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Padres rebrand no longer includes Alexei Ramirez

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Veteran middle infielder Alexei Ramirez was released by the Padres on Sunday, according to MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell. Ramirez was brought on board in the offseason to cover the club’s shortage of viable shortstops, but it quickly became apparent that the 34-year-old didn’t quite gel with the youth-centered rebuild manager Andy Green had in mind.

Over 128 games in San Diego, Ramirez cultivated a .240/.275/.330 slash line, hitting career lows with just five home runs and a -0.2 fWAR. Production issues aside, he found his infield range diminished and was frequently squeezed out of the lineup by 23-year-old infielder Luis Sardinas. He shifted to right field during his last few starts, acting as a stopgap in the absence of center fielder Jon Jay and utility man Alexi Amarista. With both Jay and Amarista due back from the disabled list later this week, it seemed as good a time as any to restructure the Padres’ infield and outfield options.

As Green put it:

It’s been a tough adjustment for him, being on the field sporadically. It’s different. He’s been doing it another way his whole career.

The Padres’ manager hopes Ramirez will find another landing place before the season’s end, though his skill set lends itself better to an outfield role than another stint at shortstop. Ramirez will receive the rest of his $3 million salary for 2016 and a $1 million buyout for the 2017 season.

Whether or not Green’s rebuilding strategy will take root over the next few seasons remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: with or without Alexei Ramirez, the Padres are still not ready to contend in 2016.

Gerrit Cole second-fastest to 200 strikeouts in a season

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Astros starter Gerrit Cole dominated the Athletics on Monday night, limiting them to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out 11. It marked his 12th start out of 22 this season with double-digit strikeouts, giving him 205 total on the season.

It is no surprise, then, to hear that Cole is the second-fastest in baseball history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Cole got there in 133 1/3 innings. The only pitcher faster than Cole was Randy Johnson, who reached 200 K’s in 130 2/3 innings back in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Along with the 205 strikeouts, Cole holds an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA across 136 2/3 innings. Among qualified starters in the American League, only Charlie Morton (2.61), Mike Minor (2.86), José Berríos (2.96), and teammate Justin Verlander (2.99) have a better ERA than Cole, who has twice finished in the top-five in Cy Young Award voting.