Archives for July 2008

White Sox Trade for Ken Griffey Jr.!!!

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By the Soxman

As the MLB trade deadline hits today, GM Kenny Williams drew first blood from the Reds in trading Danny Richar and Nick Masset for future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.  As a 10 and 5 player, Griffey had the option of declining the trade.  However, his desire to get to the World Series, again play centerfield and hit in the U.S. Cellular Field launching pad, made it an easy decision.

Griffey, 38, is batting .245 this season with a .355 on-base percentage, 15 home runs and 53 RBIs in 359 at-bats. Earlier this season, he hit his 600th home run.  While his best years as a player are far behind him, he still represents a marked hitting upgrade over Paul Konerko, who is likely to lose the most playing time as a result of this move. Griffey has a career .379 on-base percentage and .549 slugging percentage.  He’s injury-prone, which is why this move is somewhat of a surprise. Junior signed through the 2008 season, with a club option for 2009.  Depending on how he performs, this could result in Jim Thome’s option being declined, or Paul Konerko being traded after the 2008 season.
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The White Sox attempted to acquire him from the Reds at the trade deadline in 2005, but the trade reportedly was nixed by Reds ownership for financial reasons. The Sox confirmed Griffey will return to CF.  The Sox are set at the corners with Carlos Quentin in left and Jermaine Dye in right. That means Nick Swisher will likely move to first, and reduce the playing time of first baseman Paul Konerko, who has struggled all season long, hitting .214, 9 HR, 35 RBI.

Griffey has not played center regularly since 2006 and has had a noticeable drop in the defensive domination that earned him several gold gloves in the 90’s.  The Reds moved him to RF in 2006 because of his noticeable ability to handle the position. While Nick Masset is not really a big loss, the trade of Danny Richar has implications for the Sox future as both Orlando Cabrera and Juan Uribe are likely to depart after the 2008 season.  Richar has a huge upside and was targeted to be the Sox second baseman of the future.  He was penciled in as the Sox 2007 Opening Day second baseman before injuries took him out of contention.  In 2007, Richar hit .230, 6 HR, 15 RBI, in just 187 Abs.

Masset had become increasingly unreliable as a reliever, posting a 12.00 ERA over his last seven appearances.  On the season, he was 1-0, with a 4.63 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP.   He has a career ERA of 5.54.  The Reds are also believed to be eating a significant portion of Griffey’s salary to make the deal happen.

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Cubs-Brewers Exchange

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By Trenni Kusnierek and David K.

Trenni, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.  The Cubs lead in the NL Central has shrunk to one game since the Brewers won their first seven after the All-Star break (all on the road), while Chicago has been riddled with inconsistency.  What has impressed me the most about Milwaukee is how they have been able to win in the clutch; look no further than their four-game sweep in St. Louis. Three of the Crew’s wins came via home runs in their final at-bats, while Carsten Charles Sabathia took care of the Cards in the other victory throwing his third straight complete game as a Brewer.  Heck, even the bullpen has been solid for Milwaukee since the break.  So yes, I’m nervous.

The MLB schedule makers must love that the Cubs and Crew will tango ten times before October including a regular season finale at Miller Park.  In your opinion, just how important is this current series for both teams and who has more to win/lose?  It is obviously going to have an October, playoff-like feel to it and I’m sure the Brewers are anxious to further cement their status as a World Series contender by taking this series. 

–David K.

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If you’re nervous, I’m in sick to my stomach, ulcer mode.  If there is one area I still think the Cubs trump the Brew Crew it’s in big game experience.  Although the Brewers made it a point to add experienced depth this off season and also via the CC Sabathia trade, they still lack a starting nine who have gone the distance.  I understand the Cubs haven’t won the big one in a century, but they have at least made runs at the trophy.  The Brewers, on the other hand, faded down the only stretch run they’ve had in a quarter century last season.  Knowing you can do it is a lot different then believing you can.

However, this Brewers team has the best shot of any since I was five years old.  Ryan Braun is as good (or better) than advertised and this group of guys seem to be relaxed, focused, and ready.  The four game road sweep over St. Louis was a huge milestone and confidence builder.  I may hate the Cubs, but I love this rivalry.  It’s David vs. Goliath.  Lucky for Brewers fans, David wins the battle.  I sure hope it happens that way because I’m tired of seeing Favre lead the news.

–Trenni

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Well, my nerves have definitely subsided a little bit since the Cubs have done the seemingly impossible; beat CC and Sheets on back-to-back nights.  It was a relief to see Chicago put up a big inning without having to rely on the longball Tuesday night. And when Carlos Zambrano is on, he is filthy, nasty, and every other adjective to describe a pitcher who is dealing.

You bring up a good point about the Cubs’ experience factor, but I think the Brewers laid back attitude is also a huge advantage for them.  Talking to Mike Cameron and Ryan Braun in the locker room after Tuesday night’s loss, they certainly didn’t show any sign of panicking and they realize that there is still two months left in the season, including six games against the Cubs in the final week and a half of the season.  If you think this series has been intense, just wait until late September.  Then wait until mid-October when both teams will be alive in the post-season with a seven game series in the NLCS looming. (I predict)  It won’t matter where or what Brett Favre is doing at that point.

–David K.

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Trenni with the lead singer of Reckless Kelly at Miller Park
While you’re nerves have subsided, mine are frayed!  I’m not sure if my inability to keep food down this week is due to the fact the Brewers play is making me queasy or if I have a case of the flu!  The nerves have got to the boys, but I don’t believe it is time to panic.  The Brewers clearly have talent and know how to win tough games (see four game road sweep of Cardinals), but man have they melted on the big stage so far!

The Cubs on the other hand have looked like the best team in the NL this week.  Patient hitters at the plate, lights out pitching, and a confident air have helped the North Siders to the 2-0 lead in the series.  But I agree with Big Dave, this is far from over.  Look at the calendar and it’s still July with six games remaining between these two teams after the present four game set.  The last series of the season will feature the Cubs and the Brewers and I still believe it will be a three gamer that sets up a post season match up for the ages.
–Trenni

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Interview of the Oakland Athletics First Round Draft Choice

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By Paul M. Banks

Jemile Weeks is the younger brother of Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks. He’s also the highest (12th overall 2008) Oakland Athletics draft pick to play for the Kane County Cougars as well as the most prominent A’s draft pick since Barry Zito. (9th overall in 1999) Weeks skipped his senior season at the University of Miami to sign with the A’s for a $1.9 million singing bonus. He hit .363 and went 22 of 23 in stolen base attempts during his final collegiate season. The All-American and All-ACC pick led the Miami Hurricanes to the top overall seed in the College World Series. Unfortunately, his big experience playing at historic Wrigley Field did not go well. He led off the game with a grounder to first, landed on first base funny, injured a hip flexor and missed the rest of the game.

On how hectic his first day as a professional baseball player was…

JW: In Oakland I woke up, jumped on the plane, headed over here on a little car ride and got to playing.
Kind of crazy, I’m in a little bit of a rush, but I came out here to play, so they put me in the lineup. I just started early. Whatever, I went out there to play my game. I appreciate their fitting me in. That was great, a great feeling to go out there. You know hopefully if I play well I thought maybe I’d get out there as soon as possible but it’s just a great feeling, a great opportunity to be out there to play with the big guys.

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 On what he told his brother (#2 overall draft pick in 2003) about his first game…

JW: Say I got out there, wasn’t really getting my feet wet yet, but I just got out there and went out to play the best way that I could. You know a little more preparation for the next game and I should be better. Just tell him I got my feet wet. Got out there and got my first game in so that was good.

PMB: Did your brother give you any special advice?

JW: Just keep doing what I been doing. Don’t change. Don’t fix it if it’s not broke. Just keep doing what I’ve been doing.

On what he needs to work on to develop his game…

JW: I’m the kind of guy I feel my ability. I feel like I can hit right away. Today was a little bit of a struggling day for me. I feel like I’m gonna come around and I’m gonna do a lot better. It’s not one of those things, I just look at the game as just a game. It doesn’t change me. I’m gonna go out there with the same mindset.
 
PMB: Your last game was in the College World Series, how different was this experience?

JW: I haven’t really seen pitches like that in two weeks. Last time I played like a live game. A little bit different but basically it’s still baseball to me, the same game. Just have to go out there and have the mindset like that.

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Contender Marketplace Part 12 NL West

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Peter Christian & Soxman break down what each MLB contender needs to make the play-offs
 

Trade Rumors begin to heat up as the MLB trade deadline approaches.  The deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 31. Until then teams may trade players freely without having to go through the waiver process.
 
D’Backs
With Eric Byrnes having an awful season (.209, 6 HR) they need a proven hitter in their line-up.  The D’Backs still have a fairly deep farm system and could use those resources to snag Jason Bay or Raul Ibanez who could be available.  They acquired Tony Clark on July 17th in the hopes of improving the 5th worst offense in MLB (.249 BA).  The D’Backs have the 11th best pitching staff in MLB (3.92 ERA) so their pitching needs a lift.  Hard throwing super prospect, Max Scherzer could be the answer.
 

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Dodgers
 You can’t rule out the Dodgers making the play-offs as they have an exceptional manager in Joe Torre.  The loss of Saito for 6 weeks creates a need in the bullpen, in addition to their need for more thunder in their line-up.  Could they go after Houston Street?  Take a gamble on bringing back Eric Gagne?  They also need help at shortstop and have inquired on Jack Wilson.  David Eckstein could also make a lot of sense.  Their starting pitching is solid.

–The Soxman
 
Los Angeles Dodgers 
Even though the Dodgers are the real Los Angeles baseball team, they play more like a team that would call Irvine or Fullerton home (without the metal bats… of course). Yet somehow, in the NL West that sloppy kind of baseball is good enough to put a team into contention to win the worst division in the history of baseball. The Dodgers have spent foolishly, been bitten by the injury bug and put a lot of stock into unproven prospects and still have been able to get close to .500. They also have been mentioned as possible suitors for just about every trading block player in all of baseball because they have so many gaping holes to fill. The injury to Rafael Furcal was and has been debilitating to the Dodger offense that is so bad that manager Joe Torre falls asleep before the games even start. The good news for the fans in Chavez Ravine is that the Dodgers have the ability to make moves. Blake DeWitt and Andy LaRoche are both young prospects that could be moved for a big name player (Mark Teixeira, Paul Konerko, Orlando Cabrera or Adrian Beltre). With Russell Martin’s ability to move out and play third, it opens up options for potential lineup shuffles if the opportunity presents itself. The other good news is that the pitching staff could be getting a boost with the return of Brad Penny and Jason Schmidt. Ideally, the Dodgers want to add a bat (or two) to the top and/or middle of the lineup and if they want to be serious about making the play-offs they should make the move. However, if the Dodgers’ front office is full of realists, they might want to plan more for next season and just hope that the team can suck a little bit less than Arizona and sneak into the post-season.

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Arizona Diamondbacks –
For as hot as this team started and for as bad as the NL West is, the D’Backs should have been able to put it in neutral and coast to the play-offs. Instead, Bob Melvin’s team shifted a bit too aggressively and found themselves in reverse for the better part of May and June. Now, instead of just maintaining a comfortable division lead over the rest of the NL West crap heap, they are actually in a tight (below .500) race with the Dodgers. Everything the D’Backs started the season with has done a complete 180. The consistent quality starts and clutch hitting is gone, replaced by a lack of run support and a bullpen that blows leads more often than they poop. They have already made one move to address the latter by acquiring Jon Rauch from the Nationals (no word on how often he poops) but a veteran bat in the lineup (someone that can play more than once a week like newly acquired Tony Clark) could be very beneficial to these “Baby ‘Backs.”  With Eric Byrnes lost for the season, the Diamondbacks have only one starting position player with more than 5 years experience of being an every day player at the Major League level (Orlando Hudson). The Diamondbacks may be able to turn some of the youth on their roster or in their farm system into a regular 1st basemen or outfielder that can be realistically expected to hit in clutch situations. 
–Peter Christian

I saw a documentary on baseball’s Golden Age, I think it was “When it was a game II” or something, and they talked about the old Pacific Coast League that thrived in the time when MLB had not expanded west of St. Louis. It was a AAA affiliated league that had a major league following and made major league money, but still had minor league talent. This NL West is the 1940s Pacific Coast League.
–Paul M. Banks

7/17- Red Sox
7/18- Yankees
7/19- Rays
7/20- White Sox
7/21- Twins
7/22- Tigers
7/24-Angels
7/25- A’s, Rangers
7/26- Phillies, Mets, Marlins
7/27- Cubs
7/28-Brewers, Cardinals
7/29- Dodgers, Diamondbacks

Contender Marketplace Part 11 Cubs

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Peter Christian, David K. & Soxman break down what each MLB contender needs to make the play-offs
 

Trade Rumors begin to heat up as the MLB trade deadline approaches.  The deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 31. Until then teams may trade players freely without having to go through the waiver process.

I don’t care what David K. says, the Cubs are just fine. They might be the only team to be able to claim that they swindled Billy Beane (by nabbing Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin for a handful of minor leaguers that don’t look to be all that great) and they have been able to overcome a lengthy disabled list trip by Alfonso Soriano. Their rotation is very solid (and might get a bit crowded if Jon Lieber looks impressive during his rehab). Even with the Cubs recent struggle to score runs they are 2nd in the Majors in run production and the only MLB club to have a positive run differential of more than 100 runs. The one thing the Cubs do lack is a threat off of the bench. The starting lineup is pretty stacked (especially when Soriano is back) but there really isn’t any firepower on the bench to bring out in late inning pinch-hit situations. Oddly enough the team that has a few guys to fit that mold is the team they already traded with (A’s). The problem with going after that type of player while being in the Cubs position is that potential trade partners are going to try and go after the best the Cubs have in the cupboard to allow them to make a serious run at World Series (if you hadn’t heard it’s been 100 years since they last won a title) and since the Cubs have a relatively old team (5th oldest average age in the league) they will be very hesitant to trade any piece of their future (i.e. Josh Vitters or Tyler Colvin). If the Cubs make any other moves they may have to utilize their major league pitching depth to get what they are looking for.
 –Peter Christian

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I do agree with Peter that Jim Hendry bamboozled Beane.  Now if the Cubs offense would just give Harden some run support, the trade would look even better.  Leiber is likely headed to middle relief duty once he comes back off the DL unless the Cubs think he can be more productive than Jason Marquis as the 5th starter.  I disagree about the Cubs lacking a threat=2 0off the bench.  With Soriano being healthy, the Cubs have Reed Johnson, Daryle Ward, Mike Fontenot, Ronny Cedeno, and Henry Blanco on the bench.  In my opinion, that is the perfect amount of left-handed pinch hitters, pinch-runners, and defensive subs that a team needs to back-up their starters.  Add in Micah Hoffpauir and Felix Pie as September call-ups and I think the Cubs are even more solid.  Barring a serious injury, I wouldn’t expect the Cubs to make a move the rest of the way unless they can steal a veteran reliever or get a great deal on another bench player.
–David K.

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The Cubs have already made their big strike with the acquisition of Rich Harden, but they might not be done!  They still need to solidify the bullpen in the event Scott Eyre is not healthy.  They have also been interested in Brian Fuentes and Damaso Marte and linked to Khalil Greene several times this season although the Cubs deny any interest.  I really don’t see him improving the squad.  Let’s face it, the Cubs are stacked.  So long as they stay healthy and avoid curses, they are an odds-on favorite to go to the World Series.
–Soxman

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7/17- Red Sox
7/18- Yankees
7/19- Rays
7/20- White Sox
7/21- Twins
7/22- Tigers
7/24-Angels
7/25- A’s, Rangers
7/26- Phillies, Mets, Marlins
7/27- Cubs
7/28-Brewers, Cardinals
7/29- Dodgers, Diamondbacks

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A Madonna & A-Rod Sex tape?

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By Rikki Greenberg

Please welcome the newest addition to TheSportsBank.net, my fellow NBC5.com Street Teamer Rikki Greenberg. As you read her contributions here, you’ll see she has a certain journalistic wheelhouse.
I visited my newsworthy sites of thesuperifical.com and well, newly appointed newsworthy site, VH1 and apparently Madge and A-Rod have an alleged sex tape!!

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The old story goes something like this:
 
Aging pop start who just won’t quit (Madonna) meets highest paid, easy on the eyes baseball player (Alex Rodriguez). Rumors of A-Rod and Madonna canoodling start to surface. A-Rod loses his wife and Madonna’s marriage starts to fall apart coincidentally at the same time these rumors are going around. A-Rod and Madonna make an alleged sex tape to what can only be assumed as a way for both to deal with their failed and failing marriages. It’s a sad turn of events kids, and I wish it didn’t go down like this. Usually people make sex tapes to further their career and both parties are well-established…so I don’t get it? Madonna is not an attractive woman even with make up on…I don’t even want to know what she looks like without make up on, let alone naked. Honestly, I’m disappointed with you A-rod because you could have fun with any chick you could ever want to and you choose Madonna?
 
That’s like me choosing Flavor Flav when I could have Josh Hamilton from the Texas Rangers. Or like eating a hot dog out of the garbage when I could go to any hot dog vendor in Chicago and get an original Chicago dog with all 7 premium toppings.
 
Whose hungry?!

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Contender Marketplace Part 10 NL Central Rivals

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Peter Christian, David K. & Soxman break down what each MLB contender needs to make the play-offs
 

Trade Rumors begin to heat up as the MLB trade deadline approaches.  The deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 31. Until then teams may trade players freely without having to go through the waiver process.
 

Milwaukee Brewers –
Brewer GM Doug Melvin already landed the trading season’s biggest prize in CC Sabathia, which has paid off immediate dividends. However that didn’t mean Melvin was done. He also traded for a veteran backup to the slump prone Rickie Weeks (Ray Durham) and recently signed Jay Gibbons who has been out of baseball since he was mentioned in the Mitchell report as an alleged steroid user. The Brewers willingness to go out and make changes in an effort to make the play-offs for the first time since 1982 proves to both the players and the fans that this team is committed to one thing: Winning the World Series. While Bill Hall has been swinging a good bat lately, he has been mentioned all season long as being movable and might be bait to go out and get a reliable closer (the Crew’s most glaring need). Outside of some late inning help the Brewers are in a good spot for the playoffs. They have very good hitting and defense on the bench to go along with a starting lineup that is one of the most powerful in the bigs. If the Twins had a reliever that could be an effective closer they would be an ideal trade partner to get rid of Bill Hall.
–Peter Christian
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 I don’t see the Crew dealing Hall unless they get an everyday third baseman to replace him.  Russell Branyan is not an everyday player at third.  Sorry.  The bullpen is the biggest question mark in Milwaukee.  Salomon Torres has been solid since taking over the closer role, but the rest of the pen has been more than shaky throughout the season.  Since Melvin and the Crew have made it clear that they are putting all their eggs into the basket this year, I would expect them to make a move for a relief pitcher or two to add some consistency to that spot.
 –David K.
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The Brew Crew made the first HUGE splash of the 2008 trading period by landing C.C. Sabathia.  They have all the talent to make a run and are actually my favorite pick to catch the Cubs.  They must address their bullpen however and go after another closer or set-up guy.  Huston Street makes a lot of sense as the A’s like youth and the Brewers have plenty to offer.  Will Ohman and Chad Bradford could also be nice fits

–Soxman
 

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St. Louis Cardinals –
In April I told people that this would be Tony LaRussa’s last season in St. Louis because they would be bad and he would get forced out. Last month I told people that the Cardinals were going to start their nosedive down the standings. Here we are at the trade deadline and we’re discussing them as a potential long term contender in 2008. I’ll try and force down the crow I’m eating and discuss what the Cards can do to make their overachieving team a contender into the fall. The Cardinals’ success has largely been attributed to the team’s ability to overcome injuries to big name players by allowing smaller name players make a name for themselves. Ryan Ludwick, Kyle Lohse and Ryan Franklin have all stepped up to perform well beyond their expectations. With Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter expected to return to the rotation at some point in the second half, the rotation looks to be set for a post-season run. Somehow this team (the same one I predicted would be in the lower third of the league) is the only team that I wouldn’t change at all. They have a couple of very solid bench players (Aaron Miles and Chris Duncan) to go with their starting lineup which is obviously meshing very well and a good pitching staff that looks to get better as the team gets healthy. Plus they have Tony LaRussa, which has to count for something.

–Peter Christian

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The Redbirds will have a tough decision to make; try and make a couple moves in hopes of keeping up with the Cubs and Crew or wave the white flag and start selling spare parts.  Yes, Carpenter and Wainwright will give a boost to a surprising starting rotation, but question is; will it be too late?  Franklin has done a nice job since replacing Jason Isringhausen as a closer, but if the Cards are serious about a post-season run, they probably need to solidify that closer role by maybe making a run at Huston Street, George Sherrill, or some other veteran stopper.
–David K.

The Cardinals second half success will widely depend on the healthy return of Chris Carpenter.  They are also actively talking to the Pirates about Jason Bay or Xavier Nady.  While the Cardinals deny it, they would be willing to part with Colby Rasmus for another slugger.  They could also make a strong push for A.J. Burnett, who almost signed with the Cardinals before settling on the Blue Jays.  A lower-cost possibility is Randy Wolfe.  All-star Christian Guzman would also make a lot of sense for the Cardinals.  David Eckstein is also available and was beloved when he was with the Cardinals.  As the Nationals are going nowhere this season, I’m surprised Guzman has not drawn more interest.
 
–Soxman

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7/17- Red Sox
7/18- Yankees
7/19- Rays
7/20- White Sox
7/21- Twins
7/22- Tigers
7/24-Angels
7/25- A’s, Rangers
7/26- Phillies, Mets, Marlins
7/27- Cubs
7/28-Brewers, Cardinals
7/29- Dodgers, Diamondbacks

Ryne Sandberg Interview Part Two of Two

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By Paul M. Banks

You’ve likely seen it by now on SportsCenter, your local news or on your favorite sports blogs: the infamous minor league fight between the Cubs single A affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs and the Cincinnati Reds’ affiliate, the Dayton Dragons. The video is being forwarded to millions of inboxes everyday. These same Chiefs take on the Kane County Cougars at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night at 7:05 PM. The Chiefs are currently managed by Ryne Sandberg, an iconic figure for a whole generation of Chicago Cubs fans. The 2005 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inductee is considered to be one of the greatest second baseman in history. Sandberg had no part in this infamous brawl though because he was away in Cooperstown for  Hall of Fame weekend ceremonies. Sandberg’s fill-in, as well as the Dragons’ manager, were both ejected.

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Ryno’s .989 career fielding percentage is the highest ever for a second baseman. His #23 is just the fourth number ever retired by the Cubs organization. He retired in 1997, after spending nearly his entire career as a Cub. Highlights of his Major League service include: 

-Ten All-Star Appearances
-Nine Gold Gloves
-Seven Silver sluggers.
-1984 MVP award 

Large crowds of that “bleed Cubbie blue” follow him wherever he manages. Goose Island even brewed a special beer in honor of Sandberg, “the Ryno 23” during the year he was enshrined in Cooperstown. I caught up to him right before his Chiefs visited the Chicago area to start a three game set with the Kane County Cougars. The two teams will meet again on July 29th for the first minor league game in the park’s storied history.

On using his own experiences as a minor leaguer to relate to his current players…
 

RS: I try and relate to that a little bit, I try and think back about what it was like when I was in A ball and anything I can share, any messages I can give back to these players that would help with that. I talk to them everyday so there is a lot of time to share my experiences on the bench. I consider that because at one time I was in their shoes. I was a guy who hit .268 or .262 at A ball and made 30 errors at shortstop, so I can relate and have no problem looking back. It’s a great opportunity for them to enjoy not only right now what they’re doing, but also hopefully move up the ladder enjoy this for a lot of years and someday be a major leaguer.

The surprises that he’s seen in his 2nd season doing this…

RS: How much I enjoy coming to the ballpark every day. How much I enjoy getting the wheels turning and focusing on what we need to do to help these guys as individuals and as a team to be successful on the field. Putting things in action and watching the team improve like it has since April. We were near the bottom of the pack in April and part of May. We’ve improved and it’s very gratifying to me, to see the stats and players improve.

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On all the fans that swoon around him at every minor league game…

RS: I sign autos for about 20-30 minutes every single day whether we’re at home or on the road. Since its Opening Day last year the routine hasn’t stopped. I hear all the stories about grandparents and great-grandparents. Everyone’s a fan of mine and the Cubs so I see all the pictures of me posing with these kids when they were three or four years old and now they’re in the 20s and 30s standing there in line for autographs. It takes me back looking at the old stuff, seeing what these people collected and bring out of the closet. Some days I’m amazed, other days it’s the same stories repeated, it’s all good stuff.

On his current managerial position and future potential…

RS: I’m doing what these players are doing. I’m looking at this as an opportunity. I’ve been given an opportunity to create a style for myself and if an opportunity came along at the major league level, this is what it’s all about

On the success of the parent club (2008 Chicago Cubs) filtering down to the single A affiliate Peoria Chiefs…

RS: Oh yeah it definitely it starts form the top. When the big club is playing like the Cubs are playing right now we get a feel of that because it’s fun to watch them win. Whether you watch ‘em win on TV in the Saturday game of the week or read about them winning in the newspaper we go out and try to play like those guys and do the same thing, winning it has a big effect on the whole organization.
 

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Contender Marketplace Part 10 NL East

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Peter Christian & Soxman break down what each MLB contender needs to make the play-offs
 

Trade Rumors begin to heat up as the MLB trade deadline approaches.  The deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 31. Until then teams may trade players freely without having to go through the waiver process.
NL EAST
 
Phillies
The Phillies addressed their biggest need by trading for Joe Blanton on July 17th.  Are they done picking up starting pitching?  They have also scouted Matt Cain, AJ Burnett, and Derek Lowe.
 
Mets
The Mets are suddenly very much alive in the NL East.  They are also believed to be involved in the Freddy Garcia sweepstakes.  They have also been strongly linked to AJ Burnett in recent weeks.  I’ve heard rumors of a trade involving Matt Holliday, Willy Taveras, and Brian Fuentes for Fernando Martinez, and Carlos Beltran, but I don’t believe it.  Martinez could make a big-impact if ready, and the Mets could turn to a cheaper option such as Xavier Nady or Raul Ibanez. 
 
Marlins
How could a team that loses their best hitter and franchise player compete?  The Marlins are doing it…And are quickly earning my respect as the “Twins” of NL.  Perhaps they should change their name from the Marlins to the Piranhas.  Looking to add speed to compliment their abundance of power, they have inquired with the Rockies about Willy Taveras and Scott Podsednik.  They also need help at catcher and are said to have inquired on Ivan Rodriguez and David Ross of the Reds.  Is a return by Miguel Olivo another possibility?   

–The Soxman

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NL East –
Philadelphia Phillies –
I picked the Phillies to win the World Series back in April and back in April they made me look like a genius (I’m going to ignore my Mariners and Blue Jays picks). To this point the Phils have been the front runner but a recent hot streak by the Mets coupled with the pesky Marlins hanging around have made the NL East a three team race. Philadelphia gave up their top prospect in Adrian Cardenas along with two other minor leaguers to land Joe Blanton to help the rotation which is probably the only area that could use some solid improvement. Pat Gillick is a seasoned GM and can play the deadline game with the best of them. Last season’s under the radar move to land Kyle Lohse turned out to be a fantastic one as he was a key cog in the team’s play-off run. A similar move will need to be made this season as both Brett Myers and Adam Eaton have been largely ineffective in the rotation. The biggest problem with the Phillies is that they already gave up their biggest bargaining chip to get Blanton. If things stand pat, the Phillies will rely on either Myers or Eaton to step back into the rotation to help down the stretch.

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New York Mets –
What a difference a month makes. On June 17th, the Mets had just fired Willie Randolph and were struggling to get above .500. Now the Mets are fresh off a 10 game winning streak and back in the NL East race. If the Mets plan on staying in the race they need Johan Santana to be his usual 2nd half dominant self, they need solid production out of their stars (David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran) and they need players like Ryan Church and Luis Castillo to get healthy. The resurgence of the Mets has taken the pressure off of GM Omar Minaya for now but don’t expect him to make any desperation moves like the Victor Zambrano move a few years ago by his predecessor Jim Duquette. Plus, the bulk of the Mets pieces were moved in the Johan Santana trade (with the exception of Fernando Martinez, who is said to be untouchable). The Mets may be best suited in trading one or more of their veterans to another contending team to get some bullpen help and potentially a guy who can step in to close if Billy Wagner’s arm issues continue to be a problem (i.e. Brian Fuentes).
 
Florida Marlins –
Soxman has it right, the Marlins are more of a piranhas type team than even the Twins are this year. The clutch hitting they have gotten from up and down their lineup is staggering. Especially once you consider how unknown the bulk of the team is. The Marlins have lost more starting players in the last 5 years than any other team in the majors (I might have made that up, but it looks good on paper) and yet they continue to overachieve. Their infield may be one of the most unexpected powerhouses of the last decade (84 HR from the infielders) and the starting pitching has been extremely good. However, if this team is going to compete into late September for a play-off spot, they have holes that need to be filled. They could use another starter, an extra arm in the bullpen and a veteran presence off the bench, preferably someone who can play outfield. Since the Marlins have lost so much they also have a very good crop of young players and prospects. While it is unlikely the Marlins would be able to take on any big contract type players, ownership has shown some commitment to this team by giving Hanley Ramirez the largest contract in Marlins history. A player like Josh Willingham or Cody Ross might be dealt in order to allow Luis Gonzalez to take on a bigger leadership role from the lineup rather than the bench while also netting another pitcher to bolster the staff. While other teams may salivate and offer up the farm, Cameron Maybin is no where near the table.
–Peter Christian

7/17- Red Sox
7/18- Yankees
7/19- Rays
7/20- White Sox
7/21- Twins
7/22- Tigers
7/24-Angels
7/25- A’s, Rangers
7/26- Phillies, Mets, Marlins
7/27- Cubs
7/28-Brewers, Cardinals
7/29- Dodgers, Diamondbacks

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Major League Baseball Trade Rumors

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By Soxman
 

As the Major League Trade Deadline draws closer, your trade rumor hot stove heats up to a molten level! 

I’m not offering detailed analysis here because some of the goals are completely obvious.  However, it should help keep you in the loop.
 

Here we go…
 
White Sox Get Aggressive
 
Evidently, Kenny Williams is smelling another title run and attempting to plug holes with the emergence of new assets like Alexei Ramirez.  When reading these Sox Rumors, consider the following: Joe Crede might be back, (pardon the pun), Jose Contreras might have a worse injury than previously thought.


 
Per Baseball Tonight:
 
•        Juan Uribe to the Boston Red Sox for Alex Cora (brother of Joey).
•        Orlando Cabrera to the Dodgers for Derek Lowe (OC really has not panned out like the Sox have hoped offensively).
•        Justin Duchscherer and Houston Street to the A’s for Josh Fields, Adam Russell, and one other player (Brian Anderson?).
•        The Sox scouting Freddy Garcia.
 
Milwaukee Brewers
 
In search of bullpen help, the Brewers have been trying to land George Sherill, Will Ohman, and Houston Street.
 
The Orioles wanted J.J. Hardy for Sherill and the Brewers rightfully declined.
 
New York Yankees
 
•        Jarrod Washburn to the Yankees for Melky Cabrera
•        ESPN Mike and Mike reports Barry Bonds Bond’s name discussed at management meetings.  I smell a “Damn Yankees” like story.

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New York Mets
 
Are pursuing Xavier Nady, Casey Blake, and Raul Ibanez.
 
St. Louis Cardinals
 
•        Looking for a starting pitcher have targeted A.J. Burnett.
 
Minnesota Twins
 
•        Casey Blake and Adrian Beltre are on their radar.
 
Mark Teixeira
 
Per ESPN tonight, the Braves will use this weekend’s series to determine whether or not they will move the best slugger available on the trade market.  Teams expressing interest include: New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays.
 
Brian Fuentes and Damaso Marte
 
Have drawn interest from the Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Phillies, and Yankees

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Contender Marketplace Part 9 Rangers

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Peter Christian, Soxman & Paul M. Banks break down what each MLB contender needs to make the play-offs
 

Trade Rumors begin to heat up as the MLB trade deadline approaches.  The deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 31. Until then teams may trade players freely without having to go through the waiver process.
I watched this team blow a late inning four run lead to White Sox from the U.S. Cellular Field press box on Wednesday, and I thought “wow this team never changes!” They always seem to pound the ball on offense and have laughable pitching. I saw closer C.J. Wilson blow a save as MVP candidate Carlos Quentin took him yard for a go-ahead three run blast. Wilson’s high 4s ERA is really ugly for a closer, so they should consider acquiring some bullpen help. This team is only a “contender” because Oakland waved the white flag on the ‘08 season a few weeks ago. However, if they are to make a serious run at the division or the Wild Card, they need to fill some big pitching gaps (Jason Jennings, Brandon McCarthy, Kason Gabbard all being on the DL doesn’t help) Of course, I don’t know how much hope there truly is for this group. The years that they are in contention, they always seem to wilt down the stretch in the Texas heat. If you want to know why high school football is so huge in Texas and the Dallas Cowboys are (as John Lennon would say) “bigger than Jesus” in Texas, look at the pathetic history of this franchise. You can look at the Houston Astros’ history too, which is slightly better than the Rangers…because at least they usually tank in October instead of August. So hey don’t the Dillon Panthers start their season soon?

–Paul M. Banks  

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Pitching, pitching, pitching.  Four All-Star position players combine for 61 home runs, 262 RBIs and a .315 batting average.  A 5.10 team earned-run average and a 1.58 WHIP. If they decide to make a run, you could see them trade for consistent, lower-end starters like Randy Wolfe or Greg Maddux.  A.J. Burnett is another possibility.

–Soxman
The fact that Ron Washington still has a job might be the most unbelievable story in the MLB that nobody has mentioned. The reason he still has a job is because the Rangers are actually playing .500 baseball. Their lineup can score runs (nearly 550 on the season, just shy of 5.5 runs/game) but they give up far too many runs (590, 5.9/game) to keep winning at their current pace. The Rangers biggest issue this season has been inconsistencies in the bottom half of the lineup and their pitching staff (which has been injury related). If they can stabilize one or both of those issues they could be a legitimate dark horse contender to make a run at the AL Wild Card. The Rangers easily have the biggest need for pitchers in all of baseball, but they really only have a few pieces to move. The Rangers need to make a decision between Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden as their catcher of the future. With the aging of many big name catchers the Rangers could turn their second choice into an arm or two to add to the bullpen/rotation. However, if the Rangers start to slip in the next week or so, Hank Blalock could be on the block to help attract some prospect depth in the farm system.
 –Peter Christian

7/17- Red Sox
7/18- Yankees
7/19- Rays
7/20- White Sox
7/21- Twins
7/22- Tigers
7/24-Angels
7/25- A’s, Rangers
7/26- Phillies, Mets, Marlins
7/27- Cubs
7/28-Brewers, Cardinals
7/29- Dodgers, Diamondbacks

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Contender Marketplace Part 8 As

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Peter Christian, Paul M. Banks & Soxman break down what each MLB contender needs to make the play-offs
 

Trade Rumors begin to heat up as the MLB trade deadline approaches.  The deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 31. Until then teams may trade players freely without having to go through the waiver process.

Since they have already been the league’s most active team in trades it appears that the A’s are trying out an unorthodox theory of winning while rebuilding. Billy Beane is one of the most active GM’s in the league in the effort to sell high and buy low. The dealing of Rich Harden, Chad Gaudin and Joe Blanton netted the A’s 7 prospects and should allow Beane a chance to utilize his already deep farm system to put the best team on the field down the stretch. However, Beane might not be done wheeling and dealing yet. With injuries to the bulk of their veterans (Eric Chavez, Frank Thomas, Mike Sweeney and Keith Foulke) the A’s only have four active players over the age of 30 on their roster (Alan Embree, Justin Duchscherer, Mark Ellis and Emil Brown). All of those active players have been mentioned in trade rumors. It is pretty unusual that a team still in the thick of the Wild Card race (and 10 games back of a team that I get the collapse vibe from) would be in such a “fire sale” mode, but with the stockpile of talent that Oakland has built up it might just be time to let the kids play.
–Peter Christian

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This may be the most interesting team to watch these last few days because everyone in need of pitching will covet them; they possess the best starter (Justin Duchscherer) and bullpen guy (Huston Street) still available. I’ll be honest: the Athletics are quickly becoming my third favorite team. (Cubs are second) As an MBA grad, I have a soft spot for the “Moneyball” approach and enjoy watching good baseball mix with good financial discipline and they’re also the parent club of my Kane County Cougars, the minor league team that I’ve covered extensively and grown affection for….Doesn’t hurt that my final two years of little league the team I played for was the A’s as well.  It will be also be fascinating to see what happens when the A’s move in to Cisco Field in 2012, will this bring in a new stream of revenue? Will it change their economic philosophy?
–Paul M. Banks

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Despite being in second place at the break, it is completely obvious GM Billy Beane is waving the White Flag on the 2008 Season and re-stocking with top prospects.  With the trades of Dan Haren, Rich Harden, and Joe Blanton, it would be a miracle to see the A’s make the play-offs.  The biggest rumor surrounding the A’s is” “Who will be traded next?”  Huston Street could draw a great deal on interest as could Mark Ellis.
–Soxman
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