Marlins not looking to deal Cantu, but should be

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As usual the Marlins are going to spend the offseason cutting payroll and trading players making more than minimum salaries, but MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports that they’re “almost 100 percent” certain to keep Jorge Cantu.
On the heels of apparently balking at 25-year-old ace Josh Johnson’s long-term contract demands, the decision to hang onto Cantu of all players is very odd. Cantu is a good but not great hitter, a horrible defensive third baseman who should be at first base, and will likely make more than $5 million in 2010 via arbitration.
If anything he’s one of the guys Florida should specifically be looking to trade, because he’s expensive without being close to an elite player and has only one season left before free agency. Cantu tallied 100 RBIs this year, but his .289/.345/.443 line and 16 homers in 643 plate appearances were hardly special for a first baseman (or terrible defensive third baseman) and he’s a career .278/.323/.456 hitter. For comparison, the average MLB first baseman hit .277/.363/.483 this year.
Cantu would be a decent pickup for a contending team that has money to burn and just needs one more solid bat to plug into a strong lineup, but for a low-payroll team that is constantly forced to juggle players he makes little sense. They could get 90 percent of the production at 10 percent of the cost, add a couple prospects, and use the money saved to actually retain some truly elite players.

Athletics tie for first place in AL West

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The Athletics are tied for first place in the AL West for the first time since Opening Day. They took the first of a three-game series against the Astros on Friday with a wild (and controversial) overturned replay call in the ninth and Matt Olson‘s decisive walk-off home run in the 10th — the first of his career to date — then returned on Saturday and bested the Astros 7-1 to take first place.

Saturday’s win was less of a nail-biter than Friday’s had been, but its rewards were just as sweet. Trevor Cahill led the A’s through the first seven innings of one-hit, seven-strikeout ball, backed by seven runs on five RBI doubles from Khris Davis, Matt Olson, Stephen Piscotty and Josh Phegley. All told, the four players struck eight doubles to tie the franchise single-game record.

The Astros, meanwhile, were stymied by both Cahill and the A’s bullpen through the first eight innings of the game. Following Cahill’s seven shutout innings, Jeurys Familia took the ball in the eighth and blanked the Astros to preserve the seven-run lead. Yusmeiro Petit wasn’t quite so lucky: with one out in the top of the ninth, he pitched to a full count against Tony Kemp, then saw his 90.1-MPH fastball returned to right field for a home run. That was the first and last time the Astros crossed home plate, however, as Kyle Tucker popped out to third base and Alex Bregman cemented the loss with a fly ball to right.

Entering Saturday’s game, the Astros had not been out of first place since June 13, when they played second fiddle to the now third-place Mariners. They’ll share first-place honors with the Athletics until Sunday’s finale; it’ll take a series sweep for Oakland to take the lead in the division, but they’ve already delivered incredible results over the last two weeks (and it’s worth noting, as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart pointed out, that Houston has now lost seven of their last eight games). The A’s climbed out of the no. 3 spot at the start of August and have steadily progressed toward first place ever since, driven by two separate four-win streaks and their two decisive wins this weekend. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle also notes that the club has not been in first place in a non-April month since August 25, 2014 — the last year they qualified for the playoffs.