Though both the Braves and Nationals collapsed over the last few months of the season, Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution still feels Washington is in the better position going forward. The Nats will lose some big pieces in free agency this winter but they “can fix a lot with a manager who can take charge of the clubhouse and a few leaders on the roster. They have more proven major-league talent than the Braves,” Schultz writes. Here’s some more from around the division…
- Bryce Harper wasn’t in the Nationals‘ lineup on Monday, an absence GM Mike Rizzo confirmed was due to the outfielder’s part in the dugout fracas with Jonathan Papelbon during Sunday’s game. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post has quotes from both Rizzo and Harper about the situation, and she also expresses some incredulity that Harper was punished for essentially acting in self-defense.
- The Papelbon incident doesn’t exactly help the Nationals‘ chances of keeping Harper on a long-term contract, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post writes. Boswell’s piece examines the many changes that will come to the Nats this winter due to free agent departures and other moves, leaving remaining veterans like Ryan Zimmerman dismayed that the likes of Ian Desmond or Jordan Zimmermann could depart, though Zimmerman is still optimistic. “Sometimes, shaking things up is what’s necessary. If every single person from this team came back, would I like our chances if we did it all again next year? Yes. But that’s not going to happen….But some really, really good things are coming to this team. ‘Mix up’ could be positive,” Zimmerman said.
- The Marlins have played well in September, a performance MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro attributes to the clubhouse putting the season’s discord and drama behind them. “Basically, the players united together. They were tired of losing. Tired of the internal bickering….So they responded by staying loose, having fun, and the wins followed,” Frisaro writes. The leadership of Martin Prado and Jeff Mathis played a big part in this attitude shift, and Mathis’ teammates would love to see the veteran catcher brought back in free agency this winter. Frisaro thinks the Marlins need to build on this, rather than create even more distrust by having another roster shakeup.
- In other NL East news on MLBTR, check out this collection of Phillies Notes from earlier today.