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MLB Trade Rumors: Should the Milwaukee Brewers Fire-Sell to the Boston Red Sox?

Last season, the Boston Red Sox had a fire sale, jettisoning Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto for James Loney and other considerations.

That fire sale cleared up the space to sign Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli, and now the Sox are tops in the AL East.  But they still have a couple weak spots, and the AL East race is shaping up to be quite tight, which is why I think they should be the recipients of a fire sale this campaign.

Obviously, when you hear “fire sale” right now, your mind should automatically flash to the Great Chicago Fire Sales that have been mentioned over the past two weeks.  But those aren’t the fire sales Boston wants to buy, for a number of reasons.

For one, neither the Cubs nor the White Sox can offer the Red Sox exactly what they want.  The Cubs appear to be dealing piecemeal, with and others reporting within the last few hours that ace Matt Garza is going to Texas.  And with the White Sox already dealing Matt Thornton to Boston, further, larger deals seem unlikely. 

No, the team I see as fire-selling to the BoSox are the Milwaukee Brewers.  A disappointing showing in the first half will be followed by a wretched second half and a not-that-great 2014 since Ryan Braun will likely serve a lengthy PED suspension that sidelines him for parts of this and next season. Milwaukee has been pegged as sellers by most analysts and are one of the few sellers who can fulfill all of Boston’s needs.

Let’s review what Boston needs.  For starters, they need an upgrade at the hot corner: Will Middlebrooks (.192 BA, .617 OPS, -0.4 WAR) has been disappointing this season.  With Jose Iglesias sliding back to shortstop and Pedro Ciriaco being designated for assignment, the Red Sox have been operating an unfortunate platoon of Brock Holt and Brandon Snyder.

The other two things it’d be nice for Boston to have are another starter and closer.  Boston is near the bottom of the league in relief ERA (4.10) and 20th in the majors in starter’s WHIP (1.32).  Neither are particularly encouraging signs with ace Clay Buchholz on a prolonged DL stint and Jon Lester posting a disappointing 5.23 ERA in the last 30 days.

Boston’s bullpen took major hits with Joel Hanharan’s injury and the continuing ineffectiveness of Andrew Bailey and Daniel Bard, and they have no closer at present.

Milwaukee can fulfill those needs with Aramis Ramirez, Yovani Gallardo and Francisco Rodriguez.  MLB DailyDish has all three of them on the block, and those three players have been mentioned as being on the block individually in sources ranging from Jon Morosi of to Dave Radcliffe of YahooSports

Though Rodriguez is a free agent at the end of the season, Ramirez and Gallardo will be owed $32 million if they are bought out after 2014 and $54 million if they’re held on to until the end of the 2015 campaign.  The three players’ contracts combine to $25 million this season alone.  If the Brewers want to shed salaries, shedding these players (or the underwhelming John Axford) is a wonderful way to start.

What would the Sox have to give up to get Ramirez and Gallardo in their uniforms, besides lots and lots of cash?  Well, I think it begins with Middlebrooks. 

Add to that reserve outfielder/first baseman Mike Carp.  Carp has a triple slash of .303/.369/.606, but with Victorino, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Nava, David Ortiz and Napoli all healthy, there really isn’t a place for him on the Sox roster.  

The last piece I see is sending two or three prospects the Brewers’ way. One of them will probably have to be Anthony Ranaudo, who’s 8-2 with a 2.67 ERA for AA Portland.

Bottom line: The Boston Red Sox have a good thing going, whereas the Milwaukee Brewers will probably be cellar-dwellers for the foreseeable future.  The two teams need to make a deal.      

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Los Angeles Angels: 5 Things Wrong with the Angels This Season

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were recently swept by the Houston Astros, a team with a minuscule payroll widely believed to be one of the worst in the modern era.  

This drops the Halos’ record to 25-33, 11 games out of first place in the AL West and seven games out of the wild-card picture.

With a seven-game win streak now decidedly in the rearview mirror, here are five things wrong with the Angels this season.

All stats courtesy of and current as of 8 p.m. ET, June 4.

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MLB Awards: My End-of-Season All-Star Team

Well, the “Boys of Summer” have faded into the sunset, and we are now almost three months removed from the Midsummer Classic. 

With a lot of water under the bridge and the award season discussion already in full swing, I thought I’d release my 68 picks if the All-Star Game were held today instead of in July

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Philadelphia Phillies Should Hold on to Shane Victorino

After Shane Victorino was benched Sunday, there are numerous rumors that he’ll soon be off the team, with the Dodgers reportedly interested in reacquiring a player who started his career in their organization.

This is part of the crisis mood ensuing because of the Phillies’ returning to “use Lifebouy soap…and they still stink” status in the standings.  Below average in both hitting and pitching, the Phillies appear to be cleaning house.

Despite his .245 batting average this season, .680 OPS, 23 extra-base hits and 0.7 WAR, I think the Phillies should hold on to Victorino. Here’s why.


Batting ills not the problem

Honestly, batting isn’t the Phillies’ problem.  They’re only slightly below average despite Ryan Howard and Chase Utley being injured for long stretches, and Jimmy Rollins having a horrendous start to the season. 

What they should be worrying about is their bullpen, which has ceded a 4.76 ERA, .757 OPS and 16 defeats in relief.  Each of those stats is in the bottom six in the majors.   


Bad idea to sell low

If the Phillies dump Victorino now, they won’t get much for him—or at least not as much as they could if they wait.  There’s no way they’ll get something for Victorino that can turn this season around, so you might as well hold on to him.


Not that much of a drop-off

Victorino is only batting .031 below his career average and .034 below his average last season.  His numbers for doubles and homers haven’t fallen off that much either.

It’s certainly possible that Victorino will  bounce back, either this season or, if re-signed, next season.  After all, he’s a two-time All-Star and is only 32, meaning he could still have a couple halfway decent seasons ahead of him. 

If he does have a bad season in 2012, the Phillies can sign him at a discount and spend the discount on another good bullpen arm.


What about baserunning and fielding?

Batting is not the only stat to consider in a center fielder.  You have to look at baserunning and fielding now.

Victorino is great at both baserunning and fielding this season, perhaps the best in his career.

He already has more stolen bases this season alone than he had in all of 2011.  In addition, the three-time Gold Glove winner is perfect in left this season, making almost 500 putouts without an error.

In short, the Phillies should hold on to Victorino, then ink him in the offseason at the level he’s been playing now, which will be a bargain.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Just Waive Jim Thome Already

In the offseason, with Ryan Howard out for an extended period of time, the Philadelphia Phillies grabbed Jim Thome for $1.25 million. 

That experiment has run its course, and it’s time for the club to part ways with the aging bat.

Here are six reasons why:


1.  He’s hurt

Thome has been on the DL all month with a bad back. In the past, he’s had troubles with his elbow and his legs. Even if comes back in a week or two, whether he will be 100 percent is doubtful.  

2.  He can’t field to save his life

Thome has 137 career errors, and career is 31 total-zone, total-fielding runs below average. He has a career -17.1 defensive wins-above-replacement and has 13 seasons of a dWAR of -0.5 or worse.  

Also, did I mention he has no legs?

3.  Nor can he hit anymore

This season with the Phillies, Thome has gone 2-for-18, hasn’t scored, hasn’t driven anybody in and hasn’t had an extra base hit. He’s had only three home runs and only seven extra-base hits in his last 103 plate appearances.  

4.  Philly already has enough first basemen

Off the top of your head, can you tell me how many people have played first for the Phillies in the last month and a half?

If you said “five,” you’re correct: the other four are Ty Wigginton, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Hector Luna.

Of those five, the one with the lowest batting average at the position is…Thome.  The only one without an extra-base hit is…Thome.

To be fair, Nix is on the DL, and Mayberry is really more of a converted outfielder, but that still leaves Wiggington, who is batting .308 with 10 RBIs and an .814 OPS when at the first base position.

And journeyman Triple-A callup Luna to back him up rather than Thome.     

5.  Ryan Howard will be back soon

Howard replaced Thome at first base for the Phillies in 2005. Then, Thome replaced Howard at first at the beginning of this season. Howard has begun an extended rehab assignment in Clearwater and will be ready to again replace Thome before the All-Star break, possibly well before.   

6.  It’s time for Thome to retire

Thome will be 42 before the season is over. He hasn’t hit 30 homers since 2008. He hasn’t had 250 total bases or even played 130 games in a season since then either.

In the past seven seasons, he’s fielded a grand total of 55 innings. He’s stolen one base in the last decade. 

He’s either cemented his case for the Hall of Fame, or is at the point where he can’t do anything more to help it?

Bottom line: The Phillies need to waive Jim Thome.

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Boston Red Sox: Why David Ortiz Should Be Put in the Outfield

If you’re a fantasy player, you’re probably well aware that the Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz is one of the only players in the game with no positional eligibility: he can only play designated hitter at a utility slot.

He’s one of the few DHs so designated: others are designated third basemen (Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Davis), outfielders (Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales) or even catchers (Jesus Montero).

Since Ortiz only plays DH, that means he sits in interleague games played in National League parks. In last night’s game in Philadelphia, he only had one plate appearance, as a pinch hitter.

With more interleague games coming next season, the Sox could be potentially losing Ortiz’s bat for a large number of games.

Boston needs Ortiz’s bat: He’s currently leading the Red Sox in average, homers, OBP, OPS, hits and bases on balls.  Ortiz has hit at least 28 homers every season he’s been with the Sox, and had an OPS north of .850 in every year but one.

So how do the Sox squeeze Ortiz into the lineup?  Put him in the outfield!

Due to injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford that are occurring with increasing frequency, and Cody Ross day-to-day, Boston has some holes in its outfield.  Even with the acquisition of Marlon Byrd, Ryan Sweeney is the only decent hitter out there.

Bolstering the outfield and having a place for Ortiz’s bat all 162 games isn’t the only reason this move should be considered.  It would also allow the Sox to move Kevin Youkilis to DH and avoid the potential platoon situation they’re facing with Youkilis and phenom Will Middlebrooks.

Some would say that Ortiz shouldn’t be fielding, due to his well-known lack of legs.  True, Ortiz has a career minus-15.5 defensive wins-above-replacement, but that is mostly because a DH is starting with a base dWAR of minus-1.0 a season anyway.  

Ortiz has a career .989 fielding percentage, which isn’t that bad.  It’s about dead-even with Ross’ career fielding percentage and better than Byrd’s career fielding percentage, or Sweeney’s fielding percentage right now.

You’d also ask, “What happens when Crawford and Ellsbury come back?”  Well, assuming that ever happens, Boston can just make a pitching-for-hitting trade to bolster their anemic rotation and bullpen.

Bottom line: It would behoove the Sox to experiment with Ortiz in the outfield.

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Fantasy Baseball 2012: The Only 5 Catchers You Should Worry About

Catcher is perhaps the hardest position to draft.  This year is perhaps one of the worst, with many of the big names having problems with injuries (Joe Mauer, Brian McCann, Buster Posey) or stretches of mediocrity (Mauer again, Carlos Santana, Geovany Soto). 

As a primer for drafting catchers, here are the three starting catchers, two bench catchers and a watch list catcher for your consideration.  As for the other 25, don’t bother with them.

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2011 MLB Playoffs: Ten Best Bats Still in Play

With the American League Championship Series under way and the National League’s edition starting up next week, some of the best-hitting teams in the league are squaring off against each other. 

So I thought I’d look at ten players who are likely to make an impact on the batting side of things.

Three things are looked at in this: traditional performance, 2011 Regular Season performance, and 2011 Division Series performance.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Detroit Tigers Need to Deal, Just Not for Jose Reyes

With the trade deadline only a few weeks away, there are rumors flying left and right, some of which involve all of the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals being traded to other teams.  And there is one team that needs to make a move right now.

That team is the Detroit Tigers.

Yes, I am fully aware that they play in a medium-sized market and a city in decline, and they probably won’t fare well in the free-agent market.

Other sportswriters have claimed that the move the Tigers need to make is for Jose Reyes. I think that is wrong for four reasons:

1. The price would be too high, as they would be trading for Reyes at the apex of his success.

2. The Mets would be daft to give up Reyes—they could contend this season or next once they get Wright and Santana back.

3. If the Mets do give Reyes up, it will probably be to a team other than the Tigers.

4. Most importantly, it’s not on the offensive side that the Tigers’ troubles lie.  

The Tigers give up 4.33 runs a game, half a run more than the league average and 0.4 runs more than any team currently in a playoff spot. 

This might not be good enough to win the AL Central and certainly won’t wash in an era in which the playoffs clearly favor pitching. 

Detroit’s No. 2 starter is Max Scherzer, who, with a lackluster 4.47 ERA, is hardly in a league with the No. 2s of last year’s playoffs.  Porcello and Penny are worse…they’d be No. 5 starters on most other teams in the league.

And the Tigers bullpen could still use some help, especially since their knight in shining armor, Al Albuquerque, is hurt.

With regard to starting pitching, rumors have been surfacing that the Mariners want to unload Felix Hernandez or one of their other starters.  I had been hearing Hernandez to the Yankees, but now that the Yankees’ starting lineup is getting it together, that seems unlikely. 

A better fit for King Felix or fellow Seattle pitchers Michael Pineda (who is having a breakout season) and Erik Bedard (who is finally healthy) would be to be dealt to Detroit in a batting-for-pitching deal that would give Seattle’ remaining pitchers much-needed run support. 

Hernandez or Pineda would help get Detroit playoff wins, and could each go for seven or eight innings (as Verlander—with 135 IP in only 18 starts—is doing) and provide relief to the bullpen. 

If the Tigers can’t get an arm from Seattle, they could always try Kansas City…    

And to my point about the bullpen, with Albuquerque hurt and Joakim Benoit tanking all season, it would behoove the Tigers to add another reliever. 

There are several teams that have or potentially could have two closers, namely Minnesota with Matt Capps and Joe Nathan and, soon, Seattle with Brandon League and David Aardsma. 

Aardsma and Capps are widely regarded to be on the trading block, and either would make a good setup man for the Tiger’s Jose Valverde. 

A long shot, but perhaps worth a gamble, would be to claim Ryan Franklin off waivers.  Despite his 8.46 ERA with the Cards, Franklin probably deserves a second chance somewhere, and his previous performance as a starter back in Seattle means that he could be converted to long reliever if need be.

In summary, the Tigers might win the AL Central with the team they’ve got, but if they want to go anywhere in the playoffs, they need better arms.

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