And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Diamondbacks 14, Mets 1: I was tempted to say that Adam LaRoche’s two three-run home runs yesterday are just the latest example of second-half greatness from a great second-half player, but check out his month-by-month OPSeseses: April: .953; May: .787; June: .698; July: .669. Contrary to his reputation, he’s gotten worse as the season has gone on. I wonder if those bombs are the opening salvo to a furious August and September to salvage that reputation.  Jerry Manuel on the Mets’ performance: “We didn’t pitch, we didn’t hit, we didn’t play defense.”

Rays 3, Yankees 0:
That’s eight of nine for the Rays, who pull to within one of the
Bombers. Joe Girardi felt obligated to use all of his shiny new toys —
Kearns! Berkman! Wood! — while giving A-Rod and Brett Gardner the day
off.  Made the box score look all Central Divisiony to me.

Reds 2, Braves 1: Some shaky defense and tons and tons of stranded runners by the Braves wastes an excellent performance by Tommy Hanson. Both Reds runs were the result of Braves’ defensive miscues: if Jason Heyward didn’t try to make a diving catch on Brandon Phillips’ triple it would have at best been a double with no run scoring, and of course, Alex Gonzalez’ error gave the Reds their second run. I’d rather they just get beat 14-1. When that happens I just let the game fall out of my head. These coulda-shoulda-woulda games stick with me all damn afternoon.

Phillies 6, Nationals 4: Philly had to come from behind and then get two RBI singles in the 11th to avoid a sweep by the Nats. Charlie Manuel had no problem giving Brad Lidge the ball to close this one despite him giving up the walkoff homer on Saturday night. Ryan Howard sprained his ankle in the first inning and was hobbling around the clubhouse in crutches after the game. For as bad as the Braves have been playing lately, if Lidge keeps closing and key players keep getting hurt for Philly, you have to like Atlanta’s chances.

Angels 4, Rangers 1: Jered Weaver and Cliff Lee are probably the two best starters in the AL this year. The former outpitched the latter yesterday. The Angels are still way back, but taking two of three from Texas may be the start of something, right?

Padres 5, Marlins 4: Josh Johnson has his worst start of the year, giving up five earned runs. Indeed, it was the first time he had given up more than three since his first start back on April 5th.  Ryan Ludwick gets a pinch hit and comes around to score in his Padre debut.

Rockies 8, Cubs 7: The Rockies are a streaky bunch. They take their fourth in a row after that big losing skid coming out of the break. Dexter Fowler saved the game with this awesome catch in the ninth, but he probably bought himself some time on the DL too. Way to take one for the team, Dex. Bad day medically all around, as Cubs’ starter Carlos Silva left the game in the first with an irregular heartbeat.

Cardinals 9, Pirates 1: I know it’s statistically impossible, but it at least seems like every single time Adam Wainwright pitches his line looks like this: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 5K.

Twins 4, Mariners 0: Francisco Liriano struck out 11 and gave up only two hits. The M’s have lost seven in a row, three of which have been shutouts. Just terrible, terrible baseball. Who gets fired first: Wakamatsu or Manuel?

Astros 5, Brewers 2: See, all the Astros needed to do in order to go on a tear was trade away their best pitcher and best hitter. Seems obvious in hindsight. A pinch hit grand slam in the seventh by Jason Michaels was the big blast here.

Royals 5, Orioles 4: Bruce Chen was in a hell of a jam in the sixth — bases loaded, no one out — but reliever Kanekoa Texeira bailed him out. Texeira after the game: “I told Bruce today, ‘Big guy, I got your back. Bruce, don’t worry.” Amazing. No, not Texeira’s foresight, but rather that was the first time in his 33 years on Earth that anyone has ever called Bruce Chen “big guy.” By the way: anyone know what ever happened to Jung Bong?

White Sox 4, Athletics 1: A complete game with 11 strikeouts for Gio Gonzalez, but it was not enough on a day when Gavin Floyd had a perfect game into the sixth inning. Dude’s been on fire for basically two months and the Chisox simply don’t lose at home anymore.  Speaking of New Comiskey: I was chatting with my HBT Daily/Extra cohort Tiffany the other day, who just got back from a trip to Chicago. She contends that a day at Comiskey is way better than a day at Wrigley. I’ve not been there, but based on her and others’ descriptions — and based on my own experiences at Wrigley — I think I can see that. I bet that, rooting interests notwithstanding, serious Chicago baseball fans would make a strong case for the South Side simply because you don’t have all of that party atmosphere baloney going on down there. Thoughts?

Red Sox 4, Tigers 3: Nice vulture job by Papelbon, as he blows the save in the ninth yet was the pitcher of record when the Tigers threw the ball away to allow the winning run score on a bunt single in the bottom of the ninth. I wonder if some day Clay Buchholz will have 288 wins or something and some baseball writer will keep him off his Hall of Fame ballot because he “just didn’t know how to win.”

Indians 5, Blue Jays 4: If Cleveland could play Toronto 162 games a year they’d be, like, the best team ever. They’ve taken six of seven from the Jays, this one on the strength of a two-run homer from Asdrubal Cabrera.

Giants 2, Dodgers 0:
Matt Cain threw shutout ball into the eighth, and both Giants runs came
in on an Edgar Renteria triple in the sixth. I usually watch a good bit
of the Sunday night game if not all of it, but I randomly picked up
“Ball Four” last night and started thumbing through it. By the time I
looked up I realized that the damn game was most of the way over.
I certainly consider it time well spent, however.

2016 Winter Meetings Preview

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is seen along the Potomac River February 26, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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The baseball world will descend on Washington D.C. — well, the Maryland suburbs of Washington, at the Gaylord Resort at National Harbor — this weekend for the 2016 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Twenty free agents from a class of 191 have signed thus far. Among the notable: Yoenis Cespedes, Edinson Volquez, Neil Walker, Josh Reddick, Bartolo Colon, and R.A. Dickey. That, of course, leaves a ton of notables left, including Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Turner, Joe Bautista, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Trumbo, Mark Melancon, Rich Hill and a host of others. Here is our rundown of this offseason’s top free agents if you’re curious. As you have come to expect from us, we’ll have a writeup of everyone who signs, faster than almost anyone else will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is an historically thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. We’ve seen a couple already, most notably the deals which sent Taijuan Walker to the Diamondbacks, Jaime Garcia to the Braves and Brian McCann to the Astros. Most experts believe there will be plenty more this winter, and the ball could really get rolling on that in the next week with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Phillips on the block.

Another major activity of the Winter Meetings is the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee vote. Except, this year, there is no Veterans Committee, at least in name. It’s now the “Today’s Game” committee. Here are links to breakdowns of the candidacies of all ten men on the ballot the new committee will consider:

Harold Baines
Albert Belle
Will Clark
Orel Hershiser
Mark McGwire
George Steinbrenner
Davey Johnson
Lou Piniella
John Shuerholz
Bud Selig

Trade deals, free agent negotiations and Hall of Fame votes take place behind closed doors at the Gaylord Resort. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year’s new faces are Torey Lovullo with the Diamondbacks, Rick Renteria with the White Sox and Bud Black with the Rockies. Brian Snitker, now the permanent manager of the Braves, will get his first go-around at the managerial cattle call. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. And a lot of it. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings, though this year’s brand new Collective Bargaining Agreement should overshadow that. We’ve already discussed the major points of that and, yesterday, I speculated that, as time goes on, the way this agreement was reached could lead to some serious strife going forward, particularly on the union side. Expect to hear some anonymous rumblings about all of that in the next few days, from players, agents and other interested parties who may not be all that pleased with how it goes.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at National Harbor, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event. As they used to say in radio, tune in to us and rip off the dial. Or, at the very least, keep a tab open to us and refresh a lot.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.