Was that convincing? Nah, didn’t think so. Sigh.
I started thinking about tonight’s Braves-Giants game a few minutes ago. I want to talk myself into Atlanta coming out of the gate strong, but I’m having a hard time really getting on board. My thought process:
The good: Derek Lowe was 5-0 in September, with 29 strikeouts, three walks and a 1.17 ERA in 30.1 innings.
The not-so-good: Those starts came against the Pirates, the Nationals — twice — the Mets and the Marlins.
The good: Lowe is 5-1 with a 1.98 ERA in eight starts in AT&T Park, including a good one this year.
The not-so-good: He’s a groundball pitcher and the Braves have Brooks Conrad at second and Omar Infante at third. Conrad is bad everywhere. Infante is more comfortable at second than he is at third.
I guess a hot Lowe is all a Braves fan can ask for at the moment, but I think there may be more light than heat here. And I really just wanted an excuse to say “OctLoweber” again, because it’s all kinds of fun. Other random bits causing me nervousness:
- The Giants’ ERA for the month of September: 1.78. Yikes;
- The Braves outfielders that aren’t named Heyward are still McLouth, Melky, Diaz and Ankiel;
- The Braves were 35-46 on the road this year, which is the worst road record among playoff teams;
- The Braves bullpen is cited as a big strength — and it is — but the Giants’ was actually better this year;
I’m not trying to be overly pessimistic here. I’m psyched and rooting and all of that. But I figured I owe a lot of people who are accusing me of being a Debbie Downer about the Braves’ chances this postseason a bit of an explanation as to why I’m being a Debbie Downer.
But again: OctLoweber!
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.
The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.
The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.