Sports Illustrated polls major leaguers about a number of things throughout the year. Or else it polls them once and then releases the results in drips and drabs throughout the year. Today’s drip/drab: “Baseball’s Meanest Players.”
Problem: it doesn’t really list a criteria. Which matters here, because “meanest” could be the most personally unpleasant. It could also have some mix of hard-nosed competitiveness to it, which is at least in part admirable. Of course, since they have A.J. Pierzynski number one — and since he’s often talked about like he’s a grade-A jerk — I tend to think it leans more toward the former
Anyway, here’s the post. Sadly, it is a slide show. For those of you with the good sense to stay away from web slides shows, I’ll tell you that Chase Utley is number two, followed by Milton Bradley, Carlos Zambrano and Vicente Padilla.
OK, wait a minute. Now I’m certain that it’s just a list of jerks, because those last three are universally despised. Which makes me wonder how Utley makes that list, because you rarely hear him talked about in the same way those other guys are.
A-Rod, Chris Carpenter and … wait for it … Albert Pujols come next. I apologize Brewers fans. Seems that you’re not the only ones on the planet who think Pujols is a jerk. Two-hundred and fifteen major league baseball players agree. Of course, don’t get too smug because he’s followed on the list by Nyjer Morgan. And yes, there are Red Sox, another Yankee and another Brewer in the top 15.
No Braves of course. Everyone loves Braves.
Wednesday gives us six afternoon games, leaving nine games for the evening. Masahiro Tanaka will start one of those games as the Yankees take on the Astros’ Lance McCullers in an 8:10 PM EDT start.
The Yankees went into the All-Star break an even 44-44, 7.5 games out of first place and looking like sellers. They have come into the second half winning 8 of 12 games, including their last three. The club has only managed to make up one game against the first-place Orioles in the AL East, but they are also only four games out of the second AL Wild Card slot.
Aroldis Chapman has already been shipped out, but the Yankees are also drawing trade interest in Andrew Miller, who has assumed the closer’s role. If the Yankees win tonight and perform well against the Rays in a three-game series in Tampa, the Bronx Bombers may enter the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline deciding to be competitive after all.
The rest of Wednesday evening’s action…
Colorado Rockies (Jon Gray) @ Baltimore Orioles (Dylan Bundy), 7:05 PM EDT
Seattle Mariners (James Paxton) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Gerrit Cole), 7:05 PM EDT
St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) @ New York Mets (Logan Verrett), 7:10 PM EDT
Chicago White Sox (Anthony Ranaudo) @ Chicago Cubs (Jason Hammel), 8:05 PM EDT
Oakland Athletics (Sean Manaea) @ Texas Rangers (Yu Darvish), 8:05 PM EDT
Arizona Diamondbacks (Archie Bradley) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson), 8:10 PM EDT
Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz) @ Minnesota Twins (Tyler Duffey), 8:10 PM EDT
Los Angeles Angels (Matt Shoemaker) @ Kansas City Royals (Danny Duffy), 8:15 PM EDT
Starter Jeremy Hellickson has become the Phillies’ most enticing trade chip as he’s put together a solid month of July. After shutting out the Marlins on one hit and one walk over six innings on Monday, the right-hander lowered his July ERA to 1.97 and his overall ERA to 3.65. As a result, the Phillies are telling teams they want a top-five prospect to part with Hellickson, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
Obviously, a top-five prospect means something different if you’re the Marlins as opposed to the Rangers. And the Phillies’ price point for Hellickson isn’t likely to stay that high, but GM Matt Klentak is setting a lofty starting point so that the return might end up being higher than market value.
ESPN’s Buster Olney speculates that the Phillies could end up holding onto Hellickson and giving him a qualifying offer after the season. He notes that the Phillies have only $25 million tied up for the 2017 season, so they could afford to pay Hellickson in excess of $16 million if he were to accept.