Florida Marlins v Los Angeles Dodgers

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Dodgers 8, Marlins 0: Clayton Kershaw was probably happy to have all of that offense behind him, but he sure as hell didn’t need it (CG SHO 2 H, 10K).

Rays 7, Indians 0: Actually, the same can be said for Jeremy Hellickson (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 6K). Evan Longoria was 2 for 3 with two walks from the leadoff spot. It was his second day in a row there and his second day of getting on base like it’s going out of style. Which, given the depressed offensive numbers around baseball this year, it kind of is. Interesting.

Red Sox 4, Tigers 3; Tigers 3, Red Sox 0: A ninth-inning pinch hit homer by Big Papi wins the first of the twin bill. That was the second time Oritz had faced Jose Valverde in his career, and it was the second time he went long off him. In the nightcap it was all Justin Verlander, with the Tigers’ ace throwing 132 pitchers in seven and two-thirds. But (a) he didn’t allow a run; and (b) he was still throwing nearly 100 m.p.h. when he finally left the game. I think paying attention to pitch counts has saved a lot of guys’ arms. But I also think that there will always be a handful of guys who would have been just fine had they been handled like they were 1970s starters anyway. Verlander is one of those guys.

Rangers 7, Royals 6: Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria each allowed the other team to take the lead in the ninth, but since the Rangers batted last, it was a bit more problematic that Soria did it. And check out the play at the plate that ended the game. Did Brayan Pena have images of Buster Posey dancing in his head? Is not trying to slam into the catcher the new inefficiency? Or are we trying to hard to graft narratives onto what are essentially random events?

Brewers 6, Giants 0: Sometimes someone does a way better job of distilling a game’s essence than I do. Here’s a tweet from Andrew Baggarly yesterday: “Well, this game is a turd sandwich for the Giants.” Eight shutout innings for Yovanni Gallardo. That’s twelve earned runs in just over 19 innings for Matt Cain since he agreed to be interviewed on HBT Daily that time.

Braves 2, Reds 1: Martin Prado hit a two-run homer to put the Braves up in the sixth and threw out the would-be tying run at the plate in the top of the eighth. Well, he was credited with throwing out the would-be tying run, but the replay showed pretty clearly that David Ross didn’t get the tag on Paul Janish before he crossed the plate. In this case the lack of replay helped my rooting interest, but I don’t care, we really do need replay to correct these kinds of calls. TV viewers knew within 20 seconds that the call was wrong. An ump in the booth could have known just as quickly, if not quicker given that he wouldn’t be sifting through reaction shots. Anyway, another solid outing for Jair Jurrjens (8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER).

Cardinals 4, Rockies 3: Seven wins for Kyle Lohse as the Cards finish up their nine-game road trip with a 6-3 mark. Of course six of those games came against the Royals and the Padres, but hey, they’re winnin’ the ones they’re supposed to win.

Angels 6, Twins 5: I can’t decide if I’m more impressed by Mark Trumbo’s 436-foot home run or by the fact that Russell Branyan stole a base.  Well, I suppose Branyan does average one a year or so for his career, so maybe this was inevitable.

Athletics 6, Orioles 4: The Athletics give Zach Britton his worst day as a major league starter, touching him up for six runs on ten hits. More significantly, the A’s see the return of Andrew Bailey, who pitched a perfect seventh inning and allowed Bob Geren to do what a lot of people figured he could do this year, trotting out Bailey, Fuentes, Balfour and Breslow one after another (though not necessarily in that order).

Diamondbacks 4, Astros 2: J.A. Happ was pretty solid and hit a home run to — wait for it — help his own cause, but the Dbacks rallied because they are now apparently invincible. Really, since the five-game losing streak they had in the middle of May, the Diamondbacks are 14-2. And now they are alone in first place at the top of the NL West.

Yankees 7, Mariners 1: Andruw Jones (a three-run double in the third) and CC Sabathia (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER) help the Yankees avoid the sweep.

Padres 5, Nationals 4: Given that they had only scored 15 runs in their previous 11 games, five runs for the Padres is pretty impressive. And they needed all five. The last one came on a ninth-inning infield single by Ryan Ludwick. Ludwick had three hits and two RBI and Brad Hawpe had two hits and two RBI.  The Nats have lost nine of 11.

Mets 9, Phillies 5: Vance Worley just didn’t have it yesterday, so Charlie Manuel decided to send out Kendrick, Romero and Baez after him, which is basically the “let us live to fight another day” pupu platter.  Three RBI for Josh Thole, who also had three hits. Four hits for Jose Reyes. Seventeen in all for the Metropolitans.

Blue Jays 13, White Sox 4: This game was basically over once Aaron Hill hit a grand slam in the first inning. A 4 for 5, 3 RBI day for Corey Patterson because the world has gone crazy or something.

Cubs 3, Pirates 2: Rain delay: 2:34. Game time: 2:36. Cool. A nice start from Ryan Demptser and solid relief from Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol.

Report: Koji Uehara close to signing with the Cubs

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 10:  Koji Uehara #19 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game three of the American League Divison Series at Fenway Park on October 10, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports, citing a source as well as Nikkan Sports, that reliever Koji Uehara is close to signing a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Cubs.

Uehara, 41, finished the 2016 season with a 3.45 ERA and a 63/11 K/BB ratio over 47 innings. He missed some time in the second half with a strained right pectoral muscle. When Uehara returned from the disabled list on September 7, he tossed 11 scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts and two walks through the end of the regular season. So there’s at least some evidence, albeit in a very small sample size, that Uehara has stuff left in the tank.

The Cubs recently acquired closer Wade Davis from the Royals. Uehara would join Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards, Jr., Justin Grimm, and Mike Montgomery in what is once again a very deep bullpen.

MLB implements another player-unfriendly rule, this time targeting draftees

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 28:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media before Game Three of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Jon Morosi of MLB Network and FOX Sports reports that the MLB draft has a new program in which the top-50 pitching prospects are asked to undergo a voluntary pre-draft MRI on their throwing arm. At first glance, it seems reasonable because, hey, pitchers are injury-prone and players sometimes hide injuries. It would feel bad if my favorite team drafted a lemon!

The reality is that this is just another player-unfriendly rule that shifts financial risk away from the owners and onto the players. The players, in this case, are often not wealthy and are about to begin life in the minor leagues where they earn less than $8,000 per year. Signing bonuses help alleviate some of the immediate financial discomfort of minor league life.

The pre-draft MRI is “voluntary” with quotes around it. Choosing not to undergo the MRI will only give prospective teams more reason to be skeptical of one’s durability. It’s a lot like those voluntary workouts in football that aren’t so voluntary due to superior and peer pressure. You don’t show up, you’re lazy, entitled, a bad teammate, etc. In this case, a pitching prospect refuses to undergo the MRI, it’s because he’s hiding an injury.

Ian Anderson was the first pitcher taken off the board in the 2016 draft, going to the Braves at No. 3. He got a $4 million signing bonus. Let’s say this new MRI program had already been instituted and Anderson refused, or something came up that caused the Braves to change their minds. Anderson’s draft stock falls, let’s say to 21 where the Blue Jays took T.J. Zeuch with a $2.175 million signing bonus. Falling 18 spots in this case costs Anderson about $2 million, perhaps more because he loses a lot of negotiating leverage. Maybe he falls further, even to the second round.

In a column for FanGraphs nearly two years ago, Nathaniel Grow showed that, as a percentage of total league revenues, player salaries have been declining since the early 2000’s. In 2002, player salaries made up 56 percent of league revenues. In 2014, it was only 38 percent.

In isolation, the MRI program isn’t a big deal. The injured player loses stock, but another player moves up to take his place and earns a bit more money. As part of the bigger picture, however, this is part of an ongoing trend in which owners abdicate financial risk and push it all onto the players. The new collective bargaining agreement, for example, capped international signings at $5-6 million per team per year. That removes any incentive for overseas stars like Shohei Otani from coming over to play Major League Baseball. If he wanted to anyway, he would make much less money than he otherwise would on an open market. The amateur draft itself is almost entirely risk-avoidant for owners and it’s terrible for the players because they, too, would earn much more on an open market. And let’s not forget how owners have fought tooth-and-nail to keep minor league salaries suppressed.

Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick once paid $2.8 million for the Honus Wagner T-206 baseball card. Let’s not act like these owners can’t afford to shoulder the risk on young pitchers.

EDIT (4:40 PM EST): As I’ve seen others mention it, it’s worth bringing up the Astros/Brady Aiken issue. The Astros took him first in the 2014 draft, but they took issue with his elbow health. The two sides had agreed to a $6.5 million signing bonus, but the Astros wanted to reduce it to $5 million as a result. Aiken didn’t end up signing with the Astros. He underwent Tommy John surgery and was later selected by the Indians 17th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft. He got a $2,513,280 signing bonus.