Betancourt double play.bmp

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Brewers 4, Padres 3: Holy moley, this Yuniesky Betancourt-to-Rickie Weeks double play is the defensive play of the year so far. It’s enough to make you contemplate the nature of Yuniesky Betancourt. How someone can just do that without thinking — because he had no time to think — yet is unable to make basic plays a lot of the time. There are just some people like that in the world. Don’t-think-just-do people. My brother is like that. You played pickup basketball with a guy like that. Never ask them to do the workaday things but Christ Almighty they will pull stuff like that once in a while that makes your jaw drop. It’s those kind of guys who make grinders like the rest of us shake out heads and wonder about the gulf between the conscious and the unconscious world.

Red Sox 2, Twins 1: Jose Iglesias was inserted as a pinch runner for Jed Lowrie, who walked in the bottom of the 11th and he was doubled in by Carl Crawford for the win (assist to Ben Revere for an awful throw from left).  I suspect that, between the highly-touted prospect and the highly-touted struggling free agent, there will be a few storylines spawned by this one as the morning progresses. Oh, and you can throw in the fact that Ron Gardenhire got ejected by Joe West for flavor. And if you really like Joe West flavor, here’s some more for you.

Phillies 6, Marlins 4: Thanks for the appearance Javier Vazquez, but really, your services, such as they are, will no longer be needed (4.1 IP, 9 H, 6 R). And a nice alley-oop play by Mike Stanton on the Rollins homer. Although, yeah, it kind of looked like it was going out anyway.

Pirates 4, Dodgers 1: This double play — made possible by Jose Tabata picking up a ball on the rebound but playing it off like he caught it — led to the ejection of Jose Uribe and Don Mattingly. I often agitate for replay, but the big question about replay is what you do about the continuation play, as it were. If the ump in the booth calls down and says no, it was a trap, what base do you give Matt Kemp? He probably makes third base if the play was properly called as a hit, but as it was he’s back hanging around first base, waiting for the replay, when the call is finally overturned.  My best guess is to allow the ump in the sky to make a judgment call — Kemp gets second or Kemp gets third — but that’s not ideal.  Probably preferable to blown calls like this one, though.

Athletics 7, Rangers 2: One way people like to argue for the MVP award is to say how bad off the team would be without the guy.  If that argument holds, Josh Hamilton is the runaway winner, because Texas has sucked eggs since he went down. Five RBIs for Josh Willingham, who apparently made the right decision in appealing his suspension for ump bumping on Saturday.

Tigers 10, Blues Jays 5: Max Scherzer goes to 6-0, which ties him for the MLB lead in wins. Which doesn’t mean he’s the best pitcher in baseball — far from it — but makes it pretty good to be Max Scherzer lately.

Reds 6, Astros 1: Travis Wood pitched shutout baseball into the seventh and hit a three-run homer which — per union bylaws — I’m required to describe as “helping his own cause.”

White Sox 8, Angels 0: A beatdown. Edwin Jackson with seven scoreless innings, Carlos Quentin went 3 for 4 with 5 RBI.

Rockies 2, Mets 1: It’s not often that you walk six guys in six innings while throwing just 55 of 107 pitches for strikes and get away with it, but  Jhoulys Chacin did.

Jose Bautista: “I haven’t had to” pay for a meal in Toronto since famous bat flip

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the seventh inning in Game 5 of baseball's American League Division Series, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015 in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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Arguably the most memorable moment of the 2015 season came in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the ALDS between the Blue Jays and Rangers. The game was tied 3-3, but the Jays were threatening with runners on the corners and two outs. Jose Bautista launched a 1-1 Sam Dyson fastball for a no-doubt tie-breaking three-run home run that would send the Jays into the ALCS to face the eventual world champion Royals.

Bautista didn’t immediately run to first base after hitting the home run. He admired it, looked at Dyson, and then flipped his bat triumphantly. As far as bat flips go, it was a 10 out of 10. Yasiel Puig was proud.

The six-time All-Star admitted “I haven’t had to” pay for a meal in Toronto since that moment in the ALDS, as Jonah Birenbaum notes for The Score. Bautista also served as the assistant coach for musician Drake at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. As Drew noted earlier, Bautista had a pretty nice view at the NBA Slam Dunk Contest as well.

The Jays are hopeful to sign Bautista, 35, to a multi-year extension. In six seasons since breaking out with the club in 2010, he has hit .268/.390/.555 with 227 home runs and 582 RBI in 3,604 plate appearances. No one has hit more home runs since the start of the 2010 season, as Miguel Cabrera is the closest at 199. And only Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, and Albert Pujols have driven in more runs in that span of time. It’s easy to see why, despite his age, the Jays want to keep Bautista around a little while longer.

Dallas Keuchel, Astros did talk long-term contract

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Dallas Keuchel‘s agent Darek Braunecker told MLB Network Radio in early January that he had not engaged in any long-term contract negotiations with the Astros’ front office. Two weeks later, the sides reached a one-year, $7.25 million agreement, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing. So was a bigger financial commitment ever discussed?

Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has the answer, writing in his offseason review that the “Astros and Keuchel have had substantial talks about extensions [this winter] … but to no avail.”

Keuchel carries all the leverage in the world after winning the 2015 American League Cy Young Award with a 2.48 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and 216/51 K/BB ratio in 232 innings. He also made three appearances in the postseason to a 2.57 ERA in 14 frames.

Keuchel’s $7.25 million salary for 2016 will be a record for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Locking up some of his free agent years (2019, 2020, 2021, etc.) would likely take a commitment of $120 million or more.

Houston has the 28-year-old left-hander under contractual control through 2018, and it sounds like the plan is to go season-to-season with his salaries.

He’ll remain a huge value to a good-looking Astros team.

Yadier Molina gets cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

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Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right thumb shortly after the Cardinals were eliminated from the NLDS by the Cubs, and then he needed a followup procedure two months later.

It’s been an offseason of rest and rehab for the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover, though he’s about ready to ramp up the intensity of workouts with the beginning of spring training approaching …

Brayan Pena was signed to a two-year, $5 million free agent contract this winter to provide more reliable depth behind the plate. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter at catcher come Opening Day if Yadi isn’t quite ready.

Molina started a whopping 131 games behind the plate in 2015.

Jose Fernandez wants $30 million a year, Marlins don’t plan on paying

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You’ve heard the stories by now. Jose Fernandez does not get along with Marlins management and is doubtful to sign a long-term contract with the team.

There’s still time for those relationships to be repaired — Fernandez can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season — but we also have a monetary issue at play.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes Sunday that the Marlins are “under the impression” Fernandez and his representatives want $30 million per year on a long-term deal, a figure the Marlins “have no plans to meet.”

If the Marlins won’t pay, Fernandez and his reps will seek that number when the ace right-hander reaches free agency. That could be the same offseason Bryce Harper tries for $500 million.

A friend of Fernandez told Jackson that the 23-year-old native of Cuba was upset about some of the trades the Marlins made last summer and the removal of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. You probably heard talk of Miami shopping Fernandez this winter, but the asking price was predictably sky-high.

Fernandez has been limited to 19 starts over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and a biceps injury, but he boasts a stellar 2.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 in 289 career major league frames. He will make $2.8 million in 2016 and carries two more years of arbitration eligibility.

If he can put together a run of 30-start, 200-inning seasons, Fernandez will get that $30 million per year and probably much more.