Four days ago the Brewers said they were sticking with John Axford despite a rough start to the season, but now it looks like manager Ron Roenicke is making a change in the ninth inning.
Axford took the loss in yesterday’s game against the Diamondbacks, but only after throwing a scoreless 10th inning and then being asked to pitch the 11th inning too. It didn’t go well and now Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Roenicke dropped some serious hints about a change even though nothing is official yet:
Asked if there was a closing situation today against the Cubs if he would use Axford, Roenicke said, “I need to have a discussion with ‘Ax’ on what we plan to do. So, I really can’t give you an answer until I talk to him.”
Normally, when a manager says somethng like that, it means he hasn’t talked to the player yet about making a change and therefore isn’t ready to tell the media.
Axford has a 20.25 ERA, allowing six runs in 2.2 innings while serving up four homers. He briefly lost the closer job last season, but then recovered to be one of the best relievers in baseball down the stretch. Presumably the fill-in will be setup man Jim Henderson, who has a 3.21 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 34 career innings.
Jon Heyman reports that the Cardinals do not plan to exercise Matt Holliday‘s $17 million option for 2017.
And, not surprisingly, will not extend him a similarly priced qualifying offer, either.
Holliday will be 37 when spring training begins and he is finishing his worst season as a major leaguer, having hit .242/.318/.450 with 19 homers over 424 plate appearances.
Injuries have not helped him — he’s missed the last six weeks with a fractured thumb — but it’s not like guys het healthier the older they get. Holliday will likely be looking at a massive pay cut for next year and a competition to make an Opening Day roster.
The Blue Jays are poised to make the playoffs for the second year in a row and are playing a critical series with the Orioles, the outcome of which will likely determine who gets to play at home for that one-and-done game next week. Big stakes! Must keep focused!
Or, alternatively, maybe it’s time to have a silly, juvenile feud with the press. Here’s Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun, asking why the Jays are doing stuff like this while fighting for the playoffs:
Why, for example, would the leaders on the team allow someone to put up on a wall photos of two Toronto sports writers with an ‘X’ scratched on their face and the a message written on top reading, ‘Do not grant them interviews’ (or words to that effect)? . . . Things like: Someone cranking up the music just when the media arrives to conduct pre-game interviews.
Not that the Jays have been treated wonderfully by the press themselves:
There was an incident the other night when a couple of journalists tried to corral struggling closer Roberto Osuna for an interview, but he kept blowing them off. Finally, one reporter followed him right into a private part of the clubhouse and told him off.
That’s . . . not what you’re supposed to do.
Still, there is zero point to get into silly feuds with the media. If they overstep their bounds, there are a TON of Jays officials and, I suspect, newspaper editors, who will quickly and eagerly discipline the reporter. You don’t have to make wanted posters and act like children. Partially because it’s just a bad look. But also, because it leads to news stories about it like the one in the Toronto Sun.