Pirates want more offense, yet shop Doumit

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The Pirates have been mention in connection with a bunch of second-tier free agents this winter, most notably Xavier Nady, Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock. They have money and they need offense, so it’s completely understandable. Yet, at the same time that they’ve keep looking for a first baseman or a right fielder, indications are that they’re trying to move catcher Ryan Doumit.
While most would favor Nate McLouth, Doumit was perhaps the team’s best player in 2008, when he batted .318/.357/.501 and drove in 71 runs in 431 at-bats The performance earned him a three-year, $11.5 million contract last December.
The relationship has soured since then, though. Doumit has always been injury-prone, and the Pirates signed him based on his one relatively healthy season as a major leaguer. He played in just 75 games because of ailments last season, and he lost 140 points off his OPS. He was also quick to express his displeasure when the Pirates traded off McLouth, Adam LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson and gave up on any chance of competing.
If the Pirates trade Doumit now, they won’t get a whole lot in return. They’ll also likely take quite a hit offensively, though they could make up for some of that by landing a better defensive catcher. What they won’t do is move Jeff Clement back behind the plate. Clement, who has struggled with knee problems, is currently penciled in as the team’s first baseman, but he could be blocked if the club picks up a veteran.
If Clement could catch, a Doumit trade, following by an Ankiel signing, would make plenty of sense. The Pirates could improve offensively and defensively at the same time in such a scenario. But as is, if they trade Doumit, it would likely be to sign someone like Rod Barajas or Ivan Rodriguez to catch. Dioner Navarro might be the best-case scenario. They’re better off taking their chances with Doumit and seeing what Clement can do at first base.

Albert Pujols is eighth on the all-time home run list

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Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.

With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.

The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.

Nationals place Max Scherzer on 10-day disabled list with neck inflammation

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The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.

Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.

It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.