Daily Dose: Brawling in Boston

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Junichi Tazawa’s first big-league start turned out to be a wild one Tuesday night, as his plunking Miguel Cabrera in the first inning led to a bench-clearing incident when Kevin Youkilis charged the mound after being hit in the next inning by Rick Porcello. Cabrera left with a hand contusion, Youkilis and Porcello were ejected, and Mike Lowell homered twice after replacing Youkilis as the Red Sox won.
Tazawa got the victory for allowing one earned run and two unearned runs in five innings, totaling six strikeouts compared to just two walks and one extra-base hit on the same day that John Smoltz reportedly cleared waivers. However, his time in the rotation could be limited with Tim Wakefield slated to make a rehab start Saturday at Triple-A, so Tazawa’s value is limited to deeper AL-only leagues.
While everyone awaits their suspensions and the Tigers hope that Cabrera isn’t seriously injured, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Jhoulys Chacin pitched well in four relief outings after a surprise call-up three weeks ago, striking out nine hitters in five innings, but struggled Tuesday night in his first start. He failed to make it out of the third inning, walking six and allowing four runs on just one hit. His control has been fine in the minors, but it’s certainly not shocking that a 21-year-old who skipped Double-A would have some issues.
* Nick Blackburn’s implosion continued Tuesday, as he gave up six runs before being chased in the second inning. Blackburn had a sub-3.00 ERA as recently as mid-July, but his horrendous strikeout rate always predicted a trip back down to earth and sure enough he’s coughed up 29 runs in 30.1 innings since then. He’s still a capable mid-rotation starter, but there just isn’t much long-term upside.
* Scott Rolen went on the disabled list Tuesday with post-concussion symptoms, which stem from being beaned by a Jason Marquis pitch last week. Rolen is due back in a couple weeks and in the meantime Adam Rosales will continue to fill in at third base. Rosales has hit just .219 so far, but put up a decent .299/.353/.490 line with 16 homers, 62 extra-base hits, and 11 steals in 147 games at Triple-A.
* Ervin Santana entered Tuesday having given up at least four runs in all but one of his eight starts since coming off the disabled list in early July. He tossed eight innings of one-run ball against Oakland on July 16, yet still had a 6.98 ERA over 39 innings during that span. That is until hurling a complete-game shutout versus the Rays, allowing just three hits while recording 27 outs on 97 pitches.
AL Quick Hits: Ian Kinsler (hamstring) is slated to begin a rehab stint Wednesday at Double-A … Daisuke Matsuzaka (shoulder) tossed a 40-pitch bullpen session Tuesday and reported no problems … Jake Westbrook (elbow) will be shut down for six weeks following a visit with Dr. Lewis Yocum … Dallas Braden (foot) was unable to throw a side session Tuesday … Troy Percival said Tuesday that he’s retiring “unless something miraculous happens” … Akinori Iwamura (knee) is set to start a rehab assignment Friday at Triple-A … Koij Uehara (elbow) will start a throwing program Wednesday with an eye toward returning in September … J.P. Ricciardi said Tuesday that Shaun Marcum likely won’t come back from Tommy John surgery this season … Justin Speier is still owed $5.25 million for 2010, but the Angels released him Monday after two disappointing seasons … Cleveland sent Josh Barfield outright to Triple-A after the ex-top prospect cleared waivers.
NL Quick Hits: Adrian Gonzalez had hits in all six of his at-bats Tuesday, raising his batting average 11 points in one night … After missing two weeks with back soreness, Roy Oswalt gave up six runs in five innings Tuesday … Johnny Cueto is expected to make his next start despite leaving Monday’s game with some hip cramping … Jamie Moyer said Tuesday that he’s “disheartened” by Philadelphia moving him to the bullpen … Arizona pitching prospect Jarrod Parker will be shut down for the rest of the year with a strained elbow … Tommy Hanson had nine strikeouts and zero walks in 6.2 frames Tuesday, improving to 7-2 … Corey Hart (appendicitis) quit Tuesday’s workout after just eight minutes, explaining that “my body still hurts” … Rich Harden threw seven innings of two-run ball Tuesday and has allowed just eight runs in his last six starts … Jeff Weaver will get the nod on Wednesday in place of Chad Billingsley (hamstring).

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.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.