Boston, Oakland make blockbuster swap

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester (31) delivers during the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Thursday, July 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics got the ball rolling on trade deadline day, making a deal that could have huge playoff implications.

Boston sends starting pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Johnny Gomes to Oakland for slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

For Oakland, it’s a move that solidifies an already strong starting rotation. The A’s acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs earlier this month. Oakland will be very hard to beat in a short playoff series if their top pitchers come through.

For Boston, it’s a move that gives them a power-hitting outfielder who should add plenty of offense this season and next. Cespedes, who has won the last two home run derbies, will be eligible for free agency following the 2015 season. Imagine how many home runs that guy will hit over the Green Monster the rest of this year and next.

Lester has said he’s open to resigning with Boston following this season. I’m not sure how serious he is about that, especially since the Red Sox lowballed him on an extension offer prior to the 2014 campaign. I doubt he stays in Oakland – the A’s don’t have the money – but it will be interesting to see how the remainder of the season plays into his offseason decision. Lester will be one of the top free agents this winter.

Really, this trade cements Oakland’s status as an all-in team for 2014. It’s a major shift in organizational philosophy from a team lauded for its Moneyball foundation. Still, the window is open now for the A’s and they’re going for it. And they managed to snag another rotation ace without depleting the farm system, opting instead to trade a star who was likely to bolt for another team and more money after 2015 anyway. When we look back on the season in late October, this trade will be a major part of the 2014 storyline. Is Lester raising the World Series trophy in Oakland green and gold? Or will some other team knock off the now heavy favorites in the American League?

American League's Yoenis Cespedes, of the Oakland Athletics, holds the trophy after winning the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 14, 2014, in Minneapolis. Cespedes defeated National League's Todd Frazier, of the Cincinnati Reds, in the finals. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

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Indians send Masterson to St. Louis

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Monday, July 7, 2014, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

The MLB trade deadline is tomorrow at 4 p.m. EST – although players who pass through waivers can be traded until the season ends in September – and there will likely be a flurry of deals made in the next 24 hours.

Cleveland kicked things off this afternoon, trading starting pitcher Justin Masterson to the St. Louis Cardinals. The details of the trade have yet to be announced, but the Indians likely get back a mid-level prospect or two. (Joel Sherman of the New York Post says its outfield prospect James Ramsey).

Masterson, an All-Star in 2013, has had a rough year in 2014. He’s currently on the disabled list with a knee injury. In 19 starts this year, Masterson is 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA. If you take a look at his FIP of 4.08 (fielding independent pitching), Masterson probably should be doing a little bit better than he has so far. So the Cardinals are buying low here and hoping he can turn things around.

Some trouble signs for Masterson. 1) He’s walking 5.1 batters per nine innings, his highest rate since 2009. He’s striking out 8.5 batters per nine innings, down from last year’s 9.1 per nine, but still above his career average of 7.5/9.  2) His velocity is also down. He threw his 4-seam fastball around 94 MPH last year, but he’s throwing it at just around 91 MPH this year. His sinker and slider have also lost some bite. Perhaps that’s due to the knee problem and perhaps it shoots up again if he returns healthy. He’s expected off the DL by the end of the week.

Masterson is a ground ball pitcher with his heavy stuff and he’s getting 58.5 percent of hitters to put it on the ground this year, which is in line with his career track record. As long as he’s healthy and manages to get outs on the ground, he could be a sneaky good pickup for the Cardinals down the stretch run.

We’ll see what happens over the next 24 hours with the New York teams.

The Yankees are reportedly kicking the tires on some starting pitching options, most notably Brett Anderson of the Colorado Rockies. Anderson has had some nice years with Oakland, but injuries have sidetracked his career. He has an option left for 2015, so like the Brandon McCarthy trade, Anderson could be a low-risk, medium-reward type of pickup who wouldn’t cost much in terms of prospects.

With an all-lefty hitting outfield of Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ichiro Suzuki – at least until Carlos Beltran can prove he can play the field again – the Yankees are also looking at right-handed hitting outfielders. The easiest to acquire would be Josh Willingham of the Twins, who fits the profile the Yankees are looking for. Willingham, however, is hitting .222 with 10 homers and 30 RBI in 58 games, so it’s debatable how much of an upgrade he’d be.

The Mets, on the other hand, look like they’re going to stand pat. Bartolo Colon and Daniel Murphy have plenty of suitors, but the Mets don’t quite seem to like the returns they’ve been offered in return. Since they’re basically out of the Wild Card race barring a huge surge, it’s a logical move for the Mets. They don’t have a ton of other pieces to sell to contenders at this point, but I could see the Mets making a bunch of offseason moves to gear up for Matt Harvey’s return in 2015.

We’ll see. More updates as they happen right here on the blog.

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Colon flirts with perfection; Yanks take 3 of 4 from Texas

New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon throws against the Seattle Mariners during a baseball game, Wednesday, July 23, 2014 in Seattle. (AP Photo)

Bartolo Colon took the mound Wednesday in Seattle, hours after he had been rumored to be heading to San Francisco in a deadline trade.

He certainly helped his value in a terrific start against the Mariners.

Colon was perfect through 6 2/3 innings, with Robinson Cano spoiling the perfecto bid with a single to left with two out in the seventh. Colon wound up allowed two runs on three hits and one walk over 7 1/3 innings, but Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia closed out a 3-2 Mets win.

The win boosted Colon to 9-8 and he has a 4.03 ERA in 20 starts. He’s allowed 135 hits in 134 innings and has struck out 100 against just 19 walks. Colon is 41, but he’s been consistent and reliable and throws strikes. That would make him attractive to teams looking for starting pitching help, but there is one hangup with Colon.

The money.

Colon was signed to a two-year $20 million contract over the offseason, which pays him $9 million this year and $11 in 2015. So if a team were to acquire Colon in the next week, they’d be taking on $15 million in salary or so, unless the Mets are willing to eat some cash in the deal.

If the Mets are willing to take some of that money, they’ll get a much better prospect return. If, on the other hand, the Mets are unwilling to pay for Colon when he’s wearing another uniform, they’ll be lucky to do a salary dump trade at best.

The Mets are eight games back in the NL East and seven games behind in the NL Wild Card hunt, so they’ve got very long odds at making the playoffs this year. Without Colon, I think it’s fair to say that the Mets don’t have a shot at all.

So is it a better idea to try to flip him now for assets for the future or should they hold on to him just in case 2015 winds up being a special year? That’s the question facing the Mets’ front office over the next week.

New York Yankees starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy (38) delivers in a baseball game against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium in New York, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo)

This afternoon, Brandon McCarthy made his third start in a Yankees uniform. It was probably the worst start of his brief Yankees career, but it got the job done in a 4-2 win at home, giving the Yankees a three games to one series win over the Rangers.

McCarthy gave up one run on four hits over six innings, but he had to be pulled after throwing 109 pitches. Warren, Thornton, Betances and Robertson split the final three innings to close out the win.

Taking a look at McCarthy’s player page on BrooksBaseball.net, the thing that jumps out to me is his velocity. He hit 95.8 MPH with his sinker, averaging 93.6 MPH on the 60 sinkers he threw. McCarthy also got up to 95.4 with his 4-seam fastball.

If you look at the rest of the Yankees’ rotation as it currently stands, McCarthy has the best velocity of the bunch. Shane Greene has averaged 95 MPH in his short big league career, followed by Hiroki Kuroda and Chase Whitley (both 92 MPH) and David Phelps (91 MPH). A few miles per hour might not mean much, but when he opts to throw a curveball, which he has 25 percent of the time this year at an average speed of 82.2 MPH, it makes those fastballs look even faster.

It’s still early yet, but it looks like the Yankees saw the right things between the lines when they shipped Vidal Nuno to Arizona for McCarthy a few weeks ago. McCarthy was 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 18 starts for the Diamondbacks this year, but his 3.82 FIP (fielding independent pitching) said that McCarthy had been the victim of some bad luck (and maybe bad fielding behind him). I’m not sure if his success in pinstripes in going to last, but his pitching must make Yankees fans feel a bit more optimistic about the team’s playoff chances with 80 percent of the opening day starting rotation currently on the disabled list.

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Yankees trade for San Diego 3B Headley

San Diego Padres' Chase Headley, right, is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Thursday, July 10, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

It’s a trade that’s been years in the making, but the Yankees finally pulled the trigger on Tuesday, acquiring third baseman Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres. New York sends Yangervis Solarte and minor league pitcher Rafael De Paula to San Diego and the Yankees also receive $1 million in cash from the Padres.

Headley, 30, a switch-hitter with a history of hitting for power, solves a problem for the Yankees, as he should be the everyday starter at third base for the rest of the season. His best year was 2012, when he hit .286 with 31 doubles, 31 homers and an NL-best 115 RBI. He finished fifth in the MVP voting and won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

But he’s struggled since.

He hit just .250 with 13 homers in 2013. This season, a slow start has him at well below those peak numbers. Headley hit .186 in April, .212 in May and .205 in June, but he’s had a scorching July, hitting .323 with four doubles, one triple and one homer to go along with nine RBI through 15 games this month.

A free agent a season’s end, Headley wasn’t going to cost much. A strong second half in New York could propel the Yankees to a playoff berth and it might give New York an edge in contract talks with perhaps their third baseman of the future.

As for what the Yankees gave up, we’ll start with Solarte. He had a red-hot start in April, hitting .303 and following that up with a .296 average in May to go along with five homers and 13 RBI. He’s cooled off considerably since and has lost playing time to Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson. Solarte, 27, a minor league veteran of the Rangers and Twins systems, is probably no more than a capable reserve infielder at the major league level, so Headley will be a major upgrade here.

De Paula, 23, is in his second season at High-A Tampa. In three minor league seasons, he’s 21-12 with a 3.58 ERA and has struck out 11.4 batters per nine innings. The right-hander has shown plenty of promise, but he will still need to prove himself at Double-A and Triple-A before he gets a chance in the majors. So time will tell whether the Yankees regret giving him away.

Like the Brandon McCarthy trade right before the All-Star break, the Yankees have made themselves better via the trade market, without having to give up much in return. McCarthy has pitched well in his few starts so far – and we’ll see how Headley performs down the stretch – but you have to tip your cap to Yankees GM Brian Cashman for finding ways to make the team stronger without sacrificing the top prospects in the system.

Headley gives Joe Girardi another switch-hitting bat, so he could hit anywhere in the lineup, probably sixth or seventh depending on who’s playing. He also allows Kelly Johnson to focus on his duties at first base with Mark Teixeira out and puts Brendan Ryan and Brian Roberts in a platoon at second base.

Do the Yankees have any moves left to make? I would think Cashman is still looking for starting pitchers. The latest rumor is John Danks of the Chicago White Sox, a serviceable veteran lefty, but a pitcher who has struggled since being sidelined with a shoulder injury in 2012.

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Yanks add vet Francis

Colorado Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis throws against the Philadelphia Phillies in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won 5-4. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Not to be overshadowed by LeBron James’ decision to return to Cleveland, the Yankees made a roster move of their own today.

In a trade with Oakland, the Yankees acquired veteran lefty Jeff Francis and cash. Oakland receives a player to be named later.

Francis is a 10-year MLB veteran, most notably serving in Colorado’s rotation 2004-13 with one season (2011) in Kansas City in between. This year, he’s pitched a total of 18 1/3 innings with Cincinnati and Oakland. He made one start with the Reds before transitioning to a bullpen role in Oakland. The results haven’t been great. He’s allowed 12 runs on 16 hits, but he has struck out 14 against three walks.

Since he wasn’t being used in the A’s rotation, I’d imagine Francis starts off as a swingman in the Yankees bullpen and might later build up the arm strength to start again.

For his career, he’s 70-80 with a 4.95 ERA. His best season was 2007, when he went 17-9 with a 4.22 ERA, finished ninth in the NL Cy Young voting and helped lead the Rockies to the World Series.

Like the Brandon McCarthy move, it’s a low-risk, low-reward type of trade for the Yankees. Francis won’t cost much at all, but he almost certainly won’t be the piece that puts the Yankees over the top in the AL East race. He’s just a veteran presence that can help eat some innings and try to keep the club in ballgames until they figure out to do with the starting rotation.

With 80 percent of the opening day starting rotation on the disabled list – Nova, Pineda, Sabathia and now Tanaka – the Yankees need some warm bodies to take those innings. You can expect Brian Cashman to make a few more deals like this, or even more significant trades, as he addresses the rotation before the trade deadline at the end of July.

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Yanks add McCarthy to the rotation

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy (32) delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh Thursday, July 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Yankees made a trade over the weekend, acquiring starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy from Arizona for pitcher Vidal Nuno in a straight one-for-one swap.

McCarthy, who rose to prominence on the World Series champion White Sox in 2005, later became Oakland’s opening day starter by the beginning of the 2012 season. He was struck in the head by a line drive toward the end of the 2012 season but returned in 2013 after signing a free agent deal with Arizona. He went 5-11 with a 4.53 ERA last year for the Diamondbacks, a long way off from his peak years in 2011 and 2012. It hasn’t been much better for McCarthy this season, who went 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 18 starts for a dreadful Diamondbacks team. He’s allowed more hits and more earned runs than any pitcher in the National League.

Nuno, on the other hand, had an equally frustrating season with the Yankees, pitching mostly in the No. 5 starter role. He was 2-5 with a 5.42 ERA in 17 games, 14 of which were starts. It’s unlikely that he ever exceeds this station in the major leagues, although he could become a useful long man or swing man out of a bullpen for years to come.

So why would the Yankees give up a guy who still has some years of team control to take on McCarthy and the money left on his contract? There’s reason to believe he’s starting to turn things around despite his ugly stats.

If you take a look at McCarthy’s page on FanGraphs, click here for the link, take a look at the right hand side of the page. His FIP (fielder independent pitching) and xFIP (expected fielder independent pitching) paint the picture that McCarthy is a much better pitcher than his won-loss record and ERA indicate.

Let’s take a deeper look at McCarthy’s numbers. He’s in the middle of posting the best strikeout rate of his career, mowing down 7.63 batters per nine innings. His walk rate per nine (1.64) isn’t a career best, but it’s still an excellent figure. He’s inducing 55 percent ground balls, which is the highest mark of his career. The number that’s shocking is his home run-to-fly ball ratio, which sits at 20 percent. That’s double his career average.

When you look at FIP, which tries to balance out through math what a pitcher can control and what he can’t – FanGraphs has a better and deeper explanation here – it’s clear that McCarthy has had some bad luck behind him this year. Maybe he had poor fielders in Arizona that weren’t necessarily making errors, but weren’t getting to balls they should have gotten to, either. Maybe he’s had some bad luck with fly balls not dying on the warning track and winding up in the seats instead. All signs are pointing toward McCarthy bouncing back at some point soon, which is why the Yankees pulled the trigger on this trade.

I don’t think McCarthy is going to join Tanaka at the top of the rotation, but he should offer a bit more consistency out of the No. 5 spot in the rotation. By all accounts, McCarthy seems like a smart guy who won’t be rattled by New York and should add a veteran presence to the clubhouse.

After all, the Yankees only had to give up Nuno to get him and the remainder of his salary isn’t so large that the Yankees had a financial issue with the move. And if McCarthy can just pitch a little better than Nuno – at the very least – it’ll be a positive trade.

McCarthy makes his first start on Wednesday.

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Athletics and Cubs kick off summer trade season

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Monday, June 23, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Oakland A’s and the Chicago Cubs made the first big trade of the 2014 season on Friday. Chicago sends two of its starting pitchers, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, out west for a big haul of prospects in Oakland’s Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Dan Straily and a player to be named later.

For Oakland, at 53-33 the best record in baseball, it’s a major sign that the A’s are in it to win it this year. For the Cubs, it’s another step in the rebuilding process. Off the bat, it seems like a win-win for both teams, although time will be the judge of that.

Samardzija, the former Notre Dame wide receiver, is 2-7 with a 2.83 ERA this season, although that won-loss record is more a factor of the Cubs’ poor offense and horrendous bullpen than it is of his talent. In 108 innings, Samardzija has allowed 99 hits, and struck out 103 against 31 walks. He’s the kind of No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher that Oakland needs at the top of its rotation in a tough playoff series.

Hammel is kind of a wily veteran in the middle of a career year. He’s 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA with 104 strikeouts, 23 walks and 88 hits allowed in 108 2/3 innings. Again, those numbers would probably be even better if he played for a team that gave him run support and had a bullpen that didn’t blow leads.

Adding these guys to the Oakland rotation should help the A’s hold on to their AL West division lead and will give them a big boost in a playoff series.

But the move certainly came at some long-term cost to Oakland. Hammel is a free agent at season’s end. Samardzija is under contract through the end of the 2015 season.

Oakland also gave up top prospect Addison Russell, a shortstop who’s at Double-A this summer. His rise to the majors won’t take long, although his path in Chicago is currently blocked by Starlin Castro. It’s quite possible the Cubs wind up flipping Russell for other assets before he ever dons a Cubs uniform.

McKinney, 19, is a long way from the bigs, as he’s currently playing in High-A this year. An outfielder, McKinney has some power potential with 10 home runs, 12 doubles and two triples through 75 games this season.

Straily is a pitcher with some major league experience and he was a strikeout machine on his way up through the minors. He’ll join Jake Arrieta as up-and-coming arms in the Cubs’ rotation.

The American League no longer looks up-for-grabs. The AL East is full of strong teams, but they’ve spent all season beating each other up. I would imagine the AL East race comes right down to the wire, so will any of those teams have anything left for October? The Tigers looked unbeatable coming out of spring training, but a down year from Justin Verlander dampens Detroit’s expectations for the postseason. Oakland figured to get plenty of competition from Texas this year, but a litany of injuries have made it a lost season for the Rangers. So this trade makes it look like the AL pennant is Oakland’s to lose.

Someday, the Cubs are going to be a team to contend with…but we’ve been hearing that just about as long as we’ve been hearing that soccer is America’s sport of the future. Still, Chicago is hoarding top prospects and could make a few more moves before the trade deadline later this month.

How does this relate to New York baseball?

Well, the Yankees had been hoping CC Sabathia would return at some point after the trade deadline. He’s been on the DL since mid-May with inflammation in his right knee. He made a rehab start in Trenton earlier this week, but was removed after 3 1/3 innings. A follow-up exam revealed lingering problems in the right knee and the Yankees appear set to shut down Sabathia for the rest of the season.

And perhaps the rest of his career.

With Ivan Nova already out for the year and Michael Pineda still no sure bet to return in 2014, either, the Yankees could certainly be in the market for starting pitchers later this month. They had been linked to both Samardzija and Hammel, but the Yankees just didn’t have the talented prospects to make a deal happen with the Cubs.

David Price, the Tampa Bay Rays ace, remains on the market, but he’ll demand an even greater haul than the Samardzija and Hammel duo. I’m not sure if Tampa Bay would be willing to trade him in the division, even if they got fair market value.

Really, what the Yankees do the rest of this month will tell you a great deal about what the front office thinks about this team. If the Yankees wind up picking up a No. 4 or No. 5 starter-type – or two – it’s the very minimal commitment to winning in 2014. A pitcher or two of that caliber might help the Yankees to a playoff berth, probably as the second Wild Card team, which means a one-game playoff on the road. Even if Tanaka starts that game, the Yankees would begin the divisional round in a major hole with Tanaka unavailable for a few days.

With such a poor offense – although that could conceivably turn around any time now – and an injury-riddled starting rotation, what the Yankees really need to be competitive in October makes for a long shopping list. Simply put, the Yankees don’t have the pieces in the farm system to make the major moves necessary to make this a playoff contender.

So what will the Yankees do as the trade deadline approaches? Will they find a way to make a big splash, even with a fairly thin farm system? Are they willing to sacrifice the future for the now? Or would they even consider becoming sellers at the deadline and trying to stock up the farm system for the point when Teixeira and Beltran and McCann aren’t around anymore?

Most likely, the Yankees make a few minor moves, addressing the rotation and second/third base. That keeps them in the race for a while, but it won’t make them any better for October, even if they do qualify for the postseason. And it won’t make the Yankees any for 2015 or beyond, either.

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Renegades rundown: June 29

In today’s Times Herald-Record, I had a piece on Hudson Valley Renegades second basemen Coty Blanchard and Jace Conrad. There’s no rivalry between these two players, however, as Blanchard was one of the first people to take Conrad under his wing when Conrad signed a pro contract earlier this month.

Here’s the link to the story.

The Renegades enter tonight’s game at Aberdeen tied with Brooklyn for the McNamara Division lead at 11-5. Staten Island is two games back at 9-7 and Aberdeen is already almost hopelessly behind at 1-15.

Hudson Valley opens July with eight straight games against Brooklyn and Staten Island, flip-flopping between Dutchess Stadium and the venues in New York. After that, they play Staten Island just twice and will not see Brooklyn again, so this is a crucial stretch of schedule coming up for Hudson Valley. The Renegades would have plenty of time to catch up if they fall behind in the division race, but without those head-to-head games, they’d just be hoping the other teams lose to really make up ground. So I think the Renegades’ playoff chances will hang in the balance of how the next week plays out.

Here’s a quick look at Hudson Valley’s statistical leaders prior to Sunday’s game.

Batting average: Coty Blanchard, .340, sixth in NY-PL

Home runs: Casey Gillaspie and Hunter Lockwood, 2 ea., t-10th (trailing State College’s Rowan Wick, who has 10 HRs in 16 games!)

RBI: Lockwood, 9, t-12th

Walks: Alec Sole, 9, t-9th

Stolen bases: Coty Blanchard, 7, t-1st (Bralin Jackson, Alec Sole and Elias Torres have 6 each, tied for third)

Wins: Isaac Gil, Nolan Gannon, Edgar Gomez and Josh Kimborowicz, 2 ea., t-2nd

Saves: Isaac Gil, 2, t-5th

Innings pitched: Nolan Gannon, 16, t-11th

Strikeouts: Enderson Franco, 19, t-3rd

WHIP: Nolan Gannon, 0.44, 1st

 

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Renegades rundown: June 23

Our weekly Renegades stories ran in Sunday’s paper. Here are the links.

First round draft pick Casey Gillaspie makes his pro debut this summer for Hudson Valley. For Gillaspie, he’s entering the family business.

Another of Hudson Valley’s power hitters, Hunter Lockwood, is off to a hot start this year. Two walkoffs in the team’s first games have helped developed chemistry for a clubhouse that’s a mix of fresh-out-of-college players and guys who have been together in the Rays’ system for a few years.

As for the team, Hudson Valley used another walkoff win on Sunday evening, beating Staten Island 4-3 in 11 innings. That helped boost the Renegades to 6-4 through their first 10 games. After winning four straight against Aberdeen to open the season, Hudson Valley lost three in a row to Brooklyn. The Renegades won two of three against Staten Island to close out the second week of the season.

In roster news, Tampa Bay has released first baseman John Alexander, who was in his second go-round with the Renegades this year. An 8th round pick out of high school in 2011, Alexander hit .232 with seven home runs in 521 minor league at-bats. With Gillaspie on the roster, the Renegades simply didn’t have space for another first baseman and Tampa Bay apparently hadn’t seen enough improvement from Alexander to keep him in the organization.

For more Hudson Valley Renegades coverage, check out the Times Herald-Record every Sunday.

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Renegades rundown: June 16

Hudson Valley Renegades' Hunter Lockwood (23) connects with a pitch during their home opener against the Aberdeen IronBirds at Dutchess Stadium on Friday, June 13, 2014.

 

The Hudson Valley Renegades’ first series of the season wraps up tonight with a game against McNamara Division rival Aberdeen. Before I take a look at the team’s performance so far, here’s a recap of the Renegades coverage we’ve had in the Times Herald-Record over the last few days. Click on the links for the full stories.

The 2014 season really could not have started better for the Hudson Valley Renegades.

On opening night, outfielder Hunter Lockwood hit a two-out, walkoff home run over the left center field fence in a 2-1 win over Aberdeen. That backed up a strong pitching performance by starter Hunter Wood (4 IP, 4 H, 6 K, 1 BB, 0 R).

On Saturday, the Renegades won in walkoff fashion yet again as Coty Blanchard singled in Elias Torres with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning. Lockwood hit his second home run of the season in the game. Enderson Franco started and gave up one unearned run on five hits over five innings, striking out six in the no-decision.

On Sunday, a 4-2 Renegades win, first round draft pick Casey Gillaspie hit his first professional home run. Orioles top prospect Dylan Bundy had pitched the first five innings for Aberdeen. Nolan Gannon gave up one hit and walked two and struck out two over five innings of work to earn the win for the Renegades.

For a team that’s a mish-mash of recently drafted college players and guys who have been together in extended spring training for a couple of months, the two walkoff wins to open the season must be huge team-building experiences. Those might go a long way in the Renegades competing for a New York-Penn League playoff spot throughout the summer.

Look for more coverage of the Renegades each and every Sunday in the Times Herald-Record and on www.recordonline.com.

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    Will Montgomery

    Will Montgomery covers boys' soccer, girls' basketball, boys' and girls' swimming and diving, boys' lacrosse and baseball (including the Hudson Valley Renegades) for Varsity845.com and the Times Herald-Record. Prior to joining the TH-R in November ... Read Full
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