Braves starting pitcher Lowe raises his glove over his face after a run scored in the third inning by Phillies Oswalt in Atlanta

If I don’t survive the night, I love you all

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I’m not gonna lie to you. I’m totally freaked out. I’d be way better off if the Braves were already eliminated. As anyone who has suffered profound grief can attest, the shock, denial, anger and bargaining stages are harder to get through than the depression and acceptance part.  Or not. I don’t know. I’m just trying to grasp on to anything here.

OK, I’m overplaying that. In all honesty, this is about as wonderful as baseball gets. Partially because there’s the possibility for the horrible. If you’re a Red Sox, Rays, Braves or Cardinals fan tonight, your stomach should be doing flip flops. It’s good for the soul in some strange way.  Unless your happiness is way too closely tied to your favorite team’s performance you should appreciate that the all-or-nothing aspects to this make it thrilling.

Sure, I want my team to win and I want the Cardinals to lose.  But I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t a part of me that wants a game 163.  And that, even if it kills another part of me, I think the Cardinals winning the wild card would be a good thing because it will be a neat happening to consider.

OK, maybe not a good thing, but certainly an interesting thing, and interesting things make life better.  Interesting things are of just as much if not more value to a person than some vicarious triumph of someone we consider to be part of our tribe. I mean, the Braves don’t know who I am and don’t care about my happiness beyond how that translates into support they can quantify.  Fandom is almost always one-sided. If we as fans value the interesting as much as we value the rah-rah stuff at least we’re being repaid somehow.

Not that I will abandon the rah-rah.  I imagine — if my stomach allows me to anyway — I’ll be on Twitter tonight cracking wise and scared and happy and angry depending on what the Phillies hitters are doing to poor Tim Hudson.  I’ll say something like “Yay! Go team!” if the Braves win and something like “Oh drat” if they lose. But then I’ll wake up tomorrow and know that we have the playoffs and the offseason and the spring and then another summer ahead of us when everything is reset and begins anew.  And then I’ll realize, nothing truly permanent was lost, even in defeat.

But seriously: screw the Cardinals. I hope they get no-hit by Brett Myers tonight and that Tony La Russa pulls a muscle during his 19th pitching change.

Diamondbacks working on a deal with Tyler Clippard

at Citi Field on July 28, 2015 in Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
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Last week Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart revealed that he was interested in signing free agent reliever Tyler Clippard and now Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the two sides have “made progress toward a deal.”

Piecoro notes that by trading Aaron Hill and his remaining contract to the Brewers the Diamondbacks created a bit of payroll flexibility that they could use to sign Clippard.

Clippard has a long history of excellent work as both a setup man and closer, but his raw stuff and secondary numbers have declined even though his ERA remained very good at 2.92 last season for the A’s and Mets. His strikeout rate dipped to a career-low 8.1 per nine innings, which is drop of about 25 percent from 2009-2014.

Two elite Cuban players defect

cuba hat
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Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com just reported that Yulieski Gurriel & Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who are brothers, reportedly defected and will be seeking MLB deals. There aren’t any details yet, but Sanchez will be updating with a full story that we’ll link here when he has it. UPDATE: Here it is.

Yulieski is a 31-year old third baseman and, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler he was the No. 1 player remaining in Cuba. He was one of the Cuban players who was permitted to play in Japan recently, and he just put up a .305/.349/.536 season with 11 homers in 62 games for the Yokohama Bay Stars and has continued to rake in Cuba. He is likely major league ready right this instant. He’d be an unrestricted free agent given his age and team’s signing him would not be subject to international bonus pool limits.

Lourdes is only 22 years old. He’s hit .269/.355/.414 in 1036 Serie Nacional plate appearances and Badler thinks he has 20-homer potential in the majors one day. He’s currently a shortstop, but is probably destined for a corner. He is young enough to where he would be subject to bonus pool limits. Several teams have already exceeded those limits for the current signing period, limiting the number of teams who could sign him. If, however, it takes MLB a long time to clear him as a free agent — and with immigration issues and the like, that’s very possible — he may not be eligible to be signed until next year, which could bring some other teams into the fold.

 

Indians close to signing ex-Nationals reliever Craig Stammen

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Right-hander Craig Stammen, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Nationals, is expected to sign with the Indians.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Indians “hope to finalize a deal” with Stammen today, adding veteran depth to the bullpen. It’ll likely be a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Stammen missed nearly all of last season following elbow surgery and the Nationals non-tendered him, but he’s scheduled to be ready for spring training. After struggling as a starter early in his career he’s posted a 3.02 ERA in 280 innings out of the bullpen, so if healthy it’d be a nice addition for Cleveland.

A Mexican team wins the Caribbean Series for the third time in four years

Mexican players celebrate their victory in the Caribbean Series baseball final against Aragua Tigres of Venezuela, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Designated hitter Jorge Vazquez hit a game-winning home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, lifting Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory and the championship of the Caribbean Series. (AP Photo/Roberto Guzman)
Associated Press
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For those who aren’t familiar, Serie del Caribe, or the Caribbean Series, is the highest club level baseball tournament in Latin America, pitting the champions of the winter leagues in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela against one another in a bacchanalia of baseball that, if there was justice in the world, we’d all be watching instead of football.

This year’s installment ended last night with Mexico’s Mazatlan Venados beating Venezuela’s Aragua Tigres 5-4 in the final game at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jorge Vazquez — who Yankees fans may remember from a few years back — provided the winning margin when he hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.

This is the third Serie del Caribe title for a Mexican club in the past four years, with Naranjeros de Hermosillo winning in 2014 and Yaquis de Obregón winning in 2013. Pinar del Río from Cuba won it last winter. This is the first time the Venados have won it.

As we noted yesterday, this was longtime MLB starter Freddy Garcia‘s last game. He gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs over five and a third innings for the Tigres, getting a no-decision.