Daily Dose: Brewers add Lopez at second base

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Craig Counsell and Casey McGehee have done a nice job platooning at
second base following Rickie Weeks’ season-ending wrist surgery, but
the Brewers went for a change anyway Sunday by acquiring Felipe Lopez
from the Diamondbacks for a pair of marginal prospects in Cole
Gillespie and Roque Mercedes. Lopez hit .305/.368/.416 in 84 games with
Arizona after batting .283/.347/.387 last season.

While not necessarily an upgrade over the previous second-base
platoon, Lopez potentially enables the Brewers to shift the
Counsell-McGehee duo to third base while phasing rookie Mat Gamel out
of the action and perhaps even back to the minors. Gamel has hit just
.239/.339/.413 through 127 plate appearances, which along with his poor
defense made him a weak spot in the short term.

Moving away from Arizona’s hitter-friendly ballpark hurts Lopez, but
he figures to continue leading off in Milwaukee and could be given a
chance to run more after swiping just six bases in nine tries. Ryan
Roberts is expected to replace Lopez in Arizona, but doesn’t offer real
fantasy value and the other in-house alternative is the similarly
underwhelming Augie Ojeda.

While Lopez joins his fifth NL team since 2006, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Joel Zumaya coughed up multiple runs Friday for the fourth time in
his last nine appearances, but more importantly came out of the game
after hearing a “pop” in his shoulder. He was immediately placed on the
disabled list and an MRI exam revealed that Zumaya aggravated the
stress fracture that shut him down for the final six weeks of last
season and delayed his debut for three weeks this year.

Zumaya never ceased lighting up radar guns and actually threw harder
than ever prior to the latest setback, averaging a career-high 99.3
miles per hour with his fastball. The other good news is that a stress
fracture is less troubling that a torn labrum or rotator cuff in terms
of his long-term outlook, although at this point he’s been on and off
the disabled list for three years and is likely done until 2010.

* Ramon Hernandez has been disappointing for the Reds, batting
.249/.330/.355 in 77 games while managing just five homers and 12
doubles in 273 at-bats after coming over in the winter trade that
cleared room for Matt Wieters in the Orioles’ lineup. And now he won’t
have a chance to improve his stats in the second half, as the team
announced Sunday that he’ll miss 4-6 weeks following knee surgery.

Hernandez being sidelined may not be such a bad thing for the Reds’
offense, as Ryan Hanigan has hit .307/.399/.385 in 285 plate
appearances of backup duties during the past two years. He’s not that
good, but Hanigan also posted a similar .296/.376/.378 line in 125
games at Triple-A and can definitely get on base at a better clip than
Hernandez. However, lack of power limits his fantasy upside.

AL Quick Hits: With trade rumors swirling, Roy Halladay allowed
one run Sunday in a complete-game win over the Red Sox … Brett Anderson
tossed eight scoreless innings Sunday, but got a no-decision against
John Lackey’s nine shutout frames … Ichiro Suzuki reached base four
times and made a game-saving catch in the ninth inning Sunday … Luke
Hochevar had a career-high nine strikeouts versus zero walks in a
no-decision Sunday … Edwin Jackson took another tough-luck loss Sunday,
falling to 7-5 despite a 2.52 ERA that ranks third in the AL … Mark
Grudzielanek could get a look at second base in Minnesota
soon after inking a minor-league deal Sunday … Joba Chamberlain
rebounded from an ugly stretch by striking out eight while allowing one
run in 6.2 innings Sunday … Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the lineup
Sunday after sitting out two games with the flu, but went 0-for-4
against Halladay.

NL Quick Hits: Jake Fox went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs
while subbing for Aramis Ramirez at third base Sunday … Joel Pineiro
kept rolling with seven innings of one-run ball Sunday, slicing his ERA
to 3.09 … J.A. Happ improved to 7-0 with seven shutout innings Sunday …
Mark DeRosa went 0-for-2 with a walk Sunday, making him hitless in 15
at-bats since being dealt to St. Louis … Jimmy Rollins is batting .377
this month after notching three hits Sunday … Scott Olsen (shoulder) is
scheduled to be examined Monday by Dr. James Andrews … Matt Cain picked
up his 11th win with seven frames of one-run ball Sunday … Alfonso
Soriano homered for the second straight game Sunday after coming back
from a dislocated finger … Andrew Miller tossed just 29 of 65 pitches
for strikes while failing to make it out of the third inning Sunday …
Rick Ankiel (shoulder) will play on despite an MRI exam revealing what
Tony La Russa called “some issues.”

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.