And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights, Part 1

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Gardenhire argues.jpgBecause I’m running late with these, let’s break them up into two installments. Here’s the AL edition. The NL edition will follow later this morning.  Thanks for bearing with me.

Tigers
11, Twins 6
: Interesting play in the sixth, when Johnny Damon hit a
deep drive to center. Denard Span caught it after a very long run, but
dropped it after taking a couple of steps. The umps
ruled that Span hadn’t held the ball long enough for an out, and it
ended up being scored a two-base error, after which the floodgates
opened. Gardenhire got ejected arguing the call, but the
replay seems to back him up
. Looks like he simply dropped it tryin
to take it out of his glove for the throw.

Rays 10, Athletics 3: James Shields was dealing — fanning 12 — and Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena each went long, giving the Rays their 13th win in 15 games.  Bad day for Dallas Braden, who said after the game: “Someone apparently didn’t tell the Rays that [batting practice] was
over when they took the cage off the field.” Braden’s pretty good at telling opposing players to knock it off. You’d think he would have said something.

Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 0: Jon Lester allowed only one hit and struck out 11 in seven innings as the Sox, winners of seven of nine and Jays, losers of nine of 12, each begin to return to expected form after some early season tomfoolery.

Angels 4, Indians 3: I can’t count how many times I’ve been in a ballpark and overheard some half-drunk, uninformed guy say “dude should totally lay a bunt down here. They’d never expect it” when it’s clearly not a bunting situation. I think there was even a law requiring that in Cincinnati when Adam Dunn was still around. Grinds my gears every time I hear it, because it evinces a profound ignorance of the game and winning strategy.  In other news, Howie Kendrick laid down a bunt with two out in the ninth inning “driving” in Torii Hunter to win the game. I’d give credit to Mike Scioscia for creative thinking, but he had been ejected seven innings earlier.

Rangers 6, White Sox 5: Jake Peavy walked five and gave up six runs on six hits. Guess he didn’t have it figured out after all.

Mariners 6, Royals 5: Gil Meche gave up five runs on eight hits and three walks in six innings. He’s now 0-2 in four starts with a 10.13 ERA. Opponents are batting .338
against him. And he’s only owed another $25 million or so.

Yankees 8, Orioles 3: The O’s got 11 hits of CC Sabathia, who was pitching with a big lead for much of the game and apparently just daring the O’s to hit it, but they couldn’t do much with all of those baserunners.
 

 

Rival Executives Expect Justin Verlander To Hit The Trading Block

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About a month ago, a report circulated that if the Detroit Tigers weren’t above .500 by the end of June, they were going to chuck the season, look to trade off veterans and rebuild. It’s now June 29 and the Tigers are 34-42 and sit six games out of first place.

As such, we should not be too terribly surprised to see a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo that multiple baseball executives expect Tigers ace Justin Verlander to hit the trade market sometime in the next two weeks. Passan notes that the Tigers haven’t formally offered him and that he’s just passing along speculation from rivals, but it’s pretty astute speculation.

The question is what the Tigers can get for Verlander. On the one hand, yes, Verlander is Verlander and has been one of the top starters in baseball for a decade. While he had struggled for a bit, last year featured a return to Cy Young form. He still has a blazing fastball and there is no reason to think he could not anchor the staff of a playoff caliber team.

On the other hand, as Passan notes, his 2017 has been . . . not so good. He looks amazing at times and very hittable at other times. Overall his walk rate is way up and his strikeout rate is down. There doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him — various ailments contributed to his 2014-15 swoon — so it’s possible he’s just had a rough couple of months. Like I said, Verlander is Verlander, and it may not be a bad gamble to expect him to run off a string of dominant starts like he has so many times in the past.

The problem, though, is that anyone acquiring Verlander is not just gambling on a handful of starts down the stretch. They’re gambling on the $56 million he’s owed between 2018 and 2019 and the $22 million extra he’ll be guaranteed for 2020 if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019. Those would be his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons. There are certainly worse gambles in baseball, but it’s a gamble all the same.

If the Tigers don’t find any gamblers out there on the market, they’re going to have to make a gamble of their own: let Verlander go and get relatively little in return if another club picks up that $56 million commitment or eat it themselves and get prospects back in return to help kickstart a rebuild. Personally I’d go with the latter option, but I don’t work for the Illitch family.

 

There is a Tyler glut in baseball

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It’s a slow news morning — Miguel Montero is gone and everyone else is quiet — so you should go read Tyler Kepner’s latest column over at the New York Times. It’s, appropriately, about Tylers.

There are a lot of them in baseball now, Tyler notes. No Larrys and hardly any Eddies or Bobs. This obviously tracks the prevalence of the name Tyler in the population at large and the declines in Larrys, Eddies and Bobs. It’s the kind of thing I imagine we’ve all noticed from time to time, and it’s fun to do it in baseball. For his part, Kepner tries to make an all-Tyler All-Star team. The results are sort of sad.

There are always one or two Craigs floating around baseball from time to time, but not many more than that. We got a Hall of Famer recently, so that’s pretty nice. There will likely be fewer over time, as Craig — never even a top-30 name in popularity — is now near historic lows. I’m not complaining, though. I never once had to go by “Craig C.” in class to differentiate myself from other Craigs. Our biggest problem is being called Greg. We tend to let it pass. Craigs are used to it by now.