Daily Dose: One Night Only – No Lidge

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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.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.