And That Happened: All-Star Game Edition

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If you followed along with our liveblog last night
some of this may be redundant for you, but I kept a quasi-running diary
of the All-Star game and here are some of my random observations:

Pregame

— I really enjoyed all of the presidents talking during the
Everyday All-Stars thing. Obama looks like he’s growing a little
mustache, which is quite stylish. George W. Bush looks more relaxed
than he’s been since his days as the Rangers’ owner, which is totally
understandable. Maybe it’s because he’s living with his dad now. At
least I assume he is, because both him and H.W. Bush were speaking from
the same room. Nice callback by Bush Sr. to the “thousand points of
light” thing, by the way. That’s like a rapper sampling Young M.C. or
something. Jimmy Carter is looking pretty spry. I think he’s going to
break Hoover’s record for the most post-presidency years alive. Very
underrated record, by the way.

— Sheryl Crow did a good job on the anthem. Very businesslike.
Hopefully the message is finally starting to get around that “The Star
Spangled Banner” is not some soul ballad.

— I liked Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst, Bruce Sutter and
Ozzie Smith in their red blazers, though as my wife pointed out, they
kind of looked like real estate agents.

— I also love me some Stan Musial, though seeing him come in via
the golf cart kind of reminded me of Ted Williams in the golf cart at
the All-Star game in Boston several years back. The next time we
thought of Williams after that was when he died and his son froze him
in carbonite or whatever the hell it was. Anyway, it was bittersweet
seeing Musial, knowing that we probably won’t see him in public again.

First Pitch:

— I LOVE that Obama came out in his White Sox jacket. Clinton would
have conducted focus groups before deciding what to wear. Bush would
have worn a bomber jacket or something. Obama is a fan, and no matter
what your politics are, you have to respect that. As for his pitch: Eh,
it was a lollipop job that made Tim Robbins in “Bull Durham” look like
Roger Clemens, but at least it made it to the plate on the fly. Unless
Greg Maddux ever becomes president, I think George W. is going to hold
the record for the sharpest Commander-in-Chief first pitch.

The Game:

— Lincecum plunked Jeter. Or at least so said Dana Demuth. I’ll
admit that my perception may have been a bit, um, impaired due to
pregame festivities at Chez Calcaterra, but from where I was sitting,
it looked like it hit the knob of the bat. Nice sales job by Jeter,
though. But some advice, Derek: next time don’t limp down to first base when the ball was supposed to have hit your wrist.

— Obama in the broadcast booth was pretty sweet. First he hated on the
Nationals, and then in response to a bail-out joke he said “we’re out
of money.” If nothing else you have to applaud him for his honesty. As
is always the case with a three man booth, however, we missed a lot of
action on the field while everyone was chatting. Roy Halladay was
roughed up and it might have been nice to hear someone talk about his
trade prospects and stuff.

— Third inning, and Ryan Franklin came in to pitch. Really, Charlie
Manuel? Ryan Franklin is the second guy out of the pen? Haven’t the
Cardinals fans had enough pandering over the past couple of days? Sure,
he sets the AL down 1-2-3 which makes me look like an idiot, but just
because something turned out OK doesn’t make it the right move in the
first instance.

(rest of the recap after the jump)

— I blinked twice and missed the entire half inning pitched by Mark
Buehrle. I really, really like that guy. I wish everyone pitched like
him.

— Based on the trailer, the “G.I. Joe” movie looks like the worst
piece of excrement ever committed to celluloid. They could have done
better by simply making a live-action version of that multi-part
episode of the cartoon where Shipwreck wakes up with amnesia and is
married with a family and everything. Don’t look at me that way. You know which one I’m talking about.

— Zack Greinke made David Wright and Shane Victorino look really,
really bad. Too bad his talents are being wasted in Kansas City.

— I’m really mad at Ichiro for fouling off the pitch on which Carl
Crawford was trying to steal, because I wanted to see a Molina vs.
Crawford showdown. Nice play by Chase Utley’s in the hole throwing out
Crawford at second, however.

— Jumping to the sixth inning, I feel it’s time to note, once
again, that Adam Jones is the spitting image of Eric Davis. By the way,
the game was humming right along at that point. Just think: if it
didn’t take 50 minutes to get through the pregame show, everyone on the
East Coast could have gone to bed at a decent hour.

— Pujols finished 0-3 with what proved to be a costly error, but he
had a couple of gems on defense as well. Albert: You’ve been a fabulous
host for two days, but the Cards need you healthy and rested for the
second half, so please do absolutely nothing today except sit in a
lounge chair and read magazines.

— Pujols being interviewed by Eric Karros:

Karros: So, does the best player in the game get butterflies?

Pujols: I don’t think I’m the best player in the game.

Karros: Albert, we are men of action. Lies do not become us.

OK, that’s not really what Karros said, but he should have.

— Carl Crawford’s snag of Brad Hawpe’s would-be homer was sweet,
and of course, ended up earning him the MVP. Lost in that was the fact
that Tejada nailed the next pitch off of Papelbon to the wall as well.
Buck called Papelbon “automatic” but he’s kind of scary if you ask me,
even if he is effective.

— Heath Bell is just a ridiculous oversized puppy dog of a human
being. He’s big and choppy and sloppy out there, like he’s with the
Gashouse Gorillas or something. Oh, and he gave up a triple to Curtis
Granderson. But let’s not blame Bell for that. Let’s blame Jayson
Werth, who failed to hit the cutoff man. If he had, Granderson possibly
stops at second or gets gunned down at third. Werth probably took the
roster slot that Matt Kemp should have had. One wonders if Kemp would
have missed the cutoff man.

— Granderson went on to score on the sac fly, making it 4-3 A.L.
with Joe Nathan and Mariano Rivera waiting in the wings. It’s hindsight
now, but when I was watching last night I thought “uh-oh, game over.”

— And it was. Mariano Rivera entered the game in the ninth. The NL
knew what was coming and they couldn’t do anything about it:

— Upton grounded out . . .

— Hawpe struck out . . .

— Tejada popped out . . . ballgame.

The Upshot:

AL wins again, which is fairly depressing for an NL Fan like me.
Still, when you see Mariano Rivera closing it out, you have to
appreciate how the currents of history are flowing these days. In 50
years, people are going to think about the mid-90s to the late oughts
as a time when giants named Rivera and Jeter roamed the Earth, and
games like this one are going to help form the chronicle. To have
interlopers like Francisco Cordero and Brad Hawpe screw with that
narrative simply wouldn’t do, and NL fans have to accept that.

All in all a good game. Brisk. No silliness about everyone getting
playing time. Joe Maddon left three position players on the bench:
Carlos Pena, Nelson Cruz and Chone Figgins. Manuel left Hunter Pence
and Freddy Sanchez. Each had multiple pitchers left. At no point did it
feel like a Little League game, which is more than I can say for some
of the past few years. It felt like real baseball and looked like real
baseball. I don’t have any complaints.

Now, if we can manage through one more day without baseball, we’ll all be OK.

Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren will compete for No. 5 spot in Cubs’ rotation

Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks throws during the first inning of Game 3 of the National League baseball championship series against the New York Mets Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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Expect Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation this spring, writes Gordon Wittenmyer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Clayton Richard could serve as a fallback option as well.

Hendricks, 26, pitched well in his first full season in 2015. He finished with a 3.95 ERA and a 167/43 K/BB ratio over 180 innings. That was a solid follow-up to his rookie campaign in 2014, when he posted a 2.46 ERA over 13 starts.

The Cubs acquired Warren, 28, from the Yankees in the Starlin Castro trade. He contributed both out of the rotation and the bullpen in the Bronx this past season, pitching 131 1/3 innings with a 3.29 ERA and a 104/39 K/BB ratio.

One through four, the Cubs’ rotation is solid with defending National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jason Hammel.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson plans to limit David Wright to 130 or fewer games

David Wright
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Mets third baseman David Wright missed four months of the 2015 season due to spinal stenosis. In other words, Wright dealt with a narrowing of his spinal column. Going forward, the Mets plan to be cautious with Wright so as not to overuse him.

As ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports, Mets GM Sandy Alderson plans to have the 33-year-old Wright play in no more than 130 games. Alderson said, “We’re gonna make sure that he’s not overworked. So it’s important for us to find somebody who can play 30 games or so at third base when he’s not in there. But I think we have to be realistic, and not expect that he’s gonna be an absolute everyday [player] out there playing 150 or 155 games. That’s not gonna happen.”

Wilmer Flores played 26 games at third base in his rookie season in 2013, so he could back up Wright as needed. But Alderson mentioned that because Wright would mostly sit against right-handed pitchers, the switch-hitting Neil Walker or Asdrubal Cabrera could get the call at the hot corner.

When he was on the field last season, Wright hit a productive .289/.379/.434 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 174 plate appearances.

Marlins still searching for starting pitching depth

Aaron Harang
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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The Marlins would like to add “another pitcher or two” before pitchers and catchers report to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Among starting pitchers available, Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang, and Alfredo Simon are candidates for the Marlins, but they may hold out for the possibility of inking a major league contract. Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee are other potential candidates, per Frisaro.

This offseason, the Marlins signed Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year, $80 million deal and Edwin Jackson for the major league minimum. The back of the rotation, though, is still a question mark as Jarred Cosart, Adam Conley, and Justin Nicolino will compete with Jackson for two spots. David Phelps is dealing with an elbow injury and may or not be ready by Opening Day, but he could function in a swingman capacity as well.

Shocker: Bruce Bochy tabs Madison Bumgarner to start Opening Day

Madison Bumgarner
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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You might want to sit down for this news. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has tabbed ace Madison Bumgarner to start on Opening Day in Milwaukee against the Brewers, CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic reports. Shocking, I know.

The Giants had a busy offseason, adding Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to the starting rotation, but neither had a shot at getting the Opening Day nod considering what Bumgarner has done for the Giants over the last five seasons.

Since the start of the 2011 season, the 26-year-old lefty compiled a 3.05 ERA with 1,034 strikeouts and 239 walks across 1,050 innings. Among starters who logged at least 800 innings in that span of time, only Clayton Kershaw, Cueto, Zack Greinke, David Price, and Felix Hernandez have posted lower ERAs.  And Bumgarner is the only one among them with a championship ring. In fact, he has three.