Trying Rondon was fine, but Tigers needed a better backup plan


Teams find closers.

The Giants found one last year, and they won the World Series. The found one last October and got to the World Series (and the bullpen wasn’t why they lost).

The White Sox found one and spent most of the season in first place.

Teams find closers. The Tigers aren’t doomed simply because wasn’t .

But why in the world did they put themselves in this position?

They have a team fully capable of getting back to the World Series and winning it this time. With an 83-year-old owner who is desperate to win and willing to spend big to do it, they feel as much urgency as any team in the game.

And tm France.The former Lille man arrived with a big reputation and for a club record fee.But he has failed to show the kind of form that made him one of the most wanted attackers of the summer transfer window.And Pepe admits the language has been a barrhey went into spring training hoping that a 22-year-old kid with no big-league experience and only nine appearances above Double-A would prove ready to close for a second Norwegian teen after landing Bryan Solhaug Fiabema from Tromso.VG says Chelsea are continuing to look to Norway for fresh young talent and are close to snapping up a second youngster.After 16-year-old Fiabema’s move was confirmed, 18-year-old contender.

With no real backup plan.

How does that make any sense?

The Tigers can spin it any way they want now. They can tell you they have plenty of pitchers capable of closing games, from (who did it last October) to (who has 109 career saves, more than all but 11 pitchers currently employed by big-league teams) to (who has a 151 ERA+ over the last three seasons) to (who some in the organization would love to see get the opportunity).

But let’s go back to the first day of spring training, back before it became so painfully obvious that Rondon’s 100-mph fastball couldn’t mask his other weaknesses (bad command, shaky secondary pitches).

Tigers manager Jim Leyland made a couple of things clear that day.

One, he wants a full-time closer.

Two, he doesn’t trust any of those other pitchers with the job.

“I’ve got several guys who can close a game, or two games,” . “I’m not sure I’ve got guys who can be a pure closer.”

Maybe he’ll find out one of those other guys can be trusted. Maybe Rondon will go to Triple-A Toledo and come back in a few weeks or months looking like a major leaguer (which he didn’t this spring)Bartra insists they’re capable of beating Barcelona.The two teams are due to meet on Sunday – which will see Bartra face his former club.Speaking after their 1-1 draw with Eibar, Bartra said: “Let’s see if this result gives us the chance to build. Th.

Maybe the Tigers will trade for a closer, although they tried this spring and didn’t come up with any palatable options.

It might all work out. The Tigers might find a closer.

But with a team this good, why in the world did they leave themselves this vulnerable in case they don’t?

admits they face losing Bruno Fernandes.The midfi


The pared down their roster Sunday, reassigning pitchers and to their minor-league camp. Gilmartin is viewed as on44-year-old had been head of the club’s academy since 2016.The former United midfielder ool striker Rhian Brewster says Virgil van Dijk deserves to be crowned as FIFA’s Ballon d’Or winner.Seven of their players have been nominated for the FIFA Ballon D’Or, with van Dijk and Firmino appearing alongside Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson, Mowill report to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and will be tasked with creating “a seamless journey for young players stepping up to the next level”.”Manchester United is ine of the club’s top pitching prospects and will open the season in the rotation for Tribian Delph after his blow-up on social media.The Toffees midfielder had a spat with some fans on Instagram after Ancelotti’s side were embarrassed by Liverpool’s kids in the FA Cup. Speaking in his pre-match press-conference before Everton’s home tieple-A Gwinnett.

2013 Team Preview: Houston Astros


For the poor, miserable , it’s all about the future. Fortunately for the Astros, the future is shaping up to be as bright as the present is dismal. That’s thanks in large part to a general manager who knows a thing or three about rebuilding a young talent base.

Let’s break down the AL West’s newest combatant …

More on spring trainingRelated links | More on Houston Astros | | | More coverage | | |

1. , 2B2. Ronny Cedeno/Marwin Gonzalez, SS3. , DH4. , LF5. , 1B6. , CF7. , C8. , RF9. , 3B

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Alex White or Brad Peacock

Closer: Setup: ,

C , IF

— Jed Lowrie, in this instance — who’s stretched defensively at short and who has never managed more than 97 games played in a season, and you get in  return a haul that includes the useful likes of Chris Carter, and , you’ve made a nifty little move. This is kind of the seemingly back-page transaction that new GM Jeff Luhnow has made a habit of since taking over. From the Astros’ standpoint, that’s a very good thing.

“It appears Veras will get a chance to close for the Astros, and to look at his double-digit strikeout rates per nine innings from the last three seasons, one might think he could succeed in the role. Veras is able to get Ks as a result of recording a high rate of called strikes, but far too often his pitches fall outside the strike zone. Of this season’s prospective closers, only Carlos Marmol threw strikes at a lower rate last season. Marmol has had his problems in the ninth inning, and Veras doesn’t miss as many bats as the Cubs’ closer. Even in deeper leagues, owners can find safer options than Veras, and he could very well lose his job to Wesley Wright, or by midseason.” — Al Melchior []

Full, unqualified embrace of the rebuilding process.

Most teams in rebuilding mode tend to hedge — they’ll sign a superfluous mid-line vet or two so as to pacify the fan base. Or they’ll lose patience and strive for contention before they’re truly ready. The Astros under Luhnow and owner Jim Crane, however, are indulging in no such half-measures. As noted in , just two players remain from the team’s 2011 opening-day roster. It’s a necessary demo job, as Luhnow’s precessor, Ed Wade, put off the process for too long. In a related matter, Luhnow has drastically improved the farm system in a relatively short amount of time. It’s not just the high-ceiling likes of 2012 top overall pick ; it’s also about the incredible system-wide depth that Luhnow has built by pawning off veterans who couldn’t possibly be a part of the next good Astros team.

In terms of wins and losses at the major-league level, things might indeed get worse before they get better. But the utter commitment to the rebuilding process is as rare as it is praiseworthy. Slowly but surely, Luhnow and the Astros will get this done. In large part, that’s because the Astros have so wholeheartedly devoted themselves to creating a foundation of young talent. Given Luhnow’s prior success in turning the Cardinals’ farm system from one of the worst into the very best, it’s obvious he has the acumen for a project of even this scope. All that’s needed is patience and the single-mindedness that’s already in place.

Also, .

Pretty much the entire major-league roster.

All you need to do is survey the above lineup and rotPaul on his shopping list.Marotta remains unconvinced by Inter’s midfield options, despite the additions of Stefano Sensi and Christian Eriksen, says Tuttosport.As such, he has put De Paul back on his list of transfer targets.Before Serie A’s coronavation and bullpen and bench, and you’ll quickly realize that the Astros are going to lose an indecent number of games in 2013. Also consider that this team lost 107 games last season (and 106 the year before that) while playing in the NL Central. Now, they’re base-jumping into the AL West, which boasts three winning clubs and two playoff teams from a season ago. Now add in the improved Mariners, and the Astros could lose, well, an even more indecent number of games. Is the modern-day record of 120 losses endured by the 1962 Mets within reach? Probably not, but it will be a “chase” that bears monitoring. Insofar as the roster is concerned, it’s also worth noting that, outside of possibly Jose Altuve, not many current Astro regulars figure to have any bearing on the team’s long-term future. This franchise truly is “all-in” on the replenished farm system. The consoling news is that the Astros will al a new deal.The Telegraph says the Magpies will make one final attempt to convince Benitez to sign a new contract this week as it appears increasingly likely he will quit the club.Benitez’s contract will expire on June 30 and he is expected to announmost certainly lock up the top overall pick in the draft for the third straight year.

Last place by respectable margin but not good enough to needlessly squander their draft position, fewer than 100 losses.

Also, with any luck, nothing like this will happen in 2013 …

Or this …

Last place by a disrespectable margin and enough losses to dislodgeeille striker has been in talks with Flamengo about a move to Brazil and a contract offer has been received.However, Sky Italia says Balotelli is set to sign for Brescia – with an announcement potentially today.Brescia have tabled the striker a €1m the ’62 Mets from the bottom rung of infamy.

Last place by a margin that skews more disrespectable than respectable. A loss total that’s comfortably in the triple digits but not historically so. Top overall draft pick!

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orentino Perez has been trying to sign the striker

content_img reports infielder aims to breakout in 2013 tpool’s asking price for Loris Karius.The Mirror says Karius could be set for a return to Liverpool due to Besiktas being unable to finance a permanent transfer.The German goalkeeper was shipped out on loan to the Turkish club following his gaffes in hanks to a new approach at the plate. Wallace has been working with hitting coach John Mallee to refine his swing and the results has been positive. He’s batting .321 (9 for 28) with two homers, four doubles and nine RBI in 11 spring games. “My timing and everything is a lot easier now,” Wallace ts joining Tottenham.Over three seasons, the Dutch striker was unable to break into the first team after joining for £18million from AZ Alkmaar, making 42 appearances but finding the net six times – and only twice from open play.He told De Telegraafsaid. “Before, it was almost like I was fighout after being the victim of alleged racist abuse from Manchester City fans yesterday.Footage appeared to show a Man City supporter making a monkey gesture and shouting “black b*****d” as the Brazilian and Jesse Lingard strode over to a take a corting myself, like my body was pulling me back, so to try to get going forward and try to get through the baseballs, I could feel that tug in my own body pulling me away. Now I’m in the box and I feel like everything’s working in the right direction.”

rd.Tyrone Mings proved the matchwinner with a scra


Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher told the Orange County Register that while there remains a possibility that will be available for opening day, it is now an “unlikely” scenario. Madson has been throwing every-other-day after experiencing soreness in his surgically-repaired elbow. “A smart athletic trainer once told me that for every day you’re off, it takes that many days [to get back],” Madson said. “I had three weeks off. So it’ll probably takeoor to returning to Chelsea.Terry has hinted that he could return to Chelsea to work alongside former team-mate Frank Lampard at some point in the future. In an interview with Frank Khalid, the former Blues skipper waxed lyrical aboverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold admits he and Andrew Robertson don’t want to ‘Gary Neville-type’ fullbacks.After victory over Sheffield United, Alexander-Arnold name-dropped Neville, with Liverpool hero Jamie Carragher once claiming “no one wut the work hger Jarrod Bowen.The two clubs want to sign the Championship star in the January transfer window.Bowen, 22, has managed four goals in the first seven games of this season with Hull.He was the club’s top scorer last season, netting 22.Per the Daily Exis ol three weeks to get back to where I was at.”

ormer U-17 coach Carlos Amadeu believes Rodrygo Go

content_img reports Cardinals outfielder said Sunday the shoulder strain that plagtegui is eager to work in England next season.Currently a free agent, Lopetegui has had his agents circulate his name around the Premier League and major clubs in the Championship.The former Porto coach lost his job at Real before Christmas after beiued him in 2012 is no longer an issue and he declared himself “100 percent.” Jay said he was able to perform a normal workout program this offseason after team doctors c plan more major spending.United spent £140million in the summer bringing in defenders Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka as well as winger Daniel James.But United wer’s loving the relegation battle.Villa travel to Watford today for the third of their crucial Christmas fixtures. Smith said: “I, perversely, quite enjoy it. I’d rather be fourth in the league and have that pressure but, being third bottom, let’s go ae languishing in 12th spot heading into their 1-1 draw with table toppers Liverpoleared him before heading home for the winter.

ed in their 2-2 draw with Champions League opponen


Mets pitcher finished r advice from David Beagreed a fee to sign Genk star Leandro Trossard.Sky Sportssays the Seagulls will part with £18m in order to sign the talented winger.Graham Potter has now secured his second signing as Brighton manager after they completed the transfer of centre-bacckham about his next move.Sane is signing with the same agents that represent Beckham.His parents look after his affairs but Sane has also spoken to high-profile agencies as he plots his future.City boss Pep Guardiola dropped hithe season on the shelf, as he wasts their poor start to the season is just a “blip”.He wrote for the Daily Mail: “(Mauricio) Pochettino is the best thing that has happened to Tottenham in 20 years. I say that as someone who was at the club in the late 1990s and, again, 10 years lats unable to come back from an injured triceps. He last appeared in game Sept. 25.

Video: Anthony Rizzo escapes serious injury after awkward collision


The got a serious scare Tuesday night in an otherwise meaningless game against the . Promising first baseman awkwardly — and slightly — collided with Astros first baseman on a play at first base.

Here it is:

Fortunately, the Associated Press is reporting that, while the Cubs will monitor Rve claimed in recent weeks that Fiorentina and FC Nordsjælland have made bids for the 18-year-old who scored 25 goals for the U18 development squad last season.The Liverpool Echo says Duncan was left out of the Premier League 2 clash away to Southamizzo the next few days, “they believe he will be OK.” The AP does report that per squad.Conte has declared his squad has been “reduced to the bare bones” by injuries.“Conte’s concerns are legitimate and shared by all of us,” Marotta told Sky Sport Italia.“It is a growth process, we have to take these steps with all the tRizzo has a sore right shoulder and upper back, but he appears to have dodged a bullet in terms of a serious injury. Upon initially viewing the play, I thought maybe his knee was at risk as well from that uncontrollable plant on the base.

ate Serge Gnabry was never a prolific goalscorer with Arsenal.The Germany international has blossomed since leaving the Gunners in 2016, first with Werder Bremen and now with Bayern.Gnabry scored twice in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Br

Rizzo, 23, is hitting .293/.346/.464 with 12 homers and 34 RBI in 286 plate appearances in this his rookie season. As the Cubs eye the future, he’s a significant part of the nucleus.

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Report: Phillies outfielder Juan Pierre clears waivers


outfielder has cleared trade waivers, to’s Jon Paul Morosi.

Pierre can now be traded to any team. If traded before midnight, Pierre would be eligible to be put on a postseason roster.

The 34-year-old Pierre has hit .300/.343/.363 in 367 plate appearances with the Phillies this season. There was some interest in Pierre at the July trade deadline, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see today.The Everton winger’s move is due to be rubberstamped in the coming days, reports BILD.RBL will pay €18m for Lookms not enough for his teammates.The Reds are currently leading the Premier League by eight points after finishing second last season.And Henderson says only more silverware will satisfy his teammates.”At the moment, people can talk about the moment wean, with another €2m due in bonuses.It marks a return to Leipzig for the England U21 international.Lookman spent the second hahim moved.

For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the latest rumors from bloggers Chris Cwik, Jack Moore and R.J. Wland took a big step towards the European Championship on Tuesday night, beating Armenia 3-0 – thanks in part to two goals from Pukki.Next Finland will be at home against Liechtenstein.”We wanted to show that what we delivered in Bosnia was not our thite, follow .

Report: Carl Crawford to return to Red Sox by July 16


(Getty Images)

July 16 in Fenway aitland-Niles up in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says giving Anthony Martial constant possession is the key to his success.Martial was in superb form on Thursday night against Newcastle United, scoring twice in the 4-1 win at Old Trafford.”The key is to give him the ball. He’s northeast London and progressed through the club’s youth ranks to represent the first team in the Premier League and Europe. “Growing up in London, therio Ferdinand says Manchester United are getting a true leader of men in Harry Maguire. The 26-year-old centre-back became the world’s most expensive defender after United paid Leicester 80m for his signature this week.That title was held by Ferdinande’s a lot of peer pressure out there and you can get swayed by the wrong peoplcould be a rather big series. Not only will the contending be in town with prodigal third baseman in tow, but the might also welcome Carl Crawford back to the active roster at that same time.

Indeed, Buster Olney of ESPN tweets that . Crawford, who has yet to play this season, recently had to . Even if he’s activated on the 16th, Crawford will be limited by his injured elbow, which will likely eventually require Tommy John surgery.

The 30-year-old Crawford is in the second season of a seven-year, $142-million contract. In 2011, a long string of injuries sapped his production and led to a slash line of .255/.289/.405.

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Carlos Quentin deal done, Padres turn attention to closer Huston Street


Might the mnchester United defender Harry Maguire is eager to take a leadership role with the club.The England star was handed the captaincy for the Europa League clash against Partizan Belgrade recently and was again named skipper for the Carabao Cup clash witake it 2 for 2 in multiyear deals for July 31 trade candidates?On the heels of slugger ‘s extension Sunday, the Padres continue talking with closer . Discussions with Street remain in the early phases and it is too soon to gauge how they will play out, sources with knowledge of the talks told on Sunday.Street, acquired from the Rockies in December, earned his 16th save in San Diego’s 3-2 win over Colorado on Sunday. He is 2-0 with 16 saves and an 0.95 ERA in 30 appearances.Earlier Sunday, the Padres announced a three-year extension for Quentin that colleague Jon Heyman reported to be worth $27 million with a mutual option that could bring the package to $30 million.One of the keys to that deal and the ongoing talks with Street is that general manager Josh Byrnes, in conducting the daily business of the season, received the green light from the Padres’ muddled ownership situation to proceed with the deals. Outgoing owner John Moores is in the process of selling the club in a painstaking process that has been c victory at Manchester City.Rashford struck from the spot to send United on their way to a 2-1 win.He later remarked: “I tried to stay calm and miration and love for his old club Liverpool.Ings completed a transfer to Southampton, after having joined the club on loan for the second half of last season.The attacker struggled at Liverpool since moving there three years ago, but he has nothing get the first goal. It’s an important moment in the game, the main thing is it put us in a good position alose to completion for weeks now.The initial hope was that the Padres’ sale would be completed by the All-Star break so that Byrnes and Co. would have a clear direction as they maneuver through the trade deadline season with an eye on 2013. Though the sale is not finished, it appears as if it will not paralyze the Padres.Street’s deal includes a $9 million mutual option for 2013 with a $500,000 buyout. The cheap buyout lessens the urgency for the Padres to trade him if they do not complete an extension between now and July 31.

Video: Top 10 plays of the week


Personally, I find #6 to be the most impressive, but opinions will vary on the top 10 plays of the week …

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow on Twitter, subscrib adamant they’re worthy European champions.Alexander-Arnold – who set up 16 goals in all competitions this season – became the first player under the striker Alexander Sorloth.On-loan from Palace to the end of the season, Sorloth’s deal carries a permanent option to the tune of €6m, says Fanatik.And with Real Madrid monitoring the Norway international’s stunning form this term, his asking price age of 21 to appear in consecutive Champions League finals.The 20-year-old England international saie to mate Joao Felix.The €120m signing from Benfica has been a revelation in preseason.And Oblak enthused, “We’re still in pre-season but it’s clear that he’s a huge talent. With talent like that he can grow to be a magnificent player. I’m sure that tthe and .

top six.The Portuguese took the reins with Spurs l


The Giants assigned , , and to minor-league camp on Mondyeing Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny.Currently on-loan at Besiktas, Elneny is expected to be alloweurnemouth secured a narrow 3-2 win over AFC Wimbledon.Both players have been targeted by other clubs this summer, but they were firmly focused on helping the Cherries to victory on Tuesday.Wilson bagged himself a first-half brace before Mike Foliristmas period.Spurs are one of many Premier League sides who face two games within 48 hours between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.And Mourinho spoke out against the tight scheduling of games after his side narrowly overcame Brighton at home on Boxinvi ad to leave in 2020 by Arsenal, despite the dismissal of manager Unai Emery.Estadio Deportivo says Real Betis are now showing interest in Elneny aheaay.

Allen Craig to open season on Cards’ roster?


Cards outfielder Allen Craig, who hit .315/.362/.55 in spot duty last season, manned six different positions and famously tallied three home runs in the World Series, has been limited this sprinr Maurizio Sarri should stay.Sarri is expected to leave the club this summer for Italian champions Juventus following the departure of Massimiliano Allegri.Wise tweeted on Monday: “Will be disappointed if Sarri goes. “Chelsea are back where they belog after having screws surgically implanted in his kneecap last November. Originally, it was thought Craig wouldn’t be able to return until May, but now, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, . The catch is that Craig would be limited to a pinch-hitting role in the early stages of the season. If the Cards take suc new deal.He has signed a new contract at Carrow Road until June 2021.Vrancic, 30, joined City from SV Darmstadt in June 2017 and has made 77 appearances since moving to Norfolk.Speaking to, Vrancic said: “I’m obviously very pleased.h a route, then the fifth outfielder on the roster would need to be capable of playing center, something Craig can’t do, particularly in his present, compromised state. Still, even a sub-100% Craig is an asset to the roster; if healthy, he’s one of the Cardinals’ top hitters on a rate basis. Manager Mike Matheny, however, is tasked with finding Craig regular ABs in a lineup that already includes Matt Ht Everton.The 21-year-old midfielder’s deal is up this summer but it is understood the Blues have the option of extending it by an extra 12 months, reports the Liverpool Echo.On Friday night, the young Dutch player impressed against U23 leaders Chelsolliday, Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman at Craig’s most familiar positions. There are, of course, worse problems to have.

Vladimir Guerrero unlikely to end up with Indians


It doesn’t sound like Vladimir Guerrero will end up in Cleveland, despite Monday’s report of a recent workout with the Indians.Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti told reporters () Guerrero approached the team about a workout and the team obliged. However, Guerrero can’t play the field and the team already has

Travis Hafner as a DH. There was thought that Guerrero could play some in the field, but it appears that’s not an option.Guerrero’s agent, Fern Cuza, that Guerrero would look inthange the dynamic” by beating Liverpool on Sunday.Currently sitting in 12th on nine points, the Red Devils will be heavy underdogs when the Premier League leaders arrive at Old Trafford.But Mata says the match can be a watershed moment if United can o playing in Japan if he doesn’t have an offer from a big-league team at the end of spring training. With a week left in spring, it looks like that may be the next option. Still, there’s the question of whether there’s a spot in Japan available for Guerrero.Last season, Guerrero hit .290/.317/.416 with 13 home runs in Baltimore. In 2010 with the Rangers, he finished 11th in MVP voting alo Ancelotti has found himself at the forefront of an FA misconduct charge.The veteran boss was incensed when his team was denied a winning goal against Manchester United at Goodison Park on Sunday.He thought his side had won the game 2-1, but the gond won a Silver Slugger and made the All-Star team, hitting .300/.345/.496 with 29 home runs and 115 RBI. The 37-year-old is a career .318/.379/.553 hitter with 449 homers and 2,590 hits.For more baseball news, rumors aer United.The Nerazzurri opened their International Champions Cup campaign in Singapore with a 1-0 reverse.“The positives I saw were in the effort and eagerness of the players, but there is a great deal to be improved in possession and when pressinnd analysis, follow on Twitter, subscribe to the and .