Tony La Russa takes responsibility for bullpen mix-up

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Tony La Russa tried to explain the bullpen phone mix-up following last night’s loss and failed miserably, seemingly throwing his bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist under the bus. Fortunately he sung a decidedly different tune in his comments to the press this afternoon at Busch Stadium.

According to the Associated Press, La Russa took full responsibility for the mix-up and said that he told Lilliquist “10 times” that it wasn’t his fault. He also shed a bit more light on how the miscommunication may have happened in the first place.

While La Russa reiterated that he called the bullpen twice to get Jason Motte ready, he admitted that during the first call, he might have mentioned Motte’s name after Lilliquist had already hung up the phone.

Plausible? I suppose. It works for a pretty good excuse, if anything. But it’s just as plausible to say that he was simply unprepared for the inning to get to Mike Napoli. Since nobody heard him, we’ll probably never know for sure.

Yankees, Mariners expressing interest in J.A. Happ

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Yankees and Mariners are both expressing interest in Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.

Happ is posting a 3.48 ERA and a 94/25 K/BB ratio in 82.2 innings across 14 starts and has been stingy with the hits as well. Between that, the Blue Jays’ lack of contention and the fact that Happ is in the walk year of his three-year, $36 million deal, all signs point to the Jays trading them.

In normal circumstances you might not expect the Jays to make a trade with the Yankees, but at this point it sort of doesn’t matter, does it? It’s not like Happ in New York on a couple month rental will impact the 2018 Jays too much. And, given his pending free agency, it’s not extraordinarily likely that he’d haunt the Jays from the Bronx long term either.

There’s not a ton of elite pitching currently available, but as the trade deadline approaches — a little over a month to go on that score — the talk about Happ, Cole Hamels, Francisco Liriano and others will heat up. Figure the Yankees will be linked with any and all available starters.