The divisional races in the American League are all pretty much decided at this point. The White Sox have a massive 11-game lead over Cleveland and can clinch their first division title since 2005 as early as tomorrow. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay and Houston have comfortable (but not completely insurmountable) leads in their respective divisions, but this AL Wild Card race should make for a really fun final weekend of regular-season baseball.
Boston, Toronto, and New York are bidding for the chance to see each other in the Wild Card game. As of today the Red Sox and Blue Jays are slotted to play in that game, but the Yankees are just 1.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot, and it wouldn’t be late September without the A’s chasing a Wild Card spot yet again, just two games behind Toronto. Seattle isn’t dead yet, but they’re probably a long-shot at this point, trailing by just four games. Stranger things have happened though.
Like, you know … this:
Never tell them the odds. pic.twitter.com/RbfmOarXlw
— MLB (@MLB) September 20, 2021
The Wild Wild (NL) West features Kris Bryant and the Giants leading the Dodgers by just one game in what will be the most entertaining division race to watch the rest of the way. The Padres are a whopping 20.5 games back in the NL West. Yikes. The Brewers have the NL Central all but locked up at this point, and the Braves lead the Phillies by just two games with the dysfunctional Mets 5.5 games back.
With the soon-to-be 100-win Dodgers (or Giants) owning one of the two NL Wild Card spots we have an intriguing battle for the final NL postseason berth between the Cardinals, Reds, Phillies, and Padres. Like the Blue Jays in the AL, the Cardinals were dead in the water, owning a 2.8% chance to make the playoffs on September 7. That’s just 13 days ago! Baseball is wild, man.
And in case you missed it, while the Padres are October-dreamin’, tensions are starting to rise.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) September 19, 2021
Pitch Clock Experiment
Jayson Stark wrote what has been a somewhat shockingly successful experiment with pitch clocks in the minors. Personally, I don’t have an issue with the length of ballgames, but it is a legitimate issue when it comes to trying to market the game to the next generation of fans (Michael: And, of course, the pace of the game is a key, perhaps more correctable issue).
And if a pitch clock can reduce game times, improve pace, and even increases overall offense, then sign me up for the sake of the future of baseball as a whole.
New column from me: Can this minor-league pitch clock fix baseball?
Avg. time of game: Down 21 minutes!
Dead time: Gone
"This is the most exciting development that I've seen, as far as impacting the game."https://t.co/nBjhQNAgOc
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) September 17, 2021
Mets President of Baseball Ops Gig
I poked fun at the Padres falling on their faces this season after being crowned the offseason champions, but there is seriously no more dysfunctional team in baseball right now than the New York Mets. The Mets have gone through three general managers since November of 2020 and four managers since 2017. So understandably, they’re setting their sights pretty high when it comes to the search for their next top baseball ops boss.
Mets are aiming very high for their open Baseball President job, so their short list is very short: Bille Beane, Theo Epstein, David Stearns (and maybe one or two others).
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) September 19, 2021
A package deal that would work for the Mets: The A’s Beane and Melvin. Column: https://t.co/NA1oun4XAj
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) September 17, 2021
Ken Rosenthal wrote about Billy Beane being a potential fit in Queens in his latest column over at the Athletic, and Jon Heyman noted recently that Theo Epstein and David Stearns are also ideal candidates.
They say that money doesn’t solve all problems, and Steve Cohen indeed can’t cure the toxicity and dysfunction that has run rampant in the Mets front office for years now simply with money. He could, however, take a giants step in the right direction by throwing a bunch of money at one of the aforementioned candidates, who have proven track records in cleaning up other people’s messes.
If Cohen wants to land one of those guys, it’s going to cost him, big time.
The Kohei Arihara era in Texas has come to a screeching halt less than a season into his two-year deal that he signed this past offseason. Mark Polishuk laid out the financials perfectly in his story on Arihara’s DFA over at MLB Trade Rumors.
Arihara was the Rangers’ biggest free agent expenditure of the 2020-21 offseason, as Texas spent a total of $7.44MM to obtain the righty on a two-year contract. $1.24MM of that money went towards a posting fee to the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (Arihara’s NPB club), while Arihara himself received $6.2MM in salary — $3.6MM this season, and $2.4MM in 2022. Now, it all looks like something of a sunk cost for the Rangers, since it seems quite unlikely that another team would absorb that cost by claiming Arihara off waivers. If Arihara signed elsewhere on a minor league contract, a new team would only owe him the prorated portion of a minimum salary, leaving Texas on the hook for the rest of the money.
Arihara started just 10 games for the Rangers and owns a whopping 6.64 ERA.
A Great Mark Appel Thread
Remember when the Houston Astros took Mark Appel one-one in the 2013 MLB Draft, allowing the Cubs to take Kris Bryant with the next pick? It’s fascinating to see the two stark contrasts in regards to Appel and Bryant’s career after that day, but as Appel tweeted recently, he believes that he has more baseball left in his future.
In 2013, I was the #1 overall pick in the MLB Draft.
5 years later, I was called “the biggest bust in MLB history.”
Today, I’m working my way back, and I’m here to share both the hard-earned lessons I’ve learned along the way🧵👇
— Mark Appel (@markappel26) September 17, 2021
Making a comeback to pro baseball at 30-years-old seems like a significant stretch, especially when you consider that he has an ERA north of six in his 44.1 innings with the Phillies’ Triple-A. That being said, I wish him nothing but the best. I’ll never trample on someone chasing their dreams.
Odds and Ends:
• White Sox fans will remember Anthony Gose from his days as a centerfielder for the Detroit Tigers, and they’ll be seeing him again, possibly this week when they visit Cleveland. However, this time he’ll be coming out of the Cleveland bullpen, not playing center field. After the 2016 season, Gose switched positions and has finally made his way back to the majors.
The story of Anthony Gose transitioning from major-league center fielder to a reliever with a 100-mph fastball:
Gose will be promoted from Triple-A Columbus today. He hasn’t allowed a run in a month. https://t.co/672hyD8wFY
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) September 20, 2021
• The American League might have some problems with the finally fully healthy White Sox lineup this October (Michael: Okay, okay, Patrick … take it easy on us ;).
In 2021, Robert/Anderson/Grandal/Jiménez/Moncada/Abreu have played together a total of three times.@whitesox are 3-0. 11.3 runs per game.
— Jason Benetti (@jasonbenetti) September 20, 2021