First that dustup with Kevin Youkilis and now some bad in-game managing is making for a pretty crappy day for Bobby V.
Daniel Bard and James Shields were locked in a 0-0 pitchers’ duel. Bard had been effective all day, but effectively wild too, walking several. In the seventh inning Bard, already over 100 pitches on a hot day in one of his first few major league starts, started to tire.
With two outs, he walked Sean Rodriguez. Then he gave up a single to Desmond Jennings. He was visibly tired by this point, but Valentine didn’t pull him. Nope, he then let him walk Carlos Pena on four straight pitches to load the bases. Two outs, remember, in a 0-0 game, but on goes Bard.
Even Longoria comes up to bat. He too walks on four straight pitches, scoring Rodriguez. It’s 1-0 Rays in the bottom of the seventh as I write this. UPDATE: That score held up. Rays win it 1-0.
Maybe we can call this Grady Little-level managing. Or maybe Bobby V. learned a lesson from the Youkilis thing and was just not wanting to appear to question the motivation of a second player in less than two days. I guess someone will have to ask him after the game. Which should be fun.
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.