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.”

The Orioles signed Rafael Palmeiro’s son

Rafael Palmeiro
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Last summer we posted about Rafael Palmeiro coming out of retirement to play for the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters. The reason: to play a game with his boy Patrick. In that game the elder Palmeiro went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored. His son, who is now 26, went 2-for-4 with a grand slam.

Did that serve as an audition for Patrick? Possibly, as Jon Meloi of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles just signed him to a minor league deal.

As Meloi notes, it’s certainly just an organizational depth move, as Patrick is no prospect. And it’s actually likely something of a coincidence that it’s the Orioles who signed him, as Palmeiro doesn’t have any real contacts with the Orioles baseball operations people, all of whom are different folks now than back in his day.

This may not be the last of the Palmeiros, by the way. Peter Gammons tweeted this morning that Patrick’s younger brother, Preston, is a first baseman at North Carolina State who could be drafted this june. Gammons says he has a swing “remarkably similar to dad.”

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million extension

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.