– SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports that the Red Sox are “aggressively” pursuing Rockies’ RHP Ubaldo Jimenez. Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reported just Thursday that the Red Sox were “not hot” for the Rockies’ ace, but that’s apparently changed. Boston is in pursuit of a top-notch starter as a result injured/poor starting pitching. Heyman says the Indians, Reds and Blue Jays are also in on Jimenez, with the Yankees “lurking.”
– Joel Sherman of the NY Post reports that the Phillies “might be willing to redirect” OF Domonic Brown to a third team in order to get the Astros the prospects they want for OF Hunter Pence. The Astros don’t think a package of Brown, plus likely pitching prospect Jarred Cosart, is enough for Pence. Sherman believes that the Astros want pitching in return, and it appears the Phillies are unable to satisfy their demands without a third team getting involved. Stay tuned.
– ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports that the Padres and Rangers “are not making progress” in the negotiations involving RHP Heath Bell. Bowden refers to the situation as “a stand-off headed for the deadline.” This may open the way for the Cardinals, who are still in the mix and reportedly are Bell’s preferred destination. It’s still a very safe bet that Bell gets traded this weekend.
Now, Brady Tinker of Fox Southwest reports that the A’s’ RHP Andrew Bailey is now the “most likely” addition to the Rangers bullpen. Given that Bailey is under team control through 2014, his price tag will almost surely be much higher than Bell’s. It may be a ploy to get the Padres to lower their asking price.
– FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that Cubs’ 3B Aramis Ramirez is still unlikely to waive his no-trade clause and his comments Thursday “did not come out the way he intended,” his agent, Paul Kinzer, said. ”He doesn’t want to go anywhere. It didn’t come out the way he meant it to.” A-Ram doesn’t want to relocate his family, which is understandable, and the Cubs will probably end up exercising his $16M option for 2012. The Angels, among other teams, have to be disappointed.
– Nationals’ pitching coordinator Spin Williams said that RHP Stephen Strasburg (elbow) “threw extremely well” during a simulated game Thursday and is “getting close” to a rehab assignment. Strasburg threw roughly 50 pitches in the simulated game and his next significant step in returning from Tommy John surgery is a rehab assignment. He seems likely to throw another sim game or two but should begin an assignment in early August if all goes well. Strasburg appears to be on track to return late in the season, but it’s far from a guarantee that he’ll do so.
– The Jets are still leading the Nnamdi Asomugha chase even though the Cowboys are becoming “real players,” according to ESPN’s John Clayton. Reports are flying fast and furious as Asomugha’s camp is successfully trying to incite a bidding war. Jets beat writer Rod Boone hears the Cowboys have recently increased their offer, while ESPN’s Adam Schefter puts the odds of Asomugha landing in New York at 80 percent. The Jets are also restructuring the contracts of Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, LaDainian Tomlinson and more to create more money.
– The Broncos have signed RB Willis McGahee to a 3-year/$7.5M contract. McGahee will receive $3M in guarantees. Turning 30 in October, McGahee is coming off a down season averaging 3.8 YPC and a poor 3.9 yards on 14 receptions. He’ll see part-time work on early downs and possibly at the goal-line, but McGahee is a complement to RB Knowshon Moreno.
– WIP Philadelphia’s Howard Eskin reports that Eagles’ WR DeSean Jackson’s training camp holdout will be for “the long haul.” He won’t be showing up “anytime soon,” per Eskin. Jackson appears to be dug in, and the Eagles’ attention is likely elsewhere at the moment with the NFL in a frenzied state because of all the transactions.
– Colts’ TE Dallas Clark (wrist surgery) has been cleared for full participation at Colts camp. Clark will have to wear a splint on his wrist during practices. He originally hurt the joint way back in October, was in a cast for three months and then rehabbed for five months. He’s one of the game’s premier pass-catching tight ends.
– Bears’ RB Matt Forte is reporting to Bears training camp on time and has decided against holding out. Previous reports suggested Forte was a real threat to skip training camp time because he wants a long-term deal. The fourth-year player is owed just $555K in the final season on his rookie contract. Forte has played hurt with the Bears and is coming off a year in which he established himself as Chicago’s best offensive player. The Bears should still make locking Forte up a priority. It’s been confirmed that they’re interested in doing so.
– The Falcons have signed DE Ray Edwards to a 5-year/$30M contract. Edwards’ 16.5 sacks over the past two seasons in Minnesota. Still just 26, Edwards will be a huge addition to the defence.
– The Dolphins have signed QB Matt Moore to a 2-year contract.
– The Pistons have signed coach Lawrence Frank to a 4-year contract. Frank is expected to sign the contract and be introduced early next week. The fourth year of his deal is a team option but can become guaranteed via certain performance benchmarks. He had a very successful run as the Nets head coach, but was fired after an 0-16 start to the 2009-10 season. Frank will have his work cut out shaping them into a contender.
– WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross is back with another blog update, which you can read in its entirety at JRsBarBQ.com. Here are some highlights of what JR wrote about:
The New Steve Austin DVD Project: “What details do I know about the Stone Cold DVD that is being produced? I know that Steve is really hands on the project and will be involved throughout the production of the entire project, that a WWE camera crew & a producer spend parts of three days at Austin’s Broken Skull Ranch in South Texas earlier this week, and that no subjects were ‘off limits’ as Steve told me he talked about a litany of controversial topics that he had never addressed before on any other DVD including some of an extremely personal nature. I don’t know the release date of this multi disc set but it will be after October 25 when the much anticipated HBK-Hitman Rivalry DVD is released but in time for holiday shopping.”
Will ROH’s New Show Hurt TNA? “Do I think that ROH will adversely affect TNA once ROH begins airing their weekly, syndicated TV show? Likely not. Wrestling fans have proven over time that if multiple brands are compelling enough that they will watch. While my focus is on WWE, I am a fan of the genre and wish success to whoever is earning a living in it. ”
Is CM Punk the Next Steve Austin? “I hope not. I hope that Punk is simply the best CM Punk that he can be. The best for Punk has yet to come in my view. Punk being compared to Austin is inevitable because both are ‘defiant’ and ‘anti establishment’ persona’s but their in ring styles, body types, etc are distinctly different.”
Who’s the Most Underutilized Persona in WWE? That’s a loaded question. Could be several people, if those people were asked the same question. Zack Ryder fans would say Zack, etc. I might suggest William Regal who has a refined, multiple skill set who can wrestle, talk, manage, train talent and broadcast.