The Week Ahead: Last-minute trades

Leave a comment

You thought that was the deadline? Nope, THIS is the deadline.

The July 31 no-waiver trade deadline came and went, and yet trades could still be made as long as the key parts involved could make it through waivers, witness the Angels’ acquisition of Scott Kazmir.

But after Monday, even that door closes, at least as far as playoff rosters are concerned. For postseason contenders, it’s now or never as far as improving your team for the home stretch.

So who might go where before the final (and we really mean it) deadline? Here are a couple possible items to watch.

Rich Harden: The scoop is that the Twins made a claim when the Cubs’ flamethrower was put on waivers. The Twins haven’t confirmed that, nor have they denied it. But the addition of Harden to Minnesota, which is just 4 1/2 games behind the Tigers, would add some interest to the AL Central race.

While the teams don’t appear to be close to a deal, at least one source says the sides are talking.

Trevor Hoffman: The Giants reportedly put a claim in on the all-time saves leader, but is he really going anywhere? Aaron says San Francisco is just playing defense.

Brad Penny: The big righty was tossed aside by the Red Sox because he simply never panned out. So could he really end up in Oakland?

FIVE SERIES TO WATCH

Braves at Marlins, Aug. 31-Sept. 3: Atlanta and Florida both enter the week 3 1/2 games behind in the NL wild card race. And who knows, if one of these teams sweeps, maybe they can get back into the divisional race as well.

Giants at Phillies, Sept. 1-3: The Giants had a great weekend, sweeping the Rockies to move into a tie for the NL wild card lead. But now they up the ante with three games against Philly.

Red Sox at Rays, Sept. 1-3: The Rays are in danger of falling out of the wild card race, so this will be a big series. It should be a fun one, as well, with Josh Beckett and Matt Garza facing off on Wednesday.

Cubs at Mets, Sept. 4-6: The last couple of seasons this would’ve been a huge series with playoff implications. This time around, it’s more about heaping helpings of frustration, angst and misery. Good times.

Red Sox at White Sox, Sept. 4-6: Ozzie Guillen’s club is coming off a horrible week, going 1-7 in Boston and New York. If there is any hope for the pale hose, they better get to work this week against first the Twins, then one makeup game vs. the Cubs, before the Red Sox come to town.

ON THE TUBE

Wednesday, 7:08 p.m.: Red Sox at Rays (ESPN)
Wednesday, 10:10 p.m.: Diamondbacks at Dodgers (ESPN)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Rangers at Orioles (FOX)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.:  Red Sox at White Sox (FOX)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.:  Giants at Brewers (FOX)
Sunday, 2 p.m.: Red Sox at White Sox (TBS)
Sunday, 8:10 p.m.: Padres at Dodgers (ESPN)

*Check local listings

******

If you Twitter, you can find me there at @Bharks.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.