Some items from around the NL Central…
- Joe Maddon is hardly the first manager to embrace his players’ versatility, though Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes that though few have done it to the sheer extent of the Cubs’ skipper. Chicago’s dominant lead in the standings has given Maddon some leeway to experiment, though it could also be argued that the Cubs are enjoying such a great season because Maddon has been so canny about pursuing every possible advantage to help his team win. Sherman feels that other teams could use the Cubs as a blueprint for future roster construction, as having multi-positional players around can solve many issues.
- Joe Nathan was understandably let down about being released by the Cubs last month, the veteran reliever tells ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. Nathan signed with Chicago in May and eventually pitched in three games for the Cubs after completing his rehab from Tommy John surgery. “In their defense I don’t think they foresaw picking up [Aroldis] Chapman, picking up Joe Smith, and their bullpen shaping up the way it was,” Nathan said. “On that side of it I completely understand. Still, it was a disappointing turn of events. Things went from ’this is the plan’ to ’now what?’ ” Nathan said that Cubs president Theo Epstein personally informed him about the release, and the veteran reliever didn’t have any hard feelings towards his former club. Of course, Nathan’s disappointment has been mitigated by the fact that he signed on with another contender in the Giants.
- When Jay Bruce learned he was going to be dealt, the outfielder asked the Reds to trade him “anywhere but New York,” Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News writes. No specific reason was given for Bruce’s reported misgivings about joining the Mets. Bruce has, in fact, badly struggled since joining the Mets in a deadline deal, entering today with only a .198/.270/.327 slash line and three homers over 111 plate appearances.
- With Ivan Nova pitching well since joining the Pirates in July, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review thinks the Bucs could “consider being aggressive in approaching Nova with an extension” before the righty hits free agency in the offseason. As MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth recently noted in a Free Agent Stock Watch piece, a strong finish from Nova could line him up for as much as a three-year deal this winter; he’ll stand out in a very thin pitching market and teams could see him as a new J.A. Happ, who blossomed after going to Pittsburgh last season and has continued to pitch well in Toronto. Extending Nova now would save the Bucs some money, since it’s possible his market could grow to the point that he is priced out of the Pirates’ comfort zone. That said, my guess would be that Nova will forego an extension to at least test the open market, given that he’s so close to free agency.