When the Biogenesis suspensions are announced, expected to happen Monday, the balance of power in the AL West could be significantly affected.
By all accounts, the division-leading A’s will not lose ace Bartolo Colon, despite the fact he’s been linked to the anti-aging clinic. Because Colon served a 50-game suspension last year after testing positive for testosterone in August, MLB doesn’t plan to suspend him again, according to numerous reports.
“That’s huge for us, having him around the rest of the season,” Oakland second baseman Eric Sogard told the San Francisco Chronicle. “He’s been our best starter. It would be a tough loss to go without him the final stretch.”
However, the second-place (and hard-charging) Rangers are prepared to absorb a heavy blow if slugging outfielder Nelson Cruz is suspended.
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Cruz could appeal a possible suspension and keep playing, but then he runs the risk of missing time even later in the season. It also could hamper Cruz severely when he becomes a free agent in the winter, scaring off teams if he has suspension time still looming. My sense is that many of the affected players plan to serve their suspensions without appeal.
The Rangers looked into acquiring an outfielder, making runs at Michael Young and Hunter Pence, but didn’t complete a deal.
“They have a pretty solid team over there, but he’s putting up big-time numbers this year,” Oakland’s Josh Donaldson told the Chronicle, speaking of Cruz. “On top of that, he’s playing really good defense. You take him away, their team definitely looks a little different.”
Obscure players shining
Sometimes, teams find valuable offensive pieces where you least expect it. Take Ryan Raburn of the Indians.
Raburn hit .171 for the Tigers last year and was released after the season. The Indians signed him to a minor-league contract, and Raburn won a roster spot during spring training.
Now he’s one of the most valuable bench players in the American League, putting up a .961 OPS with 13 homers entering the weekend.
One more example is Atlanta’s Chris Johnson, who was a throw-in from Arizona in the trade that brought Justin Upton to the Braves.
On Thursday, Johnson had his seventh straight multihit game to raise his average to .346, second in the majors to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera. And Johnson finally has enough at-bats to qualify among the league batting leaders, so Johnson is in line for the National League batting title.
The last Brave to win one was Chipper Jones, who tweeted, “Go get you a batting title! Proud of you.”
Notes and quotes
• Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has a 1.87 earned-run average and 161 strikeouts. How rare is that? He’s just the fourth pitcher in the past 40 years to reach the end of July with an ERA under 2.00 and 150 or more strikeouts.
You might have heard of the others: Tom Seaver in 1973, Dwight Gooden in 1985, Roger Clemens in 1997, and Pedro Martinez in 1997 and 2000.
• After pitching a mop-up inning for the Phillies in their 12-4 loss to the Tigers on Sunday, Jonathan Papelbon said, “I definitely didn’t come here for this.”
The Phillies might have countered, “We didn’t give you a four-year, $50 million contract to blow five of your last 11 save opportunities.
• Red Sox manager John Farrell had Robby Thompson’s back after that weird business Thursday in which Thompson was stuck bringing in a right-handed pitcher when he initially pointed to the bullpen with his right hand. Thompson actually wanted to bring in left-hander Oliver Perez.
“My understanding of the rule is that the pitcher is not in the game until he steps on the mound,’’ Farrell told Boston reporters. “I wouldn’t have challenged that if the umpires didn’t force the issue. (Umpiring crew chief) Gary Darling felt he had to enforce the call.”
• Former Husky Tim Lincecum made it through the trade deadline still a Giant. Two other potential free agents, Penceand Javier Lopez, also stayed put with San Francisco, despite interest in all three. Giants GM Brian Sabean said he’s open to exploring new contracts for the trio.
“We set the bar high,” Sabean told reporters of trade talks. “We had a specific return in mind, and everyone missed the mark. People didn’t even approach getting close to the mark, and that was kind of frustrating, if not almost embarrassing, that they would say they’d have interest and come back with marginal or less-than-marginal interest.
“As we speak, we’ve still got all our (prospects) in the bank, and we’ve retained three guys we want to re-sign. I’m actually pleased with the outcome.”