Francisco Rodriguez

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Phillies 7, Brewers 6: It’s hard to imagine a more demoralizing series than the one the Brewers just experienced. In all three games they fell victim to last inning rallies. This one after their own rally brought them back from a 5-1 deficit, tied with a Ryan Braun homer in the eighth. Then they take the lead in the tenth, only to see K-Rod blow it. Again. Just brutal.

Athletics 16, Blue Jays 0: Disastrous by any measure for Toronto. They lost their catcher to a broken hand, their “ace” was tagged for eight runs in an inning and a third and they were shut the hell down by the A’s staff, who struck out 13 Blue Jays batters. It was the worst shutout loss in team history. On the bright side, it was the biggest shutout win in A’s history!

Padres 6, Giants 3: Two homers for Jesus Guzman. One for Chase Headley. Another craptacular outing for Tim Lincecum (4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER). I really won’t know what to think about the universe if Tim Lincecum doesn’t stop being awful soon. I already subscribe to a world view that it is arbitrary and uncaring and anything bad that happens is insignificant to most anyone other than the person who is affected because that’s just what life in a vast, empty inanimate void is all about.  But if we are deprived of awesome Tim Lincecum forever, I will believe that it has turned cruel.

Yankees 5, Mariners 2: The Yankees end a dreary west coast road trip with a win. Seattle scored both of their runs in the first inning and then didn’t get another hit until the ninth.

Braves 7, Marlins 1: It’s quite an accomplishment to walk seven times and steal seven bases and only score one run, but the Marlins figured out how. Plenty of good Marlins seats available for the rest of the season, guys.

Angels 11, Royals 6: Jered Weaver keeps on winning. That’s a win in his seventh straight start. He’s now 13-1 with a 2.26 ERA. He’s also on a contract paying him $59 million less than the one Cole Hamels just signed. Nice work, Angels.

Pirates 3, Cubs 2: I assume this was Ryan Dempster’s last start as a Cub. he ended it by destroying the Gatorade cooler in the dugout like he was friggin’ Carlos Zambrano or something. Stupid media’s fault.

White Sox 8, Twins 2: Dayan Viciedo homered and drove in four. White Sox sweep the Twins. Ron Gardenhire’s assessment of the series: “They whacked it, and they pounded us — scored a lot of runs, and we got dominated here.” Alrighty then.

Tigers 5, Indians 3: Remember when Derek Lowe was having a great season? Nah, me neither.

Rays 10, Orioles 1:  Ryan Roberts homered in his Tampa Bay debut and David Price won his MLB-leading 14th game. The nine-run spread is gonna lead to more “the myth of run differential!” stories, I guess.

Nationals 5, Mets 2: After Stephen Strasburg’s last start, Davey Johnson said he needed to attack the strike zone more. Mission accomplished: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 11K.

Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2: Hanley Ramirez tripled in his first at-bat with the Dodgers and later added an RBI single. But they lost in 12 innings. Former Dodger Rafael Furcal drove in the game-winner.

Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 2: Jeff Francis, who Colorado picked up off the scrap heap, continues to be their best starter. He allowed two runs in six innings and despite Colorado’s 75-pitch limit for starters, he threw 97 pitches. My official reaction to that.

Reds 5, Astros 3: The Astros are the Renaissance men of losing. They lose big or lose close. They sometimes lose late, sometimes early. Really, any look you want, they can give you. Here they lost when Drew Stubbs hit a a two-out, two-run double in the ninth. That’s seven straight wins for the Reds, all without Joey Votto.

Rangers 5, Red Sox 3: Josh Beckett hit Elvis Andrus in the seventh and then Andrus ended up scoring on a wild pitch. Which Bobby Valentine actually called “a damn shame” after the game. I like that a lot for some reason. Derek Holland cruised for most of the game, retiring 22 of 23 batters at one point.

Marlins acquire starter Dan Straily from the Reds

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Dan Straily #58 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on September 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
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The Miami Marlins have acquired starting pitcher Dan Straily from the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange, the Reds will receive right-handed pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice and outfield prospect Isaiah White.

For the Marlins, they get a solid starter who logged 191.1 innings of 113 ERA+ ball last year. Straily has moved around a lot in his five big league seasons — the Marlins will be his fifth club in six years — but it was something of a breakout year for him in Cincinnati. The only troubling thing: he tied for the league lead in homers allowed. Of course, pitching half of his games in Great American Ballpark didn’t help that, and Miami will be a better place for him.

Castillo is 24. He split last season between high-A and Double-A — far more of it in A-ball — posting a 2.26 ERA over 24 starts. Austin Brice is also 24. He pitched 15 games in relief for the Marlins last year at the big league level with poor results. He seemed to blossom at Triple-A, however, after the Marlins shifted him to the pen. White was a third round pick in the 2015 draft. He played low-A ball as a minor leaguer last year, hitting .214/.306/.301.

A mixed bag of young talent for the Reds, but stockpiling kids and seeing what shakes out is what a team like the Reds should be doing at the moment. For the Marlins: a solid mid-to-back end starter who may just be coming into his own.

Have Hall of Fame Voters actually made the PED thing More complicated?

Sammy Sosa
Associated Press
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The story coming out of this year’s Hall of Fame balloting is that the BBWAA voters are finally easing their antipathy toward players with performance enhancing drug associations.

Jeff Bagwell — the subject of unconfirmed PED rumors — made the Hall! Pudge Rodriguez, who was named in Jose Canseco’s book and who had a . . . curious physical transformation around the time PED testing came online, made it on the first ballot! Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose PED use was well-documented, saw their vote totals advance above the 50% mark, making their future elections look more likely!

It’s an interesting development, and one I’m obviously pleased with, but I wonder if the BBWAA’s new approach to PED guys, while far more forgiving than it used to be, has actually become more complicated in practice.

I ask this because I look way, way down the ballot and I still see Sammy Sosa scraping by with around 8% of the vote. I ask this because I still see Gary Sheffield at 13%. I ask this because when Mark McGwire was on the Today’s Game ballot in December, no one really stumped for him at all. I ask this because, even though Bagwell and Mike Piazza got in eventually, they still had to go through a lot of hazing first and I suspect, if they hit the ballot for the first time again tomorrow, the same arguments and delay would occur with respect to their cases.

In light of that, what I suspect has happened has not been a wholesale surrender of the anti-PED voters. Rather, I think it has been a transformation. One in which a moral test — did he use PEDs or not? — has been discarded as a threshold question and a scientific/physiological test — would he have been great even without the PEDs? — has replaced it. In essence, voters are becoming “PED discounters” in the aggregate. Making calculations as to whether a guy was, in their mind, a creation of PEDs or not.

Such an approach explains these new voting patterns as well as those in recent years.

  • Ivan Rodriguez may have been called out by Canseco and may have noticeably shrunk over an offseason, but his calling card was his defense behind the plate and voters, I suspect, have told themselves that such a thing is not PED-aided.
  • Bonds and Clemens may have been PED users, but each of them was undeniably talented and, if you discount for the PED use, hey, they’re still all-time greats.
  • Sammy Sosa’s case rests disproportionately on homers and, as everyone knows, PEDs = instant dingers, so no, he’s not gonna cut it.

And so on.

As I said, I’m glad that the strict moral test — did he use or not? — is losing its hold on Hall voters. But I do not think the “did PEDs make him who he was test?” is a good approach either. Baseball writers are in no better a position to assess the physiological and performance enhancements caused by pharmaceuticals than they are to be judges of character and morality. Given the identities of players confirmed to be PED users, the old eye test implicit in these cases is famously faulty (Neifi Perez, anyone?). The idea that PEDs only affect home run totals — and not, say, the ability for a player to take the abuse of the catcher position for 21 seasons — is crude and ignorant.

I suppose it’s naive to expect voters to completely disregard PEDs in their assessment of players. It’s a bell that cannot be unrung. But while we may, thankfully, be moving away from a moral test with respect to drugs, it’s been displaced by a scientific test that is no more reasonable in practice.