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2016 MLB thread. THE CUBS HAVE BROKEN THE CURSE! Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions. - Page 255  

post #7621 of 78800
Would LaRussa come back though?
A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

post #7622 of 78800

Man, I didn't think he had enough pop but at this point it wouldn't surprise me if we see a 40/40 season from Trout soon.

post #7623 of 78800
Nats are about to improve to 9-3 vs the Mets this year pimp.gif and Harper is finally starting to heat up, if only we still had Wilson Ramos our lineup would be extremely potent.
post #7624 of 78800
How much money has Greinke cost himself? Outside of his first start against the Rays he has looked awful.
I am The Bay, from The City, to The Town to San Jose
I am The Bay, from The City, to The Town to San Jose
post #7625 of 78800
Thread Starter 
Cubs Bet Big On Starlin Castro’s Improvement.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Two months ago, Dale Sveum said this about shortstop Starlin Castro, who forgot how many outs there were on a potential double play ball:

“It’s something that’s obviously unacceptable at any time,” Sveum said Monday.

“Whether we could have turned the double play or not is irrelevant to not knowing how many outs there are in the most important part of the game. These things have got to stop happening or he’s going to stop playing.

“These kind of things are things that my son does in high school, maybe.”

Well, I’m pretty sure Castro won’t be getting benched any time soon, as the Cubs have reportedly agreed to sign him to a seven year, $60 million contract extension that should be finalized in the next week or two. The deal contains a team option that gives the Cubs control over Castro through the 2020 season, buying out up to four free agent seasons in the process.

So, yeah, Castro’s job security isn’t really a question anymore. The question now is whether this was the right bet for the Cubs to make.

On the one hand, Castro can be a frustrating player. He’s been prone to mental lapses like the one cited above, he’s been chided for a lack of hustle at times, and his approach at the plate seems to be getting worse, not better. On the other hand, Castro is just five months older than Deven Marrero, the Red Sox first round selection in the most recent June draft, and Marrero is currently playing in the short-season New York-Penn League. That Castro is in his third year in the Majors and holding his own at this point in his career is a sign of his legitimate talent.

The list of shortstops who have posted better offensive numbers than Castro in 1,000+ plate appearances through age 22 is very, very short. In the last 60 years, in fact, the list is only four players long – Alex Rodriguez, Cal Ripken, Jim Fregosi, and Wil Cordero. Shortstops who got to the Majors early and hit worse than Castro has to date? Gary Sheffield, Alan Trammell, Robin Yount, and Jose Reyes all fall in that category. These are the kinds of history lessons that make you want to lock up Castro now, before he takes a big step forward offensively and starts seeing free agency looming in the near future.

However, those kinds of facts ignore the fact that Castro hasn’t really improved much since getting to the big leagues in 2010. He’s posting career worst marks in walk rate strikeout rate, and BABIP, all of which is leading to a 91 wRC+, worse than he posted in either of the last two years. His defense has improved, and there are fewer questions now about whether he can remain at shortstop, but his offense hasn’t progressed as quickly as the Cubs would have hoped. Of course, he’s still an above average shortstop even at this level, but usually, large contracts like this are given to players who begin to establish new levels of excellence. Castro’s contract bets on that leap coming before it has actually materialized.

History suggests that the leap probably is coming. Most guys who are above average players from 20-22 become excellent players in their mid-20s, and Castro certainly has the physical tools to become an excellent player. If Castro follows a normal development curve, he could easily be a +4 or +5 win player by the time he would have reached free agency, and a contract to keep him in Chicago then would have been two or three times the size of this one. So, if this is the cost of keeping Castro in Chicago through his twenties, then it’s probably better than not signing the deal and going year-to-year, as that would bring legitimate risk of a breakout season pushing his costs up very quickly.

However, given the contracts that have been handed out to other players at similar spots of their career, the Cubs didn’t really get much of a bargain here. Thanks to MLBTradeRumors extremely useful Extension Tracker, we can identify five other players with similar levels of service time who were also going to qualify as Super-Twos, meaning that they got an early bite at the arbitration apple and were due for larger raises earlier in their career. Going back to 2008, here are the players who signed multi-year deals as Super-Twos with between 2-3 years of service time:

Player Age Avg WAR Years Dollars Team Options
Robinson Cano 25 2.8 4 30 2
Cole Hamels 25 3.6 3 20
Tim Lincecum 26 5.6 2 23
Jay Bruce 24 3.0 6 51 1
Gio Gonzalez 26 2.5 5 42 2
Starlin Castro 23 2.7 7 60 1

Age represents their first season covered by the extension, while average WAR is their career total prorated to either 600 PA or 180 IP, depending on whether they are a hitter or a pitcher. Hamels and Lincecum decided to take shorter deals that would not delay their free agency, and their 2012 performances show the relative benefits and costs of betting on their own future performance. Hamels came out far ahead of where he would have otherwise, while Lincecum might regret not taking a long term deal when he had the chance.

Among those who did sign away free agent years, though, it is interesting that there’s a nearly perfect linear increase in terms of years and dollars with each each extension. Cano got 4/30, Gonzalez got 5/40, Bruce got 6/50, and Castro has got 7/60 – in each case, the guaranteed dollar amount went up by $10 million for each additional year added on. And, note the relationship between length of deal and age – including the team options, the contracts for Bruce, Cano, and Castro all end after their age 30 season despite the fact that they signed them at different ages. Bruce and Cano were coming off better seasons than what Castro has posted this year, but he had youth on his side, which is why (along with inflation, anyway) he got more guaranteed money than either one.

The other notable takeaway from these contracts? You probably don’t want your best young players qualifying for Super-Two status. For comparison, both Justin Upton and Andrew McCutchen also signed long term extension for $51 million over six guaranteed years with a little over two years of service time under their belts when they signed the deal, and both were coming off substantially better seasons than what Castro has put up this year. Castro got more guaranteed money than either one despite being an inferior player because of that extra year of arbitration eligibility.

Had Castro been called up a couple of months later in 2010, he would have been looking at another year of near-minimum salary, and would have been negotiating from a significantly reduced amount of leverage. If you look at the deals signed by the like of Alexei Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia, you’ll notice that Castro’s Super-Two status probably got him an extra $10 to $20 million over the life of the deal.

The Cubs can’t undo the service time clock, so they were faced with a decision to do this now or wait until he has a breakout season and then try to lock him up at a higher price. History says that breakout is probably coming, so as long as Castro didn’t need that future paycheck to serve as a motivational tool, they were probably wise to get this deal done now. The combination of Super-Two status and his exceptionally young age just didn’t do them many favors when negotiating, however, and Castro ended up pretty well compensated relative to other players in a similar situation. Now the Cubs just have to hope that the expected breakout comes sooner rather than later.

Ichiro’s Sudden Selectivity In Pinstripes.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
When Seattle traded Ichiro Suzuki to New York in mid-July, the 38-year-old outfielder owned a mere .281 wOBA and was largely assumed to be on his last legs as a major-league baseball player. He still provided value with his glove, but his 77 wRC+ was simply too unproductive to pencil in as a right fielder every night.

As a New York Yankee, however, Ichiro has enjoyed far greater success and has people dreaming of his six-win years in Seattle.

After last night’s two-home-run outburst against Josh Beckett and the Boston Red Sox, the former MVP has hit .322/.344/.506 with the Bronx Bombers, and his .364 wOBA as a Yankee is well above average in relation to the remainder of American League right fielders.

The overall statistics should obviously be taken with a massive grain of salt due to the standard small sample size concerns. Not to mention he still has only drawn one walk since joining New York, and he also has seen his BABIP increase almost 40-points in that time frame. Plenty of reasons exist as to why we should not trot onto the field at Yankee Stadium and celebrate his re-coronation.

At the same time, Ichiro’s selectivity at the plate has drastically changed since donning pinstripes.

He has never posted gargantuan walk rates at any point of his career, but Ichiro began his career with the Mariners as a relatively selective hitter at the plate. His O-Swing% hovered between 16.6-25.2% from 2002 to 2006, right just a bit above league average, despite having a reputation as a swing-at-anything hack. His unique approach paid off, as he never had less than a .336 wOBA over that time frame and hit over .300 in his first ten seasons in the big leagues.

Even as he continued to churn out a .300 batting average season after season, though, his selectivity waned.

Year O-Swing Above Average Team wOBA Ranking
2006 1.30% 23rd
2007 2.10% 13th
2008 3.30% 27th
2009 2.80% 26th
2010 5.00% 30th
2011 5.60% 30th

From 2006 to 2011, Ichiro began swinging at more and more pitches outside the strike zone. The Mariners’ offense also became progressively worse until it hit rock bottom in recent seasons.

Now, this is not to suggest that Seattle’s production at the plate declined due to Ichiro’s declining selectivity over the past half-decade. Their offensive woes go much deeper than that. Instead, perhaps it’s reasonable to postulate that Ichiro began swinging at more pitches outside the strike zone because he was trying to do too much to compensate for the remainder of the batting order declining in talent. Perhaps he began trying to shoulder the load for the Mariners, becoming more aggressive because he was not confident that the bats behind him could drive in runs.

That’s certainly subjective analysis — and one could also argue that Ichiro’s O-Swing% increased because he began to see fewer fastballs as his career progressed — but the analysis does coincide with his sudden selectivity at the plate with the Yankees.

Prior to being traded, Ichiro swung at 35.6% of the pitches outside the zone. Since the trade, however, that number has plummeted to 24.9%. His swing percentage is down across the board and even the percentage of pitches he fouls off has dropped dramatically. Thus, his effectiveness with the bat has unsurprisingly increased, as one would imagine that his ability to better drive pitches would coincide with his choosing better pitches at which to swing.

The real interesting question then becomes whether his increased selectivity is a product of mere small sample size variation or a product of his new environment, where he happens to be surrounded by better hitters and an organization that has traditionally swung at few pitches outside the zone for the past decade.

Unfortunately, not enough time has elapsed to draw any solid conclusions as to the reason for the sudden jump in selectivity at the plate. The only conclusion we can draw at this point is that New York must feel as if they fleeced Seattle in the mid-season trade, sending two fringe prospects (at best) for a guy posting a .364 wOBA through his first 26 games with the organization — even if that level of production may be fleeting.

Cody Ross, But Cheaper.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Red Sox entered this season with high hopes. Fast-forward 122 games and they’re a disappointing 59-63 with just 4% odds of making the playoffs. The front of the rotation has had issues preventing runs. Several members of the lineup have performed below their established level of production. Plenty of key contributors have spent time on the disabled list, and recent reports suggest players have a mutinous relationship with their manager.

Plenty has gone wrong for the 2012 Red Sox, but one of the bright spots has been Cody Ross. The 31-year-old outfielder, who signed for just one year and $3 million, has a .359 wOBA, 122 wRC+ and 2.4 WAR. His strong production has many wondering about his next contract. Ross has said that he’d like to return to Boston, and all signs point to the team having mutual interest. Ross may have put himself in line for a multi-year deal similar to Josh Willingham‘s most recent contract — three years and $21 million — despite being less consistent and not as talented. Willingham has produced in the 3 WAR to 4 WAR range during the past several seasons while Ross has been in the 2 WAR to 3 WAR range.

And then there’s this: the main area in which Ross excels — crushing lefties — can be replicated fairly easily. Interested teams may be able to acquire cheaper Ross-like production by considering a few players with similar skill-sets.

Ross’s platoon split is significant, and while he isn’t terrible against right-handed pitchers, the majority of the production that beautifies his overall line is attributable to beating up on opposite-handed hurlers. Ross has a career .395 wOBA against lefties and he is usually consistent in the .380-.400 range. This season, he has a .402 OBP, .766 SLG, .473 wOBA and 200 wRC+ against lefties. His .473 wOBA and 200 wRC+ ranks second in the American League to Billy Butler (.474 wOBA and 206 wRC+). His .436 ISO leads the junior circuit and is a mere six points behind Ryan Braun in all of baseball.

Against righties, Ross is below average, but not terrible. He has a career .308 wOBA and a 91 wRC+ when facing his same-handed brethren. His power output is solid, but Ross is really a glorified platoon player. Even this season, which looks like the best full year of his career, his numbers are amplified by tremendous production against lefties. He has a 92 wRC+ against righties and hasn’t really improved on that front.

Teams can succeed with him handling regular duty at an outfield spot, but it’s a risky proposition to dole out a fairly lucrative deal to someone who excels when lefties are on the mound but is ho-hum against right-handers. The major reason here is that righties tend to throw 70%+ of the innings in a season.

With that in mind, teams considering Ross this offseason should also take a look at Alfonso Soriano, Jonny Gomes or Chris Denorfia. All three players stand to produce as well as Ross, but without costing as much. Payroll isn’t necessarily a material concern for the Red Sox but these players potentially represent cost-efficient alternatives.

The Cubs have been shopping Soriano for quite some time and are on the hook for $38 million over the next two seasons. Recent reports suggested that Chicago would eat all but approximately $3 million per year of Soriano’s salary. At $6 million in 2013 and 2014, plus a prospect or two, Soriano could provide more balance at the plate at less of a cost. He isn’t a lefty-crusher like Ross, but is stronger against same-handed pitching and has wRC+ marks of 148, 109 and 106 against lefties in the past three seasons. He doesn’t get on base all that much but still has plenty of power: He has a .225+ ISOs since 2010.

Gomes is similar to Ross in that the bulk of his production has come against lefties. He has a career wOBA platoon split of .381/.317 and a career wRC+ split of 136/92. He has been worse than Ross against righties in recent years but hasn’t slowed down at all against lefties. He signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Athletics this offseason and won’t cost any prospects to acquire when he hits the free-agent market.

Unlike Ross, Gomes is viewed as a defensive liability, even though his fielding marks don’t usually back up that assertion. Despite a strong season in Oakland, it’s hard to imagine Gomes signing for three years, $21 million. He could be the perfect fallback option for an interested party if Ross becomes too expensive.

Denorfia is an interesting player in this forum, as he has another year of arbitration eligibility and isn’t exactly similar to Ross, Soriano or Gomes. He is also a fairly underrated player because his offensive output has been suppressed in San Diego. When adjusting for league and park, however, Denorfia has impressive numbers. He has wRC+ marks of 113, 107 and 120 since 2010, and he rates well in the field and on the bases.

He also has a clear platoon split, with a career wRC+ split of 125/97, favoring lefties. However, he has performed above average against righties in two of the past three seasons. He doesn’t stand to make much money next season, and at 32 years old, he isn’t likely to be considered part of the Padres future. While he has struggled to stay healthy, he would represent a fine consolation prize to those that miss out on the Ross sweepstakes.

Ross is having a fine season and will probably sign a multi-year deal this offseason. But the performance inputs leading to his overall stat-line, and the specific components of his game that make him an attractive free agent target are not truly hard to find elsewhere. The players discussed above are but three examples that will likely cost less than Ross, despite producing similarly. Signing Ross is a perfectly suitable decision this offseason, but some teams might be better-suited to find a more cost-efficient alternative or the next Ross, as opposed to the outfielder himself.

Comebacker Of The Year.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Paul just put up his early look at the Comeback Player of the Year, but while this headline is similar, I’m going to talk about something quite different. A couple of days ago, Keith Law was being asked about comeback players on Twitter, and I jokingly suggested that perhaps the award should go to the guy who hit the most ground balls to the pitcher, sometimes referred to “comebackers”, at least by me anyway. Based on his terrible results and lack of power, I guessed that Yunel Escobar might rank pretty highly on the list.

In fairly quick order, several people started requesting just such a list, and so I hit up query-master Jeff Zimmerman, who came through as always, presenting me with a list of batters who had hit into the most groundouts where the pitcher got an assist. We are not giving any extra credit for hitting into double or triple plays – this is simply a straight count of balls hit back to the pitcher that resulted in an out.

The long awaited results for Comebacker Of The Year (So Far) after the jump.

Rank Player Comebackers
1 Yonder Alonso 18
2 Brian McCann 17
3 Jason Heyward 16
4 Michael Brantley 16
5 Jason Kipnis 16

Congratulations, Yonder Alonso – your combination of high contact rates, marginal power, and total lack of foot speed have made you the early leader for this dubious honor. Interestingly, though three other guys in the top five all run fairly well, so perhaps I’m overstating the effect of Alonso’s slugglishness on his comebacker ranking. After all, not too many guys are going to beat out a ground ball to the pitcher…

Yunel Escobar, if you’re curious, has only hit back to the pitcher four times all year, tying him for 150th in the Majors in this one particular thing. So, apparently, I’m not very good at guessing. Sorry for besmirching your good name, Mr. Escobar.

An Early Look At Comeback Player Of The Year.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Subjective questions swirl around most awards discussions — should a pitcher win MVP, should the Rookie of the Year be the best player that season or the one with the brightest future, does the Manager of the Year and/or MVP need to come from a playoff team, etc. But Comeback Player of the Year may be the most loosely defined award. As I detailed in this exercise last season, the only criteria is that a player “re-emerged,” which is very much open to interpretation. So, let’s try to take an objective look.

Last year, I hit on Jacoby Ellsbury taking Comeback honors in the American League, but I whiffed on Lance Berkman in the National League. By looking at players who had compiled less than 2.0 WAR in 2010, I excluded Berkman, who had put up 2.1 WAR in his time with the Astros and Yankees (well, okay, just the Astros). So this season, I widened my search. I cross-referenced who posted a WAR of 2.5 or less in 2011 and at least 1.0 so far this season. Doing so did help me catch some players that I wouldn’t have last year, so I’ve got that going for me.

The other subjective factor with the Comeback Player of the Year is determining what exactly from the player is coming back. There is a big difference between a young player breaking out and a veteran rebounding from a dismal season. Ruminate on that as we move forward.

Like last year, let’s take a look at the players with a 2.0 WAR difference between this year and last. We’ll start with the AL (all numbers current as of Thursday):

Player 11 WAR 12 WAR Diff
Adam Dunn -2.9 1.7 4.6
Alex Rios -0.7 3.3 4.0
Chris Sale 1.4 4 2.6
Raul Ibanez -1.3 1 2.3
Josh Reddick 1.9 4.1 2.2
A.J. Pierzynski 1.4 3.5 2.1
Joe Mauer 1.6 3.7 2.1
Edwin Encarnacion 1.5 3.6 2.1
Mike Moustakas 0.7 2.8 2.1
Fernando Rodney -0.2 1.8 2.0
Kyle Seager 0.5 2.5 2.0

Now, right away, we can cut a few of these guys, under the breakout vs. re-emerge theory. Sale, Reddick, Moustakas, Seager, and probably even Encarnacion, aren’t guys that you think of as established stars that were bad last season. They’re guys who are taking the next step. So if we dip down a little further on the list, we see guys like Brandon Inge (1.9 WAR difference), Jason Hammel (1.glasses.gif, Kevin Millwood (1.7), Justin Morneau (1.7), Cody Ross (1.6) and Colby Rasmus (1.6). All would be deserving of mention, and Hammel in particular may have been a chief candidate had he not been felled by a right-knee injury that required surgery. But there’s still one name that we’re not seeing — one Austin Jarriel Jackson.

Jackson has been lauded as a player who has completely turned around his career, and with just cause. After finishing second place for the 2010 AL ROY Award, Jackson had a sobering year in ’11, at least offensively. And there is the rub. Jackson has scored well in advanced defensive metrics like UZR and DRS in all three of his major league seasons, and last year his UZR was a large factor in his entirely respectable 2.8 WAR. Jackson is undoubtedly having a much better season this year — his 4.8 WAR is already 2.0 better than last year — so whether or not you think he deserves this award essentially boils down to how you feel about his defensive contributions.

In the end though, it may not matter. Dunn, an All-Star, MVP candidate and prodigious producer of power before 2011, has come back in a big way this season. The White Sox’s only path to contention this season was for him and Rios to rebound from their dismal ’11 seasons, and that is exactly what has happened. Along with career years from Pierzynski and Sale, Dunn and Rios have done their part to put Chicago back in contention. Dunn hasn’t been the best of the bunch — in fact, he’s been worth less than the other three — but considering how bad he was last year, he’s had the largest transformation in the game, one that helped him net an All-Star berth this season.

Now for the Senior Circuit:

Player 11 WAR 12 WAR Diff
David Wright 1.9 5.9 4.0
Buster Posey 1.7 5 3.3
Wade Miley 0.1 3.3 3.2
Bronson Arroyo -1.3 1.7 3.0
Jason Heyward 2.2 5.1 2.9
Pedro Alvarez -0.8 2 2.8
Aroldis Chapman 0.6 3.2 2.6
A.J. Ellis 0.7 3.3 2.6
Aaron Hill 0.8 3.4 2.6
Adam LaRoche -0.2 2.3 2.5
Martin Prado 1.6 4.1 2.5
Tyler Colvin -1 1.4 2.4
Jose Altuve 0.3 2.6 2.3
Paul Goldschmidt 0.6 2.9 2.3
Jed Lowrie 0.3 2.5 2.2
Ian Desmond 1.4 3.6 2.2
Chris Johnson -0.8 1.2 2.0
Josh Johnson 1.7 3.6 1.9

You’ll notice I broke my own 2.0 WAR rule in that chart, but Josh Johnson is the type of guy that this award is made for, and he should get over the threshold soon enough, assuming he stays healthy. The list does exclude Alfonso Soriano (1.8 difference), Juan Pierre (1.6), Joe Blanton (1.3), and if you dig a little deeper, Hanley Ramirez (0.glasses.gif, Chad Billingsley (0.glasses.gif, Chipper Jones (0.glasses.gif and A.J. Burnett (0.7). Jones in particular figures to be an interesting name to consider here. If he doesn’t factor into the MVP vote — and honestly, he very well could — there may be a push to give the soon-to-be-retired Jones *some* kind of award, and this one would fit.

But, while there has been a whole lotta revival going on in the NL this year, this should basically be a two-man race. If we knock out Miley on the grounds that he wasn’t really even an established player last year, the two by themselves at the top of this list are Wright and Posey. If the Mets were still in the playoff chase, Wright would be a no-doubter. Combine the stress fracture in his lower back that he sustained last season with the fact that he entered 2012 a full three years removed from his last seven-win season, and it was fair to wonder if the notion of “David Wright, superstar” had run its course. But he has rung the bell in resounding fashion this season, putting up a season commensurate with his 2007-08 peak.

Of course, Posey is not going to go quietly, and with the Giants in the playoff hunt, and since his injury was front-page news nationally moreso than was Wright’s, Posey may take the Comeback honors himself. He is undoubtedly having his best season, and we are probably in store for many more of these seasons. I would dock him slightly for the award on the subjective basis that his injury was a freak thing, whereas Wright’s was borne out of wear and tear, but that’s a minor thing. Outside of those two and Jones, Chapman, Arroyo, Heyward and Alvarez could get playoff-push bumps, though to me Chapman is more “most-improved” than “comeback.”

Comeback Player of the Year is a totally subjective award, and ultimately, it doesn’t mean a whole lot. No one is bringing up Comeback Player of the Year in arbitration hearings, and I’ve never heard of a bonus incentive tied to it either. Still, that doesn’t mean we should ignore it. Multiple players can make compelling arguments in each league, but at this juncture of the season, it looks like Adam Dunn, Alex Rios (and maybe Austin Jackson), David Wright and Buster Posey are the front runners, with Dunn and Wright having separated from the pack.

post #7626 of 78800

sick.gifeek.gif at the sound of the ball off his bat.
post #7627 of 78800
Thread Starter 
A.J. Ellis: Life at the trade deadline.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Buster Olney is on vacation this week, so he enlisted a group of players to write the lead of his column. Leading off the week is catcher A.J. Ellis from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ballplayers like to pretend we are unaffected by the media and their reporting, and few of us would admit to religiously checking websites like MLBTradeRumors and Twitter feeds looking for rumors, but we do. Thanks to the ability to obtain up-to-the-minute speculation via our smartphones, gossip flows throughout the clubhouse in July leading to the trade deadline. We are control freaks. We like to know what's going on, what possible moves will be made and how it will affect our team.

For us in Los Angeles, it wasn't a matter of if, but when and who. While the team was forced to be creative and financially flexible in the past, it was no secret that the Dodgers, near the top of the standings and under new ownership, were looking to make moves and go after the best players available. The team already had superstar talent Matt Kemp and the consistent gap-to-gap swing of Andre Ethier, but we needed another bat in our lineup to complement our All-Star outfielders.

On the morning of July 25, I woke up at our hotel in St. Louis and had a pair of new teammates; Hanley Ramirez, a three-time All-Star and former batting champ, and Randy Choate, a left-handed specialist who has dominated left-handed hitters for years, were now Dodgers. Here was our first move, and we get a middle-of-the-order bat and added bullpen depth to strengthen our roster. More important, this let the rest of baseball know that the Dodgers' ownership meant business. Anything was possible.

Immediately, text messages and phone calls flowed between teammates. Clayton Kershaw texted me with only the word "Hanley," followed by five exclamation points. Mark Ellis called me to break down what it meant and if we thought Hanley would stay at third or move back to his natural position of shortstop. The initial excitement of the trade and the fulfilled promise from our new ownership group sent energy throughout our team.

Even after we reloaded with Hanley and Choate, the rumor mill continued to swirl. The team returned home after a 7-3 trip and took the field July 30 with less than 24 hours to go before the trade deadline. That night, relief pitcher Josh Lindblom entered the game in the sixth and had a quick inning. He was scheduled to head back out for a second inning of work until the home dugout got a firsthand look at how the trade machine works.

Clubhouse manager Mitch Poole quickly paced across the dugout and tapped manager Don Mattingly on the shoulder, summoning him to the tunnel below our dugout. Mattingly emerged and immediately went to pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, who hurried to the bullpen phone to have another pitcher warm up. On the bench, we all knew this could mean only one thing: Josh had been traded. The game ended and we entered the clubhouse to learn about the trade, but it wasn't the one we were anticipating. The Dodgers had acquired reliever Brandon League from the Seattle Mariners for a couple of minor leaguers at the lower levels. But what about Josh -- was his removal a false alarm or was his trade still imminent?

I found out when I woke up the next morning. This time it was the one we had come to expect from all the speculation. Lindblom and minor league pitcher Ethan Martin were headed to the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder and leadoff hitter Shane Victorino. Victorino had been a thorn in our side during our playoff defeats in the 2008 and '09 NLCS. His fearless defense, relentless baserunning and clutch hitting -- along with his confident attitude -- made Victorino the kind of player you hated to play against but secretly wanted on your team.

We gained a new spark and leader in Shane. A battle-tested veteran who has played year in and year out in the biggest games on the biggest stages, his addition changed our team dynamic from the outset. Shane stepped in the first day and added a strong voice to keep the team moving in the right direction and remind us that winning that day's game was all that mattered. The trade was another sign from our front office and ownership that they had our backs and that they want to win right now. In less than a week, ownership had fulfilled its promise to upgrade the roster and give us the pieces to contend for a championship, but at what cost?

To get something, you have to give up something, and for us, Nathan Eovaldi (traded for Ramirez and Choate) and Lindblom were the high costs to supplement our roster. We were able to catch up with Nate last week when we visited Miami, and it was odd, to say the least. Nate told us about his transition and the whirlwind of being traded across the country, from being met at the airport by a reality-show camera crew to walking into a clubhouse where he didn't know a single teammate. Fortunately for Nate, a player who had worn only Dodger blue, the fraternity of ballplayers is strong enough to help players, especially the younger ones, make the transition as he experienced the fears and anxiety of facing the unknown.

It was great to hear how Marlins veterans like Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Josh Johnson welcomed him to the Marlins and helped acclimate him to Miami.

As great as it was to gain Victorino, losing Josh, our most consistent reliever who filled multiple roles and delivered in them all, was tough. Losing him as a pitcher was a challenge to replace, but losing Josh the person was a kick in the gut. No player was more encouraging and cared more about us as individuals off the field than Josh did. This would be a huge loss for us and a huge gain for Philly.

The more you go through this time of year, the more used to it you get as a player. But for the players traded, the overnight changes to your life are immediate. The stress it can cause you and your loved ones is dramatic and can be a struggle -- and that's coming from a player who has never been through it. Fans see players moving across the bottom line of their television screen, but in reality we are packing up immediately and moving 3,000 miles across country, and doing it on a moment's notice while leaving our families behind to clean up the pieces.

That's where the community and common life experiences of this crazy baseball life step up. It is not up to the traded player to instantly become part of the team, but for the team receiving the player to make its new teammates and families feel comfortable and welcome in their new environment. The way the Marlins vets did for Nate. The way Juan Pierre and Kyle Kendrick did for Josh in Philadelphia. The way we've tried to do with all our new Dodgers. Even with the support, I've been told it's a tough transition. But at least with our iPhones and BlackBerrys constantly refreshing Twitter, it's not always a complete shock.


Note: The news and notes you see below come from Buster.

It's the prerogative of the Astros' new regime to hire the manager they want, of course, and the full expectation since Jim Crane bought the franchise was that the team would replace Brad Mills sometime this year.

But the timing and manner in which Mills and some of his coaches were fired, in a Saturday night massacre, generated a lot of disgust in the sport.

The Houston Astros began this year with arguably the worst team in the majors, and over the course of the summer, the front office traded almost all of the veteran players with the plan of restocking the farm system.

But in doing this, what has been created is one of the worst teams in the history of major league baseball. The Astros have gone 17-60 since the middle of May. Since June 27 -- about the time the player flea market started -- they are 7-40. In those 47 games, they have been outscored by a combined 128 runs, or 2.7 runs per game. To put that into perspective, the '62 Mets lost by an average of two runs per game. "They turned a team that had a lot of Triple-A players," said one longtime evaluator, "into a Double-A team trying to compete at the major league level."

Staff changes were inevitable, as Mills and his coaches knew. But at 5 p.m. Saturday, before Houston's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, none of them had any idea that firings were imminent. And given the situation, there were a number of different ways that Mills and any unwanted coaches could have been fired, including:

1) Mills could've been told Sunday morning, before the final game of the homestand, that he was being let go.
2) The Astros could have theoretically waited until the end of the season because, after all, nothing is really going to change for Houston between now and then. The Astros are destined to be terrible for a while.
3) The front office could have met with Mills and informed him that a change was imminent and discussed a plan for the turnover. Mills is a very well-respected and respectful baseball person who has been a good soldier through the first stages of this rebuilding job, and he would have undoubtedly served as long as asked, whether it be to the final week of the season or to next week. Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry did this last year: He was told he was being fired but agreed to stay on a little longer for the sake of club business.

Instead, Mills' Saturday played out this way: The Astros were blown out again, 12-4, and almost immediately after the game, he, first base coach Bobby Meacham and hitting coach Mike Barnett were fired.

The way it was done suggested a reactionary decision -- right after a game, with no advance warning, in the middle of a series -- as if that latest blowout loss was just too much for the new regime to take, as if Mills was the reason the Astros have been so awful. In fact, it's the decision of the new regime to completely strip down the roster, which has turned Houston from a bad team into a historic embarrassment.

Crane reinforced the implication that Mills had contributed to the disastrous play with his statement Sunday.

"We need fans in the building, and we want to win more ballgames," Crane said following Houston's fourth consecutive loss. "We think this is a process that will help us win more ballgames. The team was really struggling, and the demeanor in the clubhouse wasn't what you want it to be. If there's a message to the fans, it's that we're going to make good decisions and we want to win."

It's Crane's team. He paid a lot of money for it, and he can hire and fire whom he wants. But firing Mills and the coaches the way Houston did was completely and unnecessarily disrespectful. Mills was not any more responsible for the decrepit state of the franchise than ownership is. And Mills is even less responsible for what a shockingly bad team the Astros have become in the last two months.

From Elias Sports Bureau

* What an incredible and important win for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

According to Elias, the 19 innings played Sunday are the most innings in a game in the 2,306-game history of the Pirates-Cardinals rivalry, which dates to 1892. It's also the longest game by innings this season for any team. And 6 hours, 7 minutes is tied for the longest game by time this season.

Longest games since 2000 (by innings):

22: April 17, 2008 -- COL 2, SD 1
20: April 17, 2010 -- NYM 2, STL 1
20: April 27, 2003 -- STL 7, NYM 6
19: Aug. 19, 2012 -- PIT 6, STL 3
19: July 26, 2011 -- ATL 4, PIT 3
19: May 25, 2011 -- PHI 5, CIN 4
19: July 9, 2006 -- CHW 6, BOS 5
19: Aug. 1, 2000 -- SEA 5, BOS 4

The Pirates became the first team to score three-plus runs in the 19th inning or later since the Expos at Astros on July 7, 1985 (three in 19th). The last time the Pirates did it was July 31, 1912, at Boston Braves (three in 19th).

Pedro Alvarez got the scoring started in the 19th on Sunday with a home run. He's the first Pirates player ever to homer in 19th inning or later and the first on any team since Mike Cameron did it for the Mariners against the Red Sox on Aug. 1, 2000.

The Pirates are now 4-0 in extra innings, the only undefeated team this season.

The Cardinals fall to 3-9 in extra innings, which is tied with the Red Sox for the second-worst record this season.

Here's a look inside the 19-inning game:

Players used: 44 (22 each)
Pitchers used: 16 (8 each)
Plate appearances: 149
Pitches thrown: 574
Game time: 6:07 (tied for longest this season)
Strikeouts: 34
Runners stranded: 26 (13 each)

By the way: Thanks to old friend Peter King for the inspiration of having players fill in on the column this week.

Collateral damage of PED suspensions.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Even before a player is suspended because of performance-enhancing drugs, as Melky Cabrera was this week, there is collateral damage.

MLB Player Blogs
Buster is off next week, but don't worry, he's got it covered. He has lined up a select group of MLB players to blog for him -- including A.J. Pierzynski, Yoenis Cespedes, A.J. Ellis and Ryan Flaherty -- so the baseball knowledge will keep flowing on ESPN Insider all week long.

Ask the Arizona Diamondbacks. On the day that the Dodgers acquired Manny Ramirez in 2008, the Diamondbacks led Los Angeles by two games in the NL West. Ramirez was the best player in the majors the rest of the year, hitting .396, with an OPS of 1.232. He hit .512 against Arizona, with five homers, and the Dodgers won seven of the last nine games between the two teams -- and won the division by two games.

The next spring, an Arizona ownership frustrated by the team's failure to make the postseason fired manager Bob Melvin, and shortly after that, general manager Josh Byrnes also was dumped, completing the regime change. At about the same time, Ramirez was suspended for performance-enhancing drugs.

The Diamondbacks have been hurt again this year by a player suspended for performance-enhancing drugs. Cabrera hit .462 against Arizona this year, starting off with a homer against Ian Kennedy on Opening Day. He played like an MVP candidate all season, and by the time Cabrera was suspended, the Diamondbacks were 6½ games behind San Francisco.

Nate Schierholtz went into spring training with a good chance to be a regular for the Giants again, but as Cabrera thrived, opportunity for Schierholtz diminished, and Schierholtz -- a native of the San Francisco area and part of the 2010 championship team -- was traded to Philadelphia.

Because Cabrera was on the NL All-Star team, some other player was not, such as Atlanta's Jason Heyward or Arizona's Jason Kubel. An agent estimated that an All-Star selection for a player like Heyward is probably worth something in the six figures. If Cabrera hadn't started the All-Star Game, Matt Holliday might have, or perhaps Andrew McCutchen, the leading MVP candidate in the National League. McCutchen would have been the Pirates' first starting player in the All-Star Game since Jason Bay in 2006.

But Cabrera started, singled with one out to start a five-run rally against Justin Verlander in the first inning, and in the fifth inning, he capped the National League's scoring with a two-run homer. With the 8-0 victory, the National League secured home-field advantage in the World Series -- which the Giants could host, about two weeks after Cabrera becomes eligible to rejoin their lineup.

Gregor Blanco is prepared to take over for Cabrera, but still backs him. The Giants dominated on Friday night.

Freddy Galvis was reinstated from his drug suspension.


• Mark Reynolds was ejected after the umpires blew a call, and then after the game, he went off on the umpires. From Eduardo Encina's story:

"It's a shame they don't have accountability," Reynolds said. "They don't have any. If they make a bad call, it's like, 'Ho-hum, next day is coming.' If we have a bad couple of games we get benched or we get sent down. They have nobody breathing down their throats.

"They have nobody, they are just secure in their jobs," Reynolds added. "And they are probably over there right now laughing about it, because they don't worry about it. This game is way too important right now, where we are in the season, for these kind of calls to happen. And it's very frustrating."

... In the first inning, [umpire Tim] Timmons called [Nick] Markakis out at the plate on a ball Nate McLouth hit down the first-base line to [Prince] Fielder. Replays showed that Markakis slid just under the sweep tag of catcher Alex Avila. Timmons was looking down the first-base line to see whether [Nate] McLouth's ball was fair and then was late maneuvering into position to get a good angle at the play at the plate. But Reynolds saw something else.

"It's almost like 'screw the Orioles' by the umpires," Reynolds said. "I mean [Adam Jones] was obviously safe at first base the other day, cost us a run against Boston. There's got to be some kind of replay for this. It's to the point where all these calls that get missed, cost people runs, cost people outs. Cost [Hunter] extra pitches. I can't say how I really feel but it's pretty obvious."

Here's the full Reynolds transcript.

• John Farrell wouldn't talk about speculation that the Red Sox might come after him.

His contract runs through next season, but there may be circumstances under which it would make sense for both Toronto and Boston to work out a deal. The Red Sox wanted Farrell and came close to reaching an agreement last fall, and if Boston calls again -- presumably it will, unless the Red Sox make a crazy run into the playoffs -- then the Blue Jays should treat Farrell like a player going into the last season of his multiyear contract.

They should present Farrell with an extension offer beyond 2013, and if he turns it down and is headed for a departure, the Blue Jays might as well trade him to Boston, get something in return, and go about the business of finding their next manager.

The Red Sox lost again, giving up a lot of homers along the way. David Ortiz backed Bobby Valentine. Valentine and the players are worn down by the negativity, writes Michael Silverman. Valentine was at a loss for words, writes John Harper.

• Jered Weaver, one of the leading candidates for the Cy Young Award, was hit hard, allowing nine runs in three innings, and the Angels' slump deepened.

From ESPN Stats & Info, how Weaver lost:

A) The Rays jumped on Weaver early in the count. Hitters swung at 47 percent of Weaver's pitches early in the count (0-0, 0-1, 1-0, 1-1), the highest percentage against Weaver this season, and the highest percentage by the Rays in nearly a month. Six of the eight hits Weaver allowed Friday came early in the count.

B) With the Rays ending so many at-bats early in the count, Weaver took only five of the 19 hitters (26 percent) he faced to a two-strike count, his lowest percentage in the past four seasons. Three of the five hitters he took to a two-strike count would reach base, including two for extra bases.

C) Weaver allowed four hits on his slider, his most in the last four seasons. He also allowed three hits on his fastball, including both home runs. It's his first start since September 2009 in which he allowed two homers on his fastball at home.

Justin Verlander started and felt out of sync.

Felix Hernandez's perfect game vaulted him right back into the middle of the Cy Young Award talk, writes Geoff Baker.

• Starlin Castro is happy the Cubs want to retain him long-term.

A very important thing to remember: As Theo Epstein took over the team's baseball operations, he installed a policy of no more no-trade clauses. So even if the Cubs sign Castro to a long-term deal, it won't preclude them from weighing offers and trying to maximize his value -- and a long-term contract that buys out a couple of years of Castro's free agency could augment that value.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. One of the Pirates' top prospects was promoted to Double-A.

2. Jhoulys Chacin is set to rejoin the Colorado rotation.

3. The Rockies likely will try to bring back Jeff Francis, writes Troy Renck.

4. The Reds should pick up Ryan Ludwick's option, writes Hal McCoy.

5. The Twins called up Matt Carson.

6. Brewers GM Doug Melvin has been scouting.

7. Ryan Dempster left the Rangers because of a family issue.

8. Chip Bailey speculates on what the Astros should do this winter.

Dings and dents

1. Mark Teixeira was given a day off.

2. Ian Desmond was activated from the disabled list.

3. Chris Getz suffered a broken thumb.

4. A Padre came back from a pesky injury.

5. Josh Reddick has been having a real dental issue.

NL Central

James McDonald carved up the Cardinals.

The Cardinals had no answers. For Mike Matheny, the defeats have lingered.

The Astros stranded a lot of runners.

Todd Frazier and the Reds roughed up Travis Wood.

Yovani Gallardo sparkled, despite some family issues.

AL Central

The Tigers' boppers mashed some long home runs, writes Vince Ellis.

Luis Mendoza finally got the best of Chris Sale.

An Indians' lead dissolved.

Paul Konerko was back, and announced his presence with authority.

NL West
The Dodgers blew a lead.

Wade Miley dominated the Astros, as Nick Piecoro writes.

AL West
Josh Donaldson, working on his second chance, helped the Athletics to a win.

The Mariners got another strong pitching performance.

Yu Darvish lost.

NL East
Johan Santana was hit hard again. If you read between the lines of what he says, there are a lot of hints that he's open to talking about anything the Mets want to do, including shutting him down.

From Elias: Most consecutive starts with six earned runs allowed in a single season in the live ball era (since 1920):
1999 Willie Blair -- 6
2012 Johan Santana -- 5 (active)
1996 Jim Abbott -- 5
1964 Bob Gibson -- 5
1935 Earl Whitehill -- 5
1920 Carl Weilman -- 5

Santana is the first pitcher to allow six earned runs in five straight starts since Mike Hampton did so for the Rockies spanning 2001 and 2002.

Mike Morse and the Nationals continue to roll along, and they got to Santana in this game.

The Phillies crashed and burned, as Matt Gelb writes.

Juan Francisco got a huge hit.

Giancarlo Stanton blasted a 494-foot home run.

From ESPN Stats & Info:

Friday's longest home runs (in feet):
Giancarlo Stanton -- 494
Prince Fielder -- 462
Howard Kendrick -- 434
Jose Molina -- 428
Ryan Ludwick -- 425

Stanton's home run was the longest since Wladimir Balentien's 495-foot homer in 2009 and the fifth-longest since tracking began in 2006.

AL East

B.J. Upton has been hitting for power of late, and he and the Rays blasted Weaver. Carlos Pena was benched.

J.A. Happ stepped up. He made a statement, writes Damien Cox.

Derek Jeter reached a milestone, and the Yankees won.

By the Numbers
From ESPN Stats & Info

3: Home runs Dustin Pedroia has hit on his birthday, joining Ted Williams as the only Red Sox players to homer on his birthday in three seasons.

16: Seasons with 10-plus home runs for Derek Jeter, moving past Babe Ruth for second-most in Yankees history.

34: Consecutive innings that Rays pitchers held the Angels scoreless, the most by one team against another since 2004.

Angels' surprising weakness.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
After a rough April, the Los Angels Angels hit their stride in May and June. And while July didn't start off the same way, they finished the month by winning six of 10 and acquiring Zack Greinke to bolster their rotation. August, however, has seen the Angels fall from grace. They fell out of the top 10 in the ESPN Power Rankings last week, to 14th place, and this week they dropped one more spot to 15th. To make matters worse, they now trail not only the Texas Rangers but the Oakland Athletics in the American League West. And after being swept at home in embarrassing fashion by the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend, it's fair to wonder whether or not the Angels are playoff material.

Hitting has not been the Angels' issue. They have averaged more than five runs a game since the start of June, and while the fearsome foursome of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo and Torii Hunter have carried the offense, they have been supported by the returns of Erick Aybar and Chris Iannetta. Kendrys Morales has also hit well recently. In fact, looking at wRC+, which is a great resource for historical comparisons since it is adjusted for both park and league, the Angels' 110 wRC+ this season would be the third-best performance in franchise history, trailing only the 113 marks the team achieved in both 1979 and 1982.

The defense has also been sterling. There was some concern that Trumbo's moving from first base would become a big problem defensively, but his experiment at third base ended quickly, and while advanced metrics paint him as overmatched in right field, he has been just fine in left. More of a sample is needed at both positions before definitively ruling on his defensive aptitude in the outfield, but early returns show that he won't be a train wreck. In fact, the only player who has scored negatively in advanced metrics this year is Maicer Izturis, and that could be a blip, as he is usually regarded as above average in the field. Overall, the Angels' team UZR was the third best in baseball entering Sunday, and only the Braves have a better outfield defense than does Anaheim.

The pitching, on the other hand, has gone from treading water to full-scale atrocity in the span of three weeks. The team's runs allowed per game had slowly creeped up the past couple of months, but it has shot up to an unhealthy level this month (see chart). No team has allowed more runs during August, and only the Astros and Indians have a worse run differential this month. Los Angeles has already allowed 12 more runs in August than in any other month this season, and the team still has 10 August games remaining.

Alarming trend
After a stellar couple of months, Angels pitching has come undone in August.
.Month RS/G RA/G
April 3.48 4.09
May 4.10 3.34
June 5.31 4.08
July 5.31 4.58
August 5.17 7.28
What's worse is that it has been a total team breakdown. All five starters -- Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana -- have at least a 4.94 FIP in August, and all five have allowed at least five runs in an outing this month. The bullpen has been even worse. As a unit, its 7.30 ERA in August is nearly a full run worse than any other team, and its 5.55 FIP is easily the worst in the majors as well.

It's not just this month either. Only Greinke has been a top-25 pitcher this year in terms of FIP, and Santana's 5.68 FIP is the worst in the majors among qualified pitchers. As a team, the Angels' 4.34 FIP ranks 24th in the game and is the worst mark among any team with a winning record.

The scary thing is that Angels starters might not improve that much down the stretch. In the season's first three months, Wilson skated by with a low-for-him .250 BABIP, but as that has normalized, his season statistics have looked less and less rosy, particularly his numbers against right-handed hitters. Weaver is already benefiting from the lowest BABIP in the majors at .233, well below his career mark of .271. As a fly-ball pitcher in a pitchers' park and backed by a great outfield defense, he may be able to maintain that BABIP for the rest of the season. But it also means that any improvement will have to come from a rebalancing of his dwindling strikeout rate, and with his swinging-strike percentage also in decline, that doesn't seem likely.

Haren would likely be better if he had not been hurt, but in addition to the possibility that he may still be hurt, his mechanics are now so out of whack that he needs to miss a start to iron them out. The only one who has really been victimized is Greinke, who even for him has suffered through an abnormally high BABIP this year. Greinke is still striking out batters in Anaheim, and he should come around eventually.

No team is as good as its peaks or as bad as its valleys. This month has clearly been the Angels' valley, and they should climb back to respectability soon. But their star-studded rotation is suddenly filled with question marks, and even if they do improve, it may not be enough to extend their season. At the season's outset, it was thought that the Angels would have more trouble scoring runs than preventing them, but even after adding Zack Greinke, pitching is dooming the Angels.

It's not all Valentine's fault.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
This season hasn't gone according to plan for the Boston Red Sox, and much of the blame has been placed on the shoulders of 62-year-old manager Bobby Valentine. Several members of the Red Sox are fed up with Valentine, and the situation reportedly came to a head in late July, when this group expressed those sentiments to ownership.

Regardless of whether these players informed ownership they no longer wanted to play for Valentine, there's no arguing the new manager has undergone intense scrutiny this season. That tends to happen when a team with such high expectations is 59-62 through 121 games, 12.5 games out of first place in its division and five games out of the second wild-card berth.

But much of this criticism is undeserved, as the Red Sox have experienced a litany of issues this year that have had far more of a material impact than the manager himself. While studies have shown the impact of a manager is marginal, at most, during a 162-game season, it's still a nonzero effect.

However, injuries to key members of both the starting lineup and bullpen, the inexplicable struggles of the starting rotation, and below-average contributions from counted-on position players have had much more to do with why the Red Sox are on pace to miss the playoffs for the third straight season.

1. Injuries

A season can be derailed quickly when key members of the team are placed on the disabled list. Carl Crawford, the high-priced outfielder who disappointed just about everyone last season, didn't make his 2012 debut until mid-July. Jacoby Ellsbury, who finished second in 2011 AL MVP voting, injured his shoulder in late April after sliding into second base and also returned in mid-July. David Ortiz, who continues to improve despite being in his mid-30s, injured his Achilles tendon and missed time. Andrew Bailey, the closer imported from the Oakland Athletics, made his Red Sox debut on Aug. 14.

Dustin Pedroia missed time with a thumb injury, came back a bit too early, and landed on the disabled list after injuring the same thumb again. Clay Buchholz missed time with esophagitis. Kevin Youkilis was ineffective when in the lineup, but he also missed a lot of time before being traded to the Chicago White Sox. Will Middlebrooks, whose emergence was largely responsible for making Youkilis expendable, is now out for the rest of the season with a wrist injury.

That's just a snapshot of how 2012 has gone in Boston. The Red Sox would have struggled under the leadership of Connie Mack or Earl Weaver with all of these injuries. Perhaps Valentine didn't manage the roster well in the absence of these crucial players, but their absence is paramount here. Teams tend to struggle when a lineup comprised of All-Stars loses said All-Stars and also lacks viable replacements.

2. The struggles of Lester and Beckett

The Red Sox rotation had question marks entering the season, but the performances of Jon Lester and Josh Beckett weren't on that list. These two were supposed to anchor the rotation and help the Red Sox overcome any possible injuries. While their peripherals have been solid, their run-prevention hasn't. Some of that is attributable to luck, but it's folly to suggest that the entirety of the duo's struggles is out of their respective hands. Beckett has a 5.19 ERA in 121.1 innings in 20 starts, while Lester has a 5.03 ERA in 154 innings in 25 starts. Yet Beckett has a 4.28 SIERA, and Lester fares even better with a 3.71 SIERA.

Both pitchers are missing bats and limiting walks at very good rates but have struggled mightily once runners reach base. Beckett has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate and 4.8 percent walk rate when the bases are empty, but those rates get substantially worse -- 10.1 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively -- with ducks on the pond.

His numbers are even worse with runners in scoring position, with an 8.9 percent strikeout rate and a 12.9 percent walk rate. Beckett doesn't allow many runners to reach base, but when they do, he essentially turns into a pumpkin. Most of his work has come with the bases empty, and his .270 wOBA against speaks to his effectiveness. But when runners reach base, Beckett has allowed a .402 wOBA against. In other words, with runners on, Beckett turns opposing hitters into Ryan Braun.

Lester hasn't fared as poorly, with K/BB ratios better than 2.0 regardless of the baserunning split. His major problem has been serving up home runs, especially with runners on base. When the bases are empty, Lester has a 0.85 HR/9, which rises to 1.42 with runners on and 1.55 with runners in scoring position. He doesn't get hit around a ton, but the hits are home runs more often than usual.

3. The misleading offense

As a team, the Red Sox rank above average in various offensive categories. However, a closer examination of the parts that make up the whole reveals that many of their hitters have struggled overall this season or relative to their past levels of production. On top of that, several key contributors have either been injured or traded.

Adrian Gonzalez is having a good, albeit not great, season. His .353 wOBA is an improvement on where it was earlier in the year, but he hasn't posted a wOBA below .360 since becoming a full-time regular in 2006 with the Padres. During the past three seasons, he has hovered in the .380-.400 range.

Pedroia hadn't fallen below .360 either since becoming an everyday player in 2007. His current .331 wOBA is well below his career averages and the level of performance he has established during the past few seasons. Ellsbury has a measly .302 wOBA in 178 PAs since returning from the disabled list.

Kelly Shoppach (.343 wOBA) is no longer in Boston, and as mentioned earlier, Middlebrooks (.356 wOBA) is out for the season. Aside from Ortiz, Cody Ross and Daniel Nava, the lineup has been fairly disappointing. Again, this is out of Valentine's control, as he can work only with what he's given.

Valentine isn't without his faults. How he has managed the many different personalities in Boston's clubhouse since spring training began can certainly be picked apart. But to blame him for Boston's on-field struggles this season is to ignore the numerous deficiencies and poor luck the team has had all season.

It's unclear what the future holds for Valentine and the Red Sox, but this much is clear: There were many more material problems this season than the manager. Fixing the organizational mess in Boston may well require letting Valentine go, but Boston's putrid performance this season is not all, or even mostly, his fault.

Braves' big edge on Nationals.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
On Wednesday night, the Atlanta Braves shut down the Padres behind another strong start by deadline trade target Paul Maholm. Thanks to a 27-13 run since the start of July, Atlanta's record stands a season-high 19 games above .500.

While the Braves have nipped at the first-place Washington Nationals' heels -- at times this month, just two games have separated the National League East's top teams -- they haven't been able to close the gap completely. The Nats, which won their game Wednesday on the strength of six precious innings from Stephen Strasburg's dwindling supply, have matched them win for win.

The Nationals own the NL's best record, but they haven't locked up a division title. Washington won't have Strasburg on its side for much longer, and the Braves will be right behind them, waiting to capitalize on any sign of weakness. Both teams boast playoff odds north of 90 percent, so neither is likely to miss the postseason -- though, after the way things went for them last September, the Braves probably aren't taking a trip to October for granted.

But the real prize -- a first-place finish and a guaranteed ticket to the divisional round of the playoffs -- remains at stake. The Nats have the better pitching staff and defense, and both teams are evenly matched on offense. But the Braves do have a sizeable advantage in one often-overlooked area: baserunning.

A team's place in the standings has more to do with how it hits, pitches and fields than its performance on the basepaths. However, if two clubs are close to evenly matched in most respects but differ greatly in their ability to take the extra base, that difference can prove decisive. Baseball Prospectus offers a stat called baserunning runs, which measures the number of runs a player adds or subtracts by advancing more or fewer bases than expected given his number of opportunities.

The Braves and Nationals couldn't be further apart on the BRR leaderboard. Atlanta is baseball's best baserunning team with 13.7 BRR, while Washington is the worst with -14.9. The Braves have been almost four runs better than the next-best baserunning team, while the Nats fall a full five runs below the next worst.

By no means is an inability to run the bases a fatal flaw for Washington. The 2011 St. Louis Cardinals, last year's World Series winners, posted the lowest BRR in the big leagues, though the Cardinals' BRR wasn't quite as bad. Not since the 2009 Baltimore Orioles has a team finished a season with a BRR as low as the Nats' current number, and not since the 2004 Boston Red Sox has a team run as poorly and still made the playoffs.

Washington can overcome its weakness, but the team's bad baserunning is still a significant obstacle in the way of an easy victory over Atlanta.

The difference in baserunning between the two teams amounts to nearly three wins, which means that the Nationals' lead would nearly be doubled if the clubs' rankings were reversed. If the Braves do manage to make a run and beat out the Nats by a game or two, they'll have their ability on the basepaths to thank.

[+] Enlarge
Paul Abell/US Presswire
Jason Heyward isn't a pure speedster, but he has excellent instincts on the bases.We can dig a little deeper to see exactly where the Braves are excelling and the Nats are falling flat. The Braves owe their baserunning prowess almost entirely to Michael Bourn and Jason Heyward, who rank first and third in the majors, respectively, in individual BRR. Bourn and Heyward have combined for 15.4 runs on the bases, which means their teammates have been a net negative. But Atlanta lacks any truly terrible runners -- fragile 40-year-old Chipper Jones brings up the rear at -2.6 -- and the two speedsters have been a dangerous enough duo to lift the rest of the roster. Thanks largely to the duo, Braves baserunners have scored in 33 percent of their times on base, tied for the highest percentage in baseball. (The major league average is 30 percent.)

The Nats lack any individual performances as extreme as the Braves', ranging from Adam LaRoche (-3.7) to Ian Desmond (4.2). The distribution is tilted toward the negatives, though. The Nats have just two players who have contributed more than one run with their legs (Desmond and Bryce Harper) but 11 who have given at least one away (including Strasburg, who might not be good at everything after all). Washington's bad baserunning has been a true team effort.

The Nationals' primary problem isn't necessarily speed. The Nats have the third-youngest collection of position players in the majors, with an average age of 27.1, so we wouldn't expect them to be especially slow of foot. BRR is broken into five components, each of which captures a team's or player's aptitude at a particular aspect of baserunning. This enables us to isolate the areas in which Washington struggles most.

The Nationals place in the middle of the pack in stolen base runs, which makes sense given that they also rank roughly in the middle of major league teams in total steals and attempted steal success rate. They struggle the most when attempting to advance on hits, namely from first on singles, from second on singles and from first on doubles. That failure to make pitchers pay for surrendering hits can be blamed for -11.7 of their -14.9 total. Nationals baserunners have taken more than one base on singles and more than two bases on doubles only 38 percent of the time, compared to the 41 percent MLB average.

Players tend to get worse at advancing on hits as their ages climb and wheels decline, but perhaps the Nats are still so raw that they haven't learned to anticipate where batted balls will land, get good jumps and avoid being fooled by outfielders. If that's the case, experience and coaching could solve some of the problems, though there probably aren't any latent Bourns or Heywards lurking on the roster.

The Nats have found success this season by allowing fewer runs than any other team, not by scoring more, but when it comes to baserunning, it wouldn't hurt them to be a bit more like the Braves.

Sano shows elite pop, indifferent defense.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I dropped in on the Beloit Snappers -- the Minnesota Twins' affiliate in the low Class A Midwest League -- on Friday night for one game, primarily to see third base prospect Miguel Sano, one of the minors' top power prospects and the subject of the new documentary Pelotero, which tracks him in the months leading up to the July 2 signing day in 2009.

Sano has incredibly easy power, with a clean, rotational swing that generates most of its power from his hips and legs, a textbook example of how to make hard contact and drive the ball to all fields. His home run on Friday night went over the batter's eye in Beloit, which is 380 feet from home plate, and he drove two more balls to left without even squaring either up fully. His approach was fair, perhaps not as good as the raw walk rate would indicate (76 BBs in 417 ABs), although the sample here is just three plate appearances as he was hit by a pitch in the other one. He's just 19 and looks like he'll be able to hit for high averages to go along with 30-40 home runs a year.

Sano's biggest drawback is his obvious disdain for the defensive side of the game. He played third base like my daughter cleans her playroom (although he didn't openly complain about it), so while he has the arm and hands for the position now, the question of whether he'll outgrow the position is secondary to the question of whether he'll work enough to make third base a possibility.

I'm not generally a fan of pushing young players out of the infield until they prove they can't handle it -- something I believe even more now given the atrocious state of offense at third base in the majors today -- but Sano might be an exception unless he shows more effort on defense.

• Eddie Rosario played center field for Beloit on Friday night, although he's still playing the majority of his games at second base as the team continues to see if he can convert to the position. He has the foot speed for center and showed good range with an above-average arm. At the plate, Rosario showed quick hands and a good two-strike approach, but was meeting the ball out front all night even though he seemed to keep his weight back; I can't imagine he's doing that frequently because he's slugging .485 and would have a hard time hitting for any power at all if that kind of swing was typical. He seemed unafraid to work the count as well, even though his walk rate isn't high. He's interesting because of the bat speed, the above-average running speed, and the fact that at age 20 he has a real plan at the plate, but I did expect to see a little more given his performances this year and last.

• Beloit first baseman Kennys Vargas has attracted some attention due to a great stat line in a pretty small sample this year since he returned from a 50-game suspension for using Phentermine, an anorectic banned by MLB for its similarities to amphetamine. He's a big boy and at 21 is old for the level, so while his .295/.426/.682 line in 108 plate appearances looks impressive, in context it's much less so, exacerbated by a bad body that may push him permanently to DH, and a long swing with zero recognition of breaking stuff. What he does have, however, is legimate power, with upper and lower body strength and good hip rotation to get that lower half involved. I just think better pitching at higher levels is going to give him major trouble with contact.

• One Beloit pitcher of note was lefty Taylor Rogers, the Twins' 11th-round pick this year out of the University of Kentucky, who made his first pro relief appearance on Friday night. Rogers was 87-89 with a very hard, sharp breaking ball, more curve than slider in shape but breaking hard enough down and away from left-handed hitters that I'd call it a slurve. Either way, it gives him real promise as a lefty specialist; left-handed hitters are just 7 for 38 against him in his brief pro career, with no walks and 13 punchouts. Unfortunately, I didn't see Mason Melotakis or Zack Jones, two premium arms in Beloit's pen; Jones, a swingman this spring at San Jose State who missed the start of the year after an appendectomy, has been sitting 98 in pro ball this summer and has touched triple digits.

• The opposing team was Milwaukee's low-A affiliate, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, but had no one I would rate as a prospect, not even a good bench player. Their top-performing hitter is catcher Cameron Garfield, but his bat is slow, he's not a good receiver at all, and he's repeating the league at age 21.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Managerial candidates in Houston
PM ETHouston Astros Recommend0Comments0EmailBaseball has not gone an entire season without an in-season managerial change since 2006, and the Houston Astros made sure that would not happen in 2012 by dismissing Brad Mills under the cover of darkness late Saturday night.

Triple-A manager Tony DeFrancesco, the Astros' manager at Triple-A Oklahoma City, was named the interim replacement.

Defranesco takes over a team light years out of first place and one in the midst of a major overhaul under owner Jim Crane and general manager Jeff Luhnow. The speculation as to who will manage the Astros in their first game as an American League team in 2013 is under way, and Zachary Levine handicaps the field in the Houston Chronicle.

Some of the potential candidates, culled from Levine and elsewhere, include Astros Joe Pettini, who may be the best of the internal candidates, but the fact that he was passed over for the interim tag could be a red flag. Then again, Crane could look to give Pettini a fresh start in 2013.

There also is Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo, who worked with Luhnow in St. Louis and has been mentioned in past vacancies. Bo Porter is a well-respected third base coach for the first-place Nationals and has interviewed for past vacancies with the Marlins and Pirates.

This could be a long shot, but the Astros could look at Reds Double-A manager Jim Rigglemman. The Reds have a few more rocky years ahead and Riggelman, who managed previously with the Cubs and Nationals, would be a bridge before the hiring of a more high-profile skipper.

Former Red sox skipper Terry Francona would likely have the choice of jobs if he wanted to return to managing, but it is hard to see him taking over a team that fired his former assisstant in Mills.

ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney has more on the awkward way the Astros handled the firing of Mills:

- Doug Mittler

Buster Olney
Latte-night purge in Houston

"It's Crane's team. He paid a lot of money for it, and he can hire and fire who he wants. But firing Mills and the coaches they way Houston did was completely and unnecessarily disrespectful, for he is not any more responsible for the decrepit state of the franchise than ownership is. And Mills is even less responsible for what a shockingly bad team the Astros have become in the last two months."
Diminished role for Bastardo
PM ETAntonio Bastardo | Phillies Recommend0Comments0EmailAntonio Bastardo has assumed the role of Maytag repairman in the Phillies%u2019 bullpen.

The lefthander has not pitched since August 8 against the Braves, calling into question whether the Phillies still view him as their primary southpaw reliever for 2013, writes Matt Gelb.

Bastardo made 64 appearances for the NL East champions in 2011, but he has a 6.39 ERA since the start of last September. Lefty Jeremy Horst has been given some of the bullpen innings normally given to Bastardo.

The Phillies still insist Bastardo is a valuable part of their future, and they may simply be giving Horst a long audition.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Jeremy Horst, Antonio Bastardo, Philadelphia Phillies
Swisher's future in the Bronx
PM ETNick Swisher | Yankees Recommend0Comments1EmailMelky Cabrera effectively removed himself from the list of attractive free agent outfielders this winter following a positive drug test and the reported launch of a phony website. That leaves more available dollars chasing one less player, and among the beneficiaries should be the Yankees' Nick Swisher.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports Monday the Yankees almost certainly will give the one-year, approximately $13.3 million tender offer to Swisher, which assures the club of draft compensation if he goes elsewhere.

The Yankees would love for Swisher to accept the tender offer, but he undoubtedly will seek more security. This may represent the last chance of the 31-year-old Swisher, who is hitting .310 in August following a .222 September, of landing a three-year deal.

Among the interested teams could be the Indians, who are looking for a left fielder. Swisher has spent the bulk of his career in right field, but has started 102 games in left.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Nick Swisher, New York Yankees
Bourn could stay in Atlanta
AM ETMichael Bourn | Braves Recommend2Comments3EmailJosh Hamilton may be the marquee name of this offseason's free agent outfield class, but the most spirited battle at the position could be for the services of Atlanta's Michael Bourn.

ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney wrote earlier this month the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies could soon be jockeying for the rights to sign the 29-year-old who is at the peak of his career.

Nick Cafardo wrote last week that Braves management thought Bourn would not re-sign with the Braves because of the presence of Scott Boras. But that prompted the uber agent to call Cafardo and insistent he has an excellent relationship with GM Frank Wren and the Braves organization. Bourn likes playing in Atlanta, so he clearly is open to the idea of staying in Georgia.

Olney has more on Bourn's leverage:

- Doug Mittler

Buster Olney
NL East battle for Bourn?

"If the Phillies make a strong push for Bourn, it's unclear whether they would be willing to outbid the Nationals. Washington opened this season with a payroll of $92 million and if its wealthy ownership is willing, it has a lot of room to grow under the luxury tax cap. Bourn figures to get a multi-year deal for something in the range of $16 million to $22 million annually, and as has been well-documented over the last six weeks, the Phillies already have a lot of payroll obligations well into the future, with $20 million-plus commitments to Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard on the books. The Phillies also will have to find a third baseman, a starting pitcher and at least one outfielder, depending on their internal evaluations of Domonic Brown and John Mayberry, Jr."
Tags:Michael Bourn, Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies
Who steps in for Crawford?
AM ETCarl Crawford | Red Sox Recommend0Comments0EmailCarl Crawford appears to have played his last game of the season for the Boston Red Sox. According to, Crawford is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery Tuesday to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.

The short-term fix in left field figures to be either Scott Podsednik or Cody Ross, at least until Daniel Nava is ready to come off the disabled list.

Nava, sidelined for the last three weeks with a left wrist sprain, began a rehab assignment over the weekend at Triple-A Pawtucket, reports Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Nava filled in admirably for Crawford earlier this season, but the wrist injury began to take its toll as his on-base percentage slipped to .373 by late July.

Manager Bobby Valentine has no problems turning to Nava, penciling him in as the starting left fielder 25 straight games from mid-May to early June.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Daniel Nava, Carl Crawford, Boston Red Sox
Napoli back this weekend?
AM ETMike Napoli | Rangers Recommend1Comments0EmailRangers catcher Mike Napoli could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Sunday, the first day he is eligible to be activated, reports's Chris Toman.

Napoli landed on the disabled list last week with a strained left quadriceps. Manager Ron Washington has suggested Napoli could serve as the designated hitter for a game or two before getting back behind the plate.

Geovany Soto and Luis Martinez have split the catching duties in Napoli's absence.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Mike Napoli, Texas Rangers
Plenty of interest in Millwood
AM ETKevin Millwood | Mariners Recommend1Comments0EmailWe are less than two weeks away from the deadline for acquiring players who would be eligible for postseason play. Several contenders could use another pitcher, and one strong candidate for a waiver deal by August 31 would be Mariners righthander Kevin Millwood.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports Millwood had not been placed on trade waivers as of Friday, but would attract immediate attention if and when Seattle makes the move.

Millwood is just 4-10 with a 4.28 ERA, but brings several seasons of postseason experience. One possibility could be the Nationals, who need to fill some innings once Stephen Strasburg is shut down.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Kevin Millwood, Seattle Mariners
Red Sox undecided on Lackey
AM ETJohn Lackey | Red Sox Recommend1Comments0EmailThe Boston Red Sox have received minimal return on their $82.5 million investment in John Lackey. Since landing the five-year free agent deal after the 2009 season, Lackey is 26-23 with a 5.61 ERA in 61 starts for the Red Sox and has yet to pitch this season following Tommy John surgery.

Lackey threw a 45-pitch side session Sunday that impressed manager Bobby Valentine, but GM Ben Cherington is undecided whether the righthander will appear in a game this season, reports Sean McAdam.

If Lackey does return, it sounds like it would be for only the final week or two of the season.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:John Lackey, Boston Red Sox
Any trade value for Santana?
AM ETJohan Santana | Mets Recommend1Comments0EmailLittle has gone right for Johan Santana since he pitched the first no-hitter in New York Mets' history in early June. While the lefthander has had a handful of efficient starts since the 134-pitch effort against the Cardinals, he has allowed six earned runs or more in his last five outings, including Friday's setback in Washington.

Has the string of lackluster starts and his bloated contract eroded any remaining trade value for the former Cy Young Award winner? Obviously, the 33-year-old Santana needs a strong finish to get any team to consider eating some of the $25.5 million he is owed in 2013, the final season of his six-year, $137.5 million contract.

Andy Martino of the NY Daily News found one general manager who floated the idea of the the Los Angeles Dodgers at least expressing interest, given the willingness of the new ownership group to take on salary as they did in a trade for Hanley Ramirez.

That idea still looks like a long shot at best, since the Mets seem more inclined to keep Santana for one more year rather than pay for him to pitch elsewhere.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Johan Santana, New York Mets
Votto getting closer?
AM ETJoey Votto | Reds Recommend0Comments0EmailJoey Votto has been out of the lineup for more than a month with a because of torn meniscus cartilage, and the Cincinnati Reds have done just fine in his absence, opening up a 6 1/2-game lead in the NL Central.

Votto won't make the trip to Philadelphia for a four-game road trip, but the first baseman is "getting closer," reports Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Votto was close to being ready to return last week when he re-injured his knee while doing sliding drills. Even when Votto returns, the Reds will be careful to give him some occasional days off, which means more time at first for Rookie of the Year candidate Todd Frazier.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Possible call-ups in Pittsburgh
AM ETPittsburgh Pirates Recommend0Comments0EmailSeptember call-ups will have a different role this season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who find themselves pursuing a postseason berth rather than playing out the string.

The Pirates are looking for players who can aid in the playoff push, but there will be no all-out raid since Triple-A Indianapolis likely is playoff bound. Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review says the Bucs will add at least one left-handed pitcher, with Justin Wilson or Doug Slaten the leading candidates.

The Bucs also could add a catcher and will chose between Eric Fryer or Tony Sanchez.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Pittsburgh Pirates
Jackson seeks stability
AM ETEdwin Jackson | Nationals Recommend0Comments0EmailNationals righthander Edwin Jackson, currently on his sixth team in as many seasons, is looking for a little more stability.

Jackson tells's Bill Ladson he would like to remain with the Nats, yet would prefer a deal longer than the one-year, $11 million contract he signed in February. "I could see myself being a part of [the Nationals], but at the end of the day, it's up to ownership," Jackson said.

The 28-year-old Jackson has been an efficient if not spectacular starter for the Nationals, going 7-8 with a 3.69 ERA. It seems reasonable to expect that the Nats want Jackson back due to his reputation as an innings-eater, but a multi-year deal is no guarantee.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Edwin Jackson, Washington Nationals
Carpenter will impact Cards offseason
AM ETChris Carpenter | Cardinals Recommend1Comments0EmailChris Carpenter's 2012 season never even got underway, but the right-hander's status heading into 2013 will surely affect the St. Louis Cardinals' offseason plans.

Carpenter threw for the first time since undergoing surgery on July 19 to address his thoracic outlet syndrome.

While this was seen as progress for the veteran, Carpenter also acknowledged that he still feels mild sensation in the shoulder and there is no timetable for his future. Essentially, his return in 2013 is certainly possible, but it depends entirely on Carpenter -- and in fact, he may not be able to make it back at all.

"They need to know if I can be counted on to be ready to pitch. They can't go the whole offseason wondering if I'm going to be there in spring training and let free agency pass by if I'm not going to be," Carpenter tells Derrick Goold in Monday's Post-Dispatch.

That wide range of possibilities poses a problem for the Cardinals: Does the club count Carpenter among its future plans, or will the team be better off searching for a replacement?

We know for sure that the 2013 five-man rotation will include Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Jaime Garcia (assuming he's fully recovered from his own shoulder issues). But Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook are potential free agents, and then there are young arms to consider, like Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal and Shelby Miller.

Carpenter himself is under contract for 2013, and he believes he will know by the end of this year whether he can make it back in time.

- Jason Catania
post #7628 of 78800
pimp.gif the Starlin contract.

And hopefully Soler can join the group of kids sometime soon. That was a thwack if I ever heard one. laugh.gif The twitter guy I follow that does the Cubs minor league stuff talks about Soler constantly.
post #7629 of 78800
How bout Kyle Kendrick with 15 scoreless innings
Jordans and Nikes all free shipping on the site

WTB: Safari Roshe Run sz10 (Red or Blue)
Jordans and Nikes all free shipping on the site

WTB: Safari Roshe Run sz10 (Red or Blue)
post #7630 of 78800
Stanton's 1st HR of night was sick.gif he might be my fav player to watch hit smokin.gif
post #7631 of 78800
Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post

Stanton's 1st HR of night was sick.gif he might be my fav player to watch hit smokin.gif
Giancarlo been hitting bombs since coming off the DL.

Happy that Han Ram is putting in work for LA since the trade. Good gamble by the Dodgers. They have to close the division with Melky out and Timmy struggling.
post #7632 of 78800
This pitchers duel at Dodger Stadium eek.gifpimp.gif
post #7633 of 78800
Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post

This pitchers duel at Dodger Stadium eek.gifpimp.gif
How do Cruz and Kershaw have the only four hits? Hello Matty, Han Ram, and Dre.

Good one in extras between Nats/Braves. Dogfight for the division.
post #7634 of 78800
Originally Posted by ChampCruThik View Post

How do Cruz and Kershaw have the only four hits? Hello Matty, Han Ram, and Dre.
Good one in extras between Nats/Braves. Dogfight for the division.

laugh.gif Kershaw has a 2 hit game
post #7635 of 78800
Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post

Originally Posted by ChampCruThik View Post

How do Cruz and Kershaw have the only four hits? Hello Matty, Han Ram, and Dre.
Good one in extras between Nats/Braves. Dogfight for the division.

laugh.gif Kershaw has a 2 hit game
Kershaw has been hot at the plate in his last two starts
post #7636 of 78800
Stephen Drew traded to A's
post #7637 of 78800
Originally Posted by picknroll24 View Post

Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post

Originally Posted by ChampCruThik View Post

How do Cruz and Kershaw have the only four hits? Hello Matty, Han Ram, and Dre.
Good one in extras between Nats/Braves. Dogfight for the division.

laugh.gif Kershaw has a 2 hit game
Kershaw has been hot at the plate in his last two starts

Should have let Kershaw hit instead of Uribe.
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #7638 of 78800
laugh.gif Kershaw doing his best Dontrelle Willis/Rick Ankiel impression. I ain't mad.

Still sticking with SF to take the NL West only because that was my preseason pick and I never waver, but honestly the Dodgers have no excuses with Melky now out. Matty, Han Ram, and Dre should be enough. I just don't trust their starting rotation in the playoffs.
post #7639 of 78800
Thread Starter 
Colon reportedly failed a drug test.
post #7640 of 78800
Huge blow for us, but at least we're better equipped to handle this than the Giants were with Melky. Doesn't knock us out of the race.
A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

post #7641 of 78800
colon mean.gif
When S&T has that moment of clarity: "...we're grasping at straws talking about Spygate, Deflategate, the system, French kissing relatives, UGGs, Trump, etc." - @trey ohh five
When S&T has that moment of clarity: "...we're grasping at straws talking about Spygate, Deflategate, the system, French kissing relatives, UGGs, Trump, etc." - @trey ohh five
post #7642 of 78800

post #7643 of 78800
Originally Posted by Proshares View Post

Colon reportedly failed a drug test.

Yup...50 games for testosterone.

*I remember that fat slob went to the Dominican Republic of all places and had a supposed "blood spinning" done. No coincidence that he kind of revived his career in the later stages.
post #7644 of 78800
Originally Posted by Th3RealF0lkBlu3s View Post

Huge blow for us, but at least we're better equipped to handle this than the Giants were with Melky. Doesn't knock us out of the race.

Better eqiupped? The key for the Giants is pitching. The key to the A's is pitching, too.

If Tim Lincecum was an average pitcher this year then the Giants would be right up there for the best record in the NL.

Losing Melky is not a positive, but to say the A's, a team that wins with pitching, losing their 2nd best pitcher - WAR wise - is better equipped? I don't know.
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #7645 of 78800

what was the point of bringing Strasburg back in the game yesterday?

post #7646 of 78800
Good thng anderson came back
post #7647 of 78800
Has this been posted before?

I guess this is updated, so maybe it has. I don't have insider.
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #7648 of 78800
Originally Posted by RaWEx5 View Post

Better eqiupped? The key for the Giants is pitching. The key to the A's is pitching, too.
If Tim Lincecum was an average pitcher this year then the Giants would be right up there for the best record in the NL.
Losing Melky is not a positive, but to say the A's, a team that wins with pitching, losing their 2nd best pitcher - WAR wise - is better equipped? I don't know.

The A's have the arms that can soften the blow of losing Colon. He was definitely one of our best pitchers but considering we just got back Anderson and he threw a gem yesterday it looks like at this point they will be okay.

How did the Giants replace their best hitter and arguably their MVP? Gregor Blanco? You can try to argue that Pence replaces Melky's value to the team but I wouldn't buy it.

And it would be great for the Giants if Lincecum were an average pitcher this season, but that certainly hasn't been him this season. "If's" aren't winning you ballgames.
A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

post #7649 of 78800
So Bay Area baseball now has two cheaters. And to think I was hoping Colon was having a crazy good season just on burgers and hot dogs laugh.gif .

Someone on the Padres is bound to slip next.
New York Yankees | New York Jets
New York Yankees | New York Jets
post #7650 of 78800
Originally Posted by Th3RealF0lkBlu3s View Post

Originally Posted by RaWEx5 View Post

Better eqiupped? The key for the Giants is pitching. The key to the A's is pitching, too.
If Tim Lincecum was an average pitcher this year then the Giants would be right up there for the best record in the NL.
Losing Melky is not a positive, but to say the A's, a team that wins with pitching, losing their 2nd best pitcher - WAR wise - is better equipped? I don't know.

The A's have the arms that can soften the blow of losing Colon. He was definitely one of our best pitchers but considering we just got back Anderson and he threw a gem yesterday it looks like at this point they will be okay.

How did the Giants replace their best hitter and arguably their MVP? Gregor Blanco? You can try to argue that Pence replaces Melky's value to the team but I wouldn't buy it.

And it would be great for the Giants if Lincecum were an average pitcher this season, but that certainly hasn't been him this season. "If's" aren't winning you ballgames.

I get you, but neither does "it looks like at this point they will be okay," help you win ballgames.

I wasn't sure what you meant with "better equipped." Better equipped to replace the cheater, or better equipped to continue winning and eventually making the playoffs?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
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NikeTalk › NikeTalk Forums › The Lounge › Sports & Training › 2016 MLB thread. THE CUBS HAVE BROKEN THE CURSE! Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions.