1. Pat Murphy
With every game that goes by, I like Pat Murphy less and less. When he was first hired to replace Bud Black it seemed like it was going to be refreshing and a change that would help out the team. Bud Black was too complacent as a manager and never seemed to get past just being the nice guy who put up with mediocrity.
Pat Murphy was supposed to be the tough guy that would whip the team into shape. Things were supposed to get better with Murphy righting the ship. The results have been anything but. Murphy seems to be just as complacent with losing and mediocrity as Bud Black was, if not worse. If you put that together with his poor managerial decisions, perhaps due to his lack of big league managing experience, it has been a recipe for disaster.
To avoid the stench of mediocrity that has so long soaked the city of San Diego, the Padres need to hire a manager who is not accepting of failure and who drives his players to play at the highest level they are capable of. Anything less is unacceptable. And for that reason Pat Murphy should be shown the door following this season.
2. The Washington Nationals and their sputtering playoff hopes
Max Scherzer Cy Young. Bryce Harper MVP. The NL East Champions. World Series Champions. All of these labels have been thrown around with regards to the Nationals since before the season even began. Many picked the Nationals as the team to beat in not only the National League East but in the entire league.
According to many, the Nationals seemed poised to finally get over their playoff hump and bring the first championship to D.C. The results have been mediocre at best and vastly disappointing at worst. The Nationals struggled through the first few months of the season due to various injuries but were able to recover and got hot during the middle of the season.
As of late the Nationals have struggled immensely, despite getting many players back from injuries. Since the All Star break, and more specifically since the trade deadline, the Nationals have seen their National League East division lead disappear completely. They now sit 4.5 games behind the New York Mets and 7.5 games behind the second Wild Card spot. Now more than ever is panic time for the Washington Nationals.
3. The Los Angeles Dodgers Bullpen
For a team with a payroll nearing 300 million, you would think the Dodgers could afford a halfway decent pitching staff behind Kershaw and Greinke and a bullpen that is not a complete disaster. Despite making several moves at the trade deadline, both to bolster the starting rotation as well as the bullpen, the Dodgers still find themselves losing games because of mediocre pitching.
It seems that the Dodgers bullpen blows games more often than they win games and the additions of Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan in the bullpen and Mat Latos and Alex Wood in the starting rotation, have done little to stop the bleeding. Luckily for the Dodgers they have seen the Giants experience similar struggles which has helped them maintain their division lead. However if the Dodgers do still make the playoffs they may find themselves in big trouble against teams with strong bullpens and high-powered offenses.
4. Chase Utley
Quite a bit of news has come out this week about Chase Utley and how he has cleared waivers and is now free to be moved to any team. Over the last few days the talk has been centered around the San Francisco Giants, with several other teams such as the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and Anaheim Angels all showing varying levels of interest. The interesting thing about Utley is that he has a decent amount of sway over where he gets traded and on top of that he has demands.
It seems that Utley would prefer to be a starter for the team that he gets traded to. This makes a trade to the Giants kind of difficult given their great young second baseman Joe Panik and platoon of Buster Posey and Brandon Belt at first base. A more logical fit seems to be a trade to the Cubs/Angels/Yankees who could all give him a starting position right of the bat. With that being said, for a guy who is hitting .196 on the year, and who is not even wanted by the Phillies, it seems rather ludicrous that Utley would expect a team to play him every day if he is traded. Utley is 36 years old and is nearing the end of his career. At this point he should be happy just to get off the Phillies and play for a contending team at all.
5. The Use of Advanced Statistics
So there was a little bit of a debate on Twitter a few days ago about the use of WAR as a statistic vs. the use of RBIs. Buster Olney tweeted about Josh Donaldson and his MVP candidacy with a mention of runs batted in.
That’s 85 RBI for Josh Donaldson. http://t.co/Z3mz697hMh He’s creating an MVP race.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 12, 2015
Many of his Twitter followers answered with discussions about how runs batted in is now considered to be an outdated statistic and a mention of WAR was made. In response to these critics, Olney said that he only used RBIs as a measurement because of the targeted audience. According to his thinking, many of his followers do not have advanced baseball knowledge and do not comprehend WAR as a useful stat. Beyond that, he demonstrated that it is somewhat difficult to properly explain the WAR statistic and calculation in one 140 character tweet.
Tell you what, @TheRainDelay21, create a 140-character tweet fully explaining WAR and I’ll use it. Ready, set… go!
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 13, 2015
Many raised issues to this and I agree with some of these assessments. It may be true that not everyone knows about WAR as a statistic but enough people can be curious to find out about it. Whether it is through Olney explaining it or a singular person googling the term, more knowledge can be advanced than if we stick to using outdated statistics. In the past, certain statistics were not used because of their obscurity. In order to fight this obscurity, knowledge must be spread and these sorts of advanced metrics need to be used more for a common baseball audience.