There’s no real reason for the Marlins to stop with Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. With Ozzie Guillen’s team deciding to sell, there should be several more attractive players available:
RHP Josh Johnson: Miami’s ace has stayed healthy this year, but he hasn’t pitched like a top-of-the-rotation starter with his 4.35 ERA in 19 starts. At the same time, his peripherals aren’t bad: he has a 96/35 K/BB ratio and he’s allowed just seven homers in 113 2/3 innings. He’s due $13.5 million next year before he becomes a free agent, so some of the fringe contenders also looking ahead to 2013 should be interested.
RHP Carlos Zambrano: Zambrano seems happy in Miami, and he’s been effective enough that the Marlins could look to sign him to a modest extension before trading him. If he’s not interested, then send him away, too. He’s a free agent at season’s end, and he’s not going to bring back draft pick compensation. He probably won’t fetch more than a couple of lesser prospects.
RHP Ricky Nolasco: Nolasco appears to be well on his way to posting an ERA in the mid-4.00s for the third straight year, and the Marlins should be able to do better for his $11.5 million salary in 2013. Like Zambrano, he probably wouldn’t net much of a return. Still, the fact that he’s durable and can eat innings would make him an upgrade for a few teams.
3B/SS Hanley Ramirez: If the Marlins decide it’s worth blowing things up, then Ramirez is the logical place to start. He’ll make $31.5 million between 2013-14, and while he has the potential to be a bargain even that steep price, he hasn’t produced like a $15 million-per-year player the last two seasons. A change of scenery might be best for all concerned.
Role players: 1B Carlos Lee, OF Austin Kearns, INF/OF Greg Dobbs, OF Chris Coghlan, RP Edward Mujica, RP Randy Choate. All should be available. One wonders if Lee would have gone to the Dodgers if he had it to do all over again.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.