Author: Matthew Pouliot

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 19:  Troy Tulowitzki #2 of the Colorado Rockies at bat during a 7-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Troy Tulowitzki trade might be the strangest deadline deal ever


The Blue Jays lead the majors in runs.

Now, I don’t mean they lead the league in runs by the usual amount, whether it’s 5, 10, 20 or whatever. The Blue Jays LEAD the LEAGUE in RUNS. They’re scoring 5.28 per game. No one is within 70 runs of them. The second highest scoring offense in the league averages 4.65 runs per game.

Of course, far less impressive than the Jays’ offense is their pitching. For that reason, they were supposed to be all over all of the big-name pitchers available this week. Maybe Cole Hamels was out of reach, but Jeff Samardzija was a popular choice. The Padres’ horde, Mat Latos of the Marlins and Mike Fiers of the Brewers were also being talked about.

And if the Blue Jays did go get a bat, it figured to be an outfielder. Preferably one who hits left-handed. 111 of the Jays’ 130 homers this year have come from right-handed hitters, and while they’ve gotten solid production from every spot, the positions on the team with the lowest OPSs to date are left field and center field.

Then there are the Rockies. The Rockies always need pitching. Their most effective starter this year has been 28-year-old Chris Rusin, a Cubs castoff with a 3-4 record and a 4.13 ERA in 65 1/3 innings. Overall, their starters have a 5.12 ERA, which ranks 29th in MLB ahead of only the Phillies. They’re dead last with a 1.52 WHIP and a 1.8 K:BB ratio.

The other thing the Rockies always seem to need to do is to get cheaper. They don’t really like spending money. They’re not very good at it when they do.

None of this would seem to be a likely recipe for a Troy Tulowitzki-for-Jose Reyes trade. To say this one came out of nowhere would be an understatement. No one would have guessed the Blue Jays were in the market for a shortstop. And no one would have imagined that when the Rockies finally traded Tulo, it would be for a player who has a higher annual salary.

Still, as these things tend to do, things seem to make more sense the deeper one digs.

First and foremost, while this will always be referred to as the Tulo-for-Reyes deal, that’s not at all what it’s about. This was a Tulo-for-Jeff Hoffman and Miguel Castro deal. The Rockies landed two prime arms in return for giving up the game’s preeminent shortstop and taking on a modestly overpaid replacement. A third, as yet undisclosed, prospect is also involved, and the Rockies also parted with veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins. Reyes was not the focus. The trade would have made more sense on the Rockies’ end if it was just Tulo for the young right-handers, but then, the Blue Jays couldn’t have made that deal without somehow shedding Reyes’s salary in the bargain.

It probably comes as a surprise to many, but Reyes is making more than Tulo right now, just not for quite so long. He’s earning $22 million per year through 2017, with a $22 million option or a $4 million buyout for 2018. Tulo makes $20 million per year through 2019, $14 million in 2020 and then $15 million or a $4 million buyout in 2021. There’s also a $2 million trade kicker on Tulo’s contract. At a minimum, the Jays are absorbing an extra $52 million here, while also picking up three more years of control.

So, Reyes essentially had to be in this deal if the Rockies wanted the prospects. What remains to be seen is whether they’ll hold on to him for a bit or if they’ll flip him right away, opening up shortstop for a quality prospect in Trevor Story. Trading Reyes for a couple of prospects, probably eating some salary in the process, is probably the way to go. In Hoffman and Castro, the Rockies got two guys with top-of-the-rotation upside, though it needs to be noted that the former is coming back from Tommy John surgery and the latter couldn’t hack it as a major league reliever this year. Hoffman has the better chance of fulfilling his potential. Castro, though, has an incredible arm, and even if can’t make it as a starter, he could turn into a fine closer.

For the Blue Jays, well, this was all about making it back to the postseason, even if it materialized in a way that no one expected. Tulowitzki is a better hitter and probably a better defender than Reyes. He is injury-prone, but so is the guy he’s replacing. He’s a clear upgrade. He’d also seem to be a luxury purchase when there are still necessities required. Losing Hoffman and Castro is a big blow to the farm system that they’re going to have to dip right back into in an effort to upgrade their rotation. I’m going to withhold my judgment on whether it was the right move until seeing whether the Jays come away with a quality starter prior to Friday’s deadline.

Cole Hamels gives Phillies fans a big going-away present


That was probably it for Cole Hamels in a Phillies uniform. Just a nice little no-hitter in his 294th start for the team. A fond memory for fans who will have few others in a dreadful 2015 season.

Some suggested going in that this was the Phillies’ biggest game of the year. The one that determined just how big of a haul they might get in a Hamels trade with the left-hander coming off two of the worst starts of his career. It was an extreme exaggeration; suitors know Hamels’ track record and were only really concerned about whether he was healthy. Even in the lousy outings, there seemed little reason to doubt it.

So, no, Hamels’ performance didn’t do a whole lot for the Phillies, who are well on their way to claiming the first pick in the 2016 MLB draft. But it was a grand send-off, assuming that Hamels doesn’t return to the mound before Friday’s deadline. The only bummer is that the start came in Chicago, not Philadelphia.

Hamels, who struck out 13 in the first career no-no, improved to 6-7 with a 3.64 ERA for the season. He’s just 23-30 since the Phillies started to bottom out in 2013. Even when the Phillies have scored runs these last three years, they haven’t done it with Hamels on the mound. Hamels has turned in 63 quality starts in 83 tries since the beginning of 2013 (only Clayton Kershaw (68), Felix Hernandez (64) and James Shields (64) have more). He actually has more starts in which he’s allowed one or no runs (28) than he does wins during that span.

In a week’s time, Hamels figures to find himself in a Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees or Rangers uniform. Or maybe he’ll join the Cubs team he no-hit today. He’ll depart Philadelphia as one of the franchise’s top five pitchers, and at least now, those last couple of years he spent with the team won’t totally be remembered for all of the doom and gloom.

Robinson Cano hits two homers to lead Mariners past Yankees

Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano hit his fifth and sixth homers of the last month, both two-run shots, to power the Mariners to a 4-3 win over the Yankees on Saturday.

The homers were Cano’s first two at Yankee Stadium as a visitor. Including Friday’s 0-for-4, he had hit .225/.295/.350 with one homer in 10 games versus the Yankees since signing with the Mariners as a free agent after the 2013 season.

It was also Cano’s first multihomer game as a Mariner.

Cano has had a very difficult year while dealing with acid reflux problems, but he’s turned it around pretty nicely in the last month. After hitting just two homers through June 21, he’s hit six in the 21 games since. His batting average has jumped from .237 to .254 over the last month.

Nationals beat Dodgers after suspended game resumes

Yunel Escobar, Tanner Roark

It was a rather exciting contest for one that took two days to play, but the Nationals held on to beat the Dodgers 5-3 after Friday night’s game resumed Saturday afternoon.

In the top of the ninth, Joc Pederson barely pulled foul his bid for a go-ahead, three-run homer before Drew Storen closed it out.

Pinch-hitter Matt den Dekker hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to give the Nationals back their lead after Adrian Gonzalez hit his second homer of the game and first of the day in the top of the sixth, tying the game at 3-3.

The game last night was halted three times because of issues with a bank of lights down the left-field line, forcing play to be resumed today.

Both pitchers on the mound when play ended Friday continued on today. Tanner Roark gave up Gonzalez’s game-tying homer in the sixth. Chin-Hui Tsao allowed two runs in the fifth last night, but he pitched a scoreless sixth today.

The Dodgers and Nationals will play their regularly scheduled game at 4:05 EDT. They’ll both be able to add a 26th player for that one as a result of the semi-doubleheader today.