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Analyzing Dan Straily’s Impact on the Chicago Cubs’ Future

Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein showed he isn’t afraid to take big risks when he dealt his two best pitchers late Friday night. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the details of the trade:

As one might expect, the Cubs weren’t short-changed in the deal. Experts such as Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus were quick to point out that the Cubs did a good job of adding talent to an already strong farm system:

While most of the attention in this deal might shift to center fielder Billy McKinney and Addison Russell, the real success of the trade hinges on Dan Straily

Make no mistake, McKinney and Russell should turn out to be instrumental pieces in the Cubs’ rebuilding effort. Both are recent draft picks and offer tremendous upside at the plate and in the field. However, neither will address what the Cubs’ farm system needs—pitching. 

That’s where Straily comes in. The 6’2″, 215-pound 25-year-old will be expected to help out in that department right now. Rob Neyer of Fox Sports speculates that the Cubs will be bringing up Straily sooner rather than later. 

Neyer‘s pessimism is warranted. Straily made seven starts for the Athletics this season, and the stats weren’t pretty. He went 1-2 with a 4.93 ERA before getting sent back down to Triple-A ball. 

Fortunately for Cubs fans, there is an upside to Straily. For all of his struggles last season, his rookie season should offer fans a glimmer of hope. In 27 starts for the Athletics last season he went 10-8 with a respectable 3.96 ERA and finished fourth in American League Rookie of the Year voting. 

Speaking to MLB Network Radio, Straily spoke about the excitement of moving to a new team:

With the change of scenery and, more importantly, a switch to the National League, Straily could be in for a turnaround playing for the Cubs. 

After all, one only has to look at the now-departed Jason Hammel to be encouraged that Straily can turn a corner. When the Cubs acquired him before the 2014 season he was coming off a year as a Baltimore Oriole in which he went 7-8 with an ERA of 4.97. 

It might be a little unrealistic to believe that Straily will make that drastic of a turnaround this season, but he’s definitely a promising piece in the Cubs rotation moving forward. 


All statistics and awards voting references via unless otherwise noted.

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Twitter Reacts as Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel Are Traded to Athletics

The Oakland Athletics and Chicago Cubs wasted no time in getting the MLB‘s trade season underway. 

The two clubs have agreed to terms on a blockbuster deal that will see the Athletics rotation get a major boost. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the deal:

Keith Law of ESPN provided more information on who the Cubs have acquired as part of the deal:

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports shed some light on the timeline of the trade:

The deal is seen as an immediate game changer for the Athletics. Personalities such as Rich Eisen were quick to heap praise on Athletics general manager Billy Beane:

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports speculated on what events may have led to the Athletics making the move:

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports proclaimed the Athletics as AL favorites in light of the new additions:

For the Cubs—who are obviously looking to improve their team beyond 2014—the prized prospect received in the deal will be Addison Russell. JJ Cooper of ESPN provides some insight into just how important he was to getting the deal done:

Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus breaks down just how loaded the Cubs’ farm system is with the addition of Russell:

However, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune wonders what Chicago will do with their sudden logjam at the shortstop position:

Not everyone was sold on the move for the Cubs, though. Rob Neyer brought up some reservations about the Cubs pitching staff going forward:

The sacrifice is obviously worth it for the A’s in the short term. While they were forced to give up Russell, Samardzija has been lights-out this year. Despite his 2-7 record, his 2.83 ERA says he will have a much better record in Oakland. 

His ability to produce ground balls won’t hurt either, as noted by Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Info:

In fact, the addition of Hammel and Samardzija gives the A’s arguably the deepest starting rotation of anyone, as ESPN Stats & Info can attest:

In the end, Jim Bowden of ESPN sees this trade working out well for both teams:

With the MLB All-Star Game just around the corner, it’s going to be hard for teams to top this deal in terms of 2014 World Series implications. The A’s have become serious contenders while the Cubs have made a strong investment for the future. 

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Oscar Taveras Will Become NL Rookie of the Year Front-Runner

For St. Louis Cardinals fans, it’s been a long wait to see top prospect Oscar Taveras in action. The 21-year-old Dominican Republic outfielder was ranked as the No. 2 prospect for 2014 on, but he wasn’t called into action until Saturday’s game against the San Francisco Giants

As it turns out, he appears to be well worth the wait. 

In just his second major league at-bat, he flashed the power that makes him such an exciting prospect. He took the 1-0 pitch deep to right-center to notch his first career home run and give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead over the Giants. 

Given Taveras youth at just a shade under 22 years old, the home run was a historic one in franchise history, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Taveras finished the day 1-for-3 at the plate as the Cardinals moved to 30-26 on the season in a 2-0 win over the Giants. However, the solo shot was all the slugger needed to launch his candidacy for honors as the National League Rookie of the Year. 

With the season just over a third of the way in, Taveras has some ground to make up. Contenders such as Michael Olt and Chris Owings have played as many as 45 and 51 games, respectively. But make no mistake about it: Taveras will quickly enter himself into the race. 

The hype surrounding Taveras is backed up by his impressive minor league numbers.

Prior to his call-up to replace an injured Matt Adams on the Cardinals roster, Taveras was hitting .325 with seven homers and 40 RBI in 49 games at the Triple-A level this season. 

Of course, the obvious retort to Taveras becoming a front-runner for the NL Rookie of the Year honors this year would be the case of Yasiel Puig last season. After all, the hyped Los Angeles Dodgers slugger was passed over for the award last season in favor of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. 

Would a similar power barrage for the Cardinals rookie equate to a similar failure to bring home the hardware?

Possibly, but the situation is quite different. 

Whereas Puig came into a Rookie of the Year race loaded with contenders, Taveras is entering a race that doesn’t feature many well-qualified candidates this early in the race. Here’s a look at what a few of the top candidates thus far have done at the plate:

As one can see, there are some solid numbers being put up in the National League, but the competition isn’t nearly as stiff as in the American League. Players like Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka are putting up numbers that Taveras won’t be able to make up as the season goes along. 

The wait might have been excruciating for Cardinals fans. It’s never fun waiting on a tantalizing talent like Taveras to make his debut. But he’s entering the season with plenty of time to make his impact on the season. 

With his first game already providing some fireworks at the plate, that impact is going to be felt not only by the opposing pitchers, but by his fellow Rookie of the Year contenders. 

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Anibal Sanchez Injury: Updates on Tigers Pitcher’s Finger and Return

The Detroit Tigers will need to find a way to hold their lead in the American League Central without starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez for the next 15 days. 

Chris Lott of has the details:

Sanchez was forced off the mound after just two and two-thirds innings in his start April 26 against the Minnesota Twins due to the injury. He will apparently need at least 15 days before he finds his way back to the mound again. 

The injury will certainly hurt the Tigers’ excellent rotation in the short term. The 30-year-old boasted a 3.13 ERA through five starts this season and was the AL ERA champion in the 2013 season with an ERA of 2.57. 

At the time of Sanchez’s injury, the Tigers held a one-game lead over the Twins in the AL Central with a record of 12-9. Lott also reports that the Tigers will call up right-hander Justin Miller from Triple-A Toledo in response to Sanchez’s injury. 

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Derek Jeter Injury: Updates on Yankees Star’s Ankle, Potential Return Date

Derek Jeter‘s issues with the injury bug don’t appear to be coming to an end anytime soon. The New York Yankees‘ 39-year-old shortstop was pulled from Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox with an apparent ankle injury. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports provided the news:

Rosenthal provided more details:


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Matt Cain Injury: Updates on San Francisco Giants Star’s Arm

The hits just keep on coming for the San Francisco Giants this season. Starting pitcher Matt Cain will be the latest Bay Area star to go on the disabled list. 

The team’s Twitter account provides the details:

The news comes just one day after Cain suffered the injury in a 10-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night. Cain was taken out of the game immediately after taking a line drive to the right forearm. 

Cain had pitched 3.1 innings with seven hits and three earned runs before the incident. 

Despite those poor numbers, Cain remains one of the Giants’ most prized assets. The team is in last place in the National League West, but Cain has been the team’s most effective starter behind Madison Bumgarner.

He has pitched 156.1 innings this year with an ERA of 4.43 and WHIP of 1.14. His record currently stands at 8-8. Now the Giants will be forced to find a suitable replacement for the 28-year-old. 

Dealing with injuries is nothing new for the Giants this season, though. Cain will be joining pitchers Chad Gaudin and Jeremy Affeldt on the DL. Outfielder Angel Pagan leads the list of other important players that are currently out of commission. 

Just one season removed from sweeping the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series, the Giants are the latest example of how quickly the injury bug can force a team to fall from grace.

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Alex Rodriguez’s Lawyer Says Yankees Hid Injury from Star Slugger

The rocky relationship between the New York Yankees and Alex Rodriguez appears to have taken a turn for the worse.

The star third baseman’s newly retained lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, is raising accusations that the club attempted to shorten A-Rod’s career by playing him when he was injured, per Steve Eder of the New York Times. 

During the 2012 playoffs, Tacopina said, the Yankees hid from Rodriguez that a magnetic resonance imaging test had revealed that he had a torn labrum — essentially a hole in his hip — and continued to play him, even though he was struggling mightily.

“They rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a ballplayer,” Tacopina said.


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MLB Trade Rumors: Predicting Destinations for Jake Peavy, Cliff Lee and More

With the July 31 MLB trade deadline just a day away, the time is now for the biggest names that have been floating through the rumor mill to be dealt. 

More and more teams are reportedly becoming involved in the arms race as they prepare to make a run at the playoffs this season. 

With names like Jake Peavy, Cliff Lee and Hunter Pence all rumored to be wearing different jerseys in the near future, there’s sure to be a competitive market for each. However, their respective teams will have to decide if they really want to part with their proven commodities in favor of young prospects. 

Here’s a look at the latest on Peavy, Lee and Pence with a predicted destination for each. 


Peavy Scratched from Start; Red Sox, D-Backs among Interested Teams

As if there weren’t enough indications that the White Sox were trading Peavy, Tom Withers of the Associated Press reports that the 32-year-old has been scratched from his start against the Indians on Tuesday. 

Peavy’s start will be pushed to Wednesday in the event that he’s not traded, but that just doesn’t seem likely at this point. According to Sean McAdam of Comcast Sports Net, up to four teams are interested in acquiring the ace and the team is lowering its asking price. 

Despite previous reports, including this one from Bob Nightengale of USA Today, that the Arizona Diamondbacks were no longer interested in Peavy, Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston has since reported that the Diamondbacks are now the favorite to land him:

With Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill set to return to the mound, the Diamondbacks should have added incentive to bring on Peavy. As CBS Boston points out, Arizona GM Kevin Towers should be familiar with Peavy, since he drafted him in 1999 with the San Diego Padres. 

A rotation featuring McCarthy, Cahill and Peavy, who has an ERA of 4.28 and a record of 8-4 with the fledgling White Sox this year, would be a huge boost to their quest to make up 2.5 games in the NL West. 

Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks


Boston Red Sox Eyeing Lee

Sporting an ERA of 3.05 and record of 10-4 on the 49-56 Phillies, Lee is one of the best starting pitchers available on the market. 

Engaged in an intense three-way race between the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox are in need of an ace to give themselves a leg up on the competition to close out the year. 

According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, Lee could be just the man the Red Sox are looking to add at the deadline. 

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Braves, Cardinals, Orioles and Athletics are all teams that are interested in adding top-flight pitchers. However, the Red Sox appear to have about 10 prospects at their disposal to include in the deal. 

With the Red Sox’s history of spending to win and plenty of prospects to deal, they have to be the favorites to land the lefty. 

Prediction: Boston Red Sox


Reds, Yankees Inquire About Pence

The San Francisco Giants acquired Hunter Pence at the trade deadline last season and he ended up being an instrumental part of their World Series run. Now, it appears there are teams that would like to see if he can help out with another postseason push. 

According to Heyman, the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees have both looked into bringing the outfielder into the fold. 

Both clubs could certainly use him. He’s hitting .277 with 14 home runs and 51 RBI this season and brings a lot to the table defensively in the outfield. He’s also a great presence in the clubhouse.

As Heyman points out, the Rangers and Pirates have also shown interest in Pence. However, the Giants have a high price tag on him. Alex Rios and Nate Schierholtz are the top outfielders on the market. 

Of all the potential trade targets floating around right now, Pence seems like one of the most likely to stay put. The Giants might be asking too much for a player that is not one of the best available at his position. 

Prediction: San Francisco Giants



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Brian Cashman Overruled by Yankees Ownership in Trade for Alfonso Soriano

It appears that Brian Cashman‘s opinion only means so much when it comes to how the New York Yankees handle their roster. 

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees general manager was against the club trading for Alfonso Soriano, but ownership overruled him to send prospect Corey Black to the Chicago Cubs for the 37-year-old outfielder.

As Sherman points out, this isn’t the first time that the Yankees have done something that goes against Cashman’s personal ideas.

The general manager was against the club re-signing Alex Rodriguez when the star third baseman opted out of his contract in 2007, attempted to convince ownership to re-sign catcher Russell Martin last season and was against re-signing Ichiro Suzuki.

Rodriguez will make $29 million this season and at least $20 million for every season until 2017, according to Spotrac. Martin has gone on to play an integral role for the Pittsburgh Pirates and their successful season to this point, while Ichiro is hitting .270 with six home runs and 26 RBI to this point of the season.

The Yankees will owe Soriano $7 million over the next two seasons, as the Chicago Cubs agreed to pay much of the $24 million left on his contract, per Buster Olney of ESPN.

Soriano is 0-for-8 at the plate in his two games since returning to the Yankees and is hitting .249 with 17 home runs and 52 RBI on the season.

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Max Scherzer Falls to 13-1 with Loss to Texas Rangers

Max Scherzer‘s impressive reign of terror over opposing lineups finally came to an end Saturday as the Texas Rangers handed him his first loss of the season.

The Detroit Tigers ace lasted six innings, allowing eight hits, four earned runs and two walks while striking out six in the 7-1 loss to the Rangers. 

As ESPN Stats & Info points out, Scherzer had an opportunity to become the first pitcher in MLB history to achieve a 14-0 record before the All-Star break:

Scherzer opened up the season with a nearly unprecedented run of victories, tallying an incredible 13-0 record to start the year. According to CBS Sports, he is just the fourth pitcher to start 13-0 or better since 1920. Roger Clemens was the last to accomplish the feat when he started 14-0 in 1986. 

Scherzer got off to a good start against the Rangers, making it through the first three innings without allowing a run. However, Texas would finally get to him in the fourth frame. 

A.J. Pierzynski got things started when he drove Nelson Cruz home with a sacrifice fly. Mitch Moreland’s two-run homer in the same inning would drive the lead up to 3-0 for the Rangers. 

The Tigers would provide their star pitcher with a run in the bottom of the fourth inning as Hernan Perez drove in Jhonny Peralta off a single to center field. However, Pierzynski would strike again in the fifth inning, hitting a double to bring Leonys Martin home to extend the lead to 4-1. 

Mad Max would ultimately leave the game after pitching six innings with a pitch count of 122.

Scherzer needed the Tigers lineup to rally in the final four innings to keep his streak alive. Derek Holland, Joakim Soria and Neal Cotts teamed up on the mound to make sure that wouldn’t happen. 

The Rangers would ultimately drive the lead up to 7-1 with an Adrian Beltre homer in the ninth.

Disappointing as the loss may be, Scherzer still has plenty left to accomplish this season. He’s currently tied for the major league lead at 13 wins with Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Moore, who stands at 13-3 on the season.

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