Giancarlo Stanton

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

26 Comments

Marlins 7, Rockies 4: Jamie Moyer pitched in his 50th different major league park. But he may have given up his longest most hellacious homer ever. Giancarlo Stanton hit a grand slam that went 438 feet in basically a straight line and broke the friggin’ scoreboard. Roy Hobbs stuff, there. Gave the Marlins the lead and, eventually, the game.

Nationals 2, Phillies 1: Ian Desmond drove in both Washington runs, one on a homer, and Gio Gonzalez pitched six scoreless for his sixth win. Bryce Harper had two hits, a stolen base and scored a run. No word on whether he was hit with any batteries.

Pirates 5, Mets 4: Michael McKenry hit a two-run homer in the seventh to tie it up and to chase Johan Santana. A Clint Barmes sac fly was the game winner. In other news, Clint Barmes still draws a major league paycheck. Who knew?

Reds 4, Braves 1: Mike Leake pitched eight strong innings and hit a homer. Drew Stubbs didn’t pitch at all but had two of his own. Cincinnati takes their third in a row and keeps the pressure on the Cardinals. Oh, and about that Aroldis Chapman arrest? It happened in Grove City, Ohio. Which is a Columbus suburb, 100 miles from Cincinnati. This on the morning after the Reds got back from a road trip and before a home game. I’m struggling to think what’s so appealing about my fair city for Chapman that he had to make a 200-mile+ road trip in such a short amount of time. But hey, at the speeds he was driving, I guess it’s a short trip.

Cardinals 4, Padres 3: St. Louis needed this one to avoid falling behind the Reds in the Central. They got it via a two-run Tyler Greene home run in the eighth. Clayton Richard pitched seven and a third, Jaime Garcia pitched seven, but they each gave up two runs on seven hit with one walk. Garcia struck out more. I wonder how often two starters have had the same exact pitching line. Had to have happened a few times before, right?

Astros 8, Cubs 3: A laugher. Matt Garza turned in his worst start of the year (3 IP, 5 H, 7 ER) and was countered by Bud Norris’ seven innings of shutout ball. Norris left with an 8-0 lead.

Blue Jays 6, Rays 2: I’ll let the box score speak for this one and instead note something that caught my eye in the scoring summary. Second inning: “E Thames singled to center, J Arencibia scored, E Thames out stretching at second.”  I read that and I pictured this for some reason. Just put Eric Thames’ head on the body.

Royals 6, Yankees 0: I’m not saying it would be nice for Royals fans to make “contract the Yankees” jokes like so many Yankees fans have done to them over the years, but I understand it if they do. The Yankees offensive impotence — 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position — hits bottom, they hope. I have this feeling today is gonna be super crazy in the tabloids.

Red Sox 8, Orioles 6: And part of that super crazy tabloid thing is gonna be based on the fact that the Yankees now have the same 21-21 record as do the Boston Red Sox who, as we’ve all been told to believe, are in utter chaos and whatnot. Not that we should be glib about that. They fell behind early before a six-run rally put them ahead and they still weren’t comfortable here.

Mariners 6, Rangers 1: The M’s are not impressed with Yu Darvish, who issued six walks. Felix Hernandez, in the meantime, allowed one run over eight. Ichiro tripled in a run and singled in two. I’m guessing that, in light of all of this, my friends in the Japanese media have a lot to write about today.

Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 1: Matt Treanor, Andre Ethier and James Loney all homered. Chris Capuano is now 6-1. When people ask later why no one thought the Dodgers would contend, folks like me in the analysis business will say things like “we didn’t expect Chris Capuano to post an ERA more than two runs lower than his career norms.”

Giants 4, Brewers 3: Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer in the eighth to tie things up, but Hector Sanchez with a 14th inning homer to win it.  Lost in no-decision land was Madison Bumgarner who struck out 10 over seven and a third.

Athletics 2, Angels 1: The A’s have now won 5 of 7 matchups against the Angels. And we’re running out words to describe the Angels offense. Just perusing the thesaurus, I got: anemic, debilitated, decrepit, delicate, effete,enervated, exhausted, faint, feeble, flaccid,flimsy, forceless, fragile, frail, hesitant,impuissant, infirm, insubstantial, irresolute,lackadaisical, languid, languorous, limp,makeshift, out of gas, powerless, prostrate,puny, rickety, rocky, rotten, senile, shaky, sickly,sluggish, spent, spindly, supine, tender, torpid,uncertain, undependable, unsound, unsteady,unsubstantial, wasted, wavering, weakened,weakly, wobbly.

Pick a winner.

Indians sign reliever Tommy Hunter to $2 million deal

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Tommy Hunter throws to the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Miami, Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Leave a comment

Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that right-hander Tommy Hunter has agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract with the Indians. It’s a major-league deal, so Hunter gets a spot on the 40-man roster and will be in the Opening Day bullpen if he’s fully recovered from core muscle surgery.

Hunter split last season between the Orioles and Cubs, totaling 60 innings with a 4.18 ERA and 47/14 K/BB ratio. He had a sub-3.00 ERA in both 2013 and 2014, and has generally been a setup-caliber reliever since shifting to the bullpen full time.

He has good control and a mid-90s fastball, but Hunter has never missed many bats despite the big-time velocity and often struggles to keep the ball in the ballpark. He’ll likely fill a middle relief role in Cleveland initially.

“YER OUT!” Jenrry Mejia permanently suspended for a third positive PED test

Jenrry Mejia
16 Comments

You knew someone would be dumb enough to do this eventually, you just didn’t know who. Now we do: MLB just announced that reliever Jenrry Mejia has been permanently suspended after testing positive for Boldenone. That was his third positive test and under the Joint Drug Agreement that means his career is more or less over.

Mejia’s three strikes came in pretty rapid succession. On April 11, 2015 it was announced that Mejía had been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for use of stanozolol. On July 28, 2015 it was announced that Mejia had failed a test for Stanozolol again and Boldenone to boot, giving him a 162-game suspension, which he’d still be serving at the beggining of the season. Now this third test.

Mejia has played five seasons in the big. He started with so much promise, looking like a great prospect coming up. His performance only matched the promise in fits and starts, however, resulting in a 9-14 record with a 3.68 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 162/76 in 183.1 innings, all with the Mets.

Per the rules of the Joint Drug Agreement, Mejia can apply for reinstatement after being banned for two years. But it would obviously require him to spend two years doing a lot of smart things he hasn’t been doing in the past year. And it would also represent a near-unprecedented comeback. It could happen, I suppose, but it’s a far safer bet that his career is over.

I’m going to break it to you: some teams will stink this year. Like every year.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.45.53 PM
2 Comments

There’s an AP story out today talking about how — brace yourself — some teams are going to be bad this year. It’s true. There are some teams, such as Atlanta, Philly, Colorado, Cincinnati and probably Milwaukee who seem certain to lose a lot of games.  The article’s author notes that, while a lot of money was spent in free agency this winter, not everyone was spending. He says “for some clubs, 2016 is basically over before it starts when it comes to contending.”

That sort of framing sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it? Isn’t it exactly the sort of thing we heard back in the early 2000s when people were still stumping for salary caps? Boston and New York were outspending everyone, the low money teams couldn’t keep up and, as spring training dawned, the season was over before it even began for half the league at least. There were scads of articles like that written 10-15 years ago. Bud Selig and others even used that exact construction — teams going to spring training already knowing they couldn’t compete — as points of rhetoric in the leadup to the 2002 labor battle with the players. Indeed, here’s the exact language from the 2000 Blue Ribbon economic report that Bud Selig commissioned which, by the way, should be read as a piece of labor propaganda, not as an actually useful or illuminative report:

What has made baseball’s recent seasons disturbing, and what makes its current economic structure untenable in the long run, is that, year after year, too many clubs know in spring training that they have no realistic prospect of reaching postseason play. Too many clubs in low-revenue markets can only expect to compete for postseason berths if ownership is willing to incur staggering operating losses to subsidize a competitive player payroll.

Different circumstances, obviously, but the same general bogeyman: some teams have no chance to compete!

Using that as the concern for whatever ails baseball has never made much sense to me as there will always be teams that are bad. Really, go look at any year’s league standings going back to the 19th century and there will be bad teams. It’s sort of the other side of the coin of good teams. Hard to have one without the other. And it’s probably a good thing to have some good and some and teams. Who wants a total crapshoot every year? What is this, Lake Woebegone, where every team is above .500? God, how boring.

The real issue is not that some teams will be good and some will be bad. It’s why they’ll be good and why they’ll be bad and whether the dynamic which creates good and bad teams is itself positive or negative for the game.

In the 40s and 50s, almost the entire American League knew that it had no chance to compete with the Yankees but they kind of liked that because they were making a lot of money not fielding competitive clubs. That was bad. In the late 1990s maybe some felt the same way too and it was because of no revenue sharing or incompetent management. Not great, and a lot of tweaks were made. Now a small handful of teams can’t compete because they’re doing wholesale rebuilds which some people call “tanking” and others think is not an issue.

As I recently wrote, to the extent people do think “tanking” is a problem, it’s important to (a) put it in perspective; and (b) look at the incentives teams have to tank and talk about whether they should be adjusted. As far as the perspective part goes, I’d say that only having five or six out of 30 teams with no realistic shot is actually pretty good compared to other points in baseball history. There’s a lot more parity now than there used to be. As far as the incentives: look at the dumb draft rules which were imposed to save owners a buck when it came to paying amateurs but which GREATLY increases the importance of picking high and thus losing.

The AP article touches on that, but it’s buried fairly deep down, well after the hand-wringing about teams entering spring training with no chance to win. As spring training progresses, there will likely be a lot of talk of just how bad some of these rebuilding teams will be as well. Most of that analysis will stop at the current state of the team and the hopelessness the fan bases are supposed to be feeling.

As a critically-minded fan, don’t let it stop there. If your team stinks, think about why it does and why it’s pursuing the course it is. Twenty years ago you could probably be safe in saying “well, my team’s GM is dumb and the owner is cheap.” That’s not really the case for most teams now. Now, I think, it’s far more about the incentives in play which make putting a lousy product on the field in the short term preferable to not doing so. Call it tanking, call it whatever you want, but if this is concern for you — and if this is a problem for Major League Baseball — the focus needs to be on the incentives.  Not on the fact that some teams are going to stink. Because teams will always stink. The important question is why.

Marlins sign left-hander Craig Breslow

Craig Breslow
Leave a comment

After spending the past four seasons in the Red Sox’s bullpen left-hander Craig Breslow has signed with the Marlins on a minor-league deal.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that the contract comes with an invitation to spring training and will pay $1.5 million if Breslow makes the Opening Day roster.

Brewslow has struggled in back-to-back seasons, posting a 5.96 ERA in 2014 and a 4.15 ERA last year. At age 35 he’s not a great bet to bounce back in a huge way, but Breslow posted a 1.81 ERA as recently as 2013 and is certainly still capable of being a useful middle reliever.