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All-Star break news roundup

Like the players, I took a few days off to do nothing. Things happened, and tomorrow it's back to the grind, man.

Ichiro is close to a five-year, $100 million extension with Seattle. Erm, holy shit? 20 million clams a year for a singles hitter? Ichiro is a great singles hitter, but that is a whole lot of money. And could Alex Rodriguez even consider for a moment not testing the open market if Ichiro -- who is older and has far less overall impact -- is getting that much money? Buster Olney speculated that A-Rod would get $30 million a year if he made himself available. I'd have to agree. There are only a couple of teams that could pay that, but he could get it.

Travis Hafner got four years and $57 million from the Indians.

Ricky Henderson will be taking over as the Mets' hitting coach, which sounds silly on the surface given Rickey's, you know, Rickey-ness, but he's one of the smartest and best baseball players to ever live. Just because he's not the world's best public speaker or the sharpest knife in the crayon box doesn't mean he doesn't know baseball. Mike Tyson is no Oxford graduate, but the man is a student of boxing and knows the game inside and out. Rickey is kind of the same way with baseball, I would guess.

He worked with Jose Reyes prior to the 2006 season on the art of being an effective leadoff hitter, and Reyes improved greatly, going from being a total hacker to a guy that saw pitches a lot better. He wasn't exactly more patient, but he knew better WHEN to swing. It wasn't a change in philosophy so much as a tweaking and bettering of the current one. That seems effective to me. Plus, the guy is just funny as all hell.

In other hitting coach news, Rick Schu will take over for Kevin Seitzer in Arizona. Seitzer was a much better player than Schu. Other than that, I have no real opinion.

Dr. Douchebag Shea Hillenbrand has cleared waivers.

David Ortiz is going to have an MRI on his right knee, and rumors are floating around that Oakland's Dan Johnson could be headed to Boston, which may be related. The Yankees are also interested. It's not that the A's dislike Johnson, they just want to promote Daric Barton. Plus, with the A's underperforming, they're in sell mode. Mike Piazza is also on the market, since Jack Cust is more than capable of filling the DH role. Shannon Stewart will also likely go. In Cincinnati, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Adam Dunn could be on the trade block, but both will be tough to sell -- not because they aren't good, but because of their contracts. Griffey is owed a bunch of money, and Dunn's contract voids at the end of the year if he's dealt.

Albert Pujols is whining about not playing in the All-Star game. La Russa doesn't want to hear it, and says he was holding Albert back in case the game went long, because Pujols has positional flexibility. Good enough reason for me and the other millions of baseball fans who couldn't give a shit about the All-Star game.