And That Happened: Monday's scores and highlights

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A very grand-slammy day around the Majors . . .

Nationals 14, Brewers 6: Josh Willingham with two grand slams
and eight RBI. I think that’s more production than his trade
counterpart Emilio Bonifacio has had all season.

Mets 7, Rockies 3: An eighth inning pinch hit grand slam by Fernando Tatis puts a happy ending on what was an otherwise horrible day in Metsville.
After the game, Omar Minaya raged at a press conference about how he
can no longer sit back and allow reporter infiltration, reporter
indoctrination, reporter subversion and the international reporter
conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

Cubs 5, Astros 1: Tie game, bases loaded in the bottom of the
ninth! Lou Piniella calls for the suicide squeeze! Mike Fontenot know
what to do: Contact, baby! Do anything, put it anywhere, but JUST DON’T
MISS THE BALL! Oops, he missed the ball and the runner was tagged out.
On to extra innings, where, thankfully for Fontenot’s sake, the Cubbies
broke out in the 13th inning, via — you guessed it — a game-winning
grand slam, this one off the bat of Alfonso Soriano.

Indians 9, Angels 8: A rare bifurcated grand slam won this one,
with Victor Martinez hitting a three run home run followed immediately
by Jhonny Peralta hitting a solo-shot in the ninth inning. Shut up, it
does too count. I’m trying to keep a theme going here.

Yankees 11, Rays 4: It was A-Rod’s birthday yesterday, and if he wanted to, he and his lady friend Kate Hudson could have joined the party and gotten a free grand slam.
Since it’s Rodriguez, though, they probably just tried to go to Chi
Chi’s to get free nachos and a Polaroid picture wearing that birthday
sombrero they give out. Then they probably were crestfallen when they
found out that (a) Chi Chi’s went out of business five years ago; and
(b) that there aren’t any Polaroids around anymore either. So instead
they just went out to some fabulous restaurant and took turns telling
one another how rich and beautiful they are. Wait, where was I going
with this?

Reds 6, Padres 4: Given how totally each of these teams have
fallen apart recently, this was more like rummage sale than a ballgame.
Scouts sat behind home plate like Luke and Uncle Owen pickin’ out
droids. Based on reports, someone’s got their eyes set on this Red one, but they should be warned: he probably has a bad motivator.

Red Sox 8, A’s 3: Every Red Sox batter got a hit which, if
you’re a connoisseur of box scores, is kind of satisfying to see on an
aesthetic level. 10Ks for Beckett.

Royals 5, Orioles 3: Billy Butler went 5 for 5 and Bruce Chen
wasn’t an unmitigated disaster for once. Interesting — and deceiving
— to see that the Royals are only three games worse than the Orioles
are this year. I bet Dayton Moore walks around the office complaining
about how unfair it is for those in the know to talk about Baltimore’s
future and promise while all they do is criticize the Royals.

Twins 4, White Sox 3: Errors were the difference here, as Jayson Nix and Paul Konerko each committed an error in the second which led to Twins runs.

Rangers 5, Tigers 2: Yet another solid start from Tommy Hunter
(7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER). I don’t know anything about him and I haven’t seen
him pitch yet. Royce — anyone — is he any good, or is this a fluke?

Cardinals 6, Dodgers 1: Chris Carpenter finishes July 4-0 by
beating L.A. in a manner that compels me to use the term “scattered” (7
IP, 9 H, 1 ER). Not to be confused with scattered, smothered, and covered
(sorry, that breakfast reference in the Yankees recap has me hungry).
Anyway, in his first four games with St. Louis, Matt Holliday is
8-for-14 with four RBIs. In his last seven games, Mark DeRosa has five
homers. I’d say at this point that the midseason deals are paying off
for St. Louis.

Phillies 6, Diamondbacks 2: Jamie Moyer, who I am contractually
obligated to refer to as “crafty” (though “wily” will also be
accepted), baffled the Dbacks with his stunning array of dusty junk,
allowing bubkis over six innings. The Phillies now have a seven game
lead in the East.

Blue Jays 11, Mariners 4: All hits are not created equal.
Toronto only has three more of them than the Ms, but they scored seven
more runs, knocking King Felix around in what amounts to his worst
start in a couple of years, and preventing him from getting what would
have been his 12th win.

Giants 4, Pirates 2: Lincecumazing! OK, I’ll cut that out now.
But he really was, tossing a complete game, giving up no earned runs,
and striking out 15 Pirates. His game score of 87 is the ninth best of
any starter’s performance this season. Though it’s worth noting that I
don’t believe in game scores. I just believe in me. Yoko and me. And
that’s reality.

Mariners sign reliever Joel Peralta

Joel Peralta
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Right-hander Joel Peralta has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mariners that includes an invitation to spring training.

Peralta spent last season with the Dodgers and was limited to 29 innings by neck and back problems, posting a 4.34 ERA and 24/8 K/BB ratio. Los Angeles declined his $2.5 million option, making him a free agent.

He was one of the most underrated relievers in baseball from 2010-2014, logging a total of 318 innings with a 3.34 ERA and 342 strikeouts, but at age 40 he’s shown signs of decline. Still, for a minor-league deal and no real commitment Peralta has a chance to be a nice pickup for Seattle’s bullpen.

White Sox sign Mat Latos

Mat Latos
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Jerry Crasnick reports that the Chicago White Sox have signed Mat Latos.

Latos was pretty spiffy between 2010-2014, posting sub-3.50 ERAs each year.  Then the injuries came and he fell apart. He pitched for three teams in 2015 — the Dodgers, Angels, and Marlins — with a combined 4.95 ERA in 113 innings. And he didn’t make friends on those clubs either, with reports of clubhouse strife left in his wake.

In Chicago he gets a fresh start. It doesn’t come in a park that will do him any favors — Latos and U.S. Cellular Field don’t seem like a great match — but at this point beggars can’t be choosers.

 

Jason Castro loses arbitration hearing against Astros

Jason Castro
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Veteran catcher Jason Castro and the Astros went through with an arbitration hearing over a difference of $250,000 and the three-person panel ruled in favor of the team.

That means Castro will make $5 million this season rather than his requested amount of $5.25 million. This is his final year of arbitration eligibility, so the 29-year-old catcher will be a free agent after the season.

Castro showed a lot of promise early on, including making the All-Star team at age 26 in 2013, but since then he’s hit just .217 with a .650 OPS in 230 games. His power and pitch-framing skills are a valuable combination even within sub par overall production, so 2016 will be a key year for the former first-round draft pick.

Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Eminent Domain and the history of the Rangers Ballpark

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump addresses supporters at a campaign rally, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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Eminent Domain — the right of a government to take/buy private property for public use — and its implications has always been a controversial topic. It became far more controversial in the 1990s and early 2000s, however,  as the practice, which is intended for public projects like roads and stuff, was increasingly used in ways to help developers and businesses.

The controversy came to a head in the 2005 case Kelo v. City of New London in which the Supreme Court held that general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth — not just direct public works — qualified as a “public use” under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The upshot: if someone had a good argument that a shopping mall would benefit the community, Mr. Developer and the government can force you to sell them their house.

This led to a HUGE backlash, with property rights people freaking out about what seemed like a pretty clear abuse of governmental power serving the interests of developers. Some 44 states have since passed laws outlawing the use of Eminent Domain for purely economic development. Some of that backlash has gone too far in the other direction, with some laws getting passed which not only required compensation to landowners if land was taken, but merely if land was diminished in value.  Like, if the government passes an environmental regulation which makes your private, for-profit toxic waste dump less lucrative than it was, the government has to pay you. It’s crazy stuff, really. And all of those laws notwithstanding, the topic continues to be a controversial one, with battles over what, exactly, is “public” what is a “public good” and all of that raging on. It’s rather fascinating. At least for boring nerfherders like me.

In the recent GOP presidential debate Donald Trump and Jeb Bush got into it on the topic, with Trump — a real estate developer, or course — defending the use of Eminent Domain to take land for economic development and Bush — a really desperate dude who at this point will take ANY position he can if it’ll give him traction — opposing it. In the days since they’ve continued to fight about it, with Trump charging Bush with hypocrisy since his brother, George W., was an owner of the Texas Rangers when they built their new ballpark with the help of Eminent Domain.

Ahh, yes. We finally get to baseball.

Today Nathaniel Rakich of Baseballot digs into that project and looks at how it all played out against the Eminent Domain debate. It touches on stuff we talk about a lot around here: are ballparks engines of economic development or merely for the enrichment of ballclubs? If they are built by a municipality, are they public goods? Wait, how can they be public goods if you can’t just walk into them for free? And the arguments go on.

It’s fascinating stuff showing, once again, that the real world and baseball intersect all the dang time and it’s handy to have a handle on just how, exactly, it does so.