And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Smoltz.jpgYankees 13, Red Sox 6: Lord, deliver us from Red Sox-Yankees
baseball, because this game was positively interminable. Bob has the details here. And while
we’re petitioning the Lord here, let us ask Him to prevail upon one
John Smoltz (3.1 IP, 9 H, 8 ER) to hang up his spikes, because this is
just way too painful for a fan of 22 years to witness. And what’s with
you, Joba? What happened to that fast-working, strike-throwing ace we
saw four or five days ago? Seven walks? 108 pitches in five innings? Is
there some NESN/YES deal in place none of us are aware of that pays
everyone by the hour?

Phillies 3, Rockies 1: I can’t tell you how thrilled we NL East
fans are that the Phillies got Cliff Lee. Truly, we’re so, so happy for
Philadelphia. The figurative cherry on top of our giant ice cream
sundae of misery went seven innings, giving up one run and striking out
nine.

Angels 9, White Sox 5: Jon Danks gave up seven runs on nine hits
and three walks in 6 1/3 innings. “I got my butt kicked, that’s all you
can say.” Well in that case, let’s move on.

Rangers 6, Athletics 4: I gotta start reading more prospect
books and stuff in the spring. Even though I’ve noted Tommy Hunter’s
existence this season — even wrote about him once — I see “T. Hunter”
in the box score and my first thought is “When did Torii Hunter get
traded to Texas and why is he pitching?” My second thought is “I wonder
if Tab Hunter is still alive?” He was in “Damn Yankees,” you know, so
there’s a baseball connection. So I went and checked Wikipedia. Yep,
still kickin’ at 78. And though I knew Tab Hunter and Tony Perkins were
both gay, I had no idea that they were a thing for a while. Too bad it
didn’t work out for those two. Tony Perkins played Jimmy Piersall once,
you know. Basically everything’s about baseball. Oh, Tommy/Torii/Tab
pitched well (7 P, 3 H, 2 ER).

Nationals 12, Marlins 8: The Fish blow a 6-0 lead and wind up
getting slaughtered — and swept — by Washington. Ryan Zimmerman
walked, hit two singles, a triple, a homer and had three RBIs. Elijah
Dukes was 3-4 with four RBI.

Tigers 7, Orioles 3: Alex Avila — the son of the Tigers’
assistant GM — made his major league debut and hit a two-out RBI
double in the third inning. The only thing worse than working with the
boss’ kid is when the boss’ kid actually knows what he’s doing so you
can’t claim to have been given the shaft. Game story: “Porcello (10-7)
became just the second pitcher in franchise history with double digits
in wins at the age of 20 or younger, joining Dave Rozema, who had 11
victories before his 21st birthday.” Of course Rozema never won double digits again after his 15-win, 16-CG, age-20 season in 1977. Thanks, Ralph Houk!

Indians 2, Twins 1: That’s three earned runs in 11 innings
pitched since returning to the bigs for Fausto Carmona. That’s
deceiving, though, because he’s only struck out three guys, walked
seven and has given up ten hits in those innings. Oh, and his season
ERA is now at 6.66, so like that whole Satan/Goethe/Faust/Fausto
thing that everyone always talks about is just underscored now. Wait,
you mean I’m the only one who brings that up? Moving right along . . .
If I were a betting man, I’d bet that 2007 was just one of those
magical one-off years for Carmona, and that he’ll never touch that
level again. How many personnel decisions did Mark Shapiro make based
on the opposite assumption?

Dodgers 5, Braves 4: Three-run walkoff homer for Andre Ethier. I didn’t see it, so let’s hear from tHeMARksMiTh, who did:

It was signed, sealed, and delivered with Soriano coming in
for the ninth, and though it was only a two-run lead, it felt like it
was five. But he just didn’t have his command, and two pitches before
Ethier hit that home run I said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with
Soriano tonight, but I don’t have a good feeling about this.”

God damn it that one hurt.
 

Royals 8, Mariners 2: Bruce Chen wins the “scattered” award for the night, by allowing ten hits in 6.2 innings yet only giving up two runs.

Diamondbacks 11, Pirates 6: Wow, when the Pirates lose in extra
innings, they lose big. Even Dan Haren had an RBI in the 12th., and he
thought he had the night off. Pirate reliever Steven Jackson gave up
five runs on four hits in 12th, and was demoted to Triple-A
Indianapolis right after the game.

Padres 8, Mets 3: New York has lost six in a row in Petco Park.
Strange place to be having trouble. The Padres extended Bud Black’s
contract through 2010 after the game.

Marc Rzepczynski signs two-year, $11 million contract with Mariners

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 9: Marc Rzepczynski #23 of the Washington Nationals looks on before pitching against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning during game two of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 9, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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After rumors of the deal surfaced on Thursday, the Mariners officially signed veteran reliever Marc Rzepczynski to a two-year, $11 million deal on Friday night. Per a report by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the lefty is due $5.5 million in 2017 and 2018.

The signing marks the left-hander’s fourth trade since July 2015. He bounced from the Indians to the Padres at the 2015 trade deadline, then to the Athletics in the offseason, then to the Nationals in late August of 2016. Last season, he pitched to a career-best 2.64 ERA during 47 2/3 innings with the Athletics and Nationals, but hit an all-time low with 5.5 BB/9 that fed into a 1.59 K/BB rate. While the 31-year-old’s split against right-handed batters are underwhelming (a career .277/.377/.431 line with 123 walks and 24 home runs), he’s held lefties to a respectable .222/.291/.298 line with just 52 walks and eight homers.

Adding Rzepczynski to the bullpen should check off another to-do item for Mariners’ GM Jerry Dipoto, though FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman notes that the club is still likely to pursue an additional reliever and a No. 4 starter before the offseason comes to a close.

2016 Winter Meetings Preview

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is seen along the Potomac River February 26, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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The baseball world will descend on Washington D.C. — well, the Maryland suburbs of Washington, at the Gaylord Resort at National Harbor — this weekend for the 2016 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Twenty free agents from a class of 191 have signed thus far. Among the notable: Yoenis Cespedes, Edinson Volquez, Neil Walker, Josh Reddick, Bartolo Colon, and R.A. Dickey. That, of course, leaves a ton of notables left, including Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Turner, Jose Bautista, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Trumbo, Mark Melancon, Rich Hill and a host of others. Here is our rundown of this offseason’s top free agents if you’re curious. As you have come to expect from us, we’ll have a writeup of everyone who signs, faster than almost anyone else will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is an historically thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. We’ve seen a couple already, most notably the deals which sent Taijuan Walker to the Diamondbacks, Jaime Garcia to the Braves and Brian McCann to the Astros. Most experts believe there will be plenty more this winter, and the ball could really get rolling on that in the next week with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Phillips on the block.

Another major activity of the Winter Meetings is the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee vote. Except, this year, there is no Veterans Committee, at least in name. It’s now the “Today’s Game” committee. Here are links to breakdowns of the candidacies of all ten men on the ballot the new committee will consider:

Harold Baines
Albert Belle
Will Clark
Orel Hershiser
Mark McGwire
George Steinbrenner
Davey Johnson
Lou Piniella
John Shuerholz
Bud Selig

Trade deals, free agent negotiations and Hall of Fame votes take place behind closed doors at the Gaylord Resort. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year’s new faces are Torey Lovullo with the Diamondbacks, Rick Renteria with the White Sox and Bud Black with the Rockies. Brian Snitker, now the permanent manager of the Braves, will get his first go-around at the managerial cattle call. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. And a lot of it. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings, though this year’s brand new Collective Bargaining Agreement should overshadow that. We’ve already discussed the major points of that and, yesterday, I speculated that, as time goes on, the way this agreement was reached could lead to some serious strife going forward, particularly on the union side. Expect to hear some anonymous rumblings about all of that in the next few days, from players, agents and other interested parties who may not be all that pleased with how it goes.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at National Harbor, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event. As they used to say in radio, tune in to us and rip off the dial. Or, at the very least, keep a tab open to us and refresh a lot.