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Corey Hart agrees to 3-year extension with the Brew Crew

By Curt Hogg

They say "Home is where the heart is," and that saying is truer now than it has been all season in Milwaukee. 
Except now the saying goes "Home is where the Hart is".'s Adam McCalvy reported that Corey Hart, 28, has signed a contract extension with the Brewers to continue his memorable season. As recent as May, a contract of this manner would never have been fathomable. Hart, coming off of the team's first arbitration hearing since 1998, was not making regular appearances in the lineup. Fans and media alike were, as in 2009, on Hart's case after winning a $4.8 million salary and not producing. Then a walk-off home run against New York, followed by a grand slam the next night out jolted a season that has led to an All-Star appearance. Just call it a story we never expected.

"I'm anxious to go out there and prove to everybody that I'm worth it," he said in Spring Training. "I told [GM] Doug [Melvin] and [assistant GM] Gord [Ash] that I want to go out and prove to them that I'm a guy who could get a long-term deal. I love Milwaukee, my family loves it, and we want to stay. The fan base has been really good to me, and the ones who are mad, hopefully I can win them back over."

Corey will bring to Milwaukee with him, along with his new contract, a .288 average, 23 home runs, 72 RBI, and a .910 OPS. ESPN's Buster Olney reports that Hart will bring in $26.5 million during the three-year deal. The deal covers 2011-2013, which would have been Corey's final year of arbitration and first two free agency seasons.

Just days ago a subject of trade rumors, including the Giants making a serious late push, Hart now is locked up until age 31 with the Brewers. The signing may reveal that the GM Doug Melvin is open to trade Prince Fielder this winter for pitching. Rickie Weeks may also re-sign along with Hart.

Hart was the first young star to crack through to the Big Leagues, making his debut with the Brewers in 2004. He was followed by Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy, Ryan Braun, and Yovani Gallardo.

He said all along he would like to stay in Brew Town. "I would be disappointed to be traded away from the Brewers, because this is the only team I know," he said last month. "I would like to stick it out here and help to turn things around."

Trade Deadline winners the.... Yankees?

By Ricky Keeler

These are three teams who in my mind stood out for their aggressiveness and smarts in navigating the ever-treacherous trade market.

New York Yankees: Coming into the deadline, I felt that the Yankees did not need to make any major moves to improve the team which already has the best record in baseball. Yes, they inquired on closer Joakim Soria and slugger Adam Dun, but general manager Brian Cashman did a great job in terms of adding depth to this roster for the stretch run. They acquired a designated hitter in Lance Berkman who is an experienced right handed bat with the ability to play first, giving Mark Teixiera a day off. His numbers are down with Houston, but playing with a winner for the first time since 2005 might help improve his numbers.

 Austin Kearns brings another quality right handed bat to the bench. One of his specialties is hitting left handed pitching, which will help relieve Curtis Granderson in the lineup at times. As for the bullpen, they addressed that need by getting Kerry Wood from the Indians. Wood had injuries a plenty with Cleveland, but this move did two things for the Bombers. For one, they now have a veteran reliever that can be used in the seventh or eighth inning even with David Robertson’s recent success, and they finally could deactivate struggling reliever Chan Ho Park.

 Texas Rangers: The Rangers have gone through filing for bankruptcy over the course of this baseball season and most did not expect them to make a big splash with their roster. However, they created a wave pool with the acquisition of Cliff Lee. Lee was traded from the Mariners on July 9th for a package that included star prospect Justin Smoak. Texas was also given two million dollars in the deal to help their financial situation. Lee brings the Rangers the ace they have lacked throughout franchise history and a guy that can pitch twice or even three times per series in October.

 As for the offense, Texas acquired veteran infielders Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman. Cantu can play some first and third base, especially with Chris Davis down in AAA. He had a .262 average with ten home runs in Florida. As for Guzman, he can play second base with Ian Kinsler on the disabled list. His run production has slipped a little bit, but he is a .270-.280 hitter who can provide a veteran presence to a young team. Also, the Nationals and Marlins even sent money to the Rangers to facilitate the addition of these players to their payroll.

 Atlanta Braves: In Bobby Cox’s final year, the Braves have the feeling of a team on a magical ride towards a World Series title. Even with the Phillies’ trading for Roy Oswalt, Atlanta countered by improving their offense as well as their bullpen. First, they received shortstop Alex Gonzalez from the Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar. Escobar was not loved by Bobby Cox for his underachieving nature at shortstop. In this deal, the Braves get a veteran who is having one of the best power seasons of his career with eighteen home runs and brings veteran presence to their clubhouse.

 On deadline day, the Braves improved their outfield power by trading for Rick Ankiel. Ankiel can play center field and takes over for Nate McClouth, who was sent down to the minors. Ankiel has a solid glove in center field and will split time with Melky Cabrera at that position. They also traded for reliever Kyle Farnsworth to bring depth to their bullpen for the middle innings. With a combination of Jonny Venters, Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner, Atlanta leads the league in bullpen wins with 21. Farnsworth has struggled in the American League, whether it was with the Yankees or the Royals. But the Braves hope pitching in the National League will change his career for the better.

MLB Trade Deadline Recap

By Ricky Keeler

Some consider July 31st
 to be one of the best days in Major League Baseball with all the last minute trades that get done before the 4:00 ET deadline. There were rumors of Manny Ramirez going to the White Sox as well as the latest Adam Dunn news. But in the end, the White Sox did not get their big bat, Manny stayed in Los Angeles, Ryan Ludwick went to San Diego, Jake Westbrook is with the Cardinals and Dunn remains with the Nationals which is another brilliant move by general manager Mike Rizzo.

By keeping Dunn, the Nationals will have the opportunity to sign him to a long-term contract and give the Nats a solid offense with him and Ryan Zimmerman to build around with their young team. They could not get a deal done with Chicago even with the White Sox acquiring Edwin Jackson, but I think Dunn is comfortable playing in the National League than being an everyday designated hitter.

Other than that, here are some late Friday and Saturday moves that happened in Major League Baseball:

 Austin Kearns to the Yankees: After acquiring Lance Berkman from the Astros, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman picked up outfielder Austin Kearns from the Indians for a player to be named later. Kearns adds more depth to the Yankees bench, particularly from the right side of the plate. He also has the ability to hit left handed pitching, which can give Curtis Granderson days off in a stretch where the Bombers play 37 games in 38 days. He is hitting .282 with eight home runs and 42 RBI’s this season.

 Ramon Ramirez to the Giants: In an effort to improve their bullpen, the San Francisco Giants received Ramon Ramirez from the Red Sox for prospect Daniel Turpin. Ramirez has struggled this year for the Red Sox, going 0-3 with a 4.46 ERA. But, the one reason why the Giants wanted him was his ability to get right handers out. This year, righties against Ramirez are hitting a slim .239 and a mere .210 average over the past five years. He is also recovering from a right triceps injury that he suffered early in the year, but appears to be back to full strength.

Will Ohman to the Marlins: With the Marlins feeling they are still in the race with an 11-5 record since the All-Star break, they went out aggressively and acquired lefty reliever Will Ohman from the Orioles at the last minute for pitcher Rick VandenHurk. The former Marlin has been in AAA New Orleans the whole year, but adds more depth to a young Orioles rotation for the future. As for Ohman, the Marlins now have another lefty to pair with reliever Taylor Tankersley. However, Ohman is going to be used more in the late innings for manager Edwin Rodriguez since the 33 year old lefty has only given up one home run and eight RBI’s to lefties, who are hitting a meek .226 against him on the season. With Ohman, Florida hopes they can make up the 6 ½ game deficit in the Wild Card, starting with a three game series against the Phillies on Monday.

Javier Lopez to the Giants: Due to the Giants suffering injuries to lefties Jeremy Affeldt and Dan Runzler, GM Brian Sabean felt he needed to add a left handed reliever to his ballclub. Therefore, he dealt right handed pitcher Joe Martinez and outfielder John Bowker to the Pirates for reliever Javier Lopez. Martinez was 3-2 with a 7.50 ERA in five starts last year with San Francisco, but this year has bounced around between AAA and a reliever in the majors. Bowker brings a ton of power potential to a Pirates team looking for power bats for the future. In Lopez, San Francisco gets a reliever who has been with five other teams, but has held lefties to hitting .204 against him this season. Don’t expect him to face anyone else though, as righties have hit .322 off him. Even though San Francisco couldn’t get Jason Frasor, Scott Downs, or Jose Bautista from Toronto, they still found a way to improve their bullpen. But, they really needed a power bat.

Chad Qualls to the Rays: In order to improve their bullpen, the Rays traded for Chad Qualls of the Diamondbacks for a player to be named later. Qualls was a closer for Arizona, but only had 12 saves with an 8.29 ERA and was demoted from his role. With Tampa Bay, Qualls will have the chance to pitch for a contender for the first time since 2004-05 with the Astros. Tampa Bay’s strong defense fits Qualls’ style as a ground ball sinker throwing pitcher, leading former Astros and now Rays’ teammate Dan Wheeler to call him a “big game pitcher”.

 Octavio Dotel to the Dodgers: Joe Torre has been known to overwork his bullpen arms in his years with the Yankees and now the Dodgers. So, it is no surprise that Los Angeles traded for reliever Octavio Dotel and gave reliever James McDonald and minor league outfielder James Lambo to the Pirates. Dotel saved 21 games for the Pirates this year, but will be the eighth inning guy to closer Jonathan Broxton. This is similar to what the Dodgers got George Sherrill for a year ago. With young reliever Kenley Jansen and hopefully Ronald Bellesario coming back soon, Los Angeles is looking to strengthen the depth in their bullpen. McDonald is a young reliever who was strong in AAA going 6-1, but has an 8.22 ERA at the MLB level since July 19th.

Chris Snyder to the Pirates: In order to get rid of a big contract, the Diamondbacks traded catcher Chris Snyder along with minor league shortstop Pedro Ciracio to the Pirates for outfielder Ryan Church, infielder Bobby Crosby, and reliever D.J Carrasco. According to manager John Russell, Snyder is expected to split time with Ryan Doumit at catcher. Doumit is considered one of the top players on the Pirates, but Pittsburgh is going to try him out at right field in his rehab stint in Indianapolis coming off of a concussion. Arizona gets three players who make no more than two million dollars this season which gives them much needed salary relief to reduce their payroll.

Kerry Wood to the Yankees: One of the major questions surrounding the New York Yankees was that they did not have a consistent eighth inning guy to turn to as a bridge to closer Mariano Rivera. Well, Kerry Wood helps makes their bullpen a little bit better. Wood is coming off the disabled list with a blister on his finger and has been known for his injury problems. He is 4-7 with a 4.80 ERA in his two seasons with the Indians in a relief role. However, Joe Girardi knows Wood from catching him in 2000 and knows the potential Wood has to contribute to a winning ballclub. David Robertson has done well in the eighth inning for the Yankees, but having Wood eliminates Chan Ho Park from the team and gives Girardi more options for the eighth. It’s a win-win for the Yankees.

 Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth to the Braves: After the Phillies traded for Roy Oswalt, the Atlanta Braves decided to counter with a deal of their own to make this an interesting NL East race. Atlanta received outfielder Rick Ankiel and relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth from the Royals for outfielder Gregor Blanco, reliever Jesse Chavez, and minor league reliever Tim Collins. Ankiel is hitting .367 since returning from the disabled list last week and brings power to an outfield that had to send Nate McClouth down to AAA on July 28th. The former Cardinal outfielder will be the center fielder for Atlanta sharing time with Melky Cabrera. As for Farnsworth, he brings depth to the middle innings for a Braves bullpen that leads the league with 21 wins. Blanco could be a major leaguer right away for the Royals, hitting .310 in 36 games with Atlanta. Tim Collins has 87 K’s in 51 innings in AA and Jesse Chavez is a reliever the Royals can use in their bullpen, but a 5.89 ERA in 28 games this year does not bring optimism to Kansas City.

 Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot to the Dodgers: Due to the divorce of the McCourt family, the Dodgers were not seen as a team who could make a big deal because of their financial situation. However, they were able to add an arm to their starting rotation by trading for Ted Lilly of the Chicago Cubs along with infielder Ryan Theriot in exchange for second baseman Blake DeWitt and prospects Kyle Smit and Brett Wallach. Theriot is expected to play second basemen for the Dodgers and can play shortstop when Rafael Furcal needs a day off. He is hitting .284 with one homer and 21 RBI’s on the year.

 The Dodgers will place Lilly as the number five starter, dropping Carlos Monasterios to the bullpen. Lilly has 12 or more wins in six of his last seven seasons and is a solid lefty to pair with the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Vicente Padilla, Chad Billingsley, and Hiroki Kuroda. He also played under Joe Torre for the Yankees. He is 106-92 for his career and having a veteran pitcher should help Los Angeles challenge for the National League West. Los Angeles received cash in order to facilitate this deal.

 As for the Cubs, they receive second basemen Blake DeWitt. DeWitt is twenty four years old and has a ton of upside as he is hitting .262 with twelve homers and 86 RBI’s over his three year career with limited playing time. Smit and Wallach are also pitching prospects in Class A with Smit having six saves over his minor league career in Class A Inland Empire and AA Chattanooga. Wallach was 6-0 with a 2.35 ERA for Class A Great Lakes.

Jake Westbrook headed to St. Louis in 3-team deal

By Pat Geraghty

Jake Westbrook is headed to St. Louis from Cleveland, in a 3-team deal which also includes the San Diego Padres. Westbrook was 6-7 with a 4.65 ERA. The 32-year-old veteran has limited playoff experience, making only 3 appearances back in 2007. Westbrook will become the 4th starter behind the dominant trio of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Jaime Garcia. The backend of the Cardinals rotation has been in shambles all year due to injuries to Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny.

Ryan Ludwick, also 32 years old, will be headed to San Diego to bring some much needed pop to that lineup. Ludwick was hitting ,281 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI's this season. Ludwick will bring power to an outfield combination of Scott Hairston, Tony Gwynn Jr., and Will Venable, who have only hit 24 home runs combined al year. Ludwick has almost half of that total on his own. 

We've been looking for a quality starting pitcher to add to our rotation for some time," Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said in a statement. "Westbrook is someone we've had our eyes on for a good period of time." 

The Cardinals also received cash from the Indians and lefthander Nick Greenwood from the Padres who at 22 years old had a 4.15 ERA at Class A Fort Wayne.

Double-A pitcher Corey Kluber heads to Cleveland from San Diego and the 24-year-old righty had a 3.45 ERA, while leading the Texas League in strikeouts. 

Oswalt waives no-trade clause; headed to Philadelphia

By Pat Geraghty

After weeks of speculation about whether or not Roy Oswalt would waive his no-trade clause for any place other than St. Louis, the truth has finally come out. Oswalt is a winner. Reports that his 2012 $16 million option had to be picked up appear to be false. "I didn't want [ the option ] to be a deal breaker. It wasn't about the money, it was about getting a chance to go somewhere and win," Oswalt said. 

In the deal, Houston received left-handed starter J.A. Happ, and two prospects, outfielder Anthony Gose and shortstop Jonathan Villar. "I'm glad it worked out for both of us. I wanted to go to a contender, and Houston gets some good prospects in return who will hopefully allow them to build a winning team," Oswalt told's Amy K. Nelson.

Oswalt, previously scheduled to pitch Friday against the Brewers, will now make his Phillies debut Friday against the Nationals. Happ was also scheduled to pitch Friday, and it appears he will likely start for Houston against the Brew Crew. 

Currently, the Phillies are 2.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. Personally, I am not a big fan of this trade for the Phillies. Last year J.A. Happ finished the season with a 2.93 ERA and had 12 wins in only 23 games started. This season, granted its a small sampling, Happ has allowed no runs in 3 of his 4 starts, only giving up 3 earned runs against Colorado. 

Roy Oswalt had 8 wins in 30 games started. Obviously the Phillies are a much stronger team, but he also had a 4.12 ERA. However, his career ERA of 3.24 is none too shabby. But the question is, why pay for past performance? Personally I think Roy Oswalt is not the pitcher he used to be, and although still a viable 2 starter in the NL, I feel Happ could provide the Phillies with what Oswalt will over the next few seasons. And then obviously, Happ will hit his prime years down the road, in which multiple seasons with an ERA of under 3.00 is not so unrealistic.

Playoff experience is one area which separates these two. Happ has currently made one start in the playoffs while boasting a career ERA of 4.82 in the October baseball. Oswalt has made 7 starts, and has 4 wins with an ERA of 3.66. If the Phillies were to make the playoffs, Oswalt would most likely be their third starter behind Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. 

In my mind, Oswalt is the better postseason pitcher for the next couple years, but I'm not sure Happ was worth the price. After winning it all last year, the Phillies have been decimated by injuries and are going to have to fight just to get into the playoffs. Winning the World Series this year would be quite the accomplishment.

So I ask you, was giving up the future potential of J.A. Happ worth 1.5 seasons of a 3 starter who is past his prime? I don't think so. I think the regular season is a wash between these two pitchers, but getting a small upgrade for two postseasons at the most, is not a smart move in my mind.

Trust your young guys. Look who's carrying the offense right now, Ryan Howard. Good thing they didn't trade him. 

Lastly, I do want to make it clear that giving up Happ for Halladay or Lee would be a completely different story, as those guys would be your 1 or 2 starters in the playoffs.

MLB Trade Deadline heating up


By Ricky Keeler

Despite all the major deals that have been made for Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, and Roy Oswalt, other teams have made small splashes into the trade pool that have the potential to change the entire landscape of the pennant race. Here is my take on the trades that have taken place over the last 24 hours: 

Jorge Cantu to the Rangers: Coming into the season, everyone thought the Texas Rangers would be handicapped from making big deals due to their financial situation. This has turned out not be the case with the Rangers getting ace pitcher Cliff Lee from Seattle and have now acquired Cantu from the Marlins for two pitching prospects. Cantu can play the corners or even second base with Ian Kinsler on the disabled list due to a strained left groin. He is expected to play first base more often with Chris Davis struggling and being optioned to AAA. He has a .926 fielding percentage this year with Florida and with his long-term interest in playing with Florida, expect Cantu to re-sign with the Marlins next year. 

Miguel Tejada to the Padres:  When assessing the San Diego Padres before the deadline, I thought their main need would be a power bat in the outfield. But San Diego made a great move yesterday in acquiring Miguel Tejada from the Orioles for a AA pitcher. Tejada can play shortstop which became an issue when David Eckstein hit the disabled list. Tejada hit .346 in Interleague play and can also play some third base due to the recent inefficiencies of Chase Headley, who is batting a mere .195 against left-handed pitchers. 

Matt Capps to the Twins:  Minnesota now has a legitimate closer after receiving Nationals closer Matt Capps for catching prospect Wilson Ramos and minor league pitcher Joe Testa. Capps brings Minnesota a pitcher who is used to the ninth inning role, unlike their previous closer Jon Rauch. Capps had 26 saves in 30 chances, including a 2.47 ERA. But the Nationals have to be happy with this deal as well. They got a catcher in Wilson Ramos who was hitting .296 in his brief time with the Twins, including going 7-for-9 at one point. He can hit and play defense, so expect him to be the future catcher for Stephen Strasburg. The Twins can still add a starter, but Ted Lilly is close to going to the Dodgers and with no Cliff Lee available, the market is slim. 

Johnny Peralta to the Tigers:  Even though the Tigers have dropped a couple of rungs on the AL Central ladder due to their 8 game losing streak, they made a move to improve their infield in acquiring the third baseman for a pitching prospect. Although Peralta has not reached his 2005 form of 24 home runs, 78 RBI’s, with a .295 average, he is still better than the quality of infielder they have now with Brandon Inge on the disabled list. When Inge returns, Peralta will most likely see more time as a super utility man. However, Detroit can still use a power slugger. Does Adam Dunn go to Detroit? We will have to wait and see. 

Edwin Jackson to the White Sox: Once again, White Sox general manager Ken Williams made a splash at the deadline, acquiring Diamondbacks pitcher Edwin Jackson for pitcher Daniel Hudson and another prospect. Jackson has experience in the American League, including a 13-9 record with the Tigers a year ago in the midst of a pennant race. He is also a solid replacement for Jake Peavy, who is out for the season with a detached muscle in his right shoulder. Jackson is speculated to possibly be part of a package for Nationals’ slugger Adam Dunn, but the Nats do not want to take on the eight million Jackson is owed this season. Hudson brings another talented pitching prospect to brighten the future of the Diamondbacks rotation.

Scott Posednik to the Dodgers: With injuries to Manny Ramirez and Reed Johnson, the Dodgers felt they needed to add depth to the outfield position. Podsednik is the kind of player who plays solid defense, hits for average and has a ton of speed. Also, keep in mind Podsednik did have a part in the White Sox winning the World Series back in 2005. The Royals are not going to trade Zack Greinke, Joakim Soria, or Billy Butler, so this would be considered their best trade piece in order to get some prospects to build for the future.

 Lance Berkman to the Yankees: When I wrote my article based on potential players for the Yankees to target, I thought New York’s main concern was the bullpen. Since they can likely add a bullpen arm in August through waivers, I like the Lance Berkman move. He is a solid designated hitter and can be a good switch hitter off the bench, helping Joe Girardi create matchup problems down the stretch . I know most Yankee fans wanted Adam Dunn, but the Nationals are putting up a high asking price for Dunn and New York only has to pay Berkman’s high salary rather than give up quality prospects. I know Berkman’s numbers are down (.245, 13 home runs, 49 RBI’s), but a taste of winning for the first time since 2005 will help him resurge. 

 Cristian Guzman to the Rangers: The Rangers added another quality piece due to the Ian Kinsler injury. They acquired Guzman from the Nationals for two AA pitchers. Although the Washington second baseman has struggled this season, he is still going to be of quality use in Texas as a replacement for Ian Kinsler at second base while he is on the disabled list. I expect him to be a nice veteran piece for the Rangers off the bench, especially with his experience from postseason play with Minnesota.

Red Sox: Buyers or Sellers?

By Oliver Rogers

Recently, much speculation has been made about whether or not the Red Sox will be buyers, sellers, or bystanders at Saturday’s upcoming trade deadline. Instead of trying to convince you I read Theo Epstein’s mind, I’ll just tell you what he should do (should being the key word).

Red Sox management is faced with one of the tougher situations in the league. They have been decimated by injuries (Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury etc.) more than arguably any other team in Major League Baseball, even spanning over the last few years. At this moment, post-July 29th games, the Red Sox are 5.5 games back from the Rays, and 7.5 games back from the Bronx Bombers. Normally, a team in this position might be very weary, for the Rays and the Yankees are quite possibly the best two teams in baseball. For the Red Sox however, there is a glimmer of hope. Many players hurt by injuries are coming back, and their starting pitching staff is looking lights out as of recent. The first 4 of Buchholz, Beckett, Lester, and Lackey, is arguably the best in the bigs, although of course in close competition with the two teams on the horizon in the AL East. So the Red Sox are trailing two of the best teams in the game, and many believe making the playoffs to be an impossible task.

I, for one, believe the Red Sox should make an attempt at strengthening their bullpen, because if they do make the playoffs, it’s not too much to think winning the World Series is a realistic hope. No other team has starting rotation depth like the Red Sox do, and that’s a key component to winning the the playoffs. So, if the Sox are buyers during this trading deadline and somehow do make the playoffs, they have a real chance at winning the World Series series. Being crowned the champion is really what it’s all about, especially in a town such as Boston, where the expectations are so high. Making the playoffs and not winning is just as bad as missing them all together. I think that even from the hole they are in, the Red Sox have just as good of a chance to win as other years in the past, and it would be advantageous for them to look past their deficit in the AL East for now, and just keep bolstering the bullpen.

And as far as getting a Scott Downs type reliever, I really don’t think it is wise to put so much minor league stock into one player (e.g.- Gagne, Sauerbeck). A key prospect is really not worth the chance of a reliever such as Downs, when there other lesser options out there such as a Joe Beimel.

Strasburg hits rookie wall

By Ricky Keeler

On Tuesday Night, Washington Nationals phenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg suffered inflammation in his right shoulder while warming up for his scheduled start against the Atlanta Braves. 

Originally, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo decided to sit him for ten days, but placing Strasburg on the 15 day disabled list was the smart move in order to give him as much time as he needs to rest and to open up a roster spot for the team. This is also the correct long-term move for the franchise, seeing as their playoff hopes this season are all but finished. 

Strasburg has been a hot topic in his rookie year, particularly from his high strikeout totals. He has 75 strikeouts over nine starts, including the well heralded 14 strikeout game during his debut on June 8th against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Having his jersey being sold at road games has even brought the casual fan back to the MLB to see what all the hype is about.

The hype has become so big that Nationals fans resorted to booing emergency starter Miguel Batista who then proceeded to pitch 5 shutout innings against Atlanta. But, even phenoms are subject to one inevitable truth and that is the rookie wall.

 Before the season, the Nationals outlined a pitching plan, which stated Strasburg is only allowed to throw a combined 160 innings between the minor and major leagues. Some people have questioned the innings limit because there is a potential chance of Strasburg having to be shut down in September. 

Because he brings so much to the organization, including sellouts that you wouldn’t get when a Miguel Batista starts, they should let the kid finish out the season so long as he is at full strength. However, as Nationals’ manager Jim Riggleman pointed out, the first priority is protecting Strasburg for his sake and on behalf of the organization. 

Strasburg will be a great pitcher over the course of his career and Mike Rizzo is doing an excellent job in progressing the pitcher through his rookie year. This is just one of many steps Rizzo has taken to set the Nationals up for success over the next 5-10 years. 

2010 MLB Trade Deadline: 5 Players the Yankees should go after:


By Ricky Keeler

At this point in the baseball season, the Yankees have the best record in baseball with a 63-36 record as of July 27th. There are not many problems with the defending World Series champions, but there are some problems in the pitching staff. Last Sunday, reliable veteran Andy Pettitte suffered a Grade 1 strained groin and is expected to miss the next month. This is a huge loss for the Yankees rotation becaus other than CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes is going through his version of the Joba Rules, A.J Burnett is dealing with a lack of mental toughness when he cuts his hands on clubhouse doors, Javier Vazquez is struggling to handle New York City even though he has stepped up his game in the past month. Also, Sergio Mitre or Dustin Moseley, who are replacing Pettitte in the rotation, might only be able to go five innings per start. But, the main problem is the bullpen.
When talking about the Yankees bullpen, Joba Chamberlain is always the most talked about name with Yankee fans. Every time he comes into the game to be the bridge to Mariano Rivera, Chamberlain always makes it into a circus. There is an unsung hero in the Yankees bullpen that seems to not be fully trusted and that is David Robertson. Ever since a bad April, Robertson has stepped up his game following up a 2009 playoffs where he got out of two bases loaded no out jams to keep New York alive. Today, he is not used in the eighth inning, but rather in the seventh inning or even the sixth inning.  The Yankees won’t need to make a deal in my opinion to make the playoffs, but they could use another arm as added insurance, particularly in the bullpen. The offense can also use a little help, particularly on the bench where the Yanks lack that one player who they can trust in October unlike last year (Jerry Hairston Jr., Eric Hinske).
Here are my five guys that the Yankees should look into to improve their team: 
5. Ty Wigginton - It does not seem that Orioles owner Peter Angelos would make this deal, but Wigginton is a solid utility infielder for a team that has Ramiro Pena as its only utility infielder on the bench. This season, he is hitting .249 with 16 home runs and he has played in New York before with the Mets.
4. Brett Myers – Myers is another National League player, but he is the better option between him and Ted Lilly. I like the velocity that he has on his fastball and pitching on a big stage like Philadelphia Phillies during their title in 2008. He is the perfect back end guy and he can work out of the bullpen with the velocity on his fastball reaching the upper 90’s.
3. Zack Greinke – Greinke had a great season in 2009 which culminated in the Cy Young Award in the American League. His 2010 season has not followed that same path, but Kansas City has gone through a managerial change and Greinke’s run support is one of the lowest in baseball. He is a good frontline starter, but I am concerned with the mental depression he had a few years ago and the fact that there could be a possibility of that occurring again in New York. Either way, the Yankees have a better chance to get Joakim Soria than Greinke.
2. Adam Dunn – Personally, I do not think the Yankees need to upgrade an offense that is one of the best, if not the best in baseball. However, Dunn brings more power to this offense and the Yankees apparently are really interested in acquiring him from the Nationals according to’s Jon Heyman. Dunn has shown a lack of interest in being a DH in the American League, even though the AL has the bulk of the teams who are interested in Dunn’s services. The Nationals also are interested in keeping Dunn long-term and are throwing out a high price that the Yankees are calling “prohibitive”.  I don’t see Dunn moving, much less to the Bombers.
1. Joakim Soria – The ideal need for the Yankees is to find a set up guy for Mariano Rivera. Soria is the perfect fit for this role as well as a possible long-term role as a closer to replace Rivera when he retires. He leads the American League in saves this season and this is remarkable due to the inconsistencies in Kansas City previously mentioned. It would take a lot to acquire him, including Jesus Montero, but it is worth it if it means getting a great eighth inning pitcher and keeping Phil Hughes as a starter.
Some other names that are possibilities for the Yankees are relief pitcher Scott Downs of the Toronto Blue Jays and outfielder Cody Ross of the Florida Marlins. If Florida decides that they are a seller, Ross can bring added power to a bench that does not have that one player that can be trusted for a big hit down the stretch. As for Downs, he is a serviceable reliever. The Yankees are in need of that, but at what cost? According to Jon Heyman, the Blue Jays have a high asking price and they want Jesus Montero in any deal for Downs. Another negative on Downs is that he is 0-8 since 2008 against the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays.

Dan Haren to the Angels in 5-player deal

By Pat Geraghty

The deal was struck between D-backs GM Josh Byrnes and Halos GM Tony Reagins Sunday afternoon.

After searching for an impact bat, Reagins apparently felt grabbing Haren was the best move at the time. Although on whether getting a bat was still an option,  he left the door open for speculation, saying "There are still opportunities out there. If we can find fits out there, we're going to still be aggressive trying to get them."

In Haren, the Angels are getting a proven top-of-the-rotation guy. With a career 3.71 ERA and 43 wins in 3 years in the AL, the guy can pitch. Granted he was having a rough 2010 with Arizona, but it's tough to stay motivated on a continuous last-place team. With some newfound energy of being thrust into the middle of a pennant race, there is no doubt in my mind Haren will turn things around for the better. 

However, Josh Byrnes really did a nice job of obtaining a package of prospects, near-ready MLB players, and proven talent. In Joe Saunders, the D-backs receive a solid 4 starter who could transform into a 2 or 3 in the weaker-hitting NL. With a career ERA of 4.29, look for Saunders to shave off a half run and consistently finish with an ERA of about 3.80. 

At this point, pretty much any relief pitcher could help the D-backs relief corps. Rafael Rodriguez is 25 years old and has MLB experience. Although he has spent most of this season closing games for the Angels Triple-A affiliate, Rodriguez could really develop into a reliable late-inning man with some consistent work at the MLB level. 

Arizona also received two prospects from the Halos. 21-year-old left hander Patrick Corbin, a second-round pick in 2009 who was with Class A Rancho Cucamonga, and Class A left-hander Tyler Skaggs, one of the Angels top prospects, will be heading west to Arizona. 

In my mind, this was a great deal for both teams. Haren is currently under contract through 2013. Moving him now allowed the D-backs to get a great package in return. And the reality is, Arizona will most likely not even be competing again until after 2013. 

The Angels however, will have Haren pitch for them for 3.5 years, which should give him ample time to adjust to LA life and hopefully choose to sign an extension assuming he pitches well. 

Getting Joe Saunders will be a steal. This guy is going to love the NL. Look for him to start consistently putting up numbers similar to that of a number 2 starter. Getting near-ready talent in Rodriguez and highly-touted prospects in Corbin and Skaggs completes this phenomenal package.

A great, even deal made by two respected GM's is the moral of this trade. 



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