The Padres activated Everth Cabrera from the disabled list and batted him in the leadoff spot last night. Cabrera had a hamstring injury, which may have hampered his ability to run for a while before he was sidelined. He attempted just four steals in June, was successful only twice and hasn’t recorded a steal since June 14. Of course, his .218/.256/.290 triple slash hasn’t helped either. Still, he has stolen 13 bags and could double that total over the final two months if he’s fully healthy.
If you’ve been holding on to Matt Cain hoping for a healthy return and a bounceback, you can pretty much forget it. Cain has an appointment with Dr. James Andrews this week to examine his ailing elbow. When was the last time you’ve heard good news after an appointment with Andrews? Yeah, I can’t remember either.
Justin Morneau was activated from the DL and played on Tuesday; he hit a double in his first at bat. Morneau received reassuring news about his surgically repaired neck; the soreness he was experiencing was not an indication that anything serious was wrong, and he is already feeling much better. Morneau is enjoying a renaissance this season, with a .312/.349/.501 slash line and 13 HRs. He batted .345 over the 20 games prior to going on the DL, so it doesn’t appear that the neck problem affected him at all.
Coco Crisp missed his third consecutive game with a strained neck yesterday, but the A’s haven’t indicated whether he’ll need to go on the DL. An MRI revealed that there were no changes to his neck, so it’s possible he’ll avoid the two week vacation. In the 15 games prior to being sidelined, Crisp batted just .208, so the neck was clearly affecting his play.
On Monday, Troy Tulowitski had a “dry needling” procedure done on his injured hip flexor designed to promote faster healing through increased blood flow. The procedure was painful, but Tulowitski expects to work out today after resting yesterday. There is no timetable for his return but mid-August has been mentioned as a target.
Jay Bruce was placed on the bereavement list but is expected to return for Friday’s game.
Trends and Rumors
Amid rumors that he is on his way out of LA, Matt Kemp is heating up. Since the All-Star break, Kemp is batting .400 and he bashed a pair of homers in last night’s game. Kemp started the season slowly, but since June 1, he is slashing .314/.386/.486 with five home runs, 29 RBIs and 19 runs scored in 49 games (47 starts) and he’s raised his average 34 points to .282. His base running hasn’t been good this season, with just five steals in 10 attempts so far, and he has just 10 homers.
Cole Hamels continued his dominant run yesterday, tossing eight shutout innings and allowing just six hits with zero walks and striking out eight. He dropped his overall ERA to 2.55 with a 1.13 WHIP and a strikeout rate of 9.2 K/9 IP, his best since his rookie campaign in 2006. Back in May 27, Hamel’s ERA was 4.43 and he had just completed his second straight outing with a home run and had allowed a total of four dingers in five May starts. In his 12 starts since then, he’s only allow four homers, and three of those came in one bad outing against the Marlins. In that same period, his ERA is 1.58 with a 1.04 WHIP and 89 strikeouts in 85.2 innings.
Michael Brantley is having an amazing age 27 season with a .316/.375/.501 batting line, 15 HRs and 11 stolen bases, 65 RBIs and 70 runs scored. As good as all that is, it isn’t anywhere near his most amazing accomplishments to date. Brantley’s strikeout rate is a miniscule 8.1 percent. Couple that with a walk rate of 7.7 percent and that gives Brantley a batting eye (BB/K) of 0.94. He’s also having his best power season with a .185 ISO. Best of all, his other peripherals indicate that this is all quite sustainable over the rest of the season. His numbers are supported by a reasonable .315 BABIP and a line drive rate of 26.8 percent.
Ben Zobrist had a scorching opening month then faded during May leading up to a brief DL stint for a dislocated thumb. He was slow to get rolling again following the injury, ending June at .250/.338/.393. But the month of July has seen Zobrist regain most of his losses and then some. Since July 1, Zobrist is mashing with a slash line of .341/.434/.512 with three homers, 15 RBIs and 14 runs scored in 22 games. His 15:6 BB:K ratio is excellent, and indicates he is seeing the ball quite well now. Zobrist is on his way towards duplicating last season’s production, with a 15/15 season well within his reach. However, with rumors still floating around about a possible trade, he may be plying his craft in a different uniform.
J.P Arencibia’s fortunes have taken several turns this season. He was run out of town by the Blue Jays over the winter and found himself back in the minors with Texas after a terrible first six weeks to start the season. Now, with Geovany Soto unable to stay healthy and no true first baseman on the roster, he’s become an everyday player again with the Rangers -– and he’s making it count, too. Last night, Arencibia started at first base for the Rangers and scratched out four hits in five at bats with two doubles and a pair of towering home runs, including the Rangers’ first grand slam of the season. In 12 games (11 starts) since returning to the majors, Arencibia is slashing .250/.283/.636 with five HRs, 16 RBIs (seven last night!) and six runs scored. While the average and OBP are not great, the power is and it’s quite real, as Arencibia has a career .198 ISO in the majors. If you need power in two catcher leagues, Arencibia will provide.
Dillon Gee allowed two more home runs last night to bring his season total to 11 dingers allowed in just 76.1 innings, which raises his overall HR/9 IP rate to 1.30. His ERA has risen to 3.77 and his 4.56 FIP and 4.11 xFIP both indicate more nastiness to come from Gee, as does his unsustainably low .235 BABIP. It’s time to let him go if you own him in mixed leagues, as he’s only going to hurt you further if you try to wait out his troubles. His Swinging Strike rate is at an all-time low 7.3 percent and he’s not fooling anyone with his off speed stuff.
We live in a silly world. NFL players who smoke pot are suspended for a year in some cases. Josh Gordon will likely serve a one year suspension, though he is appealing. Marijuana is a legal substance in several states and is decriminalized in many more. I think it’s safe to say that we are slowly moving towards legalization across the country, as pot becomes more accepted as the relatively harmless drug that it is. There is little doubt that it is less harmful than alcohol, yet the NFL treats it almost as harshly as steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. Silly!
Even sillier is the two-game suspension meted out to Ray Rice for knocking his fiancé unconscious in an elevator. It’s silly because Rice committed a violent act that deserved justice from the courts. There was none, as charges were dropped. Silly! The two-game suspension is a joke compared to what Josh Gordon faces. It’s Rice who should sit out the year, perhaps spending it doing community service or charitable fundraising for a women’s shelter. Instead, he will practice with the Ravens and play games starting in Week 3. Silly!
Then there’s Steven A. Smith, who was just suspended for a week by ESPN for his comments regarding women while discussing the Rice suspension on “First Take”. He made what seemed to be a sincere apology on the air, yet the network felt compelled to give him a forced vacation. Does giving Smith a week off make his comments go away? Does it send some sort of positive message? Not at all — in fact, all it really does is call further attention to it. When he returns to the air in a week, there will undoubtedly be another media barrage about the suspension and the comments and the reason for the comments. What I find funny is that ESPN won’t have any problem airing Ravens games in which Rice is playing this season. Why not boycott Rice by refusing to air Ravens games to send a positive message? That would be something, wouldn’t it? It’ll never happen. Silly!