Twins reportedly considering 'a serious run' at Cliff Lee

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I was a radio guest on ESPN Twin Cities earlier this week (you can listen to the segment here) and one of the co-hosts, Tom Pelissero, hinted that he had some information about the Twins being legitimately interested in Cliff Lee.
Pelissero has now put it in writing, reporting today that “more than one person in the know” say “they wouldn’t be surprised at all if the team makes a serious run at acquiring” Lee from the Mariners before the trade deadline.
That a contending team would be gearing up for a run at Lee certainly isn’t surprising, but pursuing a blockbuster deal for a star player that would almost certainly require giving up multiple top prospects is highly uncharacteristic for the Twins. However, in addition to Pelissero’s report there have been some other rumblings about the Twins looking to make a bigger splash than usual this year.
Any offer for Lee would have to be more valuable to the Mariners than the two draft picks they’d receive by simply letting him walk as a free agent, although of course the new team would also have the ability to recoup some of the value given up in a trade by getting those same picks. Pelissero suggests Ben Revere as the most likely name being offered up by the Twins, but while he’s a solid prospect and former first-round pick he projects more as a Juan Pierre-type player than a future star.
It seems unlikely that Seattle would settle for a package built around Revere, in which case catching prospect Wilson Ramos’ name would probably come up in negotiations. Based on their trading track record I’d be shocked if the Twins actually gave up two of their best prospects for a half-season rental and draft picks, but there definitely seems to be some fire behind the Lee-related smoke and if nothing else Minnesota might as well kick the tires on the best pitcher available.

Rougned Odor didn’t technically steal home, but he basically did

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Just saw this from last night’s Tigers-Rangers game. It was pretty wild.

Rougned Odor walked in the seventh inning. He broke for second on a steal and was safe due to the throw going wild, allowing him to reach third base. The Tigers called on reliever Daniel Stumpf and he was effective in retiring the next two batters, leaving Odor on third with two out.

Stumpf, a lefty, was paying no attention whatsoever to Odor, so Odor just took off for home, attempting a straight steal. Stumpf was so surprised that he tried to throw home to nail Odor, and in so doing, he balked. That technically means that Odor scored on the balk, but I think it’s safe to say he would’ve scored on the strait steal regardless. Watch:

 

He definitely gets points for style.

 

Aroldis Chapman is pitching himself out of a job

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Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman looked shaky again last night, coming in to the game with a three-run lead before allowing a two-run homer to the Mets’ Amed Rosario. He would nail down the save eventually, giving Sonny Gray his first win as a Yankee, but Chapman’s struggles were the talk of the game afterward.

It was the third appearance in a row in which Chapman has given up at least one run, allowing five runs on three hits — two of them homers — and walking four in his last three and a third innings pitched. He’s also hit a batter. That’s just the most acute portion of a long slide, however. He posted a 0.79 ERA in his first 12 appearances this year, before getting shelled twice and then going on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, missing over a month. Since returning he’s allowed 12 runs — ten earned — in 23 appearances, breaking out to a 4.09 ERA. He’s also walked ten batters in that time. At present, his strikeout rate is the worst he’s featured since 2010. His walk rate is up and he’s allowing more hits per nine innings than he ever has.

It’s possible that he’s still suffering from shoulder problems. Whether or not that’s an issue, he looks to have a new health concern as he appeared to tweak his hamstring on the game’s final play last night when he ran over to cover first base. Chapman told reporters after the game that “it’s nothing to worry about,” and Joe Girardi said that Chapman would not undergo an MRI or anything, but he was clearly grimacing as he came off the mound and it’s something worth watching.

Also worth watching: Dellin Betances and David Robertson, Chapman’s setup men who have each shined as Yankees closers in the past and who may very soon find themselves closing once again if Chapman can’t figure it out. And Chapman seems to know it. He was asked if he still deserves to be the closer after the game. His answer:

“My job is to be ready to pitch everyday. As far as where I pitch, that’s not up to me. If at some point they need to remove me from the closer’s position, I’m always going to be ready to pitch.”

That’s a team-first answer, and for that Chapman should be lauded. But it’s also one that suggests Chapman himself knows he’s going to be out of a closer’s job soon if he doesn’t turn things around.