History lesson: the 1950 World Series

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A day off that serves absolutely no one but a few network people makes for a relative dearth of baseball news today. So let’s look backwards at the last time the Phillies met the Yankees for all the marbles: 1950.

I wasn’t around for it and neither were hardly any of you, but MLB.com’s Hal Bodley was, and he went to every game:

The day before my dad and I were to drive to Philadelphia for Game 1, he held up a newspaper in amazement. “Can you believe Eddie Sawyer is going to start Jim Konstanty in the first game? Against the Yankees!” 

Yes, that was the story of the first game. Konstanty, a 33-year-old who had pitched 74 games as a reliever, saving 22 (though the stat had yet to be invented) and winning 16, would be named the National League’s MVP.

But to start Game 1 of the World Series?

Well, it’s not like Sawyer had much of a choice.  Robin Roberts was the ace, but he had pitched three times in the last five days of the regular season, and back then there weren’t a ton of superfluous days off: Game 154 of the regular season was on October 1st. Game 1 of the World Series was on October 4th.  Guys may have been built out of iron and moxy and asbestos and whatever in those days, but even back then you didn’t throw your starter on two days’ rest after he had just started three of the last five.  And Konstanty did good! He only gave up one run in eight innings. The only problem was that Vic Raschi threw a shutout for the Bombers.

Which kind of set a pattern. As Robin Roberts remembers: “We got swept, but they were all close. Could have gone either way. We lost the first game, 1-0, the second one, 2-1, the third one, 3-2, and the last one, 5-2.” Joe DiMaggio was the hero of Game 2, hitting a 10th inning homer.  Yogi Berra hit an RBI single and a solo shot to stake rookie Whitey Ford to what in this series was an insurmountable lead in Game 4. Looking back and seeing those names, the path of history seems inevitable even if really wasn’t. The better team clearly won.

I’m a sucker for close pitchers’ duels, so I’d love to see a bunch of low-scoring, one run games like we, well, like Hal Bodley saw in 1950.  With the uncertainty of the Phillies rotation and the potency of the Yankees bats, however, I don’t see it happening.  Of course, I also don’t see the 2009 Phillies going without a home run like the 1950 Phillies did either.

But I’ll save a prediction for tomorrow.  Given my track record this postseason, whoever I pick is gonna have some really angry fans.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.