Sure, we could lead this special morning edition of Closing Time with a re-telling of the Kris Medlen(notes) story (W, 6.2 IP, 5 K), or the Dexter Fowler(notes) story (2 R, HR, 3 RBIs), or perhaps the Mike Stanton(notes) story (another HR, 3 RBIs). Or we could discuss the abrupt end to the Chad Qualls(notes) resurgence (1.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER). Or maybe we could serve up another helping of Jonathon Niese(notes) hype (7.2 IP, 3 ER, 8 K).
There are lots of familiar angles available to us. But this isn't Turn Back the Clock Day at Roto Arcade, so let's find some fresh material while we all wait for the LeBron James Theater of Pain to end…Does anyone remember Chris Carter?
We're referring to Oakland's Chris Carter, the 23-year-old first baseman who was one of approximately 700 prospects acquired by the A's in the Dan Haren(notes) deal a few years back. (Brett Anderson(notes), Carlos Gonzalez(notes), Aaron Cunningham(notes), Dana Eveland(notes) and Greg Smith(notes) were involved in that trade, too. No lie). Carter homered and drove in two runs for Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday. So far this month — and yes, we realize it's only July 8 — he's hitting .276/.417/.655. He now ranks fifth in the Pacific Coast League in home runs (18) and fourth in RBIs (62).
Carter struggled early in the season and his strikeout total is kind of absurd (98), but the power is absolutely real. In 2009, he was named the Texas League Player of the Year after hitting .337/.435/.576 with 24 homers, 101 RBIs and 13 steals. (Zesty!) Keep him on the fantasy radar. If the recent surge continues — and the A's ever decide they want something better than a .395 slugging percentage at first base — then Carter will earn a call-up. He has the potential to provide a nice end-of-season power boost, and it's often possible to gain roto points in HRs late in the year.
If you've invested in Carter in a dynasty format, then you're obviously pleased that his stock is finally trending upward. You might consider sending this post to your leaguemates as pre-trade propaganda.
• The Indians are going to have a tough time convincing Jayson Nix(notes) to leave Texas. In the Tribe's three-game series at Arlington, Nix homered every day. He finished 5-for-11 with four homers and five RBIs, and he's raised his batting average 54 points since July 1. The Nix family tends to binge (and use the letter "y" in odd ways), so you may want to ride this streak and see where it takes you. Probably to despair, but you never know.• Like Nix, Colorado catcher Chris Iannetta(notes) has gone deep in three consecutive games. And for the second straight day, he hit a dramatic ninth inning shot that helped crush the hopes of Cardinals fans. You'll find the walk-off highlight here at MLB.com. (Looked like a BP offering from Evan MacLane(notes)). If it weren't for the fact that teammate Miguel Olivo(notes) is having an insane season — 11 HRs, 39 RBIs, .312 average — Iannetta would be a must-add in any format. He nonetheless has a clear chance to increase his piece of the job-share. Not that you care, but my best NL-only move of the year was to platoon those two.
• Matt Garza(notes) picked up the season's most unexpected rogue save on Wednesday, as he closed the door on David Price's(notes) 12th win. Garza was called upon because closer Rafael Soriano(notes) had saved the Rays' previous four games. Also, Garza only threw three innings in his start against Boston on Monday (contributing to additional bullpen strain).
• In other rogue save news, Phil Coke(notes) got the call in the ninth for the Tigers. He allowed an inherited runner to score on a sacrifice fly, but was otherwise unscathed. Jose Valverde(notes) was unavailable after pitching on consecutive days. No word on whether or not Coke performed the traditional Detroit post-save celebration. Let's hope he did.
• On Wednesday, Brad Eldred(notes) made his first major league appearance since
1974 2007. He went 3-for-4 against St. Louis with a double and three runs scored. Eldred was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs when Todd Helton(notes) (back, torpor) hit the disabled list. He's about 14 years too old to be considered a prospect, but we should note that Eldred was basically playing home run derby in the PCL before his promotion (22 HR, 64 RBI). In Colorado, all things are possible.
Instead of the usual injury roundup, today we'll sweep the league for trade chat…
Let's Make a Deal: In case you hadn't heard, Cliff Lee(notes) will almost certainly get traded again. The Twins reportedly made a huge offer (top prospects Aaron Hicks and Wilson Ramos(notes)), but the Ms didn't jump on it. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer hears that "It's going to take a ton" to land Lee; Rosenthal and Morosi report that Seattle wants "a mammoth return." The Rangers are clearly involved in the bidding, and they're dealing from a well-stocked system, loaded with advanced talent. When Lee is dealt, his owners clearly gain greater win probability, but likely lose something in terms of defensive support and home park friendliness.
The official stance of Pittsburgh's front office is apparently that Octavio Dotel(notes) is "not on the trading block," but that's clearly untrue. Dotel has finally put together a respectable string of scoreless innings, the Bucs have a 30-54 record, and either Joel Hanrahan(notes) or Evan Meek(notes) could slide into the ninth. … Of all the Cubs who should be dealt, Ted Lilly(notes) appears to have the greatest trade value. He's a nice alternative for teams that can't (or won't) get involved in the Lee frenzy. The Mets are reportedly interested. … Adam Dunn(notes) didn't exactly reduce his pricetag by hitting home runs No. 18, 19 and 20 on Wednesday. According to Olney, the Whites Sox "are all over Dunn" right now. … MLB.com's Joe Frisaro speculates that the Marlins may become sellers, and Leo Nunez(notes) could be actively shopped. Seems like a smart move for the Fish, actually. Clay Hensley(notes) would become the favorite for saves in Florida.
And we've saved arguably the best rumor for last. This from Olney:
If you're in a deeper league, immediately turn your attention to outfield prospect Domonic Brown(notes). He could finally get the call if the Phils start selling. Werth will be a free agent after this season, the Phillies trail Atlanta by six games in the NL East, and Brown is absolutely killing it at Triple-A (after similarly killing it at Double-A). The 22-year-old is hitting .331/.396/.617 across two levels with 19 homers and 14 steals. His performance has actually improved since he made the jump to the International League, too.
Photos via Getty Images (Carter) and AP Images (Iannetta)