Wandy Rodriguez lasted just four innings against the Padres on Saturday, allowing five runs to give him a 5.65 ERA in his last 10 outings, and afterward Astros pitching coach Doug Brocail suggested that the left-hander is distracted by trade rumors.
“We saw it last year when we were going through it and his name kept coming up,” Brocail said, via Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle. “He gets a little nervous about that. I try to tell him it’s nothing you can control, But I see it because I’m with him every day and talk to him every day. I just think that lately his mind’s been elsewhere, and we need to work on that.”
Rodriguez has been one of the best, most underrated starters in the National League, posting ERAs of 3.54, 3.02, 3.60, and 3.49 from 2008-2011, so when he struggles it’s natural to search for a reason. And while Brocail is right that Rodriguez also struggled some around the trade deadline last season, posting a 4.94 ERA in July, he also had a 3.32 ERA in August while rumors continued to swirl around him leading up the waiver trade deadline.
The funny thing about baseball is that when Rodriguez posted a 2.14 ERA in his first 10 starts this season no one searched for reasons why he was clearly out-performing his career norms, yet when he’s posted a 5.65 ERA in his last 10 starts now his reaction to trade rumors is viewed as the cause. Both the 2.14 ERA early and the 5.65 recently are basically equally out of line from his established track record, and if you add them up Rodriguez has a 3.75 ERA overall this season. His combined ERA during the previous five seasons? 3.63.
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.