Yesterday, Matt Garza sent his stock soaring with a strong outing against Milwaukee. Tonight, Pablo Sandoval and the Giants are set to lock horns with the Rockies.
The Thursday Takeaway
With a month and four days left before the trade deadline, teams are beginning to evaluate their positions in the standings to determine whether they intend to buy, sell, or stand pat when the clock ticks down on July 31. Those that expect to add major-league talent are mulling over their most pressing needs and deciding which of the available players they most covet, which would make adequate fallback plans, and which won’t even merit calls to their employers.
The phone lines for Theo Epstein’s office in Chicago are likely to teem, over the next four weeks, with inquiries from general managers shopping for arms. Closer Kevin Gregg, who is enjoying something of a renaissance at the age of 35, could be a popular bullpen target. Scott Feldman, a free-agent pickup during the past winter, has experience pitching out of the rotation and in relief, and could add needed depth to a contender’s staff. Epstein’s most prized chip, though, is Matt Garza, who has bounced back from an early injury to build up considerable value—in trade right now and in free agency come November.
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Since our league has a 1400-inning cap that nearly every manager maxes out, I'm concerned about Zimmermann's keeper value since his K/9 doesn't stack up with other aces in what is essentially a K/9 league. I have an offer proposed to me and considering if it will help my team long-term:
The RBI might be an old-fashioned stat, but it's still a measure of success in Detroit. Our beat man also checks in on Mariano Rivera, Justin Verlander, Munenori Kawasaki, and with scouts.
For those of us of a certain age—in this case, less than one year away from 50—RBI still have meaning. Yes, the sum of a player’s RBI has long been rendered irrelevant by sabermetricians, who have logically and correctly proven runs batted in are a function of opportunity rather than skill. This fact is still hard to accept for someone who grew up in an era before the Bill James Abstracts were marketed to the masses. In my youth, RBI were the hallmark of a clutch hitter. So said the radio broadcasters and all the writers whose articles I devoured every Thursday in The Sporting News.
Last night, the Dodgers again took advantage of the rival Giants' roster holes to complete a three-game sweep. Tonight, Phil Hughes will battle Adrian Beltre and the Rangers for the right to stay in the Yankees' rotation.
The Wednesday Takeaway
The scoring in the three-game set between the Giants and Dodgers in Los Angeles began in the bottom of the first inning of Monday’s opener, when Yasiel Puig launched the seventh homer of his young career. It ended in the last of the sixth on Wednesday night, when the Dodgers chased Tim Lincecum with four straight hits, a wild pitch, and two stolen bases off of back-up catcher Hector Sanchez.
In between, at one point every evening, the wheels came off for the Giants.
Yesterday, the Detroit Tigers bumbled their way to a loss against the Angels. Tonight, the Giants will attempt to break through against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers.
The Tuesday Takeaway
Coming off of a series in which they took three of four from the Red Sox, two-plus weeks removed from a sweep of the second-place Indians, and with a 3 ½-game cushion over the sliding Tribe in the Central, the Tigers could afford a night to forget. And, boy, did they have one on Tuesday.
The first two innings of the wild, 14-8 Angels victory passed uneventfully, offering no indication of the madness to come. Mike Trout drove in J.B. Shuck with an RBI single in the top of the third, but there was nothing odd about Mike Trout driving in a run. Even less odd: Miguel Cabrera quickly countering that knock from his chief rival in the 2012 Most Valuable Player race with a two-run blast, his 21st of the season, to put the Tigers ahead after three. Hank Conger made amends for a throwing error—which was rendered irrelevant by Cabrera’s homer—with a run-scoring hit in the top of the fourth, and the game went to the fifth knotted at 2-2.
Well-Rounded Prep Class
Overall, the 2014 class is much deeper than 2013, with multiple first-round candidates emerging at the up-the-middle skill positions, and in particular at catcher, shortstop, and center field. While the focus will likely be on these high-value defensive positions, there is also a fair amount of corner talent, capable of growing into usable pop at the pro ranks.
Last night, the Rays brought the Blue Jays' 11-game win streak to a halt. Tonight, Alfonso Soriano will look to square up on old friend Kyle Lohse.
The Monday Takeaway
Dropped into last place in the American League East by the Blue Jays’ recent surge, still waiting for David Price to return from the disabled list, and now without Alex Cobb, the Rays needed a jolt. On Monday night, with those streaking Blue Jays in town, they got three.
Running through the notable quotes of the week that was.
BLUE JAYS TURN IT UP TO 11 “I believe in this team, so I knew things had to change, things had to turn around for us. This is what's happening for us, and we're going to enjoy the moment. I'm not surprised by this; I know this team is good and I know we can do it.”
—Blue Jays’ slugger Edwin Encarnacion, on the team’s 11-game hitting streak. Encarnacion and his parrot trotted the bases for the 21st time on Sunday. (Gregor Chisholm, MLB.com)
Yesterday, the Mariners flexed their power muscle thanks to their free-agent signings. Tonight, the Blue Jays will look to extend their hot streak when they take on the Rays.
The Weekend Takeaway
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik set out over the offseason to add “big-time power” to a lineup that had little of it in 2012. His search for thump reached far and wide, from bringing back Michael Morse to dabbling in the Josh Hamilton derby. And it culminated with two bargain-bin free-agent signings, Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez, and two trades, for Morse and for Kendrys Morales, who became expendable when Hamilton joined the Angels.
Entering this weekend’s series against the Athletics, the early returns on the lineup remodeling had been positive, even though the club as a whole was still mired in fourth place, rescued from the basement only by the presence of the Astros. What some perceived as a make-or-break season for Zduriencik—at least from the standpoint that, five years into his tenure, the club on the field was generally of his choosing—wasn’t going well. The 2012 Mariners went 31-43 over their first 74 games, and the 2013 squad was only a game ahead of that pace, welcoming Bob Melvin’s first-place team with its ledger at 32-42.
Roy Oswalt took a circuitous route to Colorado, but the Rockies might have found a keeper. Tonight, Ricky Nolasco will try to stay dominant at AT&T Park as he faces Hunter Pence and the Giants.
The Thursday Takeaway
The Rockies on Thursday turned to their seventh starting pitcher of the season, the oldest one to toe the rubber for Walt Weiss’ squad this year. And while you might not know it from a glance at the scoreboard, which showed a 5-1 victory for the Nationals, in Roy Oswalt, general manager Dan O’Dowd may have found a diamond in the rough.
Oswalt signed a minor-league hitch with the Rockies on May 2 and reported to Double-A Tulsa a few weeks later to prepare for an eventual return to the majors. The contract included both performance bonuses and a late-June out clause, but it wasn’t merely the language in the deal that forced O’Dowd’s hand this week. Oswalt amassed a 2.16 ERA over five starts for the Drillers, to go with a 25-to-7 K:BB in 33 1/3 innings, and he tossed 8 1/3 shutout frames in his final tune-up outing on June 14.
Who were the standout prospects of the class of 2014 at the PG National Showcase?
Each summer, the scouting circuit kicks off with the Perfect Game Junior National Showcase and the Perfect Game National Showcase—back-to-back events (with rare exception held at the Metrodome in Minneapolis) highlighting the top underclass talent and rising seniors at the prep ranks. This year’s 2014 draft talents shined bright at PG National, with a bevy of arms and up-the-middle standouts portending a deep high school crop—the former being our focus for Part 1 of this two-part mini-series.
With over 300 players partaking in the five-day PG National Showcase, we are only scratching the surface with the notes and video in these two recap pieces. Throughout the summer and offseason, we will continue to introduce you to this exciting collection of 2014 draft prospects. To whet your appetite, check out the play of the showcase—an amazing highlight-reel grab by SoCal outfielder Derek Hill (Elk Grove HS (Elk Grove, CA)):