And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Mets 4, Giants 3: Umpire Phil Cuzzi didn’t hand a win to the Mets, but he sure as hell took one away from the Giants.  Travis Ishikawa was safe on this play — even Henry Blanco said so after the game — but Cuzzi called him out. It was clearly the wrong call and it cost the Giants the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Earlier Cuzzi was in a screaming match with Francisco Rodriguez, which was also out of line. If for no other reason that it should have been Johan Santana yelling at Rodriguez for blowing a 3-1 lead in the ninth, thereby costing Santana a W. Oh, and check out K-Rod’s game-ending strikeout celebration. Dude: you get to pump your fist like that if you save it, not if you vulture a win.

Cardinals 5, Dodgers 4: The Cardinals’ five runs come in the eighth and ninth and they win it on a walkoff RBI single from Matt Holliday. The Dodgers wasted six shutout innings by Padilla during which he only allowed one hit.  Only 80 pitches too, so you wonder why he wasn’t allowed to go another inning or two. Anyway, the Cards sweep the Dodgers and take over first place in the NL Central.

Padres 6, Diamondbacks 4: Chris Denorfia smacks two homers as Edwin Jackson turns in his third straight blah start after his no-hitter. Fun little mix-up between Everth Cabrera and Mark Reynolds down at third base when Cabrera was picked off. Cabrera got ejected, but I’m not sure it wasn’t the case that both he and Reynolds were equally aggressive here. Cabrera’s foot in Reynolds’ face was a bit much, but so too was Reynolds rolling over Cabrera and planting an elbow in his back beforehand, not to mention the fact that Reynolds was the one who came up swinging. Seems like you either eject both of them or neither of them. Could be worse, though. If Phil Cuzzi was working this game he probably would have ejected Steve Garvey and then barked at you if you told him he was wrong.

Mariners 2, Angels 1: It’s really not possible to watch highlights from a Mariners-Angels matchup without thinking of the Enrico Pallazo game. And while we’re on the subject, does it bother anyone that the the Enrico Pallazo game was quite obviously played in Dodger Stadium?

Twins 7, White Sox 6: Bobby Jenks joins K-Rod and Jonathan Broxton on the big-name-closers-who-got-shelled-yesterday list after allowing four runs without getting a single man out. The Twins almost didn’t survive yet another poopy performance by Nick Blackburn, after which he sounded like he knows he’s about to lose his job: “I don’t know how much longer they’re going to keep putting up with this
stuff.”  That aside, it was a nice weekend for Minnesota, taking three of four from the Chisox when it looked like they were about ready to keel over and die.

Pirates 9, Astros 0: Paul Maholm tossed a three-hitter, helped out by a Houston lineup that probably wouldn’t qualify as formidable in a Texas League game. It probably didn’t make any difference, though, because the flood gates opened for the Pirates when Roy Oswalt had to leave after taking a comebacker off his ankle.

Athletics 9, Royals 6: So much for all of those “hey, those Royals are looking frisky” articles we’ve been reading lately, as they drop their sixth straight. Oakland, on the other hand, has won five in a row and 12 of 18 and they’re now back to .500 for the first time in over a month. Nice game for Vin Mazzaro, who gave up one run in seven and two-thirds. It then took four pitchers for the A’s bullpen to get the final four outs.

Braves 11, Brewers 6: Brian McCann just loves having the sacks jacked. He had that bases-loaded RBI double in the All-Star Game, and in this one he had a grand slam and was later walked with three men aboard. This is strange: on Saturday the Braves’ Jonny Venters went after Prince Fielder, throwing near his head and then plunking him. Both he and Bobby Cox were ejected. Fine. Then yesterday, Manny Parra hits Jason Heyward. Warning issued: still fine. Sure, Parra could have been immediately ejected if the ump thought it was retaliation, but the warning is how it’s usually handled. Two batters later David Riske hits Troy Glaus but isn’t ejected. Why not? What was the point of the warning?

Rangers 4, Red Sox 2: Losing three out of four is not the way the Sox wanted to come out of the All-Star break. Well, at least not unless they’re running some weird rope-a-dope gambit to which we’re all simply not hip. Ten strikeouts for C.J. Wilson who I never would have guessed would be having such a nice year as a starter before the season began.

Marlins 1, Nationals 0: The Marlins shut out the Nats for the second straight day (and after they themselves were shut out on Friday). This was a committee job, with Alex Sanabia starting and going five and a third and four relievers finishing it out. Indeed, Florida needed three relievers to finish up the shutout on Saturday too. A pretty bullpen-taxing couple of days for having given up zero runs.

Blue Jays 10, Orioles 1: Yunel Escobar hit a grand slam and drove in five. He’s six for his first 13 with a walk since coming over from Atlanta, but at least four of those hits were really annoying and displayed a bad attitude.

Rockies 1, Reds 0: How does a 1-0 game last more than three hours? When nine pitchers are used between the two teams, I guess. Aaron Cook three seven of those shutout innings. For the Reds, Travis Wood pitches on the wrong end of a 1-0 loss for the second time in a row.

Yankees 9, Rays 5: A win is nice when you beat David Price but you really regret it when you lose Andy Pettitte. OK, that was terrible and I’m going to go kill myself now. But not for the bad rhyme. I’m going to kill kill myself because I spent ten minutes trying to think of something good to rhyme with “groin” before I ended up going with what I wrote.

Indians 7, Tigers 2: Jhonny Peralta’s inside-the-parker was helped by Ryan Rayburn missing the leaping catch, pulling a Bump Bailey and going through the bullpen door. Well, he didn’t really pull a Bump Bailey in that he didn’t die or anything, but it was still kind of neat. And you know what? After watching the replay a few times, I’m pretty sure that’s an inside-the-parker even if the bullpen door doesn’t open. But if I admitted that beforehand I probably wouldn’t have gone with the Bump Bailey reference.

Cubs 11, Phillies 6: Either Roy Halladay’s radar was off last night, or else he consulted Joey Votto when putting together his strategy for getting Marlon Byrd out, because Doc plunked him twice. And each time he did he gave up a two-run home run shortly thereafter.

Mets closer Jeurys Familia receives a 15-game suspension for domestic violence

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Mets closer Jeurys Familia has received a 15-game suspension for domestic violence.

Familia was arrested in October following an incident at his home. Criminal charges were dropped in December. As we know, however, MLB’s domestic violence policy does not require criminal proceedings to be commenced, let alone completed, before the leveling of league punishment. MLB has been investigating the incident for the past several months.

Familia saved 51 games for the Mets last year while posting a 2.55 ERA. The Mets are expecting Addison Reed to fill in at closer until he returns.

Familia has released a statement:

Today, I accepted a 15-game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my inappropriate behavior on October 31, 2016. With all that has been written and discussed regarding this matter, it is important that it be known that I never physically touched, harmed or threatened my wife that evening. I did,however, act in an unacceptable manner and am terribly disappointed in myself. I am alone to blame for the problems of that evening.

My wife and I cooperated fully with Major League Baseball’s investigation, and I’ve taken meaningful steps to assure that nothing like this will ever happen again. I have learned from this experience, and have grown as a husband, a father, and a man.

I apologize to the Mets’ organization, my teammates, and all my fans. I look forward to rejoining the Mets and being part of another World Series run. Out of respect for my teammates and my family, I will have no further comment.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has a statement as well:

My office has completed its investigation into the events leading up to Jeurys Familia’s arrest on October 31, 2016.  Mr. Familia and his wife cooperated fully throughout the investigation, including submitting to in-person interviews with MLB’s Department of Investigations.  My office also received cooperation from the Fort Lee Municipal Prosecutor.  The evidence reviewed by my office does not support a determination that Mr. Familia physically assaulted his wife, or threatened her or others with physical force or harm, on October 31, 2016.  Nevertheless, I have concluded that Mr. Familia’s overall conduct that night was inappropriate, violated the Policy, and warrants discipline.

It is clear that Mr. Familia regrets what transpired that night and takes full responsibility for his actions.  Mr. Familia already has undergone 12 ninety-minute counseling sessions with an approved counselor specializing in the area of domestic violence, and received a favorable evaluation from the counselor regarding his willingness to take concrete steps to ensure that he is not involved in another incident of this type.  Further, he has agreed to speak to other players about what he has learned through this process, and to donate time and money to local organizations aimed at the prevention of, and the treatment of victims of, domestic violence.

2017 Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Milwaukee Brewers.

Every year, Major League Baseball plays host to two casts of characters: the contenders and the rebuilders. You might find slight variations — the rebuilders who stand a chance of contending, the contenders on the verge of rebuilding, or those stuck somewhere in between — but by and large, the lines are clearly drawn.

The 2017 Brewers, for better or worse, are rebuilders. Sure, you won’t find them at the bottom of the NL Central come October (that place is unequivocally reserved for the Reds), but neither will you see them snag a Wild Card berth or run away with the division title. This is the year of cultivating a fertile farm system, giving their big league prospects room to stretch and grow and figuring out whether Ryan Braun has a future in Milwaukee beyond 2017.

If the Brewers did anything right this winter, it was deepening their reserves at nearly every position. Behind the plate, Andrew Susac, Manny Pina and newly-acquired Jett Bandy bandied for the spot. Susac injured his back during camp, and while the MRI results didn’t reveal any significant damage, it doesn’t look like he’ll be healthy in time for Opening Day. Milwaukee skipper Craig Counsell has yet to identify a full-time catcher and could start the year with Pina and Bandy in a hybrid role after both backstops impressed during spring training.

Eric Thames replaced Chris Carter at first base, and while he’s expected to split duties with Jesus Aguilar, appears to be an unconventional acquisition for the Brewers. On paper, the two look miles apart. Carter slashed .222/.321/.499 with 41 home runs and an .821 OPS for the club in 2016, pairing his league-leading homers with a league-leading 206 strikeouts. Thames, meanwhile, flamed out in the majors in 2012 and has not returned to the major league stage since. Never mind that he has only ever played the outfield or that he’s technically made only 181 big league appearances in the last five years, though. Over the past three seasons, he mashed an incredible .349/.457/.721 with 124 home runs and a 1.178 OPS for the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization, and the three-year, $16 million contract he signed with Milwaukee will look like a steal if he can replicate those numbers in the United States.

The outfield posed another set of questions for the team, who was looking to fill right and center field with a combination of Keon Broxton, Hernan Perez, Domingo Santana, Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Kyle Wren. Broxton and Santana claimed spots in center and right, respectively, with Nieuwenhuis beating out the rest of the backup candidates to secure his position as the team’s fourth outfielder. Braun will resume his station in left field after a quiet spring training, during which he declined to participate in the World Baseball Classic or most of the Cactus League competition in order to stay healthy for the upcoming season. (At least, that’s one plausible reason. He also told the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal’s Todd Rosiak, “I just don’t feel like I need at-bats to feel ready for games.”)

Of course, every team in the throes of rebuilding has at least one weak spot, and the Brewers are no exception. The starting rotation lacks clarity and talent outside of Junior Guerra and Zach Davies, both of whom flourished in their sophomore campaigns with Milwaukee in 2016. The club acquired left-hander Tommy Milone on the cheap, adding him to a lengthy list of candidates that included right-handers Chase Anderson, Wily Peralta, Matt Garza and Jimmy Nelson. Spring training did little to illuminate a clear path for the rotation: Garza imploded, Peralta shone, and Nelson and Anderson proved inconsistent at best.

The bullpen doesn’t look much better beyond newly-minted closer Neftali Feliz, who signed a one-year, $5.35 million deal with the Brewers after polishing off a healthy, productive season with the Pirates in 2016. While his bounce-back season looked like a good omen for Milwaukee, Feliz struggled through a rough spring, working 10 hits, six runs, three walks and seven strikeouts through nine innings in camp. He appears to be fully recovered from the “biceps fatigue” that curtailed his last season in Pittsburgh, and Counsell believes that he’ll improve with more reps this spring.

Elsewhere in the bullpen, the club is hurting for left-handed relief after optioning their only lefty candidate, Brent Suter, to Triple-A Colorado Springs last week. A suitable replacement for Suter has yet to be named, but there’s some chatter that Milone could assume a position in the bullpen if necessary.

Overall, the Brewers didn’t improve their major league roster as much as they stabilized it, opting for low-cost stopgaps while they condition younger, less-seasoned players waiting to break through to the bigs. A plethora of high-caliber prospects crowd the upper rungs of their farm system, so much so that the club has had difficulty trying to find enough room for all of them to develop at the appropriate level. Just take Triple-A Colorado Springs, which boasts a talented outfield of Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell and Brett Phillips and rotation battles among Hiram Burgos, Josh Hader, Paolo Espino, Wilkerson, Taylor Jungmann, Wei-Chung Wang and the aforementioned Brent Suter, among others.

Milwaukee is looking at a bright future, to be sure, but that future won’t be fully realized right now. The Brewers’ 2017 season will undoubtedly be more satisfying for its front office than its fans, unless those fans also have a ticket to Security Service Field. Given a few more years to develop their prospects and build out their farm system, however, these rebuilders could begin to look something like contenders.

Prediction: 4th place in NL Central.