There have been rumblings about this since February, but there will be an announcement later today in which the Jays-Phillies series currently scheduled for June 25-27th in Toronto will be moved to Citizens Bank Park in Philly due to interference from the G-20 summit, which is also scheduled in Toronto for that time.
The technical effect: the Phillies will be the visiting team in their own home park, and the designated hitter will be used.
The practical effect: The Phillies get three extra home games this year and Toronto fans don’t get to see the return of Roy Halladay, which many people had been looking forward to.
This, as the poets like to say, sucks. Still, it will only “totally suck” if either the Jays or someone in the NL East besides the Phillies finishes one game out of a playoff spot. Otherwise, everyone will survive, I presume.
One question I presume many will be asking is why Philly? Why not put it in a neutral location, or try to make some event out of it by, say, putting it in Puerto Rico or in the Grand Canyon or something?
My response to that is that baseball (a) wants to maximize revenue, and that while some promotion might be fun, it’s not money-in-the-bank like 40,000+ people buying beer in Philly is; and (b) those neutral site games baseball put in Milwaukee a few years ago due to early-season snowouts and hurricanes and stuff were criticized for being antiseptic and rather joyless games, devoid of any real roaring crowd.
I’d still prefer the powers that be to try and find some way to keep the game in Toronto, but seeing as though that’s apparently impossible, Philly is the best that can be done. I mean, at least in Philly one side is getting cheered, and that kind of matters.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.