First Joey Votto and now Matt Cain.
Said to be working hard on contract negotiations over the weekend, the Giants just made things official with Cain by announcing a five-year, $112.5 million extension with a sixth-year vesting option.
Cain was already set to earn $15 million this season in the final year of a three-year, $27 million extension signed in March of 2010. That deal covered Cain’s final two arbitration eligible seasons and his first year of free agency. This five-year extension will keep him in San Francisco through his age-32 season in 2017 and the 2018 option includes a $7.5 million buyout.
Obviously any $100 million-plus investment in a pitcher is extremely risky and $22 million per season is a ton, especially for a team that learned (and is still learning) the hard way with Barry Zito, but limiting the commitment to five years and avoiding Cain’s mid-30s lessens the Giants’ risk somewhat and he’s been remarkably consistent with a 3.35 career ERA and at least 190 innings in each of his six full seasons.
On a related note, the Phillies would no doubt be thrilled if Cole Hamels accepted a five-year, $112.5 million deal. Hamels has better secondary numbers than Cain and has pitched in a hitter-friendly ballpark, but their raw numbers are very similar: 3.39 ERA in 1,161 innings for Hamels. 3.35 ERA in 1,317 innings for Cain.
The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.
After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.
But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.
- They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
- They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
- They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
- They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.
The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.
Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.