First-month minor league review – Pacific Coast League

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OPS leaders
1. Jay Gibbons (Dodgers) – .400/.405/.757 – 1163
2. John Lindsey (Dodgers) – .410/.465/.654 – 1119
3. Joe Borchard (Giants) – .366/.464/.646 – 1110
4. Kila Ka’aihue (Royals) – .304/.466/.620 – 1086
5. Chris Lubanski (Blue Jays) – .307/.357/.693 – 1050
6. Brandon Boggs (Rangers) – .333/.437/.600 – 1037
7. Mike Baxter (Padres) – .338/.463/.554 – 1016
8. Brett Wallace (Blue Jays) – .289/.364/.629 – 993
9. Prentice Redman (Dodgers) – .311/.370/.622 – 992
10. Xavier Paul (Dodgers) – .361/.409/.574 – 983
– This list simply isn’t as interesting as the top 10 from the International League. Wallace is a top prospect and Paul, who is currently helping to fill in for Manny Ramirez in L.A., should be pretty useful, but most of the guys are vets taking advantage of big offensive environments.
– Of course, I do like Ka’aihue, who was promoted to the majors Tuesday thanks to Rick Ankiel’s injury. But I doubt he’ll get much of a look now. He has to hope that Jose Guillen continues to hit and turns himself into a desired commodity in trade talks.
Notable hitters
Mark Trumbo (Angels) – .311/.347/.556 – 903
Jack Cust (Athletics) – .267/.433/.467 – 900
Buster Posey (Giants) – .319/.420/.457 – 877
Chris Carter (Athletics) – .261/.364/.500 – 864


Hank Conger (Angels) – .282/.346/.479 – 825
J.P. Arencibia (Blue Jays) – .264/.329/.444 – 774
Brandon Allen (Diamondbacks) – .216/.352/.405 – 757
Peter Bourjos (Angels) – .276/.316/.425 – 741
Michael Taylor (Athletics) – .235/.297/.441 – 738
Jay Payton (Rockies) – .284/.322/.395 – 717
Mike Carp (Mariners) – .203/.301/.405 – 706
Aaron Cunningham (Padres) – .250/.290/.398 – 688
Ivan DeJesus (Dodgers) – .261/.298/.352 – 650
Jason Castro (Astros) – .221/.369/.250 – 619
Michael Saunders (Mariners) – .195/.276/.208 – 484
– DeJesus missed all of last season with a broken leg, so his slow start is understandable. The Dodgers have mostly used him at second base this season, with Chin-Lung Hu playing shortstop for the Isotopes.
– Disastrous is the word that best describes Saunders’ April. He’d already be in prime position to push Milton Bradley to the DH spot and Ken Griffey Jr. off Seattle’s roster if he were playing up to his ability. But he’s been dreadful.
ERA leaders
1. Derek Holland (Rangers) – 0.93 ERA, 37/7 K/BB in 38 2/3 IP
2. Luke French (Mariners) – 1.41 ERA, 19/9 K/BB in 32 IP
3. Bryan Bullington (Royals) – 1.63 ERA, 19/8 K/BB in 27 2/3 IP
3. Eric Hacker (Giants) – 1.63 ERA, 31/5 K/BB in 27 2/3 IP
5. Thomas Diamond (Cubs) – 1.65 ERA, 23/11 K/BB in 27 1/3 IP
6. Jhoulys Chacin (Rockies) – 1.69 ERA, 21/11 K/BB in 21 1/3 IP
7. Michael Kirkman (Rangers) – 2.12 ERA, 24/13 K/BB in 29 2/3 IP
8. Radhames Liz (Padres) – 2.14 ERA, 30/9 K/BB in 21 IP
9. Marco Estrada (Nationals) – 2.48 ERA, 25/8 K/BB in 29 IP
9. Jay Jackson (Cubs) – 2.48 ERA, 20/7 K/BB in 29 IP
– Last year, Holland made just one start in Triple-A before the Rangers called him up and added him to their pen. The team has handled him much better this year, and it looks like he’s about ready to fulfill his potential. He could well be the team’s best pitcher by this time next year.
Notable pitchers
Brandon McCarthy (Rangers) – 2.51 ERA, 18/5 K/BB in 28 2/3 IP
Will Inman (Padres) – 2.57 ERA, 16/13 K/BB in 21 IP
Vin Mazzaro (Athletics) – 2.59 ERA, 27/12 K/BB in 24 1/3 IP
Cesar Carrillo (Padres) – 3.24 ERA, 13/12 K/BB in 25 IP
Ryan Tucker (Marlins) – 3.57 ERA, 14/6 K/BB in 22 2/3 IP
Cesar Valdez (Diamondbacks) – 3.80 ERA, 25/5 K/BB in 23 2/3 IP
James McDonald (Dodgers) – 3.97 ERA, 21/11 K/BB in 22 2/3 IP
Clay Mortensen (Athletics) – 3.98 ERA, 24/9 K/BB in 31 2/3 IP
Guillermo Moscoso (Rangers) – 4.30 ERA, 18/9 K/BB in 23 IP
Robert Ray (Blue Jays) – 4.55 ERA, 20/15 K/BB in 27 2/3 IP
Lance Lynn (Cardinals) – 4.56 ERA, 17/17 K/BB in 25 2/3 IP
Trevor Reckling (Angels) – 4.85 ERA, 16/17 K/BB in 26 IP
Madison Bumgarner (Giants) – 5.25 ERA, 16/8 K/BB in 24 IP
Rick VandenHurk (Marlins) – 5.33 ERA, 19/9 K/BB in 27 IP
Josh Lindblom (Dodgers) – 6.23 ERA, 25/6 K/BB in 26 IP
Scott Elbert (Dodgers) – 8.00 ERA, 22/14 K/BB in 18 IP
– McCarthy figured to be next in line for a spot in the Texas rotation at the beginning of the year and he got off to a promising start, but he’s again on the shelf with a stress reaction in his shoulder.
– What was expected to be a strong Albuquerque rotation isn’t providing pitching alternatives for the Dodgers. McDonald, though, has been decent outside of one start in which he suffered from cracked fingernails on his pitching hand. Also, Lindblom must be dealing with some bad luck. To go along with the strong K/BB ratio, he’s allowed just three homers in his 26 innings. Albuquerque is one of the toughest places to pitch in the minors.
Relievers
Matt Reynolds (Rockies) – 0.00 ERA, 0 Sv, 18/0 K/BB in 13 2/3 IP
Ernesto Frieri (Padres) – 0.00 ERA, 5 Sv, 17/7 K/BB in 12 IP
Zach Braddock (Brewers) -0.00 ERA, 1 Sv, 22/4 K/BB in 11 1/3 IP
Ryan Webb (Padres) – 0.00 ERA, 1 Sv, 10/2 K/BB in 10 IP
Henry Rodriguez (Athletics) – 0.00 ERA, 3 Sv, 14/3 K/BB in 9 1/3 IP
Josh Roenicke (Blue Jays) – 0.00 ERA, 0 Sv, 8/1 K/BB in 8 2/3 IP
Henry Sosa (Giants) – 1.29 ERA, 0 Sv, 11/9 K/BB in 14 IP
Blake Wood (Royals) – 2.57 ERA, 5 Sv, 11/7 K/BB in 14 IP
Carlos Rosa (Royals/D’Backs) – 3.14 ERA, 0 Sv, 11/7 K/BB in 14 1/3 IP
David Purcey (Blue Jays) – 3.27 ERA, 0 Sv, 15/10 K/BB in 11 IP
Chad Cordero (Mariners) – 4.63 ERA, 2 Sv, 10/3 K/BB in 11 2/3 IP
Shane Lindsay (Rockies) – 6.17 ERA, 0 Sv, 18/14 K/BB in 11 2/3 IP
– Webb and Rodriguez just received callups. I had Webb down as a fantasy sleeper at the beginning of the year, only to be disappointed when the Padres didn’t give him much of a chance to win a bullpen spot.

Chris Sale called “a competitor” for stuff that gets most guys called “head cases”

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox reacts during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Chris Sale has had an eventful week.

On Saturday he was scratched from his start and subsequently suspended for five games for cutting up the 1976 throwback uniforms the team was scheduled to wear, making them unusable. That cost the team over $12,000 and cost the Sox their best pitcher hours before game time.

On Monday Sale gave an interview to Scott Merkin in which he apologized to fans and teammates and explained his rationale for the uniform shredding. Even if his act was over the top, there was a core of understandable motivation at least: Sale said he voiced his displeasure with the untucked jersey months ago and asked to not pitch on a night they’d have to wear them because he believed it would mess with his mechanics and/or mental state. The Sox didn’t heed his request and Sale took issue, as many probably would, with what he felt was the business of throwback jerseys taking precedence over on-the-field stuff.

Of course, there are still some pretty big problems here. Mostly having to do with the facts that (a) the Sox have people on staff who could’ve optimize his jersey any way he needed it to be optimized if he had asked; (b) ballplayers have been wearing throwbacks for a long time now and, even if they don’t like them, they tend to endure them; and (c) he’s a ballplayer who needs to suck things up sometimes like every single ballplayer ever has done. There are a ton of things ballplayers are expected to do which are insisted upon by the business folks. It’s part of the gig.

A little more seriously than that is the fact that Sale pretty publicly threw his manager, Robin Ventura, under the bus :

“Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department,” Sale said. “If the players don’t feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix — it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that’s when I lost it.”

An undercurrent to all of this is Sale being fairly obvious in voicing his desire to be traded.

Today Bob Nightengale of USA Today has a story about Sale’s week. It’s sourced largely by Sale’s friend Adam Eaton who defends Sale as a passionate competitor who just wants to win and how all of this stuff of the past week was about his desire to do so. The headline of the story buys in to all of that:

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We heard much the same along these lines when Sale blasted Sox brass following the Drake LaRoche stuff during spring training, going on an expletive-filled rant in a meeting behind closed doors but then bringing the same noise, albeit cleaned up, in front of reporters after it all became public.

Chris Sale is who he is, of course, and I’m not going to too harshly judge who he is. He’s an amazing pitcher and, as most athletes will tell you, the mental part of the game is almost as important or, maybe, even more important than the physical part. Asking Sale to be who he isn’t would probably be counterproductive in the long term.

But I am fascinated with the way in which someone who has behaved like Sale has behaved is described. He’s a “competitor” whose objectively disruptive and literally destructive behavior is explained away as merely a function of his desire to win. His friends on the team, like Eaton, are sought out for damage control and spin and his detractors, which there are likely some, aren’t quoted, even anonymously. He has publicly called out his manager as not wanting to win as much as he wants to please his bosses and he has likewise called out his manager’s bosses and has welcomed a trade, yet we aren’t seeing stories about how that’s a bad thing for the Sox’ clubhouse.

I don’t much care for that sort of stuff, actually, as I suspect most clubhouse controversy stories are somewhat overblown and overly dramatized. But those stories have been go-to tropes of sports writers for decades, and I am trying to imagine this sort of story about players who aren’t Chris Sale. Players who don’t have as friendly a relationship with the media as he has or who don’t have clubhouse allies who do. I feel like, most of the time, a story about a guy who who has done the odd things Sale has done both this week and last March would play a hell of a lot differently.

How does this all play of it’s Yordano Ventura? Or Yasiel Puig? Or Jose Fernandez? How does this play if it took place in the NBA and it was Kevin Durant who shredded up a bunch of short-shorts on 80s throwback night? How does it play if it’s Cam Newton?

I bet it plays differently.

Mike Scioscia and the Angels played yesterday’s game under protest

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 27: Matt Shoemaker #52 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim throws to first as he tries to get the out on Raul Mondesi's #27 of the Kansas City Royals bunt in the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium on July 27, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. Shoemaker's throwing error lead to Mondesi advancing to third and Alex Gordon and Paulo Orlando scoring.  (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals beat the Angels last night, but Mike Scioscia is hoping Joe Torre and the Commissioner’s Office gives him a do-over.

The Angels played the game in protest following what they believe to be a rules misinterpretation following a base running incident in the seventh inning. That’s when Raul Mondesi reached on a bunt single which scored two runs following a throwing error from Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker, whose attempt to put out Modesi sailed into right field. Watch the play:

Mike Scioscia came out claiming interference, arguing that Mondesi was not running within the baseline. The play was reviewed for over six minutes but the call — everyone’s safe and two runs scored — was upheld. After that Scioscia indicated tht he was playing under protest.

The thing about protests, though, is that they cannot be based on judgment calls. Rather, they have to be based on misapplication of rules by the umpires. Running outside of the baseline is a judgment call, though, right? So how can Scioscia protest it? Here’s his explanation:

“It’s not a judgement call. I would not have protested if I was not 100 percent correct on this. This is a misinterpretation of a rule. It was very clear. Phil Cuzzi, the home plate umpire, had Mondesi running inside the line in jeopardy the whole way, and stated that it’s okay because he was stepping back toward the bag, which is wrong.”

For his part, Royals manager Ned Yost believed it was a judgment call. For everyone’s part, protests are almost never upheld in baseball and, despite Scioscia’s comments, baseline calls are generally considered judgement calls.

If Scioscia is right, the game will be replayed, resuming with one out in the seventh inning and the runners where they started. But don’t hold your breath.