Jason Kubel

Jason Kubel is karrying the Diamondbacks


Jason Kubel launched his 24th and 25th homers Thursday as part of Arizona’s 6-3 win over Pittsburgh. Despite some recent struggles, he’s the team leader in homers (by nine) and in RBI (by 11). He’s also hitting .281, which would be the second-highest mark of his career.

I wasn’t nearly as down on the Diamondbacks’ Kubel signing last winter as many in the twitterverse, but I did call it a “luxury signing” due to Gerardo Parra’s presence on the roster. The mistake many made was in looking at it as though the Diamondbacks were choosing Kubel over Parra. What they should have realized is that there would be plenty of room for both.

Of course, Kubel may well have already gone from being underrated last winter to overrated now. While Target Field was an awful place for him to hit as a member of the Twins, Chase Field is making him look quite a bit better than he truly is; 17 of his 25 homers have come at home.

The Diamondbacks, though, won’t have to worry about someone else overpaying him this winter based on those numbers; Kubel will be in the middle of a two-year deal worth a modest $16 million. With Parra also capable of starting, the Diamondbacks will have flexibility in the outfield if they decide to trade Justin Upton or Chris Young this winter.

Ideally, they’d keep the foursome together. However, whereas Upton, Young and Parra cost a combined $14.25 million this year, the salaries figure to climb to about $20.5 million next season and the Diamondbacks may want to spend some of that money elsewhere.

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.