The Dodgers and Angels are strapped

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Mike DiGiovanna and Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times write that both the Dodgers and the Angels are limited in what they can do this offseason due to payroll restrictions.  The Angels have roughly $12 million to work with.  The Dodgers have their own problems of course, but even if you don’t look at the McCourt drama, they have a handful of players — Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Chad Billingsley, Russell Martin, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton, George Sherrill and Hong-Chih Kuo — who are due for raises heading into 2010 which could jack the payroll by $20 million before they even sign anyone to fill the holes they have.

Upshot: if the Angels have any hope of retaining their big free agents, it will have to be with backloaded deals.  If the Dodgers are going to make any real changes, it will be via bargain hunting.  The way things sit right now, neither team seems poised to actually improve in 2010.

Which means that if I were running the Giants, Mariners, Rockies or the Rangers, I’d think long and hard about going for broke this winter and making a deal that could be the equivalent of stepping on the L.A. teams’ throats.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.