And That Happened: Thursday's scores and recaps

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In the wake of Michael Jackson’s passing, all of the players in yesterday’s games wore one glove in his memory. . .

Yankees 11, Braves 7: Buster Olney went all Jerod Morris on A-Rod yesterday (query: does the fact that Rodriguez tested positive for steroids six years ago,
and a year before the institution of punitive testing give one license
to play the “one never knows” card all these years later? Geoff Baker
— can I get a consult here?). Less problematic than the steroids
speculation garbage was the quoting of scouts and wringing of hands to
the effect that Rodriguez has suddenly become a poor decrepit old man
who will likely not survive the length of his contract let alone
produce during its duration. Jesus. The guy rushed back from hip
surgery, played too much, and still isn’t 100% right. Is that really
the best time to declare someone’s career dead? Especially someone who
raked like hell just last season? I bet Buster liquidated his 401K in
March too. Anyway, reports of Rodriguez’s death are greatly exaggerated
(3-5 HR, 4 RBI).

Tigers 6, Cubs 5: Geovany Soto pinch hit and struck out. When he was not playing, he regaled Carlos Zambrano with tales about this one amazing killer bong he saw in Iowa City that one time.
He ought to straighten up that hophead attitude of his and fly right,
though. Look at Magglio Ordonez. That fine young man has shed those
hippie locks (and the stoner lifestyle that necessarily accompanies
long hair) and not surprisingly he’s back on track (1-4, HR, 2 RBI). If
only every player could emulate those clean cut and clean living stars of yesteryear!

Pirates 3, Indians 2:
Cliff Lee has to be looking around that locker room and feeling like
Michael did while looking around the Jacksons’ dressing room circa
1979. He’s better than these guys, they’re doing nothing to help him,
and they bring nothing to the party. In fact, I’m going to call Ben
Francisco “Tito” for the remainder of the season.

Reds 7, Blue Jays 5:
It felt so good to watch Joey Votto break out the whuppin’ stick (4-5,
2B, HR 3 RBI). By the way, as I did on Monday, I watched a good 45
minutes of this game on a treadmill at the gym. Unlike Monday, however,
I didn’t change the channel. Why? Because George Grande and Chris
Welsh, while certainly no luminaries, understand that there’s a
ballgame going on in front of them and actually talk about what’s
happening in it from time to time. Something else learned from this
game: Scott Rolen comes to the plate to Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and
Roll.” I guess it’s a play on “Rolen,” but at bottom, isn’t that song
about a guitar chick lusting after a teenage boy?

Mets 3, Cardinals 2:
Good pitching matchup, as Santana beats Carpenter and the Mets take
three of four from the Cards. The crowd was the largest in Citi Field’s
young history. According to the article “New York had offered 50
percent discounts on some tickets.” With eight dollar beers and all of
the rest you’d think that any team with empty seats would cut prices
like Crazy Eddie, promote the crap out of it and be confident that
they’re making it all up in grub, suds and merch.

Marlins 11, Orioles 3:
There are some Baltimore Orioles truthers out there who insist that I
have decided to not say anything nice about their team. I’ll make you a
deal, guys: they do something worthy of praise, I’ll praise it. In the
meantime I will throw you a bone and note that Nick Markakis went 4 for
4 and drove in Z-game. Unfortunately it was 11-2 in the ninth inning at
the time. As for the Marlins, Hanley Ramirez went 3 for 5 and knocked
in five runs in what turned out to be a laugher.

White Sox 6, Dodgers 5:
Chad Billingsley let a 4-0 lead slip away and actually stood to be the
loser when he left the game after six. He got bailed out, but the Sox
pulled it out in 13. Weisman makes an excellent observation
regarding Torre’s bullpen use in extra innings: “Torre chose to save
Jonathan Broxton for a save situation rather than ensure he’d get an
inning out of him. It’s an old philosophical bug: the idea that your
best pitcher is more useful when you can afford to give up a run,
rather than when you can’t afford to.”

Mariners 9, Padres 3:
I’m not sure what surprised me more yesterday: the news that Michael
Jackson died or the news that Mike Sweeney was still alive. Good game
for him though (4-4, 2B, 2 RBI), as well as Ichiro and Beltre, who
combined to go 7-10 with four runs scored. The Mariners now set off on
a death march against the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox, all on the
road. We’ll certainly know what this team is made of in about nine or
ten days, won’t we?

Rays 10, Phillies 4:
It’s sort of not fair that the Rays can lose a guy like Evan Longoria
and then have his replacement — Willy Aybar — hit a homer and drive
in three runs. More evidence that the universe is unfair: the Marlins
beat the Phillies in this series, are playing much better baseball
overall, and have a lineup that could bash them across the country and
back, yet Philadelphia remains in first place and the Rays are in
fourth, six games back.

Nationals 9, Red Sox 3:
Smoltz got pounded (5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER), but he struck out 5 and walked
only one. Eh, dude’s allowed to warm up a bit. I’m sure someone will
analyze his start more closely than I have, but whatever that shows, my
gut tells me that he’s going to be alright pretty soon and will pitch
extremely well until the very moment his shoulder or elbow explodes

Astros 5, Royals 4:
Lance Berkman launched two dingers and drove in four. The game wouldn’t
have been as close, though, if it weren’t for a bunch of Astros errors
leading to three Royals’ runs.

Rangers 9, Diamondbacks 8:
Chris Davis had four hits, including a two-run homer in the 12th to win
it. He wouldn’t have had a chance to hit that one if Miquel Montero had
held on to a two-strike foul tip the pitch before.

Twins 6, Brewers 4:
I live in a city that has a massive (and probably justified)
inferiority complex, and one of the funniest things about it is that
Columbus can’t ever seem to decide which other city it should feel
inferior to. Chicago? That’s just silly, but you hear it sometimes.
Charlotte? Austin? Nashville? Those all make sense for various reasons,
but none are perfect. Anyway, as I was staring at the box score of this
game and failing to find anything really interesting to say about it, I
wondered: does Milwaukee compare itself to Minneapolis? To Chicago? Or
is it a city that is comfortable in its own skin, never giving a
thought to other places (except when making fun of the elitists in
Madison)? The thought gripped me for a while so I decided to Google it
a few different ways and came up with this:

Is Milwaukee, with its rich industrial legacy, however small it is
compared to its heyday, headed toward a manufacturing heavy Detroit, a
financial services hub that Minneapolis is, or something altogether
different? Bill Bonifas, an executive vice president with The Polacheck
Co. Inc., says the answer to that question illustrates two points: Why
Milwaukee is different than Detroit and Minneapolis and where the
city’s headed.

“You can’t say Milwaukee is going in the direction Detroit is because
to begin with Detroit has a more spatial dynamic whereas the money is
located in Milwaukee.

“Though I think our momentum matches that of Minneapolis, I don’t think
we’ll end up like that city either because that’s such a regional
center for finance that Milwaukee is, and will have to be, a
combination of the two.”

Detroit never occurred to me, though I have to admit, there are some
basic similarities. An industrial past, Great Lakes access, a snobby
little overeducated town a short drive to the west. It works if you
squint a little.

I know there’s no purpose to this, but does anyone have any ideas
here? Lar? And if you don’t know a thing about Milwaukee, does your
town engage in this neurotic behavior, or is it just a Columbus thing?
Does every Springfield have its Shelbyville?

Report: Barry Bonds under consideration to be the Marlins hitting coach

Barry Bonds

This shouldn’t cause any controversy, lead to a lot of people saying dumb things or provide fodder for jokes at all. Nope, none whatsoever:

In what promises to be a bombshell move, if executed, all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is under consideration to become Marlins hitting coach.

Team higherups have quietly been discussing this possibility for weeks.

That’s Jon Heyman, who reminds us that Bonds has worked with the Giants in the spring in recent years. And who, no matter what else you can say about him, was one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. Also worth remembering that despite his controversial past, that greatness came not just from physical gifts, naturally or artificially bestowed. It came from his approach, preparation and strategy at the plate. No one can teach a hitter to hit like Barry Bonds, but you’d think that hitters could be taught to try to approach an at bat the way Barry Bonds would. And who better to do it than Barry Bonds?

That is, if Bonds is willing to drop his seemingly ideal retired life in San Francisco, move to Miami and work for Jeff Loria for nine months a year. Which, eh, who knows? But the possibility of it is pretty fascinating to think about.

Yadier Molina’s new backup: Cardinals sign Brayan Pena to two-year deal

Brayan Pena Reds
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Veteran catcher Brayan Pena has agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with the Cardinals, who’re investing much more than usual in their backup for Yadier Molina.

After bouncing around for a decade without getting even 250 plate appearances in a season Pena signed with the Reds and topped 350 plate appearances in both 2014 and 2015. His production didn’t improve any, as Pena hit .263 with five homers and a .652 OPS in 223 games as a regular.

Pena’s best skill is rarely striking out, which enables him to hit for a decent batting average, but he has very little power and swings at everything. He struggled to control the running game this season at age 33, but has a decent throw-out rate for his career.

Making a multi-year commitment to Pena suggests the Cardinals are no longer counting on Molina being the same type of workhorse behind the plate, which certainly makes sense given his age and injury history. Pena will replace Tony Cruz, who’s been Molina’s understudy since 2011 while hitting just .220 with five homers and a .572 OPS in 259 games.

While we wait for free agent signings: Andrew McCutchen stars in a one-act play

Andrew McCutchen
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It’s a pretty slow offseason so far. We’ve had a couple of minor signings. I guess Jordan Zimmermann is sort of a big deal. But it’s a lot more quiet so far this year than it was this time last year. I suppose there’s no real rhyme nor reason for it. Baseball offseason is long, there is no salary cap and thus there’s no rush to do things too quickly.

So, while we wait, here’s Andrew McCutchen doing his best to kill time until spring training starts:

Red Sox sign outfielder Chris Young

Chris Young Getty

Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of

Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.

Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.