And That Happened: Wednesday's scores and highlights

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Tigers 7, Twins 2: I’ve seen a lot of “well, whaddaya expect,
Pavano sucks” comments floating around the internet since last night’s
loss, but it’s all from New York people who can’t get his time in
Gotham out of their heads. Sure, he got knocked around last night, but
before that he had owned the Tigers this season, going 4-0 with a 1.69
ERA. It wasn’t his night, no, but the outcome wasn’t preordained. Give
Detroit the credit for doing what had to be done. And it is all but
done, no? Three games back with four games to play? Sorry, Twinkies, I
think it’s over.

Marlins 5, Braves 4: Speaking of over. Sixteen freakin’ strikeouts by Ricky Nolasco. Sixteen! If only the Braves had listened to Mike Schmidt.
But they could have won! A dramatic comeback in the ninth, only to be
short-circuited by Matt Diaz’s total brain lock at third base with the
bases loaded in the ninth. Either run home or don’t go, Matt. At least
there’s dignity in being gunned down at home. Dying at third base is an
empty death.

Phillies 10, Astros 3: And now we’re talking really over.
As in the NL East race, which the Phillies have now clinched. Brade
Lidge was brought in to pitch the last out of the ninth with a seven
run lead. I’d call that “baby steps” but to do so would be an insult to
babies everywhere. This is more like it.

Rockies 10, Brewers 6: And really, given how they’re playing
(i.e. not on fire, but better than L.A., St. Louis and Philly) they
kind of have to be your NL favorites, no?

Reds 6, Cardinals 1: I’m supposed to be writing a preview of
whichever NLDS the Cards are a part of, and as I sit here right now, I
can’t picture doing it without using the word “stanky.”

Blue Jays 12, Red Sox 0: Even stankier, though to be fair, the
Sox trotted out a AA lineup the day after clinching the wild card.
Still, thank goodness Pouliot is writing the Anaheim-Boston preview,
because I wouldn’t know what to say. Let’s all tip out hats to Roy
Halladay, who probably had more annoying crap to deal with this season
than any other superstar. He plays for an imploding organization who
left him dangling in the breeze for over a month, and then when it
didn’t happen, he got to read all kinds of stuff talking about how
he’ll never be more valuable, and just wait for the decline, and all of
that. Screw that, he said, and went and shut down the Sox (CG SHO, 3
H). Again, sure, it was almost all second stringers, but dominant is
dominant.

Indians 5, White Sox 1; White Sox 1, Indians 0: Eric Wedge bids
adieu to Progressive Field with the split of the doubleheader. I
basically got fired nearly a year ago, so I know from playing out the
string in October. Contrary to the gloomy game recaps, my guess is that
he rather enjoyed the day. Sure, it will weigh on him later, but once
you hear the rumors about the axe coming down, it’s something of a
relief to actually have it happen. In other news, I heard a rumor that
Shapiro had a line on a new manager. I can’t mention any names until
the deal is official, but I think it will be as soon as the candidate
gets off the other line with that guy who is interested in a set of
white walls.

Rays 5, Orioles 3: “You’re saving your really good lies for some
smarter cop, is that it? I’m just a donut in the on-deck circle. Wait
until the real guy gets here. Wait until that big guy comes back. I’m
probably just his secretary. I’m just Montel Williams. You want to talk
to Larry King. I’ve been a murder police for ten years. If
you’re going to lie to me, you lie to me with respect. What is it? Is
it my shoes? Is it my haircut? Got a problem with my haircut? Don’t you
ever lie to me like I’m Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams!” In other news, I’m done thinking of new ways to describe the Orioles’ suckitude. Here on out, it’s only “Homicide” quotes.

Pirates 4, Cubs 0; Pirates 8, Cubs 2: Charlie Morton throws a
four-hit shutout in the first game. Donnie Veal got in another third of
an inning in the second. Nice job getting him some work, Russell. The
Pirates need only split their remaining four to avoid 100 losses. I’m
kind of rooting for them.

Nationals 7, Mets 4: Justin Maxwell came in as a pinch runner,
hung around for a plate appearance and hit a walkoff grand slam on
K-Rod’s 37th pitch of the game. Jerry Manuel after the game: “We’re
just not a good team right now.” You don’t say, doc?

Royals 4, Yankees 3: Derek Jeter led off the first with a homer,
which I’m pretty sure makes him a felon or a fraud or a war criminal of
some kind. Joba Chamberlain was booed off the field following 3+
lackluster innings. He’s 0-4 with 8.42 ERA in his last eight starts,
and at this point I don’t see the Yankees putting much if any trust in
him in the postseason. I think he was jerked around a bit in the second
half, but really, at some point you gotta pitch regardless of how the
bosses are doin’ you.

Padres 5, Dodgers 0: Clayton Richard tosses a one-hitter over
seven and then the bullpen closes the door. Torre: “We certainly don’t
want to finish the season on a bum note because momentum-wise it
doesn’t help you in the postseason.” Sorry Joe, the bum note has
already been played. All that’s left to determine is how long you all
sustain it. Pirates and Padres. Wow.

Angels 5, Rangers 0: One-hitters were apparently all the rage
out west last night. In this one, it was Matt Palmer and four other
relievers who did the trick. And it was a leadoff single in the first
inning! And Palmer was basically just a spot starter, taking Weaver’s
place so that the Angels could set up the playoff rotation.

Mariners 7, Athletics 0: OK, so maybe 629 was Griffey’s
last homer. Although at this rate he may convince someone to give him a
job next year. Oh, and Brandon Morrow gave up one hit over eight
innings. There’s a lot of talk in the game story about how this helps
the Mariners figure out the rotation next year because, boy howdy, how
great is it to have a second strong starter after Hernandez. That talk,
however, doesn’t really acknowledge that one start does not a strong
starter make, especially when it comes on September 30th against
Oakland.

Giants 4, Diamondbacks 1: The Giants are now officially
eliminated. Brad Penny threw a complete game. Based on how he looked in
the middle of the season in Boston — sweaty and tired mostly — I
would have bet the lives of my children that he wouldn’t make it past a
seventh inning for the rest of his days. Throw him in with Zambrano as
a guy who either (a) needs to improve his conditioning; or (b) always,
always always pitch in 62 degree weather. Brad: have your agent call
Mr. Sabean and get a deal done right now.

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.