New York Yankees' Colon follows through on a pitch to Chicago White Sox during their MLB baseball game in New York

And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights


Yankees 3, White Sox 1: Bartolo Colon is pitching like it’s 2002 again or something (8 IP, 7 H, 1 ER). Quick! Bartlo! Send an email to 2002-era Craig and tell him not to put off that trip to Paris he planned with the missus and then cancelled. Contrary to what they each said, the trip would not wait another year because in another year they had a Mookie in the oven and then another one 19 months later that effectively punted European travel for a decade or more. Dear God, 2002 Craig was too stupid to live.

In other news, I’m leaving my fortified compound and I’m travelling to New York this morning. Among the many things I will do there between today and Sunday is to catch tonight’s Yankees-White Sox game. The weather forecast looks iffy, however. I sure hope it doesn’t get cancelled. Because God knows that there’s nothing else to do in New York.

Mets 6, Nationals 3: The Mets just will not lose. A pinch-hit homer in the eighth from Daniel Murphy tied it up and a two-run double from Murphy sealed the deal in the ninth. Six in a row for New York.

Phillies 8, Diamondbacks 4: Some more offense for the Phillies, who bombarded Joe Saunders and avoided the sweep. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard go yard. After the game Charlie Manuel said “Anytime you hit, you feel good about yourself.”  Then — and here is where the video of the interview with Manuel got a bit jumpy, so I could have it wrong — he said “You know, with some offense you got that vim! That vigor! That pep! That get-up-and-go that makes a fella feel swell. We hit the long balls, bury the Braves, get Roy some hardware, Burma Shave!”

Pirates 2, Giants 0: James McDonald and a quartet of relievers shut out the Giants. A strong outing for Madison Bumgarner, but it was for naught. The fifth loss in six games for the Giants.

Mariners 10, Tigers 1: Where in the heck did this come from? Doesn’t matter to Erik Bedard. He’ll take the runs, because they helped him get his first win since 2009. Justin Smoak had a three-run homer and a two-run double. That’s two homers and seven RBI for Smoak in the two games since he returned after missing time due to his father’s death. Not exactly repeatable motivation, but hey, whatever gets him through the dark days right now.

Braves 7, Padres 0: Tommy Hanson dominated the Padres, striking out 10 over the course of seven shutout innings. Chipper Jones had a triple and three RBI, passing Mickey Mantle on the all-time RBI list. He now stands second all-time for pinch switch hitters behind Eddie Murray, whom he’ll never catch. Mat Latos has now lost nine straight starts stretching to last season.

Indians 7, Royals 2: Cleveland jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first on an Orlando Cabrera bases-clearing double and never looked back. The Indians now have the second biggest division lead in baseball. For their part, the Royals have lost eight of ten, pretty much ending all of that “are the Royals for real” talk which no one in their right mind ever should have answered in the affirmative.

Orioles 5, Red Sox 4: It was a tough day for Luke Scott but he rebounded nicely with a homer in the fourth. Overall the O’s jumped out to a 4-0 lead, frittered it away in the eighth inning, but then had their bacon saved by a Vlad Guerrero RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to pull it out. Vlad was put in position to score, it should be noted, when Jason Varitek let not one, but two balls get by him, with he and fellow base runner Nick Markakis advancing to second and third, respectively, on the first one and Vlad advancing to third — with Markakis getting tagged out — on the second.

Reds 7, Brewers 6: Cincy squandered leads of 4-0 and 6-4, but pulled it out via some nifty relief work from Aroldis Chapman to get out of an eighth inning jam and a 10th inning bomb from Drew Stubbs. For the Brewers,  Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee finished a combined 0-for-12.

Rangers 7, Blue Jays 6: Both teams got awful performances from their starters — Jo-Jo Reyes for Toronto and Derek Holland for Texas — but the Rangers pulled it out with a Mitch Moreland homer to center in the seventh.

Athletics 2, Angels 1: Both teams got great performances from their starters — Tyson Ross for Oakland and Dan Haren for Anaheim — but the Athletics pulled it out with a Connor Jackson RBI groundout in the tenth.

Dodgers 5, Marlins 4: Between this post and this post you have all you need to know. Andre Ethier is a beast and Vicente Padilla, at least for now, is a closer.

Cardinals 6, Astros 5: It’s a win, but the Cardinal bullpen woes continue. Kyle Lohse shut out the Astros for seven innings, only to have to bite his nails as the pen — particularly old closer Ryan Franklin and flavor of the month Eduardo Sanchez — almost cough it up a 6-0 lead in the eighth and ninth. They had help from Fernando Salas too.

Rays 8, Twins 2: Tampa Bay scored four in the first off Francisco “Dead Man Walking” Liriano and won it going away. Liriano is now 1-3 with a 9.13 ERA. In 23.2 innings he has walked 18 and struck out 18. What in the hell happened to him? Sam Fuld reached base four times in five plate appearances and Ben Zobrist drove in three.

Rockies vs. Cubs: POSTPONED: Bake those biscuits good and brown, it ain’t gonna rain no more. Swing your partner round and round, it ain’t gonna rain no more. Bullfrog sitting on a lily pad, he looked up at the sky. The lily pad broke and the frog fell in, he got water all in his eye.  Oh, it ain’t gonna rain no more, no more, it ain’t gonna rain no more. How do you suppose the Old Man knows it ain’t gonna rain no more?

What Barry Bonds being the Marlins hitting coach means. And what it doesn’t mean.

FILE - In this March 10, 2014, file photo, former San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds chats to the dugout during a spring training baseball game in Scottsdale, Ariz. Bonds' obstruction of justice conviction reversed by 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday, April 22, 2015.  (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)

The news that Barry Bonds plans, tentatively at least, to accept the Marlins offer to be their hitting coach has the hot stove sizzling. Which is totally understandable. Barry Bonds is a big famous — infamous, even — name and he’s been out of baseball for a long time. That he seems to be getting back in the game, then, is understandably interesting. That he seems to be heading to the Marlins — not exactly an expected destination — is likewise interesting.

But how interesting is it? And does it really matter, both for Bonds and for the Marlins? And if so, how much? Let’s do a quick Q&A about it, shall we?


Q: Bonds is one of the greatest hitters of all time. That should make him an amazing hitting coach, right? 

A: Not necessarily. The guy thought to be one of the best hitting coaches in history — Charlie Lau — had an OPS+ of 89 for his career across 11 almost totally bench-riding seasons in the bigs. Many of the other top hitting coaches in baseball history were likewise scrubeenies of one flavor or another. Same goes for pitching coaches, by the way, while many of the ex-superstars that got into the coaching biz didn’t last long and didn’t have a lot of success. Indeed, there appears to be no correlation at all and at least some anecdotal disconnection between playing prowess and coaching prowess, possibly because that which comes naturally to a superstar is hard to communicate to someone not as gifted. Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Bob Gibson coached. None of them changed the coaching game by their presence.

All of that said, Barry Bonds’ greatness came not just from his physical gifts —  naturally or artificially bestowed — but from his approach to at bats. His preparation, his strategy and his plate patience. Some of those things can likely be communicated fairly straightforwardly, even if they cannot simply be picked up by any Justin, Adeiny or Christian who comes along.


Q: Let’s assume Bonds would be a good hitting coach, though. How much of an impact could he possibly have?

A: That’s the big question, really. And you won’t find a lot of agreement on it. Many people say that hitting coaches are only as good as the lineup they coach and that, especially in this day and age, a player’s own preparation — which he may take far more seriously than the atta-boys from a coach his father’s age — matters much more than anything else.

There have been some attempts to quantify a good hitting coach’s impact, however. One such study was conducted by Baseball Prospectus’ Russell Carelton a couple of years ago. Carelton found that hitting coaches can really only have a noticeable impact on whether or not hitters take a more aggressive or a more passive approach at the plate and cannot, by themselves, teach pitch selectivity. He further found that hitting coaches seem to be divided into two groups: those who teach hitters to put the ball into play and those who encourage a walk/strikeout/home run approach to things.

As far as results go, Carleton found some pretty significant impacts in small sample sizes and for hitting coaches, like Clint Hurdle, who coached in volatile run-scoring environments such as Colorado and Texas. He concluded, however, that even if we’re being super conservative, a good hitting coach could account for 20-30 runs in a year, which is a couple of wins, and that a couple of wins is a pretty big impact for a low-paid coach.

Of course, the Marlins had the second worst offense in the National League last year. They need more than just 20-30 runs.


Q: Getting away from the numbers, this is a big deal, right? For the Marlins? For Bonds? 

A: Though I’m on record being a pretty big Bonds fanboy, I think we should temper our expectations on all of this. Mark McGwire made something of a P.R. splash when he entered the coaching ranks with the Cardinals. He was the first bigtime PED guy to return to the game and he was under the microscope for a bit. But then, of course, he just faded into the same woodwork into which all of the other hitting coaches fade. We didn’t think too much of him until he changed jobs a few years later then when he changed jobs again just recently. Being back in the game certainly didn’t help his Hall of Fame case either. He’s been sliding off the ballot pretty steadily for years, actually. The most that can be said is that, when McGwire’s name comes up in news reports, the first reference to him isn’t “The controversial, steroid-associated slugger, Mark McGwire.” That usually waits until the second paragraph. If Bonds has that happen to him it’ll be a moral victory for him. But given that he’s more infamous than McGwire was, don’t count on that happening.

Ultimately I think that Bonds will, after the initial wave of stories and the initial pictures of him in Marlins garb next spring come out, fade into that woodwork like any other coach. After all no one comes to the ballpark to see a hitting coach. Not even one as famous as Barry Bonds.


Q: Quit being negative. Isn’t it something of a big deal? Even a little bit? 

A: OK, I’ll give you this much: between McGwire, the reinstatement of A-Rod and his well-received and successful 2015 season and now Bonds being hired, it’s fair to say that baseball has had no problem with the rehabilitation and mainstreaming of the PED crowd from the 1990s and 2000s. They’re not pariahs in the game and their association with it is not considered controversial by the people who play it and run it. The only people living in the past in this regard, it seems, is the media. Perhaps another so-called villain being welcomed back into the game’s ranks will help bring them around too.


Q: Why is Bonds, after years of exile from baseball and a seemingly idyllic life in California, willing to go work for Jeff Loria anyway?

A: We won’t know until he says so, though I’m sure many people will try to speak for him on that count. To the extent they do, they’ll likely talk about his “legacy” and the fact that his legal troubles were finally and definitively put behind him in 2015. All of that is just speculation, of course. The most we know is that Bonds was (a) willing to coach the Giants in spring training; and (b) spoke at various points in his career about how he’d like to maybe one day be a coach of some kind. This is a job that seems to be open and it’s in a city — Miami — that ain’t a hard place to live, even if the organization for which he’ll work is dysfunctional.

Maybe a young man’s dreams don’t really ever go away. Maybe baseball is fun and guys who spent almost their entire life in baseball miss it when it’s gone. And maybe Barry just wants back in.

Astros “shopping” slugger Chris Carter

Chris Carter

With tomorrow’s deadline to tender 2016 contracts to arbitration eligible players looming, Jerry Crasnick of reports that the Astros are “shopping” first baseman Chris Carter.

Few players in baseball have more power than Carter, who hit 24 homers in 129 games this year and has averaged 30 homers per 150 games for his career, but he’s also a career .217 hitter with little defensive value who should probably be a designated hitter.

Houston has no shortage of power options, many of whom have somewhat similar skill sets to Carter, so shopping him around makes sense. He seems unlikely to generate a big return, however. Carter could command a salary of more than $6 million via arbitration.

UPDATE: Barry Bonds tentatively plans to accept the Marlins hitting coach job

Barry Bonds

UPDATE: Bob Nightengale reports that while negotiations are not yet finalized, Barry Bonds “tentatively plans to accept the Marlins’ offer to be hitting coach with Frank Menechino.” Which is a good reminder that Menechino is still the Marlins’ hitting coach. Who would be the assistant and who would be the coach — or if they’d be co-coaches — is unclear.

12:00PM: The matter of Barry Bonds as the Marlins hitting coach has gone from “consideration” to “offer,” reports Bob Nightengale. The Marlins now await Barry Bonds’ response.

The biggest mystery in all of this is whether Bonds is actually interested. No one has reported that he was willing or even that there have been serious conversations between the Marlins and Bonds. That could be because Bonds, as has always been his practice, doesn’t talk too much to the media. Indeed, we learn more about him from his social media presence than anything reported about him. So it’s possible that Bonds and Jeff Loria have been in contact about all of this and he’s strongly considering it as well.

It’s also possible that this is all nothing and the Marlins are just trying to make a long shot happen.

MONDAY, 5:01 PM: This shouldn’t cause any controversy, lead to a lot of people saying dumb things or provide fodder for jokes at all. Nope, none whatsoever:

In what promises to be a bombshell move, if executed, all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is under consideration to become Marlins hitting coach.

Team higherups have quietly been discussing this possibility for weeks.

That’s Jon Heyman, who reminds us that Bonds has worked with the Giants in the spring in recent years. And who, no matter what else you can say about him, was one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. Also worth remembering that despite his controversial past, that greatness came not just from physical gifts, naturally or artificially bestowed. It came from his approach, preparation and strategy at the plate. No one can teach a hitter to hit like Barry Bonds, but you’d think that hitters could be taught to try to approach an at bat the way Barry Bonds would. And who better to do it than Barry Bonds?

That is, if Bonds is willing to drop his seemingly ideal retired life in San Francisco, move to Miami and work for Jeff Loria for nine months a year. Which, eh, who knows? But the possibility of it is pretty fascinating to think about.

Royals avoid arbitration with Tim Collins for $1.475 million

Tim Collins Getty
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Left-hander Tim Collins, who missed the entire 2015 season following Tommy John elbow surgery, will remain with the Royals after avoiding arbitration for a one-year, $1.475 million contract.

Collins was a non-tender candidate due to his injury and projected salary via arbitration, but the Royals are convinced he can bounce back to be a valuable part of the bullpen again in 2016 and beyond. He agreed to the same salary he made in 2015.

Prior to blowing out his elbow Collins posted a 3.54 ERA with 220 strikeouts in 211 innings from 2011-2014 and he’s still just 26 years old. He figures to begin 2016 in a middle relief role.