The Cardinals have a day off today so Tony La Russa has some extra time to think about it, but it seems pretty clear that Ryan Franklin’s time as the Cardinals’ closer is over.
Or hell, maybe it ended yesterday and we just didn’t notice it. I mean, in a 1-0 game in the ninth inning, La Russa went to Trever Miller first, who gave up that double to Andre Ethier. Only then did he summon Franklin. I don’t pretend to understand what La Russa does with his bullpen, so it’s hard to say if that, in and of itself, meant anything, but it’s pretty academic now. The closer is the big subject in St. Louis, even if La Russa would rather not talk about it:
Manager Tony La Russa attempted to deflect questions about the topic afterward. “What about the offense?” he said. “We only got two runners to second base against their starter. It’s not all about the closer.”
That might have worked better if he hadn’t berated the media the last time they tried to ask him about the offense.
In any event, Bernie Miklasz has all of the brutal detail about why Franklin has to go. And I can’t say I disagree with any of it. You don’t overreact to a blown save. Or even two. But when you have a 6-4 road trip and three of those losses came when you held the lead at some point in the ninth inning, well, that’s all she wrote.
Bernie thinks the job should go to Mitchell Boggs. Others are lobbying for Eduardo Sanchez, though it seems hard to picture La Russa going with a guy who has two major league appearances under his belt. Whoever the best candidate is, something has to be done.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.