What happened to Brad Hawpe?

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At the All-Star break, Brad Hawpe
was enjoying his best season, batting .320/.396/.577 with 14 home runs
and 59 RBI. Tenth in the league in batting, Hawpe earned his first trip
to the All-Star game. However, while the Rockies have surged to a 40-27
record since the All-Star break, taking control in the NL Wild Card
race, Hawpe’s once-promising season has fizzled out.

Hawpe
is batting only .235/.372/.418 since the break. With a two-run homer
against Adam Wainwright on Saturday, Hawpe has just six home runs and
20 RBI in the second half. Hawpe led the majors with 39 strikeouts in
August, and has registered at least one strikeout in 41 of his last 46
games. Now, Mark Reynolds, Adam Dunn and Ryan Howard are enough to tell you
that strikeouts don’t necessarily correlate to negative production, but
until two home runs this week, Hawpe had zero home runs and zero RBI
through the first 14 games of the month.

Manager
Jim Tracy has stuck with his struggling slugger throughout the slump,
but as wins have become more crucial, his treatment of Hawpe has begun
to change. During Friday’s game against the Cardinals, Tracy pinch-hit
for Hawpe with Jason Giambi — another left-handed bat — with one out
in the ninth inning. Giambi delivered with a single and Yorvit
Torrealba hit a sacrifice fly to secure the 2-1 win.
But that doesn’t mean the decision was easy for Tracy.

“When
you respect a player as much as I respect Brad Hawpe and as aware of
his accomplishments as I am, not only in the time I’ve been in a
Rockies uniform but when I’ve sat over there on the other side of the
field, it’s not easy. But part of your job as the guy in charge is to
make a difficult decision and know full-well it may not be appreciated
or understood at the time.”

As for Hawpe, he is playing the good solider:

“No,
I don’t want to talk about if it was hard. We won the ballgame. That’s
the only thing I care about. Of course, I would like to perform well
every time I get on the field, but the bottom line right now is winning
ballgames.”

Hawpe was
dropped to seventh in the lineup for Saturday’s game and responded with
a double and a home run. The good news is that
he is back to fifth in the order for Sunday’s game, so it appears Tracy
is doing everything within his power to motivate the 30-year-old
outfielder in time for the postseason. Just don’t be surprised to see
him make a similar decision in October.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.