How J.D. Martinez Rose from Division II Obscurity, MLB Reject to Elite Superstar

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MINNEAPOLIS — Descending the stairway into Hell’s Kitchen, hungry souls walk past a brick wall seared with stern warnings: “No Whining.” “No Complaining.” “No Surly Attitudes.”

When Boston slugger J.D. Martinez is in town, nfl wholesale jerseys this trendy, Goth-y Twin Cities eatery boasting “Damn Fine Food” and an edgy attitude is his go-to place. As Martinez settles into a back table for a late-morning brunch on this June day, flames from his hot bat lick the MLB leaderboards: He leads the majors in RBI (55) and ranks second in both homers (22) and total bases (167).

Martinez comes for the food—the lemon ricotta hotcakes are “the bomb” (he’s correct)—and he’s also come on this day to talk about his career, which has had its own delicious twists.

In the four seasons from 2014 to ’17, Martinez ranked second in the majors in slugging percentage (.574), seventh in OPS (.936) and eighth in at-bat/home run ratio (15.1).

And yet…he attracted zero interest from any Division nfl jerseys from china  I schools out of high school, was drafted 611th overall in 2009 and was outright released by the Houston Astros in 2014.

From there, though, he has hit as well as almost anyone in the majors.

Though he played in the shadow of Miguel Cabrera official nfl jerseys cheap  in Detroit and Paul Goldschmidt in Arizona, in the first four seasons after his release, only five players in the majors recorded an OPS of at least .900 against both right-handed pitchers and lefties: Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Kris Bryant, Goldschmidt and, yes, Martinez.

And yet…when he stepped into a frigid free-agent market this past winter, Martinez, 30, was iced out until after spring training had already started, signing with the Red Sox on Feb. 26. And the $200 million that many in the industry figured he would earn melted away into a five-year, $110 million deal that places him behind, among others, Jason Heyward (Cubs), Chris Davis (Orioles) and Robinson Cano (Mariners) in average annual salary.nfl authentic jerseys

“When it was all happening, my mom said it: ‘Did you expect anything else?'” Martinez says. “I was like, ‘Nope.'”nfl authentic jerseys cheap

So she asked, what are you worried about then, J.D.? Her son took a breath, surveyed the landscape and told her, nope, not only did he not expect anything else, but he wasn’t worried, either.

Baltimore Orioles: They’ll Have to Sell Low on Zach Britton

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The Orioles are going to find a taker for Machado. They should for other rentals too, such as Adam Jones and Brad Brach.

Moving fellow rental Zach Britton, however,nfl jerseys from china  will be more difficult than they probably anticipated.

Britton isn’t far removed from being the most dominant relief pitcher in baseball. Between 2014 and 2016, he racked up a 1.38 ERA and permitted just a .493 OPS. He was subsequently limited to 38 appearances in 2017, and a ruptured Achilles tendon kept him out until June 12 this year.

Britton has struggled since he returned to the mound. His 4.26 ERA isn’t the half of it, as his ground-ball percentage and strikeout-to-walk rate have also cratered.

Throw in a $12 million salary, and Britton’s value is basically kaput. If the Orioles can’t attach him to a Machado deal, they probably won’t do much better than a salary-dump trade when they move him. official nfl jerseys cheap

With Christian Vazquez set to miss 6-to-8 weeks with a broken pinky, the Boston Red Sox may want to pursue a catcher on the trade market. Somebody like, say, Miami Marlins All-Star J.T. Realmuto.

In reality, the Red Sox are likely to settle for one of Miami’s relievers: Drew Steckenrider.nfl authentic jerseys

The Red Sox have been in contact with the Marlins about their late-inning relievers, according to Morosi. Kyle Barraclough is the best of the bunch, but his price tag is likely too steep for Boston.

Steckenrider, 27, is a lesser option on the surface, but he has a skill the Red Sox could covet. He’s owned right-handed batters to the tune of a .465 OPS. Thus, he would be a major postseason weapon against the right-handed sluggers of the New York Yankees and Houston Astros.

As a bonus, the Red Sox would control him through 2023.

The Chicago Cubs should look to buy at the trade deadline.

Their immediate goal is to catch the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, after all, and they’re not without their needs. The biggest is in their rotation, which is missing Yu Darvish and is being held back by Tyler Chatwood.nfl authentic jerseys cheap

And yet, the Cubs’ plus-105 run differential hints at the team’s upside for the second half. And if Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana start pitching up to their track records, suddenly their rotation needs won’t look as dire.nfl jersey wholesale

There are also practical matters to consider. The Cubs are limited in both prospects and luxury-tax wiggle room. By virtue of these things, they’re going to have trouble making impact trades even if they want to.

So when the time comes, it won’t be surprising to see the Cubs stand pat.

Deal or No Deal: MLB Trade Predictions 2 Weeks from the Deadline

Anything could happen in these last couple of weeks before Major League Baseball’s July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

As for what will happen, we have a few ideas.wholesale nfl jerseys

What follows is one trade-deadline prediction for each of MLB’s 30 teams. These are strictly speculative, but nonetheless based on reported rumors and the general realities of each squad.

We’ll go in alphabetical order by city.

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As they seek their first National League West title since 2011, the Arizona Diamondbacks have their sights set on Manny Machado.nfl jerseys wholesale

According to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, Arizona has already made the Baltimore Orioles an offer that supposedly ranks second among the ones they’ve received for the slugging shortstop.

The field is a crowded one, however, and the D-backs are disadvantaged in a bidding war. They’re short on top prospects, and the best of theirs (RHP Jon Duplantier) was recently shut down with biceps tendinitis.

The Diamondbacks will need an impact bat even if they miss out on Machado. The best pivot they could make would be to a different rental infielder: breakout Minnesota Twins star Eduardo Escobar. He’s racked up an .844 OPS and 51 extra-base hits while playing shortstop and third base.

Call it a hunch, but they’ll ultimately make that pivot.

If the Atlanta Braves want to outlast the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals to win the NL East, they must address their bullpen.nfl jerseys china

Atlanta’s pen has come undone with a 5.38 ERA over the last 30 days. Although there’s nothing it doesn’t need, a tried-and-true relief ace is the best it can shoot for.

According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Braves’ focus is on relievers who are controlled beyond 2018. Among the players on that list, none suits them better than Brad Hand.

The two-time All-Star owns a 2.63 ERA and a rate of 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings since 2015. He’s also signed for cheap through 2021.nfl wholesale jerseys

Of course, the San Diego Padres will need a serious offer in order to give up Hand. The Braves, however, have plenty of prospects. It wouldn’t be shocking if they gave up a few to get a guy who would stabilize their bullpen for this year and beyond.

MLB’s Most Dominant Pitcher Isn’t Even an Ace or a Closer

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There are 440 pitchers in Major League Baseball with no more than two wins and no more than six saves thus far in 2018. They are neither ace starters nor shutdown closers. They are the Everypitcher.

Except, of course,nfl jerseys cheap wholesale  for the guy who’s allowing the lowest OPS of any left-hander ever and striking out batters at a higher rate than any pitcher ever (minimum 30 innings).

If you haven’t already, meet Josh Hader.

The 24-year-old lefty has been working out of the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen since last June. And one swing and miss at a time, he’s rapidly progressed from an intriguing oddity into a likely All-Star with a growing reputation as MLB’s best relief pitcher. nfl jersey cheap wholesale

All Hader has done in 2018 is rack up a 1.13 ERA and, as noted above, overwhelm hitters to the tune of 18 strikeouts per nine innings and a microscopic .363 OPS allowed. He typically dominates them in bunches, as he’s squeezed 40 innings out of just 25 appearances.

Hader wasn’t necessarily destined for a role like this. He was starting games for the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox as recently as last June, at which time he was still rated as a top pitching prospect.wholesale cheap nfl jerseys

But with a 5.37 ERA and a rate of 5.4 walks per nine innings to his name, what Baseball America had written about him was ringing true: “Hader has front-line starter’s stuff but must improve his changeup and control to reach his ceiling.”

Instead, the Brewers made the call to promote Hader as a reliever.

And like Andrew Miller before him, he didn’t resist his team’s attempt to turn him into a new-age fireman who’s ready, willing and able to get as many outs as needed whenever they’re needed. He authored a fitting preamble to what he’s done in 2018: a 2.08 ERA over 47.2 innings in 35 appearances. nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“A big key to Josh is that he’s open to what’s best for the team,” Brewers general manager David Stearns told ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle in May. “He came up here and adapted to that [middle relief] role very well, and he enjoys that role.authentic nfl jerseys cheap wholesale  If tomorrow we asked him to go back to starter, he’d do that and enjoy that role. He’s a guy who really will take to any task.”

Does Robinson Cano’s 80-Game Suspension Put Surefire-HOFer Resume Up in Smoke?

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Robinson Cano’s path may still lead him to Cooperstown in the end, but it just got a lot less direct.

With eight All-Star appearances and a laundry list of statistical feats under his proverbial belt, the Seattle Mariners’ veteran second baseman entered Tuesday as a fairly surefire future Hall of Famer. But he’s exiting the day with a black mark that promises to throw that into question for years to come.

Major League Baseball announced that Cano has been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for Furosemide, a banned substance. In a statement posted to social media, the 35-year-old acknowledged the suspension and offered his side of the story:cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The key passage reads: “This substance was given to me by a licensed doctor in the Dominican Republic to treat a medical ailment. While I did not realize at the time that I was given a medication that was banned, I obviously now wish that I had been more careful.”

Anyone with access to WebMD can look up that Furosemide does indeed have benefits as a medical treatment. Among the ailments it’s used to treat is high blood pressure. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com heard from a source that it was exactly that which necessitated Cano’s using it.

Even still, this is one for the file labeled “That’s Not Gonna Fly.”cheap nfl nike jersey

Furosemide is banned by both MLB (and the World Anti-Doping Agency) because it’s a diuretic that can be used as a masking agent for performance-enhancing drugs. Per stipulations in the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the league only needed to prove that this is why Cano was using it.

The timing was right for Cano to give up the fight. He was already due to be sidelined for a while with a broken hand that he suffered Sunday. He’s going to kill two birds with one stone by serving his suspension while he’s also recovering from his injury.

The Mariners will miss him, though. Cano had been hitting .287 with an .825 OPS. In light of the team’s starting pitching issues, that offense was extremely valuable. Not having it for 80 games could end up costing the Mariners their first trip to the postseason since 2001.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Even if they get there, Cano won’t be joining them. The rules state he has to sit October out, too.

At least the Mariners will save about $12 million out of Cano’s $24 nike nfl jerseys cheap china million salary. Alas, they’re only going to be halfway through his 10-year, $240 million deal when this season is over. That second half now looks even more iffy than it already did relative to Cano’s age and up-and-down production.

Matt Harvey Throws 4 Shutout Innings as Starter vs. Dodgers in Reds Debut

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Matt Harvey’s Cincinnati Reds debut was nearly perfect.nfl jerseys for cheap

After being designated for assignment by the New York Mets and subsequently traded earlier this week, the right-hander made his first start in a Reds uniform against the reigning National League champs on Friday night. He couldn’t have made a much better first impression.

The only hit he allowed was fluky. Reds right fielder Scott Schebler lost a fly ball in the sky with one out in the second inning, and the ball fell between him and center fielder Billy Hamilton for a triple. That turned out to be the only baserunner the newest Red would allow on the night. He was pulled after throwing 55 pitches in four innings.

The way Harvey was cruising through Dodgers hitters, not allowing many hard-hit balls, some may have been surprised to see such a quick hook. However, this was his first start since May 3, and he had not thrown more than 35 pitches in a start since April 19.

Given that Harvey has undergone both Tommy John surgery and thoracic outlet surgery within the past five years, Cincinnati was not going to push him too far his first time out. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay even tweeted on Thursday that Reds manager Jim Riggleman was hoping for four innings out of the pitcher.

Fay also reported that the right-hander got cheap nfl authentic jerseys  some work in by throwing 60 pitches during a workout on Tuesday.

Friday’s start was reminiscent of his 2018 debut, five innings of one-hit, shutout baseball. The Reds are hoping that he can build on this success rather than follow his Mets form, where he allowed at least four runs in each of his next three starts cheap nfl jersey  (which cost him his spot in New York’s rotation).

Is the 29-year-old Harvey back to his All-Star form? It’s important to remember that this was just one game—and one against a struggling team. However, it was a promising start to his Cincinnati career to say the least.nfl jersey cheap

Ben Zobrist Rips MLB in IG Post After Being Threatened with Fine for Cleats

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Chicago Cubs utility man Ben Zobrist spoke out Saturday after he received an “authentic nfl jerseys cheap official warning” letter from Major League Baseball for wearing black cleats.

Zobrist posted a picture of the letter on Instagram alongside a photo of his cleats. He said he’s worn black spikes for day games at Wrigley Field in Chicago for two years and was “curious” as to why MLB has started to enforce the uniform regulation requiring shoes to feature 51 percent of the team’s main color:

“For the last two years, I have worn black spikes exclusively at Wrigley Field for day games to pay homage to the history of our great game, and now I am being told I will be fined and disciplined if I continue to wear them. When I was a kid, I was inspired by highlights of the greats such as Ernie Banks and Stan Musial in the 1950s-60s and was captured by the old uniforms and all black cleats with flaps.”nfl jerseys for cheap

Zobrist added he’s “heard nothing but compliments” about the cleats and believes wearing them could help inspire younger fans to research the history of the sport.

The 36-year-old three-time All-Star didn’t say whether he’d continue wearing the shoes. It won’t take long to find out, however, as the Cubs’ next three games are at Wrigley Field with afternoon start times against the Chicago White Sox this nfl jersey cheap weekend and Atlanta Braves on Monday.

MLB’s Next Bash Bros? Meet Baby Braves Phenoms Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies

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Before becoming the Braves manager, Brian Snitker spent two decades helping to develop prospects in the minor leagues, where baseball is all about kids and potential. He had a 20-year-old David Justice on his team, a 21-year-old Brian McCann, a 21-year-old Rafael Furcal.

Every day, he was excited to see them play.

Kind of like now. Kind of like with 20-year-old Ronald Acuna Jr. and 21-year-old Ozzie Albies, the young duo Snitker has atop his lineup this year. Kind of like that, except these guys are doing it in the major leagues.cheap nfl jersey

“It’s like you can’t wait to get to the ballpark to watch them play,” Snitker says.

They’re exciting. They’re energetic. They’re the two youngest position players in the majors, and they’re two of the biggest reasons to start taking the Braves seriously as possible contenders this season and as a definite threat to win big things in the years to come.

Baseball is getting younger. We all know that. You can win big with kids, the way the 2016 Cubs won a World Series with 22-year-old shortstop Addison Russell or the way the Astros won a year later with Carlos Correa, who had just turned 23.cheap nfl authentic jerseys

And while the Braves may not have the pitching to win a World Series right now, they find themselves atop the National League East in part because of Acuna and especially Albies, who may have been the best player in the entire league in April.cheap authentic nfl jerseys

Albies hit nine home runs in the season’s first month, tied for most in the National League. He led the league with 12 doubles and impressed at second base.

Acuna joined the Braves on April 25 after spending the season’s first three-plus weeks at Triple-A Gwinnett. He hit his first home run a day later, and through 13 games is hitting .302 with a .917 OPS. He has already hit two tape-measure home runs, a 451-foot shot off the Mets’ Jason Vargas on May 3 at Citi Field and a 434-footer off Blake Snell on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.Even for opponents. “I love to see those guys play,” Mets infielder Jose Reyes says. cheap nfl jerseys from china

It’s a cool story, and not just because we’re always drawn to youngsters who look like they’ll be the next generation of baseball’s biggest stars. It’s fun because Albies and Acuna are such close friends, a kid from Curacao and a kid from Venezuela who signed with the Braves nfl cheap jerseys a year apart but quickly became as close as two players could be.

“We’re like brothers,” says Albies, the 21-year-old second baseman from Curacao. “Right away when we met, we were good with each other.”

They met soon after Acuna signed in 2014. He wasn’t well known then and had signed for just $100,000 in an international market where other players were getting as much as $3.2 million.

B/R’s MLB 20 for ’20: Projecting Top 20 First Basemen in 2020

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Baseball is a tough sport to predict day in and day out, and it becomes exponentially more difficult to project when looking years into the future. But that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing here.nfl jerseys for cheap

Back in the summer of 2015, I wrote a series dubbed “B/R’s MLB 20 for ’20” wherein I predicted who the top 20 players would be at each position when the 2020 season rolled around.

Three years later, it’s time for an update.authentic nfl jerseys cheap

In this edition we look at the first base position, where Anthony Rizzo, Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt will all still be in the prime of their careers and vying for the top spot, alongside reigning National League Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger.

Before we dive into the top 20, we’ll take a look back at that original list with the benefit of hindsight and also shine a light on a few prospects who could be making waves two years from now.cheap nfl jerseys

Enjoy.

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