Report: Rays “motivated” to trade Matt Garza

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A source tells Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse that the Rays are “motivated” to trade Matt Garza.

We have already heard Garza connected to the Brewers and Nationals, but according to Price, the Rangers view him as a fallback if they are unable to sign Cliff Lee or acquire Zack Greinke.

Garza, 27, has thrived since being acquired from the Twins in November of 2007, posting a 3.86 ERA over 95 games (94 starts) with the Rays. He went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 2010 and has topped 200 innings pitched in each of the past two seasons. Garza remains under team control through 2013, but is due a hefty raise in the arbitration process from the $3.35 million he made this past season.

In a perfect world, the Rays would probably prefer to deal James Shields, but they stand to get more in return for Garza, especially as they attempt to to bolster their lineup and reconstruct their bullpen. If Garza is ultimately dealt, the club would slide Jeremy Hellickson into their starting rotation. Hellickson, who turns 24 next April, went 4-0 with a 3.47 ERA and 33/8 K/BB ratio over 10 appearances (four starts) with the Rays this past season. He looks ready for primetime.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.