News and notes from around the majors
By Peter Gammons
Special to ESPN.com
There's an interesting scenario developing with the Yankees, where the ever-stolid Joe Torre is having to deal with the struggles of Tino Martinez and David Cone. Torre dropped Tino to seventh in the order with the arrival of David Justice, and Tino had a few things to say. On July 4, Torre sat Martinez and played Jorge Posada against Scott Erickson, while Cone's continued inability to find the slider with which he's used to bury hitters in the past may soon force some move. Go to the Baseball Prospectus website and check out the first base rankings. Tino is third from the bottom, right below the Twins' Ron Coomer.
The Blue Jays were one of the teams seriously looking at Pirates right-hander Francisco Cordova when his elbow went. There were a couple of other AL teams that were already backing off because they had information on his elbow problems. Meanwhile, teammates say Brian Giles wasn't thrilled that the Jason Kendall extension wasn't done at the same time the Bucs signed Giles, and there are rumblings among players that Kendall will opt out.
Every time the Yankees have even brought up Curt Schilling's name, they've been told he isn't available.
Ump Bill Welke ejected Rickey Henderson July 4 for staring at home plate after a borderline called third strike. Henderson said nothing, but stared at the plate, and Welke ejected him. Hopefully the commissioner's office will fine and discipline Welke for ejecting someone fans paid to see because of his own lack of self-control.
"The Orioles won't get anything done before the trade deadline," says one GM, "because they have no idea what they're doing. They ask for the moon for big contract players." The Yankees, Red Sox and others stopped trying to deal with them, and now that they've won a few games, Peter Angelos will think they're in it and it's 1996 all over again. What he doesn't get is that if Pat Gillick had traded David Wells and Bobby Bonilla at the deadline back then and brought in Jeromy Burnitz and others, they wouldn't have fallen and have a team that right now accepts losing as if it's as routine as the sunrise ... How about Angelos and George Steinbrenner each being born on July 4, Independence Day. ... The Cardinals continue looking at the O's, with Charles Johnson and Scott Erickson two items of curiosity.
The Padres might be one team willing to take Todd Walker off the Twins' hands and put him in the big leagues, as there's a 2001 option on Bret Boone that they may not pick up. ... The Padres flew Jeff and Debby Burroughs in to Atlanta -- where they lived when Jeff played with the Braves -- to watch Sean play in the Futures game Sunday at Turner Field.
If the Tigers will trade Dean Palmer, the Mariners will go after him, but meanwhile the M's are looking at Travis Lee and Eddie Taubensee. Arizona will deal the enigmatic Lee, but they want -- and need -- frontline pitching if they deal him and/or Matt Mantei.
Understand that if some players aren't comfortable with endorsement deals, they reject them. Case in point: Nomar Garciaparra left two six-figure memorabilia deals on the table because he was worried they were "bootleg" companies. ... The owners are bonded on the draft-signing business. Hmm. The 15th and 16th picks were offered $1.53M and $1.50M. Coincidence? "The union won't do anything about it because this is about owners versus agents," says one agent. "In the next collective bargaining agreement, you'll see the owners get a tremendous deal on the draft and the international draft, because the established major leaguers don't care what happens to the amateur guys."
A few noteworthy halfway home statistics:
Tom Goodwin is No. 2 in the NL in batting average against left-handers at .391.
Four of the five AL pitching appearance leaders are lefties, as are the top two in the NL.
Frank Castillo and Mac Suzuki are third and fifth in lowest batting average allowed among AL pitchers.
Jose Vidro and Eric Owens are tied for the NL lead in multi-hit games.
Dave Burba is second in the AL in strikeouts.
OPS (On-base + slugging percentages), the best simple measure of a player's offensive season), after games of July 4:
Mark McGwire, 1.219
Todd Helton, 1.207
Barry Bonds, 1.169
Mike Piazza, 1.140
Vladimir Guerrero, 1.129
Gary Sheffield, 1.125
Jeff Kent, 1.117
Jim Edmonds, 1.113
Ryan Klesko, 1.068
Brian Giles, 1.050
Jose Vidro, 1.033
Richard Hidalgo, 1.017
Carlos Delgado, 1.167
Edgar Martinez, 1.125
Jason Giambi, 1.116
Frank Thomas, 1.109
Ivan Rodriguez, 1.089
Carl Everett, 1.070
Alex Rodriguez, 1.070
Nomar Garciaparra, 1.041
Magglio Ordonez, 1.040
Troy Glaus, 1.011
Jermaine Dye, 1.006
Darin Erstad, 1.003
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