Cubs reportedly close to acquiring Matt Garza

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The Chicago Cubs are close to making a deal to acquire starting pitcher Matt Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

The report, which did not mention what players the Rays might be seeking in such a deal, said that the Cubs became frontrunners to acquire Garza after the Texas Rangers signed free agent pitcher Brandon Webb and tossed a bunch of money at Adrian Beltre.

Garza, who was 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA over 204.2 innings last season, would solidify a Cubs rotation that already includes Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Silva. The 27-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance, throwing a no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers last July 26, and a one-hitter in 2008.

But he hasn’t harnessed those talents on consistently as the Rays might have hoped, and is also due a nice raise in arbitration from the $3.35 million he made in 2010, making him a valuable trade commodity for cost-conscious Tampa Bay.

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MLB fines and suspends Yasiel Puig two games for Tuesday’s incident with Giants

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Major League Baseball has announced that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has been fined and suspended two games for his role in Tuesday night’s benches-clearing incident with the Giants.

Puig was upset with himself after fouling off a hittable pitch, tossing his bat up and grabbing it angrily. Catcher Nick Hundley didn’t like Puig’s expression of emotion and had a few words for him. Puig didn’t like what Hundley said and the two got into a shoving match before the benches emptied. Puig was able to get past his teammates attempting to restrain him to smack Hundley across the catcher’s mask. MLB’s press release characterizes Puig’s role as having “incited a bench-clearing incident.”

The Dodgers are off Thursday, Puig would be slated to miss Friday and Saturday’s games. However, Puig is appealing his punishment, which means he can continue to play until the matter is settled.

Hundley was fined but did not receive a suspension. If MLB’s press release were accurate, it would have characterized Hundley, not Puig, of inciting Tuesday’s benches-clearing incident. Puig was upset at no one but himself until Hundley inserted himself into the picture. Of course, this is by no means excusing Puig’s behavior as he should have been fined and suspended. But Hundley should have been suspended as well.