5 Biggest Takeaways from This Week's MLB Action

Karl Buscheck@@KarlBuscheckContributor IIIAugust 23, 2014

5 Biggest Takeaways from This Week's MLB Action

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    Darren McCollester/Getty Images

    The latest Cuban star has found a new MLB home.

    Rusney Castillo has agreed to a deal with the Boston Red Sox, as first reported by William Perez Villalba of Glorias del Beisbol Cubano. Already, there are differing reports on just how good the outfielder will be.

    There has also been plenty of action on the diamond. The Oakland Athletics are learning all about life without Yoenis Cespedes, and how the 28-year-old's impact went far beyond the numbers. Plus, in the East, one club enjoyed a historic week and cemented its status as the team to beat in the National League.

Don't Expect Any Big Waiver Trades Between Now and the End of the Month

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    It's been a quiet month on the waiver wire. 

    As Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports, the Los Angeles Angels have acquired second baseman Gordon Beckham from the Chicago White Sox. However, so far, there haven't been any big names who have switched teams in a waiver swap. It doesn't seem likely that any will between now and the end of the month, either.

    With tons of teams still in the wild-card hunt, there just aren't that many potential sellers. One player who could be on the move is veteran starter Bartolo Colon. As Peter Gammons tweeted, the New York Mets right-hander has been linked to the Angels. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Mets have placed Colon on waivers. 

    Still, it's extremely unlikely that he'd make it all the way to the Angels, who own the best record and the lowest waiver priority.

Justin Verlander Could Be Spending October in the Bullpen

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    With the Kansas City Royals rolling along, the Detroit Tigers are far from a lock to make it to the postseason. 

    If the team does play its way into October baseball, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports suggests that Justin Verlander could be an option out of the bullpen—possibly as the closer. As Heyman notes, the 2011 American League Cy Young Award winner is the fifth-best starter on the staff when everybody is healthy. Plus, shifting Verlander to the bullpen could help shore up what has been a major weakness for the Tigers in 2014. 

    As team president and general manager Dave Dombrowski explained, via Heyman, the Tigers are simply focused on earning a spot in the playoffs. 

    "There's no question you can't pitch five starters in the postseason," said Dombrowski. "But that's a story for another day—if we are fortunate enough to make it."

    For Verlander, the next test is just to see if he's healthy. The right-hander hasn't pitched since he exited his start against the Pittsburgh Pirates after one inning on August 11. On MLB Network Radio Dombrowski said that the starter is slated to throw for the Tigers on Saturday night.

The Washington Nationals Are the Team to Beat in the National League

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    It's been a historic week for the Washington Nationals. 

    The club has reeled off five walk-offs in a six-game stretch, which makes the Nats the first team to do so since the Houston Astros in 1986, per ESPN Stats & Info. Gio Gonzalez was on the mound for the start in walkoff No. 5. As the left-hander explained via Bill Ladson of MLB.com, he was simply trying to fit in.

    "Again, Nats win on a walk off. I just wanted [to] try to blend in with the rest of the rotation."

    That run has helped Washington open up a six-game edge over the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.The success has been going on for a while. As Richard Justice of MLB.com points out, the Nationals have the best record in the NL since June 1. With the Los Angeles Dodgers injured and failing to hit their stride, there's no question that Washington is the team to beat in the NL.

    With one of the most imposing rotations in baseball, the club is also perfectly positioned to make an October run. 

For the Oakland Athletics, the Impact of Yoenis Cespedes Went Beyond the Numbers

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    The Oakland Athletics offense has fallen off a cliff in August.

    The team ranks No. 28 in batting average and No. 24 in OPS since July 31, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Of course, that was the day that GM Billy Beane jettisoned Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for lefty ace Jon Lester. 

    It would be easy enough to connect the two if not for the fact that the Cuban hasn't exactly been lighting it up with the reigning World Series champions. Since arriving in Boston, Cespedes is hitting .230/.237/.446. 

    The thing is, with a player like Cespedes it's not just about the numbers. It's about the presence. The right-handed hitter has one of the quickest swings in the game and the ability to smash home runs on any pitch. Simply put, Cespedes is dangerous. 

    Now, the Athletics are lacking in that type of player. The type of player who will make a pitcher pay for a mistake. As a result, pitchers can challenge Oakland's hitters much more freely knowing that Cespedes isn't around.

Rusney Castillo Won't Be the Next Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig or Yoenis Cespedes

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    The Boston Red Sox have signed for Rusney Castillo, as first reported by William Perez Villalba of Glorias del Beisbol Cubano. The deal is worth $72.5 million over seven seasons, per Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston.

    The 27-year-old outfielder becomes just the latest Cuban player to land a monster contract before playing a single game in the big leagues. Castillo's best tool is his remarkable speed, as Ben Badler of Baseball America notes. However, Castillo definitely doesn't have the power of Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes or even Yasiel Puig. 

    Red Sox manager John Farrell offered a mixed scouting report on Castillo, via Edes.

    "Above-average speed. Can play center field or right field. What kind of power? What kind of average? Obviously our scouts liked him enough."

    According to the system created by Clay Davenport to translate statistics from one league to another, the numbers could be underwhelming. As Eno Sarris of FanGraphs tweets, the Davenport Translation for Castillo is .237/.276/.390 with nine home runs and 15 steals. 

    It's possible that Castillo will exceed those numbers. Still, it will be extremely difficult for the newest Red Sox to live up to his $72.5-million price tag. 

    Note: All stats courtesy of MLB.com. All videos courtesy of MLB.com and YouTube.

    If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.