

• The Colorado Rockies are on pace for a 100-loss season, and the worst-ever performance by a rotation, after their latest defeat. There is this, at least: Tyler Colvin is raking, as Troy Renck writes.

NL Central notes

• Things are looking up for the Chicago Cubs and Anthony Rizzo.

• The St. Louis relievers are on a roll, and the Cardinals won again.

From ESPN Stats and Info, how Adam Wainwright won:

A) Wainwright's curveball was as good as it's been since he had Tommy John Surgery in 2010. Wainwright recorded four strikeouts using his curveball, giving him 10 with the curve in his last two starts. It's the first time Wainwright has had 10 strikeouts in consecutive starts with his curveball since his last two starts before he had Tommy John Surgery (Sept. 19 and 24, 2010).
B) Wainwright was able to get strikeouts on his curveball because the Rockies were chasing it. Colorado swung at 10 curveballs that were out of the strike zone, the most Wainwright has had in a game since June 24, 2010, against the Blue Jays. It's the most for Wainwright against a National League opponent since July 12, 2009, a span of almost three years.
C) Wainwright gave up two singles on 28 curveballs, the first time in his last six starts that Wainwright has given up multiple hits off his curveball. In that time, opponents have swung at more than half of all the curveballs he's thrown (50.6 percent), but they have had little success.

Wainwright's curveball in his last six starts
OPS: .337
K: 23
BB: 1
XBH: 0

NL East notes

• Ryan Zimmerman led an early-morning charge, as James Wagner writes. Bryce Harper has been pulling out of his slump.

• Cliff Lee got his first win. It wouldn't shock anybody if he reeled off a winning streak. Ruben Amaro and Charlie Manuel had a long meeting.

• The Atlanta Braves have now lost five of seven after their latest defeat to the Cubs.

AL West notes

• Oakland frolicked at the expense of the Red Sox; the Athletics are within a game of .500.

Ervin Santana had a really, really bad game.

Mike Adams had a bad day.

• The Mariners were taken down by some former Mariners.

AL Central notes

• Justin Verlander dominated and looks poised for a start in the All-Star Game. Ron Gardenhire sees a lot of Jack Morris in Verlander.

• The Royals went quietly in a loss to Toronto. It's been a tough week for them.

• The Indians had a hit fest. Johnny Damon gunned down a runner for the first time since 2010.

AL East notes

Kyle Farnsworth faltered, and the Rays lost a chance at a sweep. Luke Scott is still struggling, with zero hits in his last 36 at-bats.

• The Yankees got some strong work out of their bullpen and ended a losing streak at the Trop.

Carlos Villanueva continues to take advantage of his opportunity with the Jays.

David Ortiz clubbed his 400th homer, but the Red Sox lost again.

From ESPN Stats and Info: 400th career homer as member of Red Sox
David Ortiz: 7/4/12, 342nd with Boston
Manny Ramirez: 5/15/05, 164th with Boston
Andre Dawson: 4/15/93, first with Boston
Carl Yastrzemski: 7/29/79, 400th with Boston
Ted Williams: 7/17/56, 400th with Boston
Jimmie Foxx: 6/27/38, 98th with Boston

Chris Tillman beat his old 'mates.

Previewing the NL trade market.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Anybody who has bought something in an airport knows there is a captive customer markup. The kid sitting next to you on the plane spilled his chocolate milk all over you, and as you wait for your connection, there's only one store where you can find another shirt -- and the prices are designed to gouge. There is just one or two restaurants, one place to buy electronics, one place to buy a book, and if you want to get anything, you will pay.

This is what it's like to be a general manager looking for help in the trade market right now. Some of the buyers want more sellers. "You need more volume," said one talent evaluator. "That's the only way to get the prices now. If you do something today, you'll overpay."

On the other hand, some of the sellers want more buyers, too. The Cubs might have the most attractive starting pitcher, in Matt Garza -- but the pre-deadline feeding frenzy hasn't really started yet. The desperation hasn't set in; the injuries haven't fully manifested. The leverage hasn't reached a peak yet.

But soon it will. Here's a menu on where National League teams sit in the trade market, according to evaluators and general managers.

The Phillies: The losing continues for Philadelphia, which was crushed 11-1 by the Mets on Tuesday. Ruben Amaro's team is now 12 games out of first place in the NL East and nine games behind the leaders in the wild-card race. The message that went out over the weekend from Philadelphia was that at some point soon, other teams should be prepared for the possibility that Cole Hamels will be available. The same could be true for Shane Victorino and others on the roster. Philadelphia is looking for a third baseman and an outfielder.

The Phillies' hope is that they can wait for Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay to rejoin Chase Utley and provide a full opportunity for the team's lineup to play its way back into contention. But the Phillies are running out of time; Hamels may have only a few weeks left with the team.

The Phillies were embarrassed Tuesday. Philadelphia had the life knocked out of it, says manager Charlie Manuel.

The Mets: They need and want bullpen help, but they are among the teams waiting for more options to develop. A month ago, there may have been some doubts about whether this team can contend, but those are evaporating -- and keep in mind, the Mets have spoken extensively about pitching R.A. Dickey once every four days in the final two months of the season.

The Padres: With the sale of the team now imminent, San Diego general manager Josh Byrnes will be in position to explore a full range of options -- on whether its better business to sign Carlos Quentin or keep him, for example. Rival evaluators expect that Quentin will be dealt, along with Huston Street. There are many teams interested in Chase Headley, because he's a good player (a .372 on-base percentage) and because he's still climbing the arbitration scale; he's making $3.8 million this year. Unless the Padres are devoted to the idea of keeping Headley as a centerpiece for years to come, his trade value may never be higher than it is right now.

The Braves: Atlanta is looking at veteran starting pitchers and may be in the best position to make a deal for Zack Greinke, because there are teams that will pass on the right-hander given concerns about how comfortable he'd be in their respective markets. It's hard to imagine the Braves would swap top prospects for Greinke, however, unless they had some long-term deal in place for the right-hander, who is eligible for free agency after the season. If the Braves want cheaper alternatives, they could look at Garza, Ryan Dempster, Brandon McCarthy and, perhaps, Kevin Millwood.

The Astros: Rival executives believe Houston is so early in its rebuilding that any proposal would be considered -- but that the cost of doing business with the Astros will be exorbitant. Jed Lowrie is having an excellent first season with Houston, and if you want to pry him away, GMs think it would be very pricey. The Astros may have already missed their best opportunity to trade Wandy Rodriguez -- last summer -- because doubts linger about whether the 33-year-old left-hander's stuff would translate in a more difficult division. That said, his strikeout-to-walk and ground ball ratios have never been higher than they are this year. He is signed through the end of next season and owed about $18 million.

Reliever Brett Myers is among the most expensive relievers in the trade market with a salary of $11 million.

The Cubs: Anthony Rizzo is a foundation piece, and Starlin Castro might be. Beyond that, the Cubs are ready and willing to listen to offers on just about everybody. Other teams believe that Garza will definitely be traded, sometime after Dempster is dealt.

The Dodgers: Carlos Lee balked at a move to Los Angeles, but the Dodgers are confident they can get help from somewhere. Headley would be perfect, as a corner infielder, but it's hard to imagine the Dodgers being able to get Headley without San Diego at least asking for top pitching prospect Zach Lee, given the market forces.

The Pirates: They share the lead in the NL Central this morning after Drew Sutton's heroics, and since May 2, they are 34-22. Last year, they collapsed when their starting pitching fell apart, and if you look beyond the strong performances of A.J. Burnett and James McDonald, there are cracks. The addition of a solid veteran starter would greatly enhance the Pirates' chances.

One factor that works against the Pirates is that some of the most prominent sellers (Cubs, Brewers, Astros) are from Pittsburgh's own division, which means some of the prices will remain at a premium. Keep in mind that GM Neal Huntington has made numerous deals with Theo Epstein, formerly of the Red Sox and now the president of the Cubs.

The Giants: San Francisco GM Brian Sabean doesn't have a great cache of prospects from which to deal, after last summer's swap of top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler, and some rival GMs believe Sabean will be more conservative this summer. The disastrous season of Tim Lincecum -- which got worse on Tuesday -- could become an interesting factor as the Giants define their needs; right now, Lincecum is the weak link.

The Rockies: Colorado is in sell mode, but interestingly, the Rockies don't have a lot of pieces to move. Michael Cuddyer is having a good first season in Colorado, and there has been interest from other teams, but the Rockies view him as part of the solution going forward. Relievers Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle could be attractive to other teams, but they are both signed through 2013, with options for 2014, and you may have heard -- the Rockies need pitching.

Jeremy Guthrie has an opportunity to ignite some trade interest, writes Troy Renck.

The Diamondbacks: A few weeks ago, they were thought to have a wealth of starting pitching, but Joe Saunders got hurt and Trevor Bauer has struggled in his first two outings in the big leagues -- averaging a whopping 21 pitches per inning. It will be interesting to see if Arizona suddenly becomes buyers of starting pitching, rather than sellers, because there is so much about the rest of the team to like with Paul Goldschmidt, Aaron Hill and others playing better and better as the summer progresses. Nobody knows pitching better than Arizona GM Kevin Towers.

Saunders is climbing his way back from the disabled list.

The Marlins: Miami is a train wreck and nine games out of first place in the NL East, but there's no way to know how the emotional Jeffrey Loria is going to react. Even if he were to order a shakeup -- whether it's to buy or sell -- the Marlins don't have a lot to buy with, or to sell. There is going to be a lot of speculation about Hanley Ramirez in the weeks ahead, but it's worth noting that over his last 643 at-bats, he's hitting .250 with 125 strikeouts and a OPS around .750, and he's owed about $40 million through the end of the 2014 season.

The Nationals: They already have been asking around about bullpen help, but Drew Storen will be back soon. Washington's market priority might shift to starting pitching at some point because Stephen Strasburg has thrown 93 innings and the meter is running. McCarthy could be an interesting stopgap for Washington.

The Cardinals: The news that Chris Carpenter will definitely miss the rest of the season increases the likelihood that John Mozeliak will delve into the trade market to add pitching -- as he did last year with his whopper Colby Rasmus deal, a move that eventually helped St. Louis win a World Series.

Mozeliak has work to do, writes Bernie Miklasz.

The Brewers: They are probably closer than anybody realizes, six games out of first place, after their most recent slugfest with Miami. With Shaun Marcum and Jonathan Lucroy due back from the disabled list, Milwaukee will wait a while longer before becoming full-fledged sellers. But if the Brewers slide, then yes, they'll talk about Greinke and Marcum and others -- but not Corey Hart.

The Reds: Production from left field and at the top of their lineup has been a constant issue for Cincinnati, which ranks dead last in OPS from its leadoff hitters and 18th in OPS for left fielders. If the Reds added a rental player like Quentin, then Brandon Phillips could move to the top of the lineup.


Dan Haren was hit hard and acknowledged his back is really bothering him.

• The Red Sox are hopeful that Daniel Bard has turned a corner as he works his way back to the big leagues. At the end of an ugly inning of work Sunday, Bard felt something click in with his delivery, and he immediately went to the bullpen to try to reinforce what he felt. Bard asked to pitch again on Monday and was much more effective. "He felt like something clicked in," according to one member of the organization.

Over the next month, the Red Sox will have a parade of accomplished players rejoining the roster: Jacoby Ellsbury (maybe this week), Carl Crawford, Bard and Andrew Bailey. Boston is still title-driven, writes John Tomase.

• Sandy Alderson tweeted again about the election of Pablo Sandoval, and the Panda was not bothered by this, he told Alex Pavlovic. Alderson thinks the fans failed David Wright.

Dings and dents

1. Hanley Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton are both dealing with knee issues, as Joe Capozzi writes.

2. Todd Coffey is out for the season.

3. Joey Votto got back on the field.

4. Travis Hafner is back.

5. Matt Joyce could be back this weekend.

6. The Rangers haven't decided what to do with Derek Holland.

7. The Red Sox cut ties with Bobby Jenks, and there may be more cuts.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Sources: Unless Philadelphia's asking price for Cole Hamels is dramatically reduced, the Yankees have no interest in joining the bidding for the left-hander.

2. Brian Fuentes was designated for assignment by the Athletics. For teams looking for a left-handed matchup guy: Lefty hitters are 9-for-34 with four extra-base hits and six strikeouts against Fuentes.

3. Source: Remember how the Jays were expected to be such big players in the Yu Darvish bidding? Well, one official said that Toronto actually finished third in the bidding, behind the Rangers and Cubs, and that no bid was within $35 million of what Texas tendered.

4. The Jays need a starting pitcher, writes Richard Griffin.

5. The White Sox could be looking for relief help, writes Mark Gonzales.

6. A Twins pitcher was sent back to the minors.

NL East

The Marlins suffered their most crushing defeat of the season, and Ozzie Guillen yelled.

The Mets' offense continues to improve, and their confidence continues to grow.

The Nationals rolled through the Giants.

Chipper Jones and the Braves had a big day against the Cubs. From ESPN Stats & Info: Jones had a five-hit day despite taking only six swings. He's the 11th player this season with a five-hit game but the second to do it on only six swings (no one has done it with five). Jones hit three balls classified as line drives, a season high for him. He is the first 40-year old to have five hits in a single game since Craig Biggio did it in 2007 (and before that, since Paul Molitor in 1998).

AL East

The Yankees have stumbled against the Rays the last two days, writes David Waldstein.

Adam Lind gave the Jays a jolt, as Bob Elliott writes.

The Rays are poised for a sweep of the Yankees.

The Red Sox are having trouble out West.

The Orioles scrapped and battled.

AL Central

The Tigers: Perplexing.

Chris Sale got a whole lot of run support and picked up win No. 10.

The Indians rallied in a big way.

NL Central

The Cardinals let the Rockies off the hook.

Chris Volstad's winless streak has reached 20 games, as Paul Sullivan writes.

Aramis Ramirez saved the day for the Brewers.

The Reds fell into a first-place tie. Drew Stubbs is really struggling, as mentioned in this notebook.

The Astros have dropped six straight.

AL West

A former Boston player beat the Red Sox, for Oakland.

Roy Oswalt was blasted.

NL West

It feels like every victory for the Dodgers these days buys them time -- and they scraped together a nice win over the Reds.

The Padres' luck went from really awful to worse: Andrew Cashner got hurt.

Bauer is struggling with his stuff.

By The Numbers

From ESPN Stats & Info

5: Hits for Chipper Jones, his first five-hit game since August 11, 2002.

6: Walk-off wins for the Brewers this season, tied for most in majors.

9: Runs for the White Sox in the fifth inning, most for their team in any inning since 2007.

10: Games under .500 for the Phillies, the first time they've been 10 games under .500 since July 22, 2002.

20: runs allowed by the Rangers, as they are first team to allow 19 runs twice in one season (21 runs versus Seattle on May 30) since the Rangers themselves in 2008.

30: Strikeouts for Felix Hernandez in his last 19 innings pitched.

183: Runs scored on Tuesday, nine more than on any other day this season.

.422: Oswalt's opponent batting average through three starts this season.

Evaluating top international signees.

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A number of readers have asked about the major international free agents who signed or agreed to terms when the signing period opened on July 2. I don't go see players in that market myself but have gathered information on the most significant names who've signed already. Here are my thoughts on the six players who've agreed to bonuses of $1 million or more.


Franklin Barreto, SS/CF, Venezuela (Reported bonus: $2 million)
Barreto has an outstanding swing, very short to the ball with great balance and some extension for line drives to all fields, and he's an above-average runner with arm strength. Barreto's body doesn't look like a typical shortstop's -- I can see the Rafael Furcal comparison I got from one scout, but if anything he looks a little wider than Furcal did at that age -- while he has the speed to potentially handle center field if he can't stay on the dirt.


Luis Torrens, 3B/C, Venezuela (Reported bonus: $1.3 million)
Like Barreto, Torrens has a very solid right-handed swing, a little longer to the ball but with more loft in his finish to hit for power, and he has the bat speed and balance to do so, as well. He has the arm for third base but looks like he'll need a lot of help with footwork even though he's probably athletic enough to handle it. The Yankees intend to give him a look at catcher.


Jose Mujica, RHP, Venezuela (Reported bonus: $1 million)
Mujica has a long, loose, easy arm action, and has plus life on a fastball that already has solid-average velocity even though he's just 16 years old. His body offers some projection but he's more likely to add velocity because the Rays can help him refine his delivery, getting more power from his lower half. He can turn over a changeup but will need to improve his breaking ball.


Amaurys Minier, SS, Dominican Republic (Reported bonus: $1.4 million)
Minier doesn't look like he'll stay at shortstop, as he doesn't have the narrow build or quickness for that position, but could end up at third or in a corner outfield spot where his power potential will still let him profile. He's strong for his age and rotates his hips well for power although he often hits off his front foot too much.


Gustavo Cabrera, OF, Dominican Republic (Reported bonus: $1.3 million)
Cabrera has bat speed but it's a big hack right now, more aggression than control. He could end up a real physical monster, with very long arms and a good frame to add muscle as he matures. There's nothing graceful or easy about his game right now but I can see why he'd get a bonus of this size given the obvious offensive upside here.


Amed Rosario, SS, Dominican Republic (Reported bonus: $1.75 million)
Rosario is toolsier than the Venezuelan infielders listed here, with more bat speed and a looser, more projectable body, but his swing is less under control right now and he carries more risk overall. He has the hands and arm strength to stay at shortstop if he doesn't end up outgrowing the position; he could also end up a power-hitting third baseman if the Mets can calm him down at the plate and get his hips and legs working better with his hands.

One more name to keep an eye on later this month is left-hander Luiz Gohara, who isn't eligible to sign until he turns 16 at the end of July. Gohara has a pretty loose arm with an average fastball already, coming from a three-quarters arm slot with good downhill plane. He shows some feel for a hard slurve with downward break and turns the ball over well to allow him to throw a solid changeup. He's also interesting because he's Brazilian, easily the most significant prospect from that country since Jose Pett received a then-record $700,000 bonus from Toronto in 1993. I've heard that the Mariners will likely sign him.

Three optimal trade fits.

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Jim Bowden laid out his list of the 10 players most likely to be on the move during the final four weeks leading up to the trade deadline, and in several of those cases, there's one team that could use their services more than anyone else.

Without further ado, here are the three best fits to fill a contender's needs for the stretch run.

Shane Victorino to Cincinnati Reds


That the Reds are in first place right now is something of a minor miracle, given the ridiculously awful performance they've gotten from their leadoff hitters this season. Table setters for the Reds this year have combined for a .194/.234/.304 batting line -- easily the worst in the majors -- and are the primary reason that Joey Votto has only 47 RBIs despite being baseball's best hitter this season. The Reds badly need a guy who can get on base at an average rate at least, and it would help if that guy could play center field, giving them a better option than either Drew Stubbs or Chris Heisey.

Enter Victorino. While the Phillies' 5-foot-9 Hawaiian spark plug is hitting .254/.322/.386 and not having the same kind of impact he did last year, he's still been a quality all-around performer, producing 1.6 WAR to date. Most of his regression from last year has come through fewer extra-base hits, but the Reds don't need Victorino to match 2011's .491 slugging percentage. They would be happy to just have his career .342 on-base percentage at the top of their lineup instead of the out machines they've been playing this season.

Victorino is also a perfect complement to the guys already on Cincinnati's roster, as he's a switch-hitter who is better from the left side of the plate, helping to balance out a lineup that is heavily right-handed. Stubbs could play against all lefties in a platoon and play left field against right-handers on days when the Reds want to maximize outfield defense, giving them more options defensively as well as a guy who could ignite their lineup and allow Votto to start driving runners in with all of his doubles.

Adding Victorino and making Stubbs a fantastic fourth outfielder could add between one and two wins for the Reds during the rest of the season. Given how competitive the NL Central is, that could easily be the difference between a division title and sitting at home in October.

Francisco Liriano to Cleveland Indians


With Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson rounding into form, the Indians' rotation is starting to look like a strength of the team once again. However, both of those hurlers are right-handed, as are all three other members of the Indians' rotation. In fact, 10 of the 12 pitchers currently on Cleveland's roster are right-handed, and that presents a significant matchup problem against the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox.

With left-handed thumpers like Adam Dunn and A.J. Pierzynski, the White Sox have several players with large platoon splits, and the team's 85 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers ranks just 22nd in baseball. However, the Indians don't currently have any way to exploit those weaknesses against Chicago and end up throwing an army of right-handed pitchers at an offense that is better against right-handed pitchers (98 wRC+) than they have been against LHPs. Beyond just the White Sox, the Indians would benefit from having a having quality left-handed starter, and Liriano's inconsistent history and impending free agency should drive his price down to the point at which the Indians could afford him without surrendering a premium return.

Liriano provides as much upside as any starter on the market, and given the Indians' position, they need to take a gamble rather than making a safer, smaller move that won't have as much impact. Replacing Zach McAllister or Josh Tomlin with Liriano should net the Indians an extra win and could also give them a matchup weapon they lack at the moment.

Marco Scutaro to Los Angeles Dodgers


Among the 23 shortstops in MLB who have qualified for the batting title, Dee Gordon ranks 21st in offense (61 wRC+) and 22nd in fielding (-9.4 UZR), both of which serve to make him baseball's worst performing shortstop (-0.9 WAR) to date. Of all qualified players at any position, only Brennan Boesch (-1.5 WAR) has been worse. Gordon's speed and athleticism might eventually make him a good major league player, but he's nowhere close to that now, and he has no business playing on a team with playoff aspirations.

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, there aren't a lot of shortstops available, but Scutaro represents one potential upgrade who could make a major difference even while not being an amazing player himself. Scutaro's decent-but-unspectacular production (90 wRC+, 0.1 UZR) isn't going to command a huge return in trade, but because of the complete void he would fill for LA, acquiring Scutaro would be more impactful than if the proposed Carlos Lee deal had gone through. The Dodgers won a substantial amount of games in the first two months of the season with Matt Kemp surrounded by a bunch of steady performers, and what they need now is yet another steady performer to plug their hole at shortstop.

Scutaro won't be on anyone's list of guys who will put you over the top, but in terms of magnitude of difference for the acquiring team, swapping him in for Gordon might be a larger upgrade than any other team makes all month.

Dave Cameron covers baseball for ESPN Insider. He is the managing editor of FanGraphs, where he has worked since 2008, and has been covering baseball since he founded in 2003. He has written for The Wall Street Journal since 2009. You can find his ESPN archives here and follow him on Twitter here.

Bauer-Cashner matchup disappoints.

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PHOENIX -- Tuesday night's game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres, featuring starters Trevor Bauer and Andrew Cashner, turned out to be a dud, between Bauer pitching horribly and Cashner exiting early due to injury.

Bauer came out firing bullets, striking out the side in the first inning, but Padres hitters made some quick adjustments in the second, especially to Bauer's inability to throw his breaking ball for strikes, after which his reduced arsenal and eventual fatigue turned the outing into a disaster. Bauer was 91-95 mph early, with some tailing life on the two-seamers at the low end of that range, and showed his usual arsenal of off-speed stuff -- at least four distinct pitches by my count.

His curveball, ordinarily a swing-and-miss pitch for him, didn't have its usual bite or depth and he wasn't able to throw it for a strike, finishing it off the plate to right-handed hitters, and that left him more reliant on his two changeups (one straight, one more split-like) to keep hitters off the flatter four-seamer. As he did in his first major league outing last week, he tired visibly in the fourth inning, expending more effort just to get back to 94 mph; his last two fastballs reached that figure, but the effort is probably why he threw them both right down Broadway.

Aside from the increased effort required in the fourth just to maintain his velocity, Bauer also suffered from an approach that worked in college and in Double-A but won't work in the majors. He seemed to be trying to get hitters to chase pitches out of the zone, even in hitters' counts, relying on the quality of his stuff to get those swings and misses. But the Padres refused to comply, with even Everth Cabrera and Cashner drawing walks when Bauer clearly should have challenged them in three-ball counts.

For Bauer to be the kind of impact starter I've projected him to be, he's going to have to be able to maintain his stuff deeper into games -- which was never close to an issue for him in college -- and will also have to show more confidence in his stuff when behind in the count, attacking hitters when he falls behind, but without resorting to fastballs that split the plate in two. That will be easier if he can throw the curveball or even the slider for strikes, which wasn't happening on Tuesday. None of that will matter if he's going to hit a wall at 60 pitches, however.

• Cashner was electric for two innings before grabbing his side right underneath his shoulder after his first warm-up pitch before the third inning, an injury that is apparently to his lat muscle rather than something more serious. Cashner's last pitch of the game was a legit 101 mph, and he was 95-100 before that with almost no effort. He had great arm speed on the changeup at 87-89, leaving just one up to Paul Goldschmidt, and his slider was vicious at 85-88. It's a starter's arsenal, but Cashner has never shown any evidence he'll be able to hold up under a starter's workload. If he can defy his own history, he's a potential ace.

• Lefty Patrick Corbin was outstanding in relief of Bauer, the best I've seen him, with just one mistake marring four innings of otherwise excellent work. Corbin was 91-94 with an above-average slider in the low 80s, a little big and slurvy but good enough to miss some bats, better than his solid-average changeup, almost every one of which was 80 mph. He threw strikes and was even able to set up some hitters to chase the fastball upstairs.

His one mistake, a fastball to Jesus Guzman that came down somewhere in Cave Creek, only happened after the home plate umpire decided he was no longer giving the inside strike. Corbin's changeup is usually better than that, and I could see him as a league-average starter on nights when that's working, in addition to his control and his athleticism. (This play gives you some idea of what kind of athlete he is.) If he stays in the pen, he could be a dominant eighth- or ninth-inning option who can be effective against both righties and lefties.

Short-season standouts.

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With the short-season leagues beginning in June, it's a nice reminder that not every prospect is a Bryce Harper or a Mike Trout who will get to the big leagues in no time. For most, it's a slow and steady process with any number of bumps in the road along the way. For many 2011 draftees, the short-season leagues represent their first chance to show up in box scores, so here's an all "Don't You Forget About Me" team comprised of some high picks from last June who are just getting their careers going.


Tyler Marlette, C, Seattle Mariners
Marlette was a fifth-round selection in 2011, but he fell due to signability concerns as opposed to talent before ultimately coming to terms on a $650,000 bonus. While Marlette is a touch on the small side he earns high grades for his defense, and in particular his plus arm, and he's shown the potential for plus power down the road. He's hit .267/.313/.356 in his first 12 games for Pulaski in the rookie-level Appalachian League while gunning down 42 percent of opposing base stealers.


Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Chicago Cubs
A second-round pick last year who signed for first-round money with a $1.6 million bonus, Vogelbach drew some Prince Fielder comparisons during his high school career in Florida, both for his monstrous power and for his physique. At just 6 feet tall and somewhere around 250 pounds, Vogelbach is the definition of a bat-only process, as he's a 20 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale and a poor defender. While it's early, he's hit .432/.368/.773 in 10 Arizona League games, and he wouldn't have gotten that kind of bonus without scouts believing that the bat can play.


Mookie Betts, 2B, Boston Red Sox
Second base is the toughest position to fill, as nearly every high school middle infielder begins as a shortstop, but Betts is generally seen as moving to second base, if not center field, down the road. A fifth-round pick who received a $750,000 bonus, Betts is just 5-foot-9 and does not project to add power to his game, but he's a plus runner with a line-drive bat and some work to do defensively. Hitting .268/.293/.286 in 14 games for Lowell in the New York-Penn League, Betts could add to what is some impressive depth for the Red Sox at the lower levels.


Travis Harrison, 3B, Minnesota Twins
Normally seen as conservative drafters, the Twins broke the mold when they selected Harrison with the 50th overall pick and signed him to a seven-figure bonus. The Twins have a history of taking it slow with prospects, and Harrison began his career with Elizabethton in the Appalachian League where he is hitting .365/.441/.481. There are questions as to his ability to stay at third base, but he's a plus hitter with power potential in a system desperate for high-ceiling offensive prospects.


Brandon Martin, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
With so many early picks in 2011, the Rays had to find some guys who would sign for a little less, and Martin was one. He signed for $860,000 as the 38th overall selection out of a California high school. While Martin's plus defense has always appealed to scouts, his offense has been a pleasant surprise, including a .273/.322/.537 line in 13 games for Princeton in the Appalachian League this year. Despite a small frame, he has some leverage in his swing for at least gap power, and is starting to be seen as a bit of a sleeper.


Larry Greene, LF, Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies' top pick in last year's draft at No. 39 overall, Greene was drafted for his prodigious power, as one scout compared Greene's 6-foot, 235-pound physique to that of a professional wrestler, and he can put on a show in batting practice. Now we'll see if he can hit, as his ability to do so was the subject of much debate last spring. With a .240 batting average, 18 strikeouts and no home runs in his first 15 games for Williamsport in the New York-Penn League, we still don't have an answer.


Bubba Starling, CF, Kansas City Royals
It's amazing that some seem to be down on Starling before last year's fifth overall pick had even gotten his career started. Nobody in the industry saw Starling as a quick mover, as he was always an extreme athlete who split time with football during high school and needed time to hone his baseball skills. With two home runs on Monday in his fourth professional game for Burlington in the Appalachian League, he's showing the raw power to go with the potential for outstanding center-field defense, but the swing-and-miss in his game will have to be monitored.


Brandon Nimmo, RF, New York Mets
Like Starling, Nimmo offers plenty to dream on, but his reality is far from his ceiling. The 13th overall pick last June, Nimmo is an exceptionally raw product from Wyoming and it's shown so far in 15 games for Brooklyn in the New York-Penn League, during which he's hit .173/.353/.269. He has a downright pretty swing from the left side and is a fluid, graceful athlete, but he's also the kind of player who might not impress in the stat sheet for three years as he adjusts to professional-level pitching.


Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Norris was generally seen as the best high school southpaw in last year's draft, but a high price tag scared off teams until the Blue Jays nabbed him in the second round and then signed him for $2 million, well below Norris' initial demands. Norris has a combination of stuff and polish rarely found in a teenager, as his low-90s fastball can reach 95, he can spin a breaking ball and has some feel for a changeup while throwing strikes with all three thanks to a fluid, athletic delivery. He's limited Appalachian League batters to a .167 average in his first three outings, and in a system loaded with young arms, Norris has the potential to stand out.

Kevin Goldstein covers baseball for ESPN Insider. He has worked for Baseball Prospectus since 2006, where he is a national writer, and has covered the sport for a decade, with a focus on scouting, prospects and player development. He has previously worked for Baseball America and the self-started The Prospect Report. You can find his ESPN archives here, and follow him on Twitter here.


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The Tigers at the deadline

1:14PM ET
Detroit Tigers
Potential Targets for DET

For a team that was supposed to run away with the AL Central, this season has been more than just a little disappointing for the Detroit Tigers. They're in the thick of things, yes, but they still trail the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians -- and worse, remain below .500 through the first half. Safe to say, more than a few flaws in the makeup of the team's roster have been exposed, and given the expectations heading into the year, the Tigers are likely to be very active on the trade front.

Deadline Strategy
A quick look at the names above will tell you just how serious the Tigers will be over the next few weeks. GM Dave Dombrowski has earned a reputation for making any move necessary to get the job done, so it would only be a shock if Detroit isn't in on every big name or if Dombrowski fails to come up with some season-altering maneuver. The team is built to win now, and that kind of all-in approach usually results in a busy trade deadline.

The Tigers payroll is already on the high end and among the top five in baseball, thanks in no small part to the humongous contract handed out to Prince Fielder in the offseason. But there shouldn't be any real issue when it comes to taking on more salary because Detroit remains a big market and ownership is operating on a win-at-any-cost approach.

Detroit's farm system lacks depth, but there are two blue chip prospects that could be moved for just the right pieces. First is Jacob Turner, a 21-year-old right-hander who was drafted ninth overall in 2009, is settling in at Triple-A, has already had a few cups of joe with the Tigers and would be able to step into a big league rotation next season. Second is Nick Castellanos, who at 22 is arguably the best third base prospect in baseball at the moment, as he's hitting .369 on the year and was recently promoted to Double-A. If Detroit made either one available, the club would be able to land just about anyone. Some other names to know include: lefties Andrew Oliver and Casey Crosby, potential closer Bruce Rondon and outfielder Avisail Garcia.

Hey, Justin Verlander can't do it all by himself. Even with the reigning AL MVP having another dominant campaign, Detroit has nobody to slot in as a No. 2 starter: Max Scherzer remains an enigma, Doug Fister has been injury-prone, Rick Porcello's progress has completely stalled and the sheen seems to have come off rookie Drew Smyly. So any trade Dombrowski is going to make for another pitcher, expect it to be one of the big guns like Hamels, Greinke or Garza, someone who can team with Verlander to form a scary 1-2 punch down the stretch -- and in the postseason, if all goes according to plan.

The team also could use another bat in the outfield, which is where Willingham, Quentin and Victorino come in (or even Soriano, if the Cubs eat some money). But the more pressing need is for somebody -- anybody! -- who can handle second base. There's not much in the way of available middle infielders, but a steady option like Scutaro, Polanco or Infante would really help on both offense and defense, the latter aspect being another problem for Detroit.

After making it to the ALCS in 2011 and spending big on Fielder last offseason, there's a lot on the line for the Tigers, While they've underperformed to this point, the division is still eminently winnable, and Detroit is in position to take on some salary and trade away a bit of the future for a chance to get to the next level of the postseason.

- Jason Catania

The latest on Greinke

12:36PM ET

UPDATE: With Chris Carpenter out for the season, the Cardinals are expected to take a good long look at Greinke. Ken Rosenthal says Greinke, who began his career in Kansas City, likely would welcome a trade to St. Louis and a chance to sign with the Cardinals long term. But it remains to be seen if the Brewers would be willing to trade Greinke within the NL Central.


Zack Greinke can become a free agent after this season and if the Milwaukee Brewers cannot extend his contract soon, they may be willing to trade the righthander.

There should be no shortage of suitors for Greinke, and the Atlanta Braves, who are desperate to avoid another late-season collapse, would be a logical fit. ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney writes in Tuesday's blog the Braves are scouting Greinke, who grew up near Atlanta's spring training home, and suggests that trading the 2009 AL Cy Young winner for someone like a Randall Delgado "makes complete sense."

In Sunday's Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo says the Orioles could be a wild card in the Greinke chase. The belief that Greinke would be better off pitching in a smaller market because of his past anxiety issues "is still very much in play," Cafardo writes. Atlanta, as well as Baltimore, would fall into the category of a smaller market.

Tuesday, Jon Morosi of writes that the Brewers have sent special assignment scouts to watch Frisco, the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, where third base prospect Mike Olt is currently assigned.

David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports via Twitter that the Braves are willing to part with young pitching to acquire Greinke, even with the right-handed headed for free agency and no guarantees that he re-signs there after the season.

ESPN Insider's Jim Bowden has Greinke high on his list of players most likely to be traded, while ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney says it is too early to classify the Brewers as sellers:

- Doug Mittler and Jason A. Churchill

Jim Bowden
Ten Most Likely to be Traded

"The Texas Rangers won't move prospect Jurickson Profar and will try everything in their power to exclude Martin Perez and Mike Olt from any deal. However, with a deep major league club and farm system, the Rangers have enough to make the Milwaukee Brewers an offer they can't refuse and allow them to place Greinke at the top of their rotation."

Buster Olney

Buyers or sellers in Milwaukee?

"The Brewers are probably closer than anybody realizes, six games out of first place after their most recent slugfest with Miami. With Shaun Marcum and Jonathan Lucroy due back from the disabled list, Milwaukee will wait a while longer before becoming full-fledged sellers. But if the Brewers slide, then yes, they'll talk about Greinke and Marcum and others - but not Corey Hart."

High price for Lowrie?

10:09AM ET

The Houston Astros are having trouble dealing first baseman Carlos Lee, who balked at a deal that would send him to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Will they have better luck dealing shortstop Jed Lowrie?

Nick Cafardo recently suggested the Tigers could pursue Lowrie with the intention of moving him to second base.

Over the weekend, Phil Rogers said the Pirates were a likely trading partner for Lowrie. Lowrie's value may have slipped after he hit .218 in June compared to .295 in April and .275 in May. The Bucs' current shortstop, Clint Barmes, is hitting a mere .203.

ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney says Lowrie's price remains high:

- Doug Mittler

Buster Olney

Rebuilding in Houston

"Rival executives believe Houston is so early in its rebuilding that any proposal would be considered - but that the cost of doing business with the Astros will be exorbitant. Jed Lowrie is having an excellent year, in his first season with Houston, and if you want to pry him away, GMs think it would be very pricey."

Joyce back this weekend?

10:01AM ET

Rays outfielder Matt Joyce, on the disabled list since June 20 with an oblique strain, could be back in the lineup in time for a weekend series against Cleveland, reports /">" target=new>Roger Mooney.

Joyce, who was hitting .279 with 11 home runs and 34 RBI at the time of his injury, is expected to have a short rehab stint at Triple-A Durham, Ben Zobrist has seen the bulk of the playing time in right field in Joyce's absence.

- Doug Mittler

The market for Quentin

9:45AM ET
Carlos Quentin | Padres

Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin has cooled off after a sizzling start, hitting just .163 with one homer in his last 14 games. But given the paucity of available sluggers, the free-agent-to-be could still see his trade value escalate as July 31 approaches.

ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney suggested a handful of potential landing spots for Quentin last month, including the Cincinnati Reds, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves.

Maybe the Dodgers emerge as a serious suitor for Quentin now that they were unable to complete a deal for Houston's Carlos Lee.

ESPN Insider's Jim Bowden says the existence of a seller's market will help the Padres:

- Doug Mittler

Jim Bowden
Ten Most Likely to be Traded

"The Padres lack power, and general manager Josh Byrnes did a great job in acquiring Quentin from the White Sox for two fringe pitching prospects. Quentin is still just 29 and has adjusted well to National League pitching. But the Padres don't necessarily want to move him with their offense struggling, so a team will have to overpay with prospects to get him. And with very few sellers in this market, that outcome is likely. The Marlins seem like the most likely destination with the Dodgers and Reds also as possible suitors."

Rolen sits out again

9:29AM ET
Scott Rolen | Reds

Cincinnati third baseman Scott Rolen sat out his second straight game on Tuesday because of back spasms and is listed as day-to-day.

Rolen is hitting just .212 since coming off the disabled list in late June and his history of injuries calls into question whether the Reds will look to add some third base insurance at the deadline. It may not be a high priority, however, since second-year infielder Todd Frazier, who started at third the last two nights, is hitting a solid .273.

- Doug Mittler

Middlebrooks to the DL?

8:51AM ET
Will Middlebrooks | Red Sox

Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks was out of the lineup the last two nights due to tightness in his hamstring and trip to the disabled list remains a possibility, according to a report on

Nick Punto started at third the last two nights in Oakland. Brent Lillibridge, acquired from the Chicago White Sox in the Kevin Youkilis deal that was made in order to hand over the third base job to Middlebrooks, has some experience at third base.'s Ian Browne says the Red Sox could try to avoid putting Middlebrooks on the DL with the hope that he will be ready for a weekend series against the Yankees.

- Doug Mittler

More rest for Strasburg?

8:30AM ET
Stephen Strasburg | Nationals

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has repeatedly vowed that ace righthander Stephen Strasburg, coming off Tommy John surgery, will be shut down before the end of the season, regardless of the NL East standings.

The Nationals may try to get Strasburg some rest by slotting him in as the fifth starter coming out of the All-Star break, reports Adam Kilgore. Manager Davey Johnson hinted Tuesday he may also give Gio Gonzalez and extra day or two off before his first start of the second half.

The expectation is Strasburg will be shut down at about 160 innings because that was roughly the limit for teammate Jordan Zimmermann last year coming off surgery. Strasburg has pitched 93 innings, putting him on course to reach 160 sometime in late August.

- Doug Mittler

Cards' options without Carpenter

8:17AM ET
Chris Carpenter | Cardinals

Cardinals GM John Mozeliak recently said that knowing Chris Carpenter's availability by early July would influence the players he pursues at the trade deadline. Mozeliak got his answer Tuesday when it was learned the ace righthander would undergo season-ending surgery.

We mentioned Tuesday that the Cardinals will be among the teams calling the Cubs' Theo Epstein about Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster.

The Cardinals could ask the Phillies about Cole Hamels, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will likely ask for top pitching prospects such as Shelby Miller and/or Carlos Martinez in return. Given that the Cardinals also need to add bullpen help, there is no guarantee they make a blockbuster move to add a starter.

Bernie Miklasz discusses Mozeliak's options in Wednesday's Post-Dispatch. A key issue could be whether the Cardinals get back Jaime Garcia, their lone lefty starter. Garcia is progressing in his rehab, and Mozeliak hopes the team can get him back by the middle of August.

If Garcia's progress stalls, that could make the Cardinals more interested in southpaws such as Francisco Liriano or Wandy Rodriguez.

- Doug Mittler

Queens encore for K-Rod?

7:49AM ET
Francisco Rodriguez | Brewers

The New York Mets traded away Francisco Rodriguez to Milwaukee at the All-Star break last July, ending a rocky Big Apple tenure both on and off the field for the temperamental closer. Is a return to Queens a possibility?

Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reported Tuesday the Mets, ranked dead last in the majors in bullpen ERA, have K-Rod on their list of targets. Davidoff insists the idea is not crazy at all since Rodriguez enjoyed a positive working relationship with manager Terry Collins at the time of his departure.

The Brewers could make Rodriguez available if they decide to become sellers as July 31 approaches. Given that Rodriguez is making $8 million as a set-up man, his price would be minimal if the Mets eat some salary.

Mets players would welcome K-Rod back, reports Mark Hale.

Rodriguez has the experience of pitching in New York, which could make him more attractive than San Diego's Huston Street, Houston's Brett Myers and Oakland's Grant Balfour. But it remains to be seen how Mets fans would react to an encore for a player who didn't leave on the best of terms.

- Doug Mittler

3B prospects for Hamels?

7:44AM ET

The odds of the last-place Philadelphia Phillies seriously entertaining offers for Cole Hamels seem to increase with each defeat, but what can GM Ruben Amaro Jr. expect to get in return?

ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney tweeted Sunday the Phillies would be asking for the steep price of "four to five prospects, some A-plus."

The Phillies, who dropped their sixth straight game Tuesday night, could look to address a need at third base, where Placido Polanco will be a free agent after the season.

Brian Brennan of suggests the Phillies could ask the Texas Rangers about third base prospect Mike Olt, who is hitting .302 with 22 homers at Double-A Frisco.

If the Detroit Tigers are serious about Hamels, they might have the "golden ticket" to acquire him in the form of third base prospect Nick Castellano, writes Josh Slagter of

Castellanos, who is hitting .375 between Single-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie, is blocked at third base in Detroit by Miguel Cabrera, even though he's not projected to be in the majors until 2014. But it remains to be seen if the Tigers are willing to surrender a key prospect for a three-month rental.

Jon Heyman of reported Sunday the Phillies recently began making calls to see about trade interest in Hamels, adding there has been no progress in contract talks to retain the impending free agent. GM Ruben Amaro denounced the rumors.

Olney has more on Hamels in Tuesday's blog:

- Doug Mittler

Buster Olney

Hamels' future

"The Phillies wouldn't be doing their work properly if they didn't explore all options. But unless somebody calls up with a monster offer for Hamels -- which rival evaluators do not believe would happen until some day closer to the July 31 deadline -- the Phillies will continue to play out their season and hope that they slowly climb back into the race, with Chase Utley back in the lineup and Ryan Howard on the way. They haven't made any progress in the Hamels negotiations, and unless that changes and they make significant advancement in the NL East, it makes sense for the Phillies to weigh the best offers for the left-hander."

Relief arms and contenders

7:21AM ET
Contender will eye relievers

Every July contenders make deals to add depth to their bullpen, fix their bullpen or simply to shorten the game by an inning as they head toward October. This year should be no different.

The Boston Red Sox's relief corps has been brilliant of late, and they could get Andrew Bailey back soon, but they might look to add insurance anyway. They seem more focused on starting pitching, however.

The Yankees and Rays have other needs, too, but could dig deep enough to land a seventh or eighth inning option, such as Grant Balfour, without parting with their best trade assets.

The Tigers may be an arm light in the bullpen and despite having offensive and starting pitching needs of their own, could dip into the relief market to support Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde with a proven veteran.

The Rangers may be set if Alexi Ogando returns healthy as expected and Neftali Feliz does the same and comes back in a relief role rather than returning to the rotation. Texas could use a left-handed option, however.

The Cardinals and Dodgers could use some depth, either in the eighth inning or perhaps in the form of a closer upgrade. The Nationals should get Drew Storen back this month and if all goes well on that front, the Nationals may not have the need for relief help.

The Angels, Blue Jays, Reds, Orioles and Indians could all add such an arm, but the Braves, Giants and White Sox could be set fort he stretch.

- Jason A. Churchill

post #7158 of 73668
48-32. Pimp

Ian Desmond is the best SS in baseball. Pimp
post #7159 of 73668
^ Does the ball always fly out of there like that? Or is it because of the hot weather. Reminds me of Coors field. Nationals were hitting opposite-field bombs like it was nothing.
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #7160 of 73668
Originally Posted by RaWeX05

^ Does the ball always fly out of there like that? Or is it because of the hot weather. Reminds me of Coors field. Nationals were hitting opposite-field bombs like it was nothing.

It was the hot weather, the ball does carry out to right the most though in our park but I've never seen it carry like that. 
post #7161 of 73668
Thread Starter 
I'd usually say you can't endorse a kid with a .314 OBP for best SS in baseball but he's slugging over .500 laugh.gif
post #7162 of 73668
Good defensively, as well. Then again, the position is far removed from the days of Nomar, A-Rod, and Jeter. laugh.gif

Trout sick.gif

Never seen anyone run on Wieters like that. Hard to believe he's this good this fast. MVP front runner at age 20. Ridiculous.
post #7163 of 73668
Thread Starter 

So far, he's gotta be. The homer in me is hoping for a summer swoon and for Cano to separate himself from the pack smiley: laugh.

Chase Headley a popular target.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Chase Headley has never hit more than 12 home runs in a season, never driven in more than 64 runs, and he's never hit .300. But timing is everything, and this is why the Padres' third baseman might be the most sought-after player in the trade market this summer.

Here's what Headley does well: reach base. He's got a .372 on-base percentage. Headley is 28 years old, making just $3.4 million, is in the prime of his career, and most importantly, won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2014 season. This is why many teams, including the Dodgers, have called the Padres to ask about his availability. And some rival evaluators attribute his lack of power numbers to the grand canyon that he hits in, at Petco Park. Over the course of his career, his OPS is about 150 points higher on the road than at home; of the 44 homers he's hit in his career, 27 have been on the road. His home/road splits are notable this year, as well -- he's got an .848 OPS away from Petco Park, about 120 points higher than at home.

The evaluators also believe that Headley's production will improve if he joins a better and deeper lineup. The Padres are also being asked about other, more established players. Carlos Quentin has four seasons with 21 or more homers, and Huston Street needs just nine more saves for his career.

But Headley has more trade value than either of those two players right now, maybe as much as anyone in the market, because of his service time, and the position he plays. The only two third basemen with a higher on-base percentage than Headley are David Wright and Miguel Cabrera.

The Padres have a lot of prospects, and they don't really need the Grade B- prospects they will probably be offered for Quentin, and it's very possible they won't be offered enough to match the value of the supplemental first round draft pick they'd get if they kept Quentin and allowed him to leave as a free agent. So long as the Padres get the blessing of the team's new ownership, they'd like to re-sign Quentin. They have a mutual option with Street for 2013, something that will be talked with the pitcher about before any trade is made.

But Headley is in a different place in the market. The Padres would probably get something good for him, more now than at any time last winter, or next winter, when he'll get more expensive.

For the readers: If you were in the Padres' position, would you trade Headley now, or keep him?

Meanwhile, the Padres have stopped losing. This time it was the Reds who couldn't keep up with the Friars. Edinson Volquez outdueled Mat Latos, in the Revenge Battle of the week.


⢠Bryan LaHair was not in the starting lineup the day that he learned he will be an All-Star, after about 1,000 games and 4,000 plate appearances and nine years in the minor leagues. When the National Anthem was played, LaHair had a moment to reflect. "I was observing the whole stadium," he recalled over the phone the other day, "and brought me back me to how grateful I am to be in the big leagues."

He was a 39th round draft pick, after growing up in Worcester, Mass., and he played three years in Class A, a season in AA and many years in Class AAA, including four seasons with the Tacoma Rainiers and two more with the Iowa Cubs, before he got his first full opportunity in the big leagues this year. When Cubs manager Dale Sveum called a team meeting on Sunday, he told the roomful of players that Starlin Castro and LaHair had been picked for the National League team. "I was kind of shocked," LaHair said.

He immediately texted his wife, and after batting practice, he called her to share the good news. He phoned each of his parents, who had each learned on their own, through friends, that Bryan had been picked. He called his brother, Jeff. At the end of his day, he went back to the hotel and called his wife again, and absorbed everything that his selection meant. "It kind of felt weird," he said. "I'm looking forward to meeting all of the players. There are going to be a lot of legends out on the field."

Now LaHair is one of them. The day after he was selected, he got a text from Mets executive J.P. Ricciardi, who had coached LaHair in basketball in high school and raved about the kid's drive and spirit. The message read: "See, hard work does pay off."

⢠The Rangers would have landed Zack Greinke in a trade 1 1/2 years ago had they included Jurickson Profar in their offer -- and now Profar is regarded as perhaps the best prospect in the majors. Now Texas is looking for a starting pitcher and the Greinke asking price may be out of the Rangers' comfort zone again.

But while the Phillies haven't actually decided to trade Cole Hamels, the Rangers are viewed by some rival evaluators as the favorites to land the left-hander. Texas has the perfect piece to offer Philadelphia, 23-year-old third baseman Mike Olt -- a former supplemental first-rounder whose path to the big leagues is blocked by Adrian Beltre -- and Hamels would give Texas precisely what it needs as it tries to climb the World Series mountaintop again.

Remember, the Rangers went down this path before, swapping for Cliff Lee in the summer of 2010 before making him a major offer to stay. If Texas ever decided that the Josh Hamilton bidding was going to be too pricey and sought other ways to invest its money, the 28-year-old Hamels -- who will be the premier free agent this fall -- would be an interesting alternative. Texas's enormous contract offer to Lee was made when Lee was four years older than Hamels will be in the fall.

⢠Ryan Howard will likely be activated Friday, which means this collection of Phillies' players -- who have accomplished so much over the last six years -- have about 2 1/2 weeks worth of games to show progress, to demonstrate that they can dig themselves out of an abyss that deepened with a devastating loss on Thursday night. The Phillies led the Mets, 5-4, in the ninth inning of what had been an extraordinarily intense and well-played game, but then Jonathan Papelbon allowed back-to-back singles on consecutives pitches -- the first hit hitting Papelbon's foot for an infield single, the second a flair by David Wright.

Papelbon had great stuff with his first 15 pitches, an explosive fastball, and still lost -- and he took the blame afterward.

⢠The Rays' James Shields has club options for the next two seasons, for $9 million in 2013 and $12 million in 2014, and if he's traded, those options remain intact.

The Rays are drifting in the standings; they lost to the Indians again. As Marc Topkin writes, Tampa Bay has lost eight of its last 11, and 15 of their last 23 -- and now Matt Joyce has suffered a setback in his rehab.

⢠It's impossible to overstate what an important week it's been for the Dodgers. They had plummeted in the standings and been shut out in five of six games, as they tried to compete without Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. But they've managed to win four of their last five, including wins against the Mets, Reds and Diamondbacks, and have moved back into first place in the NL West -- all without the two most important players in their lineup.

The Dodgers' makeshift lineup got it done again, as Dylan Hernandez writes.

The Dodgers did get this bad news: Dee Gordon needs thumb surgery and won't be back until late August, at the earliest.

⢠Here's a guy who might be an interesting fit for the Dodgers, if they can't get someone like Headley: Russell Branyan, who is playing in Class AAA for the Yankees. He wouldn't cost much, and he'd chip in his usual combination of walks and homers (and strikeouts).

⢠The Red Sox didn't play Thursday, and it was still a bad day. Boston learned that Dustin Pedroia is headed to the disabled list and Daniel Bard regressed while pitching in Class AAA. This weekend's four-game series against the Yankees is enormously important for the Red Sox, as they try to hang in the AL East race.

This is a big chance for the Red Sox, writes Steve Buckley.

Carl Crawford continues to make progress. The Red Sox are in an imperfect situation with Crawford and Ellsbury. On one hand, they could use help and Ellsbury, in particular, might be ready to play in the big leagues Saturday or Sunday -- but if he or Crawford is activated, then they would have to sit for four days during the All-Star break, rather than be able to play in minor league games.

The Red Sox are capable of imploding or exploding this weekend, writes Joel Sherman.

From Joel's story:

Boston still is good enough to win the AL East, especially with Jacoby Ellsbury moving closer to returning to the lineup. But there remains enough pathology within this organization for the Red Sox to further implode, especially because the internal distaste for Bobby Valentine is said to be rampant from the clubhouse to the coaches' room to the front office.

Valentine could end up Manager of the Year or fired, and neither would be surprising. Boston could be buyers or sellers in the trade bazaar. The Red Sox could use last year's late-season collapse as inspiration to rally or as the defining point for when this once elite franchise began a relentless crumble.

Boston's next 23 games are against teams with records over .500; sixty-three of the team's final 80 games are against teams with records over .500, including 17 games against the Yankees.

⢠David Freese was picked for the All-Star Game. So was Yu Darvish.

Michael Bourn could be added to the NL team anyway.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Mariners demoted Hector Noesi, writes Geoff Baker.

2. Jason Giambi may be in his last weeks with the Rockies, writes Troy Renck. The Rockies would have to be OK with accepting a Cü prospect for him.

3. R.A. Dickey is not a lock to start the All-Star Game, says Tony La Russa.

4. There aren't two sides to the Stephen Strasburg issue, writes Thomas Boswell.

5. Drew Stubbs got a day off.

Dings and dents

1. Freddy Sanchez's season is over.

2. A couple of Baltimore regulars got hurt, as Eduardo Encina writes.

3. Drew Storen is making progress.

4. At the end of this Rick Hummel notebook, there is word that Lance Berkman is making progress.

5. Matt Capps is set for his rehab assignment.

6. Jonathan Lucroy continues to make progress.

7. Giancarlo Stanton indicated he might have surgery very soon.

By The Numbers

from ESPN Stats & Information

1: Pirates player, Andrew McCutchen, has ever had 15+ HR, 50+ RBI, 10+ SB, 100+ hits and a .350+ BA at the All-Star break.
7: career walk-off hits for David Wright; first since 2008.
16: Juan Francisco's first-inning plate appearance against Matt Garza lasted 16 pitches, the most pitches in a plate appearance this season.
70: RBI for Miguel Cabrera reached 70 RBI before All-Star break for second time in last three seasons. 443: feet for Juan Francisco's home run; the longest in Atlanta this season.

AL Central

Jose Quintana and the White Sox finished off a great sweep of the Rangers.

From ESPN Stats & Info, how Quintana won:

A) Threw 20 curveballs out of 113 pitches (17.7 percent), his highest percentage in a start this season. Rangers hitters were 0 for 6 with three strikeouts in at-bats ending with the pitch.
B) Induced 15 misses on 53 swings (28.3 percent), his most misses and highest percentage in a start this season. Rangers hitters missed on five swings against the curveball, three of which resulted in strikeouts.
C) Had his highest average fastball velocity in a start this season (90.5 mph), and Rangers hitters were 0 for 8 with three strikeouts in at-bats ending with his fastball.
D) Threw first-pitch strikes to just 12 of 26 hitters, but went to just one 2-0 count and no 3-0 counts in the game.

⢠Josh Tomlin was The Man for the Indians, as Josie Valade writes.

⢠Some moves by Ron Gardenhire backfired, writes Joe Christensen.

⢠Salvador Perez is back, and playing well.

⢠The Tigers climbed back toward .500 again.

NL Central

⢠The Pirates pushed their lead to two games, after sweeping the Astros. The Pirates are playing with a quiet confidence.

⢠Lance Lynn picked up his 11th victory.

⢠Matt Garza had a subpar outing.

⢠The Reds suffered a really tough loss.

⢠The Astros: Not good. The wheeling and dealing will take a toll on the offense in the short term, writes Zachary Levine.

NL West

⢠The Diamondbacks keep losing, and nobody knows why.

⢠The Giants lost it in the ninth inning. The sweep at the hands of the Nationals revealed a lot of San Francisco problems, writes Alex Pavlovic.

⢠The Rockies' fifth inning was rough.

AL West

⢠The Angels rallied to win, but their rotation is in disarray, writes Landon Hall. Mike Trout covered the box score the way Magic Johnson used to: two hits, two runs, two RBI, two sacrifice flies, three stolen bases, and a walk in five plate appearances.

From ESPN Stats & Info: Mike Trout has a .343 BA, .551 slugging pct., 10 home runs and 23 stolen bases through his first 60 games of the season. From Elias: In the modern era (since 1900), the only other player to hit those numbers in his first 60 games of a season was Rickey Henderson in 1985 -- .351 BA, .552 slugging pct, 10 HR and 36 SB. Also from Elias: Since sac flies became official in 1954, Trout is the first player to have that kind of line in a game.

⢠Texas had a really bad series in Chicago.

NL East

⢠For the Mets, a wild win, as Andrew Keh writes.

⢠The Nationals finished off a sweep, as Adam Kilgore writes.

⢠Carlos Lee chipped in a couple of hits.

⢠The Braves bashed a bunch of homers.

AL East

⢠Jake Arrieta pitched poorly and was sent to Class AAA.

⢠A talented pitcher made his debut in the Blue Jays' loss.

Second-half risers andfallers.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

According to most sources, the start of the season's second half is still more than a week away, but technically it's already upon us. All but two teams have played at least half the games on their schedules. That means that most players have already accrued about half the counting stats they'll have at the end of the season, enough to give us some sense of whether their seasons are shaping up to be disappointments or successes.

Of course, some players have already left the bulk of their hitting behind them, while others are about to break out. Last season, Dan Uggla went into the All-Star break batting .185. After action resumed, he upped his average considerably, hitting .296 in the second half. Dexter Fowler played so poorly in the first half of 2011 that he was forced to spend a remedial month at Colorado Springs. After returning in mid-July, he hit .288 AVG/.381 OBP/.498 SLG, swatting all five of his homers and swiping 10 of his 12 stolen bases.

On the other end of the spectrum, Jose Bautista hit 31 of his AL-leading 43 home runs before the break, and his teammate Adam Lind completely collapsed after June, following up a .300/.349/.515 first half with a .197/.233/.356 second-half showing.

It's not always easy to see such second-half swoons and upswings coming, but it is possible to pick out some players who appear poised for progression or regression. The following six players could be on the verge of a comeback or correction in the coming months:

The risers


Max Scherzer, RHP, Detroit Tigers
This season, no non-Strasburg starter has struck out batters at a higher rate than Scherzer, and no starter has allowed a higher average on balls in play. Both of those rates should regress, but the batting average on balls in play likely has further to fall. Some of Scherzer's struggles can be traced to Detroit's league-worst defense, but the Tigers' staff as a whole has a .316 BABIP, a full 50 points below Scherzer's. It wouldn't be surprising to see him shave a run off his ERA without any improvement in his peripherals.


Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals
Before this season, Zimmerman had been a model of consistency, contributing above-average offense in every season since his debut at 20 years old in 2005. Zimmerman, now 27, should be providing peak production, but instead he has had his worst year yet. The right-handed hitter has been hampered all season by a sore shoulder that probably won't completely recover until he has offseason surgery. However, in 10 games since receiving a cortisone shot on June 24, Zimmerman has hit .370/.408/.739 with four home runs, more than doubling his dinger total. If he can continue to manage the inflammation in his AC joint, much more offense lies ahead. It's already a bit late to buy low.


Brian McCann, C, Atlanta Braves
Barring an undisclosed injury, McCann is simply too good to be this bad. Catchers tend to get old early, but at 28, McCann still seems too young for a dramatic decline in true talent. Defensive shifts have been blamed for McCann's precipitous BABIP drop, but his batting average on grounders is down far less than his average on line drives, which is among the lowest in the league. The shift can't have claimed too many liners, so it's likely that McCann's hard-hit balls have happened to be poorly placed so far. The same goes for Eric Hosmer, another early underperformer.

The fallers


Melky Cabrera, OF, San Francisco Giants
No player has a bigger difference between his season-to-date WARP and his projected rest-of-season WARP than Cabrera. With more than 3.5 wins worth of value this season, Cabrera has already surpassed his previous season high by a win and a half, but PECOTA projects him to tack just a half-win onto his total before the end of the year. Despite his impressive superficial statistics, Cabrera has made only modest improvements to his underlying game. His success has stemmed almost entirely from his prolific singles hitting. Thanks to a .392 BABIP, Cabrera has singled in a league-leading 23.9 percent of his plate appearances, a higher rate than any player recorded in as many PA last season. That BABIP will likely be a lot lower after the break, and once his singles pace slows down Cabrera will go back to being pretty good, not great.


Carlos Ruiz, C, Philadelphia Phillies
There are exceptions to almost every rule in baseball, but you won't lose much money betting the under on a backstop batting .350. Mike Piazza is the only catcher who has exceeded that average in the past 75 years (and played at least 80 percent of his games behind the plate). When Piazza did it in 1997, he was 28, and he entered the season with a .326 lifetime average. Ruiz is 33 and started the season with a .265 career mark. He has adopted a more aggressive approach, seeing fewer pitches, swinging at more of them and striking out twice as often as he has walked after four seasons of walking at least as often as he whiffed, but the extra aggressiveness won't prop up his average all season. Expect his current .357 figure to fall far.


Wade Miley, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Miley is the Melky of the mound: No pitcher has a greater projected drop-off between his first- and second-half WARPs than the Arizona left-hander. The southpaw's minor league stats don't indicate a total collapse is coming, but his modest strikeout rate and .261 BABIP (on a staff that has averaged .307) suggest that his sub-3.00 ERA is about to be a fond memory. Miley allowed as many runs (eight) in his last start as he had in his previous five, so the best of times might already be behind him.

Ben Lindbergh is the managing editor of Baseball Prospectus. He has contributed to three BP annuals, and he served as assistant editor of Baseball Prospectus 2011 and the two-volume Best of Baseball Prospectus collection. He daylights as a baseball analyst for Bloomberg Sports, has interned for multiple MLB teams and recently became a member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Colin Wyers provided research assistance for this story.

Best tools at the Futures Game.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

This Sunday's MLB Futures Game, airing on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. ET, features a large proportion of the best prospects in the minors right now, including a number of players whose tools or pitches grade out at 70 or 80 on the 20-80 scale. Here's a look, tool by tool and pitch by pitch, at the best this year's rosters have to offer.

For full breakdown of the U.S. roster, click here. For the international roster, click here.

(Note: You will see me refer to scouting grades throughout this piece. For those unfamiliar, scouts grade tools on a 20-80 scale. It's very rare to see a grade of 80, and 50 is considered league average.)


Best hit tool: Wil Myers, OF (Triple-A Omaha)

Myers, who is hitting .327 across two levels this year, can flat-out hit, and if we weren't all so busy asking how Mike Trout only went 25th overall in the 2009 draft, we might be asking how Myers ended up in the third round. (Money was one of the reasons, of course.) Now that last year's knee injury is well behind him, his lower half is working more like it used to, allowing him to drive the ball to all fields. He's got a simple, natural swing, with great ability to manipulate the bat, and has shown he can hit all kinds of pitching. Honorable mentions go to Oscar Taveras of the St. Louis Cardinals, who has an incredible ability to square up the ball but doesn't have Myers' plate discipline and has a more unorthodox, higher-effort swing. Others of note are Christian Yelich (Miami Marlins) and Tyler Austin (New York Yankees).


Best power: Xander Bogaerts, SS (High Class A Salem)

Bogaerts hasn't even filled out yet physically, but for raw power -- particularly easy raw power -- he's as good as it gets in this game, with the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field in addition to plain old pull power. You may not have guessed it from his stat line this year, but Oakland Athletics outfielder Michael Choice also has plus raw power, masked this year by his trouble making contact, as does San Francisco Giants catcher Tommy Joseph, who struggles on defense but can drive anything he squares up.


Best running speed: Billy Hamilton, SS (High Class A Bakersfield)

Hamilton has stolen 101 bases already this year in just 80 games, and he's able to do it thanks to 80 raw speed, rivaled by only a few players in pro ball right now. I can't imagine he will stay for long in the California League thanks to a .322/.413/.439 line, and his lack of strength is a concern going forward, but he will see big league time fairly soon thanks to his legs. The next-fastest player in the Futures Game is Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Gose, who is a turtle compared to Hamilton (with "only" 29 steals this year) but is a plus runner in his own right.


Best glove: Mike Olt, 3B (Double-A Frisco)

Olt was a brutal defensive shortstop at the University of Connecticut, so his transformation into a plus defender at third has been a substantial surprise (and a credit to him and the Texas' coaching staff). His fellow Rangers system-mate Jurickson Profar also belongs in the "best glove" discussion, as does Chicago Cubs outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha (a plus defender in center who has played all three positions this year) and Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor.


Best throwing arm: Christian Bethancourt, C (Double-A Mississippi)

Bethancourt's season has been something of a disaster at the plate (.545 OPS), but he's still a worthy Futures Game addition as one of the best defensive catchers in the minors, including a grade-80 arm that would probably have him sitting at least in the low 90s if he were to ever convert to pitching. Gose also earns a mention in this category; he was up to 97 as a left-handed pitcher with a violent arm action in high school.


Best plate discipline: Jurickson Profar, SS (Double-A Frisco)

Profar's rise through the minors and up my rankings has been fueled not just by tools, but by his unusually strong feel for the game, which includes outstanding pitch recognition and patience for someone so young. It may not be evident in a showcase game, but it will get him to the majors sooner than anyone might have expected two years ago.


Best fastball: Gerrit Cole, RHP (Double-A Altoona)

Cole has hit 101 mph across multiple games as a starter, with a two-seamer up to 95 and a slider up to 92 ... while his changeup may even be his best pitch, with issues like command and pitch selection his areas for potential improvement. Seattle's Taijuan Walker and Kansas City's Yordano Ventura could also hit 100, while Miami's Jose Fernandez and Pittsburgh's Jameson Taillon have been up to 98 many times. In one-inning stints in a showcase, we could see a few triple-digit radar gun readings.


Best breaking ball: Tyler Skaggs, LHP (Triple-A Reno)

Skaggs' hard curveball is a big part of why he's in the game again this year, and why he's probably the next one of Arizona's starting pitching prospects to get the call if there's another opening in their rotation. But there are a lot of guys in this game who have or will at least flash a plus curveball or slider, including Cole, Fernandez, Taillon, Baltimore's Dylan Bundy (a cutter) and Zack Wheeler of the New York Mets.


Best changeup: Cole / Danny Hultzen, LHP (Triple-A Tacoma)

Setting aside Cole for the moment, Hultzen has the next-best changeup in the game, and it's his out pitch, a better offering than his short slider, although he does throw that latter pitch for strikes as well. Between his feel for the changeup and some deception created by his arm action, Hultzen can work very effectively, even with the breaking ball as just his third-best pitch. Cole has great arm speed on the changeup, and when he uses it in the right situations, he can embarrass a hitter who's white-knuckling the bat while trying to gear up for triple digits, although there's always the risk that he can do a hitter who can't catch up to 98-plus mph a favor by throwing a changeup 10 miles an hour below that. Philadelphia right-hander Julio Rodriguez has just an average fastball but it plays up because his changeup is so deceptive.


Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Joba update

11:17AM ET
Joba Chamberlain | Yankees

Joba Chamberlain hasn't pitched in a big league game since last June, but might he make it back this year?

You'll remember that Chamberlain dislocated his ankle in an ugly trampoline accident in March, an injury that put his 2012 season -- and his career, some thought initially -- in doubt. At the time of that incident, the righty reliever was already rehabbing from last summer's Tommy John surgery.

Well, according to George A. King of the New York Post, Chamberlain is ready to throw a simulated game Friday at the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa.

For what it's worth, Chamberlain continues to insist he'll be back this season. If he's healthy and back to his previous form, he could certainly give the Yankees bullpen a lift. But the organization might err on the side of caution.

- Jason Catania

The Strasburg debate

10:47AM ET
Stephen Strasburg | Nationals

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has repeatedly vowed that ace righthander Stephen Strasburg, coming off Tommy John surgery, will be shut down before the end of the season, regardless of the NL East standings.

The Nationals may try to get Strasburg some rest by slotting him in as the fifth starter coming out of the All-Star break, reports Adam Kilgore. Manager Davey Johnson has also hinted he may give Gio Gonzalez an extra day or two off before his first start of the second half.

The expectation is Strasburg will be shut down at about 160-170 innings because that was roughly the limit for teammate Jordan Zimmermann last year coming off the same procedure. Strasburg has pitched 93 innings, putting him on course to reach 160 sometime in late August or early September.

The Washington Post's Thomas Boswell breaks down exactly why the Nats shouldn't take any chances with Strasburg's future, no matter what the situation is down the stretch.

- Doug Mittler

Holland a go for Saturday

10:41AM ET
Derek Holland | Rangers

Left-hander Derek Holland made his second rehab start Monday and despite a somewhat shaky line -- 6 IP, 5 ER, 3 HR -- it looks like he's ready.

Holland is on track to start for the Rangers on Saturday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Pitching in Round Rock is not easy, as its an environment that favors hitters, and Holland cruised through five shutout innings before getting touched up for five runs and three long balls in the sixth. He threw 54 of 73 pitches for strikes, however, a good sign. He'll likely be limited to fewer than 100 pitches in his first outing back in the bigs.

The Rangers can certainly use the good version of the inconsistent Holland for the rest of the season, though they may be on the hunt for starting pitching regardless. Once Holland does return, Texas could send either right-hander Justin Grimm or lefty Martin Perez back to Triple-A and bump Scott Feldman from the five-man .

- Jason A. Churchill

Who closes for the Twins?

9:54AM ET

The list of available relievers this month should include the Twins' Matt Capps, given that he will be a free agent after the season and he pitches for a last-place team.

The obstacle to trading Capps, though, is whether the right-hander can return soon enough from right shoulder inflammation. The veteran reliever is set to throw a bullpen session Saturday then head out on a short rehab assignment.

Capps' value will depend on how soon he can get back and show he's healthy enough to help another team down the stretch, either as a closer or set-up option.

With Capps out, Twins closing duties have been split between left-hander Glen Perkins (four saves) and righty Jared Burton (two). Assuming Capps does get moved, it's likely that such an arrangement would continue, making saves in Minnesota tough to predict on a day-to-day basis for fantasy owners. For what it's worth, though, Perkins has a better strikeout rate and has earned the past two saves, so he might be the better bet.

- Jason Catania

Lucroy nearing a return

9:36AM ET
Jonathan Lucroy | Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers have had to cover for injured catcher Jonathan Lucroy for a month-and-a-half so far. By the time he's expected back, the club will have been without him for two full months.

Lucroy, who was hitting .345 when a suitcase fell on and broke his right hand in his hotel room, is about two weeks away, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel.

A rehab assignment is par for the course when a player has been out as long as Lucroy has -- he last played May 27 and said June 20 is his target date -- but it probably won't be more than a few games.

While Lucroy is still on the shelf, the Brewers will continue to use the tandem of George Kottaras and rookie Martin Maldonado, who's hit a surprising five homers with 17 RBIs in 34 games.

- Jason Catania

Be CCing him in a two weeks

9:26AM ET

Sure, that header is a cheap pun, but it gets the job done.

The New York Yankees have been without their ace CC Sabathia since June 24, when he aggravated a groin injury that put him on the disabled list. The latest has the left-hander returning in mid-July.

Specifically, GM Brian Cashman indicated that July 16 or 17 likely would bring Sabathia's return.

Until then, the Yankees, who are also without lefty Andy Pettitte (out six-eight weeks with a fractured fibula), will use Freddy Garcia and either David Phelps or Adam Warren to help cover two spots in the rotation.

- Jason Catania

No Nicasio or JDLR

8:17AM ET
Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are still searching for the right members of their try-it-on-for-size four-man rotation.

The club is currently going with Jeremy Guthrie, Christian Friedrich, Drew Pomeranz and Jeff Francis, with Josh Outman jockeying up and down between Colorado and Triple-A. Egads.

The musical chairs rotation won't include Jorge De La Rosa or Juan Nicasio any time soon. De La Rosa, a veteran lefty who's hit a few snags on his comeback trail from Tommy John surgery, was shut down until September Meanwhile, Nicasio's been out with a left knee injury since early June, and .

If the rotation problems get any worse in Denver, we may be looking at history, writes Dan Szymborski:

- Jason Catania

Baseball Think Factory

Worst rotation ever?

"Since 1950, there have been 1,532 teams. Among those teams, the Twins' starters, with an ERA+ of 66.3 -- serve as the caboose, bringing up the rear at 1,532nd (see chart). At this point in the season, it's not even close. The second-worst team -- the 2003 Reds -- had a 71.5 rotation ERA+. Minnesota is not alone among current squads near the bottom, as Colorado ranks 1,527th with a 73.7 ERA+, albeit practically a Strasburg-esque performance compared to what we've seen in the Twin Cities."

- Dan Szymborski

The latest on Greinke

8:10AM ET

Zack Greinke can become a free agent after this season, and if the Milwaukee Brewers cannot extend his contract soon, they may be willing to trade the right-hander.

Greinke's next start is set for Saturday. He goes up against Wandy Rodriguez, another arm on the trade market, making the Brewers-Astros tilt a scout's dream for one-stop shopping.

There should be no shortage of suitors for Greinke, and the Atlanta Braves, who are desperate to avoid another late-season collapse, would be a logical fit. ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney writes that the Braves are scouting Greinke, who grew up near Atlanta's spring training home, and suggests that trading the 2009 AL Cy Young winner for someone like a Randall Delgado "makes complete sense."

David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports via Twitter that the Braves are willing to part with young pitching to acquire Greinke, even with the right-hander headed for free agency and no guarantees that he re-signs there after the season.

The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardosays the Orioles could be a wild card in the Greinke chase. The belief that Greinke would be better off pitching in a smaller market because of his past anxiety issues "is still very much in play," Cafardo writes. Atlanta, as well as Baltimore, would fall into the category of a smaller market.

With Chris Carpenter out for the season, the Cardinals are expected to take a good long look at Greinke. Ken Rosenthal says Greinke, who began his career in Kansas City, likely would welcome a trade to St. Louis and a chance to sign with the Cardinals long term. But it remains to be seen if the Brewers would be willing to trade Greinke within the NL Central.

Jon Morosi of writes that the Brewers have sent special assignment scouts to watch Frisco, the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, where third base prospect Mike Olt is currently assigned.

ESPN Insider's Jim Bowden has Greinke high on his list of players most likely to be traded, while ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney says it is too early to classify the Brewers as sellers:

- Doug Mittler and Jason A. Churchill

Jim Bowden
Ten Most Likely to be Traded

"The Texas Rangers won't move prospect Jurickson Profar and will try everything in their power to exclude Martin Perez and Mike Olt from any deal. However, with a deep major league club and farm system, the Rangers have enough to make the Milwaukee Brewers an offer they can't refuse and allow them to place Greinke at the top of their rotation."

Buster Olney

Buyers or sellers in Milwaukee?

"The Brewers are probably closer than anybody realizes, six games out of first place after their most recent slugfest with Miami. With Shaun Marcum and Jonathan Lucroy due back from the disabled list, Milwaukee will wait a while longer before becoming full-fledged sellers. But if the Brewers slide, then yes, they'll talk about Greinke and Marcum and others - but not Corey Hart."

If the Halos eye the SP market

7:32PM ET
Los Angeles Angels

With right-hander Dan Haren struggling some and now on the disabled list for the first time in his career and Ervin Santana having yielded five or more earned runs in eight of his 13 starts versus American League opponents, the Los Angeles Angels could be players for the top starting pitchers on the trade block.

The top names include left-hander Cole Hamels, and right-handers Matt Garza and Zack Greinke. Greinke and Hamels are free agents at the end of the season, as is Ryan Dempster, another potential target of contenders this summer. Houston's Wandy Rodriguez and Philly's Joe Blanton could also be of interest.

The Angels top trade bait could include outfielder Peter Bourjos, right-hander Garrett Richards, prospects Hank Conger, Jean Segura, John Hellweg and Ariel Pena. GM Jerry DoPoto could decide to hold onto Richards to keep one club control rotation option in the mix.

A package without a premium talent to headline, however, could limit the Angels' ability to land one of the top arms, forcing them to settle for the likes of Blanton, Jason Vargas or Joe Saunders.

If the club is willing to consider trading Kendrys Morales -- it doesn't seem Mark Trumbo will be dangled, as he's been the best bat on the roster all season and remains there along with Mike Trout -- perhaps they can acquire more than a mid-rotation arm.

Third base could be another area DiPoto looks to address, which could use up some of the assets and make it more difficult to land the right starting pitcher.

- Jason A. Churchill

White Sox eyeing pitching

2:19PM ET
Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox are out looking for relief help as the trade deadline nears, writes ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney Thursday, but the wish list may not stop there.

Olney notes that lefry Chris Sale has never thrown more than 130 innings in a season -- that includes college and the minor leagues -- and he's already over 100, putting him on pace for 200 or more. That may be something the Sox prefer to avoid, suggesting they could be looking for a starting pitcher, too, though probably more an innings eater that won't cost a lot in return. Olney mentions Seattle Mariners right-hander Kevin Millwood as a possibility.

Other potential fits for such a role include Kevin Correia, Shaun Marcum, Joe Blanton, Joe Saunders and Randy Wolf. Correia may be a tough sell for the Pirates, who are now atop the NL Central and are likely to add to their roster this month.

Houston's Brett Myers could be among the fits for the Sox's relief needs, unless they prefer an experienced closer. If that is the case, Huston Street could be the ideal target.

Here is a longer list of potentially-available relief pitchers the Sox could consider.

- Jason A. Churchill

If the Mets buy

2:06PM ET
New York Mets

Considering where they sit in the standings, the New York Mets have to be considered buyers at this year's trade deadline, and Andy Martino writes that Carlos Quentin, who may be the top right-handed hitter available, might be the ideal fit.

The Mets have struggled versus left-handed pitching, which is where a bat such as Quentin becomes attractive. Quentin, however, may not be as ideal as one might imagine, as he's generally hit right-handed pitching better than lefties, and is not much of a defensive player.

Other possibilities for the Mets include Delmon Young, and perhaps Edwin Encarnacion, who is having a big year for the Toronto Blue Jays.

- Jason A. Churchill

What's next for Miami?

1:57PM ET
Miami Marlins

Among the busier teams over the winter, the Miami Marlins have made the first trade in July, acquiring Carlos Lee from the Houston Astros. As a result, the club has optioned Gaby Sanchez to Triple-A, opening up first base for Lee. The Marlins, however, probably aren't done.

The club has received little production from their center fielder and Logan Morrison, generally the starting left fielder, hasn't been able to stay ideally healthy and isn't exactly tearing it up when is in the lineup, suggesting an outfield addition could be on the wish list.

The starting pitching is solid and has a chance to be better, but the relief corps is among the NL's worst as a whole, despite the resurgence of closer Heath Bell.

If the Fish wish to address that via the trade route, the likes of Rafael Betancourt, Francisco Rodriguez, Huston Street, Brandon League, Jonathan Broxton and Grant Balfour make a lot of sense. Dealing for a closer may not be in the cards, as Bell is guaranteed $22 million in 2013 and 2014 combined.

- Jason A. Churchill

McCarthy open to deal with A's

1:48PM ET
Brandon McCarthy | Athletics

The Oakland Athletics may sell veterans at the deadline, but they make think twice about dealing right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who has expressed interest in staying in Oakland beyond this season.

McCarthy, a free agent after the season, is having a strong season but his tendency to hit the disabled list probably eliminates the possibility of a mega deal over the offseason. He's still likely to garner quite a bit of interest, both at the deadline this summer and after the season in free agency.

Whether the A's want to pony up for his services remains to be seen, but McCarthy says he's comfortable with the organization.

If McCarthy is not shopped between now and the trade deadline -- something ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reports the team is expected to do -- that fact may serve as a sign the A's prefer to extend his contract. Stay tuned.

- Jason A. Churchill

Fits for LaHair

1:40PM ET
Bryan LaHair | Cubs

The Chicago Cubs seem destined to trade Bryan LaHair, a 29-year-old first baseman who has been forced to outfield duty to make room for Anthony Rizzo, the club's future at first. Jon Morosi tweeted early Thursday that the club will listen to offers, but don't have to trade LaHair so the asking price is high.

LaHair should be quite the popular trade target this month, as he's under club control for another five season after this, but also should not ultimately cost a premium in trade.

The Cubs may want to cash in on LaHair's good first half, however, adding younger talents to the organization at positions of need, beginning with starting pitching.

Among the top potential fits for LaHair include the Los Angeles Dodgers, who tried to land Carlos Lee earlier this month, as well as the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays.

- Jason A. Churchill

Hamilton's ETA

1:30PM ET
Cincinnati Reds

Among the bigger stories in Minor League Baseball this season is the record pace of speedy shortstop Billy Hamilton, one of the top prospects in the Cincinnati Reds organization. Entering play Thursday, the 21-year-old has swiped 101 bases in 80 games, a pace set to shatter the record of 145, set by Otis Nixon more than 25 years ago.

More importantly, however, Hamilton is having a good year at the plate and in the field and is likely to be promoted to Double-A Pensacola, soon.

His ETA for the big leagues may be accelerated if he hits well in the Southern League for a month or so this summer and then starts his 2013 campaign doing the same thing at the same level. Starter Zack Cozart is safe for now, but could be pushed as early as next August or September, and Hamilton could threaten the 25-man roster out of spring training in 2014.

As for the stolen base record, it'd be an upset at this stage if he didn't break it, as there is more than 50 games left on the schedule.

Hamilton may not stick at shortstop, however, a question ESPN Insider's Keith Law answered in his Thursday chat:

- Jason A. Churchill

Keith Law

Hamilton to the outfield?

"Centerfield for me. Arm will never be great, but he's got everything else. I wouldn't rule out 2B, though."

Next in line for the call

1:11PM ET
Minor leaguers on the brink

Jason A. Churchill

Right-handers Trevor Bauer and Chris Tillman, and slugger Chris Carter have all been called up in the past several days, joining Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and others that began the season in the minors and are now enjoying their time in The Show.

Who could be next? Here are some candidates.

Josh Vitters, 3B -- Chicago Cubs
With Ian Stewart out for the season due to wrist surgery, the door is open for Vitters, a former first-round pick, to continue his push at Triple-A Iowa and earn a shot in the big leagues.

Vitters, 22, is batting .301/.352/.514 with 13 home runs this season, and the power isn't just a result of a friendly home park -- he's slugging .535 on the road. He's been red hot in his last 10 games, tossing up a triple-slash of .395/.452/.711 with as many walks, three, as strikeouts. (A lack of interest in taking walks, period, has been a problem for Vitters, so any progress there is worth noting.)

The approach is clearly better this season and more progress could equal a big-league job in 2013 and Vitters could get an audition this summer.

Josh Fields, 3B -- Los Angeles Dodgers
with the Dodgers struggling mightily on offense, Fields, 29, could get a chance to provide some assistance as Juan Uribe scuffles -- .200/.259/.280 in 42 games -- and Jerry Hairston, Jr. is needed elsewhere on the diamond, including second base and left field.

Fields is batting .329 with a .397 on-base percentage and a .503 slugging and should be somewhere on the club's radar by now, at least as an option versus left-handed pitching. The veteran has owned southpaws this season, and so far has held up healthy wise.

The Dodgers could be out looking for a third baseman on the trade market, but Kevin Youkilis has already been dealt and Chase Headley appears to be the only impact player left at the position, and that is assuming the Padres would trade the switch hitter, and especially to a division rival.

Danny Hultzen, LHP -- Seattle Mariners
Hultzen has made two rather pedestrian starts for Triple-A Tacoma, but in start No. 2 versus a very good Las Vegas 51s (Toronto Blue Jays) lineup that included Anthony Gose, Travis Snider, Moises Sierra and Yan Gomes, among others, the southpaw displayed above-average velocity, touching 96 twice, and a much-improved slider, generally thought to be his third best offering.

The Mariners just placed Erasmo Ramirez on the 15-day disabled list and veteran Kevin Millwood has not exactly been reliable, due to both a recurring groin injury and inconsistent performance, potentially opening up a rotation spot for Hultzen.

Hector Noesi's struggles with the long ball could also prompt the club to make a move, but Hultzen is the kind of prospect that bullies his way into the bigs, so whether or not there is an ideal place for him or not is irrelevant.

The over-under on Hultzen's total starts in the Pacific Coast League may be around eight, which leaves five more after Tuesday's tilt versus Fresno.

Starling Marte, OF -- Pittsburgh Pirates
With the Pirates contending into July, it's difficult to imagine GM Neal Huntington standing pat with their left field situation, despite Drew Sutton providing a little spark the past week or so. A trade could ultimately be the answer, but Marte may be the best move, as it doesn't cost the rebuilding Bucs any talent in return and it fits the budget nicely.

Marte's credentials speak for themselves. After a slow start to the season, he batted .325/.385/.558 in June and is the hottest hitter in the International League the past 10 games at .457/.490/.870 with four home runs.

He can play center field, too, suggesting he'd also be a significant defensive upgrade over Alex Presley and Sutton in left, since he's not supplanting Andrew McCutchen up the middle.

Tyler Skaggs, LHP -- Arizona Diamondbacks
With Daniel Hudson out for the season, the D-backs have gone back to Josh Collmenter for the time being, and despite his strong start Sunday that solution may not last long.

The one major obstacle to Skaggs getting a call-up may be the pending return of left-hander Joe Saunders, who is expected to come off the DL in the next week. Saunders, however, could end up as trade bait before the July 31 deadline, opening a spot for Skaggs in August.

The club's playoff chances could impact Skaggs one way or the other, and he will have to pitch better going forward than he did in his first Triple-A outing Sunday.

Replacing Swisher in NY

10:46AM ET
New York Yankees

With the New York Yankees' plans to get below the luxury tax threshold by 2014, it appears Nick Swisher will be the odd-man out, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Swisher will be a free agent after this season.

If they do not look to re-sign Swisher due to payroll concerns -- boy, that sounds weird when the team of topic is the Bronx Bombers -- GM Brian Cashman will have to look for a bargain on the free agent market or acquire help via the trade route.

Sherman notes that a reunion with Melky Cabrera is unlikely, and since the switch hitter is having a big year he's likely to be too pricey for the Yankees -- again, that's difficult to type without a Scooby-Doo double-take -- the club may be forced to go bargain hunting.

Cashman did suggest that he's not concerned with that issue now, suggesting the chances the outfield is addressed at the trade deadline are slim.

- Jason A. Churchill

Queens encore for K-Rod?

10:46AM ET
Francisco Rodriguez | Brewers

The New York Mets traded away Francisco Rodriguez to Milwaukee at the All-Star break last July, ending a rocky Big Apple tenure both on and off the field for the temperamental closer. Is a return to Queens a possibility?

Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reported Tuesday the Mets, ranked dead last in the majors in bullpen ERA, have K-Rod on their list of targets. Davidoff insists the idea is not crazy at all since Rodriguez enjoyed a positive working relationship with manager Terry Collins at the time of his departure.

The Brewers could make Rodriguez available if they decide to become sellers as July 31 approaches. Given that Rodriguez is making $8 million as a set-up man, his price would be minimal if the Mets eat some salary.

Mets players would welcome K-Rod back, reports Mark Hale.

Rodriguez has the experience of pitching in New York, which could make him more attractive than San Diego's Huston Street, Houston's Brett Myers and Oakland's Grant Balfour. But it remains to be seen how Mets fans would react to an encore for a player who didn't leave on the best of terms.

- Doug Mittler

post #7164 of 73668
I love Salvador Perez.

40 plate appearances, zero walks, two strikeouts. smiley: laugh

Never walked more than 18 times/struck out more than 38 times in a minor league season.

He would be 10th in swing percentage, sixth in contact percentage and fourth in zone percentage right now if he qualified.

But it works. And he's a great defender.
post #7165 of 73668
Thread Starter 
All they need to do is promote Wil Myers and that'd probably be my favorite offense to watch in the second half.

BTW, keep booing Justin Upton. I'll send all of AA to Arizona for that kid to replace Swisher or Granderson. I hope his thumb feels better in the second half and he just rips the league apart.
post #7166 of 73668
Good to see Freese make the All-Star roster.

One again...Lord Stanley Resides In The Windy City.


One again...Lord Stanley Resides In The Windy City.

post #7167 of 73668
Totally made that post not knowing that there was an article about him on Fangraphs today, by the way. smiley: laugh
post #7168 of 73668
Originally Posted by JaysForDays

48-32. Pimp

Ian Desmond is the best SS in baseball. Pimp

smiley: laugh you dipped on WNFF and posting about the Nats when Dukes left town and now that we're winning you're coming back?
post #7169 of 73668
Salty has been magnificent this year pimp.gif
Team Boston {since 1990}
Team Boston {since 1990}
post #7170 of 73668
Drew Stubbs is 0 for his last 30 with 12 strikeouts and Dusty continues to run him out there every night in the two hole. 30t6p3b
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