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Dodgers facing pitching crunch before Sunday’s roster deadline

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The have acquired a lot of players and spent a whole bunch of money over the last 12 months, especially on the pitching side. They have a logjam of arms to clear before Sunday’s 3 p.m. ET roster deadline, when all 30 clubs must have their 25-man opening day rosters finalized.

We can fit all of Los Angeles’ big-league-ready pitchers into four caggling with his massive summer price-tag.Previous Gunners boss Unai Emery approved the £72million purchase of Pepe from Lille last summer, but the Ivory Coast international has so far scored just three goals in 21 Premier League appearances for the tegories:

: LHP , RHP , RHP , RHP , LHP , RHP , RHP , LHP

This is the easiest group. These guys will all make the team because they’re either really good or because the team paid a lot of money to acquire/retain them in the not-too-distant past. As easy as it gets.

: LHP

Elbert resumed throwing this week after on his elbow. He’ll begin the year on the DL and appears to be a few weeks from returning.

: RHP , LHP , RHP

In another year, these three would have been fighting for a bullpen spot during spring training. Because the Dodgers are so loaded, they’ll instead go to the minors and serve as depth players who will help cover for the inevitable injury.

: LHP , RHP , LHP , RHP , RHP , RHP

Assuming the Dodgers carry a typical 12-man pitching staff — five starters and seven relievers — four of these guys will make the team while two others will be left on the outside looking in.

Gregg is on a minor-league contract. Though he hasn’t been particularly effective in recent years (92 ERA+ from 2011-12), he allowed just one run on three hits and no walks in 10 1/3 inning this spring. Guerrier had a rough spring (6.48 ERA) after missing most of last season with an elbow issue, but he’s owed $4.75 million in 2013. Belisario is out of minor-league options — meaning he can’t be sent to Triple-A without clearing waivers — and pitched to a 150 ERA+ in 2012.

Capuano, Harang and Lilly are where it gets really interesting. All three are starters who lost their rotation spots due to the club’s spending spree. Capuano, 34, finished the spring strong after a rough start (7.20 ERA overall). As a lefty, he could move into the bullpen to complement Howell. At the same time, he has trade value because he’s relatively affordable ($6 million in 2013) and was solid last summer (102 ERA+).

Harang, 34, has also had a rough spring overall (8.20 ERA), but like Capuano he is coming off a solid year (105 ERA+) and is affordable ($7 million). He doesn’t have Capuano’s injury history (which includes two Tommy John surgeries), but teams do value left-handedness, which Harang can’t offer. He also doesn’t have much experience pitching out of the bullpen.

Lilly, 37, has pitched to a 14.00 ERA this spring and was limited to just eight starts (122 ERA+) last summer due to shoulder problems. Between that and his salary ($12 millioty to break down deep-lying opponents after Sunday’s 2-0 defat to Watford. The result means United have won only once in their 17 games in which they have enjoyed the majority of possession.”We were sloppy, we gave the ball away numerous times especin), he lags cn touch.Mihajlovic was diagnosed with leukaemia in July, so spent all of pre-season and most of the campaign so far in hospital undergoing two courses of chemotherapy.“Don’t worry, the boss can make himself heard even when he’s not physically preseonsiderably behind Capuano and Harang in the trade-value department. There is room for all three guys in the bullpen, but it will cost the team elsewhere.

The Dodgers haven’t made any indications about their pitching plans, but my guess is they will trade either Capuano or Harang (Mets? Rockies?) before Sunday’s deadline and somehow cut ties with Guerrier. That could mean a trade, a release or a trip through waivers. Belisario, Gregg, Lilly and either Harang or Capuano would join the other eight guys on the opening day staff. Injuries (Lilly’s shoulder? Guerrier’s elbow?) could change things, obviously.

That is all just a guess on my part. It seems like the Dodgers have so much pitching depth — both starters and relievers — that sticking both Capuano and Harang in the bullpen would be a waste. Some team will surely give up a prospect for one of those guys. They’re probably stuck with Lilly given his salary and recent injury history, and Belisario was too effective last summer to cut loose. I suppose Gregg could go in favor of Guerrier if the team doesn’t think the scouting reports back up the spring performance. Something has to give, though. Los Angeles simply has too many arms for too few spots right now.

oyet insists Bale should stay in Madrid.He told Go

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With Wily Peralta officially assuming a spot i paid tribute to AZ midfielder Fredrik Midtsjo.Solskjaer had Midtsjo at a training camp he organised 12 yeon for Croatia last night.He left the Wales clash injured with two minutes remaining. Modric collided with Harry Wilson while attempting to halt a counter-attack by the hosts.The Madrid midfielder was able to get back onto his feet and after receivinars ago and was happy to see him again for their 0-0 draw in the Europa League last night.“I remember with him. Fredrik played very well,” sain the ‘ starting rotatect Adama Traore.Nuno was speaking after Traore scored in Sunday’s loss to Spurs, a game in which the tally for fouls committed on the winger reached 24 for the season.”I think the referees know. They realise they should punish the tackles – just lion on Thursday, appears to be the odd man out. The team faced a decision between the two pitchers after adding Kyle Lohse earlier this week, and Peralta was named the starter for the fifth game of the season.

Fiers went 2-1 with a 6.98 ERA in six games (five starts) this spring and sported a 2:1 K/BB ratio. The right-hander is expected to serve out of the bullpen to begin the season.

Luciano Spalletti is fed-up with leaks coming fro

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outfielder and designated hitter went down in pain while running from first to second base on Monday in a Grapefruit League game against Boston. Betemit went down and writhed on the ground in pain before being carted off the field and fitted for a right leg/knee brace. 

Betecoach Ernesto Valverde was delighted with the wayLionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann combined on Wednesday night.Messi set Griezmann up to score during Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.”A lot is said about their connemit left the game in the bottom of the fifth inning with a right knee ligament sprain, reports .com. Betemit walked before getting injured and had homered on the game. He had four RBI on Monday and has six in his last two games. That said, it appears he will not be healthy when the Orioles head north. 

Betemit entered the game batting .194 on the spring and was expected to see time in the outfield, atas defended Gareth Bale against angry Real Madrid fans.Bale upset many of the Real support when he celebrated Wales’ Euros qualification with the controversial flag: ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order.’.The backleash is still being felt, though Gigg third base and at DH for thenrikh Mkhitaryan will be able to play in the Europa League final.Tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia meant that Arsenal were considering leaving him at home.However, the Azerbaijani UK ambassador has personally assured the club and Mkhitaryan tha Orioles this season. 

Betermit will have an MRI Monday night and results will be announced Tuesday, the Orioles announced.

Spain.Barcelona are working on a deal to re-sign

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Despite going 0 for 4 Monday, catcher is batting .361 this spring with two homers and 11 RBI. He has also slugged a solid .611 through 19 Cactus League games. Mesoraco is competing with non-roster invite Miguel Olivo for the backup job to Ryan Hanigan. “I feel like I came in with a good plan and came in prepared,” Mesoraco told .com. “I knew it was going to be a little bit different thing than last year. I had to prove myself. I’m happy with the way I’ve played and with the way things have turneo show Barcelona star Lionel Messi thumping Liverpool midfielder Fabinho on Wednesday night.Messi scored twice as Barca beat Liverpool 3-0 at the Nou Camp in their Champions League semi-final first leg.The seions League final.The Mirror says ticket agencies are in chaos and unable to deliver promised seats for the game.And that could lead to mayhem on the streets of Madrid with hoards of tickLiverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says he values the Dutch influence on his team.The German is assisted by Pepijn Lijnders and John Achterberg, who takes care of the goalkeepers. Virgil van Dijk is the undisputed leader of the defence and Georginio Wijnaldum is an important link in midfield. “The Dutch influence on the success in the Champions League is really invaluable,” says Klopp. “Virgil and Gini have had a great season, but that certainly also applies to Pepijn and John. We all benefit from that. I cannot compliment those two players often enough.”etless Liverpool and Tottenham fans being kicked out of UEFA Facond, his 600th club goal, was a superb 35d out.”

after undergoing a hernia operation.The 28-year-o

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reliever was removed from play Saturday when he bruised his middle finger while reaching for a batted ball with his bare hand, but he expects to make his next scheduled appearance Tuesday.

“It’s a little bruise,” he told the Tampa Tribune. “I should be fine.”

Farnsworth s a massive offer on the table from China.The Mirror says Willian was offered a £17.8m move to Shanghai Greenland Shenhua which could have netter him more than £30m.But the Brazil ace, currently at the Copa America, has now interest in accepting thalso indicated that he would have remained in the game had it occured during the regular season. He appears on track tays Villa are pondering a January movre ready to move for Benfica centre-half Pedro Álvaro and left-back Nuno Tavares.Everton boss Marco Silva is a fan of both youngsters, with Alvaro the priority.Alvaro is a ball-playing centre-half, but being tied to Benfica until 2023, Everton will e for Kamara.The 23-year-old Finland international, formerly of Arsenal, has impressed for the Scottish Premiership side this season having joined them from Dundee at the start of the year.He has caught the eye ono be available opening day.

Pochettino says “the fans are right to criticise”

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rookie surrendered one earned run on three singles while working the ninth inning against the Astros Thursday. The hits came to consecuing linked to Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz.The attacking midfielder has been interesting top clubs around Europe for the past couple of years.The 20-year-old has impressed in the Bundesliga, despite a slight dip in form this season.He manative batters after Rondon got Rick Ankiel to fly out to start the ninth, but he settled down to get an inning-ending double play to limit the damage.

Another reliever battling forNewcastle United pair Jonjo Shelvey and Karl Darlow have reportedly been snapped in a in a street fight.The — Lilian Chan (@bestgug) JulyManchester United attacker Alexis Sanchez.Alexis is joining former United teammate Romelu Lukaku at Inter Milan.”Sanchez has been there before so he will adjust to that really well. Obviously Lukaku is a big, strong player and is different to what th 18, 2019 a look as the team’s closer, Joaquin Benoit, pitched a perfect eighth inning, recording one strikeout.

Angels using a ‘designated runner’ for Albert Pujols in camp

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Not quite sure how this has slipped under the radar until now, but:

use courtesy runner for Albert Pujols after he singles in first inning against RHP Luke Hochevar. Hey, iInter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez has quickly been impressed by new teammate Romelu Lukaku.Lukaku has hit the ground running since his summer arrival from Manchester United. “He immediately adapted to the Coach’s ideas and the team’s style of play,” the 22-year-old told TyC Sports.“He’s a striker with incredible characteristics, he’s very powerful. “I was surprised by his sheer stature.”t’s spring training.

— Bob Dutton (@Royals_Report)

The had also given permission to Albert Pujols to use a designated runner if he reached base in their game earlier in week.

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale)

Ah the joys of spring training.

,m midfielder Harry Winks.The Mirror says Solskjaer is looking to reshape his squad in the close season and Winks, 24, is exactly the profile of player he wants to bring in to Old Trafford.The player’s ability and age fits the bill for Solskjaer as he 33, is coming back from offseason right-knee surgery. He returned to the lineup and is limited to DH duties at the moment, but the expect him to play first base toward the end of camp. Until then, designated rund.It marked the club’s first ever Premier League triumph at Old Trafford.Burnley goalscorer Jay Rodriguez said: “This result means everything. We worked hard and we showed quality. We stuck at it. Coming here, it is always one of the places you want ners abound.

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When Dodgers could spend, Hanley and Adrian were at top of their list

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — It’s easy to think that once the became baseball’s big spenders, they simply took on every big contract they could find.They sort of did, but not exactly.They did add some huge contracts during last season and again over the winter. They shocked the Marlins by agreeing to take on every last cent remaining in the July trade for , and no doubt surprised some people in Boston by picking up the , and contracts, as well.But as it turns out, Ramirez and Gonzalez were the two players the Dodgers had targeted, right from the moment the rich new owners took over last April.By June, they were already calling the Marlins about Ramirez, only to find out that the Marlins considered it a bit too early to pull the plug on their expensive experiment gone bad. The Marlins loved the idea of dumping Ramirez, but felt that doing it so early would send the wrong message (not that they a roadside ditch. The former England international was driving home from football when he became concerned about the gentlemen walking down the road.He reversed back to check if everything was okay, where he found the man had fallen in the ditch. Fosworried much about messages they sent later).By the end of July, the Dodgers had Ramirez. The A’s were trying to get him at the same time (and nearly did), but the A’s were only willing to assume half of the remaining contract (more than $35 million, throug to form.The Frenchman has struggled in recent weeks after initially thriving under Solskjaer’s leadership.Speaking ahead of boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists he wasn’t playing media games regarding David de Gea’s fitness.De Gea came off with a muscle abductor problem in Spain’s European qualifier in Sweden on Tuesday and Solskjaer indicated on Wednesday he was out of the Saturday’s trip to Huddersfield, Solskjaer said: “Anthony [Martial] has got loads of goals in him.”It’s up to us now to move h 2014), while the Dodgers took all of it.While the Ramirez trade was being completed, the Dodgers were already trying hard to get Gonzalez. That deal wouldn’t be finished until late August, and would include Crawford and Beckett, too.But Ramirez and Gonzalez had been the initial targets. The Dodgers obviously had an idea both could be available, but they also believed both would fill huge needs, needs that would be difficult to fill on the free-agent market.”Look at the first baseman who were out there last winter,” one Dodgers person explained. “Did you want to end up with Casey Kotchman?”The Dodgers knew they needed to upgrade at first. They knew they wanted an established shortstop, and they knew the free-agent market would be woefully short on those, too.They targeted Ramirez early, and they targeted Gonzalez, too.By the end of the year, they ended up with both.

And while the trades didn’t bring immediate results — the Dodgers went just 18-18 with Gonzalez in the lineup, and just 33-31 with Ramirez — the Dodgers are convinced that eventually, it will all work.”I don’t think that it had enough time last year to work,” right fielder said. “But it seemed to blend as time went on.’

b, it has been revealed.The Argentine was sacked b

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MLB.com reports Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington expects DH (Achilles) to be ready for opening day after meeting with the veteran slugger in the Dominican Rrom Barcelona.Reports claimed that the La Liga champions are planning a £70million swoop for the striker this summer.It has been suggested that the Catalan side could offer Arsenal both Andre Gomes and Samuel Umtiti to tempt Unai Emery into acceptinepublic last week. However, Cherington wasn’t sure what Ortiz’s status would be at the begi stunned at an angry tirade from Charlie Austin about manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.Austin, 30, unleashed a dressing room tirade about Hasenhuttl after he learned he was not going on the club’s pre-season tour.He is training with the under-23 players as tnning of spring training. “He’s hitting and doing his agility and starting to run,” Cherington said Monday in an inrez was delighted to feature in victory over Real Betis.The 5-2 win marked Perez’s home debut.“I am very happy to be able to help the team and for everything that is happening. Debuting at Camp Nou is always very special for someone from the house terview with Network Radio. “He’s . We’ll see where he is as we report 10 days from now or so and take it from there. We don’t have any reason to think he won’t be in our lineup on opening day.”

uary transfer window.United missed out on a midfie

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In a long-anticipated move, the Pirates sent closer to teran Zlatan Ibrahimovic hinted he could quit the MLS this weekend.Former Manchester United striker Ibrahimovic faces his first MLS play-off game on Sunday as his side LA Galaxy face a tough trip to face Minnesota United. “Could be,” said Ibrahimovicthe Red Sox in a six-player swap on Wednea permanent deal.Mari is on-loan at Arsenal from Flathree-month lay-off after ankle surgery, leaving the Nerazzurri short upfront.“The team worked extremely well in training and when I see that attitude, I know that I can rest easy. We can win or lose the game, but this is what reassures me,” said Cmengo to the end of this season.Arsenal have an option to make Mari’s move permanent in the summer and he has impressed so far.The Spaniard has made two appearances for the Gunners and helped them ksday, and according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington says that will take over the ninth-inning role vacated by Hanrahan. The Pirates re-signed Grilli to a two-year, $6.75 million deal earlier this month. In 2012, Grilli notched 32 holds along with 90 strikeouts and a 2.91 ERA over 58 2/3 innings.

anchester United.The Arsenal teenage sensation spe

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Former Yankees outfielder was arrested inchester United captain Antonio Valencia wants to return to Europe.The Ecuador captain returned home last summer to join LDU Quito, but is now making plans to return to Europe this month.Foot Mercato says Valencia’s agents are touting him to French cn Gwinnett County, Ga., on a battery charge Tuesday. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that police arrested Jones after responding to a call regarding a disAston Villa have signed 16-year-old striker Louie Barry from Barcelona – just six months after he joined the Spanish club, reports Sky Sports.Barry left West Brom to join Barca in July, turning down lucrative offers from a host of top European clubs – including a £2m deal with Paris Saint-Germain.The deal is subject to international clearance.pute bet.The French midfielder has been plagued by injuries this season and he has been absent since returning from the international break this month.He has not played since the 4-1 win at Southampton at the beginning of the month with a series of hamstringween him and his, wife, Nicole Derick. According to the police report, Derick said that Jones pulled her down a staircase and threatened to kill her. Jones was released on a $2,400 bond by 11 a.m. the same morning. He had signed to play with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Japanese Pacific League for next season.

Free agent preview: Mark Reynolds

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(US Presswire)

There will always be a market for power hitters. Outside of Josh Hamilton, no player on the market can hit the long ball as well as Mark Reynolds. While Reynolds has the ability to mash 30 home runs a season, he’s just a likely to break the record for strikeouts in a single season, which, coincidentally, he already owns. At the plate, Reynolds is considered a three true outcomes player. The three true outcomes refer to the three results of a plate appearance that don’t involve fielders: walks, home runs and strikeouts. Players that lead the league in three true outcomes stats typically walk a fine line. A small loss in power or plate discipline, or a slight uptick in strikeouts can turn a once valuable player into a complete wreck in the batter’s box. 

Unfortunately for Reynolds, that time may have already come. The Orioles not only declined his $11 million option for next season, but decided to not even tender him a contract, making him a free-agent. The team had control over Reynolds for next season, but didn’t want to take the chance that he would receive significant money during arbitration. 

It looks like that may have been the right call. Reynolds made $7.5 million last season, and was due to receive a raise in arbitration. Though the market at first base isn’t all that strong, Reynolds isn’t likely to receive a big contract this winter. 

Finding a recent comparable player for Reynolds is nearly impossible due to his strikeout rate. Over the past three seasons, Reynolds has struck out in 32.3% of his plate appearances. That is a staggering rate for a full-time player. Recent players with similar strikeout rates either flamed out after a season or two, like Jack Cust and Wily Mo Pena, or were used as part-time sluggers, like Kelly Shoppach or Russell Branyan. 

Reynolds’ status as a full-time player is definitely boss Roy Hodgson insists there’s no plans for a squad overhaul.Hodgson has dismissed suggestions the departures of veterans Julian Speroni and Jason Puncheon mean Crystal Palace are embarking on a “new era”.He said: “This isn’t a question of regiin doubt. His reputation as a poor defender isn’t going to help, either. One of the main reasons teams have been willing to commit to Carlos Pena, who displays a similar skill set, is because he’s regardthe first team.Miller was involved for the Reds against Shrewsbury Town in an FA Cup fourth round replay, when the senior side was rested.The player will never forget the moment when he got to put on the Liverpool shirt as a first team starter for thed as a strong defensive first baseman. Reynolds’ best hope for consistent playing time may come as a designated hitter.

Reynolds is rumored to be looking for a deal in the same range as last yeaLazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is close to a move to PSG.Blic says the Serb has told PSG he wants to join them.PSG are offering €80m for the transfer and talks are in the final stages.PSG sporting director Leonardo is a known admirer of the player and tried to take him to Milan when he was still working for them.Milinkovic-Savic’s move will be funded by the sale of Neymar.r’s $7.5 million salary. That might not be out of line, as teams have shown a willingness to pay for power in the past. Carlos Pena managed to receive a one-year, $10 million deal with the Cubs after hitting .196/.325/.407 in 2010. And he was 32-years-old at the time. The following year, Pena received $7.25 million to return to Tampa for his age-34 season. Reynolds isn’t coming off as strong a year as Pena’s 2011, but he does have an age advantage. A one-year deal worth between $6 million and $7.25 million is probably an accurate range for Reynolds. He’ll have to prove he’s worth it, as this will likely be his last chance at significant playing time if he falters. 

Indians, Mariners, Rays

Marlins, Yankees, Cubs, Mets

For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the latest rumors from bloggers Chris Cwik, Jack Moore and R.J. White, follow

Top free-agent hit list: Projected salaries for Greinke, Hamilton, Bourn and 39 more

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will be pursued by the and . (US Presswire)

Pay no attention to the weak World Series ratings. Revenues in baseball are up, franchise values are way up and a free-agent class that is interesting but almost devoid of major stars (after the top few guys) should benefit greatly.

After all, this is, as Bud Selig has reminded us many times, the golden era of baseball.

And these guys are the luckiest of all the beneficiaries.

With help from an unnamed expert source on the player side (not an agent who represents these players), here are predicted dollar amounts for 42 top names in this year’s class, with my own guesses, as well.

With a potential bidding war between two big-market crosstown rivals (the two L.A.’s), he stands to be the big winner. My expert has him No. 1, and I agree. Expert: $147 million, 6 years. Me: $150 million, 6 years. 

One of the more interesting markets in years. One management source predicts a small-to-mid market could break the bank. I could see , whether it be the US Bank (Brewers GM Doug Melvin joked they might need that particular bank), or whatever bank. Expert: $137 million, 5 years. Me: $140 million, 6 years.

More on free agencyRelated links | | | | | | | | More coverage | | |

The Nationals and Phillies could do battle for this prototype center fielder/leadoff man. Expert: $83 million, 5 years. Me: $80 million, 5 years.

The same two teams should play here (as could the Giants, who may also be in on Bourn). Expert: $70 million, 5 years. Me: $65 million, 5 years.

5. , OF. Regular-season numbers aren’t far off those of , who got $126 million for seven years. But how much with defense and October matter? Expert: $67 million, five years. Me: $39 million, three years.

Very good postseason should help. Incumbent have said they be will be in mix. Expert: $65 million, 5 years. Me: $70 million, 5 years.

Superb and consistent season and postseason (this time without guru Dave Duncan) followed a very good one. Expert: $64 million, 4 years. Me: $70 million, 4 dio Mane says his brace in the UEFA Super Cup final win over Chelsea was down to the play of Roberto Firmino.Firmino came on at half-time and set Mane up twice to fire home for Liverpool.”To be honest, I think I was just a lucky boy,” the Senegal intyears.

His big year in changed his image. No one benefited more from his walk year. Expert: $45 million, 4 years. Me: $30 million, 3 years.

Monster year should pay off. The Red Sox, who had him briefly, should covet LaRoche. The incumbent Nats surely do, too. Expert: $39 million, 3 years. Me: $56 million, 4 years.

Replaced Mariano Rivera and put up a Rivera-like year. Could see the Tigers making a play. Expert: $39 million, 3 years. Me: Agree.

The Nationals turned down a $13.3-million qualifying offer, which ought to be a clue. But who knows? Pitching is so scarce, he is undeniably durable and consistent, and now he doesn’t have a draft pick attached to him. Expert: $37 million, 3 years. Me: $36 million, 3 years.

He should probably return to the National League after slipping somewhat as the Rangers’ late-deadline afterthought pickup. Expert: $33 million, 3 years. Me: $25 million, 2 years.

Big postseason will help, though personality quirk may be an issue with some. Expert: $28 million, 3 years. Me: $12 million, 2 years.

He encountered rough seas last offseason, but a cameo in should help. Expert: $25 million, 3 years. Me: $15 million, 2 years.

Terrific finish showed he has plenty left. Expert: $22 million, 2 years. Me: $30 million, 2 years.

Inspirational pick was having a nice year before the unfortunate liner. Expert: $22 million, 2 years. Me: $20 million, 2 years.

His off year will hurt a little, but probably not as much as you think. Expert: $21 million, 2 years. Me: $30 million, 3 years.

18. , 3B. He fit nicely on the South Side but his overall numbers still diminished. Expert: $18 million, 2 years. Me: $20 million, 2 years.

Huge year in perhaps makes him feel better about Petco difficulties. Expert: $17 million, 2 years. Me: $24 million, 3 years.

Very nice bounce back season. Expert: $16.5 million, 2 years. Me: $15 million, 2 years.

He’s solid and consistent, which plays pretty well this year. Expert: $16 million, 2 years. Me: $24 million, 3 years. 

Big walk year helps. have replacement ready, but watch if Jerry Reinsdorf brings back a favorite. Expert: $15 million, 2 years. Me: $20 million, 2 years.

Very good lefty reliever who should be appreciated this winter. Expert: $14.5 million, 3 years. Me: $16.5 million, 3 years.

Nice set-up man, but was better in than . Expert: $16 million, 3 years. Me: $15 million, 3 years.

Had a very nice year in but could surely use competition from the other two big spenders, the Phillies and . Expert: $14 million, 2 years. Me: $21 million, 3 years.

Postseason hero should cash in, but it’ll be a surprise if he leaves San Francisco. Expert: $14 million, 2 years. Me: $15 million, 2 years.

He resurrected his career in after not dealing well with Coors Field. We can rule out , anyway. Expert: $14 million, 2 years. Me: $27 million, 3 years.

He’s willing to do a one-year deal so he has something left when he finishes his career later in Japan. The Yankees should be able to make a deal here after giving him the $13.3-million qualifying offer. Expert: $14 million, 1 year. Me:sted in the vacant Newcastle job.The Dutchman has been unemployed since leaving Feyenoord and becomes the first name to publicly declare his interest in replacing Rafa Benitez, who will leave at the end of this month.”I think the rumours have come a $15 million, 1 year.

He consistently outpitches his stuff, though he had a bit of injury trouble last year. Expert: $10.25 million, 1 year. Me: $20 million, 2 years.

He resurrected his career once with the Yankees. Maybe the Giants make a play this time. Expert: $11 million, 1 year. Me: $10 million, 1 year.

His huge postseason should make him coveted. Expert: $11 million, 2 years. Me: $18 million, 3 years.

Everyone is assuming the Yankees will automatically give him the same money or more. But being that he won’t pitch elsewhere, is 43 and returning from a knee injury, that’s not quite a certainty. Expert: $10 million, 1 year. Me: $12 million, 1 year.

The ’ trade fell through at the last minute, so he’s probably not too far off the difference between the $15.5-million option and $3.5-million option. Expert: $10 million, 1 year. Me: $20 million, 2 years.

Nice solid starter is better than you think. Expert: $10 million, 2 years. Me: $14 million, 2 years.

An off year offensively could hurt him. But his ability to play first base or DH helps. The Red Sox, who have eyed him for years, make sense. Expert: $9 million, 1 year. Me: $16 million, 2 years.

The .211 batting average is a detriment, even at a time where BA has been devalued. But should it? Very good defender with power. Expert: $7 million, 1 year. Me: $15 million, 2 years.

He came back to pitch for a bargain $2.5 million last year, but they’ll presumably strike a compromise between that and market value this time. Expert: $6.5 million (plus $4 million in incentives). Me: $10 million.

He’ll look for a closer job a year after Tommy John. Expert: $6.5 million, 1 year. Me: $7.5 million, 1 year.

Like Madson, he missed 2012 with an elbow issue. Expert: $6.5 million, 1 year. Me: Agree.

The poor finish where his pitches flattened out makes the previous contract — where ex-agent Dan Lozano accepted a $9-million club option, Valverde says without his consent (he’s filed a grievance against his ex-agent) — costly. Expert: $6.25 million, 1 year. Me: $7 million, 1 year.

As time goes by, perhaps the shenanigans will be less rememHarry Arter is a step away from leaving Bournemouth.Sky Sports says Arter completed his medical at Fulham on Saturday night.It’s thought a potential season-long loan deal with an obligation to buy could be complete later today.Arter spent last season on-loan with Cardiff City.bered. Everyone thinks a one-year deal is right, but don’t be shocked if someone steps up for two. Expert: $6 million, 1 year. Me: $8 million, 1 year.

He hasn’t decided whether he’s coming back. Hunch is the Astros probably will want him most. Expert: $5 million, 1 year. Me: $9 million, 1 year.

Higher powers or Giant powers? Either way, San Francisco halfway to another World Series crown

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SAN FRANCISCO — Some things they planned.Some they didn’t.Up two games to none in the World Series, the Giants know better than to deny luck has played a part. We know better than to think it’s all luck.The Gregor Blanco bunt that stopped in fair territory when by all rights it should have rolled foul, in the most important play in Thursday night’s Game 2? Luck.The seven shutout innings from Madison Bumgarner, that allowed the Blanco bunt to matter? Not luck.The second-inning relay throw to the plate that ruined the Tigers’ best chance to score a run? Mostly not luck.

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It’s not fair to the Giants to credit everything that has happened over the last week to some greater power. It’s not fair to the powers of truth to deny that some absolutely nutty things have helped bring the Giants to where they are now, two wins from what would be their second title in three years.In only the past three games — Game 7 against the Cardinals, and Gamd a new deal with Watford.The Brazilian goalkeeper has signed up for another year of football with the Hornets, despite declaring that he was 99 per cent sure he would retire at the end of his contract back in March. “I couldn’t say no to the club bees 1 and 2 against the Tigers — the Giants have benefited from a Hunter Pence line drive that changed directions in mid-air, an Angel Pagan ground ball that caromed off third base and Blanco’s bunt that the Giants were certain would roll foul — until it didn’t.”You just go home and you thank the higher powers of whoever is in charge,” third-base coach Tim Flannery said after the Giants’ 2-0 Game 2 victory against the Tigers. “And try not to piss the others off.”The Giants, who trailed two games to none in the Division Series and three games to one in the NLCS, would never say a two-games-to-none World Series lead is safe. But with their two most consistent starting pitchers — Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain — set to pitch the next two games in Detroit on Saturday and Sunday, it would be crazy not to say they’re feeling pretty good.They know that they’ve already been through what should have been the riskier part of their rotation, with Barry Zito and Bumgarner forced to start the first two games because Vogelsong and Cain’s services were required in Games 6 and 7 victories against the Cardinals.The riskier part of the rotation allowed exactly one run in 12 2/3 innings. Bumgarner, who was so bad in his first two postseason starts (eight innings, 10 runs) that he was pulled from the rotation, was brilliant on Thursday. He allowed the Tigers only two hits, a Delmon Young double that would have scored a run except for that relay throw that cut down Prince Fielder at the plate, and a fourth-inning infield single by Omar Infante.Bumgarner’s great start certainly wasn’t lucky, but it did begin with the Giants crossing their fingers. Pitching coach Dave Righetti believed he had spotted and corrected a flaw in Bumgarner’s delivery (basically, the left-hander needed to speed things up a little, allowing him to drive off the mound better), and Bumgarner was able to implement the change in a few bullpen sessions.”It speaks volumes about Madison,” Vogelsong said. “It’s hard to fix something and carry it into ained to lead Serbia into the Euro2020 finals.The Balkan nation will face Portugal in a qualifier on Saturday, hoping to catch Group B leaders Ukraine.”We see every success as euphoric, and every failure as a tragedy,” Matic said. “We have such a ment game. Not only that, but into a big game. He was off pretty bad [before]. You can repeat it in the bullpen all day, but carrying it to the mound is different.”Hats off to him. Quite honestly, I don’t think I’d have been able to do that.”Fortunately for the Giants, Vogelsong shows no signs of needing to be fixed. The Giants have won each of his three postseason starts, and he has allowed only three runs in 19 innings.Strong starting pitching is one reason this is all starting to have a very 2010 feel for the Giants. They’ve played five games since falling behind three games to one to the Cardinals, and in those five games the starters have pitched 33 innings while allowing only two runs.The cumulative score in those five games: Giants 30, Cardinals/Tigers 4.Pretty hard to argue that’s all luck.Another reason to think this is 2010 all over again: Just as they did to the Rangers, the Giants beat up the Tigers’ ace in Game 1, then shut them out in Game 2.In 2010, the Giants followed that up by winning two of the three games in Texas, coming home only for a victory parade. They would love to think this World Series plays out the same way, but all they’ll say now is that they would rather be two games up than two games down.That seems obvious, but remember, the Giants were behind in both of their first two series, including that crazy 0-2 deficit after two home games in a best-of-5 first-round series with the Reds.”0-2? No, that would not be recommended,” Jeremy Affeldt said. “Statistically, it’s probably better to be 2-0 than 0-2.”Statistically, he would be right. Teams that have gone up two games to none have won the World Series nearly 80 percent of the time (41 times out of 52).Logically, he would be right, too. But not all of what has happened to the Giants the past few days has followed any logic.”I’ve never been one to say luck had a lot to do with what happens,” Vogelsong said. “I think you make your own luck. But we’ve had a lot go our way.”The Blanco bunt was the biggest thing that went their way Thursday.In the seventh inning of a scoreless game, the Giants had runners at oungsters as they continue to produce on the pitch.The likes of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham are starting to reward Frank Lampard’s faith in their talent.With Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to come into the team, Cascarino believes the Blfirst and second with no outs. Blanco, the Giants’ best bunter, had a 3-1 count after taking three close pitches and fouling off one bunt attempt.His next bunt went a few feet down the third-base line. It stayed on the dirt, and at AT&T Park, that invariably means it’s bound to roll foul.”That was unbelievable,” said Blanco, who crossed first base and pumped his fist as if he had driven in the winning run. “As soon as I bunted it, I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, it’s going to go foul.’ “Flannery, in the third-base coaching box, was thinking the same thing.”You always have to keep the ball on the grass here, or it will roll off foul,” he said. “I don’t know if it was the rain or what, but it didn’t. As soon as he bunted it, I hoped someone would grab it, because I thought it was going foul.”Tigers catcher Gerald Laird thought the same thing and let it roll — and then watched helplessly as it stopped in fair territory.The Giants had the bases loaded with no outs, and when Brandon Crawford followed with a double-play grounder, the Giants had the only run they would really need.That was true thanks in large part to Bumgarner — and also to that relay that was mostly skill, with perhaps a touch of Giants luck mixed in.Bumgarner had begun the second inning by hitting Fielder with a pitch. Young followed with a shot down the left-field line, and when it took a bounce off the side wall, Tigers third-base coach Gene Lamont sent Fielder to try to score the game’s first run.Blanco eventually got the ball in left field and fired it in. He overthrew Crawford, the first cutoff man, and the ball went to Marco Scutaro, the second cutoff man.”I don’t know what Scoot was doing there,” Blanco said. “Thank God he was there.”Luck?”[Blanco] is an outfielder, he doesn’t know,” Scutaro said. “I’m supposed to be there.”In any case, Scutaro took the ball and made a strong throw to catcher Buster Posey, whose swipe tag caught Fielder’s back just before Fielder’s foot touched the plate. Had Fielder slid away from the throw, he no doubt would have been safe. But he didn’t.Saved from the early run, Bumgarner got stronger.”That was huge,” Bumgarner said. “I think that might have been a momentum shifter for me.”It was huge, but it didn’t win the game all by itself, because the Giants still had to score a run, and for six innings against Doug Fister, they couldn’t. Without the bunt that stopped, maybe they don’t score in the seventh inning, either.Luck? Or maybe just a sign that this is all supposed to happen for the Giants?”As the great Carlos Santana — guitar player, not catcher — said in 2010, sometimes you have to know when to get out of the way of yourself,” Flannery said.The Giants are doing that very well. The Giants are basically doing everything very well.No, it’s not all luck.But even the Giants would tell you, it’s not all according to plan, either.

AL wild-card preview: Can Orioles tame Rangers’ bats?

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(AP)

In very different ways, these are two of the most surprising teams in baseball. Almost no one expected the Orioles to finish anywhere but last in the AL East, and the Rangers were all but universally regarded as the best team in baseball. The O’s have shocked us all, and while the Rangers can still achieve their ultimate goal, they’re not quite the team we thought they’d be.

Those dynamics will be in play, as and meet in the AL wild-card game. The ara is staying calm over talk of a return to the Premier League.The former Arsenal trainee has been in top form for Steven Gerrard’s side, since his move from Dundee in January – and has been linked with Aston Villa.Going up to Scotland’s been good fwinner earns the right to face the in the ALDS. 

The visiting Orioles haven’t yet decided whether they’ll pitch lefty (4.02 ERA, 174 2/3 IP with and Baltimore this season) or right-hander (2.11 ERA, 38 1/3 IP), but the Rangers have named (3.90 ERA, 191 1/3 IP) as their wild-card starter. 

The rookie Darvish has yet to face the Orioles. While not specific to his Friday opponent, it’s worth noting that Darvish has been a wholly different pitcher . Over that seven-start span, he’s posted a 2.13 ERA and struck out 59 batters against just 10 walks. 

In his career, Saunders has been cuffed around pretty badly by Brendan Rodgers has spoken highly of Liverpool playmaker Adam Lallana.The 31-year-old will become a free agent at the end of the season, with Leicester linked with a move, along with Tottenham and Arsenal.”Adam is a fantastic player and one I broughtcurrent Rangers hitters — cuffed around to the tune of .347/.407/.669. As with most numbers of this nature, we’re talking about a pretty small sample size, but that’s still a source of concern.

The rookie Johnson, meanwhile, has just one appearance against Texas, and it was in relief: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 K, 0 BB. It’s worth noting that the Ranger offense this season has been slightly less effective against rin’t rule out leaving Barcelona this summer.Away with Brazil for the Copa America, the midfielder says any move, however, won’t be considered until after the tournament.Coutinho said, “Many things that come out are not true. “I am totally focused on tght-handers, so that’s a possible point for Johnson. 

Texas won five of seven games against the Orioles this season, and in those seven games they out-scored the O’s by a margin of 56-24. They last met for a three-game set that concluded on Aug. 22, and the Rangers took two of three in Arlington. 

… they lean heavily on a rested bullpen to keep the Texas bats in check.

The Rangers can rake in any environment but especially in their hitter-friendly home digs. Given the suspect nature of either Baltimore starter, a quick hook seems likely. Then it will fall to the bullpen to keep runs off the board.

The good news is that the Oriole bullpen has a very strong arrangement right now, and a number of their very best relievers — namely , and  — are coming off a day of rest.   

… Darvish pitches like he did down the stretch.

It’s that simple, really. The one wrinkle is whether Darvish’s recent neck soreness, which caused him to miss a recent scheduled start, will affect him in any way. If he’s on, there may be little the Orioles can do. 

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