Daily Dose: Back scratches Lincecum

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Tim Lincecum was a last-minute scratch from his Tuesday night start with back pain, so the Giants called up top prospect Madison Bumgarner from Double-A to take his place versus the Padres. Bumgarner was a teenager until last month, but the former first-round pick was 9-1 with a 1.93 ERA at Double-A and handled himself pretty well against the NL’s lowest-scoring team, allowing two runs over 5.1 innings.
Bumgarner’s numbers as a pro as insanely good, with a 27-5 record and 1.65 ERA, but his 69/30 K/BB ratio in 107 innings at Double-A suggest that he’s not quite ready to dominate. He’s without question one of the top pitching prospects in baseball and the Giants obviously believed that he was ready for the challenge Tuesday night, but don’t count on the young southpaw being a fantasy asset until at least mid-2010.
While the Giants unveil their next stud starter and pray that Lincecum’s injury proves minor, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Charlie Manuel reiterated Tuesday afternoon that Brad Lidge will remain his closer despite an MLB-high 10 blown saves. And then Tuesday night he pulled Lidge in the middle of a save situation and brought in Ryan Madson to close out a 5-3 win. Lidge allowed a single and a walk, plunked a batter, and uncorked a wild pitch while getting just one out, at which point Madson got the call and cleaned up his mess.
* After sitting out since mid-June with a knee injury Carlos Beltran returned from the disabled list Tuesday and went 1-for-4 while narrowly missing a grand slam. Beltran deserves credit for working hard to make his way back for the final four weeks of the season despite the fact that his team is completely out of contention after going just 27-42 in his absence. If he looks healthy, Beltran should be undervalued for 2010.
* Alex Gordon returned to the majors Tuesday after batting .313/.435/.493 during his three-week demotion to Triple-A, which despite Kansas City’s claim that suppressing his service time wasn’t a factor was just long enough to delay his free agency for an extra year. Gordon is now under the Royals’ control through at least 2013, although he’ll need to turn things around to be of any use by then. He’s a nice buy-low target.
* Rotoworld’s whole baseball crew is now on Twitter, from Matthew Pouliot’s frequent updates during each night’s games to my mindless babble about things that have no fantasy baseball relevance whatsoever, so check us out:
Aaron Gleeman – @aarongleeman
Matthew Pouliot – @matthewpouliot
Drew Silva – @drewsilv
D.J. Short – @djshort
Nick Nelson – @nnelson9
Eddie Schmid – @edwinthethird
Thor Nystrom – @thorku
Evan Brunell – @immortalkid
Our current goal is to collectively get more followers than Gregg Rosenthal, because his incessant bragging around the office is becoming tough to take.
AL Quick Hits: Michael Young (hamstring) is hoping to rejoin the lineup by the end of the week after jogging Tuesday … Daisuke Matsuzaka (shoulder) is due to make his final rehab start Wednesday at Single-A … Julio Borbon smacked a pair of homers Tuesday and also swiped his 13th base … Joe Crede (back) came off the disabled list Tuesday and should be the primary third baseman down the stretch … Fernando Rodney appealed his three-game suspension for throwing a ball into the press box last week … Jake Peavy (elbow) will toss a bullpen session Wednesday with an eye on joining the White Sox’s rotation next week … Wade Davis will stick in the rotation following an impressive debut, bumping Andy Sonnanstine … Dustin Pedroia had his first career multi-homer game Tuesday … Carlos Carrasco struggled again Tuesday, giving him a 12.38 ERA through two career starts … Francisco Liriano (elbow) threw a simulated game Tuesday and reported no problems, setting up a bullpen move.
NL Quick Hits: J.A. Happ will miss a second start because of his strained oblique, so Jamie Moyer will again fill in … Manny Parra left Tuesday’s start after just one inning because of neck spasms … Casey Blake (hamstring) sat out his fourth straight game Tuesday, with Ronnie Belliard starting at third base … Garrett Jones homered again Tuesday, giving the career minor leaguer 19 long balls in 235 at-bats … Corey Hart (appendicitis) returned from the disabled list Tuesday, but won’t rejoin the lineup until Wednesday … Fredi Gonzalez indicated Tuesday that Jeremy Hermida (oblique) is not expected back any time soon … Colby Rasmus sat out Tuesday’s game with the heel injury that has plagued him all season … Ken Macha said Tuesday that Casey McGehee will play more down the stretch than Mat Gamel … Raul Ibanez went deep twice Tuesday, totaling 30 homers for the second time … Reed Johnson (foot) is not expected to play again this year.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
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Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.

The Diamondbacks met with Johnny Cueto’s agent

AP Photo/David Goldman
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Diamondbacks spoke with Bryce Dixon, the agent of free agent starter Johnny Cueto. However, Rosenthal notes that Cueto’s price tag is expected to exceed the Diamondbacks’ comfort level.

Cueto, 29, is one of a handful of highly touted starting pitchers in this offseason’s free agent class. He is joined by David Price and Zack Greinke, among others. Jordan Zimmermann inked a deal in the neighborhood of $110 million over five years with the Tigers on Sunday morning, which will serve as a barometer for Cueto.

Cueto finished the 2015 regular season, between the Reds and the Royals, with a 3.44 ERA and a 176/46 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. He made 13 shaky starts with the Royals, but outside of a shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, pitched well in the post-season. Cueto pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, helping put the Royals up two games to none at the time.

As a result of switching teams during the season, Cueto was not eligible to receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer. This means that Cueto, unlike Zimmermann for example, does not come attached with draft pick compensation.

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski is reportedly trying to trade Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez
AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

Nick Cafardo provides this interesting nugget in his Sunday notes column at the Boston Globe

Hanley Ramirez, 1B-DH, Red Sox — There’s now talk in the front office that Dave Dombrowski is trying to move Ramirez in a deal. The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense.

Cafardo notes that “there are huge hurdles to cross” before a trade could happen — like how much of Hanley’s remaining salary the Red Sox would have to eat and what positions the soon-to-be 32-year-old is able to play defensively at this point in his career.

Boston’s higher-ups have asked Ramirez to learn first base and drop 20 pounds this winter. Whatever team is looking to acquire him would probably have to be comfortable with him serving primarily as a designated hitter.

Hanley is owed $68.2 million over the next three seasons and he carries a $22 million vesting option for 2019. He batted just .249/.291/.426 in 105 games this past year.

Ben Zobrist is the “Mets’ No. 1 target”

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist posted a cool .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 126 games this summer between Oakland and Kansas City while appearing defensively at second base, third base, and both corner outfield positions.

His steady bat and defensive versatility make him a fit for just about every club in Major League Baseball, and the defending National League champions are among the teams in hot pursuit …

It’s a little odd to see the rebuilding Braves listed there given that Zobrist is 34 years old, but Rosenthal says the interest stems from a “desire for him to serve as [a] model for younger players” as the club prepares to open a new ballpark in 2017. Wasn’t that supposed to be Nick Markakis‘ job?

Zobrist and his agent Alan Nero are believed to be seeking a four-year deal.