I tell ya, I woulda lost money if I had bet on the Marlins at the beginning of the season. No, not because they have failed to be a championship team. Rather, because I would have given them at least a year before the sell-off began, not less than four months.
Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante were traded. Hanley Ramirez is gone. Josh Johnson is being shopped (more on this in a few minutes). All of these may very well end up being wise baseball moves at some point down the road, but coming as they do after all of the money spent to benefit Jeff Loria and the Marlins by Miami taxpayers, all of the hype Loria created and basically demanded and all of the fan attention that, reluctantly, after years of having their hopes crushed by a penny pinching owner, was given to this team, this sell-off is an insult to Marlins fans.
This truly is remarkable. Between 2004 and 2011, the Marlins averaged the lowest payroll in all of baseball. Then they are handed a sweetheart deal on a new stadium, get everyone’s hopes up for the first time in nearly a decade and … after three-plus months, 40% of the rotation, the second baseman, the third baseman and possibly the closer are out the door. On a team that can more accurately be described as underperforming as opposed to fatally-flawed. A team that, if the roster they had three days ago was kept together, could reasonably be expected to play better baseball in the second half and into next season but now won’t get to.
Someone, somewhere, explain to me why anyone in Miami should give a flying fish about the Marlins? What possible reason should any baseball fan in south Florida have for giving a dime to a team run by Jeff Loria?
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.