I hope you’re enjoying clinch night, everyone.
The Diamondbacks were already assured of at least a tie for the division crown entering tonight’s action, but they just clinched the National League West with a 3-1 win over the Giants. This is the fifth division title in their 14-year history and their first since 2007.
The Diamondbacks were down 1-0 through six innings against Matt Cain, but Chris Young tied the game with an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh and rookie first baseman Paul Goldschmidt put them in front with a two-run triple off Sergio Romo into the right field corner in the eighth. J.J. Putz worked around a leadoff single by Mark DeRosa for his 44th save.
Coming off a last-place 65-97 finish, the Diamondbacks are without question the most surprising team in baseball this season. Kirk Gibson should be a lock for manager of the year, but Kevin Towers’ overhaul of the backend of the bullpen can’t be overlooked. Including tonight’s win, the Diamondbacks are 82-0 when leading after eight innings. And I don’t need to remind you how awful that bullpen was last season.
All three divisions in the National League are now decided, but the Wild Card and homefield advantage between the Diamondbacks and Brewers are still up for grabs.
Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun had three more years of arbitration eligibility left, but he and the Angels decided to settle that future business at once on Wednesday, agreeing to a three-year extension worth $26 million, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The contract also includes a $14 million club option for the 2020 season.
Calhoun, 29, has been a dependable right fielder for the Angels over the last three seasons, batting an aggregate .266/.327/.436 with 61 home runs and 216 RBI in 1,895 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, Calhoun has been the ninth-most valuable right fielder in baseball since the start of the 2014 season with 11.4 Wins Above Replacement. He ranks slightly behind Giancarlo Stanton (11.9) and just ahead of J.D. Martinez (10.9).
The Angels only have a handful of players signed beyond the 2017 season — just Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Andrelton Simmons, and Calhoun. The club has options on Ricky Nolasco and Huston Street, while many others will be eligible for arbitration.
Nothing is happening as the baseball world waits four more hours for the Hall of Fame announcement. Question: why do it at 6pm? For MLB Network ratings? Let’s be real, there are “Golden Girls” reruns on third-tier basic cable that are gonna draw a bigger audience. Why not announce it now so people can get on with their lives? Oh well.
As we wait, let’s take a look in at Twitter, where Jim Bowden of ESPN passes along the rumor that the Washington Nationals are still interested in signing Matt Wieters and Greg Holland:
Great to know that the Nats’ baseball operations budget is dictated by its capital expenditures. Maybe they shoulda been smart like the Braves and suckered — er, I mean negotiated the local government to pay more for it? GO BRAVES!
Anyway, Bryce Harper had a response to that:
I take that to mean that he’d take the money used to construct the team store and give to Wieters and Holland. I haven’t seen the budget breakdown for the new spring training facility, but that would probably mean a major pay cut for Wieters and Holland. And where would we buy our “Make Baseball Great Again” caps? Think ahead, Bryce. Play the long game here.