Jeff Passan

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Jeff Passan is an award-winning columnist who has covered baseball since 2004. He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in journalism. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October.

  • 10 Degrees: The Red Sox’s best move is to trade Jon Lester

    Two years ago, amid the chaos of a season crumbling around them and the eventual fire sale that paved the way for a championship, the Boston Red Sox very quietly let teams know that Jon Lester was available.

    He was in the midst of his worst season, coming off the beer-and-chicken mess of 2011, stifled by manager Bobby Valentine, and after initial discussions with the Atlanta Braves didn’t go far, the Red Sox found a more-than-willing trade partner: the Texas Rangers.

    The talks went beyond tire kicking, multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations told Yahoo Sports. Names were exchanged. Permutations went back and forth. And for the second time, the Red Sox were threatening to deal Lester to the Rangers. The first time, of course, was as the third piece of the 2003 trade that almost sent Manny Ramirez to Texas and Alex Rodriguez to Boston.

    Eventually, the 2012 talks fizzled. Texas got bounced in the wild-card game. The Red Sox rode Lester’s rebound year into the 2013 postseason,

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  • 25 Degrees: Let the Mike Trout hardware parade commence

    The idea for this column came five years ago, inspired by a dreadlocked malcontent with an ego problem. Joe Mauer and Ichiro were eyeing .400, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols were the game’s best right-handed hitters and the Los Angeles Angels two weeks to the day earlier signed a high school kid named ...

    1. Mike Trout without any idea that the baseball world would revolve around him half a decade later like it did Manny Ramirez back in July 2009. Following another out-of-this-world first half that he cherry-on-topped with an All-Star Game MVP award, Trout now can focus on taking the full-season hardware stolen from him twice and guiding the Los Angeles Angels to his first postseason appearance. Whether they can leap ...

    2. Jeff Samardzija and the Oakland A’s in the AL West is one of the sport’s burning questions, particularly considering how good the A’s were in the first half before they acquired their new ace. He fits their team personality-wise and their gloves with a big

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  • Save the hate for MLB's silly All-Star Game rule, not Adam Wainwright

    MINNEAPOLIS – It's OK if Adam Wainwright grooved Derek Jeter a pitch in Tuesday night's All-Star Game. Really, it's more than OK. It's wonderful. It's great. It's the sort of canvas on which one of the greatest ballplayers of his generation, and one of the greatest New York Yankees ever, could paint another memory, which is exactly what Jeter did with a double down the right-field line. It's not unbecoming. It's not gauche. It's not beneath either of them. It's completely stinking perfect, because this is the All-Star Game, and the All-Star Game is, and always will be, an exhibition.

    We say "if" because Wainwright swore up and down that his comments after exiting the game – that he "was gonna give him a couple pipe shots," or groove Jeter a pair of fastballs to start the bottom of the first inning – were wrong. And that he "made a mistake" saying them. And that he was "an idiot." Which is silly, because Wainwright actually is one of the most intelligent, accountable, candid men in the

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  • Mike Trout put in work Tuesday night to help the AL defeat the NL. (Getty Images)Mike Trout put in work Tuesday night to help the AL defeat the NL. (Getty Images)

    MINNEAPOLIS – Baseball's 2014 All-Star Game featured a national coming-out party for Mike Trout, a strikeout parade for Yasiel Puig and a 90-mph fastball that left Derek Jeter's final game shrouded in controversy.

    National League starter Adam Wainwright admitted he grooved Jeter the first two pitches of night, the latter of which Jeter stroked for a double that highlighted a 2-for-2 evening. Trout drove him in with a triple, the first of two extra-base hits on his way to winning the game's MVP award for leading the American League to a 5-3 victory on Tuesday night that gives the AL champion home-field advantage in the World Series.

    Wainwright's comments to a group of reporters following his appearance in the game only reinforced the dubious awarding of home-field based on a game in which the starting pitcher was more than content to feed Jeter, the New York Yankees shortstop and a surefire Hall of Famer retiring at season's end, two easy pitches to hit.

    "I was gonna give him a couple

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  • Adam Wainwright says he grooved pitch for Derek Jeter then says he was joking

    MINNEAPOLIS – Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game went about as well as possible, even if it included a little help from the opposing pitcher.

    Jeter went 2 for 2, including a first-inning double on a 90-mph fastball National League starter Adam Wainwright told a group of reporters he threw over the plate intentionally.

    "I was gonna give him a couple pipe shots. He deserved it," Wainwright said. "I didn't know he was gonna hit a double or I might have changed my mind."

    Wainwright later told Fox's Erin Andrews he was joking when he made his initial comments, hoping to quash criticism he received on social media for giving Jeter a pitch to hit in a game that determines home-field advantage for the World Series.

    "Sometimes my humor gets taken the wrong way," Wainwright said in a dugout interview in the eighth inning. "I feel terrible about this if anyone is taking any credit away from what Derek Jeter's done today or off me. It was mis-said. I made a mistake.

    "I hope people realize I'm not

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  • The new face of baseball: Mike Trout or Yasiel Puig?

    MINNEAPOLIS – The new face of baseball sat in front of five people at a time, maybe 10 when it got really crowded, answering questions in the same manner as the old face. Baseball doesn't manufacture celebrities like the NBA or the NFL, and it rewards stoicism and humility above all, so of course Mike Trout would offer answers like Derek Jeter, which is to say ones about as boring as the Home Run Derby.

    For two decades, Jeter rode the milquetoast train to superstardom on account of the city in which he played (New York), the championship rings on his fingers (a fistful) and his remarkable ability never to offend (a streak still intact). It is why the nebulous face-of-baseball title went to him more by default than his earning it. He was never the best player. He was just the coolest.

    With Jeter set to take his savoir faire off to retirement this season, it leaves baseball, already a sport with a cog or two missing from its star-making machine, in search of someone to fill the role for

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  • Is 18 too soon for Dodgers phenom Julio Urias to debut in big leagues?

    MINNEAPOLIS – He's 17 years old. That's what gets everyone. It's not Julio Urias' 97-mph fastball, which is unforgettable because he fires it left-handed. Nor is it his left eye, which droops because of childhood surgery to remove a tumor. It's the fact that he can barely drive, can't vote, is almost half a decade from a legal beer and could very well pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers next year.

    "This guy's got the ability to pitch in the big leagues at 18," Logan White said Sunday morning, a few hours before Urias threw that 97-mph gas and breezed through an impressive 14-pitch inning for the World team in a 3-2 loss to the U.S. in the Futures Game that kicked off baseball's All-Star week. White is the Dodgers' scouting director, and he understands the loaded nature of his words, how the last pitcher to debut in the big leagues as an 18-year-old was Tim Conroy in 1978 – and that was little more than a publicity stunt by Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley.

    For now, Urias plies his trade

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  • It's not a dream: Sad-sack Cleveland is now a winner with LeBron

    I was convinced this is a joke. I still am. This all sounds like the handiwork of an elaborate, incredibly realistic, indescribably evil, completely typical prank on Cleveland. Because if sports taught anything to those of us who grew up in Cleveland, it is that Mr. Murphy wrote his law with our humble city in mind.

    Please understand the feeling that this is a hallucination, a dream. That the rumors of LeBron James considering coming back to Cleveland felt like a tease, and that the Cavs clearing cap space to accommodate his max salary was only ratcheting up the eventual disappointment, and that when people gathered last night near James' home, like white smoke was about to emerge from the chimney, it was mindless sheep being led to their emotional slaughter.

    They stood there for no reason and every reason. After The Fumble and The Drive. After the Indians' 65-year drought and the Cavs' championshipless history. After the Browns moved to Baltimore and LeBron took his talents to South

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  • Why MLB's elbow problem, which now includes Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka, is worse than people imagine

    Masahiro Tanaka will be out at least six weeks rehabbing an elbow injury. (USA TODAY Sports) Masahiro Tanaka will be out at least six weeks rehabbing an elbow injury. (USA TODAY Sports)

    It's too late to save this generation. At the highest levels of research into the pitching arm, almost all the top minds agree that baseball for the next decade, and probably more, is going to be a non-stop parade of injuries, disappointment and bewilderment. This horrifies them. It should.

    And so they hold out for hope that this is the one, that maybe because it's Masahiro Tanaka's elbow, a $175 million hinge held together by a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, the industry will start to recognize the crisis on its hands and do more than talk about it. Perhaps they'll even acknowledge that it's not just a crisis because of what's happening, because elbows are blowing out with such frequency. It's a crisis because of what's not happening.

    Today, as Tanaka begins a six-week rehab filled with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections in hopes of avoiding Tommy John surgery, here is the truth about how baseball is handling a problem with a greater practical effect on its business

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  • The 30 most exciting players in the Futures Game

    The Futures Game has been around for 16 years, long enough that almost everybody from the first version is gone from the game. Lance Berkman retired. Alfonso Soriano just got cut. The only leftovers on active rosters are A.J. Burnett, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Grilli and Aramis Ramirez.

    It's worth keeping in mind when looking at the potential of the 2014 Futures Game's prospect haul, many of whom have been stamped with the CAN'T MISS tattoo of doom. Remember: Lots of them do miss, so it's fun to appreciate them now.

    And that opportunity will present itself Sunday at 5 p.m. ET, when a group of prospects from the United States faces a team of players born outside of the U.S. It's not a real game so much as it is an individual showcase. In that spirit, keep this list of players handy. It's not a ranking of the best prospects in the game. It's the 30 most fun to watch, whether because of power, speed, velocity or any other number of enjoyable qualities.

    30. Gabby Guerrero, OF, Seattle:

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