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Trade Deadline: Orioles lock up shortstop J.J. Hardy

07.18.11 at 9:37 am ET
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The Orioles agreed to an extension with shortstop J.J. Hardy late Saturday night, according to The Baltimore Sun’€™s Jeff Zrebiec on Twitter. Fox Sports’€™ Ken Rosenthal tweeted Saturday that the deal is worth $22.25 million over three years, with a limited no-trade clause that would let him block a trade to eight teams of his choice each year.

Hardy is currently batting .278 with a .335 OBP. He has been the most consistently productive shortstop the Orioles have had since Miguel Tejada batted .300 in 2007.

Hardy’€™s 13 home runs and .490 slugging rank him third among AL shortstops with 250 plate-appearances. He also leads all shortstops in the MLB with a career .994 fielding percentage and just two errors. His 5.01 range factor ranks him second in the AL.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Baltimore Orioles, J.J. Hardy, Jeff Zriebec

Jose Iglesias looking to rebound in second half

07.18.11 at 2:15 am ET
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Jose Iglesias is regularly referred to as ‘€œthe shortstop of the future’€ for the Red Sox. But the estimated date of his arrival may have shifted.

In only his second professional season since defecting from the Cuban junior national team, Iglesias has struggled at Triple-A Pawtucket. Before suffering a concussion on July 3, Iglesias was hitting .227 with a .275 OBP, .245 slugging mark, .519 OPS, four doubles and 27 RBIs in 248 plate appearances.

No one questions that Iglesias has a stellar glove that can change games. That being the case, it is his offense that will ultimately determine what kind of big league impact the 21-year-old might have in the majors, and when he might be ready to compete at the highest level.

Despite Iglesias’ poor numbers, PawSox hitting coach Chili Davis expects a stronger performance in the second half of the season based on what he saw in the weeks preceding the player’s injury.

Iglesias had just one extra-base hit and five walks in the first two months of the season. In June, Davis suggested, Iglesias showed signs of progress in a month in which he walked five more times while hitting three doubles.

‘€œThe difference I saw from the month of May to June and going into this month before he got hurt, was I saw a guy that started trusting his swing more,’€ Davis said before last Saturday’€™s game against Buffalo. ‘€œHe became more confident at the plate. I think he was getting beat a lot in April and early May, getting tied up a lot. He was more of a defensive hitter. I see a kid now who’€™s ready to become more of an offensive hitter.

‘€œOne of the big signs is he’€™s taking pitches now that he used to swing at. And he’€™s getting pitches to hit and he’€™s hitting the ball hard. And he’€™s not just swinging at the ball, he’€™s swinging through the ball. He’€™s trying to hit the ball hard somewhere. So I guess the biggest change I see is just more confidence, more assurance that, you know, he can play here.’€

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Read More: Arnie Beyeler, chili davis, concussion, jose iglesias

Closing Time: Red Sox claim a victory, reclaim an ace

07.18.11 at 1:55 am ET
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The Red Sox survived an exhausting contest in St. Petersburg to claim a 1-0 victory in 16 innings. But the win was only the second-most significant development for the Sox.

After all, in the days leading up to the All-Star break, the concerns for the Red Sox about their rotation were mounting at an alarming rate.

Daisuke Matsuzaka was out for the year with Tommy John surgery. John Lackey‘s dismal first half raised even more concerns at the back of the rotation. Clay Buchholz‘s trip to the disabled list had gone from brief to indefinite. He was joined there by Jon Lester in the final days of the first half.

And then, there was the cherry on top: Josh Beckett, the team’s first-half ace, suffered a mild hyperextension of his left knee on the final Friday of the first half, and persistent soreness prevented the right-hander from pitching in the All-Star Game.

There are still plenty of questions about the state of the Sox’ rotation, but apparently one team concern can be crossed off the list. Beckett, in his first start since the July 8 knee injury, was nothing short of dominant against the Rays. While there were times when Beckett would look at his plant leg as if to check either his footing or the condition of his knee, none of that affected what the right-hander brought to the mound.

With a heavy reliance on a fastball that he was able to locate precisely to the corners, Beckett stifled the Rays for eight shutout innings. Though he earned a no-decision for his efforts — on a night where, rather unbelievably, there were eight innings left to pitch after the starter’s exit — Beckett’s outing was huge for the Sox, re-establishing an anchor at a time when many parts of their rotation have been adrift.

Beckett allowed just one hit — a first-inning infield single by Evan Longoria — and promptly retired the last 22 batters he faced. The right-hander did not walk a batter, and in fact went to three-ball counts on just three Rays hitters.

Beckett threw 106 pitches, the last one a 93 mph fastball for a swing and miss by Sean Rodriguez for his sixth punchout of the night. Beckett punctuated that at-bat — and his outing — with a fist pump, a fiery show of emotion for a pitcher who needed little time to suggest that any concerns about the Sox can be focused elsewhere.


–Beckett continued his mastery of the AL East. In eight starts against divisional foes this year, Beckett is 6-0 with a 1.61 ERA.

Dustin Pedroia served as the lone engine of the Sox’ offense, collecting three of Boston’s five hits. Most significantly, with two outs and runner on the corners in the top of the 16th inning, he lined a single to right to plate the only run of the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, carl crawford, Daniel Bard, David Ortiz

Trade Deadline: Red Sox interested in Dodgers’ Hiroki Kuroda, but he won’t play for East Coast team

07.17.11 at 8:15 pm ET
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FOX Sports’€™ Ken Rosenthal said in a video Saturday that the Red Sox may be looking for pitching rotation help from the Dodgers’€™ Hiroki Kuroda. However, after speaking with two East Coast team executives, MLB.com’€™s Peter Gammons wrote Sunday that Kuroda would not waive his full no-trade clause to play for an East Coast team.

A 36-year-old right-handed pitcher from Japan, Kuroda is 6-11 with a 3.13 ERA this year with the Dodgers. He has held opponent batters to a .249 average and .298 OBP.

Kuroda has played in only three games ever against the American League, going 1-2 with a .306 ERA. He has never faced an AL East team or played at an AL East park.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Hiroki Kuroda, Ken Rosenthal, Los Angeles Dodgers

Trade Deadline: Rockies want four players from Yankees for Ubaldo Jimenez

07.17.11 at 8:14 pm ET
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The Rockies have asked the Yankees for four minor league players ‘€“ including top pitching prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances ‘€“ in exchange for 27-year-old right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted Sunday. Jimenez is 5-8 with a 4.08 ERA this year, but is a past All-Star, World Series starter and Cy Young candidate.

The other two players asked for are Triple-A catcher Jesus Montero and right-hander Ivan Nova, who is 8-4 with a 4.12 ERA for the Yankees. Heyman tweeted that the Yankees would trade Montero, who’s hit .288 with just seven home runs in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but that’s as far as they are willing to go.

Banuelos is considered one of the elite pitching prospects in the game. He’s 3-3 this season with Double-A Trenton, with a 3.64 ERA and almost a 2-to-1 strikeout-walk ratio. Betances has had an even more productive year for Trenton, going 4-3 with a 2.62 ERA. He strikes out more than twice as many batters as he walks, and averages 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings.

Live Blog: Red Sox, Josh Beckett look to push Rays further back in standings

07.17.11 at 8:09 pm ET
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Rays/Red Sox Live Blog

Trade Deadline: Red Sox going after Padres’ Ryan Ludwick?

07.17.11 at 6:16 pm ET
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The Red Sox are among the teams interested in the Padres’€™ 33-year-old outfielder Ryan Ludwick, according to ESPN’€™s Buster Olney. Ludwick is batting .240 with 55 RBIs this season. A right-handed hitter, Ludwick is batting .272 against lefties this year.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’€™s Bob Brookover spoke with an AL and an NL scout about the likelihood of trading for several players, including Ludwick. The AL scout said San Diego would ask for a near-ready prospect and possibly two more players. The NL scout said that while Ludwick could be helpful, he’€™s not a ‘€œfrontline guy,’€ and that teams should not give up too much for him.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Ryan Ludwick,

Trade Deadline: Astros trying to cut payroll, could trade Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers

07.17.11 at 6:13 pm ET
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If the Red Sox want to rejuvenate their starting rotation, one place they might look is Houston. SI.com’€™s Jon Heyman tweeted Sunday that incoming Astros owner Jim Crane is looking to drop their payroll to $60 million. As such, they are looking to trade starting pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers.

Rodriguez is 6-6 with a 3.52 ERA this season. He is 2-5 with an ERA over 6.00 in eight career starts against Boston’€™s AL East opponents, however, and has never pitched at Fenway Park.

Myers is 3-10 with a 4.86 ERA. In nine games against the other AL East teams (seven starts), he is 4-2 with a 4.63 ERA.

Heyman added that the Astros will not trade right-handed outfielder Hunter Pence.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, brett myers, Houston Astros, Hunter Pence

Trade Deadline: Yankees interested in Rockies’ Ty Wigginton

07.17.11 at 6:09 pm ET
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The Rockies are in talks with the Yankees to trade Ty Wigginton to New York, SI.com’€™s Jon Heyman tweeted Sunday. Heyman added that Wigginton, a third baseman with 13 home runs, might provide some power while Alex Rodgriguez recovers from surgery.

Wigginton’€™s versatility may add to his appeal to the Yankees. Wigginton has played all four infield positions (granted, only two games at shortstop), both left and right field, and DH. He is also a .295 pinch hitter.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Alex Rodriguez, colorado rockies, New York Yankees

Trade Deadline: Will Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster stay in Chicago?

07.17.11 at 12:06 pm ET
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According to a report from Peter Gammons, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has “no interest” in dealing starting pitchers Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster before the July 31 deadline.

“Jim Hendry has no interest in trading Dempster or Garza during season,” Gammons wrote on Sunday.

With the back injury  to Clay Buchholz and the struggles of John Lackey and Andrew Miller, Garza has been the subject of trade rumors to Boston. The right-hander is 4-7 with a 3.97 ERA this season. Dempster is 7-6 with an ERA of 4.68.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, cubs, matt garza, Red Sox
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