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The case of the disappearing DH

Hideki Matsui homered for the 500th time as a professional, counting both Japan and Major League Baseball, as the A's beat the Tigers in Detroit.

It's a great accomplishment for Matsui, and as Jane Lee points out in her story for, it surely meant more to him because it helped Oakland pick up a rare victory. Yet it also has to be bittersweet, not only because the A's are terrible, but also because Matsui himself is experiencing a dreadful year that may prove to be his last.

Veteran DHs, in fact, appear to be an endangered species. Consider that, as we approach the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline, we're not hearing too many names of rent-a-bats. That's because the veteran DHs for many out-of-contention American League teams are so bad that they wouldn't even draw anything in a trade.

Like Matsui. Like Baltimore's Vladimir Guerrero, who is on the disabled list with a broken bone in his right hand. Like Seattle's Jack Cust.

The one exception? Tampa Bay's Johnny Damon, who has been pretty good and who could go in one of the Rays' "sort of concede, but not entirely" type deals.

When you look at the contending teams, too, you can see a significant subspecies of veteran DHs who may very well head into the sunset _ some by choice, some not _ following this season. In addition to Matsui, Guerrero and Cust, you have Detroit's Magglio Ordonez (who actually has played more outfield than DH), the Yankees' Jorge Posada and Minnesota's Jim Thome. 

Boston's David Ortiz, after appearing all but done a couple of years ago, stands now as a smiling aberration. The Red Sox are going to have to re-sign him after this year, probably even to a multi-year deal. 

What does all of this mean? I don't know. We've thought for a few years now, around the time that baseball started testing for amphetamines, that older players were getting phased out. We also know that scoring is down in general, regardless of hitters' ages.

From a visceral sense, it just feels weird to see so many big, accomplished names fading away so quietly. 

It also means that the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot could be a doozy. Remember, we already saw one veteran DH retire at the start of the year. And from the tiny sample we saw, Manny Ramirez looked like he was wrapping up his career, too, before he failed his test for illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

New York Sports