Prince Fielder, from the fire to the kitchen

Former slugger Fielder is swapping bats for spatulas, kind of . . .

Former slugger Fielder is swapping bats for spatulas, kind of . . .

Those who were there swear even now that Sandy Koufax was close to tears when he announced his retirement at 30 in November 1966. Prince Fielder, forced to retirement fifty years later at 32 (yes, that was Koufax’s uniform number) because of two spinal fusions in his neck, was in tears when he announced it.

A tale of three Red Sox third basemen, including a Panda on the pine

Sandoval has lost the starting 3B job to Travis Shaw . . .

Sandoval has lost the starting 3B job to Travis Shaw . . .

Will Middlebrooks has accepted an assignment to Colorado Springs (AAA) after he was told days earlier he wouldn’t make the Milwaukee Brewers roster out of spring training. Earlier this month, manager Craig Counsell suggested Middlebrooks might have a better chance to make the Brewers as a backup first baseman if he showed any aptitude for the position.

Maybe he did defensively, but Middlebrooks’ still sleepy bat killed his chance of sticking with the Brewers, to whose camp he was a non-roster invitation. And the chances of the once-glittering, former Red Sox third base prospect catching on elsewhere may be thread thin.

There’s just a little ill in these trade winds . . .

Spending at at least a year and a half as the subject of trade speculation, while insisting he really didn’t want to leave Denver, Troy Tulowitzki—swapped to the Blue Jays this week, for former Mets shortstop Jose Reyes—says he was blindsided almost completely by the deal. Apparently, he had a gentleman’s agreement with Rockies owner Dick Monfort that he wouldn’t be dealt without his prior knowledge and approval. Until he didn’t, of course.

Great Scott, Houston!

Hometown rental?

Hometown rental?

Unless you’re a Delta Quadrant citizen, you know that the Houston Astros aren’t just a little bit ahead of their rebuilding schedule, they’re so thick in the thick of this year’s pennant races that you could afford to talk about them in such terms as, “What they need most right now is a starting pitcher who belongs in the front end.” And if the Oakland Athletics were willing to part with one, the Astros weren’t leery about dealing for him Thursday.

Roenicke run, but he wasn’t the Brewers’ problem

The manager usually takes the fall, of course, but Roenicke really took the fall he didn't deserve.

The manager usually takes the fall, of course, but Roenicke really took the fall he didn’t deserve.

The Milwaukee Brewers have thrown out the first manager of the season. And while you expect that when a team starts slowly, you also can’t help wondering how often throwing out the manager is the kind of move made by the general manager who should be measured for execution and just might get it yet.

Ron Roenicke, a graduate of the Mike Scioscia school of coaching, wasn’t the garrulous type fellow alum Joe Maddon is, but he is an acute tactician and handler of players. The problem wasn’t Roenicke’s game thinking or personality balancing, the problem was and is the team he was handed from the outset.

Does baseball need its own First Amendment?

Karen Eidem wearing the T-shirt that offended Miller Park security . . .

Karen Eidem wearing the T-shirt that offended Miller Park security . . .

Let’s see. A harmless Milwaukee Brewers fan disgusted over Ryan Braun shows up at Miller Park last Wednesday. She shows her contempt for Braun’s duplicitous behaviour by wearing a T-shirt replica of Braun’s uniform jersey—with “F” and “D” replacing “B” and “N” in Braun’s name above the familiar number 8. And Miller Park security offers a choice between turning the shirt inside-out or leaving the ballpark.

To the Would-Be Victors Come the Would-Be Spoilers

The Seattle Mariners may have been on a bit of a tear of late, but they’re not exactly looking for a postseason shot that they’re just not going to get. However, read carefully: the Mariners have the single most tough schedule in the American League to come down the stretch of the stretch.

The New York Yankees and their minions love to say, no matter how the Yankees might be struggling lately, that the road to the Serious still goes through the south Bronx. But for the Los Angeles Angels, the Oakland Athletics, and the Texas Rangers, the road to the postseason is going through Seattle: 21 out of the Mariners’ coming final 24 games will be played against those clubs. The lone set with no postseason prospect involving the Mariners is a three-set against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Deja Vu, All Over Again—Colon Drydocked For Synthetic Testosterone

Fifty games out for Tortilla Fats . . .

That’ll be a fifty game siddown-and-shaddap against Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon.

Tortilla Fats got bagged for synthetic testosterone, the same actual or alleged performance-enhancing substance for which Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants got nailed last week. Except that nobody yet suspects Colon’s buds tried hoisting a phony Website hawking a phony product their man could say he bought without knowing what was really inside.

The Dempster Backstory, and other heads and tales . . .

Turns out the Chicago Cubs got a pair of A-level minor leaguers, Christian Vilanueva (3B) and Kyle Hendricks (RHP), from the Texas Rangers for Ryan Dempster . . . decent prospects but not necessarily blue chips. For the most part, few no-questions-asked blue chip prospects moved in the non-waiver trade period, Jean Segura (SS) possibly having been the bluest of the chips when he went to Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke deal.

How and why did the Rangers—hungering for rotation help with Colby Lewis gone for the year (entering the final fortnight, his was the hole they needed to fill)—end up settling for Dempster when all was said and done? According to Fox’s Ken Rosenthal:

Beckett on the Block, and other passing thoughts . . .

The speculation continues ramping up that the Boston Red Sox are looking to unload Josh Beckett, even if the front office are trying to downplay the speculation.

Beckett has 10-5 rights to veto any deal, though he’s commented recently that he’d rather stay in Boston but he’d accept it if the team no longer wants or needs him. The Atlanta Braves are thought to have kicked the proverbial tires on the righthander but shown no other interest in the former National Leaguer.