Marlon Byrd

Associated Press

It’s the tenth anniversary of the biggest rout in baseball history

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Ten years ago today the Rangers and the Orioles squared off at Camden Yards. The Orioles built a 3-0 lead after three innings and then all hell broke loose.

The Rangers scored thirty (30!) unanswered runs via a five-spot in the fourth, a nine-spot in the sixth, a ten-spot in the eighth and a six-spot in the ninth. That was . . . a lot of spots.

Two Rangers players — Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez — hit two homers and drove in seven runs a piece. The best part: they were the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup. There was plenty of offense to go around, however as David Murphy went 5-for-7 and scored five times. Travis Metcalf hit a pinch-hit grand slam. Marlon Byrd drove in four. It was a bloodbath, with Texas rattling out 29 hits and walking eight times.

On the Orioles side of things, Daniel Cabrera took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings. That’s not a terribly unusual line for a bad day at the office for a pitcher — someone will probably get beat up like that in the next week or so — but the Orioles’ relievers really added to the party. Brian Burres was the first victim, allowing eight runs on eight hits in only two-thirds of an inning. Rob Bell gave up seven in an inning and a third. Paul Shuey wore the rest of it, allowing nine runs on seven hits over the final two.

The best part of the insanely busy box score, however, was not from any of the Orioles pitchers or any of the Rangers hitters. Nope, it was from a Rangers relief pitcher named Wes Littleton. You probably don’t remember him, as he only pitched in 80 games and never appeared in the big leagues after 2008. But on this day — the day of the biggest blowout in baseball history — Wes Littleton notched a save. From Baseball-Reference.com:

Three innings and 43 pitches is a lot of work for a reliever and, per the rules, it’s a save, regardless of the margin when he entered the game. Still, this was not exactly a game that was ever in jeopardy.

When it went down, way back on August 22, 2007, it inspired me to write a post at my old, defunct independent baseball blog, Shysterball, arguing about how to change the save rule. Read it if you want, but know that (1) no one has ever paid attention to such proposals in baseball, even if such proposals are frequently offered; and (2) the hypothetical examples I use to illustrate the point involve an effective Joba Chamberlain and Joe Torre’s said use of him, which tells you just how long ago this really was.

Oh, one final bit: this massacre — the kind of game that the Orioles likely wanted to leave, go back home and go to sleep afterward — was only the first game of a doubleheader. Yep, they had to strap it on and play again, with the game starting at 9PM Eastern time. Baltimore lost that one too, 9-7, concluding what must have been one of the longest days any of the players involved had ever had at the office, both figuratively and literally.

There are still a lot of free agents available

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As we noted earlier this morning, there are only eight days until pitchers and catchers start reporting. There are still a ton of free agents left on the market, however.

Most of them are journeymen, but there are still a couple of front line starting types left available, such as Matt Wieters and Mike Napoli. Chris Carter, the 2016 NL Home Run Champ is still looking for a job.

There are a ton of big names whose games have faded or whose careers are in their twilight, such as former Cy Young winners Tim Lincecum and Jake Peavy and former MVPs Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau. Chase Utley is banging around too. Some arms that, not long ago, were fixtures in big league rotations can still be had, including Colby Lewis, Jorge De La Rosa, Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon. Then there are guys like Coco Crisp, Angel Pagan, Michael Bourn and Franklin Gutierrez. Indeed, there’s an army of guys who once played some decent center field out there but who now are holding virtual “will shag flies for food” signs.

Jeff Francoeur and Kelly Johnson are on the list too, but you damn well know the Braves are going to sign them so I almost didn’t include them here. They’re anciently beholden to Atlanta, sort of like Chay-Ara is beholden to Prince Khufu. I’m just gonna start calling those two the Hawkmen.

Anyway, this is the entire list of free agents per MLB Trade Rumors’ Free Agent Tracker. Bargain hunting is well underway, so shop fast:

Henderson Alvarez
Pedro Alvarez
Erick Aybar
Aaron Barrett
Gordon Beckham
Joe Blanton
Michael Bourn
Billy Butler
Marlon Byrd
Chris Capuano
Chris Carter
Steve Clevenger
Hank Conger
Coco Crisp
Jorge De La Rosa
Daniel Descalso
Nate Eovaldi
Jeff Francoeur
Sam Fuld
Charlie Furbush
Craig Gentry
Cole Gillespie
Jonny Gomes
Franklin Gutierrez
Matt Harrison
David Hernandez
Aaron Hill
Luke Hochevar
Ryan Howard
Tommy Hunter
Edwin Jackson
Kevin Jepsen
Kelly Johnson
Chris Johnson
Tyler Ladendorf
Mat Latos
Colby Lewis
Tim Lincecum
Adam Lind
Javier Lopez
David Lough
Seth Maness
Justin Morneau
Peter Moylan
Mike Napoli
Dioner Navarro
Jonathan Niese
Angel Pagan
Jonathan Papelbon
Jarrod Parker
Jake Peavy
Brayan Pena
Yusmeiro Petit
A.J. Pierzynski
Ryan Raburn
Alexi Ramirez
Nolan Reimold
Jerry Sands
Alfredo Simon
Drew Stubbs
Chase Utley
Carlos Villanueva
Chien-Ming Wang
Jered Weaver
Matt Wieters
Tom Wilhelmson
Jerome Williams
C.J. Wilson
Travis Wood

Indians won’t extend qualifying offer to any of their free agents

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MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports that the Indians won’t make a $17.2 million qualifying offer to any of their impending free agents. Those are 1B/DH Mike Napoli, and outfielders Rajai Davis and Marlon Byrd.

That Napoli won’t receive a QO is a bit surprising. He had a productive season and will likely draw a good deal of attention in free agency. If Napoli had received a QO and rejected it, then signed with another team, the Indians would have received draft pick compensation.

Napoli finished the regular season with an .800 OPS along with 34 home runs and 101 RBI in 645 plate appearances. He had a dismal postseason performance, batting .173, but he did hit an important two-run home run in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays.

Bastian adds that, according to Indians president Chris Antonetti, the team is still interested in bringing Napoli and Davis back.