BOSTON – Its not yet June and thanks to the advent of the two wild card spots in each league, only two of 30 teams can make the argument to their fans that theyre out of the playoff hunt. With apologies to the Arizona Diamondbacks, a club that made offseason moves with the intention of contending and will now give new hire Tony La Russa time to assess the damage of a disastrous start, the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs have dropped far enough in the standings to consider the postseason unachievable. The Cubs have a prized piece at the front of their starting rotation. He is 29-year-old Jeff Samardzija, the ace of a bad baseball team whos expected to top the wish list of teams looking to bolster their pitching staffs ahead of the important games of August and September. Dont let the numbers fool you. Samardzija is good. The Cubs are not good. He is winless in nine starts this season despite posting a big league-best 1.62 ERA. In fact, Samardzijas winless skid stretches to 16 if you go back to last year. Chicago, with its impotent offence, doesnt score him any runs. An even crueler fate: Samardzija pitched seven scoreless innings against the Yankees on Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field, departing with a 2-0 lead, only to watch his closer and defence implode in the ninth. The Cubs lost in extra innings. Word around the Blue Jays is if the club is in contention approaching the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, ownership would be willing to loosen the purse strings to acquire additional help. Toronto needs help in its starting rotation with two spots in perpetual question. J.A. Happ is filling one at the moment. Somebody will fill the other come Saturday. Its expected to be Liam Hendriks, a former Minnesota Twin whos off to a strong start at Triple-A Buffalo. Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro was a Cub last year and caught Samardzija 10 times. "Hes really good," said Navarro. "I think hes one of those guys the numbers last year didnt show what hes capable of. Hes a horse. He wants the ball. He wants to win. Hes still got that football mentality. Hes that type of player." Samardzija features a sinking fastball, which he pumps up at 91 miles per hour at the low end, 97 at the high end. Hell spike a splitter; he throws a backdoor slider and a cut fastball. "Hes got everything, man," said Navarro. "Hes got it." Should Samardzija land in the American League East, a real possibility considering the interest hell likely draw not just from the Blue Jays but also the injury-riddled Yankees and maybe others, hell quickly find himself in a home run-friendly division with home run-friendly parks and lineups that stretch deep. Its not the National League Central. Navarro doesnt think he would have a problem adjusting. "I believe so," said Navarro. "I think hes a strikeout pitcher. Hes a swing and miss type of guy. I believe that hes got what it takes. I think the most important thing that hes got is hes a really competitive guy and he wants to win. Obviously hes going to have to make some adjustments coming from the NL Central to the American League East but I think hes going to be a huge asset if we get the opportunity to get him." The Cubs reported asking price for Samardzija in the offseason involved both top pitching prospects Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman. Needless to say that would be a steep price to pay. It may, however, be the going rate. With so many teams jumbled around the .500 mark and no sign of that changing in the foreseeable future, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer should have a number of intriguing offers to peruse. If Cliff Lees elbow problem is anything serious for the Phillies, another potential chip comes off the market and Samardzijas price goes up further. How about that? The perpetually weak Cubs will be dealing from a position of strength. CHECK OUT THE PODCAST Episode 5 of The Baseball Podcast, #TBP, is available online. TSN 1050 contributors Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star and Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com and I discuss Fenway Park, the Blue Jays red hot offence, the persistent issues with the back end of the starting rotation, Jose Reyes defence and whether the media is too easy on general manager Alex Anthopoulos. Click here to listen. Authentic New Balance Store
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. On the day the club activated Casey Janssen from the 15-day disabled list, his return from a strained oblique that cost him the first six weeks of the regular season, it announced Sergio Santos would be placed on the disabled list on Monday with discomfort in his right forearm.Phoenix, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was named the NFLs Most Valuable Player for a second time in his career on Saturday night. Rodgers, who also won the award in 2011, garnered 31 of the 50 available votes from a nationwide media panel. He beat out Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt to win the award, which is given by the Associated Press. Watt was a unanimous pick as Defensive Player of the Year after a dominant season, becoming just the seventh player ever to win the award twice after previously receiving it in 2012. Rodgers, 31, guided the Packers to a 12-4 record and an appearance in the NFC Championship game against Seattle. He completed 341-of-520 passes for 4,381 yards and 38 touchdowns with just five interceptions for a 112.2 rating. In his fourth season with the Texans, Watt was a defensive juggernaut, racking up 20 1/2 sacks for the second time in three seasons. He had 78 tackles, four forced fumbles, a safety and an interception returned for a touchdown. The 25-year-old also contributed on the offensive side of the ball, catching three touchdown passes. Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was honored as the Offensive Player of the Year after guiding his team to an NFC East title as the leagues top rusher. He ran for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns on 392 attempts and led the NFL with 2,261 yards from scrimmage. Arizonas Bruce Arians became the first coach in NFL history to be awarded Coach of the Year honors multiple times in a three-year span with more than one team. He won the award in 2012 with Indianapolis. In his second season with the Cardinals, Arians led the team to a franchise record-tying 11 wins and a postseason berth. He joined Don Coryell as the only coaches in team history to win 10-plus games in consecutive seasons.dddddddddddd. Todd Bowles, who served as Arians defensive coordinator and is now the Jets head coach, won the first-ever Assistant Coach of the Year award. Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. seized the Offensive Rookie of the Year award with a dynamic season. The LSU product took home 42 of the 50 available votes after hauling in 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. The 22-year-old drew national attention after a phenomenal one-handed touchdown catch against Dallas in Week 12 and took home Play of the Year on Saturday during the NFL Honors TV show. His 606 yards in December are the most by any rookie in a single month. Defensive Rookie of the Year honors were given to a defensive tackle for the second straight season as St. Louis Aaron Donald took home the award. Donald led all rookies with nine sacks and also compiled 48 tackles with two forced fumbles over 16 games (12 starts). Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was named Comeback Player of the Year after catching 12 touchdown passes and making 82 receptions for 1,124 yards a year after tearing his ACL and MCL in 2013. Kansas City outside linebacker Justin Houston won the Deacon Jones award after leading the NFL with 22 sacks and Steelers running back LeVeon Bell was given the title of Fantasy Player of the Year. Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis was the recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which celebrates volunteer and charity work in addition to play on the field. Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald claimed the inaugural Art Rooney NFL Sportsmanship award and Bears defensive end Jared Allen was given the Salute to Service award. ' ' '