MLBits: What Did the Pirates Do? Puig Confusion, Votto Angry, Strike Zone Changes, More

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MLBits: What Did the Pirates Do? Puig Confusion, Votto Angry, Strike Zone Changes, More

Chicago Cubs

mlb logo featureSome in-game/post-game reading from around the league …

  • In the days leading up to the Trade Deadline, the Pittsburgh Pirates had seen their standing in the NL Central fall to untenable levels – 10+ games behind the Cubs, and also behind the Cardinals, means a comeback is virtually impossible – but they were still but a couple games out of the Wild Card race. With a talented roster, there was little reason to think they were out of that one. But then the Pirates traded away Mark Melancon, Francisco Liriano, and Jonathan Niese (picking up Felipe Rivero, Ivan Nova, Drew Hutchison, and Antonio Bastardo). To be sure, Liriano and Niese were struggling, but in trading Liriano, the Pirates also had to send two very good prospects in Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez. Somehow, after some selling, the Pirates actually wound up with less young talent than they started with. Sure, Felipe Rivero looks like a nice bullpen arm and Drew Hutchison could still be a big leaguer, but … consider what other teams were out there getting for back-end relievers. Consider how desperate the market was for starting pitchers. I’m just left with … what exactly did the Pirates do? And why? Just to save some money on Liriano’s deal? If you’re gonna sell, then sell. If you’re not going to sell, then don’t make yourself slightly worse for no real gain.
  • Pirates players were left confused by the moves, and trying to adjust to the new reality.
  • I don’t know if you’ve been following the Yasiel Puig story, but it sure is odd. The 25-year-old former star, who has fallen on hard times offensively, has been sent to the minor leagues, and it vaguely sounds like he won’t be back in a Dodgers uniform again. It’s hard to see him clearing waivers in August for a trade (though maybe he’ll be dealt for crumbs to the team that claims him), so he might finish out the year in the minors and then be dealt in the offseason. Just a strange situation, which included mistaken reports – most notably by Ken Rosenthal – that Puig had stormed off and wouldn’t travel with the team on Monday, knowing that he was going to be demoted. Rosenthal then corrected those reports in a very transparent way, and Puig appreciated:

  • New life goal? Be told by Yasiel Puig, in hashtag for or otherwise: “Puig your friend.”
  • Speaking of odd stories, Joey Votto was angry when he lost a foul ball in the stands because a Reds fan reached up for it – and then Votto grabbed the fans shirt to show him the Reds logo on it. Ouch. Not nice:

  • Votto later apologized via ball.
  • Hopefully you noticed that, when the Cubs were getting rocked this weekend by Mariners reliever Edwin Diaz, it wasn’t a matter of them struggling – it was a matter of him being ridiculous. In addition to consistently pumping 98, 99, and 100 mph fastballs, he was showing a hard-breaking slider that paired perfectly with the fastball. The 22-year-old righty was converted from starting to relieving at AA earlier this year, absolutely exploded, and came straight to the big leagues. All he’s done since? A 1.73 ERA, a 1.79 FIP, a 1.31 xFIP, and a 46.0% strikeout rate to go with his 7.1% walk rate. And he really did *look* that good against the Cubs, too.
  • The strike zone, which has been getting bigger (especially down) for years, might finally be reversing course and getting a touch smaller.
  • Also, if you missed the Reds coming back and walking off on the Cardinals last night with a homer that went out of the stadium, it’s not too late to enjoy it.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.