Josh Hamilton is leaving the Rangers to sign a five-year, $125 million deal with the Angels and it’s interesting to hear how Texas got the news.
First of all, Hamilton’s agent called Rangers general manager Jon Daniels during this afternoon’s media luncheon to tell him the former MVP was going to their AL West rivals.
According to Daniels the Rangers were not given an opportunity to match the offer and Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram characterizes the GM as “not pleased with how negotiations ended.”
On the other hand it apparently doesn’t come as a total shock to Daniels, who admitted that Hamilton hinted last week he perhaps wanted a new start somewhere else.
And of course it’s not even clear if the Rangers were interested in topping the Angels’ offer, which is pretty damn huge for a soon-to-be 32-year-old with plenty of question marks attached on and off the field.
Hamilton’s departure obviously leaves a big hole in the Rangers’ lineup, which was already righty dominant with Hamilton. It’ll be interesting to see if they make a run at switch-hitting Nick Swisher, who seems like the most natural fit to replace Hamilton among the unsigned free agents.
After taking Game 1 of the NLDS in an outstanding performance from John Lackey, the Cardinals dropped three straight to the Cubs by scores of 6-3, 8-6 and 6-4. It’s not difficult at all to imagine a healthy Carlos Martinez swinging one of those games.
Martinez wasn’t the Cardinals’ best starter this year, but he was the one who could shut a team down by himself, with little help from the defense needed. Martinez struck out 184 batters in 179 2/3 innings while going 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA. He left his next-to-last regular season start with a shoulder strain that was going to cost him the entirety of the postseason no matter how far the Cardinals advanced. It was a killer blow for a team whose offense had already been slowed by injuries.
October just came at the wrong time for the Cardinals, what with Martinez down, Yadier Molina nursing a significant thumb injury, Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk far from 100 percent and Adam Wainwright still weeks short of potentially pulling off a Marcus Stroman-like return to the rotation.
It’s Molina absence Thursday and lack of effectiveness otherwise that serve as a popular explanation/excuse for the Cardinals’ loss. And the downgrade from him to Tony Cruz behind the plate was huge, even if Molina is no longer the hitter he was a couple of years back.
Martinez, though, had the potential to even up the NLDS just by doing what he did in the regular season. And had Martinez been in the rotation, the Cardinals wouldn’t have moved up Lackey to start Game 4 on three days’ rest. They’d have been the clear favorites in a Game 5 Jon Lester-Lackey rematch back in St. Louis, though we’ll never know how that might have worked out.
All season long the Cubs have been ahead of schedule, going from 73 wins to 97 wins in Joe Maddon’s first year as manager. And now they’ve knocked out the kings of the National League Central, dispatching with a Cardinals team that won 100 games for their third straight division title.
Maddon gave starter Jason Hammel a quick hook in the fourth inning and then pieced together the rest of the game playing the matchups with a motley bullpen crew that was made up of ex-starters, waiver wire pickups, and previously washed up veterans rescued from the scrap heap.
It was a helluva thing to watch–Trevor Cahill! Fernando Rodney! Clayton Richard!–and the bullpen holding the Cardinals in check allowed the Cubs lineup to do what it’s done all year: Young hitters hit bombs. Chicago set an all-time record with six homers in Game 3 and went deep three more times in Game 4, with those long balls coming from a 25-year-old (Anthony Rizzo) and a pair of 22-year-olds (Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber). Overall in the four-game series the Cubs scored 15 of their 20 runs on homers.
Schwarber’s homer was particularly mammoth, leaving Wrigley Field:
John Lackey shut down the Cubs in Game 1, but the 36-year-old veteran of 20 playoff starts couldn’t come up with another gem on short rest and failed to make it out of the fourth inning. Baez, filling in at shortstop for injured rookie Addison Russell, delivered a three-run, opposite-field blast to do most of the damage. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny no doubt envisioned a Cubs-like, pieced together bullpen performance and Adam Wainwright did his part with two shutout innings, but left-hander Kevin Siegrist–who’d been so dominant all season–served up two homers to left-handed hitters and that was it.
Chicago has finally won a playoff series at Wrigley Field for the first time in franchise history and the Cubs now await the Mets-Dodgers winner in the NLCS, with ace Jake Arrieta fully rested for Game 1.
Allen Craig has been dreadful since the Red Sox acquired him from the Cardinals in the mid-2014 John Lackey trade, slashing .128/.234/.191 in 107 plate appearances last year and .152/.239/.203 in 88 plate appearances at the major league level this year.
Craig hasn’t been the same player since suffering a Lisfranc injury in 2013, and the 31-year-old first baseman and corner outfielder is still owed $20 million from a five-year, $31 million extension he signed with the Cardinals. So, yeah, the Red Sox would love to find a taker this winter, as new club president Dave Dombrowski told Tim Britton of the Providence Journal on Tuesday …
You don’t often hear an executive express that kind of thing publicly. It was former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington who brought Craig to Boston.