Sports Outside the Beltway

Who is your NL MVP?

We still have just under 3 weeks of regular season baseball left to play, it’s not quite football season yet! The National League is totally up for grabs. The Central can be won by any of three teams. The East by the Mets or Phillies. The West by any of four teams. What a race! With all the competition, who is the National League’s MVP? I will list the top candidates and give you my pick for the NL MVP.

David Wright (3B Mets) – Here is the pick that you will most commonly see. Wright is a great option for the NL MVP. He is hitting .316/.411/.544 with a career high 28 homers, 35 doubles, 96 RBI, 98 runs, 31 stolen bases, and a 86/108 BB/K rate. Wright could, and should, win the gold glove at 3B. Wright kept the offense going while Carlos Beltran was out of the lineup due to injury and he has tore it up in the 2nd half (.355/.470/.609 and a 45/35 BB/K rate) with Jose Reyes struggling and hitting .258 since the break. Wright has carried the team on his shoulders but I tend to remember the team carrying him when he struggled at the beginning of the season.

Chase Utley (2B Phillies) – Utley has missed some time due to injury and if not for that missed time I think we would be looking at the NL MVP. He is hitting .338/.417/.565 with 18 homers, 43 doubles, 92 RBI, 86 runs, 9 stolen bases, and a 46/75 BB/K rate. He leads the league in AVG and is second in OBP. He plays a physically demanding postion up the middle and holds his own. The knocks on Utley are that he has a lineup around him and that he his home stats carry his total stats (.384/.458/.643 with 12 of his 18 homers). But imagine where teh Phillies would be if he never got hurt.

Matt Holliday (LF Rockies) – If the Rockies squeek their way into the playoffs this guy could easily win the award. Holliday is hitting .335/.396/.586 with 29 homers, 46 doubles, 5 triples, a league leading 191 hits, a league leading 116 RBI, 100 runs, 11 stolen bases, but a not-to-great BB/K rate of 52/111. Holliday also has improved his defense in left. The knock on Holliday will always be that he plays in Coors but he has hit .306 with 51 RBI on the road this season. If the Rockies miss the playoffs expect Holliday to finish in the 5-8 range in the MVP voting.

Prince Fielder (1B Brewers) – You want power numbers for your MVP? Fielder is your man. He has hit to the tune of .290/.387/.616 with a league leading 44 bombs. He has also driven in 105, scored 96, hit 33 doubles, and has a good BB/K rate for a power hitter at 72/105. The Brew Crew have had a hard time keeping the lead in the Central and Fielder could lose votes for that. He could also lose votes due to the surrounding cast he has in rookie Ryan Braun (tied for 5th in homer with 30 in only 388 at-bats), Corey Hart (hitting .297/.355/.536 and is a 20/20 guy), and J.J. Hardy having a career year at SS with 24 homers. But let’s not forget that Bill Hall is having a down year with only 13 homers and a .258 AVG. And Rickie Weeks has been injured and been sent down to AAA. Fielder is a good option for MVP.

Jimmy Rollins (SS Phillies) – If I had a vote it would go to Rollins. He has been the one constant in the Phillies lineup. While Ryan Howard was out he hit. While Utley was out he hit. While Pat Burrell sucked he hit. While the bullpen was blowing saves. While the bullpen and rotation were injured. While… wait, I think you get my point by now. Overall Rollins is hitting .295/.346/.532 while leading the league in runs scored at 125, triples at 17, at-bats with 633, tied for the lead in extra-base hits at 80, and third in hits with 187. He is second amongst shortstops in homers with 27, tied for the lead in RBI with 82, third in doubles with 35, and third in stolen bases with 30. Like Wright, Rollins should also win a gold-glove if there is any justice in this world. In my opinion defense is way overlooked when it comes to MVP voting and it should factor in. Now, imagine where the Phillies would be without Rollins.

Other notable options:

Albert Pujols (1B Cardinals) – .321/.424/.562 with 30 homers, 31 doubles, 89 RBI, 88 runs, and a ridiculous 90/56 BB/K rate.

Russ Martin (C Dodgers) – .297/.378/.475 with 17 homers, 30 doubles, 21 stolen bases, 81 RBI, 80 runs, and 60/79 BB/K rate.

Chipper Jones (3B Braves) – .330/.416/.598 with 25 homers, 39 doubles, 87 RBI, 93 runs, and a 70/70 BB/K rate.

Eric Byrnes (OF Diamondbacks) – .297/.367/.487 with 21 homers, 28 doubles, 8 triples, 81 RBI, 94 runs, 45 stolen bases, and a 56/89 BB/K rate.


Trade Deadline Winners and Losers

The MLB trade deadline passed without any “Big” moves other than yesterday’s Teixeira deal. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t any winners and losers. Trades were still made. Some were very good trades while others were not so good. Here are my winners and losers of this years trade deadline:


Braves – The Braves got a great hitter in 1B Mark Teixeira. Plus he is a Gold Glover and improves the infield defense right away. He also slots perfectly inbetween Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones. The Braves had to give up a lot (Salty and Andrus) but they already have their catcher of the future in McCann and two shortstops that can play in Renteria and Yunel Escobar. They also added lefty reliever Ron Mahay and Octavio Dotel. Dotel is a great addition. Remember how dominate he was as a set-up man in Houston a couple years back? He is going to be very good here. The Braves made themselves the front-runner to take the NL East.

Red Sox – They got what they needed. Eric Gagne. Gagne had to wave his no-trade clause, especially since he won’t be closing and won’t reach incentives in his contract. The Red Sox made it worth his while. They picked up $2.1M in his performance bonuses while Texas picked up $400K. The Sox also traded away incumbent Joel Pineiro to the Cardinals for a player to be named later. They had to send some cash to make up for the salary but they still save. The Sox are also going to get Curt Schilling back soon plus Matt Clement has started rehabbing. The Sox are the favorites to win the AL now. They have the best pitching in either league.

Rangers – Yes they were sellers. Yes they gave up their best hitter and best reliever. But they werent’t going to win this year and Gagne is only signed through this year and Teixeira through next year. They got a catcher in Jarrod Saltalamacchia that can be a 25-30 homer catcher in Arlington. They also got a 19 year old shortstop in Elvis Andrus that has major tools. Don’t be fooled by his minor league numebrs, he’s faced pitchers 3-4 years older at every level. Plus three more minor league pitchers from the Braves: right hander Neftali Feliz, left hander Matt Harrison (who can be a very good #2-4 starter) and left hander Beau Jones. Plus they got pitcher Kason Gabbard and minor league outfielders Engel Beltre (17 years old) and David Murphy. They also got catcher Max Ramirez from Cleveland for Lofton. The Rangers re-stocked their system and are set to be good for years to come. Great job as sellers!

Mets – The Mets have had a hole at 2B since Jose Valentin went down for the season. They filled it with 2B Luis Castillo. Castillo is a Gold Glover, a veteran that has played in the playoffs, and he is a .300 hitter that can steal bases. He will slot nicely into the #2 spot behind Jose Reyes. He can become a free-agent in the offseason and the Mets have talked about signing him. Even if they don’t they will get compensetory draft picks when he signs elsewhere. Great move. The Mets tried to land a reliever and offer Phil Humber for Chad Cordero and were turned down. I thought it was a very fair trade. Good move by not offering more for Cordero.

Rays – You’re thinking “they didn’t do anything big!” That’s a good thing. The Rays have offense, we know that. The even have some decent starters. They need bullpen help badly. They traded Ty Wigginton (and saved $4M on him next year) for Dan Wheeler. Wheeler is now re-united with former pitching coach Jim Hickey who made him into a great reliever. Under Hickey he had a 2.38 ERA in 158 IP with 146 strikeouts and only 46 BB. The Rays also got Brian Shackelford form the Reds and minor-leaguer Calvin Medlock who is fireball reliever with a good change. The Rays also did the right thing by not trading Wheeler and Reyes. The Rays hold an option on Reyes for about $2M next year and that is a bargain. The Rays are making great strides to compete in the very near future.

Phillies – They added 2B Tadahito Iguchi to fill in for injured 2B Chase Utley. They stole reliever Julio Mateo from Seattle. And they added a 5th starter in Kyle Lohse for an organization arm. They also just got Brett Myers and Tom Gordon back and Jose Mesa has been pitching great of late. It’s going to be hard to reach the Mets and Braves but they can make a serious run now. It will be an exciting September once Utley gets back! What a race the NL East will be.

Padres – They got a veteran utility player in Rob Mackowiack for nothing. They got a 3B with patience and power in Morgan Ensberg for nothing. And they got 3 pitchers for reliever Scott Linebrink while his stock was still high. One of those relievers is in the major league pen now! One (Will Inman) can be a #3 starter in the Majors, especially in PETCO. Good moves yet again by Kevin Towers.


White Sox – They did nothing to help them this year or next year or the next. Nothing! They should’ve traded Dye. They will get the draft picks but I’d rather have proven prospects. I thought Kenny Williams would’ve definitely done something.

Yankees – They got a back up infielder in Wilson Betemit but they had to give up a reliever. They needed bullpen help! They needed pitching help! They did nothing to help the pitching staff. They also did nothing to counter the Gagne move the Red Sox made. I do have to say they did the right thing by not trading Phil Hughes ot Joba Chamberlain though. They also should’ve traded Melky Cabrera while his value is at it’s highest. He is a 4th outfielder in my opinion and some teams veiw him as a regular. They should’ve jumped on something for a pitcher.

Indians and Tigers – Each one of these teams needed bullpen help and neither did anything to widen the gap between the two. The Indians got Lofton earlier which is a great but they badly need a reliever. I guess the Tigers figure Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya will be ready soon because they needed bullpen help badly.

Mariners – Not only did they not get any pitching help they traded away a middle reliever with a mid 90′s fastball in Julio Mateo. I’m glad they didn’t trade Adam Jones for a reliever but I would’ve offered Wladimir Balentin for some pitching help. They also need to call Jones up. This team dropped the ball.

Nationals – They signed Dmitri Young and Ronnie Belliard to extensions. They didn’t trade them for prospects. They balked at Phil Humber for Chad Cordero. Jim Bowden needs to lose his job! The moves he made were not only stupid but they make no sense. This was a team that had no chance of contending and it should’ve been hard for them to make the Loser list but they figured out a way.


Teixeira to Braves is almost a certain

The Atlanta Braves appear to be the winner for the right to acquire first baseman Mark Teixeira from the Texas Rangers.

A preliminary agreement has been reached between the teams for Atlanta to receive Teixeira and left-handed reliever Ron Mahay from Texas for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, minor league shortstop Elvis Andrus and two minor league pitchers.

Baseball America rates Saltalamacchia and Andrus as the Braves’ top two prospects in their organization.

The Fort-Worth Star Telegram, citing a Rangers source, is reporting that the two pitchers Texas will receive are 19-year-old right-hander Nestali Feliz and another pitcher to be determined.

The deal will be finalized once players’ medical records are reviewed. Major League Baseball’s deadline to trade players without securing waivers is Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.

Teixeira, a 27-year-old switch-hitting slugger, has won two Gold Gloves at first base. He is batting .297 this season with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs. Since breaking into the majors with Texas in 2003, Teixeira has had seasons of 26, 38, 43 and 33 home runs.

Only Ralph Kiner, Albert Pujols and Eddie Mathews hit more than the 140 homers that Teixeira had in his first four major league seasons. He had at least 33 homers and 110 RBIs in each of the past three.

Teixeira missed 27 games because of a strained left quadriceps muscle sustained running out a ground ball. The Rangers were 16-11 when he was out of the lineup after he played in a team record 507 consecutive games. He will be eligible for salary arbitration after making $9 million this season.

Among the teams that reportedly negotiated with the Rangers for Teixeira were the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox.

The Braves are giving up a lot for 1B Mark Teixeira. This move also makes it seem like the Braves won’t be able to sign Andruw Jones in the off-season unless they don’t give Teixeira a long-term deal. But with what the Braves had to give up in Salty and Andrus it wouldn’t make sense for Teixeira to be a season and a half rental.

But for now the move is a great one for Atlanta. Look for them to make a huge run at the NL East title.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

Information from ESPN’s Peter Gammons, senior writer Jayson Stark, and The Associated Press was used in this report.


Rays Making Moves Before Deadline

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays made some moves today. They traded 3B Ty Wigginton to the Houston Astros for former Ray right-handed reliever Dan Wheeler and Jorge Cantu to the Reds for Brian Shackelford. They also sent reliever Shawn Camp to AAA.

Wheeler, 30, is 1-4 with a 5.07 ERA in 45 games for the Astros. He took over as the Astros’ closer when Brad Lidge struggled earlier in the season. Wiggington was batting .275 with 16 homers and 49 RBIs. Last year, he had a career-high 24 homers and 79 RBIs.

“We’re going to need a third baseman moving forward, [Mike] Lamb is a free agent,” an Astros official told’s Buster Olney. “He’s a guy who’s hit 25 home runs. He’s played a lot of positions if you need him to do that.”

The Rays also traded infielder Jorge Cantu, minor league OF Shaun Cumberland, and cash to the Cincinnati Reds for reliever Brian Shackelford, minor league pitcher Calvin Medlock, and future considerations.

The Reds optioned Cantu to Triple-A Louisville.

The 25-year-old Cantu had played out his welcome in Tampa Bay after setting the Devil Rays’ single-season club record in 2005 with 117 RBIs with 28 home runs while hitting .286. He was named the team’s Most Valuable Player that season.

Last season, he hit .249 with 14 homers and 62 RBIs, and he hit .207 in 25 games with the Devil Rays this year. He was sent to the minors on July 19 and said at the time he expected he’d played his last game for Tampa Bay.

Shackelford spent parts of the 2005 and 2006 seasons with the Reds. He was 0-5 in 41 relief appearances with Louisville this season. Tampa Bay also received minor league right-hander Calvin Medlock, 24, who was a combined 4-3 in 42 relief appearances with Louisville and Double-A Chattanooga. Medlock also has a career Minor League record of 29-15 and a 3.24 ERA in 164 games (41 starts) since he was drafted by the Reds in the 39th round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft

The Reds also received outfielder Shaun Cumberland, who was hitting .246 with six home runs and 34 RBI for Double-A Montgomery. Cumberland was assigned to Chattanooga.

The Devil Rays have been making wholesale changes to what has been the worst bullpen in baseball. Over its last 30 innings, the bullpen has given up 44 runs.

The team added reliever Grant Balfour in a trade with the Brewers on Friday, and sent down Shawn Camp on Saturday. On Monday, they placed Jay Witasick on the 15-day disabled list, sent J.P. Howell to Triple-A Durham and called up Jason Hammel and Juan Salas from Durham.

The Rays are making some good moves. They absolutely need to improve their bullpen and they are also saving money by doing so.

Ty Wigginton, for all you fantasy leaguers, should thrive over in Houston. He will have a good park to hit in and won’t lose playing time.

Jorge Cantu can hopefully resurect his career with the Reds like former Ray Josh Hamilton.

Josh Wilson looks to get the bulk of the playing time with Wigginton getting traded. But if Baldelli comes back Upton could be moved back to 2B and Wilson will go back to the bench. One scenario I would like to see is the Rays give 3B prospect Evan Longoria a cup of coffee and see if he can be what Ryan Braun has been to the Milwaukee Brewers. That move would push Iwamura to 2B though and might not get too much consideration.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell
Information from the Associated Press and Buster Olney at were used in this column.


Tribe Acquire OF Kenny Lofton

CLEVELAND — Kenny Lofton returned for his third stint with Cleveland — and another playoff run — on Friday as the Texas Rangers traded the 40-year-old outfielder to the Indians for minor-league catcher Max Ramirez.

Great move by Cleveland! This is a huge boost to their offense and Lofton brings energy to this team. Lofton is said to be playing in either left or right field but doesn’t have the arm for right. He should get most of the playing time in left.

I also think this move will allow the Tribe to possibly send a veteran bat like Trot Nixon to a contender for a reliever. The Tribe need another reliever to sure up the back end of the bullpen.

The Rangers got a good young catcher in Max Ramirez. Ramirez, 22, can be groomed to be the catcher of the future for the Rangers. Ramirez is tearing up high-A ball to the tune of .303/.418/.505 in 77 games with 20 doubles, 12 homers, 62 RBI, 46 runs, a 53/63 BB/K ratio, and one stolen base.

This may be the beginning of a fire sale. Look for others like closer Eric Gagne, 1B/OF Brad Wilkerson, and even 1B Mark Teixeira to be on the trading block. I think Gagne will be gone for sure and Teixeira could be had for the right group of prospects.

*******Other Trade Rumors 7/27/07*******

- Mark Teixeira is almost certain to be traded away from the Rangers, with the Braves considered the most likely destination, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. A likely deal would bring C/1B Jarrod Saltalamacchia to Texas, along with a couple of prospects, perhaps a pitcher and an infielder.

The Angels were the most recent to tweak their offer. The Angels had originally offered 1B Casey Kotchman and a choice of outfield prospects Nathan Haynes or Terry Evans. It is believed they have now added a pitcher to the mix, but the level of pitcher could vary widely from a young prospect with a high ceiling (20-year-old right-hander Nick Adenhart) to an experienced but struggling major leaguer (recently demoted Ervin Santana) to a prospect on the verge of pitching in the majors (lefty Joe Saunders).

The Dodgers, thought to be one of the teams interested in Teixeira, say they intend to go forward with James Loney as their first baseman.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, are believed to still be in the hunt for Teixeira, the Boston Globe reports. Teixeira was drafted by the Sox in the ninth round in 1998, but chose to attend Georgia Tech. He then was drafted by the Rangers in 2001 with the fifth overall pick. Currently making $9 million per year and arbitration-eligible next season, he can become a free agent after 2008.

Don’t expect Teixeira to end up in the Bronx. Without giving up Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, the Yankees have little chance of acquiring Teixeira from the Rangers, The New York Times reports.

Texas wants promising young talent in return for Teixeira, the Dallas Morning News reports.

-Don’t expect the Twins to trade Torii Hunter before the deadline. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, there have been indications that the club is prepared to offer him a contract extension after the season.

Larry Reynolds, Hunter’s agent, said Thursday that he hasn’t spoken with GM Terry Ryan lately and is not worried about a possible deadline trade. Hunter, a potential free agent, has a limited no-trade clause that blocks deals to six teams.

“Anything can happen,” Reynolds told the newspaper. “Am I expecting [a trade]? No. Will I be surprised if it happens? Not really.”

Hunter probably could get five to six years and $80 million to $90 million on the open market.

- There are rumblings that the Padres might be interested in Mark Loretta, the San Diego Union Tribune reports. “I haven’t heard anything other than the rumors,” Loretta told the newspaper.

Loretta played three seasons (2003-05) in San Diego, and many believe Loretta would be a perfect fit for the Padres, who have been looking for a right-handed bat to give Adrian Gonzalez an occasional rest at first and help at second.

The Mets, Phillies and Tigers are believed to be interested in Loretta as well.

- Add the Cubs to the list of teams interested in Ty Wigginton, the St. Petersburg Times reports. The Dodgers, Twins, Yankees and Red Sox also have their eye on the utility infielder.

The Devil Rays are looking to improve their beleaguered bullpen, possibly with the addition of several relievers, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Talks with the Yankees have included right-hander Scott Proctor, though the deal might have to be expanded. The Red Sox, Dodgers and Twins all have several young pitchers who would be of interest to the Rays.

Wigginton, 29, is open to signing a long-term deal. His salary is expected to exceed $4 million next season through arbitration.

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Fantasy Football Sleepers

Trainig Camp is about to start and that means that Fantasy Football drafts all around the world are going on. We all pretty much know how the first bunch of picks are going to go (Tomlinson, Jackson, Johnson, Gore, Alexander, Manning…) but what’s left after those guys? Who can be had later that can produce high round talent? I’ll clue you in to some of my sleeper picks this season. This doesn’t mean you should go out and draft these guys right away or try to get each one but these are guys you should keep on your radar.

QB – Matt Leinart (ARI) – After putting up decent numbers as a rookie, especially with the bad line in front of him, he should rise up as one of the best young QBs in the NFL. His stats last year (2547yds, 11/12 TD/INT ratio, 2 rushing TDs, and 2 fumbles lost) weren’t anything to write home about but he was a rookie. He has talented recievers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and a RB that can make grabs out of the backfield in Edgerrin James. The Cardinals will be a surprise team and the improved defense will give the offense enough clock to make plays. Look for Leinart to be a top 10 QB this season. Also, take a long look at Jay Cutler (DEN). Don’t be surprised if Jon Kitna (DET), J.P. Losman (BUF), and Matt Schaub (HOU) have good years as well. Keep a late pick eye on those guys.

RB – Laurence Maroney (NE) – Now that Cory Dillon is out of the picture Maroney is the starter every week for the Pats. He is also a high reward/high risk guy. He wore down late in the year and had offseason shoulder surgery. Don’t let that scare you. He wants to be great and he should be nothing less. The Pats offense is going to flourish this year and Maroney will be a big part of it. He is #1 RB that you might be able to get as your #2.

RB – Ronnie Brown (MIA) – Brown is often overlooked because he barely cracked 1,000 yards (1,008 to be exact) but he did it by only starting 12 games and missing 3 games. Trent Green is the new QB in Miami and loves to dump the ball of to the RB and Brown has the hands to be a 40-50 reception back. He has added bulk to go along with his outside speed. Just be careful of injuries. This could be the year he breaks out as a top-10 back. Also keep an eye on Brandon Jacobs (NYG) and rookies Marshawn Lynch (BUF) and Green Bay RB Brandon Jackson.

WR – Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis (PHI) – Donte Stallworth is now in New England and the Eagles will have a healthy Donovan McNabb. That formula paves the way for breakout seasons from both Brown and Curtis. I wouldn’t fo so far as to say that either will become #1 fantasy options because McNabb ill spread the ball well between those two plus RB Brian Westbrook and TE L.J. Smith. They should both top 60 receptions and grab atleast 14yds/rec with enough TDs to make them viable options at #2 and #3 on your team. I would also take a good look at Brandon Marshall (DEN), Drew Bennett (STL), Santonio Holmes (PIT), and Brandon Jones (TEN).

TE – Vernon Davis (SF) – Davis is a beast! He is so athletic. He has the speed of some recievers, the hands of the top TEs, and the power to lay out defenders. He could end up being Alex Smith’s numero uno target. He is a, dare I say it, more athletic version of Antonio Gates. If Davis doesn’t have a break-out season then I will be incredibly surprised. These TEs should provide good value late in the draft: Marcus Pollard (SEA) and Tony Scheffier (DEN).

Again, don’t reach too far for these guys. Let them fall to you at a good spot and grab them then. Try to keep to your own plan and if one of these guys falls in your lap then jump at the opportunity, that’s what fantasy sports is all about, getting value with each pick. That’s how I’ve won the trophy each of the last 2 years in my league!

-Jonathan C. Mitchell


MLB Mid-Season Awards

As we enter the halfway point of the 2007 season there is nothing more fun than picking the mid-season award winners. Some categories were tough, some were easy. Let us know what you think and where you think I went wrong, or where I got it right on the money.

Jonathan C. Mitchell’s Picks
1. Magglio Ordonez (DET – OF)
2. Alex Rodriguez (NYY – 3B)
3. Vladimir Guerrero (LAA – OF)
4. Gary Sheffield (DET – OF/DH)
5. Dan Haren (OAK – SP)

1. Chase Utley (PHI – 2B)
2. Prince Fielder (MIL – 1B)
3. Eric Byrnes (ARI – OF)
4. Russ Martin (LAD – C)
5. Matt Holliday (COL – OF)

AL Cy Young
1. Dan Haren (OAK – SP)
2. J.J. Putz (SEA – RP)
3. C.C. Sabathia (CLE – SP)
4. Justin Verlander (DET – SP)
5. Josh Beckett (BOS – SP)

NL Cy Young
1. Jake Peavy (SD – SP)
2. Brad Penny (LAD – SP)
3. Chris Young (SD – SP)
4. Ben Sheets (MIL – SP)
5. Takashi Saito (LAD – RP)

AL Rookie of the Year
1. Jeremy Guthrie (BAL – SP)
2. Reggie Willits (LAA – OF)
3. Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS – SP)
4. Delmon Young (TB – OF)
5. Dustin Pedroia (BOS – 2B)

NL Rookie of the Year
1. Troy Tulowitzki (COL – SS)
2. Hunter Pence (HOU – OF)
3. Josh Hamliton (CIN – OF)
4. Micah Owings (ARI – SP)
5. Chris B. Young (ARI – OF)

AL Comeback Player of Year
1. Carlos Pena (TB – 1B)
2. Jack Cust (OAK – DH/LF)
3. Eric Gagne (TEX – RP)

NL Comeback Player of Year
1. J.J. Hardy (MIL – SS)
2. Derek Lee (CHC – 1B)
3. Dimitri Young (WAS – 1B)

AL Manager of Year
1. Mike Scioscia (LAA)
2. Eric Wedge (CLE)
3. Terry Francona (BOS)

NL Manager of Year
1. Bud Black (SD)
2. Ned Yost (MIL)
3. Willie Randolph (NYM)

AL Hank Aaron Award (best hitter)
1. Alex Rodriguez (NYY – 3B)
2. Magglio Ordonez (DET – OF)
3. Vladimir Guerrero (LAA – OF)

NL Hank Aaron Award
1. Prince Fielder (MIL – 1B)
2. Chase Utley (PHI – 2B)
3. Matt Holliday (COL – OF)

World Series Prediction
Cleveland over Philadelphia (I like to stick with my pre-season predictions!)

-Jonathan C. Mitchell


Cubs ship Barrett to Padres

CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs traded embattled catcher Michael Barrett and cash to the first-place San Diego Padres on Wednesday for backup catcher Rob Bowen and minor league outfielder Kyler Burke.

Barrett, batting .256 with nine homers and 29 RBIs, has had problems defensively and also been involved in two dugout exchanges this month with Cubs pitchers — one of which led to a clubhouse brawl.

Barrett and starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano got into a skirmish in the dugout June 1 and it carried over into the clubhouse, where Barrett got a black eye and needed stitches in his lip.

The Atlanta Braves had scored five runs just before Zambrano and Barrett went at it in the dugout. Zambrano pointed at his head and screamed at Barrett, who allowed a run to score on a passed ball and throwing error.

Less than two weeks later, Barrett and pitcher Rich Hill had a verbal exchange in the dugout during an eventual loss to the Seattle Mariners.

“The fight had nothing to do with [the trade],” general manager Jim Hendry said during a telephone conference call. “The Rich Hill situation, that’s normal Major League Baseball every night. It just happened to be seen and blown out of proportion. That happens all the time. It wasn’t even discussed in-house about being an issue. … We just felt like we were trying to shore up the position in a little different fashion, a little bit more defensively.”

An emotional player, Barrett was the central figure in a brawl with the White Sox last season. He set it off by punching A.J. Pierzynski in the jaw after he’d been run over at the plate. Barrett was suspended for 10 games.

Barrett, who signed a $12 million, three-year deal in January 2005, has a $4.5 million salary this year and will be eligible for free agency after this season. Of the $2.2 million he is still owed this season, the Cubs will pay $1.5 million and the Padres are responsible for the remaining $700,000.

“It was an honor for me to put on a Chicago Cubs uniform, and I want to personally thank Jim Hendry, the Cubs organization, and all of the Cubs fans for making the past four years so special,” Barrett said in a statement released through his agent. “At the same time, I’m very excited to go to San Diego and do everything that I can to help the Padres win the NL West.”

Barrett has been known more for his offensive abilities than his ones behind the plate. In 2006, he batted a career high .307 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs.

“We felt he was on his way to becoming a terrific player, an All-Star caliber player,” Hendry said.

“This year he has had a little tougher time defensively, and a lot of it is probably from trying too hard. Maybe some of it is it’s the last year of his deal. He’s been a really, really good offensive player and for the first couple years really showed a lot of improvement defensively, then, like I said, we’ve had a little rougher time the first half of this year. We just felt like we needed to make a change.”

Koyie Hill has become Zambrano’s catcher the last three starts. Henry Blanco, who was supposed to be Barrett’s backup this season, has been on the disabled list with neck problems.

Bowen is batting .268 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 30 games for the Padres this season.

Chicago obtained Barrett in a trade with Oakland on Dec. 16, 2003, one day after the Athletics acquired him from Montreal. Prior to the trades, he had spent his entire six-year career with Montreal.

Hendry said discussions on the trade with Padres GM Kevin Towers began three or four days ago. As the Padres negotiated the trade, former Cub Greg Maddux — now part of the San Diego rotation — was asked about Barrett and gave club officials a ringing endorsement of the catcher.

The trade comes less than a week after San Diego and Chicago got into a bench-clearing brawl at Wrigley Field, one that began when Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee was hit by a pitch and took a swing at Padres’ pitcher Chris Young. Each player is appealing his five-game suspendion.

Burke, 18, was San Diego’s first-round compensation pick in last year’s first-year player draft. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound left-hander was the 35th overall pick in the draft out of Ooltewah (Tenn.) High School. In 62 games at Class A Fort Wayne, he batted .211 with one homer and 21 RBIs in 213 at-bats.

Information from The Associated Press and was used in this report.

I think this is a great move for the Padres. They get an All-Star caliber catcher for only $700K and they have no strings attached to him as he becomes a free agent this winter. The Padres, if they don’t trade him, will recieve a compensatory draft pick if they can’t re-sign him in the offseason.

This is a great all around move for San Diego. With Bard and Barrett behind the plate they will get plenty of rest and should both put up very good numbers. Beware though fantasy owners, their at-bats will both go down.


-Cleveland cut ties with reliever Roberto Hernandez today. Cleveland is responsible for the remainder of his $3.3 million salary this year and a $200,000 buyout of a $3.7 million team option for 2008. Look for Philadelphia, New York Yanks, and Tampa Bay to give him a call.

-Randy Johnson was placed on the 15-day DL with a herniated disk in his surgically repaired back, making the timing of his return to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ rotation unclear.

-Curt Schilling is having shoulder problems and could miss his next start.

-The Oaklnad A’s brought back OF Milton Bradley from 15-day DL.

-The Cleveland Indians placed OF David Dellucci on 15-day DL.

-Kansas City placed DH hitter Mike Sweeney on the 15-day disabled list and recalled 1B/DH/LF Billy Butler from AAA. If you have room for Butler on your fantasy team then I would recommend picking him up. He plans on sticking with the Big League club and he has to hit to do so. Look for him to mash!


Elijah Dukes is at it Again

According to Abbie VanSickle of the Tampa Bay Times a teen who lived in the foster care of a relative of Rays OF Elijah Dukes has told police the Rays outfielder got her pregnant.

Detectives believe the sex was consensual and no crime was committed, but the incident has prompted a state review of the foster home. The girl was 17 when she became pregnant, but has since turned 18 and left the foster home.

The inquiry took place in late May, days before a judge barred Dukes from contacting his estranged wife.

The girl, who expects to give birth in November, told investigators she and Dukes had sonsentual sex but Dukes got angry when she confronted him about the pregnancy.

Chris Costello, spokesman for the Rays, said the team would have no official comment, and niether would Dukes. – TBT

This just disgusts me. I’m tired of hearing about Dukes, and I’m even more tired of seeing him play in the Rays outfield. The Washington Nationals have expressed a lot of interest in Dukes and I think the Rays should pull the trigger on a trade even if it’s for a bucket of batting practice baseballs.

Dukes has been out of the lineup for two days and has been dealing with “personal issues”. Delmon Young has stared both games in CF but has expressed he would rather be in RF.


- Rays placed 2B/CF B.J. Upton on the 15-day DL. “It’s been getting better every day,” Upton said after the Devil Rays lost 9-0 to the San Diego Padres. “Take a week or so off and see how it feels.” “The MRI revealed that he needed a little bit of rest,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “We’re just concerned about the long haul, pushing him right now. It just wasn’t necessary. We thought it was better to shut him down for right now.” The Rays called up OF Jonny Gomes to take his place on the roster.

- Finally, what all Brewer fans were waiting for: Yovanni Gallardo got the call up to the Majors. Gallardo, 21, is 8-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 13 starts for Triple-A Nashville, and he leads all of Minor League Baseball with 110 strikeouts. According to Adam McCalvy of, if the Brewers can avoid using him out of the bullpen this weekend in Minnesota, Gallardo would make his Major League debut Monday against the San Francisco Giants at Miller Park.

- On the downside for Brewers fans though Chris Capuano got hurt warming up in the bullpen before Wednesday’s game.

- Philles closer Tom Gordon could be back by the end of the month.
- Rays CF/DH Rocco Baldelli is currently in extended spring training and could be back by the end of next week.

- Orioles starting pitcher Adam Lowen is out for the year.

- Bud Selig may be giving Yankees DH Jason Giambi a bit of a suspension.

- Marlins reliever Henry Owens is going back on the DL.

-Dodgers fired hitting coach Eddie Murray and named Bill Mueller interim hitting coach. I love the idea of Mueller being a hitting coach. If he doesn’t take over full-time look for him to get a gig as a hitting coach with someone is the next few years.

- The Royals purchased the contract of INF Fernando Cortez and optioned OF Shane Costa to Omaha (AAA). Cotrez is the forgotten man in the Joey Gathright for J.P. Howell deal.

- Good to see Braves 3B Chipper Jones back yesterday.

- The Rays signed veteran reliever Jay Witasick to a one year deal. This is a great move. He is just two years removed from posting a 2.84 ERA in 63.1 innings with 73 SO, 17 holds, and only 53 hits allowed. He had a 3.60 ERA with Oakland this year before they let him go.


2007 MLB Mock Draft

This is my final mock for the 2007 MLB draft which airs tomorrow on ESPN2 at 2pm ET.

I made some changes but tried to stay true to my original mock. The main changes had to do with agent Scott Boras and his crazy bonus demands (supposedly asking for $8-$10M for Matt Wieters). Those players have obviuosly dropped on my mock due to his ridiculous demands.

Now I bring you the final edition of my 2007 MLB Mock Draft!

With the First selction in the 2007 MLB Draft, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays select…

First Round

1 TB – David Price, LHP, Vanderbilt
2 KC – Ross Detwiler, LHP, Missouri St.
3 CHC – Josh Vitters, 3B, Cypress High, CA
4 PIT – Jason Heyward, OF/1B, Henry County H.S., GA
5 BAL – Phillipe Aumont, RHP, Ecole Secondary Du Versant, Quebec
6 WAS – Rick Porcello, RHP, Seton Hall Prep, NJ
7 MIL – Mike Koustakas, C/3B, Chatsworth H.S., GA
8 COL – Daniel Moskos, LHP, Clemson
9 ARI – Jarrod Parker, RHP, Norwell H.S., IN
10 SF – Beau Mills, CIF, Lewis-Clark State
11 SEA – Nick Schmidt, LHP, Arkansas
12 FLA – Madison Bumgarner, LHP, South Caldwell H.S., NC
13 CLE – Matt Dominguez, 3B, Chatsworth H.S., CA
14 ATL – Michael Main, RHP, Deland H.S., FL
15 CIN – Blake Beavan, RHP, Irving H.S., TX
16 TOR(from TEX) – Nick Noonan, SS, Francis Parker H.S., CA
17 TEX(from HOU) – Matt LaPorta, 1B, Florida
18 STL – Matt Harvey, RHP, Fitch H.S., CT
19 PHI – Matt Wieters, C, Georgia Tech
20 LAD(from BOS) – Tim Alderson, RHP, Hprizon H.S., ARI
21 TOR – Casey Weathers, RHP, Vanderbilt
22 SF(from LAD) – Michael Burgess, OF, Hillsborough H.S. Tampa, FL
23 SD – James Simmons, RHP, UC Riverside
24 TEX(from LAA) – Mitch Canham, C, Oregon State
25 CHW – Julio Borbon, OF, Tennessee
26 OAK – Aaron Poreda, LHP, San Francisco
27 DET – Peter Kozma, SS, Oswasso H.S., OK
28 MIN – Josh Fields, RHP, Georgia
29 SF(from NYM) – Devon Mesaraco, C, Punxsutawney H.S., PA
30 NYY – Andrew Brackman, RHP, N.C. State

Sandwich Round

31 WAS(for Alfonso Soriano) – Neil Ramirez, RHP, Kempsville H.S., VA
32 SF(for Moises Alou) – Josh Smoker, LHP, Calhoun H.S., GA
33 ATL(for Danys Baez) – Nevin Griffith, RHP, Middleton H.S. Tampa, FL
34 CIN(for Rich Aurilia) – Kevin Ahrens, 3B, Memorial H.S., TX
35 TEX(for Carlos Lee) – Jake Arrieta, RHP, TCU
36 STL(for Jeff Suppan) – Brett Cecil, LHP, Maryland
37 PHI(for David Dellucci) – Matt Mangini, 3B, Oklahoma State
38 TOR(for Justin Speier) – Yasmani Grandal, C, Miami Springs H.S., FL
39 LAD(for Lugo) – Travis Mattair, 3B/IF, Southridge H.S., WA
40 SD(for Woody Williams) – Kyle Russell, RF, Texas
41 OAK(for Barry Zito) – Wes Roemer, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
42 NYM(for Roberto Hernandez) – Jack McGeary, LHP/1B, Roxbury Latin H.S., Mass.
43 SF(for Schmidt) – Justin Jackson, SS, Roberson H.S., NC
44 TEX(for Matthews) – Kentrail Davis, OF, Theodore H.S., AL
45 TOR(for Catalanotto) – Nathan Vineyard, LHP, Woodland H.S., GA
46 SD(for Dave Roberts) – Wendell Fairley, OF/RHP, George County, Lucedale HS, Miss.
47 NYM(for Chad Bradford) – Sean Doolittle, LHP/1B, Virginia
48 CHC(for Juan Pierre) – J.P. Arencibia, C, Tennessee
49 WAS(for Jose Guillen) – Eric Eiland, OF, Lamar H.S., TX
50 ARI(for Craig Counsell) – Matt Latos, RHP, Broward County CC
51 SF(for Mike Stanton) – Todd Frazier, SS/OF, Rutgers
52 SEA(for Gil Meche) – Josh Donaldson, C, Auburn
53 CIN(for Scott Schoeneweis) – Tanner Robles, LHP, Cottonwood H.S., UT
54 TEX(for Mark DeRosa) – James Adkins, LHP, Tennessee
55 BOS(for Alex Gonzalez) – Greg Peavy, RHP, Hudson’s Bay H.S., UT
56 TOR(for Ted Lilly) – Joe Savery, LHP, Rice
57 SD(for Chan Ho Park) – Ryan Dent, IF, Wilson H.S., CA
58 LAA(for Adam Kennedy) – Chris Withrow, RHP, Midland Christian H.S., TX
59 OAK(for Frank Thomas) – Eddie Kunz, RHP, Oregon State
60 DET(for Jamie Walker) – Travis D’Arnaud, C, Lakewood H.S., CA
61 ARI(Miguel Batista) – Danny Rams, C, Guliver Prep, Miami, FL
62 BOS(for Keith Foulke) – Jordan Zimmerman, P, U of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
63 SD(for Alan Embree) – Josh Horton, SS, North Carolina
64 SD(for Ryan Klesko) – Kevin Keys, OF, Connally H.S., TX


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