Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, Michael Young

Rangers, Rockies on pace for historic finishes

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With two teams already there and the rest set to hit the halfway point of the season within the next few days, I wanted to look at what kind of pace each team was on. Below are the number of wins each team would finish with given its current pace, plus how that would stack up against the team’s history. As things stand now, there’s one team on pace for its most wins ever and another on pace for its fewest.

AL East
Yankees – 100 – most since 2009
Orioles – 87 – most since 1997
Red Sox – 86  – fewest since 2001
Rays – 84 – fewest since 2009
Blue Jays – 82 – most since 2010

AL Central
White Sox – 86 – most since 2010
Indians – 83 – most since 2007
Tigers – 80 – fewest since 2008
Royals – 74 – most since 2008
Twins – 69 – most since 2010

AL West
Rangers – 101 – most ever
Angels – 90 – most since 2009
Athletics – 77 – most since 2010
Mariners – 68 – most since 2009

NL East
Nationals – 95 – most since 1979*
Mets – 87 – most since 2008
Braves – 85 – fewest since 2008
Marlins – 79 – most since 2010
Phillies – 72 – fewest since 2000

NL Central
Reds – 89 – most since 2010
Pirates – 87 – most since 1992
Cardinals – 84 – fewest since 2007
Brewers – 75 – fewest since 2006
Astros – 66 – most since 2010
Cubs – 60 – fewest since 1981**

NL West
Giants – 91 – most since 2010
Dodgers – 89 – most since 2009
Diamondbacks – 81 – fewest since 2010
Rockies – 62 – fewest ever
Padres – 61 fewest since 1993

*The Expos were 74-40 and on pace to win 105 games when the strike ended the 1994 season.

**The 1981 Cubs went 38-65 in that strike-shortened season, which also works out to 60-win pace. Their last full season under 60 wins was 1966, when they went 59-103.

If the Rangers keep at it, they’ll set a franchise high for victories for the second straight year, topping last year’s total of 96. Before that, their high was 95 win sin 1999.

The Rockies are on pace for their fewest wins, excluding the 1994 strike season (they were on pace for 73 wins that year). Their low total is 67 wins, from both their inaugural season in 1993 and from 2005.

The Yankees and Rangers are both on pace for 100 wins. Only one team, the Phillies, got there last year. No team did in 2010. If the Yankees can do it, it’d be their sixth 100-win season since 1998.

And then there’s the Pirates, on pace for their first .500 season since Barry Bonds left. Their high total since was 79 wins in 1997.

Diamondbacks working on a deal with Tyler Clippard

at Citi Field on July 28, 2015 in Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
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Last week Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart revealed that he was interested in signing free agent reliever Tyler Clippard and now Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the two sides have “made progress toward a deal.”

Piecoro notes that by trading Aaron Hill and his remaining contract to the Brewers the Diamondbacks created a bit of payroll flexibility that they could use to sign Clippard.

Clippard has a long history of excellent work as both a setup man and closer, but his raw stuff and secondary numbers have declined even though his ERA remained very good at 2.92 last season for the A’s and Mets. His strikeout rate dipped to a career-low 8.1 per nine innings, which is drop of about 25 percent from 2009-2014.

Two elite Cuban players defect

cuba hat
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Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com just reported that Yulieski Gurriel & Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who are brothers, reportedly defected and will be seeking MLB deals. There aren’t any details yet, but Sanchez will be updating with a full story that we’ll link here when he has it. UPDATE: Here it is.

Yulieski is a 31-year old third baseman and, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler he was the No. 1 player remaining in Cuba. He was one of the Cuban players who was permitted to play in Japan recently, and he just put up a .305/.349/.536 season with 11 homers in 62 games for the Yokohama Bay Stars and has continued to rake in Cuba. He is likely major league ready right this instant. He’d be an unrestricted free agent given his age and team’s signing him would not be subject to international bonus pool limits.

Lourdes is only 22 years old. He’s hit .269/.355/.414 in 1036 Serie Nacional plate appearances and Badler thinks he has 20-homer potential in the majors one day. He’s currently a shortstop, but is probably destined for a corner. He is young enough to where he would be subject to bonus pool limits. Several teams have already exceeded those limits for the current signing period, limiting the number of teams who could sign him. If, however, it takes MLB a long time to clear him as a free agent — and with immigration issues and the like, that’s very possible — he may not be eligible to be signed until next year, which could bring some other teams into the fold.

 

Indians close to signing ex-Nationals reliever Craig Stammen

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Right-hander Craig Stammen, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Nationals, is expected to sign with the Indians.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Indians “hope to finalize a deal” with Stammen today, adding veteran depth to the bullpen. It’ll likely be a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Stammen missed nearly all of last season following elbow surgery and the Nationals non-tendered him, but he’s scheduled to be ready for spring training. After struggling as a starter early in his career he’s posted a 3.02 ERA in 280 innings out of the bullpen, so if healthy it’d be a nice addition for Cleveland.

A Mexican team wins the Caribbean Series for the third time in four years

Mexican players celebrate their victory in the Caribbean Series baseball final against Aragua Tigres of Venezuela, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Designated hitter Jorge Vazquez hit a game-winning home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, lifting Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory and the championship of the Caribbean Series. (AP Photo/Roberto Guzman)
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For those who aren’t familiar, Serie del Caribe, or the Caribbean Series, is the highest club level baseball tournament in Latin America, pitting the champions of the winter leagues in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela against one another in a bacchanalia of baseball that, if there was justice in the world, we’d all be watching instead of football.

This year’s installment ended last night with Mexico’s Mazatlan Venados beating Venezuela’s Aragua Tigres 5-4 in the final game at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jorge Vazquez — who Yankees fans may remember from a few years back — provided the winning margin when he hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.

This is the third Serie del Caribe title for a Mexican club in the past four years, with Naranjeros de Hermosillo winning in 2014 and Yaquis de Obregón winning in 2013. Pinar del Río from Cuba won it last winter. This is the first time the Venados have won it.

As we noted yesterday, this was longtime MLB starter Freddy Garcia‘s last game. He gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs over five and a third innings for the Tigres, getting a no-decision.