The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s and Cardinals’ pitcher Adam Wainwright’s reaction to the Holliday drop:
The Dodgers stretched the inning improbably after left fielder Matt Holliday lost first baseman James Loney’s line drive in the glare of late-afternoon lights and a backdrop of towel-waving fans.
The ball caught Holliday in the stomach, knocking the wind out of everyone wearing road gray.
“He lost the ball in the 50,000 white towels shaking in front of his face,” starting pitcher and would-be hero Adam Wainwright said. “It doesn’t seem really fair that an opposing team should be allowed to shake white towels when there’s a white baseball flying through the air. Dodger blue towels — how about that?”
Except that’s not how it happened. As Dodger Thoughts’ Jon Weisman points out — and as the video from MLB.com appears to show — the towels didn’t seem to be waving until after the drop. Indeed, the Dodgers fans were pretty bummed at that point because they were one out away from a loss and, until the exact moment of the error, assumed that out number three was in the air. I know the natural reaction is to stand up for your teammate when things are tough, but Wainwright is plain wrong to blame the towels.
But even if they were waving, so what? It’s called home field advantage. If the Cardinals don’t want to deal with hostiles waving white towels, they should have won a couple of extra games in September and finished with a better record than L.A.
Thinking more about it, does anyone remember back in the mid-to-late 80s when NFL quarterbacks used to be able to step out from behind center and get an official time out if the crowd was too loud? I have this image of Steve Fuller doing this, like, ten times in a row when he played for the Bears. QBs would even get the ref to warn the crowd to be quiet, and if they didn’t, the defense was assessed with a delay of game penalty. It was probably the stupidest rule to ever exist in professional sports.
Thankfully, football players put on their big boy pants and learned to deal and the rule was changed. As a result homefield advantage meant something once again (at least until all the new sound-killing stadiums came online). Baseball players should probably learn to suck it up and deal too.
After trading Ender Inciarte to the Braves as part of the Shelby Miller deal, Yasmany Tomas will go into 2016 as a regular in the Diamondbacks’ lineup. Signed to a six-year, $68.5 million contract in December of 2014, Tomas batted .273 with nine home runs and a .707 OPS over 426 plate appearances during his first season in the majors last year while struggling defensively between third base and right field. Third base is out as a possibility at this point, but the Diamondbacks are mulling over another defensive change for him.
According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said Friday that the club has discussed moving Tomas to left field and David Peralta to right.
“We’re definitely talking about it,” Hale said. “(Outfield coach) Dave McKay and I, (General Manager Dave Stewart) and (Chief Baseball Officer) Tony (La Russa), we think it might be best to switch them around.”
When the third base experiment flopped, the Diamondbacks put Tomas in right because they felt he would be the most comfortable there. The metrics weren’t kind to him. He’ll now have a full spring training to work on things if the club decides to make a change. Peralta isn’t the defender that Inciarte was, but he’s better than Tomas, so it’s understandable why the Diamondbacks would change their alignment.
Tomas is likely to be a liability no matter where he plays, but the Diamondbacks won’t mind as much if his bat begins to meet expectations. For a team with designs on the postseason, he’s a big key for this lineup.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.
Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.
Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.
Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.
Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.
Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.
The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”
Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.
Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.