1. Yonder Alonso’s Injury
It looks like Yonder Alonso’s most recent injury will likely be a season ending injury for the Padres 1st baseman. With this injury it seems likely that Wil Myers will get a majority of the playing time at first base with Brett Wallace also receiving a decent amount of playing time on top of that. With Wil Myers enjoying playing at first base, and playing the position well, one has to wonder what role Yonder Alonso will have on the team going forward into 2016. Alonso has had a poor second half and could see himself benched going into 2016 with Wil Myers taking up the full-time mantle at first base. Beyond that, it may even be possible that Yonder Alonso has played his last game in a San Diego Padre uniform.
2. The Washington Nationals are Done
After being swept by the New York Mets, and losing a half game after a Mets victory on the Nationals day off, the Nationals now find themselves 7.5 games back of the Mets with only 22 games left for the Mets and 23 games left for the Nationals. Given the current circumstances it seems highly unlikely that the Nationals will be able to make up that much ground in such a short period of time. The Nationals situation is made even worse by the fact that a majority of the Mets remaining games are against inferior teams with losing records. After being hyped as the World Series favorites prior to the season, it is pretty clear now that the Nationals are the biggest disappointment in recent memory. Expect heads to roll in D.C. this offseason. That all starts and ends with manager Matt Williams.
3. Brad Ausmus Out in Detroit?
Late Thursday night a story broke out of Detroit that an anonymous source within the Tigers organization was reporting that the Tigers would be firing Manager Brad Ausmus following the conclusion of the 2015 season. To this point this story should be taken with a grain of salt but many saw it as an inevitably given the struggles of the Tigers throughout the season and the huge disappointment that their season has been up to this point. With Dave Dombrowski already gone to Boston, and star players David Price and Yoenis Cespedes traded away at the deadline, it seemed that the writing was already on the wall with regards to Brad Ausmus. Given the Tigers likely transition into a rebuilding period it seems quite possible that the Tigers will choose to move on without Ausmus as the manager. One interesting note about the story is the tweet below about the possibility of Brad Ausmus finding a new managerial job next year.
Brad Ausmus will immediately become a strong candidate to manage the Padres in 2016 if he is fired by the Tigers.
— Scott Miller (@ScottMillerBbl) September 11, 2015
4. What Does MVP Really Mean?
Given the recent discussions on who should win the NL MVP in 2015, now seems as good a time as ever to have a discussion on what the MVP award really means, or at least what it SHOULD mean. To this point, the most valuable player award has been treated as an award that is most likely going to a player who is the most valuable player on a playoff team or at least a playoff contender. The voting for this award has had a long history of ignoring or overlooking players who play for losing teams given their apparent lack of value because of their team’s record when compared to more successful teams. This is flawed thinking for a number of reasons and seems inherent given the misnomer that is in the name— Most Valuable Player. This year Bryce Harper is clearly the best player in the league but some are beginning to argue for other players such as Zack Greinke, Andrew McCutchen, Yoenis Cespedes, among others because of the Nationals lack of success this year and good chance of missing the playoffs completely. In order to preserve the integrity of this award, the league must do something in order to ensure the best player wins the award, either by changing the name of the award or by some other measure that ensures the best player wins regardless of team record or success.
5. The Cleveland Indians Surge
The National League Wild Card has seemingly been a done deal for a while now. The Pirates and Cubs both have comfortable leads and seem destined to meet in the Wild Card game in October. On the other hand, the American League Wild Card has never been more complicated and confusing than it is right now. While the two closest teams in the National League Wild Card are nine games and nine and a half games out (the San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals respectively), there are a grand total of 9 teams that are within 9.5 games of the second American League Wild Card spot! While the Rangers have surged into the second spot and the Twins still remain only a game out, the Indians may be the most surprising team of all. At this moment the Indians now find themselves only four games out of the second wild card position after winning five out of their last seven. While the National League Wild Card seems to be already set the American League Wild Card is set to be quite a wild ride over the last four weeks of the season.
6. Fixing the Playoff Format
It is clear that at this point in the 2015 season, something is wrong with the current playoff format. While the Pirates now have the second best record in all of baseball, with the Cubs not too far behind, both teams are set to meet in a wild card play in-game despite having better records than six out of the other eight current playoff teams. It seems pretty clear the league needs to do something to make the system more fair to teams that may play in a stronger division but still have a better record than other current divisional leaders. It may be that the MLB turns to a 1-5 seeding based on record for each league with divisional leaders possibly being relegated to playing in the wild card game.
7. Umpiring in Baseball
Umpiring in baseball has seemingly gotten worse than ever. Whether that is a product of advanced technology alerting fans to more blown calls or a byproduct of the new replay and challenge systems, it seems that umpires are getting more calls wrong than ever before. With every incident comes more calls for further replay and the further use of technology. However no aspect of the game is scrutinized quite like the strike zone. The other night Joey Votto was thrown out a game following an outburst at the home plate umpire for quite a few questionable strike calls. While I don’t blame the umpires entirely for these kinds of situations, there comes a point where something has to be done to lessen the occurrence of these situations. The problem more so than anything else is the lack of consistency from umpire to umpire and even from inning to inning. A strike one inning or with one umpire is not another inning or with a different umpire and that must be maddening to both batters and pitchers alike. It seems the next obvious step for the MLB is the creation of some sort of automated ball/strike system in order to ensure the most consistency and make the game as fair as possible.
8. Good Riddance, Curt Schilling
Over the last week news came out the Curt Schilling would no longer be on Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts and would be replaced by Jessica Mendoza for the remainder of the season. Beyond Schilling making patently ignorant comments on his Twitter page, it is clear from listening to weekly broadcasts that he is simply not cut out for the job and some change was needed. Jessica Mendoza is a highly competent person for the role and definitely will provide a fresh take over the next four weeks of Sunday night games. It remains to be seen how ESPN will handle the situation going into 2016 but Mendoza really deserves a chance to stay on in that capacity long-term.
9. Ruben Amaro Ousting
Ruben Amaro is finally out as the Philadelphia Phillies general manager. With the hiring of Andy Macphail earlier in the summer, the writing was clearly on the wall with regards to Amaro. It remains unclear how much of a role Macphail and others had in the various trade deadline deals executed by Amaro and the Phillies front office but either way it seemed pretty obvious that Amaro’s days were numbered regardless of what occurred. At least Amaro and Phillies fans can take solace knowing the return for Cole Hamels was definitely well worth the long wait over the last six months to a year.
10. Football is Back!
Football season is finally back! Go Bolts!