Ticket from day Lou Gehrig retired

July, 31, 2014
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NEW YORK -- A ticket stub signed by Lou Gehrig on the day he retired from baseball sold for $95,600 at an auction on Thursday, and the boxing gloves Muhammad Ali wore in the first of his three fights against Joe Frazier sold for $388,375.

The July 4, 1939, ticket and the 1971 Fight of the Century gloves were among the highlights from Heritage Auctions' sale at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland.

Gehrig's 1924 rookie year contract sold for $358,500. A 1927 New York Yankees signed baseball sold for $143,400, and Babe Ruth's 702nd home run ball sold for $191,200.

The auction house said more than 60,000 tickets were sold to Gehrig's last game, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Only two tickets are known to have survived. Of them, only the mezzanine box ticket had Gehrig's autograph.

The ticket was owned, until Thursday's auction, by a collector who did not want to be identified.

Gehrig retired after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, now known as Lou Gehrig's disease. In his farewell speech that day he said he considered himself "the luckiest man on the face of the Earth."


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Yankees prove productive at the deadline 

July, 31, 2014
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The Yankees were busy on Thursday, and managed to add a pair of small upgrades without doing any damage to their farm system.
[+] EnlargeStephen Drew, Daniel Descalso
AP Photo/Matt SlocumThe bat needs to come around, but Stephen Drew can pick it.

I argued all spring that the Yanks should sign Stephen Drew to play one year at third base, then slide him to shortstop after Derek Jeter ends his Hall of Fame career this fall. They declined to give up the draft pick required to sign him, but now

Yankees' deals all smoke and mirrors

July, 31, 2014
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NEW YORK -- On a thunderclap-filled trade deadline day when their American League rivals, Boston and Tampa Bay, faced reality and gave up on this season with a series of bold moves, and the World Series-or-Bust Oakland A's and Detroit Tigers began a top this/take that! arms race that could decide the postseason, the Yankees wound up looking like a team that badly needs an infusion of fresh thinking, not just fresh talent, after their cap-gun moves.

The Yanks were neither big-game buyers nor break-the-mold sellers Thursday.

They could neither bring themselves to give up on the playoff race like Tampa -- a hotter team -- did, nor could they swallow hard and show the daring vision that Boston, which won the World Series just a half season ago, did by unsentimentally trading ace Jon Lester and John Lackey, two anchors of their starting rotation, as well as Jonny Gomes and reliever Andrew Miller. And the Red Sox did that though they play before a fan base every bit as impatient as the Yankees' followers.

The Yankees were also not in on the big surprise that AL West leader Oakland sprang by trading their cleanup hitter, Yoenis Cespedes, for Lester -- only to see Detroit answer by prying former Cy Young Award winner David Price away from Tampa in a three-team deal in which the Tigers sent starting center-fielder Austin Jackson to Seattle.


(Read full post)


The Yankees made two deadline deals. Whom did they make one of them with? None other than the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees acquired Stephen Drew for Kelly Johnson and cash considerations.

The deal marks the first time the rivals have made a trade since 1997 when Mike Stanley came to the Yankees.

The Yankees also acquired Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks for home run hitting prospect Pete O'Brien.

What it means: Drew is not going to play shortstop during Derek Jeter's retirement tour, so he most likely will play second base, where Brian Roberts has not been great. It wouldn't surprise me if Roberts is let go.

The Yankees could put Drew at third base some and have Chase Headley play some outfield.

They have been interested in Drew for a couple of years but couldn't get a deal done with Drew's agent Scott Boras.

As for Prado, he is a jack-of-all-trades but likely will see a lot of time in right field.

SportsNation

Are you satisfied with what the Yankees did at the trade deadline?

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    37%
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    63%

Discuss (Total votes: 6,054)

May deals: The Yankees made four midsize deals before the deadline. Prior to Thursday, Brandon McCarthy and Headley were brought in. Both have been good so far.

They also have picked up castoffs Chris Capuano and David Huff. So it is inaccurate to say the Yankees did nothing, but it is fair to say they did nothing big.

Should they have done something bigger? I say no. Did you really want Chris Denorfia? How about Gerardo Parra? Those guys aren't going help anyone win the wild card.

Marlon Byrd would have been an upgrade over Ichiro Suzuki, but the Yankees spent $250 million on outfielders in the past 10 months. Is it really wise to add a guy who is owed $8 million next year and could be owed as much as $16 million over the next two seasons? Alex Rios is not that great either.

Standings: The Yankees are three games back in the wild card and 5½ behind in the American League East. They are a middling team that really shouldn't be wasting chips from their farm system to go for it this season.

Play some kids: Would you rather watch one of these not great but better than Ichiro guys play right than see a guy like Rob Refsnyder get a shot? Refsnyder might give the Yanks a bit of a jolt, and they could get a better read on whether he can hit in the majors. My impression from talking to Yankee people: Refsnyder is not advanced enough at second base for them to feel comfortable bringing him up to play there, but why not try him out in right field? Perhaps that move is coming.

Claimed: The Yankees claimed Esmil Rogers off waivers. Rogers, 28, had a 6.97 ERA in 16 relief appearances for the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees released Scott Sizemore.

Cashman: Brian Cashman will speak to the media in a little bit, so come back to hear what he has to say.

By the way: The Yankees already have Jon Lester on their offseason radar.

Also: If the Yanks want to make a deal in August for someone like Cliff Lee, he should get through waivers. The Yankees, though, at least right now, are not in love with how he has looked and all the money he is owed.

Next year: Drew probably becomes the leading candidate to replace Jeter.

Question: How do you feel about the Yankees' deadline moves?

Stephen Drew traded to Yankees

July, 31, 2014
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The New York Yankees completed a rare trade with the rival Boston Red Sox, acquiring shortstop Stephen Drew from Boston in exchange for veteran infielder Kelly Johnson on Thursday. The Yankees also received $500,000 from the Red Sox.

It marked the first time the Yankees have made a trade with Boston since 1997, when they acquired catcher/first baseman Mike Stanley.

"It is a unique set of circumstances," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said of making a trade with the Red Sox. "One of our two teams has to be in the playoff mode, in my opinion, and the other has to be rebuilding to some degree."

The Yankees also completed another deal before the deadline, acquiring infielder Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor leaguer Pete O'Brien and either cash or a player to be named later. Prado is expected to play regularly in right field, making Ichiro Suzuki's future role with the team uncertain.

Drew was the fifth member of the Red Sox to be dealt ahead of Thursday's non-waiver trade deadline, joining pitchers Jon Lester


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Jon Lester and Yoenis Cespedes USA TODAY Sports, AP ImagesThe Red Sox pulled off a blockbuster, shipping ace Jon Lester to Oakland for slugger Yoenis Cespedes.
The Red Sox have traded Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes.

SportsNation

Who got the better end of the Lester-for-Cespedes deal?

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    52%
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Discuss (Total votes: 6,336)

What it means for the Yankees: My first reaction from the Yankees' perspective is that Lester may have just gotten one step closer to the Bronx. Lester has told me personally and anyone else who would listen that he wanted to spend his whole career with the Red Sox. But Boston has lowballed him on every offer so far. Maybe they'll up the ante in the offseason and he'll return to the Fens in 2015.

However, I think there is probably a better chance that Lester will be a Yankee next year. Lester will be 31 in January, so the Red Sox might be smart in not signing him for more than four or five years.

The Yankees, though? They have proved they have the business model to spend and spend. (Yes, I know they talked about that $189 million limit for a few years, but ultimately they didn't stick to it.)

Consider this: Going into next spring, the Yankees will have these question marks in their rotation:

SportsNation

Will Jon Lester be a Yankee in 2015?

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    51%
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Discuss (Total votes: 6,228)

1. CC Sabathia will have missed most of this year after knee surgery.

2. Masahiro Tanaka, at best, will be pitching with a rehabilitated right elbow. At worst, he will need surgery and miss the entire season.

3. Ivan Nova will not join the club until sometime during the season after Tommy John surgery.

4. Michael Pineda will have pitched very little over the past three years, making him hard to count on.

5. Hiroki Kuroda probably won't be back.

So, yeah, there could be an issue with another older ace signing with the Yanks, but what are the alternatives?

Payroll: The Red Sox get Cespedes for next year and then he is a free agent. So they have added a plus outfielder and retained payroll flexibility. Same for the A's, who aren't expected to re-sign Lester. They would have had only one more year of Cespedes after this because he will probably make more than they can afford on the free-agent market. So the A's turned him into an asset and now have $10.5 million extra to play with during the offseason.

Cano: Should the Yankees have done this with Robinson Cano last year? I reported last year that Texas and Philadelphia called, looking into a deal for him. The Yanks never really listened.

Question: As a Yankees fan, what do you think of this deal?

Hail to the Jeet

July, 31, 2014
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Derek Jeter, George BushTim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsDerek Jeter and former president George W. Bush during a pregame ceremony at Globe Life Park.
Derek JeterMax Faulkner/Getty ImagesRangers greats Michael Young and Ivan Rodriguez present Jeter with boots and a $10,000 donation.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Derek Jeter got the boot -- a pair of them, actually -- a check, and a visit from a former president on Wednesday night in a pregame ceremony commemorating his final game at Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers.

(Click here to read the complete news story.)
Marlon Byrd, Josh Willingham, and John DanksAP ImagesSo who do you think will be a Yankee after today's 4 p.m. trade deadline?
ARLINGTON, Texas -- This is the day a lot of Yankees fans have been waiting for all season, the day when the reinforcements arrive and a bunch of new faces could materialize in the Yankees clubhouse to help with the final playoff push.

Or, not.

The non-waiver trade deadline arrives at 4 p.m. today, and there has been all kinds of speculation about who may or may not be a New York Yankee by the end of business today.

Rather than me guess, I'll leave that for you. Voice your opinion on the matter now, then we'll all sit back and wait for Brian Cashman to let us know what he did, or did not, do shortly after 4 p.m.

So here goes: Yankee or not?

SportsNation

Which position player is likeliest to become a Yankee?

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    28%
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    21%
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Marlon Byrd

Bartolo Colon

Kevin Correia

John Danks

Cole Hamels

Ian Kennedy

Cliff Lee

Jon Lester

David Price

Alex Rios

SportsNation

Which pitcher is likeliest to become a Yankee?

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    16%
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    21%
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    10%
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    31%
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    22%

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Chase Utley

Josh Willingham

And, ex-Yankee or not?

Zoilo Almonte

Dellin Betances

Francisco Cervelli

Shane Greene

John Ryan Murphy

Brian Roberts

Ichiro Suzuki

And the most important question of all: Will it make a difference?

QUESTION OF THE DAY? Is there one player on the trade market who could turn the Yankees into legitimate World Series contenders? Let us know

Should the Yankees be sellers?

July, 31, 2014
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- When I first asked this question a couple of weeks ago, there was still at least the illusion of hope that by adding a spare part or two, getting a couple of injured players back, and getting the kind of production they expected out of certain guys, the Yankees could somehow turn the corner and make a serious run at a playoff spot this season.

At the time, I knew it was unrealistic to think the Yankees could be anything but buyers at the trade deadline.

Now that it is roughly a half-a-day away, however, and having seen how poorly this team performed in three games that were expected to be as close to guaranteed wins as you can get in a baseball season, it now seems futile, and even foolish, for them to be anything but sellers.

Truthfully, is there anyone out there who really believes that even with a significant trade or two, that these Yankees can make anything meaningful out of this season?

[+] EnlargeDerek Jeter
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsThe Yanks should start to prepare for the post-Derek Jeter era by selling their dead wood on Thursday.
There was a time earlier in the season when you could make the argument that the Yankees were just a player or two away from being a reasonably good team.

Now, the only way you could make that case is if the two players are Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

So really, what are you expecting Brian Cashman to do by 4 p.m. Thursday that will make a real difference for his club?

Neither Jon Lester nor David Price is walking through that door, and even if both did, they would probably wind up suing for lack of run support, as Hiroki Kuroda should have in Wednesday night's 3-2 loss.

Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Giancarlo Stanton and Troy Tulowitzki aren't walking through that door, either.

The players they might get are either not good enough to make that much of a difference (Marlon Byrd, Alex Rios, Josh Willingham) or so costly (Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, John Danks) that they will only continue the vicious cycle of albatross-like long-term contracts that have gotten the Yankees into the mess they are in now.

The truth is, the Yankees should be doing what the Red Sox are in the process of doing now, stripping themselves of all dead wood, and dead money, and planning for a future that may well be a couple of seasons away.

They should be looking for teams to take Ichiro Suzuki and Brian Roberts, Kuroda and Carlos Beltran off their hands in exchange for prospects. They should be trying to trade Francisco Cervelli and maybe a David Phelps or an Adam Warren while they still have some value. They should be looking to downsize, and then reload with younger, hungrier, less-costly players this offseason to lead them into the post-Derek Jeter era.

They won't do that, of course, not as long as they remain, technically, within striking distance of the division (5 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East and three games out of the second wild-card spot), and not as long as they continue to have 45,000-plus expensive tickets to sell for 30 more nights, and ratings to be maintained on the YES Network.

SportsNation

Will the Yankees make a deal by today's non-waiver trade deadline (4 p.m.)?

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    68%
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    32%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,333)

That kind of move would take guts and foresight and the willingness to give up a few bucks now for the promise of a lot more down the road.

For those reasons, it is virtually guaranteed that Cashman will make some kind of move(s) by the end of business on Thursday, if only to maintain the illusion that the Yankees have not given up on the 2014 season, and neither should you, the paying customer.

But in reality, as it stands, the only meaningful night that is likely left on their calendar is when they honor the retiring Jeter at home on Sept. 7.

Watching their offense struggle to score more than two runs on two nights this week, and, in between, watching their formerly reliable bullpen struggle to hold a 10-4 lead only served to remind you that there is something very wrong in the makeup of this team, and adding a player or two to the mix for the final two months isn't likely to correct it.

Believe me, for selfish reasons I don't want the Yankees to play out the string over their remaining 55 games -- it is truly miserable to be around, and have to write about, a team that is going nowhere -- but it seems that at some point, someone in the Yankees organization is going to have to make the tough call to pull the plug on one season in the hopes of salvaging others in the future.

[+] EnlargeJoe Girardi
AP Photo/LM OteroJoe Girardi still believes the Bombers can make the postseason. Do you?
Because unless something changes drastically, this cycle will continue, the cycle of building around older, often overpaid players who stick around beyond their expiration dates, choking the payroll, clogging up rosters spots and generally impeding the development of the franchise.

The Yankees came to Texas this week riding the crest of a 7-3 homestand, and needing to win this series and the upcoming three games against the Red Sox to finally get some momentum going in their sputtering season. Since both are last-place teams, that hardly seemed like a lot to ask.

But seeing them sleepwalk through the rubber game Wednesday night -- a 3-2 loss in which their only runs came on solo home runs and their last 19 hitters went down with barely a whimper -- told you that even that may have in fact been too much to expect.

This is a team that no matter how temporarily hot, or cold, it gets, always seems to gravitate back toward mediocrity. The loss Wednesday night left them at 55-52.

After the game, I asked Joe Girardi and Jeter if they still believed that this team could pull it together over the last two months of the season.

"I do, because I've seen this team play very well at times," Girardi said. "Our pitching has done a really good job considering what we've been through. I do. If we consistently score runs, we're going to win games."

Added Jeter: "I’m just optimistic by nature. It’s just how I think. I’m just wired that way. I’ve been on a lot of teams that have gone through ups and downs. We have a lot of guys here that have had success, we have a lot of guys here that have played for a while. You just have to have confidence. When you run out of confidence, that’s when you’re in trouble. I’m just optimistic.”

Clearly, both were going on a combination of blind faith and memories of Yankees teams of the past. When asked specifically if he could explain why his team's offense, which looked so good on paper before the season, could perform so poorly on the field, Girardi simply said, "I don't know."

There really is no acceptable explanation except for the most painful one of all, that this was simply a poorly constructed roster, built upon too many players who were past their prime and whose capabilities were grossly overestimated by the front office.

Going forward, the Yankees could have the nucleus of a good team with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Masahiro Tanaka, Dellin Betances and David Robertson, but the rest all can, and should, be replaced, and as quickly as possible.

As quickly as by 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Now, will they have the courage to do it?


Brad Pitt played Billy Beane in a movie before he played Derek Jeter or Joe Torre.

General managers are this generation's luminaries, scrutinized and critiqued as deeply and emotionally as a team's best player or manager. Players are now viewed as fungible assets. Impending free agent? Trade him! Not a star? Trade him, too! Helped your team reach a World Series or two but is on the backside of his career? Definitely trade that guy. Managers, meanwhile, have been relegated to middle-manager status. The Hall of Fame just enshrined Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, but those were the last of the superstar managers. In the future, we'll be discussing the legacies of general managers more than managers.

[+] EnlargeBilly Beane
Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty ImagesIs Oakland A's GM Billy Beane done dealing, or is he preparing an all-in blockbuster?
Thursday's July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is, of course, a time when a general manager can make his impact felt, improve his team and maybe alter its postseason results with the right move that works out. It takes a smart trade and more than a little luck, but a lot is riding on what happens on Thursday.

Most of the recent World Series winners made a significant trade at the deadline (or right before): In 2013, the Red Sox acquired Jake Peavy; in 2012, the Giants acquired Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro; the 2011 Cardinals traded for Rafael Furcal, Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski; the 2011 Giants acquired Javier Lopez (and then got Cody Ross, Jose Guillen and Mike Fontenot in August); in 2008, the Phillies trades for Joe Blanton.

No general manager has more on the line in 2014 than Beane. He's the most famous general manager in the game; he's also never reached a World Series, let alone won one. He already made one blockbuster deal this season, but rumors have picked up the past two days that he might have something else in the works, something big … something like Jon Lester.

I love the idea. Beane traded his best prospect and last year's first-round pick to get Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. He did it early because the A's have to win the AL West and the Angels are in hot pursuit, just 2½ games behind. Beane knows he has to avoid that wild-card game, in which one bad bounce or blooper can end your season.

So go get Lester. The A's rotation would then line up as Lester, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Samardzija and Hammel (who is now 0-4 in four starts after getting roughed up on Wednesday). The tiring Jesse Chavez gets shuttled back to the bullpen. That's a rotation that can hold off the Angels, who already solidified their bullpen, the team's weak spot the first three months of these season. Lester is pitching the best baseball of his career right now -- a 1.07 ERA over his past eight starts -- and is the kind of pitcher you want fronting a playoff rotation, given his career postseason ERA of 2.11.

Beane knows the importance of having that ace. The past two postseasons the A's ran out rookie Jarrod Parker and Bartolo "Methuselah" Colon as his Game 1 starters, both times against Justin Verlander. It's no guarantee of playoff success, but having a guy like Lester would certainly help.

[+] EnlargeJon Lester
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesOne way or another, Jon Lester is going to want to blow off some steam by the end of Thursday.
So don't be surprised if Lester to Oakland is Thursday's shocking trade of the day. Maybe they give up power-hitting first basemen Matt Olson (30 home runs in Class A ball) or shortstop Daniel Robertson, the team's top prospect now that Addison Russell has been traded. Maybe it's a Billy Beane special -- a three-way trade.

Maybe the A's will be mortgaging their future. OK. I think Beane would like to win in the present.

Other random thoughts about the trade deadline …

  • The Dodgers have apparently taken prospects Corey Seager, Joc Pederson and Julio Urias off the table. That seems to indicate they're likely to stand pat, other than maybe adding a reliever for bullpen depth. I think it's the right move, as they're a better than the Giants, maybe the best team in the NL, not that their slim lead is completely safe. No need to trade multiple prospects of that caliber for a guy who would be your No. 2 or 3 postseason starter. Seager and Pederson have the talent to be impact players, Pederson maybe later this year and Seager as soon as midseason next year. The next great Dodgers teams will be built around Clayton Kershaw and a middle of the order featuring Yasiel Puig, Pederson and Seager.
  • It also means Matt Kemp isn't going anywhere, as much as the Dodgers would have loved to trade his contract. But Kemp was never going anywhere; his contract is too prohibitive, his defense too poor and his batting line too uninspiring to stir up much interest. Moving forward, the move of Puig to center field has lined up the outfield as Carl Crawford, Puig and Kemp from left to right. Manager Don Mattingly had been reluctant to move Puig to center due to some of his adventures in right field (which have been less of an issue this year), but he's clearly the guy with the speed and range to play there. Well, him or Pederson. Don't rule out a Pederson call-up in August.
  • As I write this, the Giants are reportedly mulling the decision to release Dan Uggla, who has played four games for the Giants bat sat on Wednesday. Look, it was harmless to take a look at Uggla, as slim as the likelihood of it working out. If they do cut bait with Uggla, at least give GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy credit for making a quick decision. But it still means the team will be looking for a second baseman. Daniel Murphy of the Mets would be the dream fit, but there hasn't been much in the way of Murphy rumors.
  • After watching Corey Kluber annihilate the Mariners with an 85-pitch, complete-game shutout, I expect Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik to make some kind of desperate -- maybe dumb -- move to improve his offense. But the Mariners need three hitters, not one, and there just aren't any real impact bats out there, except maybe Marlon Byrd.
  • In the small-but-important area, the Brewers need to add a right-handed reliever. After Francisco Rodriguez, they have lefties Will Smith and Zach Duke but no dominant setup guy from the right side.
  • I'm kind of tired of all the Phillies talk. OK, I mean, a Cole Hamels trade would be pretty cool, but it's not going to happen. Maybe Cliff Lee gets dealt, or maybe that happens in August (Cardinals?) after he shows he's completely healthy. But if GM Ruben Amaro really wanted to make some deals, wouldn't he have made one by now? He's known for weeks that his team is terrible and not going anywhere.
  • Yankees? Sure, I suppose they'll do something -- maybe add a right fielder (they're 28th in the majors in OPS from right field) -- but I still don't see this team making the playoffs no matter what they do at the deadline, unless Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda re-emerge in August.
  • Kevin Gausman looked good for the Orioles on Wednesday against the Angels, showing a plus changeup and holding the Angels to three hits over seven innings. He's untouchable in a trade, but you do wonder if the Orioles will consider trading Dylan Bundy if it lands them Lester. Probably not, but the O's are the one division leader lacking a No. 1 starter.

That's all for now. Let's hope for a hectic, crazy day of trades.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Yankees 2

July, 30, 2014
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- So much for an offensive reawakening. The world is spinning correctly on its axis once again. Tonight, the Yankees scored all of two runs. And lost, a game and a series, to the Texas Rangers, the team with the worst record in baseball.

Help may be on the way by 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon, but there's no way to get this one back, a game -- and again, a series -- that the Yankees absolutely, positively had to win if they have any hopes of keeping their playoff hopes alive. Even more incredibly, had Adrian Beltre squared up that last pitch by David Robertson Tuesday night, they would have suffered the indignity of being swept.

How bad was the Yankees' offense? Rangers pitching retired their final 19 batters.

Sharks must've eaten the bats: On the night "Sharknado 2" dominated the public conversation, the Yankees offense once again disappeared into the murky deep. Aside from two solo homers, there were only two singles by Carlos Beltran through the first seven innings, and Rangers starter Colby Lewis, who came into the game with a 6.23 ERA and barely got out of the first inning alive, lived to work seven full innings, retiring the final 13 batters he faced. Well, I guess they can't score 12 runs every night. Or three, even.

Another day: Another home run for Brett Gardner, who -- after fouling off four pitches -- socked Lewis' 2-2 fastball into the right-field seats just inside the foul pole leading off the game. It was Gardner's fourth home run, and eighth hit of the series. Also, it was his 14th HR of the season, second only to Mark Teixeira (18), and 47th RBI, just five shy of his career high for a season. Who says the Yankees need a power-hitting corner outfielder anyway?

Ellsburied: Jacoby Ellsbury cut the Rangers' lead to 3-2 with a home run to right-center with one out in the third, his ninth of the season and first since July 21, when he homered off the Rangers and Miles Mikolas at Yankee Stadium.

Give backs: Hiroki Kuroda had a rocky first inning, giving back the one-run lead and then some, as the Rangers scored three times on five first-inning hits, including an RBI double by Elvis Andrus and RBI singles by Beltre and Leonys Martin. Andrus' double was a hard grounder up the left-field line, but Beltre's single was a grounder up the middle through a drawn-in infield, and Martin's a bloop that fell in front of Gardner in left.

Settling down: After that first inning, Kuroda regained control of his pitches, and the game, holding the Rangers scoreless through the next six, with huge assists from Ron Washington, who chose to give away an out by bunting (unsuccessfully) with two on and Kuroda on the ropes in the fourth, and the Rangers' offense, which wasted another opportunity when Tuesday's hero, J.P. Arencibia, struck out to end the fifth with runners at first and second. Still, a gutsy performance by Kuroda (seven innings pitched, nine hits, three runs, one walk four strikeouts).

A fond farewell, Cap: Jeter got a pair of cowboy boots, a framed, signed photo from George W. Bush, and a check for his foundation before the game, and a lusty ovation as he jogged off the field after popping out to the infield in his final at-bat in the eighth inning.

Next?: Overnight flight to Boston followed by a day of waiting for something to happen by 4 p.m., as we hit the annual non-waiver trade deadline. Aside from Brian Cashman, the Yankees are off on Thursday, and begin a three-game series Friday night against the apparently dismantling Red Sox at Fenway. Probable pitching matchups (pending trades, of course): Chris Capuano (0-0, 3.00 as a Yankee) vs. RHP John Lackey (11-7, 3.60) Friday at 7:10 p.m.; Shane Greene (2-1, 3.28) vs. RHP Allen Webster (1-0, 3.38) Saturday at 4:05 p.m., and David Phelps (5-5, 3.89) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (5-7, 5.87) Sunday at 8:00 p.m.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.51 135 129
OTHER LEADERS
BAB. Gardner .283
HRM. Teixeira 18
RBIM. Teixeira 50
RB. Gardner 68
OPSB. Gardner .816
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135