Cal Ripken

Terence Moore doesn’t believe that Cal Ripken is the true consecutive games played record holder

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I recently had the opportunity to speak with a pretty significant voice in the game about baseball records, accomplishments, history, legacy and that sort of thing. During our conversation, the idea of who “The real home run king” truly is came up. While we didn’t agree on all of the issues that went into that — the impact of steroids, the virtues of the modern era vs. Golden Era, etc. — we did agree that the qualitative notion of who was “the best” or whose feats, in one’s own subjective view, was greater, doesn’t have to match up with the record book.

For example, I can say, even as a noted Barry Bonds apologist, that I consider Hank Aaron’s accomplishments to have been more impressive than Bonds’. I can do this by weighing, subjectively, the eras in which they played, what I think I know about their drug use, the pitching environment in which they tried to hit, their background and all of that. At the end of that I can say that I think Aaron was the more impressive player and man. My personal taste would not be to call him “the true home run king,” because such titles are loaded, but I can place him higher in my personal hierarchy than Barry Bonds, regardless of what the record book says because — as I argued a couple of weeks ago — the record book merely records, it doesn’t value.

But even if you engage in that kind of subjective exercise — which you should, because a fixation on the record book makes you lose sight of a lot of great baseball stuff — you can take this line of thinking too far.

For example, you can take it as far as Terence Moore took it in his MLB.com column yesterday when he said that not only does he consider Hank Aaron the Home Run King, but he won’t acknowledge Alex Rodriguez as the all-time grand slam leader when he passes Lou Gehrig. Or that — and this is the most controversial — that he doesn’t recognize Cal Ripken’s consecutive games-played streak.

Why? Because, Moore argues. They don’t have “it”:

This goes beyond the fact that A-Rod joins Bonds as one of the primary faces of the Steroid Era. This is about the following: Gehrig and Aaron just have “it” when it comes to those records. You can’t describe “it,” but you can feel “it.” … You may recall that Gehrig also earned his nickname as “The Iron Horse” by playing in a record 2,130 games before succumbing to a bizarre muscular disease that eventually was named in his honor. His record for that playing streak lasted 56 years until Cal Ripken Jr., kept going and going before snapping it in 1995.

Nothing against Ripken Jr., but Gehrig remains the standard bearer for that record, too.

There’s a difference between making a historical assessment as to the impressiveness of given accomplishments on the one hand and denying the legitimacy of anything that happened since you were a kid on the other.  Moore is doing the latter based on his calculation of “it.”  And, later in his column, when he declares that the actual records lack “zing.” Whatever the hell those things are.

And this man draws a salary from Major League Baseball. And has a Hall of Fame vote. I find that rather depressing.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.