- Derek Jeter says that suggestions that he wants to play elsewhere are "comical," and that he obviously wants to end career with the Yankees, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch (via Twitter). Yesterday, Jeter seemed to imply that he would be open to playing for another club once his contract expires. The shortstop is under contract for 2013 with an $8MM player option for '14.
- Most members of the Red Sox braintrust are keeping a close eye on whether the team will have a top-ten pick in this year's draft, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Outside of the obvious benefits of having a higher pick, top ten selections are protected, giving the Red Sox flexibility in the event that they wanted to pursue a free agent such as Josh Hamilton. In the case of Hamilton, multiple sources say that Boston is unlikely to join the fray for the 31-year-old, which is in line with what has been previously reported.
- Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star isn't quite sure if Alex Anthopoulos is the General Manager to take the Blue Jays to the next level. However, Griffin believes that Anthopoulos is ready to do more traditional things this winter like signing short-term veteran free agents and packaging prospects to land one solid major league talent.
Stephen Strasburg may not be there, but the Nationals are going to the playoffs. The Nats clinched a postseason berth with tonight's 4-1 win over the Dodgers and now have a magic number of eight to clinch the NL East. This is the franchise's first postseason appearance since reaching the NLCS (as the Expos) in 1981, and the first time a Washington baseball team has made the postseason since the Senators played in the 1933 World Series.
Here's the latest from around the majors…
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic talks to several executives and scouts about Justin Upton's trade value, with the general consensus being that the Diamondbacks can still command a high price for the outfielder, though Upton's disappointing 2012 campaign has hurt his value. Opinion was split on whether the D'Backs or Rangers would have to add players in such a possible Upton-for-Elvis Andrus deal.
- Upton discusses his season, his career development and his feelings about the trade rumors in an extensive profile by Robert Sanchez of ESPN The Magazine.
- John Axford believes the Zack Greinke trade was the inspiration for the Brewers' surprising turn-around, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Since Greinke was dealt to the Angels on July 27, the Brewers have surged back into the NL wild card race with a 32-18 record, including today's win over the Pirates. "Personally, I thought it was going to be more motivation for certain guys," Axford said. "There wasn't ever a thought on this team that this was a lost season. It was disappointing for a while….But there's no guy on this team that's going to lie down and give up. It's shown recently."
- "The sense now is that some teams would still be willing to take [Yunel Escobar] on provided he delivers a proper penance first," writes Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi. Escobar is scheduled to return on Friday from his three-game suspension for wearing eye black that contained a homophobic slur. This incident could spur Escobar's departure from Toronto, especially since the Blue Jays have promising shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria waiting in the wings.
- ESPN's Jim Bowden lists ten of the top managerial candidates, a compilation that includes nine men who have never managed at the Major League level and two-time World Series winner Terry Francona. Two names on Bowden's list (Tim Bogar and Dave Martinez) are reportedly the top candidates to become the Astros' new manager.
- Jim Thome's quest for a World Series ring has surprisingly taken him to the Orioles instead of the Phillies, writes MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince, but the slugger has dropped hints that 2012 may not be his last season.
- Derek Jeter told ESPN's Rick Reilly (passed on by Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News) that he would potentially be open to playing for a team besides the Yankees once his current contract expires. "Well, if I wanted to keep playing, yes," Jeter said. "It's a business. People forget that." Jeter is under contract through the 2013 season with an $8MM player option for 2014; the shortstop turns 40 years old in June 2014.
Andy Pettitte will return to the mound against the Blue Jays tonight — assuming the Yankees aren't rained out in New York. Meanwhile, the Mets will start Matt Harvey against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Here are today's New York Notes…
- Ike Davis was surprised and confused to hear that the Mets are concerned about his nightlife, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. “I have never missed games or not been ready to work because of anything to do with staying up too late,” Davis told Martino. Adam Rubin reported today that the Mets will consider trade offers for Davis, in part because they have questions about his lifestyle.
- Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger suggests the Mets will consider trading any player not named David Wright this winter (Twitter link). The Mets will reportedly consider trades for Davis and Lucas Duda this offseason.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post explains how Derek Jeter’s durability impacts other players on the 2012 Yankees. Jeter's hitting .323/.366/.444 in a league-leading 665 plate appearances.
Four AL East teams can be found amongst the top eight in ESPN's Future Power Rankings, which measure how well-positioned teams are for success over the next five years. The list can be found in two parts (ESPN Insider subscription required).
Here's the latest from the AL East…
- Larry Lucchino discussed his team's turbulent season both on and off the field in a radio interview on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show (WEEI.com's Morley Quatroche has a partial transcript) and the Red Sox president didn't rule out making large changes in the offseason. "I think we’ll examine all options, absolutely,” Lucchino said. “It’s not a question of fine tuning. It’s a question of looking back to the fundamental things….do we have the right kind of system in place? You need to build it all on pitching and we will focus heavily on that, but we’ll look at everything. We’ll look under every rock.”
- With Josh Beckett a sure bet to pass through waivers, the Nationals could be a good trade partner for the Red Sox, opines Fangraphs' Dave Cameron. Beckett could give the Nats an experienced arm in the rotation once Stephen Strasburg is shut down. Cameron thinks, however, that the Red Sox would only be able to move Beckett if they agree to eat at least $20MM of the approximately $36MM owed to the right-hander through the 2014 season.
- Derek Jeter is a good bet to finish in the top six of AL MVP voting this season, which ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews points out will earn Jeter an extra $2MM if he picks up his 2014 player option with the Yankees. That option is worth $8MM, though incentives could push the value to $14MM.
- "No chance. No chance. Nada. Zero. No, not a chance," is how Jeter described his interest in someday becoming a manager, reports CSN Chicago's Jeremy Lynn.
- J.J. Hardy "makes a ton of sense" as a trade target for the Diamondbacks this winter, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Orioles could unload Hardy to make room for Manny Machado at his natural shortstop position, while the D'Backs pick up Hardy as a "stopgap" for the next two seasons until prospect Chris Owings is ready for the majors. Arizona GM Kevin Towers said yesterday that his team would likely pursue a shortstop via the trade market in the offseason as the D'Backs look to replace Stephen Drew.
On this date 20 years ago the 1992 draft took place. A number of future stars, including Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi, were selected that day, but none impacted the American League East like the shortstop prospect the Yankees selected sixth overall. Here's the latest on the AL East…
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post explains how Derek Jeter fell to the Yankees 20 years ago. Though the Yankees were hoping Jeter would fall to them, they had prepared to start negotiations with right-hander Jim Pittsley in case another club selected their preferred target.
- Ben Cherington will be running his first draft as Boston's GM on Monday, but it'll be a familiar setting in some ways, Rich Thompson of the Boston Herald reports. The longtime Red Sox executive says his staff will seek the best available player with each pick. “The key with any draft is to do more with your picks than the 29 other teams do," he said.
- The Orioles will purchase the contract of utility player Bill Hall today and add him to the 25 and 40-man rosters, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports.
- Adam Lind could be ready to return to the Major Leagues "soon," GM Alex Anthopoulos said, according to Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun.
In a piece inspired by early-season injuries to key relievers Tom Verducci of SI.com points out that closers tend to be inefficient investments. "No one wants to admit it," he writes, "but the modern bullpen is a failure." Here are the rest of today's links…
- Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he likes what he has seen from manager Ozzie Guillen despite last week's controversial remarks. “He’s very good for here," Loria said. "Excellent. Not only for here, for any team."
- When the Yankees signed Derek Jeter to a three-year, $51MM contract two offseasons ago, they felt it was an overpay, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. But the shortstop played tremendously down the stretch in 2011 and has started the 2012 season well.
- ESPN.com’s Buster Olney suggests the Giants will likely want to see Tim Lincecum rebound from his early-season struggles before offering him an extension at market value.
- Indians manager Manny Acta told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall remains Cleveland's future third baseman and won’t become trade bait this summer (Twitter link, audio here).
Red Sox ownership already spoke to the media this morning, so now let's check in the on the rest of the AL East…
- Orioles GM Dan Duquette wouldn't comment on the team's interest in Jorge Soler, telling Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com that tipping his hand wouldn't benefit the team. The O's watched the 19-year-old outfielder work out earlier this month.
- The Orioles lead all clubs with ten out of options players, and manager Buck Showalter told MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli that he estimates they'll have to make "2-4 moves" before the end of camp (Twitter link).
- Daisuke Matsuzaka told WEEI.com's Rob Bradford that he still wants to pitch until he's 40. The right-hander is in the final year of his contract with the Red Sox, and is expected back from Tommy John surgery at midseason.
- “If I didn’t think that I was capable of playing the game at a high level I would go home," said Yankees captain Derek Jeter to reporters yesterday, including George King of The New York Post. "If I wasn’t enjoying myself or enjoying the competition I would go home. Right now I am an enjoying myself. I can’t comment on what would force me to retire because I have a lot of confidence and if that starts to waver I would do it."
- Joel Sherman of The New York Post wrote about Alex Rodriguez, wondering what kind of contract the Yankees third baseman would have received had he been a free agent his offseason.
The defending AL East Champion Rays are 47-38, which gives them the third best record in the American League. Unfortunately for the Rays, they're third in the AL East, behind the only two AL clubs with better records, the Yankees and Red Sox. Here's the latest on the division:
- The Orioles' reliance on Mitch Atkins and Chris Jakubauskas as starters shows that Baltimore's rotation has been a disappointment, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen have not pitched as well as expected, so the rotation has become a consistent weakness.
- The Orioles will purchase Atkins' contract today to add him to the active roster and they could consider designating Jakubauskas for assignment to create space, according to Connolly.
- Derek Jeter, who returned to the Yankees' lineup from the disabled list last night, told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that he's unhappy with his first half performance and intends to improve "everything" in the second half.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com looks back at Boston's free agent additions under GM Theo Epstein and concludes that "the pricier investments have offered suspect returns." That's certainly true of two free agents the Red Sox signed before the 2010 season: Mike Cameron and John Lackey.
Even before reports of David Einhorn's $200MM investment in the Mets surfaced, things could've been worse in Queens, writes Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post. Vaccaro points out that New York's baseball history includes plenty of stretches more dismal than the one endured by the present-day Mets, and breaks down his top five. Here are some other Sunday morning notes on the Mets and Yankees:
- Einhorn got a first-hand look at Jose Reyes on Saturday, but refused comment when asked about the possibility of re-signing the shortstop, says Kevin Kernan of the New York Post.
- Whenever Felix Hernandez faces the Yankees, as he did Saturday night, it seems invariably to lead to speculation about King Felix someday wearing pinstripes. However, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes, that's not about to happen anytime soon.
- Phil Hughes took "a step in the right direction" this weekend, throwing off a mound for the first time in over a month, according to Feinsand.
- The New York Post's Steve Selby argues that if there's one player who deserves to be cut some slack when he struggles, it's Derek Jeter.
Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon are closer to settling on a limited partner who will bring cash and keep the organization running, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Unlike the Dodgers, whose ownership situation “seems to be deteriorating,” the Mets are doing fine, according to Commissioner Bud Selig. Here’s the latest from Heyman:
- If Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has support, it’s either “minute or nonexistent.”
- People who know Mets GM Sandy Alderson expect him to trade Jose Reyes and others if he believes it’s best for the organization.
- There’s no indication yet that the Cubs would be willing to offer Albert Pujols $200MM or more in free agency, Heyman writes. However, the Cubs have money and no long-term answer at first base.
- Some baseball people believe Aroldis Chapman and Mike Leake could use time in the minors.
- Though the Yankees aren’t concerned with Derek Jeter’s bat, they are “very concerned” about Jorge Posada. The DH has a .162/.273/.352 line with 6 homers this year.