People wonder why I’m emotionally checked-out from the Braves. Why I’m sleeping on their chances. Why I’m totally content to play the “happy to be here” card and to spend more time thinking about what, if any team I’ll pick up as a temporary rooting interest in the next round of the playoffs after the Braves bow out.
Here’s a good reason: Melky Cabrera is batting fifth in the Braves’ lineup tonight. Fifth! As in, the guy behind the cleanup hitter. The place you usually want to put a guy with a little pop, seeing as though there’s a good chance that the team’s two best hitters — third and cleanup — could reasonably be expected to be on base. Melky.
Depending on how you measure it, Melky Cabrera is probably the worst player in the league. At least among those who received any significant playing time. He’s five-tools bad: he doesn’t hit for average. He doesn’t hit for power. He isn’t fast. He doesn’t have a good glove. He doesn’t have a good arm.
Did Eric Hinske die and no one’s telling us? Is Nate McLouth battling a case of shingles? Is there anything sadder than the fact that both of those are questions that Braves fans legitimately deserve answers to as they wish for something approaching a quality lineup? Melky. Really. Fifth.
As I was trying to think of a way to end this post, I vented about Melky to Gleeman. His response: “If Matt Cain throws a no-hitter tonight, I would rank it slightly behind James Shields’ start.” And he’s right. Melky.
Know what I’m going to think about all winter? About what the 2010 Braves could have accomplished had they had even a single average outfielder beyond Jason Heyward.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.