NLCS 2016: Kyle Schwarber available for World Series? Cubs fans can dare to dream

CHICAGO — The Windy City caught full-blown Kyle Schwarber fever Saturday. Cubs fans fell in love with the rookie slugger last year, when he hit 16 home runs in 69 games during the regular season. The left-handed powder keg became legend during the playoffs, when he hit .333 with five homers and a 1.308 OPS in nine October games. MORE: Ranking the 50 best players in the playoffsSo it didn’t matter that Schwarber’s knee blew up on April 7 — he tore his ACL and LCL in a collision with Dexter Fowler in the outfield — because he was a fan favorite, and fan favorites don’t disappear while they’re hurt. Their legend only grows.  Did I mention that those five playoff homers set a franchise record? Schwarber jerseys were all over the Wrigley Field stands during the first two games of the NLDS, when the Cubs took care of the Giants. And when the Dodgers visited for Game 1 of the NLCS, the cheers for Schwarber during the pregame introductions rivaled those of any healthy Cubs player. And though the Cubs have always maintained that Schwarber’s return date was 2017, fans held out hope.MORE: Indians might get Danny Salazar back for SeriesThe thought went: The Cubs are really good now, but imagine how good they’d be if Kyle was back in the lineup. It was a dream too intoxicating to dream. Now, though? Now it’s a realistic possibility. Schwarber was cleared by his doctors to hit Monday, then looked great in batting practice Wednesday. On Saturday, the Cubs added Schwarber to their Arizona Fall League roster, to see what he might be able to offer.  When that news broke in Chicago … well, they were a tad bit excited. kind-serious question: which left-handed hitter do you think would be more productive for the cubs in the world series (if they get there)?— Ryan Fagan (@Flanagan) October 22, 2016I mean, Schwarber hit a home run against the Cardinals in the NLDS last year that is still sitting atop夜网论坛 the scoreboard in right field. His name is either shouted in excitement in this town or whispered in reverence. There’s very little in-between with this beloved blaster of baseballs. MORE: Must-see NLCS photosAnd even though the Cubs are hedging a bit — “There’s a chance,” is how manager Joe Madden put it — the excitement level in Chicago jumped up a couple levels with the announcement that Schwarber could possibly be activated for the World Series against Cleveland.Which is saying something, considering this franchise is on the brink of reaching the World Series for the first time since 1945. Let’s splash a dose of reality here: The chance of Schwarber sitting out six months, taking a couple days of BP, then maybe a few AFL games and suddenly being an effective, productive hitter as the DH in the World Series against guys like Corey Lubber is slim. But the chances of a franchise going 108 years without winning a World Series are pretty slim, too. So don’t talk with Cubs fans about the odds, because they don’t want to hear it.[……]

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playoffs 2016: Dave Roberts, like Terry Francona, has no use for bullpen orthodoxy in October

WASHINGTON — Buck Showalter got himself in a sea of hot water, and bounced out of the playoffs, for going by the book with his bullpen management in the American League wild-card game. In Friday’s opener of the National League Division Series, Dave Roberts took his turn penning a chapter in the new book.Terry Francona, who called on relief ace Andrew Miller in the fifth inning of Cleveland’s win over Boston on Thursday, may be the lead author, but Roberts is in on the revolution, maybe the John Jay (no, not the Padres outfielder) to Francona’s Alexander Hamilton if you think of each of these playoff games as something like the Federalist Papers. MORE: The 50 best players in the playoffsThe keyword of the new book is leverage, namely, getting the best relievers into the game in the situations where they will have the most effect, rather than managing to statistics like the save. It’s a philosophy that should bring together both sabermetricians, who vastly prefer Leverage Index and Win Probability Added to saves, and traditionalists who remember the era of the fireman, when saves existed but relievers like Sparky Lyle and Goose Gossage would c夜网论坛ome in for multiple innings and in the highest-pressure situations. It’s something you and your dad can agree on. Or Roberts and the man who used to manage him, Francona. Or anyone who is neither a fantasy baseball player nor Tony La Russa. The best players should be used in the biggest situations. Seems obvious, right?It was for the Dodgers, who used top setup man Joe Blanton in the sixth inning to relieve Clayton Kershaw and got a five-out save from Kenley Jansen, with left-hander Grant Dayton and righty Pedro Baez in between. SPECTOR: Kershaw W should shut up haters for a while“To me, it doesn’t matter,” Jansen said of his usage after LA’s 4-3 victory. “Sometimes it is in the seventh or the eighth, those might be the tougher times than in the ninth, when you get a clean inning. Like (Thursday), you see the Cleveland game, sometimes that’s when it happens sometimes. You’ve just got to, you know, use your best pitcher.”So, in the eighth inning, when Nats manager Dusty Baker sent up Stephen Drew and his .910 OPS against right-handers to pinch-hit against Baez, Roberts upgraded his righty on the mound, turning to Jansen. Even though Baez has good numbers against left-handed hitters, slightly better even than Jansen, the message was clear: Roberts was not screwing around here.“This is a game that, obviously, in any short series you want to win the first game,” Roberts said. “And when your ace doesn’t have his best stuff, and you still find a way to win … in some sense you feel you steal one. … I’ve talked to Kenley all year long, and we’ve prepared for this moment, and so mentally, physically, he’s prepared.”MORE: Three takeaways from Game 1Jansen threw 27 pitches, more than all but two of his outings this season. The five outs he recorded tied for his most of the year. Blanton had appeared before the seventh inning in only seven of his 75 appearances this season. What the Dodgers, like the Indians, are proving is that while pitchers tend to like having defined roles, there’s nothing wrong with a role being defined as “You’re going to pitch the biggest part of the game.”“It comes down to the most important outs, and you want your guys to get those outs regardless of what time of the game it is,” said LA third baseman Justin Turner, whose two-run homer in the third inning gave the Dodgers a four-run lead that they protected the rest of the game. “I know Kenley loves his saves, but I’m sure he would tell you the same thing. He wants to get the three big outs. If it’s the eighth inning or ninth inning, it doesn’t matter to him.”MORE: postseason TV schedule, game timesJansen indeed said the same thing, and when you’re doing something different, having buy-in from the players is vital. The Dodgers have that, and their bullpen combined for four innings of one-hit ball in Game 1 against the Nationals.“Normally Joe throws more in the eighth,” Jansen said. “We put him in the sixth. That’s how it goes sometimes. It’s just the matchup, and I feel like that’s how it should be from now on.”[……]

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World Series 2016: Game 2 of Cubs-Indians time weather

null null Baseball null Fans in Cleveland will pack Progressive Field when Game 2 of the World Series between the Indians and Cubs begins Wednesday, but they’ll have to arrive earlier to the ballpark than first scheduled — and then huddle for warmth.Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that Wednesday’s game will be moved up an hour to 7:08 p.m. ET as chilly and wet late-October weather is forecast across northern Ohio.  MORE: World Series in photosAccording to local weather reports, a 40-degree wind chill and up to a 40 percent chance of rain is expected Wednesday night with rain chances increasing as the night goes on.  The Cubs played through unusually cold weather last year in New York en route to getting swept by the Mets in the National League Championship Series. MORE: Snow affected ’97 Series in ClevelandManagers Joe Maddon and Terry Francona could be forced to go to their bullpens earlier than expected if the weather forces any delays Wednesday. Jake Arrieta will take the mound for the Cubs and Trevor Bauer is scheduled to toe the rubber for the Indians. WHAT IS THE TV SCHEDULE FOR THE 2016 WORLD 夜网论坛SERIES?Best of seven. All times Eastern.Tuesday, Oct. 25Game 1: Cubs at Indians, 8:08 p.m. | TV: FoxWednesday, Oct. 26Game 2: Cubs at Indians, 7:08 p.m. | TV: FoxFriday, Oct. 28Game 3: I ndians at Cubs, 8:08 p.m. | TV: FoxSaturday, Oct. 29Game 4: Indians at Cubs, 8:08 p.m. | TV: FoxMORE: Meet these Cubs SuperfansSunday, Oct. 30Game 5*: Indians at Cubs, 8:15 p.m. | TV: FoxTuesday, Nov. 1Game 6*: Cubs at Indians, 8:08 p.m. | TV: FoxWednesday, Nov. 2Game 7*: Cubs at Indians, 8:08 p.m. | TV: Fox*=if necessary[……]

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Jason Kipnis to Jose Bautista on 'boots' comment: 'That's why you don't say dumb s—'

The Indians beat the Blue Jays four games to one in this year’s American League Championship Series. It looks like the beating Cleveland gave Toronto on the field is spilling over into social networking sites, too.Prior to Wednesday’s Game 5, Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista said Cleveland rookie starter Ryan Merritt should be “shaking in his boots” at the thought of facing the Blue Jays’ veteran lineup. Then Toronto lost and the baseball gods laughed. As did Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis. “That’s why you don’t say dumb s—,” Kipnis told reporters following the clincher. “Did he (Bautista) get a hit off him (Merritt)? He sure didn’t. Pretty good for when you’re shaking.”MORE: 14 postseason oddities you might not know about The talk didn’t end with Kipnis’ comments. Cleveland starters Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer took to Twitter to lay into Bautista, too.Shakin’ in his boots pic.twitter.com/jYr6W4N6Xt— Corey Kluber (@CKluber) October 20, 2016When is that new drake single “circumstances” dropping? I bet it’s 🔥🔥🔥 I’ll be editing footage tonight. Video coming ASAP!! Stay tuned!— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) October 20, 2016Happy birthday! Headed to the World Series!! #LetsGoTribe !!!! pic.twitter.com/wIf35qt2zK— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) October 20, 2016MORE: Photos from the ALCSEve夜网论坛n Indians catcher Roberto Perez got in on Bautista’s birthday wishes, and he did it with a little third-period Spanish.@JoeyBats19 como la estas pasando el dia de tu cumpleaños? 😶🤔🍾🍾🍾🍾— Roberto Perez (@robperez2015) October 20, 2016Merritt, for his part, didn’t take the bait when asked after the game about Bautista.”I heard it. But I didn’t let it affect me or get to me,” he told reporters. “I mean, that’s a good lineup. I guess he’s got the right to say it. It’s my first (postseason) start. But the emotions out there were kind of crazy at first, a little nervous.”Still, the champagne must taste a little sweeter for Merritt, Kipnis and the rest of the Tribe. Maybe they should open up a few extra bottles after knocking off Bautista and the Blue Jays. The … circumstances certainly call for it.[……]

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World Series 2016: Indians to start Kluber in Game 4

null null Baseball null Indians ace Corey Kluber is in the middle of one of the best postseasons in history, and manager Terry Francona is going夜网论坛 to take advantage of the right-hander’s dominance for potentially two more starts. But he isn’t the only one. Francona told reporters on Wednesday that Kluber will start Game 4 Saturday at Wrigley Field on three days’ rest. He also said Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin would come back on short rest, if needed.  SN’s All-Stars: AL Team | NL Team Bauer is starting Wednesday in Cleveland against the Cubs in Game 2 of the World Series, but a threat of rain could shorten his second consecutive postseason start (pinkie injury). He then would be considered likely to start Game 5 if necessary. Tomlin, Cleveland’s probable Game 3 starter in Chicago, would be in line to start Game 6 should the series return to Cleveland on Tuesday.  Francona thought it was best to wait to announce Kluber as starter for Game 4, until after his gem of a performance in Game 1. “I just didn’t want to put Klubes in a tough spot by saying that before he pitched,” Francona said. “I didn’t think that was fair to him. Then if something came up and he wasn’t ready to make that start, I didn’t think it was fair to him. But he’s all set to pitch. That was probably Plan A. But like I said, I didn’t want to be unfair to him.”Kluber’s only other career start on three days’ rest was in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays earlier this month. He went five innings, allowing two runs with seven strikeouts and two walks in the Tribe’s lone loss of the series. Still, Francona isn’t concerned. MORE: Home cooking has Indians pointed toward first World Series”In our situation right now, there’s a couple factors,” he said of his decision to pitch Kluber on short rest. “One, some guys have gotten hurt. Two, we still wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t think it was the right thing to do. And part of that is the workload the starters have had lately hasn’t really been — this has been Kluber’s least amount of pitches this month just because when they’re winning, we go to the bullpen, and if they’re losing, we take them out.”After his six-inning shutout in Game 1’s win, Kluber owns a 0.74 ERA this postseason. If Kluber does start three games in the World Series, he would be the first pitcher since Curt Schilling in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks to accomplish the feat.Tomlin has started on short rest once in his career, hurling 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball, scattering four hits vs. the Blue Jays in 2010. Bauer has never started on short rest.[……]

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Jose Fernandez toxicology report offers new details in Marlins ace's death

null Baseball Jose Fernandez was intoxicated and had cocaine in his system at the time of this death, according to a toxicology report cited by the Miami Herald . According to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Department, the late Marlins pitcher had a bloo夜网论坛d alcohol content of .147 percent, nearly twice the legal intoxication limit.BREAKING: Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez was drunk by nearly double the legal limit when he died in a boat crash #mh pic.twitter.com/lqFtOY9N2o— David Ovalle (@DavidOvalle305) October 29, 2016MORE: Moving photos from Fernandez’s memorial service It’s unclear if Fernandez, 24, was driving the 32-foot speedboat when it hit rocks off the coast of Miami. Fernandez and two friends, 27-year-old Emilio Jesus Macias and 25-year-old Eduardo Rivero, were killed in the crash.UPDATE: While there has been confusion over who was driving the boat, Fernandez family attorney, Ralph Fernandez — no relation — told CBS Miami there’s proof his client was not behind the wheel. He says a witness says Jose wasn’t driving because he was on the phone with him just before impact and the call dropped. “He said that during that brief conversation that Jose was obviously not driving the boat because he was giving suggestions and or directions to whoever was driving and to stay off shore a bit and also something about the red or green lights,” Attorney Fernandez told CBS4’s Donna Rapado.Rivero also had cocaine in his system. While both had alcohol in their blood, neither Macias nor Rivero were legally drunk.MORE: Fernandez posthumously named SN Comeback Player of the YearPolice recently reported there was a strong smell of alcohol coming from the three men when they were discovered. Investigators say they found a receipt from a South Florida bar in the pocket of one of the men, though they didn’t identify which man.[……]

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Jake Arrieta ready for showdown with Madison Bumgarner

夜网论坛 null null Baseball Jake Arrieta may be the reigning National League Cy Young winner, but Madison Bumgarner owns the playoffs. The two will face off in Monday’s NLDS Game 3, which serves as an elimination game for the San Francisco Giants.Even though Arrieta is less battle tested in the postseason than Bumgarner, he relishes the opportunity to pitch against him with the stakes and their highest. “Well, he’s a tremendous pitcher,” Arrieta said of Bumgarner in his news conference Sunday. “He’s got a lot of deception. He’s got plus stuff. He really knows how to pitch, and he’s a guy who really seems to shine brightest in the postseason when the games matter the most.MORE: Fun facts and wacky stats of the postseason “So he’s been one of the best in the postseason for the last several years. We have got a challenge ahead of us, but we put ourselves in a really good position, obviously taking care of business at home with the opportunity to close the series out in three games and get back to Chicago and prepare.”He is tough, but at the same time we have got a pretty potent offense that he has to try and neutralize. So, it’s going to be a good one.”Luckily for Arrieta, San Francisco’s bats have looked lifeless through the first two games of the series. Jon Lester mowed them down in Game 1, then Kyle Hendricks and the bullpen held them to two runs on Saturday.MORE: Every team’s worst postseason memory revisitedIn fact, two of the more intriguing hitters in this game will be the pitchers. Both Arrieta and Bumgarner have impressive power numbers, and both made a push for allowing them to partake in the Home Run Derby this summer.Arrieta understands when Bumgarner is on the mound, there is no respite in the Giants’ batting order.”He’s one of the guys that you treat like a typical position player,” Arrieta said. “Obviously he can swing the bat very well; he has, I guess, I’m assuming, throughout his whole career in the National League. He’s a great athlete. He can handle the bat well.FAGAN: Relax, Giants fans, there’s still a chance”So really you just have to approach him like you would any of their other eight guys in the lineup. Try and mix things up and obviously try and neutralize his power, because he’s a guy that can leave the ballpark at any time. So I feel like we’ll attack each other accordingly and not take it lightly.”Monday’s matchup against two of the best pitchers in will surely provide some fireworks. However, like the first two games in the series, that might mean we see more strikeouts than home runs.[……]

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Long-awaited World Series title cathartic for Sandberg and ex-Cubs everywhere

CLEVELAND — Ryne Sandberg loves the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs love Ryne Sandberg. Cubs fans love Ryne Sandberg. During nearly every home game during the Cubs’ magical playoff run this month, the Wrigley Field video board showed a package of Sandberg highlights from his time wearing the uniform, and then the camera would show a smiling Sandberg in the stands, cheering on his Cubbies.  The crowd went crazy, every single time. Sandberg’s grin grew, every single time. These were wonderful shared moments between a Hall of Famer who loves his fans and fans who love their Hall of Famer, at the intimate confines of Wrigley Field. In the intimate confines of the visitor’s clubhouse inside Progressive Field maybe a half-hour after the Cubs had clinched the franchise’s first World Series title in 108 years with an epic 8-7 victory in extra innings of Game 7, a grin was still on Sandberg’s face.  This one was a little different, though. This grin was a combination of wonder, disbelief and unbelievable joy, to name just a few of the emotions on his face. “I never thought it would happen,” Sandberg told Sporting News, in a voice barely more than a whisper. Tucked up against the back wall of the Cubs’ clubhouse, 夜网论坛while streams of champagne danced through the air, Sandberg was just doing his best to soak in the celebration. MORE: Best players never to play in the World Series (Ryan Fagan/SN) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/21/f8/ryne-sandberg-and-bill-murray-110316-sn-ftrjpg_iltrizyp6dst1c75xap21js1b.jpg?t=721793472&w=500&quality=80 MORE: Greatest Game 7s ever“It’s been a long time, but it was worth the wait,” he continued. “No question about it.”The guy known just as Ryno was speaking for himself in the moment, of course, but his words echoed the sentiment of decades of former players who ached to reach that same mountain in a Cubs uniform. Sandberg played 15 seasons with the Cubs and made the playoffs just twice.He was awesome in both of his postseason series. In the 1984 NLCS, Sandberg — who was the NL MVP and Sporting News Player of the Year that season — hit .368 and stole three bases. In the 1989 NLCS, he hit .400 with five extra-base hits and four RBIs in five games. In 1984, though, the Cubs lost to the Padres and in 1989, they lost to the Giants. FAGAN: Game 7 delivers on historic hype“That’s one of the questions I’ve been asked most over the past 35 years, ‘When are the Cubs going to get to the World Series?’ ” Sandberg said. “And I just say, ‘Sometime?’ I didn’t know it was going to happen.”He knows now, though. All the ex-Cubs finally have an answer to that question. Billy Williams is one of four Hall of Famers — along with Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Fergie Jenkins — who played for the Cubs during their long playoff-less drought that lasted from 1945 to 1984. Standing on the Wrigley Field grass after the Cubs clinched their World Series trip with an NLCS victory against the Dodgers, Williams talked with reporters about what the moment meant for him, and what it would have meant for his former teammates (Santo died in 2010 and Banks died in 2014).“You often think about them, guys who were here a long time and they wanted to see this kind of thing happen, you know, going to the World Series,” Williams said. “It’s been 108 years.”After the decades of frustrations for the fans and players, everything finally came together.“This is the right group,” Sandberg told SN. “They’re character guys. They’re young guys, a lot of energy. The right manager, the right president, the right owner.I mean, everybody’s in place and that’s what it took. It took the right guys, all the way from top to bottom, to be in the right spots.”MORE: Own a piece of history; get Cubs championship gearAfter 108 years, of course, there was no chance the Cubs’ first World Series title was going to be easy.“It had to go seven games, because the Cubs haven’t been in it so long,” Sandberg said. “So it had to go seven, and it had to go extra-innings. A nail-biter the whole way, and that’s probably the way it’s supposed to be.”The Cubs are World Champs again, finally. For Sandberg and Williams and every player who wore the uniform from 1908 to 2015, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.[……]

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trade rumors 2017: With Chris Sale gone, who will the White Sox trade next?

The tall, lanky left-handed domino has finally fallen, as you know. And now that Chris Sale has been shipped off to Boston, what’s next for the White Sox? General manager Rick Hahn was interviewed on Network’s “Hot Stove” show on Wednesday morning to talk about the Sale trade, and he made it clear the dealing wasn’t done.  MORE: Who will replace David Ortiz in Boston?“If we had our druthers, we would continue the process that we started in earnest yesterday over the next several days,” Hahn told host Matt Vasgersian. “We’d have three more of these interviews based on other impactful trades that we’ve made that we would feel helped move the chains, so to speak, in this process. But we’re not going to force the issue.” That’s smart, of course. The White Sox have a roster full of talented players who would be valuable additions for contending teams, and only three of those guys — Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera and Brett Lawrie — are free agents after next season. Standouts such as Jose Quintana, Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu, just to name a few, are under club control for at least three more seasons.“We’ve got some pretty special talent under control for an extended period of time, a夜网论坛nd if the right deal presents itself while we’re here, we’ll move on it,” Hahn said during the Network interview. “And if not, then we’ll go back to Chicago and revisit things over the course of next few weeks and perhaps into the season.”So let’s take a look at what players might be on the move (youngsters Carlos Rodon and Tim Anderson aren’t going anywhere, btw), and where they might wind up. OF Adam EatonContract status: Owed $18.4 million through 2019, club options for 2020 ($9.5 million) and 2021 ($10.5 million)Need to know: That contract is just delicious, isn’t it? Eaton, who just turned 28 on Tuesday, has produced a .290/.362/.422 slash line in three seasons as Chicago’s primary leadoff hitter, and he’s even hit 14 home runs each of the past two seasons. With the glove, he’s proven he can play either center field (where he spent all of 2014-15) and right field (he started 110 games there in 2016). The White Sox will certainly shop him as a center fielder, where he has the most value. His 6.2 WAR (Baseball-Reference formula) ranked 13th in and his 6.0 FanGraphs’ WAR ranked 11th. Possible destinations: Eaton seems like a perfect fit for the Cardinals, who have two primary needs this offseason: center field and leadoff. Will they pony up to meet the asking price? UPDATE: Well, that didn’t take long. The White Sox traded Eaton to the Nationals for a massive return on Wednesday afternoon. Right-hander Lucas Giolito ranked No. 4 overall on Baseball America’s midseason Top 100 prospects list, right-hander Reynaldo Lopez was No. 48 and right-hander Dane Dunning was the 29th overall pick in the 2016 Draft. Eaton is an outstanding player, but … yeah, that’s a lofty price. 3B Todd FrazierContract status: Free agent after 2017 (his final arbitration year)Need to know: The good: Frazier has hit 75 homers the past two seasons and owns a reputation as one of baseball’s genuinely good people. The bad: He set career worsts last year in strikeouts (163), batting average (.225) and on-base percentage (.309). Frazier’s a solid defensive third baseman, and he can play first base if needed, too. Because he’s only a one-year guy, it would be very surprising to see Frazier in a White Sox uniform this spring. Possible destinations: If free agent Justin Turner leaves Los Angeles, expect the Dodgers to make a big run at landing Frazier. SP Jose QuintanaContract status: Owed $15.5 million through 2018, club options for 2019 ($10.5 million) and 2020 ($10.5 million)Need to know: Yet another early contract extension that worked out very well for the White Sox. Quintana doesn’t get the Chris Sale attention, but he’s been remarkably consistent since forcing his way into the ChiSox rotation. In 154 career games (151 starts), the lefty has a 3.41 ERA/3.47 FIP and good-not-great 3.2 K/BB ratio. He’s made at least 32 starts and pitched at least 200 innings each of the past four seasons. He’ll be 28 in January. Possible destinations: Anybody and everybody should be after this guy, though the price will be steep. It makes sense that the Nationals, who were reportedly the runner-up in the Sale sweepstakes, would be interested in Quintana, too. RP David RobertsonContract status: Owed $25 million through 2018Need to know: In three full seasons as a big-league closer (for the Yankees in 2014, for the White Sox in 2015-16), Robertson has 110 saves, but he also has an eye-opening 19 blown saves (tied for the most in the bigs in that stretch). He struggled with his control last year, walking 4.6 per nine innings (up from 1.8 in 2015), and his strikeouts per nine dropped from 12.2 to 10.8. Still, with the focus on building elite bullpens, Robertson will generate interest. Even if he’s not brought in as a closer, his salary isn’t crazy for an elite setup guy[……]

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Braves' extreme punishment shows Rob Manfred is serious about cleaning up baseball

null Baseball When I was a kid, our neighborhood in the suburbs backed up to a creek. I loved exploring that creek, which was always more than a trickle but never more than 7 or 8 feet wide. My friends and I would catch crawdads, dig up worms and pretend to shoot at birds with our slingshots (it’s not a coincidence that we missed every single time). My parents weren’t big fans of the creek. People threw trash down there (stupid people). Poison ivy was everywhere. Dangers for a growing kid, y’know?  MORE: Braves’ manager on rough offseason: “Never seen anything like this”I wasn’t supposed to go in the creek. I knew this. I went anyway, though. I would gladly trade the risk — being grounded for a week or two — in exchange for tha夜网论坛t reward — a summer of exploring the wonders of the creek. If the punishment was being grounded for the rest of the summer? I would have stopped going in the creek. Probably. Definitely. That, folks, is what Major League Baseball is hoping to accomplish with its new set of punishments. The powers that be are trying to change the behavior of those who work in baseball. You already know about the steroid penalties that have been in place for a while: 80 games for a first violation, 162 games for a second violation and lifetime banishment for a third violation (former Mets pitcher Jenrry Meija is the lone ex-player on that list at the moment). The suspensions, of course, are without pay. Which brings us to Tuesday. Tuesday was the day of reckoning for the Atlanta Braves, who had already forced former GM John Coppolella to resign amid fallout from an international signing scandal. The investigation turned up mountains of evidence of wrongdoing — deliberate, conniving, complicated efforts to circumvent the system in place from 2015 through 2017 — and commissioner Rob Manfred wanted to make a statement that this is not OK. Mission accomplished. Coppolella, the ringleader, is banned from baseball for life. As a member of the permanently ineligible list, he cannot be employed by a team in any capacity, and he cannot work with baseball as a certified player agent. He has to find a new career. MORE: Ranking the top 101 free agents for 2018The 13 players signed through the Braves’ deceitful tactics are now free agents, eligible to sign with any team under international signing rules (slightly modified because of the unique circumstances). That’s an awful thing for the Braves, of course (which was the point), but not such a bad thing for the players, who get to keep their original signing bonus and then can sign with another team. The Braves cannot offer any player more than a $10,000 bonus during the 2019-20 signing period, and their bonus pool for 2020-21 is reduced by 50 percent. Oh, and they lose their third-round pick in the 2018 draft because they offered one of their 2017 draft picks under-the-table incentives to sign. The Braves have their work cut out, not only in reshaping their image, but giving the fans something to be excited about. And the Braves, obviously, aren’t the only team that has tried to get around the rules when it comes to signing international players, specifically those in Latin America. The Red Sox were hit with punishments in 2016 for breaking rules in that arena, and it’s pretty commonly accepted that not every “i” was dotted or every “t” officially crossed according to the rules. But because Manfred used a hammer, not a slap bracelet, against the Braves, you can bet the other teams will carefully examine all the risks before wading back into that particular creek.[……]

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