MLB News: Braves to trade for Cubs’ Derrek Lee

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Braves will finalize a deal for Cubs’ first baseman Derrek Lee sometime on Wednesday.

Apparently the only thing holding up the deal is Lee’s troubling back. He had an injection in the epidural of his lower back on Monday to help ease the discomfort created by a bulging disk and has missed the past two games.

Lee is in the final year of his contract and is still owed $3.4 million. He has struggled for much of the season while hitting just .251 with 16 dingers in Chicago. But his .939 OPS since the All-Star break is attractive to the Braves, especially with Troy Glaus struggling at the dish.

Lee (who has a no-trade clause in his contract) can reject the deal, just as he did in July when the Cubs were ready to send him to the Angels. But Atlanta has reportedly already been told that he would accept a deal, so the only issue that remains is his back.

It’s doubtful that the Cubs will get much in return for Lee at this point, but the key is that they’ll get a little financial relief heading into what will be a rebuilding year in 2011. The youth movement is already on in Chicago, who has traded Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot over the past month.

Now if only the Cubs could find someone to take Alfonso Soriano, Koskue Fukudome and Carlos Zambrano off their hands.

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This Tim Lincecum just won’t do

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum walks back to the dug out after the second inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field in New York City on May 9, 2010. UPI/John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

Giants fans have been spoiled, I guess. Tim Lincecum goes out and wins two Cy Young Awards in his first three seasons, yet many have found fault in his 11-5 record and 3.15 ERA heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Cubs.

What’s to be worried about? He’s only striking out one less batter per nine innings than he was last year and has the same walk rate as he did in his first Cy Young season.

He’s fine! Seriously, he’s fine.

We’re all fine.

Then Kosuke Fukudome hits a three-run, 416-foot blast into McCovey Cove off Lincecum in the first inning last night and you realize he’s not fine. He’s far from fine. He’s Kosuke-f’n-Fukudome-just-hit-a-towering-416-foot-home-run-off-him not fine.

There is no shortage of reasons why Lincecum is struggling right now: He’s getting behind hitters, his command comes and goes, he’s tinkering with his windup too much and his changeup often bounces two feet in front of home plate instead of finding Buster Posey’s catcher mitt.

He’s struggling. He needs a barber. He’s out of whack. He’s in a funk. Please cut that thing, Tim.

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2010 MLB Preview: NL Central

In order to help get you ready for the MLB season, we’re doing division-by-division rankings with quick overviews on how each club could fair in 2010. Next to each team, you’ll also find a corresponding number written in parenthesis, which indicates where we believe that club falls in a league-wide power ranking. Be sure to check back throughout the next two weeks leading up to the season, as we will be updating our content daily. Enjoy.

All 2010 MLB Preview Content | AL East Preview | AL Central Preview | AL West Preview | NL East | NL Central | NL West

Next up is the NL Central.

1. St. Louis Cardinals (4)
Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday could help the Cardinals win this division sauced out of their minds on a nightly basis. That said, would anyone really be surprised if Carpenter’s arm falls off and the starting pitching (which is among the best in the league) suffers? It’s happened before, so if you answered “yes” to the proposed question then you sir or madam, have not been paying attention. Still, the addition of Brad Penny (who pitched well in the second half last year) will strengthen the club’s starting pitching and Kyle Lohse is a fine middle of the rotation guy. Pujols and Holliday will ignite the offense again, although Colby Rasmus might be the key to whether or not this team makes a serious World Series run. Skip Schumaker is a solid table setter, but how Rasmus fairs hitting in front of Pujols and Holliday could be the difference between the Cards winning the NL Central again and playing for a championship. David Freese better produce too or else the club will regret not acquiring a veteran third baseman in the offseason. All in all, the Cardinals are the best the NL Central has to offer and should make another postseason appearance this season. But how far they go beyond that depends on whether or not Carpenter and Wainwright can continue their magic and if Pujols and Holliday receive help from the rest of the lineup.

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Ten Predictions for the MLB second half

The second half of the 2009 MLB season has kicked off and with that, I’m going to make some predictions that are sure to be proved wrong in a couple months.

Feel free to whip out your crystal ball in the comments section but before you do, please do everyone a favor and take off your favorite team prescribed glasses and be objective for once in your life, will ya?

1. The Blue Jays will trade Halladay…to the Phillies.
Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi is reminding everyone who will listen that he doesn’t absolutely need to trade Roy Halladay – which he doesn’t. But the bottom line is that he’ll probably get more in return for the “Doc” this season than he would next when Halladay is set to become a free agent after the 2010 season. And despite Ricciardi stating that he’s open to trading Halladay within the division, he’s not stupid. He’s not going to trade Halladay to the Red Sox or Yankees and risk becoming public enemy No. 1 in the eyes of Jays fans for not only getting rid of their best and most popular player, but also trading him to a division rival in the process. In the end, I think Ricciardi will trade Halladay to an NL team and my guess is that it will be Philadelphia that will eventually puts a package together to acquire him. Although they might balk at the $7 million that’s remaining on Halladay’s contract, the Phillies are built to win now and need more starting pitching to make another run at a World Series. They also have enough appealing prospects to entice Ricciardi to make a deal.

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