Connect with us

Inside Baseball

Inside Baseball MLB Notes | Teammate predicts Harper stays with Nationals

Jon Heyman

Published

on

May 21, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) salutes the crowd after hitting a solo homer during the fifth inning as San Diego Padres catcher A.J. Ellis (17) looks on at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Inside Baseball from Jon Heyman brings you news, notes, rumors and more from all 30 MLB teams. For Jon’s 11 observations at baseball’s one-third marker, click here.

And now, around the majors…

Arizona Diamondbacks

— The D-backs, one of the best teams in baseball the first month, were down to .500 after losing 15 of 17, but took two from the Reds to stop the bleeding.

— A.J. Pollock’s fracture hadn’t fully healed, the team announced, so it might be closer to eight weeks than four in the four-to-eight estimate.

— Robbie Ray was progressing, and he threw a bullpen. He may be the biggest key to the season.

— Shelby Miller just started his rehab starts. He looked good in his first rehab start.

— Yasmany Tomas has a better attitude than numbers in the minors, writes Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com.

Atlanta Braves

— While the Braves may look at every third baseman in trade talks, including Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson (an old friend of Alex Anthopoulos from his Toronto days), some see Mike Moustakas as being the most logical fit considering the Braves’ well-known reluctance to spend. Machado makes more than double Moustakas’ $6.5 million guarantee (he does have significant incentives, which he looks likely to reach), and Donaldson at $23 million makes more than triple.

— Nick Markakis has been overlooked on free-agent lists, including here. But the way he’s playing he needs to be included.

— Markakis was up to 2,125 hits for his career (he’s leading the NL with 73) and is second on the hits list for players who’ve never made an All-Star team, trailing only Juan Pierre (via Joel Sherman of the New York Post).

— Mike Foltynewicz is much improved; he’s allowed one run in each of his last four starts.

— If you didn’t think the Braves had something special going on, Charlie Culberson’s first home run in two years was a walk-off job, against the rival Mets.

— Fed up with all the rain delays, Mike Puma of the New York Post dubbed SunTrust Park a place “where the sun never shines.”

— Georgia high school catcher Anthony Seigler, who’s expected to be a top pick in the June 4 MLB draft, is a switch hitter as a catcher, and also a switch pitcher, which, according to Danny Knobler of Bleacher Report, makes him the most interesting player in the draft.

— The Braves look like they have “a lot of chemistry,” observes one scout. Folks are jumping aboard the bandwagon.

— The Braves certainly are aggressive. They led the league by swinging at 35 percent of first pitches, according to SNY.

Baltimore Orioles

— The Orioles said they wanted to wait until Memorial Day to see where they stood. And while they aren’t saying anything publicly, the evidence appears to be solid that they will need to be a seller and begin their rebuild.

— Worries about Chris Davis (-1.5 WAR, only four home runs) are deepening. “Worst contract in baseball,” says one rival exec.

— The Davis deal was driven by owner Peter Angelos, rivals believe. “He bid against himself,” one rival contended.

— It’s no wonder Buck Showalter wasn’t shocked by the White Sox intentionally walking Manny Machado with the bases empty and one out. It was 20 years ago Monday when D-backs manager Showalter had Barry Bonds intentionally walked with the bases loaded.

— While the Orioles are struggling now, let’s not forget that they had the best overall record in the AL East from 2012-16.

Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes that the Orioles are avoiding the question of where they’re headed. Can’t really blame them. (True story related to Mr. Schmuck. He and I were leaving Anaheim Stadium at the same time after a game in the late ‘80s when he noticed me running away from a bird in the parking lot, and did a note in the Orange County Register on my crazy behavior. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. Legendary radio personality Paul Harvey picked it up and turned it into an episode on “The Rest of the Story.” So 30 years later, thanks Pete.) 

Boston Red Sox

— There is deep skepticism on the players side about whether Hanley Ramirez’s vesting option wasn’t at least on the mind of Red Sox management went they made the surprising decision to cut him. The claim that rookie manager Alex Cora was the one who drove the decision seemed to some like an attempt to divert attention from the vesting clause (with 302 more plate appearances, Ramirez was to get a $22 million salary for next year). To many, it seemed like the Red Sox simply took the opportunity, with Ramirez in his first slump, to limit discussion of an option they surely never wanted any part of. Ramirez is far from done, but Boston, it should be noted on their behalf, is the only team way over the luxury tax threshold this year. Still, they would like nothing less than to have him at $22 million next year. Folks believe he should have no problem getting another job, once the waiver period expires and he’s released. (No one else wants any part of the vesting option, either!).

— Only a few days before, Boston people were saying Ramirez was going to be on the All-Star ballot. He was replaced with Mitch Moreland now. Moreland leads the AL in WAR and slugging among 1B, per the Red Sox.

— Andrew Benintendi (.892 OPS) is heating up now.

— The Red Sox signed Adam Lind to a minors deal, reported Evan Drellich of NBC Boston. The twice-rejected Yankee is certainly more cost-efficient than Ramirez.

Chicago Cubs

— The Cubs are heating up with the bat. Their .356 on-base percentage is tops in May, via Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.

— There are concerns about Yu Darvish, who went on the DL with a triceps issue. Update: No structural damage.

— With a bit of irony, Darvish’s alleged favorite catcher, Chris Gimenez, was called up almost simultaneously with Darvish’s move to the DL.

— Tyler Chatwood has 45 walks and 44 strikeouts in 48.1 innings, Christopher Kamka noted on Twitter.

— Meanwhile, Javy Baez still has no walks since April 11.

— A recent Baez bat slam could be heard in the press box, Gonzales tweeted.

— The Cubs were 20-10 in games started by Albert Almora, 7-7 in games in which he just appeared but didn’t start, and 0-5 in games in which he didn’t play (also via Kamka).

Patrick Mooney of The Athletic wrote about how Kris Bryant made living up to the hype look easy.

Chicago White Sox

— Hanley Ramirez wouldn’t be a bad idea for a team that could use a DH. Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune wrote about this.

— Jose Abreu had 11 multi-hit games in his last 19. He also has the most total bases in the AL since 2014, at 1,373 (via @ChristopherKamka). His slugging percentage was fifth-best, but his ability to stay on the field helped.

— Eloy Jimenez is hitting .336 in the minors. He might be ready, certainly as a hitter.

— Lucas Giolito isn’t the same pitcher he was in high school, one scout says. “He’s lost his angle,” the scout says of the former first-rounder. There’s still time for Giolito to regain his form, and the trade of Adam Eaton for Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning may still turn out to work as folks expected. But Giolito is undoubtedly struggling.

James Fegan of The Athletic did a story on uber-talent Michael Kopech.

— Matt Skole homered in his debut. Skole, 28, has a nice story of perseverance and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune tells it.

— Welington Castillo made no excuses. Good for him.

— Don’t worry Sox fans, help is on the way.

— Chicago’s Trayce Thompson, brother of Golden State Warrior Klay, was booed at a recent game in Cleveland, noted Doug Padilla. Klay’s Warriors will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals for a fourth straight season.

Cincinnati Reds

— Matt Harvey’s strikeout rate was up, his walk rate down and his velocity up 1.5 mph with the Reds, MLB Network noted. Here’s why we thought Cincinnati would work for Harvey.

— Harvey is believed to be mostly trade bait for the Reds. He may still have some more work to do as far as that goes. One rival exec says that while his velocity is up, his command and secondary pitches still aren’t where they were. “I’m still not sold,” he says.

— Brandon Finnegan complained about being sent down to Cincinnati Enquirer writer Bobby Nightengale, saying, “I felt like I had two pretty good starts up in Cincinnati.” A scout here actually said before he was sent down that he should be sent to Double-A as a message (he wouldn’t have liked that much!). Incidentally, in five starts in Cincy he had a 7.40 ERA.

— Now it can be told: The Reds thought it was a gift Hunter Greene was there for them at No. 2. They saw him as a potential generational talent. (The Reds track record on picks is good, but Royce Lewis, who the Twins picked No. 1, is off to a nice start, too).

— The Reds are 1-11 in Homer Bailey’s starts. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer first reported that the Reds have talked to Bailey about moving to the bullpen. They did make the move, making him baseball’s highest-priced reliever.

— Scooter Gennett was Player of the Week and is a candidate to be Player of the Month, too. He has become a star since going home to Cincinnati.

Cleveland Indians

— The Indians have gone from the best bullpen in baseball to one of the worst all-time. Their pen ERA is over 6.00 while only a couple other teams had a pen ERA over 5.00.

— Manager Terry Francona has used his starters more than anyone, and understandably so. He let Trevor Bauer throw 127 pitches but removed him vs. Houston with a 3-2 lead. No shock: a couple pitches into the pen, it was 5-3 Astros (though the Indians would eventually win in 14 innings to go a game over .500).

— Andrew Miller (knee) went back on the DL, only making the need to add pen help even more obvious. Miller, a team guy and all-time gamer, may have rushed back. He just got a shot Tuesday and may be a couple weeks away now.

“They really miss Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith,” observes one scout. One person, noting Shaw’s value, suggested he was “like two people.”

— The Indians called up Shane Bieber (no relation, though he has fun with the name). Robert Murray of FRS Baseball was first, noting he had 61 strikeouts and three walks. Bieber also threw a no-hitter in his last minors start.

— The Indians don’t expect Danny Salazar back until at least September, if then.

— The Indians were at least over .500, but the AL Central had a run differential of negative-179, Bob Nightengale of USA Today noted.

— Big-time prospect Triston McKenzie is expected back in about 10 days.

— Jose Ramirez continues to be amazing.

May 30, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11) celebrates his solo home run in the fourth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

May 30, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11) celebrates his solo home run in the fourth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Rockies

— Carlos Gonzalez had a 4-for-4 game, which could be a great sign.

— The Rockies continue to be the quietest first-place team.

— The Rockies have only two series wins at home.

— Their performance has been very un-Rockie-like. They are 9-12 at home, 19-13 on the road.

— The NL West has been a disappointment in a year where there’s major imbalance in divisions. It isn’t nearly as bad as the AL Central, but Colorado led at three games over in a division with two teams just below the luxury-tax threshold and another that started like a house afire.

— Adam Ottavino was out with an oblique, and Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post has the deeper meaning.

Detroit Tigers

Miguel Cabrera expects to be back very soon, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.

— Michael Fulmer didn’t help his trade value in a rough start against the Angels; that is, if the Tigers have any intention to trade him.

— Justin Upton, the reigning Tiger of the Year, received a great ovation at Comerica, Jason Beck of MLB.com said. He received his trophy for the honor on the trip in.

— Ian Kinsler, who was in a 1-for-27 stretch before coming to life back in Detroit, received a polite reception.

— Matt Boyd has been pitching like an ace.

— There was a brief worry about an oblique with Boyd. But, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com, manager Ron Gardenhire said, “I saw him reaching for an Oreo cookie in a high place. He’s fine.”

Houston Astros

— The Astros’ need for late-inning pen help is becoming more obvious. Kelvin Herrera and Zach Britton, who they traded for last year, are expected to be the two best options. Here’s an idea for a Herrera trade and many other trade suggestions.

— Jose Altuve amazingly had 10 hits in a row. No surprise, he now leads the league with 76.

— The matchup of non-friends Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, who hated each other at UCLA and have carried on that tradition thanks to Bauer’s tweets about the Astros’ starters great improvement and his skepticism, ended with two no decisions (Bauer’s Indians team won in 14).

— Justin Verlander has a 1.10 ERA since going to the Astros.

— Verlander tipped his cap to booing Yankee fans on his way out. Beautiful.

Tyler Kepner of the failing New York Times had a nice story on the great Verlander.

— The Astros’ plus-123 run differential through 54 games (one third of the year) was the fourth-best figure in the expansion era (since 1969).

Kansas City Royals

Rustin Dodd of The Athletic did a nice story on how well Mike Moustakas has handled his disappointing free agency. One advantage this time is that he will not have a draft pick attached to him, since players can’t be extended a qualifying offer two years in a row.

— Jason Hammel beat Cole Hamels. Or as Christopher Kamka put it on twitter: Singular > plural.

— Overall, though, the loss of pitching coach Dave Eiland hasn’t helped. In the KC rotation, Danny Duffy is near the bottom in ERA. Hammel and Ian Kennedy are, too.

— Speaking of undivulged changes made by Duffy his last couple starts (he looks much better), manager Ned Yost said, “It’s a little mystic … it’s a little smoky.”

Los Angeles Angels

— The legend of Mike Trout grew with a 5-for-5 performance with four extra-base hits at Yankee Stadium.

— The Yankees were poised to take Trout a couple spots later after then Angels, and scouting director Eddie Bane made the brilliant call to take the New Jersey star that was surely hidden due to the location and weather (ironically, no one likes weather more than Trout, as those who follow his excellent twitter account @MikeTrout know).

— Trout’s longtime roommate Garrett Richards continues to be good against everyone except the Yankees, against whom he isn’t so good.

— Does Kole Calhoun’s great defense outweigh his lack of offense (.151)? WAR doesn’t think so, but he sure is great in right field.

Steve Dilbeck of The Athletic did a nice feature on long-running manager Mike Scioscia, who surpassed his mentor Tommy Lasorda for wins this week. He now has 1,600 career wins.

— One scout says Scioscia should be a Manager of the Year candidate considering the Angels’ pitching woes. “After Ohtani,” the scout said, “their pitching is questionable.” 

— Ohtani threw the fastest pitch by a starter this year on Wednesday night: 101.1 mph.

— Matt Shoemaker had forearm surgery.

— The team is very likely the main competitor to ex-Angels GM Jerry Dipoto’s Mariners team for the second Wild Card (with the loser of Yankees-Red Sox in the AL East getting the first Wild Card).

— If so, Ohtani would presumably be the team’s preferred starter for that Wild Card Game.

— Albert Pujols has been a drag on the lineup (.286 on-base percentage), but even after this year, he has $87 million and three years to go. A reminder of how the negotiations went: The Angels were at $160 million for eight years, and on a phone call during the Winter Meetings in Dallas owner Arte Moreno upped it to $200 million over 10 years. Whereupon agent Dan Lozano said he didn’t have approval from Pujols and would have to take it to his client. That’s when Moreno upped it again, this time to $240 million. Whereupon Lozano immediately accepted.

Los Angeles Dodgers

— Clayton Kershaw is coming back Thursday.

— Walker Buehler continues to look fantastic. The Dodgers knew he’d need Tommy John surgery when they drafted him. But as one rival noted, “That was a great gamble.”

— Who could have predicted Max Muncy would play such a prominent role? He is now being considered even for second base.

— Ex-Dodger J.P. Howell is pitching for the independent San Rafael Pacifics, reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.

— Who could have predicted Matt Kemp (.341) would be their best player?

— The highest bWAR of the payers traded for him is said by J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group to belong to Scott Kazmir, whose total we presume to be 0 since he isn’t playing. Not sure how it works, but Brandon McCarthy has pitched OK for the Braves and Adrian Gonzalez has hit OK for the Mets even though they must have negative bWARs.

— For those who gave up on the Dodgers long ago, you may have over-reacted (I was close to that point myself).

Miami Marlins

— It’s time for the Marlins to try to lock up catcher J.T. Realmuto. While it wouldn’t be easy considering his interest in being dealt following the trades of all the other Marlins stars, it would be a nice gift to the fans (yes, they have some).

— Miguel Rojas, who switched over to third after the injury to Martin Prado, thrived at shortstop. In addition to showing power, the metrics suggested he was one of the better fielding shortstops in the league.

— There has to be concern about Prado’s career following the latest injury. For the record, Prado says he’s no quitter. Hopefully it’s not his final game, but if so, what a way to go out, with three hits in a game started by Max Scherzer. He is the active leader with 16 hits vs. Scherzer (in only 35 at-bats), via the Marlins radio broadcast. Nick Markakis has 16 also, but in 57 at-bats.

— The Prado deal for $40 million over three years is an unfortunate holdover from the previous regime. There were people in that front office who argued they had to have Prado, as reflected in this misguided deal. “I don’t know how we’re going to win without Prado,” one is recalled as saying. That’s exactly the kind of thinking that gets folks in trouble.

— South Florida radio personality Andy Slater was back with a press pass and even clubhouse access after originally upsetting the Marlins with his trip to the British Virgin Islands to see where Marlins ownership has set up shop (by doing that, they give themselves lawsuit protection). Good to see the team do the right thing regarding Slater’s access.

— Slater tweeted that the last two Marlins Opening Day starters – Edinson Volquez and Jose Urena – both started 0-7. Volquez followed with a no-hitter.

— The team continued to show patience with struggling rookie Lewis Brinson (.155), keeping him up and giving the local product (Coral Springs High) a chance to work with Mike Pagliarulo and Don Mattingly. There’s a possibility he could be sent down, though. Only one player has ever had 500 at-bats and a batting average below .200, back in the early 1900s, noted Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com writes on the Brinson dilemma.

— Storm Davis, the former Orioles pitcher, resigned as Double-A Jacksonville pitching coach to tend to his ailing stepfather, who has cancer, and help his mother. The beloved Davis said by phone that he loved coaching but felt it was “something I needed to do.”

— Justin Bour gets props here for executing a bunt single against Jacob deGrom. Bour planned it out, taking with teammates. More left-handed power hitters need to try this!

— The Marlins actually went 14-13 in a stretch before coming home to face the nemesis Nats.

— Even in getting swept, they gained a nice moral victory by scoring four runs off Max Scherzer.

— One other player who was omitted from last week’s 30 under-the-radar trade candidates is Starlin CastroThe Marlins wouldn’t mind trading him.

— We did include Wei-Yin Chen (if the Marlins would pay almost all of it), but there doesn’t seem to be much hope of that, even with him pitching well. Spencer wrote about how pleased the team is that he’s back and pitching at all.

— Marlins TV ratings are said to be up. But folks not going to games could contribute to that.

— Marlins owner Bruce Sherman is a cousin of Judge Judy. Craig Davis of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel wrote about this. She predicted Sherman would be a big success with the Fish. She is not batting 1.000 on her calls, but too early to call on this one.

Apr 22, 2018; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Miami Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson (9) reacts after striking out in the ninth inning during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 22, 2018; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Miami Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson (9) reacts after striking out in the ninth inning during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Brewers

— Jesus Aguilar is really taking advantage of his opportunity.

Robert Murray wonders if Eric Thames could become a trade tribute in his notes.

— The Brew Crew looks like it may have something special going on.

— GM David Stearns is doing a terrific job. But folks shouldn’t forget that his predecessor Doug Melvin set things up well by acquiring Josh Hader, Domingo Santana, Zach Davies, Chase Anderson and many others in trades while shedding $15 million.

— Hader has been nothing short of a sensation. “Their MVP,” one rival says.

— One rival praised manager Craig Counsell’s handling of the pen.

— One of the reasons the Brewers signed Lorenzo Cain is a consistently high WAR. And lo and behold, going into the week he led the NL in the category at 2.6 (five AL players had a higher figure).

— Orlando Arcia was demoted even though he led in runs saved at a plus-eight at the time, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic noted. The Brewers weren’t planning on Arcia being down in the minors long anyway, but his promotion was necessitated by an injury to Tyler Saladino.

— The Brewers addressed offensive deficiencies at short and catcher that led them to be as low as 20th in run-scoring before the changes.

— Domingo Santana continues to be much better on offense than defense.

— Ryan Braun, who batted fifth, batted below fourth for the first time since 9/23/14 at Cincinnati, via Brewers P.R. person Mike Vassallo (it was the first time in two years he batted below third, Vassallo also posted). Braun went 3-for-3 his first game at No. 5.

Minnesota Twins

— Kyle Gibson is showing a surprising ability to miss bats, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes.

— The Twins saved $7.609 million total with the Phil Hughes trades to the Padres, and one rival marveled at being able to do that the way Hughes has pitched this year.

— We wrote first about the amount of the savings and were chided by Hughes on Twitter. That was good-natured, we think. We actually know. Hughes is nothing if not good-natured.

New York Mets

— Even though Matt Harvey has improved with the Reds, the flyer on Devin Mesoraco is paying off.

— When it was mentioned how “good” Mesoraco was doing, team owner Jeff Wilpon corrected. “Great,” he said. True enough.

Mesoraco credited hitting coach Pat Roessler in a story by Laura Albanese of Newsday.

— The deal, whereby the Reds pay Mesoraco (who has much more money on his deal than Harvey) also is receiving praise.

— Word is that Mickey Callaway and others would have been willing to keep Harvey, but higher-ups (likely at the ownership level) were fed up with Harvey. Hard to blame them.

— Callaway’s moves all went right the first couple weeks. But lately it’s been the opposite, Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post notes. Vaccaro liked Callaway to “Mush” from “A Bronx Tale,” or William H. Macy’s character Bernie Lootz in “The Cooler.”

Vaccaro also wrote, after Steven Matz left a game with a middle finger injury, that the middle finger is a great metaphor for the Mets’ terrible week.

— Brandon Nimmo (eight straight plate appearances on base) is really stepping up since Juan Lagares went out for the year.

— A.J. Ramos has struggled. Which means Giancarlo Stanton probably needs a new roommate next year. The role may be an issue. “He needs a clean inning,” one scout said.

— Asdrubal Cabrera has been their MVP.

— Luis Guillorme, famous for nonchalantly catching a flying bat in a spring training dugout, started 3-for-3, then went 0-for-15.

— Adrian Gonzalez has been more than serviceable, both offensively and defensively. That’s surprised a lot of folks.

— Seth Lugo has hired Ballengee to represent him.

— Joey Bats is off to a nice start.

— The two-year anniversary of David Wright’s last game passed last week, as Adam Rubin noted on Twitter.

— Jacob deGrom had a 0.94 ERA over eight starts. Yet, the Mets were 2-6 in those games. He is 4-0 but has seven no-decisions and the Mets are 1-6 in those games. The Mets should pay him back by trying to lock him up. There’s no evidence they’ve tried to this point.

— Jose Reyes is still at .153.

— Nice job by the Mets to honor fallen heroes on Memorial Day with personal tributes on SNY.

New York Yankees

— Yankees people make no secret about their interest in adding a starting pitcher. Could they have a hidden target in mind?

— We spoke too soon last week about Sonny Gray’s turnaround. And one Yankees person wondered aloud whether he’s cut out for New York.

— Masahiro Tanaka seems to have a spell over Shohei Ohtani; he carried his dominance over him from Asia to the U.S.

— Aaron Judge had the hardest throw (100 mph) and hardest hit ball (119.9, according to MLB.com) of any position player, both done last week. Judge has the top two throws, according to Coley Harvey.

Mike Oz wrote on A-Rod’s amazing life turnaround.

— Jim Leyritz, famous for the huge homer off Mark Wohlers in the 1996 World Series, has been paid in recent years by the Yankees to entertain fans in suites, and he might have put that in jeopardy by complaining on Twitter about not being invited to this year’s Old-Timers Game. Word was this year’s game is to honor the 1978 team (though Brian Boehringer’s invite makes it seem like something else is at play, as well). In any case, Leyritz should consider himself fortunate to have a job with the Yankees, and not worry about such trivialities. Of course, his gigantic, outsized ego is what earned him the nickname The King (and probably helped him come through in the clutch many times).

— WAR question of the week: Is Brett Gardner doing better than we think, or is WAR flawed. Gardner, who is hitting .241 with a .687 OPS, has a 1.9 WAR, which is slightly higher than J.D. Martinez’s 1.8 mark.

— Didi Gregorius was in a 4-for-71 slide. He was moved down in the order, and Stanton given a day, by manager Aaron Boone.

— Gleyber Torres continues to be fantastic.

Marc Carig did a nice story on how Aaron Judge became “Aaron Judge.”

Oakland Athletics

— Blake Treinin continues to pitch like a star, bearing out what scouts (and obviously the A’s) thought about him. He hit 100.9 mph. It’s funny that both he and Sean Doolittle became star closers after the trade last summer.

— Jonathan Lucroy was up to 9-for-13 against his former battery-mate Zack Greinke, MLB Network noted.

— The A’s have really missed Khris Davis (they’ve only scored 15 runs in nine games without him, via Jon Morosi of MLB Network).

— Tweet of the week: Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted, “Sean Manaea appears to have shaved his head.” Slusser is precise, and she takes no chances of being wrong.

— Dallas Braden is terrific on A’s broadcasts. Just another mistake by ESPN in the John Skipper regime, but at least Skipper apparently had a good excuse for all his many mistakes.

— Matt Chapman is a magician at third.

— Stephen Piscotty continues to be an inspiration following the tragic death of his mother Gretchen from ALS.

Philadelphia Phillies

— The Phillies moved into first place for the first time since Ryan Howard crumbled coming out of the box.

— While there’s no guarantee Manny Machado is going anywhere in trade, the Orioles do need to trade him to start their rebuild, and we have a suggestion here of where to send him (along with suggestions for 11 other top trade candidates).

— Jake Arrieta, the late-signing ace, looks like the one big free agent starting pitcher signing that is working out to this point. Arrieta may have had a chance to go back to the Cubs but bet on himself, as we chronicled here. Arrieta has the personality of an ace, and wanted to be an ace. “You want to be a stopper,” he said to Phillies writers.

— Jorge Alfaro had the four fastest throws from behind the plate, all above 89 mph, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.

— Rhys Hoskins’ broken jaw is Exhibit A of why so many players are going to the C-Flap helmet. Not sure it would’ve helped in this rare case where he fouled the ball off his face, but it’s a reminder that batting can be a dangerous business.

— Cesar Hernandez reached base five times and stole a base for the second time this year, joining Lenny Dykstra, Lonnie Smith, Richie Ashburn and Chuck Fullis as Phillies to do this twice in a year.

— Dykstra was reported to have threatened an Uber driver, which presumably won’t help his Uber rating.

Pittsburgh Pirates

— Austin Meadows started 15-for-32. A star is born?

— Anthony Rizzo’s slide was debatable, but from here, since his “pathway” was altered, we’d tend to vote that it was illegal. MLB eventually agreed, saying the umps got it wrong on the field.

— Joe Musgrove is a Pittsburgh hero after his tough retaliatory slide.

— George Kontos, dependable reliever (and Northwestern product) was on release waivers.

St. Louis Cardinals

— Yairo Munoz, acquired in the Stephen Piscotty deal, leads NL SS in hitting over the last week. He is filling in for the injured Paul DeJong. Max Schrock, a second baseman who also came in that deal, is doing well at Triple-A Memphis.

— Michael Wacha is back to starring. He’s won six straight.

— Marcel Ozuna’s honeymoon was over when he overslept to the point where a team rep had to come get him. People familiar with the situation say he slept through three alarms, set at five-minute intervals. He is apparently a very sound sleeper.

— Alex Reyes has been nothing short of dominant in his rehab stats. He’s thrown 33 innings, and one rival praises the Cardinals for not rushing him.

— Jack Flaherty has allowed one run in four of five starts.

Bernie Miklasz wrote in The Athletic on the Cardinals deep supply of young pitchers.

— Greg Holland went on the DL after struggling for six weeks. One rival observed: “He totally needed spring training.”

— Jordan Hicks’ 105-mph pitches have made him a sensation, and it looks like his slider may be coming around, judging by a perfect two-inning, four-strikeout game against the Brewers.

Mark Saxon had an interesting story on The Athletic about whether the 105 mph he threw is the hardest a pitch can be humanly thrown. My vote is no since it was a sinking fastball he threw at 105.

May 26, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jordan Hicks (49) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the seventh inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

May 26, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jordan Hicks (49) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the seventh inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego Padres

— San Diego could be the place for Orange County product Phil Hughes. It doesn’t hurt that he also is changing leagues and going to more of a pitchers’ park.

— The Padres have done a nice job signing pitchers on the cheap, and Tyson Ross in particular looks like an excellent trade chip. But one rival suggested the Padres overpaid for Hughes. “Insane,” that rival called the $7.609 million expenditure through next year.

— Christian Villanueva is the surprise leader with 14 home runs among rookies.

— No word on where Chase Headley will land yet.

San Francisco Giants

— Madison Bumgarner’s first rehab start went great, providing hope to a rotation that’s been depleted by injuries.

— More good news: Johnny Cueto tossed the ball on Monday and Tuesday, and is said to have felt well.

— Jeff Samardzija missed a start with shoulder tightness, and the ironman reacted by breaking a bat over his knee, which is nothing you want to try at home.

— The Giants’ run of bad luck with pitching injuries continued when Samardzija’s replacement, Dereck Rodriguez, was hit by a line drive (X-rays were negative).

— Rodriguez, the son of Pudge, started as an outfielder with the Twins organization, and he had a hit in his debut. D-Rod is tall and thin, by the way (though ESPN put up a picture of a young Pudge on a graphic, as Alex Pavlovic of NBC Bay Area noted on Twitter. Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic first had the story on the call-up.

— Pablo Sandoval was playing second base. Excuse us if we are a bit skeptical.

— Joe Panik had begun rehab games, via Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Hurry back, Joe.

— The Giants released Hector Sanchez. Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle advised against Sanchez catching again due to the near 10 concussions. Seems like sound advice, though like me, Schulman only plays doctor.

Seattle Mariners

— The trade for Alex Colome (and Denard Span) seemed to come out of nowhere. But no one cam be surprised when Jerry Dipoto makes a trade. That had to be especially true since they’d just gotten $11 million thanks to the 80-game ban for Robison Cano.

— Since the Mariners got $4.75 million in the deal, which will pay about half the salaries of the two players they received, Dipoto still has more money to spend.

— Nelson Cruz is said to be “back to full strength” after being less than that earlier. He is a free agent at year’s end, and aims to play longer.

— Jayson Werth had an opt-out Memorial Day, but he got it extended while recovering from a hamstring issue. Werth had a 1.229 OPS over 10 games before having to sit with the tweaked hamstring. Werth seems to be handling his dealings directly with Dipoto.

— The Mariners’ pitching has been very good, but it’d be even better if Felix Hernandez was doing closer to his usual. His 5.58 ERA is third from the bottom in the AL.

— Kyle Lewis, the team’s one huge remaining prospect, appears to be breaking out now.

Tampa Bay Rays

— Rays people told us they’d be better than folks thought, and since they are far from the worst team, they are proving to be correct.

— They still aren’t winning admirers – though it’s doubtful they care. “It seems like a laboratory – baseball by experiment,” one rival says.

— One thing they are great at is cutting payroll. And after taking Denard Span to offset a bit of Evan Longoria’s deal, they got rid of some of Span by adding $4.75M in the trade. It’s hard to imagine they helped the team, though, dealing talented young closer Alex Colome to be rid of some of Span (and get two semi-prospects back).

— It was 2,470 days between Jonny Venters saves.

— The Rays have three of the first 32 picks in the upcoming Draft, and seven of the first 120, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times noted.

— Carlos Gomez was amazed that he’s been tested, by his estimate, six or seven times, this year. “I won the lottery again today,” Gomez told Topkin. He further implored MLB to “tell the truth.” Gomez said, “It’s not random.” Gomez suggested to Yahoo on a podcast that he believes MLB targets Latino and older players. (For the record, MLB says it is not. One spokesman called “laughable” Gomez’s comments, pointing out that testing is done by an independent agency approved by the union, as well). A union person agreed the testing is totally random.

Texas Rangers

— T.R. Sullivan painted a picture that Adrian Beltre is unlikely to be traded. That seems fair, considering his injuries and his salary.

— Cole Hamels, meanwhile, may be the best starting pitcher on the market.

— Jurickson Profar is showing some signs lately.

— Rougned Odor has made seven outs on the bases, which as Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News points out, is especially a bad idea for someone hitting .215.

Danny Knobler of Bleacher Report wrote on Joey Gallo.

— Tim Lincecum rehab time is up June 5. No word on what the Rangers plan to do.

Toronto Blue Jays

— The Jays’ Double-A lineup in New Hampshire is something to behold, according to scouts who’ve seen it. The lineup two-three-four of Bo Bichette, Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio is extremely impressive, are all sons of big league greats, and scouts who’ve seen them see potential stardom for all three.

— Sean Reid-Foley is dominating at Double-A New Hampshire (5-0, 2.03) as well.

— Roberto Osuna’s administrative leave has been extended until June 4.

— Josh Donaldson’s latest calf injury could also impact his trade value. He previously had a shoulder issue, and also hasn’t hit like he normally does.

— In winter talks with the Cardinals, they targeted young pitching, presumably Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty and Jordan Hicks (who they were said to have liked).

— Justin Smoak has reached base in every road game, via the Jays.

Washington Nationals

— A teammate of Bryce Harper says he believes Harper wants to stay as a Washington National. And, considering agent Scott Boras’ history or working things but with the Nats (Jake Arrieta was a rare exception, as has been noted here in recent weeks), don’t bet against it.

— Daniel Murphy has begun his rehab, as FRS Baseball first reported.

— There’s some optimism Adam Eaton, who may not be far behind.

— The Nats are hanging in pretty tough, despite so many injuries to key position players (Murphy, Eaton, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon and Matt Wieters all have missed significant time).

— Davey Martinez seems very popular in the clubhouse, which can’t hurt.

— Juan Soto keeps picking up fans. He had three walks in his second game. Nationals manager Davey Martinez says, “He’s got a little (swagger). I like that.” 

— Soto is being repped by Scott Boras, who dominates the Nationals with 10 players. The others? Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Gio Gonzalez, Matt Wieters, Brian Goodwin, Erick Fedde and Jeremy Hellickson.

— The Nationals’ trade for Sean Doolittle solved their closer problem. But now they have an issue in middle relief, and need to address that.

— They were hopeful Justin Miller would help in that regard.

— The Nats have won 11 straight vs. the Marlins. Not a shock.

— Mark Reynolds (six homers in 12 games) was a great late signing at $1 million.

Jon Heyman is an MLB Insider for FanRag Sports, featuring breaking news, information and his Inside Baseball column, which appears on FanRagSports.com every Thursday. Heyman also has been an insider at MLB Network since the channel launched in 2009 and is a regular contributor to WFAN in New York, where he appears weekly on the Joe and Evan Show and previously appeared on the Mike and the Mad Dog Show. He also appears on WSCR in Chicago, WBZ-FM in Boston and the Petros and Money Show on Fox in Los Angeles. Heyman comes to FanRag Sports from CBSSports.com, where he worked for five years and wrote the popular Inside Baseball notes column. Before going to CBS, Heyman worked for five years at Sports Illustrated and SI.com, where he was a senior writer and started an Inside Baseball Column. Heyman worked for 16 years at Newsday in New York, where he was the Yankees beat writer, a baseball columnist and finally a general sports columnist. Heyman started his career at the Moline (Ill.) Daily Dispatch, then moved to the Los Angeles Copley Newspapers (Torrance Daily Breeze and Santa Monica Outlook) before going to Newsday. Heyman at one time also served as a national baseball writer for The Sporting News. Heyman is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. The Santa Fe, N.M. native grew up in Cedarhurst, N.Y., on Long Island.

Advertisement
scores by the Score
2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Francis Chua

    May 31, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    WAR isn’t perfect but it’s fine. JD Martinez is penalized for his defense or lack thereof. That is why he is near even with Gardner.

  2. Doug

    June 13, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    The Astros’ need for late-inning pen help is becoming more obvious. Kelvin Herrera and Zach Britton, who they traded for last year, are expected to be the two best options.

    THey trade for Zach Britton last year?…. Does Zach Britton know?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Advertisement

Trending