I really haven’t been able to wrap my brain around the whole White Sox-Tigers sign stealing controversy from last week. Or maybe I just can’t be bothered to care. The upshot was that Chris Sale thought that the Tigers were stealing signs and there was some back and forth about it. Sale struck out ten dudes and allowed only one run in that game last Wednesday so I’m not sure what he’s on about, but whatever.
Apparently, though, Sale’s anger about it all spilled over to the next day in the form of an argument with his manager. Paul Sullivan of the Tribune reports:
Chris Sale left the White Sox clubhouse before Thursday’s game against the Royals for reasons the Sox described as “personal.”
What wasn’t known at the time was that Sale and Ventura engaged in a heated shouting match just before Sale’s exit.
Even with the story it remains a tad vague, but it would appear as though Sale was mad at Ventura for not having his back in postgame comments the day before, especially given that Tigers players and Brad Ausmus were making fun of Sale. After the shouting match Sale went home and Ventura offered some tepid criticism of the Tigers and a defense of his guy.
Sign-stealing controversies are always kind of dumb. A lot of major league hitters will tell you that they don’t even want stolen signs flashed to them by their teammates anyway. The thinking being that you don’t have a lot of time to prepare for a pitch in the first place to begin with, so why would you want to take your eyes of the pitcher for the second or two you’d need to focus on the signs being relayed to you by whoever is stealing them? Also, given how easy it is to change signs or to use deception or an indicator if you think the other team is stealing, you can’t always be sure that your guy is stealing the right signs.
Whatever. End of season frustration. Tempest in a teapot.
Yoenis Cespedes’ short stint in Boston this year wasn’t fantastically productive, but he did make a good impression on the Sox’ front office and now they’d like to talk extension with him:
The Red Sox are interested in negotiating a contract extension with outfielder Yoenis Cespedes during the offseason, but they aren’t exactly sure when those talks will occur.
“It is just a conversation that we will have at the right time,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said on Monday. “There is no specific date we’ll plan on having that, but so far, we think the relationship is off to a good start.”
Cespedes is not as sure he wants to sign a deal or, alternatively, wait until after the final year of his contract in 2015 and test the market. His reticence makes sense, even if he loves it in Boston. Overall he hit .260/.301/.450 with 22 homers and 100 RBI this season. Which, while OK on the power side, still represents a big dip from his 2012 season in terms of OBP and which may reduce his long term value a tad. If he has a hit-lucky season in 2015 (or if he draws some more walks) would make him much, much more marketable.
Interesting, candid comments from Rangers GM Jon Daniels. He said he had no intention of firing Ron Washington this winter despite the Rangers’ bad season and that he would not have said that there would be any benefit to it if you had asked him before Washington resigned. However, since Washington has been gone, Daniels has realized that Washington leaving was, actually, probably for the better:
“. . . having seen the last few weeks, having seen the change in the energy and atmosphere, I do think it had an impact. Tim [Bogar] should certainly get some credit for that, but sometimes I do think that a change is beneficial. I told Wash this and I’ve told you guys this before, I was hoping he’d be the only manager I ever hired. I was hoping it would be an even longer-term partnership, it was already eight years which is a long time in today’s game. So I was not going to make the move this winter. Since it was effectively made for us, I can look back now with some perspective and say ultimately, it may be for the best.”
Daniels says he has a list of candidates to take the job full time and that they’ve had preliminary dialogue with a couple of candidates. Given how wrong everything went for the Rangers and how injured they were this year, it’s not crazy to think that there will be a pretty significant bounceback next year. The Texas job could be a nice one.
Each day throughout the playoffs we’re going to be doing what I’ll call a reset. Not always a preview, not always a recap, but a generalized summary of where we stand at the moment and what we have to look forward tonight. Today, of course, is Day One of the playoffs so we can really only look ahead, so let’s look ahead to what’s on tap in tonight’s one and only game.
The Game: Oakland Athletics vs. Kansas City Royals, American League Wild Card Game
The Time: 8:07 PM Eastern
The Place: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jon Lester vs. James Shields
- James Shields’ nom de guerre is “Big Game James,” but it’s probably worth noting that in six postseason starts, he’s 2-4 with a 4.98 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 34 innings. There are other big games, of course, and Shields has been one of the most reliable starters all year, but to the extent you believe in playoff experience, believe in Jon Lester. He’s pitched in 13 playoff games, he’s started 11 and he’s 6-4 with a 2.11 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 76.2 innings.
- The Royals’ offense has been pretty lousy all year — and some of their most important bats like Billy Butler and Alex Gordon have struggled against Lester in the past — but it’s not like the A’s have been knocking the cover off the ball. Indeed, in August and September the bats were in a deep freeze. Royals hitters were, overall, far better in the season’s final two months than A’s hitters.
- Kansas City and Oakland have met seven times this year. K.C. won five of those. The two losses, however, game to Jon Lester.
- The A’s are going to need to score early given how good the Kansas City bullpen is. If Shields cruises through six innings, the A’s are going to be faced with Herrera, Davis and Holland. If, on the other hand, the game doesn’t go according to that preferred Royals’ script — if, say, Ned Yost has to go to his pen early or use guys outside of their set roles — there’s a decent chance that the A’s will find themselves in preferable matchups. Because Yost has a lot of good weapons, but he tends to flake a good deal when his battle plan is disrupted by virtue of engagement with the enemy.
Obviously anything can happen in a one-and-done game, rendering these things coin flips. As such, predictions are kind of beside the point. I’d say, however, that a low scoring game favors the Royals and those crazy-good arms they have, while a slugfest — or whatever passes for one between these particular teams in 2014 — favors the A’s.
Major League Baseball has announced the umpiring crews for the first two rounds of the playoffs. As follows:
- NL Wild Card Game: Crew Chief Joe West, Doug Eddings, Paul Emmel, Andy Fletcher, Brian Gorman and Mark Wegner.
- AL Wild Card Game: Crew Chief Gerry Davis, James Hoye, Dan Iassogna, Bill Miller, Todd Tichenor and Bill Welke.
- ALDS in Anaheim: Crew Chief Ted Barrett, Lance Barksdale, Chris Guccione, Paul Nauert, Jeff Nelson and Jim Reynolds.
- ALDS in Baltimore: Crew Chief Jeff Kellogg, Scott Barry, Dan Bellino, Fieldin Culbreth, Paul Schrieber and Jim Wolf.
- NLDS in Washington: Crew Chief Mike Winters, Vic Carapazza, Laz Diaz, Tom Hallion, Brian Knight and Hunter Wendelstedt.
- NLDS in Los Angeles: Crew Chief Dale Scott, Eric Cooper, Rob Drake, Jerry Layne, Jerry Meals and Alan Porter.
Umpires Phil Cuzzi and Tim Timmons have been assigned to work as Replay Officials during the Wild Card Games, while CB Bucknor, Chris Conroy, Ed Hickox and Brian O’Nora will serve in the Replay Center during the Division Series.
Viva la Men in Blue.