Some links to start the week off...
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post argues that the Yankees were smart to spend on elite free agents last offseason. Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia have contributed to the Yankees' dominance this year.
- Johnny Damon repeated to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News that he wants to return to the Yankees next season.
- The Toronto Sun notes that Mike Hampton won't pitch again this year.
- Billy Wagner didn't expect his Red Sox debut to go as smoothly as it did, according to Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe.
- As Alex Speier of WEEI.com notes, Paul Byrd earns incentives for every start he makes with the Red Sox.
- Carl Steward of the San Jose Mercury News says Barry Zito and Edgar Renteria, whose contracts have often been criticized, have helped keep the Giants in the race.
Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hears that the Pirates "substantially increased" their offer to top Dominican prospect Miguel Angel Sano. The Pirates, who made Sano an offer when the international signing period first began, remain the lone team to offer the shortstop a deal, according to his agent. Sano claims to be 16 years old, but an MLB investigation concluded that his age is "undetermined."
According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, "there remains a small chance Nomar Garciaparra will go to a contender" before Monday's waiver trade deadline.
8:26pm: Count Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune among those who believe a trade will get done by Monday's deadline: "The guess here," Rogers writes, "is that Twins GM Bill Smith is going to wake up on Monday, consider how catchable the Detroit Tigers remain, and pay the price." The Twinkies currently stand 65-65 -- 4.5 games back of Detroit in the AL Central.
12:57pm: Joe Christensen says "doubts have emerged" about the Twins completing a trade with the Cubs for Rich Harden. Christensen quotes sources who say "the Cubs had yet to open a window for the Twins to negotiate a long-term deal with Harden." Twins officials have yet to confirm or deny that they were the team that claimed Harden.
Christensen notes the Twins would deal for Harden even without a long-term extension given Harden will be a Type A free agent.
Another batch of links as the Braves and Phillies prepare to get underway on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball...
- According to ex-Mets GM Jim Duquette, via Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News, the Mets have canceled their fall instructional league "in an apparent cost-cutting maneuver." If they're making cutbacks in the minors, might they also have cutbacks in mind at the big league level?
- According to Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty reaffirmed Sunday that he currently has no deals in the works. The deadline for waiver trades is tomorrow, August 31.
- Matthew Pouliot of NBC Sports continues his "Restoring the Rosters" series with a look at the Angels, who he ranks 10th among all MLB clubs with their impressive what-could-have-been roster.
- Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune discusses some MLB managers who may be on the proverbial "hot seat." Among the names? Cincinnati's Dusty Baker, Cleveland's Eric Wedge and Houston's Cecil Cooper. Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports goes more in-depth with the list.
Sunday evening linkage...
- As noted by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, new Angels hurler Scott Kazmir is already falling in love out West. "It kind of feels like a playoff atmosphere every time you're here," Kazmir said Sunday. "You have the Rally Monkey, the whole thing going on." He's under team control until 2012 and will make his Angels debut Wednesday.
- Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com spoke Sunday with A's manager Bob Geren, who revealed his plan for September's roster expansion. It has already been confirmed that Brett Wallace will not see major league action this year.
- Paul Byrd told WEEI.com's Rob Bradford that he wasn't guaranteed a call-up by the Red Sox when they signed him to a minor league deal in early August. The 38-year-old made his 2009 debut Sunday afternoon, tossing six shutout innings against the Blue Jays.
- John Lackey earned his 100th career win Sunday with eight innings of five-hit ball against the Athletics. He heads an intriguing 2010 free agent class.
According to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, the Pirates have signed righty Jorge Julio to a minor league deal. He's been assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Julio, 30, had been released by the Rays earlier this month after posting a 5.96 ERA in 22.2 IP with their Triple-A affiliate. With the Brewers earlier this year, Julio had a 7.79 ERA in 17.1 IP.
Chico Harlan of The Washington Post reports that the Nationals traded infielder Ronnie Belliard to the Dodgers following today's game. Washington will receive A-ball pitcher Luis Garcia and a player to be named in the deal.
Belliard, 34, was hitting .247-.297-.376 in 203 plate appearances for the Nats this year, spending time at first, second and third base. He is in the final year of the two year, $3.5M extension he signed during the 2007 season. Garcia, 22, has a 2.92 ERA in 34 appearances (15 starts) in the Low-A Midwest League this season, and was not considered one the Dodgers' top 30 prospects by Baseball America this spring.
It's hard to believe that it's almost September, no? The sun is going down a little earlier these days, it's getting a bit more breezy out, and the playoff races are starting to heat up. Teams can start calling up extra players on Tuesday, so clubs out of contention will hold auditions for next year while teams in the race will add extra weapons off the bench and bodies to keep their regulars rested.
Who do you want to see your favorite team call up? If you're a Pirates fan, do you want to see Pedro Alvarez in September? What about Jason Heyward or Buster Posey? Mike Stanton? Remember, a player has to be on the 40-man roster to be in the Major Leagues, so a callup might not be as easy as you think.
Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention. I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you, to stop what you're doing and listen. Odds and ends post!!!
- Mark Gonzales of The Chicago Tribune writes that if White Sox GM Kenny Williams wants to make a move that could help his team, time is running out. Getting Jake Peavy back and healthy would be about as good of a pickup that a team could make this time of year.
- The Star Tribune's Patrick Reusse says that Twins GM Bill Smith should have been operating like Cleveland's Mark Shapiro at this year's trade deadline, "looking to the future rather than the present."
- Joel Sherman of The NY Post writes about the parallels between the current Mets club and the Orioles teams of the mid-to-late 90's. He also notes that the Amazin's should brace themselves for decreased ticket sales and a smaller payroll next year.
- ESPN's Peter Gammons explains how teams took advantage of their payroll flexibility at the deadline.