Dan Uggla Not Released by Giants: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Despite MLB.com's Chris Haft initially reporting the Giants had released Dan Uggla, it appears that is not the case. 

Shortly after his initial report, Haft apologized for the error:

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal was the first to dispute that report:

What an unbelievably quick fall it has been for Uggla. He hit at least 30 home runs each season from 2007 through 2011, and in 2012 he hit 19 home runs and led the NL with 94 walks in what was his third All-Star season. 

But he hit an atrocious .179/.309/.362 with the Braves last season, failing to make the playoff roster. After somehow seeing those numbers decline (.149/.229/.213) to a comically bad level through 52 games, he was mercifully released by Atlanta. 

Now, just two years after being named an All-Star, he has struggled to latch on to a team desperate for infield help. 

According to FanGraphs.com, Giants second basemen are hitting .181/.268/.282 this season. Marco Scutaro has spent much of 2014 on the disabled list, Ehire Adrianza has joined him there and Joe Panik is hitting just .212. 

"For the life of me, I can't tell you why, but we're just having a hard time putting together some good at-bats," said manager Bruce Bochy, via the San Francisco Chronicle's Steve Kroner. 

Haft reports that both Emilio Bonifacio and Asdrubal Cabrera are on the Giants' radar, although they would likely welcome any available second baseman.

Fox Sports' Jon Morosi noted Gordon Beckham is also in the mix:

Uggla clearly needs to improve his game, but it appears the Giants are willing to be patient for now.

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Phillies’ Rollins and Utley Homer in Same Game for 23rd Time

Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies set a new major league record Tuesday, becoming the first duo to homer in the same game 23 times, per Lee Sinins of Complete Baseball Encyclopedia.

Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez were the previous record holders, having homered in the same game 22 times while with the Florida Marlins, per Complete Baseball Encyclopedia (via GammonsDaily.com).

This keystone combo played in Florida from 2006-2010, most recently homering in the same game on August 7, 2010 against the St. Louis Cardinals. The duo went deep in the same game on five different occasions during their final campaign together.

Utley and Rollins are currently in the midst of their 12th season together in Philadelphia, so they've had plenty more time to work on this milestone. The two are gradually climbing their way up the Phillies record books, as both players are in the top 10 of the all-time franchise lists for hits, home runs, runs scored and RBI.

With respect to home runs, Utley is sixth on the franchise leaderboard with 226 four-baggers, while Rollins hit No. 214 Wednesday afternoon against the New York Mets. Current Philly Ryan Howard is second on the list with 327, while Mike Schmidt reigns atop with 548.

At 35 years old, Utley needs just one more long ball in 2014 to reach a double-digit total for the 11th straight season. He's had three 30-plus homer seasons, hitting 32, 33 and 31 in 2006, 2008 and 2009, respectively. 

Rollins' totals have been a bit more about longevity, as the 35-year-old made his MLB debut in the 2000 season. He went yard 30 times just once in his career, which occurred during his MVP-winning 2007 campaign.

In an uncharacteristic reversal of trends, Rollins has actually outhomered Utley in two of the last three seasons and is on pace to do it once again this year. The dynamic duo will look to add on to their record-setting totals during the final months of 2014.

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New York Mets Game Is Postponed Due to a Storm in ‘Sharknado 2: The Second One’

After Syfy struck gold with the cult classic Sharknado, more prominent actors jumped on board to join the cast of the science fiction epic's sequel about a shark-tornado hybrid. 

New York Mets fans are affected in the second installment of the series when a "sharknado" appears outside Citi Field, forcing the game to be postponed and the stadium to be evacuated. 

Expect to see more and more of these sequels until people stop talking about them. Then, expect a few more. 

[Syfy]

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Giants’ Jake Peavy, Former Cy Young Winner, Drops 10th Consecutive Decision

San Francisco Giants pitcher Jake Peavy dropped his 10th consecutive decision in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, marking the longest losing streak by a former Cy Young Award winner in MLB history, per ESPN Stats & Info (via Elias Sports Bureau).

Sunday marked Peavy's first appearance as a member of the Giants after being traded by the Boston Red Sox earlier in the week. The trade reunited Peavy with his old skipper, Bruce Bochy, who managed the right-hander on the San Diego Padres from 2002 to 2006. Peavy won his Cy Young Award with the Padres in 2007, one year after Bochy's departure for San Francisco.

On Sunday, the Giants gave Peavy a 2-1 lead after four innings, but he was unable to hold on to his good fortune, as the Dodgers scored three runs in the top of the fifth to hand the 33-year-old hurler his 10th consecutive loss.

Though he's having a poor season, Peavy deserves a bit better than the ongoing 10-game losing streak.

While he did receive three runs of support from the Giants, it was the first time he had gotten at least three runs from his offense since June 3rd this year. The Red Sox scored two or fewer runs in support of Peavy in each of his final eight starts with the team, per ESPN Stats & Info

Peavy's next opportunity to break his losing streak will come Saturday, when the Giants face the New York Mets at Citi Field.

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

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

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

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

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

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Whispers Surrounding Asdrubal Cabrera and More

There were 21 teams across Major League Baseball entering play Wednesday that were either in first place or within 10 games of first place. That means there could be plenty of buyers as the trade deadline approaches, which is perfect for those squads looking to sell off their assets with an eye toward the future.

The only question remaining now is which players actually get moved by Thursday. 

With that in mind, let’s take a glance at some of the latest rumors from around the league.

 

Asdrubal Cabrera

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports filled fans in on the latest regarding Asdrubal Cabrera:

The Cleveland Indians were 6.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central entering play Wednesday, but they already traded Justin Masterson. It doesn’t appear as if they will be buyers at the deadline, although it doesn’t necessarily mean they are giving up on the season because there was a health risk involved with Masterson.

Still, if Cleveland trades Cabrera as well, it may be time to focus on LeBron James and Johnny Manziel.

As for rumored pursuers, the Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants are both in second place in their respective divisions. Adding a solid bat like Cabrera, who has a history of production, would certainly help down the stretch.

However, he is only hitting .248 on the season with nine home runs and 40 RBI. He is a career .270 hitter who usually has more pop in his bat, so perhaps a change of scenery would do some good. 

Whichever team lands Cabrera will certainly hope that’s the case.

 

John Lackey

Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star provided an update on John Lackey:

Lackey has dipped into the fountain of youth this season for the Boston Red Sox and sports a 3.60 ERA, 11-7 record, 1.23 WHIP and 116 strikeouts. It is certainly understandable from Kansas City’s perspective that it likes those young arms, and it’s always important to have an eye on the future in baseball.

Still, how often does Kansas City actually have a chance at a postseason run?

It may be time to give up a prospect or two as the Royals try to hunt down the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central and the Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays in the race for the second wild-card spot.

Lackey would provide a boost for a rotation that already ranks ninth in the league in quality starts. The saying goes that you can never have too much pitching, and it may be in Kansas City’s best interest to test that out down the stretch this year.

 

Emilio Bonifacio 

Dan Connolly of the The Baltimore Sun noted that Emilio Bonifacio may be heading to the Royals:

As we just mentioned in the Lackey section, it may just be time to go for it if you are Kansas City. Bonafacio certainly isn’t a complete game-changer, but he can be a valuable and versatile piece in a postseason run. He is hitting .279 for the Chicago Cubs with 14 steals and speed in the outfield, so there is certainly room for him in the Royals lineup.

From Chicago's perspective, this makes total sense.

The Cubs are not going to compete this year or (probably) next year, so any young talent they can get back in trades right now will help in the future.

General manager Jed Hoyer commented on the strategy, via Patrick Mooney of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago: "You’re sort of trying to find a dance partner on the 30th and 31st. People cast a wide net early and then they sort of hone in on what they think is realistic. As you get towards (Wednesday) evening, people want to make deals and they’re a little more willing to sort of pair up." 

The Cubs are certainly looking for a number of dance partners at the deadline this season.

 

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Home Run at Giants-Pirates Game Takes out Woman’s Beer

"Awwwww, that's expensive."

A woman at the San Francisco Giants-Pittsburgh Pirates game, who was clearly trying to stay out of the way, caught a home run in the stands from Pittsburgh's Jordy Mercer. While this is normally something to boast about, the woman likely wasn't thrilled, as the ball landed directly in her beer. 

This $8 accident adds insult to injury because the woman didn't even manage to end up with the ball. At least she'll always have the memory and the beer-stained clothes.

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Deal Of The Day: 95% Off On Productive Design Mac Bundle

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 6.56.48 PM

Are you a graphic designer? There are tons of tools that will not only make your life easier, but that some may actually consider essential to the carrying of your art. In today’s deal, you’re looking at an awesome Productive Design Mac Bundle which includes $943 worth of applications and subscriptions, for which you’re only being asked to pay $39! That includes applications like Anime Studio Pro 10, which normally costs $200. And the Design Hacker Bundle, which includes subscriptions to services like InVision, 99designs, Swiftly, Divshot, Piktochart, and more. That alone would cost $500. Toss in Ember, Pixa, and Poser 10, a $130 3D modelling app, and you’ve got yourself a heck of a deal.

[ 95% Off On Productive Design Mac Bundle ]

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Pirates Run into Double Play on the Bases After Drawing a Walk

No matter how many times you go to a baseball game, there's a chance you will see something that you have never seen before.

For example, you may see a base on balls get turned into a double play one day. 

In the sixth inning of Wednesday's Pittsburgh Pirates-San Francisco Giants game, we found out that it is indeed possible to record two outs even if the batter walks. Unfortunately for the Pirates, it came during a time in which they held a slim 5-4 lead.

With Travis Snider on second base and Gaby Sanchez on third, the Pirates' Chris Stewart drew a walk against the Giants' Jean Machi. That should've loaded the bases with one out and given Pittsburgh a chance to extend its lead. Things didn't go as planned.

The Pittsburgh-Tribune Review's Rob Biertempfel summed up the play best:

Snider's baserunning blunder put Sanchez in a tough spot, but the lead runner did not have to go anywhere on the play. The Pirates could've had runners on the corners with two outs, but instead, the mistakes piled up.

It's not every day that you see a walk turn into a double play. 

[MLB.com]

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Orioles’ Adam Jones Records 4th Straight 20-Homer Season

Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones hit a solo home run in the first inning of Tuesday's 7-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels, thus becoming the first Oriole since Rafael Palmeiro (1994-1998) to record four straight seasons with 20 or more homers, per ESPN Stats & Info.

According to GammonsDaily.com (via Complete Baseball Encyclopedia), Jones is the eighth player in Baltimore Orioles/St. Louis Browns franchise history to hit 20 home runs in four or more consecutive seasons.

If Jones is able to record 20 long balls once again in 2015, then he'll tie both Palmeiro and Boog Powell (1968-1972) for third place on the franchise list for most consecutive 20-homer campaigns.

The 28-year-old center fielder has quite a bit of work ahead of him if he's going to tie Cal Ripken, who sits atop these rankings with 10 consecutive 20-plus homer campaigns from 1982 to 1991. Eddie Murray (1977-1985) is in second place with nine seasons of this sort.

Jones' feat is also unique in the sense that he's tops among all Orioles/Browns center fielders. With Tuesday's solo shot, he became the only player at his position in franchise history to accumulate this type of streak.

Jones was previously tied with Fred Lynn, who homered 20 or more times in the '85, '86 and '87 seasons while primarily playing center field.

Jones' streak could have easily been longer, as he fell just one long ball shy of 20 in both the 2009 and 2010 seasons. His 2009 campaign was particularly impressive, as he managed to hit 19 home runs in just 119 games during his second season as a full-time major leaguer.

If the center fielder can rack up just 10 more homers through the rest of 2014, then he'll reach 30 four-baggers for the third consecutive year. This may be tougher than expected for the soon-to-be 29-year-old, as his career .416 slugging percentage in August is lower than in any other month.

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MLB Trade Deadline: Starting Pitchers St. Louis Cardinals Should Target

Amidst all the ballyhoo in every general manager's office is a soft cadence:

Tick...tick...tick. 

Each strike of the clock heightens this thrill ride known as major league baseball's non-waiver trade deadline, set for 4 p.m. ET Thursday. 

In the middle of this drama sits St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, contemplating his next move(s), which could impact his club for years to come. 

Mozeliak's biggest priority is a starting pitcher to fill the fifth slot in the Cardinals' shaky rotation. And it's no secret what he's looking for. The Cardinals have not disclosed who will start Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers in what will be the biggest series to date. 

While the Cardinals continue on their current six-game road trip, Mozeliak must pull the trigger on a starter, preferably a marquee arm. 

Mozeliak added depth to his staff Wednesday afternoon by acquiring Justin Masterson in a trade with Cleveland. This minor deal surely comes as an appetizer to the main course. That's my thought process, anyway. 

Let's take a look at some top-name targets on the market.

Begin Slideshow

Former Art School Student with 100-MPH Fastball Signs with Minnesota Twins

“He’s like Ivan Drago...‘Whatever he hits ... he destroys.’”

Such were the words of Elliott Strankman, the Minnesota Twins scout who discovered a dormant giant in the unlikeliest of places. 

Strankman’s Drago remark, as told to Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan, centered on Brandon Poulson, a 6’7”, 240-pound student he discovered playing baseball at a small San Francisco art school. Passan's feature story, which published Wednesday morning, focused on Poulson and his implausible journey to a pro baseball contract.

Poulson’s trip into the orbit of Major League Baseball began in the fall of 2013, when a handful of bored MLB scouts gathered around for what promised to be a fruitless pro day at the Academy of Art University.

Scouts watched as the unheralded baseball team’s position players ran middling 60-yard dashes, ostensibly scribbling notes from time to time in order to look busy.

The only curiosity of the day was Poulson. The towering pitcher stepped up, asked if he could run and proceeded to astound the scouts by blazing a 60-yard streak in nothing but socks. Strankman and his cohorts clocked the run between 6.59 and 6.61 seconds—a time more typical of shortstops. 

Strankman claims this as the moment of freakish athleticism that sparked the Drago connection.

Poulson proved to be more brawler than boxer, however. The intrigued scouts gathered around as the tall talent unleashed a barrage of wild fastballs from the mound. His mechanics were atrocious. His arm topped out at 91 mph.

Poulson couldn’t find the strike zone, and as it turned out, he was already 24. The scouts shuffled off, but the hot-rod goliath stuck in Strankman’s mind. 

Earlier this July, Strankman said he received a tip from a friend about a hard-throwing monstrosity playing for the Healdsburg Prune Packers in northwest California. His source mentioned that the kid had once played for some art school and boy, was he enormous. 

Strankman’s thoughts darted to Drago, and the scout soon found himself watching Poulson pitching at the Prune Packers' ancient wooden stadium, Recreation Park. 

Scouts from the Oakland A’s, the Atlanta Braves and the San Francisco Giants stood by and watched in awe as Poulson’s arm lit up their radar guns. 

Many of the guns read “99,” with an outlier clocking Poulson’s fastball at 100 mph. The kid had broken the barrier. 

What Poulson did to improve, it turns out, was the same thing he’d done his entire life: master his body as an artist would master a brush. Passan’s telling of Poulson’s past paints the picture of a young man with physical gifts and dedication to honing them.

[Poulson] was always an athlete. Brandon Poulson never played basketball, and he can do a 360-degree spinning dunk. He's the size of an NFL tight end, and he can almost do the splits thanks to hours spent in Bikram yoga classes. Poulson dabbled with baseball at Piner High in Santa Rosa, Calif., and played football for a couple years at Santa Rosa Junior College before decamping to the real world.

This real-world trip included driving 18-wheelers for his family's excavation business. Poulson toiled away, learning to work heavy equipment with the expectation that he’d one day take over the company. His father had different plans, and he told his son that it was now or never if he wanted to pursue a career playing professional sports.

The raw righty chose baseball and started pitching in the Wine Country men’s league, throwing 80-mph-to-low-90-mph fastballs. His speed caught the attention of an umpire, who brought the tall hurler’s presence to the attention of Academy of Art University coach Brian Gwinn. 

Gwinn didn’t hesitate to bring Poulson on board, offering him a scholarship and an opportunity to mold his expansive physical skill set into a devastating art.

Poulson’s legend grew in the local baseball community, and he eventually met Joey Gomes, manager of the Prune Packers and brother to Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes. Joey introduced Poulson to pitching coach Caleb Balbuena, who worked with the young man to improve his creaky, robotic form.

“He was the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz,” Balbuena told Passan. “Very stiff and methodical. I didn’t even know there was a baseball team in at the art school when I first met [Poulson]. I’m thinking of Step Up...And then I meet this 6’7”, 240 guy, and I don’t think he’s a dancer.”

Once the Tin Man, Poulson is now throwing triple-digit heat and appears poised to become a force in the minor leagues. After witnessing Poulson throw 18 pitches for the Packers, Strankman convinced the Twins to take a chance on a burgeoning talent. The team responded by offering a $250,000 contract. Poulson, who went undrafted in June, signed it in under 30 minutes. 

“I probably don’t realize what this means yet,” Poulson told Passan. “But I’m starting to.” 

This Wednesday, Poulson flew down to Elizabethton, Tennessee, to join the Twins’ rookie-level affiliate in the Appalachian League. 

The tall right-hander will be playing alongside a crop of strong, young talent in Tennessee, including another 100-mph thrower in Michael Cederoth.

It’s a long way to come for a truck-driving former Tin Man fresh out of art school. Poulson’s mentors think he can handle it. 

“He’s so close,” Balbuena said. “He’s so close where you can wrap him up in a bow and hand-deliver him as that dude that’s gonna be in the big leagues for a long time.”

Will Poulson be the next big thing? A real-life Sidd Finch?

That's the gamble the Twins are making, and as usual, it all comes down to whether or not Poulson can keep his UCL intact and his heat over the plate.

Tall is good. Fast is better. But none of it's worth a dime without control. Poulson chose the hurler's life, and like the thousands of other talents clawing to make the league, he's going to have to prove his stuff can outlast the rest. 

 

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Is Justin Masterson Trade Enough to Steady Shaky Cardinals Roster?

The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired right-handed starter Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians, reports Peter Gammons.

 

Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted that the Cardinals are sending outfield prospect James Ramsey to the Indians in exchange for Masterson.

With Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha both on the disabled list and Shelby Miller struggling to find himself in the rotation, the Cardinals were rumored to be in the market for starting pitching before the deadline, with Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggesting that the team would make a run at either David Price, Jon Lester or Cole Hamels. However, with the acquisition of Masterson, a deal for either left-handed ace now appears less likely.

But is Justin Masterson the missing piece that the Cardinals need to reach the postseason, or is this just the first of several moves they’ll make before tomorrow’s non-waiver trade deadline?

Masterson, 29, was the Tribe’s ace last season, posting a 3.45 ERA, 9.1 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 193 innings spanning 29 starts. The right-hander also established new career highs in wins (14), shutouts (three) and strikeouts (195) while registering a 58.0 percent ground-ball rate. Meanwhile, his strong performance earned him a spot on the AL All-Star team.

In general, Masterson served as the Indians’ top pitcher from 2011-2013, going a combined 37-35 with a 3.86 ERA (3.60 FIP), 7.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 615.1 total innings. He averaged 32 starts and more than 205 innings per season during that stretch.

However, the 2014 season has been a much different story for Masterson.

In 19 starts this year spanning 98 innings, Masterson has pitched to a disappointing 5.51 ERA (4.08 FIP) to go along with a 5.1 BB/9 and a career-worst 1.653 WHIP.

More concerning is the fact that Masterson has dealt with a knee issue for a majority of the season, an injury which currently has him on the 15-day disabled list, though he’s expected to be activated over the weekend.

Besides his poor numbers, Masterson’s injury also has seemingly affected the quality of his stuff, as his fastball has averaged 90.5 mph this season after averaging 93.1 mph in 2013, per FanGraphs.

A strong case also can be made that Masterson’s knee injury also has affected his vertical release points this season.

As a result of his lowered release, Masterson has seen a decrease in vertical movement across the board, which, when combined with his drop in velocity, could explain why he’s been so hittable.

Meanwhile, Masterson’s individual pitch values, courtesy of FanGraphs, show just how much those factors have hindered his success:

As you can see, Masterson has still been effective with his slider and changeup this year, though considerably less than he was in 2013. At the same time, it’s clear that his fastball issues have directly influenced his poor performance this season.

The good news is that Masterson won’t have to pitch like an ace with the Cardinals. Plus, manager Mike Matheny is a firm believer that Masterson still has "it."

Via Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com:

You also can't get too far away from what this guy did last year, not just statistically but look at his stuff a year ago. It was just filthy. You don't lose it that quick, especially when you're 29. Maybe there is a little bit of alterations. I know his previous team was doing the exact same thing, trying to get him back to the pitcher he was in 2013. There are very, very talented people over there. But if we have an opportunity here to put our best foot forward, we'll see how we can help him. Hopefully it brings out the best.

Given the team’s current rotation of Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly, Masterson figures to slide in as a No. 3 or 4 starter for the Cardinals. Of course, that projection doesn’t factor in right-handers Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez, both of whom have endured their struggles in the rotation, as well as phenom Michael Wacha, whom the organization believes will be fully healthy come September.

Therefore, even if Masterson doesn’t meet expectations with his new team, it still gives the organization the flexibility to manage the workloads of its young arms more cautiously.

A deal for either Price, Lester or Hamels would have cost the Cardinals a big piece of their future, as it presumably would have involved them trading at least two young players from a list of outfielders Oscar Taveras, Stephen Piscotty, Miller and Martinez. However, by setting their sights a bit lower and targeting Masterson, the organization only had to part with outfielder James Ramsey rather than its other highly coveted young talents.

Ramsey, the No. 23 overall pick in the 2012 draft, has hit for both average and power since beginning his professional career, with a .266/.368/.434 batting line, 30 home runs, 39 doubles and 101 RBI in 235 games over the last three seasons.

At the time of the trade, the 24-year-old Ramsey, a left-handed batter, was enjoying a breakout campaign at Double-A Springfield—where he played 93 games in 2013—with a vastly improved .300/.389/.527 batting line, 13 home runs and 14 doubles through 67 games. However, despite his impressive numbers this season, Ramsey still projects as more of a fourth outfielder than an everyday player, due to his lack of consistent power and struggles against left-handed pitching.

Additionally, Ramsey was also without a clear path to the major leagues anytime soon due to the presence of Taveras, Piscotty and Randal Grichuk, not to mention the team’s other outfielders at the major league level, ahead of him on the organizational depth chart. As a result, he became perfect trade bait for the Cardinals in their pursuit of Masterson.

Overall, trading Ramsey for Masterson is a great deal for the Cardinals, even if the right-hander fails to regain his form from previous seasons. In addition to offering St. Louis a veteran presence and depth in its starting rotation, the decision to acquire Masterson also means that the organization won’t have to rely on its young arms down the stretch as heavily as it did last season.

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Felix Doubront to Cubs: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

Following struggles throughout the 2014 season, the Boston Red Sox have reportedly traded Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs ahead of the MLB trade deadline.   

The Cubs confirmed the deal on their Twitter account:

Jeff Passan of Yahoo originally reported the trade Wednesday:

Jim Bowden of ESPN passes along more information:

The former starter currently touts a 6.07 ERA, 43 strikeouts and 1.60 WHIP through 17 appearances this season. After opening the season as a starter, Doubront was moved to the bullpen and has started just 10 games in 2014.

As a reliever during July, Doubront has been tattooed with a 14.14 ERA through seven innings pitched. That includes a two-walk, six-run outing on Monday in 0.2 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Ricky Doyle of NESN provided his thoughts on the pitcher after his final outing with Boston:

Doubront’s career with the Red Sox has been a rollercoaster ride, but he has shown flashes of being a valuable pitcher. This season, however, has been somewhat nauseating, and the situation is unlikely to solve itself. 

Doyle also notes that the final performance was an "all-time low" for the former starter.

Speaking of his career as a starting pitcher, Doubront apparently wants to get back on the mound to open games. The 26-year-old Venezuelan explained what he wanted if traded to a new team, via Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com:

If something happens, it’s going to happen because it’s going to be the best for me. I just want to be a starter and stay there. If I stay (with the Red Sox), they have to know I have to be a starter. If I go, the other team is going to give me this chance to be a starter.

... For me, they don’t see the numbers, they don’t care what I’ve done in the past. It’s hard to be happy like that with these guys.

Though the player potentially coming over to the Red Sox hasn't been mentioned, it's clear they are working toward next year. After falling well off pace in the AL East, this might be the first of several moves from the team—including ace starter Jon Lester, who was scratched from his Wednesday start amid swirling trade rumors, per Matt Snyder of CBSSports.com.

While Doubront has struggled mightily this season, he has proved over the last few seasons that he deserves another shot as a starter. From 2012 to 2013, Doubront collected a 22-16 record, 4.59 ERA and 306 strikeouts over 323.1 innings pitched.

Those numbers aren't staggering, but they show he can get the job done. On a young team like Chicago that is slowly working toward the future, Doubront might have a shot to contribute.

 

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Jon Lester Trade Rumors: Analyzing Latest Deadline Chatter About Red Sox Ace

The trade talk surrounding Jon Lester, which has been ongoing for several weeks, reached a fever pitch when it was announced he would be scratched from his Wednesday start. It turned out the Boston Red Sox were just playing it safe with their top trade chip, so the rumors continue.

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald passed along comments from manager John Farrell, who said given the circumstances, it was the best option for all of the parties involved.

"In light of all the uncertainty surrounding Jon Lester, it's probably in everyone's best interest that he does not make that start," he said. "There will be a corresponding move, roster-wise, at some point (today)."

The report also provided a glimpse into what Boston is seeking should it decided to part with its ace before Thursday's non-waiver trade deadline:

Based on information from major league sources, including executives who commented on condition of anonymity, the Red Sox have spoken with as many as eight teams about Lester's availability, notifying them that they will require at least two elite-level prospects in any deal.

Based purely on his numbers, Lester would certainly be worth that type of haul. The 30-year-old starter is having the best statistical season of his career with a 2.52 ERA in 21 starts. He's also striking out more than a batter per inning for the first time since 2010.

Getting two top-notch young players for a pitcher whose contract runs out at season's end could prove difficult, though. That's a steep price tag for a rental or a player the other team would need to hand a massive extension to keep beyond this year.

The silver lining for general manager Ben Cherington is the number of teams potentially involved in the sweepstakes, which nearly amounts to one-third of the league.

Jayson Stark of ESPN matches the Boston Herald report in linking eight different teams to Lester. He lists the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates as possible landing spots.

It seems there isn't a high-profile signing or trade these days without the Dodgers involved. If they were ever able to work out a deal with the Red Sox for Lester to join Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, then it would eliminate any doubt about which team is the National League favorite.

Peter Gammons of MLB.com doesn't think they will be heavily involved when it comes to acquiring another ace, however. He thinks Los Angeles is focused on a starter who would fill a spot at the back end of the rotation while keeping its young talent:

That's good news for every other team in negotiations with Boston. But there's still varying reports about whether the team is all-in on selling.

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports keeping Lester for the rest of the season and then accepting a draft pick as compensation if an extension isn't reached is still an option. In that case, he would return to the rotation later in the week:

Team sources said Wednesday morning that the Red Sox are not necessarily committed to trading Lester and that he could start against the Yankees on Friday at Fenway Park. But enough teams are interested in Lester that a deal seems likely.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports cites a source that thinks there's a high probability Lester, along with John Lackey, will be on the move:

Ultimately, it's a difficult situation made even tougher because the Red Sox figured they would be looking to add the final pieces to their repeat puzzle right now. Instead, they are looking into possibly moving a stalwart member of the rotation.

Trade rumors can often get a player off his game, as well. That seemingly hasn't been the case for Lester, who has a 0.93 ERA in four July starts. Those numbers help solidify his value as one of the few elite pitchers available at this stage.

He took to Twitter to thank their fans for their support throughout the process:

Unless the Red Sox feel confident they can re-sign Lester after the season, they should take the best offer on the table by 4 p.m. tomorrow. It's highly unlikely a compensatory draft pick will match up to the deals available now, even if they don't contain the desired pair of elite prospects.

If he does get moved, then there's a strong chance he will shift the balance of power in either league. The races are incredibly close across the board, and, aside from maybe the Oakland Athletics, no teams have really stood out from the pack to this point.

Lester is definitely a pitcher with the ability to lead a rotation or slide in as a terrific No. 2 option. The question is whether any team values that type of asset enough to part with a couple young players with plenty of potential.

It's a situation that will be watched closely over the next 24 hours.

 

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Cincinnati Reds’ Aroldis Chapman Records Career Save No. 100

Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman worked a perfect ninth inning Tuesday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks to earn his 100th career save, per MLB Milestones on Twitter.

Chapman needed 16 pitches to lock down the 3-0 victory, earning his 23rd save of the season in rather easy fashion.

All but two of his pitches were fastballs, with the slowest registering at 98 miles per hour and the fastest at 103 mph. That 103-mph heater came on the final pitch of the game, when Chapman struck out Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius to preserve the win for starter Mike Leake.

The 26 year-old Cuban flamethrower is in his fifth MLB season but only his third as the Reds closer.  Chapman, who debuted in 2010, had only one save through his first two seasons. As the team's designated closer, he turned in stellar performances the past two seasons with 38 saves in both 2012 and 2013. 

Chapman is the fifth pitcher to earn 100 saves in a Reds uniform, joining Clay Carroll (119), John Franco (148), Francisco Cordero (150) and franchise saves leader Danny Graves (182). 

The Cuban's career ERA of 2.37 is second in franchise history for a closer, trailing only Jeff Shaw's 2.31 (minimum 50 saves), per MLB.com

Cincinnati's single-season saves record belongs to Jeff Brantley, who recorded 44 in 1996.

Chapman owns the MLB record for consecutive appearances with a strikeout, as Tuesday's punchout of Gregorius extended the lefty's own record to 45 games, per MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.

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Indians Deal Justin Masterson to Cardinals

The Cleveland Indians will trade starting pitcher and onetime ace Justin Masterson to the St. Louis Cardinals, according to Peter Gammons:

Joel Sherman of the New York Post is reporting that outfield prospect James Ramsey will head back to Cleveland:

Masterson is 4-6 this year with a 5.51 ERA. He is currently on the disabled list with a right knee issue and has seen his velocity go down this season. His fastball has gone from an average of 91.6 mph in 2013 to 89.1 mph in 2014. The injury could explain why. He was an All-Star last season while winning 14 games with a 3.45 ERA.

Masterson will join a potentially deep St. Louis rotation that is led by Adam Wainwright and includes young starters Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly. The Cardinals were looking for a pitcher after Michael Wacha went on the DL.

The Cardinals sit 1.5 games back of first place in the National League Central and are half of a game out of the wild card. They trail the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates in the division.

Ramsey was batting .300 with 13 home runs and 36 runs batted in for Double-A Springfield. He will report to Triple-A Columbus for the Tribe.

Masterson, 29, will be a free agent at the end of the season.

 

All stats were obtained via Baseball-Reference.com.

Question or comments? Make your voice heard below or feel free to follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk baseball.

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Justin Masterson to Cardinals: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

Despite struggles this season, Justin Masterson was still one of the top pitchers on the market ahead of the MLB trade deadline. Now, the former Cleveland Indians starter has been traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, the team announced:

Peter Gammons initially reported the trade:

Joel Sherman of the New York Post provided more details:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Derrick Goold notes which number Masterson will wear:

Masterson is finally healthy again after suffering a knee injury earlier this season, but he hasn't experienced much success on the mound. An All-Star in 2013, Masterson's ERA has consistently hovered around 5.00 since mid-May, and he hasn't won more than two games in any month.

That's a rough year by any measure, much less following an All-Star campaign.

Following the announcement earlier in July that Masterson would be going on the disabled list, Buster Olney of ESPN offered his thoughts on Masterson's season:

Former manager Terry Francona had planned on starting Masterson on Friday, but he will have to axe those plans now. Francona shared a conversation with Masterson, per Zack Meisel of Cleveland.com:

He was pretty strong in his opinion that he was ready and that another [minor league start] wouldn't help him. ...

... He said he feels much better about attacking the strike zone. He said there were times he probably threw some pitches he probably wouldn't in a major league game, which is understandable. We just want to make sure he's ready to go, because when he comes back, he's back.

Masterson will indeed be back, just for another franchise. The good part for the Cardinals is that he now has confidence heading into a new situation.

The 29-year-old right-hander has a chance to turn his season around and will get the opportunity to do so for a playoff contender. Cleveland still has a shot to make the postseason, while St. Louis currently sits just outside of a wild-card spot.

Prior to the trade taking place, Jeff Passan of Yahoo explained what the Indians preferred in return:

Though not a pitcher, James Ramsey is a good return here, as he ranked as the No. 6 Cardinals prospect, per MLB.com. While there was a chance the Indians might have played in October if Masterson returned to form, they added more talent for the future with this move.

With emerging stars such as Francisco Lindor and Clint Frazier in the minors, they already have offensive pieces, while MLB.com highlights Ramsey's defensive skills in the outfield. Though it's risky to trade current talent—struggling or not—for upside, this deal should improve their chances to remain competitive in the future.

With the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals still the powers of the AL Central, this might be a trade that propels the Indians back to the postseason, even if not immediately. As for Masterson, he has a chance to win right away and make a huge impact this season.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Evan Reed, Detroit Tigers Minor League Pitcher, Charged with Sexual Assault

Evan Reed, a relief pitcher for the Toledo Mud Hens in the Detroit Tigers organization, has been charged with sexual assault for an alleged incident in March. He faces two counts of criminal sexual conduct and the charges against him "carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison," per Robert Allen of the Detroit Free Press.    

Allen reports the 45-year-old victim alleges she met Reed at a bar and began to feel "odd" after a drink. She accompanied him back to a hotel, where she claims the assault occurred:

The woman and Reed left the bar and took a taxi to the hotel. The woman alleges that at 7:30 that morning, Reed sexually assaulted her in the hotel room and then told her to leave, according to the news release.

The report notes Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said plans are currently being put in place for Reed to turn himself in to law enforcement officials. It's unclear exactly when that's going to happen, but it could happen as early as this week.

It also included a statement from the Tigers:

"As an organization, we take matters like this very seriously and we are closely monitoring the situation," the statement reads. "Evan Reed's representatives are handling his legal proceeding that must run its course before there is any further comment from the ballclub."

Gus Burns of MLive.com added that Worthy was hesitant to make any further details about the case known beyond the basic information and how it was compiled that led to the charges:

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges, each which carries up to 15 years in prison, during a news conference Wednesday.

Worthy declined to provide details, saying repeatedly that the facts and circumstances will come out in court, but said there were numerous witnesses interviewed and surveillance footage reviewed during the investigation.

Back in April, Shawn Ley of WDIV obtained the initial police report. In it, the woman explained how she was able to identify the Tigers' pitcher:

The woman told police that she was able to figure out that the man who went by the name Evan is a member of the Tigers. She told police she identified the man as 28-year-old Evan Reed after looking him up on the Tigers website, and that he was the man she was with the night of the alleged sexual assault. It was just two days before Opening Day at Comerica Park.

Reed started the season with the Tigers. He made his first of 27 appearances on March 31. He posted a 4.88 ERA in those games before being sent down to the Mud Hens last month, the team's Triple-A affiliate, where he's remained ever since.

The team is currently at home in Toledo, but the Detroit Free Press report states prosecutors don't believe extradition is going to become an issue based on the plans to turn himself in.

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MLB Rumors: Jon Lester, Cole Hamels and Latest Trade Deadline Chatter

The 2014 MLB trade deadline is Thursday, July 31, and the rumors are swirling as teams make their final push to add difference-makers for a deep postseason run.

With legitimate stars like Jon Lester, Cole Hamels and Alex Rios reportedly on the trade block, the possibility of a wild deadline day full of deals has the baseball world buzzing.

Here are the latest rumors surrounding the top names in the sport.

 

Jon Lester Drawing Serious Deadline Interest?

The big news from Tuesday’s games was that Boston Red Sox ace Jon Lester would not make his scheduled start Wednesday, as his head coach, John Farrell, told Jeff Pini of Boston.com.

Lester has been at the center of trade talks for weeks. With the deadline now just a day away, the team made the decision to scratch him and avoid injury just in case it can work out a deal with a prospective buyer.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, there are several teams that have expressed serious interest in Lester:

Even with Boston struggling this season, Lester has been one of the cornerstones of the franchise and has helped the Red Sox stay near contention despite the lack of consistency around him. So far in the 2014 season, he has racked up a 2.52 ERA, a 10-7 record and 149 strikeouts.

Those numbers would look even more impressive if he found himself on a team with an offensive unit that could contribute runs when needed. Whether it’s the Pittsburgh Pirates, the St. Louis Cardinals or even the Oakland A's, Lester would have a better chance to succeed elsewhere.

Any franchise looking to acquire him would have to give up a hefty package of prospects and picks, but the return of a star pitcher who could anchor a rotation should be worth it to any organization that believes it can contend for a World Series.

 

Asking Price for Cole Hamels Too High?

The Philadelphia Phillies are 47-60 this season and falling fast. The team must become trade-deadline sellers, but there are reports that Philadelphia may not be as willing to part with certain players as a team in a retooling mode should.

Per a report from John Heyman of CBSSports.com, several teams have expressed interest in Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels, but the franchise’s asking price is far too high:

While Phillies star left-hander Cole Hamels remains technically available on the trade market, a rival GM put it this way: "They want the world."

The Phillies have to at least listen on Hamels considering their issues in dealing other big-salaried players and the clear need to begin to retool. But they obviously aren't eager, based on asking prices being heard.

According to Heyman, Hamels has $105 million left on his current contract. If Philadelphia isn’t going for a full-blown rebuild, the franchise must begin moving some of the high-priced players in favor of more affordable temporary fixes.

The key has always been to build a strong farm system, but the Phillies depleted the strength of their minor league system with several moves that helped bring them the World Series in 2008. The problem now is that the championship window has closed and the organization is clinging to the remaining pieces.

Hamels is still one of the top pitchers in the league, amassing a 2.55 ERA, a 6-5 record and 133 strikeouts, but Philadelphia could get a huge return for the player from a team desperate for the extra arm in the rotation.

Whether it’s this year’s deadline, the offseason or even next summer’s trade deadline, the Phillies should replenish their farm system by dealing away one of the team’s most valuable pieces. The hope is that it would be a case of taking one step back in order to take two steps forward.

 

Alex Rios on the Move?

Just like the Red Sox and the Phillies, the Texas Rangers (42-65) are slipping out of contention and will likely become sellers at the trade deadline. One of the players drawing the most interest is veteran outfielder Alex Rios.

According to Rosenthal, Rios is a serious deadline target for several teams, and Texas will do whatever it takes to get a deal done:

The money is the major holdup in a possible deal. According to Rotoworld.com, Rios is due to make $12.5 million this season with a $13.5 million club option in 2015. The veteran will become a free agent in 2016, and a team looking to add depth to the lineup should be concerned about the hefty price tag.

That is unless the Rangers are willing to include cash in a deal, as Rosenthal is reporting.

Rios is still a solid outfielder with good numbers at the plate—he has a .305 batting average, four home runs, 43 RBI and a .334 on-base percentage—and his ability in the past to move from town to town via trade without missing a beat is what contenders are looking for.

While Rios won’t steal many headlines, he is a talented player who would add another body in the outfield and a reliable bat in the lineup.

 

*Stats via MLB.com.

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