Yankees blow one, but don't blame this one on Rivera


Marcus Thames drops one.jpgYes, Mariano Rivera allowed two runs on a pair of hits in the ninth inning of
a tie game
, but no, this one wasn’t his fault. I mean, sure, on some level he has some blame because if bats don’t hit balls none of this happens, but you can’t strike everyone out — that’s fascist, you know — and you gotta have a little help out there. Rivera didn’t get any.

Rivera entered a 5-5 contest — a score largely attributable to Joba Chamberlain’s ineffectiveness in the eighth — and got Mike Lowell to ground out. Darnell McDonald then hit a single, bringing Marco Scutaro
to the plate. He popped it up to shallow right, where Marcus Thames muffed it, first taking his eye off the ball and then trying to make a basket catch with his eyes closed. Yeah, good luck with that, Marcus. Rivera
then got Dustin Pedroia to ground out, putting McDonald on third and Scutaro on second.

At that point the Yankees brought their
outfielders in to play extremely shallow. I’m not sure I get this. Yes, I understand that you want to set things up for a play at the plate, but isn’t a ball going over your head the last thing you want? The Yankees are the home team here, so it’s not like a single run scoring on a sacrifice meant the end of the ballgame. As it turned out, the ball hit by Jeremy Hermida went over Randy Winn’s head, allowing both McDonald and Scutaro to score.  The Yankees scored one in the ninth which would have sent the game to extra innings had Winn caught Hermida’s ball — which he would have if he was playing straight up — Scutaro would not have scored.

But that’s Monday morning quarterbacking, I suppose. More critical in this game was Joba Chamberlain’s ineffectiveness. Chamberlain has now allowed six earned runs in his last two appearances, and last night’s effort wasted what I’m contractually-obligated to call a “gutsy” performance by CC Sabathia. The bullpen is basically in shambles lately, Chamberlain has a lot to do with it and the Yankees need to do something about it.

So put this one on Chamberlain. Put it on Thames. Put it on Girardi. But don’t put it on Mariano Rivera.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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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.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

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.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

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.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

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.