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All-Star Rants and Raves

First rant: last week I mentioned that I enjoy watching the Home Run Derby, and in a way I still do, but Chris Berman is tired.  Am I in the minority on this topic?  I can’t stand this dude-- he sounds like he smokes two packs a day, and ESPN needs to part ways and find somebody different.  His "back, back, back, back, gone! Home Run!" routine, bad nicknames and references are too old school-- move on, please.  In fact, to be honest, I’m really just not a fan of ESPN, in general. Next rant: Neil Diamond’s performance was horrendous and a disgrace to music; it sounded like a very bad karaoke rendition of his own song, ugh!  And finally: Pitbull, nobody likes you. You have zero talent; just go away.

0G1G4040 Mariano RiveraAnd with that, let's move on to the raves: I think that Major League Baseball did a wonderful job in honoring Mariano Rivera.  This was pretty awesome to watch.  When he entered the game in the eighth to “Enter Sandman” with nobody else on the field, it was a very special moment.  I cannot believe he held it together without crying-- I almost shed a tear watching at home.  He didn't really earn the All-Star MVP he was awarded, but who cares?  Now, did he really need that brand new car?  Nah!!   And in a final rave about the Midsummer Classic:  I really loved all the stylish cleats!


Yeoman’s Work

This week I am going to iterate through some of the closer options in the more tenuous bullpens around baseball, where we have some reason to plan for a potential change due to injury or trade.  The idea here is to keep certain names fresh in your mind so you're ready to click the "add" button before anyone else does.  Alright, that’s enough yapping, let’s get into to it!

Tom Wilhelmsen:  Wilhelmsen hasn't been linked to any trade rumors, but the Mariners are nine games below .500 and 13 games behind Oakland for the lead in the division.  The front office must be considering all the options, if they decide to make some moves, you will want to know about Yoervis Medina and Carter Capps.  Notice that I conspicuously did not list Oliver Perez there, because as a dispensable left-handed arm, he is also trade bait.

Glen Perkins:  Rumors are percolating around Perkins, but he is signed to a very favorable contract, so it's likely he stays put. If he does move,  there are few clear-cut options behind him.  Jared Burton or Casey Fien could be the stopgap choices if the Twins make a deal.

Jose Veras:  There are strong indications that Veras will be dealt before the deadline.  The two main candidates to replace him as the closer are Jose Cisnero and Hector AmbrizWesley Wright is a lefty who could also get some looks if the Astros decide to go with a committee.

Joaquin Benoit:  Benoit is doing his best closer impression.. oh wait, he is the closer as of right now.  The Tigers will probably look to make a deal to acquire a better option, but if they don’t, Benoit could well hold onto the job until he falters.  Detroit’s internal alternatives include  Drew Smyly, Al Alburquerque and Bruce Rondon.  I suppose there is a small chance that Jose Valverde makes it back to the majors, but I doubt he will ever again be trusted with the ninth inning.

Addison Reed:  Apparently everyone but Chris Sale and Paul Konerko are still available.  Nate Jones or Jesse Crain could step in to finish out games if Reed finds himself in another uniform.

Casey Janssen:  Janssen relies heavily on his pinpoint control to finish out games.  He doesn't strike out many and he has a balky shoulder, so there is reason for concern here.  Get ready to add Steve Delabar or the rehabbing Sergio Santos if you're as leery of Janssen as I am.

Francisco Rodriguez:  It was a brilliant move by the Brewers’ front office to move K-Rod once more into the closer role in order to increase his trade value.  If it works out, Jim Henderson would most likely step back into his old job, but there remains an outside shot that John Axford might receive another opportunity at some point, too.

Huston Street:  If Street is traded, Luke Gregerson should be the preference to replace him, but Dale Thayer looms.

Jonathan Papelbon:  If and when the Phillies decide to sell, Papelbon will be the subject of many trade rumors.  In the event of a deal, Antonio Bastardo would likely fill Papelbon's shoes, though there is a possibility that either Luis Garcia or Justin De Fratus gets a look.

Steve Cishek:  Any veteran Marlin could get moved at any time.  Mike Dunn and A.J. Ramos would be the leading candidates to replace Cishek.

Kevin Gregg:  I have been warning you guys for the last two weeks about Gregg getting dealt to a contender.  Blake Parker and Pedro Strop are the leading nominees to claim the closer’s role once Gregg is gone.  I believe the smart money is on Strop.  “Strop what you drank?  I got money in the bank, yeah!”


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