Phillies 4, Reds 0: Joey Votto, after the game, explaining what it was like to face Roy Halladay: “It’s like trying to hit nothing.” Someone is going to repeat that phrase at Halladay’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It will be written in his obituary.
Some no-hitters don’t seem so impressive as you’re watching them. Edwin Jackson’s, for example. Even Dallas Braden’s perfect game was less than overwhelming in many respects. Hallday’s Game 1 was not one of those games. It was as if the ball was on a track, destined to end up in a part of the strikezone at a specific velocity that made it impossible to hit no matter what the Reds attempted. He went 0-1 on 25 of the 28 batters he faced. He looked like he could have thrown 12 or 13 no-hit innings. I don’t recall ever seeing a pitcher as locked-in as Halladay was.
Rangers 5, Rays 1: Man, if the Phillies hadn’t been so dumb as to trade Cliff Lee they’d be up 2-0 on the Reds already. OK, that was a joke. But trades certainly had an impact here. The Rangers’ heroes of the game — Lee, Francoeur and Bengie Molina — were all mid-season pickups. Picked up, you’ll recall, when the team was in ownership litigation turmoil. Indeed, they may not have been able to even do these deals without signoff from Major League Baseball, which had the Rangers on a line of credit at the time. I wonder how the Rays’ owners feel about that today?
Yankees 6, Twins 4: And this is why, despite my objective assessment of the team’s strengths, I had to pick the Yankees in this series. You just can’t kill them. Down 3-0,you just knew they’d string together a few base hits to rally. Tied at 4, you just knew that they’d score again. Or maybe you didn’t know — and maybe you couldn’t have predicted Teixiera going long on Crain — but there certainly shouldn’t have been any surprise when it happened. Well, hell, maybe you could have predicted the homer given that, just before it happened, TBS showed a replay of him going long to the right field corner on Jessee Crain from back in May. Oh well.
It’s weird to say this about a Game 1, but it was a game the Yankees really needed to win given all of the uncertainty in the rotation behind CC Sabathia. And speaking of Sabathia — if the plan really is to bring him back on short rest, why on Earth did Girardi not bring out the hook for him in the sixth? He was clearly gassed, and ended up throwing 111 pitches.
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.