Market finally heating up for Nelson Cruz

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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe shares the info:

Nelson Cruz, OF, free agent — Momentum is starting to build in Cruz’s favor. While a one-year deal somewhere is still not out of the question, there are teams with righthanded power needs, and Cruz could benefit. The Mariners remain interested, but according to one major league source, “there could be up to four or five teams who could take the plunge in the end.”

Cruz was busted last year for PEDs and his free agency is tied to draft pick compensation, so it’s been a slow-moving winter for the outfielder. The Mariners are looking for more offense and would only have to give up a third-round pick to sign Cruz, but the salary demands were still an issue as of last week.

The Orioles and Tigers have been suggested as potential fits, and a return to Texas can’t be ruled out yet.

Cruz, 33, has averaged 35 home runs and 106 RBI per 162 games since the beginning of the 2009 season.

Dodgers look to join the Red Sox in the World Series

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One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.

NLCS Game 6

Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
Breakdown:

The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.

For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.

As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.