Position-by-position trade deadline preview: Shortstop

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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.
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Settling the Scores: Memorial Day edition

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  American flags are shown after being placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. "Flags-In" has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in military service. At some point in the past couple of decades, however, it has become an all-purpose flag-waving, patriotism-declaring, civilians-in-camouflage holiday. It’s understandable why this is the case. We, as a country, haven’t always done mourning well. I think it’s part of our national cultural DNA that we don’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make days like this difficult.

I feel like the flag-waving and troop-supporting stuff is some sort of subconscious reaction to death. It’s our way of instantly trying to justify those deaths or to explain how they were not in vain, much the same way we might tell someone upon the death of a loved one that they’re in a better place or that they had a full life. Feeling the pain of loss is hard. We want to soften it in any way we can and make our pain serve a larger, better purpose. And so we get today, when Major League Baseball puts its players in camouflage caps and in jerseys with camouflage logos. They’ll sell them too, with proceeds going to good and noble veterans charities. The intent is noble and the ultimate effect of it all is beneficial. But it’s also a little beside the point. Maybe not beside the point as much as mattress sales or big celebratory barbecues which have come to characterize Memorial Day for so many, but still not exactly the purpose of the holiday.

I don’t condemn it. As I wrote last year, the men and women who actually fought and died in wars were hoping that they were, ultimately, making a better and happier world for those they left behind. And they no doubt hoped, among everything else they hoped, that others didn’t have to face what they were facing. They wanted our lives to be happy and our country to be safe and part of a happy and safe country involves 300 million people doing whatever it is they damn please, even if it’s just having barbecues and wearing camo at the ballpark.

I won’t say have a happy Memorial Day because that seems odd. Have any kind of Memorial Day you want, really, even if it includes barbecuing, drinking beer and wearing a cam ballcap. But as you do, please make sure you take some time to think about those who died in military service. And remember that they didn’t get to have as many days like the one you’re having as they were meant to have. And make at least some effort to offset your happy, patriotic or silly pursuits with some mourning and reflectiveness. It’s OK for that to stand on its own.

The scores:

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
Orioles 6, Indians 4
Yankees 2, Rays 1
Nationals 10, Cardinals 2
Brewers 5, Reds 4
Royals 5, White Sox 4
Cubs 7, Phillies 2
Rangers 6, Pirates 2
Astros 8, Angels 6
Athletics 4, Tigers 2
Twins 5, Mariners 4
Giants 8, Rockies 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Marlins 7, Braves 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 2

 

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.