The Braves announced their NLDS roster a few minutes ago. You can see it here. There aren’t many surprises.
Takashi Saito is off because his shoulder is still wonky. His replacement — Craig Kimbrel — has been pretty fantastic anyway. Jair Jurrjens is off due to his knee. There are still expectations that he would be able to pitch in the NLCS if the Braves make it that far, but at that point rust, rather than health, may be his biggest concern. I think the Braves are on a three-man rotation for the duration, with Brandon Beachy stepping in if things get out of hand.
The biggest takeaway: oh so many rookies. We’ve known that they have a lot just by watching them, but the youth of this team is really made clear when the names are all listed like that: Jason Heyward, Brooks Conrad, Craig Kimbrel, Cristhian Martinez, Brandon Beachy, Jonny Venters and Mike Dunn.
It’s also, once again, made clear how many tomato cans the Braves are relying on too: Kyle Farnsworth, Rick Ankiel, Nate McLouth and Melky Cabrera, most notable among them. Really: the Giants left Jose Guillen off their roster. There’s an argument that he’d be the second best outfielder on the Braves’ roster.
But, that’s why they play the games . . .
Over the winter there was serious talk about the Pirates trading Andrew McCutchen to the Washington Nationals. His move to left field to allow Starling Marte to take over center further served to make McCutchen a less important part of the Pirates long term plans.
Then the season began, Marte got suspended for PEDs and, after a bumpy start, McCutchen caught fire. He hit .411/.505/.689 in June he has a .333/.444/.561 line in the month of July. For the year he’s now at .292/.384/.507 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. Even with Marte back on the roster, McCutchen is the Pirates’ center fielder. What’s more, the Pirates, after beginning the season slowly have righted the ship somewhat and are now only three games back in the NL Central.
All of which makes this, from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, unsurprising:
That option is a quite reasonable $14.5 million, so it seems sorta crazy that they wouldn’t pick it up. Of course if they remain coy enough about it for now perhaps someone will bowl them over with an offer. Letting McCutchen walk seems insane. Unloading him for a hefty haul would, well, still be kinda crazy given how popular McCutchen is with the fan base, but not truly insane.
The Brewers were rumored last week to have been “aggressive” in talks for Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, however, that the talks are a bit more wide-ranging than that.
Crasnick says that the two clubs are also discussing Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, potentially in a package deal with Wilson. Crasnick says that the Brewers “would love to have Kinsler,” but their main focus at the moment is pitching help. Of course, the Brewers current second baseman — Jonathan Villar — is hitting a meager .223/.285/.348 in 334 plate appearances.
Kinsler is having a down season for him — .237/.331/.400 — but he’s better than that and, of course, would represent an improvement. He’s under contract through the end of this year but he has a very affordable, $10 million club option for 2018. Wilson will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, so he’s still under team control as well. As such a Kinsler/Wilson package would likely cost the Brewers a high price, so you have to think they’d try to exhaust cheaper options before making such a deal.
The Brewers had been in first place in the NL Central since June 7, but the Cubs caught them yesterday. They’re in a virtual tie, with Chicago percentage points ahead. This should prove to be a very interesting week for the Brewers’ front office.