Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

mlb logo featureBecause of the Trade Deadline and all that’s associated with it around these parts, I haven’t done an MLBits in quite a while. But because things have generally calmed down, it’s time to take a look back in to some of the interesting stories from around the league…

  • First, some positive news out of the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization: 20-year-old first base prospect David Denson became the first active player in affiliated professional baseball to reveal that he is gay. After an off-hand comment in his clubhouse prompted the conversation, Denson revealed his sexuality to his team and was met with resounding support. For example, Denson recalls his teammates saying, “You’re still our brother …. your sexuality has nothing to do with your ability. You’re still a ballplayer at the end of the day. We don’t treat you any different. We’ve got your back.”
  • With the help of Billy Bean, MLB’s Ambassador for Inclusion, Denson then announced his sexuality in a phone interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, officially making him the first active player in affiliated professional baseball to publicly announce that he is gay. The promising take away from this story is that, despite how obviously important this revelation is, it has been met with little to no fanfare or controversy. Perhaps surprisingly, Denson believes that his announcement has actually led to fewer distractions and has allowed him to focus entirely on baseball without fear of being discovered. Bean mentioned that Denson was not revealing his sexuality for celebrity or publicity, though he does hope that he can serve as a role model for other gay professional athletes. Overall, it’s good to see a professional athlete have the courage to come forward and for his team to lend public support. Now, Denson can get back to being the thing that he identifies with most of all: a first base prospect trying to make his way to the majors. Kudos, sir.

  • At 76-42, the Cardinals have achieved the best record in baseball without the help of ace Adam Wainwright, but they may not have to suffer without him much longer. According to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Wainwright, who had surgery in April to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon, is on a throwing schedule that forecasts off-the-mound throwing in early September. The original prognosis had Wainwright out for the season, but Wainwright has pushed his recovery and is pining for a late season return – perhaps even out of the bullpen. This may not ultimately affect the Cubs – their chance at winning the division is just around 5% – but if Cardinals find themselves deep in the playoffs, Wainwright certainly makes them better.
  • Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the good news on Adam Wainwright comes with bad news on Randal Grichuk. The Cardinals outfielder underwent an MRI and landed on the 15-day DL, after right elbow tightness forced him out of Sunday’s loss to the Marlins. Despite several quality in house options – it appears the Cardinals will be going with Tommy Pham – losing Grichuk for any amount of time will surely hurt the Cardinals overall (or at least, you’d think so). On the year, Grichuk (24) is hitting .284/.333/.561 out of center field, and Tommy Pham (27) has hit just .182/.265/.341 in limited time (50 PAs) at the MLB level in 2015.
  • Then, last night, Jason Heyward left the Cardinals’ game with hamstring tightness, which will be evaluated further today.
  • After outfielder Christian Yelich was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee contusion, Triple A outfielder Marcell Ozuna was recalled by the Marlins on Saturday and started in center field. The call-up wasn’t without controversy, though, as Ozuna’s agent Scott Boras told the Miami Herald that the Marlins previously demoted the 24-year-old to delay his arbitration eligibility. Ozuna himself referred to his time in Triple A New Orleans as being “in jail.” The service time games – or at least the talking points – are vaguely reminiscent of Kris Bryant’s start to the season (do you even remember that?), but are also quite different. Namely, if the Marlins are in fact playing service time games, it’s not for an extra year of control, but rather for cost savings via years of arbitration. More importantly, though, is the way the player himself is handling the attention. While Boras (rightfully) advocated for his client in both scenarios, Bryant was relatively more reserved and professional in his responses and statements. That is not to say that Ozuna is wrong to call out what he perceives as an injustice, but I do prefer the agents and teams to try their best to keep the players out of it.

  • After Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants, the Washington Nationals moved their record below .500 (58-59) through 117 games. World Series favorites at the beginning of the year, the Nationals have fallen on hard times of late, watching their chances of reaching the playoffs fall below 20% according to Baseball Prospectus.  At 9.5 games back of the second wild card – with the Giants ahead of them – the Nationals realistic hope lies within their own division – where they trail the Mets by 4.5 games. I still believe the Nationals are a good team with good pitching and a good offense (when healthy), so you’ll excuse me if I prefer the Mets to make the playoffs ahead of them, considering it may ultimately affect the Cubs.
  • Some MLB notes at FanGraphs include comments on the Cubs and the electric atmosphere that has materialized during the Cubs recent hot stretch, as well as the number of times the wind has blown in, out and otherwise at Wrigley Field this season.
  • Oakland Athletics closer Sean Doolittle addresses life on the disabled list and the process and difficulties of working your way back from an injury.
  • In what is likely the clearest example of why the pitcher’s win doesn’t matter and most notable case of a team supporting that fact, the Toronto Blue Jays have demoted opening day starter Drew Hutchison to Triple A, despite a 12-2 record. Hutchison has the league’s best winning percentage AND the league’s best run support – the Blue Jays are notching nearly seven runs in each of his starts.

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