File photo of Texas Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee in Arlington

Silly things I’ve heard this morning

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There’s always a bunch of crazy stuff spewed out there when a big deal goes down.  Heck, I spew half of it. Here’s a list of the silly things I’ve heard in the 12 hours since the Cliff Lee deal was announced, both on Twitter and in comments to our various Cliff Lee posts:

“Cliff is just like LeBron James!”

Lots of random Twitter people said this, and Mike and Mike said just as much on their show this morning, talking about him passing up the opportunity to be “the number one guy” elsewhere and to become a cog in Philly.  Which is beyond crazy, of course.  As I mentioned this morning, LeBron’s offense against taste and nature was turning his announcement into a television show, not choosing to go to Miami. More to the point, however, baseball is a fundamentally different sport than basketball. No one can be “The Man” in baseball except Stan Musial, and that’s in nickname only. It’s a team sport. You can be the best ever, and if you don’t have support, you’re going nowhere. Ask Ted Williams. Hell, ask Stan Musial for the entire decade of the 1950s.

“Brian Cashman screwed this up!”

This is one I truly don’t understand. Brian Cashman offered the richest total deal.  If given the chance — which he didn’t seem to have been given — he probably would have and could have matched what the Phillies gave him on a year-to-year basis.  It has become pretty apparent, however, that Lee simply wanted to be in Philadelphia and didn’t want to be in New York. That’s not a crime on Cliff Lee’s part, nor is it malpractice on Brian Cashman’s.  It’s just the way it goes. Even for the Yankees.

The secondary criticism I’ve heard is that “Brian Cashman has no Plan B!”  Which is nuts, because he has had less than a full morning as of this writing to implement a Plan B.  The Yankees may not have gotten their man, but I’m sure they anticipated that to be a possibility and have contingency plans. They may not be as sexy or effective as getting Lee would have been, but if you think that Cashman is sitting in his office panicking right now like commenters on a Yankees message board, you’re crazy.

“Jayson Werth sure must be sorry now!”

If Jayson Werth stayed in Philly, even at a lower-dollar deal than he took from Washington, the Phillies would not be able to have signed Cliff Lee. It might be comforting for smug Phillies fans to look disapprovingly on the man who would dare leave them for more dough, but if he hadn’t, Lee would probably be in pinstripes right now.

“The Phillies are going to win [some number greater than 110] games!”

I think the Phillies will win the division easily.  The rotation, as we’ve noted, will be superb, and possibly historic. I don’t think this team is the 1998 Yankees. They have some big questions on offense now that Werth is gone. Ibanez appears to be a statue. Domonic Brown is untested. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard may or may not be in decline. If everything breaks right they could be a historic team. But even if everyone plays up to their projections, I can’t see this being some historically good offense.  The best thing I saw was “if the Phillies can trade for Zack Greinke, they might win 140 games!”  That’s less silly for the actual substance of the prediction than it is sad for the manner in which it apes the worst excesses of Yankees and Red Sox fans over the years. C’mon Philly fans! You have your own special brand of crazy that I have come to love! Copying the Yankees covetousness like that is beneath you.

This is huge news. It’s a great signing. I think it locks up the NL East for Philly.  But please, let’s give it 24 hours before we say big bold crazy things about it, OK?

Adam Wainwright is not a fan of the proposed strike zone changes

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 09:  Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6 to 1 in Game Five of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 9, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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It’s probably not a big shocker that a pitcher is not a big fan of the strike zone being made smaller, but Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals and he tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is not a fan of the proposed changes to the strike zone we wrote about recently, calling the proposal “a horrible, horrible idea.”

Horrible, he acknowledges, because he’s a pitcher with a vested interest so, yes, let’s give Wainwright credit for self-awareness and for disclosing his self-interest. But he thinks it’s a bad idea for another reason too: more hits will lead to more balls in the gap and thus longer games.

I get the intuitive nature of that — the longer it takes to retire a side the longer games go — but it doesn’t necessarily follow that offense and game times are related in the way Wainwright implies. There was a lot more scoring in the 1990s and early 2000s and games were actually shorter then than now. Partially because of other factors (i.e. there were not quite as many pitching changes and because guys played at a faster clip). Partially, I suspect, because there were fewer strikeouts and strikeouts take a longer time than guys grounding out or having some of those balls in the gap caught on the run by a fast outfielder.

As I said last week, I suspect that we’ll see fewer balls in the gap than Wainwright implies and, rather, a lot more walks as pitchers test umpires to see if they’re really taking away that low strike. In the short term that’ll actually make games longer, though not for the reason Wainwright thinks.

 

 

Report: Jonny Gomes has retired

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 28:  Jonny Gomes of the Kansas City Royals looks on before Game Two of the 2015 World Series between the Royals and the New York Mets at Kauffman Stadium on October 28, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo hears from a source that former major leaguer Jonny Gomes has decided to retire from baseball. The 35-year-old spent the 2016 season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japan Pacific League, but he struggled at the plate, batting .169/.280/.246 in 75 plate appearances. Gomes left the Eagles by mutual consent back on May 11.

Gomes won a championship with the Red Sox in 2013 and the Royals last year. He ends a 13-year major league career having hit .242/333/.436 with 162 home runs in 4,009 trips to the plate.

Gomes was known as a clubhouse leader during his playing career, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up coaching or managing in some capacity in the future.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday evening’s action

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 14:  Marcell Ozuna #13 of the Miami Marlins celebrates a triple in the second inning against the Washington Nationals  at Nationals Park on May 14, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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Craig previewed this afternoon’s action. We have eight more games left in the evening, though.

The pitching match-ups aren’t at all exciting, sadly, but there are a few streaks to pay attention to tonight. Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. is on a 28-game hitting streak, tying him with Wade Boggs for eighth-most in Red Sox history. Teammate Xander Bogaerts is on a 17-game hitting streak as well.

Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna has reached base in 31 consecutive games. And to think that owner Jeffrey Loria would have traded him during the offseason if not for manager Don Mattingly and hitting coach Barry Bonds speaking up in favor of keeping Ozuna.

The match-ups for Wednesday evening…

Arizona Diamondbacks (Rubby De La Rosa) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Locke), 7:05 PM EDT

Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada) @ New York Yankees (Ivan Nova), 7:05 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis) @ Boston Red Sox (Steven Wright), 7:10 PM EDT

Miami Marlins (Justin Nicolino) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Andriese), 7:10 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Junior Guerra) @ Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz), 7:10 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wilson) @ Houston Astros (Collin McHugh), 8:10 PM EDT

Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Scott Kazmir), 10:10 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Zach Neal) @ Seattle Mariners (Hisashi Iwakuma), 10:10 PM EDT

Video: Minor League Manager goes on epic rant

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Frisco RoughRiders manager Joe Mikulik got his money’s worth last night. He was ejected after arguing an automatic double play on an enforcement of the slide rule, and he didn’t go gently into that goodnight.

Rather, he threw things, kicked things, threw things and then subsequently kicked those same things, gave overly-demonstrative slides and safe signs and basically went all Earl Weaver/Lou Piniella on everyone.

Double-A baseball is the best minor league because you tend to see more prospects there than you do at Triple-A. But it’s also the best because, when you’re a manager who is not quite a heartbeat away from getting your shot at the big leagues, you’re a little less uptight about things. Or at least Mikulik was. Or maybe he was more uptight. I don’t know. He just went with it, and going with it has its charms.

 

(h/t Big League Stew)