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When a team falls as spectacularly as these Phillies, from the high of a mini-dynasty that included the best five-year stretch in team history, to become every bit the worst team in baseball, changes are the norm. So it's no surprise people around the game are expecting multiple alterations at or near the very top of the Phillies' hierarchy, with several big jobs seeming to be in jeopardy, very likely including those of general manager Ruben Amaro and possibly even manager Ryne Sandberg.

Respected long-time baseball executive Andy MacPhail now seems in line for a top job with the Phillies, possibly as team president, baseball sources say, with Hall of Fame baseball executive Pat Gillick seen as likely to go back to his old role as consultant. Meanwhile, the positions of Amaro and even Sandberg, also a Hall of Famer, seem less than certain at this point, at least into 2016.

Amaro's roster issues, bloated payroll and continuing trading difficulties make it obvious why his title is tenuous, and some might even call a move there overdue. Meanwhile, people around the team have been wondering about the consistently calm Sandberg's ability to communicate and particularly his willingness to get tough when necessary. One person with ties to the team suggested Sandberg has "lost the clubhouse," though it's fair to wonder whether anyone could have successfully traversed this baseball minefield. Fairly, one rival said, "It's hard to judge Ryno with the hand he's been dealt."

Such drastic considerations shouldn't come as a surprise, as billionaire part-owner John Middleton has taken a more prominent role since the universally beloved longtime chairman Dave Montgomery has assumed a somewhat less active stance. Montgomery is healthy after a cancer scare and still involved at some reasonable level. He in fact picked up the phone long after 6 p.m. in his office Thursday night, though he declined to comment, citing his decreased involvement in day-to-day activities and explaining that "my role has changed since the surgery."

Others say Middleton is "calling the shots now" and may be more inclined to want to "freshen up" the organization than Montgomery, who's been loyal to his top management team, which originally engineered the unprecedented glory days that seem far away now.

For what it's worth, Amaro gave Sandberg a public vote of confidence Thursday, saying he was "fully supportive" of his manager and that he expects him to stay through the year when he was asked about it in the dugout prior to the 2-1 Phillies victory that halted a nine-game losing streak. Ultimately though, that may not be Amaro's call.

MacPhail, the former Twins, Cubs and Orioles general manager whose possible hiring was first reported by Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia, if named, presumably will have the say-so over who's running the baseball ops department. While MacPhail's known as a savvy and patient executive, it would surprise most folks around the game if Amaro was retained in the same role into next year considering the myriad issues. Those include large, long-term contracts that went to aging players, trades that failed (the two Hunter Pence deals come to mind) and a largely unproductive farm system, which has all combined to send the Phillies on a shocking spiral downward. Following two 73-win seasons, they are on pace to win 55 this year.

The issues with Sandberg are more subjective, with word going around that his low-key demeanor hasn't played terrifically in the Phillies' difficult clubhouse. However, a Sandberg supporter points out that he was thrust into an unwinnable situation, with a roster of aged veterans on the far downside who haven't come to grips with their plights sharing the room with a mix of kids trying to find their way. While this toughness charge has been heard about Sandberg for weeks, he was recently seen "getting in the grill" of young reliever Ken Giles, as another supporter pointed out.

Ryne Sandberg
Ryne Sandberg is 116-156 since taking over the Phillies in 2013. (USATSI)

There also has been the matter of a slow sale that's perhaps delayed a promised rebuild and cast an unnecessary pall over a sorry clubhouse. While Marlon Byrd and Phillies legend Jimmy Rollins were dealt this winter for worthy pitching prospects (Ben Lively, Zach Eflin and Tom Windle), still remaining to the surprise of most around the game are star pitcher Cole Hamels, who's now dealing with a "mild" hamstring strain, effective but overpaid closer Jonathan Papelbon, plus aging slugger Ryan Howard, and aged catcher Carlos Ruiz. The injury to Hamels may not be all that serious, but since anyone who's going to spend for him with big prospects and big money will want to see him pitch at least twice, time is short before the July 31 deadline.

Nobody suggested Amaro doesn't have the authority to make big trades now, but if there's going to be a change at the top of the baseball hierarchy, one has to wonder about the prudence of allowing a possible lame duck to make the team's biggest calls. The Hamels deal in particular could be crucial to the future.

Amaro, who didn't return a message, has long maintained the issue of the lack of trades isn't his asking prices, but the fact remains that whatever those prices are, no one's met them in four cases, leaving the team with a half-finished fire sale that's dragging on and dragging things down. With the big TV contract, which was built on the wonderful run that saw them win 80-plus games 12 years running (they averaged 89 wins over that span), kicking in next year, it's no surprise Amaro has offered to significantly pay down the contracts, even in the case of Hamels, whose deal still looks reasonable considering his excellent performance (he's 5-5 with a 2.96 ERA). In effect, that's a way to buy needed prospects. The problem is, no one's of a mind to surrender the very top prospects now.

The high salaries of the players on the block are hurting the Phillies' trade chances, but in some cases, the contract clauses are the real trade killers. Hamels has a no-trade clause to 20 teams, and one viable option was nixed when Hamels declined to consider Toronto, as is his right, and yet another chance may die, too, as word is he doesn't necessarily reciprocate red-hot Houston's interest in him.

Meanwhile, Papelbon is said by people around the team interested in going to any contender and willing to waive his 17-team no-trade clause to leave for the Cubs or Blue Jays. One person said he believed Papelbon preferred Chicago, but is ready to move on from what's been a wholly dissatisfying stay in Philly, considering his competitive bent (he missed the golden era). Papelbon is said to have talked hopefully of a trade to Toronto in recent days. But word is, despite Papelbon's sterling 1.01 ERA and the Jays' apparent need, the Jays are more focused on a starter and turned off by Papelbon's $13 million vesting option for next year. The Jays are also apparently insistent on the Phillies significantly paying down the money left while declining to offer much in the way of prospect value.

The 23-45 Phillies have 94 games to go, which may seem like a very long way considering their current roster, which includes no home runs from the starting left fielder and all their catchers, and less than five from every position but third base ("Maikel Franco is their one good everyday player," says a rival scout) and first base (Howard can still hit bombs, though he's not striking fear into anyone anymore; he has 12 home runs but only 11 walks).

As a team the Phillies are last in MLB in runs, OPS, on-base percentage and home runs, and just a bit better on the mound (they are 27th in ERA). It's no wonder Middleton is expected to seek a "freshening."

More Inside Baseball...


Arizona Diamondbacks News

Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 overall pick, will be yet another under-slot signing, execs figure ... Arizona has played very respectably under first-year manager Chip Hale and figures to wait to see how things go once ace Patrick Corbin returns, and then Bronson Arroyo after him before even thinking of a sale.

Atlanta Braves News

Atlanta has tried to trade third baseman Chris Johnson, even offering to substantially pay down his contract. Johnson is a solid player, but extending at $23.5 million over three years after acquiring him in the Justin Upton trade was a mistake ... Jace Peterson looks like a terrific pickup. He came in the other Upton trade.

Baltimore Orioles News

The Orioles seem like a different team with Matt Wieters back. They are 10-3 since his return and back in the middle of the tight AL East race. "They look good ... very impressive," a rival coach said ... The Orioles managed to stay very competitive, at the least, despite spending a paltry $7 million this winter on major leaguers. Delmon Young, Everth Cabrera and Wesley Wright were their major-league signings ... Agent Scott Boras has started the selling of Wei-Yin Chen. Boras said Chen's ERA is "functionally lower" than David Price’s over the past couple years. While it's not actually lower, Boras says he's adjusting for pitching in Camden Yards. While Chen is no Price, he is an under-the-radar free agent ... The Orioles have nine free agents. They like Chen, though they say it's too early to think about any of them (and Chen may be out of their price range).

Boston Red Sox News

Word is GM Ben Cherington fully supports embattled manager John Farrell ... Rivals are starting to look more closely at Boston's roster as they wonder who could become available. The most obvious possibilities would be Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara and Clay Buchholz, though the Red Sox would have to pay down Napoli and Uehara to move them, presumably ... Pablo Sandoval has always been a streaky player, but he's been a disappointment on a few levels. He's given up hitting right-handed, and he hasn't fielded well at all ... Hanley Ramirez has been slow to learn the intricacies of left field at Fenway, but people there say he continues to work hard on it.

Chicago Cubs News

Word is, Papelbon's first choice is the Cubs. It isn't known what teams are on his no-trade list, but the Cubs wouldn't be an issue for him ... Folks around the game are convinced the Cubs will sign a big free agent pitcher this winter. Price is the obvious guy, thanks to his long connection to Cubs manager Joe Maddon. But Jordan Zimmermann, from tiny Auburndale, Wis. might enjoy Chicago and has been linked to the Cubs … Kyle Schwarber, just called up for a six-day cameo to do some DHing, is still seen as a catching prospect by the Cubs. Some scouts are skeptical about his ability to catch, but as a hitter he was worth that No. 4 overall pick a year ago.

Chicago White Sox News

The White Sox are starting to think about selling, though it isn't believed their big guys are on the market yet. As one White Sox person said, "It’s getting late early ... Time to get it going." ... According to one rival, utlityman Emilio Bonifacio is the first White Sox player available ... The White Sox are almost historically bad offensively, with just about everyone below their career norms (and some well below). But they still have faith in hitting coach Todd Steverson. "Right guy, right message," one ChiSox person said ... Adam LaRoche is a quiet leader. He and Chris Sale were there to support talented rookie Carlos Rodon when he got lit up in a recent game ... While Jeff Samardzija isn't posting great numbers in his walk year, he is so beloved by scouts who see the big potential that he'd still draw huge interest if the White Sox were to make him available. One thing Samardzija has investigated is why he's struggled so badly in the first inning, going to the point of considering his pregame routine. Of the 51 runs he's allowed, 18 have come in the first inning (the Sox have been outscored 56-19 in the first, both worst in MLB).

Cincinnati Reds News

Teams are clamoring for the Reds to sell, mostly because they have some very interesting pieces. No one sees them seriously entertaining a sale until after the July 14 All-Star game in Cincy, though ... Word is, they wouldn't mind trading Brandon Phillips, who upset management two years ago by complaining publicly about his contract and comparing it to Joey Votto's, and also by suggesting he was misled by Reds ownership. In any case, as much as he complained, Phillips is still overpaid ... Everth Cabrera could fit the Reds, who lost shortstop Zack Cozart for the year ... Todd Frazier leads MLB with 42 extra-base hits this year and deserves to start the All-Star Game in Cincinnati. And he's right, there's an issue with the voting system that needs to be addressed.

Cleveland Indians News

Top young shortstop Francisco Lindor should aid the Indians on both sides of the ball. A scout's assessment: "Advanced defensive shortstop still developing consistency at the plate. Has a chance to hit and drive the ball but can't try to do too much. Quickness over speed. Youthful mistakes will happen until comfortable at MLB." By waiting until mid June, the Indians spare themselves having to deal with Super Two status in arbitration ... Max Scherzer's game score of 100 vs. the Brewers was terrific, but the best game of the season may still be Corey Kluber's 18-strikeout, no-walk, one-hit performance vs. the Cardinals, baseball's best team.

Houston Astros News

One Astros person suggested that while they like Aaron Harang, they are aiming even higher in terms of trade targets ... Carlos Correa has been every bit as brilliant as advertised in his first week-plus in the minors ... One of the best things Houston did was upgrade its bullpen. The pen ERA of 2.61 is fourth best in baseball after three straight years of terrible pen work. So great job remaking it by Jeff Luhnow and Co. ... Scott Boras is representing top young starter Vincent Velasquez

Kansas City Royals News

The Royals are expected to talk to Salvador Perez about a renegotiation or extension either late in the season or after the season. Kansas City people have even been heard to express sympathy for Perez over his inexplicably low contract. Perez told Jeff Passan of Yahoo he's open to a new deal.

Los Angeles Dodgers News

The Dodgers have done a terrific job finding Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias to form the back end of the rotation, but they are on the lookout for a top-flight starting pitcher ... The same goes for the pen, which came together rather nicely, but LA still would like to add a late-inning bullpen option to pitch in front of excellent closer Kenley Jansen ... Everything you hear so far suggests the new Dodgers regime is happy with manager Don Mattingly, who earns so much respect through interpersonal dealings and integrity it offsets his rep as average strategically ... When Andrew Friedman was shopping David Price last summer, he asked the Dodgers for two of their best prospects at one point (Joc Pederson, Julio Urias and Corey Seager), and Friedman has to be thrilled now that he was turned down. Pederson is the Rookie of the Year leader while the stars of Urias and Seager continue to rise ... Urias is currently out after having a cyst removed from his eye. It wasn't affecting his pitching, but the hope is it improves his defensive capabilities. Dodgers people also don't mind slowing down his innings. Scouts say Urias, 19, still should be ready for the bigs by year's end. "He's ready now," one said ... Seager, the top prospect in the minors now that Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton are in the majors, could present the Dodgers' with an interesting dilemma. They aren't talking about it publicly now, but Seager could provide an October shortstop option if Jimmy Rollins continues to struggle offensively. Rollins has been a big plus with the glove and in the clubhouse so there's no urgency to switch now ... As was suggested in this space last week, Kyle Funkhouser, the No. 35 pick, is seriously considering returning to Louisville. He turned down some $2-million offers, and the Dodgers picked him at a spot with a $1,756,000 slot.

Miami Marlins News

Former GM-turned-manager Dan Jennings appears to be learning on the fly ... The Marlins are not selling. "We're in it," Jennings said. "We're not jumping off the ship, no doubt about that." ... Indeed, the Marlins appear uninterested in selling, but if they did, they should find takers for the versatile Martin Prado, Mat Latos and maybe lefty reliever Mike Dunn, among veterans ... They'd consider bringing back Ichiro Suzuki, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported ... The Marlins are starting to play better, so the point may be moot. Jose Fernandez is due to make his return start July 2. He's looked brilliant in his rehab starts ... This may sound like sacrilege, but Adeiny Hechavarria deserves the Gold Glove.

Milwaukee Brewers News

Word is, the Brewers would love to find a new home for Matt Garza. Good luck with that one ... Donny Everett, the hardest thrower in the draft, will honor his commitment and pitch at powerhouse Vanderbilt. He turned down some $2-million offers. The Brewers took him with a late flyer, just in case. Can't blame them for trying ... Justin Hooper, lefthander from Concord, Calif., who was taken in the 25th round, will go to UCLA.

Minnesota Twins News

Ervin Santana has three minor-league starts to make before he is activated following his 80-game ban. The Twins aren't saying yet who'll be the odd man out, but it could be Tommy Milone ... Torii Hunter has been terrific in the clubhouse, and Twins people hope he returns. The smart money says he will ... Byron Buxton, though he's from small town Baxley, Ga., has impressed folks. "He doesn't seemed fazed at all," a Twins person noted ... There is starting to be a bit of a clamoring for the Twins' other huge positional prospect, Miguel Sano, who has heated up after a slow start and has 12 home runs. One way or another, the Twins will probably need to add a big bat ... Tyler Jay, the lefty from Illinois and No. 6 pick overall, could be quick to the big leagues. He has a big arm with two decent secondary pitches. To this point he's one of only two players in the top 10 to get slot (the Phillies' Cornelius Randolph, the No. 10 pick of Philly, is the other).

New York Mets News

GM Sandy Alderson suggested they have a hope David Wright may return around the time of the All-Star Game. But that may be more hope than reality. He is currently in LA working with a physical therapist on strengthening his back ... While Alderson acknowledged there's been some discussion about putting Noah Syndergaard in the bullpen, as the New York Post reported, some Mets people are dead set against such a move. While there's an innings consideration, Syndergaard has the stuff to be an excellent starter ... Steven Matz's arrival is being eagerly awaited, but the Mets don't mind keeping him in the minors a bit longer than expected. In Las Vegas, they can control his innings a bit more. Another plus: they don't mind him working with another Long Island lefty there. Pitching coach Frank Viola is from East Meadow, Matz from East Setauket ... While the Mets considered Everth Cabrera in the winter, they are happy with Wilmer Flores at shortstop, excited about Dilson Herrera returning and pleased with Ruben Tejada's re-emergence, meaning Cabrera may not be a fit. "Probably not," says a Mets person ... Once Daniel Murphy returns sometime next week, he's likely to play third ("probably his best position," a Mets person said), with Dilson handling second ... The Mets could use a second back-end bullpen option, but they have some in-house possibilities, including Bobby Parnell, who just returned, and Jenrry Mejia, who returns at midseason ... Hands-on-owner: Fred Wilpon was seen in the bullpen while Jacob deGrom was warming up before a recent game. Wilpon was a great pitcher at Brooklyn Lafayette High (with teammate Sandy Koufax) before hurting his arm.

New York Yankees News

The Yankees have been tied publicly to Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, but the Yankees have sworn off surrendering a top prospect (i.e. Luis Severino, Aaron Judge) for a rental such as Cueto or Leake. Beyond that, as a Yankees person points out, with Ivan Nova thriving in his comeback, the need for a starting pitcher is somewhat muted ... Didi Gregorius may not be wowing them thus far, but Yankees baseball people aren't dissatisfied. Despite the numbers, they see a young, athletic player who's still developing ... The Yankees are interested in adding a righty reliever but probably will look from within first. Two prospects, Nick Rumbelow and Branden Pinder, could be in line for callups before the Yankees think seriously about trading for a reliever ... Felix Lopez, who became a high-ranking Yankees official after marrying Jessica Steinbrenner, one of George's daughters, is no longer listed on the Yankees site. While that could be a typo, sources suggest he's been gone from the organization for three months, and one said his office has been given away. Lopez, who's been the chief international officer executive vice president and who had been the point man in Yoan Moncada talks, was said to have upset Moncada's team after calling to berate one or more of them after Moncada took the $31.5-million Red Sox offer rather than the Yankees $25-million offer (he was said to have been upset because he believed Moncada preferred to go to the Yankees, according to a source) -- though that incident isn't believed to be what led to his apparent ouster. Lopez, who didn't return calls left when he still had a phone line at the Yankees' Tampa office (more recently, messages were taken by hand), was famous in Yankees circles for some unusual ideas; he is recalled for once suggesting they gather up used baseballs and wash them so they can re-use them to save money. The Daily News reported he was escorted out of the Tampa offices in spring training, though that part of the story was denied and is unconfirmed. For the record, the Yankees have made no official announcement on Lopez.

Oakland A's News

The appropriately named Billy Burns may turn out to be even better than Billy Hamilton. He is 13 for 15 in steals, with the two outs coming on overslides. One scout gave him 80-plus speed on the 20-80 scale. When Burns made two spectacular catches to aid Scott Kazmir, Kazmir bought him Louis Vuitton luggage. Burns took a home run away from Justin Upton Tuesday. So what's next? A car? ... Dayan Viciedo has an opt-out in his minor-league deal ... Righthander Kendall Graveman, who started 2014 in low A ball, threw a complete game and may be the gem of the Josh Donaldson trade ... Unlucky: The A's have a run differential of plus 38 but are still 11 games under .500

Philadelphia Phillies News

One plus: the draft picks have been very good lately. Righthander Aaron Nola is rising quickly, shortstop J.P. Crawford looks fabulous ("a great hitter," says a scout), and this year's No. 1 pick, Cornelius Randolph, the No. 10 overall selection, who signed for $3,231,300 slot, is seen as a major hitting talent. He's a high school shortstop from Georgia but could play third base and reportedly will be moved to the outfield. One comp: Eddie Murray ... Justin De Fratus, ejected for throwing at J.J. Hardy after the Orioles had victimized Phillies pitchers for eight homers, didn't even argue, which is the way it should be done. Why pretend it was an accident? That defeats the purpose pitch ... The Phillies are on pace for 55 wins, which would be their lowest total since World War II.

Pittsburgh Pirates News

Francisco Cervelli has been an excellent pickup for the Bucs. He leads catchers in pitch framing and batting average (.316), is third in WAR (1.4) and fourth in OPS (.804). He also has "stolen" 89 strikes, according to StatCorner, worth 11.9 runs. ... Jung Ho Kang may be the bargain of the winter at $11 million for four years. So his teammate on the Nexen Heroes who's coming next winter, Byung-Ho Park, may benefit. Kang's agent Alan Nero, who remarked last winter that Kang would get $100 million if he were Cuban, may have had a point. Kang hit 40 home runs for Nexen, Park 50 ... During their six-game winning streak, Pirates starters allowed one earned run in 43 1/2 innings. And Cervelli caught 56 scoreless innings in a streak that's almost Hershiser-like.

St. Louis Cardinals News

The theory advanced in the New York Times, which broke the hacking story, that Cardinals executives disliked Astros Jeff Luhnow, an ex-Cardinals executive, and wanted to take revenge on him by hacking into his Astros system, is a plausible explanation. While Luhnow did great work in St. Louis, he was disliked by some other executives there. It seems harder to believe that the Cardinals were trying to get an edge. As one rival GM pointed out, "If your agenda was to get an edge, why leak it?" And why try to get an edge on the Astros, a team in the other league?" Good points. In any case, if some Cardinals execs were involved (presumably low-level execs), they did a poor job on their a risk/reward judgment. They risked their career and reps for practically nothing ... Matt Holliday is expected to be out a month more with the quad strain, so it's likely he'll need to be replaced if he is voted onto the All-Star team. He currently is second among NL outfielders ... Kyle Molnar, a righthander from Aliso Viejo, Calif. picked as a flyer in the 25th round by the Cardinals, will honor his commitment to UCLA.

San Diego Padres News

Speculation going around the game is that Matt Kemp's struggles may be related to health. His deal to San Diego was originally held up by concerns about his hips, as was first reported by USA Today, and until the last three days, he only had two home runs (he has hit two in three games. But a Padres person blamed the rough start on being "out of psynch mechanically.") ... New interim manager Pat Murphy has the fiery personality intimates suggested A.J. Preller sought in replacing well-regarded manager Bud Black, who was very well liked by the players. Murphy is best known as the former Notre Dame and Arizona State coach who was the youngest ever to reach 500 wins. Murphy family trivia: His daughter is married to Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez ... Murphy will be given the year, the Padres said. Jason Varitek's name was floated as a long-term possibility, which isn't a surprise considering team president Mike Dee's past ties to Boston. But someone close to Varitek says he still wants to stay close to Boston due to family reasons, so that seems unlikely ... With their infield issues, you wonder if they'd consider a return for Everth Cabrera ... Yonder Alonso borrowed a glove from his brother-in-law Manny Machado to play third base, as Alanna Rizzo of SportsNetLA reported. Machado is married to Alonso's sister.

San Francisco Giants News

While some Giants people say they can scarcely envision Tim Lincecum pitching elsewhere, they still apparently want to see some second-half consistency before making a push to re-sign him. The Giants generally like to hold onto their star players, and are wiling to pay them a premium to keep them. So don't bet against him staying ... Chris Heston, who threw a no-hitter in his 13th major-league start at age 27, isn't a fluke, a scout said. "His stuff is going to play," the scout said ... Matt Duffy has been a cost-effective alternative to Sandoval (and even Casey McGehee). For $510,000, he’s actually out-producing Sandoval ... Hunter Pence will rest through the weekend, then they'll see how he's doing.

Seattle Mariners News

There's been some finger pointing with Seattle's surprisingly slow start, and that isn't a good sign. For the record, players seem to like manager Lloyd McClendon, who's been hampered by some offensive underperformance, a weak top of the lineup, closer issues, a regression from some young talents and Robinson Cano's startlingly bad start ... There have been rumors Cano would like to return to New York, but people close to him deny that's the issue. They believe he is simply pressing. He's hitting .237 with a $240-million contract ... There is some concern Mike Zunino (.166) didn't get enough time in the minors before his callup. He had 364 at-bats. One scout said his swing isn't conducive to a high average ... Since the trade for Mark Trumbo, the combo of Trumbo, Zunino, Cano and Cruz has a combined slugging percentage of .201, with zero homers and four extra-base hits (all by Cano).

Tampa Bay Rays News

Tampa Bay is looking for a first baseman, with James Loney on the disabled list. Ryan Howard was willing to go to them before his 10-and-5 rights kicked in, and with him having built a mansion in Clearwater, near the Phillies' spring training site, perhaps he would approve them again. With Tampa, Philly presumably has to pay all or almost all the $50 million to go though. Loney is expected back around the All-Star break.

Texas Rangers News

The plan is to send down Joey Gallo once Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton return. But plans sometimes change ... Texas is taking a worthwhile gamble that Duke righthander Mike Matuella can regain his health. He suffered a chronic back condition, then underwent Tommy John surgery. He's the sort of talent that's worth the $2-million bet ... Rookie manager Jeff Banister was an excellent hire.

Toronto Blue Jays News

Toronto is scouting Papelbon and would be interested in him, but only if the Phillies paid the contract way down and didn't require much in the way of prospects. The biggest issue for them is the $13-million vesting option for 2016 that's likely to vest, and will vest assuming he does his job as usual. While Papelbon favors the Cubs, there is a belief Papelbon would OK Toronto. One person said he'd actually favor "anywhere but Philadelphia" at this point ... While the Jays are looking at back-end bullpen help, their primary focus is on a starting pitcher, and they won't do a deal for a reliever that costs them so much it precludes a deal for a starter, which they see as their bigger need. They have 11 blown saves, but eight of 11 of those came in the sixth or seventh inning ... The Jays' 369 runs is nearly six a game and a ton more than anyone else.

Washington Nationals News

While a lot of teams could use Aroldis Chapman, and the Nats obviously like him (they tried for him when the Reds signed him as a Cuban free agent), Drew Storen has been one of the game's best relievers this year. They have far more pressing concerns ... Shortstop Ian Desmond was at one point offered a deal believed to include $90 million in new money (and maybe over $100 million including an existing year), and despite a terrible start to this season he's still expected to beat that on the free agent market. Desmond has historically been a slow starter, and scouts love him. Can't blame him for not taking that deal, anyway, as he's a much better all-around player than Elvis Andrus, who got $120 million over eight years with two years to go before free agency ... Talking about a speculative story suggesting Bryce Harper may wind up signing a $40-million-a-year deal with the Yankees as a free agent four years from now, Boras was overheard to say that figure is "a little light." The story is fanciful, of course, and the comment probably isn't all that serious either. But with a 26-year-old power hitting free agent superstar four years from now, it may be.

Major League Baseball News

With the Royals dominating All-Star voting as no one's ever done before – eight of their players are in position to make the squad as starters, even second baseman Omar Infante, who's been about the worst offensive player in baseball – there have been cries of voting shenanigans. But word is, MLB has been on top of this, with as many as 60 million votes rejected so far. It's possible Royals fans are just doing a superb job voting, but if the team starts eight Royals that would be a shame. To help prevent that from happening some teams with players who have a chance to beat out a Royal are working hard on campaigns to unseat the Royals. The Tigers, for one, produced a humorous spot using bobbleheads, mustaches and other props for Tigers network Fox Sports Detroit, trumpeting Miguel Cabrera, who shouldn’t need trumpeting but apparently does in this case. While Cabrera himself is not campaigning, David Price is Miggy's self-appointed campaign manager.