Angel Hernandez, Bob Melvin

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Indians 4, Athletics 3: Angel Hernandez said there was not enough evidence with which to overturn the original call of double on Adam Rosales’ would-be game-tying home run.  Of course, the replay clearly shows that it was a home run, with the ball hitting off the railing above the wall.  This is pretty simple: If Hernandez had the same view of the play that the Comcast Bay Area viewers had and still couldn’t reverse the call, he is incompetent. If he did not have that view available to him when reviewing the play, Major League Baseball’s home run review system is incompetent. Which is it?

Mariners 2, Pirates 1: Felix Hernandez was Felix Hernandez. He allowed one run over eight innings before making way for Tom Wilhelmsen. This despite only throwing 97 pitches. Maybe Eric Wedge and Ned Yost studied under the same sensei.

Braves 7, Reds 2: Three Braves homers including two from Dan Uggla. And for reasons that still aren’t clear to me, Dusty Baker had Mike Leake bat for himself with two men on and two men out in a one-run game in the bottom of the seventh. Guess that means Dusty figured Leake was going the distance or something. Nope: he allowed singles to his first two batters in the eighth, was pulled, and the game unravelled for Cincy. He shouldn’t have been at bat and he shouldn’t have been on the mound to begin that rally.

Orioles 5, Royals 3: The O’s are rolling. This one broke open in the fifth when Alcides Escobar tried to get an out at third instead of taking the easy out at first and made a throwing error, hitting the runner and opening up the floodgates. Ned Yost after the game:

“The key to that inning was if Escy just takes the out at first, they only get one run,” Yost said.

Yost was then fined $500 by the league office for calling a guy “Escy.” Yost has been Escobar’s manager for three frickin’ years. If he can be around this guy day-in, day-out for three years and still can’t come up with a better nickname than one of those lame name-shortening ones people use when they can’t remember someone’s full name, he’s simply not a fully-formed and plugged-in human being.

White Sox 6, Mets 3: Alejandro De Aza hit a leadoff homer and finished with three hits. Jake Peavy returned after missing two starts with a bum back and looked just fine. For this White Sox team, six runs is an outburst.

Nationals 3, Tigers 1: Bryce Harper hit his 10th home run and had a sac fly and Jordan Zimmermann allowed one run, breaking his 17-inning scoreless streak — but that’s all he allowed over seven innings as he notched his sixth win.

Giants 4, Phillies 3: Andres Torres with a 10th inning RBI single to help the Giants avoid the sweep. And while Barry Zito didn’t get the win, he pitched excellently. Zito in AT&T Park has become something of a lock for the Giants, who have won his last 11 starts at home.

Cardinals 5, Cubs 4: Jon Jay drove in two and finished the Cards’ road trip 10 for 20 with a homer and eight RBI. I’m gonna assume it was a performance borne of relief due to being able to leave town and thus escape the gangsters he double-crossed and the man whose woman he has swept off her feet as the found themselves thrown together in danger. But now he’s heading back with a new confidence and is ready for the final showdown with bad men and with his own conscience.  [note: I’m currently writing a book blurb for someone and I’m having trouble, so forgive me for trying to work it all out here].

Padres 1, Marlins 0: “In a world … where Jason Marquis can throw eight shutout innings …” I’m not working on movie trailers, but if I did I figure the Marlins season would be some sort of horror movie, so let’s feature it that way.

Astros 3, Angels 1: Bud Norris didn’t have to work too hard to pitch into the ninth inning. He only threw 84 pitches, in fact. Way to make ’em work, Anaheim. This is turning ugly fast for the Angels. They quittin’ in May?

Rays 10, Blues Jays 4: Matt Moore won his sixth straight decision to start the season and the Rays decided to take a new approach and not blow a lead. Evan Longoria drove in three.

Twins 15, Red Sox: 8: A 20-hit outburst for Minnesota, including Pedro Florimon’s homer and two-run double in the big second inning. Not liking that there is now a Pedro Floriman in baseball. That was the name I always used to check in anonymously at hotels.

Rangers 4, Brewers 1: Derek Holland gave up ten hits in seven innings yet only allowed one run. Not walking guys — and watching your opposition make multiple base running mistakes — is pretty cool.

Yankees 3, Rockies 2: Vernon Wells played third base in this game. But sure, the Yankees are better off without A-Rod. He also hit a two-run homer, though, so it’s not like the Yankees would be better off without him. Which is quite a statement.

Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 2: It seems like Paul Goldschmidt does something big every damn day. He homered twice and, for the third straight game, his homer broke a tie. He is absolutely destroying the Dodgers, hitting .458 with four homers and 11 RBIs in six games.

The deeper implications of the A.J. Ellis trade

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers heads to the dugout at the end of the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on May 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The trade of a light-hitting backup catcher is normally about as inconsequential as it gets. The trade of A.J. Ellis by the Dodgers to the Phillies, however, is anything but that. Indeed, it may be the public manifestation of long-simmering, well, maybe “feud” is too strong a word, but a definite butting of heads between the team’s front office and its best player.

While almost all of the clubhouse drama in Los Angeles has surrounded a talented but aggravating corner outfielder currently toiling in the minors, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times wrote last night that the Ellis trade could very well be seen as the front office’s shot across Clayton Kershaw‘s bow:

Kershaw’s preference of Ellis was the subject of a longstanding tug-of-war between Kershaw and the front office, which wanted Yasmani Grandal behind the plate as much as possible . . . Some players interpreted the trade as a message from the front office.

This isn’t Kershaw’s team. It’s not Corey Seager’s team or Adrian Gonzalez’s, either.

It’s Friedman’s.

The notion that Kershaw likes to pitch to Ellis is pretty well-known, but the idea that it was so strong a preference that it created a dispute as to whether he has final say over a roster spot is news, at least to people who aren’t around the Dodgers all the time. Hernandez is a good columnist and is particularly well-plugged in to the Dodgers after many years of being their beat writer for the Times. He wouldn’t throw the notion of there being something of a power struggle in this regard out there all willy-nilly in order to stir the pot or something. I don’t doubt for a second that something bigger than most of us have seen is going on here.

As for the trade itself: yeah, it’s pretty debatable as to whether it makes any kind of sense. Carlos Ruiz is likely an upgrade over Ellis, but it’s a pretty marginal upgrade when you consider how few plate appearances the Dodgers backup catcher will make for the rest of the year. It’s especially marginal if you assume, as Hernandez and others assume, likely with reason, that the loss of Ellis is going to harm morale. At least in the short term before they get to know Ruiz well (worth noting, though, that he comes pretty highly recommended from Kershaw-caliber aces for all the same reasons Ellis does). I can see a lot of reasons not to make that deal even for an extra hit or two a week that Ruiz may give you over Ellis.

All of which speaks to what we don’t know. What we don’t know about the mind of Andrew Friedman and whether or not there is something more going on here than is immediately apparent. About the relationship between him and Kershaw and, for that matter, him and the rest of the team that would cause him to make a deal that plays as poorly with his own players as this one does. It could be something about Ellis. It could be something about Friedman’s relationship with Kershaw. It could be something totally unrelated to any of that, such as offseason plans and the roster in 2017 (Ruiz has a team option for next year, Ellis is a pending free agent). Unless or until Friedman speaks or a reporter gets someone to shed more light on this, there will continue to be questions.

In the meantime, I’ll grant that there are certainly different rules which apply to superstars than mere mortals, but veto power over a trade and/or playing time for other players isn’t typically one of them. If, as Hernandez suggests, there was a sense that Kershaw and Friedman didn’t see eye-to-eye on that and it wasn’t otherwise being resolved, it makes Friedman’s move somewhat more understandable.

World Baseball Classic pools, venues announced

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 10:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of Venezuela gets a hit and drives in a run against Spain during the first round of the World Baseball Classic at Hiram Bithorn Stadium on March 10, 2013 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Yesterday the folks who run the World Baseball Classic (i.e. the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people, under the supervision of the reverse vampires, the Illuminati and the Trilateral Commission) announced the groupings and venues for next springs’s tournament. It breaks down thusly:

  • Pool A will play in Tokyo, featuring Australia, China, Cuba, and Japan;
  • Pool B will play in Seoul, featuring Chinese Taipei, Korea, the Netherlands, and either Brazil, Israel, Great Britain, or Pakistan (final participant to be determined at a qualifying tournament in New York next month);
  • Pool C will play in Miami, featuring Canada, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and the United States;
  • Pool D will play in Guadalajara, featuring Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.

A winner and a runner-up will advance from each pool following a round-robin competition. That will result in a second round robin made up of Pool A and B — which will be called Pool E, because it HAS to be complicated — and which will be played in Tokyo. Meanwhile, Pool C and D’s representatives will make up Pool F, who will play in San Diego at Petco Park.

The winner of Pool F will then take on the runner-up of Pool E in a semifinal at Dodger Stadium, while the winner of Pool E will face Pool F’s runner-up there as well. The winners of those matches will play in the WBC final, also at Dodger Stadium.

Got it? Good.

Now we wait. And listen to people tell us how much we should care about the World Baseball Classic between now and March.