Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 4, White Sox 1: Did you know that if you win the AL Central that you contract a horrible disease? If you answered yes, you must be either the Tigers or the White Sox. That’s five straight losses for Chicago. Jered Weaver wins his 19th, allowing one run over six and a third. Kendrys Morales homers and Pujols drives in two.

Twins 10, Tigers 4; Twins 2, Tigers 1: Joe Mauer drove in four in the opener, handing Max Scherzer a rare second half loss. In the nightcap the Tigers couldn’t muster a lick of offense and blew a chance to gain ground on the Sox.  This is just getting pathetic.

Cardinals 6, Cubs 3: St. Louis wins its sixth game in the past seven and continues to hold off the horde.Pete Kozma and Allen Craig each drive in a pair.

Brewers 6, Nationals 2: Milwaukee keeps pace with the Cards. Ryan Braun doubled, singled and hit a sac fly. I can’t wait until no one gives him any MVP votes out of spite.

Dodgers 5, Reds 3: L.A. keeps pace as well, beating the regular-resting Reds. Two homers for Adrian Gonzalez.

Braves 2, Phillies 1: A pretty sweet pitcher’s duel. It’s a shame someone had to lose. But I suppose Cliff Lee has gotten used to that this season. The Braves have won 14 of their last 20 and are on the verge of clinching the wild card. Philly, in contrast, could not afford dropping two of three. The patient is not yet dead, but his next of kin have been told to hang around a phone.

Athletics 5, Yankees 4: The Yankees’ seven game win streak is snapped and the A’s get a much needed win to hold off the Angels. Cliff Pennington homered and drove in three.

Red Sox 2, Orioles 1: The O’s win-streak is snapped as well. And in a one-run game, no less. Quite unusual!  What’s next? Republicans admitting that Obama inherited, rather than created, a bad economy and has done a pretty decent job managing the recovery? Ok, now I’ve seen everything.

Pirates 8, Astros 1: A.J. Burnett was sharp, allowing one run over eight innings while striking out 11, picking up his 16th win and stopping the Pirates’ five game skid.

Rays 3, Blue Jays 0: Your standard six-pitcher shutout for Tampa Bay. B.J. Upton with a solo shot in the first and Evan Longoria with a two-run double in the eighth.

Indians 15, Royals 4: The Tribe outscored the Browns yesterday. I bet that’s happened on more than one Sunday in recent years. Carlos Santana was 3 for 6 with two homers and five driven in.

Mets 3, Marlins 2: Ruben Tejada singled in the winning run with two out in the bottom of the ninth. The Mets season may be a disappointing one, but the straight own the Marlins lately. Seven straight, in fact.

Padres 6, Giants 4: Most of the Giants got a day off the day after clinching the division and the results followed.

Rangers 3, Mariners 2: Texas avoids the sweep thanks to homers from Mike Napoli and Geovany Soto. They had the good sense to lose when the A’s were losing, however, thereby keeping their four game lead in the west.

Diamondbacks 10, Rockies 7: Aaron Hill broke the 4-4 tie in the top of the eighth. The Dbacks are four and a half games back of the Cardinals for the second wild card, but unlike Philly and the Dodgers, no one talks about them really being in it. Wonder why that is?

Dallas Keuchel, Astros did talk long-term contract

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Dallas Keuchel‘s agent Darek Braunecker told MLB Network Radio in early January that he had not engaged in any long-term contract negotiations with the Astros’ front office. Two weeks later, the sides reached a one-year, $7.25 million agreement, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing. So was a bigger financial commitment ever discussed?

Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has the answer, writing in his offseason review that the “Astros and Keuchel have had substantial talks about extensions [this winter] … but to no avail.”

Keuchel carries all the leverage in the world after winning the 2015 American League Cy Young Award with a 2.48 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and 216/51 K/BB ratio in 232 innings. He also made three appearances in the postseason to a 2.57 ERA in 14 frames.

Keuchel’s $7.25 million salary for 2016 will be a record for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Locking up some of his free agent years (2019, 2020, 2021, etc.) would likely take a commitment of $120 million or more.

Houston has the 28-year-old left-hander under contractual control through 2018, and it sounds like the plan is to go season-to-season with his salaries.

He’ll remain a huge value to a good-looking Astros team.

Yadier Molina gets cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

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Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right thumb shortly after the Cardinals were eliminated from the NLDS by the Cubs, and then he needed a followup procedure two months later.

It’s been an offseason of rest and rehab for the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover, though he’s about ready to ramp up the intensity of workouts with the beginning of spring training approaching …

Brayan Pena was signed to a two-year, $5 million free agent contract this winter to provide more reliable depth behind the plate. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter at catcher come Opening Day if Yadi isn’t quite ready.

Molina started a whopping 131 games behind the plate in 2015.

Jose Fernandez wants $30 million a year, Marlins don’t plan on paying

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You’ve heard the stories by now. Jose Fernandez does not get along with Marlins management and is doubtful to sign a long-term contract with the team.

There’s still time for those relationships to be repaired — Fernandez can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season — but we also have a monetary issue at play.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes Sunday that the Marlins are “under the impression” Fernandez and his representatives want $30 million per year on a long-term deal, a figure the Marlins “have no plans to meet.”

If the Marlins won’t pay, Fernandez and his reps will seek that number when the ace right-hander reaches free agency. That could be the same offseason Bryce Harper tries for $500 million.

A friend of Fernandez told Jackson that the 23-year-old native of Cuba was upset about some of the trades the Marlins made last summer and the removal of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. You probably heard talk of Miami shopping Fernandez this winter, but the asking price was predictably sky-high.

Fernandez has been limited to 19 starts over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and a biceps injury, but he boasts a stellar 2.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 in 289 career major league frames. He will make $2.8 million in 2016 and carries two more years of arbitration eligibility.

If he can put together a run of 30-start, 200-inning seasons, Fernandez will get that $30 million per year and probably much more.

Michael Brantley’s timetable off shoulder surgery is “hazy”

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Paul Hoynes at the Cleveland Plain Dealer has an in-depth look at how the Indians will manage their outfield during the early part of the 2016 season, in the absence of star Michael Brantley.

Brantley underwent labrum surgery on his right shoulder this past November and has not picked up a bat all winter. “In the off-season people know I love to hit,” Brantley acknowledged to Hoynes late last week. ”I hit a lot. It’s just been a change in my timetable.”

Hoynes says the projected date for Brantley’s 2016 debut is “hazy,” guessing that it might happen around late April or early May if everything continues to go smoothly. Shoulders can be tricky, for hitters and pitchers.

Rajai Davis, Abraham Almonte, and Lonnie Chisenhall figure to make up Cleveland’s primary starting outfield while Brantley is finishing his rehabilitation. Collin Cowgill and Joey Butler could also be in the mix. It’s a lacking group, tasked with replacing one of the most productive players in baseball.

Brantley, 28, has slashed .319/.382/.494 over the last two seasons, tallying 35 home runs, 90 doubles, 181 RBI, and 38 stolen bases in 293 games.

Could the talented Tribe be in for another slow start?

Shouldn’t this club be spending more money?