And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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It was shutout Tuesday, apparently. Let’s tally the goose eggs:

Yankees 3, Rangers 0: Hiroki Kuroda with the two-hit shutout. He was masterful, but man, there were a lot of ill-advised Texas swings in the parts of this one I watched. Either Kuroda had them more fooled than someone on the foolingest day of his life if he had an electrified fooling machine, or else the Rangers were just hacking for the hell of it.

Dodgers 11, Pirates 0: L.A. is on fire. Chad Billingsley with eight shutout innings and an 11 run, 13 hit attack by L.A., all without the benefit of a homer. Five of six down for Pittsburgh. Pirates fans: panicking yet?

Braves 6, Padres 0: Tim Hudson shut out the Padres for six and a third and the pen took it the rest of the way. A Martin Prado three-run homer in the seventh put the game out of reach.

Phillies 1, Marlins 0: A first inning mistake to Jimmy Rollins was all that marred Josh Johnson’s night, but that’s all that was needed because Kyle Kendrick, Josh Lindblom and Jonathan Papelbon combined to shut out the Marlins. Philly has won four of five.

Reds 3, Mets 0: Tough luck for the Mets as they tried to join the shutout party, shutting out the Reds until Jay Bruce hit a three-run homer to win it in the bottom of the ninth.The Reds did join the party though. In fact, they were so unimpressed with the Mets bats in this one that they left Aroldis Chapman on the bench so as not to totally humiliate everyone. Mat Latos carried the laboring oar here for the Reds.

Royals 5, Athletics 0: Jeremy Guthrie, Tim Collins and Greg Holland do the honors here. Notice the sameness to these recaps? Shutouts are awesome if you’re rooting for the team doing the shutting out. They’re kind of boring for the rest of us, though.

Cardinals 8, Diamondbacks 2: The Dbacks, just when they looked to be making a move in the West, have dropped four of six. Homers from Matt Holliday and Jon Jay.

Orioles 7, Red Sox 1: Two homers for Mark Reynolds. Another disaster of a start for Josh Beckett. I wonder if anyone is texting the front office to tell them that they won’t play with him anymore.

Astros 10, Cubs 1: Man, a Darwin Barney fielder’s choice deprived us of another shutout. Lucas Harrell was still pretty spiffy, though (8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER).  And he was staked to a lead even the Astros bullpen couldn’t blow.

Tigers 8, Twins 4: Doug Fister has been really strong of late. He’s won 3 of 4 and has helped stop the bleeding after bad Anibal Sanchez outings. He did it again here, going eight innings in which he allowed four runs, though none of them were earned. Miguel Cabrera becomes the first member of the 100 RBI club this year.

Rockies 8, Brewers 6: A 14-run, 28 hit game that took just over three hours. Not bad, actually, given all that carnage. A 4 for 4 night for Carlos Gonzalez, who I have decided is the most invisible superstar in baseball. There, I just called it.

White Sox 3, Blue Jays 2: After the game Robin Ventura said “It was good for us, a big win.”  I wish once a manager would say something like “Eh, we won. Whatever. No big deal. It’s not like it mattered or anything.”

Giants 6, Nationals 1: Like I said yesterday, “statements” in baseball last one day sometimes. Madison Bumgarner restores order with a five-hitter. Brandon Belt with two RBI singles and an RBI double.

Mariners 3, Rays 2: Facing a golden sombrero and down 0-2 to Fernando Rodney, Eric Thames avoided his fourth strikeout of the game in the ninth and, instead, hit a walkoff RBI single. This is fun:

“Casper (Wells) said to me in the seventh inning, ‘Hey, in the ninth, you’ll be the hero, don’t worry about it,'” Thames said. “It’s crazy how this game works.”

Hurm. And I was told you can’t predict baseball.

Angels 9, Indians 6: Zack Greinke wasn’t fantastic or anything, allowing four runs over seven innings, but he got his first win as an Angel. Thanks in part to Ubaldo Jimenez, who was much farther from fantastic. Albert Pujols doubled and homered and drove in four.

Unprecedented sanctions: MLB bans former Braves GM for life, makes 12 signees free agents

Associated Press
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Major League Baseball has slammed the hammer down on the Atlanta Braves as the result of their violations of rules on the international free agent market.

Former Braves General Manager John Coppolella has been placed on the permanently ineligible list — the same list Pete Rose is on — banning him from a job in baseball forever. His assistant, Gordon Blakeley, will be suspended for a period of one year. Each had already been dismissed by the Braves. Other Braves’ international baseball operations employees who participated in the misconduct could still be suspended as the league finishes its investigation.

As reported earlier, 12 of the clubs’ international signees are now free agents. The Braves will lose the following players, signed during the 2015-17 international free agent signing periods:

  • Juan Contreras;
  • Yefri del Rosario;
  • Abrahan Gutierrez;
  • Kevin Maitan;
  • Juan Carlos Negret;
  • Yenci Peña;
  • Yunior Severino;
  • Livan Soto;
  • Guillermo Zuniga;
  • Brandol Mezquita;
  • Angel Rojas; and
  • Antonio Sucre

As reported earlier, Maitan was the number one overall international prospect in 2016. The Braves have, for a few years now, had among the top international signee classes. Obviously that came by virtue of cheating the system, and obviously that will lead to a reevaluation of where the clubs’ minor league system stands, talent-wise.

The penalties are not limited to the loss of those players. Commissioner Manfred is imposing what amounts to punitive damages going forward. From Commissioner Manfred’s statement:

“While the remedies discussed above will deprive the Braves of the benefits of their circumvention, I believe that additional sanctions are warranted to penalize the Club for the violations committed by its employees. Accordingly, the Braves will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period, which is the first signing period in which the Braves are not subject to any signing restrictions under our rules; and the Braves’ international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent.”

There was also what appears to be an unrelated draft violation, imposing penalties along those lines as well:

“The investigation also determined that the Braves offered impermissible benefits, which were never provided, to a player they selected in the First-Year Player Draft in an attempt to convince him to sign for a lower bonus. As a penalty for the Club’s attempted circumvention involving a draft selection, the Braves will forfeit their third-round selection in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft.

The gist of the violations against the Braves involves the bundling of signing bonuses, in which the Braves got players — through their representatives in Latin America — to take lower than the amount typically allotted in one year in order to use the money to sign other, highly rated players in subsequent years, with money they wouldn’t have otherwise had. MLB’s statement describes the scheme thusly:

“The investigation established that the Braves circumvented international signing rules from 2015 through 2017. During the 2015-16 international signing period, the Braves signed five players subject to the Club’s signing bonus pool to contracts containing signing bonuses lower than the bonuses the Club had agreed to provide the players. The Club provided the additional bonus money to those players by inflating the signing bonus to another player who was exempt from their signing pool because he qualified as a ‘foreign professional’ under MLB rules.

“Consistent with the rules, the Braves could have signed all of the 2015-16 players for the full, actual signing bonus amounts. Had the Club signed the five players to contracts containing their actual bonuses, however, the Braves would have exceeded their signing bonus pool by more than five percent and would have been, under MLB rules, restricted from signing any players during the next two signing periods for contracts with bonuses greater than $300,000.

“As a result of the 2015-16 circumvention, the Braves were able to sign nine high-value players during the 2016-17 signing period who would have been unavailable to them had the Club accurately accounted for its signings during the 2015-16 signing period.”

The scheme continued like this:

“The investigation also determined that the Braves: (i) agreed to sign six players to inflated signing bonuses pursuant to an agreement with prospect Robert Puason’s agent in exchange for a commitment that Puason would sign with the Club in the 2019-20 signing period; and (ii) offered prospect Ji-Hwan Bae extra-contractual compensation. In order to remedy these violations, I am prohibiting the Club from signing Robert Puason when he becomes eligible to sign, and disapproving the contract between Bae and the Braves, which has not yet become effective.”

This is, by far, the most serious set of scouting, drafting and signing penalties ever imposed by Major League Baseball. It speaks to the sheer audacity of the Braves’ scheme to circumvent signing rules. It also sends a loud and clear signal to other teams — many which have been rumored to have engaged in similar conduct on a smaller scale — that MLB will not tolerate it.

The Braves lower minor league system has been decimated. It stands, essentially, as the head on the pike outside of Major League Baseball’s castle.