Rays, Red Sox made offers for Colby Rasmus

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That according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss, who has been on top of the Colby Rasmus rumors since they started.

Strauss reports that the Cardinals turned down the Rays’ offer of right-hander Jeff Niemann and reliever J.P. Howell for Rasmus and that they instead held out for either James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson.

Which sounds about right.  Niemann has been on a nice roll lately, having allowed four earned runs in his last four starts.  However, he’s battled arm problems the last two years and he certainly can’t match Edwin Jackson when it comes to stuff.  Howell, a top-notch lefty reliever a couple of years ago, missed 2010 and has a 9.17 ERA in 17 2/3 innings this year since returning from shoulder surgery.

One would think something could have been worked out if the Rays were especially motivated.  The Cardinals may not have had any great desire for B.J. Upton, but he could have been flipped to a third team for someone the Rays could have used here.  Also, the Rays could have parted with Kyle Farnsworth, who has been a more dominant right-hander out of the pen than Octavio Dotel this year.

Strauss doesn’t know what the Red Sox offered, but it’s safe to assume Boston’s proposal was more prospect based, while the Cardinals are very much in win-now mode.  Rasmus would have stepped in as the new long-term right fielder for the Red Sox, making Josh Reddick expendable.  Reddick, though, fits a lot better in right field than in center, so he may not have been of a whole lot of help to St. Louis right away.

What is interesting here is that the new-school GMs seemed to be much more interested in Rasmus than the old-school ones, who may have been putting a lot more weight into the talk of his attitude problems and lack of coachability.  The Blue Jays, Rays and Red Sox are all run by much more sabermetrically inclined GMs, and while the White Sox did reportedly make a run at Rasmus, using Jackson and Matt Thornton, GM Kenny Williams eventually decided not to pay what seemed to be a very fair price for the 24-year-old center fielder.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.