The Braves are on the outside looking in when it comes to the postseason, so the next month and a half we'll take stock of how their rebuilding process is going. As the club heads to San Diego, one surprise bright spot will take center stage for Atlanta in Cameron Maybin. At the time of the trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the Padres and Maybin, Carlos Quentin and others to Atlanta, most believed the 28-year-old center fielder was an afterthought in the deal. Instead, he's thrived in his new home, setting career highs for home runs (10) and RBI (53) while maintaining a .280 batting average. Seeing Maybin succeed has to make the Padres' disappointing season hurt that much more.
The Marlins got good news (something they surely need) when manager Dan Jennings said recently that slugger Giancarlo Stanton has begun hitting for the first time since being placed on the disabled list on June 27 with a fractured hand. It's not certain when Stanton will return, but the sooner the better. Miami is just about out of positive developments this season as they're fighting to avoid the distinction of having the worst record in baseball. And to no one's surprise, it looks like they'll be in the market for a new manager come the end of the season, too.
NEW YORK METS
As weird as it is to say, if the Nationals wind up winning the division, they may look back on this past weekend as a reason why. No, nothing about their dreadful west coast swing is a sign that things will turn around soon. But the Mets, who had a solid 4 1/2 game lead in the division, squandered an opportunity to put the nail in Washington's coffin after being swept by the Pirates. They could have very well been up 5 1/2 or 6 1/2 games by this point, which would have made the Nats' outlook even more bleak.
The losing skids of each club just goes to show you how mediocre the NL East has been all season long. Whoever winds up winning this division will likely have the worst record in the NL of any playoff team, and whoever that finishes second has little-to-no shot at a wild card spot.
With Cole Hamels being dealt to the Rangers, trade rumors have now been swirling around Chase Utley as contenders are trying to find a veteran bat before the waiver deadline. But GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters recently that Utley is unlikely to be dealt, despite the buzz out there that he'd be moved. Of course, that doesn't preclude him from being traded in the offseason.