Ramon Santiago, Austin Jackson

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and higlights


It was a really rough weekend for people in Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. Storms, trees down, power outages and intense heat made it for a really crappy weekend. We were fairly lucky here at Chez Craigy. The power was out for only about 24 hours before coming back Saturday evening.

Even luckier: the ex-wife’s power was still out as of late Sunday. Mother Nature can be tough and is usually capricious, but sometimes she’s fair. Not that I’m petty about it or anything. OK, a little petty. Anyway, baseball happened yesterday:

Tigers 5, Rays 3: Tampa Bay is in freefall. They dropped three of four to the Tigers. Clearly it was the Tigers dusting off the most awesomest road jerseys they’ve ever had on Saturday night that did the trick. Seriously, Tigers: keep the pullovers. They’re dead sexy. And yes, I realize they didn’t wear them yesterday. I just wanted to post this pic.

Marlins 5, Phillies 2: Miami sweeps the Phillies who have lost five straight. Ricky Nolasco said after the game:

“A sweep against anybody is big, but we know how good that team is and we’re trying to prevent them from getting on a roll as well”

I see quotes like this from Phillies’ opponents a lot lately. Question: at what point do the other teams have to stop paying lip service like this to how good Philly is and treat wins over them like they would wins over any team with a .444 winning percentage?

Giants 4, Reds 3:  Nice vulture job by Santiago Casilla. It was a perfect one, actually, because not only did he blow the save and vulture the win, but he also allowed an inherited runner to score thereby stiffing his predecessor with an earned run. Casilla entered the top of the ninth with a one-run lead and Jay Bruce on first, who had gotten there via a single off Javier Lopez. Casilla allowed Bruce to score, trying the game and blowing the chance for Ryan Voglesong to get the win after a good day’s work, when he gave up three singles. He finally sets down the side and watches from the dugout as Buster Posey hit a double and Angel Pagan doubled him in (with help from Jay Bruce) with the winning run. Hard-earned win there, Mr. Casilla.

Brewers 2, Diamondbacks 1: Tied at one in the ninth, pinch-runner Carlos Gomez at first. They try to pick him off a gajillion times but they don’t get him. he finally steals second, the throw from the catcher sails into the outfield and the throw to get him at third sails into the stands. Gomez trots home. Ballgame. You know those are the kinds of fundamentals that Kirk Gibson just loves to see screwed up. I’m sure he was something other than placid after the game.

Padres 2, Rockies 0: Great for Kip Wells winning his first game in nearly three years, but him throwing seven shutout innings against Colorado in Coors Field may be the biggest indictment yet against this pretty-frequently indicted 2012 Rockies team.

Angels 10, Blue Jays 6: Mike Trout hit the go-ahead homer in the eighth and the Angels scores seven runs in the final two innings to ruin Canada Day in Toronto. Trout went 2 for 4 with a walk and scored three times. He’s now batting .339 on the year.

Twins 10, Royals 8: Trevor Plouffe homered twice. The Twins came back from being down 5-1, went up 10-5 and then held on to win 10-8. Josh Willingham homered too. Despite having 17 of those on the year and 55 driven in, he was left off the All-Star team. But hey, three days off, yes?

Cubs 3, Astros 0: A sweep of the Astros by Chicago behind seven and two-thirds shutout innings by Travis Wood. Anthony Rizzo drove in another run.

Cardinals 5, Pirates 4: The Cards salvage one. Allen Craig continues to abuse Pirates pitching with his second homer in three days.

Yankees 4, White Sox 2: With starters dropping like flies lately, the one thing the Yankees seriously need is for dudes like Phil Hughes to step up. And up he has stepped his past couple of starts. In this one he allowed two runs over eight innings, helping save the bullpen on a day they needed a rest.

Nationals 8, Braves 4: Ryan Zimmerman homered and drove in four as the Nats take two of three from the Braves, as they always seem to do. Well, except for four-game series in which they always seem to take three of four.

Indians 6, Orioles 2: Jim Thome made his Orioles’ debut but he didn’t mash any taters. Shelley Duncan mashed a tater, however, and drove in two on a 3 for 4 day.

Red Sox 2, Mariners 1: Jason Vargas couldn’t get any run support on a fine day of pitching, so it entered extras tied at one. In the tenth two runners reached on Brandon League and then David Ortiz hit a sac fly to score what would be the winning run off Lucas Luetge. Oh, and Will Middlebrooks left the game with hamstring tightness. I wonder if the White Sox are willing to deal their third baseman.

Athletics 3, Rangers 1: Yu Darvish struck out 11, but Travis Blackley still out-pitched him despite striking out three. Because strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic.

Dodgers 8, Mets 3: The Dodgers gave away a Hello Kitty bobblehead last night and they won. I submit that they should give away Hello Kitty bobbleheads all 81 home games of the season.

Yadier Molina’s new backup: Cardinals sign Brayan Pena to two-year deal

Brayan Pena Reds
Leave a comment

Veteran catcher Brayan Pena has agreed to a two-year contract with the Cardinals, who’re investing much more than usual in their backup for Yadier Molina.

After bouncing around for a decade without getting even 250 plate appearances in a season Pena signed with the Reds and topped 350 plate appearances in both 2014 and 2015. His production didn’t improve any, as Pena hit .263 with five homers and a .652 OPS in 223 games as a regular.

Pena’s best skill is rarely striking out, which enables him to hit for a decent batting average, but he has very little power and swings at everything. He struggled to control the running game this season at age 33, but has a decent throw-out rate for his career.

Making a multi-year commitment to Pena suggests the Cardinals are no longer counting on Molina being the same type of workhorse behind the plate, which certainly makes sense given his age and injury history. Pena will replace Tony Cruz, who’s been Molina’s understudy since 2011 while hitting just .220 with five homers and a .572 OPS in 259 games.

While we wait for free agent signings: Andrew McCutchen stars in a one-act play

Andrew McCutchen
Leave a comment

It’s a pretty slow offseason so far. We’ve had a couple of minor signings. I guess Jordan Zimmermann is sort of a big deal. But it’s a lot more quiet so far this year than it was this time last year. I suppose there’s no real rhyme nor reason for it. Baseball offseason is long, there is no salary cap and thus there’s no rush to do things too quickly.

So, while we wait, here’s Andrew McCutchen doing his best to kill time until spring training starts:

Red Sox sign outfielder Chris Young

Chris Young Getty

Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.

Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.

David Price said to care about more than just the money

David Price

Every year free agency brings with it its own set of politics and talking points and spin. Factors which are said to be more important to players than the money being offered.

And, to be fair, there is one big factor that is likely more important than money for many of them: winning. I truly believe players want to win. They say it all the time and there’s no reason to think they’re being disingenuous about that, especially the ones who have been around the game a long time.

I’ll note, however, that given how success cycles work in baseball (i.e. teams that aren’t close to being true contenders aren’t likely to be spending big in free agency anyway) that consideration often washes out of the system. Every year you hear of one or two losing teams making a big, competitive offer to a free agent, but it’s not that common.

What I’m talking about more here are the truly soft factors. Factors which often anchor hot stove rumors, but which rarely if ever truly stand out as determining factors when it comes to where a free agent ends up. Examples of these include geographic proximity to where the player grew up, his wife grew up, he went to college or what have you. Remember how CC Sabathia was going to play in California? And Mark Teixeira was going to play for Baltimore? Heck, I’m so old I remember when Brandon Webb was gonna break the bank playing for the Reds.

It’s pretty rare, though, for that to pan out. Sabathia and Teixeira went to New York. If Brandon Webb’s shoulder had cooperated it’s not likely he would’ve ended up in Cincinnati. Money talks for free agents, much louder than any of the soft considerations. Even when, like Mike Hampton and his Denver-public-school-loving self claimed that he signed with the Rockies for reasons other than the fact that they unloaded the money truck for him.

I think we’re seeing a new soft factor emerge. Today Peter Gammons reported this about David Price:

Cities are fairly strong as soft factors go, I reckon. Somewhere south of money and winning but north of “my wife’s family lives there.” Money can make up the difference between a fun city and a lame city, but if things are equal, going someplace you want to be likely is a factor.

But that second one — being able to hit — seems a bit suspect. This is not the first time I’ve heard that this offseason. Zack Greinke was said to prefer the NL because he likes to hit. I’ve heard this about other pitchers too. I question how important a factor that truly is — the actual hitting part actually affecting a free agent decision — as much as I suspect it’s a negotiating tool designed to get AL teams to pay a premium to get the guy to “give up” hitting. Or, more likely, that it’s code for “it’s WAY easier to pitch in the NL because I get to face a pitcher who can’t hit for crap 2-3 times a game.”

On some level I suppose this is all unknowable. I doubt David Price or some other free agent pitcher is ever going to hold a January press conference in which he says the following:

“Well, the money was absolutely equal between the final two suitors and, as you know, both made the playoffs last year and play in cities with copious cultural resources for my family and me. And, having plotted the two cities on Google Maps, I discovered that the two cities are each EXACTLY 347 miles from my Aunt Tilly’s house! What are the friggin’ odds?

Ultimately, though, I signed here so I could bat.”

Like I said, not likely. But wouldn’t it be something if that happened? If so, I’d probably cast a 12-inch statue of Mike Hampton and start giving out an annual award or something.