An unsurprising story line develops ...
- So, there's discord in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse. What else is new? According to a Yahoo report, a group of Red Sox players, led by Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia, "blasted manager Bobby Valentine to owners John Henry and Larry Lucchino during a heated meeting called after a text message was sent by a group of frustrated players to the team and ownership in late July .... The owners called the meeting for Boston's off-day in New York on July 27 after first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, texting on behalf of himself and some teammates, aired their dissatisfaction with Valentine for embarrassing starting pitcher Jon Lester by leaving him in to allow 11 runs during a July 22 start. It was the latest incident in a season's worth of bad relations bubbling between Red Sox players and Valentine." Apparently, at the meeting, some players told ownership and management that they were no longer willing to play for Valentine (though, obviously, they haven't stopped playing, and Valentine is still in Boston). There's more to the story addressed in the report (including support from some players), and I'm sure more will come out as the season winds down. Rob Neyer looks at the difficult spot the Red Sox are in now, both in terms of the standings, and in terms of how to deal with the Valentine situation.
- The Reds have been without MVP Joey Votto for almost a month now following "minor" knee surgery, but he still doesn't know when he's going to be able to return. It hasn't hurt the Reds too much, as they overtook the Pirates and built a sizable six game advantage in the NL Central during that stretch.
- Speaking of the Pirates, there was a time when surprise quality starter James McDonald looked like a legit Cy Young candidate. That time was the first half of the season. Since then, he's nosedived to the tune of a near-9 ERA over six starts since the All-Star break. The acquisition of Wandy Rodriguez gave the Pirates six starters, and, originally, they sent Kevin Correia to the bullpen. They might now be rethinking that decision, and could actually put McDonald - who posted a 2.37 ERA and a 100/31 K/BB ratio in the first half - in the bullpen.
- Wendy Thurm takes a look at the NL MVP race, and wonders whether Buster Posey's insane second half is thrusting him to the top of that discussion.
- Jeff Luhnow continues to impress as the GM of the bottom-feeding Astros. You wouldn't think it possible for a guy in charge of a club so laughably out of contention that it can't look like anything but intentional tanking to convince season ticket holders that all is well. But that's pretty much was Luhnow achieves in this letter to season ticket holders. And much of it would apply equally to Cubs fans, who were looking for an explanation for their own team's horrible season.