Inside Baseball news and notes from all 15 AL teams.
- Some questioned why the Orioles did only buying. But they look pretty wise now that they have worked their way back into the race.
- Not everyone even with the Orioles loved the Tim Beckham pickup. But he had the greatest first week with a team, perhaps in history, winning Player of the Week honors, and as Buck Showalter pointed out, he needed only six days to do it.
- Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make, as they say. And sorry Houston, but Zach Britton looks really good lately.
- The Orioles offense is finally living up to its potential in the second half, as Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun pointed out.
- Pedro Alvarez has performed well in the minors, and is said to be playing a solid first base. Could be a September call up.
Boston Red Sox
- Addison Reed is exactly what they needed: a tough pitcher who could handle the eighth inning and whatever other bullpen needs they have.
- They looked closely at Brandon Kintzler, too, and presumably a few others, as well.
- Chris Sale seemed like his ears perked up with some speculation that Corey Kluber could be challenging him for the Cy Young, and he turned in one of his most dominant performances of the year at Tampa, which is really saying something. From here, Sale still leads.
Chicago White Sox
- The White Sox’s trades have built a great farm system, but it shouldn’t be a surprise the major-league team is struggling, the last two games against Houston notwithstanding.
- Meanwhile, Eloy Jimenez looks like a future star. Scouts love him. “Pretty special,” one called him.
- GM Rick Hahn was noncommittal when asked whether Avi Garcia is seen as a part of the team’s future, according to a story by Daryl Van Schouwen in the Chicago Sun-Times. There’s no evidence of extension talk, and with Luis Robert, Jimenez, Blake Rutherford and others, it would seem the answer is still unknown.
- They’d still like to find trades for Derek Holland, Miguel Gonzalez and Tyler Clippard, if possible.
- The Indians were one of several teams to welcome back an old friend when they traded for Joe Smith. Others: Diamondbacks and David Hernandez, Pirates and Sean Rodriguez.
- They are open to adding a lefty for the pen now. They were said to be “in deep” on Zach Britton at some point on trade-deadline day. That would have made for quite a pen, but the Orioles ultimately didn’t trade Britton after having a tentative agreement with Houston that they canceled. They do expect Andrew Miller back not long after he’s eligible to come off the DL. In the meantime, Tyler Olson has come up from the minors to do a decent job.
- The injury to Lonnie Chisenhall made them take a look at Jay Bruce, as was reported here first a few weeks ago. Bruce is a terrific pickup.
- Boone Logan is out for the year, making a lefty a priority. Logan has a $7-million option that presumably will not be exercised.
- Corey Kluber became the first Indians pitcher to post consecutive complete games with at least 11 strikeouts since Luis Tiant in 1968, which was the year of the pitcher.
- Austin Jackson’s done a nice job, and made some spectacular catches.
- A Justin Verlander trade remains unlikely according to rivals, due to his salary and status, though his brilliant pitching lately could help. “He’s an iconic player, a near Hall of Famer, and they’re not going to want to give him away. That fact combined with his high salary is going to make it tough,” one rival GM pointed out.
- The Tigers appreciate how gracious Verlander has been about being shopped – he took it with good humor, and even posted an amusing shot of him in the clubhouse when the deadline passed on Twitter. Of course, with full veto power, he’s in the driver’s seat. The Tigers never got to the point to ask him where he’d go since they never got close to a deal with anyone.
- The Tigers told teams they wouldn’t discuss Michael Fulmer until the winter, if then. Now Fulmer’s elbow issue creates a hurdle to any potential deal.
- It is believed all of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Jordan Zimmermann cleared waivers, along with the previously reported Verlander and Justin Upton. If not, they certainly would pass through.
- Upton is having a nice year, but his status is more about the devaluation of sluggers and lack of demand for corner outfielders among contenders.
- The Tigers were unfairly castigated for the J.D. Martinez trade. There just wasn’t a market for corner outfielders (even Jay Bruce had drawn virtually no interest), and they got a nice package of very young infielders who have a chance. Jose King, 17, has huge upside, but of course he’s so young it could go either way.
- Jeimer Candelario, who was traded by the Cubs partly due to his non performance on his call ups, is up with the Tigers. They hope he is the future third baseman.
- The Astros tried to scramble, and replace the player or two the Orioles had medical concerns about to resurrect the Zach Britton trade, and the reason Jim Crane and other Astros people believe Peter Angelos was nixing the trade of Britton is that the Orioles didn’t accept any of the alternatives, either. But since the Astros failed to deal for Justin Wilson, Brad Hand or even Tony Watson, the reason they came up almost empty may have more to do with their own conversation in terms of trades than Baltimore’s. Crane himself said other team’s trade requests would have been “catastrophic” to their system. But the reality is that the Astros have a great percentage of their valuable assets in the majors already, they should be positioned for a World Series run and appeared to need pitching staff reinforcements with the bullpen struggling and injury concerns still dogging star starter Lance McCullers Jr.
- The Rangers made clear they had no issue dealing Darvish in-state and in-division to the Astros, but word is, they barely tried. Earlier, Rangers people suggested they doubted Texas would make such a trade. But the reality is, the Astros showed little interest in Darvish, perhaps because he’s a rental.
- It has been reported that the Astros have been in touch with the Tigers since Justin Verlander cleared waivers (via Jon Morosi of MLB.com). However, it’s generally going to be difficult for the Tigers to deal Verlander since he’s an icon with a salary that would severely limit the return. And one Astros-connected person also points out that Houston’s notorious tightness with prospects (and money, according to this person) will make a Verlander trade less than likely with Houston. One Tigers connected person said flat out that between prospects and money it just didn’t work, suggesting the talks are in the past tense.
- Jose Altuve had a 44 point lead for the batting title, which would be the biggest gap for an AL winner since Rod Carew, Jayson Stark reported.
Kansas City Royals
- Whit Merrifield has 13 home runs, the fifth most in Royals history at that position, tweets Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. The top four spots are owned by Frank White.
- Jakob Junis is off to a nice start with eight strong innings in a 9-1 win over the Mariners.
- Alex Gordon, who had a .580 OPS to rank 158 out of 159 qualifiers was finally benched, writes Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star.
Los Angeles Angels
- Andrelton Simmons’ big WAR number is reflective of his incredible shortstop play and improved offense. And while we’d have different picks for MVP, he is clearly one of the reasons they’ve stayed on the cusp of the race despite the two-month loss of Mike Trout.
- Based on WAR numbers, the Trout absence may have cost the Angels as many as three wins (he missed almost a third of the season, and he’s been a 9-WAR player). His 4.9 WAR now ranks him in a tie for ninth with Corey Seager and Joey Votto despite missing all that time. In WAR per playing time, if that were such a stat, he’d be on top once again.
- Trout has a 176 OPS Plus so far in his sixth season. Only Mickey Mantle (180) had a higher mark through six seasons, according to MLB Network.
- Trout recorded his 1,000th hit on birthday No. 26. Trout has hit four home runs on his birthday, which isn’t far off the record of six by Mark Reynolds and Alex Rodriguez.
- His 150th home run came at exactly the same day of his life as Bryce Harper’s.
- The Angels are 9-1 in rookie Parker Bridwell’s 10 starts, according to MLB Network, and 10 under with anyone else starting.
- RIP Don Baylor, an all-time great as a person and pretty darned good as a player, even better than his excellent stats.
- The Twins were realistic in deciding to sell. But one rival pointed out their pivot from buyer to seller came after losing two games to the Dodgers, which anyone could do. In this person’s estimation, that shouldn’t have been determinative, and the front office should have sent a more positive message to a clubhouse that has achieved beyond anyone’s expectation to this point, especially since they weren’t going to get a haul for free agents to be Brandon Kintzler and Jaime Garcia. They did OK, but in effect paid for the prospects they got from the Yankees by contributing $4 million to that deal (h/t to ownership there). For Kintzler, they got lefty Tyler Watson, who’s in low A-ball and has plus “pitchability” (that means he doesn’t throw hard), and international bonus money, and for Garcia they got Zach Littell and Dietrich Enns, who is being called up to start Thursday. The Yankees saw Littell, who’s been traded twice, as a back-end starter due to low velo, but the Twins like him more (yes, that’s what makes a trade).
- They showed no real interest in trading Ervin Santana, since they have him for at least one more year. Rivals say they can’t see Santana getting through waivers. The Astros are one team that showed interest, but as we know, they don’t exactly throw around prospects.
- The new regime recently let go top holdover numbers guy Jack Goin and four more amateur scouts, and more changes are expected. There’s no word on manager Paul Molitor yet, and it could go either way. Molitor’s team has overachieved for the second time in three years, and as one rival pointed out, “It would take some cajones to fire Molitor, a Hall of Famer from St. Paul.” That said, nothing’s official, and no one would be shocked if the new regime wanted their own guy.
- If they were ever to make a change, keep on mind baseball president Derek Falvey is very close with Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway. Not sure if he’s managerial timber, but it’s something to consider.
- Hitting coach James Rowson has won big praise after connecting with Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario.
- Byron Buxton reached 30.5 feet per second in a recent spring to first base, according to David Adler. That’s bookin’.
- Joe Mauer passed Tony Oliva on the Twins all-time hit list, according to Twins P.R. man Dustin Morse.
New York Yankees
- Some believe the Yankees are gearing up for a run at Shohei Otani.
- They did make a play for Jay Bruce; however, the Mets took the deal where the Indians agreed to pay the $5.3 million remaining while the Yankees were only offering to pay “some” of Bruce’s remaining salary. Some Yankees people believe the Mets don’t really want to trade with them, but in this case, the Mets found more money from the small-market Indians. According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees would have used Bruce as DH while Matt Holliday’s out.
- The Yankees have shown interest in Neil Walker of the Mets.
- They appear to be on a budget and near their spending limit. Not only did they get the Twins to pay Jaime Garcia’s salary, but they only offered to pay some of the remaining Jay Bruce pay (a reported $1 million of the $4.3 million left) after originally suggesting to pay none of it. They offered two prospects instead of the one sent by the Indians.
- The Yankees weren’t very aggressive in regard to Yonder Alonso (obviously since they traded for Sonny Gray and spent a month talking to the A’s, who eventually traded him for Boog Powell II).
- Yankees people comments that Gary Sanchez’s receiving issues are related to putting on about 10 pounds of muscle is a rather generous take. As one scout was quoted in this space late last year, he just isn’t a very good receiver at this stage in his career. He has a great arm, and great power, but catching the baseball has never been a strength, either before or after the added muscle.
- Some people believe Jacoby Ellsbury’s rough last few months are connected to the concussion he got while crashing into the center field wall at Yankee Stadium.
- Rivals seemed to think the A’s’ take for Sonny Gray was “fair.” However, as one opposing GM pointed out, it has become clear that the Yankees were very willing to move Jorge Mateo. It may have been due to duplication, but it became rather obvious.
- Trade-a-day GM Jerry Dipoto outdid even himself when he pulled off two trades Sunday, which isn’t easy to do after the deadline. One of them was for Yonder Alonso, who could be a big plus if he reverts to first half (and All-Star Game) form.
- The dangers of trade making was seen this week, too though, as both Marco Gonzales and Erasmo Ramirez struggled, while David Phelps had to go to the doctor after elbow pain. To counterbalance, the pickups of Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger, Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia have paid off big.
- Felix Hernandez recently went on the DL with a shoulder issue. But people who have seen his medicals remain amazed that has been able to pitch as effectively as he has considering how his pictures look. This is why his $175-million, seven-year extension was held up at the time. The Mariners went through with the deal, it seems, partly based on the King’s heart.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Brendan McKay is unscored upon in his first two games. The Rays seem to be giving him a legit shot to do both, hit and pitch. They saw him as the top hitter, and top pitcher, in college baseball this year. They may have been right in that assessment. Will be interesting to see how long he can keep doing the dual thing.
- The Rangers decided with a couple days to go they needed to trade Yu Darvish, and they got a reasonable, though less than overwhelming return from the Dodgers. The problem was, the Astros made no real effort for Darvish, and some other teams that checked in – the Cubs and Indians – were on Darvish’s no trade list (word is, he did not specifically reject any particularly team, though it seemed to be a complication at the deadline).
- Despite what many see as a “special” relationship, the Rangers have no illusions about their ability to re-sign Darvish. At this point he will almost surely be pitching elsewhere.
- While many see him as superior to Stephen Strasburg, and more dependable, due to his extra couple years one GM predicted he’d beat the $25 million salary of Strasburg but not get the seven years. “Pretty comparable,” one AL exec called them.
- The pickup of international bonus pool money is seen as evidence the Rangers are going for Shohei Otani, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News points out.
- Willie Calhoun is off to a hot start at Triple-A Round Rock. As a hitter “he’s a major leaguer already,” one scout said. “An elite hitter,” one rival calls him. The trick will be finding him a position. The most likely position is left field, and the Dodgers have Chris Taylor there now, and Alex Verdugo there in the future.
- It was with some irony that the umpires union complained that Joe West was suspended for three games for saying in USA Today that Adrian Beltre was the game’s biggest whiner. Beltre, meantime, didn’t complain, saying West told him he was just kidding.
- Joey Gallo is on pace to become only the third player to hit more than 30 home runs (he’s already done that part) and have more homers than singles, joining Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, as Gary Cohen said on SNY.
Toronto Blue Jays
- They could have some more chances to make trades, with Jose Bautista, Kendrys Morales and Marco Estrada sure to clear waivers. One rival GM thought J.A, Happ might clear, too, due to the $13-million salary next year, but that seems questionable.
- Troy Tulowitzki may be out for the year, and Jays execs are wondering when they will see the real Tulo.
- The Blue Jays are 26-20 when Tulo doesn’t play and 27-39 with him, according to SportsNet Canada.