Brandon Belt

Brandon Belt went 0-for-8 with a platinum sombrero

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Last night the Mets and Giants played 16 innings on the West Coast, which caused me to stay up until 3:00 a.m. and tweet some very stupid things. It also allowed Brandon Belt to get eight at-bats and the Giants first baseman went hitless while striking out five times in the 4-3 loss.

Striking out four times in a game in a “golden sombrero” and I believe striking out five times is a “platinum sombrero.” Of course, striking out five times while going 0-for-8 is a whole different level of misery, so I searched Baseball-Reference.com for all the instances of a player going hitless in at least eight at-bats with at least five strikeouts.

Brandon Belt      07/08/2013
Chris Davis       05/06/2012
Jim Thome         07/02/2004
Cecil Cooper      06/14/1974
Bobby Darwin      05/12/1972
Billy Cowan       07/09/1971
Tony Conigliaro   07/09/1971
Ron Swoboda       04/15/1968
Byron Browne      07/19/1966
Rick Reichardt    05/31/1966

So last night Belt became the 10th player in MLB history to have at least eight hitless at-bats while striking out at least five times in a game, including just the third player to do it since 1975. And there are plenty of very good hitters on that list. Chris Davis is the last guy to do it, about 14 months ago, and he’s currently leading MLB in homers and slugging percentage. And the last guy before him was Jim Thome, who’s headed to the Hall of Fame.

Also of note: Two of the 10 instances came in the same game, back on July 9, 1971, when the A’s beat the Angels 1-0 in 20 innings and Angels teammates Tony Conigliaro and Billy Cowan each went 0-for-8 with five and six strikeouts, respectively. They were hitting third and fourth in the Angels’ lineup, too.

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.

The Dodgers asked the Tigers about Justin Verlander this offseason

DETROIT, MI - MAY 18: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the first inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on May 18, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.

It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.

The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.

So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.