Jeff Samardzija says goodbye, Josh Harrison says hello in the NL Central
We say goodbye to an NL Central Three Up regular, ask a rookie pitcher to throw us home run derby and introduce you to an All-Star you probably haven’t heard of.
Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates
Despite not having a regular position, and despite not putting up all that great of numbers, Josh Harrison found his way onto the NL All Star team. Perhaps it speaks of the lack of depth in the National League, but Harrison’s bid was definitely a surprise. None of his numbers jump out at you: Five home runs, 25 RBI, nine stolen bases and a .298 batting average. But hey, he made the All-Star team so it’s gotta be a good week for him.
Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs
Samardzija made the down-list last week, but he’s up this week just because of the opportunity he now has. Samardzija was traded to the Oakland A’s over the weekend and went from the worst team in the National League to the best team in baseball. He’ll finally get his shot at the postseason and get to play for the winning team that he’s craved. Good luck to you, Jeff and farewell from the NL Central Three Up Three Down. Although I just got the hang of spelling your name without having to question myself.
Chicago Cubs Front Office
The Cubs leadership brass of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer turned heads with the package they received in return for Samardzija and Jason Hammel. The Cubs, in return, got once-untouchable prospect Addison Russell–a consensus top-5 overall prospect–Billy McKinney, the A’s 2013 1st round pick, and Dan Straily, a pitcher who finished with a 3.96 ERA in 27 starts last year and is just 25. All of this was after Samardzija’s worst month of the year where he posted a 5.45 ERA in his last six starts. The A’s got a nice package, too, but the Cubs came away with much more than anyone imagined.
Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
Hamilton missed out on the All-Star team, but Dee Gordon–the player Hamilton was supposed to be–did. Instead, Hamilton struck out 10 times last year while registering only four hits in 25 at-bats. Hamilton stole just one base, the one area that was supposed to be a lock in the box score for the young center-fielder.
Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds
Bruce has just one hit in his last 22 at-bats. That’s sexy enough for a .045 batting average. Usually if someone on the Reds makes this list it’s Joey Votto. But Votto is headed back to the DL again, meaning Bruce needs to be the best player. Manager Bryan Price’s team has never made a team miss Dusty Baker so much.
Marco Gonzales, St. Louis Cardinals
The young starter was probably thrown into the fire too, quick…but too bad. When you play for the Cardinals, you’re expected to be like Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller and not struggle right away. Gonzales missed the memo. In two starts, Gonzales totaled nine innings–the same amount of walks he gave up. He was hit around 14 times, gave up six runs and opposing batters hit .359 against him. Now the Cardinals might be forced to go out and trade three or four top prospects to acquire a rental player to push them into the postseason. Including him. Memo to NL Home Run Derby hitters: See if Marco can be your pitcher.