Whenever there is an outrageously wild game going on — usually college basketball, but sometimes baseball too — my friend Amanda Rykoff of espnW tweets that it’s “bananas.” I wouldn’t dare speak for her, but I think she would agree that the AL wild card tiebreaker has some serious bananas potential.
If two teams are tied when the regular season is over, a one-game playoff will be held next Thursday. If the Rays are involved, the game will be played at Tropicana Field. If it’s between the Red Sox and Angels, the game is in Boston. Simple enough so far. OK, now it gets tricky.
A three-way tie will mean two playoff games, one on Thursday and one on Friday. Because of the various tiebreakers involved, the Rays would be the top seed, the Red Sox the second seed and the Angels the third. Here I’m just gonna quote Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune, because I think he laid it out better than anyone:
As the top seed, the Rays would have their choice between three plans, with the Red Sox picking second and the Angels getting what’s left.
Plan A: Get to play both games at home, providing you win Game 1.
Plan B: Play the first game on the road, win that and get the second game at home.
Plan C: Play the winner of Game 1, but do so on the road.
Got it? Good. And no, no one knows what Joe Maddon would pick right now, because he wouldn’t say. But let’s remember that the Rays didn’t exactly benefit from home field advantage in last year’s playoffs. They have a slight home field advantage in 2011. If I were them I take option C and play one game for the wild card rather than two, home field options be damned.
So, yeah, bananas.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.