Surprising A’s are pursuing a shortstop

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With Cliff Pennington continue to hover around the Mendoza Line, the A’s are hunting for a shortstop, FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports.

The A’s are winners of nine of their last 10 games and are now 46-43 for the season, putting themselves right in the mix for a wild card spot.

Rosenthal lists Toronto’s Yunel Escobar and Arizona’s Stephen Drew as possibilities for the A’s. The Jays might be willing to move Escobar with Adeiny Hechavarria putting up decent numbers at Triple-A Las Vegas, particularly if it would get them some immediate pitching help. Escobar, though, has been quite a disappointment himself this season, hitting .251/.299/.339 in 342 at-bats.

The A’s would probably be better off upgrading at third rather than at short. As terrible as Pennington has been with the bat this year — he’s hitting .203/.266/.290 — he still offers fine defense, and he’s been a perfectly respectable hitter in the past (he finished with identical .687 OPSs in 2010 & ’11). He’s a better bet than Brandon Inge to serve as an average regular over the rest of the season.

If the Tigers are sub-.500 at the end of June it’ll be fire sale time

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Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.

This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.

So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.

The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.