Inside Baseball news and notes from around all 15 NL teams.
- The D-backs looked at Brandon Kintzler and Joe Smith, among others, before bringing back old friend David Hernandez, who seemed to be their main target all along. They thought the ask on Kintzler was too high for a rental (he gets free agency by three days).
- Fernando Rodney has been dominant in most games lately.
- Robbie Ray (concussion) recently threw, and is said to feel fine.
- Former GM Dave Stewart took some knocks but his trade of Miguel Montero in which he dumped the full $40 million on the Cubs and picked up young right-hander Zack Godley looks like a terrific deal. Montero hit a huge home run in the postseason last year and had some nice moments with the Cubs before they cut him this year. But Godley is pitching like a star. Arizona also gut Jefferson Mejia in that deal; Mejia was traded for Adam Rosales, who’ll help fill an infield gap with injuries depleting their troops.
- The D-backs became the first team other than the Braves to beat the Dodgers since before the July 4 holiday. Beating L.A. is a statement these days.
- The current plan calls for the Braves to bring back Brian Snitker, as baseball president John Hart hinted to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’s done a nice job. There’s no reason to think he isn’t coming back,” said one Braves person, seeming to confirm Hart’s assessment to the AJC.
- Jim Johnson has cleared waivers and is eligible to be traded anywhere now. Demotion or not, the sub-3 FIP the last two years are the best two figures of his long career.
- The Braves preferred Michael Fulmer to Sonny Gray, as Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network reported. But Atlanta was told by the Tigers that they wouldn’t talk about Fulmer until the offseason, if then. And now that there is an elbow concern, that may throw a monkey wrench into any potential talks.
- Freddie Freeman gets plaudits here for trying third base. But he wasn’t great, so the better solution seems to be to use Matt Adams in left field. Adams is no speedster, but as one scout points out, he’s about as good in the outfield as Matt Kemp these days.
- The Cubs deserve praise all around for their aggressive stance at the deadline, giving themselves a chance to defend their rare title. When you’ve won three World Series as Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and Co. have, perhaps you feel a little more confident than some others. Not only did they check in on Sonny Gray, they did the same with Yu Darvish, just in case. But alas, Darvish had the Cubs on his no-trade list, and some think that derailed their chances (though Darvish didn’t officially turn down anyone).
- Earlier, the Cubs did check in on Justin Verlander. But that was only before they got Jose Quintana.
- Willson Contreras is a burgeoning superstar, great behind the plate and just as good in left field. He has been amazing. If his hamstring injury is serious, it will be a big blow to the Cubs.
- Jake Arrieta is enhancing his free agent chances, with a hot streak the past few months.
- Luis Castillo, who came in the Dan Straily trade, is “showing promise” in the words of one scout. But a rival exec says the Reds rotation remains the neediest of all. He called it a “hodgepodge.”
- They’ve found three reliable relievers (Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and Wandy Peralta), so that’s a plus.
- FOX has low standards for character but there’s no way they can let Pete Rose come back to broadcast after the latest revelation.
- Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon are both on pace for 90 extra-base hits. If they both get there, they will become the first pair of teammates to do so since Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, reported Jayson Stark on an MLB Network appearance.
- Greg Holland, who’s been an MVP candidate, finally had a rough week, with two blown saves.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Yu Darvish called it “heaven” when he got to the Dodgers, understandable since they are having an all-time great season. Tommy Lasorda has to love that, too.
- One rival rated the Dodgers’ deadline take the best. “They cleaned up,” that person said.
- Whether by luck or smarts, their unaggressive stance toward Darvish didn’t prevent them from landing the biggest star at the deadline.
- They “never got traction” on Zach Britton, who didn’t go anywhere anyway, in the end.
- One quibble from a rival scout: He doesn’t see Tony Cingrani as a difference-maker. That person noted he believes Cingrani “only has one and a half pitches.”
- They were in on Sonny Gray but always felt the Yankees were ahead.
- The Dodgers are in line to host the All-Star Game in 2020 or ’21, according to sources. About time. It’s been since 1980 that the Dodgers hosted.
- Chris Taylor continues to amaze. Manager Dave Roberts says he’s ceased being surprised.
- Justin Turner continues to be one of the best hitters in the league since he was released as a utilityman with the Mets. At the time of his release, he had a .684 OPS, Jared Diamond of the Wall St. Journal pointed out. Still, it wasn’t a plus that someone in the Mets organization whispered negative things about him at the time, perhaps to justify the release. In any case, he continues to make the Mets pay.
- In the first 12 games after Clayton Kershaw went down with a back ailment, Dodgers starters were 11-1 with a 1.82 ERA, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register tweeted. Not bad.
- Kershaw is making good progress, by all accounts.
- Fourteen of Cody Bellinger’s 33 home runs have come in the eighth inning or later, Jerry Hairston tweeted.
- Hyun-Jin Ryu has been terrific lately, which could make things interesting come playoff time.
- As if they aren’t good enough as is, Walker Buehler, who throws 99, could be a candidate for the pen come playoff time.
- The Dodgers are good against everybody but especially good against the Mets. They outscored the Mets 57-15 in their seven games, all wins, this year.
- Yasiel Puig seems to be undergoing an image transformation, and his performance at MLB Network didn’t hurt. He stopped by the studio after a Dodgers night game last Friday at Citi Field.
- Sources say Yankees legend Derek Jeter – who leads one of the two groups left in the bidding for the Marlins along with Miami businessman Jorge Mas following the departure of the Wayne Rothbaum-Jeb Bush group — can’t be the control person since he’s putting in only $25 million of the estimated $1.2 billion sale price. That is yet another potential complication in what seems like a troubled bid – but Jeter can’t be discounted since he’s hung around for many months despite suffering many key defections and not seeming to have the money for most of that time. One recent attempt of his to come up with the cash relies on “preferreds,” which are really loans at 14 percent, something MLB almost certainly won’t allow. The reasons for Jeter’s continuing involvement despite being well short of the money are possibly several fold: 1) he is said to have signaled a willingness to retain team president David Samson (though Samson says he purposely has excluded such talk from negotiations, it has become clear that Samson is stumping hard for Jeter) while the other groups presumably wouldn’t keep Samson 2) Jeter’s main investor, Bruce Sherman, is a guy respected and liked by all, and he’s very rich 3) he’s an icon so MLB and the Marlins like the idea of him buying the team, 4) the other two finalists (one now gone) haven’t fully disclosed their own finances, and one of the groups like Jeter’s has been marked by many comings and goings (Rothbaum-Bush), though Mas is believed to be fully funded 5) Jeter has bid the $1.2 billion Jeffrey Loria seeks even if he doesn’t have it yet, with Mas at $1.17 billion (if he gets the exclusive negotiating window) 6) the other groups have blanched after seeing more of the books, which reflect what’s said to be $70 million in losses this year. In any case, word is that team owner Loria has gotten more involved in the sale negotiations lately, which could potentially change the dynamic. Loria is a New Yorker and long-time fan of the Yankees who has hired many connected to that team, including Don Mattingly, Joe Girardi and Tino Martinez, but Samson, who has been running the negotiations, by all appearances is the one that really seems to love the idea of Jeter.
- Word is Wayne Rothbaum got “cold feet” on the deal in which he was the biggest investor at about $400M.
- Bush is having a rough couple years. After getting no votes as a Presidential candidate, he spent this year hopping from group to group. That’s three failed groups he was in if you’re scoring at home.
- Marlins people are telling folks a sale is within a week or two away. Of course, we’ve heard that before.
- Only two Marlins starters have won more than four games – Jose Urena (10) and Dan Straily (seven). Urena originally made the team out of necessity – he was out of options.
- In the first week after the deadline, the Marlins had yet to put anyone on waivers. To do one of these big deals, they’d probably need a new owner’s involvement anyway. Giancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon should be able to pass through waivers whenever they are put through, although Stanton’s deal is looking a lot better with each tape measure home run.
- The most shocking thing of the week was Fangraphs putting the Marlins’ playoff chances at 2.5 percent. Normally their numbers make sense, but Miami was 10 games out in the wild card, and even more in the NL East. Computer malfunction?
- While the Brewers took a good long look at Sonny Gray, rivals say they probably did the right thing by playing it conservatively and holding onto their top prospects. The key man there was Lewis Brinson, and Milwaukee would not let him go.
- Meanwhile, the Brewers’ pen “looks a little rough” according to a scout who just saw them. Jacob Barnes, who was very good early, has struggled lately.
- Josh Hader continues to impress, with a .137 BAA. He could cut down on the walks, though.
New York Mets
- General manager Sandy Alderson’s contract is up, but people around the team expect him back for at least 2018.
- Terry Collins is an interesting case. He signed a two-year deal after 2015 as he wasn’t sure he wanted to manage more than that, but people close to him believe he’d be happy to return under the right circumstances. This season obviously has been nothing like what anyone hoped for, but there’s no way to blame Collins. That said, there’s no guarantee he’ll be back at this point.
- Two candidates to replace Collins would likely be bench coach Dickie Scott and Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren, who was the Mets’ previous bench coach. Both have long-time ties to Oakland and Alderson and are the type he’d seek in a manager if Collins were to leave. Chip Hale is another one with A’s ties; he finished second to Collins.
- The Mets finally found a taker for Jay Bruce willing to pay the rest of his contract, and that just shows how tough the outfield market is. They are set up for some more August trades, with Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and A.J. Ramos all clearing waivers. The Yankees had checked in on Walker a couple weeks back.
- The Yanks and Mets now haven’t been able to get together in talks regarding Lucas Duda and Bruce. Maybe the third time will be the charm.
- The lack of interest in Bruce had been downright silly. The guy has been terrific.
- It is believed, however, that Jerry Blevins was or will be blocked on waivers.
- The Mets are receiving praise for their take for Addison Reed. All three young pitchers acquired throw 95-mph plus, as one scout noted.
- Amed Rosario is making plays no Mets shortstop made this year. He is the sixth youngest player in baseball, even after waiting so long for his promotion.
- No surprise, Chase Utley remains unpopular at Citi Field.
- Aaron Nola became the fourth Phillies pitcher to have nine consecutive games with at least six innings and no more than two runs (a super quality start, if you will), joining Dutch Leonard (1927), Woodie Fryman and Cliff Lee (2011-12).
- RIP Darren Daulton, a great leader and quite a character.
- Clint Hurdle and Neal Huntington both have team options for next year but word is both can return next year if they like, and extensions are possible as well. If Hurdle leaves, it’s of his own accord. No one sees Huntington going anywhere.
- Sean Rodriguez, who looked from here like an expensive claim (he’ll cost $7.5 million through the end of next year, plus the prospect, Connor Joe, that was thrown in), but he immediately brought excitement (and productivity) to the Bucs, with a walk-off home run in his return engagement. Rodriguez was quoted saying, “Deep down I never felt like I stopped being a Pirate.” Credit, too, to him for getting back this year after the horrific traffic accident, when a drunk slammed into his vehicle, injuring his entire family.
- Pirates people admit Jung-ho Kang may not even make it back next year due to his three DUIs in Korea. That may have had something to do with the claim of Rodriguez.
- Rookie Chad Kuhl has been pitching well.
- The Pirates never came close to trading Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole or Josh Harrison in the end. Good thing, because they are still in it. McCutchen, for his part, is back to his MVP performance, playing as well as anyone in the game since May 24 (except maybe Jose Altuve).
- What really hurt the Pirates this year is their 3-13 record vs. the Reds and Giants.
St. Louis Cardinals
- The Cardinals have done a lot of tinkering (sending players to the minors, altering the coaching staff, even promoting in the front office) but they did the least of anyone at the deadline. One move one rival said they player they should have tried for was Jay Bruce. “They need a left-handed hitter,” the rival opined.
- The Cardinals did check in on J.D. Martinez but didn’t come close to matching Arizona’s much-maligned winning package.
- The Cardinals pen is starting to gel a bit.
- Cardinals baseball president John Mozeliak mentioned he didn’t love Yadier Molina coming back at Mike Matheny publicly to respond to Matheny’s suggestion that he was tired. Molina is believed to miss Jose Oquendo who is working as an instructor in Jupiter these days.
- Former scouting director Chris Correa obviously made a whopper of a mistake, but he should get credit for the draft choices of Harrison Bader and Paul DeJong, who could be potential stars.
- Jose Martinez got a bit of revenge on the Royals, who didn’t call him up one year after he led the PCL with a .384 batting average.
San Diego Padres
- Things went back and forth with the Nationals and Dodgers regarding Brad Hand. But they probably had their best shot at a Hand trade with the Astros. Even after the Astros made Forrest Whitley, Kyle Tucker and Frances Martes off limits, the Padres hoped for a deal for Derek Fisher, Perez or Yordan Alvarez. But the Astros said no to all three of those players, too. Hard to blame the Padres for not pulling the trigger.
- Michel Baez, a righty who signed for $3 million, has been dominant so far. Adrian Morejon, who came for $11 million, also has impressed as the Padres’ system is solidly in the top five now, maybe even top two.
- Padres people realize in retrospect that perhaps they shouldn’t have rushed in and tried to contend their first year. But their one real regret seems to be over Trea Turner, and trading him before they saw him enough. The Padres are still searching for a shortstop.
- Jhoulys Chacin, who used to call Coors his home field, has an interesting split his first year in Petco Park: 1.86 ERA at home, 7.35 on the road.
San Francisco Giants
- The Giants have had more good times than anyone in the past decade, but they know they have to dig themselves out of a hole now. They are not giving up the hope to contend by next year, but Giants people seem to be realistic enough to know it’s going to be hard to catch the Dodgers in a year – they are on pace to finish 50 games behind their rival. Giants GM Bobby Evans says, they are “taking it one day at a time. We are going to do everything we can to get back to winning baseball. And we have to make changes to get there. Everyone’s seeing the same thing we’re seeing. This is not the kind of baseball we expect.” Which is all you can say.
- That said, there is no big overhaul planned. It was telling when Evans said, “We are not going away from our core.” They will spend the next seven weeks evaluating, but by now of course, they know they need to address the outfield, which has been a mess this year.
- They’ve even had big luck in the minors this year with Tyler Beede and Steven Duggar getting hurt.
- The Giants hadn’t put Jeff Samardzija or Johnny Cueto on waivers in the first week after the deadline. Cueto’s injury, though not considered serious, plus his opt-out make a trade for him very unlikely (“no chance,” one rival said), but Samardzija’s recent solid pitching could make him a more realistic trade candidate.
- Bryce Harper, whose best month is April, is dominant in the first inning. He has 12 home runs in first innings this year.
- Stephen Strasburg’s arm concern has lingered a bit longer than expected.
- The Nats are over the luxury tax threshold for the first time, as their efforts to fix the bullpen situation has driven them to spend. Chelsea Janes of the #failing Washington Post first reported on the situation.