August Waivers Rodeo—American League

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Claiming any of the following players will be hazardous to one’s payroll.

Let’s have a look at American League players who’ll get through waivers for one reason or another.

Mark Teixeira, 1B—New York Yankees

If Teixeira’s contract were due to expire in the near future, someone would claim him and the Yankees wouldn’t let him go. If he was claimed now, they still wouldn’t let him go, but they’d at least briefly consider it. He’s owed $22.5 million annually through 2016 when he’ll be 36. He’s going nowhere.

Alex Rodriguez, 3B—New York Yankees

Yeah. You claim A-Rod. You’ll have A-Rod at 37 with $104 million coming to him from 2013 through 2017.

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B—Boston Red Sox

His numbers are down, he’s owed $127 million through 2018 and he’s becoming the great player whose teams always miss the playoffs.

Carl Crawford, LF—Boston Red Sox

Yah. A-Rod has a better chance of being claimed.

Josh Beckett, RHP—Boston Red Sox

There would undoubtedly be factions in the Red Sox front office that would vote to let him go if he was claimed. Now he’s day-to-day with back spasms which, along with his poor pitching and not-so-charming personality, make him even more toxic with $31.5 million owed to him in 2013-2014. He also has 10 and 5 rights to block any deal but I think he’d love to get out of Boston by any means necessary.

Brandon Lyon, RHP—Toronto Blue Jays

He’s owed $5.5 million for 2012.

Adam Lind, 1B—Toronto Blue Jays

No one claimed him in June when the Blue Jays had to get him through waivers to send him to the minors earlier in the season; he’s hit better since he was recalled, but with $7 million guaranteed next season, he won’t be claimed especially since he’s not on the disabled list with a back injury.

Yunel Escobar, SS—Toronto Blue Jays

Add the Blue Jays to the Braves as teams that the talented Escobar has aggravated to the point that they want to be rid of him. His contract pays him $10 million in 2013-2014 and he has an option for 2015. He’ll get through and might be traded.

Alexei Ramirez, SS—Chicago White Sox

His hitting numbers have taken a nosedive and he’s owed $27.5 million through 2015.

Travis Hafner, DH—Cleveland Indians

He’s got a limited no-trade clause and presumably the team that claims him will be responsible for his $2.75 million buyout, but someone might claim him and hope that he can stay healthy for the last two months of the season (he’s sidelined with a sore back now) and perhaps provide some DH pop.

Casey Kotchman, 1B—Cleveland Indians

As a defensive replacement, there’d be a team to take him.

Joe Mauer, C—Minnesota Twins

He’s getting $23 million annually through 2018. If anyone claimed him, the Twins would pull him back; doubtful anyone will.

Justin Morneau, 1B—Minnesota Twins

With $14 million owed to him for 2013 and that he’s hit better recently, a team might claim him and the Twins would pull him back. If they trade him, it will be in the winter.

Carl Pavano, RHP—Minnesota Twins

No one’s claiming him, but if he proves himself healthy by the end of the month, he’ll be traded.

Jeremy Guthrie, RHP—Kansas City Royals

He’s a free agent at the end of the year and a contender (or a team that thinks they’re a contender—see the Red Sox of Boston or Blue Jays of Toronto) could use him for the stretch.

Jeff Francoeur, RF—Kansas City Royals

He’s owed $6.75 million for 2013. By the time his career is over, Frenchy might’ve played for 12-15 teams. That’s where his career is headed and it’s a major fall from being a Sports Illustrated coverboy and pegged a future megastar.

Bruce Chen, LHP—Kansas City Royals

He’s got a contract for $4.5 million for 2012, but eats innings and can be effective. He’ll get through and will be in decent demand via trade.

Roy Oswalt, RHP—Texas Rangers

Oswalt refused to pitch a third inning of relief on Sunday even though manager Ron Washington asked him to. He’s been mostly bad and is now causing a problem. For a small-town, “humble” guy, he’s doing a great impression of Terrell Owens. The Rangers will keep him around in case they need him, but no one will claim him.

Michael Young, INF/DH—Texas Rangers

As much as he’s respected, the final year of his contract on 2013 pays him $16 million and he’s been bad this season. If he’s claimed, the Rangers would be willing to let him go. He’s got 10 and 5 rights and won’t waive them.

Coco Crisp, OF—Oakland Athletics

The A’s have plenty of outfielders and Crisp is owed $8 million for 2013.

Vernon Wells, OF—Los Angeles Angels

His contract—$42 million for 2013-2014—is toxic.

Dan Haren, RHP—Los Angeles Angels

Haren has a $15.5 million club option and a $3.5 million buyout; he’s having back problems and has been mediocre all season.

Ervin Santana, RHP—Los Angeles Angels

He’s been bad, has a $13 million option that won’t be exercised and a $1 million buyout.

Chone Figgins, INF/OF—Seattle Mariners

Figgins has $8 million guaranteed next season and has batted under .200 in each of the past two seasons. You claim it, you got it.

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American League Central—Buy, Sell or Stand Pat?

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I’m going division by division. This morning I went through the AL East. Now it’s time for the AL Central.

Chicago White Sox

They’re buyers and should be, but they need to do it within reason.

They’ve already made one move to fill a hole by getting Kevin Youkilis essentially for nothing, they need a starting pitcher and some bullpen help.

Could they cobble together the prospects to get a Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke or Matt Garza? Probably. Should they? Probably not. But GM Ken Williams is going to do what he’s going to do and won’t apologize nor backtrack. They’ve played this well up to this point with John Danks and Philip Humber injured.

I would tweak the bullpen with a Brandon League, Huston Street, Rafael Betancourt or Francisco Rodriguez if he comes available; plus another lefty like Joe Thatcher. The best improvements to the club will be if Danks and Humber come back effectively and if Alexei Ramirez starts hitting. That’s more important than any acquisition they could make. A desperation trade would be counterproductive.

Cleveland Indians

They need a bat at first base, the outfield or at DH. I’d leave the pitching alone unless they can get Ryan Dempster at a reasonable price. Yes, Travis Hafner’s off the disabled list, but judging from history he’ll be back on it soon enough. Neither of their veteran acquisitions—Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman—have hit; they can forget about getting anything from Grady Sizemore.

They could use a lefty out of the bullpen and should make a move on the just released Brian Fuentes. For a bat, Carlos Quentin is out there. If the Cubs will pay his whole salary, they might want to take a look at Alfonso Soriano. At the very least he’d hit them some homers. Ty Wigginton would be a useful and cheap extra bat.

If they’re inclined, they could craft an offer for Justin Upton and wait to see if B.J. Upton comes available.

Detroit Tigers

The second they signed Prince Fielder and moved Miguel Cabrera to third base, the Tigers were all-in to win now. They need a starting pitcher and while I wouldn’t trade Jacob Turner, that’s probably what’s going to have to happen to get one of the big names out there, Hamels, Greinke and Garza. I have a feeling that Placido Polanco is going to be playing second base for the Tigers before the end of July.

A lot will depend on how realistic it is to pin their needs for a bat on Victor Martinez getting back from knee surgery well before he was expected to.

The Tigers can still salvage their season and make the playoffs. There’s no dominant team in the AL Central.

Kansas City Royals

A couple of weeks ago I asked why they would be selling when they were only 5 games out of first place and had played well since a rancid start. Now they’re 9 ½ games out of first place and are said to be willing to move closer Jonathan Broxton but won’t give him away. They have players who have use like Jeff Francoeur, Bruce Chen and Jose Mijares.

They should get what they can for Mijares and stay where they are, giving the young players a chance to right the ship. This can still be a positive season for the Royals.

Minnesota Twins

They need to sell some of the key pieces from their long run in dominating the division. That means Justin Morneau and Francisco Liriano. I still think Morneau winds up in Los Angeles with the Dodgers. Liriano is going to be in heavy demand for multiple teams as a starter or reliever. Matt Capps will wind up getting traded somewhere maybe as part of a Morneau to the Dodgers deal.

I would not trade Denard Span.

If Carl Pavano returns and shows himself healthy, he’ll get through waivers in August and teams will need a body with a functioning arm. I suppose Pavano qualifies in that respect. Sort of.

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The Derek Jeter All Star “Controversy”

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Derek Jeter is skipping the All Star Game and it’s turned into the near equivalent of bowing out of game 7 of the World Series.

Let’s look at this point-by-point, shall we?

Here’s a defense of Jeter staying home.

He doesn’t deserve it this year.

As a perennial participant, future Hall of Famer with grand popularity and in the midst of the afterglow of his brilliant throwback performance as he got his 3000th career hit, obviously he’d be a worthy member of the American League squad.

But based on what he is now as an overall player, he’s not an All Star.

Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians; Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox; Yunel Escobar of the Blue Jays; J.J. Hardy of the Orioles; and Jhonny Peralta of the Tigers are all American League shortstops having better years than Jeter.

The same argument that says he “should” be there could be applied to the perception of fairness and what’s needed in a game that supposedly “matters” and will be “played to win”.

What if Jeter went the faux boy scout route and said something inane and made for image consumption like, “I don’t deserve it this year; let someone else have a chance. And it affects the Yankees because we hope to be in the World Series this year and have home field advantage. The AL will have a better chance with players other than me.”

A large segment of the Ian O’Connor/Michael Kay wing of Jeter worshippers would’ve sighed at his selflessness and heroism and bought it as if it was true.

It’s the exact same thing as him saying he’s tired and needs the time off.

After his superlative performance on Saturday in getting his 3000th hit, he should be at the All Star Game.

What one thing has to do with another is beyond me.

Reds outfielder Chris Heisey hit 3 home runs in a game earlier this year (coincidentally against the Yankees); should he be in the All Star Game for that one accomplishment?

Without that 5 for 5 game and the flamboyant way in which he recorded his historic hit with a home run, no one would bat an eye if Jeter had backed out of the game. He’s coming off a stint on the disabled list with a calf injury, he’s older and he needs the time off.

The fans voted him in and deserve to see him play.

The fans? You mean the same dedicated Yankee fans who’ve turned on Jeter in droves as he’s showing the perils of ballplayer-related age and the apparent decision to play without the assistance of PEDs?

The ones who want him moved down in the lineup, benched, traded and borderline shot like a horse?

The ones that refer to him publicly as Captain Groundout and Captain DP?

Those who suggest his defense is so terrible that he needs to be moved to the outfield where he can do the least amount of damage?

Are those the fans you’re referring to?

As Alex Rodriguez can attest, Jeter is rumored to be the iceman with those that cross him. The rift between the two seems healed now—I believe they’re friends again—but after A-Rod’s ill-thought-out and mostly accurate appraisal of Jeter in comparison to himself in a 2001 Esquire interview, the once-close bond exploded into a cold war that took years to fix.

Jeter doesn’t forget. He hears the boos and negative comments of those who once revered him and it’s always from the safety of the stands, on social media sites Twitter and Facebook or on unknown blogs. If they run into him in person, they treat him like he’s their totem and fall at his feet.

It’s the nature of fandom and of people, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less after the way he’s conducted himself over the years.

It’s a betrayal.

Understandable? In a fan sense, yes.

Fair? No.

Are these the fans he’s supposed to appease when, at age 37 and in need of the rest, he made the decision not to attend the All Star Game? A meaningless exhibition that he’s been in for 12 of his 17 big league seasons?

It’s ridiculous.

Then again, the All Star Game itself has degenerated into the ridiculous with the Home Run Derby and 80+ players on the rosters amid all the other silliness that’s going on.

Why should a nonsensical “controversy” be any different from the current sideshow in Arizona right now?

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