White Sox Looking to Grab Second-Half Momentum Despite Slim Postseason Chances

Fresh off of sending Chris Sale, Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez to Minneapolis for All-Star festivities, the Chicago White Sox began their post-All-Star break schedule by splitting six home games against the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals

With the team entering play July 25 at 49-54, Baseball Prospectus is understandably pessimistic about Robin Ventura’s club gaining any meaningful traction in the standings the rest of the way, giving the team a 1.5 percent chance to reach postseason play.

General manager Rick Hahn did yeoman’s work in turning a 99-loss team in 2013 into a team that’s made strides behind the additions of Abreu and Adam Eaton.

Sale, perhaps the best lefty in the AL with his 9-1 record and scant 2.03 ERA, and Abreu, the front-runner to be named AL Rookie of the Year after Masahiro Tanaka’s injury with his .290 average, 29 homers and 74 RBI, are obviously the two biggest reasons to be optimistic about the White Sox going forward.

Jose Quintana, armed with a 3.5 WAR despite a 5-7 record and a 3.15 ERA, gives the White Sox a vastly underrated lefty behind Sale as he hopes to surpass 200 innings for the second time.

A late-season return of Avisail Garcia, who’s recovering nicely from his April 9 injury in Colorado, would improve an offense that's averaging 4.22 runs. Acquired in last July’s three-way trade with the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox, which saw Hahn ship out Jake Peavy, Garcia hit his only two homers of the year the night before suffering his injury.   

According to Brian Sandalow of the Chicago Sun-Times, Garcia is making such good progress in his rehab that he could be close to going on a rehab assignment.

"Everything has been positive," he said. "They know what they’re doing, so they don’t want me to get hurt again. They just tell me to relax, easy, so now I’m good. They [checked] me out yesterday, and nothing hurts."

Sale and Quintana headline the staff, but the bullpen—hurt because of in-season injuries to Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom—needs to find a way to stabilize.

With the offseason trade of Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks and the setbacks Jones and Lindstrom have suffered, Ventura hasn’t had a set closer all year.

Looking to the second half of the season, ESPNChicago.com’s Doug Padilla said the organization’s goal is to remake its bullpen in the image of the Royals—as one that gets the job done consistently despite having the 13th-best ERA in all of baseball:

“That's a good bullpen,” said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, who had two hits off Shields and never got a chance against Davis or Holland since they combined to retire all six batters they faced. “It seems like once they get to the seventh, it's a challenge to get a runner on base, much less try to get a run in. That makes it more important to take advantage of the situations early on.”

Contrast that to the White Sox’s plan and there couldn’t be two more different scenarios. The White Sox rotate their closer and setup man on a daily basis, a plan done out of necessity since nobody has been able to hold down the ninth-inning spot.

The White Sox still have 10 games remaining with the division-leading Tigers, along with road trips against the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees. The other two AL division leaders, the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles, are part of the White Sox’s remaining home schedule—which also includes three games with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Baseball Prospectus estimates that the White Sox will go 27-32 the rest of the way, which would represent a 13-win improvement from 2013 with a 76-86 record.

Hahn surely will be getting calls on the likes of Gordon Beckham, Dayan Viciedo and John Danks as the July 31 trade deadline approaches and as he continues to put his fingerprints on the club. Whether or not Beckham, Viciedo and Danks are still with the organization Aug. 1, continuing to build momentum toward 2015 may come from those who are still with the organization for the season’s final two months.

Marcus Semien saw action earlier in the year and could get called up once again should Beckham get moved. Micah Johnson, who entered 2014 as the organization's sixth-ranked prospect, according to Baseball America, will be in Chicago sooner than later.

Sale, Abreu, Eaton, Garcia, Johnson and 2014 No. 3 overall pick Carlos Rodon represent the organization’s future. How quickly that future gets here may depend on the work Hahn gets done or doesn’t get done before July 31.

 

Blake Baumgartner, who has covered prep events as a freelancer for both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, can be reached on Twitter @BFBaumgartner.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Cole Hamels, Bartolo Colon and More

The July 31 MLB trade deadline is fast approaching, and each franchise currently finds itself in one of two categories: It's either a buyer or a seller. While contenders are looking to acquire top-tier talent in an effort to make a push for the playoffs, gutter-dwellers are aiming to offload players and their corresponding lucrative contracts.

This time of year is always interesting, as you just never know which familiar faces will wind up in new places. That's what makes speculation so fun.

Let's take a look at a few possible scenarios based on a few of the latest rumors to surface around the Web.

 

Cole Hamels to Boston Red Sox?

This scenario shatters the mold of what we're used to seeing prior to the trade deadline. Boston is sitting at 47-55 and in the cellar of the AL East; however, it appears the team is looking to buy.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweeted the recent news about a potential trade for Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels:

This report is a bit surprising since Matt Lombardo of NJ.com reported Wednesday that Philadelphia had "zero interest" in trading the pitcher.

Hamels is arguably Philadelphia's biggest trade chip. Despite owning a 5-5 record, the southpaw is having a solid season. He's currently maintaining a 2.72 ERA, allowing 102 hits and 40 runs while striking out 125 batters.

One issue here could be Hamels' current contract. He's in just the second year of his six-year, $144 million deal, according to Spotrac.com.

 

New York Mets to Offload Bartolo Colon?

With a 48-54 record, the Mets should be looking to reload for next year. One way to get things headed in that direction is to unload pitcher Bartolo Colon's two-year, $20 million contract.

Colon has been solid at times this season, holding a 4.03 ERA, allowing 135 hits and 63 runs and striking out 100 in 20 appearances. However, he's 41 years old and most likely isn't in the team's long-term plans.

Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported exactly what the Mets are willing to do in an effort to ship the pitcher elsewhere:

We are also told, via sources, that the Mets are willing to eat approximately $2 million what remains on Colon’s two-year, $20 million contract ($11 million next season). And given Colon’s current level of performance, it is not crazy to think he could find a one-year, $9 million deal this winter, if he were a free agent. Yeah, he’s 41, but he ain't pitching like it.

MLB tweeted some stats proving that Colon can still dish it:

There's not much of a market out there for Colon right now due to several names rumored to be available. However, once the deadline creeps closer and options are limited, certain teams could look to the aging veteran to fill a roster void.

 

Kurt Suzuki on the Move?

Minnesota Twins veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki could be on the move, as a couple of catcher-needy teams are rumored to be interested. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Baltimore Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals "are among teams showing trade interest."

The Cardinals are missing Yadier Molina, who is out until roughly September with a thumb injury. The Orioles are in a similar situation after losing Matt Wieters for the season due to issues with his elbow.

Darren Wolfson of ESPN.com tweeted what the Twins are looking for in return:

While Suzuki may be considered a short-term option for these teams, he brings plenty to the table. This season, he's batting a career-high .308 while accumulating 91 hits, 19 doubles, two home runs and 40 RBI. On the defensive side, he boasts a .994 fielding percentage, having committed just three errors and allowed two passed balls.

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Analyzing the Seattle Mariners’ Acquisition of Kendrys Morales

The Seattle Mariners made their first move of the trade-deadline season on Thursday, acquiring Kendrys Morales from the Minnesota Twins.

Greg Johns of MLB.com confirms that the Mariners sent reliever Stephen Pryor to the Twins in exchange for Morales:

Morales isn’t an impact bat, but he should be able to provide a slight improvement as a designated hitter at a low cost. It’s a sensible move for the Mariners to make, albeit a weird one after Morales rejected multiple contracts from the team in the offseason, including a $14.1 million qualifying offer.

Best-case scenario, Morales shakes off the rust from his late start to the season and matches his numbers from last year for the rest of the season. If Morales doesn’t turn it around, the Mariners are no worse off than before, either this year or for the future, as they didn’t give up much value to get him.

Morales signed with the Twins after the MLB draft, as he would no longer come at the cost of a compensation pick. Since debuting on June 9, Morales has hit .234/.359/.325 with just one home run.

Those numbers aren’t going to help Seattle’s woeful DH situation, so the Mariners are hoping Morales’ slow start is due to rust from not having a spring training. Morales has been a little better since July 7, raising his season average from .219 and collecting six doubles in that span.

The Mariners need Morales to hit well right away. Seattle is 2-5 since the All-Star break and has lost control of the second AL wild-card spot, as Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times highlights:

If Morales can even get close to his 118 wRC+ of last year over the rest of the season, the Mariners will be quite happy with the trade. With Michael Saunders out, Seattle has two healthy regulars in the lineup with wRC+ marks over the league average of 100.

Lloyd McClendon said that Morales can at least give some flexibility to a lineup that has been counting on Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager to do everything, via Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.

"He's a professional hitter. He gives us the opportunity to stretch out our lineup, so to speak. He's a nice fit, switch-hitter, hitting behind Robbie (Cano). ... He gives us options, what we want to do with (Kyle) Seager, where we want to hit him. I like it," he said.

Even if Morales continues to struggle, he comes at a low price. Pryor has upside, but he has not pitched well in Triple-A this season while recovering from major lat surgery.

The big concern is about Pryor’s velocity. His fastball currently sits at around 92 mph after averaging 96.2 in the 2012 season before the injury, according to FanGraphs.

Pryor could get healthy and become an effective reliever once again, but he wouldn’t have been an upgrade over anyone in the deep Mariners bullpen. Barring multiple injuries, Pryor wasn’t going to pitch again in the majors this year, as prospect Carson Smith is also waiting in Triple-A.

Morales’ addition will likely cost at-bats for Corey Hart as the team’s primary DH. Hart has been unable to get going after missing all of last season in addition to a lengthy stint on the disabled list earlier this year.

As a switch-hitter, Morales will likely be in the lineup every day as the DH. He has been considerably better against right-handers in his career, so a platoon with Jesus Montero (career .827 OPS versus left-handers) would make some sense, but the Mariners don’t seem too keen on giving Montero playing time.

Morales could potentially start at first base against lefties, although he is awful defensively. Johns confirmed that the current plan is to platoon Hart and Logan Morrison at first, with Morales playing if needed.

The only way this trade could hurt the Mariners is if they get complacent and make no other moves, as Morales is not enough on his own to key a playoff run. That doesn’t seem to be the case, as Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reports that Seattle asked about outfielder Drew Stubbs on Thursday:

Morales should offer a slight improvement at basically no cost to the Mariners. It’s not a flashy impact trade, but it makes sense.

All stats via FanGraphs.com, unless otherwise noted.

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What the New York Yankees Should Do for 2014 MLB Trade Deadline

The 2014 MLB trade deadline is right around the corner. Some teams are putting together rosters to propel them into the postseason, while others are selling talent to stock up on prospects. 

The New York Yankees are known to have very deep pockets and will do what it takes to win at any cost. Whom do you think the Yankees should add to help them climb their way to the top of the AL East?

Find out as Daniel Barbarisi of The Wall Street Journal breaks down the latest news as the trade deadline approaches.

 

*All stats accurate as of July 24.

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Giants Fans Start Kickstarter Campaign to Build Bronze Barry Bonds Statue

A group of San Francisco Giants fans is doing everything it can to honor baseball's all-time home run leader with a statue.

Barry Bonds slugged 762 home runs in his 22-year career, with 15 of those seasons played with the Giants. For most of his career, Bonds was a perennial All-Star and Most Valuable Player award candidate. 

Unfortunately for him, he became one of the faces of baseball's steroid era, which has kept him from getting inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

If Bonds can't get into Cooperstown, some Giants fans want to make sure he is properly honored in San Francisco.

A collection of Giants fans created a Kickstarter campaign to try to raise money for a bronze Bonds statue. The group's goal is to raise $60,000 by Aug. 21 so that an eight-foot statue can be built to honor the controversial star. If the goal of $60,000 is met, any additional money raised would be used to try to make the statue even bigger.

The location for a potential statue has not been determined, although the group wants it placed near AT&T Park. If the statue does indeed get built, it will be unveiled on Opening Day 2015. 

This project leaves us wondering one thing: Does Bonds deserve a statue in San Francisco?

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Giants-Dodgers Preview: Q&A with ESPN Baseball Tonight’s Aaron Boone

The Giants face their NL West division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, at home Friday. I spoke with Aaron Boone, 12-year MLB veteran and current analyst for ESPN's Baseball Tonight, to preview the important three-game series. 

 

Keely Flanagan: You had a memorable 2003 stint with the Yankees. How does the Dodgers-Giants rivalry compare to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry?

Aaron Boone: You know, especially now, I think it's comparable. At the peak of Red Sox-Yankees, and speaking on when I was there [on the Yankees] in 2003, and then when the Red Sox beat them in 2004, it was as big as anything in sports probably. I'm not sure people on the East Coast realize how big a deal Dodgers-Giants is. I think especially when you consider how potentially good those teams are, with recent playoff success, and the two teams now slugging it out in the National League West to win that division, it's a huge deal. 

 

KF: Why have the Giants been successful, winning two World Series championships in four years, while the Dodgers spend, spend, spend and have continually come up short?

AB: You know, I think it's important to separate the two regimes. The Dodgers are really in year two-and-a-half of the new regime. Last year, they went on a historic run to eventually run away with the National League West under this new setup they have where they've become the team that spends the most money, and where they've added whatever they've needed. It's a different situation. I think San Francisco has been one of the model organizations—you know, you think of St. Louis, you think of San Francisco—teams like that that just have a nice balance of homegrown people but also the financial wherewithal to bring in players from the free-agent market. The Giants have had tremendous stability with Brian Sabean as their general manager. He's one of the best in the game. You think about both of their title runs, both times they made really critical trade deadline moves. Sometimes it's been a big splash, sometimes it's been what's seemed like minor moves that ended up really contributing to world championships. 

 

KF: You mentioned making key trades at the right times for the Giants. Where is the biggest positional area of need for them right now and where can they look to fill these needs?

AB: It's going to be fun to watch Brian Sabean, because it seems each year he has a really great handle on what this team needs. It'll be interesting to see if he goes out to try and bolster the bullpen. And with Matt Cain down, this is a team that could use a starting pitcher. I think they'll be more inclined to go the starting pitching route, or even relief pitching for that matter. I would think they're one of the teams in the market to potentially upgrade some pitching. But you know Brian Sabean's out there too trying to upgrade in other areas. It might not be a huge move, but something that maybe strengthens his bench, or gives him some depth. With some of the injuries he's had at second base, and with Brandon Belt—it could be minor, or they could make a splash in the starting pitching rotation and get in on a guy like David Price should he become available. 

 

KF: The Giants have three important players injured right now: Angel Pagan, Matt Cain and Brandon Belt, out with a concussion. All three have had previous stints on the disabled list. Of the three, whose absence has made the biggest impact?

AB: That's tough. Pagan seems to be a stabilizer to the team, for me. Defensively in center field, what he brings to the top of the order—so I would say him. But that's hard to take away from anyone else.  Belt was off to a great start, and it looked like he was becoming the player everyone envisioned. And obviously missing Matt Cain is tough. I just think Angel Pagan brings something on both sides of the ball and adds stability at the top of the order and in center field. 

 

KF: What are the keys to this series for the Giants?

AB: They're going to have to pitch well. The Dodgers have [Zack] Greinke, [Clayton] Kershaw and [Hyun-Jin] Ryu. Even if you have a successful series against them, you have to assume one, two or even three of these games to be low-scoring. The Giants are going to have to pitch well. It could come down to that old cliche, who gets the big hit at the right time.

 

KF: The Dodgers altered their pitching rotation order at the All-Star break to make sure the Giants face Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Bruce Bochy and the Giants did not. Neither Tim Hudson or Madison Bumgarner will pitch against the Dodgers. How will this affect the series?

AB: If it works out for the Dodgers, I think it could turn out to be a really good move for them. Right now, the Dodgers are looking up at San Francisco in the standings. But with Bochy, and Cain being down, and Yusmeiro [Petit] moving into the rotation, Bochy's been more one-game-at-a-time in getting his rotation together. And I think especially with [Tim] Lincecum throwing the ball much better, Bochy is trying to keep things as normal for his rotation as possible.  

With the Dodgers, you know Kershaw and Greinke are the two aces. Not that the other three guys aren't good pitchers, obviously they are, but with Kershaw and Greinke you absolutely have two bona fide aces.

With the Giants, you've got Bumgarner and Hudson, but you've also got Lincecum, whose track record is unbelievable. If he's throwing at the top of his game, he fits right in with those guys. [Ryan] Vogelsong, we've seen what he can do over the years. So it seems like there's a bigger spread between the Dodgers' one and two, and their three and four, than the Giants. 

 

KF: Who do you think is going to win the National League West?

AB: As far as the division, I still lean Dodgers. Because of their pitching, and because I don't think they've hit their stride at all. Offensively, i still feel like they're a team more so than any other team in Major League Baseball, that has the capability of going 25-5 in a stretch. We really haven't seen them click at all yet. In a lot of ways, they're a team of misfit toys. I also think these next several days, potentially, will tell us a lot. Who makes the move that changes the makeup of their team, or could alter this division race? 

 

Aaron Boone will appear on Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown this Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.  The series finale is on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball on July 27.

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Deal Of The Day: 38% On iZZi Slim, The 4 Lens-In-One Ultimate Photo Kit

redesign_izzi_mf

The slow death of the point-and-shoot in favour of the convenience of the cellphone camera means that a vibrant ecosystem of accessories always seems welcoming to yet another entrant. You’ve seen the detachable iPhone lenses that allow you to take macro, fisheye, macro and wide-angle shots, but you’ve likely not often seen them done in the way that iZZi Slim does it. This iPhone 5/5S case features a rotating wheel with lenses attached, which means you can quickly switch from one lens to another. This is convenient, because you don’t have to fish around your accessory bag while the shot you want to take vanishes. The lenses are a Fisheye lens, a 2x Telephoto Lens, a Macro Lens, and a Wide-Angle Lens. Normally costing $155, it’s $95 today.

[ 38% On iZZi Slim, The 4 Lens-In-One Ultimate Photo Kit ]

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Selfie Toaster: Eat Your Face

Selfie Toasters

Fancy spreading some jam on your mug and eating your face every day? Sounds a bit crazy but that’s what you’ll be doing if you get one of these custom toasters from the Vermont Novelty Toaster Corp. The Selfie Toaster is essentially that: a toaster that lets you toast an imprint of your face onto every slice of bread you pop into it.

All you have to do is upload your selfie and fork over 75 bucks. Vermont will then use Photoshop and a CNC plasma cutter to “transfer” your face from the photo onto a metal plate, which is then fitted into the toaster.

Selfie Toasters1

Selfie Toasters2

 

The result? Selfie toast. What will people think of next?

[ Product Page ] VIA [ LikeCool ]

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Diablo Night Light Shines Bright to You a Fright

Diablo Night Light

 

Most people get a night light so they can see better in the dark without blinding themselves with sudden brightness in the middle of the night. They do not get one to scare the crap out of themselves. However, that’s what this Diablo night light will most likely do to them if they come face-to-face with it while they’re on their way to the toilet.

Even fans will get the occasional scare when they wake up and forget that they chose the uber-cool but scary night light, especially in their sleepy state.

Think you can take it? The Diablo night light is available online for about $20.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ TIWIB ]

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1-Hour Photo App Makes You Wait For Your Selfies

1 Hour Photo

 

In this day and age, it’s all about instant gratification. From same-day delivery and courier service to instant messaging and email, you can now get what you want in as little time possible. Digital photography is another example. When people had to use film, pictures were shot few and far in between because film costs money, and it costs more money to get the roll developed. That’s in contrast to today, where people snap away whenever and wherever as their memory cards allow.

Changing the pace is the 1-Hour Photo app, which, as the name suggests, lets you view the photo that you’ve taken after one hour has passed. A black-and-white film emulation is applied to the photo, enhancing it and giving it that old-world feel. What the app aims to do, though, is keeping those moments special, without the distraction of reviewing photos as they’re being taken.

By the time people check out the shots, the moment will have been a memory, albeit one captured beautifully. You can download 1-Hour Photo on iTunes for free.

VIA [ Uncrate ]

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French Keys: Magnetic Tongue Key Holder

Tongue Key Holder

 

If you’re losing or misplacing your keys all the time, then you might consider getting the Magnetic Tongue Key Holder. It’s a unique key holder with a playful and eye-catching design, featuring none other than one of the most frequently used muscles of the human body: the tongue.

Just fasten it on the wall by the door or close to where you normally set down your things. The tongue has built-in magnets so you can just stick your key ring on it and go on your merry way. The tongue is molded from ABS plastic and can hold up to 15 keys. It retails for $12.90 online.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Holy Cool ]

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You’ve Got Time On Your Hands: Ritot Projection Watch

Ritot Projection Watch

Why sport a plain, old, boring analog watch when you get can something like the Ritot? Instead of reading the time on its face or having it displayed on a digital display, the Ritot projects the current time on the back of your hand. It’s kind of like what those people from that movie called In Time had, only it displayed the amount of time they had left to live rather than the current time of day.

With the Ritot, you also don’t have to worry about people getting into your personal space anymore when they’re asking you for the time. Simply stretch your hand out and let them check it for itself. Aside from the time, Ritot also gives you access to your text messages, called ID, Facebook feed, Twitter updates, and many others.

In short, it’s a smartwatch with the added projection feature. The Ritot is waterproof and sports a unisex design. It also boasts of battery life of 150 hours in projection mode or one month in standby. It’s currently up for funding on Indiegogo, where you can get one for $120.

[ Ritot ] VIA [ Gear Hungry ]

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Carlos Gomez Videobombs Mark Reynolds in ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Costume

Carlos Gomez is getting some decent bang for his buck on the recent purchase of one adult-XL Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume.

Fox Sports Wisconsin’s Andrew Gruman reports that the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder bought the costume to surprise his four-year-old son Yandel.

Fortunately, Go-Go decided to break out his Leonardo gear a bit early and disrupt infielder Mark Reynolds’ Thursday appearance on Intentional Talk.

Hosts Chris Rose and Kevin Millar attempted to guess at the character behind the goofy green head, and with some help from Reynolds, they eventually pulled out the winning name.

At this point, Gomez proceeded to take off the headpiece and traumatize every kid who ever dared to believe in the magic of pizza-eating turtles.

The best part of the broadcast was the Ninja Turtles infographics the MLB Network had ready to roll.

It’s good to see producers on top of their Ninja Turtles facts and history. Anything less would’ve been sloppy and disappointing.

Gruman reports that Gomez planned to head home wearing the costume and surprise his son.

“That cartoon is my son’s favorite," Gomez told Gruman. “He’s crazy about it. I ordered [the costume] and I will go home tonight dressed like a Ninja Turtle. I ordered it online like 20 days ago. That thing came from China.”

Unfortunately, Gomez’s plot appears to have caught a snag. The outfielder said his wife showed Yandel a picture of him wearing the costume, and his son said he’d prefer to meet Donatello, the purple-masked Ninja turtle.

“He’ll have to wait another 20 days,” Gomez said.

Welp.

Apparently a dad-of-the-year-type move of wearing the costume of your kid’s heroes doesn’t cut it these days. Sit tight, Yandel. Donatello is on his way, but he has to take the slow boat from Shanghai.

 

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New York Yankees Rumors: Playing Fact or Fiction with Latest Trade Chatter

Brian Cashman has been a busy man these past few weeks.

First, he acquired Brandon McCarthy in a low-risk deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The right-hander has been strong in the New York Yankees rotation, sporting a 1.45 ERA and 1.179 WHIP in three starts.

Chase Headley was the next outsider to join the Bombers and made his presence felt early. In his first game with the team, the third baseman hit a walk-off single against the Texas Rangers. He has three hits in 10 at-bats so far in his Yankees career.

In a lower-profile move, Cashman brought in left-hander Chris Capuano for cash considerations, per Matt Snyder of CBS Sports. Capuano began the year with the Boston Red Sox but found his way to the Colorado Rockies after ineffectiveness in Beantown. Now he'll look to solidify a spot on the Yankees staff for the stretch run.

What else does Cashman have up his sleeve? Probably something, as the Yankees have been involved in a multitude of trade rumors recently. We'll play Fact or Fiction with the latest trade talks below.

 

Checking in on John Danks

The facelifts to the rotation should continue during the next week, as the Yankees have been ravaged by injuries to their starters. The losses haven't been too apparent with the surprising seasons of Chase Whitley and Shane Greene, but a rotation headlined by Hiroki Kuroda likely won't make it deep into the playoffs.

The starting five currently looks like Kuroda, McCarthy, Whitley, Greene and David Phelps. To open the season, it was CC Sabathia, Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. Oh, look how far we've come.

More help could be on the way, however. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that the team has checked in on John Danks:

The Chicago White Sox lefty has been decent as a fifth starter this year. He owns a 4.35 ERA and 4.70 FIP but has given good length. With 124 innings pitched over 20 starts, he's reliable enough to give his team around six innings per start.

Danks was one of the better lefties in the American League from 2008 to 2010, winning 40 games and posting an ERA of 3.77 or lower in each year. He has won just 23 games since, though, so the Yankees would likely be buying low.

Danks is under contract through 2016. He is owed $14.25 million this season, and the rest of the deal should pay him about $34 million in total. This is something the Yankees can absorb, but only if the price doesn't include top prospects.

This is the type of move that Cashman should make. Danks isn't an impact guy, but he can give the bullpen a break by providing reliable innings. Plus, the lefties of the AL East will have another southpaw to reckon with if this deal goes down.

This deal could materialize quickly.

Verdict: Fact

 

The Return of Ian Kennedy?

Ian Kennedy and the Yankees parted ways following the 2009 season in the three-team deal that netted the Bombers Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers. Kennedy was sent to Arizona, where he won 21 games in his second season in the desert.

Despite inconsistencies, Kennedy has become a pretty reliable starter. He owns a 3.66 ERA, 3.11 FIP and 1.219 WHIP this season with the San Diego Padres. Those marks are probable reasons why he has become an attractive trade target for multiple teams—including the Yankees, per ESPN's Jim Bowden:

While it's undeniable that Kennedy is an upgrade for this rotation, he wasn't very successful in his tenure in the Bronx from 2007 to 2009. Throw in the steep price tag of Eric Jagielo and Ian Clarkin, and you can count me out.

Jagielo is one of the best bats in the Yankees' system. He's a third baseman with pop, evidenced by his 13 homers through 58 games this season. He's a left-handed bat who does most of his damage against righties, but he'll gain a better understanding of southpaws as he matures in the system.

Clarkin is a quality lefty arm down in Charleston. He's just 3-3 on the year, but his 3.36 ERA is encouraging. The fact that he has set down 68 batters in 61.2 innings is also a plus.

The price tag for Kennedy is just too high, which the Yankees fortunately recognize:

The Padres would need to be "overwhelmed" to deal Kennedy, reports Heyman, so there might not be a logical fit with the Yankees.

Verdict: Fiction

 

Yanks in on Soft-Tossing Southpaw

Another lefty on Cashman's radar is Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa, according to Bowden:

De La Rosa's line has gotten a boost given his hot July, but his overall numbers are strong. He is 11-6 over 116 innings with an ERA of 4.19 (4.32 FIP). The peripherals are also strong. According to FanGraphs, De La Rosa has a groundball rate of 53 percent and a home run-to-fly ball ratio of 11.5 percent.

The fact that he keeps the ball on the ground bodes well for him should he come to the Yankees. He's no stranger to playing in a hitter-friendly ballpark, as Coors Field certainly yields its fair share of big flies. Yankee Stadium isn't much different from a pitcher's standpoint.

I'm not so sure this is a deal that will materialize, however. The Rockies asked the Baltimore Orioles for top young arm Kevin Gausman in exchange for De La Rosa, though Baltimore quickly declined, reports Heyman.

That means the Rockies could ask for a top bat from the Yankees, or perhaps rising starter Luis Severino. Of course, Cashman should balk at those requests.

Like Kennedy, De La Rosa is a clear upgrade to this rotation. He even fits in the ballpark. That said, he definitely isn't worth a top prospect.

Verdict: Fiction

 

Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR

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Astros Pitcher Dallas Keuchel Thanks Heckler with Message on Baseball

Professional athletes do their best to tune out hecklers, but sometimes it can be fun to respond. This season, MLB players have gotten back at the hecklers with creative messages on baseballs.

Earlier this season, we saw Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips toss a heckler a ball with a message on it. Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel must've taken notes.

With the Astros playing in Oakland this week, one heckler apparently did enough to warrant a response. Keuchel—who didn't even pitch in the game—gave the heckler a ball, thanking him for paying his salary.

Keuchel's interaction with the fan was perfect. The pitcher was able to have some fun with the heckler but didn't cross any lines while doing it. Now it just makes for a hilarious story.

[Twitter, h/t Next Impulse Sports]

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Indians’ Ryan Raburn’s Terrible Throw Leads to Little League Home Run for Royals

With runs at a premium in Thursday's game against the Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians left fielder Ryan Raburn chose a bad time to have an embarrassing play.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Royals' Mike Moustakas hit a fly ball down the third-base line. Raburn hustled and nearly made a great sliding catch, but the ball bounced off his glove and into foul territory.

That wasn't the bad part.

As Moustakas cruised into second with a double, Raburn tried to fire the ball back into the infield. The only problem: His throw went straight into the ground and into left-center field, which allowed Moustakas to score a "Little League home run," making the score 1-0.

Fortunately for Raburn, the Indians rallied to tie the game in the top of the ninth inning. Otherwise, considering Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber took a perfect game into the seventh inning, it would have been a tough way to lose. 

All the same, Kluber's gem—he allowed just the one unearned run on two hits with 10 strikeouts in nine inningsended up being wasted, as Kansas City pulled out a 2-1 victory in 14 innings.

[MLB.com]

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Boston Red Sox Trade Deadline: Preview and Predictions

With just six days remaining until the July 31 trade deadline, it’s finally become clear that the Boston Red Sox should focus more on 2015 and beyond than the immediate future.

It was tough to make such a definitive statement just a few days ago, when the Sox went to Toronto with a chance to make up real ground in the division and save their season. Unfortunately, the Sox dropped three of four to the Blue Jays and are now 9.5 games out of first place in the AL East.

Boston has shown resilience in recent weeks, and it has more talent on its roster than its 47-55 record indicates. But this still isn’t a playoff-bound team, and it’s best that the front office, media and fans alike recognize that moving forward.

With the Red Sox’s fate all but sealed, their mission at the trade deadline becomes simpler: bolster a squad that could compete next year and open up playing time for their bevy of young, talented players. That makes the Sox have some wheeling and dealing to do in the coming days, as they look to reshape their roster for August and beyond.


Trading Drew and Peavy, Too

If you're looking for the players perhaps most likely to be traded in the coming days, Stephen Drew and Jake Peavy should be on your short list. Both veterans are free agents after the season, both are blocking young players from seeing playing time, and both should still be attractive to contenders, despite their poor performances this year.

We've been hearing Peavy rumors for weeks now, with the St. Louis Cardinals cited as his most likely destination and the San Francisco Giants in the running as well. Recently, we learned from Peter Gammons of MLB Network that the Red Sox are scouting Cardinals prospects in case a deal can be reached.

Meanwhile, Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that the Giants have interest in Peavy thanks in part to the most recent injury to Matt Cain. According to the report, Peavy is "a favorite" of Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

Regardless of who makes a move for Peavy, he's the current member of the Sox most likely to change uniforms in the coming days. His performance can easily be replicated or surpassed by Brandon Workman, Allen Webster or Anthony Ranaudo, and Boston would be best served giving starts to one of its younger arms.

We haven't seen as many rumors when it comes to Drew, but he figures to be an attractive option for contenders who need help at shortstop or who want a middle infielder to platoon. The Detroit Tigers would seem to be a good fit, as would the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates and even the Giants.

Moving Drew would allow the Red Sox to play Xander Bogaerts at shortstop everyday, opening up time at third base for Will Middlebrooks and Brock Holt. That makes dealing Drew worth it for Boston regardless of the return it receives.

 

Jettisoning Extra Parts

Peavy and Drew are the two players we're most likely to see moved in exchange for modest returns, but they're hardly the only players we can expect to see dealt. Indeed, the Red Sox would be wise to sell off more part-timers and veterans in the interest of giving younger players a chance to play.

Jonny Gomes tops the list of part-time players most likely to be sent off on or before July 31. The enigmatic left fielder mashes lefties and comes up with timely hits, and his hijinks were a big part of what made 2013 so much fun. When it comes to on-field production, though, Gomes is eminently replaceable, and his presence blocks other young outfielders from seeing the time they need.

If Gomes is dealt, Mookie Betts can receive more playing time once the Triple-A season is over, and the resurgent Daniel Nava and amazing Holt will likely see more time, too. It’s important for the Sox to assess what they have in those three players when they make decisions about their outfield for 2015.

According to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, the Kansas City Royals have shown interest in trading for Gomes.

In addition to the burly outfielder, the Red Sox could also look to move Mike Carp and Jonathan Herrera, neither of whom are likely to bring much back in a deal but neither of whom have much of a future in Boston.

Carp had a tremendous year at the plate in 2013 and could be of interest for a team who wants a left-handed pinch-hitter, but such players don’t attract much on the trade market. The Sox don’t need to give Carp away, as he’s under contract through the 2016 season, but it’s tough to see how he fits in with the team moving forward.

Herrera has become redundant with the emergence of Holt and Deven Marrero but can serve well as a utility infielder elsewhere.


Big Decisions in the Bullpen

For all the bad that’s befallen the 2014 Red Sox, their bullpen has absolutely been a strength. Clunkers from the likes of Edward Mujica and Craig Breslow may stick out in your mind, but according to FanGraphs, Boston has the second-best bullpen WAR in the majors, trailing only the New York Yankees.

A huge part of that success, of course, can be attributed to Koji Uehara and Andrew Miller, who together form one of the most dominating setup-closer combos in the game today. Together, the two have combined for 2.7 fWAR, and they rank as the 12th-best and 14th-best relievers in the game, respectively.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, both Uehara and Miller are slated to hit free agency after the year is over. Re-signing both is certainly feasible, and it might be a good idea with the current payroll flexibility Boston has. That being said, long-term deals for relievers rarely end well, and the Sox may be hesitant to shell out big bucks for two relievers.

If that’s the case, it would make sense to commit to one reliever and trade the other. Uehara is slightly better and has more of a track record of success, but he’s 39 years old, has a history of arm issues and already can’t pitch back-to-back games.

Miller is just 29, but he is fairly new to being classified as a dominating reliever, and his command still escapes him on occasion.

Assuming the return for the two relievers would be fairly equal, it probably makes more sense to deal Uehara, given his age. Plus, trading him away doesn’t disqualify the Sox from trying to reacquire his services during the offseason.

But according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, the Sox seem intent on holding on to Uehara for now:

Meanwhile, Gammons recently reported that the Red Sox are getting a ton of calls on Miller. Given the league-wide need for left-handed relievers, this should come as no surprise.

The guess here is that we’ll see one of Uehara or Miller dealt but not both. It’s also possible we could see the likes of Burke Badenhop or Felix Doubront traded too, though any transaction involving those two would be minor.

 

 

A Post-Deadline Lineup

If Drew, Peavy, Gomes, Carp, Herrera and one of Miller or Uehara is dealt in the coming days, where does that leave the Red Sox moving forward?

Here’s a look at what the 25-man roster could look like in the coming days (before rosters are expanded later in the season):  

C: Christian Vazquez
1B: Mike Napoli
2B: Dustin Pedroia
SS: Xander Bogaerts
3B: Brock Holt/Will Middlebrooks
LF: Daniel Nava/Holt
CF: Jackie Bradley Jr.
RF: Shane Victorino/Mookie Betts
DH: David Ortiz/Middlebrooks

BN: David Ross, Middlebrooks, Jonathan Herrera, Betts/Nava

SP: Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman

RP: Koji Uehara or Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa, Felix Doubront, Craig Breslow, Edward Mujica, two of Tommy Layne/Alex Wilson/Ryan Verdugo/Drake Britton/Dalier Hinojosa

This roster presents a nice balance in terms of letting the Red Sox play competitive baseball for the rest of 2014 while also letting the organization determine what it has for 2015 and beyond. Bogaerts, Betts and Bradley should be playing every day, and Holt, Vazquez and Middlebrooks should be playing at least five days a week.

Ortiz, Napoli and Victorino can be afforded extra time off as they recover from their various ailments, and Pedroia can be left near the top of the order as he attempts to right the ship.

In the rotation, both De La Rosa and Workman can prove themselves as the Sox consider stacking up their top five for next year. And in the bullpen...well, that’s a less impressive group, no doubt about it. But sub-.500 teams don’t need elite bullpens.

The Sox will miss the personalities of Gomes and Peavy, the steady defense of Drew and the effectiveness of Miller or Uehara. But they’ll still put a reasonable product on the field while gearing for the future.

And while it might not feel this way right now, that future is indeed still quite bright.

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2014 Trade Deadline: Predicting Where MLB’s Biggest Stars Will Land

The MLB trade deadline is approaching, and many teams are hoping to add a big-name player to help make a late-season playoff push. It can often be hard to sort out which whispers around the league are just rumors and which ones have some truth behind them.

What are the teams you think will land the biggest names on the block?

Find out as B/R's Lead National MLB Writer Scott Miller breaks down the best landing spots for MLB's biggest names.

 

All stats accurate as of July 24.

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Red Sox’s David Ortiz Becomes 53rd Player with 1,500 Career RBI

On Wednesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz became the 53rd MLB player to attain 1,500 career RBI, per a tweet from ESPN Boston.

Ortiz hit a three-run homer over the right-field fence in the top of the first inning off Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey, giving the 38-year-old DH 1,501 RBI for his career.

Speaking Sunday, Ortiz proclaimed he was, "about to get hotter than Jamaica in August," and he apparently meant it. The home run was his 24th on the season and fourth over the span of three games. He knocked in eight RBI in those three games from Monday to Wednesday and is now up to 72 this season, ranking fifth in the majors.

Ortiz has 397 home runs as a member of the Red Sox, which puts him in third place on the franchise list behind Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski (452) and Ted Williams (521).

Having also hit 58 homers while playing for the Minnesota Twins from 1997 to 2002, Ortiz's 455 career home runs are tied for 35th place on MLB's all-time list alongside Chicago White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn, who is also still active and working his way toward 500 career long balls.

As for RBI, New York Yankees Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle (1,509) is right above Ortiz on the all-time list, right below Carlos Delgado (1,512) in 51st place. By the end of the season, Ortiz should be in the top 50 on the RBI list, as he only needs to best the 1,518 compiled by former second baseman Jeff Kent.

However, the slugging Dominican may need to wait a few days to pad his total after dealing with mid-back spasms during a hitless performance Thursday against the Jays, per The Boston Herald's Scott Lauber.

Stats courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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The Best-Case Scenarios for Every MLB Team at the Trade Deadline

The 2014 MLB trade deadline is now just a week away, and while it has already been a busy trade season, there will likely still be more than few deals that go down between now and July 31.

The biggest question on the market is whether the Tampa Bay Rays will decide to sell David Price, or if their recent run of success is enough for them to hold on to their ace and try to make a run at the playoffs.

Beyond the status of Price, the Philadelphia Phillies' position as potentially aggressive sellers is a story to follow, as is the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals' pursuit of a power bat in a market that is incredibly thin on them.

That said, every team has something to do here at the deadline, whether it is a seller trying to unload some impending free agents or a contender looking to add one final piece to the bench or bullpen.

Things rarely go according to plan in July, but here is a look at each team's best-case scenario between now and the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

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