Washington Nationals v Arizona Diamondbacks

HBT All-Star Game live blog

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UPDATE: Wilson gets Paul Konerko to ground out to end it. The National League wins 5-1. They will have home field advantage in the World Series for the second straight season. Thanks for hanging out, everyone. Stay tuned for a recap.

11:25 PM: Hey, did you guys know that Brian Wilson has a beard?

11:23 PM: Joel Hanrahan with some vintage Pirates’ action with that ugly throw backing up home plate. Brian Wilson coming on for the final two outs.

11:19 PM: Aw, we just witnessed Starlin Castro’s first error in an All-Star Game. Adorable.

11:18 PM: Hanrahan sets aside Michael Young, team player for the first out.

11:16 PM: So is the Arizona crowd rooting for Joel Hanrahan to give up four runs here so that Miguel Montero can get his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth?

11:13 PM: Gio Gonzalez does his job at Ron Washington’s LOOGY, striking out Jay Bruce looking. It’s 5-1 NL headed into the top of the ninth.

11:09 PM: Ron Washington using two starters (Alexi Ogando and Gio Gonzalez) here in the bottom of the eighth. How counterintuitive.

11:00 PM: Heath Bell really hamming it up here. I’m sure his agent appreciated the Todd Coffey-like sprint and eventual slide.

10:57 PM: That’s what this game needs. More Zooey Deschanel, please.

10:55 PM: Set up be an uncharacteristic passed ball by Matt Wieters, Brandon League gives up a ground-rule double to Pablo Sandoval that gives the NL a 5-1 lead. I told ya Kung-Fu Panda should have started this one!

10:49 PM: Hunter Pence is a darn good baseball player, but he always looks like a mess out there. All arms and legs.

10:48 PM: Michael Cuddyer in at first base for Miguel Cabrera, who apparently had stiffness in his side. Hopefully he’s not the latest victim in the “Year of the Oblique.”

10:41 PM: After walking Konerko, Craig Kimbrel gets Howie Kendrick to ground out to second base for the final out of the top of the seventh. It’s still 4-1 NL.

And here’s Michelle Branch to sing “God Bless America,” because only people from Arizona are allowed to sing in Arizona.

10:32 PM: And FOX predictably uses Kevin Youkilis as a promo for “Moneyball.” Not surprised, but this just doesn’t feel right.

10:30 PM: Jurrjens getting a second inning here. Interesting. And yes, another reliever (Brandon League) up for the AL. Which closer didn’t make the AL roster? Is Kevin Gregg pitching the eighth? These ridiculous pitching rules really need to change.

10:22 PM: Really cool stuff by Heath Bell. One of Omar Minaya’s greatest hits was sending him to San Diego with Royce Ring for Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins. Who? Exactly.

10:16 PM: I want to give Ron Washington the benefit of the doubt in this game because of Josh Beckett’s knee, but then I remember that Ron Washington is in charge of the pitching staff.

10:09 PM: Andre Ethier knocks in Rickie Weeks to give the National league a 4-1 lead, cut down on the way to second base for the third out of the inning. Jair Jurrjens coming in for the National League in the top of the sixth. That’s right. A real, genuine starting pitcher. What a novel concept!

10:04 PM: Chris Perez up in the bullpen for the American League. Seriously? Another reliever? This is getting really silly.

10:00 PM: Scott Rolen just looked like he was in pain after being blown away on the strikeout. Probably his last at-bat of the evening, anyway.

9:56 PM: Jordan Walden in for the American League to start the bottom of the fifth. The way pitchers have been used in this game thus far, you’d think there is a severe shortage of starting pitchers in MLB.

9:54 PM: Joe Buck saying David Ortiz shouldn’t get rung up because it’s the All-Star Game. You mean we shouldn’t take this game seriously? It “counts,” doesn’t it? So conflicted.

9:49 PM: Hey Batting Stance Guy, somebody is stealing your schtick.

9:41 PM: Prince Fielder hits a three-run homer, Arizona now crowd cheering. No convictions. Pick a side, people.

9:38 PM: This conversation between Justin Timberlake and Mark Grace is awwwwkward. Don’t think Timberlake knows about Gracie’s recent DUI arrest. By the way, how many movies is this All-Star Game promoting? Losing count.

9:37 PM: Beltran reaches on an infield single. If only we had somebody to make a jump-throw. Oh, who am I kidding, Jeter would have never gloved that…

9:34 PM: Pence guns down Jose Bautista at the plate for the third and final out of the fourth. Would have been interesting if we had a collision there, huh? Alas, Bautista attempted a slide.

9:29 PM: Tyler Clippard’s kicks may be uglier than Cliff Lee’s. And that’s saying something.

9:26 PM: The American League is on the board. A solo homer by Adrian Gonzalez. That’s the first home run in an All-Star Game since 2008.

9:23 PM: Hunter Pence replaces Matt Holliday in left while Justin Upton replaces Lance Berkman in right field to begin the top of the fourth inning. Happy now, Arizona?

9:21 PM: Pineda was nasty, not surprisingly. Strikes out two in a scoreless inning. Pitching dominating early in the desert.

9:19 PM: It’s nice to see Scott Rolen and his .241 batting average start the All-Star Game. Anybody know the last guy to start an All-Star Game with a batting average that low?

9:15 PM: It’s Michael Pineda time, it’s Michael Pineda time!

9:12 PM: This is the part where many will ask, “Who the heck is Alex Avila?”

9:11 PM: Cliff Lee obviously stepped in some blue paint on the way to the mound tonight. Either that, or he’s a walking advertisement for the new “Smurfs” movie.

9:05 PM: Berkman had second base stolen on the strikeout, but came off the bag. Including the regular season, he’s now 0-for-4 on stolen base attempts. No score after two innings.

9:03 PM: And…Lance Berkman has our first hit of the evening.

9:01 PM: Jose Bautista doesn’t just hit home runs. An amazing catch in the right field corner. Good thing the Jays are using him at third base.

8:58 PM: Uh oh. Apparently Josh Beckett felt some soreness in his left knee while warming up, so David Robertson (!) will pitch the second inning.

8:56 PM: Adrian Beltre puts a charge in one, but makes the third out on a fly ball to the warning track in right. Halladay tosses two scoreless frames on 19 pitches. Cliff Lee will pitch the third for the NL squad.

8:55 PM: Jose Reyes hanging out with Shane Victorino in the NL dugout. Was also standing next to him in the player intros. As a Mets fan, this alarms me.

8:52 PM: Jose Bautista skies out on the first pitch. At this point, Roy Halladay should just say, “I got this, guys” and go all nine.

8:49 PM: Matt Kemp is our first baserunner of the night. And Prince Fielder is greeted with you guessed it, more boos. Hey Arizona, do you want the National League to win?

8:47 PM: Beltran tanking it in the All-Star Game to affect his trade value. #blamebeltran

8:44 PM: I’m pretty sure Brian Wilson is going to stash Carlos Beltran is in his beard.

8:41 PM: Adrian Gonzalez grounds out to complete a 1-2-3 top of the first. The Home Run Derby obviously messed up his swing.

8:39 PM: One pitch, one out. Curtis Granderson didn’t read Moneyball.

8:37 PM: Michael Cuddyer announcing the lineup for the American League. He’s versatile.

8:31 PM: This crowd quite enjoyed Jordin Sparks’ rendition of the National Anthem. But she’s from Arizona, so that makes sense. Anyhow, let’s play ball already!

8:24 PM: This Arizona crowd is still really giving it to Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks. And well, everyone except Justin Upton, Miguel Montero and Kirk Gibson. They seem to like Josh Hamilton a little bit, too. Weird stuff.

8:19 PM: Win the Home Run Derby, bat eighth. Funny how that works.

8:17 PM: Gee, lots of Giants at this game. It’s almost like their manager is choosing…oh right.

8:13 PM: The player intros have always been my favorite part of the All-Star Game. Yankees always booed, pin drops for Aaron Crow.

8:11 PM: Joe Buck must have the Mets’ doctors looking after his vocal cords. Seriously, is he OK?

8:09 PM: Brad Pitt is narrating this opening montage. I wonder if he has a movie coming out soon…

8:07 PM: I think we should get a petition started banning Smash Mouth from All-Star competition.

8:00 PM: You might not realize this, but I was this close to being named an injury replacement for the National League All-Star team. Unfortunately I finished sixth on the player ballot for third base. Anyhow, since I won’t be attending the game, I figured a live blog would have to suffice.

Tune in right here for my random thoughts and observations throughout the evening. Feel free to join the conversation in our comments section. I’m setting the over/under on complaints about Joe Buck and Tim McCarver at 37.

Here are the lineups for tonight’s game, which will be rendered meaningless by the second or third inning:

American League: Curtis Granderson (CF), Asdrubal Cabrera (SS), Adrian Gonzalez (1B), Jose Bautista (RF), Josh Hamilton (LF), Adrian Beltre (3B), David Ortiz (DH), Robinson Cano (2B), Alex Avila (C)

National League: Rickie Weeks (2B), Carlos Beltran (DH), Matt Kemp (CF), Prince Fielder (1B), Brian McCann (C), Lance Berkman (RF), Matt Holliday (LF), Troy Tulowitzki (SS), Scott Rolen (3B)

And your All-Star Game Starting Pitchers:

Roy Halladay (NL) vs. Jered Weaver (AL)

Since this one “counts,” my official prediction is that the National League will secure home field advantage in the World Series for a second straight year. I’m a National League guy, though, so I’d probably say that even if they were running the Padres’ starting lineup out there. Let’s go, Kevin Correia!

Did Tony La Russa screw Jim Edmonds’ Hall of Fame candidacy?

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Yes, that’s a somewhat provocative question. But it’s still an interesting question, the relevancy of and merits of which we’ll get to in a second. I pose it mostly so I can tell you about some neat research a friend of mine is doing and which should make Hall of Fame discussions and the general discussion of baseball history a lot of fun in the coming years. Bear with me for a moment.

There has long been a war between metrics and narrative. The folks who say that so-and-so was great because of the arc of his story and his career and those who say so-and-so was not so great or whatshisface was way, way better because of the numbers. Those views are often pitted as irreconcilable opposites. But what if they weren’t? What if there was some data which explained why some players become narrative darlings and others don’t? Some explanation for why, say, Jim Rice is in the Hall of Fame while Dwight Evans isn’t despite having better numbers? An explanation, that isn’t about voters being dumb or merely playing favorites all willy-nilly? What if there was some actual quantitative reason why favorites get played in the first place?

That’s the thesis of the work of Brandon Isleib. He has just finished writing a very interesting book. It’s not yet published, but I have had the chance to read it. It sets forth the fascinating proposition that we can quantify narrative. That we can divine actual numerical values which help explain a player’s fame and public profile. Values which aren’t based on some complicated or counterintuitive formula, but which are rooted in the very thing all baseball fans see every day: games. Wins and losses. The daily standings. Values which reveal that, no, Hall of Fame voters who made odd choices in the view of the analytics crowd weren’t necessarily stupid or petty. They were merely reacting to forces and dynamics in the game which pushed them in certain ways and not others.

“But wait!” you interject. “Jim Rice and Dwight Evans played on the same dang team! How does Brandon distinguish that?” I won’t give away all the details of it but it makes sense if you break down how the Red Sox did in certain years and how that corresponded with Rice’s and Evans’ best years. There were competitive narratives in play in 1975, 1978 or 1986 that weren’t in play in 1981 or 1987. From those competitive narratives come player narratives which are pretty understandable. When you weight it all based on how competitive a team was on a day-to-day basis based on how far out of first place they were, etc., a picture starts to come together which explains why “fame” works the way it does.

From this, you start to realize why certain players, no matter how good, never got much Hall of Fame consideration. And why others’ consideration seemed disproportionate compared to their actual performance. All of which, again, is based on numbers, not on the sort of bomb-throwing media criticism in which jerks like me have come to engage.

Like I said, the book won’t be out for a bit — Brandon just finished it — but in the meantime he has a website where he has been and, increasingly will be, talking about his quantification of narrative stuff, writing short articles posing some of the questions his book and his research addresses.

Today’s entry — which is what my headline is based on — isn’t really numbers-based. It’s more talking about the broader phenomenon Brandon’s work gets at in terms of trying to figure out which players are credited for their performance and which are not so credited and why. Specifically, it talks about how Tony La Russa, more than most managers, gets the credit for his success and his players probably get somewhat less than they deserve. In this way La Russa is kind of viewed as a football coach figure and his players are, I dunno, system quarterbacks. It’s something that is unfair, I think, to guys like Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen and will, eventually, likely be unfair to players like Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday.

It’s fascinating stuff which gets to the heart of player reputation and how history comes together. It reminds us that, in the end, the reporters and the analysts who argue about all of these things are secondary players, even if we make the most noise. It’s the figures in the game — the players and the managers — who shape it all. The rest of us are just observers and scribes.

Corey Seager tops Keith Law’s top-100 prospect list

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager warms up before Game 1 of baseball's National League Division Series against the New York Mets, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
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Yesterday it was the top farm systems, today it’s the top-100 prospects from ESPN’s Keith Law.

As Law notes, there’s a HUGE amount of turnover on the list from last year, given how many top prospects were promoted to the bigs in 2015. Kris Bryant seems like a grizzled old veteran now. Carlos Correa too. Eleven of the top 20 from last year’s list have graduated into the bigs. Are we sure it’s only been a year?

So, obviously, there’s a new number one. It’s Corey Seager, the Dodgers’ infielder. Not that everything has changed. Byron Buxton is still number two. This will obviously be his last year on the list. If you want to see and read about the other 98, go check out Keith’s excellent work.

And yes, like yesterday’s farm system rankings, it’s Insider subscription only. There were comments about how much you all hate that and I am sure there will be many more of them today. I get that. No one likes to pay for content. I was somewhat amused, however, by comments that said things like “hey, maybe if we don’t click it, they’ll have to give it to us for free!” Maybe! Or, more likely, the content simply will cease to exist!

It’s good stuff, folks. There aren’t many paid sites I say that about.

Ozzie Guillen to manage again. In Venezuela

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With Dusty Baker getting back into action with the Nationals and with there being at least some moderate sense that, maybe, inexperienced dudes might not be the best choice to manage big league clubs, I sorta hoped that someone would give Ozzie Guillen another look. Nah. Not happening.

Not that I’m shocked or anything. I can imagine that, under the best of circumstances, a guy like Guillen is hard to have around. He tends to find controversy pretty easily and, unlike some other old hands, Guillen never claimed to be any kind of master tactician. He famously said that he was bored during games until the sixth or seventh inning when he had to start thinking about pitching changes. Refreshing honesty, yes, but maybe not the sort of dude you bring on to, say, be a bench coach or to mentor your younger coaches or to show your hand-picked manager the ropes. Nope, it seemed like Guillen was destined to stay in broadcasting with ESPN Deportes or someone and that his days in uniform were over.

But they’re not over! Guillen was hired yesterday to manage the La Guaira Sharks of the Venezuelan Winter League next offseason. It’s not the bigs, but it is is first on-field gig since he was canned by the Marlins in 2012.

 

Guillen managed the White Sox from 2004-11 and was voted AL Manager of the Year in 2005, when Chicago won the World Series. He may be a bit of a throwback now, but he knows what he’s doing. While I can’t really say that a major league team would be wise to hire the guy — I get it, I really do — a selfish part of me really wants him back in the bigs. He was fun.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.