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2016 MLB thread. THE CUBS HAVE BROKEN THE CURSE! Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions. - Page 814  

post #24391 of 78800
In 2003 Seattle became a football town.
Kicks 4 Sale |Seattle Seahawks |Seattle Mariners |LA Lakers (Long live the Supersonics) | Instagram = Jetliferivas
Kicks 4 Sale |Seattle Seahawks |Seattle Mariners |LA Lakers (Long live the Supersonics) | Instagram = Jetliferivas
post #24392 of 78800
I'm going to go ahead and give Shaun Alexander total credit for that.
post #24393 of 78800
Originally Posted by thekidgriffey24 View Post

Are more cities baseball towns or football towns? I've always felt like baseball teams were more closely linked to their cities but now that I think about it, probably not.

Baseball has become a local sport. Which is 1 reason it's falling behind NFL & NBA. People dont have time to follow all 30 teams anymore and too many games. I personally only watch and go to Dodger games. I honestly didnt even know who Todd Frazier was. :o :lol

post #24394 of 78800
Originally Posted by a-friend View Post

@Bennyhinn I think you're right though. If ESPN covered it, this subject wouldn't have been discussed in any time block on air or the tele
ESPN did a tribute to him during the Derby.
Originally Posted by thekidgriffey24 View Post

Are more cities baseball towns or football towns? I've always felt like baseball teams were more closely linked to their cities but now that I think about it, probably not.
D.C. is a football town and it's not even close.
post #24395 of 78800
Originally Posted by dakid23 View Post

In 2003 Seattle became a football town.

Coming from a Seattle fan, give you credit for keeping it 100%.


Heck, I feel like Schrempf is a bigger athlete in Seattle than any Seahawks. :lol

post #24396 of 78800
Originally Posted by a-friend View Post
Originally Posted by 651akathePaul View Post

Move him to the mornings and do away with Mike & Mike.


would love to see anybody replace Mikes though. Can't rally feel those 2 at all



SF Giants, SF 49ers, SA Spurs...
SF Giants, SF 49ers, SA Spurs...
post #24397 of 78800
Originally Posted by Bennyhinn View Post

Baseball has become a local sport. Which is 1 reason it's falling behind NFL & NBA. People dont have time to follow all 30 teams anymore and too many games. I personally only watch and go to Dodger games. I honestly didnt even know who Todd Frazier was. embarassed.gif  laugh.gif

I don't know if it's fell behind the NBA. NFL definitely though. Other than the NFL all sports are local and NBA's ratings have been down since Jordan retired. If not for Lebron, idk if the NBA would be relevant on a national scale. There are like 3 cities where the the basketball team is more popular than the baseball team, if that.
post #24398 of 78800
Originally Posted by Bennyhinn View Post

Baseball has become a local sport. Which is 1 reason it's falling behind NFL & NBA. People dont have time to follow all 30 teams anymore and too many games. I personally only watch and go to Dodger games. I honestly didnt even know who Todd Frazier was. embarassed.gif  laugh.gif
Baseball hasn't fallen behind the NBA, at least in revenue. The MLB still brings in more cash than the NBA, gets more television viewers than the NBA, and attendance has continued to rise around the league for the past 9 years, while the NBA has supposedly fallen behind the NHL in attendance this past season.
post #24399 of 78800
Originally Posted by Degenerate423 View Post

Originally Posted by a-friend View Post

Originally Posted by 651akathePaul View Post


would love to see anybody replace Mikes though. Can't rally feel those 2 at all

I know right.
post #24400 of 78800
No way the World Series gets bigger tv ratings than the NBA finals. And I'm sure they rake in more revenue because of the bigger stadiums. Attendance I'll bet is up or steady because like I said, it's become a local sport.

No way MLB is more popular on a national scale than the NBA. The NBA has the most popular and marketable individual athletes than any sport. Yes, even the NFL.
post #24401 of 78800
The Finals had higher ratings than the World Series, but that's only because of Lebron. I would say baseball is slotted firmly as the #2 sport in America. Besides NBA has always had the most marketable stars, that's not new. Dr. J was more marketable than Mike Schmidt and George Brett, but baseball was more popular. Same in the 90s, Jordan was more marketable than Griffey and Bonds, baseball will always be bigger than NBA in this country.

Lakers are more popular than the Dodgers, Rockets are more popular than the Astros, Heat are more popular than the Marlins...any other cities with an NBA team more popular than the MLB team? Toronto maybe?
post #24402 of 78800

So, is this a swipe at FOX and MLB for not even mentioning Tony Gwynn during tonight's broadcast? Or just the Padres recognizing Mr. Padre at a time when baseball has the spotlight?
You whole crew's ravishing, team's untouchable
In the jungle banging Nas, Mobb Deep and Wu
"My Ohhh My"
You whole crew's ravishing, team's untouchable
In the jungle banging Nas, Mobb Deep and Wu
"My Ohhh My"
post #24403 of 78800
Originally Posted by thekidgriffey24 View Post

The Finals had higher ratings than the World Series, but that's only because of Lebron. I would say baseball is slotted firmly as the #2 sport in America. Besides NBA has always had the most marketable stars, that's not new. Dr. J was more marketable than Mike Schmidt and George Brett, but baseball was more popular. Same in the 90s, Jordan was more marketable than Griffey and Bonds, baseball will always be bigger than NBA in this country.

Lakers are more popular than the Dodgers, Rockets are more popular than the Astros, Heat are more popular than the Marlins...any other cities with an NBA team more popular than the MLB team? Toronto maybe?

Well you cant knock the NBA for having it's best player in the Finals every year. The same can be said about baseball with the Yankees and Red Sox. Because those are the only times MLB has beaten NBA in ratings. I'm actually surprised how close it really is as far as Finals games are. But NBA has consistently beaten MLB over the years.


Regular season games it's not even close though. Sunday night baseball barely pulls anything. FOX games too but those arent really nationally televised. On the other hand, the NBA's Christmas games have a been a big ratings pull over the years.


And you cant compare a local teams popularity to its other local team. I'm talking about a NATIONAL level. And even if you wanted to compare, MLB is not that much better. Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs & Braves are the only ones I can come up with.


And if you want even more proof, just wait and see how much these networks will try to outbid each other for the NBA TV rights in a couple years. There's a reason all their players are only signing 2 year deals. It's going to be crazy...:eek

post #24404 of 78800
I blame Joe Buck. Seriously. Probably not even his fault, but for some reason I despise the guy even more now.
post #24405 of 78800
Originally Posted by 651akathePaul View Post

I blame Joe Buck. Seriously. Probably not even his fault, but for some reason I despise the guy even more now.

Joe buck has been on my ****list since Randy Moss "mooned" packers fans...

makes it hard to watch postseason baseball sick.gif
Da Angels.Da Lakers.Da Raiders
Da Angels.Da Lakers.Da Raiders
post #24406 of 78800
Originally Posted by Bennyhinn View Post

Well you cant knock the NBA for having it's best player in the Finals every year. The same can be said about baseball with the Yankees and Red Sox. Because those are the only times MLB has beaten NBA in ratings. I'm actually surprised how close it really is as far as Finals games are. But NBA has consistently beaten MLB over the years.

Regular season games it's not even close though. Sunday night baseball barely pulls anything. FOX games too but those arent really nationally televised. On the other hand, the NBA's Christmas games have a been a big ratings pull over the years.

And you cant compare a local teams popularity to its other local team. I'm talking about a NATIONAL level. And even if you wanted to compare, MLB is not that much better. Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs & Braves are the only ones I can come up with.

And if you want even more proof, just wait and see how much these networks will try to outbid each other for the NBA TV rights in a couple years. There's a reason all their players are only signing 2 year deals. It's going to be crazy...eek.gif

How many teams in the NBA draw nationally? Lakers and Celtics are the only consistent teams. Right now it'd be those two, the Clippers, Cavs (w/Bron), Heat (w/Bron), Bulls, and Knicks. Coincidentally, those are the teams you see on national tv and Christmas Day games. Outside of those teams, the NBA isn't drawing that well. Attendance is down and ratings are down. Once LBJ's decline begins, the NBA is going to take a drastic dip in popularity. KD will be the only megastar left and he isn't nearly as polarizing. Baseball is indeed a local sport, which is why the World Series ratings are down, but this year's finals ratings were down too and that's with Lebron. Baseball has never relied on its stars, but its teams, so in the long run it's in better shape than the NBA unless another megastar like Lebron pops up, which is doubtful.
post #24407 of 78800
Didn't watch the all star game but I'm hearing they didn't mention Tony Gwynn at all. That's sad
post #24408 of 78800
I think the announcers did, but that was all.
post #24409 of 78800
Originally Posted by 651akathePaul View Post

That's just living in the moment, if you ask me. Any well-rounded Seattle sports fan still holds Griffey above all.

I'm going Griffey > Wilson as well. He thinks this one SB win outweighs anything Griffey did/meant for the Mariners.

Then again, he is football biased and doesn't even realize Griffey practically kept baseball in Seattle.
New York Yankees | New York Jets
New York Yankees | New York Jets
post #24410 of 78800
Thread Starter 
Back from vacation. I'll try and update with as many articles as I can from the last week. Nice to see the thread moving though pimp.gif (although I'm not gonna read any of it laugh.gif).
post #24411 of 78800
Thread Starter 
It's time for a Texas fire sale.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
When the season began, the Texas Rangers seemed like contenders. They had won 90 or more games in each of the past four seasons, and nabbed the 2010 and 2011 American League pennants along the way. They also made multiple splashy additions in the offseason and seemed poised for another October playoff trip.
Each baseball season brings surprises, though, and in the past three months, the Rangers have completely unraveled, with injuries a major culprit.

The Rangers have been terrible in 2014 -- so bad that we don't need advanced metrics to paint a convincing picture. When the outlook is this bleak -- 38-57 at the All-Star break, 21 games back in the AL West -- the only question is where to begin the recovery efforts.

In Texas, we may be about to witness the beginning of a fire sale. The Rangers need to clean house. Despite landing two players on Keith Law's ranking of the top 25 players under 25 this year, Texas has an overall dearth of young talent with impact. Outside of those two young studs -- Martin Perez and Jurickson Profar, out for the season with a torn UCL and a shoulder muscle tear, respectively -- the team has little in the way of young players capable of making things better in the very short term.

Rougned Odor, 20, has a lot of potential, but has been overmatched and has struggled to the tune of a sub-.300 OBP. Michael Choice has been even worse. In fact, the 24-year-old outfielder has been the very worst position player in baseball this season -- and it isn't even close. Nick Martinez, a 23-year-old who has made 11 starts for the club, has walked more players than he has struck out. Nick Tepesch and Robbie Ross, both 25, haven't been quite as bad as Martinez, but with ERAs, FIPs and xFIPs well north of 4.00, there's no way to describe their performances as encouraging, either. Rounding out the 25-and-under main contributors is Elvis Andrus, who hasn't been terrible, but also hasn't lived up to his contract extension just yet.

To put it mildly, the current batch of youngsters has underperformed. But a wave of talent led by Joey Gallo, Jorge Alfaro, Chi Chi Gonzalez and Nick Williams may be coming in the next year or so. In conjunction with the return of Perez and Profar, and the maturation of Odor, the Rangers could be poised to bounce back quickly.

That rosy future is far from assured, though. For all the promise that made Profar the No. 1 prospect in the game heading into 2013, he will begin next season as a 22-year-old with 94 games of sub-replacement level baseball under his belt and a lot left to prove. In the meantime, the rest of the team is either struggling or old. Struggling and old players tend to stay struggling and old. Getting healthier would help, but every team has injuries, and at this juncture -- again, 21 games back -- it's hard to see the Rangers as contenders any time soon.

With the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels strangling the division, the Seattle Mariners looming as a threat, and the Houston Astros continuing to beef up, now is the time for the Rangers to start fresh. If they execute a long-term plan correctly and begin immediately, they may avoid the Astros' fate of three consecutive league-worst finishes.

The Red Sox showed in 2012 that no turnaround is impossible. Still, it's not realistic to expect that all of the players you want to trade find suitors.

So: Who should go? And who probably won't?

Here for the long haul
Matt Harrison -- Harrison is owed $13 million per season through 2017 and just had spinal fusion surgery, which could potentially end his career. He is a prime example of why signing pitchers to contract extensions is akin to playing with fire.

Prince Fielder -- Fielder also has had fusion surgery, specifically of the C5-C6 disks in his neck. It's not a common baseball injury, which sends up red flags. From Jon Lieber to Jeff Hoffman, teams are comfortable signing or drafting players recovering from common injuries, even Tommy John surgery. But combine Fielder's rare affliction with an even rarer paycheck -- he is owed $144 million through 2020 -- and his age (he'll be 32 next season), and it would take a Herculean effort to haul him out of town.

In Limbo
Shin-Soo Choo -- A year older than Fielder, but cheaper -- he's owed $116 million through 2020 -- and healthier, Choo shouldn't be as hard to move as Fielder. But trading him won't exactly be a picnic, either. After posting offensive numbers 31 percent and 51 percent better than the league average the past two seasons, Choo enters the break raking only 5 percent better than the league. He's a poor defender, so he really needs to hit (and walk) in order to provide value.

One interesting destination could be division rival Seattle. The Mariners have tried 13 players at DH this season. In aggregate, they've received the worst DH production in the American League. If they are willing to eat the majority of Choo's contract, they could provide an ideal fit. Displacing that much salary would likely preclude the Rangers from receiving much in the way of talent. Still, while the haul might not be exactly what Texas would want for a player of Choo's ability, the boost in payroll flexibility would be well worth the price of doing business.

If they can't get a deal done with Seattle, the Rangers likely will find it difficult to deal Choo. Thirty-something outfielders with good-but-not-great on-base skills and an inability to hit left-handed pitching aren't exactly a market rarity; there are plenty of such players, but few who make more than $14 million a year.

Elvis Andrus -- After seemingly turning the corner in his career in 2012, Andrus hasn't performed to expectations on offense in 2014. Andrus' fielding and baserunning are so exceptional that he just needs to be average offensively to be a star. But he doesn't walk and rarely hits the ball in the air. Both of those deficiencies are enough to put a low ceiling on his offensive potential. Combine a diminished outlook with that massive contract extension -- which runs through 2022 and hasn't even kicked in yet -- and it's hard to know if he's still valued highly by other teams.

With Profar and Odor in the fold, the Rangers could afford to deal Andrus. But even teams that have long-term shortstop needs, like the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees, may no longer be interested.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Beltre
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports
If you say Texas shouldn't deal Adrian Beltre because he still has value, well, that's just the idea.
Adrian Beltre -- Yes, Beltre is still killing it. Yes, trading Beltre would be a kick in the teeth. But if you're looking at 2016 as the next season in which the Rangers might compete -- which seems increasingly likely -- it's hard to justify keeping Beltre, who'll be 37 by then. Only 11 third basemen of that age have qualified for the batting title since baseball integrated in 1947. Some of them, like Mike Schmidt in 1987 or Brooks Robinson in 1974, were very good. In other words, there's precedent, but the odds are certainly against a big year for Beltre three years hence.

Trading Beltre while he is still one of the best players in the game would net a nice package of prospects, one or two of whom could develop into an impact player. The Toronto Blue Jays might move Brett Lawrie to second base full time when he returns from injury and therefore could make an interesting trade partner. The Yankees and Atlanta Braves would likely be interested as well.

Alex Rios -- Rios had a rough June, but he has gone back to hitting the way he is capable. Though the power hasn't been there this year, Rios is hitting .305, has stolen 16 bases and continues to play decent defense. Even better, he won't crush the budget -- Rios can either be gone after the season or brought back on a $13.5 million club option. With Angel Pagan sidelined, the Giants could certainly use more offensive production in center than Gregor Blanco provides.

Joakim Soria -- Soria has done wonders stabilizing the bullpen this season: The only pitcher on the team who was more valuable in the first half was Yu Darvish. But, as the old saying goes, the Rangers can finish last without Soria. Most teams need at least some help in the bullpen, and while Soria has been nails this year, his injury history, along with the normal variance in performance that comes with being a relief pitcher, make him a shaky bet for next season. He needs to be dealt.

Neal Cotts -- In the past three seasons, Cotts has turned himself into the rare left-handed reliever who can get out both lefties and righties. He could be a valuable addition to any number of bullpens down the stretch.

Geovany Soto -- He's a free agent and is just coming back from a knee injury, so they won't get much for him, but they should still look for a market.

The Rangers are a bad team. As currently constituted, it's hard to see them contending next season. Trading Beltre, Rios, Soria and Choo (if possible) would bring some necessary payroll flexibility and may help re-stock a farm system mostly devoid of near-ready talent.

What would it take to get Papelbon?
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Player: Jonathan Papelbon | RP | Philadelphia Phillies

Possible destinations: Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers

Los Angeles Angels

Why? Angels GM Jerry Dipoto stopped by the GM's office recently and said he's not done making moves; he'd like to add another reliever. Since DiPoto became the team's GM in October 2011, he has needed a defibrillator for many of the ninth innings; only three AL teams have blown more saves since the start of 2012. It's time for the Angels to solve it once and for all, and although they're hoping newly acquired Jason Grilli is the answer, they know Papelbon would be. Papelbon has converted 22 saves with a 1.21 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in 37 1/3 innings pitched. This is a no-brainer move for the Angels if they can get it done.

"What would it take to get ..."
Jim's look at July trade candidates.
• Dayan Viciedo Insider
• Martin Prado Insider
• Bartolo Colon Insider
• Josh Willingham Insider
• A.J. Burnett Insider
• Ben Zobrist Insider
Who? The Phillies will target all of the Angels' top prospects, focusing more on overall quality rather than positional needs, realizing they could always spin the acquired assets for needs down the road. Therefore, expect the Phillies to ask for a package that includes at least two of the following: Taylor Lindsey, Kaleb Cowart, R.J. Alvarez, Alex Yarbrough, Eric Stamets and Jose Rondon.

Will it happen? The Angels are hoping they don't have to make a deal like this, because that would mean Grilli is getting the job done. It wouldn't surprise me if they end up making a move for another setup man instead. However, because the Phillies really don't have a lot of trade partners for Papelbon, this might be the best fit for him.

Baltimore Orioles

Why? The Orioles don't need a closer right now, given the way Zach Britton has dominated the ninth inning for the team. That said, the Orioles would enhance their chances of winning the division if they could move Britton back to a setup role, where he could pitch multiple innings and more often.

Who? The Orioles could offer relievers Brian Matusz and Ryan Webb. From the Phillies' perspective, they would be able to free up significant dollars to rebuild, and in Matusz they have a pitcher who continues to learn and should be ready to take the next step as he enters his prime years.

Will it happen? It's unlikely. The Orioles are pleased with Britton and don't want to spend $13 million a year on a closer.

Detroit Tigers

Why? Joe Nathan has a 5.61 ERA, a 1.51 WHIP and five blown saves. If he doesn't turn his season around, it could become a real problem for the Tigers, not just in the postseason, but maybe getting there, too. The Tigers have been blessed with solid performances from setup relievers Joba Chamberlain, Al Alburquerque and Ian Krol, but they must have better performances in the ninth inning. Papelbon would solve it, and Nathan could strengthen their setup depth.

Who? A package of pitcher prospects Corey Knebel and Kevin Ziomek might be enough to get it done. Knebel has a mid-90s fastball with a hard curveball and occasional changeup; Ziomek throws in the low 90s with an above-average changeup and solid slider. This would be fair value based on where both teams are going.

Will it happen? Doubtful. The Tigers are more likely to trade for a setup man such as Joaquin Benoit or Brad Ziegler.

Four blockbuster trades I'd like to see.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Oakland Athletics and Chicago Cubs kicked off the baseball trade fireworks on the Fourth of July with a blockbuster deal that sent starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland for prospects Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, among others.

With three weeks left until the trade deadline, here are four more blockbuster trades I'd like to happen:

San Diego Padres-Los Angeles Angels
Padres receive: 2B Taylor Lindsey, 3B Kaleb Cowart, SS Jose Rondon, and RHPs R.J. Alvarez and Victor Alcantara

Angels receive: C Yasmani Grandal and reliever Huston Street

The Angels have the second best record in baseball behind only the Oakland Athletics, and if it weren't for 12 blown saves by their bullpen, they would have the best record in the majors. GM Jerry DiPoto has done a great job upgrading the bullpen the past couple weeks with the acquisitions of Jason Grilli (from the Pirates) and Joe Thatcher (from the Diamondbacks), but why stop there? A blockbuster to get one of the game's best closers, in Huston Street, would be huge.

Street, 30, is controllable though 2015 at an affordable $7 million per season. He's also having a career year, with 23 saves, a 1.13 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP. Add Street to the Angels' bullpen, and the team can start printing postseason tickets.

Grandal, who, at age 25, has yet to fully develop, would be the long-term catcher for the Angels and would benefit from playing under Mike Scioscia, a former All-Star catcher. Grandal has struggled the past two years at the plate, but his career numbers -- 16 homers, 64 RBIs and a slash line of .246/.349/.409 in 455 at-bats -- are still respectable. He would benefit from a change of scenery. He's a smart, good kid who I think would thrive in the Angels' environment, though he'd probably have to settle for a backup role this year.

In return, the Padres load up on prospects as their rebuilding program under the new GM gets under way. Taylor Lindsey would be the headliner. Considered by most to be the Angels' top prospect, Lindsey, who was the Angels' first-round pick in 2010, would become the Padres' future second baseman, with Jedd Gyorko moving to third base when Chase Headley is either traded or leaves via free agency. Cowart, like Grandal, has struggled the past two years, but he should at some point produce like he did in 2012, when he hit .276/.358/.452 with 31 doubles, 16 homers and 103 RBIs in Class A. R.J. Alvarez and Victor Alcantara would give the Padres two quality arms, while Jose Rondon could be the sleeper in the deal. Rondon plays both shortstop and third base and can really hit, though he has little power and average speed. Still, he'd cap a pretty good five-prospect return for Street and Grandal.

Tampa Bay Rays-St. Louis Cardinals
Rays receive: OF Oscar Taveras, RHP Carlos Martinez, CF Peter Bourjos and 2B Kolten Wong

Cardinals receive: LHP David Price, 2B Ben Zobrist, CF Desmond Jennings and reliever Joel Peralta (the deal would be contingent on Price signing a five- or six-year extension with the Cardinals).

This eight-player blockbuster would help both organizations. The Cardinals need another ace because of how the elite NL teams' rosters are presently structured. The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke at the top of their rotation, the Giants have Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson, and the Nationals can roll out Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. The NL postseason will be loaded with No. 1 and 2 starters.

Price would join Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly in the rotation, which is enough pitching talent to match the best teams in the league. Price's being left-handed would be another huge plus, considering how many left-handed hitters the top NL teams have. The deal would also give the Cardinals needed upgrades in center field (Desmond Jennings) and at second base (Ben Zobrist), and Peralta would add proven veteran depth in the bullpen.

In return, the Rays would get younger, cheaper and more controllable. Martinez would be able to fully develop in a rotation full-time, Wong would give them an inexpensive, controllable second baseman for the next five years, and Bourjos will give them speed and defense in center field, something that would be necessary if Jennings were included in the transaction. The key to the deal for the Rays, besides Martinez, would be getting Taveras, one of the best offensive prospects in baseball. The Rays would then have a solid middle of the lineup for years to come in Taveras, Wil Myers and Evan Longoria.

New York Mets-Oakland Athletics
Mets receive: LHP Tommy Milone, RHP Ryan Cook and 1B Nate Freiman

A's receive: 2B Daniel Murphy and RHP Bartolo Colon

A's GM Billy Beane already made one blockbuster deal, but why stop there? The previous trade already gives the team its best chance at winning a championship since Beane became a GM, but the team has one remaining need: a solid second baseman. Why not get greedy and trade for Murphy, who is leading the National League in hits? While he's at it, why not reacquire Colon for another year and a half, giving the A's a two-season chance for a championship? That would give the A's a rotation of Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Samardzija, Colon and Jason Hammel, with Jesse Chavez on the ready, and that would give them a much better chance of beating postseason nemesis the Detroit Tigers. With Murphy, the A's will have lengthened their lineup and eradicated the only position in which they don't have an above-average major leaguer.

In return, the Mets get 27-year-old Tommy Milone, who won 13 games in 2012 and 12 games in 2013 and is 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA and 1.21 WHIP this year. Sure, he's a back-of-the-rotation starter, but he's also 14 years younger than Colon, and his finesse ways would blend well with hard throwers Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard.

Meanwhile, Ryan Cook would upgrade the Mets' bullpen and is expendable for the A's, and if he stays healthy, he could develop into a closer. The key to the deal for the Mets could be Freiman, who has tremendous power from the right side. Many scouts think that if he's given the chance to play every day at first base, he could end up being a 30-homer, 100-RBI producer. He just needs the opportunity.

Philadelphia Phillies-Los Angeles Dodgers
Phillies receive: CF Joc Pederson, LHP Julio Urias and INF Alex Guerrero

Dodgers receive: LHP Cole Hamels

Hamels has a limited no-trade clause that includes 21 teams he cannot be dealt to. However, he has pre-approved eight teams, and the Dodgers are believed to be on that short list. Imagine a Dodgers rotation of Kershaw, Greinke, Hamels, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Josh Beckett (when he returns). Hamels, 30, has proven to be a good postseason pitcher and boasts a 7-4 record with a 3.09 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 13 playoff starts. He would immediately make the Dodgers the World Series favorites.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are in desperate need of a rebuild, and Pederson would be a major step in the right direction. He'd immediately become their best prospect, and many believe he's major league-ready. He could take over any of the three outfield positions. Pederson currently sports a .319/.437/.568 line at Triple-A, with 11 doubles, 3 triples, 17 home runs, 42 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.

Urias, 17, would become the Phillies' best pitching prospect. He would need a good three or four years of development before he can help the team, but he has plenty of upside. Alex Guerrero missed time earlier this season after teammate Miguel Olivo bit off part of his ear, but he's back now and is sporting a .376/.417/.735 line at Triple-A. He could play second base or shortstop if Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins were traded. He could also be used as a trade piece, as teams such as the Orioles, Blue Jays, A's and Giants could all use an upgrade.

This would certainly be an unpopular deal for the Phillies to make, but the rebuilding process needs to begin sooner rather than later.

Those are my four blockbusters … feel free to give me one of your own in the comments section below.

What would it take to get Dayan Viciedo?
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Player: Dayan Viciedo | OF | Chicago White Sox

Possible destinations: Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals

Seattle Mariners

Why? The Mariners are second in the American League in team ERA, behind only the Oakland Athletics, and the top of their starting rotation gives them the chance to run the table in October. So what can prevent them from even making the playoffs? Their offense, or rather the lack thereof; they are dead last in the American League in team OPS. M's GM Jack Zduriencik must make moves to improve this lineup, and without a lot of impact bats available, he might have to focus on Viciedo's 20-homer power (albeit with a low OBP).

"What would it take to get ..."
Jim's look at July trade candidates.
• Dayan Viciedo Insider
• Martin Prado Insider
• Bartolo Colon Insider
• Josh Willingham Insider
• A.J. Burnett Insider
• Ben Zobrist Insider
Who? The White Sox could ask for any one of Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero or Michael Saunders to see how the Mariners truly value Viciedo. If they go to their farm system, they could target right-handed pitcher Victor Sanchez and left-hander Tyler Pike.

Will it happen? The White Sox have all but given up on the idea that Viciedo will improve his lack of plate discipline and his propensity to chase balls out of the strike zone. He's getting traded somewhere, and unless the Mariners are able to pull off a Marlon Byrd or Josh Willingham type of deal first, this is a logical landing place for him.

Cincinnati Reds

Why? The Reds have not had much production from left field this year, as Ryan Ludwick has hit .270 with 6 homers and 26 RBIs, while Chris Heisey has a .292 OBP and .668 OPS. The Reds also placed Joey Votto on the disabled list with a quad injury that has taken much of his power away, and one must wonder if he'll make it back anytime soon, if at all this year. Meanwhile, Brandon Phillips is out 6-8 weeks because of a torn thumb ligament. Bottom line: The Reds needed a bat before Votto and Phillips went down, and now they need to make multiple moves to improve the offense enough to get to the postseason. Viciedo has 20-homer power in Chicago, which could mean 25- to 28-homer power at Great American Ball Park.

Who? The Reds have a loaded farm system thanks to one of the best scouting directors in baseball in Chris Buckley. A package of right-handed pitcher Jackson Stephens and third baseman Tanner Rahier could get the deal done.

Will it happen? The White Sox have been burning the phone lines trying to move Viciedo, and the Reds' farm system is stronger than the other teams interested in him. So if they want Viciedo, they can get him with one phone call. GM Walt Jocketty would prefer a better solution, but the market is not exactly flooded with possibilities.

Kansas City Royals

Why? Royals manager Ned Yost is openly exhausted waiting for DH Billy Butler to produce; the veteran righty has just three home runs and 36 RBIs, which is just not going to get it done for a DH. A Viciedo acquisition might create competition for Butler and even spark him to get it going. Viciedo also could play right field, although he's well below average there.

Who? The Royals could dangle outfielders Brett Eibner and Lane Adams, which could get them Viciedo, but the White Sox probably will try to hold out for right-handed pitcher Christian Binford.

Will it happen? I doubt it. They need Marlon Byrd or Alex Rios, because they are both much better defensively and can handle right field.

What would it take to get Bartolo Colon?
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Player: Bartolo Colon | RHP | New York Mets

Possible destinations: Baltimore Orioles, Miami Marlins, New York Yankees

Miami Marlins

Why? Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill and general manager Dan Jennings both told me on separate occasions this past week that owner Jeffrey Loria is committed to contending and winning this year, and is prepared to provide the financial backing necessary for trades. Hill characterized his relationship with Jennings as a partner, and both have been told if they find a good baseball deal to bring it to Loria and he will approve it. This includes the David Price sweepstakes if he’s traded. They’ve also told me that starting pitching, not second base, is their top priority.

"What would it take to get ..."
Jim's look at July trade candidates.
• Dayan Viciedo Insider
• Martin Prado Insider
• Bartolo Colon Insider
• Josh Willingham Insider
• A.J. Burnett Insider
• Ben Zobrist Insider
Therefore, based on who's available, Colon -- who's signed through next season and not just a rental -- would be a good target. Colon would provide leadership for their young pitchers and more important increase their chances of staying in the pennant race all season.

Who? A package of right-handed pitcher Nick Wittgren and outfielder Austin Dean would be fair value.

Will it happen? Mets management is under pressure to win, but that won't change GM Sandy Alderson's blueprint of building the Mets the right way through development, scouting and shrewd trades for prospects. Dealing Colon would free up $10 million in 2015, which could be spent on offense. The Mets probably would prefer to trade Colon outside of the division, though.

Baltimore Orioles

Why? It might just be the final piece for the Orioles in winning the American League East. With Kevin Gausman quickly developing, Ubaldo Jimenez showing flashes of figuring out his mechanics and Dylan Bundy proving in the minor leagues that he’s healthy, the Orioles have a real shot of making the playoffs (and making a run once they get there). Adding the steady Colon to the top of rotation would bring veteran stability and perhaps the influence needed for Jimenez to be more consistent.

Who? First baseman Christian Walker should get the deal done. Walker, 23 years old, was the Orioles' fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft out of the University of South Carolina. He is raking in Double-A, with a .306/.366/.536 slash line, including 15 doubles, 20 home runs and 76 RBIs.

Will it happen? The Orioles are concentrating more on improving the bullpen and upgrading their offensive production from second base, but it would be hard for them to pass up a chance on adding Colon to their rotation.

New York Yankees

Why? The Yankees are all-in on trying to acquire a starting pitcher. However, they didn’t have the elite prospect to get Jeff Samardzija, and will likely fall short in their pursuit of Price as well. However, Colon would be a good short-term option, and would certainly improve the chances of Derek Jeter seeing another October.

Who? The Mets are looking for offense, and the Yankees have a plethora of prospect bats they can dangle, including outfielder Aaron Judge, corner infielder Peter O'Brien, first baseman Greg Bird or third baseman Dante Bichette Jr. Somewhere in that group there should be a match.

Will it happen? The Mets and Yankees rarely make a deal with each other, but that kind of thinking is really archaic. Colon is a good short-term fix for the Yankees, and a bandage they should test out, if only for the sake of Jeter.

What would it take to get Martin Prado?
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Player: Martin Prado | 3B | Arizona Diamondbacks

Possible destinations: Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants

Toronto Blue Jays

Why? The Blue Jays are in dire need of good right-handed hitters, as they've struggled against left-handed pitchers all season. The fractured right index finger injury to Brett Lawrie and most recently the right quadriceps strain suffered by Edwin Encarnacion has only magnified that need, and Adam Lind's lengthy absence (6-to-8 weeks because of a fracture in his foot) leaves another hole in the lineup. The Blue Jays prefer Lawrie at second base rather than third, but what they like most about Prado is, like Lawrie, he can play both second and third. Unlike Lawrie, Prado is an above-average defender at both. Prado would play second while Lawrie is out, then move back to third when Lawrie returns. Prado is a fundamentally sound player in all aspects of the game and would fit nicely in the Blue Jays' clubhouse as well.

"What would it take to get ..."
Jim's look at July trade candidates.
• Dayan Viciedo Insider
• Martin Prado Insider
• Bartolo Colon Insider
• Josh Willingham Insider
• A.J. Burnett Insider
• Ben Zobrist Insider
Who? The Diamondbacks will start by asking for 20-year-old third baseman Mitch Nay, which GM Alex Anthopoulos will quickly decline. However, a counter of speedy center field prospect Dalton Pompey could get this deal done. The D-backs could get a second player thrown in, depending on how much of Prado's contract they're willing to absorb.

Will it happen? Prado's $11 million annual salary through 2016 is a steep price, and if this deal is going to happen, then the Diamondbacks should be prepared to pay at least some of it.

San Francisco Giants

Why? The Giants have struggled offensively at second base all season, although the return of incumbent starter Marco Scutaro, who is expected to make his season debut tonight after missing the first three-plus months of the season with a back injury, could help in that regard. If Scutaro can prove he's not only healthy but can hit like he did prior to the injury, then the Giants likely wouldn't pursue Prado. But if he can't, Prado will certainly be a top trade target for the Giants because he's a Bruce Bochy/Brian Sabean type of player. Prado "plays the game the right way," as the saying goes, and is a scrappy player. The Giants tried Brandon Hicks at second base earlier this year, but his slash line of .164/.284/.323 tells the story on why that didn't work out. Then they tried Joe Panik, and his slash line (.234/.288/.277) did the same. So for the Giants, it's either a healthy and productive Scutaro or a trade for a player like Prado by the deadline.

Who? Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has been a master of building bullpens throughout his career, and the Giants could dangle 25-year-old Heath Hembree, who has a big arm but hasn't quite developed the control and command needed at the major league level. This is the type of pitcher Towers has acquired in the past and had a lot of success with. To deal Prado, Towers would also need left-handed reliever Steven Okert, who has dominated minor league hitters this season (1.19 ERA, 65 K's in 45 1/3 innings split between high-A and Double-A). Hembree and Okert would make for a strong package to get Prado.

Will it happen? The Diamondbacks have been talking to multiple teams about Prado, as well as his teammate Aaron Hill, and are definitely motivated to move one or both of them if the right deal comes along.

Futures Gamers who could be traded.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Sunday's SiriusXM Futures Game at Target Field in Minnesota is an annual opportunity for general managers, assistant GMs, scouting directors and scouts to see the very best prospects in one game. In my years as GM, I always sent at least two of my top evaluators to the game and made it a must-watch for everyone in baseball operations.

Since most of the players participating in the game are top prospects, it's likely each year that at least a few of these players will get traded at the deadline in the game's biggest blockbusters. For example, if David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays or Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies is dealt at the deadline, chances are the return will include players who will have played in this game.

Therefore, let's look at seven of the prospects from this year's Future Game who could be traded by the July 31 trade deadline:

Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees
6 feet, 191 pounds | Bats: Right; Throws: Right | Age: 20
Stats: 2.45 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 98 K's in 88 1/3 innings (Class A Charleston/high-Class A Tampa)

Severino was the Yankees' most important trade chip in their failed attempt to trade for former Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who eventually was traded to the A's. Severino's stock continues to grow, and, if the Yankees do make a big deal, he'll be the first minor league pitcher opposing GMs will ask for. Severino has a mid-90s fastball, and his slider and changeup are developing into solid secondary offerings. The key to Severino is fastball command and getting downward plane while living at the knees to get ground ball outs and his ability to get strikeouts at the top of the zone, as well.

Dariel Alvarez, OF, Baltimore Orioles
6-foot-2, 180 pounds | Bats: Right; Throws: Right | Age: 25
Stats: .308/.331/.489, 14 HRs, 67 RBIs (Double-A Bowie)

The Orioles are looking to improve their bullpen and offense at second base, and this Cuban is a prospect teams keep asking for. His numbers above might provide a good indication as to why. The Orioles signed Alvarez back in July 2013 with an $800,000 signing bonus. The outfielder has an uppercut swing, but scouts have been impressed by his improvement against off-speed pitches. Alvarez is a plus defender and has an above-average arm to go along with average speed. Scouts will be watching his at-bats closely during the game.

Edwin Escobar, LHP, San Francisco Giants
6-1, 185 pounds | Bats: Left; Throws: Left | Age: 22
Stats: 3-8 record, 5.06 ERA, 1.49 WHIP in 105 innings (Triple-A Fresno)

After two straight years of posting ERAs under 3, Escobar is struggling in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. However, most scouts still think the 22-year-old will develop into a solid No. 3 or No. 4 starter. In the Futures Game, scouts will be watching to see whether his stuff hasn't gone backward. Escobar's fastball normally sits 92-93 mph, and at times he has a plus slider and changeup. Consistency of his secondary pitches will determine when he's major league-ready. Escobar could be a key trade piece for the Giants this month.

Gabriel Guerrero, OF, Seattle Mariners
6-3, 192 pounds | Bats: Right; Throws: Right | Age: 20
Stats: .297/.340/431, 9 HRs, 60 RBIs, 14 SBs (high-Class A High Desert)

The Mariners are third in the majors in team ERA but just 27th in team OPS. GM Jack Zduriencik knows he must add a bat by the trade deadline, and Guerrero will be a trade target for teams engaged with the Mariners. Gabriel Guerrero is a nephew of MLB great Vladimir, and there are several similarities between them, including: free swinging in and out of the strike zone, a rifle of an arm, above-average speed and above-average defense. Scouts don't believe he'll be an All-Star, but many do believe he'll be an above-average right fielder and a solid player. Either way, he definitely could be a useful trade piece for the Mariners.

Jose Peraza, SS, Atlanta Braves
6 feet, 165 pounds | Bats: Right; Throws: Right | Age: 20
Stats: .345/.370/.460, 60 runs, 42 SBs (high-Class Lynchburg/Double-A Mississippi)

The Braves have the best defensive shortstop in baseball in Andrelton Simmons, and they could make Peraza available in a blockbuster for a top-of-a-rotation starter. Peraza, one of the most underrated prospects in baseball, is an above-average defender with above-average range to both sides thanks to his great reads, jumps and angles. He has tremendous instincts and hand-eye coordination and can play second base or shortstop. His best tool is his raw and usable speed, as demonstrated by his 159 stolen bases in his first 317 minor league games. Plus, this kid can really hit, and it'd be difficult for the Braves to deal him unless it's in a David Price-type transaction.

Dalton Pompey, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
6-1, 175 pounds | Bats: Both; Throws: Right | Age: 21
Stats: .296/.378/.444, 56 runs, 31 SBs (high-Class A Dunedin/Double-A New Hampshire)

Pompey was the Blue Jays' 16th-round pick in the 2010 MLB draft out of John Fraser Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario. It took him a few years to develop, but he's really coming on strong now. He is a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder with well-above-average speed and long strides. The biggest question is how much he's going to hit, and that's the tool scouts will be bearing down on in the Futures Game. They'll be watching to see how he fares against the game's best pitching prospects.

Jose Rondon, SS, Los Angeles Angels
6-1, 160 pounds | Bats: Right; Throws: Right | Age: 20
Stats: .323/.363/.412, 16 doubles, 9 SBs (Rookie league/high-Class Inland Empire)

The Angels have the second-best winning percentage in the AL (behind only the Oakland Athletics), and they have a legitimate chance for a World Series appearance for the first time in five years. However, they also will need an impact closer unless Jason Grilli can prove he's the answer over the next couple of weeks. With Huston Street and Jonathan Papelbon both available, the Angels know they might have to part with one of their top shortstop prospects to get this type of deal done. Rondon is a slightly-below-average defender at shortstop, but he should develop to a "solid average" grade in time. He's a solid average runner with no power. But he can really hit and has a short compact stroke. He has good plate discipline and knows how to work a count, draw walks and get on base. He profiles to be an "old-school" No. 2 type of hitter in a lineup and is a solid trade chip for GM Jerry Dipoto.

Ranking the contenders' schedule strength.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
On July 23, 2013, the Cleveland Indians were 52-48 and slogging along. But what they had in front of them was opportunity, as noted then, in the form of one of the easiest second-half schedules in the big leagues. They proceeded to take full advantage of it and made the playoffs.

With that in mind, what follows is how the second-half schedules stack up in 2014. These notes are based on records going into Sunday's play, and the contenders are ranked from the toughest schedule to the easiest.

1. (most difficult second-half schedule): Baltimore Orioles
Home/away: 32 games at home; 36 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 42
Schedule notes: With the rest of the division something of a mess, the Orioles appear to have a great opportunity to win the AL East. But they will be challenged right out of the All-Star break: 10 straight games against the AL West beasts, beginning with Oakland, then the Angels and Mariners. Then, as a topper, they go back home and play the Angels and Mariners again, followed by a makeup game in Washington. In fact, Baltimore's first 26 games after the All-Star break -- yes, that's twenty-six -- are against teams with records of .500 or better. Brutal.
Big finish: Not only are most of the Orioles' games on the road in the second half, and not only do they have to play tough teams, but their last seven games are on the road, with four games at Yankee Stadium and three in Toronto.

2. Detroit Tigers
Home/away: 34 games at home; 37 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 41
Schedule notes: Because of rainouts, the Tigers have played the lowest number of games among all teams, with just 91 in the first half. They have makeup dates sprinkled throughout their second-half schedule, including a doubleheader against the Indians on July 19 and another against the White Sox on Aug. 30. Think about this: They play 54 games in 55 days coming out of the All-Star break. It's a backbreaking schedule, really.
Big finish: The Tigers finish the season with seven home games, against the White Sox and Twins.

3. San Francisco Giants
Home/away: Only 28 games at home; 39 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 27.
Schedule notes: The Giants have a lot of traveling to do in the second half, with four separate trips into the Eastern time zone between now and Sept. 7.
Big finish: The Giants face only NL West teams in the final three weeks, including the final four games at home against the Padres.

4. Milwaukee Brewers
Home/away: 32 games at home; 34 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 42
Schedule notes: The Brewers have two more trips to the West Coast, a three-game set at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 15-17, and a trip to San Diego and San Francisco a week later. In fact, the Brewers play 12 games against the Dodgers and Giants in August alone, then go head-to-head against NL Central teams for all but four games in September. That won't be easy.
Big finish: From Sept. 16 to 25, Milwaukee has the mother of all NL Central trips: three games each in St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. They close with three games at home against the Cubs.

5. Seattle Mariners
Home/away: 31 games at home; 36 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 38
Schedule notes: The Mariners' travel is inherently more difficult, given their geographic location, but never more than in the second half of this season, when they'll make three separate trips to the Eastern time zone. This includes a late-season 11-game swing that has the M's going from Seattle to Anaheim to Houston to Toronto, then back home. Good luck with that.
Big finish: The Mariners' final three games are at home against the Angels.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates
Home/away: 32 games at home; 35 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 38
Schedule notes: The Pirates have plenty of games remaining against NL Central contenders, of course, but what is unusual is how many games Pittsburgh has left against good teams from other divisions, including four with the Tigers, seven with the Braves, three with the Nationals, three with the Dodgers and three with San Francisco.
Big finish: The Pirates will be on the road for the last week, with four games at Atlanta and three games in Cincinnati.

7. Cincinnati Reds
Home/away: 33 games at home; 34 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 38
Schedule notes: The opportunity will be there for them down the stretch, because 16 of their final 19 games will be against the other three NL Central contenders. Their last game against a team outside the NL Central will be Sept. 7, when they play the Mets.
Big finish: Cincinnati's final six games are at home, with three games each against Milwaukee and Pittsburgh.

8. Cleveland Indians
Home/away: 33 games at home; 35 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 35
Schedule notes: The good news is that the Indians have 11 games left with the team they are chasing, the Tigers. And maybe that'll turn out to be the bad news too. Meanwhile, the Indians have seven games remaining with the Astros, which is a good thing.
Big finish: Their final six games are at home, three each against Kansas City and Tampa Bay.

9. Los Angeles Angels
Home/away: 34 games at home; 34 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 34
Schedule notes: After Aug. 16, the Angels will have 17 games left against two tough division rivals, the Athletics and Mariners. They will have a difficult road trip at the outset of September, with a makeup game in Cleveland dropped into the midst of what was already a three-city, nine-game trip. The Angels also have 14 games left against the Rangers and Astros.
Big finish: The Angels' final six games could mean something: three-game series in Oakland and Seattle.

10. New York Yankees
Home/away: A whopping 41 games at home (including the first 10 games after the All-Star break); 27 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 34
Schedule notes: The Yankees' rotation injuries will hurt them, but if playing many games at home provides any kind of an advantage, manager Joe Girardi's team will certainly have it. The Yankees also have six games left in July against Texas, and three in August against the Houston Astros.
Big finish: After a seven-game homestand against the Jays and Orioles, the Yankees close out their regular season in Boston.

11. St. Louis Cardinals
Home/away: 34 games at home; 32 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 32
Schedule notes: Remember how tough the schedule was for the Cardinals in May? Well, the payoff for that comes in the second half, when St. Louis gets a whole lot of games against the Cubs (10) and more games against weaker opponents outside the division than their NL Central rivals have.
Big finish: Yes, the Cardinals' last week of the regular season will be spent on the road, but those games are at Wrigley Field and Arizona, while some of their division rivals will be hammering away at each other.

12. Los Angeles Dodgers
Home/away: 32 games at home; 33 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 35
Schedule notes: The Dodgers will be tested right out of the break, with three-game series in St. Louis, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The Giants and Dodgers have nine games remaining against one another, three in July and six in September.
Big finish: The Dodgers wrap up their season with six home games, three each versus San Francisco and Colorado.

13. Toronto Blue Jays
Home/away: 35 games at home; 31 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 31
Schedule notes: The Blue Jays have floundered over the past month, and in turn they've squandered their AL East lead. If they are to get back into contention, it will be while riding a relatively easy schedule. The Jays open the second half with a series against the Rangers, then have four games at home against Boston, followed by three each at the Yankees and Red Sox, with four games at Houston carrying them into August.
Big finish: Their final seven games will be at home, although they are against contenders: four games versus Seattle, three against the Orioles.

14. Atlanta Braves
Home/away: 37 games at home; 30 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 32
Schedule notes: The Braves could be poised for a major burst right after the All-Star break because their first 11 games are against the Phillies, Marlins and Padres. It would behoove them to take advantage of that, because starting July 29, they go into a meat-grinder stretch in which they face contenders in 22 of 25 games, including six against the Dodgers and a three-game set against Oakland. The Braves also have nine games left against the Nationals.
Big finish: After a 10-game homestand against the Nationals, Mets and Pirates, the Braves close the regular season with three games in Philadelphia.

15. Washington Nationals
Home/away: 34 games at home; 35 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 28
Schedule notes: They have a makeup home game dropped into their early-August slate, but because they'll already be in the midst of a homestand, the impact might not be as bad.
Big finish: The Marlins are going to have a lot to say about whether the Nationals make it to the postseason: Eight of Washington's final 11 games are against Miami.

16. Kansas City Royals
Home/away: 34 games at home; 34 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 20
Schedule notes: The Royals' chances for staying in contention might come down to how they do in their head-to-head work with the Indians. They have 10 games left against the Tribe, and with K.C. and Cleveland trying to define themselves, both teams are probably not going to be left standing.
Big finish: The final seven games of the season will be on the road, with the Royals playing three games at Cleveland and four in Chicago against the White Sox.

17. Oakland Athletics
Home/away: 36 games at home; 31 games on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 29
Schedule notes: After a three-game home set against Baltimore coming out of the break, the A's will play nine straight games against either Houston or Texas, which provides a good opportunity. In fact, 22 of Oakland's final 67 games are against the Astros and Rangers.
Big finish: It's very soft. After a nine-game homestand against the Rangers, Phillies and Angels, the Athletics finish with four games in Texas.

Around the league

• Jose Bautista was outspoken about the AL East race.

• All signs point to Adam Wainwright being the NL's All-Star starter.

• A.J. Preller is getting a second interview for the Padres' GM job.

• David Price was dominant Sunday in his last start before the break.

• Dan Uggla was suspended for a game, as David O'Brien notes.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Arismendy Alcantara is going to stick around for another series.

2. Robbie Ray may get a start for the Tigers next weekend.

Sunday's games

1. Trevor Bauer was excellent again.

2. The Braves piled up runs Sunday.

3. The Astros were wrecked by the Red Sox.

4. Brad Peacock wasn't thrilled about a quick hook.

5. The Mets are taking a wave of confidence into the All-Star break.

6. Two Giants hitters clubbed grand slams.

7. Sonny Gray was "the man" for Oakland. You'd have to believe that the additions of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel take some weight off the rest of the Oakland staff.

Dings and dents

1. David Wright got a cortisone shot.

AL East

• A life's dream is within reach for a Jays prospect.

AL Central

• The Royals need Eric Hosmer to keep swinging a hot bat, writes Sam Mellinger.

• Jose Abreu will get a much-needed breather after the All-Star break, writes Daryl Van Schouwen.

• The White Sox bullpen blew it again Sunday.

AL West

• The Rangers are a lot like they were in 1972.

NL Central

• A Reds prospect is compared to Jay Bruce.

• Robert Stephenson threw the ball hard Sunday.

• Pat Neshek is making an All-Star comeback like no other.

• Milwaukee stopped the losing.

• Manager Rick Renteria remains upbeat about his Cubs squad.


• A couple of prospects showed off some power in the Futures Game.

• Commissioner Bud Selig gives a Q&A to Brian Murphy. Selig is leaving baseball with fond memories.

• I have an early flight to Minneapolis this evening, so I couldn't get to all the links.

And today will be better than yesterday.

A shift in MLB's injury equation.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
BALTIMORE -- In his last start before Masahiro Tanaka landed on the disabled list, his average fastball velocity was 92.1 mph. He pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed five runs. As the Yankees learned two days later, following an MRI and three doctor consultations, Tanaka had been broken in that last start against the Indians, with a small tear in an elbow ligament. But he was also still functional, like a car with a faulty fuel pump.

Now he'll be shut down for at least six weeks, and if his condition doesn't improve, he could have elbow reconstruction surgery.

Two weeks into the season, it was apparent that Matt Wieters was having some sort of arm trouble, particularly evident in his struggle to throw the ball to second base. Wieters was still playing effectively, hitting over .300 with five homers in his first 26 games. He was functional, but broken, and after weeks of treatment while he was on the disabled list, he had Tommy John surgery.

As Major League Baseball searches for answers about why so many players have been shut down in 2014, in comparison to past seasons, one of the reasons is that modern medicine is better. Injuries can be diagnosed in the way they haven’t been in the past, from the time tearing begins all the way to a full tear, and so the doctors and players and teams will respond to the information: treatment first, and often, the disabled list.

“Ten years ago, if a player got hurt like Tanaka did, he'd probably get a cortisone shot and try to keep pitching,” said one GM. “And it'd be announced that he has tendonitis.”

No, the general manager wasn't pining for the good ol' days. He and others just acknowledged the difference in medicine in this era.
[+] EnlargeJames Andrews
Matthew Williams for ESPN
Doctors like James Andrews have changed the game in terms of diagnostics, not just treatment.

Years ago, the doctor who was paid by the team often had the most say in the direction of a player’s treatment, and he or she might be more inclined to weigh the interests of the team in the diagnosis. The question of whether the player could stay on the field factored in.

But now the medicine provides clearer answers and clearer options, through team and independent consultants, and the player has the ability to dictate the course of treatment in his own best interests. And more often, backed by far more transparent medical information, with a more precise assessment of how much tearing has occurred, a conservative course is being taken.

What does that mean? Being shut down, and/or surgery.

Twenty years ago, a player in Wieters’ situation might have tried to play through his elbow injury, with the help of cortisone. But Wieters was injured, and it was obviously in his best interest to get healthy for the 2015 season, his last year before he reaches free agency. He was shut down and had surgery.

A lot of baseball officials, managers and coaches looking at the wave of pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery believe there is a root cause, and are reaching the conclusion that the increased effort to throw at the highest possible velocity has something to do with it. But it could be that the increase in days on the disabled list is due to the simple fact that doctors and teams and players know more about injuries.

A generation of players is being told to report discomfort. MRIs are taken, and exams are done. Doctors are diagnosing the reasons for the discomfort, as they are professionally obligated to do, and the players and teams are responding to that information appropriately.

The players in 2014 have a better chance to be fixed and to play without injury. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a better chance to play.


• Shane Greene, one of the starters who is part of the Yankees’ M.A.S.H unit rotation, worked with a great moving fastball and a larger strike zone and completely shut down the Orioles. Chase Whitley starts for the Yankees today.

• Brian McCann has been working on some things with his swing in recent days -- eliminating his toe tap, for example, and just getting his front foot down as he starts his swing.

• Kevin Gausman will pitch in the Orioles’ rotation for the rest of the season, and he gets the ball against the Yankees on "Sunday Night Baseball" (8 ET, ESPN). He spoke last month about his development of a second changeup.

• On Friday’s podcast, Derrick Goold discussed what’s next for the Cardinals, after the Yadier Molina injury; Alex Speier broke down the challenge facing the Red Sox, as they weigh trading Koji Uehara and others and try to identify power in their lineup; and Karl Ravech and Justin Havens provided some perspective for the Clayton Kershaw streak.

• Adam Wainwright won again, and the Cardinals are in first place, Rick Hummel writes. The sky isn’t falling for the Cardinals, writes Bernie Miklasz.

From ESPN Stats & Info, how Adam Wainwright won:

1. He threw 33 percent curveballs (his most in a start this season).
2. He threw 68 percent curveballs with two strikes (his most in a start since April 2010).
3. He recorded nine outs and got three of his four strikeouts with his curveball.
4. That kept hitters off his fastball: Hitters were 0-for-8 against his fastball (first time allowing zero hits with his
fastball in nine starts).

Wainright now has seven straight starts throwing seven innings with two or fewer runs allowed. Only John Tudor (1985), Matt Morris (2001) and Bob Gibson (1968) have more for the Cardinals.

• The Brewers were shaken, and are reeling.

• These days, Andrew McCutchen looks like he’s playing a different game than anybody other than Mike Trout. He mashed two more homers Saturday.

• The Royals lost to the Tigers again.

• Houston and top pick Brady Aiken remain at an impasse, after the Astros reportedly reduced their offer to him from $6.5 million to $5 million over concern about elbow trouble, as Kirk Kenney writes. I’ve heard of teams blowing up a deal over a diagnosis, or significantly shaving down their bonus offer. But to still offer $5 million, after offering $6.5 million? That’s a new one.

• The Dodgers are not likely to trade for a top pitcher, writes Bill Shaikin. From his story:

[GM Ned] Colletti didn't specifically address the team's interest in [David] Price or [Cole] Hamels, but said any non-contending team offering an elite player would want a package of top prospects in return.

“Probably more so than yours truly would like to part with at this particular time,” Colletti said.

More from Shaikin's story:

“Based on what I know of who can be acquired, even those of upper-echelon ability that are going to require more than others, I don't see us doing anything that's going to tear apart the farm system,” Colletti said.

The Dodgers are comfortable with the front end of their rotation, which consists of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

• David Price enters the All-Star break with a trade still possible, writes Marc Topkin. From his piece:

David Price was soaking in the hot tub about 3 1/2 hours before last Sunday's start when bullpen coach Stan Boroski walked into the training room in the Rays' Comerica Park clubhouse and told him manager Joe Maddon had to see him immediately.

"I'm like, 'Right now?'" Price said. "And he's like, 'Yea, he needs you right now.'"

Price -- to that moment -- had done quite well in not letting the oft-rumored and very real possibility of a trade enter his head. He doesn't listen much to the constant chatter, read more than an occasional tweet or TV scroll about it, allow it to occupy much bandwith. "I don't cringe," he says, defiantly.

But that all changed as he got out of the tub, wrapped a towel over his shorts, and took what suddenly was a long walk down the hall.

"I'm like, "Did I get traded?' Stan just looked at me, and the look on his face, he didn't know. He was probably a little worried about it as well," Price said. "So I went in there and Joe goes, 'Hey, you're an All-Star. Congrats. I just wanted to let you know.'

"I was like, 'F-f-f-f' ... I was like, 'Oh, my God.' And then I was like, 'All right.'"
Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Phillies’ Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins should want out, writes Bob Ford.

2. Miguel Gonzalez will pitch in the minors during the All-Star break.

3. The Blue Jays made Dan Johnson sweat before calling him up.

4. Gordon Beckham says trade rumors don’t bother him.

5. Fernando Rodney is replacing David Price on the All-Star team.

6. Dan Uggla's time with the Braves could be nearing an end, writes David O'Brien.

Dings and dents

1. Jordan Zimmermann is likely to avoid the disabled list, writes Adam Kilgore.

2. Francisco Liriano is ready for a restart.

3. Kyle Zimmer will resume throwing Monday.

4. The Tigers expect Victor Martinez will return after the All-Star break.

5. The Reds expect Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to return in weeks, rather than months.

6. Jason Giambi has been moved to the 60-day disabled list.

7. Evan Gattis is ramping up his rehab work.

8. Dexter Fowler is going to rest his injury.

9. Matt Harvey knows he won’t get to pitch this season.

Saturday’s games

1. Jake Peavy was good, but the Red Sox lost to Houston.

2. For the Jays, the losing continues.

3. The Twins piled up runs for Kevin Correia.

4. Jose Abreu has 29 homers. From the Elias Sports Bureau: The home run was Abreu's 50th major league extra-base hit. He reached the half-century mark in that category in just his 81st major league contest. That's the fewest games any player has needed to reach that milestone since Ted Williams did it in his 80th appearance in 1939.

5. Edwin Jackson says he was embarrassed by his performance Saturday.

6. Wade Miley was The Man for the Diamondbacks.

7. Ryan Vogelsong got no support. The Giants are an MLB-worst 9-23 since June 9.

8. Oakland’s lead in the AL West is shrinking, John Hickey writes.

9. Ian Kennedy was great, but the Padres were shut out for the 13th time.

10. The Rays won.

11. Mike Minor (a Vanderbilt guy) mashed a homer and the Braves won.

12. Jason Castro and the Astros had a good day.

NL East

• Matt Gelb addresses the question of whether it’s time to trade Cole Hamels. The bottom line: They’re terrible with him on the team, so they might as well see what’s possible in improving the team without him. By the time the Phillies rebound, Hamels may be in the last year or two of his contract, when performance regression is expected, so they might as well move him now.

• The Phillies’ minor league system doesn’t have much offense.

NL Central

• McCutchen might be baseball's most cost-effective star, writes Travis Sawchik.

• A Cubs prospect talked about his learning experience.

NL West

• Troy Tulowitzki has added veteran wisdom to his intensity.

From ESPN Stats & Info: Paul Goldschmidt extended his career-long streak of reaching base to 32 games. That's the fifth-longest in the majors this season, the longest active streak and fourth-longest in Diamondbacks history. Jay Bell holds that distinction with 40 straight games in 1998.

• Gerardo Parra is working to break out, writes Nick Piecoro.

• The Rockies are dealing with the fallout from emails from the club’s owner. The Monforts must rethink how they are running the Rockies, writes Woody Paige.

AL East

• Nelson Cruz has never been happier, writes Childs Walker.

• David Ortiz hit his 20th home run of the season on Saturday, giving him at least 20 in each of his 12 seasons in Boston. Ted Williams is the only Red Sox player with more 20-homer seasons (16).

AL Central

• The Royals don’t have a lot at the top of their farm system, writes Andy McCullough.

• Another nosedive for the Tigers is not likely, writes Tom Gage and Lynn Henning.

• The Indians look like a .500 team, writes Paul Hoynes.

AL West

• There are signs of discontent for Oakland fans.

• The Angels’ bullpen is finding consistency, writes Mike DiGiovanna.

• Felix Hernandez has contributed 10 loyal seasons.

• Hisashi Iwakuma delivered.

• A midseason report on the Rangers, from Evan Grant.

• Neftali Feliz’s fastball velocity is down.


• The Home Run Derby has become a popular event, Tyler Kepner writes.

• Stay alert when Giancarlo Stanton is hitting in the Derby, writes Manny Navarro.

• Willie Mays is an All-Star for all time, writes Patrick Reusse.

• An umpire has All-Star memories, Tom Powers writes.

• Derek Jeter deserves a moment in the sun in his final All-Star Game, writes Anthony McCarron.

• PED accusations follow Roger Clemens, writes Nick Cafardo.

• The son of Brewers shortstop Jean Segura passed away.

And today will be better than yesterday.

Time for the Phillies to turn the page.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Philadelphia Phillies fans aren't happy, and they're expressing that through the ticket office: The team's attendance has plummeted, from an incredible (and unsustainable) 44,021 per game just two years ago to the current 30,438 per game. That's a 31 percent drop-off.

The fans saw the Phillies win the World Series in 2008 and field the best regular-season team in 2011, but then the team fell back to .500 in 2012 and won just 73 games last season.

At the current pace, Philadelphia will win just 72 games this season, which is an extraordinary failure, given the amount of money the team has invested. With the problems of the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees and the Phillies -- three teams with massive payrolls -- 2014 is shaping up to be like a baseball version of the banking industry. Too big to fail, indeed.

Whatever the thinking was behind the Phillies' decision to hold together their core group of expensive veterans -- while adding more older players to the mix -- it is playing out to be a debacle, on the field and in the eyes of the Phillies' faithful. What this really means is that there is clear opportunity for the Philadelphia front office, should it choose to take it: The Phillies have nothing to lose and everything to gain in the last 20 days before the trade deadline. They have hit rock bottom, and they have a chance to move forward from here.

There are teams looking for pitching right now, whether it's the Yankees or the Los Angeles Angels or the San Francisco Giants or the Los Angeles Dodgers, so the Phillies have potential suitors for Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon. There are teams in need of power, and Marlon Byrd's muscles could be a coveted resource in the marketplace. The Oakland Athletics would be a perfect fit for Chase Utley, as would the Giants. The St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates, all hit by injuries in the past week, will be looking for help. The market is defining itself.

If the Phillies believe financial flexibility could help them moving forward, they can at least see what's possible in Cole Hamels' situation. They could ask teams such as the Dodgers how much Philadelphia would need to pay down to make it possible to glean good prospects, or even a great prospect.

Look, the Phillies have to know this: By the time the team is ready to contend again, Lee will probably be gone. The same is true for Utley and Papelbon.

So if the Phillies can glean any kind of dollar savings that would enable them to rebuild the roster, they might as well do it. If they can get even Grade B prospects for Lee, while absorbing a chunk of his salary, they might as well do it. They have been in a three-year spiral leading to nowhere, and they should aggressively force change and move ahead. They know from their attendance that their fan base is ready to move in another direction.

Rollins, Utley, Hamels and Lee have been all-time greats for the Phillies, and they'll be brought back for reunions for many years to come, but it's pretty apparent from the box office returns that running out the same core roster into 2015 would be like serving the same plate of cold cuts at dinner parties day after day.

The fans are losing interest in this current team. They want something new.

So Phillies GM Ruben Amaro should make deals. There are desperate teams all around baseball right now, and, although Philadelphia's outsized contracts probably will keep Amaro from making great trades, he can still make good trades, eating some dollars while adding prospects and carving out some space in his budget and building openings for a different roster that Phillies fans apparently want.

He should begin the turnover. Now.

Around the league

• On Thursday's podcast, something terrible happened in the midst of our interview with Johnny Damon; just listen for the crash. Meanwhile, Keith Law talked about Masahiro Tanaka and the splitter.

• Speaking of the Phillies and Papelbon, Amaro said he is OK with the closer's recent comments,
Matt Gelb writes.

• The Rangers got whipped Thursday, and manager Ron Washington was really, really mad, as Gerry Fraley writes. From his story:
In a postgame clubhouse meeting that lasted about 30 minutes, Washington vented about the way his team has been playing in this current dreadful stretch. The Rangers have lost five consecutive games and 19 of their past 22 games.

"I needed to remind them of some things," Washington said.

Right-hander Colby Lewis, who allowed a club-record 13 runs in 2 1/3 innings, described Washington's mood as "pissed."

Said Lewis: "So am I. For every reason. We don't lose here, and that's what's going on. We have to make changes, and it all happens, like Wash said, in this locker room."

• The Cardinals are bracing for life without Yadier Molina, writes Derrick Goold. They could wind up with another Molina -- Jose -- or perhaps they'll pick up John Buck, who was just cut by the Mariners.

As for Yadier Molina's impact on the Cardinals, here's this from ESPN Stats and Info: Regardless of position, Yadier Molina, who has a .287/.341/.409 slash line in 83 games this season, has been among the most valuable players in the National League over the past two-plus seasons.

Most Wins Above Replacement (WAR): NL position players since 2012

Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates: 18.9
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks: 15.0
Buster Posey, C, Giants: 14.7
Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals: 14.6
David Wright, 3B, Mets: 14.6

• Since Yadier Molina's first full season in 2005, the Cardinals have allowed 240 fewer stolen bases than any other team.

Fewest stolen bases allowed, since 2005

Cardinals 480
Reds 720
Twins 755
Diamondbacks 769

It's hard for the Cardinals to stay optimistic after the Molina injury, writes Bernie Miklasz.

• In keeping with the NL Central's theme of the week: Brandon Phillips will miss many weeks with a thumb injury of his own. From John Fay's story:
"It's a big blow," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's a good two-way player. Really consistent for us offensively … spectacular defense."

But the hits just keep coming. First baseman Joey Votto (left knee/quad) went on the disabled list Monday. Phillips will be the 13th Red to go on the DL. The roster move will be announced Friday.

"We're a little banged up," Price said. "You look around and see all sorts of players -- pitchers, regulars, bench players. Guys get banged up. It's a grueling season. It's 162 games in 180 days. We're in a rut. We'll survive."

About Brandon Phillips' injury: In his time with the Reds, Phillips has never missed more than 21 games in a season (he played in 141 games in 2008).

Meanwhile, Homer Bailey had to leave his Thursday start early due to a knee problem.

• Aroldis Chapman and the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo mixed it up Thursday. From Gordon Wittenmyer's story:
Just when it looked like the longest road trip of the season couldn't pack any more emotion for the Cubs, along came a benches-clearing incident with the Reds and a postgame All-Star announcement Thursday.

With Anthony Rizzo at the center of both.

''Just trying to be a good teammate, trying to stick up for my teammates,'' said Rizzo, who dropped the gloves (he later found out he had been named to the All-Star team) and stalked toward the Reds' dugout in the bottom of the ninth inning, triggering a flow of players onto the field from both benches.

No punches were thrown, and order eventually was restored without injury after some pushing and shoving. In fact, Reds starter Johnny Cueto -- a noted on-field brawler -- actually played peacekeeper.

I suspect this is not the last we've heard of this situation.

• While other teams in the NL Central are being crushed by injuries, the Brewers just keep on losing.

• Masahiro Tanaka will miss at least six weeks with a partially torn ligament in his elbow, as Wallace Matthews reports.

As for how the injury happened, the splitter tends to be hard on the elbow, and Tanaka has thrown more splitters than anyone else this season. In fact, it's not even close:

Most splitters this season

Masahiro Tanaka 477
Hiroki Kuroda 396
Hisashi Iwakuma 332
Dan Haren 328

Four-fifths of the Yankees' starting rotation is on the disabled list, but the two biggies -- CC Sabathia and Tanaka -- will earn a combined total of $45 million this season. That figure eclipses the Astros' Opening Day payroll ($44.55 million).

Yankees starting rotation injuries, with current status and 2014 salary

Sabathia (60-day DL): $23 million
Tanaka (15-day DL): $22 million
Ivan Nova (60-day DL): $3.3 million
Michael Pineda (60-day DL) $538,000

Now it's about getting Tanaka better for the future, writes Tyler Kepner. Mets pitcher Matt Harvey really feels for Tanaka.

As for on the field, the Yankees collapsed in the late innings in Cleveland on Thursday.

• The response from the crowd at Dodger Stadium when Clayton Kershaw's scoreless streak came to an end was pretty cool. Kershaw remained focused, as Bill Plaschke writes.

From ESPN Stats & Info on how Kershaw beat the San Diego Padres:

A. Kershaw's curveball stayed dominant: The Padres went 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts in at-bats ending with his curveball.
B. On Thursday, 21 percent of Kershaw's pitches were curveballs, a season high.
C. He relied mostly on off-speed pitches overall; only 49 percent of his pitches were
fastballs, his second-lowest percentage in a start this season (47 percent on June 13).

• Edinson Volquez stepped up and got it done against the Cardinals.

• Every time the Tigers are seriously challenged, they answer. They hammered the Royals on Thursday. The Tigers made it look easy, writes Tom Gage.

• Chris Sale won the AL voting for the final spot on the All-Star team. Meanwhile, Justin Upton lost out to Anthony Rizzo, as David O'Brien writes. Also, Erick Aybar was added to the AL team.

• Justin Morneau will be a Home Run Derby participant.

• Since signing with the Red Sox in May, Stephen Drew is batting .131 with a .409 OPS, while Kendrys Morales is hitting just .230 with a .571 OPS since signing with the Twins in June. Neither player had a spring training after turning down $14.1 million qualifying offers last fall, and rival evaluators say the timing of Drew and Morales just looks off as they try to work their way back to game speed. And both are headed to free agency again in the fall in serious jeopardy of having diminished their value in the open market.

So not only did they turn down the most possible money last fall, but they also have hurt themselves for the future, unless a turnaround happens, and quickly.

Dings and dents

1. Ian Desmond hurt his hand.

2. Alex Gordon was not placed on the disabled list.

3. Dylan Bundy struggled again.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Pirates made a roster move.

2. The Red Sox are now taking a different position, says Ben Cherington.

3. Jimmy Nelson was summoned to the big leagues.

4. A Cubs prospect is going to stick around for a while.

5. Yunel Escobar's return isn't necessarily a good thing for the Rays, writes Marc Topkin.

Thursday's games

1. The Mets' winning streak ended.

2. The Indians rallied late, with a lot of help from a rookie.

3. The Twins took a series in Seattle.

4. Aaron Harang racked up his ninth win.

5. The Mariners' offense is struggling.

6. The Athletics are 6-1 since the Jeff Samardzija-Jason Hammel trade, and on Thursday, Scott Kazmir pitched great.

7. Hector Santiago got his first win with the Angels, as Mike DiGiovanna notes.

NL East

• Bryce Harper is hoping for a breakout.

• Here are some odds on certain Phillies being dealt.

• Marcell Ozuna has been playing great.

• The Marlins have a couple of guys who excel in a pinch.

NL Central

• Jake Arrieta is ready to lead.

NL West

• A Diamondbacks coach has invented a throwing tool.

• **** Monfort reached out after a controversial email.

• The Giants were shut down again. Brandon Belt is searching for his swing.

• Matt Calkins thinks the Padres should hire Kim Ng as their next GM.

AL East

• From ESPN Stats & Info on how Jon Lester dominated the White Sox:

A. He threw a season-high 24 curveballs and had a season-high seven strikeouts with his curveball.
B. The White Sox went 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts in at-bats ending with Lester's curveball.
C. The White Sox were 0-for-8 versus Lester with runners in scoring position.
D. He owned the inside part of the zone against right-handed batters: Of his pitches to righties, a season-high 62 percent were on the inside part of the plate.

• Nelson Cruz is killing the ball.

• The first-place Orioles have 50 wins. O's starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen was happy with Thursday's win.

• Joel Sherman considers what a Yankees sell-off might look like.

• Mookie Betts is relying on instincts.

• Larry Lucchino answered questions about the Red Sox.

• The Jays' hitting is a bright light. A Jays prospect regrets a tantrum.

AL Central

• Rick Porcello appreciated the support.

AL West

• Chad Qualls has a laser focus.

• Shin-Soo Choo has become a rallying point.


• Gaby Sanchez's name appears in the new Biogenesis book.

• The Wrigley Field renovation was approved.

And today will be better than yesterday.

Yankees face difficult decisions now.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Somebody wearing a uniform undoubtedly uttered the words "I told you so" on Wednesday night after news of Tanaka's elbow issue spread across the majors, and it's very possible that this was a four-word refrain in a lot of clubhouses. That four-word refrain would only be repeated on Thursday night when the league learned that Tanaka had a partial UCL tear in his elbow, an injury that often leads to Tommy John surgery. That's because over the first two months of this season, even as Tanaka dominated hitters and earned the respect of opponents, there was a feeling among many players on other teams that it was only a matter of time before he broke down.

That opinion was not based on his daunting accumulation of pitches in Japan, where he threw 160 pitches in a start last fall before pitching in relief the next day. Rather, opposing hitters and pitchers and coaches and managers watched him throw splitter after splitter after splitter at high velocity, and they reached the conclusion that he was destined for surgery.

For now, the Yankees are saying that Tanaka has a chance to rehab the injury. But if surgery is needed, there will be a lot of nods around the game, because the perception of the splitter is that it's an elbow-killer, and Tanaka relied so heavily on the pitch in his first days in the big leagues. In fact, according to Fangraphs, 25 percent of the pitches thrown by Tanaka this season have been splitters, easily the highest in the majors.

Percentage of splitters thrown

1. Tanaka 25.0 percent
2. Hiroki Kuroda 22.9
3. Dan Haren 16.0
4. Tim Hudson 14.2
5. Ubaldo Jimenez 13.7

Among the pitchers who employ the splitter as a major weapon, Tanaka also has thrown it at the highest velocity, 86 mph.

The day after Tanaka beat the Red Sox on April 22, David Ortiz mentioned around the batting cage that he had never seen a pitcher throw that many splitters; Jonny Gomes, standing nearby, nodded. And every time teams saw Tanaka, this became part of what they took away. He's incredibly talented, many opponents would say privately, and competitive, and has a great feel for the baseball. And wow, he throws a lot of splitters.

Tanaka's durability was the greatest concern that teams (including the Yankees) had about him in the midst of the bidding last winter. But now that the Yankees have invested $175 million in him, that question is largely irrelevant in 2014; either he's done or he's not, and with or without their most important player, they have 2 1/2 months of the season remaining.

Playing without Tanaka the rest of the way would make it difficult for them to win, of course. But they are not built to quit; they are not conditioned to think about being midsummer sellers, and Brian Cashman has stated in the wake of the injury that his team will remain aggressive. But there is good reason to doubt any conclusion that says the Yankees' brass will be willing to sell off too much of the future for an immediate future that looks more and more bleak.

The Yankees haven't held a fire sale since George Steinbrenner bought the team in 1973, and it's hard to imagine them deciding that this would be the year to trade off assets midsummer, given all the money they spent last winter on Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and others, and given all that is at stake for them in television revenue.

The Yankees already were looking for another starting pitcher before Tanaka got hurt, and they'll probably be looking even harder now. They've got some prospects to offer, if they choose to, whether it's catcher John Ryan Murphy or the hard-throwing Luis Severino, but they're probably better off looking for a deal in which their primary cost is dollars. The more money they take on in salary, the less they would have to surrender in prospects from an already-thin farm system.

Here are some possible trade targets, some of whom are already available and some of whom are likely to be available:

Kevin Correia, Minnesota Twins: He's probably not a great fit, as he is a pitcher who tends to give up a fair share of homers -- like his teammate, Phil Hughes -- but Correia could be available if Minnesota decides to trade off some pieces, save some dollars and land a second-tier prospect. He's making $5.5 million.

John Danks, Chicago White Sox: This left-hander has had success in the past but has been inconsistent this year, which is his first full season back after Tommy John surgery. His availability will be predicated entirely on what the White Sox see in him and how motivated they are to get out from under the rest of his contract (he's making $14.25 million this year and will make that much each of the next two seasons). Remember, if the White Sox deal him, they would have to replace him. For the Yankees, Danks could easily fit into their payroll -- if they like what they see in his stuff -- given the uncertainty about the futures of CC Sabathia and Kuroda.

Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies: In some ways, Lee is a perfect fit, and the Yankees have had a lot of interest in him in the past. Lee threw 59 pitches in his most recent rehab start. He's owed about $10 million for the rest of this season, $25 million for next season and has a whopping $12.5 million buyout on a 2016 option. If the Phillies and Yankees could agree on prospects, Lee might be the best possible fit among veteran starters, because the Yankees are probably one of very few teams willing to take on his salary.

Cole Hamels, Phillies: He can be traded to the Yankees without approval, but in the end, this conversation might be so complicated by the money owed to him that a deal would be impractical. The Phillies would want a boatload of prospects in return, and the Yankees (and other teams) might be looking for a depreciated deal, given his age and the massive dollars owed to him. We've seen two of the game's great warriors, Roy Halladay and Sabathia, quickly regress over the past two years, and Hamels will be in his mid-30s near the end of this contract. And as always, the structure of the option at the end of a Phillies' contract -- in this case, a $24 million vesting option based on his innings in 2017 and 2018 -- is a potential obstacle as well.

David Price, Tampa Bay Rays: Sure, the Rays would be open to discussing a deal with a division rival, but the price for the left-hander was set last week when Oakland talked about dealing superstar prospect Addison Russell for him. The Yankees don't really have someone like Russell to offer, making it very unlikely that the two teams could strike a deal unless the Rays identify a volume of prospects they like. (Speaking of the Rays, who are trying to decide what to do with Price before the July 31 deadline, they suffered a brutal loss to the Royals on Wednesday, and Joel Peralta had a bad day, as Marc Topkin writes.)

Ian Kennedy, San Diego Padres: He pitched for the Yankees in the past and was shipped out in the team's trade for Curtis Granderson, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and Kennedy might be the among the options who will be readily moved in the trade market. The 29-year-old has a 3.71 ERA this season in 19 starts and is making $6.1 million. He'll be a free agent after the 2015 season.

Bartolo Colon, New York Mets: He rebuilt his career with the Yankees, so they know him well and are well aware of what he can do. He hasn't turned into a pumpkin yet at age 41, having posted a 4.04 ERA, and the Mets are willing to listen to offers. Colon is owed about $4 million for the rest of this season and $11 million for next year. One thing to keep in mind here: The Yankees and the Mets almost never make trades.

Ross Detwiler, Washington Nationals: He's buried at the back of the Washington bullpen, given the depth of the Nationals rotation, but he has history as a starting pitcher. He's not having a good season, but he's not really suited for relief. Here's the catch with Detwiler: He's making just $3 million this year, and the Nationals really don't have a lot of incentive to move him, given his value as a safety net.

Jorge De La Rosa, Colorado Rockies: He'll be a free agent when the season is over, and the Orioles are monitoring him now, as O's GM Dan Duquette has long-standing ties with the lefty.

If Tanaka's injury is serious, the situation will be stark, but not really any more than it was last season, when the Yankees at least tried to sprint to the finish line and wound up with a surprising 85-77 record.

With or without Tanaka, they will try.

As far as some of the local coverage, Kevin Kernan writes that the Yankees are looking doomed without Tanaka, while Joel Sherman writes that the Yankees' whole season is hanging on Tanaka's elbow.

From ESPN Stats & Information on Tanaka: Only three active pitchers have thrown more innings as a professional (includes MLB, minor leagues and Japan) through their age-25 season than Tanaka:

Felix Hernandez 1,694 2/3 innings
Matt Cain 1,493 1/3 innings
Yu Darvish 1,459 2/3 innings
Masahiro Tanaka 1,444 1/3 innings

And there is injury added to injury for the Yankees: Carlos Beltran hit himself in the face with a ball in batting practice, and Brett Gardner has an abdominal issue.

Around the league

• Speaking of injuries, the Royals have been hit by two big ones: Alex Gordon needs an MRI on his wrist, and Jason Vargas will miss close to a month.

• Also, the Cardinals' Yadier Molina suffered a sprained thumb.

• The Reds won, but Brandon Phillips hurt his thumb, and Billy Hamilton has a hamstring issue.

• The Phillies have three straight wins, and yet Jonathan Papelbon took the conversation to his own situation and whether he'll accept a trade. From Ryan Lawrence's story:
Regardless, Papelbon, whom the Phillies rewarded with the richest contract for a relief pitcher in history three offseasons ago, is ready to join a contender.

"Some guys want to stay on a losing team?" Papelbon said after his third save in as many days. "That's mind-boggling to me. I think that's a no-brainer [to want to leave to go to a contender]."

So you'd like to be pitching for a contender later this month?

"Of course, man," Papelbon said. "What kind of question is that?"

Papelbon is owed a minimum of $19.5 million through the 2015 season, and that number increases to $32.5 million through 2016 if he finishes 55 games next year or 100 games in 2014 and 2015.

Papelbon's get-me-the-heck-out-of-here postgame interview quickly took away any good tidings from an impressive win.

At a time when the Angels, Giants, Dodgers, Tigers and other teams are looking for bullpen help, maybe the Phillies can find a taker for Papelbon. But a lot of rival evaluators still view his contract as incredibly onerous and his 2014 performance as good but hardly overwhelming, given his overall regression in terms of stuff.

• On Wednesday's podcast, Tim Kurkjian addressed the question of whether the Home Run Derby actually affects the swings of hitters; Corey Kluber explained his improvement; and Joba Chamberlain talked about a change he made coming into this season.

• The Red Sox dumped A.J. Pierzynski and called up Christian Vazquez. Some members of the pitching staff would've been very happy with this move in April rather than now, but the Red Sox front office has never been face-to-face with the problem of a powerless lineup. Vazquez isn't a home run hitter, and neither is Mookie Betts nor Brock Holt nor Jackie Bradley Jr. nor Stephen Drew, and Xander Bogaerts hasn't developed front-line power yet.

The two most important challenges for the Red Sox as they look ahead to 2015 (beyond the Jon Lester negotiations):

1. Get Bogaerts back on track.
2. Find a power-hitting outfielder.

That said, the Red Sox did rally to win Wednesday night.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Starling Marte has been placed on the bereavement list.

2. Ian Desmond's contract situation looms.

3. Brandon Workman was sent down.

4. Addison Reed will continue to be the closer for the Diamondbacks.

5. The Dodgers don't plan to start Carl Crawford in the outfield.

Dings and dents

1. Adam Lind could miss 6-8 weeks.

2. Joel Hanrahan says his slow recovery is frustrating.

3. Joe Kelly feels good about returning Friday.

4. Now it's looking as though Derek Holland won't rejoin the Rangers until late in the season.

5. Marco Scutaro's return looks imminent.

Wednesday's games

1. The Nationals mashed a bunch of homers.

2. The Pirates lost to the Cardinals again.

3. The Mets have stopped the Braves in their tracks, and this time it was Dillon Gee who did the work, as Tim Rohan writes.

4. Bud Norris got knocked around.

5. Steve Cishek had a tough day.

6. Lance Lynn continues to be a rock for the Cardinals.

7. The Indians offense was shut down, writes Dennis Manoloff.

8. Chris Sale was great, but the White Sox bullpen blew it.

9. The Brewers are in a free fall.

10. Troy Tulowitzki, Home Run Derby captain, was in launch mode against the Padres.

11. Matt Cain got his second win of the season.

12. Oakland lost in Jason Hammel's debut for the team.

13. C.J. Wilson had a tough day.

AL East

• The Blue Jays shouldn't trade Marcus Stroman, writes Mike Rutsey.

AL Central

• Max Scherzer was great again. From ESPN Stats & Info: On June 17 against the Royals, Scherzer allowed a career-high-tying 10 earned runs in just four innings, and the Tigers were reeling, having lost 11 of 16 games. But since then, Scherzer has been lights out, and the Tigers have won all four of his starts. In those starts, he has pitched seven innings per start, having allowed just five earned runs total, with one homer allowed and an opponents' batting average of .190.

Scherzer has this pitching thing all figured out, writes Shawn Windsor.

• For Tigers closer Joe Nathan, it's a game of inches, as Lynn Henning writes.

AL West

• The Astros beat Yu Darvish and swept the Rangers, as Evan Drellich writes. The Rangers are in last place.

• Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon is passionate and caring, writes Larry Stone.

NL East

• Shae Simmons thrives under pressure.

NL Central

• The Reds' bench is ready to contribute, writes John Fay.

• Anthony Rizzo took the lead in the All-Star voting, as Mark Gonzales writes. Meanwhile, a Cubs infield prospect was summoned.


• Lee Singer of ESPN Stats & Info sent this along: 10 Wow Facts about Clayton Kershaw's consecutive scoreless innings steak.

Kershaw carries a 36-inning scoreless streak into his start Thursday against the Padres. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the longest single-season streak by any starter since Brandon Webb in 2007 (42 straight) and the third-longest by a Dodgers pitcher since the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958 (Orel Hershiser reeled off 59 scoreless innings in 1988, topping Don Drysdale's 58 innings in 1968; just behind Kershaw is Fernando Valenzuela's 35 consecutive scoreless innings in 1981 and Don Sutton's 35 innings in 1972.)

And here are the Wow Facts:

1. Kershaw is holding opponents to a .318 OPS (.130/.164/.154) during the streak. As a frame of reference, MLB pitchers have a .306 OPS at the plate this season, so Kershaw has essentially turned every hitter into a pitcher.

2. Kershaw has faced 17 batters with runners in scoring position and not a single batter has hit the ball out of the infield.

3. Only three of the 129 batters Kershaw has faced during the streak have reached third base. Two of those three got on base as a result of an error. Kershaw struck out two of the three batters he faced with a runner on third.

4. Kershaw has retired the leadoff batter in 31 of 36 innings (86 percent). The MLB average is 69 percent.

5. Eighteen of the 36 innings have been perfect (i.e., hitters retired 1-2-3). The MLB average is 37 percent.

6. Only 30 of the 129 batters Kershaw has faced has put the ball in the air during the streak (23 percent). The MLB average is 38 percent.

7. The Dodgers have had a lead for 31 of Kershaw's 36 scoreless innings. They've scored in the first inning in three of Kershaw's four starts since the streak began.

8. Opponents are 5-for-64 (.078) with 38 K's in at-bats ending with a Kershaw breaking ball. They've put 26 balls in play against that pitch, and only two have been hit hard, according to Inside Edge.

9. Only 13 of the 129 batters Kershaw has faced has seen a 2-0 or 3-1 count (10 percent). Only three of those 13 batters reached base (.231). The league-average OBP in those situations is .512.

10. Opponents are 5-for-67 (.075) against Kershaw with two strikes. He has struck out 63 percent of the batters he has taken to a two-strike count during the streak (MLB average is 40 percent).

Meanwhile, the Padres get to face Kershaw today, writes Chris Jenkins.

• Adam Wainwright deserves to start the All-Star Game, writes Bernie Miklasz.

• Pete Rose awaits his return, writes Tyler Kepner.

• The state of baseball in Minnesota is good, but it could be better, writes Dennis Brackin.

• Tony Oliva recalled a big hit.

• Paul Molitor reflected on the growth of the All-Star Game.

• There's another development in the Wrigley Field renovation situation.

• A verdict was reached in the Bryan Stow case.

And today will be better than yesterday.

Best tools in the MLB Futures Game.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The 16th annual MLB Futures Game will take place Sunday at Target Field in Minneapolis, and yes, I'll be there, my ninth Futures Game. It's an event that brings some of the best prospects from around the minors together on one field for a nine-inning exhibition that is far more interesting than the actual All-Star Game on Tuesday. The first one I attended featured Joey Votto, Alex Gordon, Homer Bailey and Hunter Pence; the 2007 game included a 19-year-old lefty named Clayton Kershaw. Here's a quick guide to some of the 2014 players, focusing on which players grade out the best in the five hitting tools or in some of the major scouting categories for pitchers.

Best hit tool

Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh: Bell missed just about all of 2012 because of a bad knee injury and spent much of 2013 shaking off the rust from losing his entire first pro season. This year, however, Bell's promise in high school is showing up on the field, as he's making a ton of contact, much of it hard, with a .380 average since the start of June, and nearly equal triple-slash lines from the left and right sides. Sean Coyle, Corey Seager, D.J. Peterson and Francisco Lindor also have above-average to plus hit tools.

Best power

Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas: There's a ton of power in this year's Futures Game, with Gallo leading the way. He has enormous left-handed pull power, comparable to Giancarlo Stanton's, producing 93 homers already in 254 professional games, 31 this year. The U.S. team alone has at least four players with grade-70 power or more: Gallo, Kris Bryant, Peter O'Brien and Bell, with Peterson and Seager also more than capable of putting on a show in BP. The World team's best power bats include Jorge Alfaro, Stephen Moya, Maikel Franco and Gabriel Guerrero.

Best run

Jose Peraza, SS, Atlanta: Peraza has been hitting out of his mind this year, earning an unanticipated midyear promotion to Double-A at age 20, and, although his most impressive tool is his glove, he's also a 70 runner who still leads the Carolina League in steals even though he left the league a few weeks ago. Other above-average runners in the game include Micah Johnson, Michael Taylor, Lindor and J.P. Crawford.

Best glove

Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland: The World team, as usual, has several good defensive infielders on the roster, with Lindor, a polished Puerto Rican-born shortstop out of the Orlando area, the best of the group. He offers the best combination of footwork, hands and instincts. He could handle the position right now in the majors and is only an Asdrubal Cabrera injury or trade from playing it in Cleveland. Jose Rondon, Peraza, Dalton Pompey and Crawford are all superlative defensive players, too.

Best arm

Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas: Gallo pitched in high school and threw well enough that many teams wanted to draft him on the mound, perhaps in the first round, as he consistently hit the mid-90s and reportedly got up to 99 mph in a showcase event. Needless to say, he can get it across the diamond without too much trouble. Hunter Renfroe and Gabriel Guerrero (Vlad's nephew) can let it loose from right field, too.

Best fastball

Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets: Thor can run it up to 100 mph, although he's most comfortable in the mid-90s, reaching back for 98-plus when he needs to, and he does it really easily with good downhill plane from that 6-foot-6 frame. I've seen Minnesota's Alex Meyer hit 100, as well. Robert Stephenson and Lucas Giolito can get up to 98 for the U.S. team, and Jose Berrios and Luis Severino are the hardest throwers on the World side.

Best fastball movement

Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota: Meyer can hit 100, but he can do just fine at 95-97 thanks to plus-plus sink that should make it impossible for hitters to elevate the ball. Hunter Harvey showed plus "boring" life (running in hard to his arm side) the last time I saw him in Delmarva.

Best curveball
[+] EnlargeLucas Giolito
AP Photo/Mike Janes
Lucas Giolito has a solid power arsenal.
Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington: Giolito already had a plus curveball in high school, and it has returned for him as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery, showing big break at 79-82 mph with a lot of depth from his 6-6 frame. Stephenson also can drop the hammer, as can Puerto Rican righty Jorge Lopez.

Best slider

Meyer: Meyer can get his slider up to 88 mph and comes from a low three-quarters slot -- which also generates the plus movement on the fastball -- that makes the pitch fatal to right-handed hitters. Jake Thompson's main out pitch is a plus slider, too.

Best changeup

Henry Owens, LHP, Boston: You expect left-handed starters to feature some kind of wipeout breaking ball, but Owens' best pitch has long been his changeup, and, given the deception in his delivery to begin with, it has huge swing-and-miss potential once he gets to the majors, no matter in which batter's box the hitter is standing. Braden Shipley also shows a plus change.

Best control

Christian Binford, RHP, Kansas City: Binford's stuff is just average, but he has some of the best control of any prospect, fringe or better, in the minors, with 12 walks in 89 2/3 innings this year after walking 25 in 135 last year. His command is also pretty good, but it'll have to improve further for him to be a major league starter, given the absence of any kind of plus pitch. One other command/control guy to watch in a game loaded with pitchers with big velocity is San Francisco's Edwin Escobar, who could appear in the majors later this year and is among the Giants' most valuable prospects in any potential trade.

Standouts from MLB Futures Game.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
MINNEAPOLIS -- The 2014 MLB Futures Game might someday be remembered as the baseball world's formal introduction to Texas third baseman Joey Gallo, as his grade-80 raw power was on display both during BP and during the game. Gallo still has things to work on as a hitter, but his power is absurd -- he put baseballs into the top deck and onto the right field concourse during batting practice, then hit a mammoth homer off a fastball right down the chute from Astros prospect Michael Feliz. It was a blast that gave the U.S. team a 3-2 lead it never relinquished.

Gallo's bomb followed strikeouts on sliders in his first two at bats -- one swinging on a pitch down and in at his back foot, the other looking on one from Yankees prospect Luis Severino. Gallo wasn't challenged inside like you'd expect, as his power comes when he can get his arms extended on pitches middle to away, but he's already succeeded in improving his coverage from the past season to this spring. If you can live with the strikeouts, he's one of the highest-impact bats in the minors.

Here are more notes from the game.
[+] EnlargeBaez
Jerry Lai/USA TODAY Sports
Cubs prospect Javier Baez showed off what might be the quickest hands in the minors with an opposite field blast.

• Speaking of power, Cubs shortstop Javier Baez went opposite-field when Washington right-hander Lucas Giolito hung a curveball, for a two-run homer that would probably have been just a long fly out for most hitters. Of course, he also punched out on a slider down from a right-hander and made a very lazy throw to first base on a ground ball from White Sox second baseman Micah Johnson, which allowed for Johnson to beat it out and the first-base ump to blow the call. (Johnson, by the way, is at least a 70 runner, and while his is an unorthodox swing, he seems to have the hand-eye to make it work.)

• The best fastball of the day belonged to Cincinnati RHP Robert "Lighthouse" Stephenson, who touched 98 mph in his inning of work and sat at 94 to 96 mph, with a hard changeup at 88 and curveball at 82. He was nearly matched by the guy who followed him, Mets righty Noah "Thor" Syndergaard, who hit 97 mph with good downhill plane and showed a solid changeup at 85. Minnesota right-hander Alex Meyer sat at 96 or 97 with great life, but his whole inning lasted six pitches -- line out, single, double play -- which means in two Futures Game appearances, Meyer has now thrown a total of 10 pitches. Nine of them were fastballs.

• Giolito's stuff was fine, but his command was not. He was 94 to 96 but took a few pitches to find his rhythm. He hung that one curveball to Baez but threw another that was plus, and he showed some feel for a straight change at 82 to 84. When the Nationals finally let Giolito throw his two-seamer -- for reasons I admit I don't know, he won't be allowed to throw it until he reaches Double-A -- the biggest concern I have about his stuff, the absence of any life to his fastball, will go away.

• Baltimore right-hander Hunter Harvey also scuffled a little, as his delivery was off -- he was landing much earlier and farther to the third-base side of the mound than usual, and because he cut himself off so badly, he didn't command his fastball to either side. He did throw some very sharp curveballs at 75 to 77, and he threw more changeups (80 to 82) in one inning than he threw in the entire outing the first time I saw him.

• Julio Urias set a record as the youngest-ever participant in the Futures Game, at 17 years and 11 months old, but pitched well above his years. The Dodgers lefty was 92 to 95 with an above-average curveball and great rhythm to his delivery. He rotates his hips well, both to hide the ball and to generate arm speed the safer way by using his lower half.

• Minnesota right-hander Jose Berrios started for the World team with 94 to 95 but was still somewhat flat. He's listed at 6-foot but might be a little less, and he wasn't finishing his curveball well and got better action on the changeup. His arm action reminds me of Yordano Ventura's, in that it is similarly loose and quick but also a little tricky to repeat; he might not be using his lower half enough.

• Arizona right-hander Braden Shipley faced three batters in 2/3 of an inning, and pitched 92 to 95 with good depth on an 80 mph curveball, though his changeup remains his best pitch. Development of that curveball is key for him, as he was rarely allowed to throw it in college, even though it looked like at least an average pitch at the time.

• Other big power bats struggled in the game, which was crisp and pitching-dominated, with pitchers throwing a ton of strikes -- there were just two walks in the entire game, thanks to both that control and hitters going up to take their hacks. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant punched out twice on fastballs up and lined out on a fastball that jammed him inside. Yankees first baseman Peter O'Brien struck out in his only two at bats; he was late on fastballs at 95 to 96 and then struck out on a slider down. His home run total this year is outstanding, but he seems to have a lot of trouble hitting above-average stuff. Minnesota's Kennys Vargas, who stood around first base but is awful over there, showed no ability to cover the outer half or to handle offspeed stuff inside, though he did hit a "double" off the right field wall on a fastball; the throw beat him to second, but the shortstop, Corey Seager, couldn't hold on to it.

I'll have more notes on the game in another post Monday.

More Futures Game scouting notes.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Here are a some stray notes and observations from Sunday's 16th annual MLB Futures Game. If you missed my first batch, here they are.

• Pirates outfield prospect Josh Bell, the team's second-round pick in 2011 and the recipient of a $5 million bonus that year, earned the "best hit tool" nod in my Futures Game preview, and it was evident in batting practice, where his bat speed was improved and he looked better swinging right-handed than he had in the past. He's still stronger from the left side, setting up more consistently by his rear shoulder with a more pronounced pause when he loads, but right-handed, it's just a question of getting the bat to the zone at a consistent time. He had just one at-bat in the game -- he was left in the hole with James Ramsey on deck for the (winning) USA team in the bottom of the eighth -- and, hitting right-handed, he grounded out to shortstop on a 95 mph fastball leading off the bottom of the seventh.

• Toronto southpaw Daniel Norris has had a breakout year in the Blue Jays' system, which team execs credit to Norris and his coaches working with him in the offseason and this spring to get his delivery more online to the plate and his arm swing more consistent. His delivery isn't perfect, but it's better. He starts in the middle of the rubber now and lands a little to the first base side, so he has to come slightly across his body, but most of that stress is on his right leg rather than his left arm. He needed only 11 pitches to complete his inning, showing a 95 mph fastball, a short, plus slider at 82-84 and a changeup at 84-86 that he seemed to have a lot of confidence in.

• Michael Taylor -- who led off for the USA team, and I'm guessing it's not because he's finally posting an OBP over .340 this year -- showed great bat speed in BP, but his timing was off in the game, as he swung right under multiple fastballs up in/above the zone. He keeps his hands inside the ball really well, and his extension through contact is outstanding, but his recognition of pitches and location once it's live pitching and not the batting practice guy was still weak. It's still a quantum improvement over where he was last year, and a testament to his athleticism and the Nats' player development efforts that he has become even good enough to be considered for the Futures Game, and his defense in center field has long been major league-caliber. But I can see why he's still getting punched out in almost 30 percent of his plate appearances at Double-A.

[+] EnlargeLuis Severino
Cliff Welch/Icon SMI
Pitcher prospect Luis Severino has a 2.45 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over two levels of Class A ball this year.
• Yankees right-hander Luis Severino is the latest product of the "Yankee Prospect Hype Machine" to hit the radar, thanks to a very quick arm and live fastball. (Shouldn't one of the hyped guys actually pan out first before we buy into any of these guys? Brett Gardner and David Robertson worked out, but neither guy got this kind of attention in the minors.) Severino had an easy inning, throwing 12 pitches, working 93-95 with a fringy slurve. I wrote more on Severino when I saw him make a start in April, and I think what I said there -- loose arm, big fastball, three pitches, but a reliever's delivery -- still applies.

• Blue Jays center fielder Dalton Pompey is probably getting overhyped in Toronto because he's from Mississauga, Ontario -- as if being from the Greater Toronto area somehow made him more valuable, or should make the team less willing to trade him -- but that aside, he has become one of the minors' best leadoff prospects. Pompey had four at-bats leading off for the World team, with a pair of singles, one on a 95 mph fastball that he lined right back up the middle, the other on a 97 mph fastball that he pulled for a soft line drive to right. He has plenty of bat speed, as you might have guessed from the velocities he turned on, and he rotates his hips pretty well, but his front side is too firm and he can't finish the rotation, meaning he doesn't produce a lot of loft from his swing. I like his approach and speed, and hitting from the left side means his ability to run will play up a little.

• Houston right-hander Michael Feliz was victimized by Joey Gallo for the game's biggest blow, but he did show flashes of big league stuff. He was 94-96 with a slider around 80 and changeup around 85. His arm swing is kind of ugly, as he pronates his elbow late, and there's enough slinging action to his delivery that his slot will probably tend to drift downward as he tires.

• Colorado shortstop Rosell Herrera had two good at bats, both resulting in base hits on pitches on the outer half. His first time up, he was way out in front of a changeup away in a 2-1 count, then got another changeup away and stayed on it to punch it out to left-center field. In his second at-bat, he did the same thing, sticking the bat out to line a 97 mph fastball away to left-center. Herrera's swing still isn't very consistent, which is probably part of why he's struggling in the Cal League (.265/.321/.357 line despite a high contact rate), but you could see yesterday that he's got great hand-eye coordination and strong wrists to be able to take that fastball out to the opposite field.

• Detroit right-hander Jake Thompson threw only eight pitches, up to 91 mph on the ordinary fastball, but that's a plus slider at 83-84, and if nothing else he'll probably pitch in someone's bullpen on the strength of that pitch alone. Milwaukee right-hander Jorge Lopez also showed a promising breaking ball, a solid-average curveball at 78-79 with good shape and depth but somewhat soft rotation, as well as a fastball up to 92. For his fastball alone, San Diego pitcher Tayron Guerrero sat 94-96 and did it pretty easy, with a real lean, loose body, but the Colombian-born right-hander didn't show much of a slider, and this is the first year in his pro career that he hasn't walked at least a man every other inning.
post #24412 of 78800
did not read

Joe Buck > week old articles

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
post #24413 of 78800
Alex wanted to stay in Seattle. The owner was cheap and offered him a deal that was like half or more than half of what Texas offered.

Griffey will always be more important to Seattle than Russell Wilson.
post #24414 of 78800
Originally Posted by akajaedeuce View Post

Originally Posted by 651akathePaul View Post

I blame Joe Buck. Seriously. Probably not even his fault, but for some reason I despise the guy even more now.

Joe buck has been on my ****list since Randy Moss "mooned" packers fans...

makes it hard to watch postseason baseball sick.gif

Will forever dislike joe buck for that **** was classless on his part then it was for moss
post #24415 of 78800
Originally Posted by thekidgriffey24 View Post

How many teams in the NBA draw nationally? Lakers and Celtics are the only consistent teams. Right now it'd be those two, the Clippers, Cavs (w/Bron), Heat (w/Bron), Bulls, and Knicks. Coincidentally, those are the teams you see on national tv and Christmas Day games. Outside of those teams, the NBA isn't drawing that well. Attendance is down and ratings are down. Once LBJ's decline begins, the NBA is going to take a drastic dip in popularity. KD will be the only megastar left and he isn't nearly as polarizing. Baseball is indeed a local sport, which is why the World Series ratings are down, but this year's finals ratings were down too and that's with Lebron. Baseball has never relied on its stars, but its teams, so in the long run it's in better shape than the NBA unless another megastar like Lebron pops up, which is doubtful.
Agree with all of this. When the NHL is selling out more arenas than you, you've got a problem. Not a knock on hockey, but it's the "4th sport" here.
post #24416 of 78800

I Fell asleep last night before the game got over just now seeing that corvette + MVP award both awesome


Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself !





Team T.A.N   






Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself !





Team T.A.N   





post #24417 of 78800

who would yall pick 


Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself !





Team T.A.N   






Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself !





Team T.A.N   





post #24418 of 78800
Thread Starter 
I can think of a couple other pitchers I'd put in for Max...don't even get me started on bum *** Chris Davis laugh.gif
post #24419 of 78800
Classy and fitting managerial moves by Farrell. Handled the Jeter retirement well as well as closing out the game with Perk and Suzuki for Minny.
Originally Posted by Proshares View Post

I can think of a couple other pitchers I'd put in for Max...don't even get me started on bum *** Chris Davis laugh.gif
Waino, Felix, Darvish, Jo-Fer among others. Dare I say Tanaka, too soon to tell.
post #24420 of 78800
I'd take Kershaw.
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NikeTalk › NikeTalk Forums › The Lounge › Sports & Training › 2016 MLB thread. THE CUBS HAVE BROKEN THE CURSE! Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions.