General manager Kevin Towers got a lot of praise earlier this season when the Diamondbacks were in first place, but now that they’ve fallen well behind the Dodgers and nearly out of the playoff picture “blame” is a popular discussion topic in Arizona.
Here’s what the GM told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic:
People always wonder, who are you going to blame? Is it the manager? Is it the players? Is it the GM? To me, it’s the organization. It’s all of us. There’s areas where we could all be better. I’m sure there are things that [manager Kirk Gibson] could do differently, will do differently, to make him better. The players, same way. Myself, there’s probably moves or things that if I had to do it over again, I’d do it differently.
It’s worth noting that the Diamondbacks are 71-68, so it’s hardly been a disastrous season, and they’re on pace to be a handful of games better than last year. Still, the Dodgers’ amazing surge combined with the Diamondbacks going 41-44 since June 1 has the heat rising and Towers hasn’t said for certain that Gibson will be back in 2014.
With a fourth-inning solo home run off of Phillies starter Jake Thompson, Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson reached the 30-homer plateau for the fourth time in his 13-year career. It’s a moment worth celebrating, only there’s one problem: he has just 56 RBI on the season.
There are many reasons for the low RBI total. 24 of Granderson’s 30 homers have come with the bases empty. He came into Sunday’s action hitting just .140 in 124 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and .197 with runners on base. He has hit leadoff for most of the season, meaning he’s had the Mets’ pitchers hitting “ahead” of him in the No. 9 slot as well as the Mets’ catchers typically hitting eighth. Mets catchers, collectively, have a .296 on-base percentage, the second-worst mark in the National League.
Since the end of August, Granderson has hit cleanup with Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes hitting in front of him. That change hasn’t been for naught, as he has 17 RBI in 21 games since.
Still, Granderson is on pace for the fewest RBI in a 30-homer season. Rob Deer and Felix Mantilla are tied for the record with 64 RBI. Deer (32 HR) accomplished the feat in 1992 with the Tigers and Mantilla (30 HR) in 1964 with the Red Sox. Only eight players have had 70 or fewer homers in a 30-homer season. Evan Gattis is currently sitting on 30 homers with 68 RBI.
Following the announcement of the 24-year-old’s death, Major League Baseball observed a moment of silence for José Fernández before each of today’s games. While this afternoon’s Marlins-Braves game was cancelled out of respect for the organization, Miami painted Fernández’s jersey number on the mound in honor of their former pitcher.
Other teams, like the Mets, Mariners, and Dodgers, chose to honor Fernández by hanging his No. 16 jersey in their dugout:
Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports that David Ortiz‘s pregame retirement ceremony at Tropicana Field was canceled at the player’s request:
The Astros and Diamondbacks each displayed a personal tribute to Fernández, writing the number 16 on their caps and etching his number and initials in the bullpen:
Rest in peace, Fernández.