Zero Effect

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 1, Marlins 0: There were 12 pitchers in this game. Eleven of them didn’t allow any runs, including both starters, Dillon Gee and Tom Koehler. Travis d’Arnaud singled off Zach Phillips in the 12th for the game’s only run. All of those zeroes made me think of one of my favorite movies of all time. Quite possibly my very favorite movie of the 90s. I won’t tell you what it is, but I can give you a hint in figuring it out by offering a few words on looking for things: Remember that when you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you’re only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you’re sure to find some of them.

And no, it’s not “Miller’s Crossing.” Which, now that I think of it may be my favorite movie of the 90s. The one I’m thinking of is, like, 1A, though. And should have been a series of movies or TV movies or maybe a TV series because, man, it was so good and if you haven’t seen it quit denying yourself, man.

Padres 4, Braves 0: Burch Smith —  who sounds more like a character from a romance novel than a pitcher — struck out ten and got his first win. I didn’t see the game but I’m imagining Burch Smith looks like this.

Athletics 5, Rangers 1: What a late surge for the A’s. What a late swoon for the Rangers. The A’s sweep, giving them a six and a half game lead in the division, which effectively gives them the division title. Meanwhile the Rangers are now tied with the Rays in the wild card slot meaning that they’re vulnerable of falling out of the playoff picture entirely.

Tigers 3, Royals 2: I was stuck in a hospital emergency room for over five hours yesterday. Don’t ask. Everyone’s OK now and 99% of the time there was just waiting around. The point, though, was that rather than watch any game I wanted, I was forced to watch about five innings of this one on TBS. I rarely watch the TBS broadcast, partially because of my aversion to three-man booths. And with nothing else to focus on, all I could do is pay attention to just how inane 95% of the stuff that John Smoltz and Cal Ripken say really is. This isn’t necessarily their fault. Indeed, I think Smoltz is actually pretty good in the booth when he’s actually analyzing something. The problem is that a three-man booth almost demands “talking to hear ourselves talk” conversation and bigger picture stories rather than actually focusing on the game at hand. There’s rebop about the grass on the field and pressure on guys approaching milestones and overarching narrative about what kind of team each team is (The Royals are like an NL team! The Tigers have a good lineup!) and very little game action is actually described, let alone analyzed. For each time one color analyst says something about the action, the other analyst feels the need to follow on, and frankly, there aren’t two good points to be made about most plays thus we get into blah blah blah land. Funny how the one guy left who works alone — Scully — is the best and the three-man booths are the worst. I think Scully is great, but I don’t think it’s impossible for someone else to be close to his level. Maybe if we let some broadcasters handle booths solo we’d have better broadcasts, hmm?

Anyway, the Tigers won this one. Sorry for the digression.

Nationals 11, Phillies 2: That last recap was long, so we’ll throw this one to Domonic Brown for analysis. Dom: “Excuse my French, but we got our ass whooped.” Yes, he actually said that.

Orioles 3, Blue Jays 1: The Orioles haven’t been firing on all cylinders lately, but they keep pace in the wild card race with a series win. They’re 2.5 back, with Texas, Tampa Bay and Cleveland ahead of them.

Indians 7, White Sox 1: The Tribe is one half game out. Not to toot my own horn, because I got a lot of predictions wrong this year, but one I got right was the Indians challenging for the wild card. And in recent weeks whenever anyone asks me who I like for the wild card, I’ve noted the Indians cupcake late schedule and said I think they still look like one of the wild card teams to me. So, toot toot.

Pirates 3, Cubs 2: Note: when I went to the hospital yesterday I just grabbed the first shirt I could find on the floor in my bedroom, and it happened to be my Pirates shit. Also, because it was sunny and bald men are always aware of the danger of sunburned bald heads, I grabbed for a cap as I left the house and it was my Pirates cap. So I had quite a little Buccos uniform on at the ER. The security guard decided to strike up baseball conversation with me thusly: “you guys have been pretty good, but we’re gonna win it.” He eventually let on he was a Cardinals fan. I thought about telling him that I wasn’t really a Pirates fan, “I just like gear from various teams and I bought this for a Pirates game last month and really I’m a Braves fan you see, and blah, blah, blah” but I figured that’s be too lame and complicated, so I just said “well, I like our chances,” and left it at that. Later I stopped by CVS to get a prescription and a guy in line ahead of me told me that, when he left the house, the Pirates were up 2-0 in this one. Pirates fans crawling out of the woodwork lately.

Twins 6, Rays 4: The Rays blow a chance to bypass the Rangers and give themselves the luxury of having another wild card team blow it before they do. Oh well. Funny how if the season ended today Texas would play Tampa Bay in the on-off, but they are the two teams people probably want to see the least. And are certainly not playing good baseball.

Brewers 6, Reds 5: The Reds had a three-run lead heading into the bottom of the eighth and then, blammo, they lost in a Sean Halton walkoff homer. Strong assist from Carlos Gomez who robbed Jay Bruce of a homer in the ninth. That guy is just a crazy nuts good outfielder. In other news, as the game was slipping away in the late innings Dusty Baker didn’t go to Aroldis Chapman because The Book says you don’t use your closer in non-save situations on the road. So I guess that means this game could never have been saved.

Angels 2, Astros 1: Five of six for the Angels who continue to play great on the road and great late and oh what it could have been if they had played anything other than sucky for most of the season. Meanwhile, the Astros lose their 98th game. Obviously not a great season, but they have 13 games left. If they go 5-8 or better they will improve upon last year’s record. If they go 6-7 or better they will have their best record in three years. Considering they were supposed to crater worse than anything this year I suppose that’d be a victory of sorts, even if three-straight 100-loss season is pretty rare and awful.

Cardinals 12, Mariners 2: Four hits for Yadier Molina who is maybe getting a bit tired of the MVP conversation subtly shifting to Andrew McCutchen. Molina had a homer and three singles and the Cardinals remain tied with Pittsburgh, much to the pleasure of the security guy at the Ohio State University Medical Center Emergency Department.

Giants 4, Dodgers 3: Hunter Pence continues his amazing tear. After driving in seven on Saturday night he hit two homers yesterday as the Giants take three of four from the Dodgers, thereby delaying the latter’s clinchy gratification. Pence, by the way, has homers in four straight games and five of his last six. He’s gonna get a great-for-him long term deal from the Giants this winter, I presume. Less optimistic it’ll be a great-for-the-Giants deal, but it’s not my money.

Diamondbacks 8, Rockies 2: Your future third-place NL MVP guy, Paul Goldschmidt, drives in five. Which isn’t a slight to him. It’s just, sorry dude, you’re not a catcher nor a center fielder. Goldschmidt homered and went 4 for 4.

Red Sox 9 Yankees 2: TMC showed “Vertigo,” “Rear Window” and “To Catch a Thief” back-to-back-to-back, AMC had “Breaking Bad” which was just insane and then there was NFL stuff on NBC, so I imagine this was the least-watched Red Sox-Yankees game in some time. Or, I dunno, maybe there aren’t enough people with the good taste out there to watch some Hitchcock on a Sunday night. Either way: the Red Sox are laying waste to the American League and the Yankees, as valiant as their effort has been down the stretch, just couldn’t overcome all of their injuries and could no longer play above their talent level like they did in the early part of the season and, in many ways, since the trading deadline. Props to them, but they are just out-gunned.

2016 Winter Meetings Preview

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is seen along the Potomac River February 26, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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The baseball world will descend on Washington D.C. — well, the Maryland suburbs of Washington, at the Gaylord Resort at National Harbor — this weekend for the 2016 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Twenty free agents from a class of 191 have signed thus far. Among the notable: Yoenis Cespedes, Edinson Volquez, Neil Walker, Josh Reddick, Bartolo Colon, and R.A. Dickey. That, of course, leaves a ton of notables left, including Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Turner, Jose Bautista, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Trumbo, Mark Melancon, Rich Hill and a host of others. Here is our rundown of this offseason’s top free agents if you’re curious. As you have come to expect from us, we’ll have a writeup of everyone who signs, faster than almost anyone else will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is an historically thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. We’ve seen a couple already, most notably the deals which sent Taijuan Walker to the Diamondbacks, Jaime Garcia to the Braves and Brian McCann to the Astros. Most experts believe there will be plenty more this winter, and the ball could really get rolling on that in the next week with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Phillips on the block.

Another major activity of the Winter Meetings is the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee vote. Except, this year, there is no Veterans Committee, at least in name. It’s now the “Today’s Game” committee. Here are links to breakdowns of the candidacies of all ten men on the ballot the new committee will consider:

Harold Baines
Albert Belle
Will Clark
Orel Hershiser
Mark McGwire
George Steinbrenner
Davey Johnson
Lou Piniella
John Shuerholz
Bud Selig

Trade deals, free agent negotiations and Hall of Fame votes take place behind closed doors at the Gaylord Resort. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year’s new faces are Torey Lovullo with the Diamondbacks, Rick Renteria with the White Sox and Bud Black with the Rockies. Brian Snitker, now the permanent manager of the Braves, will get his first go-around at the managerial cattle call. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. And a lot of it. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings, though this year’s brand new Collective Bargaining Agreement should overshadow that. We’ve already discussed the major points of that and, yesterday, I speculated that, as time goes on, the way this agreement was reached could lead to some serious strife going forward, particularly on the union side. Expect to hear some anonymous rumblings about all of that in the next few days, from players, agents and other interested parties who may not be all that pleased with how it goes.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at National Harbor, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event. As they used to say in radio, tune in to us and rip off the dial. Or, at the very least, keep a tab open to us and refresh a lot.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.