National League 3, American League 1: If you cared about the All-Star Game all that much you watched it, and if you didn’t watch it you probably don’t care, so there won’t be an in-depth recap from me (click the link in the score for the game story). Suffice it to say that I’m pleased the National League won and I’m pleased that they won because Braves’ catcher Brian McCann hit a bases clearing double to plate all three NL runs. For the first time in several years I have a rooting interest in who has home field advantage in the World Series, so this outcome is a good one as far as I’m concerned.
Still, I can’t say the game itself was necessarily satisfying, for many of the reasons I cited earlier this week. I won’t go blow-by-blow on this, but any claim that the All-Star Game “counts” for anything is
negated when its participants make the free choice to do things like substitute in Matt Capps for Roy Halladay when the latter has thrown only 17 pitches like Charlie Manuel did. Likewise such claims are forfeited when a manager is given a roster of approximately 147 players but can’t see fit to keep a pinch runner available to avoid things like David Ortiz getting forced out at second base on a single to the outfield.
Both of these moves — Manuel’s babying of the National League’s best pitcher, Roy Halladay, and Joe Girardi refusing to pinch run with his lone available player, Alex-Rodriguez — were likely borne of the manager wanted to preserve and protect the health of his everyday player at the expense of making the right tactical decisions in the All-Star Game. My view of things: If the managers tasked with winning the game don’t care enough about its outcome to make good baseball decisions, why should I as a fan be expected to care?
That reservation aside, yes, I watched the whole thing. And yes, I even enjoyed parts of it. Because I was screwing around on Twitter all night I wasn’t concentrating on the play-by-play that much, so there were only about five instances when Buck and McCarver made me want to commit bloody murder. Maybe a new low for them. Despite the overkill I think I want to see that new Leo DiCaprio movie. Overall, it could have been way worse.
Now all we have to do is get through one more real baseball-free day and then we’re back in business.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.