Posted on: August 15, 2011 4:21 pm

On Deck: Rangers can knock Angels out of race

On Deck

By Evan Brunell

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RangersWestern power: The Rangers, winners of three straight, have extended their division lead to four games as the Angels slowly but surely fade into obscurity. With Texas and Los Angeles beginning a four-game series that will expand to seven games over the next two weeks, that fade could quicken if the Rangers can take advantage of the opportunity presented them. The pitching matchup certainly favors Texas, as Alexi Ogando and his 3.22 ERA goes up against rookie Garrett Richards, making his second start sporting an unsightly 10.80 ERA thanks to running into the Yankees for his debut. Ogando's 5.91 ERA over his last four outings is cause for concern.  Rangers vs. Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET

BumgarnerHudsonBest matchup: Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson will lock horns in a pitcher's duel on Monday, with the Giants desperate to stay just two games behind Arizona, winners of six straight. Meanwhile, Atlanta has to concern itself with staying atop the wild card race, and the Giants are a prime challenger. The lefty Bumgarner has a 3.53 ERA on the season and struck out 10 in seven scoreless innings against the Pirates last time out. Hudson, he of the 3.18 ERA, has pitched at least seven innings in his last six starts and has a 1.93 ERA over his last three starts. Giants vs. Braves, 7:00 p.m. ET

TwinsTigersChanging locker rooms: You don't see this every day, but Delmon Young headed to Comerica Park on the Twins' bus, then promptly walked over to the Tigers locker room, his new home. Young was dealt to the Tigers in a deal that came down when the outfielder was on Minnesota's bus, and now will bat third for Detroit against the Twins. Minnesota can play spoiler to Detroit, 2 1/2 up on the Indians, behind Francisco Liriano, he of the 5.00 ERA, just seven points higher than Detroit's Rick Porcello. A large reason why the Tigers are atop the division is their 8-1 record against the Twinkies on the year, a trend Detroit would love to continue Twins vs. Tigers, 7:05 p.m. ET

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.
Posted on: August 15, 2011 3:11 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 3:15 pm

Young trade for Tigers is smart move


By Evan Brunell

The Twins announced Monday that Delmon Young has been traded to the Tigers for prospect Cole Nelson and a player to be named later.

This deal comes as a bit of a surprise, doubly so because its an intradivision trade. The Twins have clearly soured on Young, who cost Matt Garza in a multiplayer blockbuster with the Rays prior to the 2008 season. After a successful start to his major-league career as a 20-year-old in 2006, Young faded over the coming years before resurging last year to a .298/.333/.493 mark. He collapsed this year, though, down to .266/.305/.357 despite improving his plate discipline. Most of his downfall this season has come thanks to a disappearance in power, but given his career history in the department, it's too soon to write it off as a new trend, not a fluke. Young is just 25 years old and has one more year of arbitration before qualifying for free agency. He's currently playing under a $5.37 million contract. Coupled with a raise in arbitration, his salary certainly played a part in trade discussions.

It's a bit of a surprise to see Minnesota give up on Young for an unimpressive return, especially given Minnesota is 11 1/2 games out and can -- and should -- build for the future. Playing Young exclusively the rest of the way and hanging into him going into 2012 would have been the smarter move for a club like Minnesota, whom needs to get younger and work on capturing upside. As disappointing as Young has been in a Twins uniform, 2010 aside, he has shown flashes of being a productive major-leaguer and is the type of player the Twins should hold onto, especially with Jim Thome, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel all impending free agents, three spots Young could have filled.

This deal might have made better sense (and to be fair, could still yet make sense) if Nelson wasn't the featured player coming back. Selected in the 10th round in 2010, the giant (6-foot-7) had a 4.87 ERA in 105 1/3 innings for high-Class A, striking out 87 and walking 50. There's a chance the lefty could develop into a mid-rotation starter or solid reliever, but he's far from a sure thing. The deal can better be judged once the player to be named player is revealed, but it's hard to imagine the player being of the caliber to justify the deal as Young is being traded at his lowest value. Minnesota must feel quite strongly that Young is never going to develop into a consistent force to move him to a team Minnesota will be jockeying with next season for the playoffs. It's hard to blame Minnesota as Yuniesky Betancourt is the only player with more plate appearances and a lower Wins Above Replacement (WAR) mark than Young, as Aaron Gleeman points out. That's definitely a disappointing player.

Detroit will certainly find out, though. Young joins a crowded -- but not particularly good -- outfield in Detroit and will receive ample playing time and is reportedly batting third for Detroit Monday night against his now ex-team in Minnesota, as a Twins PR person tweets. Young could be the bat Detroit needs to carry the club to the division title, but even if not, he won't actively harm the team. Detroit can evaluate Young for the rest of the season and if it doesn't like what it sees, can walk away at zero cost after the year by non-tendering Young.

In short, this trade is virtually all upside for Detroit, even if Young has been one of the biggest disappointments in recent history for a prospect, while giving up no one they will miss and the ability to walk away from Young's salary at the end of the year. The Tigers desperately need to find someone capable of carrying this offense into the future alongside Miguel Cabrera, and it could be Young. If not, no harm, no foul. It's tough to see where the Twins are coming from on this one.

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Posted on: August 12, 2011 12:41 pm

Morneau activated from DL

Justin MorneauBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Not only is Cleveland's Shin-Soo Choo coming back tonight in Cleveland, the Twins will have former MVP Justin Morneau back for the start of the three-game series at Progressive Field.

Morneau has been reinstated from the disabled list for tonight's game. Morneau has been on the DL since June 14 with a left wrist strain, but after being put on the DL, he had surgery to remove a herniated disc fragment in his neck. Morneau played seven rehab games for Triple-A Rochester, going .367/.387/.600 in 31 plate appearances with a home runs and four doubles.

Morenau has played in 55 games for the Twins this season, hitting .225/.281/.338 with four home runs after missing the second half of 2010 with complications following a concussion.

To make room for Morneau, the team placed outfielder Jason Repko on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder bursitis, retroactive to Thursday.

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 8:47 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 9:46 pm

Morneau to return Friday

By Matt Snyder

Twins All-Star first baseman Justin Morneau will return to the lineup Friday, manager Ron Gardenhire told the press before his club's Wednesday night game (MLB.com). Morneau had undergone surgery to repair a herniated disc fragment in his neck June 29 and wasn't expected back before Monday at the earliest. He's hitting the ball well for Triple-A Rochester (.409, five RBI in five games), which may have spurred the move. He'll still play two more games for Rochester before joining the Twins Friday for a series against the Indians. Quick Update: Morneau hit a home run Wednesday night for Rochester.

Morneau, 30, missed half of last season with lingering symptoms from a bad concussion and has been plagued by injuries again this season. When healthy, he was one of the best hitters in the league. He's a four-time All-Star with one MVP and one runner-up finish in MVP voting. He was hitting .355 with a 1.055 OPS before his injury in 2010. This year, however, his triple slash line is .225/.281/.338.

An interesting note on the Twins' injury misfortune this season: Morneau and All-Star catcher Joe Mauer have only been in the lineup together eight times in 117 games (Twinsbaseball.com). That has a little something to do with the Twins being more than 10 games out in the second week of August.

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 1:25 am

Angels' Hunter makes friends in the Bronx

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Torii Hunter turned down the chance at picking up an extra buck on Tuesday night after a fan offered him a dollar reward for his sunglasses.

In the fourth inning of the Angles' 6-4 victory in New York, Hunter went back to the warning track at Yankee Stadium to catch a fly by Nick Swisher and record the second out of the game. He noticed a fan had lost his sunglasses and went back to the warning track to retrieve the fan's sunglasses. When Hunter reached up to hand him the sunglasses, the fan offered him a dollar, which Hunter refused.

"He dropped his glasses, they fell over and he wanted to give me a dollar," Hunter told MLB.com's Joey Nowak. "I said thanks, though. It was a nice gesture."

Hunter is known as one of the best guys in baseball. Oddly though, he wasn't the only one to retrieve a pair of sunglasses on Tuesday. In Cincinnati, Reds right fielder Jay Bruce fielded a foul ball and noticed a dropped pair of glasses. In addition to handing the fan their glasses back, Bruce handed them a ball, as well.

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Posted on: August 8, 2011 5:29 pm

On Deck: Wakefield aiming for 200


By C. Trent Rosecrans

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Tim WakefieldGoing for 200:
Boston's Tim Wakefield will take his third chance at winning his 200th game of his career. The 45-year-old knuckleballer has pitched well in his last two starts, but wasn't able to pick up the win. He gave up three runs to both the White Sox on July 29 and to the Indians on Aug. 3, going a combined 13 2/3 innings and 11 strikeouts with just four walks. Baker's looking to bounce back from a three-inning outing against the Angels on Aug. 3. He gave up five hits and four runs (three earned), throwing 77 pitches in the outing. Red Sox at Twins, 7:10 p.m. ET

Perfect timing:
If you're a team just a half-game out of first place, there are few things that can make you happier than seeing a four-game series against the Astros coming up on the schedule. Arizona is 5-5 over its last 10 games but is still just a half-game out in the National League West thanks to San Francisco's recent struggles. The Astros are 40 games under .500. Daniel Hudson starts for the Diamondbacks opposite Houston's best pitcher, Wandy Rodriguez, in the series opener tonight. Watch for Arizona's Justin Upton who is putting up MVP numbers. Upton is hitting .366/.418/..831 with seven homers and 22 RBI over his last 18 games and has a homer in his five plate appearances against Rodriguez. Astros at Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ET

Ryan VogelsongThis one goes to 11?: Pittsburgh has an uphill climb in San Francisco if it wants to stop its 10-game losing streak. While the Pirates will miss Tim Lincecum in the three-game series, they have to face former Pirate Ryan Vogelsong, who is 9-1 with a 2.19 ERA. While Vogelsong's ERA is slightly higher at AT&T Park, batters aren't hitting him as well at home, putting up a .228/.290/.312 line. He's allowed just three homers in his 11 home starts. Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton got the Pirates' losing streak started in Philadelphia by allowing eight runs in four innings. He threw seven shutout innings in his last start, but the Pirates lost a 1-0 game to the Cubs. Pirates at Giants, 10:15 p.m. ET

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 10:06 pm

Twins offer Cuddyer two-year contract

By Evan Brunell

CuddyerMichael Cuddyer was recently offered a two-year deal to stay in Minnesota for $16 million, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Cuddyer is completing a three-year, $24 million deal inked in January 2008 that included a club option for 2011 at $10.5 million, which works out to roughly $8.62 million in annual salary. The extension would be a pay cut, but Cuddyer is no spring chicken at age 32. Still, the right-hander could do much better than that deal in free agency. Reports say that the contract offer was put off by Cuddyer, who would prefer to focus on a postseason push and worry about the contract after the year.

Both GM Bill Smith and Cuddyer declined to discuss the rumor. It's not the first time that the two sides have broached contract talks, with the outfielder's agent, Casey Close, attempting to start up talks in the offseason. He was rebuffed, largely because Cuddyer was coming off a down year and proving to be inconsistent, which he's displayed this season as well. His .271/.336/.417 mark in 2010 didn't inspire optimism, although his .276/.342/.520 line the season before did. Cuddyer has alternated great seasons, good seasons and lousy seasons over the last several seasons, making it tough to judge his value.

But 18 home runs and a .301/.370/.494 mark in 2011 makes Cuddyer plenty valuable, especially since he can cover the outfield and infield corner positions plus second base and can even play center in a pinch. He will have plenty of interest from teams after the season, so Minnesota will have to improve upon its offer to keep Cuddyer, although the longtime Twin has indicated a desire to stay with the team.

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 10:20 am

Pepper: Thome's silver hammer

Jim Thome

By C. Trent Rosecrans

I know this may seem like a dead horse, but I'm still dismayed at the relative silence around Jim Thome's impending 600th home run. He hit homer No. 598 last night and it seems like it was greeted by crickets. My colleague Matt Snyder wrote about this a couple of weeks ago after I touched on it, so it may seem redundant, but is it any more redundant that the constant (and deserved) fawning over Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit?

I've said all this before, but it just feels like it needs repeating -- Thome will soon become just the eighth player in baseball history to hit 600 home runs. So why is it being overlooked?

Is it because the steroid era has devalued home run totals?

Is it because the next guys on the list are Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez? And the guy atop the list is Barry Bonds?

Is it because Thome isn't a Yankee?

Is it because after 12 years in Cleveland, he's moved around, playing for the Phillies, White Sox, Dodgers and Twins?

Is it because the bulk of his productive years were in Cleveland?

Is it because he's no longer an everyday player?

Is it because there were two weeks between homer No. 595 and 596 and then another two weeks until No. 597? 

Is it because Thome has done it relatively quietly, not drawing a lot of attention to himself, therefore not receiving a lot of attention?

Or am I totally off base and blowing this out of proportion?

It could be any one of those reasons or a good combination of all of them. It just seems to me, it's something that could and should be celebrated not just in Minnesota, but all over baseball. Thome now has 598 home runs and will soon have 600 -- I'm not saying they need to dig out the dirt from the batter's box after his 600th and sell the dirt in keychains (like they did for Jeter), but it should be something we watch, anticipate and celebrate.

The long and winding road: If you don't read every word that comes out of Chris Jones' computer, you're missing out. Canada's finest's most recent piece is on the strange journey of Giants pitcher Barry Zito. I can't recommend it enough. [Grantland]

Here today: Most are assuming that Jose Reyes will re-sign with the Mets this offseason, but not so fast say Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino says the Mets are unlikely to give him the "Carl Crawford money" he is assumed to desire (and should be able to command). Apparently it's not just the money that the Mets are worried about, but also the number of years. The Mets aren't excited about giving the injury-prone Reyes seven years.

Get back: Ryan Zimmerman is back to his old form, even though he's been back on the field for nearly two months. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes that it took a while to break up the scar tissue that resulted from his abdominal tear and is no longer experiencing the soreness that had him skipping his post game workouts. 

Let 'em in: Ozzie Guillen's time in Chicago just seems to be at a natural end -- the team has underperformed and everyone seems to be tired of the marriage. Guillen sounds like he's over managing the White Sox in this interview with MLB.com's Scott Merkin, while he tells Yahoo! (via the Miami Herald) that he'd go to the Marlins "with a lot of class," and that it'd be "an honor to manage the Marlins." With Florida moving into a new park next year, it seems like the natural fit -- and he could manage there until Jeffrey Loria loses his patience at the All-Star break next year.

Here today: Red Sox minor leaguer Brandon Jacobs has no regrets about his choice to bypass a football scholarship at Auburn to sign with the Red Sox. Jacobs was a prized running back at Parkview High School in suburban Atlanta, but was drafted by MLB -- and a $750,000 signing bonus later, he found himself on the diamond instead of the gridiron. The 20-year-old has 14 homers and 26 stolen bases at Class A Greenville (S.C.). Even though Auburn won the national championship last season, Jacobs said he watched the game and didn't feel a twinge of regret. An interesting note, Parkview is the alma mater of another prominent football player who skipped a scholarship to play baseball, the Royals' Jeff Francoeur. [Boston Globe]

It was 10 years ago tonight: The Hardball Times looks back at the Indians' rally from an 11-run deficit to beat the Marienrs on Aug. 5, 2001. One thing to keep in mind about that, the Mariners won 116 games -- if they hold a lead, it's 117, a record number of wins. The 1906 Cubs also won 116 (in 10 fewer games).

I've just seen a face: Can't get enough of of Kenta Imamura, the Ichiro impersonator? Well, you're in luck. Apparently Imamurua is a professional Ichiro impersonator and is nicknamed "Nicchiro" -- "ni" is Japanese for two. [Super Ichiro Crazy]

Maybe I'm amazed: A baseball signed by Joe DiMaggio and kissed by Marilyn Monroe sold for $59,750 on Thursday. The bidding started at $17,000 and quickly escalated. [New York Daily News]

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com