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Yankees acquire J.A. Happ from Blue Jays

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The Yankees have acquired Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ. In return they have sent infielder Brandon Drury and outfield prospect Billy McKinney.

Happ is 10-6 on the season with a 4.18 ERA in 20 starts. While, after 12 years in the bigs, you sort of know what to expect from Happ, he has increased his strikeout rate dramatically this year, punching out 10.3 batters per nine after averaging only 7.9 for his career. His WHIP, 1.175, is at a career low as well. He has had a couple of outlier starts that have elevated his ERA, including an outing in early July against the Yankees in which he gave up six runs. He’ll be a free agent after the season after completing the three-year, $36M contract he got from the Jays before the 2016 season.

Drury the Yankees’ Opening Day third baseman, but the emergence of Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, combined with Drury’s time on the disabled list due to migraines and blurred vision have limited him to just 57 plate appearances this year. Those have been forgettable, but he batted a combined .273/.323/.453 with 29 homers, 68 doubles and three triples in just under 1,000 plate appearances with the Diamondbacks in 2016-17 and he’s still just 25.

McKinney, a first rounder of the A’s in 2013, was included as a throw-in in larger trades that sent him first to the Cubs and then to the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal in 2016. He’s played in two games for the Yankees and has hit 230/.294/.502 with 13 homers, eight doubles and five triples. A lot of power, not much on-base ability. Some Yankees fans may not be happy to see him go because of the power, but he really is expendable for a team in the Yankees’ position.

The Yankees improved their bullpen by picking up Zach Britton the other day. Now they bolster their rotation without having to give up all that much, truth be told. These are some nice moves. Now we’ll see if these moves right what has been, for them anyway, a rough patch in recent weeks.

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

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Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]