And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Giants 4, Padres 1: Madison Bumgarner keeps rolling (7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 6K). After the game he explained his recent success by saying “I’m just trying to make pitches.”  I’ve heard that for 30 years and I’m still not quite sure what it means but I always like hearing it for some reason. It’s a satisfying answer to me on some level. I think I’m going to start using it in everyday conversation:

Mookie: Dad, why do you keep putting strawberries in my lunch. You know I don’t like strawberries.

Me: Hey, I’m just trying to make pitches.

Dodgers 2, Nationals 0: Chris Capuano outpitches Gio Gonzalez as the Dodgers sweep the Nationals. They’re now 0-2 with Bryce Harper. Let’s pretend that’s a thing because it will probably annoy the hell out of him.

Twins 7, Royals 4: Single, double and a triple for Josh Willingham in his first game back from paternity leave. Man, I remember going back to work after my kids were born. Most relaxing place to be on the planet after a few days of that noise. Don’t look at me like that. The people with parents know what I’m talking about.

Mets 6, Rockies 5: Johan Santana was pretty awesome again, but he had a big lead blown when Tim Byrdak gave up an 8th inning pinch hit grand slam to Todd Helton. The Mets pull it out in extras, however, when Ike Davis singled home David Wright.

White Sox 4, Red Sox 1: Gavin Floyd took a no-hitter into the seventh but then he eased up on that stuff because he realized that if you throw a no-hitter you’re gonna suck on your next outing and he didn’t want any part of that. Just ask Phil Humber. Adam Dunn hit a two-run homer. He’s at .231/.368/.513 and is on pace for 35+ homers. So I guess that means Adam Dunn is back to being Adam Dunn.

Brewers 3, Cardinals 2: Zack Greinke scattered seven hits and gave up one run over six to help the Brewers avoid the sweep. The game ended on a strike-em-out, throw-em-out at the plate on a delayed double steal thing, which was kinda interesting.

Orioles 5, Athletics 2: The A’s led the O’s 2-0 entering the bottom of the ninth, but then Matt Wieters doubled home two runs to tie it and then Wilson Betemit walks off with a three-run homer. For the first place Orioles.

Cubs 5, Phillies 1: Matt Garza allowed one hit over seven innings and struck out ten. The hit was to Jimmy Rollins leading off the game and he wasn’t touched after that. Philly only got two hits all day. There is just little if any light to be seen with their offense right now. They just don’t have the talent in that lineup to get the job done. It’s that simple.

Blue Jays 7, Mariners 2: Edwin Encarnacion has homered in three straight games. The M’s were 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position.

Braves 4, Pirates 3: Welcome back Tim Hudson. He was rusty, but he survived and stranded a bunch of Pirates runners. Bad defense hurt Pittsburgh too. Andrew McCutchen just plain dropped a fly ball Hudson hit in the third, and Hudson eventually came around to score. In other news, I was reminded, as I am reminded every year, that Pirates games are blacked out in Columbus, Ohio. Which makes all kinds of friggin’ sense.

Indians 4, Angels 0: The best thing about the Angels since the callup of Mike Trout: outfield defense. Trout is great with the glove, Peter Bourjos is probably the best in baseball and Torii Hunter has a gajillion gold gloves. So of course the Indians scored two runs when Hunter done lost one in the sun. Manny Acta after the game: “The mighty sun was on our side today.”  I can just picture how he said it too. I love Manny Acta so much.

Diamondbacks 8, Marlins 4:  Wade Miley had a no hitter going into the sixth. In other news, I learned who Wade Miley was yesterday. Jason Kubel drove in three. Kubel is hitting .333/.400./528 this season. Guess he doesn’t miss Target Field all that much.

Yankees 6, Tigers 2: CC Sabathia was solid for eight innings and despite stranding a ton of runners early, the Yankees won easy. The Tigers have lost eight of ten.

Reds 6, Astros 5: Jay Bruce has hit four homers in four games. Joey Votto drove in four runs. The Reds entered April like a lamb but are leaving it like a lion.

Rays 5, Rangers 2:  David Price had struggled against Texas his entire career, but he beat ’em last night. Three hits for Ben Zobrist. Josh Hamilton left with back stiffness. Ron Washington left because he got ejected.

MLB Network airs segment listing “good” and “bad” $100 million-plus contracts

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On Wednesday evening, Charlie Marlow of KTVI FOX 2 News St. Louis posted a couple of screencaps from a segment MLB Network aired about $100 million-plus contracts that have been signed. The list of “bad” contracts, unsurprisingly, is lengthier than the list of “good” contracts.

As Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus pointed out, it is problematic for a network owned by Major League Baseball to air a segment criticizing its employees for making too much seemingly unearned money. There’s a very clear conflict of interest, so one is certainly not getting a fair view of the situation. MLB, of course, can do what it wants with its network, but it can also be criticized. MLB Network would never air a similar segment in which it listed baseball’s “good” and “bad” owners and how much money they’ve undeservedly taken. Nor would MLB Network ever run a segment naming the hundreds of players who are not yet eligible for arbitration whose salaries are decided for them by their teams, often making the major league minimum ($545,000) or just above it. Similarly, MLB Network would also never think of airing a segment in which the pay of minor league players, many of whom make under $10,000 annually, is highlighted.

We’re now past the halfway point in January and many free agents still remain unsigned. It’s unprecedented. A few weeks ago, I looked just at the last handful of years and found that, typically, six or seven of the top 10 free agents signed by the new year. We’re still at two of 10 — same as a few weeks ago — and that’s only if you consider Carlos Santana a top-10 free agent, which is debatable. It’s a complex issue, but part of it certainly is the ubiquity of analytics in front offices, creating homogeneity in thinking. A consequence of that is everyone now being aware that big free agent contracts haven’t panned out well; it’s a topic of conversation that everyone can have and understand now. Back in 2010, I upset a lot of people by suggesting that Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million contract with the Phillies wouldn’t pan out well. Those people mostly cited home runs and RBI and got mad when I cited WAR and wOBA and defensive metrics. Now, many of those same people are wary of signing free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer and they now cite WAR, wOBA, and the various defensive metrics.

The public’s hyper-sensitivity to the viability of long-term free agent contracts — thanks in part to segments like the aforementioned — is a really bad trend if you’re a player, agent, or just care about labor in general. The tables have become very much tilted in favor of ownership over labor over the last decade and a half. Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs pointed out in March 2015 that the players’ share of total league revenues peaked in 2002 at 56 percent, but declined all the way to 38 percent in 2014. The current trend of teams signing their talented players to long-term contract extensions before or during their years of arbitration eligibility — before they have real leverage — as well as teams abstaining from signing free agents will only serve to send that percentage further down.

Craig has written at great length about the rather serious problem the MLBPA has on its hands. Solving this problem won’t be easy and may require the threat of a strike, or actually striking. As Craig mentioned, that would mean getting the players all on the same page on this issue, which would require some work. MLB hasn’t dealt with a strike since 1994 and it’s believed that it caused a serious decline in interest among fans, so it’s certainly something that would get the owners’ attention. The MLBPA may also need to consider replacing union head Tony Clark with someone with a serious labor background. Among the issues the union could focus on during negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement: abolishing the draft and getting rid of the arbitration system. One thing is for sure: the players are not in a good spot now, especially when the league has its own network on which it propagandizes against them.