This was fun. The Yankees took the lead in the top of the ninth last night on a Nick Swisher home run, but the inning ended a pitch later when Mark Teixeira was thrown out trying to leg out a double. The half-inning ended so quickly that Joe Girardi barely had time to get Mariano Rivera up to start throwing — it was a save situation now, don’t you know — and it was so obvious that even Rick Sutcliffe noticed it.
Despite the fact that he was seen putting on his jacket and toweling off in the top half of the inning — the universal sign for “I’m totally done pitching in this game — Andy Pettitte came out to take his warmup pitches in the bottom of the ninth. Before he could throw a pitch, however, Joe Girardi came out and called for Rivera, who had finally warmed up. I don’t think I was imagining Francisco Cervelli laughing a bit as he came out to the mound for the switcheroo.
Ron Gardenhire didn’t find it so funny:
“No, he wasn’t going to throw a pitch. That was kind of tired, to
tell you the truth. You don’t know normally get that long between
innings to do all that, but we know what’s going on there. That’s a situation major league baseball needs to take care of when
stuff like that happens. You don’t have a guy ready in the bullpen, if
your starter goes out there, he should have to face a hitter. That’s
just the way it should be. If you don’t get a guy up, that’s the way it
should be, unless the other team makes a change.
“But that’s not what lost the game for us. That’s stuff that just
gets old right there.”
This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened — I want to say I remember Bobby Cox doing this with Mark Wohlers or John Rocker or someone in the 90s — and I can’t really see how it prejudices the hitting team, but it is the kind of thing that feel, I dunno, weird.
But maybe the weirdest thing about it is why Joe Girardi didn’t just leave Pettitte out there anyway. He had only thrown 94 pitches and Rivera had already pitched in the resumption of the suspended game. The answer can’t be that Pettitte was tired, because if that were the case he would have been tired even if the game had remained tied. Girardi didn’t have anyone warming up before the Swisher homer, however, so I’m going to assume that if the game had stayed tied Pettitte would’ve pitched the ninth.
So basically all of that shuffling was designed to get Mariano Rivera a save. Ah, the save: the only statistic that dictates how the game is played rather than merely reflects what happens.
The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.
It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:
We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.
While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.
Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.
Twins’ right-handed pitching prospect Yorman Landa passed away in a tragic car accident on Friday night, per a team statement. According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, 22-year-old Landa was in the passenger seat of the vehicle when it struck a fallen tree.
Daniel Szew, Landa’s agent, spoke highly of the young pitcher, who was one of his first clients back in 2010. Szew acknowledged Landa for helping him expand his company, LA Sports Management, and referred to the late pitcher as a leader and his “little brother.”
He was very even-keeled,” Szew said. “That was his personality. He wasn’t wild. That’s why this is so tragic. He wasn’t a wild guy. He was a happy-go-lucky guy who took life as it came, and he was super happy — always happy.
If leadership was one facet of Landa’s personality, so was loyalty. The 22-year-old agreed to a minor league contract with the Twins on Tuesday after getting cut from the 40-man roster, fulfilling a promise to re-sign with the club despite fielding multiple offers from competing teams. The deal included an invite to spring training, and comments from his agent suggested that the right-hander was “super confident” he’d break through to the major leagues in 2017, notwithstanding a troublesome shoulder injury that hampered his progress in High-A Fort Myers during the 2016 season.
“He never wanted to leave,” Szew told Berardino. “It was the only organization he ever knew.”
Our condolences go out to Landa’s family and the Twins organization during this terrible time.