Inside Baseball news and notes from around all 15 NL teams. Click here for notes on all 15 AL teams. Click here to read Jon Heyman’s updated take on the crazy managerial carousel. Click here to read why Yankees manager Joe Girardi might be gone after this season no matter what.
- GM Mike Hazen called free agent star J.D. Martinez “fantastic” but stopped short of calling him a priority, as Nick Piecoro of azcentral.com reported. With Zack Greinke under contract at $206 million, and Paul Goldschmidt up in two years, Hazen was just being realistic. They’d love to keep Martinez, of course – “he changed the middle of the lineup” Hazen said – but Martinez is probably in line for a $100 million-plus deal.
- While Jeff Mathis hit like usual (not much), people around the league noticed how much effect he had on the pitching staff.
- It appeared to others that Goldschmidt’s elbow was bothering him late in the season, and in the Dodgers series, too.
- The Braves, currently at their organizational meetings, are waiting to hear from R.A. Dickey whether he will retire. They’d be happy to pick up his $8 million.
- The Braves were poised to make a change at manager before parting ways with GM John Coppolella, several people familiar with the situation say.
- Whoever is hired for the GM job gets a team that has pieces to compete in coming years. Whatever you say about the Braves now, Coppolella did a terrific job gathering young talent.
- Don’t talk “dynasty” to Cubs people, not when they’re tied at two games apiece in the NLDS. I know because I broached the subject with one Cubs higher-up, and even starting with the phrase “it might be a little early for this” didn’t help. Basically, he said, “Don’t be that guy.” Fair enough; he had a point. Too soon.
- Luke Farrell, the son of the Red Sox manager, was picked up by the Cubs, which is a homecoming of sorts for him since he is a Northwestern product.
- I’ll say it again: The pickup of Jose Quintana was the perfect one for the Cubs, as it gives them not only a fourth fine starter for this year’s playoffs (he was terrific in his playoff debut in Game 3) but gives them a third very good one going forward.
- The Cubs gave up one of the better power prospects in the game in Eloy Jimenez (the best by some accounts), but they made the decision that they couldn’t have both Jimenez and Kyle Schwarber on the same team since they are both left fielders for them, and somewhat similar-type players. Some Cubs people see Jimenez as a Carlos Lee type (who, let’s not forget, had a very good career). Jimenez is a pretty good athlete, but his arm may be short for right field, so it makes sense they don’t have room for him.
- The Cubs never really were serious about Justin Verlander. As one Cubs insider put it, they liked him for this year but didn’t like him for the next two. (By the time he was traded, the Cubs had already dealt their top prospects, so it was going to be a little difficult, anyway.)
- I was reminded Javier Baez’s plays seem even better in person. Close call for best defender in baseball between him and Andrelton Simmons.
- Jon Lester has some kind of postseason record.
- Reds people are going to consider at their meeting this week whether to give the $18 million qualifying offer to shortstop Zack Cozart. One rival suggested it should be a no-brainer, but the Reds are going to heavily debate it. While Cozart is a terrific player (and person), they know they haven’t been able to trade him over the past two years (one deal to the Mariners was canceled).
- Rookie Davis, who seems young to have hip problems, had hip surgery.
- Greg Holland will pass on his $15 million option and shoot for a multiyear deal.
- Carlos Gonzalez pointed to a new grip for his late-season turnaround. But apparently a sleep doctor also helped him. CarGo wasn’t sleeping early in the year, but the doctor apparently helped – and you could see a big difference on the field. That said, he may be better off doing a one-year deal and resetting, a la Adrian Beltre in Boston several years back.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Austin Barnes has risen, and some say he’s a rival to Yasmani Grandal on pitch framing, which is something because Grandal is one of the best in this area.
- The Dodgers think they have Yasiel Puig under some control, but his penchant to act childlike does test their nerves, and a Puig trade might be something to keep an eye on. They do appreciate the fact he’s worked over the last two winters to turn himself back into a good starting player, but some players on the team are still amazed by his childish antics.
- Yu Darvish turned in a terrific Game 3 performance after curtailing his habit of nibbling. Insiders loved the fact he was in “attack mode” all game. When he does that, they believe, he can dominate.
- It’s hard to see too many people with better futures than Cody Bellinger.
- The contenders see Shohei Otani picking an agent in a week or so.
- When former Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria handed over his seat to new owner Derek Jeter, he made some recommendations among the current staff, and for better or worse, Jeter has done mostly the opposite.
- Jeter has yet to get back to some of the Marlins legends about the role he aims to find for them after originally letting them know (via David Samson) that they were being fired, before later calling them to tell them he’d have spots for them. But there is still time for that.
- Jeter’s first major hire, Gary Denbo, as VP, player development and scouting, is drawing wide praise. The Yankees’ minor-league system, which Denbo oversaw, is “the best in the game right now,” one rival scout said.
- There are hints Jim Hendry, the former Cubs GM and current Yankees exec, could be on the radar to work under baseball president Michael Hill, and considering the big winter of moves expected, Hendry would bring just the sort of experience and smarts needed. Hendy, who once coached a Miami powerhouse high school team, began his pro career with the original Marlins.
- One rival says that if the Marlins want to procure young talent, they are better off considering deals for well-priced Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, rather than for Giancarlo Stanton, whose potential derby was profiled here last week and whose contract would limit the return.
- With Jimmy Nelson expected to miss a good portion of the 2018 season after shoulder surgery, the Brewers will look to beef up their rotation.
- As we’ve said here before, their outfield is crowded. They’ve made clear Lewis Brinson isn’t going anywhere (Sonny Gray, etc.), but Keon Broxton could be trade bait, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel suggested.
- Earnell Lucas is a finalist for Milwaukee County Sheriff. Good man who used to be Bud Selig’s bodyguard/companion.
New York Mets
- The move to Syracuse for their Triple-A affiliate will eliminate a lot of logistical issues for the Mets. While Las Vegas was fun, leaving it is the right bet (sorry).
- Asdrubal Cabrera is still hoping his $8.5 million option is picked up. The Mets were thought to be leaning toward doing so, but haven’t done it yet.
- Some inside the Marlins clubhouse suggest they doubt Giancarlo Stanton would approve the Phillies due to their rebuilding state – though they have some very good position prospects and are deep-pocketed enough to pay big this winter (or afford Stanton).
- Andy MacPhail said in his postseason presser he wanted to improve the “fan experience.” (My take: I took my family as fans to a game there this year, and it was terrific. The Phillie Phanatic is still the best. We were just a little disappointed the ice cream concessions were cut off at the eighth inning. Beer I get, but ice cream?)
- In my awards picks last week, I took heat for a Rookie of the Year pick, and a couple pointed out that Josh Bell should be rewarded (not in the top spot, that’s for Cody Bellinger) for playing a productive full season and should get a nod over what someone called “the half-year” guys. (I favored Rhys Hoskins and Paul DeJong over Bell. I am still not sure who’s right).
- The Pirates have to pick up Andrew McCutchen’s option, of course.
St. Louis Cardinals
- There’s a belief out there that Stanton might prefer one of the two coasts to the Midwest (though Stanton himself has not commented on this). That Cardinals were identified as one of the main pursuers of Stanton over the summer.
- Cardinals great Ozzie Smith had to evacuate due to the Napa fires, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
San Diego Padres
- Cody Bellinger has outstripped all expectations, and some think his brother Cole, a pitcher, could do the same. No one is predicting superstardom necessarily, but he could be a late-round gem. Logan White, who picked Cody for the Dodgers, is in the Padres’ front office. Some see him as possibly another Zach Davies, which wouldn’t be bad.
- Cal Quantrill, son of Paul, could be a star. Overall, the Padres’ stash of prospects is in the very upper tier.
San Francisco Giants
- The Giants are the team that’s shown the most interest in Giancarlo Stanton, sources suggest, though they are far from alone, as the Cardinals, Phillies and others also expressed hope this summer.
- The Giants still feel good about their team. Bruce Bochy said to the San Francisco Chronicle, “We have, I think, the makings of what I think is the one of the best rotations in baseball still.”
- Barry Bonds had to evacuate his home in wine country, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Noah Lowry also had to evacuate, reports Hank Schulman, also of the Chronicle.
- MadBum has changed the postseason – premier starters now used in long relief. MadBum Disease.
- Stephen Strasburg’s performance probably won’t rank with Michael Jordan’s Flu Game in the 1997 finals, but as it turned out, he was a hero in the end. It certainly didn’t look too good there for a while.
- In the end, the Nats’ only issue of the Game 4 pitching call was an error in communication. There needed to be a clear explanation about why they weren’t planning to pitch Strasburg – not a murky “under the weather” alibi plus some misinformation about when he threw a bullpen (it was Tuesday, not Wednesday, which allowed him to pitch Game 4 ultimately).
- For all folks say about Strasburg’s rep – and there’s reason to talk – his postseason stats suggest he does come up big when he actually does pitch. The Nats were praised here by shutting him down for the 2012 postseason to protect his arm and his future, but he’s had a couple really strange ones, like not wanting to pitch in his hometown in San Diego for the All-Star Game. (And he did not.)
- John Perrotto noted, after Dusty Baker pulled Max Scherzer after 97 pitches, having just allowed his first hit, that Dusty was “Buried for sticking with his starter too long, and now he’s going to be buried for pulling his starter too soon.”
- Great moment for Michael Taylor hitting a grand slam to lock up Game 4. It’s been a rough year for Taylor, who lost his father during spring training. Baker has handled him wonderfully, which is the real value of Dusty. He’s had nice talks with Taylor along the way, and the results are obvious.
- Baker felt the need to talk to Trea Turner, who’d been slumping even more noticeably than his teammates.
- Jayson Werth says he wants to play “three or four” more years, maybe five.
- And maybe this is me, but Werth should be grandfathered in for the beard, as it’s his calling card, but as for most of these other guys around the game, time to shave.