San Francisco Giants v Texas Rangers, Game 4

UPDATE: Call off the Michael Young trade talk


UPDATE: It seems that’s over. Multiple sources, including Evan Grant and others who were reporting a possible Michael Young trade, are now saying that it’s not happening. The Rangers have approached young and told him as much.

To the extent the trade was going to be to the Rockies so that Texas could then sign Adrian Beltre, I’d like to think I was partially responsible. When that rumor first started last night I went on Sirius/XM radio with Mike Ferrin and Flash Gordon, who asked me about it. My immediate response: “Why don’t the Rockies just sign Adrian Beltre? Not tons more expensive and, you know, he’s a lot better.”  Perchance Colorado heard that and agreed?

Well, no, I suppose not. But if a knucklehead like me can understand that, you figure that a team full of guys paid to think about such matters could.

Tuesday, 11:42 PM: Oh, baby. Multiple sources are telling Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News that the Rangers are talking to the Rockies about a trade for Michael Young.

This will be no easy task, since Young is owed $48 million over the next three seasons, but Grant writes that if the Rangers are able to deal him, they will pursue free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre. Now that would be something.

Tuesday, 8:02 PM: Here’s more clarification from Rangers president Nolan Ryan, via Richard Durrett of

“I wouldn’t say that were shopping him,” Ryan said. “A lot of players come up in discussions and you listen to what’s out there. I think people ask us about all kinds of players and so you see what level of interest some teams have on various things, but it’s all just part of the process. We’re not shopping him.”

Tuesday, 7:58 PM: According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Rangers officials have “debunked” the rumor that they are shopping Michael Young. Again, probably doesn’t matter if they are, because they aren’t going to get that much interest with a contract like his.

Tuesday, 6:19 PM: Ken Rosenthal says that the Rangers are listening to offers for Michael Young.

I suppose if I had Michael Young and his contract that I’d listen to offers too. I just wouldn’t expect any.  Besides, Young is really popular in Texas, you’d have to figure that it wouldn’t be the easiest trick in the world to trade him in a salary dump.  They’d have to get players, and who wants to give players for a guy who is owed $16 million a year for his age 34, 35 and 36 seasons.

This could be a shot in the dark by the Rangers, hoping that they could maybe unload his contract before his 10-and-5 rights kick in next May.

In other news, there’s a host for an Atlanta sports talk station inexplicably broadcasting from inside the media room here at the Winter Meetings, where people are trying to write. He’s loud, and that would be bad enough. Making it worse: he just referred to Greg Maddux as “The Crime Dog.”  That’s a major, major code violation.  If you don’t know his nickname at least have the common courtesy to call him “Daddy.”

I’m going to get some dinner. Then some courage. Then I’m going to come back and give that guy a wedgie.  If things go sideways, my last tweet of the evening will be a request for someone for to throw my bail.

Jessica Mendoza and Chris Archer were great in the booth

Jessica Mendoza
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Not news: Jessica Mendoza, who has been excellent on all of the ESPN broadcasts she has done since taking over for Curt Schilling, was excellent last night too.

She was great on the nuts and bolts, continued to show that she can describe hitting mechanics better than most color commentators — way more of them seem to be more comfortable talking about pitching — and was a seamless presence in the booth in terms of flow, timbre and all of the aesthetic aspects of broadcasting. If she has a fault thus far it’s that she leans on some cliches about hitters’ mindsets and desire to win sometimes. This puts her in with approximately 100% of all other color commentators in baseball now and throughout the history of baseball, of course, so it’s not really a demerit.

Ultimately, the true test of a good commentator is whether they (a) add insight; and (b) do so without distracting or upstaging the game. In this Mendoza is superior to most commentators in baseball and clearly superior to the “stop and listen to me” brand of analysts the major networks have employed on national broadcasts in recent years.

Indeed, the one of the best compliments I think I can give Mendoza is that she was — in the literal sense, not the judgmental sense — unremarkable. Meaning: during the game and after there was nothing she said or did that was worthy of the highly-critical remarks almost every broadcaster gets, going back through Schilling, Kruk, Harold Reynolds Tim McCarver, Joe Morgan and everyone else ESPN and Fox have forced upon us in their history doing playoff baseball. I’m on Twitter during most playoff games and sometimes the broadcaster bashing is more interesting than the game. Mendoza gives the would-be bashers very little material.

At least those who would bash on the actual merits. There remains a group of deadenders who are irked by her very presence in the booth because she is a woman. The New York times rounds up some of the less mouth-breathery types today, but God knows there are many, many worse. Some of them even in professional media. At least for now. Whether you choose to ignore those people or choose to engage them — which, their dead end opinions notwithstanding can be a useful exercise in my opinion — know that they are out there being miserable and sexist as God and the First Amendment intended them to be.

While there are many who slam Mendoza on the faulty premise that she lacks credentials and experience in the booth, there was one person in the ESPN booth last night, at least for a while, who was a total TV noob. His name was Chris Archer. He pitches a bit for the Tampa Bay Rays. And lo and behold, he was pretty damn good himself.

Archer needs some polish for style — he has a lot of “ummms” and “uhhhs” about him — but his analysis is both sharp and quick. Meaning he was RIGHT ON the points when he needed to be without any of the usual prompting guests in the booth need from the play by play guy. At one point he even flowed into play-by-play and did a pretty good job of it.  Chris: if that pitching stuff doesn’t work out, you have a bright, bright future in television.

So, on the first night of the playoffs, there were no complaints about the broadcast. Mostly because the broadcasters weren’t the stars of the show. The game was. And it was complemented nicely by a couple of good voices.

And John Kruk.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.