Daily Dose: One Night Only – No Lidge

Leave a comment

Brad Lidge blew his MLB-worst ninth save Tuesday night while pitching for the fourth straight day, so after Cole Hamels tossed eight shutout innings Wednesday manager Charlie Manuel turned to Ryan Madson to close out a 1-0 lead. Madson did his best Lidge impression by serving up a game-tying homer to Brandon Moss, but stayed in to pitch a scoreless 10th inning before Ryan Howard’s three-run homer won it.
Manuel has made it very clear that Lidge remains the Phillies’ closer despite a 7.33 ERA that would be the worst of all time for any pitcher with 25-plus saves, so don’t draw any major conclusions from Madson getting the nod Wednesday. He’d be the obvious choice to assume ninth-inning duties if the plug is ever pulled on Lidge, but with a comfortable division lead there’s no pressure on Manuel to make a change.
While the Phillies appear committed to riding Lidge until the wheels fall off, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Armando Galarraga came out of nowhere last season to win 13 games with a 3.73 ERA as a 26-year-old rookie despite a mediocre 126/61 K/BB ratio in 178.2 innings. He figured to regress this season, but going 6-10 with a 5.05 ERA and 88/59 K/BB ratio in 135.1 innings is an even bigger drop than expected and the Tigers demoted him to the minors Wednesday.
In terms of damage done on specific pitches, Galarraga has the AL’s least-effective fastball and his slider hasn’t been nearly as tough to hit this year. He’ll be back once rosters expand on September 1, but in the meantime Nate Robertson replaces him in the rotation after spending two months on the disabled list with an elbow injury. He had a successful rehab assignment, but Robertson remains an awful pitcher.
* Another day another Mets player on the disabled list, as Oliver Perez is headed for season-ending knee surgery. Perez was a complete disaster in the first season of a three-year, $36 million contract, posting a 6.82 ERA in 14 starts while compiling an awful 62/58 K/BB ratio over 66 innings. He’s expected to be ready for spring training and likely won’t be such a mess with a healthy knee, but he’s a huge question mark.
Note: If you’re into Twitter, check me out @aarongleeman.
AL Quick Hits: Tim Wakefield tossed seven innings of one-run ball in his return from the disabled list Wednesday and David Ortiz delivered a walk-off homer … Dallas Braden may not pitch again this season after being told by a neurologist that a nerve in his foot has been “traumatized” … Travis Hafner took Wednesday off because of fatigue in his surgically repaired shoulder … Adam Jones (back) is hoping to rejoin the lineup Thursday after missing three straight games … Ichiro Suzuki (calf) couldn’t take batting practice Wednesday, so he remained out of the lineup … Jake Peavy (ankle) is unlikely to make his White Sox debut this weekend after skipping a bullpen session Wednesday … There’s speculation that Boston will designate Brad Penny for assignment Thursday to make room on the roster for Billy Wagner … Marlon Byrd was scratched from the lineup Wednesday thanks to kidney stones … Joe Saunders picked up a win Wednesday in his return from the DL.
NL Quick Hits: Justin Upton came off the disabled list Wednesday after missing three weeks with an oblique injury … Nick Johnson (hamstring) landed on the disabled list Wednesday, leaving Ross Gload and Gaby Sanchez to fill in at first base … Alfonso Soriano (knee) was back in the lineup Wednesday despite concerns that he might need surgery … Stephen Drew said Tuesday that he could be away from the team longer than expected because his wife is having pregnancy complications … Livan Hernandez will join the Nationals’ rotation after posting a 5.47 ERA in 23 starts with the Mets … Milwaukee has reportedly placed all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman on waivers … Matt Murton was designated for assignment Wednesday so Colorado could activate Juan Rincon from the DL, which is obviously the low point of anyone’s career … Joel Pineiro picked up his seventh straight win with eight innings of two-run ball Wednesday … Mark Reynolds (flu) missed his third straight game Wednesday.

White Sox acquire right-hander Tommy Kahnle from Rockies

Tommy Kahnle
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Leave a comment

According to the official Twitter account of the Chicago White Sox, the club acquired right-hander Tommy Kahnle from the Rockies on Tuesday evening in exchange for minor league pitcher Yency Almonte.

Kahnle was designated for assignment by the Rockies last week in a flurry of moves made in preparation of next month’s Rule 5 Draft. The 26-year-old former fifth-round pick posted an ugly 4.86 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, and 39/28 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings this past season for Colorado and he wasn’t much better at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Almonte, 21, had a 3.41 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 110/38 K/BB ratio in 137 1/3 innings this past season between Low-A Kannapolis and High-A Winston-Salem.

It’s a straight one-for-one deal of two non-prospects, and the timing of it — in the evening, with Thanksgiving approaching — has our Craig Calcaterra wondering whether an executive was just trying to get out of some family responsibilities …

Mark McGwire to become the Padres bench coach

Los Angeles Dodgers batting coach Mark McGwire roams the field during practice for the National League baseball championship series Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, in St. Louis. The Dodgers are scheduled to play the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLCS on Friday in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The other day Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the Padres were in discussions with former Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire about their bench coach job. Today Jon Heyman reports that the deal is done and will soon be announced.

McGwire has been the hitting coach for Los Angeles for the past three seasons. When his contract was not renewed following the end of 2015 he was rumored to be up for the Diamondbacks’ hitting coach job. He likely view staying in Southern California to be a plus, as he makes his home in Irvine, which is around 90 miles from Petco Park. That’s a long commute, but Mac can afford the gas, I guess.

How to talk to your family about the designated hitter at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinner

While political topics are normally the subject of awkward conversation at the Thanksgiving dinner table, hardcore baseball fans know that it can be just as awkward to talk about the game with relatives.

They don’t know baseball as well as you do — not by a long shot — but for some reason everyone thinks they have the God-given right not only to offer their baseball opinions but to demand acknowledgement that those opinions are correct. Baseball may be dying, you guys, but it’s vestigial status as our National Pastime makes everyone think they’re an expert by simple virtue of being an American. It’s maddening.

I can’t tell you how to keep your family away from sensitive topics, but here are brief answers to some frequently asked questions about the state of the game, and how you can defuse combustible conversations:

Will the National League adopt the designated hitter?

Despite the fact that the DH has been around four 43 seasons, your relatives — even those far younger than 43 — will loudly proclaim it to be a new-fangled abomination as they pass the sweet potatoes. While the best way to avoid conflict here is to say something like “I think the differences between the leagues are special and should be preserved” and try to quickly move on to something else, we don’t progress as a civilization by indulging foolishness in the name of peace. Tell your relatives that pitchers batting is dumb and that the DH should be universal. And then tell them to get their own sweet potatoes. You’re trying to eat here for cryin’ out loud.

Where will the big free agents go? Don’t the Yankees spend all of their big money and buy championships anyway?

My god, your uncle/cousin/sister’s boyfriend who probably shouldn’t be piping up about ANYTHING right now given that none of you really like him and it’s not going to last anyway is out of touch when it comes to such things. Tell them that the Yankees haven’t won jack since the first year of Obama’s first term and that even when they were winning the World Series all the time they did so on the back of homegrown talent, savvily-developed. Indeed, they STOPPED winning championships once they went huge on free agency and jacked up payroll and, despite the fact that they still owe a lot of old guys money, they are back to developing talent again and are way less likely to spend stupid money in free agency than they used to be. Careful here, though: people have strong feelings about the Yankees regardless of their ignorance and will likely fight back on this point. Maybe it’s safer just to discuss Obama. Here’s an idea to that end: how — as your drunk uncle claims — can Obama simultaneously be the least effective president ever AND a total dictator? Maybe Obama is one of those two things, but my drunk uncle has never given me a satisfactory answer to how he can be both.

Why doesn’t baseball have a salary cap? The players make too much money.

The idea of a salary cap in baseball is dead. Deader than vaudeville. It blew up the game in 1994-95, and the owners blinked rather than try it again in 2002.  Since then the money has been flowing, competitive balance has been better than most people will admit, and the owners seem to have very little desire to fight that fight again.  It’s not going to happen. Yet, for some reason — likely the Football Industrial Complex’s propaganda machine — every sports dilettante thinks that baseball not only needs a salary cap but that it’s actually something that could happen, even though it isn’t.

Here some ju-jitsu is in order. Rather than bog things down with facts which show that there is no need for a salary cap, turn the question around on them and ask them when the billionaires who own baseball teams will accept a cap on how much they should earn for their “labor.” When they spout off about how owners built the business themselves and are entitled to whatever they can get, ask them which of the current owners, who form a veritable Who’s-Who of Paper Movers, Genetic Lottery Winners and Men Who Were Born on Third Base Yet Think They Hit a Triple, built a dang thing. Peter Angelos, maybe. Just don’t tell them that he’s a rich plaintiff’s lawyer who had the union’s back during the 1994-95 strike.

What’s wrong with young players today? Why don’t they act professionally and respect the game? 

By this time your uncle may be so drunk on the Beaujolais Nouveau that he may actually slip and say “Latin players” instead of “young players,” and that’s assuming he’s polite enough to use words like “Latin” to refer to people from the Caribbean, Central and South America. If so, skip the lecture about how arguments regarding baseball decorum and “playing the game the right way” are really just proxies for cultural anxiety and creeping xenophobia and go directly to the inevitable conversation about immigration, refugees and Donald Trump. It’ll save you time and make everyone angrier way, way faster. And this is a wonderful thing.

Or, at least it is for me. I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year and the quicker people get to open warfare the quicker I can kick everyone out, bringing some peace and quiet back to my house. Plus: more pie for me.


(with both thanks and apologies to Brendan Nyhan of the New York Times)

Jerry Dipoto refutes the notion that Robinson Cano is unhappy

Robinson Cano

Yesterday John Harper of the Daily News reported that, according to a friend of Robinson Cano‘s, Cano is unhappy in Seattle and would like to go back to New York. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto responded to that report, saying that it’s totally false based on his conversations with Cano and his agent:

“[Cano’s agent] reached out to let me know that did not come from Robbie and that’s not at all reflective of how he felt,” said Dipoto, who replaced former GM Jack Zduriencik two months ago. “Shortly after the season ended, I sat down with Robinson in my office for two hours and we had a great talk and I think we left with a very clear understanding of who one another might be.

There are official lines and things one says to one’s friends. Then again, there are also friends who know things and “friends” who assume things thought by others and then talk to newspapers about it too. Where all of this falls on the truth/knowledge spectrum is something none of us can ever know.

What can be known for sure is that (a) Cano had a rough season from both a health and baseball perspective; (b) Cano is a professional who knows that there is zero upside to communicating displeasure with one’s current team to the press, either directly or through surrogates; and (c) when one is productive and one’s team is winning, one feels very differently about life than if one is not productive and not winning.

In short: there could very well be truth from both sides of this little happening.