— Remember last season when we were witnessing the “once in a lifetime” season the Cubs put together? The Dodgers are on their way to eclipsing the Cubs success, as they are on a pace for 115 wins. They could lose their final 45 games and still finish with a record of 83-79.
— They’ve done that in large part without Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez for substantial periods of time.
— No reason to worry but Shane Baz, the Pirates #1 selection in the recent draft, has struggled mightily through his first seven professional starts. He’s only totaled 14.2 IP but has put up a 5.52 ERA and a 2.045 WHIP. He’s walking 5.5 per nine innings.
— The Los Angeles Rams will travel the most miles this season (32,600), and the Steelers will travel the fewest (6,694). My guess is it won’t be the 6,694 that kills the Steeler season. It’ll be the 568 miles to Foxboro in January.
— It looks like I was in the distinct minority with this opinion but I wasn’t troubled in the least by Joe West’s comments about Adrian Beltre being the biggest complainer. That comment of course led to West being suspended for three games. I never thought it implied bias on West’s part but merely his opinion based on anecdotal evidence. Nor did he ever suggest there was retribution at play.
— If an umpire gives a player, coach or manager a quick ejection does that indicate bias? If it happens more than once should that umpire be suspended? When we see an umpire laughing and joking with a player during the game, which we see many times, does that indicate a bias in favor of that player or team? Of course not.
— MLB players will wear special youth oriented jerseys later this month that feature player nicknames and special patches. It is reportedly an attempt to “cater to the youth market.”
— NYT writer Tyler Kepner had the best response to that sentiment. If they want to cater to the youth market how about scheduling a World Series game in the afternoon? Just one. Or maybe a first pitch before 8:30 pm?
— Bob Smizik shared this with me recently: “We’re always going to have to balance near term with long term,” the General Manager said. “That’s true now, it’s going to be true next year and it’s going to be true the year after that. Our goal here is to have a team that is in position for us to add at the deadline year after year after year.”
— That quote was from Milwaukee GM David Stearns but is almost verbatim what Neal Huntington says every year.
— The Brewers surrendered the infamous PTBNL for Walker and will pick up most of Walker’s pro-rated $17M salary. Seems like a pretty low cost of acquisition for a quality hitter who is being viewed as able to plug in at multiple positions. He in fact made his Brewer debut yesterday at third base.
— According to Spotrac even after adding Walker’s estimated $4.7M reamining salary, Brewers total adjusted payroll is at just $84M. They have the Pirates at $108M.
— I was able to catch some limited action from the Steelers game Friday night thanks to the NFL Network. An NFL preseason game is about a meaningful as the Grapefruit League but it was hard not to be impressed by TJ Watt. I admit to not following the team as closely as I once did but was that Tommy Maddox playing the second half at quarterback?
— Gregory Polanco said yesterday that his recent hamstring injury feels worse than the last time when he landed on the DL. If they didn’t already have a need to do so, if Polanco is out for anything more than a few games, the Pirates need to find offensive help in an August trade assuming they want to stay in the playoff chase.
— Here are some hitters that are out there and available per MLBTR.com: Curtis Granderson, Mets: With a nearly 1.000 OPS since mid-May, the Grandy Man’s remaining $15MM salary seems rather reasonable. He’s still owed about $4.3MM of that sum, but the Mets could grease the wheels on a trade by including some cash. Like teammates Bruce and Cabrera, Grandy has cleared waivers.
— Jed Lowrie, Athletics: The A’s can hang onto the veteran Lowrie for 2018 thanks to a very reasonable $6MM option, but it’d be hard to justify pushing Lowrie to the bench for a prospect like Franklin Barreto when Lowrie is flirting with an .800 OPS and has hit well all year. He can play anywhere in the infield, making him an ideal bench option for a contender — especially a team with a potential infield vacancy in 2018.
— Carlos Gomez, Rangers: Gomez raked in June and hit well in July, so he has generally been going well of late and owns a .251/.334/.460 slash for the year. With good baserunning and center-field capability added to the mix, Gomez could represent a plug-and-go option if a team finds a sudden need for a semi-regular up the middle. He is earning a fairly hefty $11.5MM salary, though, so adding him would mean taking on a fair bit of cash.
— If Neal Huntington really wants to put the band back together, Matt Joyce is hitting .273/.346/.682/1.028 in August. The problem is he’s guaranteed $6M in 2018 and the Pirates have already committed substantial dollars in bench pieces like David Freese and Sean Rodriguez. Assuming of course that neither is moved in the offseason.
— I freely admit I get more cynical with each passing column but does anyone else find these “what I did with the Stanley Cup” stories to be a little tedious?
— Francisco Cervelli left the game yesterday after aggravating his previous hurt left hand. According to reports he hopes to avoid the DL but “needs time” to recover.
— The Cubs added Jose Quintana in July. Thus far he’s 2-2 with a 4.20 ERA for his new team. The Brewers, as mentioned above, have added Neil Walker. The Cardinals made no additions but have put their game together and were tied for first going into yesterday’s games.
— The Pirates have needs. They are no worse than four back at the end of Sunday’s action and five back in the loss column. Winning ten of eleven is meaningless when you follow it by losing six of nine. That’s the problem of chasing three teams. There’s little margin for error.
— The Pirates have been incredibly average for 118 games in 2017. It’s time to decide what they want to be. With 34 of the next 38 games against division foes, they’re either a playoff contender, which requires an upgrade to the lineup and yet still more in the bullpen or they’re an average team playing for 2018.
— If the latter, and shame on them if they decide that, then let’s stop the Kabuki dance and promote Steven Brault and Tyler Glasstrointestinal for the remainder of the season to see what they have for next year.