Daily Fantasy Baseball Contest: Win Share Of $100K Payout

One-day leagues are one of the most exciting ways to play fantasy baseball.  For any given day of the MLB schedule, you can create a fantasy team and win huge cash prizes.  If you have $22 and love Major League Baseball, draft a one-day fantasy baseball team at DraftStreet.com for the games this Friday.  You could win a share of $100,000 with a massive first place prize of $20,000.

750 players will win cash on Friday and you can be one of them.  Simply pick one player from each of eight tiers.  Score the most fantasy points and find out if you win after the end of Friday’s final game.

How to enter this $100K DraftStreet Pick’em contest:

  1. Sign up at DraftStreet.com.
  2. Enter the MLB Pick’em Big Score for $22.
  3. Save your MLB team by 6:55pm eastern time, Friday, April 25th.

Finish in the top 750 and you’ll double your money.  First place wins $20,000!  If this is your first time depositing at DraftStreet you will receive a 100% deposit bonus, up to $200 free.  Here are my picks:

draftstreet

Friday April 25th MLB Eligible Schedule:

Royals @ Orioles – 7:05pm ET
Angels @ Yankees – 7:05pm ET
Padres @ Nationals – 7:05pm ET
Red Sox @ Blue Jays – 7:07pm ET
Marlins @ Mets – 7:10pm ET
Reds @ Braves – 7:35pm ET
Rays @ White Sox – 8:10pm ET
Cubs @ Brewers – 8:10pm ET
Tigers @ Twins – 8:10pm ET
Athletics @ Astros – 8:10pm ET
Pirates @ Cardinals – 8:15pm ET
Phillies @ Diamondbacks – 9:40pm ET
Rangers @ Mariners – 10:10pm ET
Rockies @ Dodgers – 10:10pm ET
Indians @ Giants – 10:15pm ET

Draft your team now!


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Quick Hits: Hardy, D’Backs, Gregg, Hawkins, Payrolls

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy told reporters today (including Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun) that he won’t comment any further on his contract situation because there haven’t been any new developments. “There’s nothing to discuss,” said Hardy before adding that there haven’t been any recent negotiations between the two sides. Encina writes that Hardy and the O’s haven’t had extension talks since Spring Training. A few more late night links from around the league…

  • Asked about the performance of rookie starter Mike Bolsinger following a strong start on Thursday, Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero launched into an unprompted defense of GM Kevin Towers, manager Kirk Gibson and the Arizona coaching staff, writes MLB.com’s Steve GilbertThe bottom line is, it’s our responsibility to go out there and take care of business,” said Montero. “I just wanted to say that, because the blame should be on us.” Montero said he would be “disappointed” if anything were to happen to Towers, Gibson or any of the coaches. 
  • Right-hander Kevin Gregg tells Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago-Sun Times that he’s in shape and waiting for the right opportunity to present itself. Gregg isn’t sure why he wasn’t able to land a guaranteed big league deal after a solid 2013 campaign with the Cubs but feels he can still get outs in the Majors and would welcome the opportunity to pitch in 2014. Gregg has been working out and pitching to college hitters at his home in Oregon to stay in shape as he waits for a deal. He spoke with a number of teams this offseason, writes Wittenmyer, but the Cubs weren’t one of them.
  • LaTroy Hawkins was surprised when the Rockies‘ offer to him this offseason included an opportunity to close games, writes Tracy Ringolsby for MLB.com. Hawkins says, however, that it was made clear that he was merely keeping the seat warm for Rex Brothers. Hawkins explains to Ringolsby the wisdom he’s trying to impart on Brothers as the young left-hander prepares himself to be the long-term answer for Colorado in the ninth inning.
  • The CardinalsRays and Giants top a list of baseball’s smartest spenders over the past five that was devised by Ira Boudner, Evan Applegate and Ritchie S. King of Bloomberg Businessweek. The three have created a weighted system for all four major American sports based on the price paid per win compared to the league average and also created an interactive graphic for users to customize the list. In contrast, the White SoxMets and Cubs are the bottom three on the list.

Minor Moves: Trent Oeltjen, Clay Schrader

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • Outfielder Trent Oeltjen, who had been loaned to los Toros de Tijuana of the Mexican League, has been returned to the Diamondbacks‘ Triple-A affiliate in Reno, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. Oeltjen, 31, hit just .139/.273/.250 with a homer in his time with Tijuana, is a career .295/.359/.481 hitter in 735 Triple-A games. He’s seen big league time with the D’Backs and Dodgers but hasn’t been in the Majors since 2011.
  • The Braves have signed righty Clay Schrader to a minor league deal, per their official transactions page. The 23-year-old was Baltimore’s 10th-round pick in the 2010 draft and has a 2.62 ERA with 11.5 K/9 and 6.5 BB/9 in 172 innings of relief in the minors. Schrader, who will turn 24 in four days, reached Double-A in 2012 as a 22-year-old and has 79 innings at that level — the furthest he’s ascended in his minor league career to date.


AL West Notes: Griffin, Figueroa, Mariners, Doolittle

Athletics right-hander A.J. Griffin‘s elbow hasn’t responded well after being shut down for a month, and the 26-year-old will seek a second opinion from Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff, who performed Tommy John surgery on Oakland’s Fernando Rodriguez, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Griffin has been out with flexor tendinitis, which is often a precursor to Tommy John, Slusser points out. She goes on to write that the loss of both Griffin and Jarrod Parker for the season would likely lead the A’s to actively seeking starting pitching on this summer’s trade market, even if they were merely looking for a back-of-the-rotation innings eater to provide some stability.

More out of the AL West…

  • While Griffin is another potential victim of the Tommy John epidemic, Rangers left-hander Pedro Figueroa can definitively add his name to that list. The team told reporters today, including FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro, that Figueroa has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament and damage to his flexor tendon, and he will likely undergo Tommy John within the next week (Twitter link).
  • Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune conducted a Q&A in which he answered many of his Twitter followers’ questions, and within the article noted that the Mariners are still looking to add a bat to improve their lineup. The team has “never stopped looking” for a bat, he writes, before cautioning that they don’t appear to have much interest in Kendrys Morales. Dutton also touches on the team’s payroll, Hisashi Iwakuma‘s health status and Abraham Almonte‘s role with the club.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea compares Sean Doolittle‘s recent five-year contract extension to previous deals of five-plus years for relievers, noting that Doolittle’s contract has little precedent. Shea concludes that the deal works for both sides and doesn’t carry as much risk as other contracts for a pitcher would, as Doolittle is a converted first baseman that has only been pitching for about three years.

Darren Oliver Joins Rangers’ Front Office

The Rangers announced today, via press release, that retired left-hander Darren Oliver has joined the front office as a special assistant to general manager Jon Daniels. In his new role, Oliver will work with Daniels and his staff “in a variety of areas with an emphasis on pitching,” according to the release. Daniels issued the following statement:

We are very happy to welcome Darren Oliver into an official capacity with the Rangers. Darren will focus on pitching on both the major and minor league levels, and he will have a presence in Arlington and with our minor league affiliates. I also expect that he will be a valuable sounding board to our baseball operations group on all fronts. Darren has been working with us on an informal basis over the last several months and was a great asset on our trip to the Dominican Republic in January and during his several weeks at spring training camp. I am glad that we have been able to formalize that relationship.”

The 43-year-old Oliver was a third-round pick of the Rangers back in 1988. He spent 20 seasons in the Major Leagues, pitching to a 4.51 ERA with 5.9 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, a 118-98 win-loss record, 11 complete games, four shutouts and seven saves. Oliver’s career looked to be winding down after the 2005 season, as he’d posted a 5.83 ERA in 573 innings from 2000-04. However, he converted to the bullpen on a full-time basis from that point forth and proceeded to pitch for another eight seasons. In that final stretch, the durable Oliver was a workhorse out of the ‘pen and enjoyed a 2.95 ERA (149 ERA+) with 7.5 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in his final 508 2/3 innings.

Oliver spoke with Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith back in February about his post-retirement plans and his final season, noting that he was proud to end his career with a productive 3.86 ERA in 49 innings for the Blue Jays: I’d rather go out like that than hang on and get beat up on the mound and have the fans boo you. No one likes to go out like that.”


Ivan Nova To Undergo Tommy John Surgery

THURSDAY: Nova has chosen to have the TJ procedure, tweets Feinsand.

TUESDAY: The Yankees announced that Nova’s second exam confirmed that he has a partially torn UCL, and that Ahmad has recommended surgery.

MONDAY: The Tommy John epidemic that is sweeping Major League Baseball looks to have another victim, as Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova learned after an MRI this weekend that he has a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, writes Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Feinsand says that Nova will be re-examined today by team physician Chris Ahmad, but the very likely outcome is that Nova will be the 15th pitcher to undergo Tommy John surgery this season.

Nova was roughed up by the Rays in his start on Saturday, but he didn’t feel any discomfort in his elbow until the final pitch he threw, writes Feinsand. Nova said he felt a pop on that pitch and was in denial as he was being removed from the game, not believing himself to be seriously injured and wanting to continue pitching to spare his bullpen.

With Nova likely on the shelf through next spring, the Yankees will test their internal depth. Vidal Nuno could be the favorite to take over in the team’s rotation, though other options such as David Phelps and Adam Warren are present. New York could also look to the waiver wire and continue to get by with a patchwork solution until clubs begin making more reliable arms available on the trade market this summer.

Needless to say, the resurgence of Michael Pineda is now even more impactful for the Yankees. Were it not for Pineda’s health, the club would be fielding a rotation of Masahiro Tanaka, Hiroki Kuroda, a declining CC Sabathia and a pair of the aforementioned internal options. Now, manager Joe Girardi tells Feinsand that he will meet with GM Brian Cashman, presumably on today’s off-day, to determine which of Nuno, Phelps or Warren will step into Nova’s spot.


Twins Claim Kenny Wilson From Blue Jays

The Twins have claimed outfielder Kenny Wilson off waivers from the Blue Jays, the club announced. Wilson, 24, has yet to see MLB action.

Interestingly enough, Wilson hit the waiver wire after being designated for assignment by the Jays in order to make room for the claim of fellow outfielder Darin Mastroianni from Minnesota. In effect, then, the clubs swapped the two players.

In Wilson, Minnesota is adding a toolsy player with upside who seemingly still needs some time to develop. The 22nd ranked prospect in the Jays system entering the year, according to Baseball America, Wilson has not yet mastered Double-A. He started there this year after a solid (if unspectacular) run in his first go at that level at age 23. According to the Twins’ announcement, Wilson will begin his time with the Twins at that level as well.


East Notes: Henry, Pineda, Phils, Simmons, Harang

In an outstanding profile of Red Sox principal owner John Henry, Joshua Green of Bloomberg Businessweek writes that Henry “captures baseball’s current era” with his financial savvy and mathematical orientation. The full piece comes highly recommended, but a few particularly salient points are worth mention here. According to Henry, Boston’s disastrous 2012 season taught the organization “a lesson in ever-growing, long-term contracts with free agents.” An important element of the team’s turnaround, says Green, was Henry’s “ability to ignore sentiment” in making personnel decisions. Though Henry says “it’s gotten harder to spend money intelligently,” Green paints a picture of a man determined to do just that, precisely because of the challenge. In the immediate term, of course, the question is at what price the Sox deem staff ace Jon Lester a worthwhile investment. (The team has reportedly offered four years and $70MM.)

  • Of course, the major topic of conversation last night (and this morning) was the ejection of Yankees starter Michael Pineda for taking the hill with a generous application of pine tar on his neck. Pineda will almost certainly earn a suspension and miss at least one start; last year, Rays reliever Joel Peralta lost 8 games after he was caught with the substance. Of course, virtually every player, manager, front office official, and journalist to have commented on the incident has noted that it is widely accepted that pitchers utilize various kinds of grip-enhancing agents. As ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes (Insider link), it is increasingly ridiculous to maintain a rule that is so rarely enforced and widely disregarded. His recommendation of a pre-approved substance (or, presumably, substances) that pitchers can utilize seems like a good starting point for considering a rule change; it makes little sense, in my view, to implicitly permit “cheating” so long as the pitcher is not “too obvious.”
  • The Phillies bullpen — particularly,  its grouping of right-handed set-up men — have been an unmitigated disaster thus far. Indeed, Philadelphia relievers currently sport a league-worst 5.64 ERA. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes, the club has already demoted three of its righties — B.J. Rosenberg, Brad Lincoln, and Justin De Fratus — and will now rely on a series of questionable arms (for different reasons) in Mike Adams, Jeff Manship, and Shawn Camp. Last August, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the pen would be an area of focus in the coming offseason, but the team did not spend there in free agency.
  • Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons has already established himself as a nearly incomparable defensive shortstop, writes Howard Megdal of Sports On Earth. Club manager Fredi Gonzalez said that it was premature to put his young, newly-extended whiz alongside The Wizard: the legendary Ozzie Smith maintained his defensive prowess for 19 seasons. But, as Megdal explains, Simmons’ early success puts him on that kind of trajectory, and better. With a seemingly greater offensive (and, possibly, defensive) ceiling than the Hall-of-Famer Smith, Simmons has both legitimate upside and a high floor.
  • While Atlanta obviously did well to identify starter Aaron Harang, who is off to an incredible start to the season for the Braves after being squeezed out of the Indians’ rotation mix, Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus explains that there are no analytical or scouting reasons to believe that Harang has re-invented himself at this late stage of his career. Ultimately, Harang has benefited from a low BABIP, high strand rate, and unsustainable level of success with runners in scoring position. Though his contributions to date should not be underestimated, says Lindbergh, there remains a good chance that the Braves will end up replacing Harang in the rotation before the season is out.

Poll: Best Mid-Level, One-Year Signings

Players signed on one-year deals are obviously on a different timeline in terms of value assessment than are those who ink multi-year pacts. For one-year guys, their club must get their money’s worth — through on-field performance, trade value, or both — in 2014. Now that we’ve had a chance to see a full spring and about 12% of the regular season, let’s take a quick look back at some of this year’s relatively modest, one-year contracts.

I will limit the list to players who signed for more than $4MM and up to $8MM (presented alphabetically; poll will randomize order). The early returns have been pretty solid on the whole. And remember — almost all of these guys will be free agents again next year. The poll question is simple: rank these players according to which you think will ultimately prove to have been the best one-year signings (given their respective team’s needs).

John Axford, RP, Indians, $4.5MM: leading league with eight saves; 2.79 ERA but seven walks already  in 9 2/3.

Bruce Chen, SP, Royals, $4.25MM: has made three starts, allowing 11 earned runs in 15 innings; his strikeouts are up, but so are the hits allowed (.417 BABIP).

Nelson Cruz, OF/DH, Orioles, $8MM (plus 54th overall draft pick): off to a big .301/.386/.603 start with six home runs, though early defensive numbers are awful (-4 DRS, -52.1 UZR/150).

Mark Ellis, 2B, Cardinals, $5.25MM: has not received much playing time behind Kolten Wong, and is off to a slow start (.375 OPS).

Jason Hammel, SP, Cubs, $6MM: through four starts, has racked up 27 2/3 innings of 2.60 ERA ball, including impressive 1.6 BB/9 and just 4.6 H/9; benefiting greatly from unsustainably high strand rate (91.7%) and low BABIP (.130).

Corey Hart, DH/OF/1B, Mariners, $6MM: has shaken off the rust early, with a .270/.333/.508 line and four home runs in 69 plate appearances.

Roberto Hernandez, SP, Phillies, $4.5MM: has a 5.75 ERA through four starts (20 1/3 innings pitched), but SIERA (3.63) and xFIP (3.39) like his work thus far.

Josh Johnson, SP, Padres, $8MM (plus $4MM vesting option): will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery, but could still be kept in the fold for 2015 if San Diego exercises its option, which vested because he did not make at least seven starts.

Mike Morse, OF, Giants, $6MM: has returned from injury-riddled 2013 to post .279/.338/.559 triple-slash and five home runs in first 74 plate appearances; San Francisco has limited the downside of his defensive limitations with late-inning substitutions.

Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants, $5MM: a tough start has him at a 7.71 ERA through just 16 1/3 frames in four outings, and there isn’t much to sugarcoat based on his peripherals.

Edinson Volquez, SP, Pirates, $5MM: off to a solid start with a 1.93 ERA in 28 innings; his strikeouts are down (5.1 K/9), though he has limited walks (1.6 BB/9), but his BABIP (.233) and long ball rates (.32 HR/9) suggest some regression is coming.

Chris Young, OF, Mets, $7.25MM: dealt with hamstring issues early and has seen only 25 plate appearances, through which he has just a .440 OPS.

Click here for the results.

 

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Quick Hits: Int’l Scouting, Morales, Olt, Taveras, Pitching Tandems

Scouting pitching in the Dominican is a challenging endeavor on many levels, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America. Players are incented to light up radar guns (or, for hitters, launch home runs) in non-game situations due to a “showcase mindset” that pervades the baseball environment. Here are more notes from around the game:

  • Baseball executives believe it an increasing likelihood that Kendrys Morales will wait to sign until after the June 5-7 amateur draft, reports CBSSports.com’s  Jon Heyman. If he does so, then a signing club would not lose a draft pick and his former club (the Mariners) would not gain a compensatory choice. Morales has had discussions since the start of the season — Heyman says the Orioles are believed to have had “serious talks” – but apparently nothing is close. In addition to Baltimore and Seattle, says Heyman, possible landing spots could hypothetically include the Brewers and even the Athletics.
  • Cubs third baseman Mike Olt, 25, has done enough in the early going to earn a chance at additional playing time, writes Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Though his on-base and strikeout numbers are less than promising, Olt has blasted four home runs in 48 plate appearances. Olt, of course, came over in last year’s Matt Garza trade as something of a buy-low prospect, after eye issues contributed to a rough season at Triple-A in 2013 (.201/.303/.381, with 15 home runs and 132 strikeouts, in 432 plate appearances).
  • Outfielder Willy Taveras is eyeing a comeback, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The 32-year-old, who last played in the bigs in 2010, is playing in Mexico at present. Best known for his wheels — he led the league in stolen bases (68) in 2008 — Taveras has swiped seven bags in seven attempts in his first 18 games in the Mexican League, Rosenthal notes. In 279 plate appearances at Triple-A last year with the Royals, Taveras slashed .239/.308/.340 and stole 11 bases.
  • With a young staff, the Astros have made the league’s most extensive use of true long relief, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. GM Jeff Luhnow says that the club’s minor league use of a true tandem system is “more of a development thing,” with the big league club’s employment of long men more a “cousin” deployed for “high-pitch count guys.” Looking ahead, though, Luhnow says he “would not be surprised if clubs started to think about some unique solutions to help prevent injuries” noting that “we’re certainly one of them.” Notably, given his organization’s upper-minor tandems, Luhnow observed:“you do it at Triple-A — what’s the difference doing it at the big leagues?” Athletics assistant GM Farhan Zaidi was even more bullish on the possibility of tandem starters appearing in MLB. “I can absolutely see it happening,” he said. “We actually talked about doing it a few years ago when we had pitching depth that wasn’t unlike what the Astros have now. The reason I think it could still happen is overwhelming evidence that limiting the exposure of pitchers to a third time through the lineup is really advantageous.” The full piece includes many more interesting observations from these executives, and is well worth a read.

NL West Notes: Trumbo, Hundley, Guerrero

Hall of Famer and longtime Padres stalwart Tony Gwynn is taking a leave of absence from his position as head coach of San Diego State’s baseball program, the AP reports (via the New York Times). The 53-year-old, who has battled mouth cancer in recent years, is said to be recovering from undisclosed health issues. Needless to say, MLBTR extends its best wishes to the all-time great and his family.

Here’s more from the NL West:

  • The Diamondbacks announced today that outfielder Mark Trumbo underwent an MRI that showed an apparent stress fracture in his left foot. He is set to seek a second opinion. As Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic notes on Twitter, Trumbo said a previous stress fracture in his other foot required 5 1/2 months to heal, though he noted that this one was not as bad. The 28-year-old, the team’s key offseason acquisition, is leading the league with seven home runs, though he has just a .264 OBP. There is currently no timetable for Trumbo to return.
  • With yesterday’s news that the Padres are talking with multiple other teams about a trade of catcher Nick Hundley, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune names some theoretical landing spots. He mentions four clubs that have had significant injuries — the Rangers, Yankees, Dodgers, and Nationals — though it’s not clear that any of those organizations would look to add Hundley. Several other teams have received scant production from their backup options, including the division-rival Diamondbacks (Tuffy Gosewisch) and Giants (Hector Sanchez). (Of course, Sanchez just hit two resounding home runs today for San Francisco.) The Royals could conceivably be interested in upgrading Brett Hayes, though he has seen only one plate appearance with Salvador Perez playing just about every day. Likewise, the White Sox could make sense, though they have Josh Phegley in the minors and would have to part with Rule 5 pick Adrian Nieto if he lost his active roster spot. Of course, all of these clubs are merely hypothetical possibilities, as no reports have emerged about specific teams in discussions.
  • The Dodgers‘ biggest offseason splash was the signing of infielder Alex Guerrero, who proved unable to crack the big league lineup out of the spring. But Guerrero, who signed for four years and $28MM out of Cuba, is off to a big start at Triple-A. Through 37 plate appearances, he has hit a robust .467/.568/.900 with two home runs and five walks against just one strikeout. Nevertheless, manager Don Mattingly says that the club wants him to spend time learning to play second, as MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reported yesterday“This kind of stuff doesn’t happen overnight,” said Mattingly. “Eight games, you’re not going to see much difference in that amount of time.” Of course, Dee Gordon has been outstanding in the season’s early going — he is slashing .369/.408/.492 with a league-leading 12 steals — and figures to have earned a good deal of leash at the keystone.
  • In other news today from the division, injured Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is now set to begin a rehab assignment, as Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Padres starter Josh Johnson is headed in the other direction, as he will be out for the season after it was decided that he will undergo Tommy John surgery. The question now becomes whether the team will pick up its $4MM option for 2015, though that may be a difficult cost to take on given that Johnson has already had one TJ procedure and would presumably not be ready until some time in the middle of next season. Meanwhile, we heard that the Diamondbacks could be getting closer to a shake-up involving GM Kevin Towers and/or manager Kirk Gibson. Arizona did show some life in a late comeback today against the Cubs.

Minor Moves: McGrady, Gonzalez, Robertson, Wade

Former NBA star Tracy McGrady has made the independent Sugar Land Skeeters roster, Chris Cotillo tweeted earlier today. The club confirmed that the swingman-turned-hurler has been inked, as Mark Berman of FOX 26 Sports Houston reports. “He showed enough progress,” said manager (and 20-year MLB veteran) Gary Gaetti. He showed enough ability and we’re going to see where this goes.”

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • Infielder Alberto Gonzalez was released by the Padres, according to MLB.com’s Corey Brock (via Twitter). The 31-year-old had been working in Triple-A, but presumably was supplanted by the just-acquired Tyler Greene at Tucson. Gonzalez, who has seen action in seven MLB seasons, was off to a tough .208/.218/.264 start in 56 plate appearances.
  • The Rangers announced that they have acquired outfielder Dan Robertson from the Padres in exchange for cash considerations. Texas has purchased Robertson’s contract and will bring the 28-year-old to Oakland, where he will be available to play today. The move likely comes as an unexpected thrill for Robertson, who was a 33rd-round pick in 2008 and has spent the past two-plus seasons in Triple-A, where he has compiled a triple-slash line of .295/.371/.394 with six homers and 41 steals in 270 games. Texas had an open spot on its 40-man roster and placed Pedro Figueroa on the 15-day disabled list in order to clear a 25-man roster spot for Robertson.
  • The Royals have released right-hander Cory Wade from Triple-A Omaha, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). The 31-year-old Wade posted a 6.57 ERA in 12 1/3 innings for Omaha this year, with just four strikeouts against four walks in that short time. Wade was a solid relief option for the Dodgers in his 2008 rookie campaign (2.27 ERA in 71 1/3 innings) and again for the Yankees in 2011 (2.04 ERA in 39 2/3 innings). He last appeared in the Majors with the Yanks in 2012, posting a 6.46 ERA in 39 innings of work. Wade inked a minor league deal with Kansas City back in November.

Josh Johnson To Undergo Tommy John Surgery

Padres right-hander Josh Johnson will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow and miss the entire 2014 season, tweets MLB.com’s Corey Brock.

It’s a blow to a Padres pitching staff that was hoping for big things in a rebound campaign for Johnson, though the injury does trigger a $4MM club option that the Padres will now be able to exercise. Due to his extensive injury history, Johnson’s contract — a one-year, $8MM pact — contained language that gave the Padres a $4MM club option were he to make fewer than seven starts in 2014.

Johnson didn’t take the mound for the Padres after signing the deal, as he opened the year on the disabled list with a strained flexor muscle in his right arm, which, upon further examination by Dr. James Andrews, led to the recommendation to undergo the Tommy John operation. Johnson becomes the latest in a long line of injured hurlers to undergo the procedure this year, as he is now incredibly the 16th Major League starter to need the operation in 2014 alone.

Despite the loss of Johnson (and fellow Tommy John victim Cory Luebke), San Diego’s rotation has been excellent this season. The quintet of Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy, Eric Stults and Robbie Erlin have combined for a 3.12 ERA (ninth in the Majors) and a 3.26 FIP (fifth in the Majors).


Travis Ishikawa Elects Free Agency

3:50pm: Ishikawa has elected free agency, reports MLBTR’s Zach Links (on Twitter).

10:38am: First baseman Travis Ishikawa has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis by the Pirates, reports MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Because Ishikawa has been previously outrighted, he has the option of rejecting the assignment in favor of free agency, which he is likely to do.

Ishikawa, 30, hit .206/.263/.382 with a homer, a triple and a double in 38 plate appearances for the Bucs this season. He was initially part of a platoon with lefty masher Gaby Sanchez until the Pirates, in search of an upgrade, swung a deal for Ike Davis (Pittsburgh sent Zack Thornton and a PTBNL to the Mets).

Ishikawa is a lifetime .257/.321/.397 hitter, and his splits are indicative that he is best suited to be part of a first-base platoon (as he was in Pittsburgh). Both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating feel that Ishikawa’s glove at first base is above average — an attribute that he and agent Jim McDowell can use as a selling point should he ultimately elect to become a free agent.


Latest On Kevin Towers, Kirk Gibson

Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports looks at the Diamondbacks’ remarkably poor 5-18 start to the season and wonders just how long the organization will go before making leadership changes — referring specifically to general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson. Morosi writes that changes could be on the horizon, opining that a change could come as soon as this weekend if the D’Backs can’t salvage a series split against the Cubs after being swept by the Mets.

Morosi spoke with several veteran Diamondbacks players, including Eric Chavez and Brandon McCarthy, the latter of whom said he had been on bad teams before but had never seen anything like Arizona’s current situation. “This is different,” McCarthy told Morosi. Said Chavez: I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest with you. I’ve been on teams that weren’t very good, but at least I felt like we were competitive. So, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.” Chavez went on to say that calling more team meetings won’t do any good, because they’ve had enough of them and “talk is cheap at this point.”

As Morosi’s colleague Ken Rosenthal writes, however, rival executives feel that midseason personnel changes will be more difficult for this Diamondbacks club than they typically would be for other clubs. The team has few internal replacement options, says Rosenthal, as bench coach Alan Trammell is “virtually indistinguishable” from Gibson, executives tell Rosenthal. Beyond that, the clubs’ Triple-A manager, Phil Nevin, joined the organization just this year (after three year’s managing Detroit’s Triple-A affiliate).

On the GM side of things, Rosenthal points back to a piece from the Arizona Republic’s Dan Bickley over the weekend in which managing partner Ken Kendrick said the team needed more balance in terms of traditional scouting versus the newer trend of advanced statistics and data analysis. Towers, nicknamed “the Gunslinger,” is as old school as GMs come, and a more data-oriented GM would have to come from outside the organization due to a lack of that skill set in the front office. However, teams are currently preparing for the June draft and will then shift their focus to the trade deadline, making external GM candidates hard to pry away.

For their parts, Towers and Gibson are fully aware of the questions surrounding their job security, writes the Republic’s Nick Piecoro. He was one of multiple reporters on hand when the duo discussed the issue prior to today’s game. Said Towers:

“You’ve got a payroll that exceeds $100 million and we’re off to one of the worst starts in franchise history. That’s tough to swallow when you’re an owner and you care and you’ve invested in a product and the product isn’t performing.”

Towers said he thinks ownership likes both him and Gibson as well, but that each realizes they’re paid to help the team win games, and that isn’t happening. He said that everyone from himself to the field staff to the players should be accountable, as no one has performed up to expectations.

Asked about his job security, Gibson replied by saying he doesn’t worry about that but instead focuses on making whatever improvements he can: We try to analyze what we can do (better) and we just prepare and try to get the guys to prepare and have a positive day and a good game.”

Arizona has been bitten by some key injuries, namely the loss of nominal ace Patrick Corbin to Tommy John surgery, however, Towers was quick to say that the struggles can’t be blamed on the injuries to Corbin and David Hernandez. He adds that ultimately, the players have to be the ones to fix it, as they’re the ones taking the at-bats and throwing the pitches.

Both Towers and Gibson were given extensions this offseason, though the terms of both deals were kept private. Arizona simply announced that each extension lasted beyond the 2014 season.