Chris Carpenter ignites a ruckus in the Cardinals-Diamondbacks game

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Chris Carpenter angry.jpgIt wasn’t really a fracas, and it was far short of a brawl, so ruckus is the best I can do.

It started when Edwin Jackson hit Chris Carpenter with a pitch in the second inning. Actually, it may have started when Jackson hit Ryan Ludwick in the first, but hitting Carpenter is what set things off.  The pitch trailed in and smacked Carpenter on the left wrist, actually opening up a little cut. Carpenter stepped towards Jackson and barked at him as he took his base.

The next batter — Skip Schumaker — grounded into a double play.  Carpenter came in hard on Kelly Johnson with the intention of breaking it up and doing a little damage, but no one was the worse for wear. But the benches cleared all the same, baseball players milled around as though they could fight if they wanted to, but really, it’s been a good while since we’ve had a really fun display of fisticuffsmanship in Major League Baseball. Everyone makes too much money and doesn’t want to risk it, I suppose. Either that or they’re just better at being professionals who realize that rolling around the ground and punching one another doesn’t get you too far.

Carpenter admitted after the game that his slide was, as they say in baseball circles, horses—:

“It was an unprofessional move. I shouldn’t have done it. I told
[first-base coach] Matt Williams at first to tell Kelly that it
was unprofessional and I shouldn’t have done that. I was in a position
where I didn’t control my emotions enough to not do something stupid.”

Still, Carpenter was none too happy about the pitch that hit him:

“I hit .100. It’s not like I can hit. Throw the ball down and away.
Throw a slider, whatever it is. It’s different if
you’re Carlos Zambrano, Adam Wainwright, Dan Haren, guys that can hit.
You throw 95 miles per hour, chucking balls up high, never mind you
can’t control it. Come on. He’s missing by three feet. It’s not right.”

I understand why he’s mad, but I can’t see any good adding another rule to baseball’s already thick unwritten rulebook (i.e. thou shalt not pitch inside to the opposing pitcher). Effective or not, Carpenter, and all pitchers, have bats in their hand when they come to the plate and mean to do violence to the baseball. If the seven of us who still take the concept of pitchers hitting for themselves seriously wish for the concept to be maintained, the last thing we need is to start treating them with kid gloves. It didn’t seem to me that Jackson was trying to hit Carpenter. He just had lousy stuff last night.

The only remaining question is whether Carpenter gets fined or suspended or anything for the slide. Or, rather, for admitting that he had bad intent when he did it.  I would hope not — this was really a case of no-harm, no-foul — but I long ago gave up trying to figure out any method behind the madness of baseball discipline.

The White Sox wanted Astros’ top prospects for Jose Quintana

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 27:  Jose Quintana #62 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field on August 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.

It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:

We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.

While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.

Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.

Daniel Szew: “Landa was a leader, happy-go-lucky guy”

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 1:  Yorman Landa #81 of the Minnesota Twins poses for a photo during the Twins' photo day on March 1, 2016 at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Twins’ right-handed pitching prospect Yorman Landa passed away in a tragic car accident on Friday night, per a team statement. According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, 22-year-old Landa was in the passenger seat of the vehicle when it struck a fallen tree.

Daniel Szew, Landa’s agent, spoke highly of the young pitcher, who was one of his first clients back in 2010. Szew acknowledged Landa for helping him expand his company, LA Sports Management, and referred to the late pitcher as a leader and his “little brother.”

Per Berardino:

He was very even-keeled,” Szew said. “That was his personality. He wasn’t wild. That’s why this is so tragic. He wasn’t a wild guy. He was a happy-go-lucky guy who took life as it came, and he was super happy — always happy.

If leadership was one facet of Landa’s personality, so was loyalty. The 22-year-old agreed to a minor league contract with the Twins on Tuesday after getting cut from the 40-man roster, fulfilling a promise to re-sign with the club despite fielding multiple offers from competing teams. The deal included an invite to spring training, and comments from his agent suggested that the right-hander was “super confident” he’d break through to the major leagues in 2017, notwithstanding a troublesome shoulder injury that hampered his progress in High-A Fort Myers during the 2016 season.

“He never wanted to leave,” Szew told Berardino. “It was the only organization he ever knew.”

Our condolences go out to Landa’s family and the Twins organization during this terrible time.