Daily Dose: Sweet relief

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As Aaron Gleeman attends the annual SABR Convention
inside the beltway, I’ll do my best to pinch-hit in his absence. I’ll
spare you my opinion on Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, instead pointing
you towards our coverage on
Circling the Bases.
This is the time of year where the great majority of us would rather
refresh our browsers for information on the latest trade instead of
harping on past indiscretions.

On the subject of trades, the
Dodgers struck with the first major deal yesterday, landing George
Sherrill from the Orioles in exchange for 22-year-old third baseman
Josh Bell and 21-year-old right-hander Steve Johnson.
Sherrill joins a taxed Los Angeles pen, and will function as the team’s
primary left-handed set-up man behind closer Jonathan Broxton.

the season, some believed that Chris Ray would eventually supplant
Sherrill as closer, but while Ray faltered, Sherrill was fantastic in
42 appearances, compiling a 2.40 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 39/13 K/BB ratio
in 41 1/3 innings. He even brought his 5.57 BB/9 from last season down
to a very respectable 2.83. He is a great weapon against left-handers,
holding them to a miniscule .167 batting average in his career. Though
the move kills his fantasy value in mixed leagues, Sherrill is a pretty
nice insurance policy if Jonathon Broxton’s toe keeps barking. You
know, if Joe Torre doesn’t get to his arm first.

Sherrill out of the picture in Baltimore, Jim Johnson is the
speculative grab for fantasy owners. After a 2.23 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in
2008, Johnson has put together another solid statistical season,
posting a 3.17 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 35/16 K/BB ratio in 48 1/3 innings
pitched. Don’t be alarmed by the increase in ERA — Johnson was
fortunate enough not to give up a home run in 68 2/3 innings last
season. He should prove to be a solid, if unspectacular source for
saves going forward.

As for the Orioles’ haul, Bell is the one
to watch here. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 205-pounds, he is a switch-hitter
with real power potential. A knee injury limited him to just 51 games
in 2008, but he has put up a solid .296/.386/.497 line with 11 bombs
and 52 RBI for Double-A Chattanooga this season. He began the year
ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the Dodgers’ organization, according to
Baseball America. Overall, not a bad return for the Orioles, but it
would have been even better had they managed to nab southpaw Scott
Elbert, as rumored, instead of the hometown-boy Johnson.

* The Pirates continued their purge on Thursday, this time sending lefties John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to the Cubs in return for pitchers Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio,
as well as Single-A third baseman Josh Harrison. For those keeping
score, and I’m sure you are, the Pirates have now traded away 13
players from their 2008 Opening Day roster.

Acquiring Grabow
doesn’t give Lou Pinella a true left-handed specialist, as lefties have
hit .270 against him lifetime, compared to .254 for righties. With a
3.42 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 41/28 K/BB ratio in 47 1/3 innings pitched this
season, Grabow is getting a bit lucky for a second straight year
despite shoddy control and a stagnant groundball rate, but he should
settle into a sixth or seventh inning role just fine. As for
Gorzelanny, he is just two seasons removed from a 3.88 ERA and 14 wins
in his rookie campaign. And he has shown some hope at a revival by
going 4-3 with a 2.48 ERA through 15 starts for Triple-A Indianapolis.
He will likely join the starting rotation until Ted Lilly returns.

led the Cubs to their seventh victory in their last 10 games on
Thursday afternoon, allowing three runs over six innings, but now he’ll
call Pittsburgh home. The 26-year-old right-hander owns a 2.60 ERA in
eight games (four starts) with the Cubs this season. Fantasy owners
should look for Hart to contribute in the Bucs’ rotation immediately,
most likely replacing Virgil Vasquez. He’s worth a look in NL-only
leagues, but doesn’t figure to be more than a back-end option in the
rotation in the long-term. As for Ascanio, he has legitimate
closer-type stuff, including a plus-fastball, but due to his poor
control, he projects best as a set-up man. Pirates general manager Neil
Huntington certainly deserves heaps of praise for the deals he made
with San Francisco and Seattle on Wednesday, but he took some
questionable pieces back from the Cubs on Thursday. Hey, two out of
three ain’t bad, right?

* Speaking of Huntington, ready to “stop
the cycle of losing, and with that, the cycle of trading” the Pirates
are expected to call up Lastings Milledge before Friday’s game against
his former team, the Nationals. Upon his arrival, Milledge will be a
“regular,” according to Huntington, starting alongside Andrew McCutchen
and Garrett Jones in the revamped Bucco outfield.

track record is well known. He hit .167 in 24 at-bats with the
Nationals this season before being unceremoniously demoted on April 14.
From there, he broke his finger attempting a bunt in May, finally being
shipped out of NatsTown in the Nyjer Morgan deal back on June 30. Few
fantasy owners have forgotten his furious finish to 2008, when he
batted .299 with seven homers, 29 RBI and 11 stolen bases over the
season’s final 58 games. And it’s that two-way promise that deems him
worthy of ownership in NL-only leagues and worth consideration in
deeper mixed leagues, as well.

AL Quick Hits:
The Royals acquired outfielder Josh Anderson from the Tigers in
exchange for cash considerations … Amidst all the steroid talk, David
Ortiz launched a go-ahead three-run homer in a win over the Athletics
on Thursday afternoon … After meeting with Dr. James Andrews, Joel
Zumaya will have season-ending shoulder surgery next month … Brad
Bergesen won his seventh game while lowering his ERA to 3.43 on
Thursday, but suffered a shin injury after getting hit by a line drive
on his last pitch … Derek Holland pitched into the ninth inning and
struck out a career-high 10 in a 7-1 win over the Mariners on Thursday
night … Gil Meche (back) is scheduled for a rehab appearance on
Sunday and could rejoin the Royals next week … Vicente Padilla (swine
flu) is scheduled to start on Friday against the Mariners … The
Indians opted for Trevor Crowe to replace Ben Francisco on the roster
instead of top-prospect Matt LaPorta … Rangers president Nolan Ryan
said the team is actively pursuing Roy Halladay.

NL Quick Hits:
Brandon Webb suffered another setback that could finally lead to
surgery on his ailing right shoulder … After struggling all season,
Bill Hall accepted an assignment with Triple-A Nashville … Johan
Santana struck out eight over seven scoreless innings against the
Rockies on Thursday afternoon … Geovany Soto (oblique) could begin
playing in minor league rehab games as soon as Friday … Jerry Manuel
expects Gary Sheffield (hamstring) to return from the disabled list on
Saturday … Ben Francisco made his Phillies debut in center field on
Thursday as Shane Victorino sat out with a sore left knee … Jeff
Suppan was placed on the disabled list with a left oblique strain …
Yunel Escobar left Thursday’s game with a wrist injury and is
day-to-day … Brendan Ryan is day-to-day after suffering a bruised left ankle on Thursday.

Marlins have begun extension talks with Dee Gordon

Dee Gordon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote three weeks ago that the Marlins were probably going to explore an extension this winter with second baseman Dee Gordon. And it sounds like those talks are underway.

Via beat writer Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:

As a guest on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show Wednesday morning, Gordon confirmed his camp has been in talks with the Marlins regarding a multiyear deal. A source told MLB.com that the discussions are preliminary and have just recently started.

“My agent is doing the talking,” Gordon said on the show. “They’re just keeping me in the loop. I think it’s going pretty well right now. We’ll see how that goes. I’m just playing the waiting game. We’re going to do the right thing.”

The 27-year-old carries three more seasons of salary arbitration, so there’s no real rush to get something done before next spring. Gordon carries quite a bit of leverage after posting a career-best .333/.359/.418 slash line in 145 games this past season for the Fish. He led all major leaguers in hits (205) and stolen bases (58).

Braves sign Bud Norris to one-year contract

Bud Norris

Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.

Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.

In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.

The Cubs acquire Rex Brothers from the Rockies

Rex Brothers Rockies

The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:

Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.

Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.