Victor Martinez

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights


Tigers 7, Dodgers 6: I went to see Captain America last night, got home and turned this one thinking that a Marvel movie-Vin Scull-called game would be an awesome double feature. At least the first half was good. What I was able to see of the second half involved Josh Beckett pitching as slowly and annoyingly as usual and Anibal Sanchez apparently thinking that emulating Beckett was somehow a good idea. Oh, and a rare Victor Martinez start behind the plate which reminded us why Victor Martinez doesn’t start much anymore. Since it was a late start I couldn’t stay up for much of it but what I saw was ugly. What came after I went to bed saved Martinez’s night, of course: he hit the go-ahead homer in the 10th. But the fact that it was necessitated by Joe Nathan blowing a three-run lead in the ninth probably means that Brad Ausmus is still lying awake in his hotel room, staring at the ceiling. Hail, Hyrdra.

Diamondbacks 7, Giants 3: Paul Goldschmidt so thoroughly owns Tim Lincecum that he is strongly considering an offer to put out a series of instructional videos with Cesar Millan called “The Freak Whisperer.” Goldschmidt hit a three-run homer off Lincecum here and is now hitting .542 (13-for-24) with seven homers and 17 RBIs all-time against him.

Angels 2, Mariners 0: Garrett Richards was fantastic, tossing seven one-hit innings. Albert Pujols had his back with a two-run homer in the third. That was basically it.

Orioles 5, Yankees 4: The absence of David Robertson means Shawn Kelley was the closer which led to him giving up two runs on four hits in the ninth. I expect New York columnists to respond to this with a calm and sober realization that, hey, sometimes things don’t work out well when you’re trying to account for injuries to key players and th— hahaha. Just kidding. I expect “BRING BACK MARIANO!!!” headlines in a 72pt font.

Cubs 7, Pirates 5: Four hits for Anthony Rizzo and seven strong innings for Jason Hammel. He’s got two wins in two starts, both against Pittsburgh.

Blue Jays 7, Astros 3: Brandon Morrow won for the first time since May of last year, pitching six workmanlike innings. Seriously: he had on a Carhart jacket and ate a box lunch after the third. Playing against Houston makes guys do weird things.

Braves 4, Mets 3: Ervin Santana allowed only three hits over eight scoreless innings. His first 20 pitches were strikes. he threw one ball in the first three innings. That, my friends, is command. After the game he said it was better than the no-hitter he tossed in 2011. It wouldn’t have been, I suppose, if Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel had succeeded in what they seemed hellbent on doing in the ninth, and coughing the game away, but they fell just short of their goal in that regard. Jason Heyward homered and drove in a run with an RBI. B.J. Upton rode the pine and Andrelton Simmons had two hits taking his place batting second. Amazing what happens when you don’t punt the two-slot in the lineup.

Red Sox 4, Rangers 2: David Ortiz had a three-run homer in the eighth to bring the Sox back from behind. The homer, which went over the Pesky Pole, was reviewed on replay. I figure a lot of Pesky Pole homers will be reviewed this year. You can never really see those well given the angle and given that it being so close in means a lot of balls go over it rather than past it.

Brewers 9, Phillies 4: Everyone who had the Brewers starting out with a 6-2 record, please raise your hand. Yeah, if your hand is up you’re lying. Carlos Gomez and Mark Reynolds homered and Ryan Braun hit a two-run triple. The Phillies, who were put through a lot of extra infield practice by manager Ryne Sandberg this spring, have nine errors in eight games this year.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday’s evening MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on ThursdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Indians 2, Padres 0; Padres 2, Indians 1: Zach McAllister shut out the Padres on two hits over nearly eight innings in game one and was backed by a Jason Kipnis two-run homer. Trevor Bauer looked good striking out eight in the second game of the doubleheader, but the Padres’ Robbie Erlin was better, allowing one run over six. The total game time for the doubleheader was five hours and 21 minutes. The one Tigers-Dodgers game was four hours sixteen minutes.

Nationals 10, Marlins 7: Jayson Werth hit a grand slam with the Nats down by one in the eighth inning to win this one. It was his first homer and his second through fifth RBI of the season. Bryce Harper also hit his first homer — a three-run job — and in doing so collected his first three RBI of the year.

Royals 7, Rays 3: Speaking of first homers, Alex Gordon hit his first — and the entire Kansas City Royals team’s first — homer of the year, driving in four overall. The five-run fifth inning and seven overall was Kansas City’s first real offensive breakout all year.

Rockies 10, White Sox 4: Fourteen runs scored, none with a home run. I fully thus fully expect Frank Thomas to get on Twitter this morning to talk about how something is fishy with the baseball and that the league has somehow deadened it. Bonus points for a “Wake up, Sheeple!” in the tweet.

Athletics 7, Twins 4: A wacky ninth inning — which I’m sure Jim Johnson didn’t really feel was wacky given that he gave up two runs and walked two — led to extras. Derrick Norris’ three-run homer in the 11th won it for Oakland. And here’s the beauty of the save/blown save rules: Johnson came in with a two-run lead, loaded the bases with a single and a couple of walks, then allowed the Twins to single in a run, leaving the bases loaded. Dan Otero comes in and allows a sac fly and retires the rest of the guys he faces, and HE gets the blown save.

Reds 4, Cardinals 0: The Billy Hamilton show: two steals, three hits and that crazy play where he scored on a shallow fly ball behind second base to score. If he keeps that kind of stuff up, the Reds can turn things around.

What Barry Bonds being the Marlins hitting coach means. And what it doesn’t mean.

FILE - In this March 10, 2014, file photo, former San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds chats to the dugout during a spring training baseball game in Scottsdale, Ariz. Bonds' obstruction of justice conviction reversed by 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday, April 22, 2015.  (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)

The news that Barry Bonds plans, tentatively at least, to accept the Marlins offer to be their hitting coach has the hot stove sizzling. Which is totally understandable. Barry Bonds is a big famous — infamous, even — name and he’s been out of baseball for a long time. That he seems to be getting back in the game, then, is understandably interesting. That he seems to be heading to the Marlins — not exactly an expected destination — is likewise interesting.

But how interesting is it? And does it really matter, both for Bonds and for the Marlins? And if so, how much? Let’s do a quick Q&A about it, shall we?


Q: Bonds is one of the greatest hitters of all time. That should make him an amazing hitting coach, right? 

A: Not necessarily. The guy thought to be one of the best hitting coaches in history — Charlie Lau — had an OPS+ of 89 for his career across 11 almost totally bench-riding seasons in the bigs. Many of the other top hitting coaches in baseball history were likewise scrubeenies of one flavor or another. Same goes for pitching coaches, by the way, while many of the ex-superstars that got into the coaching biz didn’t last long and didn’t have a lot of success. Indeed, there appears to be no correlation at all and at least some anecdotal disconnection between playing prowess and coaching prowess, possibly because that which comes naturally to a superstar is hard to communicate to someone not as gifted. Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Bob Gibson coached. None of them changed the coaching game by their presence.

All of that said, Barry Bonds’ greatness came not just from his physical gifts —  naturally or artificially bestowed — but from his approach to at bats. His preparation, his strategy and his plate patience. Some of those things can likely be communicated fairly straightforwardly, even if they cannot simply be picked up by any Justin, Adeiny or Christian who comes along.


Q: Let’s assume Bonds would be a good hitting coach, though. How much of an impact could he possibly have?

A: That’s the big question, really. And you won’t find a lot of agreement on it. Many people say that hitting coaches are only as good as the lineup they coach and that, especially in this day and age, a player’s own preparation — which he may take far more seriously than the atta-boys from a coach his father’s age — matters much more than anything else.

There have been some attempts to quantify a good hitting coach’s impact, however. One such study was conducted by Baseball Prospectus’ Russell Carelton a couple of years ago. Carelton found that hitting coaches can really only have a noticeable impact on whether or not hitters take a more aggressive or a more passive approach at the plate and cannot, by themselves, teach pitch selectivity. He further found that hitting coaches seem to be divided into two groups: those who teach hitters to put the ball into play and those who encourage a walk/strikeout/home run approach to things.

As far as results go, Carleton found some pretty significant impacts in small sample sizes and for hitting coaches, like Clint Hurdle, who coached in volatile run-scoring environments such as Colorado and Texas. He concluded, however, that even if we’re being super conservative, a good hitting coach could account for 20-30 runs in a year, which is a couple of wins, and that a couple of wins is a pretty big impact for a low-paid coach.

Of course, the Marlins had the second worst offense in the National League last year. They need more than just 20-30 runs.


Q: Getting away from the numbers, this is a big deal, right? For the Marlins? For Bonds? 

A: Though I’m on record being a pretty big Bonds fanboy, I think we should temper our expectations on all of this. Mark McGwire made something of a P.R. splash when he entered the coaching ranks with the Cardinals. He was the first bigtime PED guy to return to the game and he was under the microscope for a bit. But then, of course, he just faded into the same woodwork into which all of the other hitting coaches fade. We didn’t think too much of him until he changed jobs a few years later then when he changed jobs again just recently. Being back in the game certainly didn’t help his Hall of Fame case either. He’s been sliding off the ballot pretty steadily for years, actually. The most that can be said is that, when McGwire’s name comes up in news reports, the first reference to him isn’t “The controversial, steroid-associated slugger, Mark McGwire.” That usually waits until the second paragraph. If Bonds has that happen to him it’ll be a moral victory for him. But given that he’s more infamous than McGwire was, don’t count on that happening.

Ultimately I think that Bonds will, after the initial wave of stories and the initial pictures of him in Marlins garb next spring come out, fade into that woodwork like any other coach. After all no one comes to the ballpark to see a hitting coach. Not even one as famous as Barry Bonds.


Q: Quit being negative. Isn’t it something of a big deal? Even a little bit? 

A: OK, I’ll give you this much: between McGwire, the reinstatement of A-Rod and his well-received and successful 2015 season and now Bonds being hired, it’s fair to say that baseball has had no problem with the rehabilitation and mainstreaming of the PED crowd from the 1990s and 2000s. They’re not pariahs in the game and their association with it is not considered controversial by the people who play it and run it. The only people living in the past in this regard, it seems, is the media. Perhaps another so-called villain being welcomed back into the game’s ranks will help bring them around too.


Q: Why is Bonds, after years of exile from baseball and a seemingly idyllic life in California, willing to go work for Jeff Loria anyway?

A: We won’t know until he says so, though I’m sure many people will try to speak for him on that count. To the extent they do, they’ll likely talk about his “legacy” and the fact that his legal troubles were finally and definitively put behind him in 2015. All of that is just speculation, of course. The most we know is that Bonds was (a) willing to coach the Giants in spring training; and (b) spoke at various points in his career about how he’d like to maybe one day be a coach of some kind. This is a job that seems to be open and it’s in a city — Miami — that ain’t a hard place to live, even if the organization for which he’ll work is dysfunctional.

Maybe a young man’s dreams don’t really ever go away. Maybe baseball is fun and guys who spent almost their entire life in baseball miss it when it’s gone. And maybe Barry just wants back in.

Astros “shopping” slugger Chris Carter

Chris Carter

With tomorrow’s deadline to tender 2016 contracts to arbitration eligible players looming, Jerry Crasnick of reports that the Astros are “shopping” first baseman Chris Carter.

Few players in baseball have more power than Carter, who hit 24 homers in 129 games this year and has averaged 30 homers per 150 games for his career, but he’s also a career .217 hitter with little defensive value who should probably be a designated hitter.

Houston has no shortage of power options, many of whom have somewhat similar skill sets to Carter, so shopping him around makes sense. He seems unlikely to generate a big return, however. Carter could command a salary of more than $6 million via arbitration.

UPDATE: Barry Bonds tentatively plans to accept the Marlins hitting coach job

Barry Bonds

UPDATE: Bob Nightengale reports that while negotiations are not yet finalized, Barry Bonds “tentatively plans to accept the Marlins’ offer to be hitting coach with Frank Menechino.” Which is a good reminder that Menechino is still the Marlins’ hitting coach. Who would be the assistant and who would be the coach — or if they’d be co-coaches — is unclear.

12:00PM: The matter of Barry Bonds as the Marlins hitting coach has gone from “consideration” to “offer,” reports Bob Nightengale. The Marlins now await Barry Bonds’ response.

The biggest mystery in all of this is whether Bonds is actually interested. No one has reported that he was willing or even that there have been serious conversations between the Marlins and Bonds. That could be because Bonds, as has always been his practice, doesn’t talk too much to the media. Indeed, we learn more about him from his social media presence than anything reported about him. So it’s possible that Bonds and Jeff Loria have been in contact about all of this and he’s strongly considering it as well.

It’s also possible that this is all nothing and the Marlins are just trying to make a long shot happen.

MONDAY, 5:01 PM: This shouldn’t cause any controversy, lead to a lot of people saying dumb things or provide fodder for jokes at all. Nope, none whatsoever:

In what promises to be a bombshell move, if executed, all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is under consideration to become Marlins hitting coach.

Team higherups have quietly been discussing this possibility for weeks.

That’s Jon Heyman, who reminds us that Bonds has worked with the Giants in the spring in recent years. And who, no matter what else you can say about him, was one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. Also worth remembering that despite his controversial past, that greatness came not just from physical gifts, naturally or artificially bestowed. It came from his approach, preparation and strategy at the plate. No one can teach a hitter to hit like Barry Bonds, but you’d think that hitters could be taught to try to approach an at bat the way Barry Bonds would. And who better to do it than Barry Bonds?

That is, if Bonds is willing to drop his seemingly ideal retired life in San Francisco, move to Miami and work for Jeff Loria for nine months a year. Which, eh, who knows? But the possibility of it is pretty fascinating to think about.

Royals avoid arbitration with Tim Collins for $1.475 million

Tim Collins Getty
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Left-hander Tim Collins, who missed the entire 2015 season following Tommy John elbow surgery, will remain with the Royals after avoiding arbitration for a one-year, $1.475 million contract.

Collins was a non-tender candidate due to his injury and projected salary via arbitration, but the Royals are convinced he can bounce back to be a valuable part of the bullpen again in 2016 and beyond. He agreed to the same salary he made in 2015.

Prior to blowing out his elbow Collins posted a 3.54 ERA with 220 strikeouts in 211 innings from 2011-2014 and he’s still just 26 years old. He figures to begin 2016 in a middle relief role.