And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Tigers 6, Yankees 5: Miguel Cabrera homered for the third straight game. The dude is good. The Tigers have won six straight and, with the White Sox loss, pull to within a half game. Speaking of the Tigers, I found out last night that one of the people I hung out with at Comerica Park this past weekend wrote a book about “The Rockford Files” that was published yesterday. That’s him, as a young man, on the cover next to Garner. And he also owns a Rockford-style gold Firebird, which is for sale and looks suh-weet. How did none of this come out over the three days I spent with this guy?

Phillies 3, Braves 0: Philly breaks the losing streak to Atlanta via a Cole Hamels shutout. Ryan Howard hit a two-run homer. This is how they drew things up once upon a time.

Marlins 4, Mets 2: Jose Reyes extends his hitting streak to 25 and his being-booed-at-Citi-Field streak to two. Giancarlo Stanton hit a sac fly in his return. The Mets have dropped eight in a row at home.

Diamondbacks 10, Pirates 4: Chris Johnson smacks two homers, helping the Dbacks rally for seven runs in the last two innings to beat Pittsburgh. The Pirates have dropped three of five. It’s too early to worry, though. Right? RIGHT?

Brewers 3, Reds 1: Well, I suppose it really is too early to worry about the Pirates, what with the Reds dropping three in a row themselves. Mike Fiers shut them down, tossing eight innings of one run ball and striking out seven.

Giants 4, Cardinals 2: Cards lose too, so I guess it doesn’t matter for any of the contenders in that division. Barry Zito was effective and Buster Posey hit a three-run homer.

Royals 5, White Sox 2: Country Breakfast was two for four with a yicketty. Can’t tell from the box score if it was mammo.

Rays 4, Blues Jays 1: Evan Longoria came back and went 1 for 3 with an RBI. J.A. Hapless allowed four runs in four and a third innings for the Jays.

Rangers 6, Red Sox 3: Ryan Dempster notches his first win as a Ranger. He pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning. No earned runs, but the three unearned runs came on a home run he gave up to Will Middlebrooks after an error. Unearned runs are stupid. I mean, it’s not like he didn’t sever up a three run dinger there. It did happen, and it happened because he got smacked. Whatever.

Twins 7, Indians 5: That’s 11 straight losses for Cleveland. This one coming when the Twins plated six runs in the final three innings thanks in part to bad Cleveland defense. Chris Perez blew his second save in three days. The recently-recalled  Tsuyoshi Nishioka hit a sac fly to give Minnesota the lead. Because he’s clutch like that.

Nationals 3, Astros 2: Danny Espinosa hit a two-run homer and then hit an RBI single in the 12th, accounting for all of Washington’s runs. Houston threatened in the bottom of the inning but Roger Bernadina made a diving catch into the wall to end the game.

Rockies 3, Dodgers 1: One-man wrecking crews were a thing last night I guess, because Josh Rutledge did it too. He had three doubles and a single, driving in all three Colorado runs. Rutledge, who is filling in for Troy Tulowitzki, was called up from Double-A around the All-Star break and has since driven in 18 runs in 22 games.

Padres 7, Cubs 4: Seven straight losses for the Cubs. Carlos Quentin hit a three run homer.

Orioles 8, Mariners 7: Baltimore wins yet another one run game, and another extra innings games, continuing its charmed existence in that regard. They’ve won 12 straight extra innings games, actually, five of which lasted 13 innings or more. Two homers for Matt Wieters. Hey, remember these?

Athletics 10, Angels 4: Bartolo Colon pitched seven scoreless innings, extending his scoreless innings streak to 22 and a third. The A’s racked up 13 hits including four homers off Angels pitching.

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.