At 52-46, the Diamondbacks are still in the thick of the NL West race. They’re 4 1/2 games back of the Giants there and five games back of the Braves in the wild card.
The road to claiming a spot in the postseason just got a lot tougher, though. Losing Stephen Drew for the season due to a fractured ankle leaves the team with Willie Bloomquist and Cody Ransom at shortstop. Bloomquist is a career .264/.317/.337 hitter whose only real use comes against lefties. Ransom, likewise a right-handed bat, has hit .227/.311/.391 in 304 at-bats in parts of eight major league seasons.
The Diamondbacks were supposed to be buyers before Drew’s injury, with the bullpen and maybe a rotati0n upgrade serving as the top priorities. Now they might well be better off selling. Certainly, if they do stay in the race, shortstop is an even bigger need than setup help or a fifth starter.
Arizona is still working to rebuild a farm system wiped clean a couple of years ago. To give up talent now in order to improve what looks like a .500 roster doesn’t seem like a great idea. On the other hand, I don’t have to concern myself with keeping fans coming through the turnstiles. Plus, the Diamondbacks could probably go get someone like the Mariners’ Jack Wilson without having to surrender a legitimate prospect.
It’s going to be a difficult decision. 4 1/2 games is a significant margin, and the Diamondbacks, with their lack of pitching depth, seem more likely to fade than either the Giants or the Braves. I’d say it’s time to start thinking about 2012 and making Kelly Johnson, Joe Saunders and Ryan Roberts available in trade talks, but then, I don’t have nearly so much to lose.
The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.
There is little if any controversy to be had about the caps this year’s inductees will wear on their Hall of Fame plaques, but in case there was any doubt at all, it was put to rest this afternoon at the Hall of Fame press conference: Tim Raines will wear a Montreal Expos cap and Ivan Rodriguez will wear a Rangers cap. Jeff Bagwell, of course, never played for a team other than the Houston Astros at the big league level.
Though Raines had some good seasons with the Chicago White Sox and though he helped provide a nice kick start to the Yankees dynasty in the mid-1990s, his best seasons, by far, took place while he was an Expo. It’s also the case that the bulk of his Hall of Fame push came from Expos fans. He was particularly boosted by Jonah Keri, who recently wrote a book detailing the history of the Expos. So, yeah, that’s easy.
Rodriguez played 13 of his 21 years with the Texas Rangers, including his MVP 1999 season. He did have some notable years elsewhere, particularly in Detroit where he remains a fan favorite, but it was always going to be the Rangers for him, one would think. Maybe a slight, slight chance that he’d do the blank cap thing, Greg Maddux-style, but smart money was on the Rangers.
With Bagwell, the only question is which Astros cap he’ll wear. There are a couple of applicable ones: the brick red star, which he wore to the World Series in 2005. There’s also the shooting star cap he wore during his best seasons and which Craig Biggio’s plaque displays. He was around for the classic “H” over the star look, but he was just a kid then, so I doubt he’d wear it.
Anyway, sorry to the Marlins fans who wished that Raines and Pudge would wear the fishy-F.