Neal Huntington: jerkin' his players around

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Twice last week Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington said that he would tender closer Matt Capps, and all other arb-eligible players a contract: “At this point, our plan is to tender all eligible players,” he said on Monday. He repeated the phrase almost verbatim on Wednesday.  

Last night: no contract tendered to Matt Capps.

As Aaron mentioned last night, this is a pretty cheap move by the Pirates. Capps took a step back last year, but he’s a solid pitcher who could easily rebound, and his arbitration number would not have been bank-breaking. He’s going to make someone’s bullpen better next season, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t have been Pittsburgh’s.

But more than cheap, this is just petty. It’s easy for us to think of players as mere names on a spreadsheet, but you can bet that Matt Capps was wondering about his future these past few weeks and took some comfort in hearing his boss say that he was going to be offered a contract. If Huntington wasn’t planning to offer him one, he shouldn’t have jerked him around by saying he would — twice — last week.

This is the sort of thing the players notice. At the very least you can bet Capps’ suddenly former teammates noticed, and will be increasingly loathe to trust Pirates’ management going forward.

Watch: Javier Baez snares a 106-MPH ground ball

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What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.

Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.

Dodgers activate Adrian Gonzalez

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The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.