Thad Levine declines interview for Astros’ GM opening

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The Astros’ hunt for a new general manager began Monday when freshly-approved owner Jim Crane fired Ed Wade. It’s early, but so far the hunt has not been fruitful. In fact, it’s even been a little embarrassing.

Crane and Co. have reached out to Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman, but most insiders believe that to be a longshot. The ‘Stros have also made contact with Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine, but that’s not going to happen either.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Levine declined an interview for the GM opening in Houston despite being granted permission to seek employment outside the organization by the Rangers’ higher-ups. He deemed his current job, as an assistant to Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, to be a better situation than a chance to become a primary decision-maker in Houston.

Perhaps Crane is setting the Astros’ sights too high. Friedman is a highly-regarded businessman with a personal interest in the Rays and a track record of success, and Levine is one of the top front office talents in the sport with a comfortable gig in an organization that has made consecutive trips to the World Series.

The Astros have a nice stadium and a new ownership group that seems serious about improving the overall product, but they have much rebuilding ahead and a farm system short on elite prospects.

With the Winter Meetings set to begin early next week, it might be time to begin bottom-feeding.

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.