Inside baseball news and notes from each of the 15 National League teams.
- Before the Diamondbacks shopped Shelby Miller last summer, just before they should have made that trade with the Marlins that was detailed here last week, the Arizona baseball people sat in a room and took a poll as to whether Miller would ever succeed as a D-back. The vote was something to nothing, meaning everyone thought a trade would be for the best, for the talented Miller and for the team. Depending who you talk to, they were either very close or not quite so close for a trade that would have sent Miller to the Marlins for at least Luis Castillo and Jose Urena and maybe also Austin Brice and/or Dillon Peters before the potential deal was killed by D-backs owner Ken Kendrick, who may have been so upset by the trade to acquire Miller that he’d lost faith in the front office. Word is, Kendrick told them he wasn’t enamored of any of those players, saying to his baseball people that each proposed player coming back was “not a prospect.”
- Yasmany Tomas doesn’t look like a mistake after all.
- The D-backs had an MLB record 10 straight games with at least 10 strikeouts.
- Zack Greinke’s slider is helping him back to stardom. Greinke remains a candidate for trade, but rivals suggest that despite his nice comeback, the D-backs would have to significantly pay down much of $34-million annual salary, especially if they want decent prospects back. Greinke’s salary is more than three times higher than the next best-paid D-back, Tomas, so many people he will be shopped, even if Arizona continues to play well.
- For all the agita he’s caused, Fernando Rodney has saved 10 of 12, as Tommy Stokke of FanRag points out.
- The Braves are gearing up to hit the free-agent starting pitching market this winter. They have three free-agent pitchers themselves – Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey and Jaime Garcia – and are expected to be active in it since their top pitching prospects are probably a couple years away.
- Freddie Freeman is a huge loss. He fractured his wrist and is out 10 weeks or so.
- Ryan Howard told Meghan Montemurro of the New Journal outside Philly, “By no means am I done.” The Braves apparently thought so, releasing him after just 42 plate appearances. Word is, they thought he was a “great guy,” but apparently saw little hope. Scouts say he didn’t look like he could move well enough to play.
- Sticking with struggling Dansby Swanson seems to have been the right way to go. He is up from a low of .125 to close to .200.
- Matt Kemp, with a slimmed-down physique and a smaller ballpark, is absolutely thriving.
- The Braves may go away from their usual pitcher-first strategy as they like San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) Junipero Serra shortstop Royce Lewis. However, it’s probably only an outside chance he’d fall to them at No. 5. Some scouts say he reminds them of Derek Jeter.
- Jose Ramirez was another good low-cost pickup by the Braves. They got him for Ryne Harper.
- If they do any selling, Brandon Phillips could hit the block. They are only paying $1 million of the $14 million salary (the Reds are paying the rest), and he’s having a typical year.
- Adonis Garcia is struggling on both sides of the ball, and Rio Ruiz could be called up if he starts to show anything.
- Jeff Francoeur took a TV job with FOX South after failing to find a playing job. He should be terrific at TV.
- They are a bit worried about the way the ball is flying at SunTrust. And it hasn’t even gotten that hot yet.
- Who would have predicted the Cubs would be in fourth place through May 12.
- Ian Happ’s debut included a home run off Carlos Martinez. Not bad. We liked Happ already, but bonus points for using “Happy” by Pharrell as his walk-up song.
- Happ’s ascension makes that 2015 draft look even better. Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman and Andrew Benintendi, the Nos. 1, 2 and 7 picks were already up. Happ was No. 9.
- It’s shocking to see Kyle Schwarber hitting .187.
- Miguel Montero is off to a big start. He’s quite a good stick for a backup, and he should be able to extend his career with a free agent deal next winter. The Cubs also look smart for not taking up Arizona and other teams with offers for him this winter.
- Jake Arrieta has a 4.60 ERA since last June 27, and that includes the postseason, when he was very good, Christopher Kamka noted.
- The .214 batting average with runners in scoring position is an issue, a Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reported.
- The Reds picked up big power when they picked up Peter O’Brien off the waiver wire. How big is his power? Yankees people, who drafted O’Brien, though it compared to that of Aaron Judge.
- Amir Garrett is on his way back after a brief demotion.
- While some see the Reds playing it safe and taking Louisville 1B/LHP Brendan McKay (if he’s available), if they see him as a first baseman, that might be tough for them considering they still have Joey Votto under contract for many more years.
- Greg Holland should easily gain a $15-million player option (it’ll take 30 games finished, and he’s more than halfway there already), and word is, assuming he pitches like this, he would turn down that option and shoot for a long-term deal. If this keeps up, of course he will. With Mark Melancon getting $62 million, Kenley Jansen $80 million and Aroldis Chapman $86 million, Holland would certainly try to join that group. If this keeps up, he’d be a rare closer to have three 45-save, sub-2.00 season, so he’d have a case.
- Carlos Gonzalez is starting to look like himself. And that could make the Rockies even more dangerous.
- Jon Gray was still in a walking boot.
- Nice feature on @mlbtraderumors about the 1992 expansion draft and how the Rockies and Marlins went about things. Chuck Wasserstrom seems to have interviewed just about everyone involved. Vinny Castilla was the Rockies’ best pick, Trevor Hoffman the Marlins’ best choice. Quite interesting.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Some believe the Dodgers could be a threat to land Bryce Harper after next year. Team president Stan Kasten was part of the group that signed Harper as the No. 1 overall pick with the Nats, and people say he’s still on good terms with Harper’s parents and on occasion has greeted them at Dodger Stadium, which is the closest MLB Park for them as they live in Las Vegas, Nev. (Kasten said he’s friendly with a lot of his former players but otherwise declined comment).
- Cody Bellinger’s stock has risen to the point where there’s some debate whether the Dodgers’ best player going forward is Corey Seager or Bellinger, one of the few players in MLB who can fairly be described as a five-tool player.
- Sometimes the right decision is to bring back your own guys. Justin Turner has been brilliant. And so has Kenley Jansen.
- The Dodgers recently fielded a lineup where only Turner was over 28, which shows their commitment to youth.
- The Dodgers want to give Rich Hill a little more time as a starter. If they have to, they can convert him to a reliever.
- Chase Utley looks like he’s warming up now.
- Andre Ethier (back) is experiencing slow improvement. He’s still a ways away, as Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times pointed out.
- Alex Wood has been terrific, and he stays in the rotation, as manager Dave Roberts announced.
- The Marlins were once said to be in talks to sell for $1.6 billion, and then it was $1.3 billion. But some believe now the price could wind up even lower than that, perhaps even as low at $1 billion or so. Both the Bush-Jeter group and the Romney-Tom Glavine groups remain alive and appear to be the two main groups in bidding for the Marlins, with people close to the situation saying nothing is near settled and at least the Bush-Jeter group and maybe the Romney-Glavine group, too, still seeking investors. “No one is close (to a deal),” one person with knowledge of the situation said. People are convinced that Marlins owners Jeffrey Loria and David Samson will sell at some point before too long, but there’s also some real question as to whether the price will remain at something just over $1.3 billion, as the Miami Herald and South Florida Sun-Sentinel have reported. Both those groups have talked about the $1.3-billion figure, as those two papers reported, but a closer look at the books and concern about franchise debt could drop the price a bit, some believe. Meanwhile, Bush and Jeter have been seeking deep-pocketed investors for weeks, as was first mentioned here. They are a duo that’s attractive, but one big issue is said to remain a hurdle: how to recruit wealthy people to invest money if Bush and Jeter are going to have the control. Anyway, Bush and Jeter are said to have been working hard at this (there’s no sign of low energy on the part of Jeb), and they can’t be ruled out, even if Romney-Glavine on the surface would seem more financially solvent of the two groups. Both sides contain people at the top with excellent reps (Dave Stewart is among those who could be involved if Romney-Glavine gets the team, as one of the baseball ops decision makers), but there may be a little extra allure to a group with Bush, who had a good rep as Florida governor before he got into the presidential morass, and the iconic Jeter, who’s known Loria for years. There was talk months ago about the Kushner family buying the team for $1.6 billion.
- Commissioner Rob Manfred commented this week on the Marlins sale by saying “We still have two groups involved in the process. Timing is one of the things that both the buyer and the seller are working through, so it’s just impossible to say at this point, and I don’t want to get into really what the issues are. The only reason I commented on this at all is there had been so much out there that really (is) not quite accurate.”
- Teams are looking at Edinson Volquez, A.J. Ramos and Kyle Barraclough as the potential top t trade targets.
- Tom Koehler, who suffered a surprise demotion, is out there. He’s an innings eater.
- Dan Straily could also be a trade target. He’s been their best pitcher, making it two straight good years for the former journeyman.
- Some other relievers could also hit the block, including David Phelps, Junichi Tazawa and Brad Ziegler.
- Some teams are said to be fascinated by Brian Ellington’s velocity, so he could be moved, as well.
- Rivals are wondering if the Marlins are somewhat hamstrung until there’s a sale of the team.
- They would take an infielder, if he’s low cost. Steve Lombardozzi was tried, and Mike Aviles and Christian Colon have been signed, are already up. Aviles’ extension came at an interesting time, when he was foisted into the news. David Ortiz’s story about manager Bobby Valentine yelled at Aviles for saying “I got it,” when Valentine had a different instruction on popups, which is in Ortiz’s new book, hit the papers. Not exactly shocking that Valentine might occasionally yell. But as Valentine pointed out, his Red Sox tenure was 162 games of about 4,000 for him.
- Not sure if it was done for this reason but the demotion of Tom Koehler could have some shock value. Until his last start, though, he’s been fairly solid, though certainly unspectacular. He is the team’s player rep and is well respected throughout the clubhouse and organization.
- They might want to lock up J.T. Realmuto, who is a keeper.
- Behind the scenes Don Mattingly has been a big supporter of their nucleus, telling folks something along these lines: “If we can stop this slide, we’re capable of going on a run.”
- Mattingly implored the team not to give up. But you could see frustration starting to set in. Giancarlo Stanton, not necessarily the temperamental type, threw his bat after popping out, and later was pounding the sod in right field, as Joe Frisaro off MLB.com pointed out in his lede that day.
- Mattingly provided a nice video Tribute to Derek Jeter on Jeter night. Interestingly Jeter could wind up as Mattingly’s boss.
- The pen, which was quite vaunted, hasn’t been very good. But some around the club are disappointed. “They’ve got to get (going). Sometimes they don’t look like they’re ready to execute,” one Marlins observer said.
- Wei-Yin Chen isn’t expected back anytime soon. The early diagnosis was that Chen was OK, but after a painful pen session, he’s going for a second opinion.
- Although Stanton is a fine player and terrific person, the Stanton contract isn’t something looked upon favorably by any group looking to buy the team. Says one rival official, “You’re the Miami Marlins, in what world do you live in where you believe it’s appropriate to award the richest contract in sports history?” Apparently, a theory was advanced by team higherups at the time that the contract would be a bargain (so much so that Stanton would opt out when he had the chance after six years). Now no one sees him opting out.
- Martin Prado was a deal even some of the baseball people wanted no part of, but ownership may have seen him as the type of solid leader they’d need in the wake of the Fernandez tragedy.
- The trade for Travis Shaw looks like a great one. They got him, plus prospects, for Tyler Thornburg, who hasn’t pitched yet for Boston. Meanwhile, the Red Sox look like they could use help at third base, the kind that Shaw is providing the Brewers.
- Hernan Perez is raking.
- Ryan Braun became a 10-and-5 player while on the DL. The belief here is, he still would a approve a trade to the hometown Dodgers (but maybe no one else).
- Jett Bandy has to be one of the best names in the game. His play is justifying that name lately.
- Corey Knebel’s move to unofficial closer was a good one, even if manager Craig Counsell wasn’t officially announcing it. He’s struck out batters in 20 straight appearances. Neftali Feliz has been OK in that role, but not great.
New York Mets
- Amed Rosario is wowing people at Triple-A. Though, asked if he could be coming up soon, GM Sandy Alderson responded, “Can he pitch?” Fair enough. Rosario, only 21, has only been in Triple-A six weeks, and pitching is the real need. However, one scout said Rosario is definitely ready. “He can help them now,” says the scout, “but it’s their choice.”
- Dominic Smith’s stock similarly is rising. “The guy can really, really hit. And he’s a better defender than I first thought” one rival scout said.
- Hard as it is to believe, the Mets had the worst ERA in the NL.
- SNY play-by-play man Gary Cohen says the Mets “have to find some relief pitching, and they have to find it fast.” He’s right.
- Robert Gsellman had allowed 18 of the first 35 lead-off batters to reach base. Not too good.
- Keith Hernandez should be in the Hall of Fame. (New feature where I’ll be naming guys we in the BBWAA whiffed on, in honor of Brian Kenny.)
- The Mets rotation isn’t close to what it was supposed to be. Adam Wilk, Tommy Milone and Rafael Montero all got starts within a rotation.
- Since the Mets could use some rotation help, Bartolo Colon wouldn’t be the worst idea. He hasn’t been as good for the Braves as he was for the Mets, but they have a need, he thrived in New York, and one bonus is that he’s never hurt (a big plus at this stage for the Mets).
- Yes, Tim Tebow is probably better than Michael Jordan (as a hitter, anyway). Mike Puma of the New York Post says he could soon receive a promotion to Double-A. Jordan did play there, though a lack of real power proved to be his undoing. Tebow was one of the lucky ones to retain his ESPN job, so he still has a day job in case this baseball thing doesn’t work out.
- Matt Harvey is said to have no appetite to grieve his three-game ban after admitting he was in the wrong, and that’s right. Someone could quibble over the notice given, but Harvey already told the team he’s “embarrassed” about calling in sick. It’s fair to say his migraine now came from a lack of sleep at the very least. The New York Post reported he was spotted out late at 1Oak, which is where famous people like to go to waste their money (tables are $2,500) and upset over some kind of romantic issue, which is not a reason to call in sick, as he’s already wisely admitted.
- Harvey was up to 98 mph vs. the D-backs Wednesday. But some suggest he still needs to work on the angle of his fastball to get back to dominance.
- Curtis Granderson could be in jeopardy of losing playing time once Yoenis Cespedes comes back, but Grandy has been a streaky hitter so they shouldn’t give up on him or even assume he’s slipping.
- For all their troubles in the pen, Jeremy Blevins has been excellent.
- Nick Francona, the son of Terry, war veteran and University of Pennsylvania graduate who filed a complaint against the Dodgers for alleged discrimination against war veterans based on his alleged treatment there mostly by his direct boss Gabe Kapler, is working as a consultant for the Mets. MLB is thought close to a decision regarding the situation with the Dodgers.
- Though it’s been a terrible run and a terrible start, the Mets shouldn’t be ruled out as a wild card candidate, even if it’s mostly due to the relative weakness of the NL.
- The Mets’ one deserving position player, Michael Conforto, isn’t even on the All-Star ballot. That kind of year.
- There’s been speculation about the Phillies trying to land Bryce Harper in two years, or perhaps New Jersey product Mike Trout in three. And now there is starting to be some Manny Machado speculation. Which makes sense since the Phillies front office is filled with former Orioles execs, starting with president Andy MacPhail. (For the same reason, we’ve suggested Zach Britton could be coveted by the Phillies after ’18.)
- And here’s a new one. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes about whether Cole Hamels could return after 2018, when the Phillies will be ready to spend. “I never leave the door closed,” Cole Hamels told Zolecki.
- The Phillies were right to extend Pete Mackanin through 2018 (and rework his 2017 deal). But the real test is whether they think he’s the right go for 2019 and beyond, as that’s when the Phillies are expected to start contending (the big free agent class is 2018-19).
- Aaron Altherr has stayed hot, and Tommy Joseph has gotten hot.
- While other teams are salivating over the possibility of Gerrit Cole (back to throwing 98 mph) being available, some Pirates observers believe they will wait a year before shopping him. “We’re not in any rush. I don’t think we’re there yet,” one Pirates insider said. Cole has two years to go before he’s a free agent, so there would seem to be ample time – though the Pirates have shown in the past they are willing to consider anything.
- Tony Watson, a free agent after the year, has hired as his agent Scott Boras. Watson seems like another candidate to be traded since the Pirates envision Felipe Rivero as the closer of the future.
- Rivero is a “beast” in the words of one scout. He’s been throwing 101 and is seen as a future closer.
- Josh Harrison was a candidate to be traded last winter, when the team was trying to re-sign Sean Rodriguez, as Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network and FOX Sports reported at the time, but there’s no evidence he’ll be on the block this July.
- The Nationals came closest to making a trade for Andrew McCutchen built around three players, including two pitchers.
St. Louis Cardinals
- Trevor Rosenthal is back to dominant pitching, averaging a league-high 99.1 mph on his fastball and lowering his walks per nine innings from an unworkable 6.5 per nine innings, to 1.9. There’s an easy explanation for this. He pitched through pain last year, and apparently didn’t tell anyone for a long time. Eventually, noted surgeon Neal ElAttrache diagnosed a forearm issue, but all is well now.
- Rosenthal is a team man, but people say he’d prefer to be closing full-time again.
- Carlos Martinez has pitched much better since he got rid of his hair extensions. It’s been a year of extensions for him. The $53-million extension was a better idea for him.
- Give the Cards credit for their quick comeback. Very impressive – from last to first in practically no time.
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes a close look at Seth Maness’ decision to forgo Tommy John surgery and instead do the “primary repair.”
- Luke Weaver is down to a 0.41 ERA at Triple-A. So the Cardinals are a rare team with starting pitching depth.
- Luis Robert would make extra sense for the Cardinals since they lost their No. 1 pick due to the Chris Correa hacking gate.
- Daniel Poncedeleon was in the ICU but improving after brain surgery to remove pressure after being struck on the right side of his head by a line drive. Best wishes to him.
San Diego Padres
- Folks think the Padres would take prep prodigy Hunter Greene if he falls to them at No. 3, and many think, despite his high upside, that he might. GM A.J. Preller is unafraid to gamble. Right-handed high school pitchers are rarely taken near the top (none has ever gone 1/1).
- The last time the Padres had a top-five pick, they tabbed Donavan Tate eight years ago, and after issues with weed and under-performance, he bowed out as a Class-A player, as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune pointed out. Tate is now trying to walk on as a University of Arizona QB.
- Hunter Renfroe is earning a rep for a huge arm, A.J. Cassavell of MLB.com noted.
- Johnny Cueto has $83 million over four years to go after this one, but one rival GM said he expects him to opt out. He said Cueto could get $125 million for five. Which is an even better deal than the one he got from the Giants. “He has a pretty good track record,” that GM pointed out.
- Giants writers pointed out how much the Giants missed Brandon Crawford, and that seems to be the case, as they look much better since he’s returned.
- Buster Posey’s 17th-inning walk-off could signal a turnaround. Posey has never looked so excited.
- What will Bryce Harper be worth as a free agent? One rival GM weighs in.
- Aaron Boone warned on ESPN’s game of the Week not to count out that Nats, and this may not have been guesswork on the part of an unknowing analyst. Boone’s father Bob is a high-ranking executive in the Nats’ front office. So perhaps the young Boone knows something.
- Harper is thriving again, and some think it’s because he’s now a happily married man (plus he isn’t injured, like last year). Another positive factor: Ryan Zimmerman, who also is healthier, is raking behind him.
- They’re going to need to get a closer (David Robertson remains the most logical target) and some are saying they will need a center fielder, too. But Michael A. Traylor is hitting .333 with two homers and eight RBI since Adam Eaton went out with a knee injury and Dusty Baker gave him the speech about this being his opportunity. If he doesn’t keep this up, though, Lorenzo Cain is probably the center fielder who’d fit best.
- Adam Eaton was doing great before going out with a knee injury. It seems they made the right call, as Andrew McCutchen’s struggles have deepened. Word is the Pirates wanted a three-player package that included Lucas Giolito (who went for Eaton), a second prospect plus Gio Gonzalez (So it was a two-Gio proposal, in a way).
- They’ve already started looking at the market for closers, including these names.
- Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover came of the DL on the same day. But the Nets still could still use a closer. In fact, it’s probably the most obvious need for any great team in the game.
- Latest Max Scherzer competitor story: He stayed in a game after being drilled on the knee by a 100-mph liner. He appeared to be limping initially, but just pitched through it.