Winter meetings preview: NL teams

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Here’s a quick look at what the National League teams could be trying to do this week in Indianapolis.
Arizona – The Diamondbacks should have some money to spend, and they need a starter, a setup man, a first baseman and a closer. They probably won’t do any long-term deals, though, and they may well wait to bargain hunt late in the offseason. In the meantime, they’ll see if a Chris Snyder trade will fill one of the holes.
Atlanta – GM Frank Wren needs to move a starting pitcher, preferably Derek Lowe. That’d free up some money to use on an outfielder and/or a first baseman. Kelly Johnson is another a trade possibility, though he’ll likely be non-tendered. Ryan Church may be in the same boat. The Braves are also crossing their fingers hoping that free agent Rafael Soriano doesn’t accept arbitration prior to Monday’s deadline.
Chicago – Because of GM Jim Hendry’s need to do things in order, the Cubs have to trade Milton Bradley before really starting their offseason. It’s possible he’ll come off the books this week, allowing Hendry to go get the center fielder he wants (Mike Cameron?). The Cubs also need a second baseman and some rotation depth.
Cincinnati – The Reds would have much more room to maneuver if they could deal Francisco Cordero, Aaron Harang or Bronson Arroyo, but there’s little reason to think any will go this week. GM Walt Jocketty would surely like to improve at shortstop and likely in the outfield, but he may be stuck with the current lineup until a pitcher goes.
Colorado – There figures to be one last push to move Garrett Atkins before the non-tender deadline, but it’s doubtful anything will come of it. The Rockies can spare an outfielder, probably Brad Hawpe, in their hunt a starter to replace Jason Marquis. Also, they’ll know Monday night whether Rafael Betancourt will accept arbitration to stick around as a setup man. If he leaves, they’re expected to target LaTroy Hawkins.
Florida – As usual, the Marlins are shedding arbitration-eligible players. Jeremy Hermida is already gone, and Matt Lindstrom, Dan Uggla and Renyel Pinto likely will follow. The Marlins should get an outfielder at some point, allowing them to return Chris Coghlan to the infield. They could also use an innings-eater for the rotation.
Houston – The Astros need to rebuild their bullpen on a budget, which could mean finding cheaper replacements for Jose Valverde and Hawkins. At least the infield market is shaping up better for them now. They might re-sign Miguel Tejada to play third and find a bargain option to pair with Kaz Matsui at second (Ronnie Belliard?).
Los Angeles – The decision not to offer arbitration to Randy Wolf showed just how deep the Dodgers’ financial troubles run. Fortunately, the club doesn’t have too many needs; a starting pitcher is a must, but Blake DeWitt is an option at second base if the belt has to be tightened another notch. A Juan Pierre trade could help, but it’s highly unlikely that GM Ned Colletti would be able to shed much salary in such a deal.
Milwaukee – The Brewers are going cheap in center field and behind the plate, so they should have plenty of money to upgrade their rotation. Ideally, they’d land two reliable starters from the group of free agents. Wolf should top their list now that he’s not going to require draft-pick compensation. They’ll also be in the market for a setup man, and they’d like to re-sign utilityman Craig Counsell, who could be the next infielder off the board.
New York – Who knows? The Mets need a left fielder, a catcher, a first baseman, at least one starting pitcher and perhaps a setup man. Still, trading Luis Castillo and upgrading at second seems to be the top priority. As many holes as they have, it’d make sense to spread the wealth around rather than focus on Roy Halladay, John Lackey, Matt Holliday or Jason Bay.
Philadelphia – With third base taken care of, the aggressive Phillies are now focused on finding a setup man and fallback closer in case Brad Lidge fails to rebound. Ex-Tigers Brandon Lyon, who is also a target of the Yankees, and Fernando Rodney are two possibilities.
Pittsburgh – The Pirates seem determined to spend some cash, even though it could result in Jeff Clement being blocked. Xavier Nady, Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock are a few of the players on their list. They’ll also consider trading Zach Duke, Matt Capps and Ryan Doumit, preferably for young pitching. Shortstop would be a nice position for an upgrade, but there just isn’t much available there. Tampa Bay’s Reid Brignac is one possible exception.
St. Louis – It’s been a slow developing winter for the Cardinals, as their finances are tied up in their bid to retain Holliday. If Holliday stays, they’ll almost certainly have to settle for cheap replacements at third base and in the rotation. If he exits, then they could sign Mark DeRosa or Miguel Tejada to play third and attempt to bring back Joel Pineiro for the rotation. Unfortunately for them, it’s doubtful the situation will be resolved this week.
San Diego – With Jed Hoyer still settling into his new role as the Padres’ GM, the team’s plans are unclear. There’s little chance of either Adrian Gonzalez or Heath Bell being traded this week, but Kevin Correia and Kevin Kouzmanoff might be possibilities. The Padres will keep their eyes open for a center fielder (Coco Crisp?) and cheap rotation help.
San Francisco – The Giants don’t appear prepared to jump into the bidding for one of the big free agents. They have cash to buy a first baseman, a catcher and an outfielder, but it appears as though they’ll look for guys willing to sign one- or two-year contracts. Perhaps GM Brian Sabean will surprise and move Jonathan Sanchez for long-term help at an infield corner or the outfield.
Washington – The Nationals’ biggest needs are in the rotation and the bullpen and they could land big-name free agents for both spots, but it shouldn’t happen this week. A Josh Willingham trade is a possibility for the meetings. The Nats will also try to find a defensive-minded shortstop, allowing them to send Ian Desmond back to the minors for the start of the year.

30 years ago, Dave Kingman sent a live rat to a female reporter

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Someone on Reddit’s /r/baseball page linked to this New York Times article from June 1986.

Dave Kingman, then with the Athletics, was 37 years old and playing in what would be his final season. He was fined $3,500, which is a little over $7,600 in 2016 dollars, for sending a live rat in a pink box to a female reporter, Susan Fornoff of The Sacramento Bee. The rat wore a tag that said “my name is Sue.”

Kingman refused to apologize, saying, “I’ve pulled practical jokes on other people and I didn’t apologize to them.”

According to Fornoff, Kingman had said to her that women don’t belong in the clubhouse, and Kingman had been harassing her since she began covering the team in ’85. The Athletics didn’t keep Kingman around after the season, and he ended up hanging up the spikes.

Pete Dexter wrote in more detail about the incident at Deadspin a few years ago. It’s a good read.

I wasn’t familiar with this story as I was still more than two years from being born when it happened. Sports media has made strides towards being more inclusive of non-white cisgender straight men, especially compared to 30 years ago. But, of course, we’re still a long ways away from an ideal world in which everyone is treated equally and everyone has equal access. Some of the best baseball reporting and analysis these days is being done by women and it’s nice to see sites, especially FanGraphs recently, make a concerted effort towards diversification.

D-Backs mulling optioning Shelby Miller to the minors

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller continued to struggle on Tuesday, serving up six runs on eight hits and four walks with three strikeouts over five innings against the Pirates. His ERA, in 10 starts this season, stands at an unsightly 7.09 with 30 strikeouts and 29 walks in 45 2/3 innings.

The D-Backs acquired him from the Braves over the winter, sending 2015 first overall pick Dansby Swanson to Atlanta along with pitching prospect Aaron Blair and outfielder Ender Inciarte. It’s a trade they’d most likely take back if they had the luxury.

Instead, GM Dave Stewart is considering optioning the right-hander to Triple-A Reno to figure things out, Jack Magruder reports for Today’s Knuckleball. Stewart said, “We want to get him on track the best way we can. We will figure it out and do what’s needed.”

Miller is currently slated to start against the Padres on Sunday, so the club has a few more days to consider what to do. Josh Collmenter will likely be activated over the weekend, which would create a convenient way to put him back on the roster and deal with Miller.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Xander Bogaerts both extend their hitting streaks

BOSTON, MA - MAY 24:  Jackie Bradley Jr. #25 of the Boston Red Sox returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Fenway Park on May 24, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. Extending his hitting streak to 28 games.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. and shortstop Xander Bogaerts both extended their hitting streaks on Wednesday night against the Rockies, and both did it in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Bogaerts led off the inning with a solo home run to left-center off of Chad Bettis. After David Ortiz walked and Hanley Ramirez grounded into a fielder’s choice, Bradley laced a single to left field. Bogaerts’ streak now stands at 18 games and Bradley’s is at 29. Bradley is tied with Johnny Damon for the fourth-longest streak in Red Sox history. He trails Tris Speaker and Nomar Garciaparra at 30 and Dom DiMaggio at 34.

The Red Sox entered Wednesday’s action averaging 5.87 runs per game, the best mark in baseball. The major league average is 4.28. Bogaerts and Bradley, unsurprisingly, have been a big part of the offense’s success thus far.

Nick Castellanos upset at being quick-pitched by Hector Neris

DETROIT, MI - MAY 25: Nick Castellanos #9 of the Detroit Tigers argues with home plate umpire Brian Gorman after a called third strike to end the seventh inning of the inter-league game against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 25, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos struck out in a big spot for the Tigers during Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Phillies. Trailing 7-5 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Castellanos had a full count with runners on first and second base facing reliever Hector Neris.

Castellanos had just gotten set in the batter’s box when he watched Neris sneak in an 87 MPH splitter for strike three to end the inning. Castellanos wanted home plate umpire Brian Gorman to intervene because of the quick-pitch, but he didn’t.

Here’s what Castellanos said after the game, via Catherine Slonksnis of Bless You Boys:

“He did. That’s the first time I’ve been quick-pitched, probably since A ball,” Castellanos said, visibly frustrated after the game. “It is what it is. I was frustrated that it happened. Usually, it’s been attempted, but it’s always been stopped. Usually (the umpires) give the hitter that courtesy, but just, learn, and move on.”

And here’s the MLB.com video.

The Tigers also took issue with Gorman for what they feel was unequal treatment in giving batters time out. The Phillies were granted time — some late, as Slonksnis notes — but the Tigers weren’t afforded the same luxury. Mike Aviles also believes he was quick-pitched in the fifth inning.

The Tigers lost the game 8-5 but won the series, taking two out of three from the Phillies. Manager Brad Ausmus missed the game due to his mother’s death, so bench coach Gene Lamont took the role on Wednesday afternoon. Ausmus is also expected to miss Friday’s game for his daughter’s graduation.