Tim Lincecum

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights


Giants 8, Padres 4: Lincecawesome. I can only say that once a year in ATH or else people start yelling at me, but I figured I’d get it out of the way early. Lincecum struck out 13 dudes in seven innings of work while allowing only three hits. He was buoyed by Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval, each of whom had three hits.  Troubling, however, was Brian Wilson’s first action after coming off the DL. He came in with a seven run lead and the wheels came off. He allowed an infield single, then a walk, then another infield single, compounded by a Miguel Tejada error which allowed two runs to score. Jeremy Affeldt came on and allowed two more of Wilson’s baserunners to score before Ramon Ramirez finally nailed the thing down. Wilson’s line is ugly, but it’s probably Tejada who Giants fans really aren’t liking right now.

White Sox 10, Royals 7:  This was an up-is-down, black-is-white, dogs-and-cats-living-together kind of game. For one thing, Ozzie Guillen ordered an intentional walk of Jeff Francoeur at one point. When I saw that in the box score I had to spin my little “Inception” top to make sure I wasn’t lost in a dream. Then Joakim Soria, one of baseball’s best closers, gave up four runs and the lead in the ninth. Amazingly the Royals found it within themselves to tie it up in the bottom of the ninth, but the Chisox broke through with three in the 12th. I contend that they were still shaken by the Francoeur walk, unable to mount an effective strategy in the face of such chaos.

Indians 8, Red Sox 4: You can be a glass-is-half-empty guy and say that only two teams who have ever started off 0-5 have made the playoffs (the 1974 Pirates and 1995 Reds). Or you can be a half-full guy and say that lots of teams have five game losing streaks at some point in the season and win it all (the 2010 Giants). With this bunch I lean toward the latter. The reason that teams who start off with big losing streaks do poorly is that they are usually poor teams playing to their level. Nothing you say — at least for a few weeks — will convince me that the 2011 Red Sox are a poor team. They’ve just picked a really bad time to have a losing streak, that’s all.

Diamondbacks 6, Cubs 4: According to the game story, before the game Kirk Gibson told his players to “go out and play loose” and to “have fun playing the game.” When they asked Gibson how he said “Well, er … I’m not sure. It never came up in my day. Just pretend you’re angry at everyone and see how that works.” At least that’s what I think he said. The audio went out a bit on the postgame presser so I just filled in the blanks.

Tigers 7, Orioles 3: Five RBI from Alex Avila, solo homers from Miguel Cabrea and Victor Martinez and eight strong innings from Justin Verlander give the Orioles their first loss. Indeed, gave them their first challenge, as this game was the first time they’d trailed anyone so far this season. This line from the AP game story, which by the time you read it will likely have been fixed, made me larf:

Cabrera was credited with a ninth-inning single when his hard grounder became wedged in the webbing of third baseman Mark Reynolds.

Mark Reynolds has webbing?

Rockies 7, Dodgers 5: The game story led with everyone talking about a great Carlos Gonzalez catch. It was pretty good. But am I nuts, or did it look better because Gonzalez started out running laterally toward center rather than back to where the ball was going, thus necessitating the over-the-shoulder grab? I’m trying to make a point to pay more attention to such things this year — I think I’m pretty poor at talking intelligently about defense — but whenever I look at this kind of stuff I feel like I’m being a killjoy. Oh well.

Pirates 3, Cardinals 1: The Pirates take two of three from the Cardinals. After they took two of three from the Cubs. Both series were on the road, and this one sealed the Buccos’ first back-to-back road series victories since 2007.  But more importantly, the Pirates beating the Cards made Tony La Russa nice and testy, causing him to rant and rave at a reporter in the postgame presser and then walk out. There is nothing that tickles me more than knowing that somewhere, for some reason, Tony La Russa is annoyed.

Blue Jays 5, Athletics 3: Travis Snider hit a three-run homer in the fourth and Jesse Litsch pitched six and a third decent innings in his first start since August 1st. No errors for the A’s, but there were a couple of bad defensive plays by Adam LaRoche — filling in for the errorific Kevin Kouzmanoff — and David DeJesus. In other news, since Texas apparently doesn’t plan on losing any games this year, Oakland should probably start worrying soon.

Rangers 7, Mariners 3: Texas does better against the reigning Cy Young winner than they did against the guy making his first-ever major league start the night before. The second night in a row with no homers for Texas — what gives?! — but they strung together enough hits and benefited from enough bad Seattle defense to where they were able to cruise.

Reds 12, Astros 4: The National League’s Rangers. Down 4-0 after one, the Reds scored ten 12 unanswered runs. Well, unmatched runs anyway. I presume they were technically answered by copious amounts of profanity by the Astros, their coaching staff and their fans.  Nelson Figueroa went to a fancy liberal arts college so you figure he’d keep it all on an intellectual level, but given that he was tagged for ten runs on 11 hits, I’d guess he was cursing a blue streak too.

Phillies 10, Mets 7: Philly jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but then Joe Blanton — only an auxiliary member of The Aces Club and one whose application for full membership is in jeopardy after last night — let the Mets tie it up in an ugly fifth inning. The Phillies got to Blaine Boyer immediately thereafter, however, and all was right in the world (anyone: was Blanton booed?). Ryan Howard was 4 for 4 with a homer. Placido Polanco was 3 for 5 with 3 RBI of his own.

Marlins 7, Nationals 4: The Nats blew a 4-0 lead and then sat back as the Marlins added three more. John Buck hit a bases-loaded triple that almost went out for his second grand slam of the year and the Marlins’ bullpen threw four shutout innings. The dominance of the pen is becoming a patten in this series, as the Nats did nothing against them in extended action the night before either. Nats’ reliever Todd Coffey got into a heated argument with plate umpire Todd Tschida and was ejected (though he was already leaving the game). Funny, but I don’t get the same sense of personal satisfaction knowing that Todd Coffey is frustrated that I get when it’s La Russa.

Angels 5, Rays 1: The Rays have scored seven runs in five games. It was a losing effort, but I was really impressed by Jeremy Hellickson, who struck out ten in five and two-thirds.

Brewers 5, Braves 4: Mike Minor was worthy of his name. Or, er, the plural of his name. Dadgummit, I mean that he kind of stunk last night, allowing five runs on seven hits in four and a third. Prince Fielder did most of the damage for the Brewers, singling in three runs. Jason Heyward had a three-run bomb to pull the Braves to within one, but they would pull no closer.

Twins vs. Yankees: POSTPONED:  I usually quote some song or poem with rain in its lyrics when this happens. Here I was going to use “Blame it on the Rain,” but when I thought about the Yankees and blame all I could do was to think about how Joe Girardi can’t manage a bullpen, how Nick Swisher’s lackadaisical attitude costs the team runs and how Rafael Soriano is just the worst kind of person.  At least that’s the word on the street.

UPDATE: Red Sox sign outfielder Chris Young to a two-year, $13 million deal

Chris Young Getty

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that Young will receive a two-year, $13 million contract from the Red Sox.

Monday, 1:47 PM: Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.

Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.

Marlins hire Juan Nieves as pitching coach

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This is not a terribly big deal compared to the rumors of who the Marlins want to hire as their hitting coach, but it’s news all the same: Miami has hired Juan Nieves as their pitching coach.

Nieves replaces Chuck Hernandez who was let go immediately after the season ended. Under Hernandez Marlins pitchers allowed 4.19 runs a game and had an ERA of 4.02, striking out 1152 batters and walking 508 in 1,427 innings. As far as runs per game go, that was around middle of the pack in the National League, just a hair better than league average. The strikeout/walk ratio, however, was third to last in the NL.

Nieves, a former Brewers hurler who once tossed a no-hitter, was most recently the Red Sox’ pitching coach, serving from the beginning of the 2013 season until his dismissal in May of this year.

In baseball, if you lose the World Series you still get a ring

ST. LOUIS - APRIL 3:  Detail view of the St. Louis Cardinals 2006 World Series Ring at Busch Stadium on April 3, 2007 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Scott Rovak/Getty Images)

“Second place is first loser” — some jerk, probably.

The funny thing about “winning is everything” culture in sports is that it’s revered, primarily, by people with the least amount of skin in the game. Self-proclaimed “Super Fans” and talk radio hosts and guys like that. People who may claim to live and breathe sports but who, for the most part, have other things in their lives. Jobs and families and hobbies and stuff. Winning is everything for them on the weekend at, like, Buffalo Wild Wings or in their man cave.

Athletes — whose actual job is to play sports — like to win too. They’re certainly more focused and committed to winning than Joe Super Fan is, what with it being their actual lives and such. But you see far less “winning is everything” sentiment from them. In interviews they talk about how they hate to lose but, with a little bit of distance, they almost always talk about appreciating efforts in a well-played loss. They rarely talk about big losses — even championship losses — as failures or choke jobs or disgraces of one stripe or another.

All of which makes this story by Tim Rohan in the New York Times fun and interesting. It’s about championship rings for the non-championship winners. The 2014 Royals — winners of the A.L. pennant but losers of the World Series — are featured, and the story of rings for World Series losers is told. Mike Stanton, who played on a ton of pennant and World Series-winning teams with the Yankees and Braves, talks about his various rings and how, even though the Braves lost in the World Series that year, 1991 is his favorite.

Also mentioned: George Steinbrenner’s thoughts about rings for World Series losers. You will likely not be surprised about his sentiments on the matter.

Wait, what is the non-tender deadline again?

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For the next day and a half you’ll hear a lot about the non-tender deadline and/or players being tendered or not tendered a contract. Here, in case you’re unaware, is what that means.

By midnight on Wednesday teams have to decide whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. If they do, the team retains control over the player. Now, to be clear, the team is not simply “tendering” the player the actual contract specifying what he’ll be paid. Think of it as more of a token gesture — a placeholder contract — at that point the team and the player can negotiate salary for 2016 and, if they can’t come to an agreement over that (i.e. an agreement avoiding arbitration) they will proceed to submit proposed salaries to one another and have a salary arbitration early in the spring.

If the team non-tenders a player, however, that player immediately becomes a free agent, eligible to sign anywhere with no strings attached.

Basically, the calculus is whether or not the team thinks the player in question is worth the low end of what he might receive in arbitration. Or, put differently, if the guy isn’t worth what he made in 2015, he’s probably going to be non-tendered.

MLB Trade Rumors has a handy “Non-Tender Tracker” which lists the status of the couple hundred arbitration eligible players and whether or not they’ve been tendered a contract. We’ll, of course, make mention of notable non-tender guys as their status for 2016 becomes known over the next day or two.