“I usually take a two-hour nap from 1 to 4” – OR – “Pair up in threes” – #RIPYogi

It’s Deja-Vu all over again…

It is inevitable.  The older I get, the more heaven seems to load up on talent – it’s a helluva team up there.  Yogi, went from Northern Italy, to St.Louis, to New York, to one of the best catchers of all time.  For my money, it is him and Roy Campanella for the title, to quote Casey Stengel: “you can look it up.”  Need more proof – how many baseball players have a cartoon character named after them?

With that said, Yogi Berra passed at the age of 90, Tuesday evening. Yogi died 69 years to the day after he had made his major-league debut, on Sept. 22, 1946; against the Philadelphia Athletics, Yogi went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in a 4-3 Yankees win. Yogi won 10 World Series titles as a player.  That is an all-time record, and one more than the great Joe DiMaggio.Logo_alt#2

Berra’s record of 75 World Series games played may never be threatened, much less actually broken. Consider Derek Jeter, who played 20 years for maybe the best team of his era, wound up playing 38 World Series games, barely half of Berra’s total. The only active players who have appeared in more than 15 World Series games are Yadier Molina (21), Matt Holliday (16), Buster Posey (16) and Albert Pujols (16). Furthermore, if the 28-year-old Posey (the only one of them not yet 30 years old) plays in the next eight World Series (through 2022), and all of them extend to seven games, he would still be three games shy of Berra’s record.

Not everyone makes the Hall of Fame, fewer still become icons – Lawrence Peter Berra’s legacy transcends baseball.  He was one of the greatest players, for one of the greatest teams, in all of sports, and for the lucky ones who knew him, they say he was a better person.  Beyond his success on the field, was the quality of the man.  So, when you come to the fork in the road, take it, because if the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.


In memoriam – more Baseball

Here is last night’s #DraftKings Perfect Lineup – 9-22-15…maybe I should have took the other side of the Mets v. Braves game for the #sleeper pick.

92215_perfectlineup

Baseball’s first 20-game winner

Jake Arrieta became baseball’s first 20-game winner and he did it with style, tossing a three-hit, complete-game shutout and striking out 11 in the Cubs’ 4-0 victory over the Brewers. He became the first major-leaguer whose 20th victory of a season was a shutout with double-digit strikeouts since 1993, when Jack McDowell’s 20th win met those parameters.

Arrieta became the first Cubs pitcher to become the majors’ first 20-game winner in a season, with all the victories coming for the Cubs, since Larry Jackson did that back in 1964. (In 1984, Rick Sutcliffnulle was the first big-leaguer to reach 20 wins, and he won his 20th while pitching for the Cubs; but Sut had won his first four games that season while pitching for the Indians.)

Arrieta lowered his season ERA to 1.88, second-lowest in the majors to Zack Greinke’s 1.65. But Arrieta is putting some pressure on the Dodgers’ right-hander: in each of Arrieta’s last five starts, he has thrown at least eight innings and has allowed no more than one run. The last major-league pitcher who strung together five straight games like that was Roger Clemens in 1997; the last to do so this late in a season was Orel Hershiser in 1988, when he tossed five straight shutouts and then a 10-inning scoreless outing in his last six starts of the season, fashioning the major-league -record 59-inning scoreless streak that Greinke had challenged earlier this season.

It’s a Bird in Toronto

Greg Bird’s line-drive three-run homer in the 10th inning cut through the tension at Rogers Centre and lifted the Yankees to a 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays. It was the 10th home run of the season for the Yankees rookie, who replaced the injured Mark Teixeira down the stretch. Bird became the first Yankees rookie to hit an extra-inning home run in a road victory since July 14, 1962, when Tom Tresh belted a two-run homer in the 10th inning off Angels rookie (and future Cy Young Award winner) Dean Chance in New York’s 9-8 win at nullDodger Stadium. (The Angels were the Dodgers tenants for four years in the early 1960s.) Tresh filled in for Tony Kubek that year when Kubek, the Yankees regular shortstop, spent most of the season in military service.

Bird has now hit eight home runs in September, tying Chris Davis for the highest total by any American League player this month. Bryce Harper leads the majors with 10, while Nolan Arenadoand Yoenis Cespedes have smashed nine.

Edwin Encarnacion homered in the bottom of the tenth, his 35th of the season, joining teammates Josh Donaldson (39) and Jose Bautista (36) at that level. Prior to this season, the last big-league team that featured three players with at least 35 home runs was the 2006 White Sox, with Jermaine Dye (44), Jim Thome (42) and Paul Konerko (35). The lone previous season in which a Toronto trio achieved that feat came in 1998; the three players were Jose Canseco(46), Carlos Delgado (38), and Shawn Green (35).

Crazy-ness in Detroit

Fans leaving Comerica Park on Tuesday night must have been thinking of that old adage: there’s a chance at the ballpark you’ll see something that you may not have seen before. Here’s the recap of the Tigers-White Sox game:

Detroit starter Daniel Norris, in his second game since returning from a recent injury, was removed from the game after he retired Chicago’s first 15 batters of the game. His was the first perfect-through-five start by a Tigers rookie since Armando Galarraga did it – no, not in his 8.2-perfect-innings effort against Cleveland in 2010 – but in 2008 against the Royals. The last major-leaguer to be taken out after at least five innings with a potential perfect game still intact was Houston’s Bob Knepper in the final game of the 1986 season, as the Astros readied their starters for that year’s postseason.single logo_small

After four relievers extended the potential no-hitter through one out in the ninth inning, Tyler Saladino ruined the bid with a triple. He became only the second major-leaguer in the last 20 years to spoil a potential no-hitter with a ninth-inning (or extra-inning) triple, the other being Baltimore’s Jerry Hairston, Jr., against the Rangers in 2002. The odd thing: Hairston’s blow leading off the ninth also ruined a potential combination no-hitter in a game in which Texas starter Aaron Myette was ejected after throwing two pitches, Todd Van Poppel pitched two innings, and then Joaquin Benoit threw no-hit ball until Hairston’s triple.

The Tigers won, 2-1, in the 10th inning, on a walkoff triple by Rajai Davis, the second walkoff triple in the majors this season (Pittsburgh’s Pedro Florimon had the other on August 18). The last Tigers player with a walkoff triple was Ramon Santiago in 2011, but prior to him you have to go back to Mickey Stanley in 1968.

Mike and Albert

Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning, in a gripping 4-3 victory in Houston. The home runs were the 40th of the season for Trout and the 36th for Pujols – it was the first time that baseball had seen back-to-back homers by a pair of players, each of whom had already belted 35 homers that season, since 2006 – when Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome of the White Sox did it.

Jimenez with the bat

Ubaldo Jimenez lifted his September record to 3-0 (he had previously beaten both the Blue Jays and the Yankees) and added a nice little cherry with an RBI single as the Orioles shut down the Nationals, 4-1, and, coupled with the Astros’ loss, shaved a game off Houston’s Wild Card lead. Jimenez’s single produced the first run of the game, and Baltimore never relinquished the lead. He became the second American League pitcher this season to be credited with both a victory and a game-winning RBI in the same game; back on July 21, Tampa Bay rookie Nathan Karns hit a home run for the game’s only run in his victory over the nullPhillies.

Jimenez became the 25th American League pitcher in 19 years of interleague play to achieve that daily double – but the amazing thing is that of the 25 pitchers who did it, seven of them have at least one Cy Young Award on their mantles: David Cone, CC Sabathia, Johan Santana,Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer and R.A. Dickey. Even more remarkably, among the other guys who did it was Jon Lester. As we all know, Lester didn’t get his first major-league hit until this season, but in a game at San Francisco in 2010, he was credited with the game-winning RBI in his victory for the Red Sox with a sacrifice fly.

The RBI was the second of the season for Jimenez, who knocked in a run in a game at Philadelphia on June 17. Since the designated-hitter rule was enacted in 1973, severely limiting their opportunities to hit, only eight other American League pitchers have driven in a run in two different games in the same season. But three of those eight others also pitched for the Orioles -Mike Mussina in 1999, Kris Benson in 2006 and Zach Britton in 2011.

Rangers perform sacrifices

Mitch Moreland hit a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth inning, but other than that, it was mostly a rat-a-tat-tat attack of sacrifice bunts (three), sacrifice flies (four) and heads-nullup base-running that allowed the Rangers to beat the A’s, 8-6. Sacrifice flies have been recorded as a category separate from sacrifice bunts since 1954, and over those 62 seasons, there have been only two other major-league games in which a team had at least three sacrifice bunts and at least four sacrifice flies. The Astros used that combination to help beat the Braves, 7-5, in 2009, while the Braves found that four sac flies and three sac bunts weren’t enough to win in a 12-inning contest that was won by the Padres, 11-10, in 1991.

Goldschmidt’s has 30 HRs include 7 vs. Dodgers

A. J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt hit back-to-back home runs off two different Dodgers pitchers in the seventh inning and the Diamondbacks went on to rout the Dodgers, 8-0. Pollock’s home run chased starter Alex Wood, and Goldy’s greeted reliever Chris nullHatcher. It was the 30th boundary belt of the season for Goldschmidt, who also has 21 steals. He became the fourth player in Arizona’s 18-year major-league history to be admitted into that 30/20 club, joining Chris Young(2007), Mark Reynolds (2009) and Justin Upton (2011). It was Goldschmidt’s seventh home run against the Dodgers this season, the most by any Dodgers opponent in a season since 2004, when Barry Bonds and Vinny Castilla each hit eight and Jeromy Burnitz seven. Still some distance away from the record of 13 home runs hit against the Dodgers, then in Brooklyn, by the Milwaukee Braves’ Joe Adcock in 1956.

Iwakuma brings it in K.C.

Hisashi Iwakuma blanked the Royals and struck out 10 batters over seven innings in the nullMariners’ 11-2 win at Kansas City. Iwakuma became the third different Mariners pitcher this season, joining Mike Montgomery and Vidal Nuno, to win a game in which he did not allow a run and had a double-digit strikeout total. Only two other major-league teams have had three different pitchers provide such victories this season-the Indians (Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber) and the Nationals (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez).

Cardinals win another low-scoring game

The Cardinals took a 3-1 decision from the Reds on Tuesday, marking the 31st time this season that they have won a game in which they scored no more than three runs. Only one other major-league team in the last 20 seasons has won as many games of that type (the Giants won 31 such games four years ago). And in the long history of the Cardinals’ franchise, the only other year in which they won as many as 30 games in which they scored three-or-fewer runs was 1968. In that season – the one in which Bob Gibson fashioned his other-worldly 1.12 ERA – St. Louis won 41 games in which they scored no more than three runs (with Gibson having started 14 of those games).

Mahtook(LSU) blasts Fenway

Rookie Mikie Mahtook belted a two-run homer in the eighth inning to put the icing on the Rays’ 5-2 victory at Fenway Park. Mahtook has now hit five home runs this season; his previous blasts came in games at Toronto, Seattle, Chicago (against the White Sox) and nullDetroit. Mahtook, Washington’s Denard Span and San Francisco’s Gregor Blanco are the only players this season who have hit at least five home runs, all on the road.

By the way, among the players from the past whose first five major-league homers came away from home are Hall-of-Famers Eddie Mathews, Reggie Jackson, George Brett, Frank Thomas, Willie Stargell (first six) and Hank Aaron (nine). But none of those Hall-of-Famers holds a candle to the all-time major-league record-holder for home runs, all on the road, from the start of a career. That would be Johnny Hodapp, an infielder who, while playing with the Indians, hit 22 home runs, all on the road, from 1927 to 1931. The streak ended when, after being traded to the White Sox in 1932, his first home run with his new team was hit at Comiskey Park.

Marte + Ramirez and 75 RBIs

Starling Marte knocked in two runs and Aramis Ramirez one, lifting the season total of nullRBIs for each player to 75, in the Pirates’ 6-3 win over the Rockies in Denver.  Andrew McCutchen leads the Pirates with 95 RBIs, and though Ramirez has not produced all of his RBIs for the Pirates, Pittsburgh is one of the two National League teams that have at their disposal three players who have 75 RBIs this season. The other such team is Cincinnati, with Todd Frazier (88), Jay Bruce (83) and Joey Votto (75).

nullErvin = Johan

Ervin Santana came through again for the Twins on Tuesday night, holding the Indians to one run over seven innings and earning well-deserved credit for Minnesota’s 3-1 victory. Santana is now 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA over his last five starts, with 39 strikeouts in 36 innings.

Old minor-leaguer clocks home run, sends Mets to defeat

Hector Olivera clocked a three-run, go-ahead homer with two outs in the sixth inning and the Braves went on to defeat the Mets, 6-2. Olivera, a 30-year-old rookie, became the second 30-year-old rookie in the last 11 days to smash a home run against the Mets; on September 12, Olivera’s teammate Adonis Garcia connected. Prior to the last two weeks, only four rookies on the far side of 30 have homered against the Mets over their 54-year existence, the oldest being the Phillies’ Chris Coste, at 33, in 2006.

Monday News – Deadline 4 days

With four days left until the trade deadline, and Cueto officially being traded, things seem to be picking up, with some other potential deals getting done soon. So while we run with these speculative guesses as our post today, we might as well get it out now before teams make a good chunk of this irrelevant.

So, what follows is Dave Cameron’s (FanGraphs) guesses as to who goes where before July 31st, based on what teams are rumored to be looking for and who we know is available. The tricky part is that there are also guys who are available that we don’t know about, and if a team penciled in for one of the available guys goes for the mystery box instead, it will have a domino effect, driving that available player somewhere else, and messing up multiple guesses in the process. So, by Friday, it’d be surprising how many were right. This is really more just for fun, instead of any kind of serious attempt at handicapping. But let’s see.

We’ll go by how impactful the team’s additions would be, with the team’s making the biggest splashes listed first.

Chicago Cubs
Andrew Cashner, Justin Upton, Joaquin Benoit, Jedd Gyorko

Here’s my speculative blockbuster. The Cubs are in a position to make a run this year, and while they may prefer not to pay a high price for rentals, getting a guy like Cashner back might just be the carrot they need to give the Padres a good return for their other two pieces. And the two teams line up in a lot of ways, with the guys the Padres are selling checking a lot of boxes for the Cubs.

My guess on something this size is that the Cubs would send both Starlin Castroand Javier Baez (along with some lower level guys) to San Diego, as this trade would give the Cubs a guy who could slide in at second base and allow Addison Russell to go back to shortstop. The Padres get a brand new middle infield and get out from under Gyorko’s deal (though they take on Castro’s contract in the process), as well as restock their farm system to some degree, while the Cubs push in heavily on 2015 while also getting a couple of guys who will be around next year as well. Yeah, it’s probably too large and unwieldy a deal to get done in July, but we know A.J. Preller is up for shock-and-awe trades, and maybe Theo Epstein will go along for the ride.

Toronto Blue Jays
Jeff Samardzija, Jay Bruce, Aroldis ChapmanWe know the Blue Jays are going to add a starting pitcher, and Samardzija seems like the most obvious fit, even though he’s a rental. Alex Anthoplous could give up a little more to get one of San Diego’s controlled arms instead, but I’ll guess they pay a lesser price for Samardzija and then use the prospect currency to land a Bruce/Chapman package from the Reds instead. That combination would add some significant upgrades to not only this year’s team, but next year’s as well, and would justify giving up the young arms that everyone wants when they talk trade with the Blue Jays.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Hisashi Iwakuma, Jesse Chavez, Jake McGeeThe Dodgers need arms, and I’d expect that they’ll pick up a starter, a reliever, and a guy who could do both, depending on need. Iwakuma would be a perfect fit as a #3 starter for LA, since they don’t really need another ace, and if the Rays really are listening on Jake McGee, I’d have to imagine Andrew Friedman would love to add him as a lefty complement to Kenley Jansen; that pair could be the west coast version of what the Yankees have at the end of their bullpen. Jesse Chavez is a guy who could help keep the team from using replacement level starters down the stretch, then could add depth to the team’s bullpen in October, or potentially remain as the team’s #4 starter if Brett Anderson gets hurt again.

Kansas City Royals
Johnny Cueto, Marlon Byrd, Dan HarenThe Royals make the most sense for Cueto and probably aren’t going to give up on acquiring him just because one of their trade chips failed a physical. Maybe someone will swoop in and steal him away, but this is the one guess that seems most likely to happen, and if the Reds are sending Cueto to KC, they should include Marlon Byrd as well; the Royals could use another outfielder with Alex Gordon on the shelf and Alex Rios being terrible. Haren could make some sense as a replacement for the injured Jason Vargas, and if he’s going to keep his FIP-beating ways going anywhere, KC is probably the best bet for him.

New York Yankees
Ben Zobrist, Mat Latos, Jim JohnsonWhile Brian Cashman keeps laying expectations for a quiet deadline, the Yankees are the best fit out there for Ben Zobrist, given their glaring hole at second base and the likelihood of winning their division. Few teams are capable of giving themselves a larger boost than the Yankees would get from swapping in Zobrist forStephen Drew. On the pitching side of things, I’d imagine they’ll go with lower-tier options, and Mat Latos’ cost will be limited based on his struggles and personality, while a guy like Jim Johnson won’t cost a lot to add a piece who can bridge the gap toDellin Betances and Andrew Miller.

Texas Rangers
Cole HamelsThe teams in win-now mode have enough short-term alternatives to not need to pay a premium to get the 2016 value that comes with having Hamels under control beyond this year, and while I don’t necessarily see the Rangers as on the verge of contending, they clearly see themselves that way, and adding Hamels to a healthy Yu Darvish would at least give them a shot to get back to the postseason next year.

The Rangers probably aren’t giving up Joey Gallo, but if they put Nomar Mazaraor a combination of Jorge Alfaro and Alex Gonzalez on the table, this is the kind of deal that could work for both sides. I’m lower on Alfaro and Gonzalez than most, so I’d push pretty strongly for Mazara and some lesser stuff if I was Ruben Amaro. Getting at least one high profile guy seems to be the preferred course of action for the Phillies anyway, and Mazara is a legitimate top prospect, so this is probably the best option for Philly to get a guy with All-Star upside in return.

Houston Astros
Carlos GomezThe Astros already got a pitcher, but they shouldn’t stop there, and Gomez would be a perfect fit for them, sliding in as their regular center fielder, pushing the overmatched Jake Marisnick back to a reserve role. With George Springer,Colby Rasmus, and Preston Tucker around, a center fielder makes more sense for the Astros than any of the corner guys on the market, and Gomez is the best center fielder potentially available. Given that he’s under control for next year as well, this is the kind of guy the Astros should be willing to pay for.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Mike Leake, Tyler ClippardThe Aramis Ramirez acquisition essentially sums up the kinds of moves the Pirates like to make at this point in the year; looking more for depth than paying for the perceived huge impact that doesn’t really exist in acquiring a guy for two months. Given that, I don’t think Pittsburgh will be in on the big names, though Ben Zobrist does still make some sense there, and I would see them going more for the middle-tier guys who can help but aren’t going to cost an arm and a leg. Leake and Clippard both fit that mold, but there are a lot of other mid-level starter/reliever combos that could go here too. And if Ramirez doesn’t take to 1B well, I could see them swinging a deal for Mike Napoli, though that might be an August trade.

Anaheim Angels
Carlos GonzalezThey want a left-handed power hitting outfielder, and there’s really only a couple of them on the market. Bruce could fit here too, but because they don’t have much in the way of prospects to trade, taking on most of CarGo’s contract is probably an easier deal for them to make. His recent hot streak has made it more likely that he’ll get moved, and Anaheim looks like the most logical landing spot for him if they have the budget room to get it done.

Minnesota Twins
Yovani Gallardo, John AxfordThe Twins are openly talking about adding a power arm who can rack up strikeouts, and Axford checks both boxes. If the Twins are really going to make a run, they’re going to need to add another arm to their rotation as well, because Ervin Santana is ineligible for postseason play; Gallardo seems like a good fit among guys who could be an actual upgrade but won’t cost top-line prospects.

San Francisco Giants
Gerardo ParraParra is a classic Giants player, with the good-at-everything-great-at-nothing skillset that has become the team’s hallmark. He makes contact, hits for power, plays solid defense in a corner, and could even replace Angel Pagan in center if the team needed him to. While Parra is playing well enough to appeal to a wide variety of teams, he seems destined to play for the Giants; they own the copyright on players like this.

St. Louis Cardinals
Adam LindIt’s tough to see St. Louis really rolling into the postseason with a rookie platooning with Mark Reynolds at first base, so I’ll pencil them in for Adam Lind, though they could go with a buy-low guy like Mike Napoli if they wanted to give Stephen Piscotty a longer look. My guess is that they know Piscotty isn’t the answer, though, and a lefty with power who can fit between Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peraltafits the bill nicely.

Washington Nationals
Jonathan PapelbonThe Nationals are getting their big guns back, making additions anywhere besides the bullpen less likely. But they’re almost certainly going to add a reliever, and Papelbon actually makes some sense here. Yes, Drew Storen is doing a great job as the team’s closer, but they wouldn’t lose much in the ninth with giving Papelbon that job, and that would free Storen up to pitch high-leverage spots in the 7th and 8th innings. And since the Phillies are reportedly willing to pay down some of Papelbon’s contract, the Nationals — who even got the Indians to pay the freight on Asdrubal Cabrera last year — might be able to get a good reliever by just taking on 2016 money.

New York Mets
Koji UeharaThe Mets made their move to solidify their line-up on Friday, adding Juan Uribeand Kelly Johnson as solid role players who didn’t cost a lot. I’d expect one more similar move for the bullpen, with a guy like Uehara being a good fit as a different look from the hard-throwing staff the Mets already have. It isn’t a sexy deadline, but the total value added by these three guys may have just as large of an impact on the team as making one big acquisition.

Heating Up

 

The Baseball info is up on the baseball page and Scott Kazmir has been traded to Houston, in the first of what we would assume, will be a flurry of significant trades.

Trade talks were said to be “heating up” late yesterday, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported. She tabbed Houston as the likely suitor.

He’ll return to his home town in the deal. The Astros had previously pursued him in free agency, but he decided to join the A’s on a two-year, $22M deal. Kazmir will finish that contract with the Astros, and will also pick up a $500K assignment bonus in the process. Because he was acquired in the middle of the year, the Astros won’t be able to extend Kazmir a qualifying offer, which should aid his free agent case.

In Kazmir, the Astros get a top-performing starter to slot into the club’s rotation. Though he has long been dogged by injury questions, any such concerns are much less prevalent in a rental scenario. The 31-year-old, who burst back onto the scene after a long layoff, threw 190 1/3 quality innings last year and has been even better in 2015. He owns a 2.38 ERA over 109 2/3 frames, with 8.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 to go with a 45.9% groundball rate.

ERA estimators view Kazmir more as a mid-three earned run per nine talent, but that’s plenty useful for a Houston rotation that was in need of good innings down the stretch. He’ll join Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh atop the rotation, which also features the sturdyScott Feldman and youngsters Lance McCullers Jr. and Vincent Velasquez. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said that the acquisition gives his club “one of the deepest rotations in the American League,” adding that he hopes the move makes Houston “a viable force,” as Mark Berman of FOX 26 tweets.

By moving for a short-term piece, Luhnow avoided the need to part with the organization’s highest-rated minor league talent. That could keep some powder dry should the club look to add a bat or other piece. While neither of the pieces going to Oakland have received much hype, though, it’s worth bearing in mind that they come from a deep Houston system and have improved their stock with their 2015 performances. And A’s GM Billy Beane obviously preferred to add the pair rather than attempting to pick up a draft pick by offering Kazmir a qualifying offer after the season.

Mengden, 22, holds the 19th overall spot in MLB.com’s ranking of Astros prospects. A fourth-round pick in 2014, the righty is said to have four pitches with some promise. That could make him a rotation piece down the line, though some view him as a reliever in the long run. Mengden dominated at the Class A level this year, though he’s slowed somewhat since moving up to High-A, with a 5.26 ERA and 8.7 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9 over 49 2/3 innings.

Meanwhile, in Nottingham, the A’s will add Houston’s 22nd-rated prospect, per MLB.com, which says there are some questions whether he can stick behind the dish. He just earned a call-up to the High-A level, and has put up big numbers as his promising power has turned into production. Over 329 total plate appearances this season, Nottingham owns a .326/.383/.558 slash with 14 home runs. That performance bumped the backstop into the top-ten of Houston’s pre-MLB talent in Baseball America’s mid-season update.

While both acquired players obviously have some real promise, it’s notable that Beane elected for a return of more projectable, far-from-the-majors assets. His offseason moves seemingly focused more on adding talent at or near the major league level. It will certainly be interesting to see whether the club follows suit if (or, more likely, when) it moves some of its other veteran pieces.

With that out of the way here are some other, alternate names that could be moving soon:

 Justin Upton, Padres

Of all of the top guys on this list, Upton is the most likely to be dealt. His contract expires after the season, the Padres are out of the race and he is due for a massive raise that will be outside of their budgetary abilities on the open market. Dealing him now replenishes some of the prospects they moved in their win-now movement this past winter.

Aroldis Chapman, Reds

Chapman only sees the market if the Reds deal Cueto and therefore go all-in on kicking off a mini-rebuild. It is that conditional availability that keeps him from not being in front of Papelbon, but if he is dealt, it would likely be at the cost of a number of top prospect types.

Mat Latos, Marlins

The Marlins acquired Latos as a “final piece” type of starter to headline their rotation until Jose Fernandez returned. But a slow start, coupled by the injury to Giancarlo Stanton, put them in the class of moving certain guys out to get ready for the future. Latos would bring back a solid haul of prospects (for the third time in his career) and be the best option for teams that need to get better on the mound but do not want to pay the Cueto or Hamels price.

Ben Revere, Phillies

A speed-first, light-hitting lead-off type usually isn’t a pivotal presence, but Revere could be the spark plug a team needs to add a new element to its attack. He would be the easiest part for the Phillies to unload and should have plenty of suitors.

Gerardo Parra, Brewers

Defense, defense, defense and a dash of bat as well. A former Platinum Glove winner who can play every outfield position would be a welcome add for any team, and his days in Milwaukee should be numbered.

Cameron Maybin, Braves

He has been surprisingly productive after falling into the abyss in San Diego the last few years. Maybin offers a rangy center fielder who won’t cost much to obtain.

Ben Zobrist, Athletics

He was acquired to be traded, and the versatile Zobrist is beginning to come out of his season-long funk and produce by the Bay. He can help virtually any team due to his ability to contribute in the middle infield and corner outfield spots. He also has an expiring contract that is ideal for a team looking to go all-in for the short term.

Mike Leake, Reds

An innings-eating, back-of-the-rotation type, Leake is dependable (30 starts in each of the past three seasons) and has an expiring contract as well.

Adam Lind, Brewers

Lind is a valuable trade chip due to the fact he represents a rarity in this year’s field: corner infield power. If the Brewers begin to sell, unloading Lind in a market that’s hungry for him could make for a strong return considering his relative true value.

Ryan Howard, Phillies

The Phillies are going to have to decide just how much crow they are willing to eat on the remaining $72 million due to Howard through 2018 (baseball’s ugliest contract), but if they can find that balance and the right club willing to reach for the need, he could be moved.

Aramis Ramirez, Brewers

He has already announced his pending retirement at the end of the year, so Ramirez is a guaranteed rental chip that has a minimal contractual impact. It’s the type of addition that any team looking to get solid everyday play at third base or add a bonus bat as a DH or bench depth should kick the tires on.

Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers

A veteran, All-Star bullpen arm carrying a one-year deal and could function as either a closer or a setup man with the same level of ease? Sounds good to me.

Ian Kennedy, Padres

After an abysmal start, Kennedy has steadied out and gotten back to being the dependable (and sometimes underrated) arm that he has always been. For teams looking to shore up some innings and not give up a ton of top-tier prospects to do so, he’s a perfect match.

Jay Bruce, Reds

Carrying a powerful stick and an equally impressive arm, Bruce is an attractive option for teams not looking to find a player who changes everything about them on his own but raises the everyday potential of the team as a whole. If the Reds open up their doors, plenty of teams should come knocking for him.

Martin Prado, Marlins

Capable of playing third or second base with the same ease he takes to the outfield, Prado is like a poor man’s Zobrist. And as he has done in previous stops in Atlanta, New York and Arizona, Prado can fill any need instantly and contribute in a variety of ways. He’s the perfect trade deadline acquisition for contenders that just need a bit more insurance (such as Pittsburgh, Chicago or those same Yankees he previously suited up for).

Quick Hits

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The (unofficial) second half of the baseball season starts tonight with four of the six divisions up for grabs and could also come down to the wire – including second-wild-card-spots.  The trade deadline is July 31 (non-waiver) and August 31 (waiver) providing plenty of rumors for the next couple of weeks.  So, here are some compelling story-lines to follow during the second-half.

  1. Where does Cole Hamels go – again?
    1. It is likely that this time, Cole Hamels may not tip the scales on a playoff race but could strengthen a contender even further.  Cole is the only bargaining the Phillies have and it would be crazy if they didnt move him for more young talent for their $85m remaining investment.  Philly will likely have to pay some of that remaining salary for the top-tier talent they’ll want in return.  It would seem the Dodgers or the Cardinals would be the best place for him.
  2. What Division does Johnny Cueto decide?
    1. Johnny Cueto could be the tipping point in a number of playoff races.  However, because he will be a free-agent next year, the Reds will not be able to ask for what Cueto is worth.  Think about how much influence Cueto could have if he was traded to the AL East, AL West or anyone one of the contenders in the NL.
  3. Houston, do we have a problem?
    1. The team that surprised everyone in the first half is no longer in first.  At one point they had the best record in baseball and then July came and they have gone 3-8 so far.  George Springer broke his right wrist and Chris Carter is still hitting below .200.  This is the team that needs another starter to contend down the stretch – but you wonder if that is worth giving away prospects to try and win something that you are not ready for now.  I’d expect the Astros will not do anything drastic and maybe trade for mid-level value type guys that do not impact their farm-system or current roster – unless it’s Chris Carter.

 

Tiger Woods and Paul Azinger at the 2002 Ryder Cup

Paul Azinger does have a history of criticizing Tiger, like when he went off on Tiger back in 2012 for kicking a club on the 16th hole during the Masters – “Tiger’s antics this week were an embarrassment to the game, to the membership at Augusta,” – “I was really disappointed to see him carry on that way. He’s not trying to endear himself to anybody. And after he won Bay Hill I thought, ‘here we go again, this is going to be Tiger just kicking butt and taking names.’ I don’t know. I thought he acted like the south end of a northbound mule.”  

So, as history repeats itself and Tiger may have already played himself out of contention from the British Open ,like he did at the U.S., Azinger calls him a “middle-of-the-pack-hack”.  Tiger is 21 over par in his last 45 holes at major championships – so the assessment is not far off.  On the front-nine yesterday Tiger was 4-over-40 and later in the day chunked a chip shot.

You’d have thought Tiger showed some signs of life recently, when he shot a 7-under for the tournament at the Greenbriar Classic.  Now, it just seems like he is lost in his own head.  Maybe the booze, women-chasing, bad swing and all, has kidnapped the once and future king of golf – not that we care anymore because we are doing just fine playing DraftKings Fantasy Golf Millionaire Maker – how about Jordan Speith?!


 

Doc Rivers the GM is crazy.  The Clippers lose Matt Barnes, Spencer Hawes and Hedo Turkoglu, but gain Lance Stephenson, Paul Pierce and Josh Smith.  You know Kendrick Perkins is waiting for that phone call to join this insane asylum.  We might be the closest we have ever been to someone being murdered on the court.  At any moment someone could implode, explode or just go off the rails – this team was already combustible, averaging two technicals every 3 games and now you have Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson?  CP3 was so hard on DJ that he considered playing for Dallas for 96 hours.  The team has talent but no front-court depth – right now there is no back-up for DJ or Blake.  This disfunction junction is going to be awesome to watch next year and I cannot wait to see the over/under on CP3 meltdowns.

May the DiRT Be With You…and also with you

mayweather pacquiao punchout!!

Super-Nintendo Punchout summarizes the fight –  from sports grid.

Ah the Romans – it was in full display – the Bread and the Circuses – except it seemed while we got the circus – they forgot our bread.  THE MOST SPECTACULAR FIGHT OF OUR TIME – YOU CANT MISS THIS ONE – TWELVE UNFORGETTABLE ROUNDS FOR ONLY $99.

That is the beautiful thing about pay-per-view sporting events – there are no sell outs, no waiting in line, no standing-room only, no one getting turned away at the gate by small giants and fire marshals for too much booze on your breath – none of that!  As long as you want it – you’ve got a better seat than any celebrity –‘Murica!

But the fight – ughh – it was just like I wrote back in December, #CalledIt.  Want to know what was a better fight than #MayPac?  Jamie Foxx staying in tune.  Clint Eastwood versus a chair.  Bob Barker versus Happy Gilmore.  Jay Z versus Beyonce’s Sister.  Kevin James versus skinny jeans, Deebo versus Craig – we get it!  The build up was Wrestlemania without the drama, The Royals have thrown more punches this year – it made you long for the days you dropped that kind of scratch on a Mike Tyson fight that was over in less than 90 seconds.  Mayweather handed out more hugs to Manny than his own kids.

If this was what people thought was the Fight of the Century – did they mean this actual century or the last 100 years – then Boxing is dead – maybe it survives as some bare-knuckled-quasi blood-sport on late night TV – but there will never be anything great about it ever again.  I preferred to watch a rerun of Hagler v Hearns – it’s what we expected Saturday – or relive the salad days of any of Muhammad Ali’s fights.  With Ali, we were lucky and privileged to live in the same century with him.  He was a true aristocrat of the spirit, I love the man.  He spoke to the best and bravest in us and his fights are priceless.  Floyd will never understand, and it seems he doesn’t care too – he’s just fine being the captain on the Titanic.


NBA Fevah!  Chris Paul was doing his best Steph Curry impression making an incredible shot, that I still don’t know how it went in, to beat the Spurs, 111-109.  This undercard was better than Saturday’s main event.  The Clippers needed all of the 8 for 14 beyond the arc points in the second half, before Paul’s lucky nail in the champ’s coffin.  Does this propel the Clippers to bigger things?  Is this the end of the Spurs as we knew them?  What I do know is; I could watch these two play the rest of the year and it would still live up to expectations.  The question though, is this:  will there be any other series as good as this one for the rest of the playoffs?


There he is, the favorite, American Pharoah.  The first horse to start in position 17 or farther and win the (141st) Kentucky Derby.  I had told you to leave him off because of that (and because they clearly don’t know how to spell Pharaoh) – what is the meaning of statistics if you cant remove the outliers.  Well the outliers win sometimes and sometimes they rough you up pretty good.  The break the horse made from the 18th position to be near the front of the pack and not get boxed in was remarkable.  He was given a clear shot – as was I, or so I thought for most of the race.  It was another lesson I got sloppy with from the harsh school of gambling, that dealt me another quick beating for leaving off the favorite – see I had Dortmund and Firing Line in an Exacta boxBlind spots are fatal – they’ll punish you every time.  So the questions will begin again about the potential of American Pharoah(sic) being the next triple-crown winner – and the answer is no, but I will not leave him off again, just to be safe.


The Houston Firs-tros have won 10 straight and own the American League’s best record at 18-7.  As the Astros celebrate their 50th year, you have to wonder when do they come back to Earth?  In the AL West they may never – the Angels have serious problems, the Rangers are terrible and The A’s and Mariners do not play consistently enough to challenge, so…It’s a long season and Houston is a young team that will have to prove it in the dog-days – but for now, how about dem Astros!

In other weird baseball news – the Rockies still can’t play in SoCal, and the Yankees swept the Red Sox for the first time since 2006.  David Ortiz failed to deliver a bases-loaded, down-by-three, in the bottom of the ninth – either further proving his PED use, or Adam Warren is that good – has not allowed a run in 10 appearances.

Matt Harvey is 5-0 for the 1st place Mets since Tommy John Surgery and it must be an “odd” year, because the Cardinals have the best record in baseball – World Series appearances in 2011 and 2013.


May the 4th be with you!

In honor of Saga and today being May 4th – #StarWarsDay – here is some entertainment:


It’s still fresh!

Abstract DiRT

You begin to wonder sometimes, is there any redemption in parlaying your earnings into a bigger pile – there is – but bigger than that is the effort and time that was put in to solve a rubik’s cube of information to create winning lineups for the Daily Fantasy delights.  We’ve done that.  We win.  It’s that simple.  We can show you the analytics, the reports, the lineup combinations and the question becomes – will you play?  No one provides the detail, the information, the exactness of projections like we do – not FanDuel, not Draftkings and defintely not all those other slack-jawed yokels.  Play along with us, use us, we give you the info for free (for now) – you see our results and it’s time for you to build yours.  We are working on baseball next and will have something big before football starts.  But the question is, will you be one of the fore-runners, or sit back with a case of the s’posed-ta’s wondering which membership plan is for you?  Contact us today and join us on the ground floor….Now on to the DiRT


1.

Basketball is a dangerous sport.  These Redwood Gladiators are constantly in peril from the razor-like-bucket.  It could explain why the Center position is fading away along with post-moves.  The hoop is dangerous, as Hassan Whiteside found out last night trying to block one of the Flying Plumlee’s.  Mr. Whiteside needed 10 stitches to close the wound between his middle and ring fingers he described as pretty bad because, “he could see the meat.”  With a handful of games remaining and Miami fighting for their playoff lives, they have to hope he comes back soon – regardless of how many times he #ActaFool.

But that was the smallest event that happened between the Heat and the Bucks.  You see the Bucks were down 11 and stormed back, down two, with eight seconds left.  Chaos ensues, and the Bucks of Milwaukee now hold a 2.5 game lead on the Heat for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.  If Milwaukee lost, their lead would have been just half-a-game.  If you read our NBA DiRTy plays you would have had Khris Middleton and Zaza Pachulia who did this:


2.

We’ve talked alot about karmic responsibility the last couple of days and then that happened.  The Fresno Grizzlies created a promotional campaign around “Back to the Future” and were planning on giving away W.S. rings.  Then someone must have forwarded one of our posts and they pulled the promotion – saying they do not want to be a “jinx“.  It’s out there Jerry, you can not take it back in this modern instagram-world.  You should have thought about that before you got the hopes up in Fresno.  But can you really blame the Astros affiliate – afterall, Sports Illustrated published this last year, in June.

The ‘Stros do have a lot of talent and if you can, watch George Springer, Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel or Chris Carter.  They also have two talented prospects waiting to debut like Carlos Correa and Mark Appel.  The Houston Astros will continue to get better and they have the makings of a really talented contender – if they can keep everyone (like the Utah Jazz).  But the Karmic wheel-O-justice spins for thee and you can book it now – the Astros will not win the World Series in 2017 – no one say anything else.


3.

The Oakland Dog – available at Oakland A’s spring training facility in Mesa, AZ – A hot dog topped with mac and cheese, green chiles and bacon. No word yet if they are planning on selling this in Oakland.

Gone are the days of getting just a hot dog and a beer.  The tide shifted years ago when ballparks began offering sushi or upscale dining to go with normal ballpark fare.  Every year it seems we get some place kickin’ it up a notch – here’s what some items are on the menu for 2015 around the country, see if you notice a theme.

  • Texas Rangers“Just Bacon” food stand – They will have an actual stand in the ballpark, dedicated to nothing but bacon.  They’ll sell candied bacon in a mini-helmet, bacon-cotton-candy and even bacon-beer.  Even if you are not riding the ‘everything-bacon’ wave – you’ve got to try a bacon beer right? for science?
  • Texas Rangers – The S’mOreo – A deep fried marshamallow surrounded by two deep fried oreos topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.  It’s almost bite-sized, so six of them could get eaten before you know what happened.
  • Texas RangersChicken-Fried-Corn-on-the-Cob – Again in Texas, this time they take corn, slather it with buttermilk batter before dropping it into the fryer.  Sounds like another challenge that must be washed down with a cold Bacon Beer – it just seems wrong, but you must do it for science.
  • Arizona DiamondbacksChurro Dog – Remember when the D’bags gave us the 18″ corn-dog stuffed with cheese, jalapenos and bacon.  This year they want us to finish off the D-Bat dog with a low-cal desert: a churro, nestled in a donut bun, topped with frozen-yogurt, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and caramel.  Low-cal because they used frozen-yogurt – thinking of the extra calories they are saving us by not using the iced-cream – at 1100 calories, it’s a nice gesture.
  • Wilmington Blue RocksDonut Dog – This minor league team got with Krispy Kreme to create a Krispy Kreme glazed donut bun that hugs a hot dog, topped with rasberry jam and bacon.  A modern day Monte Cristo sandwich.  Get your friends to try it first.
  • Wisconsin Timber-RattlersBig Mother Funnel Burger – Placing meat in desert-type-cakes seems to be the new thang and in Wisconsin we have another.  We have a bacon-cheeseburger between two funnel-cakes.  The question for all you gastro-engineers is: how well does the structure of the funnel-cake hold up to the grease of the bacon cheeseburger? #Murica!
  • Wisconsin Timber-RattlersGrilled Cheese Bacon Cheeseburger – Just like it sounds, a bacon cheeseburger with grilled cheese sammiches for buns.  Throw in some onions and a side of ranch for dipping and someone might scream RoadTrip.
  • Lehigh Valley Iron PigsPork Parfait – It’s a meat mirage disguised as a desert – it’s like Thanksgiving in a cup, if Thanksgiving had pork.  This meat-parfait is layered with mashed potatoes, pulled pork, cheese sauce and green onions – all made to look like its a desert.  So confusing…
  • Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs2-foot long hot dog – This needs a real name and might need a NC-17 rating, because no one should be allowed to hold that much meat in your hand without some sort of supervision.  This tube-monster is topped with chili, beer cheese, bacon and onion straws.  You can have it cut into 4, 6″ pieces, to share, or make you feel better about yourself stuffing your face with all that meat at once, alone.
  • Oklahoma City DodgersOreo Churros – it’s a chocolatey churro with a side of oreo cream dipping sauce – that is science right there. (no picture, just imagine…)
  • The West Michigan Whitecaps are holding a contest for fans to vote one of the items to the ballpark menu.  Here are some of the choices:

    #1 – French Fry Pizza #2 – Cotton Candy Curveball (twinkie wrapped in cotton candy) #3 – Kat Dog (Kit-Kat inside a hot dog) #4 – Weenie Panini

    Other items are Crispy Pig Chips (nachos with pork-rinds), Hot-toTot (tater-tots with buffalo chicken and bleu cheese), and a hot dog in a hallowed out pickle, deep fried.


NOT A SAINT…

You can’t spell Sharper without “Rapes”

This week, news broke that Darren Sharper has agreed to sign a new long term deal with Arizona.  Terms are undisclosed but rumors are, it is for at least 9 years.  Darren Sharper still has offers pending in Louisiana, Nevada and California and could become the 1st player in the Federal Penal League to play for several teams.

This is one of those situations that the entitled, priveledged athlete, convicted of barbarism, should be shipped off to Papillon with the other socio and psychopaths in the world, to live their end of days, together.  Prison shows no mercy to child-molesters and rapists – in Hell you will remember the sins of the flesh.