Yankees Trade Rumors: Recent Rumblings on New York’s Last-Minute Deadline Deals

What tricks does New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman have up his sleeves in the next few hours?

The Yanks are in an interesting position. At the time of writing, they're 5.5 games out in the American League East and 3.0 back in the wild-card race. Doing something before the 4 p.m. ET trade deadline would be great and all, but New York doesn't have much to offer in terms of assets.

How much can it get done?

Instead of dictating the market, the Yankees will more likely let the market play itself out and then figure out workable trades. ESPN's Buster Olney believes that New York will take advantage of teams hoping to offload unwieldy contracts:

For the most part, money isn't much of an issue for New York. Now, the team isn't going to be trading for Ryan Howard anytime soon, but it could take on a veteran or two who are slightly overpaid but productive pieces.

One such veteran could be Josh Willingham. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees are interested in possibly acquiring the 35-year-old outfielder. His contract is up at the end of the year, and with the Minnesota Twins unlikely to bring him back, he likely can be had for a low price.

Willingham's having a tough year, batting .222/.363/.422 with 10 home runs and 30 runs batted in. Nobody's expecting him to return to his 2012 self, when he hit 35 homers and drove in 110, but he could be a nice situational bat.

With Willingham's contract expiring, the Yankees wouldn't be stuck with him for the future, either, in the event they're not satisfied with his contribution.

Another outfielder in New York's cross hairs is Philadelphia's Marlon Byrd. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reported that the Yankees are interested but slightly turned off by the vesting option in his contract for 2016:

Byrd would arguably be a better fit following Kelly Johnson's injury. The 36-year-old is a much more natural right fielder than the converted infielder, who is out with a sore groin. Byrd would fill the corner outfield spot, which is where the Yanks are having a lot of problems. He's also hitting .270/.318/.477 with 20 homers and 60 RBI.

When asked about the possibility of getting traded, Byrd responded that it's all out of his hands, per George A. King III and Fred Kerber of the New York Post:

That’s something I can’t control. I don’t have a no-trade [clause], So if [general manager] Ruben [Amaro] makes a trade with them and gets something back in return, it’s like, ‘Hey, we’ve got to trade Marlon,’ there’s nothing I can do. I’ll pack my bags and move on.

In a perfect world, the Yankees would add Byrd to solve their problems in right and add a little more power. Between his contract and the Phillies' asking price—which is likely more than nothing—the deal will be hard to pull off before the deadline.

Another area New York is looking to bolster is the bullpen. Stark reported that Philadelphia's Antonio Bastardo, San Diego's Joaquin Benoit and the Chicago Cubs' James Russell are only a sampling of the names the Yanks are considering.

They aren't desperately in need of relievers, but you can never have too much bullpen depth with as much as relief pitching has grown specialized. None of those players will move the needle, but they could come in handy come playoff time.

That's the umbrella the Yankees' deadline business will likely fall under. Chase Headley was New York's semi-big bit of business, and now the team is looking to fortify a few problem areas.

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Derek Jeter Surprised by President George W Bush During Rangers Pregame Ceremony

It's not every day that you get to meet an American icon. Former President George W. Bush must have been honored when he got to rub shoulders with Derek Jeter.

Throughout the season, the retiring New York Yankees shortstop has received the Mariano Rivera treatment, as he's been showered with gifts at every road ballpark. What he hasn't done is shake hands with the 43rd president of the United States.

Before the Yankees took on the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night, Jeter was presented with a plaque by "Dubya" himself that commemorated Bush's first pitch before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series.

The Rangers just set the bar for the Jeter farewell tour.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Rumblings on Cole Hamels, David Price and More

We are another day closer to the trade deadline, and the three biggest arms available remain with their current teams.

Rumors have been flying recently regarding the futures of David Price, Cole Hamels and Jon Lester. All three starting pitchers would be fantastic acquisitions for teams harboring World Series hopes.

However, no significant plays have been made on any of the three aces. That could change in the coming days.

Here are updates on two of the top three left-handers in addition to one veteran who's a slightly cheaper— but still effective—option.


Cole Hamels

You'd think Hamels would be viewed as the consolation prize for teams unable to grab either Lester or Price. However, the way the Philadelphia Phillies are valuing Hamels, it would appear the veteran lefty is the most prized asset at the trade deadline.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Philly is asking for a king's ransom in return for Hamels:

Yet, according to one-ranking official directly involved with the talks, the Los Angeles Dodgers recently asked for Hamels. They were told the price would be three of their top prospects - center fielder Joc Pederson, shortstop Corey Seager and left-handed pitcher Julio Urias.

Sorry, the Dodgers said, but no interest.

The Phillies haven't dropped their price tag, and are insisting on three top prospects and a mid-tier prospect in any deal for Hamels. Yet, since no one else has come forward, they could lower the asking price if Hamels is packaged with bad, bloated contracts like ones belonging to Howard and Papelbon, clearing more than $150 million off the books.

Another potential hang-up is the Phillies' insistence that whoever trades for Hamels will have to foot a lot of the bill for his remaining contract. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reported that Philadelphia will only pay $10 million toward his deal, meaning his new team would be paying out $20 million a year for his services.

Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted out that the 30-year-old is less likely to be traded than Price or Lester:

If the Phillies reach a point where they want to trade Hamels, they'll have to settle for one of two scenarios: They eat a ton of money but get great prospects, or they don't pay much of his deal and get a slightly lesser trade return.

They can't have it both ways.

For now, though, Philadelphia looks content to hold onto Hamels.


David Price

The Tampa Bay Rays' resolve won't be shaken. They're content to hold onto David Price if they feel the return isn't good enough.

In fact, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported that their asking price—no pun intended—has actually risen:

'I believe so,' one person familiar with their thinking said when asked whether they'd likely hold onto their stars. 'Simply put, it will take more than it would have a few weeks back'

Most folks believe the price will be too high for a trade now. They've come from 18 games below .500 to two below, at 52-54, following their 10th win in 11 games. They are only four games out of a wild-card position.

'Guessing Price is sold at 200 percent markup or not moved,' one rival GM said.

Heyman added that the Dodgers were one of the biggest players for Price. With Hamels and Lester on the market, Los Angeles will likely decide that the Rays ace costs too much.

Fox Sports' Jon Morosi reported that Price will start today's game against the Milwaukee Brewers unless something earth-shattering happens:

Since the 28-year-old isn't a free agent until after next season, you can understand why Tampa is holding out for the best deal possible. Price is also among the hottest pitchers in the majors. He's won his last five starts, posting a 1.36 ERA (per Baseball-Reference.com).

The Rays are smart to wait until next season. The market might not be as flush with starting pitching, and it's possible teams would be more desperate to get him.


Bartolo Colon

If Lester, Price and Hamels all fall through, why not go after baseball's version of Benjamin Button, Bartolo Colon?

As entertaining as he is to watch, Colon would be a nice addition for a team hoping to finish strong in the stretch run and make the playoffs. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported that the Kansas City Royals are interested in both he and A.J. Burnett:

A new possibility has emerged for the Mets’ Bartolo Colon, although it remains to be seen how serious it is. According to major league sources, the Kansas City Royals are considering making a run at one of Monday night’s starters in New York, Colon or Philadelphia’s A.J. Burnett.
This nugget comes with the significant caveat that the Royals might not be able to add the payroll necessary to acquire either pitcher. That will be determined over the next few days, but the team’s evaluators are said to like both veterans.

The playoff door isn't completely closed on the Royals. They may be five games back of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central, but they're only 3.5 back in the wild-card race at the time of writing.

Taking on Colon's contract would be an issue, but if Kansas City is serious about improving, it will make the finances work somehow.

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Pete Rose Discusses Ban from MLB with Rachel Nichols in CNN’s ‘Unguarded’

MLB's all-time hit king Pete Rose opened up with CNN's Rachel Nichols about his lifetime ban from the game in an interview for Unguarded.

With next year's All-Star Game scheduled to take place at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Rose was asked about Bud Selig's recent comments indicating Rose could take part in the week's festivities, per C. Trent Rosecrans of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

The 73-year-old responded in the interview that they'll let him on the field one day, but "then it's back in prison the next day." He added that his family has also been affected by the aftermath of his indefinite leave from the game.

Although Rose remains banned from the league, it hasn't precluded him from taking part in official MLB events in the past.

He was honored as part of the All-Century Team during the 1999 World Series, which was his first major appearance in an MLB stadium since his ban was handed down a decade earlier. In 2010, Rose was on hand in Cincinnati when the Reds celebrated the 25th anniversary of his record-breaking 4,192nd hit.

Selig spoke to the Baseball Writers' Association of America about Rose's possible involvement in next year's Midsummer Classic:

That'll be up to the Cincinnati club, and they know what they can do and they can't do. They've been very good about that. We haven't had that discussion. It's sort of subjective, they've done some things with Pete, but they've been very, very thoughtful and limited. That's a subject that I'm sure they'll discuss in the next year.

The outgoing commissioner also made a statement about possibly overturning Rose's ban.

"It's a matter under advisement. That's my standard line," said Selig. "I'm the judge and that's where it'll stay. There's nothing new."

If Rose does attend the 2015 All-Star Game, it would appear that it will only be a momentary reprieve.

Catch Unguarded with Rachel Nichols on CNN this Friday night at 10:30 p.m. ET.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Justin Masterson, Cole Hamels and More

With the non-waiver MLB trade deadline days away, the rumors are beginning to ramp up in volume.

Teams are furiously working behind the scenes to hammer out the details before July 31 comes and goes. There are a few big names who could be on the move, only adding to the intrigue. Who doesn't love an All-Star changing uniforms midseason?

Read on for some of the most recent updates surrounding this year's trade market.


Justin Masterson

The Cleveland Indians are probably a little happy those extension discussions with Justin Masterson went nowhere. Whatever term or phrase describes the opposite of a contract year, that's what the 29-year-old is enduring.

His 5.51 ERA is the highest of his career. That's not all chalked up to bad defense, either, because his 4.08 FIP is less than impressive, while his strikeout-to-walk ratio is the second-lowest (1.66) of his career, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

With Masterson's deal set to expire, the Indians are looking to cash in. Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reported Cleveland hopes to bolster its starting pitching depth:

Trading away Masterson is a sign from management that making the playoffs this year is too lofty a goal, and it would be hard to argue with that belief. The Indians were 6.5 games out entering Monday night and have been too inconsistent to be considered a possible postseason team.

Masterson's value has dropped since his impressive 2013 campaign, but Cleveland could probably find somebody to bring him on for the stretch run.


Cole Hamels

Would you like to have Cole Hamels in your starting rotation? Of course.

Would you like to pay Hamels $20 million to be in your starting rotation? Cue the slow backtrack into the bushes Homer Simpson-style.

ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reported that the Philadelphia Phillies are open to trading the 30-year-old but expect another team to eat a ton of the remainder on his contract:

Teams continue to ask the Phillies about Cole Hamels, and report that A) they will listen but B) the price is astronomical. Hamels has four years left on his contract after this season, at $22.5 million a year. And the Phillies have told teams they're willing to take on $10 million of that. But that still means any team dealing for him would be on the hook for $20 million a year.

'That has to count for something,' [one] exec said [of Hamels' contract], 'if you're assuming all that salary. But Ruben wants his doors blown off in order to trade him. And you don't get your doors blown off if this kind of money is attached. It doesn't work that way.'

Hamels is having a good year, but for $20 million a year, you should be paying for an ace, not to mention that you'll have to pay an arm and a leg to get him in the first place. Nobody will meet the Phillies' asking price if they're only going to eat $10 million of his deal.

If Philadelphia is serious about trading the left-hander away, then it will have to decide whether it wants to get prospects or be completely off the hook from Hamels' contract. The team can't have it both ways.


Troy Tulowitzki and Noah Syndergaard

Troy Tulowitzki caused a bit of a stir when he was shown at a New York Yankees game on Sunday.

"It’s a short drive from Philly," the All-Star shortstop explained, via Nick Groke and Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. "I’m with my family. I wanted to see (Derek) Jeter play one more time."

Rumors that Tulo followed with "I've made a huge mistake" are unconfirmed.

The timing of his appearance at Yankee Stadium seems awfully coincidental, considering his status with the Colorado Rockies remains up in the air. Fox Sports' Jon Morosi reported that the Rockies aren't considering a trade now, despite plenty of interest from potential suitors:

David Lennon of Newsday reported that the New York Mets might be out of the running and that, for the moment, Noah Syndergaard is off-limits:

Syndergaard is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Mets organization and 13th overall by MLB.com. In 19 Triple-A starts this year, he has an 8-5 record with a 5.16 ERA.

New York is smart to value Syndergaard so heavily. Despite his struggles in the minors, he has the stuff necessary to become a No. 1 starter in the majors.

Still, if Tulowitzki's made available to the Mets, they should seriously consider throwing the 21-year-old right-hander in. Pitchers are so unpredictable in terms of career trajectories, especially with the rash of Tommy John surgeries.

Tulowitzki is a known quantity and is the best shortstop in the league by a somewhat wide margin.

At least the Mets look like they'll have plenty of time to think it over, with Colorado sticking with its star, at least for now.

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Jon Lester Rumors: Recapping Latest Buzz Surrounding Boston Red Sox Ace

If David Price is out of your price range, could I offer you Jon Lester?

With the July 31 trade deadline rapidly approaching, offers for the Boston Red Sox ace are in abundance. Since he's a free agent at the end of the season and the Sox are out of the playoff race, the team might as well unload him now and collect a hefty trade haul.

Lester's having his best season in the majors, posting a 2.52 ERA and 2.62 FIP, according to Baseball-Reference.com. He also boasts a healthy 155 ERA+ and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.66.

Even if he's a rental, the left-hander would be a sizable addition to a postseason contender. Think back to how large a role CC Sabathia played in the Milwaukee Brewers' 2008 stretch run. He made 17 starts, going 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA, and the Brewers made their first postseason since 1982.

Price is viewed as the big fish in this year's trade market, but the Tampa Bay Rays have been patient up to this point and won't accept what they feel is a lesser deal.

For that reason, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark wrote that Lester could be the more likely pitcher to move this year:

So just take all those Price-to-the-Dodgers/Mariners/Cardinals rumors and substitute Lester's name, and you'll be right on target. But while the asking price remains monstrous, it isn't quite what the Rays were asking for Price, either. "In the end, it has to be less," one rival executive said, "just because he's a free agent, and the other guy [Price] is not."

Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that the Seattle Mariners are one team that may look to Lester as a Plan B in the event Plan A (Price) doesn't work out:

ESPN.com's Buster Olney and Joel Sherman of the New York Post both tweeted out that the consensus, however, put Lester on the Los Angeles Dodgers:

This is where you shudder in fear about a potential Dodgers rotation that has Lester, Clayton Kershaw, Josh Beckett, Dan Haren and Zack Greinke. The San Francisco Giants might as well give up the NL West right then and there.

The Dodgers have everything to make this trade work: plenty of top prospects and a setting/playing situation in which Lester would look forward to playing.

In June, the writers at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required) proposed hypothetical trades for Price and determined which team would "win" the Rays ace. Los Angeles ended up with the best trade package, which include Joc Pederson, Zach Lee and Chris Anderson:

You can go ahead and slot both Pederson and Lee into your starting lineup and rotation, respectively. Both are major-league ready and have high floors. Anderson needs some time, but he has the raw stuff to become an innings-eating starter as well. That's one top-25 prospect, one top-100, and another who could qualify for a top 100 very soon. We laid the groundwork for this trade last year, actually. Make sure Astro brings his Ray-Bans for the LA sun.

You could essentially substitute Lester in place of Price and reach the same outcome. If the Dodgers go all-in on their target, that's pretty much the end of it.

The interesting part of this scenario is that Lester could end up being dealt and then sign with Boston in the offseason, similarly to how Cliff Lee was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Mariners before the 2010 season and then signed with Philly a year later.

Lester has already signaled that he'd be open to signing with the Red Sox even if they trade him, per the Boston Herald's Joey Knight:

Why not? This is what I know, this is what I love and like I’ve said plenty of times, this is where I want to be. And if they trade me I completely understand. No hard feelings; I know what they have to do for their organization. If that involves me, so be it. If it doesn’t, I’ll keep running out there every five days and pitching. Like I said, hopefully in November we’ll get something done.

Sports Illustrated's Joe Sheehan noted that Boston would have the money necessary to bring him back if it decided to do so:

Stark was a bit skeptical that the Red Sox would in fact make a serious attempt to sign Lester:

But what people around the sport really think is that this is a front office that already knows ownership isn't willing to commit to Lester for the years and dollars he's looking for. So it's time to make the best deal that's out there. And that time, stunningly, has arrived -- in the final hours of Trade Deadline Week 2014.

The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham also threw a wet blanket on the Lester-to-Boston offseason rumor:

The Red Sox, a major league source said Monday, have been informed what kind of contract lefthander Jon Lester is seeking and that has led to the team putting its ace on the trade market.


A team source said the Red Sox have not received a specific contract offer from Lester’s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson. A contract that reflects the market value for a pitcher of Lester’s experience and accomplishments would be approximately $22 million-$24 million a year over five or six years.

If Boston's plans for 2015 don't involve Lester, then the incentive to trade him is even greater. Why let him walk at the end of the season and get nothing back when the team could trade him now and get something in return?

Whatever's gonna happen with Lester, expect a lot of movement very soon.

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Derek Jeter Passes Carl Yastrzemski for 7th on All-Time Hits List

Before leaving this game for good, Derek Jeter decided to dig the knife a little deeper into Boston Red Sox fans. The New York Yankees shortstop went 3-for-4 in a 4-2 loss to the Texas Rangers on Monday night and in doing so passed Carl Yastrzemski for seventh place on the all-time hits list.

The decisive knock came in the top of the seventh inning with a single to right center.

Fans in Arlington gave Jeter a standing ovation after reaching the milestone, and Rangers manager Ron Washington said a few words about the retiring star following Texas' win, per Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe joked that Yastrzemski hasn't had the best of weeks, with David Ortiz also passing him on the all-time home run list last Monday:

Barring an injury or unforeseen catastrophe, Jeter shouldn't be in seventh for very long. With 3,420 hits, he's only 10 away from Honus Wagner for sixth place and 95 away from Tris Speaker in fifth, according to MLB.com. At the very least, sixth place is realistic, and fifth could be doable if he hits a hot streak during the stretch run.

If Jeter wants to track down Stan Musial for fourth (3,630), he'll probably have to play another season.

This is just another accolade to add to the 40-year-old's legendary career resume. He can't really do anything more to embolden his legacy at this point, but he might as well overtake as many Red Sox players in the record books as he possibly can.

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Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 2014: Speech Highlights and Recap

Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Tony La Russa, Frank Thomas and Joe Torre all went from legends to immortals on Sunday. The sterling six were officially enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Few classes can boast this kind of quality from top to bottom. Thomas, Glavine and Maddux were among three of the most successful stars on the field in the 1990s, while Cox, La Russa and Torre all won World Series titles en route to incredible careers from the bench.

The ceremony kicked off with Maddux. The four-time Cy Young Award winner was one of the more humble aces of the 1990s, and that came across in his speech. You can view it in its entirety below, courtesy of MLB.com.

Along with Maddux's humility came a dry sense of humor.

In one of the lighter moments of the afternoon, he revealed that he and his brother, Mike, the Texas Rangers pitching coach, experimented a little bit with methane and fire. NBC's Chuck Todd didn't expect topics of this nature to be on the docket Sunday:

Maddux also managed to have a little fun at John Smoltz's expense, via MLB.com's Mark Bowman:

The Chicago Cubs weren't spared either, via Zach Klein of WSB-TV in Atlanta:

The 48-year-old will go down as one of the best pitchers of the modern baseball era. His continued success throughout the Steroid Era is an even bigger testament to his ability.

Cox, Maddux's former manager, was up next. He led the Braves to one World Series title and five National League pennants. In his 25 years with the Atlanta organization, Cox compiled a 2,149-1,709 record. His overall managerial win total of 2,504 (he had a four-year stint with the Toronto Blue Jays) ranks fourth all-time.

Cox said during the ceremony that he owed part of his success to the Braves' Cy Young trio of Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz. There's no question that having three pitchers that good can make a manager look a lot smarter, but Cox's sustained success went deeper than Atlanta's elite rotation.

Among his most infamous accomplishments are his 159 ejections, an all-time record. Cox made light of this achievement, via CNN.com's Jill Martin:

Near the end of his speech, Cox also talked about Chipper Jones' legacy with the Braves and said that the third baseman/outfielder will be making the trip to Cooperstown sooner rather than later.

Glavine spoke next to wrap up the Braves portion of the ceremony. He started off by talking about his childhood, when he launched snowballs at oncoming traffic. Hitters of the '90s surely wish he would've never graduated to baseballs, via David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune:

In his 22 years in the league, Glavine won 305 games and two Cy Young Awards. He also won 20 or more games in five seasons, including three in a row from 1991 to 1993. Glavine's best asset was his ability to pinpoint pitches just off the plate out of the strike zone but not far enough to be called balls by home-plate umpires.

Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News joked that Glavine's HOF plaque would reflect that:

La Russa was next up and somehow managed not to call upon a single reliever in the 17-plus minutes he spoke, per C. Trent Rosecrans of The Cincinnati Enquirer:

Only two managers—Connie Mack and John McGraw—own more wins than La Russa's 2,728. He collected three World Series rings in his time with the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, in addition to six league titles.

Having managed the A's, Cardinals and Chicago White Sox, La Russa goes into Cooperstown without a team logo on his hat.

Like Cox, La Russa alluded to one of his best players and future Hall of Famers, saying that he can't wait to see Albert Pujols inducted into Cooperstown.

Thomas took the podium following La Russa and delivered by far the most emotional speech of the day. He was fighting back tears as he thanked his family, coaches and team executives for helping him become one of the most feared hitters in the game for over a decade.

ESPN's Kevin Negandhi spoke on behalf of everyone on Twitter:

Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander also offered his congratulations to Thomas and admitted that the Big Hurt is the reason he wears the No. 35 on the mound:

Some baseball fans forget that Thomas went to Auburn on a football scholarship before he became an American League MVP and offensive colossus. Despite all of his success on the diamond, he made sure not to forget former Tigers football coach Pat Dye, via NFL.com's Bryan Fischer:

In addition to paying tribute to various White Sox players, Thomas still found the time to give a small lecture condemning performance-enhancing-drug use. In terms of scope, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better induction speech:

The ceremony wrapped up with Torre, which is appropriate given how much he's given to the game and how successful he was as both a player and a manager.

He was a nine-time All-Star with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals and National League MVP with the Cardinals in 1971. After his time as a player was over, he managed for 14 years before joining the New York Yankees.

Torre admitted that the 12 seasons he spent in the Bronx are the biggest reasons he's entering the Hall. In those 12 years, Torre won 1,173 games, four World Series and six AL pennants.

You couldn't have put it any better than MLB did on Twitter:

The Hall of Fame voting is one of the more contentious issues throughout baseball every year, but nobody could argue the merits of the six newest Cooperstown inductees.

Sunday was a great celebration of their careers and the sport in general.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Kemp and More

With the non-waiver trade deadline rapidly approaching, Major League Baseball teams are getting their affairs in order and trying to wrap up whatever deals they're working on.

A few big names have already been moved, but a few top players could still be headed for new destinations between now and July 31. Plenty of deadline deals have gone right down to the wire in the past, and that could be the case this summer.

Below are some of the most recent updates surrounding three teams that may or may not be active in the next week.


Troy Tulowitzki

The future of Troy Tulowitzki has been a hotly discussed topic for a few years now. The Colorado Rockies haven't made the playoffs since 2009 and don't look to be getting there again anytime soon. With that in mind, do they possibly trade their All-Star shortstop and begin the rebuild?

For team owner Dick Monfort, the answer remains "no."

MLB.com's Thomas Harding reported that the Rockies aren't pursuing a deal involving Tulowitzki before the trade deadline and that Colorado might feel the same way once the season ends. Harding also refuted a report from Joel Sherman of the New York Post about Tulowitzki possibly having a no-trade clause in his contract.

Covering all of his bases, Harding also threw a wet blanket on any talk that Carlos Gonzalez will be moved:

By the way, Major League sources say the Rockies aren’t anywhere close to dealing outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, a sublime talent who has dealt with injuries the last two years.

Given that, current trade rumors are to be seen as laying the groundwork for talks after the season.

Hitting the reset button is never easy for a franchise, but the Rockies might be better off jettisoning at least one of the two and making what's an above-average minor league system one of the best in the major leagues.

Plus, the longer Tulowitzki's out of the playoffs, the more he's likely to grow discontented with the organization's future. John Perrotto wrote in USA Today about the shortstop's future and provided this very telling quote:

I remember my dad saying, 'You see this right here? That is one of the best quarterbacks ever and only one time did he make it to the Super Bowl.' So he tried to compare it to me making the World Series my rookie year, and sure enough, eight or nine years later we haven't made it back and that gave me a reminder of how special that time was. So I never took it for granted.

You can understand why Colorado would want to hold onto Gonzalez and Tulowitzki through the end of the season, but the team will have to do some soul-searching in the offseason.


Matt Kemp

On July 16, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that Matt Kemp isn't agitating for a trade, but if one comes, he's not gonna stand in the way.

Kemp's agent, Dave Stewart, is quoted as saying:

Whatever they want to do we’re favorable to, as long as it gives him an opportunity to play every day. He’d like to eventually go back to center field. He’s not opposed to right or left. But his hope at some point is to get back to center.

On Saturday, Rosenthal reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers have no trades imminent for the two-time All-Star:

Kemp struggled mightily out of the gates this year, hitting .225/.493/.814 from March through April. He's since raised his average to .273. The power numbers aren't there, but Kemp is at least giving Los Angeles something offensively.

The Los Angeles Times' Steve Dilbeck thinks that Kemp will remain with the Dodgers for business rather than performance reasons:

Kemp is still owed approximately $118 million on that eight-year, $160-million contract he signed with the Dodgers. No team is going pick that up, given the way he’s played the last three years. And the Dodgers are not going to eat half of it just to move him.

Kemp is owed a ton of money, and at 29 years old, there's little chance that he returns to the five-tool star who lit up Dodger Stadium in 2009 and 2011. With that in mind, there are few teams willing to acquire Kemp unless LA ponies up some dough.

Los Angeles will likely have to make the most of a tough situation.


Boston Red Sox

Jake Peavy is reportedly on his way to the San Francisco Giants, per CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman:

The Boston Red Sox might not be done, either, per ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes:

With five days remaining before the non-waiver trade deadline, however, a Sox source acknowledged 'we’re working on a lot of things,' and with the team sinking fast in the AL East, Boston’s willingness to part ways with other players on the big-league roster is increasing exponentially.

It's hard to believe that the Sox are less than a year removed from a World Series title.

Edes mentioned that Jon Lester could be one of the team's biggest names on the move. Lester sounded a bit cryptic after Boston's 6-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.

"I don’t think anything, especially in Boston, can surprise," he said, per Joey Knight of the Boston Herald. "I think we all understand where we’re at. We understand it’s a business."

The 30-year-old also added that, in the event that he's traded, he'd consider signing with the Red Sox once he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. That wouldn't be a bad deal for Boston. It trades Lester, gets prospects in return and then goes ahead and brings him back.

Considering this is a lost season, the Red Sox might as well get what they can for some of their fringe players who won't play a big role down the line.

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Rachel Nichols Talks Hall of Fame and More with Baseball Legends

With a new class of baseball legends on the verge of entering the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, Turner Sports' Rachel Nichols sat down with two Hall of Famers and one star who's days away from being enshrined for a brief interview.

Goose Gossage, Ozzie Smith and Greg Maddux discussed some of the biggest issues in the game today, along with a couple of other topics.

Maddux is one of three players to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, with Frank Thomas and Tom Glavine joining him. Fifteen years have passed since three players were voted in after only being on the ballot for one year, per ESPN Stats & Info:

One of the highlights of the interview includes Gossage's contention that hitters in modern-day baseball take inside pitches too personally.

He complained that stars today jump immediately to the bench-clearing brawl at the first sign of trouble, whereas back in the day, the hitter had a more innate understanding of when he'd get buzzed and wouldn't take offense.

The three also waded into the issue of steroids in the game.

Maddux was one of the few pitchers who played through the steroid era yet remains unscathed statistically. He believed the biggest indication that something was going on was the number of hitters who were hitting opposite-field home runs. The four-time Cy Young winner said that when he started in the mid- to late 1980s, hardly anybody was hitting the ball to right field.

Gossage believed that alleged steroid users shouldn't be allowed in the Hall of Fame because that would validate and honor cheating, while Smith felt that whatever the writers decided in terms of voting was the only argument necessary in terms of their HOF candidacies.

Hearing insight from some of the best baseball's had to offer is always enjoyable. Fans might not agree with everything the trio had to say, but there's no question that there's a great amount of value to be culled from their opinions.

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Jake Thompson to Rangers: Latest Trade Details, Scouting Report and Reaction

Jake Thompson is one of two prospects the Detroit Tigers sent to the Texas Rangers for closer Joakim Soria, per Fox Sports 1's Jon Morosi:

The right-handed starting pitcher is listed as the third-best prospect in the Tigers' system, according to MLB.com. Before the season, Baseball Prospectus' Jason Parks (subscription required) ranked Thompson fourth for Detroit, behind Nick Castellanos, Jonathon Crawford and James McCann.

Of Thompson's strengths, Parks wrote:

Big, physical frame; delivery and arm work well; fastball works 89-92; touches higher; some late arm-side wiggle; slider is money pitch; already above average, thrown with velocity and tilt; shows some feel for promising changeup.

He sees the 20-year-old as a No. 5 starter who could blossom into a No. 3-level starter.

Jordon Gorosh, who covers the Tigers' minor-league prospects for Baseball Prospectus and Bless You Boys, analyzed Thompson's ability in the Detroit Free Press earlier on Wednesday before the trade was reported:

In terms of his big-league prospects, Thompson might end up getting a cup of coffee in the 2015 campaign, although that's certainly dependent on the Tigers’ rotation needs and his success in the high minors. He needs to continue to work on the change-up and fastball command and not being so slider-dependent when he gets into trouble. The slider is the Texan's comfort blanket, and the organization is trying to limit the usage of that particular pitch.

Still a year or two away from the big leagues, Thompson isn't going to provide any help for the Tigers as they look to make the playoffs and beyond in 2014. Soria, on the other hand, addresses one of the team's biggest issues: the bullpen.

Still, Josh Mansour of the Detroit Free Press was one of the critics who argued that the Tigers gave up too much in order to acquire the veteran closer:

On the other side of the spectrum, ESPN's Jim Bowden praised the Rangers for getting back prospects as talented as Thompson and Corey Knebel:

Thompson has spent time in 2014 in High-A and Double-A ball, making a combined 17 starts and posting a 6-4 record. He's stuck out 81 batters in 89 innings pitched. He was named to the United States team for the 2014 Futures Game, earning the win after pitching 0.2 scoreless innings.

This deal obviously has the potential to blow up in the Tigers' faces. Although Thompson and Knebel aren't can't-miss top-10 prospects, they could become solid back-of-the-rotation starting pitchers. Knebel also has the possibility of stepping into a late-inning/closer role down the line.

If Soria helps Detroit win a World Series, though, nobody will be complaining about how much the Tigers gave up.

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Mark McGwire Comments on Jose Canseco’s Attempt to Reconcile Bash Brothers

The Bash Brothers' relationship has been smashed to pieces, and it doesn't look like it will be put back together again.

Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco formed one of the most deadly offensive duos in the late 1980s and early '90s, but Big Mac doesn't want to reminisce on the past, telling ESPNLosAngeles.com that he's unwilling to mend the relationship between him and Canseco.

"It's too late. I don't care to ever speak to him again," McGwire said, via Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. "What he did was wrong."

Canseco eventually responded on Twitter:

His comments come after the Oakland Athletics honored the 25th anniversary of the 1989 team that won the World Series.

Canseco was one of many former A's players on hand at the O.co Coliseum to celebrate the occasion. McGwire wasn't in attendance but had taped a video tribute that played in the stadium.

The wrong that McGwire alluded to was Canseco's book Juiced, which famously blew the lid off the steroid culture in Major League Baseball.

In the book, McGwire was one of the many players Canseco alleged to be a steroid user, which likely put a strain on their relationship. CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly made the point that the former A's and St. Louis Cardinals slugger has never been one to forgive and forget easily:

As a result of Juiced and his infamous appearance at a congressional hearing in which he dodged almost every question and responded that he wasn't there to talk about the past, McGwire's reputation took a massive hit.

Over time, perhaps McGwire will warm up to Canseco a little more. Former reliever Dennis Eckersley had this to say, per The Associated Press, via Saxon: "I mean, come on, man. It's been a long time. Time heals everything." 

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Tim Lincecum Earns 1st Career Save in Extra-Innings Win vs. Phillies

Tim Lincecum came on to pitch in the bottom of the 14th inning and earned the save in the San Francisco Giants' 9-6 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night. It's the first save of his career:

You can see how the game ended below.

In earning the save, Lincecum also went without a strikeout—the first time in his 254 appearances on the mound that he's failed to do so, per Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com:

As Bob Nightengale of USA Today pointed out, Bruce Bochy had no other recourse but to call out "The Freak" to finish the game. He was the ninth pitcher used on the night by San Francisco:

Philadelphia went through seven hurlers.

The two teams had been deadlocked since Buster Posey's home run in the top of the ninth inning tied the game at 5-5. Then, in the top of the 14th, Brandon Crawford doubled, scoring Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Gregor Blanco to make it an 8-5 game. Hector Sanchez followed with a single to bring in Crawford.

Lincecum, who entered the game for George Kontos in the 14th with two on and one out, allowed one inherited runner to score on a groundout by Cody Asche. Two batters later, he induced a groundout from Domonic Brown to end the game, which stranded Wil Nieves at third and Cameron Rupp at first.

With the increased specialization of relief pitchers, starting pitchers rarely get an opportunity to close out an MLB game. Yet Lincecum, who starred in relief during the 2012 playoffs, handled the increased stakes well.

For the two-time Cy Young Award winner, it's another unusual moment to what's been a wild season. What are the chances a pitcher tosses a no-hitter and picks up a save in the span of a month?

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Dan Uggla to Giants: Latest Contract Details, Analysis and Reaction

Dan Uggla has landed on his feet in the Bay Area. According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the veteran second baseman has signed with the San Francisco Giants:

According to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, Uggla agreed to a minor league deal and will report to the Fresno Grizzlies, the Giants' Triple-A affiliate, with the ability to opt out by Aug. 1:

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported more on Uggla's deal:

The Atlanta Braves released the 34-year-old infielder Friday.   

"We've been very active making calls [for a potential trade] for the last month," said Braves general manager Frank Wren, per The Associated Press (via ESPN.com). "We got to a point where we realized that this was probably our only avenue."

Based solely on numbers, it wasn't a surprise to see Uggla let go. His batting average has gone from .287 in his final year with the Marlins in 2010 to .162 in 48 games with Atlanta this year.

If the 2014 season ended now, it would be the second consecutive year in which he posted a negative WAR (-1.3 in 2013 and -1.0 in 2014).

Bob Nightengale of USA Today believes Uggla is worth a flier for the Giants:

Sports Illustrated's Joe Sheehan feels the same way, citing the struggles of Brandon Hicks:

Sherman also shared Uggla's career statistics in AT&T Park:

San Francisco enters Monday in a tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the lead in the National League West. Maybe Uggla can regain some of his old form and provide a spark in the Giants offense, much as Pat Burrell did in their World Series-winning 2010 season.

If San Francisco gets buyer's remorse and determines Uggla can't help the team, then it can release him with little financial impact.


Note: All stats are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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Matt Cain Injury: Updates on Giants Pitcher’s Elbow and Return

The San Francisco Giants have placed Matt Cain on the 15-day disabled list, citing inflammation in his right elbow.    

The team announced the news on Monday afternoon:

The Giants also revealed that Yusmeiro Petit will start in Cain's place against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday:

Cain, 29, has been dealing with elbow soreness for some time. His last start came on July 9. Manager Bruce Bochy is hopeful that some time off may help Cain get back to 100 percent.

The problem, however, hasn't subsided, giving the Giants no other option but to put the veteran starting pitcher on the DL. As Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News noted, this is his third DL stint of the year:

Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com and Pavlovic also reported on the MRI on Cain's elbow:

Bochy spoke about Cain's status with Baggerly prior to Monday's game:

“I don’t know. I don’t think we know,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “It can go down in a day or two. It could linger. I don’t know how it will affect him the rest of the season.”


With $60 million owed to Cain over the next three seasons, with an additional guaranteed $7.5 million buyout on an option for 2018, don’t be surprised if the Giants broach the subject of postseason surgery with him.

“It can be tricky,” Bochy said. “Sometimes it can get to the point when you go in and clean it out. I’m sure with any surgery there’s a risk there. 

Baggarly also covered why Cain in particular is prone to elbow problems:

Cain has bone chips or other loose bodies in his elbow, which an MRI discovered in 2010 when he signed a three-year extension. Cain and the Giants originally had sketched out a four-year deal but the club reduced it to three seasons after viewing results of the physical.

Of course, most pitchers who have thrown 1,000-plus innings in the big leagues have something floating around in their elbow. When a fragment lodges in a certain spot, it can cause inflammation or an impingement in which it becomes impossible to fully straighten the arm. Thus far, the Giants have treated the inflammation rather than have Cain undergo arthroscopic surgery, which is always a consideration at the end of a season.

This is obviously a tough blow for San Francisco. Cain has been one of the team's most consistent starters over the past few years. According to ESPN Stats & Info, only Felix Hernandez has had more starts where he's given up one run or less, gone seven-plus innings and still didn't get a win:

2014 hasn't been his year, though, perhaps in part because of the elbow.

Cain's 4.18 ERA is the worst among starters on the team, and he has just two wins in 15 starts. His 4.59 FIP (h/t Baseball-Reference.com) helps illustrate just how much he's struggled this season.

The Giants will bank on more time off solving the riddle of Cain's balky elbow, but it doesn't take a doctor to see how many pitchers are having Tommy John surgery and realize that his elbow issues are concerning.

With the Los Angeles Dodgers tied with the Giants for the lead in the National League West, San Francisco will need all the help it can get to secure the division. And a lesser Cain is still better than most pitchers the Giants could use in his place.

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Yasiel Puig Injury: Updates on Dodgers Star’s Hand and Return

Updates from Monday, July 21

Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register provided an update on Yasiel Puig's hand injury:

Puig was hit during Saturday’s loss and left the game. A fluoroscan after the game showed no fracture but the Dodgers want Puig to undergo more complete X-rays when the team gets to Pittsburgh on Monday. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he was told by head trainer Stan Conte 'no baseball stuff' for Puig until after the second examination.

'We’re obviously going to be cautious,' Mattingly said. 'But we think it’s going to be okay.'

Original Text

Yasiel Puig isn't in the starting lineup for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals, a day after getting hit in the hand with a pitch.     

Los Angeles unveiled its lineup for Sunday's game, and the 2014 MLB All-Star was absent, as per MLBLineups on Twitter:

The X-rays on Puig's injured hand came back negative, which is good news for the Dodgers, as per J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group:

You can view how the injury occurred on MLB.com. Puig didn't look to be in a massive amount of pain but was removed from the game in the eighth inning as more of a precaution.

The fact that his X-ray didn't show any breaks is an encouraging sign. That would have meant weeks and likely months of recovery. Instead, his time off the field will likely be kept to a minimum as he heals.

That's important for the Dodgers as they try to get ahead of the San Francisco Giants in the National League West once again. Heading into Sunday's game, Los Angeles was a half-game back.

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Colby Lewis Expresses Anger Over Colby Rasmus’ Bunting with Lead vs. Rangers

The Blue Jays beat the struggling Rangers 4-1 Saturday, but the bigger story involved Toronto outfielder Colby Rasmus and Texas pitcher Colby Lewis.

With two outs and none on in the bottom of the fifth inning and the Blue Jays holding a 2-0 lead, Rasmus decided to beat the Rangers' defensive shift with a bunt down the third-base line. Lewis attempted to make the play but couldn't catch the Toronto outfielder in time on his throw to first.

As Rasmus reached safely, Lewis let Rasmus know how he felt. You can see a replay of the incident on MLB.com.

Lewis offered his thoughts after the game, per ESPN.com:

I felt like you have a situation where there is two outs, you're up two runs, you have gotten a hit earlier in the game off me, we are playing the shift, and he laid down a bunt basically simply for average. ...

... [Rasmus] didn't steal within the first two pitches to put himself in scoring position. That tells me he is solely looking out for himself, and looking out for batting average. And I didn't appreciate it.

Some are criticizing Lewis on social media for his stance.

Sports Illustrated's Joe Sheehan noted that Lewis is having enough trouble getting left-handed batters out as it is, so maybe he should keep his thoughts to himself in this situation:

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com believes that Adam Wainwright is now off the hook for his comments about easing up on Derek Jeter at the All-Star Game. He can thank Lewis for that:

Baseball is famous for its unwritten rules, and this is another occasion when they're taken to the extreme. Rasmus made what looked like an objectively smart baseball play, and yet the opposing pitcher took exception.

The 39-58 Rangers and 50-48 Blue Jays will finish their three-game set on Sunday.

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Derek Jeter’s Retirement Ceremony Announced by New York Yankees

New York Yankees fans will want to clear their calendars on Sept. 7 as the team will celebrate the career of Derek Jeter.

The Yankees announced on their official website that they will be honoring their retiring captain before the final game of a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals. New York will also be giving every fan at Yankee Stadium a commemorative coin.

After last year's Mariano Rivera bobblehead fiasco, the Yankees will certainly be hopeful that Jeter's night goes off without a hitch.

This is the cherry on top of an already good week for the 40-year-old. First, he went 2-for-2 in his final All-Star Game, scoring the first run of the game for the American League. Jeter was removed during the top of the fourth inning, allowing him one more All-Star victory lap before heading to the dugout for the final time. The Target Field crowd gave him a standing ovation.

"It was a special moment and it was unscripted," he said, per The Associated Press, via ESPN.com. "I was unaware of it."

In addition to that, on Friday night, he's poised to set the record for most games started at shortstop, surpassing Omar Vizquel, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post:

This is just another highlight to add to Jeter's farewell campaign.

Although the team doesn't wrap up its regular season on Sept. 7, it is the penultimate Sunday home game for the team, which still leaves Sept. 21 against the Toronto Blue Jays as a possible backup in case of a postponement.

The Yankees' last game of the 2014 season will be at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 28 in what is a fitting bit of irony—Jeter's last hurrah will be against New York's most hated rival. Jeter's last home game will be on Sept. 25 against the Baltimore Orioles.

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MLB All-Star Game 2014: Full Results and Biggest Moments from Midsummer Classic

The 2014 All-Star Game wasn't the greatest edition of the Midsummer Classic, but it delivered in almost every respect.

The American League beat the National League 5-3 and earned home-field advantage in the World Series and presumably control of Greek Council (or some other reward that makes the game matter). Major League Baseball has tried to make the All-Star Game a meaningful pursuit, but it remains a glorified exhibition game.

The night wasn't without its enjoyable moments, though.


Derek Jeter's Retiring, You Know

All of this Derek Jeter stuff is getting a bit tedious. But if anybody deserves a send-off like this, it's No. 2. He's one of the best shortstops to ever play the game, and you want to see the legends getting handled right on the way out.

Jeter had a nice ovation to start the game and then managed to lead off the bottom of the first with a double. He singled in his next at-bat to finish the game 2-for-2, thus finishing with a career .481 batting average in the Midsummer Classic, good for second all-time, per SportsCenter:

John Farrell's decision to bring Jeter out in the top of the fourth allowed the 40-year-old to bask in the glory of one more All-Star Game appearance.

As Mike Matheny said after the game, Tuesday night was what the legend deserved, per MLB:


Mike Trout. Full Stop.

Don't ever change, Mike Trout.

Baseball Prospectus' Sam Miller put it best on Twitter. Trout is already one of the most talented baseball players ever. The only drama left is how his career unfolds:

The 22-year-old took home MVP honors after going 2-for-3 with two runs batted in, per MLB. His triple in the bottom of the first inning plated Derek Jeter for the first run of the game and set the stage for a fun All-Star Game:

Trout is one of the most entertaining players to watch in the major leagues. The five-tool player is more and more becoming a rarity, but Trout is working with a full toolbox.

Also, some made this All-Star Game a passing of the torch from Jeter to Trout. With all due respect to the New York Yankees shortstop, Trout is already better than the Yankees star ever was:


Freddie Freeman Makes Men Everywhere Cringe

Figuring out the more impressive part of this play is kinda tough.

Dee Gordon covers a ton of ground effortlessly then quickly pops to his feet and throws out Michael Brantley with a ton of time. Brantley's stolen 10 bases this year, so he's no slowpoke. Gordon made a tough grounder look routine.

Then there's Freddie Freeman. For most guys, that's easily a torn groin and months of rehab. Freeman, on the other hand, does the splits and acts like it's no big deal. It's as if he stays in that position just to bask in the moment.

Instead of picking a winner, we'll go ahead and salute both guys. Good job and good effort, you two.


Glen Perkins Finishes It at Home

This All-Star Game was really all about Glen Perkins, wasn't it? Thank goodness he had his moment.

Fans have probably already forgotten that the Minnesota Twins closer finished the game, becoming only the third pitcher to save the game at his home stadium in All-Star Game history, per ESPN Stats & Info:

The event is partly about entertaining the fans, which is why one player from every team is involved. Kurt Suzuki didn't really do all that much, so without Perkins, the home crowd wouldn't have had a lot to cheer for.

In the end, Twins fans watched on as their All-Star closer got Miguel Montero to fly out, struck out Josh Harrison and forced Charlie Blackmon into a groundout, preserving the AL's 5-3 win.

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MLB All-Star Game 2014: Last-Minute Breakdown of Batting Orders Ahead of Event

Part of the fun of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is watching managers get to play fantasy baseball with their starting lineups.

This is the only time where you'll see the best the sport has to offer playing together on the same teams. These are the kinds of batting orders you could only hope to create in video games, and that's only when you turn off the trade logic.

Some may criticize the league for adding an imaginary importance to the game and watering down the event over the years, but there's no doubt that both the American League and National League teams boast all of today's top stars.


American League

MLB Public Relations tweeted out the lineup for the American League:

You of course have to start off with the leadoff hitter. This will be Derek Jeter's last All-Star Game, so why not throw him out first in the order? As much as MLB wants this game to matter, few fans take it too seriously. This is a good way to give Jeter a nice All-Star send-off.

American League manager John Farrell already has a plan in place for how he'll handle the New York Yankees shortstop, per ESPN Radio's Jon Sciambi:

After Jeter, it's your typical big-hitting All-Star lineup.

Having Miguel Cabrera and Jose Bautista back to back is bound to scare any pitcher, even one as good as Adam Wainwright. Cabrera's power numbers are down a bit in 2014, but he remains one of the most intimidating hitters in the majors.

Ahead of the All-Star Game, the reigning two-time MVP admitted that a groin tear from last year and subsequent offseason surgery have affected his performance, per USA Today's Jorge L. Ortiz:

"There are times when I feel good, but there are always muscles that are tightening, muscles that are not functioning properly,'' Cabrera said in Spanish. "It's part of the process. The same thing is happening to Justin Verlander, but the difference is he pitches every five days, so you don't see it as frequently.

"But as he and I talked about, we're never going to offer any excuses for our performance. We always want to be out on the field and compete, and I think that's the most important thing we can do, compete and try to get past this tough time. And the main thing is we're in first place.''

Once that news came out, Cabrera attempted to diffuse the situation, per Josh Katzenstein of The Detroit News:

With the pressure completely off, Tuesday night should be a welcome reprieve for the 31-year-old.

The Nos. 6, 7 and 8 hitters offer a lot of pop in the order. Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones and Josh Donaldson have combined to hit 64 home runs so far in 2014.

Donaldson might be particularly motivated having missed out on the All-Star Game last year. You get the feeling that most players are pretty apathetic about the game, but the Oakland A's star might be carrying last year's slight with him.


National League

MLB Public Relations also tweeted out the NL lineup ahead of the game:

Two words: holy crap.

This is what an All-Star lineup is supposed to look like. In what other situation are you gonna see players the quality of Andrew McCutchen and Yasiel Puig at the top of the order? Giancarlo Stanton is all the way down in the fifth spot—that's how loaded the NL is this year.

Stanton put on a show in the Home Run Derby—one of the few stars who actually performed up to expectations in the competition. With any luck, the Miami Marlins star will have saved up something from the Derby that he'll unleash in the All-Star Game.

If there's a weak part of this lineup, it's Chase Utley hitting seventh, but he boasts a slash line of .293/.349/.445 with eight home runs and 46 runs batted in.

Aramis Ramirez is a soft spot, but he's hammered 11 homers and driven in 43 runs. His teammates, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez, are listed at eighth and ninth, respectively, and they've combined for 23 homers and 92 RBI.

Gomez himself is a former Twin, having been moved to Milwaukee in what was one of the more lopsided trades of the last few years:

The veteran outfielder doesn't think the Minnesota fans will harbor any sort of ill will, per Bleacher Report's Scott Miller:

If anything, Twins fans should be more angry at former general manager Bill Smith, who traded away one year of J.J. Hardy for a future two-time All-Star in Gomez.

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