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And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Diamondbacks 9, Braves 8: The Dbacks front office is under fire, brought into focus by the fact that the Braves, who have repeatedly fleeced said front office in the past year, are in town. On the field, however, it was all good last night as Paul Goldschmidt hit a long walkoff homer to give the Snakes the win. It would’ve been fitting if, right after, Dave Stewart traded Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke to Atlanta for Jeff Francoeur and cash considerations, but he somehow resisted the urge.

Indians 1, Athletics 0: Carlos Carrasco shut the A’s out for eight innings, Andrew Miller handled the ninth and thus Carlos Santana‘s eighth inning solo homer was all the Tribe needed. In other news, as an homage to Billy Butler, Danny Valencia and the A’s, I punched Bill Baer in the side of the head last night after he told my bosses at NBC that I watched Olympic team handball on the BBC stream instead of on a company network. Beyond admitting that, what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse.

Dodgers 18, Reds 9: Adrian Gonzalez went deep one, two, three times, ah, ha, ha, and drove in eight runs. Made Joey Votto‘s 3-for-6, 4 RBI look like nothin’. Corey Seager and Andrew Toles combined to go 6-for-10 with 7 RBI themselves. The game took four hours. It was a nice day in Ohio yesterday, though. Low humidity, mild temperatures and clear, haze-free skies. Maybe everyone just wanted to stay outside and run around.

Brewers 4, Rockies 2: Jimmy Nelson was solid while his counterpart, Chad Bettis, issued seven walks, which ain’t ever gonna do a pitcher any good. He also gave up Chris Carter‘s 30th homer on the year. Carter also leads the NL in strikeouts with 156 and has a .224 average, making him the most 2016 player there is.

Orioles 4, Nationals 3: Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but Mark Trumbo hit a homer. A two-run shot that broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth and proved to provide the winning margin. Trumbo has 12 hits in the month of August. Eight of them have been homers, including his last seven straight. I dedicate this to you, Mark:

Astros 3, Pirates 1: Doug Fister pitched seven scoreless innings and rookie Teoscar Hernandez hit a two-run homer. Alex Bregman, also a rookie, hit a homer. The Astros are eight games out in the West and 3.5 back, but with five teams ahead of them, for the Wild Card. They’re not dead yet but the outlook is somewhat dire. Perhaps it’s not too early to start being happy when future regulars start producing for the very sake of the future.

Red Sox 6, Rays 2: David Price has not had the year many had hoped for, but here he was aces, tossing eight shutout innings and striking out eight as the Sox move into a first place tie in the AL East. This spectacular catch from Andrew Benintendi certainly helped.

Mariners 7, Yankees 5Mike Zunino and Kyle Seager each hit a three-run homer and Nelson Cruzadded a solo shot. For the Yankees, Starlin Castro and rookie catcher Gary Sanchez each hit two homers. The M’s homers prevailed here, but I fully expect the New York papers are already talking up Sanchez like the second coming of Bill Dickey this morning.

Cubs 5, Padres 1Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Jason Heyward homered while Jon Lester allowed only one run in six innings while striking out eight. Anthony Rizzo didn’t homer but he got four hits to raise his batting line to .301/.399/.566. Bryant’s is .299/.390/.568. It’d be amazing if those two finished with identical lines. It’s certainly possible that they could.

Unprecedented sanctions: MLB bans former Braves GM for life, makes 12 signees free agents

Associated Press
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Major League Baseball has slammed the hammer down on the Atlanta Braves as the result of their violations of rules on the international free agent market.

Former Braves General Manager John Coppolella has been placed on the permanently ineligible list — the same list Pete Rose is on — banning him from a job in baseball forever. His assistant, Gordon Blakeley, will be suspended for a period of one year. Each had already been dismissed by the Braves. Other Braves’ international baseball operations employees who participated in the misconduct could still be suspended as the league finishes its investigation.

As reported earlier, 12 of the clubs’ international signees are now free agents. The Braves will lose the following players, signed during the 2015-17 international free agent signing periods:

  • Juan Contreras;
  • Yefri del Rosario;
  • Abrahan Gutierrez;
  • Kevin Maitan;
  • Juan Carlos Negret;
  • Yenci Peña;
  • Yunior Severino;
  • Livan Soto;
  • Guillermo Zuniga;
  • Brandol Mezquita;
  • Angel Rojas; and
  • Antonio Sucre

As reported earlier, Maitan was the number one overall international prospect in 2016. The Braves have, for a few years now, had among the top international signee classes. Obviously that came by virtue of cheating the system, and obviously that will lead to a reevaluation of where the clubs’ minor league system stands, talent-wise.

The penalties are not limited to the loss of those players. Commissioner Manfred is imposing what amounts to punitive damages going forward. From Commissioner Manfred’s statement:

“While the remedies discussed above will deprive the Braves of the benefits of their circumvention, I believe that additional sanctions are warranted to penalize the Club for the violations committed by its employees. Accordingly, the Braves will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period, which is the first signing period in which the Braves are not subject to any signing restrictions under our rules; and the Braves’ international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent.”

There was also what appears to be an unrelated draft violation, imposing penalties along those lines as well:

“The investigation also determined that the Braves offered impermissible benefits, which were never provided, to a player they selected in the First-Year Player Draft in an attempt to convince him to sign for a lower bonus. As a penalty for the Club’s attempted circumvention involving a draft selection, the Braves will forfeit their third-round selection in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft.

The gist of the violations against the Braves involves the bundling of signing bonuses, in which the Braves got players — through their representatives in Latin America — to take lower than the amount typically allotted in one year in order to use the money to sign other, highly rated players in subsequent years, with money they wouldn’t have otherwise had. MLB’s statement describes the scheme thusly:

“The investigation established that the Braves circumvented international signing rules from 2015 through 2017. During the 2015-16 international signing period, the Braves signed five players subject to the Club’s signing bonus pool to contracts containing signing bonuses lower than the bonuses the Club had agreed to provide the players. The Club provided the additional bonus money to those players by inflating the signing bonus to another player who was exempt from their signing pool because he qualified as a ‘foreign professional’ under MLB rules.

“Consistent with the rules, the Braves could have signed all of the 2015-16 players for the full, actual signing bonus amounts. Had the Club signed the five players to contracts containing their actual bonuses, however, the Braves would have exceeded their signing bonus pool by more than five percent and would have been, under MLB rules, restricted from signing any players during the next two signing periods for contracts with bonuses greater than $300,000.

“As a result of the 2015-16 circumvention, the Braves were able to sign nine high-value players during the 2016-17 signing period who would have been unavailable to them had the Club accurately accounted for its signings during the 2015-16 signing period.”

The scheme continued like this:

“The investigation also determined that the Braves: (i) agreed to sign six players to inflated signing bonuses pursuant to an agreement with prospect Robert Puason’s agent in exchange for a commitment that Puason would sign with the Club in the 2019-20 signing period; and (ii) offered prospect Ji-Hwan Bae extra-contractual compensation. In order to remedy these violations, I am prohibiting the Club from signing Robert Puason when he becomes eligible to sign, and disapproving the contract between Bae and the Braves, which has not yet become effective.”

This is, by far, the most serious set of scouting, drafting and signing penalties ever imposed by Major League Baseball. It speaks to the sheer audacity of the Braves’ scheme to circumvent signing rules. It also sends a loud and clear signal to other teams — many which have been rumored to have engaged in similar conduct on a smaller scale — that MLB will not tolerate it.

The Braves lower minor league system has been decimated. It stands, essentially, as the head on the pike outside of Major League Baseball’s castle.