Matt Kemp

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Dodgers 5, Braves 3: A gut punch of a game for the Braves. Having rallied back against Clayton Kershaw in the 9th — Mattingly, seriously, what was he still doing out there? — and having squandered their own opportunities in extra innings, they watch as Matt Kemp hits his second walkoff homer of the week. Given the way they’ve been going, I want to say that the Braves merely tying it up was the best victory they’ve had all season. Blah. Oh well, at least I got four games of listening to Vin Scully in. Yesterday’s musing about how James Loney and Jamey Carrol basically have the first name but are called something different — concluding with “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” — is the kind of thing no one else on the planet could pull off without being corny, but Scully makes it work. Really, about 60% of his stuff is corny but works fabulously. Even a dreadful game (from my perspective) is enjoyable when he’s talking.

Marlins 9, Pirates 5: Scott Cousins and Brett Hayes combined for seven RBI. In other news, guys named “Scott Cousins” and “Brett Hayes” could easily have been members of a mid-1980s NWA tag team. I picture them working the Mid South region as mild heels but capable of an occasional face turn when pitted against Russians, possibly partnered up with Hacksaw Jim Duggan in a six-man match. After they beat the Russians, though, Cousins and Hayes attack Duggan with folding chairs when they perceive him to take two much credit while holding the mic after the match. This sets off a feud lasting several months. Buddy Landel and Mr. Wrestling II are involved somehow too, but I’m not quite sure where they fit yet. Give me some time on that one.

Cardinals 5, Nationals 0: A two-hit shutout for Kyle Lohse and a homer by Albert Pujols help do in the Nats. True story: I was taping today’s installment of HBT Daily during this game yesterday — yeah, we do Friday’s a day in advance; sue me — and Tiffany and I were talking about Albert Pujols’ slump the very moment he hit his homer.  What a narrative killer.

Reds 7, Diamondbacks 4: The Dbacks were going for the sweep, but Mike Leake and the Reds steal one on getaway day.

White Sox 9, Rays 2: Jeff Niemann has been pretty terrible for the Rays this year. He’s had one good start in five this year and was a disaster in the second half of last season. Omar Vizquel, Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski and Carlos Quentin each had a couple of RBIs.

Twins 3, Orioles 1: A pitchers’ duel with Scott Baker getting the best of Jeremy Guthrie. Jim Thome — who hadn’t had a hit since Sunday — hit a homer and an RBI single.

Mets 9, Astros 1: The Mets bust out the whuppin’ sticks for the first time in a while — it was the most runs they’ve scored in a game since the third day of the season — getting homers from David Wright, Ike Davis and Mike Nickeas of all people. Jason Bay returned and went 1 for 4 and scored a couple of runs.

Royals 3, Indians 2: We learned the other day that Chris Perez comes out to the song “Firestarter.” I guess that since he was on the road last night he didn’t get his song, but at least his pitching matched it in spirit. Called in to lock down a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth, the Royals got three hits off him, with the last one — a two-run Melky Cabrera single  — giving the Royals the walkoff win. Cabrera also gunned down Carlos Santana at the plate in the eighth inning.  Overall: a 2-2 split and a well-played series for the two most surprising teams in baseball.

Phillies 3, Padres 0: Roy Oswalt and three relievers combine to shut out woeful Padres offense. Mat Latos continues to fail to inspire confidence (4.1. IP, 4 H, 3 ER).

Mariners 1, Athletics 0: King Felix makes one lone run stand up, because that what he does. An Adam Kennedy homer plated it. This is what 1968 must have felt like.

Red Sox 4, Angels 2: Josh Beckett and Tyler Chatwood were pretty even in regulation, but an Adrian Gonzalez double and a Jed Lowrie sac fly in the 11th was the difference.  And check this out: some moron decided to throw crumpled up dollar bills at Carl Crawford while he was in the on-deck circle. Nice protest. Those dollars are just going to get picked up by the grounds crew who will give them to Arte Moreno who will then not give them to a worthy free agent next year. Actually, maybe he’ll just give them to Vernon Wells.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

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Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.