- Mike Oz at Big League Stew9 hrs ago
You'll excuse Dustin Ackley if he's not as graceful as some of the outfielders who often get associated with great leaping catches.
Ackley, the Seattle Mariners left fielder these days, was a second baseman until mid 2013. But his impressive leaping grab Monday night to steal a home run from Travis d'Arnaud of the New York Mets, proved that Ackley is a real outfielder now.
This didn't have the elegance of Mike Trout stealing a homer. Also, Ackley's landing could use some work, but there's no arguing with the results — he sized up the homer, jumped, caught the ball over the fence and brought it back with him. Ackley also had three hits and an RBI to contribute to Seattle's 5-2 win.
''I knew I felt something. I didn't know if I felt it hit off my glove or go in the web, but when I came down is when I knew I had it,'' Ackley said. ''I was like, 'Well something is in there.'''Tue, Jul 227:10 PM PDTNY Mets at SeattlePreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew10 hrs ago
Matt Shoemaker almost had the Baltimore Orioles figured out. Almost.
Shoemaker, the Los Angeles Angels rookie starting pitcher, struck out 10 Orioles in 5 2/3 innings Monday night and he only gave up three hits to Baltimore batters not named Adam Jones.
Oh, but Adam Jones.
Jones launched a pair of two-run homers off Shoemaker, one in the first and one in the sixth. The second one ended Shoemaker's night and was also the difference in the O's 4-2 victory. Said Jones about Shoemaker after the game:
''I didn't know anything about him, but that's what scouting reports are for,'' Jones said. ''We had an idea of what he throws, but nobody had seen him. So when you go up there, the best way to figure things out is trial and error. He gave up two home runs, but overall, his plan worked. He had a lot of strikeouts.''Tue, Jul 227:05 PM PDTBaltimore at LA AngelsPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew11 hrs ago
The good news, we suppose, is that New York Yankees rookie pitcher Shane Greene didn't finish Monday night's game on the disabled list. Given the Yankees luck with starting pitchers this season, that's something.
So that's the silver lining, here's the reality: Greene had a really rough night fielding his position during the Yankees' 4-2 loss to the Texas Rangers. He made three errors, and none on plays that were especially hard.
• Greene dropped a ball in the second inning while running to cover first.
• He fielded a comebacker later that inning, a rather routine play. He did the right thing by running toward first base a bit, but his underhand toss would have needed Manute Bol at first base to catch it. It was comically (and maybe even historically) bad.Tue, Jul 224:05 PM PDTTexas at NY YankeesPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew11 hrs ago
At this point, it's not news that Andrelton Simmons did something impressive on a baseball field. The Atlanta Braves shortstop has already established himself as a Gold Glover andone of baseball's elite defenders. But just because we're used to seeing Simmons pulling off wonderful defensive plays doesn't mean we can't sit and appreciate his wizardry each time he puts it on display again.
Look at what Simmons did Monday night against the Miami Marlins. It was the top of the fourth inning and the Marlins had leadoff man Christian Yelich at first base. He took off running on the pitch, a hit-and-run attempt that sent Simmons to cover second base. Jordany Valdespin hit the ball to the left of Simmons, which generally would make for a successful hit-and-run. But not with Simmons on patrol.
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew22 hrs ago
Five Big Things is Big League Stew's look at the week ahead in MLB action, examining storylines and matchups you should keep an eye on.
1. THE RETURN (AND DEPARTURE?) OF CLIFF LEE Cliff Lee, welcome to back to the Philadelphia Phillies' starting rotation. Now, don't get too comfortable.
Lee, the veteran ace of the Phillies, makes his first start since May 8 on Monday night, and many eyes around baseball will be on Lee as teams prepare for the July 31 trade deadline. A contender needing another arm could do a lot worse than Lee. Since 2008, when he won the AL Cy Young, Lee has an ERA of 2.90.
He's coming off an injury, of course, a strained tendon in his elbow, so the buyers in MLB have every right to beware. This season he's 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA, but has the potential to be a frontline starter if he's healthy and those aren't easy to come by.
The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays are reportedly among the teams that have been scouting Lee. Acquiring him will bring with it considerable cost, however. He's due $25 million next season.Tue, Jul 224:05 PM PDTSan Francisco at PhiladelphiaPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew23 hrs ago
Dan Uggla wasn't unemployed too long. When the Atlanta Braves released the slumping second baseman Friday, there were a few likely destinations for the powerful but batting average-challenged Uggla.
The San Francisco Giants, who have been relying on inexperienced and/or injured players at second all season, were one of Uggla's suitors. The two sides didn't waste any time. Uggla has agreed to a minor-league deal to join the Giants, a roster move first reported by Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports.
Giants beat writer Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle adds the following details:
For the third time in MLB draft history, the No. 1 overall pick has failed to come to terms with the team that selected him before the league's deadline to sign. Brady Aiken, the top high-school pitcher in the country, didn't sign with the Houston Astros, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis, after a contentious bout of negotiations.
At issue were Aiken's elbow, a disputed physical and, in the end, about $1.5 million, according to reports.
Friday's 5 p.m. deadline to sign draft picks came and went, and now Aiken, 17, is left to decide upon a new place to play baseball next season, while the Astros' high-profile rebuilding plan has hit a sizable snag. To make matters worse, the Astros didn't come to terms with two other draftees, whose deals were tied to Aiken's getting done.
The last No. 1 overall pick not to sign was Tim Belcher in 1983 (Minnesota Twins). Prior to that it was Danny Goodwin (Chicago White Sox) in 1971.Tue, Jul 227:05 PM PDTHouston at OaklandPreview Game
When Dan Uggla's tenure with the Atlanta Braves ended Friday, with a tweet by the team and an outright release, he was left looking like a $19 million mistake.
Truth is, the Braves wasted much more than $19 million on Uggla. They signed him to a five-year contract worth $62 million prior to the 2011 season. His net Wins Above Replacement since then is two. So he's effectively been worth two more wins than the average major leaguer the Braves could have assigned to play second base the past three and a half seasons.
Of course, Uggla doesn't even play regularly at second base anymore. Rookie Tommy La Stella has taken over the job, and Uggla has been a pinch-hitter who doesn't hit much. His line is .175/.295/.332 since the start of 2013. He did hit 22 homers last year, but has only knocked two out of the park this season in 130 at-bats.Tue, Jul 224:10 PM PDTMiami at AtlantaPreview Game
Agnes McKee has been warming up for a couple months now, grabbing a baseball in her right hand, propping herself up against her walker and tossing the ball underhand to a staff member from the San Diego-area retirement community she calls home.
Her big day will come Sunday, when McKee steps on the field at Petco Park and throws the first pitch at the San Diego Padres game. No matter how close she gets the ball to the plate or whether it's a strike, McKee certainly won't get any boos.
She's not 50 cent. She's 105 — as in years old.
Her Oceanside retirement community, Fairwinds, had planned an outing a few months ago to Sunday's Padres game. One of the staff members at Fairwinds asked if McKee, their oldest resident, could toss the first pitch since it would be just a few days after her 105th birthday, which was Wednesday.Tue, Jul 225:05 PM PDTSan Diego at Chi CubsPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew4 days ago
Note: The All-Star break is upon us and The Stew is using the downtime on the MLB schedule to size up the current contenders for baseball's year-end awards. We'vealready looked at Rookie of the Year candidates. Now we turn our attention to AL and NL MVP contenders.
We can only say one thing for certain about the races for American League and National League MVP: No matter what happens there will be arguing. That's not a grand prediction, just the reality we've come to accept after the past few years.
On the AL side of things, familiar faces are leading the way again, though 2014 so far looks like it might bring a different result. On the NL side, there are a number of worthwhile but not exactly sure-fire candidates who all have to be hoping a certain ace in L.A. doesn't keep up what he's been doing lately.
We're here to examine four MVP candidates in each league: the frontrunner, the guy also in the conversation, the player with a question mark over his head and the dark horse.