They teach you when you’re a young litigator that when you’ve got the law on your side argue the law, when you’ve got the facts on your side argue the facts and when you’ve got neither the law nor the facts on your side, bang your fist on the table.
So it is in baseball: when you’ve got a talented roster play up its talent, when you’ve got an experienced roster play up its experience and when you’ve got neither talent nor experience talk up the “clubhouse culture.” Example: the Miami Marlins:
Marlins baseball operations president Larry Beinfest spoke to reporters today and was asked about improving the clubhouse culture. He wouldn’t name specific players who contributed to the sour mix last year. But the goings-on with players like Hanley Ramirez and Heath Bell are well-documented … Whether some individuals we thought were more part of a poor clubhouse, I’m not going to go into any of that other than we have made significant changes. We have done our homework on prospects, the makeup of the player has been important.
That’s great and all, but the poor clubhouse culture from before, to the extent you can lay it at the feet of guys like Ramirez and Bell, is really the doing of Jeff Loria. Loria fired Fredi Gonzalez when he dared call Ramirez out on his loafing and bad attitude, emboldening him even more. Then he signed Bell and gave him a huge contract against the advice of his baseball people. He then fired the manager who tried to take a hard line with Bell when Bell didn’t like that he was no longer the closer.
So, good luck with the team chemistry, Miami. It should last until Loria decides, once again, to meddle with his team too much and undermine his manager and executives.
The Nationals lost a heartbreaker on Tuesday night, as the Indians overcame a two-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Nationals 7-6. Closer Jonathan Papelbon faced five batters but was unable to record an out, yielding a leadoff walk, a double, a bunt that ended up very successful due to a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error, an intentional walk, and a single. Oliver Perez came in and eventually allowed one of his inherited runners to score, saddling Papelbon with the loss.
Papelbon also served up four runs in the outing before Tuesday’s, on Saturday against the Padres. The two clubs entered the top of the ninth tied 6-6, but a walk followed by three two-out singles and a bases-clearing double off of Papelbon allowed the Padres to take a 10-6 lead.
On the season, Papelbon is 19-for-22 in save chances with a 4.18 ERA and a 30/12 K/BB ratio in 32 1/3 innings. If the season were to end today, the right-hander’s 21.4 percent strikeout rate would be the lowest mark of his career and his 8.6 percent walk rate would be his highest mark since 2010.
Manager Dusty Baker didn’t indicate that he’s going to make a change at closer, but he sounded dissatisfied with Papelbon’s performance thus far. Via Mark Zuckerberg of MASN, Baker said, “He doesn’t have his command, which is evident when you walk the leadoff hitter. But it’s like, what do you say? How does he look? Right now he doesn’t look like Pap. He doesn’t look very good. Usually he doesn’t walk people like that.”
The non-waiver trade deadline is on Monday, August 1. The Nationals, at 58-42, still have a four-game lead over the Marlins and a 4.5-game lead over the Mets. Tuesday’s loss has motivated the club to attempt to upgrade the bullpen, Jon Morosi reports. The Nationals were in the mix for Aroldis Chapman before the Yankees sent him to the Cubs. Perhaps Andrew Miller could be next on the Nats’ wish list.
The Blue Jays announced on Tuesday night that the club traded reliever Drew Storen and some cash to the Mariners in exchange for reliever Joaquin Benoit.
Storen, 28, was designated for assignment by the Jays on Sunday after posting a 6.21 ERA with a 32/10 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings. The Jays acquired him during the offseason from the Nationals in exchange for Ben Revere and a player to be named later.
Benoit, 38, struggled as well, putting up a 5.18 ERA with a 28/15 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings with the Mariners.