Position-by-position trade deadline preview: Center field

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This is the seventh in a series of articles looking at players who might be available in the days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
B.J. Upton (Rays) – Upton has frustrated the Rays with his lack of effort at times and this makes two straight years in which he hasn’t hit much at all, but it looks like the team still isn’t ready to give up on him. While his name came up in the Cliff Lee rumors and he’s been mentioned in connection with the Nationals, Phillies and Dodgers, the belief is that he’s staying. The Rays aren’t ready to turn center field over to top prospect Desmond Jennings just yet.
Chris Young (Diamondbacks) – Young certainly would have been a lot easier to acquire over the winter. With a .269/.334/.468 line, 17 homers and 63 RBI in 98 games, he’s currently living up to the contract that will pay him $5 million next year, $7 million in 2012, $8.5 million in 2013 and either $11 million or a $1.5 million buyout in 2014. The Diamondbacks as a whole, on the other hand, have continued to disappoint and want to cut back payroll, which is why Young might be available. It’d still be quite a surprise if he were dealt.
Cody Ross (Marlins) – Ross fits better in a corner, but he remains an option in center field. It’s where the Marlins have been using him since they called up Mike Stanton to take over in right. After back-to-back years of 20 homers and OPSs right around 800, Ross is currently hitting .270/.325/.404 with nine homers through 374 at-bats. The Phillies, Braves, Red Sox and Dodgers have expressed interest in him anyway, though the Dodgers would seem to be out of the mix after picking up Scott Podsednik. Because of the Chris Coghlan injury, the Marlins are leaning towards keeping him, at least for a couple of more months. He’ll be a prime non-tender candidate in the offseason if he fails to put up a strong second half.
Coco Crisp (Athletics) – Crisp has had big problems staying on the field the last two years, but he’s the one legitimate leadoff-hitting center fielder potentially available and that would seem to give him some trade value. The Padres bid on him in the offseason and still have a need for him now, and he’d be quite a weapon as a part-timer for the Braves, White Sox, Yankees or Rays. The A’s could choose to retain him and exercise his $5.75 million option for 2011, but as much time as he’s missed, he should come cheaper than that next year.
Jim Edmonds (Brewers) – Back after a year off, Edmonds has posted an impressive .289/.353/.513 line in 197 at-bats for Milwaukee this year. He’s no everyday center fielder at this stage of his career, but his bat makes it worth living with his diminished range, at least when the opponent is throwing a right-hander. He can also serve as a backup first baseman. This is probably his last season, but he hasn’t expressed a desire to finish his career with a World Series contender. The Brewers figure to keep him unless he requests a move next month.
Corey Patterson (Orioles) – Patterson filled in admirably as the Orioles’ leadoff hitter with Brian Roberts on the shelf, and though his production has tailed off recently, he’s still at a respectable .274/.325/.404 in 223 at-bats. He’s also stolen 17 bases in 20 attempts. No contender is going to want him as a regular, but he’d be awfully useful off the bench if he could maintain that kind of line. Too bad most suspect that he can’t.
Willie Harris (Nationals) – Not that he would have brought a king’s ransom in return, but the Nationals missed out on their chance to sell high on Harris a year ago. After three straight seasons in which he proved quite valuable while racking up about 350 at-bats a year, he’s fallen all of the way to .184/.287/.355 in 141 at-bats in 2010. Given that he plays left and right very well, center adequately and second and third if necessary, he could still be a fit for several contenders. A return to Chicago with the White Sox would make some sense.
Chris Dickerson (Reds) – Dickerson, who has been on the DL since the end of April with a broken hamate bone, is hitting .429/.515/.821 through nine games in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville. The strong showing might prompt the Reds to have him replace Laynce Nix on the bench, but they’d likely still be willing to send him elsewhere in return for a prospect. Dickerson is out of options, so sending him down until rosters expand isn’t an option.
Catcher
First base
Second base
Third base
Shortstop
Left field & right field

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.