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Down for the count (cont.)

Posted: Monday June 25, 2007 11:54AM; Updated: Monday June 25, 2007 4:32PM
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Sox update: The first shoe drops

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The first move made by Williams was the firing of scouting director Duane Shaffer, who already wasn't really calling the shots in the amateur draft a couple weeks ago, and the reinstalling of Doug Laumann into that role. Shaffer was a 35-year employee who made several astute picks over the years, such as Jack McDowell and Buehrle, but fell into disfavor as a string of recent first rounders have flopped. Shaffer was somewhat handicapped by low draft positions, but by far the bigger downfall has been owner Jerry Reinsdorf's reluctance to draft players advised by agent Scott Boras. In the most recent draft, Boras had about a dozen top players and as many as five or six of the top 10.

Around the Majors

• It makes me sad to see John Smoltz and Chipper Jones bicker this way, although Smoltz may have done some good by shaming the injured Jones into playing. Smoltz had told the media, "I certainly appreciate the effort of the guys who are on the field busting it.'' And Jones understandably figured he was talking about him.

The sorry superstars made up on Sunday, and manager Bobby Cox was quoted as saying. "Everything's as good as can be.'' (Cox must not be looking at the standings.) The reality is, if Smoltz hadn't made his snarky remark and Chipper had stayed on the sidelines, the Braves would have no runs in forever instead of one run in five games, which was accounted for by the homer Chipper hit on Saturday after returning.

• It's a bad time for crazies (although that may not be the technical term). Milton Bradley was designated for assignment by the A's and Elijah Dukes remains designated for the bench since calling in to a Tampa radio station and screaming and cursing to prove his case that he's not crazy.

• The Mets are an outfielder short now. But Bradley would not exactly be the perfect influence for Lastings Milledge (or anyone else, for that matter).

• Here's the Yankee pitching rundown: Two scouts who saw Kei Igawa say he's bumped his fastball from 88 to 91 and improved his changeup but that he's still looks pretty ordinary. Mike Mussina would need to improve to reach ordinary. Kyle Farnsworth, who has done almost nothing right except shame Roger Clemens into showing up when he isn't pitching, simply has to go. And lastly, on Sunday Clemens became the most expensive middle reliever in baseball history.

• I still love the Tigers. They just need to do two things. One is to acquire a reliever. The other, and I'm sorry to say this, to replace the Mayor (Sean Casey), who has one home run in 224 at-bats.

Joel Sherman in the New York Post had a pretty good compromise for the Rangers and Orioles. Texas wants Erik Bedard for Mark Teixeira but maybe it would consider taking talented-but-more-erratic Daniel Cabrera as part of a package.

• Even if Frank Thomas doesn't make it to 500 home runs -- he's at 499 -- he's a Hall of Famer in my book.

• Condolences to the family, friends and former teammates of Rod Beck, who was a pretty fair closer and a heckuva lot of fun to watch in his day. Which, sadly, wasn't so long ago.

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