Why Prince Fielder may sign early with the Brewers

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The fact that Boras — a dude who hardly ever has elite clients sign early — would talk to the Brewers about Prince Fielder two years before free agency was something of a head scratcher when we learned about it yesterday. But then I read Heyman’s column today (don’t think I enjoy it; I have to for professional reasons) and was reminded of a pretty darn salient fact I had forgotten:

The greatest positional class of free agents comes in two years, when star first basemen Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder are all eligible for agency.

Boras can be really annoying, but he’s not stupid. I don’t think Pujols is a legitimate bluff for any 1B-courting team come 2011 — he’ll be a Cardinal for life by then — but there’s a really good chance that Howard and Gonzalez are on the market along with Fielder. Given how much better shape Howard is in now than he was a few years ago, I’m not certain that Fielder isn’t the third choice among those guys, even if he is (a) younger; and (b) the better hitter right now.

In light of that, locking Fielder up in Milwaukee two years before he hits the market may be a very Boras move after all: it’s the play that makes his guy the most money.

Sean Manaea thought he was throwing a one hitter

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Tossing a no-hitter doesn’t just require physical excellence; it’s a mental feat, too. Which is why it may have helped that Athletics hurler Sean Manaea didn’t realize his no-hitter was intact until the eighth inning of Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Red Sox.

While the first few innings passed uneventfully, Sandy Leon managed to reach base in the fifth inning after skying a ball to shallow center field. It wasn’t a clean hit, of course — shortstop Marcus Semien dropped the ball on the catch and was promptly charged with an error to preserve Manaea’s no-hit bid.

That was news to Manaea, who told reporters that he didn’t realize he still had a no-hitter going until he saw the scoreboard in the eighth inning. “Until the eighth, I thought it just like was a one-hitter,” he said. “I looked up in the eighth and saw there were still zeros and was like, whoa, weird.” The delay of that realization may have calmed his nerves as he continued to blank the best team in baseball, eventually capping his 108-pitch, 10-strikeout effort in the ninth.

A few fun facts about the feat:

  • Manaea’s no-hitter was the 12th of its kind in franchise history, dating back to Weldon Henley’s no-no against the St. Louis Browns in 1905.
  • The most recent pitcher to do so for the A’s was fellow left-hander Dallas Braden, who completed the club’s second-ever perfect game against the Rays in 2010. Surprisingly, Manaea managed to make even more efficient use of his pitch count than Braden did during his perfecto; he fired just 108 pitches against the Red Sox, a hair under the 109 pitches used by Braden against the Rays.
  • Manaea himself, however, is just the seventh Athletics pitcher (and third lefty) to toss a no-hitter. Legendary southpaw Vida Blue pitched two no-nos for the team, including a combined no-hitter that also featured Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers against the 1975 California Angels.
  • Until Saturday, the Red Sox had the second-longest streak without being no-hit in the majors, at 3,987 games… a record that was only eclipsed by the A’s own streak.
  • With a 17-2 record and .895 winning percentage, the Red Sox were the most successful team to be no-hit in major-league history. Prior to Saturday’s loss, they averaged 6.4 runs per game and had yet to be shut out by any team in 2018.
  • Since 1908, 46 no-hitters have been pitched against AL East teams: four against the Blue Jays, five against the Rays, eight against the Yankees, 13 against the Red Sox and 16 against the Orioles. Mariners lefty Chris Bosio was the last pitcher to no-hit the Red Sox, a feat he accomplished almost exactly 25 years ago on April 22, 1993.