Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Around the NL East: Utley stays in Philly

Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney

An odd pairing has become even more apparent over the past couple weeks, as the Braves have again attained the mantle of the majors' best team, while the rest of the division constitutes baseball's worst. The substantial void between first and second place aside, no other division features just one winning team.

Atlanta Braves (72-47)

Unfortunately, tragedy struck last night in Atlanta, as a man fell some 30-40 feet from the upper deck at Turner Field, and later passed away at Atlanta Medical Center due to the resulting trauma. Rivalries aside, all thoughts should be with the victim's family and loved ones, who are surely enduring the worst moments of their lives. Fatal accidents happen every day, but when associated with a game that bonds and brings joy to so many, the tragedy is almost unthinkable.

Though it feels dwarfed by the events of last night, things on the field for the Braves continue to roll on as efficiently as ever. Though they've dropped a couple of games after reeling off their impressive 14-game winning streak, the Braves' lead now stands at 14 games over the Nationals. Fredi Gonzalez can probably start penciling in his postseason rotation, and use September as a proving ground for the youngsters in Triple-A.

Player of the Week: Jason Heyward, OF: 4 R, 3 2B, 3 RBI, .455 AVG

Miami Marlins (44-73)

After four and a half solid months of railing against the Marlins, after observing the performances of his young pitching staff, it might be time to take a (fleeting) moment to acknowledge that Jeffrey Loria might be -- just maybe -- crazy like a fox. No one will deny that his stadium dealings were of first-class sheistiness, and whatever he said to Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell were out-and-out lies, but give him this: The Marlins and Blue Jays are both in last place, and it's the team in Miami that actually looks to be in better shape going forward.

No one would be saying this without the emergence of what has the makings of potentially the best young (with an extra emphasis on young) starting rotation in the game. With a nod to the staff in Queens, the Marlins' rotation could be the class of the NL within a couple years, especially if the past couple months are a sign of things to come. Health and continued improvement should never be assumed or counted upon, so this is of course just potential and speculation -- but these arms could be dangerous, and the 2003 edition of this team, as well as the recent champions in San Francisco, have shown what great pitching can do when paired with a so-so lineup. 

Of course, it helps Loria that budding studs Nathan Eovaldi (in return for Hanley Ramirez), Jacob Turner (Anibal Sanchez), and Henderson Alvarez (Jose Reyes, et al) were the return for all of those traded-away stars. Even still, I don't think I'd want him as my team's owner.

Player of the Week: Eovaldi, SP: 1-0, 7 IP, 8 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.57 WHIP

New York Mets (54-62)

The Mets are actually making progress in the standings, hopping the Phillies for third place -- incredibly -- without the services of David Wright, on the DL since August 3. With their star third baseman out with a strained hamstring, the Mets went 5-2 this past week, with a plus-11 run differential. Ewing Theory, perhaps? Not quite: this was actually the Mets' seventh 5-2 (or better) stretch of the season. It's those pesky five-plus-game losing streaks that are holding them down.

With his team currently on the medal stand, I'd like to take this opportunity to offer a sincere 'welcome back' to Ike Davis. Not welcome back to the majors -- the first baseman has been back with the big club since July 5, after about a month's banishment to Triple-A to work on his swing. With a 2-2 performance against Arizona on Saturday, Davis raised his average to .203, breaking the Mendoza Line and getting his batting helmet above water for the first time all season. He's up to .207 now, thanks to a mini three-game hitting streak, and has used a bevy of walks to raise his on-base percentage to a respectable .327. Baby steps -- but well done, sir.

Player of the Week: Davis, 1B: 8 R, 4 2B, 0 RBI, 10 BB, .500 AVG, .692 OBP

Philadelphia Phillies (53-65)

Chase Utley and the Phillies have a deal, and it will keep the beloved second baseman in red-and-white pinstripes through at least 2015 -- and potentially through the end of his career, if all three vesting options kick in. Utley, who is as representative of Philadelphia as cream cheese and bad attitudes, is enjoying somewhat of a resurgence in his age-34 season, having already matched or bested most of his totals from last season. He's also on track to play in more games than he has in any year since 2009, a welcome realization for a team so otherwise beset by injuries.

In the outfield, Domonic Brown has returned from the DL with a vengeance, clubbing two home runs since his activation and showing no ill-effects from his concussion. He also found the pastures of Citizens Bank Park a little less crowded, as the Delmon Young Adventure was aborted Friday with the player's designation for assignment. Young certainly isn't the most disappointing recent No. 1 overall draft pick -- try googling 'Matt Bush' without shaking your head (it can't be done) -- but it's hard not to wonder where the right fielder goes from here, with a fourth team having given up on him.

Player of the Week: Utley, 2B: 6 R, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .435 AVG


Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Ike Davis was like Danny Espinosa early in the season and was sent to AAA but in Ike's case he found his way back and is mashing.

Alphabet Soup Erik said...

33-12-23-21 Tonight's Pick Four. If the Nationals are the team they think they are in that locker room, 33 more wins isn't out of the question. Time for them to back up all of this confidence. This has been a year of long winning streaks, so now is the time guys.

The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

This Steve Roney guy seems to be a major dick.

JD said...


Calling what Ike Davis is doing 'Mashing' is a little much, no?

Tcostant said...

Maybe we can change this article to the "State of the NL Wild Card" and give updates on the D-Backs and Reds???

JaneB said...

I hadn't heard about the fan at Turner Stadium. You are right on in your observations about the juxtaposition of such tragedy with a game of such bonding and joy (except in Mudville). My heart goes out to them.

Faraz Shaikh said...

fans do that plenty, Tcostant? No?

natsfan1a said...

What Jane said.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

JD, not this past week but since he has come back. He did simple things like keeping his head still and not dipping his shoulder so much.

I wish Danny's fixes were as easy.

Candide said...

Faraz -

Off the topic a little bit, but Cunegonde was asking me today where our Davey Johnson bobblehead is. Told her I'd follow up with you. You still want to trade for Bryce Harper?

Email me at gilbertbp at comcast dot net and we can set up a trade.

Faraz Shaikh said...

Sorry Candide, I ended up not going to the game. I tried to find you here before the game but you were either out of country or just had gotten back and not coming here regularly. I hope you can trade with someone else on here.

JD said...


I haven't really watched Ike D much but I know that Met fans on the talk shows want him shipped to Siberia.

If Danny is healthy he can be a decent MLB player, he'll always swing and miss a lot but he'll make up for some of it with great defense and some pop. I think he's far from being a throw in as someone suggested.

Faraz Shaikh said...

I do have RZ, Morse, and Strasburg bobblehead collecting dust on my office desk, do you want to trade any of those?

Faraz Shaikh said...

Agreed, JD. I think some of us may have overvalued him a bit but he is not too far out from being an above average major leaguer.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

JD, agreed. Danny better not go the trade route of Nyjer, or HenRod. He needs a good restart like a fresh start.

JD said...

Faraz, Ghost,

It would be really helpful if Danny and for that matter Drew finished strong in Syracuse and came up and contributed at the big league level.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

For those of you worried that by trading Danny we are going to be missing out on the second coming of, say, Chase Utley, I pose this question:

When was the last time the Nats traded a guy and he blossomed into a star?

I'm waiting...

JD said...


Let's see. Counting the Expos:

1)Cliff Lee.
2)Brandon Philips.
3)Randy Johnson.

Shall I go on?

JD said...


The Nats in their present incarnation haven't bee around long enough for such analysis. oh and:

Pedro Martinez
Tim Raines
Andre Dawson
Garry Carter

Section 222 said...

Sunshine, one might make the argument that Joel Hanrahan turned out pretty well for the Pirates. He did make the All Star team two years running.

And Wil Nieves (who? Wil Nieves), hit a game tying homer for the D-Backs last night. But I take your point.

Faraz Shaikh said...

Sunshine, we had nothing to trade in Nats early years.

Candide said...

Faraz -

Thanks, we already have those guys, a couple of them in duplicate.

jeeves said...

Grady Sizemore, Ken Mosdell, Larry Walker, Moses Alou, Grissom, Mike Marshall, Andres Gallaraga, Guerrero, Ken Singleton, etc, etc, etc. I am crying now so cannot see the keyboard. (kidding, but barely)

natsfan1a said...

Does Bartolo Colon count?

natsfan1a said...

Oh, wait. They traded *for* him.

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