Should Twins offer Wilson Ramos for Cliff Lee?

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If the Twins want a second ace left-hander for the postseason, that’s probably what it will take. Cliff Lee went 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA for the Phillies last October. The team won all five of his postseason starts, with Lee pitching 40 1/3 of a possible 45 innings in those games. His addition to a rotation featuring Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker and one from a group of Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey would transform the Twins from likely ALDS victim into a legitimate threat to win the World Series.
And the Twins could get him for a player who has no obvious role in the team’s future plans.
Now, Wilson Ramos does appear to be a special talent. And the Twins could find a way to incorporate him in 2011 and beyond if they wanted to. But it’s doubtful he’d be anywhere near as valuable elsewhere on the field as he is behind the plate. For what it’s worth, while he was impressive in his brief stint replacing Joe Mauer earlier this year, he’s hitting just .229/.262/.346 with a 33/7 K/BB ratio in 179 at-bats for Triple-A Rochester. He seems to have turned things around recently — he’s batting .339 in June — but he’s not in the same league with, say, Carlos Santana as an offensive prospect.
The 22-year-old Ramos shines more brightly on defense. He should contend for Gold Gloves someday, and with his ability to hit for average, it’d be no surprise to see him serving as Mauer’s backup on All-Star teams a few years down the line.
Still, Ramos’ greatest value to the Twins is likely as a trade chip. But is it worth parting with his next 6 1/2 seasons in return for a half-season of Lee?
I think it is. The Twins would have very little chance of keeping Lee as a free agent, but they’d be in line for a first-round pick and a supplemental first-rounder after he departs. That’s a big key here. It’s why the Mariners won’t part with Lee cheaply even if they end July with no chance of headed to the postseason.
Barring a big turnaround over the next several weeks, Seattle, though, should be willing to let him go for Ramos and a lesser pitching prospect. Adam Moore is a solid young catcher, but he might be more of a long-term backup than a regular. The Mariners lack young talent on offense. Ramos isn’t the long-term cleanup man they need, but as sort of a right-handed-hitting version of A.J. Pierzynski, he’d soon be an upgrade in the sixth or seventh spot in the lineup.
The Mariners might shoot for more and try to come up with someone who could put up big numbers immediately. Or perhaps they’ll aim for the Yankees’ Jesus Montero, who could well be a cleanup hitter but who figures to accomplish it as a first baseman, rather than as a catcher. I think Ramos is likely as good as they’re going to do. He can contribute right away, and he’ll be useful even if he doesn’t hit during his first couple of seasons.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.