2013 MLB Waiver Trade Deadline: Grades for Notable Trades and Claims

2013 MLB Waiver Trade Deadline: Grades for Notable Trades and Claims

By

(Featured Columnist) on September 1, 2013

 

Hi-res-178285861_crop_650x440

Marlon Byrd has quickly grown accustomed to the black and yellow of the NL Central-leading Pittsburgh Pirates. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

As suspected, August was jam-packed with notable trades and claims involving veteran position players. Even a few tenured pitchers changed uniforms.

Both the non-contenders and acquiring teams now must be graded for their activity based on the actual and anticipated performance of these individuals down the stretch.

Not every deal is worth analyzing, of course. Well-traveled outfielder/pitcher Casper Wells isn’t going to affect the pennant race, nor will Quintin Berry or John McDonald, the newest additions to the Boston Red Sox organization.

Rather, we’ll focus on several of 2013’s overachievers and others who have shown the ability to carry a lineup in recent years. The priority for competitive teams, obviously, was to obtain players capable of filling meaningful roles while surrendering as little talent as possible. The sellers simply coveted developing players with decent odds of reaching high ceilings.

Let’s use what we know—or, at least, what we think we know—to reflect on these relocation situations.

Previous

2 of 16

Next
Hi-res-178285861_crop_650x440

Marlon Byrd has quickly grown accustomed to the black and yellow of the NL Central-leading Pittsburgh Pirates. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

As suspected, August was jam-packed with notable trades and claims involving veteran position players. Even a few tenured pitchers changed uniforms.

Both the non-contenders and acquiring teams now must be graded for their activity based on the actual and anticipated performance of these individuals down the stretch.

Not every deal is worth analyzing, of course. Well-traveled outfielder/pitcher Casper Wells isn’t going to affect the pennant race, nor will Quintin Berry or John McDonald, the newest additions to the Boston Red Sox organization.

Rather, we’ll focus on several of 2013’s overachievers and others who have shown the ability to carry a lineup in recent years. The priority for competitive teams, obviously, was to obtain players capable of filling meaningful roles while surrendering as little talent as possible. The sellers simply coveted developing players with decent odds of reaching high ceilings.

Let’s use what we know—or, at least, what we think we know—to reflect on these relocation situations.

Michael Young Trade

Hi-res-171997683_crop_650

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 31

Full Trade: Los Angeles Dodgers trade Rob Rasmussen to the Philadelphia Phillies for Michael Young and cash.

Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez have been stellar for L.A. at first base and shortstop, respectively. Young will presumably serve as an alternative to Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe at the other infield positions.

The fit is puzzling because, like both of them, Young bats right-handed while providing inferior defense. It’s even difficult to imagine him contributing more than Nick Punto currently does as a reserve.

On the bright side, the southern California native could make a sizable impact should any of them suffer an injury this September.

Rasmussen is already 24 years old, so it isn’t surprising that the Dodgers tried to accelerate him through the farm system after he began the season with a couple extraordinary months at Double-A. They demoted the southpaw back to that level, however, when he struggled to deliver quality starts for the Albuquerque affiliate.

ESPN’s Keith Law tweets that his most likely major league role is that of a lefty specialist. Any surefire MLB player is a decent return considering Young—an expensive impending free agent—has regressed to replacement-level performance at this stage of his career.

 

Grades

Dodgers: C

Phillies: B+

Previous

3 of 16

Next
Hi-res-178285861_crop_650x440

Marlon Byrd has quickly grown accustomed to the black and yellow of the NL Central-leading Pittsburgh Pirates. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

As suspected, August was jam-packed with notable trades and claims involving veteran position players. Even a few tenured pitchers changed uniforms.

Both the non-contenders and acquiring teams now must be graded for their activity based on the actual and anticipated performance of these individuals down the stretch.

Not every deal is worth analyzing, of course. Well-traveled outfielder/pitcher Casper Wells isn’t going to affect the pennant race, nor will Quintin Berry or John McDonald, the newest additions to the Boston Red Sox organization.

Rather, we’ll focus on several of 2013’s overachievers and others who have shown the ability to carry a lineup in recent years. The priority for competitive teams, obviously, was to obtain players capable of filling meaningful roles while surrendering as little talent as possible. The sellers simply coveted developing players with decent odds of reaching high ceilings.

Let’s use what we know—or, at least, what we think we know—to reflect on these relocation situations.

Michael Young Trade

Hi-res-171997683_crop_650

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 31

Full Trade: Los Angeles Dodgers trade Rob Rasmussen to the Philadelphia Phillies for Michael Young and cash.

Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez have been stellar for L.A. at first base and shortstop, respectively. Young will presumably serve as an alternative to Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe at the other infield positions.

The fit is puzzling because, like both of them, Young bats right-handed while providing inferior defense. It’s even difficult to imagine him contributing more than Nick Punto currently does as a reserve.

On the bright side, the southern California native could make a sizable impact should any of them suffer an injury this September.

Rasmussen is already 24 years old, so it isn’t surprising that the Dodgers tried to accelerate him through the farm system after he began the season with a couple extraordinary months at Double-A. They demoted the southpaw back to that level, however, when he struggled to deliver quality starts for the Albuquerque affiliate.

ESPN’s Keith Law tweets that his most likely major league role is that of a lefty specialist. Any surefire MLB player is a decent return considering Young—an expensive impending free agent—has regressed to replacement-level performance at this stage of his career.

 

Grades

Dodgers: C

Phillies: B+

Justin Morneau Trade

Hi-res-175570697_crop_650

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 31

Full Trade: The Pittsburgh Pirates trade Alex Presley and Duke Welker to the Minnesota Twins for Justin Morneau.

The Twins have been fixated on moving Morneau for most of this summer. A first-half power outage, however, made him widely undesired prior to the non-waiver trade deadline.

A total of 16 extra-base hits in August—including nine home runs—sparked interest around the league.

Perhaps Morneau adds a tiny bit of defensive value that Garrett Jones currently doesn’t as the larger half of Pittsburgh’s platoon at first base. When taking ballpark factors into consideration, their 2013 batting lines have been virtually identical.

The 28-year-old Presley won’t sell any additional season ticket packages at Target Field. He’s been hidden from left-handed pitching in limited major league action, and his .733 OPS versus righties is nothing to write home about. Even Presley’s defense fails to justify meaningful playing time.

Welker isn’t a particularly valuable piece either. The reliever’s strikeout rate has spiked during the past couple years in the high minors, but he’s still struggling mightily with pitch location at age 27.

 

Grades

Pirates: C+

Twins: C

Mike Morse Trade

Hi-res-178936696_crop_650

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 30

Full Trade: Baltimore Orioles trade Xavier Avery to the Seattle Mariners for Mike Morse.

The O’s have remained playoff contenders this entire season without any stability at designated hitter. Five different players have served as a DH at least 10 times, and only Danny Valencia (.913 OPS in 93 PA) has been effective.

Why not give Morse a try? Even during this mediocre campaign, he’s been a league average hitter against left-handed pitching. Wilson Betemit can platoon with him.

Seattle’s offseason acquisition of Morse was met with some excitement, but he quickly became an awkward fit. Kendrys Morales’ presence on the roster forced the 31-year-old into the outfield, where he’s been a total train wreck (minus-17 Defensive Runs Saved).

With Morse headed toward free agency and sporting an ugly .693 OPS, the Mariners were fortunate to get anything in return, and Avery could legitimately help them.

The Georgia native made his major league debut in 2012, but he has struggled too much with the bat this summer to merit another call-up. Given Avery’s speed and defensive ability, he could prove to be very useful as a reserve outfielder.

 

Grades

Orioles: B

Mariners: A+

John Axford Trade

Hi-res-169351587_crop_650

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 30

Full Trade: St. Louis Cardinals trade Michael Blazek to the Milwaukee Brewers for John Axford.

The fact that Axford was the most accomplished MLB pitcher dealt this August serves as evidence that non-contenders had unreasonably high asking prices.

Following a superb rookie season in 2010, he battled with Craig Kimbrel and J.J. Putz the next summer for the distinction of being the National League’s top closer.

Ever since then, however, the Canadian right-hander has been mysteriously mediocre. His fastball velocity is still excellent, according to FanGraphs, but a general inability to throw first-pitch strikes has put him in more difficult counts. Batters have been sitting on his heater and drilling it into the bleachers with alarming frequency.

Barring significant mechanical adjustments, Axford won’t be trustworthy in high-leverage situations. Moreover, past saves totals resulted in a bloated arbitration settlement prior to this season, so the Cards will almost certainly decline to tender him a contract for 2014.

Blazek, 24, has exactly 9.0 K/9 through 527.0 IP in the minors but an underwhelming 6.97 ERA in 11 appearances for St. Louis.

 

Grades

Cardinals: C+

Brewers: A-

Previous

6 of 16

Next
Hi-res-178285861_crop_650x440

Marlon Byrd has quickly grown accustomed to the black and yellow of the NL Central-leading Pittsburgh Pirates. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

As suspected, August was jam-packed with notable trades and claims involving veteran position players. Even a few tenured pitchers changed uniforms.

Both the non-contenders and acquiring teams now must be graded for their activity based on the actual and anticipated performance of these individuals down the stretch.

Not every deal is worth analyzing, of course. Well-traveled outfielder/pitcher Casper Wells isn’t going to affect the pennant race, nor will Quintin Berry or John McDonald, the newest additions to the Boston Red Sox organization.

Rather, we’ll focus on several of 2013’s overachievers and others who have shown the ability to carry a lineup in recent years. The priority for competitive teams, obviously, was to obtain players capable of filling meaningful roles while surrendering as little talent as possible. The sellers simply coveted developing players with decent odds of reaching high ceilings.

Let’s use what we know—or, at least, what we think we know—to reflect on these relocation situations.

Michael Young Trade

Hi-res-171997683_crop_650

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 31

Full Trade: Los Angeles Dodgers trade Rob Rasmussen to the Philadelphia Phillies for Michael Young and cash.

Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez have been stellar for L.A. at first base and shortstop, respectively. Young will presumably serve as an alternative to Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe at the other infield positions.

The fit is puzzling because, like both of them, Young bats right-handed while providing inferior defense. It’s even difficult to imagine him contributing more than Nick Punto currently does as a reserve.

On the bright side, the southern California native could make a sizable impact should any of them suffer an injury this September.

Rasmussen is already 24 years old, so it isn’t surprising that the Dodgers tried to accelerate him through the farm system after he began the season with a couple extraordinary months at Double-A. They demoted the southpaw back to that level, however, when he struggled to deliver quality starts for the Albuquerque affiliate.

ESPN’s Keith Law tweets that his most likely major league role is that of a lefty specialist. Any surefire MLB player is a decent return considering Young—an expensive impending free agent—has regressed to replacement-level performance at this stage of his career.

 

Grades

Dodgers: C

Phillies: B+

Justin Morneau Trade

Hi-res-175570697_crop_650

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 31

Full Trade: The Pittsburgh Pirates trade Alex Presley and Duke Welker to the Minnesota Twins for Justin Morneau.

The Twins have been fixated on moving Morneau for most of this summer. A first-half power outage, however, made him widely undesired prior to the non-waiver trade deadline.

A total of 16 extra-base hits in August—including nine home runs—sparked interest around the league.

Perhaps Morneau adds a tiny bit of defensive value that Garrett Jones currently doesn’t as the larger half of Pittsburgh’s platoon at first base. When taking ballpark factors into consideration, their 2013 batting lines have been virtually identical.

The 28-year-old Presley won’t sell any additional season ticket packages at Target Field. He’s been hidden from left-handed pitching in limited major league action, and his .733 OPS versus righties is nothing to write home about. Even Presley’s defense fails to justify meaningful playing time.

Welker isn’t a particularly valuable piece either. The reliever’s strikeout rate has spiked during the past couple years in the high minors, but he’s still struggling mightily with pitch location at age 27.

 

Grades

Pirates: C+

Twins: C

Mike Morse Trade

Hi-res-178936696_crop_650

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 30

Full Trade: Baltimore Orioles trade Xavier Avery to the Seattle Mariners for Mike Morse.

The O’s have remained playoff contenders this entire season without any stability at designated hitter. Five different players have served as a DH at least 10 times, and only Danny Valencia (.913 OPS in 93 PA) has been effective.

Why not give Morse a try? Even during this mediocre campaign, he’s been a league average hitter against left-handed pitching. Wilson Betemit can platoon with him.

Seattle’s offseason acquisition of Morse was met with some excitement, but he quickly became an awkward fit. Kendrys Morales’ presence on the roster forced the 31-year-old into the outfield, where he’s been a total train wreck (minus-17 Defensive Runs Saved).

With Morse headed toward free agency and sporting an ugly .693 OPS, the Mariners were fortunate to get anything in return, and Avery could legitimately help them.

The Georgia native made his major league debut in 2012, but he has struggled too much with the bat this summer to merit another call-up. Given Avery’s speed and defensive ability, he could prove to be very useful as a reserve outfielder.

 

Grades

Orioles: B

Mariners: A+

John Axford Trade

Hi-res-169351587_crop_650

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 30

Full Trade: St. Louis Cardinals trade Michael Blazek to the Milwaukee Brewers for John Axford.

The fact that Axford was the most accomplished MLB pitcher dealt this August serves as evidence that non-contenders had unreasonably high asking prices.

Following a superb rookie season in 2010, he battled with Craig Kimbrel and J.J. Putz the next summer for the distinction of being the National League’s top closer.

Ever since then, however, the Canadian right-hander has been mysteriously mediocre. His fastball velocity is still excellent, according to FanGraphs, but a general inability to throw first-pitch strikes has put him in more difficult counts. Batters have been sitting on his heater and drilling it into the bleachers with alarming frequency.

Barring significant mechanical adjustments, Axford won’t be trustworthy in high-leverage situations. Moreover, past saves totals resulted in a bloated arbitration settlement prior to this season, so the Cards will almost certainly decline to tender him a contract for 2014.

Blazek, 24, has exactly 9.0 K/9 through 527.0 IP in the minors but an underwhelming 6.97 ERA in 11 appearances for St. Louis.

 

Grades

Cardinals: C+

Brewers: A-

Jason Kubel Trade

Hi-res-153212547_crop_650

Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 30

Full Trade: Cleveland Indians trade a player to be named later to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Jason Kubel and cash.

It’s a nightmarish resolution for the D-Backs considering that Kubel launched 30 home runs with an .833 OPS in 2012. One summer later, they couldn’t even find a team to absorb the couple million dollars left on his contract.

Prior to the trade, he was only slashing .220/.288/.324 with five long balls (267 plate appearances).

His fit with the Tribe isn’t a smooth one. Kubel essentially shares Jason Giambi’s skill set, just in a younger body. Although the 31-year-old can physically stand in the outfield, using him in either corner spot would considerably weaken Cleveland’s defense.

With all that said, we cannot blame the Indians for taking such a small risk on someone who so recently produced at a high level.

 

Grades

Indians: B-

Diamondbacks: C

Previous

7 of 16

Next
Hi-res-178285861_crop_650x440

Marlon Byrd has quickly grown accustomed to the black and yellow of the NL Central-leading Pittsburgh Pirates. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

As suspected, August was jam-packed with notable trades and claims involving veteran position players. Even a few tenured pitchers changed uniforms.

Both the non-contenders and acquiring teams now must be graded for their activity based on the actual and anticipated performance of these individuals down the stretch.

Not every deal is worth analyzing, of course. Well-traveled outfielder/pitcher Casper Wells isn’t going to affect the pennant race, nor will Quintin Berry or John McDonald, the newest additions to the Boston Red Sox organization.

Rather, we’ll focus on several of 2013’s overachievers and others who have shown the ability to carry a lineup in recent years. The priority for competitive teams, obviously, was to obtain players capable of filling meaningful roles while surrendering as little talent as possible. The sellers simply coveted developing players with decent odds of reaching high ceilings.

Let’s use what we know—or, at least, what we think we know—to reflect on these relocation situations.

Michael Young Trade

Hi-res-171997683_crop_650

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 31

Full Trade: Los Angeles Dodgers trade Rob Rasmussen to the Philadelphia Phillies for Michael Young and cash.

Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez have been stellar for L.A. at first base and shortstop, respectively. Young will presumably serve as an alternative to Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe at the other infield positions.

The fit is puzzling because, like both of them, Young bats right-handed while providing inferior defense. It’s even difficult to imagine him contributing more than Nick Punto currently does as a reserve.

On the bright side, the southern California native could make a sizable impact should any of them suffer an injury this September.

Rasmussen is already 24 years old, so it isn’t surprising that the Dodgers tried to accelerate him through the farm system after he began the season with a couple extraordinary months at Double-A. They demoted the southpaw back to that level, however, when he struggled to deliver quality starts for the Albuquerque affiliate.

ESPN’s Keith Law tweets that his most likely major league role is that of a lefty specialist. Any surefire MLB player is a decent return considering Young—an expensive impending free agent—has regressed to replacement-level performance at this stage of his career.

 

Grades

Dodgers: C

Phillies: B+

Justin Morneau Trade

Hi-res-175570697_crop_650

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 31

Full Trade: The Pittsburgh Pirates trade Alex Presley and Duke Welker to the Minnesota Twins for Justin Morneau.

The Twins have been fixated on moving Morneau for most of this summer. A first-half power outage, however, made him widely undesired prior to the non-waiver trade deadline.

A total of 16 extra-base hits in August—including nine home runs—sparked interest around the league.

Perhaps Morneau adds a tiny bit of defensive value that Garrett Jones currently doesn’t as the larger half of Pittsburgh’s platoon at first base. When taking ballpark factors into consideration, their 2013 batting lines have been virtually identical.

The 28-year-old Presley won’t sell any additional season ticket packages at Target Field. He’s been hidden from left-handed pitching in limited major league action, and his .733 OPS versus righties is nothing to write home about. Even Presley’s defense fails to justify meaningful playing time.

Welker isn’t a particularly valuable piece either. The reliever’s strikeout rate has spiked during the past couple years in the high minors, but he’s still struggling mightily with pitch location at age 27.

 

Grades

Pirates: C+

Twins: C

Mike Morse Trade

Hi-res-178936696_crop_650

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 30

Full Trade: Baltimore Orioles trade Xavier Avery to the Seattle Mariners for Mike Morse.

The O’s have remained playoff contenders this entire season without any stability at designated hitter. Five different players have served as a DH at least 10 times, and only Danny Valencia (.913 OPS in 93 PA) has been effective.

Why not give Morse a try? Even during this mediocre campaign, he’s been a league average hitter against left-handed pitching. Wilson Betemit can platoon with him.

Seattle’s offseason acquisition of Morse was met with some excitement, but he quickly became an awkward fit. Kendrys Morales’ presence on the roster forced the 31-year-old into the outfield, where he’s been a total train wreck (minus-17 Defensive Runs Saved).

With Morse headed toward free agency and sporting an ugly .693 OPS, the Mariners were fortunate to get anything in return, and Avery could legitimately help them.

The Georgia native made his major league debut in 2012, but he has struggled too much with the bat this summer to merit another call-up. Given Avery’s speed and defensive ability, he could prove to be very useful as a reserve outfielder.

 

Grades

Orioles: B

Mariners: A+

John Axford Trade

Hi-res-169351587_crop_650

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 30

Full Trade: St. Louis Cardinals trade Michael Blazek to the Milwaukee Brewers for John Axford.

The fact that Axford was the most accomplished MLB pitcher dealt this August serves as evidence that non-contenders had unreasonably high asking prices.

Following a superb rookie season in 2010, he battled with Craig Kimbrel and J.J. Putz the next summer for the distinction of being the National League’s top closer.

Ever since then, however, the Canadian right-hander has been mysteriously mediocre. His fastball velocity is still excellent, according to FanGraphs, but a general inability to throw first-pitch strikes has put him in more difficult counts. Batters have been sitting on his heater and drilling it into the bleachers with alarming frequency.

Barring significant mechanical adjustments, Axford won’t be trustworthy in high-leverage situations. Moreover, past saves totals resulted in a bloated arbitration settlement prior to this season, so the Cards will almost certainly decline to tender him a contract for 2014.

Blazek, 24, has exactly 9.0 K/9 through 527.0 IP in the minors but an underwhelming 6.97 ERA in 11 appearances for St. Louis.

 

Grades

Cardinals: C+

Brewers: A-

Jason Kubel Trade

Hi-res-153212547_crop_650

Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 30

Full Trade: Cleveland Indians trade a player to be named later to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Jason Kubel and cash.

It’s a nightmarish resolution for the D-Backs considering that Kubel launched 30 home runs with an .833 OPS in 2012. One summer later, they couldn’t even find a team to absorb the couple million dollars left on his contract.

Prior to the trade, he was only slashing .220/.288/.324 with five long balls (267 plate appearances).

His fit with the Tribe isn’t a smooth one. Kubel essentially shares Jason Giambi’s skill set, just in a younger body. Although the 31-year-old can physically stand in the outfield, using him in either corner spot would considerably weaken Cleveland’s defense.

With all that said, we cannot blame the Indians for taking such a small risk on someone who so recently produced at a high level.

 

Grades

Indians: B-

Diamondbacks: C

John Buck/Marlon Byrd Trade

Hi-res-178294378_crop_650

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Transaction Date: Aug. 27

Full Trade: Pittsburgh Pirates trade Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later to the New York Mets for John Buck, Marlon Byrd and cash.

Overachieving in his age-35 season made Byrd seem like an obvious candidate to move at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

The Mets held onto the veteran outfielder, surprisingly, despite having tumbled toward mediocrity. They wanted to give their fans as many victories as possible down the stretch, a mindset that they finally decided to desert when Matt Harvey’s elbow injury was discovered.

Packaging Buck—a fellow free-agent-to-be—along with Byrd solved a logistical problem for New York. The team had promoted top prospect Travis d’Arnaud to the majors and planned for him to start regularly.

Herrera, 19, posted a .751 OPS for Pittsburgh’s Single-A affiliate prior to this exchange. Although a bit strikeout-prone, adding some weight to his athletic frame could lead to an everyday infielder’s job at the major league level later this decade.

With Starling Marte and Michael McKenry both on the disabled list, Buck and Byrd fit perfectly on the Bucs roster. Getting the pair required a slight overpay, however.

 

Grades

Pirates: B+

Mets: A

 

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A.J. Griffin sharp as A’s finish sweep of Rays

A.J. Griffin sharp as A’s finish sweep of Rays

        The Associated Press     11:29 p.m. EDT September 1, 2013

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Athletics hope they are poised for another spectacular September like the one that propelled them to an improbable AL West title over the Texas Rangers on the final day last season.

The Rangers arrive Monday for an important three-game series, clinging to a one-game division lead over Oakland with six meetings left.

BOX SCORE: A’s 5, Rays 1

Coco Crisp and Stephen Vogt homered, A.J. Griffin struck out seven in seven innings, and Oakland completed a three-game sweep of fellow playoff contender Tampa Bay with a 5-1 victory Sunday.

“This is what we look forward to, a chance to control our own destiny and get where we want to be, and that’s to win the division,” third baseman Josh Donaldson said.

The A’s are on a nice little roll again.

Oakland pulled off a pair of one-run wins before Sunday’s result against the Rays, who are right behind Oakland in the AL wild-card race.

“The games were a little more electric, definitely, playing against a good team, a scrappy team like Tampa and being in the situation we’re in alongside of them,” Crisp said. “They do bring the energy and playing against a team like that the atmosphere it has been a little bit more intense.”

After Crisp led off the bottom of the first with a home run, James Loney tied it with his own longball in the top of the second. Griffin (12-9) settled in after that to win his second straight outing following a four-start winless stretch in which he was 0-2.

Griffin allowed one run on five hits and walked one. He yielded his majors-leading 33rd home run, most since current pitching coach Curt Young gave up 38 in 1987.

The defense behind him made some crucial stops.

Wil Myers was thrown out at the plate to end the seventh trying for the tying run on a single by Desmond Jennings.

Griffin was there to congratulate catcher Vogt, who took Donaldson’s relay and tagged Myers on his second swipe after the baserunner tried to avoid Vogt and went over the bag. Donaldson said replay showed Vogt tagged him the first time.

“I knew the situation, the line drive was hit to my right and I froze on it. I should have gotten a better read on it,” Myers said. “I didn’t know where the ball was so I was just trying to avoid the tag. When you’re not scoring runs, things like that get magnified.”

Vogt then connected for his third home run in the bottom of the seventh, against the club that traded him to the A’s on April 5.

Oakland earned its first sweep in a series of three or more games since June 11-13 against the Yankees. The A’s have won six of seven and seven of nine following an 8-13 stretch from July 30-Aug. 23.

“We’re in a good groove right now and looking to keep that going,” Griffin said.

Tampa Bay missed another chance in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson led off with double, but fresh September additions Luke Scott and Delmon Young failed to deliver against Sean Doolittle.

The Rays swept the A’s in April, then Oakland returned the favor to leave the season series even — meaning a possible tiebreaker for the wild card would next go to intra-division records.

“I don’t want the game,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of a potential one-game playoff. The skipper is scoreboard watching when it comes to Texas.

On a day when the typically sure-handed Rays struggled with the afternoon sun and committed two errors, they dropped their fourth straight. Tampa Bay has scored just five runs during the skid.

Oakland capitalized on the miscues.

Rays manager Joe Maddon chose to go with Jamey Wright as a spot starter over lefty Roberto Hernandez against the A’s left-heavy lineup.

Wright went 1 2-3 innings in his first start since 2007 with Texas, leaving with the game tied at 1 in the second. He allowed five of his nine batters to reach base.

Alex Torres (4-1) — the first of six Rays relievers — pitched 3 1-3 innings of relief, giving up a go-ahead RBI single to Brandon Moss in the third.

After leading the majors with an Oakland-record 13 doubles in August, Jed Lowrie started September with another in the fifth.

Crisp matched his career high with his 16th home run, his fifth this year leading off the game, 11th with the A’s and 13th for his career.

Is he ready for another strong September? The A’s went 17-11 over the final month of 2012.

Crisp laughed and said, “If I knew the answer to that I wouldn’t be playing baseball.”

NOTES: Wright became just the 19th Rays pitcher to start a game since 2008. … A’s RF Josh Reddick no longer has pain in his right wrist after getting an injection Wednesday. He hopes to start take some swings in the cage Monday and be eligible to return from the disabled list on schedule Sept. 10. “The way things are going there’s a decent chance he could be activated after 15 days,” Melvin said. … Oakland promoted four players from Triple-A Sacramento: LHP Pedro Figueroa, INFs Andy Parrino and Jemile Weeks and OF Michael Choice. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Choice, the A’s designated C Luke Montz for assignment. … The A’s raised $61,395 on their annual breast cancer awareness day, bringing their total raised since 1999 to more than $1.3 million.

 

Cardinals beat Pirates, tie for NL Central lead

        The Associated Press     8:14 p.m. EDT September 1, 2013

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Joe Kelly began the season in the St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen with an electric fastball and an identity crisis.

Consider the crisis solved.

At the moment, Kelly has become The Stopper.

The right-hander allowed four hits over six solid innings to win his fourth straight start and the Cardinals moved back into a tie for first place in the NL Central with a 7-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

BOX SCORE: Cardinals 7, Pirates 2

Kelly (7-3) walked two and struck out five while remaining unbeaten since being moved to the starting rotation full-time in July.

“He’s kind of figured himself out,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. “Early in the season, he was confused. He thought he should be a strikeout guy at 97 (mph), but with the movement on his fastball he’d be crazy not to use that movement to try to command the bottom of the zone and get ground balls, too.”

Kelly received plenty of help from an offense that snapped out of a three-game funk by tagging Pittsburgh spot starter Kris Johnson (0-2).

Matt Holliday and David Freese drove in two runs apiece while Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina and Shane Robinson added two hits each for St. Louis.

The Cardinals managed all of one run over the first 18 innings of the series, losses that came at the hands of proven veterans Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett. On Sunday they faced a 28-year-old making his first major league start who was nearly out of baseball two years ago.

“For us to come back out in a day game after scoring one run the first two nights was really big,” Freese said. “It finally gave us a little momentum.”

Pittsburgh’s push for an NL Central title could go down to the wire. The Pirates reclaimed first place with a 7-1 victory Saturday night but St. Louis responded by knocking around Johnson, who took the hill after Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle decided to give struggling All-Star Jeff Locke a much-needed breather.

Locke is 1-2 with a 6.88 ERA in the second half, and Hurdle thought a few days off would allow the left-hander to work on his mechanics and get some rest.

Locke won’t pitch again until next weekend at the earliest. If Pittsburgh decides he needs even more time off, it will likely have to look elsewhere for help after the Cardinals took it to Johnson.

Carpenter doubled to open the game and Robinson followed with a walk. Craig and Molina provided consecutive RBI singles, and Jon Jay added a sacrifice fly to stake Kelly to a 3-0 lead before he threw his first pitch.

The advantage grew in the third when Freese doubled to score Craig and Molina and end Johnson’s day. Two weeks after limiting Arizona to one run in six innings of relief in his first major league appearance, Johnson gave up five runs on seven hits in two-plus innings.

“These are the kind of situations you want to be put in, I just didn’t take advantage of them when I had the chance,” Johnson said. “I worked all my life to get here and to fall short today, just going to have to get back on the field, get back on the throwing program and get back to where we were before.”

Justin Morneau went 1 for 3 in his debut with the Pirates a day after Pittsburgh acquired the first baseman from Minnesota to bolster the franchise’s bid for its first playoff appearance in 21 years.

Kelly has been a pleasant surprise since moving into the rotation. He never let the Pirates in the game, allowing only an RBI single by Marlon Byrd in the sixth.

By then the Cardinals had things well in hand as baseball’s tightest division race once again drew even.

“My velocity was a lot better than in my last start, my sinker was really working and I was able to pitch to both sides of the plate,” Kelly said.

The Pirates, whose 79 wins are tied for the franchise’s high-water mark since 1992, made two bold moves last week in hopes of drawing ahead. They brought in Byrd and catcher John Buck from the New York Mets on Tuesday, then made an even bigger splash Saturday when they convinced Morneau to leave Minnesota after 11 seasons.

Morneau arrived at PNC Park midway through Saturday night’s blowout and watched the remainder of the game from the dugout. He got a better view on Sunday, playing first base and batting sixth.

The 2006 AL MVP grounded out in his first plate appearance, walked in his second and then lined a single to right field his third time up. He ended his first game for Pittsburgh with a deep fly to the warning track in the ninth.

NOTES: Pittsburgh LHP Wandy Rodriguez is dealing with arthritis in his pitching arm. Rodriguez, who has been on the disabled list since July with forearm tightness, is expected to resume his throwing program this week after a visit with Dr. James Andrews revealed no structural damage to the arm. Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said the team remains hopeful Rodriguez can return in some capacity down the stretch. … The Cardinals activated C Tony Cruz from the 15-day disabled list even though Cruz hasn’t been cleared to swing a bat as he recovers from a broken forearm. Cruz would be used only in an emergency. … The Pirates begin a three-game series in Milwaukee on Monday. Charlie Morton (6-3, 2.14 ERA) faces Tyler Thornburg (1-0, 1.94). … St. Louis travels to Cincinnati on Monday to begin a four-game set with the Reds. Adam Wainwright (15-8, 2.96) starts for the Cardinals against Mat Latos (13-5, 3.03). … The Cardinals sent reliever Michael Blazek to Milwaukee to complete the trade they made Friday for RHP John Axford.

AN OLD STORY OF PENNY PINCHING BY THE YANKEES

New York Yankees Hot Stove: Happy New Year You Cheapskates?

Posted by  on 30 December 2011, 1:17 am

Cheapskates? Or Victims?

At the start of the 2012 off-season the New York Yankees brass turned reformed savvy shoppers?

The Yankee and cheapskates… it just sounded wrong. And guess what, it just might be.

In actuality, MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement could be a bigger influence behind this thrifty transformation in the Bronx.

See, the Yankees have to pay a 40% tax rate on any money that exceeds MLB’s payroll maximum, which now sits at $178 million. So for 2011, the Yankees will be writing a check for $13.9 million, a franchise low since 2003.

Under the new CBA any team that chooses to overspend year after year will be penalized.

This means the Yankees tax rate will jump to 42.5% in 2012, and 50% in 2013; but the kicker is when overspending teams manage to drop below the set payroll it cuts their respective tax rate by 17.5%.

The league-wide payroll most will stay at $178 million through 2013, but jumps to $189 million for the following three years.

This puts a damper on GM Brian Cashman’s offseason plans, as it seems the baby Stein’s will never be reckless as papa-Boss, but with a current payroll north of $215 million can you blame them?

So is this the post-Bossera essentially a travesty or are Hank and Hal changing the mantra of winning first?

New Year = New Yankees?

The MLB offseason is baseball’s equivalent to a New Year, as it allows changes to be made, and with any luck for teams to get better.

Inevitably, rules and finances do force teams to look in all directions of how to make these improvements happen.

Certain teams rely on spending cash, others exploit trades and some cultivate the draft.

It is no secret that the Yankees are baseball’s shopaholics, but the new rules implemented even make a big spender, like New York pull in their spending reins.

This sort-of explains why the Yankees have done zilch this offseason, but it also doesn’t.

See, GM Brian Cashman has spent the last few years turning an almost obsolete farm system into one of baseball’s best, so why not dip into the honey jar?

In hindsight, the Yankees could afford not having a respectable farm system for over a decade. That was until Cashman watched the Red Sox win, and then win again. All Yankee fans heard was Boston crediting their successes through the cultivating of homegrown players within their system.

Naturally the Yankees went to work, caught up, and now only see the Red Sox in their tractor’s rearview.

So, my question is what was the point?

Since money is now an object, the Yankees have to look at alternative methods if they want to improve the team before the start of the 2012 season. The obvious choices are to make a trade, or to bring up some of their highly talented prospects.

The Yankees have talked with other teams, but the asking prices are so sky-high that it is almost impossible for Cashman to even consider making a trade.

Regardless, Cashman is so overprotective of these homegrown youngsters and has not handled this transition well in the past.

The last thing the Yankees need is a repeat of Chamberlain, Kennedy and Hughes. The “rules” completely failed as Kennedy got traded and in 2011 was voted in the top five NL CY Young; Hughes has been injured and suffered from a dead, which sidelined him for months; and Chamberlin was out a month into last season because he needed Tommy John surgery. Joba looks to return by May 2012 at the earliest.

Whatever happened is done, but there is one positive to take out of it and that is not to do it again, but Cashman cannot seem to grasp that.

The fact that pitching prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances are already New York household names, certainly didn’t help the trio in 2008 and I can promise you it will only get worse in 2012.

If you noticed, Ivan Nova had a phenomenal rookie season this last year. A lot of that can be attributed to the lack of attention paid to him, which in turn allowed him to focus on pitching without an entire circus and expectations.

Nova was not headline news until the 2011 playoffs, and looking back at 2008 if Joba sneezed the wrong direction it was on ESPN BBTN, and at least a lead story in the NY Post and NY Daily News.

Forecasting the Future:

Something has to give; as of now the Yankees are to blame for their own purgatory. This is not the Royals or Pirates organization so these kinds of penny-pinching and Scrooge like characteristics need to take a hike, and fast.

Winning has always ruled Yankee Universe, and they are expected to carry that on. The Yankees are the most coveted sports franchise in the USA, and making money is never and was never a concern because when you win the cash flows in.

Yankee fans always show up, whatever the cost but that is because of the effort made to put the best team on the field. It didn’t always work, but over the last 15 years with the exception of 2008, the Yankees have remained a huge threat because rebuilding was not an option.

Look, I know how frustrated Yankee fans are at the moment, but the offseason is not over yet and Cashman & Co. might make a move still.

Just remember last offseason, when Hal threw in the towel to grab Rafael Soriano; even going over Cashman’s head who was against it?

And that was done purely for the fans.

As Oprah once said:

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. -Oprah Winfrey  AND HAL NEVER DID!

2009 words get in way of A-Rod’s 2013 PED explanation

  • By JOEL SHERMAN
  • Last Updated:  2:08 AM, September 1, 2013
  • Posted: 12:47 AM, September 1, 2013
        

headshot

Joel Sherman

Blog: Hardball

HARDBALL   imagesCANUI0W3 “We can save some oney!”

“The only thing I ask from this group today and the American people is to judge me from this day forward. That’s all I can ask for.”

— Alex Rodriguez, Feb. 17, 2009

It is interesting what is remembered as time pushes events further and further away.

On March 4, 1933, Franklin Roosevelt delivered his first inaugural address. It was 1,880 words, but 1,870 have been mainly lost to time and we recall just 10 that, strangely, neither began nor ended a sentence:

“… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself …”

Rodriguez’s words, obviously, were not as meaningful or

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REUTERS
SAY WHAT? Alex Rodriguez said in 2009 he did steroids because he was young and naive. That excuse won’t work this time.

poetic. He was not trying to inspire a country during the Great Depression, merely attempting to save as much of his reputation as possible when he held a press conference at the Yankees’ spring training complex more than four years ago.

His words about judging him from this day forward concluded a give-and-take that lasted 28 minutes, 30 seconds. And they have been invoked quite a lot recently as a tsk-tsk to A-Rod, if indeed he became a serial user of banned substances again as MLB is claiming in its Biogenesis-related suspension of Rodriguez.

But I went back and watched the other 28-plus minutes, the stuff generally lost to time. And, in many ways, Rodriguez damages the credibility of his story today with his own actions and words then.

Just a quick refresher: In December 2007, Rodriguez told Katie Couric on “60 Minutes” that he never had used illegal performance enhancers and was not even tempted to do so. Just more than a year later, Selena Roberts revealed in Sports Illustrated that Rodriguez had failed a test for two anabolic steroids in 2003 in what was then just survey testing to determine the extent of MLB’s PED problem.

In a Feb. 9 interview with ESPN, he attacked the credibility of the reporter, among other items claiming Roberts was stalking him. He eventually recanted on that. In that ESPN interview he also admitted the steroid use, but said he didn’t know the names of the drugs he was taking. Eight days later, at the big press conference in Tampa, he did. Notice how his story changes with time, new information and the need to spin further.

But the bigger issues that arise from the press conference go beyond admitting taking what he called “boli” — slang for the steroid Primobolan.

Rodriguez had a different army of lawyers and p.r. handlers then — the firm Outside Eyes was offering just the right words in 2009 to explain what A-Rod claimed was just steroid use from 2001-03. The alibi he returns to over and over is being stupid due to youth and immaturity.

He tried to excuse himself by noting he was 23, 24 and 25. But even that was a dodge. Rodriguez finished those seasons at ages 26-28. It is believed he failed his drug test in spring 2003, when he was 27, the same age, for example, Evan Longoria, Chris Davis and Phil Hughes are right now.

Rodriguez depicted himself at that press conference as someone who had the naivete knocked out of him with these revelations and his need for public contrition. So exactly how will the matured version of Rodriguez explain if he indeed used from at least 2010-12, as MLB contends it has evidence to verify — a period when he finished seasons at ages 35-37?

<br />

REUTERS
SAY WHAT? Alex Rodriguez said in 2009 he did steroids because he was young and naive. That excuse won’t work this time.

Then there was this: A-Rod at that press conference — using the young/dumb excuse — said he had his non-doctor gofer cousin, Yuri Sucart, inject him with drugs that Rodriguez claims he wasn’t even sure were working, yet he nevertheless took twice a month during the baseball seasons from 2001-03.

It led me to ask this at the press conference: “Alex, if I understand the story you’re telling today, it’s that you didn’t know what it did, you weren’t sure you were administering it right, and you’re not sure what the effects were, if it was having a positive effect. But you said you took it two times a month for three years. Basic math would make that 36 times. Why would someone inject something into their body a minimum of 36 times, who is a professional athlete, wants to have a long career, if you don’t know what it does, if you’re doing it right? I just wonder if you could explain that?”

Rodriguez initially tried to answer by talking about the math, that maybe it wasn’t twice a month. I interjected to say I was more curious about why a player who treated his body like a temple would expect people to believe that he would have that level of disinterest in who was injecting him, what it was, etc.

Once more he returned to the script, “Yeah, again, it goes back to being young, and being curious …” But not so curious to know more about how the drugs worked and if they were working.

Here is the thing: I would find it hard to believe that any player in any sport educates himself on nutrition and workout regimens and tries to stay on the cutting edge more than Rodriguez. He is obsessed with the subject.

As an example, he went to Germany to have the creator of the orthokine knee surgery actually do his procedure in December 2011.

Are we to believe now that a player who will spare no expense to be on the cutting edge, actually sought out a non-doctor named Tony Bosch, operating out of a strip mall in Miami, for non-steroidal nutrition advice for year upon year upon year?

That is not what Bosch has told MLB. It is not what the evidence he has supplied indicates. No, that evidence, from what I have heard, reveals rather detailed back-and-forth communications that show a sophisticated use of PEDs designed not only to boost performance, but timed just so to provide negative urine samples.

If this is all true, young and dumb left long ago, and Rodriguez is going to have a lot more to fear than fear itself.

Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski is king of getting best long-term value out of trades

Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski  is king of getting best long-term value out of trades

Dombrowski has  acquired many of the core players on his first-place Tiger team through trades  and, in particular, has preyed upon his former organization, the Marlins, when  they’ve been in their periodic contract-dumping modes.

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In December 2007, Dave Dombrowski gave up his two top prospects, outfielder  Cameron Maybin and lefthander Andrew Miller, for Miguel Cabrera.

The day before they arrived in New York for this critical three-game series  with the Yankees, the Orioles avoided being swept by the first-place Red Sox  when righthander Chris Tillman pitched seven strong innings of eight-strikeout,  no-walk ball to earn his 15th win of the season. In doing so, Tillman became the  first Baltimore pitcher to win 15 games since 2006 and … well … Erik Bedard,  the man the Orioles traded for him way back in February of 2008.

It has been a gradual evolution but perhaps now, five years later, we can  officially say the Orioles made one of the greatest trades in history when they  acquired a future All-Star center fielder in Adam Jones and a No. 1 starter,  which Tillman has developed into this year, for Bedard who was, at that time, a  No. 1 starter in his own right, albeit a disgruntled one and a pending free  agent bent on escaping a rebuilding situation in Baltimore. Tillman was 19 and  has spent parts of the last five seasons in the Orioles’ minor league system,  slowly reaching the potential then-Orioles GM Andy MacPhail’s scouts saw in him.  Bedard, on the other hand, spent three injury-plagued seasons in Seattle,  winning a total of 15 games, before drifting to the Red Sox, Pirates and now the  Astros.

This, however, is the classic example of how trades in baseball, more often  than not, take a few years to fully evaluate in terms of the ultimate winners  and losers. It is why Met fans have to hope that in two to three years Noah  Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud, acquired for R.A. Dickey — and possibly even  Dilson Herera, the 19-year-old power hitting second base prospect obtained from  the Pirates for Marlon Byrd and John Buck last week — will make Sandy Alderson  look like a similar genius. As it is, Zack Wheeler is already starting to make  Alderson look smart on the Carlos Beltran deal in 2011.

Max Scherzer, at 19-1, is emerging as the best pitcher in baseball this year.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Max Scherzer, at 19-1, is emerging as  the best pitcher in baseball this year.

Another big trade that has the required time to properly evaluate is the  December 2009 three-team deal between the Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks in  which the Yankees gave up then-prospects Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy, along  with lefty reliever Phil Coke, to get Curtis Granderson from Detroit; the Tigers  sent Kennedy and much-traveled righthander Edwin Jackson to Arizona for  righthander Max Scherzer. Granted, Granderson gave the Yankees back-to-back  40-homer, 100-RBI seasons in 2011-2012, but Tigers president Dave Dombrowski has  come out the overwhelming winner in this trade after his coaches were able to  correct a hitch in Jackson’s swing (which the Yankees’ player development  department wasn’t able to do) and help turn him into one of the best leadoff  hitters in the league, and Scherzer, at 19-1, has emerged as the best pitcher in  baseball this year.

Indeed, Dombrowski has acquired many of the core players on his first-place  Tiger team through trades and, in particular, has preyed upon his former  organization, the Marlins, when they’ve been in their periodic contract-dumping  modes. In December 2007, he gave up his two top prospects, outfielder Cameron  Maybin and lefthander Andrew Miller (neither of whom panned out for the Marlins  and were traded for even lesser players who also didn’t pan out) for Miguel  Cabrera, and last season traded two other top pitching prospects, righty Jacob  Turner and lefty Brian Flynn, for righty Anibal Sanchez, his No. 3 starter and  rotation ERA leader, and .300-hitting second baseman Omar Infante. For the  Marlins, the 21-year-old Turner is showing signs of maybe living up to his  potential (as the ninth pick in the 2009 draft), with a 3.12 ERA in 16 starts  this year, while the 6-7 Flynn has a 2.80 ERA in 23 starts at Triple-A New  Orleans. So, in contrast to the Cabrera trade, that deal probably needs a couple  of more years to determine whether it was worth it for the Marlins, giving up a  talent like Sanchez, who was a budding star and drawing card in Miami after  pitching a 2006 no-hitter versus Arizona.

In any case, if I were a GM and Dombrowski came a callin’ offering prospects  for established but expensive players, I might consider running the other way.  And while it’s too early to judge last winter’s Marlins salary dump deal that  sent Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle & Co. to Toronto, the early  prospect returns on it at least have not been promising. Jake Marisnick, the top  outfield prospect they got from the Blue Jays, has really struggled (.182) since  being called up July 23, and lefthander Justin Nicolino, the top-rated pitching  prospect in the deal, is having only a so-so season at Double-A Jacksonville  (3-2, 4.32 ERA). With the Marlins heading toward 100 losses with the  second-worst record in baseball, perhaps it’s no wonder there have been renewed  rumors around baseball that owner Jeffrey Loria is readying to clean house in  his front office, starting with team president David Samson and president of  baseball operations, Larry Beinfest.

Tigers coaches are able to correct a hitch in Austin Jackson’s swing (which the Yankees’ player development department wasn’t able to do) and help turn him into one of the best leadoff hitters in the league.

Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News

Tigers coaches are able to correct a  hitch in Austin Jackson’s swing (which the Yankees’ player development  department wasn’t able to do) and help turn him into one of the best leadoff  hitters in the league.

Meanwhile, another trade that took a while to bear fruit is the Pirates’  June 2009 salary dump deal of outfielder Nate McLouth to the Braves for pitching  prospects Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke. Neal Huntington was in only his second  year as the Pirates GM at the time and was being eviscerated by Pirates fans  after being ordered by his boss, Frank Coonelly, to move the popular McLouth.  But now Morton has developed into a solid No. 3 and the lithe lefty Locke made  the All-Star team. Locke has since shown signs of inning fatigue and is  temporarily headed to the minors, but without the combined 15 wins from him and  Morton there’s no way the Pirates would be contending for their first trip to  the playoffs since 1992.

And then there is this long ago under-the-radar deal that should prompt Met  fans to keep a close watch on Herrera as he works his way through the Mets farm  system. In July 2008, A’s GM Billy Beane sent his best pitcher, since-retired  Rich Harden, to the Cubs for a couple of middle-of-the-road prospects, one of  them, infielder Josh Donaldson, who took nearly five years before winning the  third base job in Oakland but has emerged as one of the A’s best players with a  .296 average, 19 homers, 77 RBI and a .372 OBP through Friday.

IT’S A MADD, MADD WORLD… — The news last week that  longtime National League umpire Frank Pulli had died in Palm Harbor, Fla., at  age 79 brings to mind the curious conflicting stance former commissioner Fay  Vincent took when it came to consorting with gamblers in baseball. In 1989,  Pulli and fellow ump Richie Garcia were placed on probation by Vincent after it  was revealed they had been engaged in gambling and associated with known  bookmakers. The discipline, however, was never made public by Vincent (because  it was umpires?) until the Daily News broke the story in March 2002. Meanwhile,  a year after his slap on the wrist to the two umpires, Vincent issued a lifetime  ban to George Steinbrenner for the Yankee owner’s association with Howard Spira,  who claimed to be an inveterate gambler, but who the commissioner said couldn’t  be believed. “You had to really laugh over the fact that Vincent gave the  ‘Animal House double secret probation’ to Pulli, a guy who admitted to gambling,  and gave George a lifetime sentence for dealing with a guy who said he was a  gambler but of whom Vincent said you couldn’t believe a word out of his mouth,”  said Bob Costello, who was a Steinbrenner lawyer in 1990.

SAY IT AIN’T SO… “Otis admitted to me that the  substance was crack cocaine but it didn’t belong to him. He said the crack  cocaine and the pipe belonged to his son.”

— Cherokee (Ga.) County deputy’s report in the indictment last week of  ex-Yankee/Indian/Brave Otis Nixon on drug possession charges.

Helton Reaches 2,500 Hits as Rockies Beat Reds 7-4

Helton Reaches 2,500 Hits as Rockies Beat Reds 7-4

DENVER September 2, 2013 (AP)
By MICHAEL KELLY Associated Press
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Todd Helton has spent much of his career sending balls down the left-field line at spacious Coors Field. It was only fitting, then, that he reached a major milestone the same way.

Helton doubled for his 2,500th career hit, Michael Cuddyer homered among his four hits and the Colorado Rockies overcame the loss of starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood to beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-4 on Sunday.

Helton became the 96th player in major league history to reach 2,500 hits, and it came after a tough couple of days.

Helton homered twice Friday to move within one hit of the milestone but went 0 for 4 on Saturday. He flied out, struck out and walked Sunday before facing reliever Curtis Partch in the seventh inning.

“Every at-bat felt like it was getting longer and longer,” Helton said. “I was getting a little concerned because I definitely wanted to get 2,500 here at home in front of the home crowd.”

Helton worked the count full against Partch before lacing a 96 mph fastball down the left-field line. He just beat the throw to second for his 584th career double.

“A line-hugger that barely stayed fair, on a 3-2 count. That’s what’s kept me in the league this long,” Helton said. “That’s my bread and butter, to go the other way, especially with two strikes. To do it on the 2,500th is very fitting.”

It also was fitting he was called safe on a close play at second.

“I’ll probably remember the umpire yelling safe because he could have very easily yelled out,” Helton said.

He received a standing ovation from the crowd of 30,594 and tipped his helmet to the cheering fans. After the inning ended, the scoreboard showed a short highlight video of Helton’s career.

“As he’s been closing in on it there’s been a lot of excitement in the clubhouse,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “It’s great to be a part of it. I got to see Todd in his very first game and to be here for his 2,500th hit, it’s a great experience for me. He showed up with a lot of hype and he’s lived up to that hype. Every bit of it, and then some. It’s been an amazing career.”

The Rockies had the game in hand before Helton’s big moment after breaking it open in the fifth against Reds starter Mike Leake. DJ LeMahieu’s two-run double snapped a 2-all tie, Troy Tulowitzki walked and Cuddyer doubled to make it 5-2.

Cuddyer finished 4 for 4 with three RBIs.

Nolan Arenado, who homered earlier, added a sacrifice fly off reliever Alfredo Simon.

Leake (11-6) allowed six runs on eight hits and struck out four in 4 1-3 innings.

“It was a little frustrating just because I wasn’t throwing the ball exactly where I wanted today,” Leake said.

Cuddyer’s 18th home run leading off the seventh gave the Rockies a 7-2 cushion.

“We couldn’t get Cuddyer out,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Cincinnati scored single runs in the eighth and ninth to get within three before Rex Brothers got the final out.

Shin-Soo Choo homered and had three hits for the Reds. Chris Heisey was 4 for 4.

Chatwood, activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game, left in the third with a bruised right thumb after he tried to catch Leake’s line drive up the middle with his bare hand. He was checked by a team trainer and initially stayed in the game.

The right-hander allowed a two-run homer to Choo, his 18th, and walked the next two batters before leaving.

Yankees bullpen ruins Andy Pettitte’s solid outing as Orioles storm back for 7-3 win

Yankees bullpen ruins Andy  Pettitte’s solid outing as Orioles storm back for 7-3 win

Pettitte left the  game in the seventh with a 3-0 lead, but reliever Shawn Kelley served up a  three-run home run to J.J. Hardy. Before the inning was over, Adam Jones slugged  a three-run blast of his own, this time off Joba Chamberlain.

 

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David L. Pokress /New york daily  news

Joe Girardi pulls Shawn Kelly from the game after the reliever gives up a  three-run HR to J.J. Hardy.

ORIOLES  7, YANKEES 3

In the span of only a few batters in the seventh inning Sunday, the crowd of  40,361 at the Stadium went from cheering wildly to silent to booing or grumbling  as things spiraled out of control. That’s what happens when the home team’s  bullpen bungles a game in which Andy Pettitte handed it a three-run lead.

J.J. Hardy put the Orioles ahead with a three-run homer off Shawn Kelley and  Adam Jones gave Baltimore a cushion with a three-run blast off Joba Chamberlain  as the O’s rallied for a 7-3 victory and salvaged the final game of a three-game  series.

Who knows what kind of psychic damage this kind of brutal loss can do to a  team desperate for wins in the wildcard chase? The Yanks were in complete  control of the game entering the seventh, but the 41-year-old Pettitte allowed  two singles and thrown 93 pitches.

Andy Pettitte can't even look as the Yankees bullpen blows a three-run lead against the Orioles.

David L. Pokress /David L. Pokress

Andy Pettitte can’t even look as the  Yankees bullpen blows a three-run lead against the Orioles.

He came out to a standing ovation, jogging into the dugout as the cheering  got louder. But Kelley, who had allowed only two of 37 inherited runners to  score before Sunday, gave up a single and then Hardy’s homer, which hit the top  of the right-field wall and rolled around.

Kelley (4-2) was booed as he left and Boone Logan came in and gave up a hit  and a walk. Then Chamberlain got a gift out on Manny Machado’s foul pop on a  bunt before Jones smashed a three-run shot over the center-field fence.

When Joe Girardi calls on his relievers, it’s usually a good thing for the  Yankees. Their bullpen had a big-league best 1.05 ERA and a 3-0 record in 42.2  innings pitched since Aug. 16. Overall, the Yanks bullpen entered Sunday with a  3.19 ERA, seventh-best in the majors.

Sure, this was the non-elite (neither Mariano Rivera nor David Robertson  pitched) part of the Yanks’ pen stumbled Sunday. But Girardi relies on pitchers  such as Kelley and Logan to set up the stars.

Yankees center fielder Bret Gardner watches as Adam Jones' three run home run clears the fence.

David L. Pokress /David L. Pokress

Yankees center fielder Bret Gardner  watches as Adam Jones’ three run home run clears the fence.

The Yanks, who saw a modest two-game winning streak end, entered play Sunday  3.5 games behind the Rays in the race for the second wildcard spot.

Girardi perhaps should’ve waited one batter before taking out Pettitte. Matt  Weiters, who singled off Kelley in front of the Hardy homer, is 2-for-12  lifetime against Pettitte, including eight strikeouts.

The one glimmer of positivity from the game came from Pettitte, who has  pitched very well lately. He allowed two runs and seven hits in six-plus innings  and has a 1.05 ERA in his last four starts.

The Yankees took a 1-0 lead with two out in the third inning when Alfonso  Soriano singled in Brett Gardner, who had led off with his second double of the  afternoon. Soriano has 36 RBI in 34 games as a Yankee.

Vernon Wells strikes out with the bases loaded in the first inning.

David L. Pokress /David L. Pokress

Vernon Wells strikes out with the  bases loaded in the first inning.

The Yanks pushed their lead to 3-0 the next inning when Orioles’ starter  Wei-Yin Chen walked Gardner with the bases loaded and Derek Jeter added a sac  fly. The RBI was just Jeter’s fourth of the season, but it was the 1,258th of  his career, moving him past buddy Bernie Williams into sole possession of sixth  place on the Yanks’ all-time list.

The Yankees seemed in command of the game when Pettitte came out to start  the seventh inning, but it all slipped away. Their offense let them down, as  well as the bullpen. In the first inning, they had the bases loaded and two out  and Vernon Wells took a 3-2 pitch for a called strike three, ending the  threat.

The loss was a huge disappointment for the Yankees, who recently  leap-frogged both Baltimore and Cleveland in the wildcard standings. Joe Girardi  said before the game that the upward movement had made him feel better, but “you  still know that you can’t really afford too many slip-ups.”

Unfortunately for the Yankees, Sunday was a slip-up.