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Past ace, present ace and AL West

6/15/2010
A smooth transition to Nolan Ryan as a co-owner of the Texas Rangers could help decide the AL West. Getty Images

This should be a big week for the Texas Rangers, who could learn in a hearing this morning about the timing of the ownership transfer that's going to take place.

If the legal proceedings move quickly, the team could shift smoothly into the hands of Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, and the Rangers could be active before the trade deadline -- and given its wealth of prospects, it's in position to be aggressive, and could use a catcher or a starting pitcher. But if the legal stuff gets bogged down and the sale of the team is not moved along before the trade deadline, the Rangers presumably won't have the same flexibility. As we wake up today, Texas is leading the AL West over the Los Angeles Angels, by a game.

Also within the AL West, I recently heard this: There is a sense among some rival executives that the Seattle Mariners figure to be among the more aggressive sellers. They've got the big fish in the pitching market, of course, in Cliff Lee. The Mariners got crushed again Monday and are now 16 games under .500.

Lee has been dominant on fielding-independent performance, as Geoff Baker writes.

Heard this a whole bunch in the past week: There just doesn't appear to be much in the way of available cash in the trade market, with few teams willing to take on much money. If this holds, it will limit the number of deals that can be made, as well as the size of the deals. The player most directly impacted by this, in all likelihood, is Roy Oswalt, who bears $27 million in salary obligations and is overpriced in the current market.

• The Washington Nationals are hoping that the attention on Stephen Strasburg will reflect well on all of them, writes Adam Kilgore.

By the way: I checked on the tickets available for Strasburg's next start, on Friday against the Chicago White Sox, and it appears that the best right now are tickets in the right-field corner -- which means the Nationals appear headed for another sellout.

Some Nats fans are canceling subscriptions because they couldn't get a poster of Stras.

Dings and dents

1. The Angels lost Erick Aybar when he got taken out at second base, as Mike DiGiovanna writes.

2. Brandon Phillips is probably not going to land on the DL, says Walt Jocketty.

3. It's expected that Edgar Renteria will be activated from the disabled list Wednesday, as mentioned within this Henry Schulman notebook. And if you follow what is being said by Bruce Bochy, it sounds like Bengie Molina is the guy who is going to lose at-bats.

4. Dustin McGowan had a setback.

5. Miguel Montero is back with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he has brought some energy.

6. Huston Street should be back later this week, writes Jim Armstrong.

7. Everth Cabrera is nearing his return.

8. Jair Jurrjens continues to make progress in his rehab, writes Jeff Haws.

9. Some Baltimore Orioles players are making progress in their respective rehabs, but Brian Roberts is not.

10. A-Rod and Jorge Posada will get the word today from Joe Girardi if they can play against the Phillies, as Peter Botte writes.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. David DeJesus of the Kansas City Royals is going to be the center of attention as we get closer to the trade deadline, writes Bob Dutton. Totally agree with that, because there are just so few solid options in the outfield trade market and it's becoming apparent that in order for the Royals to maximize DeJesus' trade value, they should move him now. He's a year away from free agency and is under contract for a reasonable $4.7 million this season, with a $6 million option for next season (and a $500,000 buyout); he's experienced; he's versatile both in where he can play in the outfield and in where he can hit in the lineup; and he's always had a pretty good knack for hitting with runners in scoring position. Pure speculation: He'd be a nice fit for the San Diego Padres, Angels, the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds.

2. Speaking of, it's time for the Padres to think about a trade, writes old pal Nick Canepa.

3. Also speaking of, the Reds are looking for bullpen help, and a trade is a possibility, writes John Fay.

4. The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to promote Pedro Alvarez soon, and the other players are looking forward to it. Neal Huntington should do this now, writes Ron Cook.

To be clear, I haven't seen Alvarez take an at-bat in the minors this year. But when the Pirates do promote Alvarez, they should be prepared to hang with him through some deep valleys -- his high strikeout rate tells you that pitchers have found a way to get to him. Along the same lines, the Rangers stuck with Justin Smoak through a rough start, and that seems to have paid off: Smoak has been hitting better of late.

5. The Chicago Cubs will wait a little longer before deciding when and who to trade, writes Paul Sullivan. The Cubs need to go in a different direction, writes Gordon Wittenmyer.

6. Mike Scioscia thinks the Angels have enough depth at first base, which means they aren't going crazy to make a deal for someone like Paul Konerko.

7. Alex Rios is making the gamble by Ken Williams pay off, writes Mark Gonzales.

8. The Milwaukee Brewers met with their top pick.

9. The Minnesota Twins are mulling over some deadline deal options. It will be interesting to see if they're aggressive in going after Cliff Lee, who could be a transformative player for them in October.

10. Omar Minaya has gambled on prospects and won, writes John Harper.

Jeets

From Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information

Derek Jeter tied the New York Yankees' record for career leadoff home runs with his 24th on Saturday. There is arguably no player better than Jeter at starting a game off right for his team, as illustrated by this chart, provided by Stats & Information's Mark Simon and the Elias Sports Bureau.

Also from Mark Simon and the Elias Sports Bureau:

The Atlanta Braves' Brooks Conrad has won a game this year via ninth-inning bunt hit and ninth-inning grand slam. In the past 10 years, the only player with game-winning RBIs on a bunt and a grand slam, both in the last inning, in the same season was David Eckstein, who did it both in 2002 for the Angels and 2005 for the Cardinals. In 2002, he had a sac bunt April 28 and a grand slam Aug. 25. In 2005, Eckstein had game-winners on bunts July 6 (sacrifice) and July 22 (single) and a grand slam Aug. 7.

Monday's games

1. Tony La Russa shuffled the Cardinals' lineup, and they thrived. Adam Wainwright showed his durability, writes Rick Hummel.

2. John Buck hit two homers for the Jays and the earth moved, writes Bob Elliott.

Why Shaun Marcum beat the Padres, from Michael Trainor of ESPN Stats & Information:

He got hitters to chase -- the Padres chased 49 percent of balls out of the strike zone. That is far and away his best number of the season (30 percent for 2010). As usual, he threw strikes -- Marcum threw strikes on 66 of his 91 pitches thrown (72.5 percent). That is his best performance of 2010, but he has only had one game in which his strike percentage was less than 60. As usual, he had off-speed success -- the Padres were 1-9 (.111) against Marcum's non-fastballs Monday. That lowered the right-hander's season mark to .185 against the slower stuff.

3. The Giants are the latest to learn first-hand just how bad the Orioles are.

Why Jonathan Sanchez beat the Orioles, from Mr. Trainor:

He adapted -- for the season, hitters are only .194 against Sanchez's fastball. On Monday, the Orioles were 6-16 (.375) against the heater. So Sanchez utilized more off-speed stuff and held the O's to a .143 (2-14) mark against non-fastballs. He overcame not having his best stuff. Sanchez threw the most pitches of any start this season (117) and a season-high 10 balls were classified by Inside Edge as "well-hit." He made up for it by turning two-strike at-bats into outs (retired 15 of 18 batters, 83 percent; MLB average: 72 percent). He had good control -- he only walked one batter over 7.2 innings. Of his 13 starts this season, it's the fourth time he's allowed zero or just one walks.

4. A lot of other folks were talking about the earthquake after the Padres' loss, but Jon Garland was talking about what he thought was an inconsistent strike zone.

5. The Brewers had a very good day.

6. Chris Tillman got pounded.

7. Monday's most patient hitter was Craig Counsell -- five plate appearances and saw 29 pitches, for 5.8 per. Dewayne Wise came to the dish five times and saw 25 pitches, good for five per.

Other stuff

• Some sad news about Oscar Azocar.

• How bad is the production of the Baltimore first basemen? Well, three sets of NL pitchers have better production, writes Jeff Zrebiec. Within the same piece, there is confirmation from the Sun that Buck Showalter will be interviewed by the Orioles.

• The Yankees' place in the standings masks their flaws, writes Bob Klapisch.

Clay Buchholz has plenty of stuff to choose from, writes Scott Lauber.

Dave Martinez has a lot of input on the Rays' bench, writes Tony Fabrizio.

• The Yankees need to get CC Sabathia in gear, writes George King.

• Houston is trying to figure out what to do with the Astrodome.

• This will be interesting: Manny Ramirez is returning to Boston, as Baxter Holmes writes. I bet he'll get a mixed reception.

Rafael Soriano is all business, writes Joe Smith.

• Soccer is a communist sport, says Homer Bailey.

Mike Stanton will be making his home debut, writes Tom D'Angelo.

Daric Barton is reaching his potential, as Susan Slusser writes.

David Price is excited to start against the Braves.

Rick Porcello has been searching for his sinker.

Jose Valverde has been a super saver.

Carlos Lee is trying to shake off his bad start, writes Bernardo Fallas.

• Justin Masterson's drive to get better hasn't eased as his performance has improved, writes Dennis Manoloff.

• A couple of British Columbia bashers are playing in New Hampshire, as John Lott writes.

Kevin Slowey is a control freak, writes John Shipley.

• The Braves are back home after a long road trip.

• Tim Tebow put on a show with the bat.

And today will be better than yesterday.