And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Rockies 6, Mets 2: Two outs, runners on second and third, a base open
and Troy Tulowitzski at the plate. I hate intentional walks, but I
understand that a lot of managers would walk Tulowtizki in that spot.
Especially to bring up Melvin Mora. Boy did that ever bite Jerry Manuel
in the ass! Grand slam for Mora, game basically over.

Padres 8, Pirates 5:
Sometimes I wonder if, on a road trip, Pirates players ever consider
walking away from the team hotel and defecting like they were Soviet
ballet dancers or something. I’m pretty sure there’s a U.N. resolution
somewhere that covers the dire situation in which they find themselves
and would counsel that the home team provide them asylum.

Diamondbacks 8, Brewers 2:
Adam LaRoche, Miguel Montero, Mark Reynolds and Stephen Drew went back
to back to back to back in the fourth inning.  All four came off Dave
Bush, by the way, who apparently is unaware of certain settled concepts.

Phillies 2, Dodgers 0: Matt Kemp was on the bench again because, according to Joe
Torre, he wanted to run out the lineup that had scored 15 runs the night
before. Maybe he would have been better off somehow finding a way to bench Roy Oswalt, because I think the opposing pitcher had a lot more to do with it.

Yankees 7, Rangers 6:
The Yankees got to Cliff Lee enough to keep it close, but then they
really got to Frank Francisco and Neftali Feliz to secure a comeback win
after being down 6-1. Good to see Mariano Rivera close it down a day
after a blown save. Fragile young closers like him need to get right
back on that horse after falling off, you know, lest they get all
erratic and nervous.

Marlins 9, Nationals 5:
Mike Stanton went 5 for 5 with two doubles a homer and four RBI.  OK,
now that that’s out of the way, allow me to observe that between
Washington, Miami and Atlanta, the NL East has to be the most humid
and disgusting division in baseball, weather-wise. I can’t think of any division that — in the
aggregate — plays in more oppressive, swampy heat. Baltimore gets ugly,
of course, but they’re offset by a couple of domes and northern teams in their
division. Same with Kansas City. Texas sucks, but lovely Anaheim,
Oakland and Seattle temperatures more than offset it. Philly and New
York don’t nearly outweigh the awfulness of D.C.-to-Miami weather. These are the things I think about when I’m on the 1,356th straight day of sitting in air conditioning.

Braves 8, Astros 2: My Mets and Phillies friends told me “beware of late-season Billy Wagner!” They kinda have a point. Still, the Braves gotta score more than two runs in regulation before they can really start worrying about their closer blowing one here or there. And hey, if Wagner had locked this one down then Brian McCann wouldn’t have had that grand slam, and the grand slam was great fun.

Cardinals 6, Reds 1: Hit this one up as it ended yesterday. The Reds, ironically, were the ones who ended up gettin’ told.

Athletics 5, Mariners 1: Dallas Braden turns in his second best performance of the year, going the distance and allowing a single run. Three doubles and three RBI for Mark Ellis, who hit into a triple play on Monday. This is important. This means something.

White Sox 6, Twins 1: John Danks has been pretty incredible lately. Last night: 8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 7K. The dogfight in the AL Central continues.

Red Sox 10, Blue Jays 1: Two homers for Bill Hall and bombs from J.D. Drew and Adrian Beltre as well.

Orioles 3, Indians 1: Buck Showalter is The Doormat Whisperer. Brad Bergesen with a complete game two-hitter.  Only complaint: with thirteen hits and three walks, the O’s really should have scored more than three runs.

Angels 2, Royals 1: Bobby Abreu walks off with a bomb off Jesse Chavez who, for reasons known only to Ned Yost, was pitching in a critical situation. Great starts by both Zack Greinke and Jered Weaver, each allowing only one run on six hits in eight innings.

Tigers 3, Rays 2: Detroit salvages one as Matt Garza, sadly, does not no-hit the Tigers again.

Giants 5, Cubs 4: Pat Burrell had a couple of big hits and a nice defensive play on a relay throw from left field. At this point he should probably petition to have his time in Tampa Bay just expunged from his record, no?

Programming Note: I’m going to be gone tomorrow for what is, as far as you know, some important business. As such, there won’t be any “And That Happened.” Please try to find a way to muddle through the day . . . somehow.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

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Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.