Is Arte Moreno blowing smoke about the Angels offer to Carl Crawford?

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From the same L.A. Times article in which the Angels’ offer to Adrian Beltre was reported, Arte Moreno claims that the Angels never made an offer to Carl Crawford. Why? Never had the chance, he says.  By the time they got to talking to him in Orlando last week he had an agreement with the Red Sox. Alternatively, Moreno says, he was too expensive and if they signed him the payroll would have been out of whack and he would have had to raise ticket prices. Really: he makes the argument that an increased payroll would have led to higher ticket prices, as if those prices aren’t set by supply and demand.

Both of these explanations run counter to what ESPN’s Gordon Edes reported last week.  He had two different sources, one claiming that the Angles matched the $142 million offer but did so too late. Another says that all they made was a $108 million offer which was obviously way too light.

Know what it all sounds like to me?  It sounds like the Angels, despite all of their early-offseason talk about wanting to spend big and make a splash, have real payroll constraints that they don’t want to exceed and which were never compatible with Carl Crawford in the first place.  Disingenuous? Perhaps. Or maybe they just misread the market and didn’t figure contracts would be going loco like they have been. A third possibility: they just moved too damn slow. Whatever the case, Angels fans can’t be a happy lot right now, as their primary offseason target now plays for Boston and their secondary target — Mr. Beltre — has not accepted their allegedly big offer yet.

Know what would make this just perfect? If some other team signed Beltre and, wouldn’t you just know it, the Angels matched the offer ten minutes too late. Darn the luck.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.