He sounds certain, but will FOX’s Tracy Ringolsby bet his hat on it?
A month before spring training, fans of all 30 major league teams are
supposed to have hope about what the coming season will bring. Makes
for good marketing. Bottom line, however, is while there is reason for
hope with most teams, there’s no argument over which teams are the
First place in the six divisions is up for debate. Last place, however, is a slam dunk. Mark it down now.
place still belongs to the Royals in the AL Central, Oakland in the AL
West, Toronto in the AL East, Washington in the NL East, Pittsburgh in
the NL Central and San Diego in the NL West. These are not overnight failures. They have earned the distinction.
I take issue with Oakland in that group. Sure, they may very will finish in last place — I’d probably pick them to finish there this year — but they’re not an “earned failure” on the order of, say, Kansas City. They have some good young pitching. They are a battered, but perfectly respectable team in ways that the others in that crowd are not. They just happen to not be as good as the other three teams in the division. No shame in that.
I take less issue with the others, but still there is room to quibble. Toronto looks like a last place team, but they did finish 11 games ahead of Baltimore, so I don’t think anyone would die of shock if the O’s “beat” them out. Pittsburgh has to be the front runner for last place, but if you assume old players get worse and young players get better, Houston could easily fall below them this year. The Padres actually finished five games ahead of the Diamondbacks in 2009, so I don’t know that they’re a lock for last either.
I think the only rock solid locks for last place are the Royals and Nats. For everyone else: let’s play some games first, OK?
The Cardinals went from winning 100 games last season to 82 entering Wednesday evening’s game, and they might not even make the playoffs. Still, the organization will bring back manager Mike Matheny for the 2017 season, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Owner Bill DeWitt, Jr. said, “Mike’s done a really good job for us. There’s no thought that we’re going to go in any different direction.”
GM John Mozeliak also expressed his support, saying, “Mike takes a lot of heat, and I’ve defended him and I will continue to. I really feel like some of the things that we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager.”
Mozeliak continued, “I do feel like all of us are always held accountable for what we do here, so there’s nobody excluded from that. But having said that, I don’t look at him as someone that we are where we are because of that.”
Matheny has received criticism for his bullpen usage, but the Cardinals have only 15 blown saves as a team, the fourth-lowest total in baseball this season.
The Phillies’ bullpen led to yet another loss on Tuesday. Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez, and David Hernandez combined to allow six runs in five innings, allowing the Braves to come back and win 7-6 after falling behind 6-0 after the first two innings.
The game prior, the Phillies’ bullpen surrendered 14 runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the Mets. The game before that, the bullpen yielded four runs in four innings, nearly squandering the Phillies’ 10-0 lead after four innings. And last Thursday, the Phillies had taken an 8-6 lead in the top of the 11th, but Edubray Ramos served up a walk-off three-run home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s been a tough month.
Manager Pete Mackanin ripped the bullpen when speaking to the media after Tuesday’s game. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
Neris was going to close for us. I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That’s unheard of.
The Phillies currently own the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 4.97. Only the Rockies (5.12), Reds (5.07), and Diamondbacks (4.98) have been worse.
In fairness to the bullpen, aside from Jeanmar Gomez (who lost his job as closer earlier this month) and free agent signee David Hernandez, the bullpen is intentionally comprised of young, inexperienced pitchers as the Phillies are still rebuilding. If the Phillies were aiming for a playoff spot, it would be one thing, but the struggles are to be expected when one throws 24-year-olds into the deep end.