Danny Espinosa has played through left shoulder pain for the past week, but after going 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts in three games against the Braves over the weekend the Nationals have decided to give him some time off.
Espinosa, who played 144 of the first 146 games, will miss at least the next three games versus the Dodgers and could be sidelined for longer than that depending on what an MRI exam today reveals.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes that Espinosa is so worried about the status of his shoulder that he asked Adam LaRoche if the symptoms resembled what the Nationals first baseman went through with a torn labrum that required surgery last year.
Espinosa has 16 homers and 19 steals this season, but his overall production is fairly mediocre (.250 batting average, .722 OPS) and basically matches his career marks (.240 batting average, .729 OPS). However, toss in stellar defense at second base and losing Espinosa would definitely hurt.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?