Midwest Diamond Report Blog – 8/26

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Midwest Diamond Report Blog – 8/26

Keon Broxton looks like a centerfielder.

He’s tall (6-3), lean (195), can run like a deer and has a good glove. Now, it looks like he is proving that he could be the Brewers’ answer in center.

Broxton, who was acquired from Pittsburgh for Jason Rodgers over the winter, couldn’t break into the Pirates outfield, which already features tall, lean, fast outfielders like Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Andrew McCutcheon.

But, the Brewers acquired him and were waiting for one of several candidates to step up in center. Coming out of spring training, Broxton was sharing the spot with Ramon Flores and Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

“It’s been a friendly competition,” said the 26-year-old Broxton. “I think all the outfielders, we’re a family. We look after each other regardless of what position we’re playing or fighting for. We’re still out here trying to help each other. We’re human and we care about each other regardless of what’s going on out on the field, so it’s been very friendly. We’re also teammates. We all want to do the same thing, help this team win games.”

Broxton struggled in his first stint with the Brewers and was sent down. That started a season of ups and downs between the Brewers and the minors. But, this time it’s been different.

In 87 plate appearances since coming back up, Broxton was hitting .361/.465/.667 with five of his six home runs on the year, good for a 196 wRC+. That ranks him as the fifth-most productive hitter in baseball over the last 30 days (minimum 80 PA).

Broxton

told Todd Rosiak of the Journal Sentinel that he came up with what has turned out to be a key mechanical change while laying in bed watching video: “I was wondering how I could get my hitch out of my swing, because it was making me late and I wasn’t really recognizing pitches very well. I was just thinking to myself, ‘Well, since I like my hands to go down and then I bring them back up again, why not just start them low and just bring them up?”

It’s worked and Broxton has been living up to his ability. Ability, especially athletic ability, consistently comes up when Broxton is discussed. He had so much of it in high school in Lakeland, Florida, that that he considered football and baseball.

“I thought about football,” Broxton said. “I love the game of baseball a little bit more than football. Baseball is a harder sport than football on a consistent basis. I think that’s something that drew me to baseball, how difficult it is.

“When you succeed in baseball, it becomes more of a bigger accomplishment because it’s hard, it’s a hard game. To see your work progress on a daily basis and you become better at your craft, it’s awesome. It’s something that drives me every day to become the best I can be.”

Along with Jonathan Villar and Hernan Perez, Broxton has become one of the young Brewers — acquired from other teams — who could end up playing a longer term role for the rebuilding club.

The Brewers have Brett Phillips and others in the minors who could challenge for center, but right now Broxton looks like the best bet at a key position in the outfield.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** RHP Taylor Jungmann, who started the season in the starting rotation, could be among the September callups.

** Outfielder Ramon Flores has cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Colorado Springs, according to an announcement from the Brewers.

** The Brewers are 36-30 at Miller Park vs. 20-41 elsewhere, representing baseball’s widest disparity between home and road results.

Cubs

** The Cubs have placed right-handers John Lackey and Hector Rondon on the disabled list for precautionary measures due to arm injuries, as MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reported. The Cubs have the luxury of placing both pitchers on the DL to avoid risk of worsening their minor injuries and will recall left-hander Rob Zastryzny and right-hander Felix Pena from Triple-A Iowa.

** The farewell tour for 39-year-old David Ross, who is retiring after this season, will be in Los Angeles this weekend when the Cubs play the Dodgers in a three-game series, starting Friday. Ross was the Dodgers’ seventh-round pick in the 1998 Draft, and he made his Major League debut on June 29, 2002.

** Despite giving up two runs over six innings on Wednesday, RHP Kyle Hendricks still leads the Major Leagues with a 2.19 ERA.

Twins

** Prospect Jose Berrios was optioned to Triple-A Rochester along with fellow right-hander Tyler Duffey. Lefty Andrew Albers will be called up on Friday, while the other roster move is to be announced.

** The Twins have promoted left-handed pitching prospect Adalberto Mejia from Triple-A Rochester, optioned first baseman Kennys Vargas and signed right-handed reliever Edward Mujica to a minor league deal, per a team announcement.

** Twins designated hitter Byung Ho Park will undergo season-ending surgery on his right wrist, the team announced to reporters, including MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter link). The operation will repair a subluxation of the tendon on the back of Park’s right hand, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

White Sox

** GM Rick Hahn vehemently denied that there is any discord in the Chicago front office, as has been suggested, saying that the members of the organization’s upper management “are of a similar mindset as to how best to proceed.”

** LHP Carlos Rodon averaged 95.6 mph with his two-seam fastball and 95.7 with his four-seamer, reaching 98 mph with both, in a win this week.

** RHP James Shields cleared waivers and now could be traded by the Sox.

Players of the Week

The Cubs’ Kris Bryant hit .484 in the last seven games, with five homers and 13 RBIs. That qualifies him for the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week include: the Brewers’ Jonathan Villar, who hit .345 with a home and six stolen bases; the Twins’ Brian Dozier, who hit .333 with four homers and four RBIs; and the Sox’s Jose Abreu, who hit ,400 with three homers and five RBIs.

What’s Ahead

Before the season started, the Sox series with the Twins at Target Field looked like it could be a big one in the AL Central. Instead, it will be a series with two disappointing teams with losing records. It starts next Thursday.

The Cubs have a commanding lead in the NL Central, but a series against intra-division rivals, the Pirates, still is worth mentioning.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below. Updates to the Blog are periodically made on the blog’s Facebook page:

** https://www.facebook.com/pages/Midwest-Diamond-Report/156235634532321
**
https://www.facebook.com/gregg.hoffmann.3
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Midwest Diamond Report Blog – 8/19

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Midwest Diamond Report Blog – 8/19

The Cubs demonstrated their dominance and showed how many ways they can beat you in a sweep of the Brewers this week.

First, spot starter Trevor Cahill pitched five scoreless innings and the bullpen took it from there in a 4-0 win in the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday. Then, Jason Hammel continued the pitching dominance in a 4-1 win in the nightcap.

Jon Lester again gave up only one run in a 6-1 win on Wednesday. Jorge Soler and David Ross homered for the Cubs.

When the pitching faltered somewhat on Thursday, Kris Bryant, who along with Anthony Rizzo might be the leading candidate for NL MVP, had five hits, including his 29th and 30th homers, and drove in five runs in a 9-6 win to complete the sweep.

You can argue that the Brewers are sliding, and lost starter Chase Anderson and leftfielder Ryan Braun, to injuries in the series. But, the Cubs have been playing dominant baseball against everybody since the All Star break. Chicago has won 24 of the last 32 games since the All-Star break.

“”It’s a difficult lineup on a tough day to pitch,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said of the Cubs. “They did a good job all series. It’s a good lineup.”

That good lineup extends to the pitching staff. Jake Arrieta, Lester, Hammel, John Lackey and Kyle Hendricks form what is probably the most solid starting rotation in baseball. Add Travis Wood and Cahill when needed.

The bullpen, especially with the addition of Aroldis Chapman, also has become solid, despite some injuries to Joe Smith and Pedro Strop in recent weeks.

Manager Joe Maddon has such depth that he can go with completely different outfields and catchers in successive games. Ben Zobrist, Javier Baez, Matt Szcur, Willson Contreras, Bryant and others are very versatile.

About the only slouch this season has been free agent Jason Heyward, but Maddon is sticking with him.

“We’ll continue to work through all these moments,” Maddon said. “I do believe there’s going to be a tremendous reward at the end of all this, for him and for us. I know it’s difficult, outside looking in, but our record’s pretty good and he’s been on the field for most of those games. He’s a winner. He’s an absolute winner.”

Of course, the key for the Cubs is to not exhaust it all in the regular season. They already have a huge lead in the NL Central, so Maddon might start resting some regulars so the club has their best left for the post-season.

This isn’t about just having the best regular season record in baseball. This is about finally breaking the Billy Goat jinx and the World Series.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Ryan Braun is day-to-day with a sprained knee and ankle after crashing into an outfield wall at Wrigley Field.

** Left-hander Brent Suter, a 31st-round Draft pick in 2012, will make his Major League debut Friday, becoming the first southpaw to start a game for Milwaukee in nearly three years.

** The Brewers have lost 24 of their last 32 road games. They are 0-6 at Wrigley this season.

Cubs

** Kris Bryant became the fifth Cubs in history to reach 30 homers at age 24 or younger. The others are Ernie Banks, Sammy Sosa, Anthony Rizzo and Ron Santo.

** Joe Maddon on the MVP competition between Bryant and Rizzo: “Maybe ‘Bryzzo’ could be named MVP.”

** Tommy La Stella ended his holdout and reported to the minors.

Twins

** Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki cleared revocable trade waivers and is free to be traded to any team, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (on Twitter).

** Twins third baseman Miguel Sano’s MRI on his right elbow came back clean today, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The 23-year-old slugger has been playing through some soreness in his elbow that has impacted his throwing in recent weeks.

** Twins left-hander Andrew Albers has cleared waivers after his Friday designation for assignment and been optioned to Triple-A Rochester, per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (Twitter link).

White Sox

** Todd Frazier hopes to stay with the White Sox even if the team undergoes a rebuild, as Frazier tells MLB.com’s Scott Merkin that he would embrace the role as veteran leader of a younger clubhouse.

** Robin Ventura wants to return as the White Sox manager in 2017, though he tells Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times that “you have to have somebody ask you to do it and all that. That’s stuff that happens after the season is over, if you get there.”

** The Sox play their next nine games at home.

Player of the Week

Kris Bryant’s big day and overall good series against the Brewers makes him a no-brainer for MDR Player of the Week. In case you missed it above, he had five hits and five RBIs and reached 30 homers, all on Thursday.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Keon Broxton, who hit .316 in six games; the Twins’ Brian Dozier, who hit .346 with four homers and seven RBIs in seven games: the Sox’s Adam Eaton, who hit .417 with two homers and six RBIs in six games.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs will try to keep their hot play going when they travel to Colorado this weekend. Kyle Hendricks, who has been on a hot streak himself, will open the series.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below. Updates to the Blog are periodically made on the blog’s Facebook page:

** https://www.facebook.com/pages/Midwest-Diamond-Report/156235634532321
** https://www.facebook.com/gregg.hoffmann.3
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog

 

Midwest Diamond Report Blog – 8/13

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Midwest Diamond Report Blog – 8/13

Two former Brewers and MDR stars made news with sad stories this week. Even though, they are no longer MDR players, their stories are worth leading with for this week’s blog.

Slugger Prince Fielder announced he cannot play anymore because of a second neck injury in three years. Centerfielder Carlos Gomez, a fan favorite in Milwaukee, was designated for assignment by the Astros.

At a Rangers’ press conference Wednesday,

Fielder announced that he will not be able to resume his career after undergoing neck fusion surgery in late July.

“I can’t play Major League Baseball anymore,” said Fielder, who was placed on the DL last month with a herniated disk in his neck before having surgery. It was the second season in the last three he has had season-ending neck surgery, also having undergone fusion surgery in 2014.

Gomez’s designation represents a fall from grace for the 30-year-old, whom Houston acquired from Milwaukee last July in a blockbuster deadline deal that also saw right-hander

Mike Fiers join the Astros in exchange for four prospects.

Gomez’s career began going down hill after the Astros acquired him. He hit a meager .242/.288/.383 in 41 contests down the stretch in 2015. But that line looks appealing compared to the .210/.272/.322 Gomez has compiled this season in 323 trips to the plate.

“It’s not a secret that I’m not doing my job and I’m really disappointed in myself,” Gomez admitted to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (Twitter link).“I still have a long career. I wish the best to this organization, this team.”
A couple points about both moves: First, this writer and others more or less called them. When Fielder was first drafted and came up to the majors, you could see by his body type and how hard he swung that he likely would not have a long career.

The Brewers caught some flack when they allowed him to sign as a free agent with Detroit, but one team insider told me Fielder already had a body of a veteran player beyond his age and that the club had concerns about a long term contract.

Fielder is 32 and under contract through 2020 at $24MM per year. Given that Fielder is medically unable to play and not technically retiring, the Rangers will still owe him $9MM per season through 2020, with $6MM annually coming from the Tigers (as per the terms of the trade that brought Fielder to Texas) and $9MM coming via insurance payments due to Fielder’s inability to play. Those figures could be on the Brewers’ budget if they had re-signed him.

Just as an aside, Fielder lasted just about as long as his father, Cecil, with whom he was estranged at one time. They both had 319 lifetime homers.

Gomez’s trade also caused some flack, since he was a fan favorite. But, he too had started to suffer some nagging injuries because of his reckless style of play. He also struggled in the big leagues until he got to Milwaukee.

Once there, former coach Dale Sveum and others worked with Gomez. The fans also embraced him, and he took off. In a different, less nurturing environment, the chances of Gomez not enjoying the same kind of success were rather high.

Gomez has said he would like to end his career in Milwaukee. The Brewers did not rule that possibility out, but would be foolish to bring him back unless they could get him for a song.

Fielder and Gomez will always be part of Brewers’ history. Their stories this week are sad ones. But, the Brewers are better off having parted with them when they did.

Updates Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** The Brewers became just the 19th team since 1900 to plate at least one run in every inning on Thursday against the Braves

** Catcher Manny Pina hit his first big league homer Friday.

** The Brewers have announced that lefty Wei-Chung Wang is moving from Double-A Biloxi to Triple-A Colorado Springs and RHP Devin Williams is heading from Class A Wisconsin to Class A+ Brevard County.

Cubs

** The Cubs won their 11th straight Friday, hitting five homers in the process. It’s the first time the Cubs have won 11 in a row since a 12-game streak in 2001.

** Cubs reliever Pedro Strop has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus, the club announced (via Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Twitter links). He’ll undergo surgery, with the expectation that he could be back within four to six weeks.

** Tommy La Stella remained on the temporarily inactive list after refusing to report to Triple A Iowa.

Twins

** The Twins have designated lefty Andrew Albers for assignment, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press was among those to tweet.

** The Twins demoted Byron Buxton to Triple-A, the fourth time the heralded prospect has been sent back to the minors since his initial call-up in June 2015.

** Twins right-hander Phil Hughes hopes to begin throwing again in three to four weeks after undergoing surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome earlier this summer.

White Sox

** Pitcher Miguel Gonzalez was put on the disabled list Friday with a right groin strain and right-handed reliever Chris Beck was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte.

** Over 11 innings covering 11 appearances entering Thursday, closer David Robertson had yielded nine runs on 11 hits and five walks.

** During an appearance on WSCR Radio’s “Inside The Clubhouse” show (hat tip to CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine), White Sox GM Rick Hahn said that discussions with manager Robin Ventura and the coaching staff about their futures with the team will wait until the end of the season.

Players of the Week

The Cubs’ Jorge Soler continued his comeback from the DL by hitting .471 with two homers in five games. That earns him the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Keon Broxton, who hit .471 in five games; the Twins’ Jorge Polanco, who his .357 in seven games; and the White Sox’s Adam Eaton, who had four hits on Friday and hit .333 for the week.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs will try to stretch their winning streak even farther against the Cardinals this weekend at Wrigley Field. They then host the Brewers next week.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below. Updates to the Blog are periodically made on the blog’s Facebook page:

** https://www.facebook.com/pages/Midwest-Diamond-Report/156235634532321
**
https://www.facebook.com/gregg.hoffmann.3
**
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**
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Midwest Diamond Report Blog – 8/5

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Brewers’ fans knew they were going to have to endure during a rebuilding effort. This week, they got a sign that their patience might eventually be rewarded.

The franchise’s minor league system improved from ninth in a pre-season poll to first in a mid-season poll of MLB Pipeline, an online service that covers the minors for MLB.com.

MLB.com’s Jim Callis wrote: “Thanks to a strong draft and a commitment to rebuilding, the Brewers improved their farm system more than any other organization did from the beginning to the end of 2015. First-year general manager David Stearns has continued to build for tomorrow throughout 2016, including a pair of dazzling deals at Monday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline.”

The deals at the trade deadline included sending Will Smith to the Giants for hard-throwing right-hander Phil Bickford (No. 65 on MLBPipeline.com‘s recently revamped Top 100 Prospects list) and young big leaguer Andrew Susac. The Brewers also shipped Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Rangers for five-tool center fielder Lewis Brinson (No. 21), precocious righty Luis Ortiz (No. 63) and a player to be named.

Some observers believe the Brewers didn’t get enough for Lucroy and Jeffress, but of course that will be determined later.

Callis continued: “The additions of Bickford, Brinson and Ortiz, all former first-round picks, pushed Milwaukee’s system from good to the best in baseball. Only the Astros can match the Brewers’ total of eight Top 100 Prospects: shortstop Orlando Arcia (No. 13), Brinson, outfielder Corey Ray (No. 35), left-hander Josh Hader (No. 43), Ortiz, Bickford and outfielders Trent Clark (No. 74) and Brett Phillips (No. 76). They have a nice balance of hitting and pitching talent, as well as depth at the top and bottom levels of the minors.”

Arcia was called up during the week and inserted at shortstop, with Jonathan Villar moving to third base.

Callis also wrote: “The Brewers, whose system placed ninth in MLBPipeline’s preseason rankings, have amassed this talent in a variety of ways. Arcia is a product of a revitalized international program that also has landed youngsters such as shortstop Gilbert Lara and right-hander Miguel Diaz. Ray was the fifth overall pick this year in the Draft, an avenue that also has produced Clark, righty Cody Ponce and lefty Kodi Medeiros.”

In his analysis, Callis praised former GM Doug Melvin for starting the rebuilding process last season, as well as giving Stearns credit. He also acknowledged it could be a while before the revitalized farm system leads to winning at the big league level.

“The rebuilding process is far from over in Milwaukee, which will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year, but there’s definite cause to be optimistic about the future,” Callis wrote.

The Yankees and Astros ranked second and third in the ranking. No other MDR teams’ farm system ranked in the Top 10.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Jonathan Lucroy on being traded: “Afterward I felt a little sad, a little excited. Honestly, I was scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I was thinking about my wife, Sarah, and our young daughter, Ellia. If I got traded, how would it impact them? How would we get our stuff to our new city? They’d be by themselves, sorting things out, and I wouldn’t be there to help. But I had to keep going like nothing was going to change in our lives.”

** The three earned runs allowed by Junior Guerra in the first inning of Wednesday’s 12-3 loss were one shy of the total Guerra had allowed in the first innings of his first 16 starts. The loss was just his second since the start of June.

** The Blue Jays announced that right-hander Ben Rowen, who was designated for assignment by Toronto following Monday’s acquisitions of Francisco Liriano and Scott Feldman, has been claimed off waivers by the Brewers. He’ll head to Triple-A, according to an announcement from the Brewers.

Cubs

** Addison Russell has moved to second on the Cubs in batting with runners in scoring position (.261) behind Anthony Rizzo.

** The current trip is the Cubs’ first to the West Coast since they played the Giants from May 20-22. They’ve been enjoying home cooking since the All-Star break, and they boast the best home record in the National League (37-17).

** RHP Jason Hammel was placed on the bereavement list. Justin Grimm was called up to take his roster spot.

Twins

** Minnesota left-hander Hector Santiago took the loss Thursday in his debut with his new team, allowing four runs on five hits.

** Struggling Miguel Sano could be sent to the minors to work on his swing.

** Long-time Little League® supporter, Torii Hunter, will soon be honored with enshrinement into the Little League Hall of Excellence. Hunter, who played in the National Little League in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, during the 1980’s, will be honored in an on-field ceremony prior to the 7:30 pm game of the 2016 Little League Baseball® World Series on Wednesday, August 24.

White Sox

** LHP Chris Sale recorded his 32nd career game with 10 or more strikeouts (first since 9/1/15 at Minnesota), extending his franchise record over Ed Walsh (17)

** Newly acquired outfielder Charlie Tilson suffered a season-ending hamstring injury.

** Rookie shortstop Tim Anderson is day-to-day with a hand injury.

Player of the Week

The Twins’ Brian Dozier hit five home runs in five games and took a 13-game hitting streak into the weekend to earn the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included the Brewers’ Manny Pina, who went 2-for-5 in his debut at catcher; the Cubs’ Ben Zobrist, who hit ,389 in five games: and the White Sox’s Melky Cabrera, who hit .357 in six games.

What’s Ahead

Some featured series are:

The Brewers play the D-Backs, who they beat three of four in Milwaukee, in Phoenix this weekend before returning home to host the Braves.

The Cubs play two AL teams, the Athletics and Angels, before hosting their arch-rivals, the Cardinals next week.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below. Updates to the Blog are periodically made on the blog’s Facebook page:

** https://www.facebook.com/pages/Midwest-Diamond-Report/156235634532321
** https://www.facebook.com/gregg.hoffmann.3
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog

Midwest Diamond Report Blog – 8/1

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All four MDR teams pulled off trades before the deadline Monday.

The most impact, at least short term, will be felt from the Cubs’ acquisition of Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees, which actually happened about a week before the deadline. The flame thrower strengthens the back of the bullpen, which continues to also have Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon.

Closer to the deadline, the Cubs acquired reliever Joe Smith from the Angels. The Halos will receive minor league pitcher Jesus Castillo from the Cubs.

The deals make the Cubs’ bullpen very strong from the sixth inning on. That should be valuable as the club moves to win the NL Central title and go deep into the post-season.

On the other side of Chicago, there was rampant rumors about trades of LHPs Chris Sale and Jose Quintana and reliever David Robertson, but no deals involving the three had been announced at the trade deadline. Discussions with the Red Sox and others continued right up to the deadline, according to reports.

Sale has acted like a player who would like to be traded since spring training when he protested management’s treatment of Adam La Roche, who retired after a disagreement about having his son in the clubhouse. Sale was suspended for five days last week after he tore up some retro uniforms the Sox were supposed to wear.

The Sox did send left-handed reliever Zach Duke to St. Louis in exchange for outfielder Charlie Tilson,

The Brewers were sellers, sending Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Rangers for top prospects Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz and a player to be named later.

Lucroy actually was traded to the Indians a day earlier, but vetoed that deal because Cleveland was on his no-trade list. Lucroy wanted the Indians to waive an option for 2017 and allow him to go free agent after this season, but the club refused.

The Brewers also sent left-hander Will Smith to the Giants for a top pitching prospect and a young catcher in a Trade Deadline deal that re-emphasized the high demand for relievers.

Milwaukee gets 21-year-old right-hander Phil Bickford, who was No. 1 on MLBPipeline.com‘s list of the Giants’ Top 30 Prospects and No. 65 among the Top 100 Prospects in the game, plus 26-year-old catcher Andrew Susac, a former top prospect who was blocked in San Francisco by Buster Posey.

The Twins announced that they’ve picked up left-hander Hector Santiago and minor league RHP Alan Busenitz from the Angels in exchange for Ricky Nolasco and minor league righty Alex Meyer.

Steve Adams wrote in www.mlbtraderumors.com: “The move is certainly a curious one for both clubs, as neither would’ve been pegged to add starter that is only controllable through the 2017 season. However, the Twins’ signing of Nolasco has been a bust, and they’ll now swap him out for a starter that has had considerably more success in recent seasons. Minnesota will come away with the superior big league arm in this deal — a positive if the team intends to contend in 2017, as they’ve previously indicated.”

The Twins sent reliever Fernando Abad to the Red Sox for relief prospect Pat Light earlier on Monday.

Trades can still be made up to Sept. 1, but players now must clear waivers before a deal can be made.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.nlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** It’s not clear who will emerge as the closer now that Jeffress and Smith have been traded.

** Keon Broxton will get extended playing time in center as the Brewers try to figure out what they have in the young outfielder.

** The Brewers are 64-17 against Pittsburgh at Miller Park since 2007. Sunday’s win stretched the Crew’s home winning streak over the Bucs to nine games.

Cubs

** The Cubs have reinforcements coming in Trevor Cahill and Jorge Soler, who are both rehabbing in the Minor Leagues. Cahill (patellar tendinitis in right knee) was starting for Triple-A Iowa, while Soler (left hamstring strain) was playing for Double-A Tennessee.
The Cubs recently optioned infielder Tommy La Stella and right-handed reliever Justin Grimm to Iowa to open roster spots

** Travis Wood pitched well and made a great catch in left field in the Cubs 12th inning win over the Mariners on Sunday night.

** On Monday, Ichiro Suzuki arrives at Wrigley Field for the start of a three-game series between the Cubs and Marlins. Suzuki is two hits shy of 3,000. The only player to collect his 3,000th hit at Wrigley was Stan Musial, who did so on May 13, 1958, with a pinch-hit double off Moe Drabowsky in the sixth inning.

Twins

** Right-hander Jose Berrios, the No. 1 prospect in the Twins’ organization, received his long-awaited recall to the Major Leagues on Saturday night and will make his fifth MLB start on Monday night against the Indians.

** Twins center fielder Byron Buxton exited in the second inning of Sunday’s 6-4 win over the White Sox with right knee soreness and is considered day to day. He will not travel with the team to Cleveland and will undergo an MRI in Minnesota.

** After playing 11 years with the Twins, earning four All-Star nods and being named the 2006 American League MVP along the way, Justin Morneau returned to Target Field on Friday as a member of the rival White Sox, starting at designated hitter and batting fifth against his former team.

White Sox

** The Sox went 3-4 against two MDR rivals during last week. They split with the Cubs, winning 5-4 and 3-0, and losing 8-1 and 3-1. Over the weekend, the Sox lost two of three against the Twins, losing 2-1, winning 6-5 and losing 6-4 Sunday..

** RHP James Shields got off to a brutal start when he came over to the Sox in a trade with the Padres, but he has turned in six straight quality starts and is 3-3 with a 1.71 ERA during that stretch.

** Radio announced Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, who cut back on his schedule this season, said he will return in 2017.

Player of the Week

The Cubs’ Travis Wood earned the MDR honor for his versatility in the afore-mentioned 12 inning game against the Mariners. Wood pitched, then went to left in a double switch, made a spectacular catch up against the ivy that was shown on every highlight film and then went back to pitch. Not a bad day’s work.

Other MDR teams Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Scooter Gennett, who hit .440 in his last seven games; the Twins’ Brian Dozier, who hit .385 in six games and had two homers; the White Sox’s Melky Cabrera, who hit .444 in seven games.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs continue their homestand at Wrigley Field against the Miami. It will be interesting to see how Joe Maddon configures his bullpen and uses Jorge Soler, when he returns from the DL.

Again, deals can still be made if players clear waivers. So, you could still see some from MDR teams.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below. Updates to the Blog are periodically made on the blog’s Facebook page:

** https://www.facebook.com/pages/Midwest-Diamond-Report/156235634532321
** https://www.facebook.com/gregg.hoffmann.3
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog

Midwest Diamond Report Blog – 7/21

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Coming off series wins against contenders Texas and the Mets, the Cubs will travel north this weekend to Miller Park and try to avoid stumbling against their MDR rivals, the Brewers,

Milwaukee is well below .500 coming into the series. The Cubs are 57-37 and fighting for the best record in baseball.

But, the Brewers have extra incentive because of the I-94 rivalry. Any win against the Cubs gives the Brewers credibility and shows they can compete against the best teams, as they try to rebuild.

The Cubs cooled off some before the All Star break, but the series wins against the Rangers and Mets seem to have re-established them as one of the top 3-4 teams in baseball.

They hope to stay among the elite, especially as they get reinforcements with players coming off the DL and via other sources.

The series comes one weekend before the July 31 trade without waivers deadline. Rumors circulate around both teams. The Cubs are considered buyers and, in fact, made a deal on Wednesday.

LHP Mike Montgomery came from Seattle to bolster the bullpen. See details of trade in the Updated Notes section of this blog.

Before that deal, the Cubs had been rumored to be pursuing the Yankees’ Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman. It’s not clear whether getting Montgomery means the Cubs have given up on acquiring either of those pitchers.

The Brewers’ main trade rumor has been catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Several teams have reportedly been interested in him since last winter. The Indians are the latest and hottest rumor.

LHP Will Smith also has been mentioned in rumors involving the Indians and other teams.

Jason Hammel will face the Brewers’ Jimmy Nelson on Friday. John Lackey and Milwaukee’s Zach Davies match up on Saturday. Jon Lester and Junior Guerra will face each other in the series finale on Sunday.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from

www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** The Brewers’ win on Wednesday marked the 100th time they have beaten the Pirates since 2007.

** Lucroy is hitting .338 with 31 RBI over his last 42 games

** The Brewers and 620 WTMJ extended their radio contract.

Cubs

** In the deal for Montgomery, the Cubs also received minor league right-hander Jordan Pries from the Mariners. In exchange, the Cubs are sending Triple-A first baseman Dan Vogelbach and Double-A right-hander Paul Blackburn to Seattle.

** Montgomery, plus Dexter Fowler and reliever Joe Nathan, could join the Cubs by this weekend.

** With the Cubs looking at any number of possible means of upgrading at the deadline, GM Jed Hoyer says to “expect the unexpected,” as Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com writes.

Twins

** The Twins announced to the media that right-hander Neil Ramirez has been outrighted to Triple-A Rochester (Twitter link via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). Left-hander Buddy Boshers has been recalled in his place, giving the Twins a third lefty alongside Taylor Rogers and Fernando Abad.

** The Twins are receiving the most trade interest in shortstop Eduardo Nunez, catcher Kurt Suzuki, right-hander Brandon Kintzler and Abad,

** Twins upper management told Terry Ryan a month ago that he wouldn’t be retained beyond the present season, and allowed him to choose his own method of departure, Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN reports (links to Twitter).

White Sox

**GM Rick Hahn acknowledged that his club will not be pursuing short-term upgrades to the MLB roster, as Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago was among those to tweet. He added that the Sox will be willing to consider all other transactions.

** The Rangers have acquired minor league righty Scott Carroll from the White Sox in exchange for cash considerations, according to an announcement from both clubs.

** The Sox are getting quite a few calls on outfielder Adam Eaton,

 

Player of the Week

After striking out four times in a game for the first time in his career, the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo hit two homers and drove in three runs on Wednesday. He has now hit in 37 of his last 44 games and has 13 homers and 36 RBIs in that stretch. That makes him the MDR Player of the Week.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Lucroy, who continues to excel at the plate and behind it amidst all the trade talk; the Twins’ Max Kepler, who hit his 10th homer of the season in a clutch situation; the White Sox’s Jose Quintana, who stranded the go-ahead runner in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings until the White Sox eventually broke out for a 6-1 victory over Seattle to snap a five-game losing streak.

What’s Ahead

After playing at Miller Park this weekend, the Cubs will return home to Wrigley Field to host the Sox next week in another MDR Rivalry series.

The next meeting of the Ken Keltner Badger State Chapter of SABR will take place on Saturday, July 23, at J&B’s Blue Ribbon Pub located at 5230 West Bluemound Road. The featured speaker will be Brewers radio announcer, Jeff Levering.

Next week’s MDR Blog actually won’t run until Aug. to include any deals that are made before the trade deadline by MDR teams.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below. Updates to the Blog are periodically made on the blog’s Facebook page:

** https://www.facebook.com/pages/Midwest-Diamond-Report/156235634532321
**
https://www.facebook.com/gregg.hoffmann.3
**
http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
**
http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog

Midwest Diamond Report Blog – 7/16

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Jonathan Lucroy has heard the trade rumors for months.
At one point during the off-season, the Brewers’ catcher even told the Journal Sentinel that he thought a trade might be a good idea for the team and him.
“I’m not going to sit here and say we’re going to compete for the playoffs this year,” Lucroy told the newspaper in a telephone interview. “If I did that, you’d call me a liar. I’d lose credibility and respect. I want to win, and I don’t see us winning in the foreseeable future. I want to go to a World Series. That’s what all players want. Rebuilding is not a lot of fun for any veteran guy.”
But, as of this writing, Lucroy was still with the Brewers, and playing very well, behind and at the plate. He was the team’s All Star selection and singled in the ASG. He has made it clear he will play hard for the club as long as he is in Milwaukee.
“I want to compete. I want to win,” Lucroy said. “That’s all I was saying. I am committed to playing the best baseball I can, whether I’m here or elsewhere. If I can help the Brewers win, I am ready to do so. That’s all I really have control over.”
Lucroy, also an All Star in 2014, has been more committed to coming back from an injury-riddled season in 2015, and has managed to do so. He got off to a bad start at the plate last season before fracturing the big toe on his left foot in late April. He returned before the end of May and put up decent numbers before sustaining a concussion on Sept. 8 in Miami that kept him from catching the rest of the way.
“It was a frustrating year,” Lucroy admitted. “All I could do was work hard during the off-season to get in the best shape I could and be ready.”
He worked out with college friend Eugene Kwarteng, who played football at Lucroy’s alma mater, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and later in the Canadian Football League. Lucroy’s brother, David, who Milwaukee’s 20th-round Draft pick last June, also joined in.
The results have been evident. Lucroy has been consistent at the plate this season. In May, he hit nine home runs. In one series against the Reds in late May, Lucroy drove in nine runs.
Lucroy became the first Brewers player to drive in three runs in three straight games since Robin Yount in 1987 in that series.
Of course, Lucroy has batted fourth in many games this season, so he feels he should be driving in runs.
“It’s an approach thing, a mental approach,” Lucroy said. “Whenever my mental approach is correct and my mechanics are correct in my swing, I feel like I should do it more times than not. It’s a matter of pride. I take it personally when I don’t get a guy in with less than two outs.”
As this blog is being written, rumors are circulating that Lucroy could be traded to the Rangers, who reportedly were interested in him last winter. If a deal is made, look for an update to the Facebook version of this blog.
Updated Notes
(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)
Brewers
** LHP Will Smith also has been included in rumors about a deal with Texas and others.
** RHP Corey Knebel rejoined the team after a DL rehab and outfielder Domingo Santanta could be ready soon to go on a rehab. Michael Blazek was sent to the minors to make room for Knebel.
** The Brewers have announced that they’ve claimed righty reliever Rob Scahill from the Pirates and optioned him to Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Cubs
** Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says the his club will be flexible in the build-up to the deadline, as Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. “I don’t think its productive to pigeonhole yourself into thinking you have needs in just one specific role as the key to improving this club,” Epstein said.
** Cubs outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez is getting trade attention but the Cubs aren’t eager to part with the talented 19-year-old, CSN Chicago’s David Kaplan tweets.
** The Cubs have been heavily connected to bullpen trade rumors, though they could potentially receive help from within if veteran Joe Nathan is able to regain any of his old form, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney writes.
Twins
** The last-place Twins, who have the worst record in the American League, have had surprising success against the Indians and Texas Rangers, the two best teams in the AL. They are the only team to have a winning record against the Indians, despite a loss Friday.
** Longtime center fielder Torii Hunter will be inducted into the Twins’ Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony. The five-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove Award winner retired after the 2015 season, spending 12 of his 19 Major League seasons in Minneapolis.
** RHP Tyler Duffey went 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last three starts before the All-Star break
White Sox
** The White Sox have activated first baseman/designated hitter Justin Morneau from the disabled list and optioned outfielder Jason Coats to Triple-A in a corresponding move.
** The Sox are promoting right-hander Carson Fulmer to work out of their bullpen, according to Dave Williams of Barstool Sports (links to Twitter).
** Right-hander Scott Carroll has been outrighted off the White Sox’ 40-man roster, according to Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).
Player of the Week
Give the honor to Lucroy, who had a hit in the All Star Game and a key RBI on Friday night as the regular schedule resumed. It might be the last time he can get the honor if he is traded.
Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, who hit over .600 in the short week of action and started at first base for the NL in the All Star Game; the Twins’ Brian Dozier, who represented the Twins in the ASG and homered Friday night; the White Sox’s RHP Miguel Gonzales, who pitched six solid innings on Friday night.
What’s Ahead
The Mets and Cubs will play the highlight series for the week ahead. Also, look for the trade rumor mill to heat up as the July 31 date comes closer.
The next meeting of the Ken Keltner Badger State Chapter of SABR will take place on Saturday, July 23, at J&B’s Blue Ribbon Pub located at 5230 West Bluemound Road. The featured speaker will be Brewers radio announcer, Jeff Levering.
There will be two research presentations: Tom Rathkamp’s is titled; “Happy Felsch: Banished Black Sox Center Fielder.” Tom also has a book with the same title. Dennis Degenhardt’s presentation is; “When Chicago Came to Milwaukee in the ’60’s.”
##
You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below. Updates to the Blog are periodically made on the blog’s Facebook page:

Midwest Diamond Report Blog – 7/8

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The Cubs are sending seven players to the All Star Game. The Twins and White Sox have one player each. The Brewers have one, with a possibility of a second since Ryan Braun is part of the final vote gimmick.

But, the Brewers have made the most news going into the final weekend before the ASG break. On Thursday, they traded veteran infielder Aaron Hill to the Red Sox for two minor leaguers, RHP Aaron Wilkerson and infielder Wendell Rijo.

GM David Stearns said Will Middlebrooks and Hernan Perez will likely fill in at third base, but the deal makes sense only if it opens up a spot for prospect Orlando Arcia. The Brewers said they will announce Hill’s replacement on the 25-man roster later on Friday. (The announcement will be added to the Facebook posting of the blog.)

It could be Arcia, but they also might wait until after the All Star break to call up the shortstop. For one thing, they already have a shortstop who has played very well in Jonathan Villar.

That should not stop the callup of Arcia, however, and it does not mean the Brewers should send Villar along the same route as Hill. Instead, call up Arcia and put either him or Villar at third base.

There will be those who argue that third is a place for a RBI, slugger type, but that’s somewhat outdated thinking. With Arcia and Villar playing side-by-side, it would be tough getting a ball through the left side of the infield. The pair hitting 1-2 in the lineup also would give the club speed at the top of the order.

Rijo is a middle infielder. You have to ask how many of those the organization needs. But, if Rijo simply takes the place of Arcia in the minors, it makes sense.

The Brewer also made news when they sent RHP Kyle Davies down to the minors until after the All Star break. The rationale was that Davies, who has pitched very well for 11 straight games, would not appear until after the ASG and the Milwaukee bench needed another player, which turned out to be utility player Andy Wilkins.

Scott Boras, Davies‘ agent, had another spin on the move: “In this game, performance earns respect. After beating one of the best teams in the National League, he was told he no longer was a member of the team. It’s disrespect for someone who will be a principal part of the organization for years to come, to add a bench player for 10 days. In this game, teams do not send down starting pitchers who are performing well.

“Flying a starting pitcher cross-country interrupts his regular routine and his normal bullpen sessions. This is not how you prepare successful starting pitchers.”

Stearns said the Brewers were within their rights to make the move and made no disrepect to Davies: “We certainly value Zach’s contributions to the club and consider him an important part of our starting rotation. Given that he wasn’t scheduled to pitch for a 10-day stretch, we wanted the extra flexibility of another player on the bench.”

The move does cost Davies 10 days of major league service time and about $24,000 in salary. Davies simply said, “Baseball is a business.”

But, the move brings back some memories of a move that led to the departure of J.J. Hardy from Milwaukee. In 2009, during a low-performing season through July, Hardy was optioned to the Triple-A Nashville Sounds on August 12. It cost him MLB time, affected his free agency date and led to ill feelings between him and the Brewers. Hardy was traded in the off-season for to the Twins for Carlos Gomez.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Will Middlebrooks’ minor league deal with the Brewers included an assignment clause for July 1, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy writes. Milwaukee was required to offer the third baseman to the other 29 teams if Middlebrooks wasn’t on the big league roster by July 1.

** The Brewers have struck a $1.2MM deal with 11th-round draft pick Chad McClanahan, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports on Twitter.

** Scooter Gennett swiped home on a double steal for a tie in an eventual loss Wednesday, the Brewers’ first such achievement in three years.

Cubs

** Andrew Miller sits atop the Cubs’ wish list this season, according to Jon Heyman. The Yankees southpaw is humming along with a 1.47 ERA and 13.2 K/BB ratio.

** The Cubs have designated right-hander Joel Peralta for assignment in order to clear a spot on the roster for the return of Adam Warren, per multiple reporters out of Chicago, including the Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer (Twitter link).

** The bullpen is the only “real problem” facing the Cubs, ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers opines.

Twins

** Ervin Santana is the “most likely” member of the Twins to be traded this summer, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark. However, executives that have spoken to the Twins about trades tell Stark that Minnesota is willing to talk about virtually anyone on their roster.

** Assuming he clears waivers, the Rays have interest in a reunion with reliever Kevin Jepsen, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Jepsen was designated recently by the Twins, who had picked him up from the Rays last summer.

** The Twins have outrighted Darin Mastroianni off their 40-man roster, the club announced. The outfielder was just activated off the disabled list, as he has been recovering from a left oblique strain since late May.

White Sox

** White Sox backstop Alex Avila headed to the DL with a hamstring strain, as Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago tweets.

** Outfielder Tony Campana is headed to the White Sox on a minor league deal after being released by the Nationals.

** The White Sox have announced that they’ve acquired catcher Alfredo Gonzalez from the Astros and optioned him to Double-A Birmingham.

Player of the Week

The White Sox’s Chris Sale takes a 14-2 record into Friday’s game and could end up the AL All Star starting pitcher. It’s Sale’s fifth straight ASG for the Sox. For this, he gets the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Aaron Hill, who hit .368 in his last five games in a Milwaukee uniform; the Cubs’ Willson Contreras, who hit ,.310 with two homers and four RBIs for the week; the Twins’ Rob Grossman, who hit .381 for the week.

What’s Ahead

The All Star Game is the main event for next week. After the ASG break, the Cubs will have the highlight series against the Rangers, who are competing with Chicago for the best record in baseball.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below. Updates to the Blog are periodically made on the blog’s Facebook page:

** https://www.facebook.com/pages/Midwest-Diamond-Report/156235634532321
** https://www.facebook.com/gregg.hoffmann.3
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog

Midwest Diamond Report Blog – 7/1

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Balloting for the All Star teams ended at midnight Friday. American League and National League rosters will be revealed at 6 p.m. CT on July 5 in the Esurance All-Star Selection Show on ESPN.
One thing that is clear is that the Cubs will be well represented. Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant and Dexter Fowler led voting at their positions going into the final day. That means the Cubs could have the entire starting infield for the NL.
At least Jake Arrieta and perhaps another pitcher or two could be added from the Cubs. This would put the team among the top in ASG selections in history.
In 2015, the Royals had eight players leading balloting going into the final days of voting, but 65,000 votes were ruled to be fraud and KC ended up with four representatives.
The Reds had seven players voted All Star starters in 1957. Stan Musial was the only non-Red position player voted as a starter. But, commissioner Ford Frick appointed Willie Mays and Hank Aaron to replace the Reds’ Gus Bell and Wally Post, and took away fan voting.
That sounds a little like the Republicans trying to deny Trump the nomination at the GOP convention. You won’t see anything as drastic as the ‘57 move — or the GOP situation — in baseball this season.
With the possible exception of Russell and Fowler, the Cubs voted in by the fans deserve to be selected as starters. Certainly, Fowler deserves to be at least a backup.
Turning to other MDR teams. The Brewers’ Ryan Braun was in the top six outfielders. He likely will be the lone Milwaukee representative. You could make an argument for Jonathan Lucroy, but he finished well behind Yadier Molina and Buster Posey in catcher balloting. The Nationals’ Wilson Ramos should be the starter at the position.
Jonathan Villar also could have been considered a candidate at shortstop, but was fourth in voting.
The Twins will be one of those teams that gets a representative because it is required. Eduardo Nunez seems to be the favorite possibility in the Twin Cities.
Chris Sale is a lock as the White Sox All Star selection and is receiving support as the AL starting pitcher. The Sox might not have a position player picked.
Again, you can check out the final selections next Tuesday.
Updated Notes
(Some of these notes come from
Brewers
** RHP Zach Davies had his streak of effective starts snapped in a loss to the Dodgers Thursday. Davies was 5-0 with a 2.46 ERA in 10 straight starts.
** RHP Taylor Jungmann, who started the season in the Brewers’ rotation, was assigned to Double A Biloxi after posting a 9.87 ERA at Colorado Springs in AAA.
** The Brewers designated outfielder Alex Presley for assignment, per a club announcement. Taking his place on the roster was utilityman Jake Elmore, whose contract was purchased by Milwaukee.
Cubs
** Albert Almora Jr. hit his first MLB homer Wednesday.
** Anthony Rizzo had his first inside-the-park home run as a big leaguer on Wednesday.
** The Cubs selected the contract of 40-year-old RHP Joel Peralta and option LHP Gerardo Concepcion back to Triple-A Iowa, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (via Twitter).
Twins
** Byung Ho Park is hitting only .071 with 22 strikeouts in his last 12 games.
** Ervin Santana “is seen as perhaps the most viable trade deadline pickup on the market,” with one AL assistant GM describing the Twins veteran as “the one guy out there who could be a sure thing in the middle of the rotation.”
** Twins right-hander Phil Hughes will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, tweets Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The operation will alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
White Sox
** The Sox took two of three from the Twins in a MDR Rivalry series. James Shields got his first win with the Sox in a 6-3 decision on Tuesday. The Twins won 4-0 on Wednesday, and the Sox took the rubber game, 6-5/
** Matt Davidson broke his foot Thursday and will go on the DL. He had his first hit and RBI as a Sox earlier in the game.
** Justin Morneau feels that he can be ready to join the White Sox after about 30 at-bats on a minor league rehab assignment, he tells Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago (Twitter link). Levine estimates that Morneau will be ready to join the big league roster around July 15.
Player of the Week
The Cubs’ Kris Bryant became the only player in MLB history to hit three home runs and two doubles in a single game on Monday. For that, he’s a runaway pick for the MDR Player of the Week honor.
Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Junior Guerra, who continued his surprising season with a two-hitter in eight innings of a win over the Dodgers; the Twins’ Kyle Gibson, who held the White Sox to five hits and no runs in a win; the White Sox’s Brett Lawrie, who hit .458 in six games with three homers and four RBIs.
What’s Ahead
The Cubs will continue their series against the Mets in New York after dropping the opener on Thursday. They then return to Wrigley Field for a series against the Reds and a makeup game of a previous rainout against the Braves.
The Brewers will meet the Cardinals twice within a week, traveling to St. Louis this weekend and hosting the Cards at Miller Park next weekend.
##
You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below. Updates to the Blog are periodically made on the blog’s Facebook page:\

Midwest Diamond Report – 6/25

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All four MDR teams have struggled in the last couple weeks and need to make adjustments if they want to go into the All Star break on better notes.
The Brewers were 3-7 in their last 10 games, and that was after two straight wins. A disastrous West Coast trip, especially series in San Francisco and Los Angeles, set back the Brewers, who were 33-40 through Friday action.
The Cubs stood at a very good 48-24 overall, but had lost four straight before their win Friday night. The Cardinals had swept them, the first sweep by an opponent at Wrigley Field this season. Chicago stood at 5-5 in their last 10 games.
On the South Side of Chicago, the Sox also were 5-5 in their last 10, despite winning four of their last five games. They were 37-37 for the season.
The Twins continued to struggle with 3-7 in their last 10 games and were 23-50 in what already is a lost season.
Milwaukee continues to struggle because of inconsistency overall. Especially troubled on the road trip was the bullpen. The Brewers were tied or ahead in seven of nine games on the trip, but came out with only two wins.
Will Smith and Tyler Thornburg had problems on the road. Jeremy Jeffress also was unavailable because of an eye injury. They hope to get healthy in more than one way before the ASG.
The Cubs had been hit with some nagging injuries, as detailed in the Updated Notes section of this blog. As written last week, it might be getting close to the time for the club to bring in some reinforcements with some deals.
Manager Joe Maddon didn’t seem too upset, however. “It’s very difficult to sustain the level we’re at,” Maddon said. “When you do get off to a good start, you can absorb a bad moment. When I look in the newspapers and see us at 70 percent, I can’t be too upset.”
Reports from execs from teams that have engaged the Cubs in trade talks were that Chicago has shown “no interest” in trading
Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras or Javier Baez. GMs around the league believe that Albert Almora is more or less off limits as well.
That might change later in July if the Cubs still are struggling a bit and feel they need help for the stretch run.
The White Sox have been plagued with inconsistency all season, but did look better in winning four of their last five. Some of the team’s top hitters, such as Todd Frazier and Jose Abreu, have been inconsistent. Frazier did have a key hit Friday, and Abreu was starting to heat up before sitting out with leg soreness.
James Shields has struggled since being brought in to bolster the starting rotation. The Sox need him to come around.
The Twins have been a disaster since the start of the season, leading to some speculation that Paul Molitor could end up going from AL Manager of the Year to being unemployed. But, Twins management continues to back Molitor and look for solutions to both pitching and offensive woes. You could see some selling off by the club after the ASG.
Updated Notes
(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)
Brewers
** OF Keon Broxton hit his first MLB home run Friday night.
** LHP Chris Capuano and OF Domingo Santana likely will not return from elbow problems until after the All Star break.
** RHP Michael Blazek returned from the DL and went back into bullpen action.
Cubs
** 1B Anthony Rizzo could return this weekend after suffering some back problems.
** INF Ben Zobrist was day-to-day with an ankle bruise.
** Catcher Miguel Montero was suffering with right knee soreness.
Twins
** OF Oswaldo Arcia was traded to the Rays for a player to be named later and cash.
** 3B Trevor Plouffe was day-to-day with a groin problem.
** The Twins committed a season-high three errors Friday and have struggled on defense all season.
White Sox
** 3B Todd Frazier was 3-for-30 with runners in scoring position before a clutch hit on Friday.
** 1B-DH Jose Abreu was day-to-day with leg soreness.
** Reliever Zach Putnam could be facing elbow surgery.
Player of the Week
The Cubs’ rookie Willson Contreras hit .412 with a game-winning hit on Friday to earn the MDR Player of the Week honor.
Other MDR teams Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who had two key homers during the week; the Twins’ Kurt Suzuki, who was hitting .379 since switching to an “axe bat” with a different style of handle; the White Sox’s Melky Cabrera, who hit .370.
What’s Ahead
The Twins travel to Chicago to meet the Sox in a three-game series Tuesday through Thursday of next week.
Voting for the All Star teams ends next week.
##
You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below. Updates to the Blog are periodically made on the blog’s Facebook page:
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