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Playoffs Set, Jeter Finishes Career & More!

Monday, September 29th, 2014

It feels like just yesterday I was writing this article to recap the first week of the season, but somehow we’ve already reached the end of the regular season road. This week was one of the most action-packed, emotion-filled weeks of the year, so let’s get right to it!

Jeter Calls It A Career

If you’ve been under a rock for this whole year, you may have missed that Derek Jeter decided this season would be his last. After trotting around from stadium to stadium, receiving gifts and showings of respect, Jeter has finally reached the end of the line.

This storybook career had an ending that couldn’t have been better even if you scripted it. In Jeter’s last at bat in New York, the town that he has spent half of his life in, he hit a walk-off single to help the team down the division leading Baltimore Orioles.

If you weren’t a fan of Jeter this week may have been a tough one to handle. Clips of his highlights were being displayed endlessly, drawing responses from both sides of the argument. In my opinion the attention was warranted given his standing in the game and everything that he has done over the course of his career, but I can definitely see how it would get tiring.

With his retirement, the Yankees lose not only their captain, but also a top-50 all-time player and one of the ten best players in their team’s history. The impact that he has left on the Yankees is simply irreplaceable and he’ll be remembered for generations beyond this one. Where do you rank Jeter all-time amongst position players? Shortstops?

Playoff Matchups Are Set

Normally by the last week in the season all of the playoff matchups are set, but that obviously was not the case in this chaotic MLB year. Two of the division winners, the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals, didn’t lock up their playoff seed until the last possible day.

Starting in Detroit, the Tigers had stumbled through two games with the Minnesota Twins, which allowed the Kansas City Royals some life. The Tigers desperately needed to come out on top Sunday, and they did on the back of ace David Price (it still feels weird to type that).

Over in Arizona, the Cardinals needed a win against the Diamondbacks in order to kill the Pittsburgh Pirates chances of taking home the division crown. With a 1-0 win, the team captured the top spot in the division for the second year in a row.

With these games coming to their conclusions that they did, it now sets up the Los Angeles Angels to play the winner of the Royals/Oakland Athletics play-in game and the Orioles to play the Tigers. On the National League side, the Nationals will face off with the San Francisco Giants/Pirates winner and the Los Angeles Dodgers will take on the Cardinals.

After seeing how the pieces have fallen and looking at the matchups, I think it will be the Tigers taking on the Angels in the ALCS, with the Nationals taking on the Dodgers in the NLCS. From there, I’ll take the Tigers and Dodgers to square off in the World Series with the Tigers eventually coming out on top. Who are you taking to win the World Series?

Zimmermann No-Hits Marlins

The Washington Nationals, already riding high having clinched the top spot in the National League, have even more reason to be thinking that they can make a deep run in this year’s postseason.

In the team’s final game of the season, Jordan Zimmermann (who has been one of the team’s most consistent pitchers over the last two seasons), tossed his first career no-hitter against the Miami Marlins.

The 104-pitch, 10-strikeout affair was almost tainted with one out to go in the ninth inning. Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich came to the plate and lined a hit into the left-center field gap. It looked like a hit that typically drops for extra bases, but left fielder Steven Souza, a defensive replacement, made a gorgeous diving catch and preserved history.

This no-hitter was undoubtedly one of the biggest moments of Zimmermann’s now 5-year career and it goes to show the unbelievable depth that the Nationals have behind Stephen Strasburg in the starting rotation. Do the Nationals have the best rotation out of the playoff teams?

This Week’s MVP: Andrew McCutchen (.429/.567/.810, 2 HR, 8 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Jordan Zimmermann (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 10 K, No-Hitter)

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AL Central Battle, Ron Washington Update & More!

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Somehow we’ve almost reached the MLB Postseason. It’s been a long ride to get here and there’s still quite a bit of entertaining baseball yet to be played. Let’s get caught up with the biggest headlines from this past week.

Battle For AL Central Crown In Kansas City

Going into the season, the American League Central division wasn’t expected to be a closely contested race. The Detroit Tigers possessed one of the highest payrolls in the league, and they were expected to steamroll their competition. Unfortunately for them, games aren’t decided on paper.

The Tigers have struggled through large chunks of this season, due to both bullpen issues and occasional no-shows by their offense. With them faltering at times, the Kansas City Royals have capitalized. Kansas City, a team who hasn’t seen the playoffs in nearly 30 years, is now within striking distance.

This weekend, the two teams squared off in a three-game series that will have drastic implications for who ends up on top. The Tigers won the opening game on Friday and snuck by on Saturday due to a base-running error by catcher Salvador Perez. They picked up the win on Sunday, but that game that they lost in the overall series could come back to haunt them.

In the end, I think it will be the Tigers that wind up coming out on top of the division. They have had long stretches of poor play, but it seems as if they’re finally playing up to the level they should have been at the whole season. The impending return of Anibal Sanchez should help, as well. Who do you think ends up taking the AL Central?

Washington Explains Resignation

In one of the weirder managerial moves in recent memory, long-tenured Texas Rangers skipper Ron Washington stepped down a couple of weeks ago amidst one of the worst seasons in team history. Management stated it had nothing to do with the team’s record, so many people were left wondering.

The details of his resignation have finally come out following a press conference this week, but it appears that there will be much more to the story that Washington told. According to Washington, he was unfaithful to his wife and he felt that he needed to get his personal life in order.

With a little deeper digging, you can see that Washington hired two crisis management firms prior to his holding of the press conference. Many considered it an odd move and it has drawn questions regarding the truth of his initial story.

This whole situation has felt odd to me from the start and I can nearly guarantee that there is more to this story than what has currently been released. I wouldn’t go as far as to agree with the Texas beat writer that rumored he will be involved in a sexual assault case, but I feel like it does go deeper than just him being unfaithful to his wife. What are your thoughts on this situation?

Stroman Suspended 5 Games

One of the most promising rookie pitchers in the game will be forced to miss a start, after the league offices ruled that he intentionally threw at a batter. Marcus Stroman of the Toronto Blue Jays was certainly not agreeable with the ruling, but it seems as if it was justified.

For a little context, Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes had his hand stepped on by Baltimore Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph in a play at the plate in Monday’s game between the two teams. In response, Stroman threw a pitch over the Joseph’s head when he came to the plate.

The league originally suspended Stroman for 6 games, but dropped the ban down to 5 following an appeal. He adamantly stated that the pitch just got away from him, but that’s essentially meaningless, as almost any pitcher would say the exact same thing.

I’m all for defending your teammates, but I think Stroman is pushing a fine line here. He regularly sits in the mid-90’s with his fastball and who knows what would happen if he hit Joseph in the head with that. There’s absolutely no reason to throw above a guy’s shoulders in any situation. I’m completely fine with the 5-game suspension the MLB leveled against him. What are your thoughts on Stroman’s suspension? Should it have been longer?

This Week’s MVP: Wilin Rosario (.706/.706/1.176, 2 HR, 9 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Andrew Cashner (2-0, 1.06 ERA, 14 K)

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Stanton Suffers Devastating Injury, Davis Suspended and More!

Monday, September 15th, 2014

After a week spent traveling across the country and back, I’ve returned with another week’s worth of MLB news! Unfortunately, we aren’t going to be able to start off on a good note for this week.

Stanton, Headley Both Hit In Face With Pitches

Just like in any sport, injuries are just a part of the game. Even with that being known, however, it didn’t’ make seeing the pitches hitting Giancarlo Stanton and Chase Headley any easier to watch.

In the Miami Marlins game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Stanton stepped to the plate against Michael Fiers. Fiers wound up and threw a fastball that ended up connecting right on the left side of Stanton’s face, which caused him to crumple up the ground. Blood covered the area around him and he had to be stretched out of the stadium.

A short time after, Chase Headley of the New York Yankees was drilled by an errant pitch in his face, as well. Luckily for him, he didn’t suffer nearly injuries nearly as severe as Stanton and he was able to walk off under his own power.

It was saddening to see one of the game’s brightest stars dropped in an incident like this, and you have to wonder how he’ll be able to bounce back. The mental impact that this will have on both him and Fiers is going to be tough to overcome, and you have to hope that it doesn’t derail his incredibly promising career. Do you think this will impact Stanton’s career beyond the fact that he’ll miss the rest of this season?

Davis Suspended For 25 Games

In one of the most surprising stories of the 2013 season, journeyman first baseman Chris Davis exploded for 53 home runs and gave the Baltimore Orioles a legitimate power threat in the middle of their lineup. Though the team is going to make the playoffs this year, it appears they’ll be without Davis for the stretch run.

It wasn’t an injury that took him out of the lineup, but rather a 25-game ban issued by the MLB for reportedly using amphetamines. According to Davis, he used Adderall and didn’t have the Therapeutic Use Exemption that he had last season.

Whether he was rejected or didn’t apply for it is still not clear yet, but what’s obvious is that this was a big error in judgment for Davis. After his power outburst last season he had to know that people would be keeping a close eye on him, yet he still decided to go ahead and use Adderall anyways.

While the loss of 25 games is certainly big, the potential lost earnings for Davis could be even bigger. It was reported that he and the Orioles were in the midst of negotiating a new contact, with the latest offer sitting around 5-years, $70 million. This suspension could take a big hit out of that overall monetary value. Should Adderall be banned by the MLB? Also, what do you think is Davis’ value on the open market?

Bochy Family Makes History

Over the course of Major League Baseball history, there have been a few father/son combinations that have played together and even more brothers that have played at the same time. This past week, there was a family combination that was the first the MLB has ever seen.

In a blowout against the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy made the call to bring in a reliever. This call to the pen was different than any other he had ever made in his life, as the reliever he was bringing into the game was his son, Brett.

Brett, who was drafted by the team in 2010, wound up allowing 2 runs over the 1.1 innings that he pitched (an improvement over the rest of the team, who wound up allowing 15 over the other 7.2 innings). He was a September call-up for the team and he’s looking to earn a spot on the team beyond this month.

You could see the joy on Bruce’s face as he handed the ball off and it was truly a great moment for everyone involved. While the result of the game was certainly not what they had hoped for, it will go down as a moment that no one in the Bochy family will ever forget. What is your favorite “family moment” in baseball history?

This Week’s MVP: Howie Kendrick (.500/.531/.800, 2 HR, 10 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Shelby Miller (2-0, 0.69 ERA, 9 K)

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Late Trades, Ice Cream Related Suspensions & More!

Monday, September 1st, 2014

We’re finally into September, which means that the time for trades to be completed has passed. Although there weren’t too many big names on the move, they are some players that could definitely impact a game or two down the road. Let’s get to that, and more with “The Week That Was”.

Contenders Make Late Moves

For those teams out there that decided their roster wasn’t yet how they wanted it to be, the second of the two trade deadlines provided them with the opportunity to do some last minute fine-tuning.

It started out in Chicago, where the White Sox shipped out outfielder Alejandro De Aza to the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles in return for two pitching prospects. Along with De Aza, the O’s also picked up Kelly Johnson from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for prospects. This completes the tour of the AL East for Johnson, as he’s now played on all 5 teams in the division (in just over 3 years).

The White Sox weren’t Dunn making moves either, as they traded heavy-hitting designated hitter Adam Dunn to the Oakland Athletics for a pitching prospect. With this trade, Dunn has a chance to make the playoffs for the first time in his extended career. Along with the news of this move, he also announced that he’d be retiring at year’s end, which will end his chase for 500 home runs (currently at 460).

Last, but not least, the NL Central had some movement, too, with the Cincinnati Reds sending Jonathan Broxton off to the Milwaukee Brewers for two players to be named later. Broxton has been lights out this season and will likely pitch in a set-up role to Francisco Rodriguez, unless K-Rod continues to falter. Which one of these players do you think will have the biggest impact on their new club?

Montero Suspended For Season

To say the New York Yankees/Seattle Mariners swap of Jesus Montero and Michael Pineda has not worked out would be an understatement. In what was expected to be a trade of highly touted young players, neither side can be very happy with their return.

While Pineda has pitched really well for the Bronx Bombers, he’s also missed around a year and a half’s worth of games. For the Mariners, though, they surely have to be regretting it. First, Montero was suspended for PED use last year and now his new suspension is just downright comical.

The details of the story have not all come to light as of yet, but the gist of it is that while Montero was in A-ball for rehab, he got into it with a scout from the Mariners. One thing led to another and he wound up throwing an ice cream sandwich at him.

When I first heard it, I thought that people had been quoting a story from The Onion, but this is something that somehow actually happened. I have to hope that Montero gets his career going, but I’m just not sure that it’ll ever work out for him in Seattle. What are some other crazy suspension stories that you know?

Branyan Signs With Indians 

A couple of weeks back, I wrote in a section of this article that Brad Penny had won a game for the Marlins. While that was certainly a flashback, it looks like we’ve stepped into the Delorian yet again for this latest signing by the Cleveland Indians.

Russell Branyan, who was originally drafted by the team in 1994, has signed with them yet again 20 years later. The 38-year old slugger hasn’t appeared in a big league game since 2011, but the power in his bat is still there as evidenced by his time in Mexico this past year.

With nearly 200 career home runs in just around 1000 games, Branyan could wind up getting called up to the big club if they decide they need some pop off of the bench. With a somewhat power-lacking squad, this move could happen sooner rather than later.

This, along with the last section, truly adds more weight to the phrase “you can’t predict baseball.” I personally hope that Branyan is able to make it to the majors yet again, solely because of the great story that it would be. Do all-or-nothing power guys like Branyan still have a place in the league?

This Week’s MVP: Jacoby Ellsbury (.522/.500/1.130, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 3 SB)

This Week’s Cy Young: Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 1.69 ERA, 19 K)

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Sox Acquire Another Cuban Outfielder, AL East Star Out For Season & More!

Monday, August 25th, 2014

We’re really getting into the nitty-gritty of the MLB playoff races and teams are still adjusting their rosters in order to one-up the competition. With all of this movement, as well as some other big news, there’s more than enough to talk about this week. Let’s get to it!

Red Sox Sign Castillo

After months and months of speculation, the bidding for star Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo finally came to an end this week, with the Boston Red Sox coming to terms with him on a 7-year, $72 million contract that will run through his 34th birthday.

This has to be seen as redemption of sorts for the Red Sox, who lost out on heavy-hitting Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu last year. Abreu has been tearing up the league and will wind up running away with the AL Rookie of the Year this year, so it’s clear Boston didn’t want to let this guy slip through their fingers.

As for what Castillo brings to the table, he’s been described as a smaller version of Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. He’s known to have above average speed, as well as solid contact and power skills. In the field, he’s capable of playing both center field and right field.

I’m definitely a fan of this move for the Red Sox. At just around $10 million per year, the investment in him isn’t so great that it’ll hinder the team’s flexibility in the future, and if his game translates as well to the MLB as Abreu, Puig and fellow Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has to this point, it could be seen as a bonafide steal. Do you wish the Cubs had upped their offer for Castillo?

Tigers Tumbling 

With a hot start to their season back in April, the Detroit Tigers looked like they were solid contenders to make a World Series run. With 3 aces at the top of their rotation and Miguel Cabrera in their lineup, it looked like this year could be the season that the team finally broke through and won the title.

Over the past couple of months (and the past week especially), it’s looked like the Tigers will be lucky just to even make it into the playoffs. Even the acquisition of David Price hasn’t been able to offset the struggles of the team and it really doesn’t look too bright for them right now.

After getting embarrassed by the Minnesota Twins in a 20-6 thrashing, the team followed that up with yet another loss. They turned things around yesterday, but consistency has been a problem for them all year long.

With a payroll sitting around $170 million (good for third in all of baseball) it would have to be seen as a colossal disappointment if they somehow managed to miss the playoffs. It’s definitely not too late for them to turn it around, but they’re going to have to start winning games sooner or later. Do you think the Tigers will end up topping the Royals in the AL Central?

Orioles Get Bad News; Make Changes

Back to the AL East, as the division-leading Baltimore Orioles are going to have to overcome a major loss in their lineup. After tearing a ligament in his left knee to end last season early, Manny Machado has done it yet again, tearing the same ligament, just this time in his right knee. Yet again, he’ll be done for the season.

This is a major blow for the Fightin’ Showalters, who are trying to clinch their first AL East title in 17 years. Along with this stroke of bad luck, the team also decided to replace one of their big free agent acquisitions from last offseason in the starting rotation.

Ubaldo Jimenez, who signed a contract worth $50 million towards the end of the offseason, wasn’t putting anyone’s doubts to rest this season. Those who saw his post All-Star break numbers from last year as a fluke may be proven correct, as they’ve replaced him in the rotation with Miguel Gonzalez.

Overall, I still think the Orioles have what it takes to wind up taking home the divisional crown, but the loss of Machado will really hurt any chances they had for a deep postseason run. Looking towards the future, yet another knee injury to their young third baseman can’t look all that great, either. Do you think the Orioles will win the AL East?

This Week’s MVP: Marcell Ozuna (.478/.480/.957, 3 HR, 10 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Jake Arrieta (1-0, 0.64 ERA, 14 K)

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Baseball Gets A New Boss, Pair of Aces’ Streaks End & More!

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Postseason races are heating up as we’ve now reached the middle of August. All of the moves made at the trade deadline are now starting to make their impacts (one way or another), and it excites me to say that there’s still a month and a half of regular season baseball to play. There was some big news this week, so let’s get to it!

MLB Chooses Selig’s Replacement

After 21 years at the helm, Bud Selig decided that one more year would be enough for him. It was a historic reign over an era, which will probably stand out in history (the Steroid Era), but it also meant that the league would have the exciting task of choosing a new commissioner.

On Thursday, the owners finally picked their man, deciding to go with Rob Manfred over Tom Werner of the Boston Red Sox. Manfred, who has worked with the MLB since 1998, will be the 10th commissioner in league history and will be tasked with injecting some youth into an old sport.

By all accounts, Manfred seems like a great choice. He was vital in the labor negotiations that have gone on over the years, which should help once the current bargaining agreement expires (some feared a lockout). Along with that, he was also vital in the joint drug agreement between the MLB and the Players Association.

While some might not be happy with the choice (they expect more of the same since Manfred was Selig’s right hand man), I am staying optimistic about it. His work with the labor agreements is incredibly promising and as shown by Adam Silver taking over for David Stern in the NBA, progress is still possible even with an internal replacement.

Rockies Lose Two Stars For The Year

It’s safe to say that things haven’t went as planned for the Colorado Rockies this year, and the bad news continues to pile up. After a relatively hot start for the first 30 or so games, the team has completely fallen off the table, and that slide will continue with the announcement that they will be without their two stars for the rest of the year.

Early in the week, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was ruled out for the season with a hip injury, and now outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has been sidelined for the remainder of the year with a knee injury. Given the injury history of both of these players, as well as their status on the team, this is not good news for Colorado.

Realistically, there’s a pretty decent chance that both of these two have played their last games in the Mile High City as members of the Rockies. Tulowitzki has been growing increasingly disgruntled with the seemingly endless rebuild and Gonzalez could fetch a pretty hefty haul should they decide to move him.

It’s pretty unfortunate that both of them are out for the year (you never want to see anyone get hurt), but it’s unlikely that they would’ve made a difference anyways. The Rockies have been one of the worst teams in baseball all season long and they weren’t going to change that. Should Gonzalez or Tulowitzki hit the trading block, would you want the Cubs to go after either? If yes, which one, and what would you be willing to part with for them?

Aces’ Streaks End

With the two best pitchers in baseball throwing on the same day, fans were expecting the continued dominance of both Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez, but surprisingly they both faltered and in doing so, lost two lengthy streaks that they were both riding on.

First, in Detroit, King Felix snapped a streak of going 7 or more innings and allowing 2 or fewer runs that spanned all the way back to May 12th, as he was pulled after just 5 innings in a loss to the Tigers. It’s not that he was pitching poorly (2 runs through 5), but more likely it was a ball that he took off the leg in the 4th inning that contributed to his early exit.

Next up in Los Angeles, Kershaw went the distance and allowed only three runs, but the Dodgers bats failed him and in turn snapped the streak of 11 straight decisions going his way. His last loss, prior to this one, happened all the way back on May 28th. In allowing 3 runs, his ERA jumped all the way up to 1.86.

It was truly incredible what these two aces were able to accomplish over the last few months, but I’m sure they’ll pick right up where they left off in their next starts. I think it’s pretty unquestionable that Kershaw will win the Cy Young in the NL this year, but the AL race seems to be up for grabs a little bit more. My pick is still Felix, but there’s a few different ways the voters could go. How do you see the Cy Young races playing out?

This Week’s MVP: Chris Carter (.333/.345/.778, 4 HR, 10 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Carlos Carrasco (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 12 K)

(All C’s for the awards this week)

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Division Races Begin To Heat Up, Record Books Change & More!

Monday, August 11th, 2014

After a week away from the column, I’m back in business. Over the past week, even though I’ve been on vacation, I’ve still got to soak in quite a bit of baseball (including a look at the Daytona Cubs ballpark). With that said, let’s get to it!

AL Central Race Tightens

Going into the season, the Detroit Tigers were seen by many as World Series favorites and many also thought that they’d easily plow through to yet another AL Central title. Much like last year, though, the division hasn’t been the cakewalk they expected.

Just about three-quarters of the way through the season, the Tigers hold the lead in the Central by just a half of a game, and that lead is withering away with every day that passes as the red-hot Kansas City Royals have rattled off 7 games in a row.

Many of the problems that Detroit has faced have been blamed on their bullpen (I’m looking at you, Joe Nathan), but their supposedly daunting lineup has come up flat over the past week. Miguel Cabrera has found himself in a rare slump and it appears as if JD Martinez is finally coming back to earth.

With one of the highest payrolls in the league, it would be a colossal failure if the Tigers somehow managed to lose their lead on the division. With the upstart Royals coming for their heads, they’re going to need to figure things out quickly. With all of this being said, however, I still see them taking home the division crown. How do you think the AL Central will shake out? Will the Royals grab a Wild Card spot if they don’t win the division?

Jeter Moves Up Hit List 

No, not that kind of hit list.

In what has been a farewell tour of a season for New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, he has reached yet another historic milestone in his illustrious career. Though a Hall of Fame spot is already locked up, this only adds to his resume.

In the sixth inning of Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Indians, Jeter came up to the plate against Corey Kluber (who was 9 years old when Jeter made his MLB debut). He hit a slow-rolling grounder to the third baseman, but beat it out and in turn moved up to 6th on the all-time hits list.

Realistically, this is probably where he’ll stay given that he’s 84 hits behind the player in 5th place (Tris Speaker). Also with his hit, he moved past Honus Wagner and became the leading hitter amongst shortstops in the history of the game.

With all of this being said and all of his accomplishments being taken into account, what do you think are the chances that Jeter becomes the first player to get into the Hall of Fame unanimously? Along with that, where do you place him amongst the best shortstops of all-time?

Brad Penny Starts, Wins Game For Marlins

Don’t worry; you didn’t hit your head. This is actually 2014, not 2004 like you may think from the headline. That’s right, Brad Penny (now 36) started and won a game for the Miami Marlins (he probably had to get directions to the new stadium) this week.

After spending the last decade bouncing around both the MLB and Japan, Penny has found himself back in the place he called home for the first four and a half years of his career. He spent last year overseas, but the Marlins signed him to a minor-league deal back in June.

His homecoming of sorts (the game was in Cincinnati) was a successful one, as he tossed 5 innings of one-run ball and put the Marlins in a position to win. His 4 walks were a tad bit concerning, but overall it was an impressive effort for someone who’s been a bit down on their luck the past few years.

With all of the injuries that have occurred to the Marlins staff, there’s a decent change that Penny could stick around as an innings-eater if he’s able to pitch well enough. All that’s needed for the Marlins is to trade for A.J. Burnett and sign Dontrelle Willis and they’d be right back in business. With a nostalgic story like Penny, who’s one non-star player you’d like to see back in a Cubs uniform?

This Week’s MVP: J.J. Hardy (.423/.444/.769, 2 HR, 7 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: James Shields (2-0, 1.06 ERA, 7 K)

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Trades Shake Up Playoff Picture, Hall of Fame Adds Members and More!

Monday, July 28th, 2014

With the All-Star Game now in the rear view mirror, teams are really starting to set their eyes on the beginning of the postseason. The trade deadline is just days away, and we’ve already started to see some jockeying by the league’s top contenders. Let’s get to it!

Multiple Contenders Make Moves

We’re still a few days away from the July 31st trade deadline, but that doesn’t mean that teams are waiting for that day to come around. In fact, there were 5 trades made this week, with each one having the ability to impact the playoff race. 

First, the New York Yankees kicked things off by acquiring Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres after years of trade rumors surrounding the third baseman. He’s off to a great start in the Bronx, collecting a walk-off hit in his first game with the team. For what the Yankees gave up (essentially nothing), this could be a great move. In addition to grabbing Headley, the Yanks picked up left-hander Chris Capuano from the Colorado Rockies; he should be able to adequately fill the void for a lefty in their rotation.

Next up was the Detroit Tigers, who carried on their recent penchant for Texas Rangers relief pitchers by picking up Joakim Soria in return for two prospects. With the struggles that former Ranger Joe Nathan has experienced this year, this was a move that the Tigers had to make. The addition of Soria could be a game-changer for one of baseball’s best teams.

Staying in the Midwest, the Minnesota Twins shipped Kendrys Morales back to the Seattle Mariners after he had spent just 39 games with the team. The Mariners are looking to compete for a playoff birth this year and getting Morales’ bat back certainly won’t hinder them in doing so.

The last move of the week was between the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants. The defending champions looking to be moving more towards a selling phase after this season went far from what they planned. Shipping Jake Peavy off to the Giants for two pitching prospects who now rank #7 and #17 in their prospect rankings was quite a respectable return.

With all of this action going down before the deadline, we could see the 31st being a bit quieter than usual. Are there any other moves out there that you could see happening? Who do you think were the winners from these 5 trades?

Hall of Fame Adds Top Notch Members

In what was hailed as one of the best Hall of Fame classes in recent memory, the 2014 group of individuals finally got their plaques officially into Cooperstown. The six men that entered were truly some of the best that this generation of fans has ever seen.

In what should have been a unanimous selection (thanks for that, Ken Gurnick), Greg Maddux made his way into the Hall of Fame as one of the better right-handed pitchers of all-time. He never had overpowering stuff, but his pinpoint control was the stuff that legends are made of.

Joining him in the class was one of his partners in the dominant Braves rotations, Tom Glavine. Much like Maddux, Glavine never possessed the mid-to-high 90’s fastball that many coaches look for, but it’s safe to say he got the job done. With them was their manager, Bobby Cox, who won an astounding 2,504 games in his career.

Along with Cox were two other managers, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa. Of course, both of their impacts were not just on the coaching side of things, but that’s probably where they’ll both be best remembered. The Yankees and Cardinals won a combined 7 championships under the direction of these two legends.

Last, but not least was “The Big Hurt” Frank Thomas. While north-siders may have been a bit jealous of the Chicago White Sox getting to have a player of Thomas’ caliber for so long, I can safely say that everyone who has watched him play respects him. He was one of baseball’s nicest guys by all accounts and the impact he had on games was unforgettable.

When thinking of all of the historic Hall of Fame classes throughout time, where would you rank this legendary 2014 class?

Trades Potentially Upcoming For Big Names

While there were some moves already made to adjust the rest of this MLB season, the names that have been floated around recently may change the landscape of some division races entirely. Rather than being baseless rumors, these actually have some validity to them.

In Philadelphia, first baseman Ryan Howard has fallen a long way since his days of competing for MVP’s year-in and year-out. Unfortunately for the Phillies, they’re still paying him like his, so Ruben Amaro has been aggressively trying to find him a new home. They’re said to be willing to eat a large portion of his contract, which could help in moving him. He’s not the player he once was, but he would be able to bring some pop to any team’s lineup.

Moving along with MVP candidates, the Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to clear up the logjam that they currently have in the outfield and it appears that Matt Kemp could be the odd man out. They’ve had talks with multiple teams regarding the former MVP runner-up and while he’s also had a down year, his 30/30 potentially would be gladly welcomed from a team in need of some star power.

The last name that’s reportedly out there is definitely the biggest; Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo, who happens to be the best shortstop in baseball when he’s healthy, is seemingly tired of being in the Mile High City and wants out, presumably to a contender. The package that would have to be put together to acquire a player of his caliber would be astounding, but he’s more than worth it.

Looking ahead a couple of days, do you see any of these three players getting moved? If so, where do you see them going, and which will have the biggest impact on their new team?

This Week’s MVP: Carlos Santana (.444/.531/1.000, 4 HR, 6 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Steve Cishek (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 SV, 7 K)

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American League Gets Home Field, Home Run Derby Flops & More!

Monday, July 21st, 2014

With the MLB All-Star game taking place this week, there was a bit of a shortage of baseball news. Fortunately for us, there was more than enough storylines to hold us over until real games started back up.

AL Trumps NL Again

The American League continued their recent dominance over the National League in this year’s All-Star game, as they picked up their seventh win in the last ten contests with a 5-3 win.

The NL was done in by a pair of St. Louis Cardinals pitchers, with Adam Wainwright and Pat Neshek combined to allow all 5 runs. It was Wainwright who started the game and he got in trouble quickly. He allowed a leadoff double to Derek Jeter, followed by a triple by Mike Trout and then two batters later, a home run to Miguel Cabrera.

On the other side, the pitching for the AL was stellar (aside from John Lester’s bumpy two-run second inning). Reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer picked up the win, while Minnesota Twins closer Glen Perkins had a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up the save.

After losing 3 games in a row to the NL during the past decade, the American League now has it’s second straight win. Based on this year’s roster and every team’s prospects, however, I doubt that the games will continue to swing towards the American League so consistently. Overall, what were your thoughts on this year’s All-Star game?

Home Run Derby Flops

It used to be one of the most exciting events in sports, but the Home Run Derby has really died down in recent years. This year was no different, and the rain delay to kick things off really did nothing to help the cause.

Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes took home the trophy for the second year in a row, defeating Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier 9-1 in the final round. To get to the finals, he had to run through his American League teammates in the new bracket-style format.

Unfortunately, even this new format didn’t help the Derby from dragging on, much like it has in recent years. The TV ratings seem to support that, as they were there lowest since at least 1997 (ratings aren’t available prior to that) and down 17% from just last year.

It isn’t that baseball is getting less popular (ratings are actually up a decent amount), it’s just that the Home Run Derby lasts too long and really just doesn’t have the excitement that it once did. While I wouldn’t say that the MLB should get rid of the event, something needs to be done to liven things up a bit. Did you enjoy this year’s Home Run Derby? What improvements would you make to it?

Halos Bolster Bullpen

Currently sitting atop the American League Wildcard standings and a game and a half back of the Oakland Athletics in the AL West, the Los Angeles Angels made a move to improve one of their most glaring weaknesses.

The team picked up reliever Huston Street from the San Diego Padres, who will replace Joe Smith at the back end of the team’s bullpen. While Smith has certainly been impressive this year, the addition of Street should add even more consistency at the end of games for a team that needed it.

In exchange for Street, the Padres picked up a top 100 prospect in Taylor Lindsey, a flame-throwing reliever in RJ Alvarez, a high-upside shortstop in Jose Rondon and the Angles fourth round pick from last year, Elliot Morris.

Even with the addition of Street, it’s tough to argue that the Angels got the better end of this deal. Prospects often don’t turn out as expected, but the team just sent four solid one’s over and their depleted farm system is now essentially empty. Street will help them in the short-term, and this deal might have even been a necessary evil just considering the make-up of their roster, but the Padres definitely get the W in this one. Do you think the Angels over-payed for Street?

This Week’s MVP: Chris Johnson (.500/.533/.786, 2 HR, 6 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: David Price (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 14 K) 


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