Position-by-position trade deadline preview: Shortstop

Leave a comment

This is the fifth in a series of articles looking at players who might be available in the days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Stephen Drew (Diamondbacks) – While Drew has largely shaken the injury-prone tag he earned before he even reached the majors, he hasn’t come close to reaching his offensive potential outside of a strong 2008 season. After posting an 836 OPS as a 25-year-old, he dropped to 748 last year and he’s at 738 through 332 at-bats in 2010. He’s a solid defensive shortstop, so he’s an above average regular, and there’s still reason to hope that he has more 820-850 OPS seasons in him. The Diamondbacks, though, may be willing to part with him for a big return. This isn’t a Dan Haren situation — Drew’s likely $5 million salary should fit into their 2011 budget — but he’s only going to get more expensive in 2012 and since he’s a Scott Boras client, a long-term contract seems highly unlikely. Still, a deal is more likely to come in the offseason than now. That’s particularly the case since the Tigers, thought to be Drew’s primary suitor, suddenly have bigger worries than shortstop.
Reid Brignac (Rays) – Supposed to be the Rays’ long-term shortstop, Brignac was quite a disappointment in 2008 and 2009 and he came up in trade rumors quite a bit following Jason Bartlett’s emergence. However, just when it seemed Brignac could fall out of the Rays’ plans, he made the team as a part-time player this spring and he’s done terrific work while playing second base and shortstop, hitting .282/.339/.431 with six homers and 35 RBI in 209 at-bats. The Rays could still decide to part with him if it helps brings in a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat, but it’s more likely that he stays and makes Bartlett expendable this winter.
Miguel Tejada (Orioles) – Tejada hasn’t made an appearance at shortstop all year, but if he’s traded, it could well be to a team that would slide him back to his old position. The Padres are thought to be interested, and he actually makes a lot of sense for the NL West leaders. He’s not much of a home run guy anymore, and Petco’s big alleys should be rather kind to his approach at the plate. Also, while he lacks range at shortstop these days, the singles that get by him would turn into fewer runs at Petco than they would anywhere else. The Tigers are another team that could use Tejada. An August deal is a possibility here.
Cristian Guzman (Nationals) – If the Nationals were thinking clearly, they would have let Guzman go when the Red Sox claimed him off waivers last summer. He’s done an adequate job with the bat these last two years, but he’s no $8 million-per-year player with his 700 OPS and subpar defense. Fortunately, he’s now in the final year of his deal, and the Nationals might be able to get a little something in return for him. Like Tejada, he makes some sense for the Tigers and Padres. He’s also been mentioned in connection with the Rockies, though that window has probably closed with Troy Tulowitzki ready to return.
Brandon Wood (Angels) – The Alberto Callaspo trade seemed to make it official: the Angels have given up on Brandon Wood. They can’t send him down, since there’s still no chance he’d clear waivers, but he’s entirely useless as a bench player. Given 173 at-bats this year, the 25-year-old has hit .168/.185/.225 with three homers and a 52/4 K/BB ratio. The only hope now is that a change of scenery/change in coaches does something for him. No contender is going to want him to come in any play a role, but the Pirates, Astros, Orioles and Indians are among the also-rans that should be open to giving him a shot.
Ryan Theriot (Cubs) – Theriot never projected as a major league regular, but he was a surprisingly capable one in 2008 and 2009. This year, he was pushed off shortstop by Starlin Castro and he’s struggled offensively as the Cubs’ second baseman. While his average is practically the same as last year (.281 vs. .284), his OPS is down 76 points because of a sharp drop in his walk rate and a complete lack of power. Odds are that Theriot will spend most of the rest of his career in a utility role. Still, if some team wants him as a regular for the final two months, the Cubs could oblige. He’s currently earning $2.6 million, which might make him too expensive to bring back as a part-time player next year.
Cesar Izturis (Orioles) – Izturis will subtract from an offense while hitting at the bottom of the order, but he remains a strong defender at age 30 and he only has a bit more than $1 million left on his contract. That makes him a realistic choice for the Padres, Tigers or any other contender that loses a shortstop between now and Aug. 31.
Jack Wilson (Mariners) – Any team that might acquire Wilson knows exactly what it would be getting: he’s one of the game’s most trustworthy defensive shortstops, but he’s also an offensive zero and he’s having more and more difficulty staying healthy now that he’s in his 30s. Since he’s owed another $2 million this year and $5 million in 2011, it’s doubtful the Mariners will be able to move him. They don’t have anyone ready to step in anyway.
Ronny Cedeno (Pirates) – The Pirates are likely open to trading either Cedeno or Bobby Crosby, though they’d want a bit more for Cedeno, who is back starting lately after losing time during his ugly June. He went from hitting .121/.136/.121 in 58 at-bats last month to .400/.441/.673 in 55 at-bats so far in July. Of course, that’s only gotten him to .255/.295/.381 for the year. He’d have to keep it up or risk being non-tendered this winter.
First base
Second base
Third base

People are paying tens of thousands to get into the World Series

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 24:  Chicago Cubs fans visit Wrigley Field on October 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs will face off against the Cleveland Indians in the World Series beginning tomorrow. This will be the Cubs first trip to the series since 1945. The Indians last trip to the series was 1948.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Ticket prices for the World Series are always ridiculous, but this year things are heading to a whole new ridiculous level.

Now, to be clear, some of the figures you hear are not what will be paid for tickets. The Associated Press has the de rigueur story of ticket holders asking, like, a million dollars for their tickets and ticket seekers willing to give all kinds of in-kind goods and services for a chance to see the Cubs play in Wrigley. A lot of that noise will never amount to any real transaction and, in some cases, will likely end up with someone getting arrested. It’s crazy time, you know.

But even if those million dollar and sex-for-tickets stories end up being more smoke than fire, people will end up paying astronomical prices to get in. Some already are. ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports that someone paid $32,000 on StubHub for 4 seats in the front row by the Cubs visitors dugout for Game 2 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The prices in Wrigley Field for Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, 5 will likely go higher. There’s a ton of pent-up demand on the part of both Cubs and Indians fans, after all.

Still: trying to imagine how an in-stadium experience, no matter how long someone has been waiting for it, is worth that kind of scratch. Guess it all depends on whether that kind of money constitutes that kind of scratch for a given person.

World Series Reset: Cubs vs. Indians Game 1

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 24:  Manager Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs speaks with the media during Media Day for the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 24, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

The Game: Chicago Cubs @ Cleveland Indians, World Series Game 1
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Progressive Field, Cleveland
The Channel: FOX
The Starters: Jon Lester (Cubs) vs. Corey Kluber (Indians)

The Upshot:

After 2,430 (give or take) regular season games and 28 playoff games, we’ve arrived at the World Series. By now the teams should need no introduction, but if you’d like a general overview, by all means, check out or World Series preview from yesterday. The short version: the Cubs may be the best team in baseball this year, but the World Series is a lot more evenly-matched than many believe. Including the gamblers who have caused the Vegas oddsmakers to set this as a 2-1 affair in favor of the Cubs. We don’t think that reflects baseball reality, even if it reflects gambling reality.

On the field in Game 1 is a classic battle of aces. Jon Lester, who has a chance to win the NL Cy Young Award this year, faces off against Corey Kluber, who won the Cy Young Award a couple of years ago and rounded back into Cy Young form in the second half of this season. At the moment manager Terry Francona certainly sees him as an old school ace, with reports that Kluber could get the start in Game 1, Game 4 and, if necessary, Game 7 should things last that long. Somewhere Bob Gibson is smiling.

Lester is 2-0 and has allowed two runs in 21 playoff innings across three starts this year. He threw eight shutout innings in Game 1 of the Division Series against the Giants, gave up one run in six innings in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Dodgers and gave up one run in seven innings in an Game 5 of the NLCS. For his part, Kluber tossed seven shutout innings against the Red Sox in the Division Series, six and a third shutout innings against the Jays in the first game of the ALCS and allowed two runs in five innings in a loss in Game 5 of the ALCS.

The Indians are hoping, of course, that Kluber can leave with a lead, allowing them to go long with relief aces Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. The Cubs will no doubt be looking to strike quickly, knowing that coming from behind against that Cleveland pen is a tall order. Not that the Indians can count on late heroics themselves given that Aroldis Champan looms late for the Cubs. Both lineups are filled with potential game-changing bats, but bullpens loom large here.

The runup to this has been all about 1908 and 1945 and 1948 with a splash of 1995 and 1997 thrown in. None of that matters as of tonight. At that point, the game will be in the hands of men who weren’t even born for most of that and who have only hazy memory of some of it. The 2016 World Series will be decided by 2016 players, not by curses or the weight of history.

It all gets underway just after 8pm.