Bill Baer

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 15: Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a home run in the third inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 15, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Andrew McCutchen promised A.J. Burnett two homers. He delivered.

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Former Pirates (and Phillies) starter A.J. Burnett was at Citizens Bank Park for Thursday’s series finale between the Pirates and Phillies. He reconnected with some of his former Pirates teammates before the game, then joined the Pirates’ broadcast booth in the third inning.

Per Joe Block, one of the broadcasters, Burnett said that Andrew McCutchen promised he’d hit him two home runs during Thursday’s game. So what did McCutchen, who has had an uncharacteristically awful season, do against the Phillies? He hit two homers.

Cutch’s first dinger was a solo shot off of Jerad Eickhoff in the fourth inning, doubling the Pirates’ lead to 2-0. He victimized Frank Herrmann in the eighth with another solo shot, boosting the lead to 7-2.

After Thursday’s win, McCutchen is batting .249/.329/.425 with 23 home runs and 65 RBI. There’s not much he can do, at this point, to salvage what has been by far the worst season of his career.

Cardinals move Jaime Garcia to the bullpen

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 8: Starter Jaime Garcia #54 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning at Busch Stadium on September 8, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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The Cardinals have moved struggling starter Jaime Garcia to the bullpen, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Alex Reyes will start on Sunday.

Garcia, 30, has really hit the skids as of late, failing to reach the fifth inning in three of his last five starts. Overall, he’s carrying a 4.65 ERA with a 140/55 K/BB ratio over 164 2/3 innings this season.

The Cardinals enter Thursday night’s game against the first Wild Card-leading Giants trailing them by one game and the second Wild Card-leading Mets by a half-game. Reyes, the club’s top prospect, gives the Cardinals a better shot at finishing up the regular season on a strong note. He’s carrying a 1.29 ERA with a 34/16 K/BB ratio over 28 innings spanning two starts and seven relief appearances.

Report: A.J. Preller won’t be fired or face discipline from Padres

A.J. Preller
Associated Press
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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that Padres GM A.J. Preller won’t be fired or receive further discipline from the Padres for his role in the club’s dishonest handling of medical reports. Preller was suspended 30 days without pay by Major League Baseball on Thursday.

Preller and the Padres were reportedly systematically misleading with their medical reporting, but the suspension was specifically about the club’s trade with the Red Sox involving Drew Pomeranz. According to a report from ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Red Sox only learned after the transaction was completed that Pomeranz — who underwent shoulder surgery shortly after the season last year — received preventative treatment and that was not reflected in the medical information database shared by all 30 teams.

It’s surprising that the Padres are standing with Preller. He has not done a particularly good job as general manager of the team, having built the team up with big name acquisitions, including Matt Kemp, James Shields, and Justin Upton, only to have to tear it all down. Preller also sent 2014 first-round pick Trea Turner to the Nationals in the Wil Myers trade. The Padres haven’t finished above third place since 2010.

This is also not the first time Preller has gotten in trouble. As noted earlier, Preller was suspended while working with the Rangers for violating baseball’s rules regarding international signings. And shortly after being hired by the Padres, he was reprimanded by Major League Baseball for conducting a workout that went against industry regulations.

Perhaps the most important factor, though, is that teams will be watching over the Padres like a hawk in their future dealings, as Craig pointed out on Twitter. Some teams may not want to do business with them at all, at least not while Preller and anyone else with direct involvement is still handling the Padres’ business. This is not to imply, however, that there aren’t any other GM’s who act in nefarious ways. Many, if not all, do. But no one likes to be screwed over and Preller’s subversion is known and public.