Uggla to the Braves? Would you believe Damon or Swisher?

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Ken Rosenthal ponders some possibilities for the Atlanta Braves, who are in the market for a corner outfielder.

First up: Dan Uggla, who could maybe be converted from second base.
Rosenthal says the Braves and Marlins have discussed it, that Atlanta’s
interest is only “mild,” and notes the difficulty involved with making
Uggla a left fielder. As in, he doesn’t want to be one.

Rosenthal suggests that the Braves could bring him in as a second
baseman and hope that Uggla realizes during spring training that he’s
not as good at second as Martin Prado is.  That would work if (a) Bobby
Cox had a second’s patience for that kind of nonsense, which he
doesn’t; (b) Cox doesn’t worship the ground Martin Prado walks on,
which he does; and (c) Dan Uggla was unlike almost every other player
in baseball history and really and truly wanted to be moved off of the
position at which he broke into the bigs.  Rosenthal, essentially
acknowledging the problems here, says that the Braves could ask
permission to talk to Uggla about a move before doing a deal. 

I’m not
going to hold my breath. The Braves have
gone down the convert-an-infielder-to-left path before with both
Chipper Jones and Kelly Johnson.  Neither Cox nor the players involved
liked that very much, so I don’t see them doing it for Dan Uggla, who
is a less-athletic version of both Jones and Johnson.

Outside of Uggla, Rosenthal wonders about Atlanta signing Johnny Damon or trading for Nick Swisher.

I could see Damon working if and only if he is in full
winter-2008-Bobby-Abreu mode as spring approaches and is willing to do
a one-year, sub-$10 million deal. And actually, the Braves would think
anything north of $6 million would be high.  Ultimately, while I think
that Damon has kind of screwed himself this offseason, I don’t think
he’ll end up being that desperate.

Swisher makes far less sense, in that I can’t see the Yankees taking
Derek Lowe for him, and Lowe is about the only player the Braves have
talked about shopping this year. Maybe they’d shop Javier Vazquez, but
the Yankees have been there and done that and probably don’t want him
back.  New York seems far more inclined to look at guys like Justin
Duchscherer and Ben Sheets than they are to take on a guy owed $45
million bucks over the next three years, and they’re wise to be so

So it’s all fun talk — the stuff the hot stove is made of, even — but
I’d be pretty surprised if we see any of these guys wearing the
tomahawk next season.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.