Andrew Bailey is set to make his Red Sox debut this week. After being sidelined with a thumb injury for the entire season, the Red Sox are expected to activate Bailey on Tuesday. Bailey was acquired to take over the closer role after Jonathan Papelbon left for Philadelphia. And while his injury has certainly hurt the Sox, they’ve performed pretty well without him.
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Melky Cabrera is having a career-year. After posting 4.2 WAR last year, Cabrera has once again been effective. The 27-year-old outfielder has already passed that total this season, accumulating 4.8 WAR so far.
Cabrera’s performance comes at a great time for him. At the end of the season, he can become a free-agent. And it looks like he’ll have a chance to hit the market, since the San Francisco Giants have put off negotiations with him until then. Cabrera’s two-year breakout is also interesting since he’s never produced like this before. All of those factors make Cabrera one of the most unique players to hit the market in quite some time. Because of that, no one is really sure how much he’ll make.
Ian Desmond has become a legitimate threat in the lineup. This may come as a big surprise to fans of sabermetrics, as Desmond’s swing-happy approach, led to him being one of the worst regulars in baseball. Last season, Desmond finished ahead of only Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Gonzalez in WAR at the shortstop position. This year, he trails Elvis Andrus 3.8 to 3.7. If not for a recent oblique injury, Desmond would likely be the most valuable shortstop in baseball this season. While his approach hasn’t changed much, there are some signs that he’s become a better player.
Justin Upton is still a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. During the off-season, there was no reason to think that the 24-year-old outfielder would be a potential trade candidate. Upton was coming off a phenomenal season, in which he hit .289/.369/.529, and finished fourth in the NL MVP voting. But things have changed in just a few months. While there seems to be some internal reasons for the team wanting to trade their star, Upton’s performance this season hasn’t helped matters. Upton has slumped to just .269/.358/.396. If Upton wants to dispel those rumors, he’s going to need to start producing like everyone expects. In order to do that, he’s going to have to start putting more balls in the air.
The honeymoon is over for the Miami Marlins and Carlos Zambrano. Big-Z may have gotten off to a great start in Miami, but a recent swoon, in which he has given up 35 earned runs in his last 41.1 innings, has put the 31-year-old pitcher back in the bullpen. The Chicago Cubs used the same approach in 2010, after Zambrano got off to a poor start. The experiment lasted just 16.2 innings. With the Marlins paying Zambrano just $2.55 million this year, they can justifiably move Zambrano to the pen with little argument from their fans. But even though it’s tough to complain much about the move, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right one.
The Philadelphia Phillies are going to make a big play to keep Cole Hamels. The team is planning to offer Hamels a six-year, $130 million extension in the coming days, according to CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. Since 2006, Hamels has been a mainstay in the Phillies rotation, accumulating an ace-like 25.7 WAR for the team over that period. Hamels is set to be a free-agent at the end of the season, which is why the Phillies are making a play to keep him now. If Hamels declines, it’s more than likely he’ll be traded so the Phillies can receive something of value for him before he hits the market. And even though the Phillies reported offer is more than fair, Hamels should reject it.
John Axford is struggling. After blowing another save last night, the Brewers’ closer is now tied for the league-lead with six blown saves. Over the last two seasons, Axford had emerged as one of the best relievers in baseball. Among qualified relievers, Axford rated fourth overall with 3.9 WAR. While relief pitchers are rarely able to sustain their greatness for multiple seasons, there were few signs that Axford was headed for regression. While the Brewers are losing ground this season, Axford is under team control until 2017. If the Brewers hope that Axford will continue to be a shutdown closer in the future, they are going to have to figure out what’s wrong with him.
Mark Trumbo was the least recognizable player in the Home Run Derby. Sure, Trumbo finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting last season, but he lacked the star power of a true superstar like Prince Fielder or Matt Kemp. But Trumbo impressed in the Derby, nearly making the finals while hitting some of the longest home runs of the night. And while the Home Run Derby doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, it’s an opportunity for players to display their talents in front of a national audience. Casual fans may not realize how good Trumbo has been this season. After last night, fans will start to take notice of his breakout.
Carlos Lee is heading to Miami. While the 36-year-old first baseman vetoed a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers last week, Lee accepted a deal was sent to the Miami Marlins on Wednesday. Lee is clearly on the decline, but his .286/.336/.412 line is a nice upgrade over the .236/.292/.359 line put up by Marlins’ first basemen this season. Still, the Marlins are 39-42, and currently nine games out of first place. Lee will help, but the Marlins are going to need more if they hope to get back into the playoff race.
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The Boston Red Sox will soon face some tough roster decisions. With Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury currently on rehab assignments, things are about to get crowded in Boston’s outfield. Considering the team’s terrible luck with injuries, it’s crazy to think that one of the Red Sox’s weakest spots has now become a strength. And though Daniel Nava is playing out of his mind and Cody Ross is exceeding expectations, the outfield alignment could change dramatically in the next couple of weeks.
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