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Manny Ramirez Released by Texas Rangers

Manny Ramirez will not be playing for the Texas Rangers this season.

Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the organization has released the former All-Star slugger:

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels also issued a statement, via MLBlogs Network: “Based on our evaluation, there was not a spot for Manny on the club at this time. We released him so he could pursue other opportunities if he so chooses.”

The Rangers signed Ramirez to a minor league deal back in early July after he had been playing overseas in Taiwan, per Todd Wills of ESPN Dallas. The outfielder and designated hitter has been playing for Triple-A Round Rock ever since.   

In 30 games in the minor leagues, Ramirez hit .259/.328/.370 with three home runs, 13 RBI and seven runs. He walked 8.4 percent of the time and struck out 11.8 percent of the time. He wasn’t overly impressive in his time with Round Rock, but he still could’ve aided the Texas offense down the stretch.

Texas is in the midst of a tight battle for the American League West crown with the Oakland Athletics, but it recently lost a key contributor. Nelson Cruz was suspended for the remainder of the regular season for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, according to Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times.

At the time of the suspension, some may have gotten their hopes up that Ramirez was going to be promoted to help fill the void in Texas’ outfield. But that didn’t happen, as the organization decided to go with an external option instead of an internal one. The team traded for Alex Rios on Aug. 9, per T.R. Sullivan of

The Rangers are also awaiting the return of Lance Berkman. The slugger is currently making a few rehab starts in Triple-A and even hit a home run on Aug. 10, according to Sullivan. As Bleacher Report’s Will Carroll points out, the release of Ramirez may signal an upcoming activation of Berkman:

Ramirez has played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball and has been selected to the MLB All-Star Game 12 times in his career. He’s a .312/.411/.585 career hitter with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBI.

Whether he eventually makes a return to the big leagues remains to be seen, but it won’t be with Texas in 2013.


All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and are current through August 12.

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Phillies Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Where Michael Young May Wind Up

Philadelphia Phillies infielder Michael Young may be dealt at any moment, but the veteran’s destination is unclear.

A move appears imminent, though, as the Phillies announced Tuesday afternoon that the team was promoting Cody Asche from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Asche isn’t getting the call to sit on the bench, as Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer thinks he’ll be starting, and if Young stays past tomorrow, he’ll be the backup.

Young is hitting .277/.342/.402 with seven home runs and 32 RBI through 98 games for the Phillies this year. He can play any infield position and could serve as a designated hitter as well. All signs point to him playing for an American League contender for the last two months of the season.

If the Phillies are planning on trading Young in the next few hours—or just before Major League Baseball’s deadline tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET—Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that he isn’t going to be headed to the Bronx:

If not New York, then where will Young be playing for the rest of the 2013 season? Well, he has a full no-trade clause in his contract, and that makes things a little bit tricky. But by calling up Asche, the Phillies may now have some leverage on the veteran. He might rather be traded than sit on the bench going forward.

Let’s examine two of the potential destinations for Young.


Texas Rangers

Young played for the Rangers from 2000 through last season, and it seems likely that he’d be open to returning to Texas. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports says that if Young is going to waive his no-trade clause, it’ll only be to head back to the Rangers:

Texas doesn’t have any immediate openings in its infield, and as I mentioned in a recent article, it wouldn’t make much sense to play him over Mitch Moreland at first base. That being said, the Rangers could use Young as the regular designated hitter, as Lance Berkman is currently on the disabled list.

If that’s the case, Jurickson Profar—who has played all over the place this season—could go back to the outfield. While he only has four games of big-league experience outside of the infield, David Murphy hasn’t shown that he’s worthy of a starting position. Profar could head to left field for the remainder of the year.

The Rangers just need to focus on getting someone who can provide some power to the position. Of the teams in the American League, Texas has the fewest home runs from the designated hitter’s spot with six. Young only has seven homers on the year, and it doesn’t appear that he’s going to be a power threat with Texas.

There are better options available in the next day or so than Young. While I’m sure the Rangers are flattered that he’d be interested in making a comeback with the club, he just doesn’t fit what they need right now. Unless he wants to be an option on the bench, he shouldn’t want to go to Texas. Texas shouldn’t really want him either.


Boston Red Sox

While Rosenthal noted that Young would only be willing to waive his full no-trade clause to return to the Rangers, some reporters have heard otherwise. Sherman, for one, reports that Young would likely waive it to go to the Red Sox as well:

Young would likely be Boston’s third baseman going forward if he went there. The Red Sox started the season with Will Middlebrooks at third base, but he got injured and hit poorly in his limited time with the team. In 53 games with the Red Sox, he hit .192/.228/.389 with nine homers and 25 RBI.

Boston has gone with Jose Iglesias at third base since Middlebrooks’ demotion to Triple-A and was playing quite well. From April through June—a stretch of 39 games—the infielder hit .409/.455/.530 with 12 extra-base hits and 23 runs. In July, he’s hitting .200/.244/.213 and could end up losing his starting job.

The Red Sox have a couple options regarding the third base spot in the lineup. Boston could keep going with Iglesias at third for the rest of the year, go with someone like Brandon Snyder, recall Middlebrooks, promote someone like Xander Bogaerts or make a deal to trade for someone like Young.

Young probably won’t cost the Red Sox a ton to acquire, which is one reason the team might see it as a risk worth taking. As long as he hits better than Iglesias has in recent weeks, it’ll be a win for the team. If he doesn’t work out, the Red Sox let him go at the end of the season knowing they only lost a low-level prospect.


All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and are current through July 29. All contract information in this article was obtained via Cot’s Contracts and all injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus.

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Joe Torre Talks Mariano Rivera, Matt Harvey, Instant Replay and More

When Joe Torre talks, people listen.

I had the privilege of speaking and listening to the Major League Baseball icon at the 2013 Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation Celebrity Golf and Tennis Classic on July 17, the day after the MLB All-Star Game.

The goal of the day was to provide education and raise awareness to end the cycle of domestic violence and save lives, as well as to have a little bit of fun on the links. Many stars showed up for the event, including notable names such as Tony La Russa and Bob Gibson, among others who respect Torre and his foundation’s purpose.

In addition to speaking of his rough upbringing and what he and the Safe At Home Foundation have done and look to do going forward, MLB’s current executive vice president of baseball operations talked about the game of baseball.

The former player and manager spoke on a variety of subjects, including Mariano Rivera and his appearance at this year’s Midsummer Classic, what it was like to manage No. 42, Mets starter Matt Harvey and the state of instant replay. Here’s what the all-time great had to say.


All quotes in this article obtained firsthand at the 2013 Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation Celebrity Golf and Tennis Classic, held on Wednesday, July 17 at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Scarborough, N.Y.

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Atlanta Braves Trade Rumors: Scott Downs Would Be Underrated Bullpen Addition

If the Atlanta Braves want to make one of the most underrated moves of the season, general manager Frank Wren should go out and acquire Scott Downs from the Los Angeles Angels.

Atlanta has been looking for left-handed relievers to add to its bullpen recently, and Downs is one of the players the team has targeted, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN. James Russell is a lefty who would be a great fit, as I wrote a few days ago, but the Braves could potentially get Downs for cheaper and he’d be just as good.

The Braves have gone with just one left-handed reliever for the bulk of the season. Jonny Venters hasn’t been able to throw one pitch for the team this season, and Eric O’Flaherty only made it through 19 appearances before getting injured. Both are out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

That leaves Luis Avilan as the lone lefty in the bullpen. Atlanta could’ve used Alex Wood as a reliever, but now that Tim Hudson is out for the season with a broken ankle, it seems that he’s needed much more in the rotation. The Braves could call someone up from the minors, but trading for Downs would be a better idea.

Downs isn’t going to come into a game and blow the opposing hitters away, but he knows how to get the job done. In 42 appearances this season, he has a 1.24 ERA. He’s struck out 21 batters and walked 11 in 29 innings of work. Oh, and he has quite the scoreless streak going at the moment.

May 1 was the last time Downs allowed a run of any kind—meaning earned or unearned. That was nearly two months ago. He’s gone 29 consecutive appearances without allowing an opposing player to score. Over that stretch, batters are hitting .183 and have a .485 OPS against him.

The Angels are out of the playoff hunt this season and with Downs’ contract expiring after 2013, there’s really no sense in keeping him throughout the remainder of the year if they can get something worthwhile in return. It doesn’t appear that Los Angeles is very willing to move him, though, per Peter Gammons of MLB Network:

Things could certainly change in the next few days. Entering Saturday, Los Angeles was 11 games back of Oakland in the AL West. If it drops a couple more before Wednesday, maybe then the team will be more keen on accepting an offer for the 37-year-old veteran. Either that, or Atlanta should make Los Angeles a strong offer.

We’re not talking about trading a top prospect to land a guy who’s only going to face a batter or two each night. No, we’re talking about giving up a minor leaguer who’s in the lower levels of Atlanta’s system, and while he could be good someday, it’s much too early to tell. What could the Angels possibly want for Downs? Seriously.

The Braves should have a lot of options in the coming days in terms of potential acquisitions, but if they want to get someone on whom manager Fredi Gonzalez can rely day in and day out, it should be Downs. Wren will find a way to work out a deal with the reluctant fourth-place Angels.


All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and are current through July 26. All contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts and all injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus.

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Red Sox Trade Rumors: Ranking Best External Clay Buchholz Replacements

Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is currently in the midst of a search for a starting pitcher who can replace Clay Buchholz in the franchise’s rotation.

Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports a few players the Red Sox are scouting:

Buchholz started the season on fire and was up there was some of the best in the league. The right-hander was 9-0 through 12 starts and had allowed just 16 earned runs in 84.1 innings of work (1.71 ERA). He also racked up 81 strikeouts while walking 29 batters on the year. But he hasn’t pitched since June 8.

Buchholz has been experiencing pain when he’s tried to throw lately, and while he’s been the recipient of good news from Dr. James Andrews, there’s still no clear indication as to when he’ll be pitching again for Boston, according to Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. The righty is targeting late August or early September.

The Red Sox have the sixth-best rotation in baseball at the moment in terms of WAR, according to FanGraphs. Boston has been using internal replacements to pitch in Buchholz’s place since he last took the mound more than a month ago. Right now, Brandon Workman is the team’s No. 5 starter.

While Workman has been great in his lone two starts, Boston really needs to land someone from outside the organization. Based on the players Gammons listed as potential targets, here are the top three external replacements for Buchholz.


3. Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers

The Red Sox would be smart to stay away from Gallardo in the next few days. While he’s been good in the past, he’s struggled to get into a groove this season. Through 22 starts, the right-hander is 8-9 with a 4.88 ERA. He’s averaging 7.28 strikeouts and 3.49 walks per nine innings.

Jayson Stark of ESPN recently discussed Gallardo, and the scribe pointed out why he’s probably not worth taking a chance on:

Gallardo’s velocity is down about 2 mph. His strikeout rate (7.2 per 9 IP) and WHIP (1.42) are at career-worst levels. And three scouts who have seen him recently all describe him as just a No. 4 or 5 starter.

Two years ago, said one scout, he was “close to an ace. [But] lots of pitches on that arm from then to now. He can really pitch, but his stuff [has gone] way back.”

Well, that doesn’t sound very good at all. The last thing the Red Sox need right now is someone who’s only going to pitch in the back of the rotation. Buchholz was the team’s best starting pitching this season, and the team is looking to add someone comparable to what he’s capable. Gallardo doesn’t fit that mold right now.

If Boston is going to make a deal for a starting pitcher, it’s advised to land someone who has more experience against the teams on the bulk of the remaining schedule. Gallardo only has two career starts against teams in the AL East, and one of them was against the Red Sox.

For those keeping track at home, cross Gallardo off the list.


2. Bud Norris, Houston Astros

Norris is an intriguing option.

The right-hander has spent his entire career with the Astros but has made the most of his time there. Through 21 starts this season, Norris is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA. He isn’t a huge strikeout pitcher (6.43 K/9) but doesn’t walk a ton of opposing batters either (3.07 BB/9). Opponents are hitting .273 off him this year, which isn’t great.

But the point is that Norris has survived pitching in Houston for this long, and the guy has quite a bit of value. If he didn’t, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports wouldn’t have reported that he’s drawing considerable interest. Players who aren’t worth anything don’t draw interest. He could make a big difference down the stretch.

Norris made what might be his last start at Minute Made Park on Wednesday night against Oakland, and the starter told Angel Verdejo Jr. of the Houston Chronicle about his emotions after receiving quite the ovation from the fans:

They’ve been great all along. I have played here four years, and they’ve always had my back since day one. I really, really appreciate when you get that support from the people in the city.

It’s really exciting. I thank them for everything. Whatever my future holds, it holds for me. But my focus is still here.

While Norris might be a better option than the likes of Edinson Volquez or Gallardo, he still isn’t exactly what the Red Sox need. Boston needs someone who can pitch atop the rotation. If Norris gets traded to the Red Sox, he’ll likely be a middle-of-the-rotation guy. He’d help Boston’s playoff odds but not by much.


1. Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox

If the Phillies don’t make Cliff Lee available before the trade deadline, Jake Peavy needs to be Boston’s No. 1 priority. While the righty has spent some time on the disabled list this season, there’s no question that he’s the best starter on the market. If the Red Sox are going to get anyone, it needs to be Peavy.

Through 13 starts this season, the veteran is 8-4 with a 4.28 ERA. In 80 innings of work, Peavy has 76 strikeouts and 17 walks. While he isn’t the ace he used to be—winning the NL Cy Young back in 2007—he still has ace qualities. There’s no question he’d be the No. 1 guy in Boston’s starting rotation.

Peavy is under contract through next season, and the White Sox aren’t sure what they want to do with him yet, according to Buster Olney of ESPN (Insider subscription required). Olney reports that the price tag is going to be very high if a team wants to land him in the next few days.

But of the starters out there who Boston could land, Peavy is the only one who would be worthy paying a lot for. The Red Sox have plenty of good prospects who could interest the White Sox, and Scott Merkin of reports that Boston could send Will Middlebrooks Chicago’s way.

In reality, Cherington should be thinking Peavy or nothing.


All statistics used in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and are current through July 26. All contact information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts and all injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus.

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5 MLB Players Who Elevated Their Game in June

Elevating one’s game is one of the toughest things to do in Major League Baseball.

Hitting a slump can really impact a player’s confidence at the plate and on the mound, especially if it’s over an extended period of time. We’re not talking about going 0-for-7 through two games. We’re talking about weeks of striking out and giving up home runs.

Take New York Yankees outfielder Vernon Wells, for example. Through 22 games in June, the veteran has 10 hits in 74 at-bats for a .135 batting average. It’s going to be nearly impossible for the Yankee outfielder to get back on track.

May wasn’t a great month for some of the game’s best, but others have managed to turn things around with a strong June. In other words, they elevated their play. Now, just to be clear, “elevated” means improving, not just staying hot. Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis haven’t elevated their play in June, they’re just two consistent sluggers.

It also wouldn’t be fair to include a player who never played prior to June and just say he elevated his play throughout the month. This means that you won’t find any June call-ups on this list—yes, I’m looking at you Yasiel Puig. If Puig hits .700 with 20 home runs in July, then he’ll be here. Not now, though.

So, which players elevated their play in June? Let’s take a look at five who really stood out amongst the rest of the players in the league.


Ian Desmond, Shortstop, Washington Nationals

June 25 .298 .343  .596  14  25  1.2

Ian Desmond got off to a great start to the season in April, but he hit quite the slump as soon as the calendar turned to May. In 27 games through May, the Nationals shortstop was abysmal at the plate, hitting just .220/.273/.370. Now, Desmond is making a strong case to make the National League All-Star Game roster.

In June, Desmond has played better than any other shortstop in baseball, according to FanGraphs. Whether he is getting better pitches to hit or making the most of at-bats is unclear, but it’s working. He’s driving the ball much further he did than earlier in the year, hitting more home runs in June than in March, April and May combined.

Throughout the month, the shortstop has six multi-hit performances, most notably a four-hit game against the Rockies on June 13. He’s scored at least once in 11 games and drove in at least one run in all but eight games in the sixth month of 2013. If that’s not being productive, then nothing is.

It would’ve been easy for Washington to send Desmond to the minor leagues after how bad he was in May—like what the Nationals did with his middle-infield counterpart, Danny Espinosa—but the team stuck with him. Now, he’s making the Nationals happy they gave him another month to figure things out.


Jhoulys Chacin, Starting Pitcher, Colorado Rockies

June 6 4-0 3.15 40.0  3.83  1.70 .245  2.4

Jhoulys Chacin has been highly inconsistent month to month this season. But after a strong June, he’ll hope his performances continue to be noteworthy. In April, the right-hander went 3-1 with a 1.46 ERA in 24.2 innings of work, helping the Rockies to an extremely surprising start.

But in May, everything went downhill. All of a sudden, Chacin couldn’t retire opposing hitters. In five starts, he went 1-4 and allowed 20 earned runs in 30.2 innings for a 5.87 ERA. That, my friends, is what you don’t want to do over the course of a full month.

Chacin didn’t let his horrible May get to him, though. He’s won four games in June and only allowed 14 earned runs in 40 innings of work. That’s much better. Here’s what the starting pitcher told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post about his recent success:

I’ve just been trying to throw strikes, to be honest. I am attacking the hitters, and if I get a runner on base, don’t worry about it, just get the next batter. Everything has been working out. My fastball has been strong, with good sink.

If Chacin can pitch in the coming months like he did in June, there’s no question that the Rockies could still be in playoff contention. With seven wins entering July, the right-hander is well on his way to surpassing his current career high of 11 victories, not to mention a few other personal bests.


Jason Kipnis, Second Baseman, Cleveland Indians

June 27 .419  .517  .699  17  25  2.5

Quick, who has the highest WAR of any player in the league in the month of June?

Miguel Cabrera? Strike one. Yasiel Puig? Strike two. Chris Davis? Strike three.

It’s Jason Kipnis.

Yes, Kipnis has been the most valuable player in the month of June in terms of WAR, according to FanGraphs. I bet that you never ever would’ve guessed that. I was certainly shocked when I found that out myself. But when looking at his numbers, he’s had a remarkable month.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports certainly knows who the No. 1 guy has been:

Kipnis actually made history in June too. He got the day off on Sunday, meaning he’ll finish the month with a .419 batting average and a 1.216 OPS. He becomes the 15th Indian since 1921 to hit .400 or better with an OPS of at least 1.200 in a single month, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The monster month came as a bit of a surprise for the Cleveland second baseman, as he hadn’t been very good to start 2013. Through 45 games in April and May, he hit .238/.307/.448 with eight home runs and 26 RBI. In June, he nearly hit 200 points higher than the first two months. That’s absolutely insane!


Jeremy Hellickson, Starting Pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays

June 5 4-1 3.94 29.2  6.37 1.21 .270 1.1

Jeremy Hellickson had a fantastic rookie season in 2011, taking home AL Rookie of the Year honors. And he wasn’t bad in 2012 either. He wasn‘t able, however, to start his third big league season on a positive note, pitching very poorly through the first two months of the year.

While Hellickson only lost two total games in April and May, he gave up a ton of runs. Through 69 innings of work, the right-hander gave up 43 earned runs. For those at home trying to do the math in your head, that’s a 5.61 ERA. In May, his 5.11 ERA was the eighth-worst among qualified pitchers in the league.

Since then, though, the right-hander has been solid. He’s 4-1 in June with a 3.94 ERA in 29.2 innings. He has had four very good starts and one hiccup in the middle. Excluding an eight-run outburst at the hands of the Royals, Hellickson has only allowed five earned runs in 24 innings with four walks and 17 strikeouts.

The Rays desperately needed a big month from Hellickson, as the AL East has been as competitive as ever. With David Price out for the entire month, Tampa Bay easily could’ve slumped through June. But the team’s top right-hander has kept the Rays in the playoff hunt entering July.


Pedro Alvarez, Third Baseman, Pittsburgh Pirates

June 25 .330 .402  .725  10  15  24  1.8

Only Chris Davis of the Orioles hit more home runs in the month of June than Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez hit 10 balls out of the park throughout the month, capping one of the best calendar months of his entire career. His 10 homers put him in the record books in Pittsburgh, according to ESPN Stats & Info:

It took Alvarez a little while to finally get going in the big leagues, but there’s no question that the third baseman has arrived. The Pirates are the best team in baseball entering July, and Alvarez’s production in June is a major reason why. Without him, Pittsburgh might not have 50 victories.

Alvarez was not solid through the early months of the season, though, which makes his June that much more impressive. He hit .180/.245/.315 in April and then .225/.273/.521 in May. That’s not going to get the job done whatsoever. But he’s put the pedal to the metal in June, crushing everything.

If Alvarez continues to hit like he has been, Pittsburgh will be a very dangerous team for the rest of the season. Heck, if he keeps smoking the ball, he’s going to find himself in the conversation for NL MVP before you know it.

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Red Sox Trade Rumors: Boston Must Pursue Deal for Michael Young

If the Boston Red Sox have the opportunity to upgrade at third base with Michael Young, general manager Ben Cherington needs to make that happen.

The Philadelphia Phillies haven’t had the first half they were hoping for, as they’re currently 9.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East and five games under .500. If the Phillies don’t get better soon, general manger Ruben Amaro could be forced to deal some of the organization’s top players.

While it’s still unclear if guys like Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon will be on the trade block this summer, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that one player who is likely to get dealt is Young. The shortstop-turned-third-baseman is currently in the final year of his contract with the Phillies.

If Young does become available, expect the Red Sox be making some calls to Amaro’s office. An industry source told George A. King III of the New York Post that, “They want him badly.” This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, as Boston has been watching Will Middlebrooks fall on his face for most of the season.

In 53 games, Middlebrooks was hitting .192/.228/.389 with nine home runs, 25 RBI and a 27.8 percent strikeout rate. He was basically forcing Boston’s hand to send him down. After a brief stint on the disabled list, the Red Sox gave the third baseman a few more tries at bouncing back.

He failed.

Boston sent Middlebrooks down to the minors on June 25 and there is no indication as to when he’ll be back in the big leagues, if at all, this season. The main reason is because Jose Iglesias has done a fantastic job filling in. Iglesias is really a shortstop, but took the new opportunity in stride and has really succeeded.

Through 39 games, Iglesias is hitting .409/.455/.530 with one home run, nine RBI and 23 runs. But the best part about Iglesias is that he’s been phenomenal defensively. The guy had played third base, like, never before a few weeks ago. He makes plays in his sleep that Middlebrooks couldn’t make on his best day.

But if Boston is going to go after Young, Iglesias won’t be out of a job. Instead, Boston could start Iglesias at shortstop—his natural position—and have Stephen Drew, who’s signed to a one-year deal—come off the bench. Drew is basically only good for his defense anyways.

Drew is sporting a .233/.313/.409 slash line in 66 games with five homers and 31 RBI. No one expects him to hit for average in 2013. While Boston already has the best offense in baseball in terms of WAR, per FanGraphs, adding a better bat couldn’t hurt.

While Young hasn’t been too sharp at third base this year for the Phillies defensively, he has been a big part of the team’s offense. He’s hitting .287/.344/.409 with five home runs and 21 RBI. While that’s somewhat close to what Drew has done, I’d rather have the guy that gets more hits and is on base more often than the guy who won’t commit an error.

It wouldn’t be a costly expenditure for Boston either, as Philly shouldn‘t demand much in return. Young is owed $16 million this season and the Rangers are paying $10 million of it, according to Cot’s Contracts. That means that the Phillies only owe $6 million and since the year is halfway complete, only around $3 million is left to be paid Young’s way.

That’s chump change for the Red Sox.

The real person that Cherington will be keeping an eye on while monitoring Young’s availability is Middlebrooks. In 10 games with Triple-A Pawtucket, he’s hitting .289/.386/.605 with four home runs, 11 RBI and just six strikeouts. That’s certainly improvement, but it’s anyone’s guess how that’ll translate in Boston.

Right now, Middlebrooks has yet to prove that he can be an every day third baseman in the major leagues. He’s been horrible this year and hasn’t earned a second chance yet. It’s Iglesias‘s and Drew’s jobs to lose at the moment and, in my opinion, Middlebrooks’ minor league numbers shouldn’t threaten them.

The Red Sox need to put the best combination of players in the lineup in order to stay atop the AL East and try to make the postseason. That combination doesn’t include Middlebrooks. In the coming weeks, it might not even include Drew. Iglesias is the only one that is 100 percent keeping his job.

If Middlebrooks starts to slump in the minors or gets called up and starts striking out twice per game, expect a big move from the Red Sox. Acquiring Young would send a message to Middlebrooks that he must improve or he’s not going to have a job in the future. It’s very simple to understand.

For the time being, there’s no hurt in trading to acquire Young. At least he gives the Red Sox some leeway in case Drew or Iglesias gets injured in the second half. Consider him a $3 million insurance plan. He’s a good hitter who will help the Red Sox win games. That’s all that should matter to Cherington and Boston right now.

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Matt Kemp Returns to Dodgers Lineup for First Time Since Hamstring Injury

Matt Kemp returns to the Dodgers lineup on Tuesday after being out since May 29 with a right hamstring strain.

Here’s a look at the Dodgers lineup for tonight’s game against the San Francisco Giants, with Kemp hitting fifth, per Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:

After striking out against Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the sixth inning on May 29, Kemp took the field in between innings. While the Dodgers were warming up, the outfielder removed himself from the game.

The Dodgers’ official Twitter account announced what the problem was:

Los Angeles later placed the outfielder on the 15-day disabled list, per Scott Miller of CBS Sports:

A few weeks later, more bad news came Kemp’s way. 

Manager Don Mattingly told Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register that Kemp had suffered a bit of a setback with his rehab:

Kemp would sit out the next few weeks until he was ready to go.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reported that Kemp would see time in Triple-A on June 22, and would then make two or three appearances in the outfield:

Things didn’t go so well in Kemp’s first rehab start, though, per Shaikin:

Kemp played three games in Triple-A before the Dodgers took him off the 15-day disabled list and brought him back to Chavez Ravine.

Before getting injured, Kemp was a disaster for the Dodgers. The two-time All-Star was hitting .251/.305/.335 with a pair of home runs and 17 RBI through 51 games. Kemp has the lowest WAR of any other player on Los Angeles, according to FanGraphs.

The Dodgers have struggled with and without Kemp in the lineup. They are currently nine games under .500 and eight games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West.

Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig has been playing the outfield while Kemp—and Carl Crawford—has been out. The rookie has been incredible, and it’s unthinkable that manager Don Mattingly wouldn’t be able to find a way to play those three and Andre Ethier.

Mattingly told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times he’ll make it work:

Shaikin reports that Kemp will return to center, Ethier will move to right and Puig will play left. Once Crawford returns, Puig could go back to right and Ethier could rotate among all three positions, per Shaikin.

“Whatever is going to make this team the best,” Ethier said.

Even though Kemp wasn’t his usual self prior to the hamstring injury, the Dodgers are best when he’s in the heart of the lineup. B/R MLB Lead Writer Adam Wells recently raised the question of whether Kemp and Puig can turn the Dodgers around and get them into the postseason.

Now we get to sit back and watch what the dynamic duo can do.

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MLB Being Sued for Blocking Oakland A’s Move to San Jose

Major League Baseball is being sued by the San Jose City Council for telling the Oakland Athletics that they cannot move to San Jose, according to ABC 7 News:

UPDATE: Tuesday, June 18, at 6:10 p.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo

Danny Knobler of CBS reveals this excerpt from MLB‘s statement on the lawsuit:

—End of Update—

The A’s have wanted out of Oakland for quite some time, with hopes of getting a new stadium. Jill Tucker of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that MLB commissioner Bud Selig formed a committee to research a potential move four years ago, but San Jose mayor Chuck Reed is tired of waiting around for a definitive answer.   

Here’s an excerpt from the suit:

This action arises from the blatant conspiracy by Major League Baseball to prevent the Athletics Baseball Club from moving to San Jose. This action challenges – and seeks to remedy – Defendants’ violation of state laws and use of the illegal cartel that results from these agreements to eliminate competition in the playing of games in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Reed asked permission to speak with Selig back in April, but the commissioner refused, per Tucker’s report.

Part of the reason why the A’s cannot move to San Jose is that the San Francisco Giants claim that they have territorial rights over the Santa Clara County and aren’t willing to share, according to Tucker.

But as we’ve seen recently, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum just isn’t a fit for the baseball team anymore. On June 16, there was raw sewage flooding through the clubhouses, per Shannon Drayer of ESPN 710 Seattle:

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reiterated Oakland’s need for a new stadium:

With a new stadium in Santa Clara County, the A’s hope to draw more fans, which would in theory raise revenues and allow them to keep more of their homegrown talent. This season, the A’s have the 23rd-best home attendance in baseball, according to ESPN. Back in April, Jim Caple of ESPN rated Coliseum as the third-worst stadium in the game.

It’s obvious that the A’s are determined to move to San Jose, and if MLB isn’t going to let them, the city is going to do everything in its power to change the league’s mind—even if it means a lawsuit. 

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Boston Red Sox: Players Impacted by Xander Bogaerts’ Promotion to Triple-A

The future is coming quickly for the Boston Red Sox.

Boston’s top prospect, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, has been hitting the lights out in Double-A Portland this season, which tempted the club to promote him. Instead of bringing him up straight to the majors like some other teams have done this year, the Red Sox sent him to Triple-A Pawtucket.

The decision to promote Bogaerts was announced by the official Twitter account of the Pawtucket Red Sox and the team’s official Instagram account.

In 56 games in Double-A this season, Bogaerts was hitting .311/.407/.502 with six home runs, 35 RBI and 40 runs. The 20-year-old has played shortstop for his entire career, but many have speculated on the chance that he eventually moves to third base or a corner outfield in the future due to his size and power.

According to Tim Britton of The Providence Journal, Boston is going to have Bogaerts play short to start in Triple-A, but will be moving him around to see what he’s capable of at other positions.

Here’s what Boston manager John Farrell told Alex Speier of WEEI about Bogaerts and his fast progression through the Red Sox’s minor league system:

This is looks to be a pretty special player. He’s well ahead of the age curve, being at Triple-A at 20. You see the tools, you see the ability, but you get to know the guy and see how he acts, the guy lights up the room when he walks into it. He’s got that charisma, he’s got a lot going for him.

While Bogaerts is still one level away from the majors, several players on Boston’s 25-man roster need to be on high alert starting right now.

It’s unknown as to how long the Red Sox will keep Bogaerts in Triple-A, but if he continues to destroy minor league pitching, they’ll have no other option than to give him the call-up—whether that’s later this season or at some point in 2014.

Boston’s left side of the infield has not been very impressive this season. That is, until Jose Iglesias came up and started to play regularly. Stephen Drew has played well defensively, but has struggled at the plate. Will Middlebrooks has been atrocious at the plate and has had issues staying healthy.

It’s evident that Iglesias isn’t likely to be the long-term answer at shortstop any longer. Boston has been working Iglesias out at second base and third base over the last month, primarily using him as a utility infielder since he was recalled from the minors in late May.

Iglesias’ offense has drastically improved this year, which had been one of the reasons why Boston was reluctant to give him the starting role—and eventually signed Drew over the offseason.

His approach at the plate made Boston comfortable enough to deal Pedro Ciriaco to the Padres today after designating him for assignment, as reported by

It’s clear that Iglesias needs to be playing as often as possible to continue his development with the bat, but he can no longer go back to Triple-A to work on things. Bogaerts now holds the starting shortstop role there, meaning Iglesias will have to make the most of what could be limited time in the majors.

Because of Drew’s poor hitting this season, he also has seen as much time as many would’ve expected entering the season. After signing a one-year deal in the offseason, Drew was thought to have the job in hand—with Boston knowing that he might not contribute much on offense.

But while Drew has been outstanding defensively—and also playing a little bit of third base too—he’s been horrible at the plate.

With Iglesias playing so well overall, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Drew’s time at short decreased even more. He just doesn’t deserve to be playing every day.

I also wouldn’t be shocked if Boston doesn’t bring Drew back for another year if his production doesn’t improve soon. Several teams will be seeking a shortstop at the trade deadline or for 2014, and if Iglesias continues to hit, Boston could use him while Bogaerts continues to develop at Triple-A.

While it might seen like a bit of a long shot, Middlebrooks better watch his back too because his spot on the team is far from secure. It wasn’t even guaranteed that he would be on the big-league roster once healthy, according to Maureen Mullen of Comcast SportsNet New England.

After hitting .288/.325/.509 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI in 75 games a year ago, Middlebrooks has made 2012 look like a fluke. He’s flirted with the .200 mark for nearly the entire season, he’s striking out a ton and is more of a liability than an asset for the Red Sox at this point in the season.

If Iglesias—or Drew—continues to hit like a normal major leaguer, the Red Sox could decide to move Bogaerts to third base.

While Boston has done its best to keep Bogaerts at his natural position, in order to play the best players, Bogaerts may have to move a few feet to his right.

Middlebrooks needs to start hitting like he did a year ago if he wants to stay on the team. It’s that simple. He’s not the best fielder and, so far, looks to be a very inconsistent hitter. Sure, he was a top prospect, but he’s running out of time to prove that he will be the long-term solution at third base in Boston.

With Bogaerts now in Triple-A, it’s only a matter of time until his next promotion.

Those who are playing on the left side of Boston’s infield have been warned. It’s either hit or your job could be on the line in the next few months. 

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