MLB In Full Bloom - Astros Unable to Sign Brady Aiken - 7/21/2014

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The Houston Astros became the first team in 31 years to fail in signing the No. 1 overall pick (Tim Belcher, 1983) when they couldn’t come to terms with Brady Aiken by Friday’s deadline. The high school left-hander and his representation had a public argument with the Astros front office, accusing team officials of negotiating in bad faith. Houston also failed to sign Round 5 pick Jason Nix. According to Tony Clark, union executive director, said the MLBPA and the players’ representatives are considering legal action against the Astros. The Astros messed up the Aiken negotiations from the start of the process. They rescinded a $6.5 million offer after their medicals revealed a slight abnormality in Aiken’s left elbow ligament, amending to a $3.1 million minimum proposal that guaranteed the No. 2 pick as compensation next year if he didn’t sign. It's quite possible the Astros will end up with two top 5 selections in the 2015 MLB draft. The ligament isn’t torn and will not require surgery. Aiken is pondering heading to junior college next year instead of honoring his commitment to UCLA, so he can opt into the 2015 draft.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • The Los Angeles Angels acquired Huston Street on Friday evening (and little-known relief prospect Trevor Gott) from the San Diego Padres on Saturday for minor leaguers Taylor Lindsey, R.J. Alvarez, Jose Rondon and Elliot Morris.  This trade makes so much sense that many several media outlets predicted it over a month ago. The Padres are once again cellar dweller's and don't need a stud closer. They get a handful of intriguing prospects. Lindsey, the No. 37 pick in the 2010 draft was rated by a few services as a top-100 overall prospect this spring and he was also the top prospect in the Angels' system. It’s far too soon for an offensively-bereft organization to pull the plug on a keystone talent like Jedd Gyorko, but Lindsey could press him for playing time beginning next spring.
  • C.J. Cron took over as the Angels' full-time designated hitter after they released Raul Ibanez in June. But, he was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday to make room on the roster for Huston Street. Cron should be back with the club before the season is over, but the curious move makes his fantasy value non-existent in the near term.
  • C.C Sabathia (knee) will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery which officially ends his season. There was some good news on Saturday, however: Sabathia won’t require microfracture surgery, which means he’ll be ready to go at the start of spring training. With his velocity plummeting and his body letting him down, Sabathia is a very risk option in dynasty formats.
  • The beginning of the second half means we’ve officially entered trade rumor season. FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi kicked things off with gossip that the Seattle Mariners are trying to get the Tampa Bay Rays to trade them left-hander David Price and infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist. If Price is headed to Seattle, you can bet Taijuan Walker will be given a one-way ticket to Florida as the package headliner.
  • Saturday was a dangerous day to be at the ballpark, as Brandon Belt and outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Holliday all hit the showers early. Belt was hit in the face during batting practice. The Giants decided to start him anyway, and Belt left the game against the Marlins early due to dizziness. On Sunday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy confirmed that Belt will be placed on the disabled list. NL-only leaguers will want to pick up Tyler Colvin. Puig was hit in the left hand by a Joe Kelly pitch. X-rays were negative, but is considered day-to-day. As for Holliday, his fifth inning exit was only a delayed precaution after he ran into Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez at second base in the first inning. He returned to the Cardinals lineup on Sunday night.
  • The Chicago Cubs have filed a lawsuit against a group of people they claim have been dressing in a bogus mascot costume and participating in “inappropriate and unsavory actions” near Wrigley Field, which includes charging fans for pictures and getting into bar fights. Yes, the Cubs are indeed suing the men behind the "Billy Cub" unofficial mascot.
  • The New York Yankees announced that they will honor Derek Jeter on September 7th. This surprise announcement sent ticket prices soaring on the resale market. The average list price for the home game in the Bronx against the Kansas City Royals went from $139.24 before the announcement to $497.98 by Saturday afternoon. On StubHub, the cheapest ticket went from $26 to $328 within a matter of hours.

MLB In Full Bloom - 10 Predictions For the Second Half of MLB Season - 7/17/2014

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The 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field was always going to be about Derek Jeter. The Yankees' legend went 2-for-2 with a double and a run scored to help lead the American League to a 5-3 win over the National League on Tuesday night. Angels star and All-Star Game MVP Mike Trout added an RBI triple in the first inning and a go-ahead double in the fifth, while Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the first to pace the offense for the AL, which won home-field advantage in the World Series for the second straight year. Now the All Star Game is over and its time to turn our attention to the second half of the MLB season. Here are my 10 predictions for the second half!

10 PREDICTIONS FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE MLB SEASON

10. Will a Team Lose 100 Games? For the first time since 2007, it looks as if baseball may finish the season without having a team reach triple digits in the loss column. According to FanGraphs, not only is no team in baseball on track to lose 100 games, but only two—the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros—are projected to crack the 90-loss plateau, with the Astros edging out the Cubs by one loss (71-91) for the worst record in baseball.

9. Edwin Encarnacion Will Hit the Most Home Runs in 2014: Encarnacion hit 16 home runs, which tied Mickey Mantle for the most ever by an American League player in that month. On the season, the right-handed hitter has gone yard 24 times. After hitting 36 home runs a season ago, look for Encarnacion to lead all of baseball with 42 home runs in 2014.

8. Gregory Polanco Will Win National League the Rookie of Year Award: Polanco has played just 32 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, during his brief big league career, the right fielder has already produced an 11-game hitting streak. There's also the consideration that he's up against a weak rookie class in the National League. The most noteworthy players that Polanco is competing against are shortstop Chris Owings of the Arizona Diamondbacks and center fielder Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds.

7. Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton Will Both Steal More Than 70 Bases: It's no surprise that Billy Hamilton has been racking up steals for the Cincinnati Reds. What is somewhat unexpected is that the center fielder isn't leading baseball in that category. That honor belongs to Dee Gordon of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who has 43 steals compared to Hamilton's 38. Both players have the speed to swipe more than 70 bases this season, but Gordon will maintain his early advantage and finish with 76, while Hamilton will end with 71.

6. Kirk Gibson Will Be the First Manager to Get Fired: It's been a rough season for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are already buried in the NL West. The central issue for the club is the terrible performance of the rotation, which has the third-worst ERA in baseball. Ultimately, though, the disappointing campaign can't end well for Gibson. It seems inevitable that Tony La Russa, the club's chief baseball officer, will want to clean house. That makes Gibson the overwhelming favorite to become the first manager to lose his job in 2014. Bud Black of the San Diego Padres and Terry Collins of the New York Mets could be next in line after Gibson.

5. The San Diego Padres Will Score Fewer Than 500 Runs: The Padres offense has been unbelievable unproductive in the opening months of the season. Through 95 games, they have scored 279 runs, which is by far the lowest total in baseball. For some context, the Los Angeles Angeles, who lead MLB in that category, check in at 478 runs. Last year, the Miami Marlins produced the fewest runs in MLB with 513. This season, the Padres won't even hit the 500-run mark.

4. Bob Melvin Will Win the AL Manager of the Year Award: Melvin presses all the right buttons for the Oakland Athletics. He utilizes his entire 25-man roster than any other manager in baseball. That ability to use every single player of the squad has helped Melvin guide the club to the top record in MLB. Melvin will win his league's Manager of the Year Award this season, which will mark the third time in his career that he will receive that honor.

3. The Los Angeles Dodgers Will Acquire David Price: The Los Angeles Dodgers clearly don't need another starting pitcher. Then again, the addition of Price would be a game-changing move for the club. A top three of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Price would provide a playoff rotation that would shred the opposition in October.

2. Johnny Cueto Will Win the NL Cy Young Award: There are quite a few contenders for the National League Cy Young Award in 2014. Adam Wainwright, Julio Teheran, Tim Hudson, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw are all in the conversation. However, none of those pitchers can match the season that Johnny Cueto has produced this year.

1. The Houston Astros Will Win More Games Than the Boston Red Sox: Last year, the Boston Red Sox were the World Series champions. However, this year, the Sox have been spending its time near the cellar along with the Tampa Bay Rays. While the Red Sox are trending downward, the Astros are on the rise. The Astros have received an infusion of young talent this year and are clearly on the upswing. Right now, the Red Sox have three more wins than the Astros. However, by the time Game 162 is complete, Houston will be higher in the standings than Boston.

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