More thoughts on the Sox and Adrian Gonzalez

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Adrian Gonzalez headshot.jpgI don’t know that there’s any trade rumor with as little actual merit creating as much buzz, sturm und drang as the Adrian Gonzalez to the Sox business.  Even the most wild rumor-passer-oners in the blogosphere all note that nothing has really happened except the passive acknowledgment of general overall compatibility between the Sox and Padres on this subject. Every report is quickly followed up with a “nothing is close to happening” disclaimer.  It’s a hot rumor because so many people want it to happen as opposed to anything being even remotely imminent.

Or do they want it to happen?  I don’t follow the politics of Red Sox Nation too closely, but Red Sox Monster blogger Dan Lamothe claims that a lot of Sox fans have “freaked out about the Sox potentially parting ways with Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury.”  He disagrees and makes a plea to Theo Epstein to throw Ellsbury and Buchholz over the side in favor of Gonzalez at the first available opportunity.

But is there any chance that such an opportunity will present itself at all? ESPN’s Buster Olney thinks that Ellsbury, for one, would not make sense for the Padres:

In a vacuum, sure, you’d love to have him. But Ellsbury is going to be
eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2010 season, and
in 2011-12, he could make as much or more than Gonzalez will make over
the next two seasons. In other words: His salary would become almost an
immediate problem for the Padres, and given that he is represented by
Scott Boras, the Padres would have to assume there would be no hometown
discounts. Ellsbury would be a nice player for San Diego, but he would
be a money pit.

I think that’s right.  The chief appeal of getting a guy like Ellsbury for San Deigo would be that he’s a name player, a Major Leaguer the team would want to show the fans so they don’t revolt during season ticket-buying season after a Gonzalez trade.  He doesn’t help with the cost problem, and given that he’ll almost certainly opt for free agency at the first opportunity himself, he’s not going to talk to the Padres about any contract extensions.

I still think this: if the Padres are going to trade Gonzalez — and it’s not a given that they should — they should do it at the break when there are identifiably desperate teams who will pay heavily in terms of big talent that is under team control for a long time.

Yankees chase Charlie Morton in the fourth inning of ALCS Game 3, but he actually pitched decently

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Astros starter Charlie Morton was taken out with two outs in the fourth inning of Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday night. Morton surrendered three runs in the second and was on the hook for another four in the fourth, but he actually threw a decent game.

Morton got the first two outs in the second in short order, but Starlin Castro kept the inning alive with a very weakly hit single down the third base line. The exit velocity on that one, according to Statcast, was 57 MPH. Aaron Hicks then blooped a 2-2 splitter into shallow left-center field. Exit velocity: 74 MPH. After working a 1-1 count against Todd Frazier, Morton threw a fastball low and away, but Frazier was somehow able to muster enough strength to push it over the fence in right-center for a three-run homer.

In the fourth, Greg Bird led off the inning with a ground-rule double to left field on a ball that left the bat at 78 MPH. Unfortunately for Morton, Cameron Maybin just horribly misplayed the ball and because he didn’t touch it, he didn’t get charged with an error.

Morton rebounded by getting a couple of outs. He didn’t appear to be pitching around Frazier, but walked him on five pitches. Morton then got Chase Headley to hit a ground ball (88.4 MPH), but second baseman Jose Altuve was shaded a bit too far to the right. Though he was able to corral it in the shallow outfield, he had no play, and the Yankees got their fourth run of the game. Morton hit Gardner, the next batter, with a 0-1 curve, loading the bases. That was the final straw for manager A.J. Hinch, who brought in Will Harris to relieve Morton. Facing Aaron Judge, Harris uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Frazier to score to make it 5-0. After working the count to 2-2, Judge ripped an up-and-in fastball that just barely got over the wall in left field for a three-run homer to up the score to 8-0.

Morton’s final line: 3 2/3 innings, seven runs (all earned), six hits (the one not listed here was a bunt single in the first), two walks, one hit batsman, three strikeouts. Here are the hit probabilities of five of those hits (excluding the bunt), according to Baseball Savant:

  • Castro single: 10 percent
  • Hicks single: 70 percent
  • Frazier homer: 55 percent
  • Bird double: 4 percent
  • Headley single: 12 percent

Unfortunately for Morton, he was a victim of bad luck, bad timing, and bad relief. He pitched much, much better than the box score indicates.

The Astros, meanwhile, hit into some bad luck. Yuli Gurriel crushed a fastball to right field in the second inning off of CC Sabathia, but Judge made a fantastic leaping catch that caused him to crash into the wall and tumble backwards. That had a hit probability of 59 percent and was “barreled,” according to Baseball Savant. Maybin “barreled” a ball in the fifth that Judge dove in on and caught. That would be a hit 77 percent of the time.

This isn’t to make excuses for the Astros. The Yankees have outplayed them this game. But contrary to the score, the Yankees haven’t been blowing the Astros out of the water. This is the kind of game the Astros shouldn’t read to much into looking ahead the rest of the series.