Thursday's thoughts: Hanigan seals his fate

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– You know Dusty Baker didn’t want to do it, but with Ramon Hernandez
getting a day off, Ryan Hanigan was moved up to the fifth spot against
the Braves. It was the first time this season that Hanigan, who entered
with a .395 OBP, hit higher than seventh. Most of his starts had come
from the eighth spot. Sure enough, Hanigan went on to clog up the bases
in three of his four plate appearances as the Reds were shut out by the
Braves. He’ll almost surely be benched or at least dropped in the
lineup on Friday.

– The Mariners could learn something from their rookie first
baseman: Mike Carp has walked twice in five plate appearances since his
callup Wednesday. His teammates have walked twice and fanned 21 times
in those two games.

– The Jays used seven relievers in their win over Phillies, and it
was the one that made his season debut, Jeremy Accardo, who earned the
save. Brandon League cost Jason Frasor the opportunity when he couldn’t
get through the eighth cleanly. Frasor ended up coming in to get the
final out of the eighth, but not before he allowed a game-tying single.
He then left with the pitcher’s spot in the order due up, but he
probably would have come out anyway, since the Phillies had Chase Utley
and Ryan Howard starting the ninth. B.J. Ryan took over with the Jays
back on top by one, retired one of the two and then made way for
Accardo, who allowed only a single while finishing up. It’s probably
not a sign of things to come, but Gaston did have the right idea in
playing matchups against the unbalanced Philly lineup.

– Ozzie Guillen will be second-guessed after pulling Gavin Floyd for
a pinch-hitter with the White Sox up 5-1 in the eighth. Floyd was at
just 90 pitches, and he hadn’t given up more than a single all day.
Scott Linebrink, with some help from a Chris Getz error, ended up
blowing the lead in the eighth, and the White Sox lost 6-5 in the
ninth.

– Let’s see just how cruel the baseball gods are: Chris Young was up
to .276/.400/.569 for the month before suffering a leg injury in the
midst of a 4-for-4 game against the Royals. He entered June at
.178/.220/.313 this season.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.