The American League East division is by no stretch the toughest division in the league, nor is it considered a powerhouse, a word that was, for a long while, synonymous with this particular cluster of teams. But, as we head toward the All-Star break, gear up for the second half and take a look at Week 14 of the MLB.com Power Rankings presented by The All-New Chrysler 200, we have to ask — will there be a more fun division race to watch?
The Dodgers‘ search for pitching may only intensify with the news that Carlos Frias has been placed on the 15-day DL with lower back tightness. Los Angeles already dipped into its starter depth by installing Frias and Mike Bolsinger into the rotation in place of Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, so all eyes will be on the Dodgers this month to see if they can land another big arm before the trade deadline. Here’s the latest from the NL West… The Giants are looking for outfielders and Gerardo Parra and Cameron Maybin are two of the names who have been discussed, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (via Twitter). In another tweet, Olney notes that the Braves aren’t open to dealing Maybin right now. Outfield had been cited as a possible target spot for San Francisco, though GM Bobby Evans didn’t seem set on obtaining an everyday outfielder since Hunter Pence and Nori Aoki will be expected to resume their regular spots in the lineup when they’re both healthy. In my opinion, I’d think that a left-handed hitting outfielder like Parra could be of particular use in a center field platoon with Angel Pagan, who has struggled badly against right-handed pitching this season (though Pagan has generally fared better against righty arms over his career). The Giants have liked Parra “forever,” according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (via Twitter). Parra had spent his entire career prior to August 2014 with the Diamondbacks, however, and Arizona didn’t want to deal the outfielder to a division rival. In Olney’s latest Insider-only post, he observes that Zack Greinke‘s big season is putting him in position for a massive free agent payday this winter. “It seems like a foregone conclusion” Greinke will opt out of his Dodgers contract in search of a more lucrative deal, and while he turns 32 in October, Olney believes he’s the type of pitcher with the athleticism, mechanics and pitching know-how to still be very effective as he ages.
For once, the Mets had little trouble scoring Sunday at Dodger Stadium. And they didn’t even need Steven Matz to contribute that much with the bat. Matz did drive home his fifth run in two games in the Mets’ 8-0 win over the Dodgers, also delivering six shutout innings in his second career start.
Jorge Ona, a 19-year-old outfielder from Cuba, has left the island to chase an MLB contract, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports. Despite not much playing time in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, Ona still ranked sixth on Baseball America’s list of the top 20 prospects still in Cuba (as of April) due to strong performances for the Cuba junior national leagues and in international tournaments. Ona is a 6’2″, 192-pound right-handed hitter with “a quick, compact swing from the right side, plus raw power and a strong arm in right field.” In a longer scouting report within that top-20 prospects piece (open to BA subscribers), Badler noted that Ona showed good athleticism in as a fielder and “showed a good approach [at the plate] for his age,” though “gauging plate discipline and pitch recognition can be difficult in a brief look.” Badler projected Ona would be a first-round draft pick if he were eligible for the North American draft. Ona’s lack of Serie Nacional experience and his age will make him subject to international draft pools, and since he was born after Sept. 1, 1995, he would have had to have registered by last May 15 to be eligible for the current international prospect class.
The Nationals placed right-hander Stephen Strasburg on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique and recalled right-hander Taylor Jordan from Triple-A Syracuse on Sunday.
The Pirates have claimed Travis Ishikawa from the Giants, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. The Bucs, in announcing the move, say that they will make a corresponding move to add Ishikawa to their 25-man roster once he joins the team. The Giants designated Ishikawa for assignment on Friday. They initially acquired him in April 2014, signing him to a minor league deal after he briefly played for the Pirates in a separate stint. The Bucs designated him for assignment last season when they acquired Ike Davis, a fellow lefty first baseman. This time around, it’s tough to guess what Ishikawa’s role with the Bucs might be, since they already have lefty hitters at first base and right field (Pedro Alvarez and Gregory Polanco, respectively) and a good everyday player in left (Starling Marte, although Marte left Sunday’s game with an apparent injury). It’s possible Ishikawa could simply provide the Bucs with a lefty pinch-hitting option, however. After his heroics in the postseason last year, the 31-year-old Ishikawa has spent most of 2015 with Triple-A Sacramento, where he’s batted .271/.342/.421. He collected six plate appearances with the Giants this season.
Many player-movement rumors will come and go in the next few weeks, and if I had to pick five players who I think are most likely to be wearing a new uniform before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, these would be them.
Stephen Strasburg left the mound during the fourth inning of today’s Giants/Nationals game with an injury in his left side. The Nats ace wanted to keep pitching but “given his season, so far, I don’t want to take a chance there,” manager Matt Williams told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. Strasburg has already had one extended DL stint to recover from a strained left trapezius and he’s been dealing with neck and back soreness all year, which has undoubtedly contributed to his 5.16 ERA over 61 innings (though an ungainly .365 BABIP also hasn’t helped). Here’s the latest from around the senior circuit… Cardinals GM John Mozeliak tells Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he’s targeting starting pitching depth and a left-handed bench bat. While the Cards’ rotation has been one of the best in the game this season, it’s also a pretty young staff with some pitchers who have had checkered injury histories, so Mozeliak said he has to “be aware of the potential hazards” and that “my job is to make sure if it doesn’t last, then how do you answer it?” Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks the July 2 prospects already signed by the Cardinals (righty Alvaro Seijas and shortstop Raffy Ozuna, both 16 years old) and how the team has evolved its forays into the international market. Scott Boras tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that he sees no reason why the Marlins couldn’t afford to keep Jose Fernandez, even with Giancarlo Stanton already locked up on a historically large deal. “With TV rights and the general fund contribution and everything — every club, before they sell a ticket, they’re making $120 million,” Boras said.
Joe Mauer ripped a two-run homer and the Twins’ bullpen tossed five scoreless innings to bail out starter Mike Pelfrey as Minnesota topped the Royals, 5-3, on Saturday in front 37,917 fans at Kauffman Stadium.