July 30, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Alfonso Soriano returns to Yankees: In desperate need of offense with so many injuries to key players, the New York Yankees turned to a familiar face, trading for outfielder Alfonso Soriano. Soriano began his career in New York as a second baseman before later playing for the Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, and most recently, the Chicago Cubs. The outfielder is past his prime, but a recent hot streak was proof that he can still provide a surge of power. After hitting only nine home runs in the first three months of the season, Soriano has hit nearly that many already in July with eight this month heading into this past weekend.

Jeremy Maclin out for year: NFL training camps are underway and that can only mean one thing – injuries won’t be far behind. The biggest casualty thus far may be the Eagles’ young wide receiver, Jeremy Maclin, who is out for the season after tearing an ACL in a practice. With perhaps their best wideout injured, Philadelphia’s season gets off to a rocky start. The team still has DeSean Jackson at receiver, but Maclin’s loss gives rookie head coach Chip Kelly less to work with on offense – his area of expertise.

Jaromir Jagr signs with New Jersey Devils: Even at 41, Jaromir Jagr isn’t ready to hang up his skates. After playing for the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars last year, the winger has signed a one-year $2 million deal with the New Jersey Devils. Jagr isn’t the player he once was, but still has a little left in the tank after scoring 35 points (including 16 goals in 45 games this past season). Plus, with Ilya Kovalchuk leaving New Jersey to play in Russia, the team was in desperate need of scoring. Jagr ranks eighth all-time among NHL players in scoring and his 681 career goals are good for tenth overall.

Lebron > Kobe in ESPN poll: When it comes to the most popular player in the NBA, LeBron James passed up Kobe Bryant for the first time in a few years according to an ESPN poll. Bryant had beaten out James the past few seasons, but after his second consecutive title, James overtook him last week. Really, it’s just proof that time heals all wounds. Immediately after the much-scrutinized “Decision” broadcast where James announced his intention to leave Cleveland for Miami, he took a huge publicity hit and was even viewed as a villain by many. But after a few years with the Heat and winning a couple of rings, liking LeBron is once again okay.

101 Russian women set a skydiving record: Yeah, I’m not even going to try to add anything to this. Feel free to watch for yourself.

Matt Garza pickup costly for Rangers: Matt Garza may not quite be a household name, but the pitcher could be the best starter that gets dealt before baseball’s trade deadline this season. At 7-1 with a 2.87 ERA, Garza is having a career year and was heavily desired by contenders before he was traded to the Texas Rangers by the Cubs. Garza didn’t come cheap, however. He cost Texas two of their top prospects entering this season, pitcher Justin Grimm and first baseman Mike Olt. Both have struggled to a degree this season, but Grimm has seven wins with the major league team while Olt has 12 home runs in the minors. The trade also cost the Rangers C.J. Edwards, a flamethrower who has dominated Rookie League and Class A in the minors the past two seasons. Also, keep in mind that Garza could only be a rental player as he’s due to become a free agent after this year. All things considered, the Rangers need to not only make the playoffs, but maybe even reach a World Series for this trade to come out in their favor.

Tim Hudson injury hurts Braves: Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson suffered a devastating injury last week when his ankle was broken by the Mets’ Eric Young, Jr. in a collision at first base. The injury was a big one as the veteran will miss the rest of the season. That hurts Atlanta’s playoff chances at least a bit and the team is already looking around for a potential trade. The Braves hold a comfortable lead in the NL East, but should the team hold on for a playoff spot, Hudson’s veteran presence will be sorely missed in the postseason.

Matt Harvey likely to end season early: Similar to what the Washington Nationals did with prized young pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the New York Mets are planning to keep Matt Harvey on a limit for the rest of the year. Mets manager Terry Collins has said Harvey has about ten more starts left instead of the 13 or so he may reach if he continued to pitch every fifth day. While similar to Strasburg’s situation, though, it’s a bit different considering the Mets aren’t likely to be in the playoffs as the Nats were. One thing that will be interesting, though, is to see if the loss in starts costs Harvey when it comes to the Cy Young voting.

July 25, 2011

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Players Most Likely To Be Moved By MLB Trade Deadline

By: Anson Whaley

The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching and with several teams out of contention, expect some key players to be dealt to contending teams. One trade target, the New York Mets’ Jose Reyes, is apparently staying put according to reports. But there are plenty of others on struggling teams that may be traded at the deadline.

Carlos Beltran: Beltran is the biggest name out there expected to be traded. He’s primarily seen as a rental player since his contract is expiring, but at 34, still has a few seasons of productivity left. Often, the sticking point in high-salary players being dealt is the remaining money left on their current contracts. However, the Mets are so desperate to acquire some quality prospects in exchange for the aging outfielder that they are willing to pay most of the remaining money owed on his deal this year. Add it all up and it looks like Beltran could be in a different uniform very soon. The only thing that may keep this deal from getting done is the unwillingness of teams to part with top prospects in return.

Heath Bell: The Padres’ Bell is one of the top relievers in the game this season and his 28 saves and 2.45 ERA would look good in any team’s bullpen. The thing that makes him so desirable is that even clubs with established closers could use him as a setup man. San Diego is going nowhere this season and has little use for Bell, so I expect him to be traded. Bell has never appeared in the playoffs, but at 33, has plenty of experience in the majors and shouldn’t be easily rattled in the postseason.

Carlos Pena: Buried in the NL Central standings, the Chicago Cubs appear to be sellers this season. Carlos Pena is a chip they could use to bring in a few prospects to help them rebuild. The first baseman is batting well below .250, but his 20 home runs would be valuable for a team looking for some extra power in the playoffs. He’s also sound defensively and previously won a Gold Glove in the field. Pena is 33 and unlike Beltran, probably wouldn’t command a top tier prospect.

Chris Iannetta: It’s not often that a player batting under .225 is on the radar of teams at the trade deadline, but Iannetta finds himself in that rare situation. He’s one of the few catchers reportedly on the market and teams in need of a receiver for the stretch run can ignore his low average. He’s solid at his position defensively and with ten home runs this season, has a little pop in his bat. Iannetta is, however, under contract for the next few seasons at a very reasonable cost so the Rockies are in no rush to move him.

Koji Uehara: The Orioles’ Uehara is a setup man, but like Bell, could be used as a closer as well. He’s having the best year of his career with an ERA under 2.00 and is one of bullpen arms being most watched by teams. An attractive aspect to adding Uehara is that he is only in his second year of major league service time, meaning he won’t be eligible for free agency until 2015. At 36, there’s a good possibility that he’ll be retired by then, but teams can have him at a reasonable rate for potentially several more seasons.