Inside Baseball MLB Notes: What the Mets wanted for Jacob deGrom

Taking our weekly trip around MLB:
 
Arizona Diamondbacks:
— The team is good, but the timing of their slump isn’t the best, and the “walls are closing in on the D-Backs”, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes
— Brad Boxberger, who had it all working early, is struggling now and was finally removed from the closer role. “Nothing’s really going my way,’ he noted, honestly …
— The whole bullpen is “hurting them” as one exec puts it. (They are not nearly alone there, as it’s been a long season for relievers.)

RELATED: Braves sign Tyler Flowers to 2019 extension with 2019 option

Atlanta Braves:
— The young Braves are excelling in the race, as David O’Brien of The Athletic writes
— The adjective most often heard about the braves is “fun.’ The other one might be chemistry …
— One rival says he’d pick Brian Snitker for Manager of the Year. (Not a bad choice. The other candidates might be Bud Black and Craig Counsell at the moment.) …
— A case could actually be made for banned GM John Coppolella as Executive of the Year. The new GM Alex Anthopoulos has done a nice job filling in the holes and pushing them into first. But Coppolella made a lot of great moves before being banned. One high-ranking exec for another team said he believes he’s quite a talent and wouldn’t mind seeing him be allowed back in the game. (That’d be up to commissioner Rob Manfred, however) …
— Ronald Acuna is making a run at Rookie of the Year (20 homers in his last 247 at-bats) and it should quite a battle between him and teen-aged sensation Juan Soto. Sorry, Marlins fans, Brian Anderson has been there all year but he’s a bit short of the two future superstars …
— Charlie Culberson continued to come up with the big hits. Braves twitter called him “Charlie Clutch.” Like it! …
— After years enduring the losing, Freddie Freeman is enjoying the ride, writes Bob Nightengale.

RELATED: Projecting the 2018 manager merry go round

Baltimore Orioles:
— While the Orioles (or at least one of the Angelos brothers) did speak to ex-Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, as was mentioned in this space last week, it should be emphasized that it isn’t sure how serious the interview was, what job it was for or even who initiated the contact. Colletti hasn’t said a word about it. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that GM Dan Duquette will be replaced. That seemed likely throughout the first half, but after the Orioles’ sale, in which Duquette acquired 15 players and save about $60 million …
— They could have saved $5 million, as the Phillies were prepared to take Adam Jones’ whole contract had he accepted a deal to them. He did not, as is his right as a player with 10-and-5 veto rights …  
— This has to go under the category fanciful ideas. But with reports floating that Jays president (and Baltimore product) Mark Shapiro is a job candidate in some places (though for the record, he told me, speaking from Toronto, “I’ve got a job to finish here”), how about a swap of Shapiro for Orioles GM Dan Duquette? The odds would seem to be very slim even if there’s a kernel of truth to the Shapiro rumors, as there’s no reason to think Shapiro is unhappy enough to seek a GM job in a tougher spot, with lower revenues and fewer prospects.  He grew up in the Baltimore area (he’s the son of legendary baseball agent Ron Shapiro, who still lives near Baltimore) and he went to the Gilman School, the same school Orioles owner John Angelos attended. So there’s a minor connection. Not only that but Duquette, whose contract is up and status is iffy despite a mostly successful tenure and very successful trading window this summer, was actually the first thought for the job of the Blue Jays team president when they were about to replace Paul Beeston a couple years ago. Duquette, it seems, only didn’t get that job when Orioles owner Peter Angels declined to let him interview for the job, leaving the opening for Shapiro. Duquette is not only a proven baseball man, but he’d have no issues with living in Canada, as he did that for seven years as GM of the Montreal Expos, who traded for Pedro Martinez and had the team in position to possibly win a World Series before the 1994 work stoppage. But the reality is, among all the scenarios this is very likely fantasy land …
— Oh brother! Corban Joseph recently batted for Caleb Joseph.
 



Boston Red Sox:
— The main concern continues to be the bullpen. “I don’t trust anyone in front of (star closer) Craig Kimbrel, and they don’t have a prime lefthander,” one rival exec says …
— While Dave Dombrowski and co. did a great job filling every other potential issue by adding a starter (Nate Eovaldi), a second baseman (Ian Kinsler) and a righty bat (Steve Pearce), they really had little chance at one of the big relievers. “If we addressed the bullpen, then there’d be other needs we’d have,” baseball president Dave Dombrowski said by phone. “It wasn’t that we weren’t open to some moves. But we addressed some of our other priorities.” Dombrowski pointed out that while the bullpen doesn’t look great lately, overall it’s still in the top 10 in the game. They tried for some relievers, felt the price was out of reach on others, and as for Osuna, Dombrowski admitted, “We couldn’t touch Osuna.” (They were likely in the majority there, as a criminal case involving spousal abuse is a big issue) They knew they didn’t have the big prospect to land Brad Hand (the Indians’ sent Francisco Mejia to get Hand), they couldn’t match the Yankees for Zach Britton (the Yankees have a monster system) and it’s hard to blame them for not going for Osuna …
— Xander Bogaerts continues to rake (1,030 OPS over his last 27 games) …
— One rival put it this way in Boston’s behalf: “No one has a good bullpen. They’re all worn out.” (He suggested the Brewers and A’s are the best, though) …
— Chris Sale’s return was not only welcome it was necessary …
— As for his Cy Young candidacy, one rival says, “I can’t give it to him missing all that time. (me: I’d still go with Sale) …
— There’s been some buzz that assistant GM Eddie Romero could get an interview for the Mets’ GM job …
— Eduardo Nunez will exercise his $4-million player option off an up-and-down year. Why leave this team?
 
Chicago Cubs:
— The Cubs are the best team on paper in the NL, but they are likely to have a tough time shaking the game Brewers to the end. While the Cubs’ schedule is favorable (including Reds, White Sox, Pirates), so is the Brewers’ (including Pirates, Reds, Tigers) …
— The weather has been a big issue for the Cubs (Milwaukee has that Miller Park roof), and they are on a run of 30 games scheduled in 30 days. Joe Maddon humorously says he never had that even as a “fence builder or hoagie maker” (Remember, Maddon is from Pennsylvania, land of hoagies) …
— Brandon Morrow may be the key for the Cubs. Epstein said, “He wants it. He signed to play in October.” There are positive signs …
— Kris Bryant’s return is obviously a major plus. Bryant played right field, left field and of course third base in his first three games back. Maddon has talked about even using him in center on occasion. It’s worked, though one rival called him “the mad scientist” for all the unusual moves  …
— Jon Lester’s back spasms aren’t being portrayed as serious, and he’s a quick healer so they probably aren’t …
— Drew Smyly wasn’t able to make it back this year. As Epstein said, they simply ran out of time. He’s a candidate for next year’s rotation, however …
— Their nucleus is great, but they could use a little more production from the bottom of their lineup …

— The Brewers had Williams replaced Jennings to pitch to Bryant in the Cubs’ 3-0 win Tuesday. As I noted on Twitter, it ws reminiscent of the Scopes Monkey trial (and as Twitter user @ericstephen pointed out, Schoop – pronounced Scope – made the last out of the game). Give Cubs broadcaster Jim Deshaies credit, too, (or blame!), as he mentioned the Williams-Jennings-Bryant connection at the same time.
 
Chicago White Sox:
— Someone needs to figure out something after Michael Kopech became the latest uber-talented hard thrower went down with a UCL tear. It’s epidemic at this point …
— Kopech will miss 2019 after Tommy John surgery. The good news is: like some other rebuilders, they were shooting for 2020 all along …
— Fortunately for Kopech, the injury was suffered after the call up, so he’s going to have more than a year of service time when he returns, a major plus for him. It could be a reason for caution in calling up top pitching prospects in the future. But give the White Sox credit for doing the right thing for the player, and their fans, in this case …
— Jose Abreu declared after returning from what was termed testicular torsion that the “hardest part was not being with the team.” Which shows you what a tough guy he is! …  
— James Shields wants to return to pitch next year, writes Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times
— Shields says shortstop Tim Anderson has made major strides defensively …
— The Sox were mentioned having gone 26-21 over a stretch last week, but then they lost seven straight. And as Van Schouwen points out, it hasn’t been pretty. They were outscored 46-16 in that span.

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Cincinnati Reds:
— While the Reds intend to conduct a search (they have already started looking), one person suggested he believes Jim Riggleman has a good chance to remain manager. It depends on what the search uncovers apparently …
— There will be a lot of local buzz about Barry Larkin, who managed in the WBC, is smart and fits the new prototype. Reds scout John Farrell, the former Red Sox manager, would be among others expected to be considered …
— Scooter Gennett is having quite a season. He currently leads the NL in batting and has expressed interested in staying long-term. The Reds have quite a stacked infield, with Eugenio Suarez turning in an exceptional year off his $66-million contract, top prospect Nick Senzel, shortstop Jose Peraza and of course Joey Votto …
— Suarez is hitting so great a different player might wonder whether he should have stayed on a year-to-year course. But Suarez has told friends that his contract gives him peace of mind, allowing him to play better …
— Michael Lorenzen has an .808 slugging percentage. You never know how he’d do once teams really started preparing to pitch to him and started to learn his weaknesses (assuming he has any). But it might behoove the Reds t find him more at-bats in the future. He can run, too, Reds followers point out …

— While Joey Votto was so appreciative of the Reds fan wearing the t-shirt “Votto for President” that Votto traded him a signed, as noted here – and Votto acknowledged – that really isn’t possible since he’s Canadian. Votto reportedly signed for the fan with this addendum: “More like prime minister.”
 



Cleveland Indians:
— The complaints by other teams about the Indians acquiring Josh Donaldson are not worth making from here (technically, MLB also ruled they weren’t worth consideration). All the other teams had not one but two chances to acquire Donaldson themselves: 1) by claiming him (no one did), and 2) by trading for him (the Indians apparently made the best offer, such as it was). The belief based on being a stickler for the rules is that the Indians should have had to activate Donaldson immediately since by rules he had to be healthy enough to play as his usual standard to be placed on waivers in the first place. But the belief is that Donaldson could have played in MLB if he had to (after all, he was playing in the minors), and the reason the Indians put him on the DL is that they are being extra cautious since their playoff situation is set and Donaldson is obviously concerned about his looming free agency. (He was concerned enough that MLB wound up sending out a “buyer beware” message to 14 contending teams who could possibly be in the market.) Beyond all that, the other unspoken reason the Indians were slow-playing it was their concern about the feelings of Jason Kipnis, who’s about to lose his second base spot and be thrown into an uncertain outfield mix, thanks to this acquisition. (A Red Sox person pointed out that that isn’t his concern, and that is true). There’s gray area here but the main facts are: he’s healthy enough to play (though understandably concerned), the Jays wanted to get something for the former MVP and about five teams were willing to trade for him (the Yankees, Astros and Cardinals are believed to have been three of those teams) and he’s healthy enough to get on the field. The Red Sox, who had no need or interest in Donaldson, were perceived to been the most vocal, though there were said to have been a couple others who questioned the unusual move. Anyway, MLB, which allowed the Blue Jays to place Donaldson on waivers in the first place, ruled that their decision was justified to let him play. (While it’s odd to have one entity ruling on its own rulings, we agree; Donaldson seems healthy enough to play, but it’s a risk, as MLB also warned teams.) …
— Andrew Miller looked good in his return performance, providing hope. But the Indians are concerned about their bullpen, like a ton of teams …

— Trevor Bauer is long tossing and they are (long tosses) …
— Jose Ramirez became the 39th player to turn the 30-30 trick, and also the fourth third basemen. He joins David Wright, Howard Johnson and Tommy Harper …
— He’s the third Indian, after Joe Carter and Grady Sizemore.
 
Colorado Rockies:
— The Rockies are a rare team to lead a division this late with a near-even run differential; they're currently at minus-2. (Meanwhile, the Dodgers, who trail Colorado by a half game, are +133) …
— Their relatively easy schedule gives them one edge over the Dodgers as they head toward the finish line …
— Trevor Story is an overlooked MVP candidate …
— D.J. LeMahieu hired Wasserman to represent him.

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Detroit Tigers:
— Big-time power prospect Christin Stewart is up. He’s averaged close to 30 homers in the minors …
— Nick Castellanos is an underrated excellent hitter. We reported in this space the Tigers might consider trying to extend him …
— Ron Gardenhire has done a nice job his first year in Detroit, by all accounts …
— There’s been a Jarrod Saltalamacchia sighting. Yes, on the current roster. Good to see …
— Nice reception for Tigers great Justin Verlander, who just might be the greatest Tigers pitcher of all time.
 
Houston Astros:
— One exec said he sees the Astros as the favorites now. Many probably agree. (We did at the beginning, picking the Astros to return to the World Series) …
— Verlander’s return to Detroit was quite emotional. It was also a reminder of how great he is – definite Hall of Famer in this book …
— The Astros haven’t been the best team this year. Or have they? According to one measure, they have been the best since the 1969 Orioles. Those O’s had a ratio of 1.5068 runs per runs allowed, while these Astros are second at 1.5063-1 in the expansion era, via Rany Jazayerli …
— The Astros could have had a sweep in Boston had  umpires gotten the call right on Jose Altuve’s slide at home (and the replay system not messed up too) …
— Manager A.J. Hinch noted how J.D. Martinez — the great player the Astros once released — keeps coming up in key moments against the Astros. It could happen again, in the ALCS …
— Agent Brodie Scoffield left the Legacy Agency, and combined with Legacy’s sudden drop in value on the London stock market, a stir has been created in agenting circles. Among Scoffield’s top clients are Alex Bregman and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins …
— Bregman is a legit MVP candidate, though the Boston guys are favored.
 
Kansas City Royals:

— Jorge Lopez, acquired in the Mike Moustakas deal, became the first Royals pitcher to take a perfect game into the ninth inning. He lost the perfect game, and the no-hitter, but made a nice statement in the victory …
— Brad Keller, who has a 3.06 ERA, is a nice Rookie of the Year candidate being overlooked in a tough field …
— Royals people hope Ned Yost agrees to come back for one last year. Though he’d have to understand his final season would be a rebuilding year.
 
Los Angeles Angels:
— The Angels bullpen has excelled without any big names, and they carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a 1-0 victory over the Rangers before Blake Parker gave up a hit. They used eight pitchers. It’s games like that that led to the term “Johnny Wholestaff,” which isn’t actually anyone’s name …
— Andrew Heaney has been their most reliable starter lately …
— Albert Pujols is an all-time great but he needs two surgeries this winter. He has $87 million to go on his contract …
— Surprise stat courtesy of Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register: Pujols batted .355 on fastballs 95-plus mph.
 



Los Angeles Dodgers:
— It’ll be interesting to see what kind of changes could be made if the Dodgers don’t make the playoffs, and despite a plus-133 run differential, that is a real possibility now, as they trail the Rockies, who have an exceedingly easy finishing schedule, and are also in a potential dogfight for a Wild Card spot …
— If the Dodgers miss the playoffs, they could become the first team to do so while leading the league in run differential since the 2005 Indians (h/t Jon Morosi, MLB.com) …
— While manager Dave Roberts is a lame duck, no one sees him as being in jeopardy. Same goes for top front office honchos Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and others, as they’ve won the division every year there until now and managed to get below the $197-million luxury tax threshold while adding many key pieces. They aren’t used to losing. And if they don’t make it, they have legit excuses: the season-ending injury to Corey Seager, the season-delaying injury to Justin Turner and the worrisome sidelining ailment for Kenley Jansen …
— The bullpen is the main issue at the moment, and Dylan Floro has been a godsend. Floro, like Justin Turner, is a Cal State Fullerton product, Floro’s team there included Michael Lorenzen, Noe Ramirez, and Chris Devenski. Nice bullpen …
— Max Muncy, who has one home runs every 10.6 at-bats, had one home run every 43 at-bats with the A’s (via Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle) …
— Chris Taylor may curtail his launch angle. It was a change in his launch angle that was credited with his surprise season last year, when he hit 21 home runs and batted .288. But after hitting .248 this year, he’s thinking of lessening it, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times
— The Dodgers are 1-7 vs. the Reds. “If the Dodgers miss the playoffs in 2018,” writes Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times, “This is why.*” He goes on to explain: “Well, there would be other reasons. But this is one.” …
— Best wishes to Jansen who will have another heart procedure after the season.

RELATED: Four potential offseason landing spots for Realmuto | Projecting the 2018 manager merry go round
 
Miami Marlins:
— The Marlins may consider trades for Dan Straily and Jose Urena this winter, as they will be among the arbitration-eligible players, and the team remains cognizant of their revenue (small) and timetable (still somewhat distant). The favorites for the rotation next year might be those two (barring trades), Pablo Lopez, Trevor Richards and Sandy Alcantara. Alcantara has looked impressive early and will have about three more starts to get a jump-start in next year’s rotation. Caleb Smith looked good early but is down with a shoulder injury. So there’s uncertainty there ...
— J.T. Realmuto has 20 home runs, 70 RBI and an .856 OPS which is pretty impressive for a player who missed the beginning of the year on a team that doesn’t score very much …  
— As predicted, the Marlins are remaking their player development group. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald and Joel Sherman of the New York Post have the details, and Sherman named 13 firings, including top minor-league managers Arnie Beyeler and Randy Ready (who it is confirmed have been informed of their departure) and also outfield instructor Quinton McCracken. All seem to be well respected, but the new regime seeks change. We explored what new Marlins honcho Gary Denbo wants to do with the Marlins’ system in June. The story painted the picture of a perfectionist ready to do what he thinks as necessary while upsetting the legions with a tough demeanor …
— Lewis Brinson has looked much better since returning from injury Sept. 1. He’s betting over .400 to lift his average over .200 …
— Marlins people like Magneuris Sierra, though he sometimes goes weeks without walking …
— Former Marlins president David Samson offered his services on Twitter to the Dolphins, tweeting after the Dolphins had lightning delays in their opener, “I’m available should you need help securing a roof for your stadium.” Samson, who’s now a pundit on CBSSports.com and appeared on Fancred’s Inside Baseball show, saw his own Marlins team become the first to have a delay with a roof on Opening Day. Though fairly, Marlins Stadium is beautiful overall and has had no such problems since.



 
Milwaukee Brewers:
— The Brewers, with all their moves and call ups, appear to have a great thing going right now. They are on a roll — and a favorable finishing schedule (including Tigers, Reds, Pirates) won’t hurt …
— The Brewers, who were having troubles with the Cubs, have won 6-of-8 against their main rival …
— Mike Moustakas seemed to be overkill when he was acquired since the Brewers already had a solid starting third baseman, Travis Shaw, but Moustakas has been fantastic. He took his rough winter to heart and rebuilt his value, and his rep …
— Jeremy Jeffress is doing the job at closer while Corey Knebel regains his from. Jeffress is having some kind of season in Milwaukee, the place he vows not to leave. He signed a multiyear, undermarket deal to be a Brewer (the union hated the deal, but Jeffress, an addict, prioritized comfort and his life over the deal).

RELATED: Forget the injuries, Joe Mauer has been worth it
 
Minnesota Twins:
— Almost of the players who were disappointed to have to sign short deals after hoping for much more on the free agent market played to their disappointing deals. And that includes two Twins (Lance Lynn, who’s doing fine for the Yankees, and Logan Morrison, who is out for the year) plus many others, players such as Carlos Gomez, Neil Walker, Todd Frazier (Frazier is the one of this group that got a two-year deal) and others. The only one who really outperformed his contract, Mike Moustakas, remarked one agent, and Moustakas did it in two places – Kansas City and Milwaukee …

— Tyler Austin has been fantastic for the Twins …
— Don’t give up on Byron Buxton. A story on Aaron Hicks’ eventual emergence is instructive.

RELATED: Mets vascillating on old school v. new school GM | Mets expected to go outside for next GM


New York Mets:
— The Mets and David Wright finally have a plan to get him back on an MLB field, with plans for him to play at Citi Field in the team's final homestand …
— The Mets focused on five teams in Jacob deGrom talks, based on which teams had the prospects to have a chance to get it done (if the Mets were to pull the trigger). The teams who discussed deGrom appear to have been the Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Yankees and perhaps to a lesser extent the Brewers. But the Mets weren’t going to do for anything but the very top young players, which likely meant Vladimir Guerrero, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Gleyber Torres. (A Yankees deal was never very likely, of course, and the rival Braves would have been tough, too, obviously) The Mets sought multiple top prospects and young players in the talks  (i.e., a two-for-one) since deGrom is the proven star (and likely Cy Young winner), but the teams targeted didn’t want to part with the game’s biggest prospects …
— The Mets do know they need to upgrade the offense, and they will look at second base as a possible spot of interest …
— The Mets have a rather long list of GM prospects they are working from, said to be more than 30 names, and they have yet to begin interviews, but intend to make a hire before GM meetings which begin Nov. 4. Jays exec Ben Cherington, Dodgers exec Josh Byrnes, Diamondbacks assistant GM Jared Porter, Orioles GM Dan Duquette and most of the names that have hit the papers are all being considered for now. While Mark Shapiro is on the list (it’s a long list), that isn’t necessarily seen as a likely fit. “I’ve got a job to finish here, and that’s the way I’m looking at it,” Shapiro said. …
— Some really old-school folks may shy away from voting for Jacob deGrom for the Cy Young due to his record (correctly 8-9), but this old person who’s been accused of being old-school says he deserves it. One admittedly old-school exec told me, “I struggle giving him the Cy Young.” But I’d guess few of the voters feel that way (I don’t have that vote – I have the NL MVP this). But that record really has nothing to do with him. He’s been the best pitcher, at least by a bit over the Phillies’ Aaron Nola and the Nats’ Max Scherzer. Jeff Passan of Yahoo recounted the reasons better than I could do. Here’s one stat: He allowed no more than three runs in 26 straight starts, beating Leslie King Cole’s 108-year-old record …
— More on deGrom's bad luck: He has a 1.71 ERA to go with that 8-9 record. Someone on Twitter pointed out that Lucas Giolito, who has the highest ERA among qualifiers at 5.76, is 10-10 …
— deGrom has matured quite a bit, as Anthony Dicomo writes
— Stephen Matz has looked good lately. Maybe the Mets did the right thing holding onto their starters. They believe they can contend next year by building around them …

— Mets hitters — especially young ones like Amed Rosario — are being told not to worry so much about selectivity and to be themselves at the plate now. Previous GM Sandy Alderson made selectivity the key part of the hitting approach but the new leadership is hoping that by freeing up they’d minds and simplifying things they may get better results ...

— There's been some trade talk of late involving Mets reliever Jerry Blevins ...
— Congrats to longtime P.R. man Jay Horwitz a beloved figure, who was given the new job heading alumni relations and starting a history department. Horwitz received a standing ovation at the press conference. Nice.


New York Yankees:
— J.A. Happ should start the Wild Card game. Not only is he 6-0 since coming to the Yankees (he’s becoming a New Yorker, even living in the city), but he dominated the hot A’s in his start for New York against them. Masahiro Tanaka is the other candidate …
— Look for the Yankees to try to keep Happ in free agency in the winter …
— Meanwhile, Luis Severino has a 6.83 ERA in his last 11 starts …
— Joe Girardi has advice for the Yankees on Gary Sanchez’s catching troubles. “You’ve got to fix his base,” Girardi said on MLB Network. Girardi was fired as Yankees manager after last year, and one of the reasons cited was a perceived lack of rapport with a few if the younger players (it’s a small sample size, but in this case, Sanchez, one of the players cited as not being close to Girardi, was better when Girardi was manager) …  
— Boone sounded upset by a defeat Tuesday night in Minnesota. “We’ve got to do better. We can’t lay an egg like that.  …” …
— Giancarlo Stanton has 28 hits of 115-plus mph, compared to 21 for the entire National League (h/t Andrew Simon, MLB.com) …
— Gleyber Torres’ camp may suspect that service time could have been some factor in him not starting the season in the majors (others have guessed that) but Torres’ camp also understands that Torres was coming off Tommy John surgery (and he didn’t put his best foot forward this spring). The Yankees also aren’t a team that’s tight with players.
 



Oakland Athletics:
— Mike Fiers looks like a likely Wild Card starter for the A’s. He’s not Giancarlo Stanton’s favorite player. As mentioned in this space before, Stanton nixed a potential trade of Fiers to the Marlins
— In the Wild Card race for home field, the A’s have an easier schedule than the Yankees, points out Ryan Thibodaux …
— Stephen Piscotty thinks it’s important to try to beat out the Yankees, which would give them an edge due to their “rowdy fans” …  
— The A’s are 61-0 leading after seven innings, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle noted …
— It’s truly amazing what the A’s are doing, not only because their league-low payroll (to start the year at least) but also their pitching misfortune. Sean Manaea, who’s been their best pitcher this year and the author of a no-hitter (against the Red Sox, at that), will be out not only for 2018 but also for 2019 after it was announced he was having shoulder surgery. As Jane Lee of MLB.com recounts, they’ve lost Jharel Cotton, Kendall Graveman, Daniel Gossett and A.J. Puk to Tommy John surgery, plus Paul Blackburn (elbow) and Andrew Triggs (nerve irritation) for much of the year …
— Of Khris Davis 41 home runs, 15 have come in the seventh inning or later (also from Slusser) …
— After Davis’ contract talks didn’t result in a deal, one friend of Davis predicted he’d hit 50 home runs. Well, he’s getting close …
— Jesus Luzardo hired Scott Boras to represent him, as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reported.


Philadelphia Phillies:
— The Phillies’ hitting has gone into quite a funk. Young Erick Fedde is the latest too look like a star in shutting down Philly over eight innings in a 3-1 defeat to the Nats …  
— After the Phillies were swept by the Nats, who pulled within 1.5 games of them, Scott Lauber of the Philly Inquirer passed along this tidbit: the Phillies’ playoff chances were down to 6.9 percent, from 62.1 percent a month ago …
— The Phillies acquired four hitters in trade, but their offense has gone south. They had a deal for Adam Jones, too, but he decided he’d rather stay in Baltimore then play what might have been a half-time role in Philly …
— The Phillies defense is all-time bad. Which makes Aaron Nola’s performance all the more impressive …
— By statistical measures that are important, the Phillies are even worse than the Orioles in many cases.
 
Pittsburgh Pirates:
— Jordy Mercer was quite upset to be told he’d be playing only once or twice a week with the Pirates giving chances to kids Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer and Adam Frazier …
— Josh Harrison is in the same boat. The Pirates will turn down his $10.5-million option but he’d make a great pickup for someone …
— Trevor Williams, who allowed four runs in five August starts, is one of the best trades made the last decade. He was dealt from the Marlins, who were desperate to add pitching guru. Benedict knows his stuff, but this was a great trade for the Pirates. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald wrote that it's one of the worst trades in Marlins history
— Keone Kela is being rested but says he’s healthy.

 
St. Louis Cardinals:
— Adam Wainwright is back, though Michael Wacha didn’t make it back …
— Matt Adams paid dividends with a big home run to win a game vs. the Pirates …
— Chris Duncan’s wife provided a cancer update that appeared in Twitter. Best of luck to him. He is always a delight on Twitter besides being a fine hitter on the Cardinals championship team …
— Marcell Ozuna seems to have adjusted playing with a bum shoulder. While he can’t throw like usual, he is back to hitting …

— The Cardinals have a three-game lead for the second Wild Card spot over the Dodgers with a big series coming up.
 



San Diego Padres:

— Big-time prospect Luis Urias is out for the year after suffering a hamstring injury …
— Francisco Mejia’s two-homer debut was quite something, as you can see above …
— The Padres have employed 15 rookies this year, no surprise considering their stockpile of youth. By 2020 they should be something …
— Bryan Mitchell has looked much better since his return …
— The surprising Wil Myers has some amazing talents, beyond Fortnite. He is 9-for-9 in steals, points out A.J. Cassavell of MLB.com.
 
San Francisco Giants:
— Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle has the horror story that has been the Giants lately. They set a new record since moving to San Francisco with 11-straight losses. They hadn’t lost 11 straight since the 1951 season, which we all know is when the “Giants won the pennant.” (That must have been well before they figured out to steal the signs) …
— One rival exec said: “You want to watch a dull team? Watch the Giants. They can’t hit” …
— It’s a combination of a few things: the Buster Posey injury, Stephen Duggar injury and Andrew McCutchen trade haven’t helped …
— McCutchen still leads in RBI with 54. Brandon Crawford is the leader among current Giants, with 50 …
— Abiatal Avelino, acquired in the Andrew McCutchen deal, is already up with the Giants …
— Some Giants people were hesitant to trade McCutchen but they eventually made the right call. The Yankees could have used Cutch a week earlier (or even earlier than that really) …
— The Giants are really limping toward the finish line, and manager Bruce Bochy held a talk recently about accountability. You figure it has to get better.
 
Seattle Mariners:
— The Mariners had a nice run but will likely experience their 17th straight playoff-less season, the longest streak in sports. That’s hard to believe considering the Cleveland Browns (who are in sports) …
— Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times writes about the team’s slide since extending GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais …

— The Mariners finally beat the Yankees, their first win over them this year …
— Scott Miller of Bleacher Report has a good piece on Felix Hernandez’s season from hell
— Corey Brock of The Athletic wrote a story on Scott Servais’ connection to Darryl Kile. They made history together 25 years ago, and Servais thinks of his good friend every day since his untimely death 16 years ago.
 



Tampa Bay Rays:
— Something special is going on in Tampa. As I vow to write every week as a reminder, they told us they’d be better than expected. But this good? If they were in the NL East or a couple other divisions, they might have won it. Despite two fire sales (not to mention a lot of loss to Tommy John surgery), the Rays are outpacing just about everyone in the second half. Not reading anything into this, but the two best teams lately have been the two teams that need a new stadium (the A’s are the other) …
— They’ve won 18-of-21 after beating Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco …
— Ji-Man Choi hit a game winner for the Rays. How they knew they Choi for Brad Miller trade would work is a mystery that’s hard to know …
— In a stacked field, manager Kevin Cash is moving up. The A’s’ Bob Melvin is the Manager of Year favorite, and Alex Cora is probably running second, but Cash could sneak in and nab some second-place votes. He'll likely be third, which in the field is pretty darned good …
— Blake Snell is a real Cy Young candidate. He may win.


Texas Rangers:
— Mike Minor’s wonderful finish as a starter is a nice bonus, as the Rangers need to piece together a rotation for next season …
— Elvis Andrus has been nudging Adrian Beltre to return to play in 2019. Could be a hint Andrus won’t opt out (he’s unlikely to do so after his injury-wrecked year, and knowing he has an opt out a year from now) …
— Andrus, it was mentioned here last week, is unlikely to opt out of his deal that had $60 million and four years to go. But the good news for him is that he has another opt out after next year if he repeats his 2017 season next year …
— Jurickson Profar is a league-best 10-for-10 in steals.
 
Toronto Blue Jays:
— The Jays’ system is stocked, so the new regime of Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro appears to be doing nicely for the future. Fans in Toronto have been super critical, but they are building nicely. The drafts of Steve Sanders have been excellent, as shortstop Bo Bichette looks like a star, and infielder Cavan Biggio, pitcher Nate Pearson, infielder Kevin Smith, catcher Danny Jansen, infielder Jordan Groshans, and pitcher T.J. Zeuch look extremely promising as well. So do international pitching signees Orelvis Martinez and Eric Pardinho. Thanks to great depth, as well as the big names at the top, the Jays have moved up from the No. 26 system (that was a false ranking, as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. alone should have put them in the top half) to the top 10 and very likely the top five …
— Pearson has hit 102 in a recent rehab outing. The top prospect in the game of course is none other than Guerrero Jr., a holdover from the Alex Anthopoulos regime. But the new regime has built quite a group …
— The whispers suggest Guerrero Jr. is targeted for arrival early next season, though likely not at the beginning (unless the team bows to the pressure of the union over the call up time — not likely). Fans generally haven’t protested call up delays because they tie top prospects to the team an extra year …
— Rowdy Tellez is off to a big start, with six doubles in his first three games the first do so since 1913.
 
Washington Nationals:
— The Nats put Daniel Murphy on waivers about a week too early, as Tom Boswell of the Washington Post pointed out. There should be some regret, especially with the Phillies fading. (The Braves are holding steady, however) In any case, the Nats could have waited — though perhaps they didn’t expect Murphy to be claimed. They also traded Matt Adams, who was also claimed. Oddly, as reported here first, they declined to trade Mark Reynolds after the Braves claimed him. This was a player who couldn’t get a job last winter. Well, maybe it’s a tribute to him …
— The Nats have suggested Davey Martinez will be back, which given their history of a quick trigger, was important to say. Give them this: while they’ve underachieved (they have a plus-70 run differential) and Martinez is a work in progress, the Nats have not quit. They are still playing hard.

Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and FancredSports.com. You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.

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