Report: Hunter Pence won’t be moved this summer

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It’s only been a day or two since Buster Olney reported that the Astros would listen to offers for Hunter Pence, but in that time there has been more chatter about him than almost any player on the market. But he may not be on the market at all, actually: Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald was told by a source that Pence won’t be moved by the Astros.

It could be that everyone realized that he wasn’t quite the prize everyone made him out to be. Oh, he’s good. He’s the best hitter the Astros have. But because he was a super two, he has two more rounds of arbitration and could make as much as $9-10 million in 2012 and more again in 2013, sort of killing that “he’s young, cheap and controlled” narrative.  It’s also possible that people looked at his splits and realized that Minute Maid Park has been very very good to him.  If so, the haul the Astros might have expected may not be all that realistic.

It’s also possible, however, that Ed Wade is stuck as a lame duck GM, with new ownership in the offing but not yet in power, and that he has no mandate to trade Pence.  Or it could be something else.  One never knows at this time of year.

But if Silverman is right, we’re back to where we were when the week began: Carlos Beltran as the best bat available and then a wide, wide chasm between him and the number two guy.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.