|07.12.11 at 1:28 pm ET|
PHOENIX — Jackie Bradley, a center fielder whom the Red Sox selected out of the University of South Carolina with the No. 40 overall pick of the 2011 draft, surprised many by returning from surgery to repair torn tendons in his left wrist in time to play for the Gamecocks as they defended their College World Series title.
It was a satisfying coda to what was a difficult year. Prior to his injury, Bradley — the best player at USC in his freshman and sophomore seasons — had struggled to a .247 average, .346 OBP, .432 slugging mark and six homers in 42 games. Then, his season-ending injury ensured that he wouldn’t have a chance to improve his draft stock down the stretch (his return for the College World Series came after this year’s amateur draft).
And so, a player who was viewed as a mid- to late-first round selection entering the 2011 draft instead ended up being drafted in the supplemental first round. Despite the injury and the down year of performance, the Sox still regarded Bradley’s center field defense highly, and felt that he offered the potential for above-average defense in center field with double-digit home run power.
Bradley, who was the MVP of the College World Series in 2010, hit .174 with a .240 OBP and a .217 slugging mark in this year’s tournament. Given his down performance year and the fact that he was coming off an injury, it seemed fair to wonder whether Bradley might follow a similar path to a player whom the Sox had taken one year earlier with the No. 39 pick — right-hander Anthony Ranaudo — who likewise dealt with injuries and performance issues as a junior but used a stint in the Cape League in order to try to command a bonus commensurate with his preseason status. Read the rest of this entry »
|07.12.11 at 1:15 pm ET|
The Rockies have said they aren’t necessarily shopping Jimenez, but will listen to any offers for players other than Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. The Reds don’t have much spending money because of their low attendance numbers, and they’re reportedly very interested in Jimenez’ team-friendly contract.
Jimenez got off to a slow start this season, but he’s posted a 2.52 ERA in his last eight starts.
|07.12.11 at 1:01 pm ET|
Three-time All-Star and ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk joined the Mut & Merloni show Tuesday at noon and discussed the Home Run Derby that he covered for the network the night before. Kruk said he got a unique vantage point of Robinson Cano‘s Derby victory and that helped him appreciate the show more than he had before.
“I’ve never been on the field for the Home Run Derby,” he said. “I’ve either been up in the booth or watching on TV and it was an impressive spectacle last night.”
Although the Derby can prove to be quite the show, some still find plenty to gripe about concerning MLB’s handling of the All-Star festivities. One of the biggest issues for this year’s game has been the amount of All-Stars selected (82) because of the amount that have dropped out due to injury or a myriad of other reasons. Kruk said this could continue to be an issue down the line if this keeps up.
“Oh no, it’s a problem because it’s trending,” he said. “Every year, it’s going to be more and more and more. One of the problems is it’s on the West Coast. Last year, it was out in Anaheim I guess so players don’t want to come from the East Coast to the West Coast for a day or two and then fly back east. The travel is difficult and all that. I don’t know how you solve it. I understand a player’s perspective of you were voted in, ‘I don’t want to go out there. I never asked to be voted in.’ Then again, take your name off the ballot. If you’re going to get voted in, whether you’re injured or not or whatever, go to the game, tip your hat to the fans who voted for you, let them see you on TV the people who voted for you in your hometown and then go home. Don’t just not show up.”
One of the biggest no-shows this week has been Derek Jeter, who chose not to play or even attend the game after getting his 3,000th hit last weekend, and Kruk took issue with him as well.
“Without question. You can prefice that by saying, ‘The guy should be here. The guy should be here.’ But he’s the one. I read a thing on Twitter saying the faces of baseball, Albert Pujols and Derek Jeter, should be at the All-Star Game. Well, one wasn’t asked to participate because of an injury, which was Albert Pujols. The other was elected in, and decided he didn’t want to come. I read something last night, FOX Sports saying he was exhuasted from chasing 3.000, that the physical and mental exhaustion from chasing 3.000 hits was the reason he’s missing the game. Well, is he breathing? Is he alive? Then, why couldn’t he come out, tip his hat and leave?” Read the rest of this entry »
|07.12.11 at 9:18 am ET|
Colby Rasmus may finally get his wish.
The Cardinals center fielder had allegedly requested a trade from the organization a year ago and could now be officially on the market. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that this might be the time that the Redbirds pull the trigger on a deal involving Rasmus because of the team’s big need for pitching depth. Strauss notes sources have told him that the Rays have had “long-standing interest” in Rasmus to potentially replace the struggling B.J. Upton in center. The Rays may have just the surplus of pitching, both in the rotation and in the bullpen, that the Cardinals would be seeking in any deal.
Rasmus is two years younger than Upton and has two more arbitration-eligible years than the current Rays outfielder. Rasmus (.246/.329/.413) and Upton (.239/.325/.427) have similar splits, although Rasmus’s .276 average last season shows his potential to raise those numbers in the second half of the season while Upton’s low numbers are actually up across the board from their 2010 levels.
|07.12.11 at 8:48 am ET|
At this part of the season, we typically learn something about the needs of individual teams based on the rumored trades that may happen in the future. But sometimes, we can learn the same things from the trades that didn’t go through.
The Angels nearly acquired outfielder/first baseman Garrett Jones from the Pirates in exchange for catcher Jeff Mathis earlier this season, according to FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal. The Bucs decided not to go through with the deal because they decided they would Jones’s power too much. They were eventually repaid for that loyalty as Jones hit nine home runs, second-most on the team, before the All-Star break.
Here’s what we can take from this trade that was eventually a no-go, according to Morosi and Rosenthal. The Angels want a lefty bat that they can use at first behind rookie Mark Trumbo as well as a player they can slide into their outfield/designated hitter rotation. On the other side, the Pirates may need catching help with Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder on the disabled list and two should-be minor leaguers playing in their stead.
Both teams are just one game out of their respective division leads at the break.
|07.12.11 at 8:28 am ET|
The hot rumor is that Carlos Beltran could be on the Red Sox‘ list of potential trade targets, but if that is the case (and signs point to it not being so), then the Sox will have some competition for the Mets outfielder’s services.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com says that Beltran is the most likely Met to be traded before the July 31 deadline. That’s mostly because the veteran cannot be offered arbitration at the end of the year, meaning the team won’t receive any compensation in the way of draft picks if Beltran leaves via free agency. Knobler goes on to add that the Giants are “known to be interested” in Beltran’s services.
The reigning World Series champions are three games ahead of the Diamondbacks for first place in the NL West with a 52-40 record but have a rather lackluster outfield consisting of Aaron Rowand, Pat Burrell, Andres Torres, Nate Schierholtz and Cody Ross . Beltran is hitting .285 with 13 home runs, 58 RBI and an NL-leading 28 doubles and was named an All-Star this season for the fifth time in his career. He has a full no-trade clause and would have to waive it in order to be traded to any team.
|07.11.11 at 11:55 pm ET|
PHOENIX — The pre-Home Run Derby notes listed all the participants and their pitchers … except one.
Matt Kemp — Rob Flippo
Jose Bautista — Alex Andreopoulos
Adrian Gonzalez — TBA
Well, Gonzalez — who used San Diego coach Ray Crone when he last participated in the event in 2009 — found his pitcher. And here’s how …
“He didn’t have anybody to throw to him,” remembered Cleveland manager Manny Acta. “I was just sitting at my locker reading and he said, ‘Hey, I’m still looking for somebody to throw to me.’ I overheard him and said, ‘I’ll throw to you.’ So he said, ‘Let’s go.’ It was good to see. He has unbelievable hand-eye coordination.”
With guidance from Gonzalez, Acta got the job done despite having no history with the Red Sox first baseman at all. The result was 31 total home runs, just one shy of the eventual champ, Cano.
“It was impressive doing it in front of so many people. But he took all the pressure off of me,” said Acta, who was instructed to throw waist-high, out over the plate.
“People get amazed by the distance but it’s whomever hits the most home runs that wins it. He was very consistent. He would just wait on his pitch and when he got it he didn’t miss it.”
|07.11.11 at 10:08 pm ET|
PHOENIX — The rumors have circulated for a few years now: Andre Ethier wants to come to Boston to join forces with his college teammate, Dustin Pedroia.
While Ethier didn’t dismiss the notion completely, he did take the diplomatic route when asked if the Dodgers All-Star could see himself reuniting with Pedroia.
“Maybe when we’re 38 years-old we’ll end up playing here on the Diamondbacks together for the lsat year or two,” said Ethier, who will be eligible for his final year of arbitration following the 2011 season.
“Maybe one day we’ll have an opportunity to play with one another. It would be fun. Right now he has his thing in Boston. We’re trying to do what we’re doing in LA. If the paths meet somehow I guess it would line up perfect for us.”
Ethier resisted any sort of gloating regarding his presence at his second All-Star Game while Pedroia seemingly just missed the cut.
“He has a lot more awards in his trophy case than I do, so I can’t say anything about All-Star Games,” the 29-year-old said.
Ethier not only has remained friends with Pedroia since their college days, but still work out together in the offseason, while also taking family vacations together. So when the outfielder was asked about the second baseman’s up and down first half, Ethier offered a educated perspective
“Relax, right? The Laser Show,” he said. “He’s a great player. I think he’s had a great year up until this point. He’s coming off a tough injury. I saw it first-hand all winter the steps and the stuff he had to do just to get to the point he’s at now. I kept telling him to slow down, take a month or two later than he actually did. But being him he wanted to come back right away. He’s done more than enough to help that team. Once he starts getting that rhythm and starts feeling himself again, especially with the way that lineup is, the way that team is, he’s going to flourish.”
|07.11.11 at 9:30 pm ET|
“They made a great choice. I think Gonzalez is one of the best, if not the best, hitters in baseball. But I thought I had a chance at that time that maybe both of us could (be on the Sox),” Beltre, now a two-time All-Star. “All I know was I wanted to be on a team that had a good chance to win.
Beltre, who would sign with the Rangers a month after the Gonzalez deal, was then asked how such a dynamic could have possibly happened, with the former Padre manning first base, Kevin Youkilis at third, and David Ortiz serving as the designated hitter.
“I have no idea,” he said. “But they could figure something out.”
Beltre, who is having another standout season (.273, 19 HRs), reiterated that he is extremely happy with his choice, the Rangers. The owner of a five-year, $80 million deal is in the process of buying a home in the Arlington, Texas area after previously solely putting down roots in Southern California.
But if you asked Beltre where he was going to end up when the 2010 season came to an end, his first answer most likely wouldn’t have been with Texas.
“I thought I had a good chance to go back to Boston,” said the 32-year-old. “It didn’t’ change until a couple of weeks before I signed.”
|07.11.11 at 9:01 pm ET|
He is young (23). He is good (.293 batting average, 15 HR, 14 SB). And he is under contractual control through 2015 with his salary never getting above $14.5 million. (He makes just $4.25 million this season, and $6.75 million next year.)
Upton now finds himself as one of the hosts for this year’s All-Star Game, still serving as part of the foundation for the Diamondbacks. But this past offseason, he was being dangled by Arizona, and the Red Sox were at least listening.
“When I first started to hear [the rumors], you don’t pay that much attention to it, but then you start thinking, ‘Where am I going to be in a few weeks, a few days?’ You you just try and go about your business,” Upton said. “You just try and let it roll off your back.
“To be honest with you, when I first found out I was playing golf and then I just kept playing golf. I wasn’t too worried about it. If you worry about it all the time you’ll never make it.”
Upton’s tone became pointed when it was then suggested Arizona was entertaining a potential deal in order to motivate the outfielder.
“That’s a terrible way to motivate somebody,” he said. “If that was their reason behind it, that’s ridiculous.”
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