Rookie outfielder Mike Trout hit his 30th home run in the opener of the Angels-Rangers doubleheader this afternoon to become the youngest player in MLB history to slug 30 homers and steal 30 bases and the first rookie with a season of 30 homers and 40 steals. Trout is also the first player in MLB history to record 30 home runs, 45 steals, and 125 runs scored in a single season (h/t ESPN, via Twitter). Trout swiped his 48th base in that game and is now just two stolen bases away from joining Barry Bonds and Eric Davis as the only 30/50 players in baseball history. Today's historic performance further fuels the AL MVP debate between Trout and Miguel Cabrera, a debate chronicled by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Elsewhere on the Junior Circuit:
- White Sox manager Robin Ventura had to clarify comments he made about his future yesterday, reports CSNChicago.com's Dan Hayes. Ventura said he was only making a joke when he said he just wanted to get through this season. "I plan on being here for two more years, yes,” Ventura said. “Unless they don’t want me to be here.”
- If the White Sox opt for the $4MM buyout of Jake Peavy's contract rather than exercise the $22MM 2013 option, the right-hander may act as his own agent, reports Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-Times. Barry Axelrod, Peavy's longtime agent, is no longer able to represent him because Axelrod will be taking a position in the Diamondbacks' front office. For his part, Peavy says he wants to remain with the White Sox, "I love Chicago and this team. I hope we'll be able to work something out."
- The Twins will have to work something out with pitcher Scott Baker, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. The club has a $9.25MM team option for 2013 and it seems highly unlikely they'd exercise that and make Baker the team's highest-paid pitcher coming off surgery, writes 1500ESPN.com Phil Mackey. GM Terry Ryan wouldn't say much about Baker's status other than, "If you think he's going to be able to contribute in 2013, the answer is yes (we do have interest)."
- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has a feeling some of his coaching staff won't be back after the team's second consecutive 90-loss season, according to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger and Jordan Garretson. "I have all the faith that they can do the job, but some of these things aren't going to be left up to me, it's going to be left to ownership and [general manager] Terry [Ryan]," Gardenhire said. "If he thinks change is needed, he's going to talk to the owners and we'll go from there."
- Within the same piece, Bollinger and Garretson confirmed Gardenhire hadn't spoken to Joe Mauer about moving to third base. Gardenhire said he has considered playing Mauer some at third when asked about the possibility during a conference call with season-ticket holders on Thursday.
- The Blue Jays' Darren Oliver is undecided if he will continue playing in 2013, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Oliver says the main deciding factor will be "my two kids and my wife." The Blue Jays hold a $3MM club option on the left-hander, who has posted a 1.78 ERA, 8.4 K/9, and 2.3 BB/9 in 60 relief appearances this year covering nearly 56 innings.
- The Rays ultimately may be known more for not providing enough support to take advantage of one of the best overall pitching performances in recent times; but, there has been a lot accomplished, writes Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin who recounts the good, bad and interesting.
- Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com has obtained an assessment of the Red Sox’s top 20 prospects by pro scouts for another big-league team. The young talent will be needed as Boston lost 90 games for the first time since 1966 after being swept by the Orioles today.
- The Yankees, Rangers and Orioles each clinched a playoff spot on Sunday evening thanks to a Mike Napoli-led Texas victory over the Angels. All three teams remain in the hunt for division titles, but three more regular season games must be played this week before final seeding can be determined. For the Orioles, the return to the playoffs comes after a lengthy absence as Baltimore's last postseason appearance came in 1997.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
After an arduous start with the Dodgers, Brandon League has settled in nicely as the team's closer, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. The right-hander turned his season around thanks to 18 scoreless appearances out of his last 19, giving him a 0.44 ERA during that stretch. Here's a look at the news and stories making headlines on the final Sunday of the regular season...
- Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki has exceeded all expectations for Washington after the team acquired him from the A's at the non-waiver trade deadline, writes Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. The 28-year-old's strong performance has come on both sides of the ball, especially with his bat. "He's gotten clutch hits," Ryan Zimmerman said. "I think we all knew he was a better hitter and his track record shows he was a better hitter than what he was doing this year.
- Thanks to a strong campaign replete with increased playing time, Mets outfielder Scott Hairston heads into the offseason looking for a deal that will allow him to continue to expand his role in 2013, says Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Hairston will be able to use his 1.9 Wins Above Replacement as a negotiating chip as he looks to become an everyday player for the entirety of the season. "I pretty much played in every role possible, and the last few weeks or so I've been playing every day," Hairston said. "It's just one of those things where I really don't know what's going to happen. I'm just going to prepare myself this offseason as if I'll be playing every day."
- The resurgence of Nate McLouth hasn't been an easy endeavor for the former All-Star, but the hard work has the scrappy outfielder playing a major role in the Orioles' success, writes Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun. "It's part of the path that God has laid out for my life. And I don't question it. Were the last couple years tough? Heck yeah they were. But I know I am stronger and better because of it," McLouth said.
As the regular season gives way to the playoffs this week, let's take a break from the excitement to catch up on the week that was here at MLBTR...
- The Astros named Nationals third base coach Bo Porter their new manager on Thursday morning. Porter will remain with Washington until they complete their postseason run.
- The Orioles claimed first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce off of waivers from the Yankees. Pearce owns a .234/.309/.369 slash line across six big league seasons with a .266/.343/.464 line against left-handers.
- Cleveland's second half slide cost Manny Acta his job. The Indians dismissed Acta and replaced him with Sandy Alomar Jr. on an interim basis for the remainder of the 2012 season.
- Terry Francona will interview for the Indians' managerial position either Wednesday or Thursday. Francona has strong relationships with GM Chris Antonetti and team president Mark Shapiro following his 2001 stint with Cleveland as a special assistant to the GM.
- The White Sox finalized the signing of Dominican shortstop Johan Cruz with a $450K deal. Cruz, a 6'1" right-handed hitter, was the club's only pickup from the July 2nd class of this year.
- The Phillies acquired infielder Stefan Jarrin from the Dodgers. The move completes the July 31st trade that sent Shane Victorino to Los Angeles for Ethan Martin, Josh Lindblom and player to be named or cash.
- The Twins unconditionally released Tsuyoshi Nishioka at the infielder's request. Nishioka had been under contract for 2013, but he will relieve the Twins of the $3.25MM remaining on his contract.
- Barring another unexpected setback, Adam Greenberg will finally get an official at-bat in the Major Leagues. Greenberg, who was hit in the head with a pitch when he debuted with the Cubs seven years ago, has signed a one-day MLB contract with the Marlins.
- The Yankees designated left-hander Justin Thomas for assignment. Thomas also appeared in four Major League games for New York, allowing three runs in three innings of work.
- Shortstop Jack Wilson will retire following a 12-year MLB career. Wilson, 34, decided along with his family that the 2012 season would be his final one in the Major Leagues.
- The Tigers acquired right-hander Greg Ross from the Braves. The move completes the August 31st trade that sent Jeff Baker from Detroit to Atlanta for a player to be named later.
A look back at the original reporting and analysis found on MLBTR this past week:
- MLBTR was the first to report only the teams with the nine worst records will obtain a protected first round draft pick in 2013.
- Ben Nicholson-Smith listed the players who chose extensions over testing the free agent market this winter.
- Mark Polishuk examined the possibility of a contract extension for Braves' right-hander Kris Medlen.
- Ben continued the Free Agent Stock Watch series with a prospectus on Yankee catcher Russell Martin.
- Mike Axisa issued his Free Agent Stock Watch prospectus on Edwin Jackson of the Nationals.
- Ben opined Phil Humber of the White Sox is a non-tender candidate, despite tossing the 21st perfect game in MLB history only five months ago.
- Zach Links reminisced about the career of Tim Salmon, Mr. Angel, who announced his retirement six years ago this week.
- Ben hosted this week's live chat.
- Mike assembled the best of the baseball blogosphere for you in Baseball Blogs Weigh In.
It was on this date in 1972 that Roberto Clemente collected the 3,000th and final hit of what would become a Hall of Fame career. Clemente would perish three months later in a New Year's Eve plane crash while delivering aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Forty years later, the Pirates sealed their 20th consecutive losing season by falling to the Reds 4-3. Pittsburgh was 16 games over .500 on August 6, but has lost 18 of 23 to drop to 77-82. Elsewhere in the NL Central Division:
- The Brewers were eliminated from the playoffs today with a clunker of a 7-0 shutout loss to the Astros. However, the outlook for 2013 looks bright, opines Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Haudricourt believes the Brewers should be able to concentrate during the offseason on improving their pitching, both the starting rotation and bullpen, the major area of weakness on the 2012 team.
- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told reporters, including Haudricourt in a separate article, that he doesn't think Zack Greinke will be returning to Milwaukee. "I don't think we're going to sign a guy for five years and $120 million," said Roenicke. "We made him a great offer. We'll see how much he likes it in Anaheim."
- Dusty Baker will be back at the helm of the Reds on Monday when they travel to St. Louis for a three-game series against the Cardinals to close out the regular season. Baker has missed 11 games while recovering from a minor stroke and an irregular heartbeat. Baker is a free agent after this season and a popular theory has him headed to the Dodgers, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Rosenthal dismisses the rumor. However, Rosenthal reports, citing a Baker friend, that the 63-year-old definitely wants to continue managing, but recognizes that he will need to take better care of himself.
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum admitted to reporters, including the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan, that Alfonso Soriano's trade value has never been higher and could be dealt this offseason. "It’s as high as it can be,” Sveum said. “Those kind of things are all (dependent ) on what you’re getting back and all those kind of things. The replacement value of that is very difficult to find."
How long will the Wild Card playoff format be a one-game elimination? The running gag among baseball executives, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, is until the Yankees are eliminated in a such fashion. That possibility is looming larger as the Yankees and Orioles are tied for the AL East lead with four games to play. The Yankees currently have a one-game lead over the A's in the Wild Card race. However, if the two teams finished with identical records, the Yankees would have to travel to Oakland because they tied in the season series and the A’s currently own the next tiebreaker - a superior record within their own division. It will make for an interesting finish to the season. Also from Rosenthal's column:
- In response to the likelihood the two AL Wild Card teams will have a better record than the AL Central Division champion, Rosenthal suggests the playoff qualifiers with the two worst records meet in the Wild Card game. Rosenthal admits winning a weak division would be less meaningful, but such a team hardly would be in position to argue since it would be lucky to reach the playoffs in the first place.
- Angels owner Arte Moreno recently acknowledged the fans' desire for the team to re-sign Torii Hunter, but Rosenthal says he may have competition from a division rival. The Rangers have long had interest in Hunter, who lives in a Dallas suburb. With Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli free agents this winter and Nelson Cruz a free agent next offseason, the team almost certainly will look for offensive help. Rosenthal believes a trade for a younger slugger such as Arizona's Justin Upton is more likely than a short-term signing of Hunter. But at the very least, the Rangers could pursue Hunter to drive up the price for the Angels.
- Despite the recent slump that may cost the White Sox a playoff berth, Rosenthal claims this has been a successful season for the South Siders. Rosenthal points to highlights like Robin Ventura establishing himself as a manager, Chris Sale developing into an ace, a number of rookie pitchers emerging as valuable parts, and bounce back seasons from Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, and Jake Peavy.
- Rosenthal credits the Rays' recent resurgence to manager Joe Maddon's decision to make batting practice optional and allow players to arrive at the park later, which resulted in the players becoming more relaxed.
The Mets aren't inclined to trade Lucas Duda, believing that his upside outweighs what they could net in a deal, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. A report earlier this month indicated that the Mets would be open to the right deal for either Duda or Ike Davis to address other needs.
Dealing Davis would open up the first base position for Duda, making him a natural fit for the 2013 club. However, if the Mets do not find the right deal for Davis, the club seems willing to stick with Duda in the outfield and hope for the best.
Davis, 25, shouldn't be too hard to move as he has climbed back from a slow start to hit .224/.304/.454 with 31 homers in 566 plate appearances this season. The Red Sox, Indians, Rays, and Marlins are among the teams that could have interest in him this winter.
The Rockies will entertain trade possibilities for multiple position players, including Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer, opposing executives and scouts tell Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post. The club doesn't plan to trade shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but clubs are expected to see if the Rockies will change their tune as the winter progresses.
Colorado is able to make Fowler and Cuddyer available thanks in large part to Tyler Colvin's ability to play all three outfield positions. If Todd Helton returns from hip labrum surgery that also will bolster the situation at first base where Cuddyer would be in the mix.
Renck notes that Atlanta and Philadelphia could be fits for Fowler as they seek a center fielder and the Braves had interest in him when they were shopping infielder Martin Prado. The 26-year-old is also an Atlanta native and plans on living there this offseason.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at this season's Executive of the Year candidates. Orioles Executive Vice President Dan Duquette returned from baseball after a ten-year absence to turn the club around and help give them the biggest improvement in all of baseball. In Oakland, A's GM Billy Beane has put the team in position to win with an exciting club powered by strong pitching. In the National League, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has made a strong case for the award as well for taking the 80-win Nats of 2011 and turning them into division champs. A's outfielder Josh Reddick doesn't get a vote, but he believes that the title should go to Beane. “He’s the best GM in baseball,” said Reddick. “And he has been for a long time. He gives people the opportunity to have their talents come out. The environment he creates is amazing.” Here's more from today's column..
- The prevailing thought is that the Blue Jays will demand a good player from the Red Sox in exchange for John Farrell, but those around Toronto believe it would be easier to get him now than it was last year. Farrell is no longer viewed as the key to the Blue Jays' future, but he would be a strong pickup for the Red Sox who like his familiarity with the club.
- If the Red Sox let Bobby Valentine go, his managerial career isn't necessarily finished. Marlins Jeffrey Loria nearly hired him before he opted to go with Ozzie Guillen to ring in the club's new ballpark. Bobby V could also be an option for the Reds where he is close with owner Bob Castellini and manager Dusty Baker is at the end of his deal.
- Justin Smoak struggled for the bulk of the season but has come on recently thanks to a change in his swing mechanics. Now, Cafardo writes, he's making it tough for the Mariners to decide if they want to keep him for the long haul or move him.
- If Terry Francona does wind up taking the Indians job, Cafardo believes that he would be frustrated after a while given their limited resources. The Tribe also lacks the ability to give Francona the big-time money that he could net from another team.
- Cafardo was surprised by the Astros' hiring of Bo Porter over Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, given their desire to model themselves after Tampa Bay.
Right-hander Chris Young made his final start of the season this evening, throwing six innings of two-run ball against the Braves. ESPN New York's Adam Rubin notes (on Twitter) that the start cost the Mets $350K, as Young hit incentives for his 20th start ($200K) and 110th inning pitched ($150K). Here's the latest from around the league as Saturday turns into Sunday...
- "Always difficult. Any market. Doesn't matter. Any year, any market ... Whether we're going to be part of that, I can't tell you," said Angels GM Jerry Dipoto to Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register when asked about acquiring rotation help. The team is considering declining their options for Dan Haren and Ervin Santana in an effort to sign Zack Greinke long-term.
- MLB.com's Corey Brock speculates (on Twitter) that the Padres will use their available money this offseason on starting pitching. Fifteen different pitchers starting games for San Diego this year due to injuries.
- Terry Pluto of The Cleveland Plain Dealer says the Indians should do whatever they can to bring Terry Francona on board as manager. Francona will interview for the position next week.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com believe that the Indians are in a no lose situation with two great managerial candidates. Interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. will also get consideration for the job on the full-time basis.
- The Red Sox are about to hire Eddie Bane as a special assignment scout, reports ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes. Bane was the Angels' scouting director when they drafted Mike Trout and Jered Weaver, among others. Edes says the Sox are expected to make one more hire as well.