Jack Cust and $2.65 million salary clear waivers

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Oakland designated Jack Cust for assignment over the weekend to clear space on the 25-man roster for several out-of-options players, but he’ll likely remain in the organization and head to Triple-A after clearing waivers yesterday.
Perhaps if the A’s would have waived Cust a month ago another team would have had the budget space to take a flier on him as a part-time designated hitter or left fielder, although certainly that’s no guarantee.
Cust has been a very productive hitter despite a .239 career batting average, but that low mark combined with tons of strikeouts and little defensive ability limits the number of interested teams even before considering the difficulty of adding a $2.65 million salary in mid-April.
Cust is coming off his worst season, but was still above average offensively and has produced a .378 on-base percentage with a .462 slugging percentage over the past three years. That works out to an .840 OPS with an average of 33 homers per 550 at-bats. For comparison, only two American League teams got an OPS above .840 from the DH spot last season and only five of the 30 teams across both leagues got an OPS above .840 from left field.
Once the A’s realize that Eric Chavez hasn’t produced like a DH since 2005 or he simply gets hurt again, expect to see Cust back in Oakland.

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
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I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begins the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp were staked to a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they had only played five innings of baseball. UPDATE: they played a full game today, the BayStars won, so now it’s 2-1 Hiroshima.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?