Angels’ Mike Trout Second-Youngest Player to Take Home All-Star Game MVP Honors

After racking up five total bases, two RBI and a run scored on Tuesday, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim became the second-youngest player to be awarded All-Star Game MVP honors, per MLB.com.

Only Ken Griffey Jr. won the award at an earlier age, as he was 106 days younger than Trout when he took home the MVP trophy in 1992.

The Angels' center fielder posted a rare stat line on his way to earning the Ted Williams MVP award, becoming the second player ever to collect a triple, double and two or more RBI in an All-Star Game, per ESPN Stats and InfoEarl Averill of the Cleveland Indians was the first, but he recorded one more RBI than Trout in the 1934 edition of the Midsummer Classic.

Trout, along with Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, joined the brief list of players with two extra-base hits and two or more RBI on Tuesday. Out of the 20 players who have accomplished the feat in an All-Star Game, Trout is the third youngest on the list, behind only Griffey and Williams.

With the achievement under his belt, Trout became the first American League player to reach this line since fellow Angel Garret Anderson did it back in 2003. Anderson collected MVP honors in that game as well, representing the most recent Angel before Trout to take home the award.

Over his first three All-Star Game appearances, the 22-year-old Trout has gone 4-for-7 at the dish. To date, he's one of six Angels players to record a multi-hit evening in the Midsummer Classic and one of only four to take home an MVP award.

 

All stats courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise specified.

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Breaking Down the 5 Most Likely Impact MLB Trades Post-All-Star Break

It's an annual inevitability: The closer we get to the July 31 trade deadline, the more rumors will swirl.

Of course, not all rumors are created equal. Every team has needs; buyers want elite talent, and sellers want bushels of top-tier prospects. And for every need, someone will concoct a scenario—some reasonable, some far-fetched, some outright laughable.

As fun as it is to speculate, though, trades rarely get off the ground unless they make sense for both clubs involved. There are only so many buyers and only so many sellers—and only so many good matches between them.

So, as the 2014 deadline approaches, which potential impact players are most likely to change uniforms, and where are they liable to land?

With the usual caveat that rumors, even when confirmed by reliable sources, are fluid, fickle things, let's take a look...

 

 

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Yankees’ Derek Jeter Becomes Oldest Player with 2 Hits in an All-Star Game

After going 2-for-2 at the plate in his 14th and final All-Star Game appearance, Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees became the oldest player ever to record multiple hits in the Midsummer Classic, per MLB Stat of the Day.

At 40 years old, Jeter surpassed the mark set by the Boston Red Sox's Carl Yastrzemski, who collected two singles in the 1979 contest at the age of 39.

The Yankee captain led off the bottom of the first inning with a line-drive double off Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals, which represented Jeter's first extra-base hit in the All-Star Game since he homered during the 2001 contest. Jeter then proceeded to set the milestone in the third frame with a single to right field off the Cincinnati Reds' Alfredo Simon.

In addition to being the oldest player to log multiple hits, Jeter became just the third player 40 or older to lead off the game for their squad, joining the company of Willie Mays (1971) and Pete Rose (1981), according to MLB.com.

The multi-hit game also bumped Jeter's All-Star Game batting average to .481 (13-for-27), which is the second-highest career average for players with a minimum of 25 plate appearances. Only Charlie Gehringer of the Detroit Tigers has posted a better mark in the Midsummer Classic, batting .500 (10-for-20) over six straight appearances from 1933 to 1938.

Over 14 career All-Star Game selections, Jeter has racked up 13 total hits, leaving him tied for fifth on the all-time list. Overall, Willie Mays paces the club with 23 total base knocks due in large part to six multi-hit outings. Stan Musial's 20 hits are good for second on the list, and he's followed by Ted Williams and Nellie Fox, both of whom have collected 14 hits in such contests, per MLB.com.

Meanwhile, five other players match Jeter's 13 total All-Star Game hits, but The Captain's 29 plate appearances are the fewest among the entire group.

The Yankees' all-time hits leader continues to excel on the biggest stages, and Tuesday's Midsummer Classic once again proved to be no exception.

All stats courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise specified.

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Updated Texas Rangers Top 10 Prospects

Major League Baseball’s 2014 Midsummer Classic is in the books, and it is time to update the list of the Texas Rangers' top 10 prospects.

The club from Arlington has struggled for most of the season, finishing the first half 19 games under .500 and 21 games back of the Oakland A’s in the AL West. Although it is turning into a season to forget, the organization's young stars are giving them hope for the future.

If you are just joining us, the original top 10 list was made at the beginning of MLB’s spring training. Each player was given a stock report throughout the season, which is part of their new ranking.

This updated ranking is based mostly off of each player’s individual statistics. The prospect’s projected debut year will also play a small part.

Each profile will include the player's season statistics, previous ranking and his projected call-up time from MLB.com.

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Ben Zobrist Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Rays Star

Updates from Thursday, July 17

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports provides the latest Ben Zobrist buzz:

According to Jon Morosi of FOXsports.com, Seattle also has talked about the Rays' superstar pitcher David Price as well as Zobrist, and such a combo certainly would transform the Mariners. However, to this point, Zobrist has been the main focus of the talks, with those discussions going on for weeks, league sources say.

Younger utilityman Nick Franklin is someone who's come up in talks with the Rays, and he'd fit Tampa as someone who might be able to do some of the things Zobrist does. He is from Orlando, and wouldn't mind such a move home.

Original Text:

Ben Zobrist has been one of the more valuable players in baseball over the past few years, which makes it no surprise teams across the league are looking to add him before the 2014 MLB trade deadline.   

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports 1 reports that the Seattle Mariners are the latest team interested in acquiring the Tampa Bay Rays utility man:

While this deal would make sense for a team that desperately needs to add a bat to keep up in the American League playoff race, the squad will have some serious competition. As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports, "The Giants are considered atop the teams most interested in 2B/RF Ben Zobrist; the Reds and Mariners among others."

Chris Haft and Ryan Hood of MLB.com note that San Francisco would love to have either Zobrist or ace pitcher David Price, and some recent scouting indicates that a move is possible:

The already active speculation about the Giants' interest in Tampa Bay handyman Ben Zobrist has increased. [...]

The Rays are believed to have scouted the Giants' Double-A Richmond affiliate thoroughly, adding to the Zobrist/Price speculation.

San Francisco second baseman Marco Scutaro has battled chronic back issues, and the team has struggled to fill his spot. Zobrist could be a quality option.

Despite a relatively down year, the assorted interest in Zobrist is completely justified. The switch-hitter knows how to help his team with his .352 on-base percentage to counter the fact he has just six home runs at the All-Star break.

Although you can blame the constant trade talk for a relatively low .266 batting average and little power, he explained that he simply needs to push through the dog days of summer, via Topkin:

I'm just searching a little bit. I've been searching for a while. At some point, it's got to come around. It always does. But obviously it's late June. It's a battling time. You've got to keep battling. Whether things are going well with the team or not well, you have to keep working hard and trust that it's going to come around.

No matter what he does at the plate, the two-time All-Star helps out as an above-average fielder at multiple positions. In 2014, Zobrist has started games at second base, shortstop and both corner outfield spots. In his career, he has played every position except pitcher and catcher.

ESPN's Jim Bowden argues why this would make him a great addition for the Cincinnati Reds:

No matter where he lands, the new manager will be able to find a role for him somewhere on the field to help the organization. Of course, you can expect this high demand to drive the price up for any deal to be finalized.

At 33 years old, Zobrist still has upside. He also can remain under team control through the 2015 season on a reasonable $7.5 million team option. For a contending team in need, he could be a huge asset down the stretch.

 

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

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

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Nats’ Anthony Rendon Doesn’t Watch Baseball Because It’s ‘Too Long and Boring’

You know what’s more fun than watching baseball on television? Documentaries on the horrors of trench warfare. 

This is the opinion of Washington Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon, who told Washington Post reporter Jason Butt that he’d rather watch the History channel than suffer through the marathon experience of a televised baseball game. 

Butt recently interviewed Rendon for a piece about being snubbed for the National League’s ASG roster. In an unexpected admission, Rendon told the reporter he never watched the All-Star game as a kid and rarely watches the sport in general.

“I don’t watch baseball,” Rendon said. “It’s too long and boring.”

While it’s ironic to hear this from a guy who makes his livelihood playing baseball, it is important to note the distinction between participating and watching a sport. 

I’ll play kickball, but I’m not going to watch yuppies sip summer shandies and boot rubber balls for three-and-a-half hours on television. 

Rendon also admitted that baseball is basically off limits in his downtime. When the 24-year-old returns home to see his family, they have an agreement that no one will bring up his job.

Clearly, there is a separation between work and home in the Rendon family, and I’ll never begrudge someone who wants to leave business at the office. 

Rendon is a player, not a watcher. If he prefers to watch The Story of Us instead of a four-hour Derek Jeter retirement jambaroo, who are we to blame him?

 

Follow me on Twitter for more sports and pop culture news.

 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Deal Of The Day: 82% Off On Xcode & Swift Developer Bundle

redesign_xcode

We’re seeing lots of deals on e-learning these days because you guys seem to respond well to them. It looks like a good number of you are looking to either start coding, or brush up on your skills, so you might want to take a look a the Xcode & Swift Developer Bundle up today.

As you progress through the lessons, you’ll produce 20 App Store-ready apps for iOS 7 and 20 apps for iOS 8 – all while learning app development skills as quickly as possible. It covers all the bases, from design, to coding to uploading to the App Store (for iOS 7 only). This is the all-in-one development course you need to become an app developer.

You can make an app in 1 hour and upload to the app store using iOS 7.

OR – get a head start on developing iOS 8 apps with over 25 hours of content available today.

Normally these courses would cost $499, but you can have them for $89.

[ 82% Off On Xcode & Swift Developer Bundle ]

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Ian Kennedy, Jonathan Papelbon and More

The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching, and while some teams are heavily seeking additional components for a postseason run, others have become clearinghouses in an effort to unload their larger salaried players.

It's generally easy to determine which of these categories each franchise will fall in—simply take a look at its current league standing—however, there are always some surprises out there each year.

Let's take a look at which teams are looking to offload some notable players, and which ones are aiming to acquire their services.

 

Ian Kennedy

With a 41-54 record this season, the San Diego Padres are certainly a team looking to make a deal—or several—heading into the trade deadline.

One player rumored to be in trade discussions is right-handed pitcher Ian Kennedy. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, one team appears to be out of the mix for the pitcher:

While the Los Angeles Angels couldn't quite get things done, other playoff contenders will certainly be coveting the righty. So far this season, Kennedy has looked solid, appearing in 20 games and accumulating a 3.47 ERA with 133 strikeouts while allowing 49 runs off 114 hits.

As a side note from Rosenthal's tweet, the Angels and Padres are still in talks about Huston Street, a closer who's accumulated 24 saves this season while accruing a 1.09 ERA and 34 strikeouts while allowing just 18 hits and four runs.

 

Jonathan Papelbon

The Philadelphia Phillies are currently in dead last in the NL East with a 42-53 record and appear ready to deal some players.

One such player rumored to be involved in trade talks is closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Papelbon has been vocal with his displeasure of the Phillies and would welcome a trade to a contending team, according to a tweet from Fox Sports MLB:

He may get his wish, as the 54-43 Los Angeles Dodgers are interested, according to Mark Saxon of ESPN:

Papelbon is having a tremendous season to this point, boasting a 1.21 ERA, 22 saves and 33 strikeouts while allowing just five runs off 23 hits in 38 appearances. With the Dodgers looking to make a deep postseason run, the move would make plenty of sense.

 

Bartolo Colon

Bartolo Colon may be 41 years old, but over the course of the season he's proved his stuff is still there.

Colon has an 8-8 record in 18 appearances this season with a 3.99 ERA and 89 strikeouts against 57 runs off 127 hits. He could still serve as a rotational piece for a contending team, and perhaps the New York Mets are thinking of offloading him.

Although, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post, no one has called just yet:

One other thing that seemed a bit interesting was the fact that New York is "unsure" if it will go after a bat. You'd think the team wouldn't be in position to go after players given its 45-50 record.

But, as we know, stranger things have happened near the trade deadline.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

St. Louis Cardinals: 3 Holes Cards Must Address at the Deadline

As St. Louis gears up for the final 66 games of the regular season, a strong push for the playoffs is the main focus. The race for the National League Central Division is closer than it has been all season.

Having taken two of three from Milwaukee before heading into the All-Star break, St. Louis (52-44) sits a game behind the division leaders. The Cardinals are in a prime position for an epic battle for a spot in this year’s postseason tournament.

However, with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline two weeks out, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak will be a busy man for the foreseeable future. I wouldn’t be surprised if he barricades himself in the office, crunching numbers and working the phones. I imagine sleep will be hard to come by for Mozeliak.

After all, there is plenty of work to do.

The Cardinals have plenty of needs as the trade deadline approaches. Most already know the offense has been a vast disappointment thus far. And the torn ligament in Yadier Molina’s thumb that required (possibly season-ending) surgery and sidelined him for eight to 12 weeks only further complicated matters.

Injuries to starting pitchers Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia have left the rotation hurting. And the power outage from sluggers Matt Holliday and Allen Craig has kept the offense in neutral.

So let’s take a deeper look into the biggest vacancies the Cardinals need to fill at the deadline.

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MLB Teams Who Need More Help Before the Trade Deadline

If we've learned anything about baseball over the years, it's that there's always a "Help Wanted" sign hanging outside every general manager's office.

Ineffectiveness and injuries have a way of ruining even the best-laid plans for a contending team, and that always makes for some interesting rumors and speculation as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches on July 31.

Whether it's a major upgrade at a key position or merely adding reinforcements to the bench, nearly every contending club in baseball has at least one glaring area of weakness that needs to be addressed before the stretch run.

What follows is a look at 10 contending clubs that need more help before the calendar flips to August.

 

*Unless otherwise noted/linked, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and are current through games of July 13.

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Game of Phones: An Iron Throne for Your Phone

Game of Thrones Phone Stand

Who knew you could make something this awesome from styrofoam, cocktail swords, foam tape, and lots of hot glue? A dude who goes by the username of tumb1r was bored one day, so we he went and made a miniature iron throne for his phone using the stuff we mentioned earlier. Okay, so he wasn’t actually bored, because he set out to make one from the get-go, but what he did here is nothing short of impressive.

Hit the break for pictures of the mobile iron throne while it was in the making.

Game of Thrones Phone StandA

 

Game of Thrones Phone Stand B

Game of Thrones Phone Stand C

Just imagine how much more awesome the iron throne stand would be if it has a built-in charger. A GOT-inspired dock for my phone? Yeah, I’d definitely want one.

You can check out the full gallery on Imgur.

VIA [ Neatorama ]

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Fantasy Baseball: Most Sustainable First-Half Breakout Performances

Questioning everything comes with the territory for successful fantasy baseball players. Just because things are going well today doesn’t mean it will stay that way tomorrow, so managers are constantly waiting for the bottom to fall out on their prized possessions.

That skepticism often yields rational decision-making that pays off in the long run. Anyone owning Nelson Cruz or Mark Buehrle are wise to test the market while it’s hot and attempt to sell high. Such thinking, however, has become so mainstream that gamers always look to cash out, occasionally relinquishing a true breakout star.

Anybody set on pawning off these six first-half studs is making a mistake. Every player has his price, and a wise fantasy GM will cater to his or her squad’s specific needs down the stretch, so this isn’t to advocate placing a giant “not for sale” sign on these guys.

Just don’t push the issue in fear of a major second-half decline. These guys have taken significant strides upward that should last going forward. A couple are budding young stars beginning to realize their potential. Others have changed their approach and were rewarded with tangible results.

A promoted role catalyzed one breakout. A change of scenery will continue to spark another, and the fantasy numbers have caught up to the sabermetrics suggesting stardom throughout less promising production on the surface.

These players were not often early-round selections entering the 2014 campaign, but expect them to fly up the draft boards next year once they pick up where they left off during the season’s closing months.

 

Note: Advanced statistics are courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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Fierce Fashion: Jeans Distressed By Tigers, Lions, and Bears

Zoo Jeans

Got a passion for fashion? Well, so do the animals at the Kamine Zoo in Hitachi City, Japan. A volunteer group called the Mineko Club teamed up with the zoo to create the Zoo Jeans which are truly like no other. These distressed pants are ripped and customized by none other than the tigers, lions, and bears of the zoo!

The handlers basically wrapped the animals’ favorite toys–rubber balls and old tires–in denim and gave it back to them. After they’re done gnawing and clawing at their denim-wrapped toys, the denim was then used to make the Zoo Jeans.

Zoo Jeans1

Only a limited number of jeans were made. They were sold at a charity auction to raise funds for the Kamine Zoo and for the World Wildlife Fund. You can check out the clip below to see the making of the Zoo Jeans, starring the ferociously playful animals from Kamine.

VIA [ C|NET ]

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Beacon Yoga Mat Helps You Get Those Positions Right

Beacon Yoga Mat

A lot of people post photos of themselves doing all sorts of yoga poses all the time, making it look oh-so-easy and effortless in their shots, but it isn’t as easy as it looks. If you’ve tried it (especially one of those headstand poses), then you know what I mean.There’s a lot of emphasis placed on getting the position right, because holding a pose when you’re doing it all wrong might cause an injury.

If you can’t do yoga with a friend or in a class where others will be able to help you out, then the next best thing is the Beacon yoga mat. It’s an interactive mat embedded with LEDs and a pressure sensor that lets you know when your hands or feet aren’t where they should be.

Beacon Yoga Mat0

If you’re applying too much pressure, those areas on the mat turns red. If you’re in the wrong position, areas on the mat turn violet to indicate the right one. And when you’re doing it correctly, the mat turns green.

You can follow the development of the Beacon yoga mat here.

 

VIA [ Incredible Things ]

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New York Mets’ Trade Deadline Big Board: Ranking the Top Targets

The New York Mets have gone on a run recently, winning eight of their last 10 to give fans hope of playoff contention this season. However, they are still seven games out of first place in the National League East, and they could be better off selling at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline with their eyes on competing in 2015.

Below is a big board of prospects the Mets could realistically target if they are sellers at the deadline. The prospects are from teams that have needs which could be filled by the Mets' pitching depth, or clubs that could be interested in starter Bartolo Colon or second baseman Daniel Murphy.

While some of the prospects mentioned are elite and would change the Mets’ fortunes in the near future, others are less exciting but are realistic returns.

It is also possible that the Mets could try to buy at the deadline, but this big board is just for the purposes of targeting prospects whom the Mets could get if they are out of contention.

 

1. Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers

If the Mets are in selling mode, trading for Joc Pederson makes all the sense in the world.

He’s a major league-ready corner outfielder with power and would be under team control for a long time, which makes sense for the Mets financially.

However, he would cost the Mets dearly in terms of talent. There is a conundrum the Mets are beginning to face: whether or not it makes sense for them to trade their pitching depth for bats or instead hold on to their arms because of the old adage of “you can’t have too much pitching.”

Pederson would make sense for the Mets whether or not they are in contention, as he is a major league-ready, impact bat, but the Los Angeles Dodgers would only trade him for a valuable major league asset. That means it would cost the Mets someone like lefty Jon Niese—whose trade value is diminished as long as the health of his throwing shoulder is in question—and right-hander Dillon Gee.

It’s also unclear whether or not one of the Mets' established starters would be enough to pry Pederson away from the Dodgers.

It makes sense for Los Angeles to trade Pederson because it doesn't have room for him in its outfield and arguably would be better off solidifying its rotation this season. That being said, the Dodgers already have a deep roster and could be comfortable standing pat, keeping Pederson in the minors until a spot opens up.

 

2. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are loaded with position players and shortstops who are either major league ready or just a step away. The Mets would kill to have just one of the Cubs’ stars-in-waiting, with Javier Baez near the top of their list.

The Mets could also entertain trading for the Cubs' current starting shortstop, Starlin Castro, but this is a list dedicated to prospects—not current major leaguers—the Mets would target. Also, ESPN’s Adam Rubin reported recently that it is believed in the industry that trading for Baez is more realistic for the Mets than trading for Castro.

Baez is a polarizing player. He has arguably the highest ceiling in all of the minor leagues, as he has elite power for a player of any position, which is a tool that becomes even more valuable if he can remain at shortstop.

However, it’s also realistic that he never translates his talent into major league production, and it’s likely that at some point in the future he’ll have to switch positions, and in doing so he'll become less valuable.

The biggest issue with the Mets trading for Baez is that the Cubs are building for the future, and if the Mets make this deal, that most likely means their season is lost and they’ll also have the same mentality.

That means the more established major league pitchers the Mets could deal would appeal less to the Cubs than to other teams, while the Cubs would most certainly want a pitcher like Noah Syndergaard in return.

If the Mets are sellers at the deadline, they would almost certainly avoid trading their prized prospect, and regardless, prospect-for-prospect trades almost never happen because teams are much more comfortable with the risk of players already in their farm system, among other reasons.

Baez has the ability to change the Mets' outlook as a franchise with his talent, but there are a number of obstacles standing in the way of the Cubs dealing him to New York.

 

3. Franklin Barreto, Toronto Blue Jays

Franklin Barreto is different than the other prospects on this list in that he is further away from the big leagues. However, he is a prospect the Mets should target if they send Murphy to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Barreto is a Venezuelan shortstop playing in Low-A ball at just 18 years old. He signed as an international free agent in 2012 and looks like he has a tremendous future ahead of him.

Barreto exhibits an exceptional feel for hitting, and while many international players have issues with plate discipline, Barreto has a .400 OBP this season. He isn’t an immediate fix to the Mets' shortstop woes, but adding him to the farm system would be a major talent infusion.

The Mets already have talented young shortstops in the lower minors in Amed Rosario and Gavin Cecchini, but that shouldn’t stop them from trying to obtain Barreto from the Blue Jays in a Murphy trade. Especially when acquiring guys from the lower levels, the focus should be on adding the best players rather than worrying about organizational depth at a specific position.

Even though Barreto is far from the major leagues, he is more talented than the prospects closer to the pros whom the Mets could acquire for Murphy. By trading for a talented player in the lower levels, the Mets would be taking a bigger risk, but they would also be getting a much greater upside possibility.

 

4. Chris Taylor, Seattle Mariners

While many Mets fans think of Brad Miller or Nick Franklin as young shortstops the Mets should try to acquire in a trade with the Seattle Mariners, Chris Taylor could make the most sense as a target.

Taylor, a fifth-round pick in 2012 out of the University of Virginia, has solid tools across the board. There aren’t questions about his ability to play shortstop at the big league level like there are with Franklin, and he has a patient approach at the plate that would be appealing to the Mets.

Currently in Triple-A, he could be the Mets' shortstop very soon. While he has no elite tool like Baez’s power or Barreto’s hitting ability, he is a solid all-around player with no discernible flaws. He is a better option moving forward than Ruben Tejada and would be able to replace him as soon as this season.

Taylor would be a solid return for Colon. The Mariners are seven games over .500, and a solid starter like Colon would be enticing to them.

Colon will not get the Mets a star prospect in return because of his age (41), but Taylor has the ability to be a solid shortstop for a long time and is a realistic return for the veteran starter.

 

5. Randal Grichuk, St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals might be willing to part with outfield prospect Randal Grichuk at the trade deadline for Colon.

Grichuk made his major league debut this season, but it’s hard to see where he fits in the Cardinals’ future. St. Louis is already having problems finding a place for top prospect Oscar Taveras, and with a multitude of outfield options already in the organization, Grichuk is expendable.

Grichuk isn’t an elite prospect by any means, but he’s major league-ready and has some enticing tools. He has plus power and plays hard, and considering Colon’s value, he would be a nice return despite the swing-and-miss aspect of his hitting approach.

The Cardinals could really use Colon as they make their playoff push, and the Mets could take advantage of this by taking a chance on Grichuk, who could start in left field right now for New York.

 

All statistics courtesy Baseball-Reference.

Follow Sean on Twitter: @SCunninghamPG.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Do big cities make you more social?

Who you gonna call?

Lisbon: queen bee of Portugal. Credit: Lucag at Wikimedia Commons

Good news for the city mice out there – new research is claiming that people who live in bigger cities have larger social networks.

The study, carried out by researchers from MIT and the Santa Fe Institute, examined anonymised call information from the UK and Portugal to find out how many phone contacts (that is, “people you actually call”) phone owners had, and how often they communicated.

When they analysed the results, researchers found a “superlinear” link between city size and communication activity: as city size increases, residents’ total phone activity, and the total number of contacts they have between them, increase even more. 

The diagram below compares the phone contacts of an average inhabitant of Lisbon (population 564,657) to that of a resident of Lixa (population 4,233). The Lisbonian has twice as many contacts.

Credit: Kael Greco, MIT Senseable City Lab

Oddly enough, the researchers also found that, despite a higher number of contacts in larger cities, the likelihood of your friends or acquaintances knowing one another remains pretty much the same. (That’s what “average clustering coefficient” at the bottom of the image refers to. Catchy.) Essentially, you’ll find similar types of networks in all sizes of city; it’s just that people in bigger cities tend to have larger ones. The researchers call this the “village” effect. Carlo Ratti, one of the paper’s authors, says:

It seems that even in large cities we tend to build a tightly-knit community, or ‘village,’ around ourselves...In a real village, connections might be defined by proximity, while in a large city we can elect a community based on affinity, interest, or sexual preference.”

This fits in nicely with the theory of “Urban Tribes”, put forward by US journalist Ethan Watters: in large cities where we lack family or local community, we create our own.

There is, however, a catch. Or rather, a network of catches.

For a start, the researchers analysed 7.6 billion calls from landlines (remember those?) in the UK, from a single month in 2005. While this included calls from landlines to mobiles, they didn’t include any mobile-only data, despite the fact that in 2005, around 85 per cent of UK households were using mobile phones.

In Portugal, they analysed mobile phone calls from a single phone network for fifteen months from 2006 to 2007. Yet in each city, the largest group (always at least 10 per cent of the phone users) had only one contact. Mobile users in Sabugal, the country’s least populated city, had a median of only 4 contacts, while in Lisbon, the largest, it was 11. Over fifteen months, that’s not that many – either people are a lot lonelier than we realised, or mobile usage doesn’t offer a comprehensive guide to someone’s social life.

But the research is at least indicative of an upwards trend in phone interactions as cities get larger. According to the study’s website, the researchers hope that their findings could “elucidate the role of cities as accelerators of human integrations”, and so shed light on the spread of other things in cities – crime or disease, for example.

This is a preview of our new sister publication, CityMetric. We'll be launching its website soon – in the meantime, you can follow it on Twitter and Facebook.

‘Mr. Baseball, Bob Uecker’ Depicts a Genuine Man, Life Devoted to Much More

This week I had the opportunity to view an advanced screening of Mr. Baseball, Bob Uecker, which will air Thursday, July 17 at 7 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

The moving, hour-long special depicts the former big league catcher turned beloved Brewers' play-by-play broadcaster, Hall of Famer and unwavering funnyman.

More than a recounting of a life's journey from the field to the press box, it's a powerful story of how Uecker has stayed true to himself—compassionate and genuine with a profound appreciation for baseball, Milwaukee and the people he has met and influenced along the way.

The film is narrated by actor Tom Berenger and is brought to life through candid descriptions and warm memories by many of those on whom he has left his most personal mark.

Baseball and entertainment legends like Hank Aaron, Bob Costas, Dick Ebersol, Tim McCarver, Al MichaelsMajor League director David Ward and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig share their reverent insights about his life on, off and above the field in this must-watch television event.

Do yourself a favor: Don't miss out on this one.


"To make people laugh is a good thing."

It's a simple line uttered by Bob Uecker early in Mr. Baseball, but it's more than that. With its profound meaning as the undercurrent of both the film and Uecker's life, it's a personal philosophy.

If self-deprecation, humility and gratitude are the clearest indicators of honor among men who have played a game in which failing seven out of 10 times is considered a ringing success, then Uecker unequivocally sits high at the top.

Or maybe he'd just tell you he "must be in the front row."

It's fitting then—after compiling a laughable career .200 batting average with 14 home runs and 74 RBI over six major league seasons with four different teams—that Ueckerin his 44th year of broadcasting, is still sitting high in the Brewers' press box.

From his front-row perch, he has been delivering the gospel of Milwaukee baseball since 1971 in the state where he is larger than life.

So how does a man with one of the shortest-lived and worst statistical careers in MLB history end up with a statue in his honor both outside and inside Miller Park?

Perhaps because what's funny is also what's true, and—as Mr. Baseball informs us—even the late comedic legend Johnny Carson said Uecker was the funniest person he ever met.

Rather than doubt himself due to athletic "futility," as broadcast partner and friend Bob Costas referred to it, Uecker has kept it all in perspective and simply shown appreciation. It's why, before Game 2 of the 1964 World Series, Mr. Baseball picked up a marching band's abandoned tuba, slung it over his shoulder and used it to shag fly balls in batting practice.

It's the reason he found a rarefied celebrity despite additionally failing as a minor league scout, accidentally spilling dinner on his scouting reports—and then infamously mailing them to the big league ballclub nevertheless.

He became the play-by-play voice of the Brew Crew by the '70s, and by the '80s even George Steinbrenner was recruiting him as a broadcaster.

He hosted Saturday Night Live in 1984; he turned beer commercials into bites of comic genius; he made Major League a cult classic; and he made everyone cry at his Hall of Fame speech in 2003—because they were laughing so hard.

"I don't think 'celebrity' means anything to him to the extent that he appreciates it, he enjoys it. But he doesn't need it," Al Michaels remarked in the MLB Network special.

As a broadcaster, Uecker became so popular so quickly that Brewers relievers would turn on the radio in the bullpen. What made him so likable was maybe best summed up by Michaels, who said Uecker was the same on the air as he was off of it.

Mr. Baseball shows us that Uecker isn't in the Hall of Fame because he's funny.

"You really feel the game through him," Costas expressed.

Said Major League director David Ward: "The thing that makes Bob so likable to people, is that he's genuine." 

Hall of Famer Robin Yount added: "He's...just being himself."

And how about that at age 80, Uecker has been doing it for this long: "Baseball is his life, and Milwaukee is his life. That's a tough combination to give up," said Bud Selig.

"I love talking to people...I love doing what I do on the air...I don't know what else I would do!" Uecker explained in his own words.

"When you've done something for as long as I have...at a certain time every day, I'm supposed to be here. Your family knows it. Your wife knows it. Everybody knows it. You're gonna be here."

"Baseball was always the bottom line."

 

Peter F. Richman is a New York Yankees Featured Columnist and Bleacher Report Copy Editor. For more opinion, discussion, debate and analysis, reach out to him via Twitter:   

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Top MLB Prospect Call-Up Radar Report, Week 16

The 2014 season has seen a number of notable prospects receive call-ups to the major leagues. Undoubtedly, there are more to comeand soon.

Highly regarded youngsters like George Springer, C.J. Cron, Marcus Stroman, Jonathan Singleton and Gregory Polanco have been starting for their respective clubs for quite some time now. Others like Oscar Taveras, Taijuan Walker and Kevin Gausman (no longer prospect-eligible) have been shuttling up and down between the minors and majors.

With less than a month to go until the trade deadline, there should be plenty of promotions of prime prospects once the wheeling and dealing opens up 25-man roster spots. That's just what's starting to happen with the rebuilding Chicago Cubs, who brought up infield/outfield prospect Arismendy Alcantara and right-hander Kyle Hendricks not long after trading away starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers decided that Marco Estrada had given up enough home runs as part of their rotation—his 27 homers allowed are by far the most in baseball—so they've turned to their top prospect, Jimmy Nelson. The right-hander's outing just before the All-Star break didn't go all that well, but he should get another start to bounce back.

But as was the case with Andrew Heaney of the Miami Marlins and Domingo Santana of the Houston Astros, not every call-up works out right away. Heaney, a 23-year-old left-hander, went 0-3 with a 6.53 ERA in his first four big league starts. Meanwhile Santana, a 21-year-old outfielder, went 0-for-13 with 11 strikeouts in his initial four games. Both are back in Triple-A to work on some things.

Regardless, they could be back in the bigs soon enough, and more impact young talent will join the mix. Who will be the next to reach the major leagues? In order to predict estimated times of arrival this season, we've classified the prospects on this list using the following color-coded scale:

  • Red: September call-up, at best.
  • Yellow: Call-up within a month.
  • Green: Call-up within a week/call-up is imminent.

Here's a look at the prospect call-up report for Week 16 of the 2014 MLB season.

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MLB Rumors: Analyzing All the Latest Whispers, News and Speculation

Two weeks remain until MLB's July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and things are starting to pick up.

After all, general managers across the league must now make the final determination as to whether or not their club is a contender or should prepare to play the rest of the season out in anticipation of the 2015 season. To be sure, it isn’t an easy decision to make.

So what new bits of gossip made their way around MLB over the last seven days?

Well, with the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby behind us, let’s take a look at the latest whispers, news and speculation around the game.

Of course, this won’t be an all-inclusive list. That would take a novel’s worth of reading to digest. Rather, some of the juicier bits will be examined.

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3 Blockbuster Deals Brian Cashman Should Be Proposing

Something has to be done with this New York Yankees team before a realistic playoff push can be made.

Brian Cashman has a tall task ahead of him. His roster is aging, decrepit and has few big-time assets to deal. His starting pitchers are nearly all on the mend, and the big money he spent this offseason really hasn't delivered that great of a return.

The Yankees were thought to be a contender for the playoffs in the wide open American League East this season. Now sitting at 47-47 at the All-Star break, the Bombers are one game back of the Toronto Blue Jays and five back of the Baltimore Orioles in the division.

To get the edge on these two clubs, Cashman will have to start making some calls.

For the Yankees to make the playoffs in what has been an overall disappointing season, Cashman needs to propose these three blockbuster trades.

 

Matt Kemp

Brett Gardner has quietly been fantastic. Jacoby Ellsbury has been steady, yet streaky from time to time. The Yankees can live with that. It's right field that has become an issue.

With Carlos Beltran constantly mending some sort of injury (freak or otherwise), Ichiro Suzuki has found time in right. While not a horrible hitter this season (.297/.347/.337), Ichiro offers no pop at all. Fifty-three of his 60 hits have been singles.

Alfonso Soriano has also been officially released, so that leaves the Yankees in a bit of a bind in the outfield. Youngster Rob Refsnyder is certainly an option if the Yankees want to let the kids learn this season, but if the team wants to contend, then going after another bat is the right move.

I suggest Matt Kemp.

The Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder hasn't seen regular playing time this season, as Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig have commanded nearly all of the at-bats. This has led to comments from his agent, Dave Stewart, that he'd be open to a trade, via Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal:

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.

While center field is Ellsbury's job, the thought of full playing time should intrigue Kemp. Even when Beltran returns, the 37-year-old is likely bound for DH duty. This leaves Kemp with nearly no competition in the field.

Kemp, 29, is hitting .269/.330/.430 with eight home runs, 35 RBI and 21 doubles in 305 at-bats this season. He won't be a free agent until after the 2019 season, so he is awfully controllable. Of course, he'll make at least $21 million per year for the rest of the deal.

Naturally, the Dodgers would have to pick up a bit of the tab in a deal. For Kemp and cash, the Yankees would be forced to part with top prospect Gary Sanchez, possibly along with a pitcher like Luis Severino. This should be enough to entice the Dodgers to make a deal.

 

Cliff Lee

While upgrading at the plate is important, shoring up the rotation is the priority. Cashman needs to do more than just bringing in Brandon McCarthy.

Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News offered an interesting take on possible negotiations between the Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies regarding Cliff Lee:

The 35-year-old lefty is expensive and rehabbing an elbow injury of his own, but the Phillies might not ask for top-level prospects if the Yankees were willing to assume the remaining $50 million or so on Lee's contract.

Lee is a free agent following the 2015 season, and he can certainly still be effective when healthy. Through 10 starts this year, he is 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA, 2.70 FIP and 1.279 WHIP. He doesn't walk many hitters and tends to keep the ball on the ground, so that will bode well in Yankee Stadium.

Acquiring Lee must be done if the Yanks don't have to deal top prospects. Assuming $50 million would be tough to swallow, but it's better than jeopardizing the future of the club.

Mason Williams (a lost cause at this point) and Greg Bird should be enough to get the Phillies to part with their lefty. Williams might find his talent again in the Phillies organization, and Bird is far enough away from the bigs that the Yanks shouldn't regret dealing him immediately.

Plus, for another full season of control of Lee, that's a fair price to pay.

 

Cole Hamels

The Phillies have two pitchers that the Yankees should be in play for, as Cole Hamels is probably also on Cashman's radar. Hamels is younger at age 30, under contract until after the 2018 season and has generally stayed quite healthy during his career.

For now, let's look at a Hamels deal apart from a deal for Lee.

To acquire solely Hamels from the Phils, Cashman would likely have to part with Sanchez, Severino and another prospect like Bird. Dellin Betances will probably be the first name general manager Ruben Amaro brings up in talks, but Cashman should scoff at that. Betances needs to stay in pinstripes.

Those three prospects could net the Yankees their man. Now let's say they go for a package deal of Lee and Hamels.

The Yanks would still have to take on Lee's salary. They would also still need to deal Sanchez, Severino and Bird. But now on top of that, Williams and possibly Jose Ramirez will get thrown into the mix. Those are five of the Yankees' best prospects for two left-handed aces.

While that's a tough pill for the farm system to swallow, remember that the team just spent big internationally and has retooled a bit on the farm. This is something that makes sense for the Bombers.

A potential rotation this year of Lee, Hamels, Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka (if they both return) would dominate the rest of the AL East.

Next season, a rotation of Lee, Hamels, Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Pineda or David Phelps would be just as good.

 

Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR

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