Daily Dose: Pedro out-duels Lincecum

Leave a comment

Pedro Martinez began Thursday’s start versus San Francisco by serving up a leadoff homer to light-hitting Eugenio Velez. And then he hurled seven scoreless innings to out-duel Tim Lincecum, striking out nine, walking none, and giving up just four more hits. It wasn’t quite vintage Pedro, but he was damn close while dropping his ERA to 3.52 ERA and improving to 3-0 with a 23/3 K/BB ratio in 23 innings.
Lincecum was no slouch himself, racking up 11 strikeouts while surrendering just two runs on four hits and one walk, but the story of the night was Pedro. San Francisco’s lineup is hardly imposing, but he set down 13 straight batters at one point, needed just 87 pitches to record 21 outs, and has now won all three of his starts that haven’t been shortened by rain, beating the Giants, Mets, and Cubs on the road.
While the Phillies improve to 38-17 in their last 55 games, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Colorado received some good news on Huston Street when an MRI exam revealed no structural damage in his injured biceps Thursday. Street remains unavailable for now, but barring a setback may be able to resume closing at some point next week. In the meantime, Franklin Morales will handle ninth-inning duties for the Rockies and is a must pickup in all formats.
* Jarrod Washburn revealed earlier this week that he’s been pitching through a knee injury for several months now, so manager Jim Leyland has decided to skip his next turn in the rotation after he posted a 6.81 ERA in six starts since being traded to the Tigers. Armando Galarraga is back up from Triple-A to fill in and doesn’t figure to be any better, but luckily Detroit has a nice cushion is the horrendous AL Central.
* Wade Davis will make his MLB debut Sunday against Detroit and the 24-year-old is someone to keep tabs on for 2010. Overshadowed somewhat by David Price of late, Davis remains one of baseball’s better MLB-ready pitching prospects after posting a 3.40 ERA and 140/60 K/BB ratio in 158.2 innings at Triple-A. He has a low-90s heat, good secondary stuff, and No. 2 starter upside. Worth an AL-only flier for now.
* I’ve become more or less addicted to Twitter in just a month and have been posting tons of stuff on there nearly every day, so if you’re interested in my various ramblings with some baseball-related stuff sprinkled in check out @aarongleeman.
AL Quick Hits: Jorge Posada went 4-for-5 and knocked in four runs Thursday as the Yankees roughed up Ricky Romero … Nate Robertson will stick in Detroit’s rotation after tossing six shutout innings Thursday … B.J. Upton left Thursday’s game with an ugly-looking ankle injury, but X-rays were negative … Mariano Rivera (groin) may be available as soon as Friday if his afternoon bullpen session goes smoothly … Josh Hamilton has been diagnosed with a pinched nerve in his neck … Chris Perez had three strikeouts over two perfect innings Thursday, giving him 19.2 straight scoreless frames … Because of workload issues Toronto has shut down Marc Rzepcynski for the remainder of the year … Tim Wakefield (back) threw a 25-pitch mound session Thursday in preparation for Saturday’s scheduled start … Carlos Torres shut out the Cubs for seven innings Thursday to pick up his first MLB win … Clay Buchholz won his third straight game and turned in his sixth Quality Start in seven tries Thursday.
NL Quick Hits: Derrek Lee has left the Cubs for the birth of his second child, so Jake Fox filled in at first base Thursday … Hanley Ramirez was out of the lineup Thursday with an injured hamstring that he classified as just 10 percent healthy … John Smoltz allowed four runs in six innings Thursday, but looked solid with six strikeouts versus zero walks … Alcides Escobar started at shortstop Thursday after sitting out for two games in favor of J.J. Hardy … Fresh off the disabled list, Dave Bush (triceps) said Thursday that he’s “still not feeling quite right” … Carlos Beltran (knee) played five innings of center field in Thursday’s rehab game at Single-A and is aiming to return next week … Nick Johnson came off the shelf Thursday after missing 18 days with a hamstring injury … Justin Upton was limited to pinch-hitting duties Thursday thanks to issues with his contact lenses and delivered a double off the bench.

Indians sign reliever Tommy Hunter to $2 million deal

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Tommy Hunter throws to the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Miami, Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Leave a comment

Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that right-hander Tommy Hunter has agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract with the Indians. It’s a major-league deal, so Hunter gets a spot on the 40-man roster and will be in the Opening Day bullpen if he’s fully recovered from core muscle surgery.

Hunter split last season between the Orioles and Cubs, totaling 60 innings with a 4.18 ERA and 47/14 K/BB ratio. He had a sub-3.00 ERA in both 2013 and 2014, and has generally been a setup-caliber reliever since shifting to the bullpen full time.

He has good control and a mid-90s fastball, but Hunter has never missed many bats despite the big-time velocity and often struggles to keep the ball in the ballpark. He’ll likely fill a middle relief role in Cleveland initially.

“YER OUT!” Jenrry Mejia permanently suspended for a third positive PED test

Jenrry Mejia
14 Comments

You knew someone would be dumb enough to do this eventually, you just didn’t know who. Now we do: MLB just announced that reliever Jenrry Mejia has been permanently suspended after testing positive for Boldenone. That was his third positive test and under the Joint Drug Agreement that means his career is more or less over.

Mejia’s three strikes came in pretty rapid succession. On April 11, 2015 it was announced that Mejía had been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for use of stanozolol. On July 28, 2015 it was announced that Mejia had failed a test for Stanozolol again and Boldenone to boot, giving him a 162-game suspension, which he’d still be serving at the beggining of the season. Now this third test.

Mejia has played five seasons in the big. He started with so much promise, looking like a great prospect coming up. His performance only matched the promise in fits and starts, however, resulting in a 9-14 record with a 3.68 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 162/76 in 183.1 innings, all with the Mets.

Per the rules of the Joint Drug Agreement, Mejia can apply for reinstatement after being banned for two years. But it would obviously require him to spend two years doing a lot of smart things he hasn’t been doing in the past year. And it would also represent a near-unprecedented comeback. It could happen, I suppose, but it’s a far safer bet that his career is over.

I’m going to break it to you: some teams will stink this year. Like every year.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.45.53 PM
Leave a comment

There’s an AP story out today talking about how — brace yourself — some teams are going to be bad this year. It’s true. There are some teams, such as Atlanta, Philly, Colorado, Cincinnati and probably Milwaukee who seem certain to lose a lot of games.  The article’s author notes that, while a lot of money was spent in free agency this winter, not everyone was spending. He says “for some clubs, 2016 is basically over before it starts when it comes to contending.”

That sort of framing sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it? Isn’t it exactly the sort of thing we heard back in the early 2000s when people were still stumping for salary caps? Boston and New York were outspending everyone, the low money teams couldn’t keep up and, as spring training dawned, the season was over before it even began for half the league at least. There were scads of articles like that written 10-15 years ago. Bud Selig and others even used that exact construction — teams going to spring training already knowing they couldn’t compete — as points of rhetoric in the leadup to the 2002 labor battle with the players. Indeed, here’s the exact language from the 2000 Blue Ribbon economic report that Bud Selig commissioned which, by the way, should be read as a piece of labor propaganda, not as an actually useful or illuminative report:

What has made baseball’s recent seasons disturbing, and what makes its current economic structure untenable in the long run, is that, year after year, too many clubs know in spring training that they have no realistic prospect of reaching postseason play. Too many clubs in low-revenue markets can only expect to compete for postseason berths if ownership is willing to incur staggering operating losses to subsidize a competitive player payroll.

Different circumstances, obviously, but the same general bogeyman: some teams have no chance to compete!

Using that as the concern for whatever ails baseball has never made much sense to me as there will always be teams that are bad. Really, go look at any year’s league standings going back to the 19th century and there will be bad teams. It’s sort of the other side of the coin of good teams. Hard to have one without the other. And it’s probably a good thing to have some good and some and teams. Who wants a total crapshoot every year? What is this, Lake Woebegone, where every team is above .500? God, how boring.

The real issue is not that some teams will be good and some will be bad. It’s why they’ll be good and why they’ll be bad and whether the dynamic which creates good and bad teams is itself positive or negative for the game.

In the 40s and 50s, almost the entire American League knew that it had no chance to compete with the Yankees but they kind of liked that because they were making a lot of money not fielding competitive clubs. That was bad. In the late 1990s maybe some felt the same way too and it was because of no revenue sharing or incompetent management. Not great, and a lot of tweaks were made. Now a small handful of teams can’t compete because they’re doing wholesale rebuilds which some people call “tanking” and others think is not an issue.

As I recently wrote, to the extent people do think “tanking” is a problem, it’s important to (a) put it in perspective; and (b) look at the incentives teams have to tank and talk about whether they should be adjusted. As far as the perspective part goes, I’d say that only having five or six out of 30 teams with no realistic shot is actually pretty good compared to other points in baseball history. There’s a lot more parity now than there used to be. As far as the incentives: look at the dumb draft rules which were imposed to save owners a buck when it came to paying amateurs but which GREATLY increases the importance of picking high and thus losing.

The AP article touches on that, but it’s buried fairly deep down, well after the hand-wringing about teams entering spring training with no chance to win. As spring training progresses, there will likely be a lot of talk of just how bad some of these rebuilding teams will be as well. Most of that analysis will stop at the current state of the team and the hopelessness the fan bases are supposed to be feeling.

As a critically-minded fan, don’t let it stop there. If your team stinks, think about why it does and why it’s pursuing the course it is. Twenty years ago you could probably be safe in saying “well, my team’s GM is dumb and the owner is cheap.” That’s not really the case for most teams now. Now, I think, it’s far more about the incentives in play which make putting a lousy product on the field in the short term preferable to not doing so. Call it tanking, call it whatever you want, but if this is concern for you — and if this is a problem for Major League Baseball — the focus needs to be on the incentives.  Not on the fact that some teams are going to stink. Because teams will always stink. The important question is why.

Marlins sign left-hander Craig Breslow

Craig Breslow
Leave a comment

After spending the past four seasons in the Red Sox’s bullpen left-hander Craig Breslow has signed with the Marlins on a minor-league deal.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that the contract comes with an invitation to spring training and will pay $1.5 million if Breslow makes the Opening Day roster.

Brewslow has struggled in back-to-back seasons, posting a 5.96 ERA in 2014 and a 4.15 ERA last year. At age 35 he’s not a great bet to bounce back in a huge way, but Breslow posted a 1.81 ERA as recently as 2013 and is certainly still capable of being a useful middle reliever.