Final Countdown

HBT Weekend Wrapup


Forget college basketball. This is the week that the baseball season begins. Everything else is beside the point.

  • Russell Branyan made the Dbacks’ roster. He hit the crap out of baseballs this spring. He’s done that fairly often in his career, actually, though never in quite the way people like, leading to him never really having a solid job. Just an oddball career for the guy. One of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.
  • Bronson Arroyo has mono. No, not that mono. The sucky one.
  • Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia get the last two Yankees’ rotation spots. Wish I could have made bets with Yankees fans last November that, at some point in 2011, there would be a Freddy Garcia-Gustavo Molina battery pitching for New York.
  • Clint Barmes broke his hand. Oh, deer.
  • Mike Hampton retired. Now he will have the freedom to enroll his children in the best school district he can find anywhere in the country without the need for it to be near a Major League Baseball team.
  • Good news: Zack Greinke, who recently suffered broken ribs, is playing catch again. Bad news: He’s just checking the ball in, ready to drive it hard to the hoop against a bunch of big guys who are all elbows.
  • The Nyjer Morgan trade that was first rumored then denied actually happened.  I’m going to pretend that Milwaukee never actually considered the trade until Ken Rosenthal tweeted about it, then they thought “hey, that Rosenthal had a good idea” and only then did they decide to pursue it.
  • The Cubs released Carlos Silva. Milton Bradley is still playing for the Mariners. Ergo, the Cubs win. No, that’s not a mistake.
  • Terry Francona was less-than-pleased at Buck Showalter’s comments in a recent interview. This marks the first time anyone with the Red Sox paid attention to anything related to the Orioles since 1996.

Three days until Opening Day, my friends. Three days. This video pretty much sums it up. Well, this one does too.

Wilson Ramos is seeking a 4-5 year deal

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 07: Wilson Ramos #40 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after driving in the game winning run with a single in the 11th inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on September 7, 2016 in Washington, DC. Washington won the game 5-4. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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Wilson Ramos’ agent tells the Washington Post that Ramos still plans to seek a four- or five-year contract this winter in free agency despite the fact that he’s recovering from knee surgery.

Yikes, good luck with that. Ramos suffered ACL and meniscus tears in late September 26 and his rehab will extend well into the 2017 season, when he will turn 30. This coming off a career year that may or may not be a fluke. It’d be hard to commit to him for more than, say, three years under the best of circumstances but given the knee injury it seems unlikely he’ll get offers of that length.

My guess is that he’ll get a lot of two-year offers which give him some rehab time and then a chance for a make-good year with incentives or vesting options. A straight multi-year deal, however, may be very hard to come by for Ramos. Who may very well be a DH very, very soon.

World Series Reset: Indians vs. Cubs Game 3

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 24:  Chicago Cubs fans visit Wrigley Field on October 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs will face off against the Cleveland Indians in the World Series beginning tomorrow. This will be the Cubs first trip to the series since 1945. The Indians last trip to the series was 1948.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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The Game: Cleveland Indians @ Chicago Cubs, World Series Game 3
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Wrigley Field, Chicago
The Channel: FOX
The Starters: Josh Tomlin (Indians) vs. Kyle Hendricks (Cubs)

The Upshot:

As you may have heard, this is the first time a World Series has been played at Wrigley Field in 71 years. Cubs fans have had a lot of time to think about this one, but I assure you, they’re ready. Wrigley is going to be complete bedlam. Or a complete train wreck. Depends on your point of view and, probably, what time you’re walking around Wrigleyville.

The cold and rain of Cleveland is being replaced by some moderately unseasonable warmth in Chicago today. It’ll be in the 60s this afternoon and isn’t projected to cool down after the sun goes down. Between that and clear skies, it should be a lovely night for baseball. Unless you’re a pitcher, that is: strong winds are forecast to be blowing out tonight. That bodes poorly for Indians starter Josh Tomlin, who gave up 36 homers this season, which was just one behind Jered Weaver for most in baseball. The Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks is far better suited to such conditions, as he’s a groundball machine. Look for the Cubs batters to be taking some big uppercuts all night.

The Cubs won’t have Kyle Schwarber taking uppercuts, at least not all game long, but he could pinch hit. The Indians are strongly considering putting Carlos Santana in left field so they can keep both his and Mike Napoli‘s bats in the lineup in the DH-free NL park. The Cubs won 103 games this year without Schwarber, so they should be OK, even if he was a nice addition in Cleveland. Santana, on the other hand, has played exactly one game in the outfield in his major league career. That came in 2012. Do not expect Santana to be . . . smooth.

Cleveland is still looking at pitching Corey Kluber on short rest in tomorrow’s Game 4 and, if it goes that long, bringing him back again in Game 7. The “win all of Kluber’s starts and steal one elsewhere” approach is defensible, but this matchup seems less-than-ideal for the Indians in the “steal one” department. Hendricks has been solid as a rock down the stretch and in the postseason. Between his vexing stuff and a crazy crowd at Wrigley tonight Chicago seems poised to grab the momentum in this series tonight.