Things are still as tight as ever atop this division, with the Braves tussling with the Nationals for first place. For the moment, Washington has pulled ahead of Atlanta in the standings by one game. But with the way things have been going between these two teams, you know things are always subject to change.
The Braves' past week was highlighted with the team ending its bizarre saga with second baseman Dan Uggla, releasing him despite the $18 million dollars left on his contract still owed to him. Ouch. That'll happen when you bat .212 in April, .080 in May, and show up late to a team meeting in Chicago after being relegated to a bench role. With Uggla, the juice was no longer worth the squeeze, so it made sense that Atlanta cut the chord after giving him multiple chances to find a way out of his doldrums.
On the flip side, the Braves got a boost Monday when they welcomed back catcher Evan Gattis to the lineup, returning after being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a back injury.
For teams in the NL East not named the Braves or the Nationals, it might be time to start looking towards the trade deadline to see if there's an opportunity to make some moves and replenish the roster with youth. For the Marlins, it appears as if they don't have a ton of tradeable assets, so the ball club might look exactly the same come this time next week. The only player most recently rumored to be involved in trade discussion was closer Steve Cishek, but Miami is said to want to hold on to the 28-year old. Add in the fact that Giancarlo Stanton would not want to sign with the team long-term if Cishek is moved, and it's no wonder the Marlins will likely keep quiet at the deadline.
Speaking of Stanton, the team's biggest priority after the season is making sure he's in Miami for the long haul. How much of that will hinge on what the team does in the second half of the season? He's made it known in the past that he's not a fan of the team's annual effort to dump salary and compromise their efforts on the field, so it may not matter in the end if the team finishes well or not. Either way, it'll be interesting to see how the Stanton situation plays out when the time comes for him to be a free agent.
NEW YORK METS
As for the Mets, it sounds like their phone isn't exactly blowing up with trade offers either. The only player they're dangling appears to be Bartolo Colon, and that apparently is not gaining much traction out on the market. The issue is that the only prospects others teams would want would be the ones New York doesn't intend to trade, and that may be the right course of action. With Jacob deGrom, Zach Wheeler, Jonathan Niese and a recovering Matt Harvey, it may be best to let the rotation develop and wait until the offseason to address the team's other needs.
In other Mets news, the team honored David Wright this week on the tenth anniversary of his major league debut. Really? It's been ten years already? It's amazing how time flies. Anyway, in that span the 31-year-old third baseman set numerous team records en route to becoming the unquestioned face of the franchise. The only thing left for him to accomplish is helping to bring the team back to relevance in the coming years.
Simply put, this could be the most important part of the season for Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies. The trade deadline gives the team the best opportunity to cut payroll and inject youth into the organization, which is so desperately needed for a return to contention in the near future. Right now the centerpiece of a potential rebuild appears to be Cole Hamels, who is netting interest from around the league -- though the team claims that it has no interest in moving him at this time. Which suitor will offer a package of prospects attractive enough to compel the Phillies to make the deal? That'll be the key question not just for Hamels, but for Marlon Byrd, Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee or any of the myriad Philly veterans who are potentially up for grabs on the market.