In this week’s episode of “Cheap Seats Chatter”, Mathias Altman-Kurosaki, Alex Clark, and I delve into the costly loss of Ronald Acuna Jr. to a torn ACL and what it means for the Atlanta Braves moving forward. With the recent MLB Home Run Derby and All-Star Game that took place this week, we also recap the results of both and highlight some of the impressive feats taken away from the week. Lastly, free agency is potentially looming for Clayton Kershaw, who’s currently on the final year of his three-year contract, we discuss the course of action the Dodgers and Kershaw both could follow through with and should follow through within some more sign-and-trade talk.
Cheap Seats Chatter: Ronald Acuna Jr.’s Injury
He’s just 23 years of age, and the impact he’s had on the MLB has been nothing short of surreal. Losing Acuna Jr. leave’s a gaping void that likely won’t be filled until he returns, which most likely won’t happen until the 2022 season has already begun. He’s a five-tool player, a bonafide National League MVP candidate, and the cornerstone of their franchise that could be on the level of reverence in guys like Hank Aaron, Chipper Jones, and Greg Maddux when it’s all said and done.
The Braves have clearly been an underwhelming team this year. It’s in part due to poor play also, in part, due to a case of bad luck in catching the injury bug that’s also knocked out half of their rotation. But despite the fact that the previous pennant-flirting NL contender has yet to exceed the .500 mark this season, they’re still only four games out from the NL East crown. The Braves also just recently acquired the services of left fielder Joc Pederson from the Chicago Cubs in an effort to at least make up for some of the production. Should they make other decisions to add to the roster’s lack of depth already prior to the upcoming trade deadline at the end of the month, and if so who? We go into depth with that at the beginning of the podcast.
Cheap Seats Chatter: All-Star Week Recap
There are a lot of intriguing storylines surrounding the MLB All-Star week. Whether it’s been the history made by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at such a young age and pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani or the incredible battle between reigning Home Run Derby champ Pete Alonso and Trey Mancini, this year has been a fascinating one. And while we got to see a good show in round one between Juan Soto and Ohtani involving an additional tiebreaker and a swing-off after that, Alonso reigned supreme with power to earn his second straight derby crown. The third-year slugger crushed 35 home runs in the first round, despite tough competition in Salvador Perez, before following it up with knocking off Trevor Story and then Mancini in the final round 23-22.
As for the All-Star Game, the American League reclaimed control with a 5-2 win, thanks in part, due to the heroics of Guerrero Jr to earn their eighth straight win over the NL, and 21st win in their last 24 games between the two. Guerrero Jr., who was the youngest ever to start the MLB All-Star Game, also earned MVP honors for the game, scorching a solo home run in the top of the third and driving in another run to further extend the build on the AL’s lead later on. We highlight all of these feats that were accomplished this past All-Star week in the podcast in our second segment.
Cheap Seats Chatter: Clayton Kershaw’s Contract Status
Kershaw is 33 years old, earning a $31 million salary this season with the Dodgers currently exceeding the league-wide luxury tax. He may not be the best pitcher in baseball like he was once upon a time, but he’s still an absolute ace. However, in recent years, injuries have nipped at him quite a bit, forcing him to miss time, whether’s been his elbow, his back, or his biceps. In fact, he’s currently on the 10-day IL right now with forearm inflammation on his pitching arm and is expected to be longer. This could lead the Dodgers could be at a set of crossroads in deciding whether to re-up on his contract. But Kershaw still is playing at a high level this season, bolstering their rotation that has arguably been the best in all of baseball.
This team has shown no signs of slowing down to vie for contention in not just the NL West, but the NL as a whole, where they only trail their divisional foe, the San Francisco Giants, for the best record in the entire league. The image of Kershaw donning anything but the Dodgers’ white and blue would be almost unfathomable, but not only could the Dodgers pass up on retaining him, but Kershaw could also pass on them. We get into the likelihood of Kershaw remaining as a Dodger as nears his 15th year of his illustrious, Hall of Fame-caliber career.
For the full discussion, make sure to tune into the full Cheap Seats Chatter podcast on Spotify.
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