Tag: Brian McCann

Jeff Francoeur

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights


Phillies 4, Red Sox 2: Jeff Francoeur has this thing where he makes a great first impression with new teams. He did it, obviously, when he came up with the Braves. When he went to the Mets. Again with the Rangers, etc. Then, after you get to thinking he’s awesome, he reverts to Francoeurdom and frustrates you like mad. I mean, there are worse players. Lots of worse players. And he’s a great guy so you want to like him. But that little flash of something he first showed you and then seemed to inexplicably lose just haunts you. Poisons the whole relationship. It’s like having a new significant other who cooks you the most amazing meals for the first three months of the relationship and then, for whatever reason, starts bringing home fast food every night and you wonder where all of the great dinners went. Anyway, Jeffy had a three-run homer off of Rick Porcello here and Aaron Harang shut Boston out into the seventh on a cold and icky night.

Tigers 11, Twins 0: I imagine the Twins will score at some point this year. Just not sure when. Ian Kinsler drove in four. Jose Iglesias had four hits. Alex Avila scored four times. This means something. This is important.


Cubs 2, Cardinals 0: Lance Lynn was good (6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 9K), but Jake Arrieta was better (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7K). The Cubs scored their runs in the seventh, the first of which came when Lynn hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch then threw a pickoff throw wide to let Rizzo reached second. Then Starlin Castro singled him in. In other news, there were about 9,000 fewer fans for this game than Sunday’s, 74 more toilets and no reported problems of bathroom chaos that I’ve yet seen, so all is right with the world.

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 3: Down 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth, New York scored three when the Jays’ bullpen blew up with a bunch of unforced errors. Which, yes, is a tennis term and could be confused with actual baseball errors, but I think we overuse “implosion” when it comes to describing bullpens and I feel something more specific should describe this kind of garbage. Anyway: Aaron Loup gave up a double, a single and then loaded the base with a HBP. Then Brett Cecil came in and tossed a run-scoring wild pitch, loaded the bases again with an intentional walk, hit Brian McCann to allow a run to score and then gave up an RBI single. The Yankees’ offense is still pretty bad, but even a bad offense can score when you literally force them across the plate.

Nationals 2, Mets 1: Jordan Zimmermann allowed one run in six innings. But was he truly good enough? We’ll have to wait for Thom Loverro’s column to let us know.

Reds 5, Pirates 4: A long rain delay, a long game and then two extra innings on top of it ended just before 2AM when Joey Votto singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 11th. It was his second RBI single of the game. I’m so glad he has decided to hit RBI this year rather than choose to eschew all opportunities to drive in runs in the interests of leading the league in on-base percentage. Which is a statement that, I know, sounds insane, but people in Cincinnati actually think that.

Braves 2, Marlins 0: As everyone assumed would be the case, the Braves are 3-0. A.J. Pierzynski hit a two-run homer. Which is a nice bonus considering that his entire raison d’etre is to be baseball’s version of a Hanson brother. Shelby Miller made his first start with the Braves and allowed four hits in five innings. Overall five pitchers combined on the six-hit shutout.

Rays 2, Orioles 0: Jake Odorizzi took a two-hitter in the seventh inning. I feel like there have been a lot of fast games so far, but this could be a textbook pace-of-play game. Three hours even which, no, is not an egregious game time in this day and age. But there were only eight hits overall and one of the only two scoring plays in the game ended with a baserunner running into an out. So little action for three hours, it seems.

Royals 7, White Sox 5: Lorenzo Cain hit a two-run homer in the eighth to break the tie and give KC the win. Cain was motivated, he and his manager said, by the fact that he had been hit by pitches in both games against the Sox and that, maybe, they were thrown at him on purpose. If the the Sox are throwing at Royals guys on purpose, maybe they should change their strategy, because it ain’t working: Chicago has lost 13 of their past 16 games against the Royals and have been outscored 86-43 in those games.

Rockies 5, Brewers 4: Wilin Rosario played his best position last night — pinch hitter — and it paid off with a tenth inning homer. LaTroy Hawkins vulutred a win when he blew a save in the ninth by giving up two runs on four hits and remained the pitcher of record until the home run was hit. But we’ll excuse him because he’s one of only two players in baseball older than me anymore, and we HAVE TO HOLD ON TO HIM.

Indians 2, Astros 0: Carlos Carrasco was on point, striking out 10 in six and a third shutout innings. Carrasco posted a 1.30 ERA in his last ten starts last season and is beginning this one on a roll too. Some guys just take a while to put it together, I guess, but the previously frustrating Carrasco has turned into a pretty darn sure thing for Terry Francona and the Indians.

Giants 5, Diamondbacks 2: Chris Heston plunked a guy, allowed him to advance two bases when he sailed a pickoff throw into right field and later allowed a run on a wild pitch, but he shook it off to get his first big league win in his second big league start. Casey McGehee hit a two-run homer. Which helped remind all of us that, oh yeah, Casey McGehee plays for the Giants now.

Dodgers 7, Padres 4: Three homers for Adrian Gonzalez. He has started the season 10 for his first 13 with five homers, two doubles and seven RBI. That’s a 2.846 OPS. I think “on pace” jokes after three games are the hackiest thing out there, but I have no pride so I’ll note that he’s on pace for 267 homers this year. That would be a record.

Athletics 10, Rangers 0: I did three different radio spots in Texas Rangers country yesterday, including Tyler, Texas, Fort Worth and Oklahoma City. They all asked me if I think the Rangers have a chance this year. My answer is “nope.” Scott Kazmir allowed only one hit and struck out ten in seven shutout innings. Mark Canha who, um, not, I had never heard of before — and if you’re not an A’s fan or Canha’s mom or something, neither have you most likely — drove in four. UPDATE: OH MY GOD, Canha gave a postgame interview in which he did the “Bull Durham” “Good Lord willin’ . . .” speech word for word. I heart him.

Angels 5, Mariners 3: The Angels scored four in the first off Hisahi Iwakuma and held on. Iwakuma was poor in the second half last season. If that was more harbinger than aberration, the M’s staff isn’t gonna be as good this year as a lot of folks expect it to be. Albert Pujols homered to tie Ted Williams, Willie McCovey and Frank Thomas on the all-time list at 521. That’s fairly decent company. I suppose.

Yankees designate catcher Austin Romine for assignment

New York Yankees Photo Day

Sweeny Murti of WFAN reports the Yankees have designated catcher Austin Romine for assignment. This means that John Ryan Murphy will serve as Brian McCann’s backup this season.

A former top-100 prospect, the 26-year-old Romine struggled in Triple-A last season and batted just .182 (6-for-33) with one double and a .441 OPS over 18 games during Grapefruit League action. He entered this spring out of options, so the Yankees couldn’t send him to Triple-A without exposing him to waivers.

Murphy was No. 3 on the depth chart last season, but he was the favorite to backup McCann after Francisco Cervelli was traded to the Pirates over the winter. The 23-year-old batted .280/.318/.370 across 85 plate appearances with the Bombers in 2014.

2015 Preview: New York Yankees

Joe Girardi

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The New York Yankees.

The Big Question: Is there a team with a more extreme possibility of outcomes in 2015 than the Yankees?

Hard to see one. Which may surprise some of you given that, in the mind of the general baseball public, the Yankees are toast. Really, strike up a conversation about the Bombers with casual baseball fans anyplace, even in New York, and the sentiments will very quickly turn to “well, it was a nice run” with very few people giving them an actual chance in 2015.

But it’s premature in my mind to write the Yankees off. Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which they win, say, 88 games and make the playoffs. To be sure, that scenario is not particularly likely to play out and getting there is going to take everything breaking right with a lot of older players with injury histories. That’s not, historically, the sort of bet on which smart gamblers make a lot of money.

But nor is it sheer fantasy to suggest that two young, potential ace pitchers — Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda — can bounce back from injury and that CC Sabathia can put in an innings-eatery sort of year which makes him a nice third starter. It’s not crazy to think that Brian McCann will bounce back to his old self after last season’s quite unexpectedly bad year. It’s not insane to think that they won’t get better production at shortstop, second base and third base because, really, it’s hard to imagine it being worse. It’s not a totally loony thing to think that one, two or some combination of Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez will give the Yankees more in 2015 than they did in 2014, even if we can’t expect them to be megastars again.

The point here isn’t that the Yankees are a good bet to be a playoff team. They’re not. It’s just that they (a) won 84 games last year, even if it feels like they were terrible; (b) they have more guys who can be expected to have better years in 2015 than they did in 2014 than worse ones; and (c) it’s not going to take 95-100 wins to make the playoffs out of the AL East.

Is this the Bronx Bombers we’ve lived with for most of the past two decades? Is this a mid-dynasty kind of team? Nope. Not by damn sight. Indeed, it’s a team that, if it experiences even an average amount of decline and injury for a roster of its age, could totally crater. And that’s before you take into account the possibility that Tanaka or Pineda could have injury setbacks, which may immediately sink New York if and when it happens.

But, if things break just so, it’s a club that could, without total miracles, improve by five or six games over where it was last year. And in the age of parity and two wild cards, that can be enough.

What else is going on?

  • Oh, one other reason not to write the Yankees off just yet? Killer bullpen. The sort of bullpen which quite often elevates a team no one thought much of into contending status. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller may be the best lefty-righty combination in baseball. Each of them could be a closer for a championship team. Joe Girardi is going to have all kinds of options here, including making them a two-headed closer combo, allowing him to use whichever of these two match up best with seventh or eighth inning threats while still having someone around to lock down the ninth. That’s before you get to the considerable number of other power arms hanging around, and another good lefty in Chasen Shreve. It may not make Yankees fans happy to be compared to the Royals, but it’s a model that works, even if a club has a sputtering offense.
  • While the top three starters I mentioned above provide some upside, it’s pretty darn risky upside. Tanaka’s UCL could give up the ghost, Pineda could struggle with injury once again and Sabathia could show us that all of those innings he tossed earlier in his career have finally caught up with him. Really, the rotation is the most make-or-break part of this club. The break comes from the fact that there really are no reinforcements if the top three guys don’t come through. Starters four and five are Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Capuano. Starters 6-10 may include Sterling Hitchcock and Andy Hawkins.
  • A-Rod got all of the headlines this winter and early spring, but he’s been quiet since camp opened. And he’s been useful, according to his manager. Some have suggested cutting him to get the famous addition-by-subtraction effect. He may, actually, be a nice addition to the Yankees lineup when he DHs or the bench when he doesn’t.
  • Always an x-factor, even if it’s one that goes criminally underappreciated: Joe Girardi. The Yankees have outperformed their Pythagorean record the last two seasons, and he should get a lot of the credit for that. Primarily for his bullpen management. Maybe that’s not the sort of thing that holds up — maybe last year’s 84-win club should’ve won just 77 games and, this year, their results will fall far more closely in line with numerical expectations — but it’s hard to find a team whose manager does less to harm them and more to nudge them ahead than the Yankees. Even if Girardi doesn’t get much credit for it.

Prediction: All of that talk about upside notwithstanding, let us not delude ourselves. The Yankees are still an old team. They’re an old team counting on multiple guys with serious injury histories and risks to bounce back and be healthy and effective. That could happen, but it’s gonna require long odds to pay off and multiple needles to be threaded. Ask the Phillies how those sorts of bets pay off. If everyone feels their age and even one or two key injuries happen, this could be the worst Yankees team in 25 years. If everything breaks right and the bullpen powers them forward, they could sneak up and snag a wild card.

So let us hedge our bets and say that they’ll find themselves in Third Place, American League East, even if a more likely outcome is both better and worse than that.

Video: Yankees recreate scene from “The Sandlot”

jacoby ellsbury

If you read this blog, you probably love “The Sandlot” and you’ll probably enjoy this clip …

Brian McCann really steals the show here with his Hamilton Porter impression. Jacoby Ellsbury and those glasses get an honorable mention. That’s a pretty good Squints there, Jacoby.

Chris Davis: “I think there are definitely situations where I need to bunt”

Chris Davis AP

Orioles slugger Chris Davis finished third in the balloting for the American League MVP Award in 2013 after launching 56 home runs and amassing 138 RBI, but he took a major step back last year by batting just .196/.300/.404 over 127 games before he was handed a season-ending 25-game suspension for amphetamine use. While Davis saw his strikeout rate increase by 3.4 percent from 2013, he was also one of the biggest victims of increased defensive shifts around MLB. According to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, Davis wants to be better prepared this year:

“I think there are definitely situations where I need to bunt, and I know there was some frustration last year obviously with my batting average being as low as it was – not only on my part but the fan base and maybe even on some of my teammates’ part – as far as me hitting into the shift,” Davis said earlier this week on the “Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan.

“First of all, when you’re not swinging the bat well and you’re kind of trying to find it, for me, I want to go up there and have an at-bat. I don’t want to just lay a bunt down. There were times last year when I did lay a bunt down, but for me it’s really a comfort thing. It’s different going out there and working off a machine or even a BP arm and laying balls down the third base line and going into a game and doing it. For me, it was just a comfort thing and I have worked on it this offseason. I’ve probably worked on it more this offseason than I have in the past. If it’s a one-run game, I’m probably not going to lay one down, but there are situations where unselfishly it’s probably the best thing to do. It’s definitely a weapon I can use against other teams.

According to Baseball Reference, Davis had one bunt hit last season. Simply changing your approach to use all fields is easier said than done, so if Davis sees the same extreme infield shifts again in 2015, he’s essentially being offered a free base if he can drop one down the third base line. You probably don’t want him doing that with runners on base, as the Orioles are counting on him to drive in runs, but it’s something that would be interesting to see on occasion. Same goes for other victims of the shift, like Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira of the Yankees. Defensive shifts aren’t going anywhere, despite some brief discussion on the matter last month, so hitters need to think of ways to neutralize it.