Orioles 'close' to getting Millwood from Rangers

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Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles are “very close” to acquiring Kevin Millwood from the Rangers in exchange for Chris Ray. This morning the newspaper noted that Baltimore would assume the bulk of Millwood’s remaining contract, which pays him $12 million in 2010, so that’s presumably why Texas is willing to part with him for a relatively minimal return.
Ray was once a very promising young reliever and took over closing duties in Baltimore as a 24-year-old in 2006, but missed all of 2008 following Tommy John elbow surgery and struggled in his return, posting a 7.27 ERA in 43.1 innings. He’s arbitration eligible for the first time and was thought to be a non-tender candidate, so while not without value to the Rangers acquiring Ray seems secondary to shedding Millwood’s salary.
Millwood has gone 48-46 with a 4.57 ERA for the Rangers since signing a five-year, $60 million deal as a free agent in December of 2005, including 13-10 with a 3.67 ERA over 31 starts in 2009. His poor 123/71 K/BB ratio suggests a regression is likely for 2010, but he figures to be good for 180 innings of league-average pitching and Baltimore can certainly use the rotation help.

Tim Tebow homered in his first at-bat with Single-A St. Lucie

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Mets minor league outfielder and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow was recently promoted from Single-A Columbia to advanced Single-A St. Lucie. Critics suggested that, because Tebow wasn’t exactly lighting up competition with Columbia, the promotion was just about marketing.

Tebow, to his credit, has gotten off to a good start with St. Lucie. In his first at-bat with his new team, he hit a two-run home run, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. The home run came on a 3-1 count against starter Junior Fernandez of the Palm Beach Cardinals. Fernandez is the Cardinals’ No. 10 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

With Columbia, Tebow was hitting a paltry .220/.311/.336 with three home runs and 23 RBI in 244 plate appearances.

Cardinals option Aledmys Diaz to Triple-A

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The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been optioned to Triple-A Memphis and infielder Alex Mejia’s contract has been purchased from Memphis.

Diaz, 26, impressed last season when he posted an .879 OPS and finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting. This year has been rough on Diaz, as he’s batting .260/.293/.396 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in 288 plate appearances. He’s the second major Cardinals player to get sent down to the minors along with Randal Grichuk.

Diaz was surprised by the demotion. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:

Mejia, 26, opened the season with Double-A Springfield but was promoted to Triple-A two weeks ago. With Springfield, he hit .251/.305/.366 in 251 PA. In 42 PA with Memphis, he hit .263/.333/.289.