Tony Clark decries an ESPN story in which executives speculate about Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales’ value

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Yesterday Buster Olney asked several anonymous executives what they would offer free agents Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales if they had a need for them. There were extended quotes from the executives talking about their value in both dollar terms — anywhere from $5 million to $10 million depending on the circumstances — and on the factors that might go into it, including their injury history, their lack of a spring and things like that.

A little bit ago union director Tony Clark put out a statement decrying Olney’s story, saying it violates the Collective Bargaining Agreement and can harm the value of Drew and Morales. He went further, saying that Commissioner Selig should investigate and unearth the anonymous sources for Olney’s story and punish those who spoke to him for what he calls collusive activities.

Let’s unpack this:

1. Yes, that kind of talk likely does violate the CBA. It could easily constitute collusion, by having executives signal to one another what to pay Drew and Morales, thereby messing with their ability to market themselves to teams. In this regard, Clark has a legitimate beef; but

2. There is little or no way Selig, even if he is inclined to agree with Clark, would be able to figure out who said this stuff to Olney. Neither Olney nor ESPN are going to tell him, that’s for damn sure, because journalism doesn’t work that way. What does he expect? Selig to sue ESPN as a means of pressuring them to cooperate with Major League Baseball, thereby causing them to spill the beans— oh, wait. That is already in MLB’s tool kit, so maybe he could expect that. I dunno.

But I do know one thing: Drew and Morales’ value has been harmed far more by the draft pick compensation/qualifying offer system that the MLBPA agreed to a couple of years ago than any potentially collusive stuff appearing in Olney’s little story. If Clark wants to prevent that from happening to players in the future, he had either best strongly advise players to accept qualifying offers or else find a way to reopen negotiations on free agent compensation.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.