Should the Rays sign Upton to a long-term deal?

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B.J. Upton and the Rays are only $300,000 apart in their arbitration filings, so the two sides should be able to find a compromise before the hearing.
Along those same lines Upton told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that he’d be “all for” working out a long-term contract this offseason.
Upton is arbitration eligible for the first time, so for the Rays there’s no rush to get something done, particularly since his OPS has dropped 100 points in back-to-back years following his 2007 breakout.
On the other hand, Upton’s perceived value and negotiating power have probably never been lower, so if the Rays are confident that the 25-year-old center fielder will turn things about they could get a pretty substantial discount on a long-term pact. Plus, while last season’s .241/.313/.373 mark was ugly Upton did swipe 42 bases and play excellent defense in center field.
Even a return to his fairly modest .266/.352/.410 career line, when combined with the speed and glove, would make him one of the better center fielders in the league. And presumably the Rays should know better than anyone whether or not Upton will bounce back in 2010 and beyond, so it’ll be interesting to see if they take him up on the long-term contract.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.

Report: Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman initiate Marlins’ staff cuts

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A report from Barry Jackson and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reveals that prospective Marlins’ owners Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman have already initiated several key firings within the organization. While the sale of the team is still pending final approval next month, Jeter reportedly pushed club president David Samson to remove four special assistants this week: Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, Jack McKeon and Jeff Conine.

Hall of Fame infielder Dawson, outfielder Perez and Marlins’ legend Conine served as special assistants to the president. McKeon, who served as team manager from 2003-2005 (and briefly in 2011), was terminated from a 12-year post as special assistant to owner Jeffrey Loria.

The move didn’t come as a big surprise to Dawson and McKeon, Jackson and Spencer noted. It’s part and parcel of dealing with new ownership. But it was disappointing news nonetheless, especially as the long-tenured McKeon might lose an opportunity to return next September to manage one game and cement his status as the oldest manager in MLB history.

Should the Marlins’ sale go through in October as expected, this figures to be the beginning of several cuts. Per Jackson and Spencer:

Jeter also is expected to fire some people on the baseball side of the operation, though it’s believed president/baseball operations Michael Hill will be retained, at least indefinitely if not permanently.

Any replacements for those already released from the team have yet to be announced.