Twins’ Joe Mauer Reaches 1,500 Hits and 300 Doubles

Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer has reached a pair of milestone since returning from the disabled list Monday, recording his 300th career double and 1,500th hit.

Mauer, who was out for nearly six weeks with an oblique injury, hit double No. 300 in his first game back Monday against against the Houston Astros.

He then reached 1,500 hits in Wednesday's game against the Astros, with a first-inning single doing the honors. Later in the same game, Mauer made No. 1,501 count, hitting a two-run home run in the sixth inning to give the Twins a 2-0 lead in an eventual 3-1 victory.

It seems some time off was just what the former catcher needed, as he heads into Saturday's contest against the Kansas City Royals with six hits in 16 at-bats (.375 batting average) over four games since returning from the disabled list. In addition to Wednesday's home run, two of Mauer's hits have gone for doubles, and he's also drawn a pair of walks.

Even with the recent outburst, Mauer is still on track to have arguably the worst season of his prestigious career. His .276 batting average and .347 on-base percentage would easily be the worst of his career, while his .370 slugging percentage would be just a smidgen better than the low-water mark of .368 that he posted in an injury-riddled 2011 campaign.

Of course, it would be rather unwise to count Mauer out, as he finished the last two years with an on-base percentage above .400, despite playing more than 70 games behind the plate in both seasons.

Now limited to first base and designated hitter, Mauer should be in for a productive final six weeks of the season, assuming he stays healthy.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Tampa Bay Rays Reach .500 After Sitting 18 Games Under on June 10

With Friday's 5-0 win over the New York Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays became just the fourth team in major league history to reach .500 after sitting 18 games under at any point during the season, per Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times.

Surprisingly enough, none of the previous three teams—including the 2004 Devil Rays—were able to finish the season above .500.

This year's Rays, who hit a low-water mark of 24-42 on June 10, have now won seven of their last nine games to pull even at 61-61. They've accumulated 37 wins against just 19 losses since June 10, good for a .661 winning percentage.

Such a tale of two seasons would typically be accompanied by a slew of injuries, and while the Rays have certainly dealt with their fair share, it really hasn't been anything out of the ordinary. In fact, the most significant injury was to 25-year-old starting pitcher Matt Moore, who was ruled out for the season in April because of a torn UCL in his left elbow that required Tommy John surgery.

Meanwhile, outfielder Wil Myers hasn't played since May 30 due to a wrist injury, and the team was able to turn things around without either Myers or Moore.

As well as the Rays have played for the last nine weeks, they still face an uphill battle to make the playoffs. They're nine games behind the division-leading Baltimore Orioles, with both the Toronto Blue Jays (7.5 back) and New York Yankees (eight back) sitting in between.

The wild-card race won't be much easier, as the Los Angeles Angels or Oakland Athletics figure to account for one spot, while the Rays sit 5.5 games back of the Seattle Mariners, who have won five consecutive games.

In addition to the stiff competition out west, the AL Central is also a threat to produce two playoff teams now that the Kansas City Royals have stormed ahead of the Detroit Tigers for the division lead.

According to FanGraphs.com's playoff odds, the Rays only have a 5.8 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason heading into Saturday's game against the Yankees.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

3 Young Starters the Chicago Cubs Should Target in a Trade This Offseason

The Chicago Cubs have done an exceptional job at collecting assets in recent years, but with many of their young players ready to contribute, they will soon need to turn those assets into a balanced roster built to compete for a World Series title.

The Cubs have one of the best farm systems in baseball, but while their system is loaded with potential impact hitters, it is light when it comes to pitchers ready to contribute. Next season Chicago will have the good problem of having to find a way to slot the likes of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Javier Baez into the same lineup, but its pitching staff will still be mediocre relative to the rest of the league.

With many of their young hitters ready to contribute in 2015, the Cubs must sacrifice one of their budding stars in a trade in order to acquire a young starter to help lead their staff. Jake Arrieta and possibly Kyle Hendricks are a good start, and it is possible that they will throw money at Jon Lester or Max Scherzer this offseason, but adding a young, impact starter would not only put the Cubs in great position next year but for the years to follow.

Below are three promising young starters the Cubs should target this upcoming offseason in a trade. The criteria for these starters is that they must have at least some big-league experience along with a tremendously high ceiling, a pitcher who is truly worth one of the Cubs' big-time prospects.

 

Zack Wheeler

The New York Mets and Chicago Cubs seem like the perfect match for a trade; two teams with their eye on being relevant in 2015, one with a stockpile of young hitting, the other with pitching. Cubs fans may have seen a preview of their future ace on Friday night when Zack Wheeler led the Mets to victory.

Wheeler was a top 10 prospect in baseball for a long time, and he has done little in his past year in the majors to create cause for concern about his future as a top-of-the-rotation stud.

Wheeler has had his hiccups, but he has still been remarkably solid for a pitcher who just turned 24, posting 3.46 ERA over his first 247 innings. He has proven that his talent alone can carry him to major league success, and if he refines his command and develops his changeup a little more, he could be one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Wheeler would be a perfect fit for the Cubs. Assuming Chicago makes a big addition to its staff this offseason, whoever it signs along with Wheeler and Arrieta would make for a very solid top three of a rotation.

However, because Wheeler has established himself over the past year as one of the bright young stars in baseball, he would come at a steep price.

The Mets may have interest in Starlin Castro, but if they were to trade Wheeler, they would likely demand one of Baez, Bryant or Russell. New York is looking to compete in 2015, meaning a pu-pu platter of intriguing yet younger and further away prospects wouldn’t be enough for a deal.

It is possible the Cubs target another Mets pitcher in a deal such as Noah Syndergaard or Jonathon Niese. Syndergaard is less proven than Wheeler yet the organization values him just as highly, but Niese could also make sense, and he would likely cost less than one of the Mets’ two younger studs.

 

Kevin Gausman

Baltimore Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman struggled during his stint in the majors in 2013, but he still has a humongous ceiling and was rated as the No. 10 prospect by Baseball Prospectus coming into this season despite his less than ideal start to his career. He has still had some hiccups this season but has posted a 3.90 ERA while exhibiting the ability to be a future ace.

Trading for Gausman would be a tricky proposition for the Cubs because the Orioles currently imagine Gausman and Dylan Bundy leading their future rotation. However, it will be difficult for them to re-sign J.J. Hardy this offseason and could be enticed by the Cubs’ potential left-side infielders.

Gausman has truly elite talent and is a good bet to be a stellar starting pitcher for a long time. Adding him to their rotation would give the Cubs a much-needed starter who would be under team control who could also potentially become their long-term ace.

Despite Gausman’s relatively unimpressive stat line, he would still cost the Cubs one of their prime prospects. The Orioles would likely be interested in any of their elite hitting prospects, as they could put Bryant or Baez at third and slide Manny Machado back to short, or Russell and Machado could potentially form the best left side of an infield in baseball.

 

Andrew Heaney

Miami Marlins starter Andrew Heaney came into the season as the top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, according to Baseball Prospectus (No. 30 overall), and he would be a great addition to the Cubs' pitching staff.

Heaney struggled during his cup of coffee in Miami earlier this season, but he has continued to prove in the minors that he is a refined left-hander with above-average stuff who will be ready to contribute in the near future.

Miami would also love to obtain a premier power-hitting prospect to put alongside Giancarlo Stanton moving forward. The Marlins will be looking to compete in 2015 with the return of Jose Fernandez and continued excellence of Stanton, and the idea of adding a potentially elite bat under team control like Baez would make them salivate.

However, unlike Wheeler and Gausman, who have shown at least some major league success and were once considered top 10 prospects in all of baseball, Heaney is a shade lower in terms of talent. If Miami wanted to acquire one of the Cubs' premier young hitters like Baez, they would likely have to include another significant prospect in the trade.

The reason the Cubs might prefer Heaney to someone like Wheeler or Gausman is that they could possibly acquire him without giving up one of their premier hitters. A deal centered around Albert Almora, Jorge Soler or Arismendy Alcantara could be enough to sway the Marlins into dealing their young lefty.

 

All statistics courtesy Baseball-Reference.

Follow Sean on Twitter: @SCunninghamPG.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

How Corey Kluber Has Broken into Baseball’s Elite Starter Class in 2014

Apparently 10 is the magic number for Corey Kluber.

The Cleveland Indians ace was brilliant on Friday night against the Baltimore Orioles, allowing one run on five hits and two walks while striking out 10 batters over 7.2 innings.

The outing marked Kluber’s second 10-strikeout performance in the past week, and he’s now fanned exactly 10 batters in four of his last six starts. Overall, it was Kluber’s eighth start this season with double-digit strikeouts.

Kluber, 28, has been nothing short of dominant since the All-Star break, pacing all starting pitchers with a 0.76 ERA, 0.69 WHIP and 55 strikeouts over 47.2 innings. On top of that, the right-hander has allowed just 27 hits, none of which have left the park, and six walks during that span.

Though he was already enjoying the best season of his four-year career, Kluber’s second-half success has thrust him into the discussion as one of baseball’s elite starting pitchers.

"He's getting an air about him like a Nolan Ryan or a Roger Clemens," pitching coach Mickey Callaway said to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. "That's what I feel like when he's on the mound. I feel like one of those guys is pitching right now."

Take one look at the AL pitching leaderboard and you’ll see what Callaway means.

Kluber’s 2.41 ERA is the third lowest among qualified starting pitchers this season, behind Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale, respectively, while his 197 strikeouts rank second to David Price’s 205.

More importantly, Kluber’s 5.2 fWAR entering Friday ranked third across starters in both leagues over a slew of Cy Young candidates including Clayton Kershaw (5.0), Sale (4.7), Max Scherzer (4.6) and David Price (4.0). The only pitchers with a better WAR than Kluber this season are Hernandez (6.2) and Jon Lester (5.4).

So, what exactly has made the Indians right-hander so dominant this year?

For starters, Kluber has mastered the feel for his sinker, a pitch he first started to mess around with in 2011 at Triple-A Columbus.

"I'd never really thrown it much on a consistent basis," Kluber said, per Bastian's MLB.com report. "I'd throw my four-seam and, here and there, I'd mix in a two-seam. After I threw it over and over and over and over, and it kind of clicked. It was like, 'This feels a lot better.'"

Kluber has thrown his sinker 49.53 percent of the time this season, according to Brooks Baseball, which is consistent with his use of the pitch from 2013 (49.89 percent).

However, he’s throwing it harder this season—his velocity has steadily increased in each of the past four seasons—sitting above 94 mph (94.39 mph to be exact) for the first time in his career.

The uptick in velocity has reduced the vertical action on his sinker, but it’s also allowed him to more effectively command the pitch to both sides of the plate. As a result, Kluber is inducing whiffs at a career-best rate this season (4.76 percent) and generating significantly fewer fly balls.

Kluber’s sinker also has done wonders for his secondary pitches, which are nasty offerings to begin with.

Just how nasty? FoxSports.com's Gabe Kapler feels they're so good that command is of secondary importance: "His stuff is so nasty, with such devastating late movement, that he can miss badly over and over and get away with it."

Hitters are now aware that Kluber can pitch to both corners with his sinker, and it has in turn made them more susceptible to his cutter and slider. The result has been roughly a four percent increase in his whiff-per-swing rate with both pitches.

Kluber’s 34.38 percent whiff-per-swing rate with his cutter—developed in 2011 along with his sinker—currently ranks first among all starting pitchers (who have thrown the pitch at least 200 times this season), and he checks in 10th for his slider at 43.52 percent, per Baseball Prospectus’ PITCHf/x leaderboards.

Meanwhile, hitters have posted a .072 average and .098 slugging percentage against Kluber’s slider this season, which are the lowest opponents’ averages for that specific pitch in the major leagues among qualified starters.

What Kluber has done this year has nothing to do with luck; over the last four years, the right-hander has steadily evolved into the pitcher he is today—an elite one. 

If his performance over the rest of the season is anything close to what he’s accomplished so far, Kluber should challenge King Felix and Chris Sale for the AL Cy Young.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

5 Biggest Takeaways from This Week’s MLB Action

Baseball has a new pope.

After a couple of failed tries, Rob Manfred has been installed as the new MLB commissioner by a unanimous vote of baseball's 30 owners, per the MLB Public Relations Twitter account. While the league's bosses were meeting in Baltimore, there was plenty of action on the field.

The blocking-the-plate rule was exposed as the dumbest regulation in baseball. Plus, two big fish of the 2014 season, including David Price's Detroit Tigers, have endured nightmare weeks. 

Begin Slideshow

Robinson Cano and Contending Mariners Proving to Be a Smash-Hit Success

Don't count out the Seattle Mariners.

Yes, the 66-55 M's are looking up at both the 71-49 Los Angeles Angels and 73-49 Oakland A's in the American League West. But in this era of the second wild card, third place can be good enough.

And, look at that, with a decisive 7-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night, Seattle moved into playoff position.

If everything were settled today, the Mariners would be baseball's most unlikely October-bound team. (They currently have the AL's second wild-card spot and are a half-game up on the Tigers.)

They won Friday much the way they've won all season: behind solid pitching and Robinson Cano's bat. Cano, 31, signed with the Mariners in December for a 10-year, $240 million deal after playing his first nine years in the majors with the New York Yankees.

In plating six runs against sinkerballer Rick Porcello (five earned), the Mariners enjoyed a rare offensive outburst that included contributions up and down the lineup. 

Third baseman Kyle Seager and first baseman Logan Morrison each collected two hits and an RBI. So did Chris Taylor, a late-July call-up who has hit .385 in 18 games.

Seattle starter James Paxton went six innings, allowing just one earned run, and has now won all six of his big league decisions dating back to last year.

Center fielder Austin Jackson, who was traded to the Mariners in the three-team blockbuster that sent ace left-hander David Price to Detroit, got a nice ovation in his return to the Motor City (though he also went 0-for-5).

The star of the night, though, was Cano, who went 2-for-4, scored twice and yanked a solo shot over the right field wall.

The home run was just the 11th of the season for Cano. Still, he's hitting .330, second best in the majors behind Houston's Jose Altuve (.334), and living up to the massive contract that brought him from the Big Apple to the birthplace of Starbucks.

There was a little sour mixed in with the sweet: Cano exited the game in the eighth inning with a sore foot, per MLB.com's Matt Slovin.

It's always concerning to see a star player hobbled, but skipper Lloyd McClendon insisted it was a precautionary move. 

"He should be OK [Saturday]," McClendon told Slovin. "I just didn't want to take a chance. Hopefully, it doesn't swell."

If Cano does take the field Saturday, he'll face Price, the deadline acquisition who was supposed to push the Tigers into the American League's upper echelon. 

Instead, Detroit has floundered. The 65-55 Tigers currently trail the 67-54 Kansas City Royals in the AL Central, and now they're looking up at the Mariners, too.

"We're in it," Seager told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune. "We feel really good about our chances down the stretch."

It's far too early to count out the Tigers, who could get rotation cogs Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez and closer Joakim Soria back this month, per MLB.com. And other teams, including the 63-60 Toronto Blue Jays and 61-59 Yankees, are hanging around in the wild-card chase.

But Seattle, a quiet contender all season, suddenly looks formidable. 

The Mariners need Cano at full health, no question. But he's not their only weapon. Consider the guy they'll send to the hill Saturday to counter Price: Felix Hernandez and his American League-leading 1.95 ERA.

Here's how ESPN's Jim Caple (h/t ABC News) summed up Seattle's surprising surge before Friday's game:

Here they are, with the best pitching in the majors, coming off an 8-1 homestand, 10 games above .500 and with a real chance to take some attention away from the Seahawks in October. They might be in third place in the AL West ... but baseball's best division could provide three postseason teams. 

The thought of the Mariners making the postseason for the first time since 2001's 116-46 team, and competing with the reigning Super Bowl champs for attention, would've sounded foolish to all but the most ardent believers a few months ago.

Now, it's looking like we'd all be foolish to count them out.

 

All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Predicting What the Chicago Cubs Lineup Will Look Like Next Year

The progress the young guns have made in the minor leagues this season is encouraging for the Chicago Cubs' future. As long as they add some quality pitching in free agency this offseason, they should actually be a pretty interesting team in 2015. Their lineup should also improve by adding prospects at the start of the year. 

Just calling up Javier Baez has already made the team more exciting to watch. Once Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler get the call as well, the Cubs are going to be very entertaining to fans. These eight players are the ones who hope to begin the long-awaited turnaround of the Lovable Losers.

Begin Slideshow

Chris Young Released by Mets: Latest Details and Reaction

The New York Mets have officially released outfielder Chris Young.

The team announced the move on Twitter:

This comes after New York designated the 30-year-old for assignment earlier in the week, per ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin.

"It caught me a little bit off-guard," said Young after hearing the news. "I wasn't expecting it. I understood that the playing time had changed. And I realized that. But I didn't think this was coming. The team has to do whatever they feel is best for the team. I respect that."

General manager Sandy Alderson said that he felt the timing was right and that Young simply wasn't working out for the Mets.

Through 88 games in 2014, Young was hitting .205/.283/.346 with eight home runs and 28 runs batted in. He's looked a shell of the player who averaged a little over 23 homers and 71 RBI between 2007 and 2011. According to FanGraphs, he's been the team's worst hitter, with a WAR of -0.5—and Bartolo Colon's included on that list.

Signing the veteran to a one-year deal for over $7 million has proven to be a major mistake for the team.

Rubin wonders if Mets management might hold Alderson accountable for some of the personnel decisions he's made, Young included, that have continued the franchise's decline:

With rosters set to expand in September, some team might take a gamble on Young. Considering his struggles this year, his price tag will have dropped precipitously from what the Mets signed him for.

Power bats are hard to come by, especially this late into the season. Somebody who's knocking on the door of the postseason might believe that Young could fill in as a situational hitter.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Yasiel Puig Shares Silly Video of Him Going Through Outfield Wall for a Catch

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is built like a brick, so when he collides with the outfield wall to make a catch, damage will happen to either him or the wall. 

MLB FanCave created this goofy video, which Puig himself shared from his Twitter account. It's well edited and quite entertaining.

Here's the full video:

[MLB FanCave, h/t Yasiel Puig]

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Tigers Give Out Miguel Cabrera NL MVP Bobbleheads, Despite Him Playing in the AL

To non-baseball fans, it may seem like nothing. To baseball fans, it's an incredible blunder.

The Detroit Tigers were giving away bobbleheads of two-time American League MVP Miguel Cabrera on Friday. The small figures show Cabrera holding MVP awards...for the National League.

Unlike their slugger, the Detroit Tigers took a swing and missed wildly.

 [Twitter, h/t CBS Sports via CBS Detroit]

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Each MLB’s Teams Most Exciting Potential September Call-Up, 2 Weeks out

While there already has been a large influx of prospects promoted to the major leagues this season, there are even more set to arrive when active rosters expand from 25 to 40 players on September 1.

For teams still vying for a postseason berth, the timely promotion of an impact prospect for the stretch run can provide a much-needed boost to their lineup, starting rotation or bullpen. Meanwhile, teams already out of the playoff hunt use the final month of the regular season to audition some of their top prospects.

Last year’s wave of September call-ups marked the arrival of some of baseball’s most exciting prospects such as speedster Billy Hamilton and the flame-throwing Yordano Ventura.

This year there are even more high-profile talents seemingly in line for a promotion in September, with slugger Kris Bryant, defensive wunderkind Francisco Lindor and toolsy outfielder Joc Pederson each knocking on the door of the major leagues.

With two weeks remaining until the rosters expand, here’s a look at each team’s most exciting potential September call-up.

Begin Slideshow

Pittsburgh Pirates: The Most Important 3 Weeks of the Season

The next three weeks will determine whether the Pittsburgh Pirates make the playoffs.

The schedule is packed full of teams that are leading their division or in close contention for the postseason. It is full of three-game series with teams like the Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds.

Those teams are a combined 33 games over .500, with the only soft spot being the Reds, who are currently one game under .500 but by no means out of the playoff hunt.

The Pirates play each of the teams listed above in a three-game series except for the Cardinals, who play the Bucs six times. That means the next 18 games are against formidable foes, all with a horse in the race for the playoffs.

The tough schedule comes at a horrible time for the team, currently maligned with injuries to star Andrew McCutchen and solid second baseman Neil Walker. That’s not to mention Pedro Alvarez.

Notwithstanding, the Pirates bats have continued to come alive, despite the absence of the team's best hitters. Pittsburgh is 5-5 without McCutchen, who will be on the disabled list until at least Aug. 19.

Despite the injuries and tough schedule, Baseball Prospectus still gives the Pirates a 56 percent chance of making the playoffs. The website also predicts the team will finish with 85 wins when the dust settles.

The most important of these next 18 games are the games against division foes Milwaukee and St. Louis. The Bucs are currently looking up in the standings at both teams, despite being out of first place by only 2.5 games. In that timespan, they play six games with the Cardinals and three with the Brewers, teams they are a combined 9-17 against this season. Two out of three of those series are on the road.

Thankfully, those division rivalries don't happen for another week. The Pirates have other contenders to deal with first.

Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects illustrated the point that the Pirates still have their work cut out for them before those division rivalries start Aug. 22:

There are six games remaining each against the Brewers and Cardinals, and those games could go a long way to deciding the NL Central race and the Wild Card order. The first of those games will start next weekend, but before that happens, the Pirates have to go up against one of the best teams in the NL — the Nationals — along with trying to capitalize on the struggling Braves.

The Pirates last year at this time were 23 games above .500 and winning the National League Central by three games. Clearly, this isn't last year. The Pirates are clinging to the second wild-card spot by half a game over the San Francisco Giants, with Atlanta and Cincinnati close behind.

The fate of these 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates lies in the outcome of the next three weeks. Let’s hope the offense keeps ticking and the pitching staff can silence some of the best teams in the National League.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Biggest Surprises and Disappointments of the 2014 MLB Season

As the calendar approaches September, MLB teams have reached the three-quarter mark of the 2014 season. Due to some surprises, both good and bad, the standings might look much different than what fans expected heading into 2014.

Which teams have been the most shocking this year?

Ron Darling, Cal Ripken Jr. and Brian Anderson break down a few clubs that have exceeded or failed to meet expectations.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Breaking Down Potential American and National League Wild Card Races

As September nears, the Wild Card races are getting down to the wire.  After a blockbuster trade deadline, there are new contenders in both the American and National League.

Who can we expect to see at the top come October?

Ron Darling, Cal Ripken Jr., and Brian Anderson give us their thoughts on these races.

Let us know who you think will be on top in the comments below.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Cincinnati Reds: It’s Time to Consider Negron for Cozart

On August 15, Reds Nation stands at the intersection of desperation and dismissal. After losing to the Colorado Rockies and dropping now four of their last five games, all to teams beneath .500, the Reds have fallen back to beneath .500 for the first time since July 30.

The narrative quickly shifts from last-ditch optimism to forced apathy. For most fans, it's almost easier not to care about the remaining 40-plus games of this snake-bitten season than to invest any more effort into caring.

And while Rome is supposedly burning, as Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty writes after another Reds loss, the Reds still bewilderingly sit just four games out from the second National League wild-card slot and 6.5 behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.

According to Cincinnati Enquirer beat writer C. Trent Rosecrans, Brandon Phillips is beginning a rehab assignment on August 15 with the Triple-A Louisville Bats. Furthermore, per the same article, Joey Votto may be two weeks away from resuming baseball activities.

But can the Reds remain in contention until their best players return? It won't be easy. With no obvious trade in sight, despite a lot of we-need-a-bat talk void of any real substance, the Reds have to consider making any move possible to generate more offense.

I feel like there is one move in particular that accomplishes this: Kristopher Negron for Zack Cozart at shortstop when Brandon Phillips finally returns.

Reds fans need to be aware of just how valuable Zack Cozart has been before they talk about replacing him. With a 2.7 dWAR, this man owns the No. 3 dWAR in all of baseball. That's incredible.

But now it's time to decide what the Reds need more right nowoffense or defense?

Cozart has been incredibly useful in his capacity. But in a time when offense is at a premium, the Reds should consider making any move they can to address the void. Cozart's slash line of .228/.275/.303 is a major pressure point of the Reds lineup. 

While his dWAR is one of baseball's best, his oWAR is nowhere close. At 0.2, Cozart is simply providing nothing from an offensive standpoint. At least nothing consistently. 

Kristopher Negron, on the other hand, has demonstrated real promise, at least in a very small sample size. In just 65 plate appearances, Negron is slashing .246/.292/.459.

Obviously, this doesn't blow away Cozart's numbers (minus the slugging). But look at the power. Negron has three home runs in 65 plate appearances. Cozart has three home runs in 430 plate appearances. 

Plus, consider runs created per game. Cozart's RC sits at 2.8. Negron's is 5.3.

Negron won't be able to replicate the glove of Cozart. But it's worth noting that he has 461 games in the minor leagues at shortstop. So there's no reason to believe he'll be lost at sea.

As for the limited sample size—while Negron's numbers don't demonstrate a propensity for prolonged success, it's also worth noting that his batting average and OBP have increased in now five consecutive years.

Isn't this a trajectory worth taking a gamble on?

Let's revisit the obvious: There realistically isn't any outside offensive help coming. And considering that's the biggest problem with the Reds at the moment, they have to consider every internal option they have to make up some of the production.

The exceptional pitching that the Reds do have will mitigate the damage of losing such a valuable glove at shortstop. Negron has nine minor league seasons at shortstop, with a .963 fielding percentage at the position. 

In four seasons in the majors, Cozart boasts a .980 fielding percentage.

It's a difference, but you decide, Reds fans: Is this disparity in fielding percentages worthy of consideration above the obvious offensive upgrade that Negron could provide?

I'm not suggesting that Bryan Price should relegate Cozart to the bench—but might he still be able to help the team in a more Chris Heisey fashion as a late-game sub?

 

All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless noted otherwise.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Boston Red Sox: 5 Players Trying to Save Their Jobs for 2015

The Boston Red Sox have started the proverbial "turning of the page," as the team looks forward to its chances in the 2015 MLB season.

Boasting one of the deepest and most promising farm systems in all of baseball, the Red Sox can look forward to a bright future. It's made up largely of home-grown talent developed in recent years thanks to the excellent coaching staffs within Boston's minor league affiliates.

But with such a large cast of promising prospects, the invariable reality is that other players have to go. A major league roster is only so big, and the door needs to be in continuous rotation in order to maintain the legitimacy of a franchise over a long period of time.

We have seen the initial phases of this transformation. Some of Boston's trade-deadline deals have brought in younger, cheaper talent. Other transactions were intended to give the Red Sox openings for which prospects could soon fill.

Yet a number of current Red Sox remain on the bubble when it comes to formulating the team's outlook in 2015 and beyond.

Which of these players who end up staying may be directly attributed to their performances in the coming weeks? With Boston's 2014 season all but conceded, the focus now shifts to putting the best team on the field next year.

In this slideshow, we break down five of these players who are vying to save their jobs with the team in 2015.

We shall look at the various factors behind why each player is on the bubble. And we will try to predict what each player needs to do and what must happen in order to remain on the roster.

Let's have a look.

Begin Slideshow

SwivelCard is the Smartest Business Card Ever

swivelCard

Business cards just got smarter with swivelCard. At the outset, they look like typical cards. But fold it in half and push the tab at the bottom out, and it transforms into a fully-functional USB drive. The storage capacity is small, but you don’t really need more than a few kilobytes as it only serves to direct the recipient of the card to your website or portfolio.

The QR code on the back of the card makes it mobile friendly, too, in case the one who has the card doesn’t have a laptop or access to a computer at the moment.

Smart, isn’t it?

swivelCard

 

The swiverlCards also have a built-in analytics system, allowing you to check when and where they’re being accessed. You can also modify the page the card directs users to, which comes in handy when you’ve changed your URL or have a new product to introduce.

The swivelCard is currently up for funding on Kickstarter.

VIA [ Peta Pixel ]

The post SwivelCard is the Smartest Business Card Ever appeared first on OhGizmo!.

Windcatcher Air Pakk: Carry Stuff and Sleep On It

Windcatcher Air Pakk

So you’re tired and feel like taking a nap in the middle of nowhere. You’ll have no problem getting comfortable with the Windcatcher Air Pakk, as it’s a backpack that doubles as a pillow when you need one the most. It also transforms into a seat pad so you can sit in comfort, even when you’re seated on the floor or on rough surfaces that might not be very tush-friendly.

As if that’s not enough, the Air Pakk also turns into a sleeping pad when you really need to catch some Zzz’s and there’s no bed in sight. The coolest part is that the bag self-inflates, so you don’t have to lug around a pump, or worse, have to inflate it manually.

Windcatcher Air Pakk1

 

Other features include internal removable pockets (think of it as a modular bag that you can personalize, depending on your needs) and a pocket strap where you can tuck in stuff like aviators, caps, and even a water bottle.

The Windcatcher Air Pakk is currently up for funding on Kickstarter, where a minimum pledge of $90 will get you one of your very own.

VIA [ Geekologie ]

The post Windcatcher Air Pakk: Carry Stuff and Sleep On It appeared first on OhGizmo!.

Cubs Grades at the 2014 Three-Quarter Mark

It won't be long until MLB lists the elimination number for each team in the standings.

It also won't be long until that number is zero for the Chicago Cubs. Not that it's a huge surprise for fans of the Cubs.

This year was penned as a rebuilding and development year long before Opening Day. However, what has gotten fans through a difficult 2014 is not the play at Wrigley Field but rather the future of the team fielded at the Friendly Confines.

While some of the starting rotation has been decent, other aspects of the Cubs, such as the offense, have struggled. As we pass the three-quarter mark for the 2014 season, we look back at the first 75 percent of the season from top to bottom. 

Begin Slideshow

Nic Cage, In Your Face, (No) Thanks to nCage Browser Extension

elJtW9W

 

Nicolas Cage is a great actor, although he hasn’t been in many good movies lately. Regardless whether you agree or disagree with that, I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t want to see his mug plastered all over your computer screen. Unless you’re his ultimate mega fan, that is. A browser extension that does exactly just that is called nCage. It’s perfect for pranksters and for the aforementioned mega fans, because it basically turns every image on your browser window into a photo featuring none other than Nicolas Cage.

They’ve mixed it up, too, so you’ll be treated to a slew of Nic Cages with various expressions, hair styles, and eye sizes (yes, there’s one where he does the crazy eyes.) Check out nCage here.

VIA [ Incredible Things ]

The post Nic Cage, In Your Face, (No) Thanks to nCage Browser Extension appeared first on OhGizmo!.