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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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All-Star Teams Are Announced, Another Ace Goes Down & More!

Monday, July 14th, 2014

It’s hard to believe, but the MLB All-Star break is now upon us. So much has happened in the first half of the season, and this week was no different. Let’s get to it!

All-Star Teams Finally Set

After being released towards the beginning of last week, the All-Star rosters are finally set following the All-Star Final Vote and the adjustment of the teams due to injuries and starting pitchers having thrown to close to Tuesday’s game.

Fans in Chicago had to be elated at the results of the Final Vote, as it was a clean sweep for the Windy City with Chris Sale and Anthony Rizzo both earning a spot on the respective teams. Rizzo, especially, has a reason to be proud, as he was the leading vote getter among all of the players eligible.

Much like every year, there were a few players who have a right to be upset about the results of the voting. Los Angeles Angels starter Garrett Richards has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball this year but didn’t get the nod, and Miami Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee didn’t make the cut even though he leads all third basemen in hits, and leads National League third basemen in RBI’s.

It’s impossible to create a team like this without leaving out some worthy players, however, so it’s tough to get too upset. With as much talent as there is in baseball, this would be a difficult game to bet on, but if I had to guess I’d say that the National League will wind up taking this one home. Who do you think was the biggest ASG snub? And what are your predictions for the game?

Home Run Derby Contestants Named

One of the best parts of baseball’s All-Star weekend is undoubtedly the Home Run Derby. This year should be no different in terms of excitement, especially considering the heavy hitters that are on both squads.

For the American League, Jose Bautista and reigning champion Yoenis Cespedes should be considered the favorites, but Brian Dozier, Adam Jones and Josh Donaldson certainly won’t be pushovers. With the new bracket-style format, I expect that Cespedes will again make his way to the finals.

Over on the National League side of things, youngsters Giancarlo Stanton and Yasiel Puig headline a team that’s full of pop. They also have a former champion on their side in Justin Morneau, but Todd Frazier and Troy Tulowitzki can’t be forgotten. Ultimately, I think Stanton’s raw power will allow him to advance to take on Cespedes.

If the final ends up being Stanton and Cespedes like I predict, we’re going to be in for quite a show. Stanton has become known for the light tower power that he exhibits, and Cespedes put himself on the scene last year with his performance. When it comes down to it, though, I’m taking Stanton to win it all. Who’s your pick in this year’s Derby? How do you feel about the new bracket format?

Tanaka To Miss Time With Elbow Issues

The dreaded injury bug has taken claim to yet another promising young arm, this time being New York Yankees star Masahiro Tanaka. After leaving against Cleveland this week, the initial reports aren’t that promising, though they could definitely be worse.

It was reported that Tanaka has a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. This is the last thing you want to hear about a pitcher, as it’s tears in this ligament that often result in the infamous Tommy John surgery, which can keep players out for over a year.

Fortunately for the Yankees and Tanaka, it doesn’t appear to warrant surgery at this point. They’re going to go with a six-week plan of rest, rehab and platelet-rich-plasma therapy, which is known to drastically improve recovery times in injuries involving tendons.

It’s far too early to make any judgment regarding the injury, but this could doom the Yankees. Their starting pitching took a hit with the loss of CC Sabathia last week, and Tanaka has been infinitely more important to the team thus far. You have to wonder if the years of strain placed on his arm in Japan had anything to do with this injury. If this injury winds up being season-ending, do you think it could affect the contracts of others making the jump from international leagues to the MLB?

This Week’s MVP: Andrew McCutchen (.357/.406/.929, 4 HR, 8 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Hisashi Iwakuma (2-0, 1.15 ERA, 18 K)

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Cy Young Winner’s Career Possibly Over, Big Trades & More!

Monday, July 7th, 2014

We’re right around the corner from the MLB All-Star game, but let’s not think too far ahead. This week was full of big news and even included a blockbuster trade. Let’s get caught up!

Sabathia’s Season, Possibly Career, Over 

Throughout his entire career, people have criticized New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia for his weight, and they’ve said time and time again that his excess baggage would eventually cause his career to end sooner than it should. This offseason, he took that criticism to heart and changed things.

Coming into this year, Sabathia had trimmed down to 275, which is quite a bit less than the 300+ he was carrying just a year or two before. Unfortunately for CC, this reduced strain on his knees wasn’t enough to prevent the possible microfracture surgery that he could be facing.

Manager Joe Girardi has already said that he doesn’t expect him back this season, but this surgery could potentially end his career. It’s more typical in the NBA, with players such as Greg Oden and Amar’e Stoudemire having gone through the same procedure, and the results for those players haven’t really been all that promising.

If we’ve now seen the last of Sabathia, we can safely say that he can look back and be proud of the career he’s had. With 208 wins he’s currently one of the active leaders, and someone who was once seen as having an outside shot at 300 wins. Given my disdain for the Yankees, I can’t say I have too many fond memories of him in pinstripes, but I can say it was a joy to watch him during his run with Milwaukee where he carried the Brewers to the playoffs. Was that stretch the most dominant half season of the last decade?

Red Sox, Orioles Exchange Insults

In a bit more AL East news, the Baltimore Orioles are once again at the heart of some non-baseball related drama. First, it was Manny Machado throwing his bat at the Oakland Athletics, and now it’s their manager, Buck Showalter, trading insults with Boston Red Sox pitcher John Lackey.

Admittedly, this one is at the fault of Lackey. After being roughed up by the Orioles (his third consecutive poor start) Lackey made an underhanded comment about Nelson Cruz, who went 5-for-5 in the game and 3-for-3 off of him. “I’ve got nothing to say about him. There are some things I’d like to say about him, but I’m not going to. You guys forget pretty conveniently about stuff.”

This, of course, was a reference to Cruz’s suspension last season for PED use. Showalter didn’t take long for to respond to this, saying that, “everybody needs to make sure that their own backyard is clean.”

While this has provided for some headlines across the sporting world, it all could have been avoided if Lackey would have just kept his mouth shut. There was really no reason for him to make the comments that he did, other than just being bitter about getting rocked by him. He’s had a great year, but he needs to focus on baseball rather than getting into a war of words. Who do you think is in the right in this situation?

The Shark Is Finally On The Move

Watch out, Bay Area, a shark is coming to the area.

…I can’t believe I just wrote that. Terrible headlines aside, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel heading to Oakland may be the biggest blockbuster that we’ll see this season, and it occurred after months and months of speculation.

Some Cubs fans may not be happy with the return of Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily, but as Joe Aiello noted the other day, you just can’t be sure of what other teams were offering for them separately without having been involved in the trade discussions personally.

In my mind, both teams won here, but this largely favors the Cubs in the long run. Russell is one of the top prospects in all of baseball and adds to an already stacked farm for the team, and that’s not even mentioning that McKinney was the Athletics number 2 prospect.

Sure, it may be tough to see current talent moved for future prospects, but I don’t think the Cubs were going to get a better return than this. Samardzija is going to want big money on the open market and he probably wasn’t going to return to Chicago, and Hammel was just a one-year rental that they were going to flip regardless. After having a few days to think about it, what are your thoughts on the trade?

This Week’s MVP: Steve Pearce (.379/.406/.793, 3 HR, 10 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 21 K)

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