Inside Baseball MLB Notes: Ronald Acuña Jr.'s streak brings memories of Willie Mays

Taking the weekly journey around MLB: 
 
Arizona Diamondbacks
— Torey Lovullo is doing a nice job again, keeping the Diamondbacks in front despite a payroll disadvantage …
— Zack Godley has been a Godsend, no pun intended. That one came courtesy of Dave Stewart and Co. …
— Archie Bradley has hit a rare slump; his ERA this month is 10.
 


Atlanta Braves
— It was no surprise that former Orioles pitching gurus Dave Wallace and Dom Chiti recommended the importing of a trio of pitchers from Baltimore: Kevin Gausman, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach all came from the Orioles …
— Ronald Acuña Jr. became the second 20-year-old to homer in four straight games, joining Miguel Cabrera. (Acuña was actually younger than Cabrera when he did it, albeit slightly) …
— Acuña led off both games of a doubleheader with a home run, the first player to do that since Brady Anderson a couple decades ago …
— Acuña became the first player since Willie Mays in 1954 to hit home runs in his first official at-bat five straight games (h/t FOX Sports South) …
— Chad Sobotka and Mike Soroka should not be confused, but they are just two of the many Braves rookies contributing to their cause …
— The Braves have had four of the seven youngest starters pitch this year (Soroka, Luiz Gohara, Kolby Allard and Touki Touissant) …
— Toussaint was impressive in his debut against the Marlins, his hometown team (he is from Coral Springs, Fla.) …  
— Acuña joins a nice group with three games with a home run and a stolen base before age 21: Roberto Alomar, Mike Trout. Claudell Washington, Mickey Mantle, Bryce Harper, Ken Griffey Jr. …
— Charlie Culberson seems to have gotten a lot of big hits.


Baltimore Orioles
— There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the changes upcoming with the Orioles, but there’s no official word yet about changes that could be forthcoming. While the Dan Duquette-Buck Showalter duo has been largely successful — over one five-year period they posted a better record than both the Yankees and Red Sox — and one or the other could conceivably return, it would seem unlikely they’d return together. And if one returns, the feeling is it is more likely to be Duquette. The Orioles saved huge bucks with all the trades, said to be about $62 million (counting future arbitration prices), beyond picking up 15 pieces. That could play in Duquette’s favor …
— One reason they kept Dylan Bundy over Kevin Gausman is that Bundy has three years left under control …  
— One possible managerial name heard recently is Mark DeRosa of MLB Network, who interviewed for the Mets job that went to Mickey Callaway and had a chance to go to the Cubs as a coach …
— There’s a feeling that if Cal Ripken Jr. takes a bigger role, it would be more likely to be in the front office than the manager’s chair …
— The interview with Ned Colletti that was first reported by Ken Rosenthal is being portrayed as a “courtesy” interview, though that could just be spin … 
— The Orioles are 9-6 vs. the city of New York, accounting for 25 percent of their wins (h/t Jon Meoli, Baltimore Sun) ...
— Cedric Mullins looks good so far. He has speed, and power from the left side. Good for him. And for Jones, for moving over to right field without a word.
 
Boston Red Sox
— They certainly made great acquisitions at the deadline, led by starter Nathan Eovaldi. But it was curious they didn’t add a set-up type reliever. Perhaps that’s where their rare lack of prospect depth came into play. Brad Hand or Zach Britton would have been nice. (Though they knew they weren’t getting Hand since the Padres were insistent on a very top prospect, and got that with Francisco Mejia of the Indians, since Hand has years to go on his deal) …
— They remain on a historic pace.


 
Chicago Cubs
— David Bote didn’t need to apologize for his beautiful bat flip …
— Drew Smyly is aiming for a September return, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN …
— Alex Rodriguez and Joe Maddon spoke about A-Rod’s criticism of Yu Darvish, that much we know. Some reports suggested it was a productive meeting while another called the exchange “heated” (the one by Patrick Mooney of The Athletic) it is possible it was both, but knowing Maddon, we could certainly see the heated part. (You probably don’t even have to know him; you’ve seen him on the field) …
— Maddon’s got four ejections this year, and counting. Umpires are not his biggest fans …
— Jon Lester is in a rare slump. Good thing they got Cole Hamels, who has been fantastic, but don’t bet against Lester.
   
Chicago White Sox
— Still getting the idea the White Sox may not bow to the pressure and bring up Eloy Jimenez. They may see this like Kris Bryant and Ronald Acuña, which could mean next year, and not necessarily at the start of the year, either …
— Michael Kopech also has been hit in the minors. But don’t necessarily look for him to be promoted anytime soon, either …
— Yoan Moncada recently was timed in 3.60 seconds to first base (yes, it was on a bunt; still good though).
 
Cincinnati Reds
— All things seem to be positive for interim manager Jim Riggleman in his hope to return next year. He seems to have the owner, Bob Castellini, in his corner, and that should count for a lot …
— While Castellini likes Riggelman, the team has said all along it expects to consider outside candidates as well. That thinking hasn't changed ...
— Michael Lorenzen, a reliever, has been tried in right field, as the Reds need outfielders after Jesse Winker went down and Adam Duvall was traded. Lorenzen was a great two-way player at Cal State-Fullerton (closer/center fielder), and he’s shown an ability to hit in the majors, though in limited chances. Riggleman isn’t the typical old-school manager; he’s a guy willing to take chances …
— There doesn’t seem to be much of a trade market for Matt Harvey, who’s like Devin Mesoraco in that regard.

 
Cleveland Indians
— There’s concern about Edwin Encarnacion’s elbow …
— Trevor Bauer’s Cy Young chances took a hit when he had to go on the D.L. …
— Yandy Diaz has a nice slash line in limited action this year: .526/.526/.632. Terry Francona suggested recently he expects Diaz to be part of the middle of their order at some point in the future …
— Francisco Lindor “finally” reached 100 runs, as Jordan Bastian of The Athletic put it. Lindor scored his 100th run in game No. 118. He had 99 runs in each of the prior two years …  
— Leonys Martin, get well soon. His agent Andy Mota has been with him as he recovers from a bacterial infection which was considered life-threatening at first. The prognosis is good.
 
Colorado Rockies
— MVP candidate Nolan Arenado (shoulder) returned quickly. Which is his way …
— Ryan McMahon is starting to show his potential …
— Kyle Freeland has a 2.22 ERA at Coors Field this year, which is pretty amazing, even in the era of the humidor …
— Freeland’s great year has gone overlooked. While he’s been brilliant the Cy Young will rightfully be between Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola.
 
Detroit Tigers
— Nick Castellanos is going to be a star at the plate …
— Victor Martinez, who announced he plans to retire, is most similar to Bobby Doerr, Chase Utley and Joe Torre in that order, according to Baseball Reference. Not bad ...
— Ron Gardenhire after a recent loss: “We just had one of those Bad News Bears games.”
 


Houston Astros
— There were a couple of other teams that showed interest in controversial closer Roberto Osuna, though not at the level of the Astros, who gave up three good arms for him. Ken Giles’ time was probably over in Houston, but David Paulino and Hector Perez also are thought to have promise. Seems like an overpay from here …
— It’s being written in some places that manager A.J. Hinch’s contract is up, but the Astros hold a team option for 2019. Of course, they absolutely have to pick that up …
— The Astros haven't been the same (obviously) without Jose Altuve, George Springer and others out. Springer is expected back Friday ...
— Team president Reid Ryan said in a radio interview: “It’s easy to root for players who are good people.” We agree.
 
Kansas City Royals
— Rustin Dodd of The Athletic had a good story on former No. 3 draft choice Carter Hope, a pitcher who is back after losing his spot in the organization due to a heroin addiction …
— Luke Heimlich, the college pitcher who pleaded guilty to molesting his 6-year-old niece in 2012, was considered by the Royals, but still doesn’t have a job anywhere …
— Luke Hochevar told Jeff Flanagan of MLB.com he is retiring.
 
Los Angeles Angels
— Eric Chavez’s tour at Triple-A Salt Lake City looks a lot like a tryout for next year. Chavez certainly fits the mold of the new prototype manager: young, affable, an accomplished major-league player who can mix nicely with the front office and media. GM Billy Eppler has always loved Chavez, which doesn’t hurt …
— Albert Pujols became the ninth player to register 1,000 hits in both leagues …
— RIP, Aaron Cox, former Angels pitching prospect. Cox — Mike Trout’s brother in law — was just 24. No cause of death has been given.
 
Los Angeles Dodgers
— Best wishes to Kenley Jansen, as he continues to battle his irregular heartbeat issue. He seems determined to help his team …
— His loss is being felt already …
— Ross Stripling, an All-Star as a starter, heads to the bullpen to try to help. Stripling says he wouldn’t mind being known as the “Kike’ Hernandez of the pitching staff.”  He means someone who can fill multiple roles, and closer if need be …
— The Dodgers were at the top of my “Big Winners” list, thanks to the pickups of Manny Machado and Brian Dozier, but with their desire/need to stay below the luxury tax threshold, they didn’t bulk up the bullpen, which would have been nice …
— Justin Turner appears to be just warming up …
— Clayton Kershaw’s dominance against the rival Giants is truly amazing. Not only does he have a career 1.58 ERA vs. San Franicsco, in his worst year he had a 2.11 ERA against the rival to the north (via Eric Stephen).
 


Miami Marlins
—  Tayron Guerrero hit 104 mph. Future closer? …
— The Marlins played way over their  heads for months. But things seem to be catching up to them now …
— Poor Martin Prado (hamstring) is on the shelf again. Very smart of him to take that $40-million, three-year deal to stay …
— Eduardo Perez, who did a terrific job broadcasting the Yankees-Mets game Monday night, would make a great manager. He was in position as A.J. Hinch’s bench coach in Houston before he had to leave that job for personal reasons. His replacement? Alex Cora, and the rest is history …
— Tim Wallach should also get consideration for managerial jobs …
— Nice idea for the Marlins to teach their English-speaking players Spanish …
— OF Isaac Galloway is a nice story making the Marlins after 11 years in the minors. He is 28 …
— Unless it can be proved that Jose Urena has a tic or was distracted by a sudden swarm of insects he deserves a length suspension for his misguided pitch ...
— The Marlins are playing to their level after overachieving for the first half of the season. No reason to think Don Mattingly won’t be back for the final year of his deal (paperwork seen says he is due $2.8 million next year).
 
Milwaukee Brewers
— Not a new note, but the Brewers could still use a starter …
— They need to get talented closer Corey Knebel straightened out, too. He is one of many great closers in a bit of a rut …
— For starters, Marco Estrada could make some sense …
— Though Orlando Arcia’s having a rough year offensively, the Brewers made the right move to call him up to play shortstop. They need the defense …
— Travis Shaw’s the one who’s losing playing time – with Mike Moustakas playing third, Jonathan Schoop second and Jesus Aguilar first. That’s a pretty good player on the bench.
 
Minnesota Twins
— The Twins did a nice job gathering prospects in their sale …
— Ervin Santana is a nice guy. But he has no leg to stand on in his claim that the Twins should haven’t sold. They are not only well behind the Indians, they were well under .500 when they sold and obviously not a World Series contender. Santana also missed more than half the year with a finger injury, though that doesn’t preclude opinions. It’s just that he was not correct in his assessment of the situation …
— Former No. 1 pick Kohl Stewart has made it to the majors …
— Dakota Chalmers came to Minnesota in the trade for Fernando Rodney. Good name for the Twins, as they draw from the Dakotas. Of course, their manager is named Paul, and he’s a Hall of Famer from St. Paul. 

 
New York Mets
— The Mets are saying Mickey Callaway stays regardless of who’s hired as GM. Callaway in his first year of a three-year deal (with a fourth-year team option), with an $850,000 salary this year …
— Alderson’s contract, by the way, is actually up after the year. He did not have a two-year extension as once suggested here …
— Doctors were amazed that Yoenis Cespedes was able to play at all with the extent of the damage found in his feet …
— Brandon Nimmo’s “trot” around the bases after homering against the Yankees was 17.58 seconds, which is really a sprint (h/t David Adler) …
— Jeff McNeil looks like he can hit. The question is: does he have a position? He seems to have trouble with his footwork at second base. One scout: “He may ultimately be a third baseman.” …  
— The great Jacob deGrom has 21 straight starts with three runs or fewer …
— Best wishes to David Wright. He told the New York Post he figures this is not only his latest shot but also his last shot.
 



New York Yankees
— CC Sabathia is currently taking a rest (he has chronic knee trouble) but he told Fancred Sports he plans to play one more year. I mentioned that it could enhance his Hall of Fame candidacy. But Sabathia said he thinks one extra year isn’t necessarily a difference maker, one way or the other …
— Luis Severino’s struggles are a real worry. He has a 7.5 ERA over his last seven starts, as Katie Sharp of The Athletic writes …
— Miguel Andujar may be the leading Rookie of the Year candidate (one Yankee picked him over even Gleyber Torres) but they are a bit concerned about his inconsistent defense …  
— Andujar now has 33 doubles, not bad for someone who started the year in Scranton …
— Torres, meanwhile, is in his first real slump since spring training …
— Some Yankees people worry even more about Gary Sanchez’s defense. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wondered aloud whether Austin Romine should get the playoff start(s) …
— The Yankees should try to lock up Didi Gregorius, and it seems like there’s interest in doing so. However, it has to wait until they reset their tax this year by staying below the luxury threshold …
— Dellin Betances has been their best reliever lately …
— J.A. Happ has been everything they could have hoped for. Happ and Lance Lynn — their two trade deadline pickups — have been their two best starters lately …
— Greg Bird gets credit here for bunting for hits. Not many big lefties can do it. Good for him. He is still struggling with the bat, however …
— Chance Adams was praised after his first start, and what’s interesting is that he allowed three runs in five innings, giving him a 5.40 ERA, which was the very same ERA as Sonny Gray at the time. Gray has not been widely praised …
— Giancarlo Stanton’s 121.7 mph reading on a home run was the hardest-hit homer in Statcast history. The top 15 balls are all either Stanton or teammate Aaron Judge (via Darren Willman) …
— Aaron Boone’s three-year deal with a club option for a fourth year is slightly higher than that of the other rookie managers, presumably due either to it being the Yankees or having to compete with his ESPN salary. Word is, he got $1.15 million in the first year …
— Bench coach Josh Bard is a managerial candidate, many believe.
 
Oakland Athletics
— The A’s are simultaneously amazing and impressing folks. “Very dangerous,” says a member of a likely AL playoff team. No kidding. They are 35-13 since June 18
— Bob Melvin will be a lame duck next year if he’s not extended, which was clumsily stated in this space last week. In any case, the A’s should try to lock him up post haste.


Philadelphia Phillies
— Nice appreciation of Aaron Nola in The Athletic by Ben Harris. Nola’s contributions seem to be overlooked in part due to the great years Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer are having. Me: Nola is right up there with the other two ...
— Wilson Ramos, who seemed almost like a superfluous pickup by the Phillies, debuted after coming off DL with a three-hit, 3 RBI game ...
— The Phillies split two-game series with the Red Sox in Boston and in Philadelphia. 
 
Pittsburgh Pirates
— Shane Baz made it three big-time prospects going to Tampa for Chris Archer. It feels like they gave up much more for Archer than they got for Gerrit Cole. Part of the reason is Archer’s long and reasonable contract, which made him more valuable to a team. But the other part of the reason may be that the Pirates are responding to fans who were quite upset about the trades of Cole and Andrew McCutchen, who is (still) beloved in Pittsburgh …
— Jameson Taillon continues to impress a year after cancer surgery.

 
St. Louis Cardinals
— Interim manager Mike Shildt seems likely to get another year, at least, after the improvement shown in the Cardinals (19-9 with him after a seven-game winning streak that’s given them hope). It was suggested here last week, before the hot streak that that seems like a real possibility, anyway …
— Among other reasons Joe Girardi may not make sense for the particular job (i.e. they are still paying Mike Matheny $5.3 million through 2020), some see him as similar to Girardi — a smart, intense former catcher — and teams often like to go the opposite way when changing managers (not that Matheny was bad; he wasn’t) …  
— Apologies to misspelling Shildt in a tweet and caption last week. Is it possible it was autocorrect? …
— Stubby Clapp meantime has done a terrific job managing at Memphis. They are a machine down there …
— Trevor Rosenthal is starting to throw. He will sign this offseason.
 
San Diego Padres
— The Padres are now ranked as the No. 1 farm system by Baseball America. No surprise there …
— Wil Myers, known for playing everywhere and being good about it, is now being used at third base …
— Phil Hughes is a wonderful guy. But it seemed excessive when the Padres paid $7.5 million of his salary to acquire him, only weeks before DFAing him.
 


San Francisco Giants
— Rookie Dereck Rodriguez, son of Pudge, has been a Godsend for the pitching staff. He was originally taken as an outfielder by the Twins, but his arm has always been his best tool — not a surprise considering who his father is. Pudge, by the way, currently works for the Rangers …
— Mac Williamson’s concussion is a concern. No team has been affected more by concussions, as Brandon Belt has had multiple concussions, Buster Posey had a concussion and Michael Morse had to retire again after suffering a concussion in a brawl.
 
Seattle Mariners
— It’s odd to see the great Felix Hernandez in the bullpen. But with an ERA north of 5.5, they had little choice …
— They look like they could use a starter, though. Marco Estrada could make some sense (and give them a second Marco in the rotation, along with Gonzales). 
 

Tampa Bay Rays
— The Rays did a great job on their trade of Chris Archer after years of threatening to trade him. Archer’s less than stellar year didn’t keep the Rays from getting a haul, as they pulled into pitchers Shane Baz and Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Austin Meadows. Seems like an overpay …
— Charlie Montoyo could be a managerial candidate. 
 
Texas Rangers
— The future may be better than you think. The Rangers have had more games started by under-25 players than any other team …
— However, the belief is that the Rangers may do one more year of “retrenchment” before going for it for 2020, when they are due to open their new stadium. (I must be getting old: I remember their previous home, Arlington Stadium; it wasn’t good) …
— The Rangers didn’t come close to trading Joey Gallo because, as one person close to the situation put it, they know they’d be “selling low.” …
— Texas had a couple chances to cut bait on Rougned Odor, but good thing it didn’t happen. Odor, struggling mightily for a year, has regained his form, and better. He is even walking now. So the big contract now looks solid, or better …
— Ronald Guzman is a Yankee killer. Six of his 12 home runs have come against the Yankees. It’s the most by a rookie against the Yankees since Luke Easter had seven in 1950. Easter was a 34-year-old rookie since he had been relegated to the Negro League before that year.
 


 Toronto Blue Jays
— The Blue Jays are still hopeful Josh Donaldson can get back on the field with enough time to trade him. His first sprinting session went well, and he has another coming. They haven’t put him on waivers yet as players on the DL are only allowed on waivers if they are ready to be activated. But he should easily clear once he is, thanks to his $23-million salary …
— The qualifying offer might be an interesting call for Donaldson, assuming he isn’t traded. Might depend on how he finishes things …
— They also will look to trade Marco Estrada (sure to clear waivers) and Jaime Garcia (now in the bullpen) as well as Tyler Clippard …
— They’d be happy to trade Russell Martin or Kendrys Morales, too. But that seems like a long shot in this market barring an extreme pay down. Both will clear waivers if they haven’t already …
— Manager John Gibbons, who is quite a character, said aloud (on a Toronto radio station) that he wasn’t sure he was up for a rebuild. Gibbons and Jays bosses have been discussing his future, and with a rebuild looking possible (or even likely), it would surprise no one if he isn’t back. Ken Rosenthal first raised that possibility on The Athletic. Gibbons is a refreshingly honest character. One Jays higherup calls him “an open book.” …  
— Team-owning Rogers recently gave club president Mark Shapiro a vote of confidence, which was interesting …
— Vlad Guerrero Jr. keeps raking — and keeps putting pressure on the Jays to call him up …
— The Jays were very happy to get Hector Perez in the brilliant Roberto Osuna deal. The Jays were determined not to bring him back following his spousal abuse charge, so under the circumstance they did fantastic. Perez, who came with Ken Giles and David Paulino, will be put onto the roster by the Jays.
 

Washington Nationals
— GM Mike Rizzo, right or wrong, wanted to send a message in trading Brandon Kintzler and releasing Shawn Kelley. But the timing may not have been good. With Sean Doolittle and Kelvin Herrera ailing, the bullpen is stretched. Two walk off home runs in two straight days (by David Bote and Paul DeJong) could have put the dagger in the Nats. This will be a chance to see what they are made of …
— Daniel Murphy seems to have his swing back …
— Scherzer has added a pitch, writes Eno Sarris of The Athletic …  
— Scherzer is 5-0 with a 2.63 ERA over his recent starts, though with the lack of interest in wins, he may actually have lost ground in the Cy Young race.

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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