Texas Rangers' Bengie Molina hits a two out three run home run as New York Yankees' Francisco Cervelli waits for the ball during the sixth inning during Game 4 of their Major League Baseball ALCS playoff series in New York

Rangers 10, Yankees 3: An ugly night in the Bronx has the Yankees on the ropes


On an objective level there have been worse losses in recent Yankees history. They’ve been blown out. They’ve lost big games. Bad things have occurred to even this most historically blessed team.  But I can’t recall an uglier night, all around, than what we witnessed tonight. Among the lowlights:

  • Tommy Hunter was quite hittable, but the Yankees didn’t take full advantage of his vulnerabilities, missing multiple scoring opportunities;
  • Mark Teixeira injured his hamstring and may very well be done for the year, no matter how far the Yankees advance;
  • Joe Girardi was gifted with what had been a more than serviceable A.J. Burnett start, went to the well with him once too often and ended up paying for it with a Bengie Molina three-run homer;
  • In the bottom of the eighth Girardi allowed Lance Berkman to bat right handed with the bases loaded. It was the Yankees’ last, best chance of the game and maybe the season, and Berkman hits, like, -.397 right handed. He grounded out to third to end the threat; and finally
  • Yankees fans were simply pathetic, first pulling a Jeffrey Maier — and acting like total morons afterward — then pulling a Steve Bartman on a foul ball that, while it ended up not mattering, didn’t distinguish the fan base. Oh, and then that fan base left the place in droves beginning in the seventh inning, despite the fact that it was still only a four run game. Yankees fans are the best around, I’ve heard. Well, I guess I’ll have to take their word for it.

Like I said, just ugly stuff. And now maybe it’s over.

No, not technically over, because the Rangers need four wins, not three. But do the Yankees have a chance? Sure, anything is possible, and if the old saw about momentum being the next day’s starting pitcher means anything, that’s good news for CC Sabathia and the Yankees.

But the fact is that they’re not hitting a lick, not even on a night when the Rangers ran out their worst starter and a Game 1-style bullpen brigade. They’ve lost Teixeira who, while he hadn’t been hitting, could certainly be expected to hit eventually and can still certainly pick it at first. If they’re going to run the table — which they must — they must do it against C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Cliff Lee, three pitchers who gave the Yankees fits the first time through.

You can’t predict baseball, because baseball is inherently unpredictable. But you can make some educated guesses. And my guess is that the Yankees suffered a terminal blow these last two nights. Even if they linger on for another day, the end is near. They’re not going to pull this out.

Braves sign Bud Norris to one-year contract

Bud Norris

Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.

Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.

In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.

The Cubs acquire Rex Brothers from the Rockies

Rex Brothers Rockies

The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:

Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.

Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.

A’s reacquire Jed Lowrie in trade with Astros

Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie, who was traded from the Astros to the A’s in 2013 and then re-signed with the Astros as a free agent last offseason, has now been traded back to the A’s.

Lowrie got a three-year, $23 million deal from the Astros with the idea that he’d play shortstop in the first season and then move to another position whenever stud prospect Carlos Correa arrived. Instead he got hurt right away, Correa became an immediate star, and the Astros weren’t so keen on paying him $15 million over the next two seasons.

He could resume playing shortstop for the A’s, who watched rookie Marcus Semien make an absurd number of errors there this year. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons in Oakland, which is similar to his career totals and makes him a solidly above-average offensive shortstop. There’s a decent chance the A’s will have a Lowrie-Lawrie double-play duo in 2016.

In return the Astros get minor leaguer Brendan McCurry, a 24-year-old right-hander who split 2015 between high Single-A and Double-A with a 1.86 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 63 relief innings. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2014 and doesn’t have exceptional raw stuff, but McCurry’s numbers are incredible so far.