Yanks only need Burnett, Rivera to best Phils

Leave a comment

So, now we know just how the Yankees have decided to address that middle-relief problem; they’re going to bypass it completely.
A.J. Burnett struck out nine over seven innings and Mariano Rivera pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings Thursday as the Yankees won 3-1 to send the World Series to Philadelphia deadlocked at one game apiece.
The game was tied at 1 until the bottom of the sixth, when Hideki Matsui took a Pedro Martinez curveball and golfed it over the short porch in right field for a solo homer. Martinez finished the inning from there, and common sense suggested that his night was over after 99 pitches.
Charlie Manuel had other ideas, though. Martinez went back out to start the seventh against Jerry Hairston Jr. Hairston, who started over the benched Nick Swisher because he was 10-for-27 against Martinez, managed to dunk one over Ryan Howard’s head into short right. He was immediately removed for Brett Gardner. Melky Cabrera followed by showing bunt on the first pitch. Martinez responded by throwing a high fastball — a pitch that’s very difficult to bunt — on the second pitch, only to see Melky line it into right for another clean single, putting runners on the corners.
That knocked out Pedro. Jorge Posada singled off Chan Ho Park to make it a 3-1 game, and a couple of oddities followed to keep it at that score. After failing in his first two bunt attempts, Derek Jeter tried one more time and fouled the pitch off, resulting in a strikeout. Johnny Damon then hit a little liner towards Ryan Howard, who was credited with a catch and a double play, even though he short-hopped the ball in truth.
Martinez clearly deserved better for what was a pretty stellar outing. He struck out eight, and while Mark Teixeira’s homer in the fourth was legit, Matsui’s was a Yankee Stadium shot. Pedro shouldn’t have been sent back out for the seventh, yet he was unfortunate that things turned out as badly as they did then. Hairston got only a small piece for the ball he hit for a single, and he simply guessed wrong during Melky’s at-bat.
In his first World Series start, Burnett was the big star for the Yankees. He struck out nine, and one of his two walks was intentional. Rivera gave up two hits and a walk in his two innings, but the Phillies couldn’t come up with the hits when they needed them.
The Yankees got their win even though Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts for the second straight game. Damon was also dreadful, and given that he’s unexceptional against lefties anyway, it’d make more sense to sit him than Nick Swisher if the Yankees want Hairston in the lineup again for Game 3 versus Cole Hamels.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
Leave a comment

Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.

Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract

J.A. Happ
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.


MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.

Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.

The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.

This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.