Posts Tagged ‘Hunter Pence’

The Big Dealers, Thus Far . . .

Now that Josh Beckett has won his first game as a Dodger, maybe it’s a good idea to see how those involved in the biggest deals—non-waiver trade deadline and waiver deadline period alike—have done since pulling those triggers. We’ll list them by the major players who moved:

Ichiro Suzuki—Since becoming a Yankee, Ichiro’s played 37 games, scored nine runs, collected 35 hits including six doubles and (count ’em) three home runs. He’s racked a .310 OBP—55 points below his career average. He’s also -0.2 wins above a replacement player as a Yankee. As for the Yankees, since Ichiro joined them 23 July the Yankees have won 19 and lost 18, including one four-game winning streak and one four-game losing streak. The Mariners since the trade? 22 wins, 14 losses, including two stupefying winning streaks of seven and eight. Not to mention, immediately after Ichiro changed clubhouses (the Yankees were in town to play the Mariners when the deal was done) the Mariners reeled off a nine-of-twelve winning string that included the aforesaid seven-game winning streak.

Thus far, overall: The Marines only seem like a better team without Ichiro, but it’s really still too soon to tell for dead last certain. The Yankees have enough other problems (injuries for the most part) that you can’t really say they’ve been worse with or because of him than they would have been without him.

Not quite, not yet . . .

Zack Greinke—He became, arguably, the pitching star of the non-waiver deadline period once Cole Hamels signed that delicious extension with the Phillies, the Dodgers and Red Sox couldn’t yet pull a trigger on Beckett (the Dodgers were interested), the Rangers and the Red Sox couldn’t pull likewise, and Ryan Dempster’s dance between Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Texas drove everyone to drink. He hasn’t exactly been a saviour for the Angels since the deal: he’s 3-2 with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP, with one less strikeout per nine and his strikeouts-to-walks rate cut in half on the strikeout side.

Thus far, overall: He hasn’t exactly pitched like a horror, but you note that through this writing his ERA as an Angel is a full run higher than his career rate, and he’s been more prone to the long ball as an Angel thus far than he was in Milwaukee before the deal.

Ryan Dempster—He finally went to the Rangers at the non-waiver deadline’s eleventh hour. And the timing was fortuitous for the Rangers, since Neftali Feliz went down for the season practically in the same minute. Dempster’s 33-inning scoreless streak probably inflated his worth as the deadline approached, but he was still pitching reasonably well enough to win when the Rangers finally landed him. Since the deal? Dempster got dumped by the Angels in his first Rangers start (eight earned runs); he beat the Red Sox in his next start in spite of three unearned runs, then he got waxed for another eight earned runs by the Yankees following that.

Thus far, overall: Dempster rehorsed after that Yankee spankee; he’s won three straight starts and shrunk his season’s ERA to 2.87 since. Still, as a Ranger overall since the deal he’s got a 4-1 won-lost record but a whopping 4.58 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. His strikeouts per nine as a Ranger are impressive at 8.7, and if he’s indeed rehorsing himself overall it’s going to count big enough for the Rangers as the stretch drive reaches white heat levels.

Shane Victorino—The change of scenery hasn’t done him as much good as the Dodgers hoped when they landed him from the Phillies. As a Dodger, Victorino is hitting .248 with a .308 OBP—well below what he was doing in Philadelphia before the deal, and he wasn’t quite looking like his former All-Star self. Since Victorino suited up for the Dodgers, they’ve been 15-14.

Thus far, overall: Victorino hasn’t necessarily hurt the Dodgers, but they haven’t really been a better a team with him. Which has to hurt considering the Dodgers did slip into first place in the NL West for a spell not long after acquiring Victorino but have clung to second place with a 4.5 game deficit behind the Giants—whom they’ll play in two more series, including a regular season-ender, yet to come this season.

Decent return thus far . . .

Jonathan Broxton—The Reds already had one of baseball’s best bullpens when they bagged the former Dodger closer from the Royals. As a Red, Broxton’s been hurt by three shaky outings in ten assignments, so don’t be alarmed by that 5.00 ERA or 1.44 WHIP since he put on Reds fatigues. He has two wins and five holds to show for setting up Arnoldis Chapman. The Reds are really getting a very nice return on him.

Thus far overall: The Reds are 9-1 in games in which Broxton has pitched. He’s no team or pen killer just yet. And unless the Cardinals or the Pirates find a little September magic, you can all but hand the NL Central to them.

Hanley Ramirez—He came to the Dodgers before they landed Victorino. He looked like a classic change of scenery guy, since he’d all but worn out his welcome in Miami. As a Dodger, he’s been better than he was as a Marlin before the trade: he’d had a mere .322 OBP with the Fish this season, but since becoming a Dodger he’s swollen it to a .344, not quite to his career level .373 but well enough on the way. He’s being more selective at the plate and rediscovering his consistent enough power, with nine bombs, 17 of his 39 Dodger hits going for extra bases, all in 36 games.

Thus far, overall: With Ramirez the Dodgers have been 18-18. Don’t blame Ramirez, this one’s pretty much a team effort.

Hunter Pence—The Giants landed him right around the non-waiver deadline. He’s played thirty games with them since, with a .292 OBP, a .362 SLG, and 37 runs produced in those thirty games. He’s 0.2 WAR as a Giant, too.

Thus far, overall: Melky Cabrera’s suspension put a big cloud over the Giants when he went down midway through August. Without him, the Giants are 10-5. Keep that pace up and they can only win the NL West, assuming the Dodgers can’t rehorse in September. Since Pence joined them, the Giants are 18-11, and their longest losing streak over that period has been two games. So while you can’t necessarily argue that Pence is that much of a help to the Giants, he certainly hasn’t hurt them. If you’re 10-5 since your best hitter (reputedly) goes down under suspension, and you’re 18-11 overall since you picked up a Hunter Pence, you’ve sure got a terrific team.

(Come to think of it: If you’re 10-5 without Cabrera, who was fool enough to get bagged for actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances, why on earth would you want to screw with a team makeup that gets you that kind of performance otherwise and let him back in during the postseason, when he’s eligible to return? The Giants know better than most organisations what the PED issue can do to you. Here’s a grand opportunity to make a very big statement about that matter. It would also help remove that little gray cloud hovering around the return of two-time actual or alleged PEDaler Guillermo Mota, too . . .)

Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Punto—I mention those three alone because Carl Crawford won’t be back from Tommy John surgery until early in 2013. Gonzalez got off to the absolute right start when he suited up for the Dodgers after that laughing-all-the-way cross country flight from Boston that Saturday, hitting the second pitch he saw as a Dodger into the right field seats, on a day the Dodgers battered Miami.

That three-run bomb to introduce himself to Los Angeles has been his highlight thus far . . .

Unfortunately, the Dodgers are 2-5 since The Big Deal. Beckett’s first start as a Dodger wasn’t terrible, and his masterpiece against the Diamondbacks yesterday was much needed. He’s only given up four earned runs as a Dodger, and three were against the Rockies in his first start, not to mention he seems to have rediscovered his strikeout pitches for now. However, his WHIP in his two Dodger starts as been 1.39, which seems to indicate on the evidence thus far that you can hit him but he may still find a way to beat you. Gonzalez has played in eight games as a Dodger and, following that crowd-pleasing opener, has hit a mere .182 with a .250 OBP, though he has taken three walks, stolen a base, scored three runs, and only five of his 27 outs have been strikeouts—he’s making contact, but not getting much for it yet. Punto has only thirteen plate appearances since joining the Dodgers and you probably shouldn’t expect a big show out of that just yet, especially for a utilityman.

Thus far, overall: You can’t hang the Dodgers’ latest slippage on the three ex-Red Sox alone, or even remotely, just yet. How they do in September, when the Dodgers will really need them the most, should tell you more.

The A’s Pick a Shortstop Vet, and Other Picks and Pecks . . .

Looks like both sides of this deal got what they wanted: the Oakland Athletics, making a somewhat surprising pennant race stand, got their veteran shortstop, and the Arizona Diamondbacks finally made room for their preferred shortstop.

Drew—his rep took a hit when some questioned his rehab diligence . . .

The Snakes traded Stephen Drew to the A’s Monday night, after Drew passed through the waiver wire with only cursory nods, seemingly, from two contenders, the Detroit Tigers and the Los Angeles Angels, both of whom decided it wasn’t worth picking up the $2 million Drew’s owed through the season when, as Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal notes, he isn’t all that likely to make a big difference for Oakland down the stretch.

Drew missed almost a full year thanks to a broken ankle; he’d had 155 plate appearances and a .601 OPS to show for those at the time of the trade. The Diamondbacks—who were willing to unload him despite being only five out in the National League West—prefer Willie Bloomquist playing short. But the Snakes couldn’t make a non-waiver trade deadline deal involving Drew when they still had worries about Bloomquist’s back, Rosenthal notes. Now, however, Bloomquist is due to return Friday following a short stint on the disabled list.

The A’s must be hoping Drew regains the form in which he hit .291 with 76 extra-base hits four years ago. They must also be salivating that they could get him for a low-A infielder (Sean Jamieson), even if Drew proves a rental, knowing the Diamondbacks weren’t likely to be able to re-sign a guy with a $10 million mutual option for 2013 and/or a $1.35 million buyout.

Drew may have worn out his welcome in Arizona despite being a fan favourite. Principal owner Ken Kendrick, talking in June, wasn’t exactly overjoyed about his shortstop’s injury . . . or, apparently, his attitude:

You know, I’m going to be real direct about Stephen. I think Stephen should have been out there playing before now. And, frankly, I for one am disappointed. I’m going to be real candid and say I think Stephen and his representatives are more focused on where Stephen is going to be a year from now than going out and supporting the team that’s paying his salary. All you can do is hope that the player is treating the situation with integrity, and, frankly, we have our concerns.

Drew was a trade rumour subject for much of the non-waiver period, and Kendrick apparently wasn’t the only one questioning Drew’s rehab efforts. It helped to compromise Drew’s previous reputation for hard-nosed (not bullheaded) play with brains as much as brawn applied.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE JUNGLE . . .

Thanks for the memories . . . ?

IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE?—The Philadelphia Phillies aren’t going to let a little thing like having traded the man stop them from going ahead with Hunter Pence Bobblehead Night. They’ll pass out the statues—which were made before the season, never mind before the Phillies fell far enough out of the race to think about trading Pence (to the San Francisco Giants) in a payroll-cutting bid—tonight for the Phillies’ game against the Cincinnati Reds.

DUI DUMMY—That would be Michael Pineda, alleged to be a New York Yankee pitcher (he’s been out all season thus far, following his trade from Seattle, rehabbing an injured shoulder), getting bagged in the wee small hours of Monday in Tampa. It took $500 to spring him on bail.

Skeetish about a comeback . . .

ROCKET FOOL?—Roger Clemens is back in uniform—the Rocket signed with the independent Sugarland Skeeters (Atlantic League) Monday. It might be mad fun to speculate on whether it means (yet another) major league comeback (he’d beat Jamie Moyer for being the oldest man to pitch in a major league uniform, for one thing), but my favourite observation comes from ESPN Insider’s Dan Symborski:

My first reaction was happiness at the possibility that we’d get to delay an unpleasant Hall of Fame argument surrounding the Rocket for an additional five years. My second reaction was amusement that given the state of Houston’s rotation, which looks a bit like supermarket shelves the day before a blizzard, he would actually be an upgrade on a few of the pitchers being trotted out at the moment.

That’s bound to leave the proverbial mark . . .

SPEEDY RECOVERY—To Michael Weiner, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, who’s undergoing treatment for a brain tumour in New York. The MLBPA said Weiner began treatment Monday and will undergo the treatment for a month.

BOSTON CLEANUP?—Some think the Red Sox’s beheading of pitching coach Bob McClure may actually portend the beginning of a serious cleanup. McClure, who wasn’t exactly Bobby Valentine’s man as pitching coach, will be succeeded in the interim by Randy Niemann, whom Valentine has known since their days with the Mets, when Niemann was bullpen coach and rehab pitching coordinator under Valentine. Unloading McClure could be taken as a show of support for the embattled Valentine . . . or (since bench coach Tim Bogar and catching coach Gary Tuck—both of whom aren’t exactly Valentine allies—remain intact), it could be taken as the beginning of a wholesale cleanup that may well wait until season’s end, especially if the Red Sox a) aren’t willing to take the interim tag off Niemann; and, b) are yet considering Valentine’s walking papers considering the seasonal turmoil to which he’s contributed a little too much.

The A's Pick a Shortstop Vet, and Other Picks and Pecks . . .

Looks like both sides of this deal got what they wanted: the Oakland Athletics, making a somewhat surprising pennant race stand, got their veteran shortstop, and the Arizona Diamondbacks finally made room for their preferred shortstop.

Drew—his rep took a hit when some questioned his rehab diligence . . .

The Snakes traded Stephen Drew to the A’s Monday night, after Drew passed through the waiver wire with only cursory nods, seemingly, from two contenders, the Detroit Tigers and the Los Angeles Angels, both of whom decided it wasn’t worth picking up the $2 million Drew’s owed through the season when, as Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal notes, he isn’t all that likely to make a big difference for Oakland down the stretch.

Drew missed almost a full year thanks to a broken ankle; he’d had 155 plate appearances and a .601 OPS to show for those at the time of the trade. The Diamondbacks—who were willing to unload him despite being only five out in the National League West—prefer Willie Bloomquist playing short. But the Snakes couldn’t make a non-waiver trade deadline deal involving Drew when they still had worries about Bloomquist’s back, Rosenthal notes. Now, however, Bloomquist is due to return Friday following a short stint on the disabled list.

The A’s must be hoping Drew regains the form in which he hit .291 with 76 extra-base hits four years ago. They must also be salivating that they could get him for a low-A infielder (Sean Jamieson), even if Drew proves a rental, knowing the Diamondbacks weren’t likely to be able to re-sign a guy with a $10 million mutual option for 2013 and/or a $1.35 million buyout.

Drew may have worn out his welcome in Arizona despite being a fan favourite. Principal owner Ken Kendrick, talking in June, wasn’t exactly overjoyed about his shortstop’s injury . . . or, apparently, his attitude:

You know, I’m going to be real direct about Stephen. I think Stephen should have been out there playing before now. And, frankly, I for one am disappointed. I’m going to be real candid and say I think Stephen and his representatives are more focused on where Stephen is going to be a year from now than going out and supporting the team that’s paying his salary. All you can do is hope that the player is treating the situation with integrity, and, frankly, we have our concerns.

Drew was a trade rumour subject for much of the non-waiver period, and Kendrick apparently wasn’t the only one questioning Drew’s rehab efforts. It helped to compromise Drew’s previous reputation for hard-nosed (not bullheaded) play with brains as much as brawn applied.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE JUNGLE . . .

Thanks for the memories . . . ?

IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE?—The Philadelphia Phillies aren’t going to let a little thing like having traded the man stop them from going ahead with Hunter Pence Bobblehead Night. They’ll pass out the statues—which were made before the season, never mind before the Phillies fell far enough out of the race to think about trading Pence (to the San Francisco Giants) in a payroll-cutting bid—tonight for the Phillies’ game against the Cincinnati Reds.

DUI DUMMY—That would be Michael Pineda, alleged to be a New York Yankee pitcher (he’s been out all season thus far, following his trade from Seattle, rehabbing an injured shoulder), getting bagged in the wee small hours of Monday in Tampa. It took $500 to spring him on bail.

Skeetish about a comeback . . .

ROCKET FOOL?—Roger Clemens is back in uniform—the Rocket signed with the independent Sugarland Skeeters (Atlantic League) Monday. It might be mad fun to speculate on whether it means (yet another) major league comeback (he’d beat Jamie Moyer for being the oldest man to pitch in a major league uniform, for one thing), but my favourite observation comes from ESPN Insider’s Dan Symborski:

My first reaction was happiness at the possibility that we’d get to delay an unpleasant Hall of Fame argument surrounding the Rocket for an additional five years. My second reaction was amusement that given the state of Houston’s rotation, which looks a bit like supermarket shelves the day before a blizzard, he would actually be an upgrade on a few of the pitchers being trotted out at the moment.

That’s bound to leave the proverbial mark . . .

SPEEDY RECOVERY—To Michael Weiner, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, who’s undergoing treatment for a brain tumour in New York. The MLBPA said Weiner began treatment Monday and will undergo the treatment for a month.

BOSTON CLEANUP?—Some think the Red Sox’s beheading of pitching coach Bob McClure may actually portend the beginning of a serious cleanup. McClure, who wasn’t exactly Bobby Valentine’s man as pitching coach, will be succeeded in the interim by Randy Niemann, whom Valentine has known since their days with the Mets, when Niemann was bullpen coach and rehab pitching coordinator under Valentine. Unloading McClure could be taken as a show of support for the embattled Valentine . . . or (since bench coach Tim Bogar and catching coach Gary Tuck—both of whom aren’t exactly Valentine allies—remain intact), it could be taken as the beginning of a wholesale cleanup that may well wait until season’s end, especially if the Red Sox a) aren’t willing to take the interim tag off Niemann; and, b) are yet considering Valentine’s walking papers considering the seasonal turmoil to which he’s contributed a little too much.

Got Melk—Under Drug Testing Program, That Is

This is just what the San Francisco Giants don’t need, though it probably did the Washington Nationals—who just squared off against the Giants in San Francisco—a small favour: Melky Cabrera, the MVP of this year’s All-Star Game, suspended fifty games for a positive testosterone test.

The announcement came practically on the heels of the Giants announcing contract talks with Cabrera would go on hold until season’s end. Cabrera, of course, was enjoying a very respectable walk year, with a .906 OPS and a National League-leading 156 hits, 51 of which came in May alone (tying Randy Winn’s team record for any month, and breaking Willie Mays’ team record for May, since the Giants came to San Francisco in the first place), a significant factor in the Giants at this writing sitting tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West.

Got melked by a positive testosterone test . . .

Cabrera’s suspension begins at once. If the Giants get to the postseason, those games will be included as part of Cabrera’s suspension. If they don’t, Cabrera will finish serving the sentence at the open of the 2013 regular season.

Give Cabrera credit for this much: He ducked nothing and manned up at once when handed his sentence. “My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used. I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organisation, and to the fans for letting them down,” he said in a formal statment.

The Giants landed Cabrera in the off-season in a swap that sent Jonathan Sanchez (P) to the Kansas City Royals. He signed a single-year deal with the Giants rather than go to salary arbitration.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE JUNGLE . . .

CONTINUING THE CUB SHUFFLE—Theo Epstein’s work on remaking/remodeling the Cubs continued Wednesday with the execution of Oneri Fleita as vice president of player personnel. “All of us with the Cubs owe Oneri a debt of gratitude for his tremendous service to the organization over many years. Oneri has impacted countless people here in a positive way, and we wish him well as he continues his career elsewhere,” said Epstein in a statement. Fleita had been in the Cubs’ organisation since 1995; he was actually given a four-year contract extension in 2011, before Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer were brought aboard. The Cubs also canned manager of baseball information Chuck Wasserstrom, who’d been with the Cubs for 25 years; and, reassigned statistical analysis manager Ari Kaplan to become a consultant to owner Tom Ricketts.

THE BOSTON BRISTLE, CONTINUED—Boston Red Sox principal owner John Henry says none of the players who wanted to meet with the brass in that July New York sit-down actually called for manager Bobby Valentine’s execution. Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports—whose colleague, Jeff Passan, wrote the article that launched this week’s  hoo-ha over the meeting—argues that, whatever you do or don’t think about Valentine’s style vis a vis a rickety Red Sox clubhouse, Henry must tell one and all that Valentine’s his man through the end of his contract (it expires after 2013, specifically) at least, “that employees do not fire managers.”

Tell everyone this isn’t working because bad contracts and worse attitudes have fouled the place, but will not any longer. Tell them that it will be addressed this winter, that the talented [general manager Ben] Cherington is under orders to see to it, no matter the cost in discarded mistakes and malcontents. Now what? Tell them none of this will be tolerated any longer. 

That’s a pretty point. But what do you say about a manager who, yes, walked into a fragile enough situation to begin with—and after assorted Red Sox brass, perhaps unaware of what other assorted Red Sox brass thought, told assorted Red Sox players last winter that the divide-and-conquer Valentine wasn’t even a blip on their managerial radar—chose almost from the outset to inflame rather than inspire his players?

Will John Henry’s hammer drop on Bobby V., his rickety clubhouse, or both . . .?

It wasn’t the players who threw Kevin Youkilis under the proverbial bus right out of the chute, questioning his heart in hand with his physical condition, possibly as revenge for Youkilis, supposedly, being the one who dropped the proverbial dime on the chicken-and-beer contingency of last September. (Enough say that was the precise moment Valentine lost much of his clubhouse.)

It wasn’t the players who filled out the wrong lineup card against the Minnesota Twins shortly after the Youkilis yak—though it was one player (catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia) who caught the blunder in time enough for its correction.

It wasn’t the players who made a starter out of setup man Daniel Bard only to learn the hard way Bard would be in over his head in that role.

It wasn’t the players who finked on now-traded Kelly Shoppach, who took his complaint about playing time to Valentine for a private discussion about it.

It wasn’t the players who took poor Will Middlebrooks’s “nice inning, kid” barb from Valentine public. (Though it may have been one player, post-Tommy John patient John Lackey, out for the season while he recuperates from the procedure, who took that remark to Henry privately. Emphasis on “privately.” Lackey may have his troubles otherwise, but he wasn’t looking to make a press pump out of it.)

It wasn’t the players who betrayed Clay Buchholz’s private request for an extra day’s rest and threw in a subtle implication that Buchholz’s heart, too, should be deemed suspect.

It wasn’t the players who decided Jon Lester absolutely needed to stay in, on a day he clearly didn’t have it, for an eleven-run beating from which no one could find anyone to step in for him before it got past a five-run first-inning flogging.

And it wasn’t the players who told the Boston Herald, ““I hear a lot of (players) say, ‘Why doesn’t anybody talk about this other team like that? Why don’t they talk about anyone else?’ I just say, ‘It’s just because this is who we are. We’re the Red Sox.’ And maybe it’s because of who I am, too. They have to understand, I’m here. There’s going to be a lot of bullets thrown my way, and they can become collateral damage.”

The Red Sox players aren’t quite innocent. But if Henry were to heed Brown and deputise Cherington to clean house, the housecleaning probably has to include the manager, too. If Valentine has a few too many of the wrong players to lead, high-priced or otherwise, a few too many of the right players (high-priced or otherwise) have the wrong manager to lead them. And what would make someone think that cleaning out the Red Sox clubhouse would give the divide-and-conquer Valentine a better shake at anything . . .  other than possibly blowing up a cleaner clubhouse, perhaps while shrugging that off as just a case of collateral damage from the “bullets” thrown his way?

Valentine has his talents as a manager. Unfortunately, they’re not suited for just any old place. And Boston, for better or worse, isn’t just any old place.

ABOUT THOSE TRADE-DEADLINE PICKUPS—In a word, says SweetSpot’s David Schoenfeld, they’ve been duds thus far, to a considerable extent:

Ryan Dempster—After all the hoopla about where he’d go (or want to go), before he finally consented to go to Texas, Dempster as a Ranger has been nuked for 19 runs in 17 1/3 innings in three starts, two of which saw him reached for eight runs each.

Anibal Sanchez—As a Tiger, he’s been a pussycat: 1-3, 7.97 ERA since going to Detroit, 19 runs in 20.1 innings, and by the way he got lit up Monday, too.

Zack Greinke—Until he beat the Indians Tuesday night, Greinke came off a five-walk game and the Angels hadn’t won in his previous three starts since joining them.

Hunter Pence—Struggling when the Phillies dealt him to the Giants in the first place, Pence through Tuesday had a .445 OPS.

Ichiro Suzuki—The good news: He’s been a better Yankee than Mariner this season. The bad news: He’s not exactly pushing the Empire Emeritus closer to the top.

Jonathan Broxton—In four innings with Cincinnati, he’s burped up four runs. Not to mention one loss and one blown save in one of his gigs.

The good news? Hanley Ramirez isn’t putting up a better OPS in Los Angeles than he did in Miami, but he has driven in eighteen runs since joining the Dodgers. Omar Infante (to the Tigers) and Shane Victorino (to the Dodgers) are doing well in their new environs. Chris Johnson also has eighteen ribs since joining the Diamondbacks. And Paul Maholm, not exactly the most glittering name on the non-waiver trade block, has allowed only three runs in his first two Atlanta starts, building himself to a total of eight runs in his previous eight starts.

The Giants Sing a Song of Hunter Pence

They won’t be doing this with each other anymore: Hunter Pence (r.) will be doing it against Shane Victorino (l.), now that Pence is a Giant and Victorino, a Dodger . . .

Now we’re rolling. The Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants have finished a deal to send Hunter Pence to the Giants for major league-established outfielder Nate Schierholtz and two prospects, catcher Tommy Joseph and pitcher Seth Rosin. (Now, there’s a name for a pitcher!)

The Giants were looking for an upgrade in the lineup and in the outfield, which Pence—who’s signed through this season and could earn over $13 million in 2013—would bring with the 17 homers and 59 RBI he has so far in 2012. The deal comes right on the tail of the Phillies sending Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

For Pence, it’s his second non-waiver deadline move in as many seasons: the Phillies landed him near the deadline last year from the team named later to complete the deal that sent the Milwaukee Brewers to the National League.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are said to have stopped all talk involving trading Cliff Lee despite Lee’s struggling. The Texas Rangers, whom Lee helped lead to a World Series in 2010, were thought to be interested in bringing him back, but various reports point to the Rangers not wanting to surrender quite the package the Phillies sought in return even if the Rangers were willing to work with the Phillies on Lee’s remaining salary.

The Phillies aren’t looking (yet) for a downright organisational overhaul, but they are trying to rehorse for a run in 2013 after injuries and inconsistencies drove them to the bottom of the National League East this season. At this writing, the Phillies are still said to be in serious discussion with the Baltimore Orioles on a deal to send the Orioles pitcher Joe Blanton, with the Orioles going far enough to request a look at Blanton’s medical records. Blanton would be just one move for the Orioles; they’re said to be looking for bullpen help as well.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE JUNGLE . . .

EMPIRICAL MOVES?—The New York Yankees aren’t being as quiet as a lot of people thought in the past fortnight, the Ichiro Suzuki deal to the contrary: they’re now said to have eyes for Ryan Dempster while possibly looking for a little third base help with Alex Rodriguez down for the count for six weeks at least. San Diego’s Chase Headley—whom most analysts think the Padres must move if they want to get rebuilding in earnest—is thought to be on the Yankee radar. What might make the Yankees think they have a shot at Dempster, who’s being pretty finicky in invoking his no-trade clause? Easy enough: Two men Dempster respects, former Cubs GM Jim Hendry and former Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild, are in the Yankee organisation now. However, a few reports indicate the Yankees and Cubs are merely talking—for now.

TEXAS SHIELDS?—At this writing, it’s believed the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays are talking about Rays pitcher James Shields, formerly thought to be on the Los Angeles Angels’ radar until they pulled the proverbial trigger on the Zack Greinke deal. Right now, that’s all it is, according to a few reports: talking.

SNAKES IN THE GRASS?—The Arizona Diamondbacks may be making a move in their quest to land a major league-established starting pitcher: they’re said to have pulled minor league pitching prospect Patrick Corbin from a scheduled start in Sacramento (AAA), indicating a possible deal in the works in which Corbin would be included, though nobody’s saying just whom the Snakes have as their target. On the other hand, it’s also possible that they could move a major league starter (as yet unnamed) in a deal. The Diamondbacks are widely thought to be trying to move two other players, infielder Stephen Drew and outfielder Justin Upton.

UH-OH . . . There’s a snag in the speculation on Ryan Dempster as a Dodger target. Fox’s Ken Rosenthal tweets it this way: the Dodgers’ position “is that they have made deals without moving any of top 7-8 prospects. Will not move any of them for rental like Dempster.” Which could mean the Dodgers may back away from Dempster unless there’s a fair chance they can sign him beyond his current deal that expires at season’s end.

Victorino to the Dodgers: The Trade Winds at 5.5 Hours to Go . . .

One of the signatures of the Philadephia Phillies’ former grip on the National League East is departing, according to Fox Sports. The network says Shane Victorino was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers Monday for relief pitcher Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher Ethan Martin, whose name was raised earlier during conversations with the Chicago Cubs regarding Ryan Dempster.

Victorino returns to his first organisation . . .

The network quotes an unidentified source as saying the Dodgers for now are thinking, “Damn the money, make the club better,” as the Dodgers continue a push in the National League West. For Victorino it’s a sort-of homecoming: he was originally a Dodger draft (1999), but the Dodgers lost him twice in Rule 5 minor league drafts and he eventually haunted his first organisation in postseason play, helping beat them in 2008 and 2009—and triggering a bench-clearing when Hiroki Kuroda dusted him during the 2008 League Championship Series.

Victorino is a two-time All-Star with 40 runs batted in in 2012. He’s thought to have faded somewhat this season but he’s still only 31 and, according to the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers think he still has plenty of upside left for them, if you listen to general manager Ned Colletti.

We’re excited to add an All-Star caliber player with postseason experience. He plays the game with passion, gives us a top of the order bat from both sides of the plate, can steal bases and is solid defensively in the outfield.

Victorino has 24 stolen bases and came off a 2011 in which he scored 95 runs and led the National League with 16 triples.

What did the Phillies get for him? Martin is a starter who’s considered just about major league ready but the Dodgers have a decent rotation behind Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley; Lindblom has established himself as a solid enough late-inning relief option with a 3.02 ERA thus far in 48 2012 games.

The Phillies were said to have been listening to offers for Victorino from the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates as well, both of which NL Central contenders were said to be as weak in the leadoff spot as the Dodgers. Sports Illustrated noted the Reds might have felt the Phillies’ return demand might have been too high. On the Phillies’ part, unloading Victorino and/or Hunter Pence could free up some salary space, bring in a prospect, and possibly get them back in the NL East hunts for 2013. (Of course, possibly moving Cliff Lee would do even more in that regard.)

The Reds are at the bottom of the Show in batting average from the leadoff spot (.203) and on-base percentage (.248). With Victorino gone, the Reds may set their sights instead on Juan Pierre (also with the Phillies) or Minnesota’s Denard Span, but they may not want to give up a pitcher to get Span. The Pirates, on the other hand, merely need help in the lineup, especially in the outfield where Andrew McCutchen now seems like a one-man show, since they fixed their biggest problem when they landed Wandy Rodriguez from the completely-rebuilding Houston Astros.

Speaking of Dempster, the Dodgers are still thought to be interested in landing the veteran righthander whose scoreless innings streak ramped his value to his personal all-time high. Dempster himself has vetoed a potential deal to the Atlanta Braves, who need to shore up their rotation for a final postseason push, and the issue seems to come down to just what the Dodgers will have to send the Cubs to get him.

The Cubs, for their part, need to move Dempster in favour of continuing a rebuilding effort that began when they brought in Theo Epstein to run the organisation. They’ve already moved veterans Geovanny Soto (C) and Paul Maholm (P) for some attractive prospects.

What makes Dempster so attractive other than his apparent career year this year? To those who dismiss him as a mere .500 pitcher, here says SI’s Jay Jaffe: “Dempster has been a guy who has averaged 200 innings a year while striking out 8.2 per nine, with an ERA 17 percent better than league average. That’s a solid 2-3 starter. He’s not going to maintain that 2.25 ERA, but he should still be a help to the Dodgers, and he’ll command a pretty penny this winter.”

The Phlippin' Phillies?

The Philadelphia Phillies look to be major sellers after all, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, who says teams talking to the Phillies are girding their loins for the Phillies possibly making as many as three deals aimed at beginning a transitional rebuilding of the club that had the National League East in a five-year headlock.

The possiblities, says Stark: the Cincinnati Reds making a play for Juan Pierre; the Los Angeles Dodgers having an inside track on landing Shane Victorino; and, the Baltimore Orioles, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Toronto Blue Jays circling for a possibly play at Joe Blanton.

Victorino: Going down, going out?

The realities, Stark continues: The Phillies would want a ready bullpen arm if they pull the trigger on Victorino, but they might also want a younger center fielder in a deal since they have concerns about whom in their organisation could step in for the aging Victorino. They may, Stark notes, think about asking for Tony Gwynn, Jr. in a Dodger deal.

The motives: Getting under the luxury tax as well as reconstituing a fading veteran team.

The peripheries: Stark thinks Blanton is likelier to be moved in August, while Hunter Pence—whose name remains in the trade winds approaching the non-waiver deadline—is likelier to leave after the season, giving the Phillies room to ensure themselves for outfield replacements.

On the other hand, several sources are cited by MLBTradeRumors.com as reporting the Orioles have received Blanton’s medical records from the Phillies after keeping a close enough eye on the pitcher since spring training. What the Phillies might ask for Blanton: a major league ready utility player or a middle relief prospect.

And, regarding the possible Cliff Lee move, if it’s the Texas Rangers who want to make him a prodigal the Phillies may be likely to ask for a glandular package—third base prize Mike Olt, a young outfielder, and at least two young, top pitching prospects. Which could scotch any Lee deal before it takes on wings, just as clubs interested in San Diego third baseman Chase Headley were told he’s off the market because the packages offered for him weren’t to the Padres’ satisfaction.

Only Fox Sports isn’t all that sure Lee’s going to move. Ken Rosenthal tweeted the Phillies didn’t offer a lot of contract relief regarding Lee for the package they might be demanding to trade the lefthander.