Rolling the Dice

If the 2016 major league baseball season continues as it has been going, sixty five per cent of the players involved in the trades made just prior to the August 1 deadline will soon be on the disabled list with many due for surgery. At least that’s how it seems to be going. Traders in horseflesh always know, however, that it is a bit of a gamble and yet the dice were rolling this late July  almost as frequently as they do for an old Strat-O-Matic player such as myself.

Questions, as always, abound. What, for instance, will the Mets do with Curtis Granderson now that Jay Bruce, a lifelong right fielder, is aboard? Yoenis Cespedes seems to be the center fielder, Michael Conforto has been hyped as the left fielder/superstar of the future, Juan Lagares is hurt but still around, and Justin Ruggiano has been recently acquired as well. Perhaps the brain trust realizes that injuries are bound to persist so it’s good to keep their options open.

Fans of the Pittsburgh Pirate must be a bit confused. Last winter the erstwhile contenders in the National Central traded hometown favorite Neil Walker to the Mets in exchange for left handed starting pitcher Jon Niese. It seemed to be justifiable at the time because everyone was running out of patience with Jeff Locke  and Niese seemed to be the type of guy whose career could be rejuvenated in the land where folks drink Iron. Hurlers such as A.J. Burnett, Vance Worley, and Francisco Liriano had revived themselves under pitching coach Ray Searage and manager Clint Hurdle with the help of some really fast outfielders. It did not work out well for Niese as a Pirate and so they shipped him to the Mets in exchange for Antonio Bastardo, a lefty reliever they had lost through free agency over the winter to New York. So now the Buccos have about the same team they had last year except for no Neil Walker.

The Bucs say they haven’t thrown in the towel, but they also sent closer Mark Melancon to Washington. That gives Dusty Baker a good excuse to ignore Jonathan Papelbon. Of course, there is always the chance that Melancon will get injured, or perhaps Papelbon can go to the Old Closers’ Home in Atlanta.

I wouldn’t wish Texas on anyone not named Bush but it’s good to see Carlos Beltran out of the Yankees pinstripes. The catcher Jonathan Lucroy from Milwaukee and Beltran may be all that the Rangers need to win the American West but I would still not count out the Astros.

The Dodgers probably gained the most from all of the dice rolling. They now have a superb right fielder in Josh Reddick who knows how to play the game and another pitcher who is good when he’s healthy (Rich Hill) to add to their list of sometimes available hurlers. How will the Yasiel Puig drama play out? The Dodgers don’t have to care now. Unless, of course, Reddick gets hurt.

The Cleveland Caucasians will be happy to have excellent lefty Andrew Miller in the bullpen down the stretch, and here’s hoping all goes well for Terry Francona & Co. the rest of the way. They may regret cutting loose Juan Uribe, however.

The San Francisco Giants may have taken the prize for the most risky roll of the season. Matt Moore has been a five inning starter when healthy but that hasn’t been a whole lot of time. To get Moore, the Giants parted ways with a very good third baseman with great baseball smarts in Matt Duffy, who will now, unfortunately, have to play in the K-Mart of baseball palaces, Tampa Bay. They acquired speedy Eduardo Nunez from the Twins a week previously as a supposed backup. In that role, Nunez would have been fine. Defensively compared to Duffy, it’s a big step backwards whether Nunez or Conor Gillaspie plays third. Then again, Duffy is on the DL now and they all might join him by next Monday. Roll the dice.

 

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