Author: D.J. Short

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: Pitcher Scott Kazmir #26 of the Oakland Athletics delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees during the second inning of a MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on July 8, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Scott Kazmir to make Astros debut Friday

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The Astros acquired Scott Kazmir from the Athletics on Thursday and Julia Morales of Root Sports passes along word that the veteran southpaw will debut with his new club tomorrow night against the Royals.

Kazmir has had a couple of health scares this year, but he has posted an excellent 2.38 ERA and 101/35 K/BB ratio over 109 2/3 innings and gives Houston a fine No. 2 alongside staff ace Dallas Keuchel. The Astros flipped two pretty good prospects, catcher Jacob Nottingham and right-hander Daniel Mengden, in order to get a deal done. The 31-year-old Kazmir is due to be a free agent this winter, but the Astros are clearly going for it. In fact, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that he’s still talking about more deals.

Now that Kazmir will pitch Friday, the Astros will have Scott Feldman pitch Saturday and Keuchel on Sunday. Vincent Velasquez, who earned his first major league victory on Tuesday against the Red Sox, will pitch out of the bullpen for now.

Report: Tigers prepared to be sellers, make David Price and Yoenis Cespedes available

Dave Dombrowski
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The Tigers beat the Mariners on Monday night to improve to 46-46 on the year. While they are 10 games behind the Royals for first place in the American League Central, they are just four back in the Wild Card race. Still, with slugger Miguel Cabrera expected to miss at least another month with a calf strain and the starting rotation vulnerable, Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski is prepared to face the upcoming July 31 non-waiver trade deadline from the unfamiliar position of a seller.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today was told by “several people inside and outside the organization familiar with their strategy” that the Tigers plan to make impending free agents David Price and Yoenis Cespedes available. Dombrowski wouldn’t go quite that far when reached for comment by Nightengale, but he didn’t exactly deny it either.

“At this point,” Dombrowski said, “our focus is trying to win right now. We’re trying to do everything we can to qualify for the playoffs. Things can turn dramatically over a 10-game period. But you have to play well, at some point, on a consistent basis.

“We’re at a point where we have to do what’s best in our heart for the franchise.

And what’s “best in our heart for the franchise” might be an infusion of young talent. Baseball America had the Tigers ranked No. 30 (as in, dead-last) in their organizational rankings over the winter. Moving Price and Cespedes, even though they would just be rentals, could get them moving in the right direction for the long-term.

Price, 29, has a 2.32 ERA and 127/26 K/BB ratio in 132 innings over 19 starts this season. He could be the most sought-after starting pitcher on the market, which is saying a lot considering that Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels, Jeff Samardzija, and James Shields are also expected to be available.

Cespedes, 29, is batting .289/.314/.482 with 13 home runs and 52 RBI over 92 games this season. Other high-profile outfielders expected to be available for trade this month include Justin Upton, Jay Bruce, and Carlos Gomez.

Video: Brandon Phillips and Eugenio Suarez team up for a ridiculous play

phillipssuarez
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We have seen plenty of flashy plays from four-time Gold Glove Award winner Brandon Phillips over the years, but this one might take the cake.

Just to set the scene here, the Reds were clinging to a one-run lead tonight when Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler stepped to the plate with two on and two out in the seventh inning. Soler hit a ground ball up the middle, but Phillips went into a slide to make the stop before making a behind-the-back toss to shortstop Eugenio Suarez, who made a barehanded catch to get the force out at second base and end the inning. Just watch it already:

So pretty. This is one of those things which would be hard to recreate if you tried.

By the way, the Reds held on to win 5-4, so this play proved to be critical.

Tim Lincecum is dealing with a “degenerative” hip issue

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 16:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the game at AT&T Park on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
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Tim Lincecum hasn’t pitched since he suffered a right forearm contusion when he was hit by a comebacker on June 26, but a different issue is delaying his return to the Giants.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy told Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com that Lincecum flew to Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday to see a specialist about a hip condition which has been bothering him since the end of last season. Bochy described the issue as “degenerative,” which doesn’t sound good, but he attempted to downplay the severity of the situation.

“There’s some stuff going on there,” Bochy said. “Degenerative things, which is normal with athletes.”

The plan calls for Lincecum to rest for five days before being reevaluated. However, he obviously has some hurdles to cross before pitching in a game again.

Lincecum, 31, has a 4.13 ERA and 60/38 K/BB ratio in 76 1/3 innings across 15 start this season. He started the year strong, but struggled to the tune of a 7.53 ERA over his last seven starts and was expected to be bullpen-bound prior to landing on the disabled list.

Giants designate Jean Machi for assignment

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 19: Jean Machi #63 of the San Francisco Giants throws his only pitch for an out in the top of the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at AT&T Park on May 19, 2015 in San Francisco, California.   (Photo by Don Feria/Getty Images)
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Tim Hudson was activated from the disabled list to start tonight against the Padres, so the Giants designated reliever Jean Machi for assignment in order to clear a spot on the active roster.

Machi was an important contributor in the Giants’ bullpen from 2013-2014 while posting a 2.49 ERA over 122 appearances, but he hasn’t looked anything like that pitcher so far this season. Missing fewer bats and showing diminished control, the 33-year-old has an ugly 5.14 ERA and 22/14 K/BB ratio over 35 innings. Perhaps someone will take a chance on him in the hopes of a turnaround, but there’s been a clear decline in skills.

Hudson has been sidelined since June 26 with a strained right shoulder. The 40-year-old has a 4.68 ERA and 49/22 K/BB ratio in 92 1/3 innings over 15 starts this season. With Hudson’s return, Ryan Vogelsong is being moved to the bullpen.