FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi is putting the odds of a Hunter Pence deal at better than 50/50 and says the Indians are still involved despite picking up Kosuke Fukudome earlier Thursday.
The Phillies and Braves have reportedly been the more intense pursuers of Pence, but many have inquired. The Red Sox and Reds are among those doing their homework. The Rangers, though, aren’t in the hunt at the moment.
The Astros reportedly backed out of a deal with the Phillies that would have netted them big first baseman Jonathan Singleton and top pitching prospect Jarred Cosart for Pence. Still, it doesn’t sound as though the Phillies have given up on Pence yet.
The Braves have more to offer with a stable of young pitchers that includes Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Randall Delgado and Mike Minor, but Teheran probably isn’t on the table and it’s doubtful the Braves would give up two of the others in order to get a deal done.
Speculation is that the Braves would send down Jason Heyward if they were able to land Pence to play right field. Still, it’s worth wondering if that would really leave them any better off. Heyward has hit .231/.306/.400 with four homers and 15 RBI in 130 at-bats since coming off the DL on June 15. Pence is at .277/.336/.387 with two homers and 12 RBI in 119 at-bats over the same span. Pence was certainly better during the first two months of the season, but Heyward was easily the superior player last year.
The Braves, though, would have room for both if they so desired. Left fielder Martin Prado may frequently be needed at third base with Chipper Jones dinged up, and either Pence or Heyward could play some center when everyone is healthy.
The Astros want pitching, pitching and more pitching in return for Pence, and no team has more to offer than the Braves. There’s still almost three days left for something to get done.
Ben Badler of Baseball America Reports that Major League Baseball has cancelled its Dominican national showcase, which was scheduled for today and tomorrow. Why? Because, Badler reports, trainers and players in the Dominican Republic planned to skip the showcase in protest over Major League Baseball’s push to implement an international draft.
The kicker: Major League Baseball explored bringing in lesser prospects to serve as replacement players for the showcase. MLB, you might recall, has a poor track record of getting replacement workers to fill in for picketing players.
As Badler noted recently, the international draft proposed by Major League Baseball is, despite whatever MLB says, all about paying international players less money. From the Players Union’s perspective, it’s all about selling out amateur players to the supposed benefit of current union members. The allegedly altruistic justifications for the draft simply don’t hold water.
They certainly don’t fool the Dominican players who, even if they are ultimately powerless to stop MLB from stripping them of their bargaining power, will not give it up quietly.
The Game: Chicago Cubs @ Cleveland Indians, World Series Game 2
The Time: 7:00 PM EDT
The Place: Progressive Field, Cleveland
The Channel: FOX
The Starters: Jake Arrieta (Cubs) vs. Trevor Bauer (Indians)
We get going an hour earlier tonight due to the threat of rain. As of now, that still looks like it will be the difference between getting this one in or not, as the chance of rain looks to be a lot higher after a 7pm game would reasonably end:
Still, it’s going to be dicey and the conditions will be less than ideal. It will be especially less-than-idea for Cleveland if the game is delayed early and they have to go to their bullpen earlier than expected tonight. Andrew Miller escaped some jams last night and did his job, but he used a lot of pitches to do it — 46 — and may be pretty limited tonight, if he’s available at all. That puts a lot on Trevor Bauer’s shoulders. Or, actually, his fingers, including the pinky finger on his pitching hand which is full of stitches. Those stitches not holding cost him his ALCS start. Terry Francona is hoping to get a lot more out of his starter tonight. Given how little he has pitched in the playoffs he should have the energy as long as his finger holds up.
As for the Cubs, teams that have lost Game 1 of the World Series are 40-70 and, in recent years, have a worse winning percentage than that, losing it all in 12 of the past 13 years. Eh, not too impressed with that stat as it doesn’t actually deal with the series at hand. At hand, the Cubs have superior starters set to go in each of the next two games, starting tonight with Jake Arrieta. He’s not been fantastic in the playoffs this year, but he’s capable of dominating a game any time out.
The Cubs figure to have a better night at the plate now that Corey Kluber is out of the way. Particularly a lefty like Anthony Rizzo, who is probably happy to see Bauer. Jason Heyward will likely be back in the lineup as well. They had better have a better night. Being down 1-0 is not a death sentence in the World Series, even if it has looked like one recently. Being down 2-0 is not something Chicago wants to chance.