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11:05 PM ET, July 9, 2019

Ballbug

 Top News: 
Jeff Passan / ESPN:
Verlander: MLB juicing balls for more offense  —  CLEVELAND — American League All-Star Game starter Justin Verlander told ESPN on Monday that the balls used in Major League Baseball games this season are “a f—ing joke” and that he believes “100 percent” that the league has implemented juiced balls to increase offense.
RELATED:
ESPN:
Manfred: MLB didn't alter baseball for more HRs  —  Commissioner Rob Manfred again emphatically denied that Major League Baseball has altered baseballs to generate more offense, amid widespread criticism from some of the sport's top pitchers.  —  “Baseball has done nothing …
Ryan Kolakowski / Tampa Bay Times:
Mets' Pete Alonso could always hit, even as a South Tampa kid  —  The success of the Plant High alumnus doesn't surprise his youth baseball teammates.  —  Spencer Trayner looked on from the parking lot as a young Pete Alonso, a teammate on the Salty Dogs, climbed out of his car and tumbled face …
RELATED:
Joel Sherman / New York Post:
Mets launch Zack Wheeler trade talks with Red Sox, many others  —  CLEVELAND — In the strongest sign yet of which way they are leaning before the trade deadline, the Mets have engaged the Red Sox on Zack Wheeler, The Post has learned.  —  The talks were described as in the early stages …
Sarah Valenzuela / New York Daily News:
Zack Wheeler, Mets bullpen spell trouble for Mets on eve of All-Star break
Derrick Goold / St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Comeback looks unlikely as Ankiel nears what agent Boras calls ‘decision time’  —  CLEVELAND — The comeback idea, hatched almost a year ago when he returned to the mound on a lark, has likely ended for Rick Ankiel before it could truly start this summer.  —  Ankiel is reaching a “decision time …
Discussion: MLB Trade Rumors
Bob Nightengale / USA Today:
As Indians' past and present collide at All-Star Game, will they make the same mistake with Francisco Lindor?  —  CLEVELAND —They were traded for each other 11 years ago to the day Monday, and for the first time, New York Yankees veteran starter CC Sabathia and Houston Astros outfielder Michael Brantley actually met.
Jeff Todd / MLB Trade Rumors:
Rob Manfred On Minor-League Pay Negotiations  —  Yesterday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred discussed the long-simmering issue of pay to minor-league players, as Evan Drellich of The Athletic reports (subscription link).  Manfred's office recently launched negotiations with the minor-league governing body known …
Discussion: The Athletic and Al's Ramblings
Ken Rosenthal / The Athletic:
The market for Bumgarner; the Cubs' true talent level; the Yankees' search for pitching; more notes  —  The talk is the same at every deadline.  Executives downplay the value of trade targets in conversations not only with reporters, but also with their negotiating partners.
ESPN:
Power Rankings: How far can first-half surprise teams rise?  —  At the midseason break, we can't be too surprised to see that the Dodgers check in at No. 1.  Not only did they get four of five first-place votes, they've polled at No. 1 in each of the past six weeks, and in the top slot in 10 of 14 weeks during the regular season.
Discussion: Lone Star Ball
Zach Buchanan / The Athletic:
CEO Derrick Hall discusses the Diamondbacks' deadline options, artificial turf and Chase Field's future  —  The season's actual midpoint passed a week ago, but the All-Star break generally is when teams huddle to take stock of their playoff chances.  For the Diamondbacks, that means tough and sobering decisions.
Discussion: MLB Trade Rumors
Connor Byrne / MLB Trade Rumors:
What's Wrong With Robinson Cano?  —  We're on the eve of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, an event second baseman Robinson Cano has received eight invitations to since his career began in 2005.  The former Yankee and Mariner is clearly one of the most accomplished second basemen in baseball history.
Steve Adams / MLB Trade Rumors:
White Sox Claim AJ Reed  —  The White Sox announced that they've claimed first baseman/designated hitter AJ Reed off waivers from the Astros.  Injured pitcher Ryan Burr was transferred to the 60-day IL to open a spot on the 40-man roster.  Reed, who was designated for assignment by Houston last week …
Julian McWilliams / BostonGlobe.com:
David Price nabs 150th victory, Red Sox cap sweep  —  DETROIT — It depends on the day.  Depends on the batter.  —  David Price has been at this for a while, so he's used to adjusting on the fly.  He can manipulate each of his pitches at different speeds better than most.
RELATED:
Peter Abraham / BostonGlobe.com:
Red Sox will savor break, but know crunch time awaits
 
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 More News: 
La Velle E. Neal III / Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Twins Insider: Team seeking pitching depth inside and outside the organization
Discussion: MLB Trade Rumors and Sportsnet.ca
Bob Nightengale / USA Today:
MLB's steroid question: David Segui wonders why players still are demonized for PEDs
Discussion: MLB Baseball News …
 Earlier Picks: 
Andy McCullough / Los Angeles Times:
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts would like a White House invitation to decline
Marc Topkin / Tampa Bay Times:
Rays shortstop prospect Wander Franco at the center of attention at Futures Game
ESPN:
Angels' Lucroy carted off after collision at plate
Discussion: New York Post
 

 
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