Boston Red Sox Adrian Gonzalez is congratulated after hitting a solo home run against the Minnesota Twins during the fifth inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston

Remember when Adrian Gonzalez was in a power slump?


As recently as last week Adrian Gonzalez’s lack of homers was making headlines, with Terry Francona speculating that neck problems were to blame for the power slump, Gonzalez later downplaying that notion, and some people even suggesting that participating in the Home Run Derby was the culprit.

Suddenly it’s no longer even an issue.

Gonzalez hit just one homer in the span of 179 plate appearances from July 8 to August 22, including 22 straight games without a long ball, but he went deep twice last night against the Rangers and has now homered five times in the past three games.

Before this week’s power outburst Gonzalez had a total of five homers in his last 60 games, although he also hit .344 with an .898 OPS during that time to make the lack of pop much less of a concern.

Overall this season Gonzalez has hit .348 with 23 homers and a .975 OPS in 128 games, which is good for an adjusted OPS+ of 162 (on a scale where 50 is Jeff Mathis, 100 is average, and 200 is Babe Ruth). Gonzalez’s adjusted OPS+ in his final two seasons with the Padres was 157. Moving from Petco Park to Fenway Park has boosted Gonzalez’s raw numbers and hitting in the middle of the Red Sox’s lineup has inflated his RBI total, but the in-context production remains nearly the same. New ballpark, new lineup, same great hitter.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.