Tag:Grady Sizemore
Posted on: May 3, 2011 12:33 pm
 

Indians' hot start setting up for division race

Masterson

By Evan Brunell

With one day in the books in baseball's second month, the division leader of the AL Central has gotten off to a commanding 19-8 start, building up a 4 1/2 game lead over the second-place finisher.

Except second place is Kansas City, which is odd enough. Even odder is who is atop the Central in the Cleveland Indians, who are 9 1/2 and 10 games, respectively, ahead of the White Sox and Twins, the trendy picks to win the division in the offseason.

So far, the Indians' dominance is no fluke; they're tied with the Rangers for the AL lead in runs scored with 146 and also boast the league's third-best ERA. They're doing all this with the second-youngest roster in baseball with an average age of 27.8, and that number could get dragged down as the months go on if they promote top prospects Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis to man third and second, respectively.

How have the Indians pulled all this off with a roster that was projected to lose over 90 games?

Simply, the Indians have benefited from production out of left field that isn't going to hold up over the entire season. Justin Masterson, for example, is doing his best Derek Lowe impersonation and has rocketed off to a 2.25 ERA start, going 5-0. Another hot performer is Josh Tomlin, who has one less win than Masterson and has registered a 2.45 ERA.

"The biggest question mark," closer Chris Perez said of the Indians coming into the season to MLB.com, "was getting quality starts, [Nos.] 1-5, and we've done that."

But here's where red flags pop up. Masterson, if he has indeed finally learned how to neutralize left-handed batters, could have taken the next big leap forward toward becoming a top starter in the league. But even if he's taken that step, a 2.25 ERA just isn't sustainable and will backslide at least a full point. Tomlin, for his part, is due a serious regression shortly. Last season, he posted a 4.56 ERA and 4.76 xFIP in 12 starts. This year, those marks are at 2.45 and 4.02, respectively. While one may have to start buying into Tomlin as a solid starting pitcher despite an 87-mph fastball, any ERA under 4.00 means Tomlin is pitching over his head.

The outlook is rosier when you turn to the hitters. Travis Hafner's .342 average simply isn't sustainable, but he remains a quality bat while Asdrubal Cabrera has jumped out to a quick start along with Grady Sizemore. These performances are far more believable, and even if some hitters regress, it will be offset by the emergence of catcher Carlos Santana and right-fielder Shin-Soo Choo once those two kick into gear. Choo and Santana are both attempting to keep their OPS's above .700 when they should be breaking .800 without a sweat. That will happen by the end of the season.

"We're not putting godly statistics up there," backup outfielder Shelley Duncan said. "And we still have a couple guys who haven't really started hitting, and we still have some young guys who are going to get better and better."

Some of those young players include Matt LaPorta, a key player in the CC Sabathia trade way back in 2008. LaPorta has failed to live up to his billing so far, but may finally be ready to cobble together a quality season at age 26, already knocking out four homers and slashing .263/.344/.513.

So yeah, the offensive production of Cleveland looks like it will hold up well, but despite a strong bullpen to date, the starting pitching looks due for a serious regression. The offense will be able to cover that up to some degree, and Alex White could end up being the team's saving grace, but for now, that can't be assumed. Currently, the Indians shape up to be a team with a talent level that of a .500 ballclub or a shade under.

Here's the rub, though -- you can't backdate true talent. That 19-8 record is in the books and cannot be changed, period. Even if the Indians play to .500 caliber the rest of the way, you're looking at around 86 victories total. That's plenty enough to capture the AL Central the way things are going. Last season, the Twins took the division with 94 wins (and that's not happening again this year) while the White Sox took second with 88 victories.

Right there, it's clear Cleveland will contend into September unless they experience a sudden and massive decline back to being a 90-loss team, but that looks out the window at this point. In addition, if the Indians are in the hunt in late July, you have to figure the club will be buyers in the trade market and could supplement the team that much more.

"Everything's really falling into place for us, if you look at it," Perez said. "It's there for the taking, but it's not going to be easy. ... It might be one of those five-team races where nobody is really leading the pack. That's why it's nice coming out to this great start, because if we do stub our toe, we could still be there.

"That's all we can ask for is to have a chance."

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Posted on: April 20, 2011 10:27 am
 

Pepper: Greinke progressing

Zack Greinke
By C. Trent Rosecrans

Great news for the Brewers -- with the Reds' loss and Brewers' win on Tuesday, the Brewers are tied for first place in the National League Central. And Zack Greinke is on his way back.

Greinke threw three scoreless innings at Class A Brevard County on Tuesday night. Greinke retired nine of the 10 batters he faced, struck out four and threw 35 pitches. He allowed a single hit, to Tampa's Mitch Abeita, who singled with one out int he third. Greinke struck out the next two batters he faced.

According to the Brewers, Greinke said he "felt great" and threw 91-94 mph with his fastball.

Greinke's next start is expected to be Sunday for Triple-A Nashville. The Brewers want him to make at least three starts in the minor leagues, so he'd return May 4 against the Braves at Turner Field.

And hey, with the Brewers in contention, Greinke may decide to try this year, so that's nice. [MLB.com]

BASEBALL TODAY -- NESN.com's Tony Lee joins Lauren Shehadi to talk Red Sox as Boston is still looking for its first road win following Tuesday's loss in Oakland (as predicted on yesterday's Baseball Today by some wise, handsome baseball writer).

MESSAGE SENT -- Tim Hudson didn't mean to throw at Dodgers rookie Jerry Sands on Monday -- he was just throwing at his body. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

A-ROD RETURNING -- Alex Rodriguez is expected back in the Yankees' lineup tonight. He hasn't played since leaving Saturday's game with lower-back and oblique stiffness. [New York Post]

SO YOU'RE SAYING THERE'S A CHANCE -- If the Nationals win both games of their doubleheader today and the Phillies and Marlins both lose, Washington will lead the NL East. [Washington Post]

MISSING MARTINEZ -- The Tigers won't move the hobbled Magglio Ordonez to designated hitter full-time with Victor Martinez on the disabled list. Alex Aliva will catch most of the games with Martinez out, but Omir Santos, called up Tuesday, will catch some, including today. [Detroit Free Press]

UPTON HISTORY -- A cool look at the history of Upton brothers rumors -- and there's been a lot for the pair from Chesapeake, Va, the latest that the Nationals are now scouting B.J. Upton (he's the one with the Rays). [MLBTradeRumors.com]

Mets PLATOON -- The Mets will platoon Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner at second base. [New York Times]

STAND BY YOUR MAN -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has issued a vote of confidence in his closer, Jonathan Broxton. Broxton has a 6.14 ERA, but has converted all five of his save opportunities this season. [MLB.com]

SIZEMORE'S SCHEDULE -- The Indians will be watching Grady Sizemore carefully in his return. He won't play more than two games in a row during his first week back and that could be the plan for a while. [Akron Beacon Journal]

BRADEN TO SEE SPECIALIST -- A's left-hander Dallas Braden will see Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles on Wednesday for another opinion on his stiff left shoulder. Right-hander Tyson Ross will take Braden's spot in the rotation, starting Friday in Seattle. [MLB.com]

MOYER'S PLAN -- Philadelphia's Jamie Moyer, 48, will start his throwing work on May 1. Moyer had Tommy John surgery on Dec. 1. [Philly.com]

KINGLY DRAW? -- Do more people come to see Felix Hernandez pitch? The Seattle Times' Larry Stone breaks down the numbers and the result is -- a few. [Seattle Times]

DODGER VICE CHAIRMAN -- I think Frank McCourt is awesome and should be emperor of the universe.

Hey, we all want a good, cushy job. Writing positive things about mcCourt worked for Steve Soboroff. The Los Angels developer was hired by the Dodgers as their vice chairman and will be charged with "leading the efforts to improve the fan experience at the stadium, strengthening ties to the region's community and philanthropic organizations, and expanding conservation and sustainability programs at Dodger Stadium."

To me it sounds like you've just got to go to a ton of baseball games, complain about the lines at the bathroom, go to some parties and drink some beers and wine -- and when you're done, make sure you throw the cans and bottles into the recycling bin. And all he had to do was write a letter to the Los Angeles Times saying the Dodgers' owner is super-duper. So, yeah, Frank McCourt, over here! I think you're awesome and doing a bang-up job.

YANKEE THEFT -- A woman is accusing the Yankees of stealing their famous top-hat logo from her late uncle in 1936. [New York Post]

BYE BYE PING -- Are the new college bat rules helping or hurting scouting? [FanGraphs]

GARBAGE ON, OFF THE FIELD -- The Mariners gave away compost as a promotion -- luckily for players, it was given away after the game. [MetsGrrl]

YOUK! -- The Kevin Youkilis Photoshop contest. [Big League Stew]

ANGELIC WEDDING -- If you find a woman who will let you have your wedding at a baseball stadium? Well, that means you are a lucky, lucky man. Congrats, Matt Griffin. [Orange County Register]

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Posted on: April 18, 2011 10:11 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:02 am
 

Pepper: Sizemore to continue leading off

Sizemore

By Evan Brunell

UP TOP: Grady Sizemore will remain at the top of the order and lead off for the Indians now that he's finally back from injury. To hear manager Manny Acta tell it, it was never a consideration to stick Sizemore into the middle of the order.

"We talked to him about it in spring training. He's leading off, because we have Carlos Santana in the lineup," Acta said. "If he had to hit second, third or fourth, he's not the kind of guy who's going to pout. He's a coach's dream. He'll do whatever you want him to do."

Sizemore's return is much welcome for a surging 11-4 Indians club who now have a potential elite bat back in the lineup, although he won't play all 148 remaining games. The Indians plan to be cautious with Sizemore and will rest him fairly regularly in the early going which will open up the leadoff spot for new left-fielder Michael Brantley.

Although Sizemore has had a pair of 100-RBI seasons (and runs scored), Santana's presence allows Acta to lead Sizemore off and increase the chances the club can get something going at the top of the order instead of batting Sizemore and Santana back-to-back  in the 3-4 spots. One other consideration could have Sizemore batting second and Brantley leading off, but it appears as if Acta is completely committed to leading Sizemore off. It's certainly a better idea than knocking Sizemore or Santana down to cleanup, but long-term, the team may benefit batting Sizemore second. Until Brantley proves himself with a modicum of long-term success, however, Sizemore is the man leading off. (Akron Beacon Journal)

BASEBALL TODAY: Can the Rockies keep up their hot start all season long? Will the Dodgers be a player in the National League West? Troy Renck of the Denver Post joins Lauren Shehadi with the latest.

FINALLY, SUCCESS: It's been a good start to the year for Alex Gordon, who is already considered a bust this early into his career. But as he says, regular playing time at one position is the whole reason why he's hitting .365/.394/.540 in 66 plate appearances, leading the AL with 14 runs scored. It's still very early, but it's great to see Gordon get off to a hot start and revitalize his career. (Kansas City Star)

BLUE OX: The Twins have made some of the most creative commercials the last few years and the newest installment is no exception. Jim Thome dons his cap to Paul Bunyan by doing a skit with a blue ox and sporting a double-breasted flannel shirt with his name and number on the back. The best part of the commercial, though, is Michael Cuddyer's spit take. (Big League Stew)

NO, REALLY, I LIKE IT: New BoSox outfielder Carl Crawford is keeping a season diary and in it, speaks to his early struggles and the fact that he actually likes to lead off, contrary to reports.

"It's actually fun to bat leadoff," he says. "I get to do everything I like to do on a baseball field. I get to be exciting and run and set the table. There's nothing wrong with batting leadoff at all. People that say I hate batting leadoff don't know me that well." (ESPN Boston)

BARD'S THE MAN: Skipper Terry Francona has made no secret of the fact that Daniel Bard is his go-to guy in the bullpen and loves being able to deploy him at any time instead of having to use strict guidelines as he has to do for the closer's spot. All the more reason why closers in this day and age are overrated. Bard entered Sunday's game against Toronto at a pivotal point in the seventh inning with two men on and calmly engineered a double play and strikeout. (Providence Journal)

SETBACK: Bryan Stow, the Giants fan severely beat by two scumbags who happen to root for the Dodgers, was placed back into a medically-induced coma as he suffered seizures when doctors tried to draw him out. There's still no timetable for recovery or knowledge how much brain damage, if any, Stow suffered. (FOX Sports)

COLON'S BACK: When we last saw Bartolo Colon, he appeared to have pitched (and eaten) his way out of baseball in 2009. Except now the newly pinstriped reliever will return to the rotation and start Wednesday. (MLB.com)

DOMINATION: Colon will have to keep an eye on Kevin Millwood, another veteran pitcher the Yankees picked up on a lark. Despite poor reviews of his preseason work, Millwood flat out dominated Double-A hitters on Sunday, tossing a one-hitter in a seven-inning complete game. Millwood can opt out of his deal on May 1 if he's not called up to the majors. If his outing is any indication, he won't have any trouble finding a job. (MiLB.com)

FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: In the second game of the doubleheader Sunday, Jayson Werth sat out his first game as a National due to "aches and pains." With 14 games under his belt, Werth will return to the lineup on Tuesday. With the move, Rick Ankiel is now the only player to have started every game for Washington. (Washington Post)

WRIGHT IS RIGHT: It's tough to imagine Jamey Wright still pitching effectively as he personifies the average journeyman bouncing around from team to team to fill in. Yet, the 36-year-old has actually cobbled together a nice string of seasons as reliever and impressed in his two-inning stint for the M's Sunday. Wright appears to be Seattle's most trusted reliever outside of closer. (Seattle Times)

TAX-FREE: When an Astros fan won 315 coupons to net a free cup of coffee and/or a doughnut or a dozen doughnut holes, he had no idea that he would be issued a Form 1099 that would strip him of $237 worth in tax refunds. The Astros refused to pay the difference, but Shipley's Do'Nuts agreed to make up the balance. The Astros also got back into the fan's good graces by giving him four tickets to opening day as well as a Jeff Bagwell signed baseball. (Houston Chronicle)

STREAK SNAPPED: In what is believed to be the longest streak in college baseball but unverifiable, Kansas State's Nick Martini went 0 for 5 on Sunday to snap his streak of 93 straight games reaching base. He registered a hit in 76 of these games. (Washington Post)

LEFTY MOVES: The Blue Jays are trading left-handed pitcher David Purcey to Oakland for reliever Danny Farquhar. Farquhar is an ex-Blue Jay, having been shipped west in the Rajai Davis deal during the winter. (FOX Sports) Meanwhile, the Red Sox optioned lefty Felix Doubront to the minors and welcomed back Hideki Okajima, who will take another crack at this whole relieving business.

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Posted on: April 17, 2011 11:07 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 4/17: Grady's back

By C. Trent Rosecrans Grady Sizemore

Grady Sizemore, Indians -- Off the disabled list, the Indians' center fielder homered in his second at-bat and also doubled, going 2 for 4 in his season debut for Cleveland. Sizemore missed 11 months with a knee injury. Cleveland also moved into sole position of first place in the American League Central with their win and the Royals' loss. 

Josh Collmenter, Diamondbacks -- Making his big-league debut, the right-hander pitched two perfect innings in the 11th and 12th against the Giants and picked up the win when Stephen Drew drove in the winning run in the 12th for a 6-5 Diamondbacks victory. Collmenter struck out two and 22 of his 30 pitches were for strikes. Collmenter has a severly over-the-top motion that he learned throwing tomahawks in the Michigan woods.

Miguel Olivo, Mariners -- Seattle's catcher came into Sunday's game mired in an 0-for-24 slump, but after going hitless in his first three at-bats of the day, he singled and scored the winning run in the seventh inning of a 3-2 victory over Kansas City. Not only did Olivo break his slump, it helped break the Mariners' four-game losing streak.

Ryan Franklin

Ryan Franklin, Cardinals -- The Cardinals closer blew just two saves all of last year and has already blown four this season, including Sunday's game against the Dodgers. He's converted just one save this season and is 0-2 with an 11.57 ERA.

Tommy Hanson, Braves -- Hanson pitched well enough in his five innings, allowing five hits and three runs, striking out nine, but it was his work with the bat that lands him on this list. In the second inning, with bases loaded and one out, Hanson missed a bunt and Eric Hinske was caught out at home.

Astros defense -- With a 6-3 lead going into the seventh, the Astros made three errors leading to three unearned runs in the seventh and eighth innings of the team's 8-6 loss to the Padres. Pitcher Fernando Abad made two errors on one play in the seventh inning and shortstop Angel Sanchez added another in the Padres' four-run eighth.

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Posted on: April 17, 2011 11:18 am
Edited on: April 17, 2011 3:53 pm
 

Sizemore back, leading off for Indians

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Grady Sizemore UPDATE: Welcome back, Grady Sizemore. In Sizemore's second at-bat of the game, he homered off of Orioles starter Brad Bergesen to give the Indians a 2-0 lead in the third inning. He grounded out in his first at-bat. Sizemore added a double and finished 2 for 4 in the Indians' 4-2 victory over the Orioles.

---------

Grady Sizemore is back for the Indians. The team activated their center fielder before Sunday's game, sending right-hander Mitch Talbot to the disabled list with a right elbow strain.

Sizemore is leading off play center field for the Indians today against the Orioles.

Sizemore hasn't played since May 16 of last season and underwent microfracture surgery on June 4 of last year.

In five rehab games at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, Sizemore hit .353 (6 for 17) with two doubles and a home run.

Talbot is 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in two starts this season. He's expected to miss three to four weeks.

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Posted on: April 16, 2011 2:24 pm
 

Sizemore close to returning

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Grady SizemoreGrady Sizemore is back at Progressive Field in Cleveland and he could return to the Indians in the next couple of days, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports.

Sizemore was scheduled to have a workout in front of the Indians' training staff on Saturday and then a determination on his readiness will be made.

"I can't rule out anything," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "We don't know when, but it's going to be soon."

Sizemore has been out 11 months with a left knee injury. He underwent microfracture surgery in June.

When Sizemore returns, Michael Brantley will move to left. Brantley's certainly made the most of his opportunity, hitting .333/.400/.417 heading into Saturday's game. While the Indians' offense has been good, the team's left fielders (Austin Kearns, Travis Buck) have struggled, hitting .128 so far this season.

Siemore has played in five minor league games, hitting .353 (6 for 17) with a home run and four RBI.

"I'm not expecting to play seven days the first week," Sizemore said. "I'm sure it will be a slow progression. I would expect [Acta] will work around off-days and give me days between. But I don't want to have too many days off, because then [the knee] will get stiff."

Acta's certainly happy about adding Sizemore to the lineup.

"Regardless of what type of lineup you have, when you add Grady Sizemore to any lineup, any team in America, you're addict to it," Acta said. "Is that an understatement?"

If Sizemore's back to where he can be, it's not. But that's to be seen.

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Posted on: March 30, 2011 2:35 pm
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Posted on: March 29, 2011 4:43 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 10:02 pm
 

Possible 2011 trade candidates, obvious and not

By Matt Snyder

One of the big reasons preseason predictions are often blown to bits is the number of games played by certain players for certain teams. Major injuries, for example, but also because players end up being traded. Underachieving and overachieving teams end up becoming sellers and buyers, respectively, by the deadline.

There are going to be names already being thrown around in rumors and on fan message boards from the get-go. We'll give you five obvious names sure to appear in trade talks. Then, because it's so much more fun to throw stuff at the wall, we'll dig deeper and find 10 not-so-obvious names that could end up being traded or at least discussed. In those cases, certain things have to happen in order to clear the way for a deal, but those things can't be absolutely outlandish.

Remember, many players have no-trade clauses or are 10-and-5 guys, so every possible deal is contingent upon that. We're just making a list and enjoying it as a fun discussion point.

Let's get it on.

FIVE OBVIOUS TRADE NAMES

Michael Young, Rangers. No explanation needed, really.

Heath Bell, Padres. He wants to stay in San Diego and the Padres might want to try and keep him (without having to pay much long term, of course), but when the market for late-inning relievers gets strong in July and the Padres are well out of the race, he'll be one of the most mentioned names.

Felix Hernandez, Mariners. For now, the Mariners have sworn up and down he's never going anywhere. Even if the team is brutal again this season, it's reasonable to believe the Mariners will immediately hang up the phone any time someone like Brian Cashman says the name Felix. But if they start listening and someone is desperate enough to absolutely bowl them over, it very well might happen. He's in the obvious category because I'm sure people will not stop talking about the possibility. My initial feeling is he ends the season in Seattle, however.

Fausto Carmona, Indians. Remember CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee? Carmona is a big step down, but he's still a starting pitcher on the Indians who is not going to re-sign. He only has a club option left on his contract after 2011. When (not if) teams become desperate to add starting pitching in the race -- Yankees and Cardinals come to mind as candidates, but it could be anyone if unforeseen injuries or ineffectiveness pops up -- teams will come calling for Carmona. That is, of course, assuming he's been productive and the Indians are out of it. And you know the Indians will listen. My prediction is he's the most sure bet on here to be traded.

Grady Sizemore, Indians. Same as Carmona, except Sizemore has tons more upside and tons more downside -- due to injury woes. If he shows he's healthy and the Tribe don't inexplicably stay in the AL Central race, he's gone. Only a 2012 club option remains on his contract after this season.

10 NOT-SO-OBVIOUS NAMES


Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers. He's a free agent at the end of the year and we know about the Dodgers' money woes. As long as they aren't in the midst of the race, some team is going to want to bolster its bullpen. This one is pretty feasible, actually.

Chris Carpenter, Cardinals. As with every player's present team on this list, the Cardinals would have to fall out of contention pretty early. If they did, Carpenter has already said he's not averse to a deal. Plus, he's a free agent after the season and there's some big-name soon-to-be free agent the Cards desperately want to keep.

Francisco Cordero, Reds. Only a '12 club option remains on his contract. What if Cordero loses his closing job to Aroldis Chapman early a la Frank Francisco yielding to Neftali Feliz last year? What if the Reds fall out of contention? Easy to see a chain of events here.

Prince Fielder, Brewers. Least likely candidate on here. The Brewers would have to fall really, really far out of the race. If that did happen, yet he was having a big season, another team might pay enough for him that the Brewers couldn't refuse, especially considering he's a free agent after the season and almost certainly leaving.

Travis Hafner, Indians. He's not obvious like Sizemore and Carmona because Pronk has that pesky $13 million due to him in 2012. Of course, let's give an example of someone that might pay: Say the Yankees are five games behind the Red Sox, Jorge Posada is hurt, Jesus Montero either gets traded for pitching or isn't hitting well in the minors and none of the other spare parts (like Eric Chavez) are working. On the flip-side, Pronk is raking. Would the Yankees make that move? I think they might. His pull power from the left-side would fit well in Yankee Stadium.

Aaron Hill, Blue Jays. The Jays are building a good foundation and a Hill deal would give them some flexibility both financially and defensively. They could move top prospect Brett Lawrie back to second base -- the only position he ever played professionally prior to this spring -- and then use Jose Bautista at third or keep him in the outfield, whatever worked best moving forward with the makeup of the roster. If Hill gets off to a hot start and the Jays don't, I like this move.

Francisco Liriano, Twins. He's here because it's already been rumored and the Twins have the option -- at least for now -- to move Kevin Slowey back into the rotation. As long as the Twins are in the thick of the AL Central, though, which should be all season, I don't see it happening.

Brandon Phillips, Reds. Not as far-fetched as you might think. OK, well, the Reds have to fall far out of the race in the NL Central (which seems incredibly unlikely), but if they do, Phillips is a big candidate to be shipped. He has a club option after the season and will be 30 by the deadline. Plus, his power has declined rather significantly since his breakout 2007 campaign.

Aramis Ramirez, Cubs. It's hard to see a scenario where the Cubs would pick up Ramirez's 2012 option, so this could easily be his last season in Chicago. If he stays healthy, hits like he can and the Cubs are not in the race by mid-July, he'll definitely be available.

Jose Reyes, Mets. A free agent at the end of the year, if Reyes proves he's healthy and produces numbers while the Mets fall behind in the NL East, he's certain to be dealt.

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