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The Mets win a weird one

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The Mets beat the Giants 5-4 this afternoon, but whether anyone actually deserved to win, well, that’s up for debate.

The Mets certainly appeared to be in control entering the top of the ninth, as Frank Francisco was handed a 4-1 lead after Mike Pelfrey tossed eight innings of one-run ball. However, Francisco was pulled in favor of Tim Brydak after letting three out of the first four batters reach base, including an RBI single by Emmanuel Burriss. After Byrdak struck out Hector Sanchez, Collins again made a switch, this time bringing in Jon Rauch to face pinch-hitter Brandon Belt. And that’s when things got nuts.

Belt hit what appeared to be a game-ending pop-up to shallow center field, but it fell for a game-tying two-run double after Ruben Tejada couldn’t track it down and rookie center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis overran it. Yes, it was truly “Luis Castillo: Part Deux,” though with a slightly higher degree of difficulty. Rauch then struck out Angel Pagan to end the inning and keep the game tied.

Things only got weirder from there, though, as Belt stayed in the game at first base to begin the bottom of the ninth and Aubrey Huff played second base for the first time in his major league career with Ryan Theriot unavailable due to illness. That’s right, Aubrey Huff played second base. In a real game. What could possibly go wrong? It didn’t take too long to find out.

Lucas Duda reached on a leadoff single against Clay Hensley before being replaced by pinch-runner Scott Hairston. He was moved over to second on a sacrifice by Josh Thole before Ruben Tejada drew a walk. Justin Turner came up as a pinch-hitter against Jeremy Affeldt and hit what looked like a tailor-made inning-ending double-play ball to Burriss, who was at shortstop. The only problem was that there was nobody home at second base because Huff broke toward first base for some reason. Old habits, I guess. Turner ended up beating it out for an infield single to load the bases.

The wackiness hit its crescendo when Nieuwenhuis hit a grounder to Belt at first base. Belt quickly threw to home for the force out, but Buster Posey made an errant throw back to Affeldt at first base which allowed Tejada to come around and score the winning run. Posey’s throw likely would have been on target, but he was given a bit of a nudge when Hairston stuck out his leg on a slide into home plate. Posey tried to argue interference, but it fell on deaf ears from home plate umpire Doug Eddings. And so, it was a walk off win for the Mets, though in a bit more subdued fashion that you’d normally see.

My hope is that the footage of this inning can at least have some value to future generations, perhaps to serve as an example of what not to do in a baseball game.

The Orioles and Yovani Gallardo are “making progress”

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Ken Rosenthal reports that the Orioles are “making progress” in talks with free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo.

Gallardo has been on the market so long because he has a first round pick tied to him due to his declining the Rangers’ qualifying offer. The Orioles would have to forfeit the 14th overall pick in order to sign him. That has been too steep a price to pay for them all winter, but as we’re mere days away from pitchers and catchers reporting, it’s likely that Gallardo’s price has dropped enough to make it worth their while.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons — and had a career-low 3.42 ERA in 2015 — but his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012, suggesting that trouble could be on the horizon.

If the O’s do burn their pick to get Gallardo, it might make sense for them to go all-in with another free agent like Dexter Fowler, given that they’d not have to give up anything else to do it.

Rangers avoid arbitration with Mitch Moreland

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First baseman/outfielder Mitch Moreland and the Rangers have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $5.7 million deal.

Moreland requested $6 million and the Rangers countered at $4.675 million, so the two sides settled on the player-friendly side of the midpoint.

Moreland bounced back from an injury wrecked 2014 season to have a career-year in 2015, hitting .278 with 23 homers and an .812 OPS in 132 games. Arbitration eligible for the final time at age 30, he’s set to be a free agent next offseason.

Tiger Stadium redevelopment group loses $50K because of its preference for artificial turf

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Craig Calcaterra
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We’ve posted frequently on the topic of the old Tiger Stadium site. If you’ve kept up with it you know that the site, nearly overgrown with weeds and strewn with trash before being rescued by a group of volunteers called the Navin Field Grounds Crew, is now being slated for redevelopment by the Detroit Police Athletic League.

The PAL is committed to keeping a baseball field as part of the development, but they are also, quite unfortunately, committed to putting artificial turf down over the bit of Earth where baseball legends once walked and ran.

Backlash to the plan has begun, however. Not just from people like me or the Navin Field Grounds Crew, who are opposed to fake grass, but to an actual donor to the Detroit Police Athletic League:

With an annual contribution of $50,000 to Detroit PAL’s programs, the Lear Corporation has been a major benefactor of the nonprofit for years. But in light of PAL’s controversial plan to redevelop the Tiger Stadium site with artificial turf, Lear’s CEO is speaking out.

Matthew Simoncini says that Lear is withdrawing its financial support of PAL for its mishandling of this delicate issue.

“I believe the [PAL] plan is severely flawed [and] a terrible use of resources,” says Simoncini. “[It] does not preserve this site and provides [an] unsafe playing surface for the children,”

I’m guessing $50,000 is not the sort of money that will seriously hinder a real estate redevelopment plan, but it’s good to hear someone with a stake in all of this voting with their wallet. Here’s hoping more do and that, eventually, PAL understands that there are some things more important than saving some money at the front end of a project.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images North America
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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.