Quick hits: Tigers avoid sweep

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– The Tigers avoided a three-game sweep
at the hands of the surging Twins with a 6-2 win on Sunday afternoon.
Nate Robertson allowed two runs over five innings, while Placido
Polanco went 2-for-3 with three RBI. The Tigers now sit three games in
front of the Twins with 13 games to go. They aren’t quite out of the
woods yet, as the clubs will meet for a three-game series Sept. 28-30.

– If the Twins are going to jump the Tigers in the standings, they are going to have to do it without the services of Joe Crede.
Battling pain in his lower back since August, Crede will undergo
surgery to clean up fluid from a herniated disk next week. It will be
the third surgery Crede has had on his back in the past three years.
Limited to just 90 games this
season, Crede batted .225/.289/.414 with 15 homers and 48 RBI in 333
at-bats. Though there have been whispers about retirement, the
31-year-old third baseman and impending free-agent has no plans to hang
it up.

– It looks like Michael Young may have jumped the gun when he unexpectedly returned to the lineup
against the Athletics last Tuesday. His season is now in jeopardy after
he re-aggravated his left hamstring during a second-inning at-bat.
It’s just the latest bad news for
the Rangers, who now sit 7 1/2 games out of first-place after dropping
two out of three to the Angels this weekend. With a
.322/.375/.523 line to go along with 22 homers and 67 RBI, Young has been the
Rangers’ most valuable player this season.

– Shocking news, as Giants prospect Angel Villalona has been detained in connection to a murder
in the Dominican Republic. Villalona, 19, is the prime suspect in the
shooting death of a 25-year-old man. According a report by the
Associated Press, he will appear in court on Monday and could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. Villalona batted .267 with nine home runs
and 42 RBI in 74 games with Class A San Jose before being shut down
with a quad injury in July. Villalona, who was ranked as the No. 33
prospect in baseball by
Baseball America, was signed to a team record $2.1 million signing bonus in 2007.

– And finally, the Cubs have suspended Milton Bradley for the rest of the season. Yeah, he doesn’t like Chicago very much. Got news for ya, the feeling is mutual.

Pirates sign outfielder/first baseman Jake Goebbert

Jake Goebbert
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The best thing about minor Thanksgiving week transactions is that they are almost certainly done by GMs frantically looking for some work to do rather than go pick up their in-laws at the airport. I mean, sure, the player in question could very easily be an important player who fills a key role in the organization, but it’s not like it couldn’t have waited until Monday, right? This is the GM equivalent of you pretending you have to run into the office on Wednesday afternoon and, in reality, driving around in your car, listening to Neil Young and promising that NEXT YEAR you’re just doing a small Thanksgiving dinner with no family and, maybe, might even go on a little trip, just you and the wife.

Or is that just me? OK, maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, that’s how I’m choosing to view the Pirates activity today. First they traded for Allen Webster and now they’re signing minor league free agent first baseman/outfielder Jake Goebbert, according to Adam Berry of MLB.com.

Goebbert, 28, hit .294 with an .844 OPS and 10 homers for Triple-A El Paso last season. He has 115 plate appearances in the bigs, all for San Diego in 2014. Overall he has a line of .282/.386/.465 with 30 homers in 997 Triple-A plate appearances in the Astros, Athletics and Padres organizations.

Not a bad depth move, especially given that the Pirates are looking to trade Pedro Alvarez and otherwise re-jigger their first base situation.

Blue Jays sell Triple-A MVP Matt Hague to Japanese team

Matt Hague Blue Jays
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Matt Hague got a cup of coffee in Toronto this year after winning the International League MVP, but the 30-year-old first baseman/third baseman found a better opportunity in Japan and the Blue Jays have sold him to the Hanshin Tigers.

Hague hit .338 in 136 games at Triple-A this past season and is a career .301 hitter in eight minor-league seasons overall, but his lack of power limits his opportunities in the majors and he’s received a grand total of 91 plate appearances as a big leaguer.

Ben Nicholson-Smith of Toronto Sportnet reports that the sale price for Hague is $300,000, which goes to the Blue Jays. And then Hague will no doubt sign a deal for a lot more than he could have earned at Triple-A and perhaps more than the MLB minimum salary.

Diamondbacks trade Allen Webster to the Pirates

Allen Webster
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The Arizona Diamondbacks just announced that have traded righty Allen Webster to the Pirates for cash considerations.

Webster, who turns 26 in February, was DFA’d by the Dbacks a few days ago. He pitched in nine games, starting five, in 2015, posting a 5.81 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 17/20 (eww) in 31 innings. Before that he pitched 89.1 innings for the Red Sox over two years with numbers not too terribly more impressive than that.

Yankees “have let teams know” Ivan Nova is available

New York Yankees starting pitcher Ivan Nova reacts during second inning where he gave up 6 runs to the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 2 of a doubleheader baseball game at Yankee Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees “have let teams know Ivan Nova is available” in trade.

Nova returned from Tommy John elbow surgery in May to throw 94 innings with a 5.07 ERA and will be a free agent after the 2016 season, so it’s tough to imagine his trade market being particularly robust.

Despite that, Sherman writes that the Yankees “are not selling low” on Nova and might try to package him with other players to bring back a young starting pitcher under team control for multiple seasons. In other words, they’d like to trade Nova for a pitcher who can step into his rotation spot in 2016 and beyond.

Nova has had some good years in New York, but he’s 29 years old with a career 4.33 ERA and just 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s more middle-of-the-rotation starter than front-line starter and even that might be in question following elbow surgery.