And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Andre Ethier Slam.jpgDodgers 7, Brewers 3:  Walkoff slam for Andre Ethier! Jonathan Broxton had blown a two-run lead in the top of the ninth, but Either untied it with authority to end it. It was Ethier’s second game-ending hit of the season and 11th since the
start of 2008. Video here.

Rangers 13, Royals 12: Texas jumped out to an eight run lead, blew it, and then hit back-to-back homers off Joakim Soria to come from behind. Note to the Rangers: there are no adjustments given for degree-of-difficulty. Just win the friggin’ ballgame the easy way next time, OK? In other news, make sure you have emergency provisions, your bible, your gun and head into your panic room, because the end is nigh: Yuniesky Betancourt walked twice.

Nationals 3, Braves 2: Scott Olson takes a no-hitter into the eighth, only to have it broken up by singles from David Ross and Nate McLouth. Then, 17 personnel changes of questionable wisdom later, Tyler Clippard gave up a two-run, pinch hit single to Jason Heyward — Jason Heyward? — yes, Jason Heyward.  All seemed lost for the Nats as the Braves loaded up the bases with one out in the ninth but this time Ross grounded into a double play. The Nats scored the winning run on a walk, a double, a walk and a single.  On some level it’s just easier to lose 5-1.

Phillies 7, Cardinals 2: I talked about Halladay’s day here, so I’ll leave that alone.  Here’s something to chew on: the Cardinals have looked absolutely lost in series against the Phillies and the Giants who — nothin’ personal San Diego Padres — look like a couple of teams St. Louis might face in the playoffs.

Pirates 11, Cubs 1:  The Cubs had a bit of momentum and the Pirates dead ahead, so you figured things would keep looking up. Then Pittsburgh sweeps ’em. And what’s this? The Pirates actually win a blowout?  Must be the result of the Pirates’ “two-hour pregame meeting with a communications coach designed to build
their social skills and boost their image” reported in the game story. Word on the street is that they learned during the meeting that losing is a disease. As contagious as polio.

Giants 6, Marlins 3: Matt Cain had a no-hitter through six and pitched into the eighth. After him it took four relievers to get the final six outs, but really this one wasn’t close. San Francisco is in first place all by its lonesome now.

Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3: There goes Houston’s 1-game winning streak. Kelly Johnson hit his 10th home run which is further proof that the universe is random and lawless and that anything can happen.

Orioles 2, Twins 0: I’d like to think that the Orioles pitchers are getting a secret kick out of Andy MacPhail publicly criticize all the hitters, what with all of that “the hitting should be fine but the pitching will be a question mark” jazz from the spring.

Blue Jays 2, White Sox 0: The Jays’ fifth straight victory. If you weight the wins to account for the fact that three of them came against Cleveland, however, it comes out to 2.2 victories. Dana Eveland — who I continue to maintain is really the name of a second-tier actress from the old studio system days — three seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits.

Red Sox 11, Angels 6: Dear God, the Angels are playing some craptacular baseball lately. Scott Kazmir was terrible and his relief was not much better. Daisuke Matsuzaka walked three and allowed four runs in the
first inning, but after that he settled down. Victor Martinez homered and drove in four.  That’s, like, a gabillion straight losses for the Angels.

Rays 8, Mariners 0: I don’t outsource my recaps very often, but in this case I’ll make an exception. Here’s Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner on last night’s game (“Hyphen” is M’s starter Ryan Rowland-Smith]: “You don’t need a recap of that. Hyphen sucked, the offense sucked, the
defense sucked, Snell sucked, and the weather sucked. So, why should
the recap be any different? They get the recap they deserve. When they
play like a major league team, they’ll get written up like one. Until
then, they get this.”  But seriously, Dave: don’t hold back. Tell us how you really feel.

Looking Ahead to Next Year’s Hall of Fame Ballot

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 15:  Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves stands in the on-deck circle prior to batting against the Cincinnati Reds at Turner Field on May 15, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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We’re only a night’s sleep removed from the 2017 Hall of Fame class being announced but, hey, why not look ahead to next year’s ballot?

After yesterday’s vote there are two guys clearly banging on the door: Trevor Hoffman at 74% and Vladimir Guerrero at  71.7%. It’d be shocking if they didn’t get in.

Also back, of course, and already polling over 50%, which tends to ensure eventual election, are Edgar Martinez (58.6); Roger Clemens (54.1); Barry Bonds (53.8); and Mike Mussina (51.8). All of them are worthy and each of them should have some segment of the baseball commentariat pushing their cases.

But the new class of eligibles is formidable too. Let’s take a preliminary look at everyone we’ll be arguing about next December:

  • Chipper Jones: You have to figure he’s a first ballot guy;
  • Jim Thome: 612 homers will say a lot and, I suspect, most people believe he’s a first ballot guy too. Still, his handling will be curious. Yes, was a better hitter than Sammy Sosa. But was he so much better that it justifies Thome getting 75% in his first year while Sosa is scraping by in single digits? According to Baseball-Reference.com, Thome and Sosa are each other’s most similar comp in history. This is less a Thome point than a Sosa one, of course. I think they both belong.
  • Omar Vizquel: Every few years a defensive specialist hits the ballot and the writers go crazy. When a defensive specialist who got along really, really well with the press comes along, Katie bar the door. Vizquel is gonna cause a lot of arguments about the measurement and value of defense. He’s also going to cause a lot of people to say things like “you had to watch him play” and “it’s not the Hall of Stats!” He’s going to cause a lot of stathead types to counter with “but Scott Rolen was just as good on defense as Vizquel, but you don’t like him!” It’s gonna get ugly. It’ll be glorious.
  • Johnny Damon and Andruw Jones: Will probably be one-and-done, but way better than you remember. If we wanna talk defense, I’ll offer that I have never seen a better defensive center field in my lifetime than Jones. It’s a shame that his falling off a cliff in his 30s will taint that as his legacy.
  • Chris Carpenter and Livan Hernandez: Hall of pretty darn good pitchers who will be fun to talk about;
  • Hideki Matsui: Also one and done, but everyone loves him so I bet he gets some “good guy” votes;
  • Jamie Moyer: A first-time eligible at age 55. Sandy Koufax had been in the Hall of Fame for 18 years when he was the age Moyer will be when he hits the ballot.
  • Scott Rolen: Way better than people believe now and way better than people said at the time. As suggested above, his defense was nowhere near as raved about during his career as it would be if he played today. If his 72.7 career bWAR was heavier on offense as opposed to distributed 52.1/20.6 on offense and defense, people would’ve probably talked him up more. Career WAR for Jim Thome: 72.9. Career WAR for Derek Jeter: 71.8.
  • Johan Santana: The Hall of What Could’ve Been if Shoulders Weren’t So Dumb.
  • Kerry Wood: The Hall of What Could’ve Been if Elbows Weren’t So Dumb. Still, if Jack Morris can stick on the ballot for 15 years based on one dang game, I don’t see why Wood can’t get some support based on a better one.

There are a couple of other fun “oh my God, how has he been retired that long?” names that will appear on next year’s ballot. Check out the whole list here.

Jorge Posada highlights 16 one-and-done players on Hall of Fame ballot

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 24:  Jorge Posada addresses the media during a press conference to announces his retirement from the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on January 24, 2012 in the Bronx borough of  New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada received only 17 total votes (3.8 percent) on the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot. Unfortunately, he is one of 16 players who fell short of the five percent vote threshold and is no longer eligible on the ballot. The other players are Magglio Ordonez (three votes, 0.7 percent), Edgar Renteria (two, 0.5 percent), Jason Varitek (two, 0.5 percent), Tim Wakefield (one, 0.2 percent), Casey Blake (zero), Pat Burrell (zero), Orlando Cabrera (zero), Mike Cameron (zero), J.D. Drew (zero), Carlos Guillen (zero), Derrek Lee (zero), Melvin Mora (zero), Arthur Rhodes (zero), Freddy Sanchez (zero), and Matt Stairs (zero).

Posada, 45, helped the Yankees win four World Series championships from 1998-2000 as well as 2009. He made the American League All-Star team five times, won five Silver Sluggers, and had a top-three AL MVP Award finish. Posada also hit 20 or more homers in eight seasons, finished with a career adjusted OPS (a.k.a. OPS+) of 121, and accrued 42.7 Wins Above Replacement in his 17-year career according to Baseball Reference.

While Posada’s OPS+ and WAR are lacking compared to other Hall of Famers — he was 18th of 34 eligible players in JAWS, Jay Jaffe’s WAR-based Hall of Fame metric — catchers simply have not put up the same kind of numbers that players at other positions have. That’s likely because catching is such a physically demanding position and often results in injuries and shortened careers. It is, perhaps, not an adjustment voters have thought to make when considering Posada’s eligibility.

Furthermore, Posada’s quick ouster is somewhat due to the crowded ballot. Most voters had a hard time figuring out which 10 players to vote for. Had Posada been on the ballot in a different era, writers likely would have found it easier to justify voting for him.

Posada joins Kenny Lofton in the “unjustly one-and-done” group.