It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you Ashley Varela, HardballTalk’s newest writer. Ashley will be providing news, analysis and whatever degree of nonsense she chooses to offer on Friday nights and on Saturday and Sunday during the day.
Ashley is based in Oakland, California. She has written about baseball for several years now, with her work appearing online and in print at SB Nation, USA Today Sports Weekly, Baseball Prospectus and some other places. Which just goes to show you that, unlike when Bill and I were hired, we now care about things like “experience” and “qualifications” and “the ability to put grammatically correct sentences together on a consistent basis” when giving someone a job. Bill and I got in just under the wire, frankly.
Ashley is also unique in that, unlike Bill and I, she actually has played competitive sports, as a member of the Cha Cha Mermaids intramural softball team in Santa Barbara, California. You can still tell Bill and I that we don’t know what we’re talking about since we haven’t played the game, but you can’t do that to Ashley.
In keeping with the tradition of HBT writers being horribly biased, you should know that Ashley is from Seattle and is thus a fan of her hometown Seattle Mariners. In keeping with the tradition of HBT writers liking the things you hate, Ashley voluntarily attends games at the Oakland Coliseum whenever possible. In keeping with the tradition of HBT writers liking really bad players from our favorite teams (see, Francoeur, Jeff; Howard, Ryan; and Francoeur, Jeff), Ashley was heartbroken when Munenori Kawasaki left the Mariners.
Bradford is hearing that Papelbon has no plans of signing a new deal before midnight on Wednesday, which means he won’t be on a roster by September 1 and is not going to be eligible for postseason play. Obviously if he were to pitch poorly in September he might’ve been left of a postseason roster anyway, but it’s hard to think that a contender would want to complicate their life if they didn’t at least have the option.
Papelbon, 35, was released by the Nationals a few weeks ago. Assuming he doesn’t sign anywhere, he will finish the 2016 season with a 4.37 ERA and 1.46 WHIP across 37 appearances. And he’ll spend November and beyond looking for a job for 2017.
This doesn’t mean he’s a sure thing — Dave Dombrowski has seemed bearish on a September callup in the past — but it sure would be exciting to see one of baseball’s best prospects in the heat of a pennant race. Moncada is batting .298/.411/.518 with 15 home runs and 45 steals in 105 games this season between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. He’d certainly have some adjustments to make if he skipped Triple-A to hit the bigs, but like Travis Shaw, Aaron Hill, and Brock Holt are tearing up the pea patch.
Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson made such a leap recently. Obviously the pressure on him is much less than that which Moncada would face. But Moncada is going to be a special player eventually and, heck, when would a Boston player NOT be under a microscope?