Ned Colletti has determined that the best way to light a fire under the Dodgers is to rip Matt Kemp. After criticizing Kemp’s baserunning and defense to Peter Tilden of 790-KABC, he said:
“Why is it? Because he got a new deal? Can’t tell you. But you
know, it’s below-average. If this is the last day of the season and
people are voting for the Gold Glove, his name is not even on the
ballot. It’s a shame that he would go from where he was a year ago to
revert back to when the ball goes up in the air and you’re not sure
where it’s going, or if it’s going to get caught.”
I’ll grant that Kemp hasn’t been as stellar on defense this year as he was all last year, but if Ned Colletti thinks that the team is 8-12 because Kemp isn’t running everything down he’s nuts. The Dodgers are 8-12 because the only team with worse pitching in the National League is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who at least have the excuse of being the Pittsburgh Pirates. But even the Pirates didn’t place their hopes and dreams in Vicente Padilla and every Tom, Dick and Harry Ortiz who wandered into Camelback, Arizona between February and April. That’s all on you, Ned, so if you want to rip someone, take a long look in the mirror.
And when you’re done doing that, remember that no GM who calls himself a professional rips his own players in the media, let alone his best player. His best player who decided to go year-to-year though arbitration rather than sign a long term deal and thus could very well bolt in a couple of years if he decides that getting called out by the boss on a radio show is not the sort of franchise for whom he wishes to serve as a cornerstone.
This is low rent behavior from an organization that has been called a lot of things in its history, but never low rent. Colletti ought to be ashamed of himself.
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.