Whaddaya know. Somehow or other, it’s July already. So you know what that means.
In your world, it means it’s time to stock up on sandals and sunscreen. But in the world of baseball, it means we just survived one of the most action-packed Junes in years.
Three cycles. … Six three-homer games. … Two of baseball’s most recognizable managers (Joe Girardi and Joe Maddon) getting gonged. … A wild no-hitter at Yankee Stadium. … An immaculate-inning daily double in Arlington. … We had 23 position players heading for the mound … and the arrival of a 6-foot-7 shortstop (Oneil Cruz) … and more Aaron Judge home-run trots (11) than singles by Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout combined (nine).
But here in the What We Learned column, it’s our job to look beyond all that. There are so many things we know now that we didn’t know a month ago, you see. So what better reason to present … the 10 things we learned in June.
1. The most important seller at the deadline will be … the Reds
The Reds’ trade chips include Luis Castillo (pictured) and Tyler Mahle. (David Richard / USA Today)
If you’re sitting in a beach chair reading this column, your biggest concern is probably where your next frozen daiquiri is coming from. But if you’re a general manager or president of baseball operations, your biggest concern is more like: Where is our Game 2 starter in October coming from?
Well, with the Aug. 2 trade deadline just a month away, you know who can help with that? Those Cincinnati Reds. I surveyed five executives from across baseball for this column, and let’s just say those two words — the Reds — came up a lot in this category.
Luis Castillo may not be this deadline’s Max Scherzer. But he throws 97 mph, the league hits .191 against his changeup and he has a 3.09 career ERA in 35 starts against the Braves, Phillies, Dodgers, Mets, Astros and Brewers.
And Tyler Mahle may not be this deadline’s José Berríos. But he’s coming off a spectacular June, which featured a 2.94 ERA, back-to-back double-figure strikeout games and 39 K’s in 33 2/3 innings.
“I think the Reds are the most important seller just because they have those two starters,” one American League exec said. “So that’s two pieces that every team needs. And as always, there are not enough of them.”
“I could also see them getting creative,” another exec said. “I know they’d love to move that (Mike) Moustakas contract, and they’re willing to eat a lot to move him. So would they do something where you have to take Moustakas to get Castillo? It wouldn’t surprise me.”