Ryan Braun Injury: Updates on Brewers Star’s Thumb Surgery and Recovery

Ryan Braun will attempt to fix a thumb injury that has limited him for most of the 2014 season.

According to The Associated Press (via ESPN), the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder will undergo surgery to correct the problem:

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is scheduled to have surgery this week to fix a nagging nerve problem near his right thumb. [...]

Braun said Sunday the rare procedure involved going into the thumb and freezing the nerve. The problem, which carried over from the 2013 season, affected his swing.

Braun noted this issue was a big reason for his struggles this season, via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

I feel like if I was anywhere close to healthy, if I'm at 80-90% and do anywhere near what I expect myself, we'd be in a different position as a team. I don't want this to be something that people think I'm using as an excuse. I have not had a good year; I have not played well. I have not done things that I expect of myself and the standard that I've set for playing this game over the first seven years of my career.

The former National League MVP had one of the worst seasons of his career, hitting just 19 home runs with 81 RBI in 134 games. His .268 batting average was a career low while his .780 OPS was over 100 points below his career average.

Meanwhile, the Brewers suffered as well, finishing 82-80 and out of the playoffs after a miserable final month of the season.

Milwaukee and Braun will certainly hope this surgery is successful and Braun can get back to reaching his potential.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Playoff Schedule 2014: Key Dates for Divisional Series Matchups

No matter which teams are playing in the American League and National League Division Series, all four matchups are certain to be entertaining.

The Los Angeles Angels and Washington Nationals have clinched home-field advantage in their respective leagues, but that does not always guarantee success at this level. With plenty of talented teams ready to challenge for a World Series title, anything can happen over the next few weeks.

Fortunately, fans will get to enjoy every step of the way in a round that can see great seasons come to an end in just three games. 

Here is a look at the NLDS and ALDS schedules, with times to be determined at a later date. You can view the complete schedule at MLB.com.

 

Top Teams to Watch

Los Angeles Angels

The team with the best record in baseball is a clear favorite to take home the World Series crown, especially with a lineup that is simply terrifying for opposing pitchers.

Mike Trout is actually having a down year based on the numbers he has provided in his first few seasons in the majors, but he should still win the AL MVP award, as Jon Morosi of Fox Sports pointed out:

Meanwhile, Albert Pujols is back to his dominant self, as he reached 100 RBI for the 12th time in his 14-year career (he totaled 99 in one of those other seasons).

The squad doesn't lead the majors in batting average or home runs, but it does well enough at each to lead the majors in runs scored throughout an impressive season. Although the pitching staff has been a bit inconsistent, the offensive production should be enough to help this team make a deep run in the playoffs.

 

Washington Nationals

The Nationals got off to a bit of a slow start this season but are peaking at the right time. Richard Justice of MLB.com provides a look at how well the team has played in all phases as of late:

Of course, the strength of the team is the rotation, which features five members who could potentially be aces on other teams around the league. The pitching has been so good that manager Matt Williams does not know what he will do when the rotation drops to four for the playoffs.

According to James Wagner of The Washington Post, Williams recently explained:

When they go out there, they compete.

It makes for tough decisions but those are good, tough decisions. You would not want that decision made for you this time of year. You want to be able to say, ‘Boy this is a hard one.’ That’s a good thing for us. They’re all pitching really well.

It seems you really cannot go wrong with Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister and Tanner Roark.

With a lineup that can light up the scoreboard with the long ball, this team will be tough to beat.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

With the New York Yankees watching from home, the Dodgers will have the highest team salary in the playoffs. This has helped create one of the most balanced teams in the majors.

Los Angeles ranks third in the majors in batting average thanks to seven different players with at least 25 at-bats hitting above .280. One person who does not have this high of a batting average, Adrian Gonzalez, makes up for it with his ability to hit it out of the park at any moment.

However, the team's best weapon is undoubtedly Clayton Kershaw, who has cemented himself as the best pitcher in baseball. Adnan Virk of ESPN noted that the player has accomplished something no one has done in a long time:

The Dodgers should be favored against anyone in games when Kershaw is on the mound, which could make a serious difference, especially in early rounds.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Matt Holliday Injury: Updates on Cardinals Star’s Illness and Return

Updates from Sunday, Sept. 28

The St. Louis Cardinals confirmed that Matt Holiday is returning to the lineup for the regular season finale:

 

Original Text

The St. Louis Cardinals are looking to go into the playoffs as healthy as possible, but this could be a problem with Matt Holliday coming out of Saturday's game early.

Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com noted the roster move in the team's matchup against the Arizona Diamondbacks:

The team's official Twitter account later reported the problem: 

Considering he was able to play six innings before coming out, it does not seem like this situation will be too serious. Instead, this is likely a precautionary measure to make sure he is healthy before the start of the postseason.

Holliday has been one of the Cardinals' top hitters this season, drilling 20 home runs and a team-high 90 RBI. Although his .272 batting average will likely end up being a career low for the veteran, he is still a key member of a lineup that has been inconsistent in 2014.

The outfielder hit four home runs last postseason and will need to come through again if St. Louis plans on making another run to the World Series.

If he is forced to miss time, the Cardinals will likely continue to put Peter Bourjos in center field and Jon Jay in left field, where he has played 20 games this season.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Joe Girardi Reportedly Blasted Yankees Players in Home Finale Pregame Speech

Derek Jeter might have given the New York Yankees a memorable moment with a walk-off single in his last ever home game, but manager Joe Girardi is still not happy about the season.

While the rest of the baseball world was focused on the tribute to the future Hall of Fame shortstop, Girardi kicked off Thursday night's home finale with an angry tirade at the team after a disappointing year.

Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York reported news of the team-only speech:

According to clubhouse sources who were present for the critique, and backed up by interviews with more than a half-dozen players, most of whom spoke to ESPNNewYork.com off the record for fear of angering their manager, Girardi chided some players for being overweight and others for not being "hungry" enough.

One source described Girardi as "angry," and said he even took a brief timeout to allow the players, led by CC Sabathia, to present Jeter with the original painting of The New Yorker's Sept. 8 cover depicting the shortstop waving goodbye, and an expensive watch, before returning to Part Two of his tirade.

The manager did not deny the event when asked about it, explaining:

I addressed the team just to let them know what I expected of them next year. I think that obviously there's a lot of disappointment when you don't make the playoffs. And the expectation is, the reason you play the game, is to make the playoffs and win the World Series. We need to get better, and I let them know that.

I felt we had chances to make it and we just didn't execute. I told them we had work to do to get better.

While his emotional speech might have taken some of the luster away from Jeter early on, Girardi does have a lot to complain about after another miserable season. With two games remaining, the Yankees accumulated an 83-77 record. One more loss would mark the team's worst winning percentage since 1992.

Additionally, this is the second year in a row the Yankees have missed the playoffs. It's just the third time since 1995 the squad has not been part of the postseason.

Although Girardi led this team to a World Series title in 2009, things have not gone the way he has hoped lately, and it would not be surprising to see him on the hot seat next season.

There is clearly a lot of talent on the roster with the highest payroll in baseball, but Girardi will hope to see more production out of this group in the future.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Joe Girardi Reportedly Blasted Yankees Players in Home Finale Pregame Speech

Derek Jeter might have given the New York Yankees a memorable moment with a walk-off single in his last-ever home game, but manager Joe Girardi is still not happy about the season.

While the rest of the baseball world was focused on the tribute to the future Hall of Fame shortstop, Girardi kicked off Thursday night's home finale with an angry tirade at the team after a disappointing year.

Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York reported news of the team-only speech:

According to clubhouse sources who were present for the critique, and backed up by interviews with more than a half-dozen players, most of whom spoke to ESPNNewYork.com off the record for fear of angering their manager, Girardi chided some players for being overweight and others for not being "hungry" enough.

One source described Girardi as "angry," and said he even took a brief timeout to allow the players, led by CC Sabathia, to present Jeter with the original painting of The New Yorker's Sept. 8 cover depicting the shortstop waving goodbye, and an expensive watch, before returning to Part Two of his tirade.

The manager did not deny the event when asked about it, explaining:

I addressed the team just to let them know what I expected of them next year. I think that obviously there's a lot of disappointment when you don't make the playoffs. And the expectation is, the reason you play the game, is to make the playoffs and win the World Series. We need to get better, and I let them know that.

I felt we had chances to make it and we just didn't execute. I told them we had work to do to get better.

While his emotional speech might have taken some of the luster away from Jeter early on, Girardi does have a lot to complain about after another miserable season. With two games remaining, the Yankees accumulated an 83-77 record. One more loss would mark the team's worst winning percentage since 1992.

Additionally, this is the second year in a row the Yankees have missed the playoffs. It's just the third time since 1995 the squad has not been part of the postseason.

Although Girardi led this team to a World Series title in 2009, things have not gone the way he had hoped lately, and it would not be surprising to see him on the hot seat next season.

There is clearly a lot of talent on the roster, with the highest payroll in baseball, but Girardi will hope to see more production out of this group in the future.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Albert Pujols Injury: Updates on Angels Star’s Hamstring and Return

Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 16

Angels communication director Eric Kay confirms Albert Pujols' status for tonight's game vs. the Mariners: 

 

Original Text 

Everything has been going right for the Los Angeles Angels lately, but they could have a problem on their hands with an injury to Albert Pujols.

Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports provides the latest on the veteran first baseman:

This injury was later confirmed by the team's official Twitter account:

After the Angels 8-1 win over the Mariners, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register provided an update: 

The double was Pujols' 36th of the season while bringing his RBI total to 97 on the year. He also has 26 home runs to go with a .274 batting average. While the three-time MVP has clearly had better seasons, he has bounced back nicely from a subpar 2013.

Unfortunately, this injury can be a setback if it ends up being serious. Hamstring injuries are difficult to judge and can sometimes keep a player out for weeks.

He was removed for a pinch runner (Tony Campana) against the Seattle Mariners on Monday. Efren Navarro was moved to first base and will likely take over the bulk of playing time if Pujols is unable to play.

With the best record in the majors and a 10-game lead in the AL West, the Angels can afford to be cautious for the rest of the regular season. However, they'll certainly need Pujols in the playoffs and hope he can return as soon as possible.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Bryce Harper Injury: Updates on Nationals Star’s Illness and Return

Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 16

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reported on Bryce Harper's return to the Nationals' lineup:

James Wagner of the Washington Post reveals what was ailing Harper during yesterday's game:

 

Original Text

With the Washington Nationals likely heading to the playoffs, the last thing they want to see is injuries to key players. Unfortunately, Bryce Harper was removed from Monday's game against the Atlanta Braves.

The team announced the issue on its Twitter account:

Mark Zuckerman of CSN noted there was no obvious injury that occurred during the game:

After the Nationals 4-2 win, Zuckerman provided an update on Harper:

The illness that plagued Adam LaRoche, Anthony Rendon and others on the Nationals’ roster the last two weeks apparently has now taken down Bryce Harper as well.

(...)

"He just came in and said: ‘I’m not feeling real good,'” manager Matt Williams said following a 4-2 win that leaves the Nationals one win from clinching the NL East title. “At this point in the season, we’re certainly not pushing that. And with the history of that we’ve had over the last few days with everybody else, we understand that if he gets it, it’s not real fun. So we wanted to get him out of there.”

Harper was batting .270 with 13 home runs and 32 RBI for the Nationals coming into the day, but he has been much better since the All-Star break with a .286 average and 11 home runs. He missed about two months of play earlier in the year with a thumb injury.

The Nationals need this type of production in the lineup, especially against a division rival as they look to clinch the National League East.

Nate Schierholtz replaced Harper in left field after the 21-year-old player was removed.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Jacob deGrom Ties MLB Record by Striking out 8 Straight Batters vs. Marlins

New York Mets rookie pitcher Jacob deGrom had himself quite a start to his game against the Miami Marlins Monday night.    

While the team is playing for little at this point of the year, the 26-year-old pitcher had a record-setting performance in Monday's start, according to ESPN Stats & Info:

After striking out eight batters in a row to start the game, it was the opposing pitcher who finally ended the streak and the perfect game, as Kevin Burkhardt of Fox points out:

The good news is he was able to recover and keep up his strong showing through the first half of the game:

He ended up finishing with 13 strikeouts in seven innings while allowing three runs. He was in position to earn the win after the seventh inning, but the bullpen could not hold on for a win.

The right-handed deGrom was coming off the best start of his career with eight shutout innings and nine strikeouts against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday. For the season, he had an 8-6 record with a 2.62 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 20 starts coming into the day.

Anthony DiComo of MLB.com notes what this performance can mean for the individual awards at the end of the year:

With his overall numbers and his ability to close the year strong, it is hard to argue against deGrom at least being a top candidate for the National League Rookie of the Year award. Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds is likely his top competition after topping 50 stolen bases in his first full season in the majors.

No matter what, it seems clear deGrom is going to be a big part of the Mets' rotation in the future. When Matt Harvey returns from his Tommy John surgery, this could be a scary tandem going forward.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Ryan Braun Injury: Updates on Brewers Star’s Hand and Return

Updates from Saturday, Sept. 6

Tom Haudricourt of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Braun will unexpectedly be in the Brewers' lineup:

Adam McCalvy of MLB.com provides the full lineup:

 

Original Text:

A hand injury will once again keep Ryan Braun out of the Milwaukee Brewers lineup.

Adam McCalvy of MLB.com provided the latest info on the former MVP:

Braun missed two games earlier in the week with the same issue but returned Friday to go 1-for-4 in the team's first win in 10 games.

With the squad desperately trying to hold onto the second Wild Card spot in the National League as well as potentially catching the St. Louis Cardinals for a division title, the Brewers need one of their top hitters at full strength. 

After missing the second half of last season due to suspension, Braun has had an up-and-down year in 2014. He is currently hitting .275 with 18 home runs and a team-leading 77 RBI. While this is certainly a drop in production from what he showed a few years ago, the Brewers will still hope he is able to return to action as soon as possible.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Jorge Soler Makes Cubs Debut: Final Stat Line, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

Welcome to the big leagues, Jorge Soler.

The Chicago Cubs outfielder made an impressive debut with the club, hitting a home run in his first at-bat while finishing 2-for-4 with two RBI and one strikeout.

Here is a look at the first at bat for the 22-year-old Cuban star:

As ESPN Stats & Info points out, he put himself in rare company with the homer:

Of course, this comes less than a month after fellow prospect Javier Baez also made a dramatic entrance:

Jesse Rodgers of ESPN Chicago couldn't believe what he was seeing:

Soler becomes the latest in a long list of talented prospects to impress early for the Cubs:

Christopher Kamka of Comcast SportsNet recaps how young the current lineup is for this team:

Of course, Soler could not come through in every at-bat, as Eye on Baseball joked:

After striking out in his third at bat, ESPN's Chris Sprow was upset:

However, he was finally able to come through in his fourth at-bat. With runners on first and third, Soler kept a rally going with a big hit, as described by Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Unfortunately, Welington Castillo followed up by grounding into a double play to end the inning. The Cubs ended up losing the game 7-5.

With the two hits in the debut, the young outfielder gave a glimpse of the talent he possesses. Another top Cubs prospect, Kris Bryant, was impressed watching him in Triple-A, via Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune:

He’s just an unbelievable talent. We’ve just got to keep him on the field. He’s scary. I wouldn’t want to be playing third base when he’s hitting. A really great kid, and an amazing outfield arm. I just think he’s a really good guy to have in the organization.

Carrie Muskat of Cubs.com noted that Soler has also received praise from one of the best hitters of the last few decades:

It is clear the young outfielder has gotten the attention of plenty of people around baseball. 

The question is whether he can keep up his strong play going forward. Fred B. Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune explained the reason for the timing of his call to the majors:

If things go well, he should be up to stay and help the Cubs build one of the best young rosters in the major leagues.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Robinson Cano Injury: Updates on Mariners Star’s Status and Return

Updates from Monday, Aug. 25

Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reported on Robinson Cano's return to the lineup:

 

 

Original Text

The Seattle Mariners need the entire team healthy if they want to lock up a playoff spot, especially second baseman Robinson Cano.   

Unfortunately, the 31-year-old veteran was forced to leave his team's recent game against the Boston Red Sox due to dizziness, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com:

After the Mariners' 8-6 win over the Red Sox, Cano talked about his status via Shannon Drayer of 710 AM in Seattle: 

Cano has had an impressive first year with the Mariners, with a .326 batting average to rank second in the majors behind the Astros' Jose Altuve. While he has not shown the power he flashed with the New York Yankees, his overall performance has helped the team transform from one of the worst in the league to one of the best.

Seattle is in third place in the American League West behind the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels, but the squad is currently in position to earn the second wild-card spot.

Still, an extended absence to Cano could hurt the team's chances to contend, especially with a lineup that has been inconsistent throughout the season.

Brad Miller replaced Cano at second base for the Mariners against Boston.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Toronto Blue Jays Want Creighton Bluejays to Alter New Logo

Fans were excited when the Creighton Bluejays unveiled their new logo, but not everyone felt the same way.

According to Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, the Toronto Blue Jays are fighting the logo change, arguing that Creighton's design is too similar to theirs:

It's been more than 10 months since Creighton unveiled its new look for its new league. By moving from the Missouri Valley to the Big East, the school had a rebranding overhaul take place last fall. But the Toronto Blue Jays have decided this new-look logo cannot be. The Blue Jays are fighting the existence of this Creighton logo on the grounds that it's too similar to their own, which has been part of Toronto's baseball appeal for decades.

The Blue Jays filed the complete notice of opposition on Aug. 11; it can be seen in its entirety here.   

SportsNet provides a look at the two logos side by side:

As Alicia Jessop of Forbes notes, Toronto is concerned about the "damage" that could result from this situation as it relates to both logos:

According to Steven Pivovar of the Omaha World-HeraldMongoose Graphics of Denver, Colorado, designed Creighton's new logos. Associate athletic director Mark Burgers explained the reasoning behind the school's choice last year:

We engaged a few different design firms. It was exciting to see the different looks that people gave us. It was all the way across the board, from being very historical to very futuristic. We felt like this one was a good balance of both.

SportsLogos.net users rated the Big East school's design as the best new logo of the year in sports. The Bluejays certainly got a lot of attention last season—something the Toronto-based franchise certainly noticed—as Doug McDermott led the basketball team to a 27-8 record in its first year in the conference.

Depending on how the issue is settled, Creighton could end up being forced to come up with another logo in the near future.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Jarrod Parker Injury: Updates on A’s Pitcher’s Recovery from Tommy John Surgery

The Oakland Athletics have one of the top rotations in MLB, but it could be better with a healthy Jarrod Parker. Fortunately, the young right-hander is on his way back from Tommy John surgery.   

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Parker was cleared to make some throws for the first time since the surgery:

While this is just one step on a long road to recovery, it is certainly encouraging to see the rehab going well.

Parker has already posted two great seasons with the Athletics, totaling a 3.73 ERA, a WHIP of 1.24 and 25 wins in 61 starts. Unfortunately, he is out for the year after tearing his UCL for the second time.

As someone who has gone through this process before, he explained the biggest issues with sitting out the whole season, via Gabe Kapler of Fox Sports:

I think going through this rehab process, the biggest challenge is watching and wishing you were on the field with your teammates. It's easy to let the feelings or thoughts of being 'left out' creep into your mind and will challenge your demeanor, work ethic and overall general mood.

This certainly has to be difficult for him this season as the Athletics have had plenty of fun without him. With two months remaining in the year, the squad has posted the best record in baseball and is now a favorite to win the World Series after acquiring lefty ace Jon Lester at the non-waiver deadline.

While Parker will not be able to help the team in 2014, he appears to be on track to be back to his usual, dominant self for the 2015 season. No matter what happens for the rest of this year, Oakland should still feel happy to have a player of this ability under team control for a few more seasons.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Waiver Wire 2014: Teams That Will Use August Trade Deadline for Playoff Push

Although the July 31 trade deadline has passed, the activity across major league baseball is not yet finished.

The past week saw a number of blockbuster deals, including Jon Lester going to the Oakland Athletics and David Price being sent to the Detroit Tigers as part of a three-team deal. All of these trades were completed before the non-waiver deadline.

Fortunately, front offices are still able to make moves to improve their teams over the next month if they go through waivers. A player has to be made available to the 29 other organizations before he is able to be traded. If he is claimed, the team has a choice to either complete a deal with that team or pull him back off waivers.

As a result, this period mostly features veterans with large contracts being dealt, as no one will want to take on more money.

Despite these obstacles, there are a few teams that can use an upgrade before August 31.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates have one of the best teams in the National League, but it will be hard to compete for a playoff spot without upgrading the rotation.

Pittsburgh ranks just 10th in the NL in starter ERA, and there is simply no ace capable of taking control when needed. Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted earlier in the week that Lester would have been an excellent addition:

Meanwhile, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported the Pirates were in the running for Price:

In the end, the squad was unable to bring in either of these players and are left with a rotation that will have to exceed expectations just to keep up with the rest of the league. Gerrit Cole should be returning soon, but the team could use a veteran capable of leading the group into the postseason.

Fortunately, there are players who fit this description and could be on the move in August. One of them is a familiar face in A.J. Burnett. The 37-year-old pitcher accumulated a 3.41 ERA over the past two years in Pittsburgh and could be had without giving up too much in the form of prospects.

Bob Pompeani of KDKA notes that Burnett is just one option from the NL East who could help:

Bartolo Colon has been inconsistent this season, but he is an experienced pitcher who can be a difference-maker in the final few months of the year. The added cost to the payroll would be worth it for a shot at contention.

 

San Francisco Giants

Second base has been a black hole for the Giants this season. From Brandon Hicks to Joe Panik to Dan Uggla, not much has worked at the position.

Heading into the trade deadline, the squad ranked dead last in the majors with a .176 batting average from second basemen.

Despite this obvious problem, general manager Brian Sabean did not feel the need to make a deal, via John Shea of SFGate.com:

I’ve done this a long time, and I feel as good about not getting something done as any year we’ve done something....We just couldn’t execute the deal based on what the ask was. A lot of that had to do with too many buyers in the market, and we’d do the same thing if we were on the other side of the fence. (Teams) held out to the very end to get what we weren’t willing to give up.

Although a deal was not completed this week, Sabean has not ruled out a potential move before the August deadline.

Daniel Murphy represents a potential option, especially if the New York Mets start to fall down the standings in the next few weeks. However, it might take a decent package for the team to part with its only All-Star in 2014.

Another potential target is Aaron Hill, but he also comes with a $24 million price tag over the next two seasons. The good news is this almost guarantees that he will not be claimed on waivers.

If the Giants are willing to take on this salary, though, the Arizona Diamondbacks would likely be ready to part with the second baseman.

 

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels have one of the best lineups, a solid rotation and an improved bullpen. However, this still might not be enough to keep up with the Oakland Athletics in the AL West.

Adding Lester to an already excellent rotation could make the A's almost unbeatable in the postseason. If the Angels want to win this season, they will need to add weapons to the arsenal.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times notes that the current pitching battle is not even close between the two:

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported a week before the non-waiver deadline that the squad did not want to make a move that would cost prospects:

The good news is this period could allow a team to acquire a player without giving up high-level prospects. The key factor is the willingness to take on an elevated contract, which the Angels apparently have the ability to do.

One possible option is Cole Hamels, who ESPN's Buster Olney (subscription required) believes should dealt this month:

The Phillies should at least have a conversation with the claiming team about what they would offer in trade. By the time the Phillies are really good again -- maybe in the last years of this decade -- Hamels will either be overvalued in his salary or he will be retired. They might as well swap him for prospects to accelerate the franchise turnaround. 

While he is under contract through the 2018 season, it might not be the worst thing for the Angels to bring in a player who still has some great pitching left in him.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Trades 2014: Tallying Grades for Biggest Deadline Deals

While there is always drama leading up to the MLB trade deadline, the 2014 version featured a lot more excitement than usual. 

Before the clock reached 4 p.m. ET, there were a number of blockbuster trades that will have a major impact on the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. No one seemed safe from a potential move, ranging from bench players to All-Stars.

Among all the moves that took place were a few headlines deals, each of which were assessed and graded below. 

 

The Boston Red Sox quickly went from World Series winners to bottom feeders. As a result, they had no problem going through a fire sale before the deadline.

Jon Lester was the start of a major overhaul that also saw John Lackey, Stephen Drew, Felix Doubront and others leave town. The Oakland Athletics confirmed the biggest deal of the week:

Lester has the talent to be an ace and he has pitched like it this year, ranking fifth in the American League with a 2.52 ERA. Most importantly, he has been excellent in the postseason while helping the Red Sox win two World Series titles. ESPN Stats and Info notes how good he has been in the final round:

Bob Nightengale of USA Today explains the reason Oakland has been so aggressive:

At the same time, Jonny Gomes gives the Athletics a player who can hit lefties well and get on base at a higher rate than Yoenis Cespedes. If he can platoon with Sam Fuld, who was acquired for Tommy Milone, the team will not lose much offensively.

The front office obviously believes the A's are a favorite to win a World Series, and there is plenty of reason to believe them. 

On the other hand, the Red Sox lost an elite pitcher who was set to be a free agent at the end of the season anyway. When asked about possibly returning to Boston next year if he was traded, Lester responded, "Yeah, why not? I mean, this is what I know, this is what I love. Like I've said many times, this is where I want to be. If they trade me, I completely understand," via Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston.

Still, this is a big risk for a team that still wants to remain in contention. If Lester goes anywhere else this offseason, Boston will have lost a key player for an outfielder that might be gone after 2015 anyway. The team might have been better off asking for younger prospects in a deal that could help in the future.

The positive feelings from this trade could end up turning sour a few years from now, making this a risky deal.

 

There were various reports throughout the day about which players were going where, but MLB finally announced the pieces of the three-way trade:

The three players going to the Tampa Bay Rays make this a pretty good haul for the organization, as noted by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Jim Callis of MLB.com also likes the young shortstop added late:

That being said, the Rays were only 5.5 games out of a wild-card spot at the time of the deal after going 9-2 since the All-Star break. The group clearly had a chance to compete for a playoff berth, but this dream is likely dead after dealing David Price.

The 28-year-old pitcher was also under team control through 2015, so this shows the team is not planning on compete in either this season or next. It is truly a hard time to be a Rays fan.

Of course, Tampa Bay's loss becomes a big gain for the Detroit Tigers. Price already has four All-Star appearances and a Cy Young award, making him someone who can make a difference for the rest of the year and the postseason. 

If it turns out to be a series between the Tigers and Athletics, the pitching battle will be truly incredible to watch. Even though Detroit gave up plenty of talent, this is a great move for a contending squad.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners were winners while playing a small part in this deal, as noted by Joe Sheehan of Sports Illustrated:

Even though Austin Jackson is having a down year at the plate with a slash line of .270/.330/.397, the Mariners added a useful hitter who can help immediately for someone who is still a few years away from contributing. 

Despite Seattle's recent slide, the squad remains very much in the playoff hunt thanks to this trade. 

 

Even after dealing for Justin Masterson a day earlier, the Cardinals stayed aggressive and traded for John Lackey:

Lackey has had a solid season for the Red Sox, posting a 3.60 ERA in 21 starts with an 11-7 record. His two World Series titles and 16 career starts in the postseason are also likely reasons the Cardinals made this deal.

The 35-year-old pitcher gives the team someone it can count on over the next few months instead of the young arms in the current rotation. Of course, those young pitchers have a lot of talent. Assuming Michael Wacha can return healthy, the trio of him, Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn would be formidable on its own. Adding in Masterson, Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly, this rotation would be just fine.

Instead, St. Louis got rid of two talented players who could have been big parts of the future for a pitcher who is far past his prime. 

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports likes the deal for the Red Sox:

Passan notes how the contract situation also helps Boston:

Both Kelly and Allen Craig are in the midst of down years, but the talent is there to expect a turnaround next season and beyond. Even as the Red Sox traded away veteran players, the rebuilding process should not take too long.

Additionally, this situation is very different from Lester as Lackey was not expected to have much of a future in Boston anyway. 

The Cardinals took a big risk with this trade to upgrade a pitching staff that did not need much help, and it ended up giving the Red Sox exactly what they needed.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Austin Jackson Will Help Seattle Mariners Get Season Back on Track

The Seattle Mariners got exactly what they needed just before the MLB trade deadline.

With the squad desperate for an offensive boost, the front office found a way to bring in Austin Jackson as part of a three-team trade, as explained by MLB:

While the Mariners gave up infield prospect Nick Franklin, this was a perfect move for them to have a strong finish to the year.

Coming into the season, few expected much out of Seattle. The team finished 71-91 in 2013 and did not make too many significant upgrades outside of Robinson Cano. However, the pitching picked up to help carry the group into playoff contention.

Although the American League West has been one of the toughest divisions in baseball, the Mariners were in position to win the second wild-card spot at the All-Star break. 

Unfortunately, the offense was not holding up its end of the bargain. While the team had the No. 1 ERA in the majors heading into the trade deadline, it only ranked 27th in runs scored. This anemic offense helped cause Seattle to start the second half with a 4-8 record, falling behind in the playoff race.

Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times noted that a slight increase in run production could make a big difference:

This is where Jackson can make a huge difference. Kevin Burkhardt of SNY.tv notes how good of a deal the Mariners got in their end of the trade:

Jackson is having a bit of a down year with a .270/.330/.397 and just four home runs. However, he has been red-hot as of late, totaling a .343 batting average in July to rank sixth in the majors among players with at least 100 plate appearances.

The 27-year-old outfielder is a catalyst at the top of the lineup who knows how to get himself into scoring position. This will make it easy for players like Cano or Kyle Seager to bring him home, and his runs will instantly lead to more wins.

Meanwhile, Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon notes that Jackson can make an impact in other aspects of the game, via Greg Johns of MLB.com:

Defensively he's probably one of the top three center fielders in all of baseball. He gets those kind of jumps and he's played in the biggest center field in baseball in Detroit. And offensively, this guy is pretty accomplished. He had close to 200 hits a couple years, he scores close to 100 runs, he's good at the top of the order, he steals bases and he knows what he's doing. He's a veteran hitter.

Obviously, this all will be a huge help this season for a squad hoping to reach the playoffs.

Of course, his involvement will not be limited to his production on the field. Jackson was a well-respected member of the Tigers for the past few years, as seen by his in-game exit after being traded:

The outfielder can be a leader for this young team as soon as he gets into the locker room. His vast postseason experience from the past three years should give him credibility and help bring confidence to a team that needs it.

After a poor couple of weeks, it would not have been surprising to see the Mariners stay put at the trade deadline and continue building toward the future. However, dealing away Franklin for an impact player like Jackson shows that the squad is still trying to compete now.

Thanks to this addition, Seattle will be a serious contender in the American League going forward.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Stephen Drew to Yankees: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The final moments of the trade deadline can make a team do strange things, like make a deal with a bitter rival.   

The New York Yankees did just that by acquiring shortstop Stephen Drew from the rival Boston Red Sox, just moments before the non-waiver deadline.

Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston first reported the deal was close:

ESPN's Buster Olney later confirmed the move:

Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News passes along more details:

Jack Curry of YES Network and Feinsand provide Yankees GM Brian Cashman's comments on the deal:

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports Kelly Johnson will be sent as a return:

Drew has played 39 games this season for the Red Sox, but has only managed a .176 batting average to go with his four home runs. While he played a big role in the team's run to a World Series in 2013, the 31-year-old player was not as helpful in 2014.

This is the latest move in a fire sale for Boston before the deadline which has already seen deals to part with Jon Lester, John Lackey and more, per Tyler Kepner of The New York Times. This latest move brings in a versatile player with six home runs on the year who can add depth to the lineup.

Unfortunately, the team will have to wait for Johnson to return from injury, as noted by Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:

More importantly, the deal will now free up space for some of the younger players to get onto the field like Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts.

Meanwhile, the Yankees will hope that Drew can provide some of his magic from last season and help upgrade the middle infield. Derek Jeter has done his best in his final season before retiring, but he still ranks just 26th in wins above replacement among major league shortstops (h/t ESPN.com).

Drew has not been any better this season, but he should be able to help the team out as a left-handed hitter who can help Jeter rest some more games. Additionally, his fielding is something you cannot overlook. Former teammate Jon Lester recently explained his value, via Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:

The pitching staff in New York will love having a player with Drew's range in the middle infield.

Of course, the most interesting part of this deal is the fact that the Red Sox and Yankees were willing to negotiate a deal. As ESPN Stats & Info points out, this is not common:

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports jokes that this will not change much:

Still, this deal adds another chapter to what has become one of the craziest deadlines in recent memory.

Perhaps a change of scenery will benefit both players, and their new teams can reap the benefits.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Jon Lester to A’s: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The Oakland A's have traded for one of the most talented pitchers in baseball in Jon Lester

The league confirmed the transaction between the American League clubs (via MLB Roster Moves):

Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan was first to report Lester had been traded from the Boston Red Sox. Alex Speier of WEEI.com quickly provided the details on the deal:

Passan later provided the specifics of the swap, in addition to his thoughts:

WCVB provides a photo of Lester hugging Red Sox owner Jon Henry:

Lester is in the midst of yet another fine season. The 30-year-old left-hander was selected to his third All-Star Game and has already reached double-digit wins. His sub-3.00 ERA is the lowest mark of his nine-year career.

The A's currently lead the Angels by 2.5 games in the American League West. It's clear they're looking to contain the Angels' high-powered lineup by trading one of the top power hitters in the game for one of the top overall pitchers.

Lester has bounced back beautifully since his 9-14 2012 campaign to show why he is one of the top players in the game. Since breaking out in 2008, he has been Boston's ace and a model of consistency.

Jonny Gomes is currently hitting .234 on the season with six homers and 32 RBI. It's difficult to expect him to fill the shoes of Yoenis Cespedes for the A's, but he has proven in the past to be a serviceable outfielder and hitter. 

In return for those two, the Red Sox obtain an emerging superstar in Cespedes, who is hitting .256 with 17 homers and 67 RBI this season. The recent Home Run Derby champion will be a major draw for Boston fans, who should expect to see his home run column increase dramatically at Fenway Park. It'll be fun for all to watch him take on the Green Monster with his extraordinary power.

Passan weighed in on the Red Sox's decision to trade for Cespedes, as well as his long-term future: 

Unfortunately, the Red Sox have been poor as a team in 2014 and have fallen to last place in the American League East. ESPN's Buster Olney reported that a deal was likely to happen:

The defending World Series champions decided to get some value for a player set to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Boston's loss simply becomes the A's gain as they are able to add an elite left-handed starter who has been red hot lately. Additionally, Lester has won two World Series titles and has loads of postseason experience.

For a squad hoping to finish the year strong and contend in the playoffs, this appears to be the perfect addition.

ESPN Stats and Info tweeted about just how good Lester has been in October:

The only downside is the pitcher's aversion to signing an extension with his new team. In fact, he explained before the deal was completed that he would be willing to re-sign with the Red Sox after the season regardless of what happened at the trade deadline, via Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe:

Why not? This is what I know. This is what I love. 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, and if that involves me, then so be it. If it doesn’t, I’ll keep running out there every five days and pitching. Hopefully in November we get something done.

Considering the Red Sox were able to get a decent return in this trade while also having a chance to bring Lester back for next season, this was a great move.

On the other side of the deal, Oakland gets a proven elite arm who immediately boosts the rotation. Even if Lester is ultimately a short-term rental, he can be the difference between the A's being a fringe playoff contender or a World Series contender.

This seems like a move that works out well for all parties involved.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Trades 2014: Recap and Grades for Latest Transactions Before Deadline

The MLB trade deadline is July 31 at 4 p.m. ET, but a number of teams did not wait until the last minute to complete deals.

With two months remaining in the regular season, a high percentage of organizations still believe they are in the hunt for a playoff spot. As a result, these squads have turned into buyers in an attempt to fill one or more major needs to become true contenders.

Although more transactions are likely to occur on the final day before the non-waiver deadline, here is a look at the deals that went down in the days prior with full grades for each.

 

Cubs Acquire from Red Sox LHP Felix Doubront for PTBNL

Most deadline trades involve at least one team fighting for a playoff spot, but both the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs are in last place in their respective divisions.

Still, the Cubs made a move to acquire 26-year-old pitcher Felix Doubront for a player to be named later, as confirmed by the team's official Twitter account:

Doubront has displayed plenty of potential early in his career, winning 11 games in each of the past two years as a starter. However, his effectiveness greatly reduced when he moved into the bullpen this season.

Red Sox manager John Farrell explained that his role caused problems, via Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago:

I don’t think he’s disinterested. There are others who have moved ahead of him in the rotation and opportunities presented themselves coming out of the bullpen. But if the role is not sitting well and affecting his pitching, there needs to be a different focus to realizing his potential and capabilities.

Doubront should now be able to get a chance at a fresh start for the Cubs. With his talent and youth, he has plenty of time to turn his career around.

Even better for Chicago is that the return for the trade is not expected to be too great, according to Jesse Rodgers of ESPN Chicago:

This is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Cubs, which is a good thing for a team in desperate need of young pitching.

On the other hand, the Red Sox might have given up too soon on a player still under team control for a few more years. His recent struggles are reason enough to trade him, but this is clearly an example of selling too low.

Grades: Boston B-, Cubs A-

 

Indians Trade RHP Justin Masterson to Cardinals for OF James Ramsey

After posting a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts in 2014 while dealing with injuries, Justin Masterson did not represent much value for the Cleveland Indians, especially as a pending free agent this offseason. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports previously reported that they were trying hard to deal the 29-year-old pitcher:

The organization was able to find a trade partner in the St. Louis Cardinals, as it reported on Twitter:

James Ramsey does not represent tons of upside as a 24-year-old outfielder in Double-A. However, he is hitting .300 this season and should be able to at least reach the majors, even if it is as a bench player.

Considering Masterson was not helping Cleveland much, this is a good way to get some value for a player on his way out.

Meanwhile, this is also a good deal for the Cardinals as they are able to bolster their rotation going forward. The squad has dealt with numerous injuries to the pitching staff and can use an experienced player who can provide an upgrade.

Even though Masterson has struggled this season, he is only a year removed from posting a 3.45 ERA with 14 wins while earning an All-Star appearance. If he can regain some of his ability from last season, he could be a steal for the Cardinals.

No matter what happens, both sides made a smart move in this trade.

Grades: Indians A, Cardinals A

 

Dodgers Get 2B Darwin Barney from Cubs for RHP Jonathan Martinez

The Cubs were quite active this week, dealing Darwin Barney for what at the time was a player to be named later. The Los Angeles Dodgers later confirmed Jonathan Martinez would be on the other side of the trade:

Of course, Jesse Spector of Sporting News speculated on the returning player before it was announced:

Barney batted just .208 in a full season in 2013 and then managed a .230 batting average before being sent down to Triple-A. He is a great fielder at second base, but that does not make up for his lack of ability at the plate.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are already set in the middle infield with Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez. Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Barney is not even going to help out the major league club:

The deal would make sense if Los Angeles was keeping him as a late-game defensive replacement, but he is obviously not needed in this role. 

On the other hand, Martinez has shown good potential as a 20-year-old pitcher in Single-A. He posted a 3.47 ERA in 19 starts for the Great Lakes Loons and has done a good job of keeping walks low. 

Even if Martinez does not become a star, this should still end up being a quality trade for the Cubs, who have more than enough middle infielders ready to play in the future.

Grades: Los Angeles C-, Chicago A

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Trade Deadline 2014: Date, End Time, Hottest Rumors, Predictions and More

Although the World Series is decided in October, the end of July is often one of the most important parts of the MLB season.

Teams use the days, hours and sometimes minutes leading up to the trade deadline to negotiate a move that can bring them a game-changing player and possibly help them win a title. At the very least, these deadline deals affect the final playoff push for many organizations.

Conversely, the franchises that are out of contention remain in the headlines as they look to improve their rosters going forward.

This makes the trade deadline an event that every fan should follow as much as possible.

 

Non-Waiver Trade Deadline Info

Date: Thursday, July 31

Time: 4 p.m. ET

 

Latest Rumors and Predictions

Dodgers Clearing Excess Outfielders

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in first place in the division and are looking to do whatever they can to improve for the playoff push. Interestingly, it might be bigger to remove a player than to add one.

Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp have been rotating time in the outfield, and it is hurting all of them to lose at-bats.

ESPN's Buster Olney reports this could lead to a trade of one of the veterans:

He also adds that it might be difficult to part with Kemp:

On the other hand, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that Crawford is also on the table:

The problem is that neither player has been especially impressive this season, and they are both owed a lot of money over the next few years. Getting any team to take on this responsibility appears to be a long shot.

Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston reports that the Boston Red Sox are considering a swap for Jon Lester, but it seems very unlikely this happens unless the Dodgers are also giving up a prospect. Even with Boston's large budget, the cost might not be worth it.

Los Angeles will have to eat a great deal of the contract in any move, losing the value of a potential trade.

Prediction: Dodgers remain aggressive at deadline but cannot move any of the outfielders.

 

Phillies Trying to Deal Marlon Byrd 

A quality hitter on a losing team always seems to get dealt at the trade deadline. The fact that Marlon Byrd has been crushing the ball at the plate with 20 home runs on the season should make him even more appealing on the market.

Unfortunately, there have been some snags in the plan. According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, the Kansas City Royals and the Seattle Mariners were the two most interested teams, but each of them is on Byrd's four-team no-trade list. Byrd explained his reasoning for each:

With Seattle, I know they went and got [Robinson] Cano last year, but I don't think anybody in baseball saw them being where they are. And Kansas City, I didn't think they'd trade for me because they've always had outfield depth in their organization. So it's just one of those things where I kind of lucked out. So I can control my destiny just a little bit.

Just because Byrd put the squad on the no-trade list, it does not mean that a deal is impossible. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports explained what it will take for a move to Seattle to happen:

The outfielder is owed $8 million next season and could make another $8 million with the option in 2016. This alone is likely to keep any team out of the running.

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports that the other teams are unwilling to spend too much for a deal either:

The good news for Philadelphia is that a team is likely to become desperate enough to make a move once the deadline creeps up. It might not be for a great prospect in return, but at least it will take away the unwanted contract.

Prediction: Mariners trade for Marlon Byrd and agree to pick up option.

 

Justin Masterson on the Block

Over the last few years, Justin Masterson has been one of the most inconsistent pitchers in the majors. His ERA has gone from 4.70 to 3.21 to 4.93 to 3.45 in consecutive seasons. This year is one of the bad ones, totaling a 5.51 in 19 starts.

As a result, the Cleveland Indians are open to trading the pitcher, according to Passan:

Masterson has been out since the beginning of July with a knee injury, but he is ready to return to the rotation after a mediocre rehab start. The good news is he was confident about getting back to the majors. Manager Terry Francona explained, "He was pretty strong in his opinion that he was ready and that another [minor league start] wouldn't help him," via Zack Meisel of Cleveland.com.

This will be after the trade deadline, which hurts the organization's ability to showcase what the starter can do when healthy. Still, it might be a decent option for a team looking for a buy-low candidate who obviously has plenty of talent.

Unfortunately, the asking price for Cleveland might end up being too high for any team to complete a deal.

Prediction: Justin Masterson remains with the Indians until the end of the year.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com