Tag: Robinson Cano

Blake Treinen

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights


Red Sox 8, Nationals 7: Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the Nationals defense stunk and was a big reason they lost the game. Indeed, the Sox scored three runs in the seventh inning with the aid of zero (0) hits. How? Like this: Hanley Ramirez reached first base on yet another Ian Desmond error. Then Matt Thronton hit Shane Victorino. Ramirez went to third on a flyout, Thornton then hit Allen Craig to load the bases (the Nats have hit a LOT of Red Sox this series). Enter reliever Blake Treinen who fielded a Ryan Hanigan comebacker, dropped it, allowing Ramirez to score then threw it pas the catcher which allowed Victorino to score. Craig then came in with the go-ahead run on groundout.

The Nationals are still the most talented team in the NL East. It’d be folly to not say they’ll still win the division after a mere week or so’s worth of play. Yet they are 2-6, in last place in the division and have earned that spot by playing, perhaps, the worst baseball of anyone in the league so far. That’s pretty darn special.

Orioles 4, Yankees 3: Miguel Gonzalez struck out ten. Adam Jones homered and hit a sac fly. Postgame quote from Gonzalez: “Against the Yankees, you can’t give in. Every pitch has to be a quality pitch.” If I was there I’d be seriously inclined to ask “Which teams can you give in to? To whom can you throw junk pitches?” Then they’d take my press pass away and throw me the hell out, I assume. Be totally worth it.

Tigers 2, Pirates 0: Shane Greene is helping the Tigers not miss Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello or the injured Justin Verlander. Here he tossed eight shutout innings. This follows his season debut in which he allowed only an unearned run in eight innings against the Twins.

Rays 3, Blue Jays 2: Steven Souza had a homer that went a mile — officially 463 feet — and then later reached on a bunt single — unoffically 15 feet — and came around to score the go-ahead run. Souza on his homer: “It’s fun when it goes like that. Have you ever cut butter with a knife? That’s what it feels like.” I’m pretty sure Rabbit Angstrom said that to his priest on the golf course in “Rabbit Run.”

White Sox 4, Indians 1: Carlos Carrasco was struck in the face by a line drive in the first inning but thankfully only got a bruised jaw out of it. It did put the bullpen in the game early, however, the White Sox scored two early and that was that. I think the Indians will take that, though, given how much worse the evening could’ve gone.

Marlins 8, Braves 2: It wasn’t like Giancarlo Stanton was gonna hit .130 all year, right? Here he went 3-for-3, doubled, walked twice and drove in four. Also: in his last at bat he didn’t wear his new face guard. The AP recaps didn’t say why. I’ll check out the Miami news later this morning to see if he explained it. Either way, one of his doubles came sans face guard.

Mets 6, Phillies 5: Matt Harvey Day and a win, but Matt Harvey was mortal — giving up three runs on five hits in six innings — and the Mets suffered multiple injuries. David Wright went out with a pulled hamstring which is likely to lay him up for a while. Michael Cuddyer left with a bruised hand, though he’ll likely play today. Chase Utley homered twice in a winning effort in a losing cause. Daniel Murphy hit a homer over the newly moved-in right field wall.

Rangers 8, Angels 2: Robinson Chirinos, the ninth place hitter, drove in five runs on a three-run homer and a two-run double. The double was aided by a miscommunication between Mike Trout and Matt Joyce, but it still counts because those are the rules. Nick Martinez allowed only a single unearned run in seven innings of work.

Reds 3, Cubs 2: Anthony DeSclafani threw seven scoreless innings and Joey Votto had two hits and an RBI to help the Reds stop a three-game losing streak. The pen bent but didn’t break in the eighth and ninth. Which is sort of novel for the Reds so far this year. The not breaking part, I mean.

Athletics 4, Astros 0: Rookie Kendall Graveman and four A’s relievers combined on the shutout. Billy Butler had an RBI double, giving him a hit in every game this year.

Dodgers 6, Mariners 5: Another walkoff win for the Dodgers, this time via a Howie Kendrick two-run double. The rally came off Fernando Rodney, who has allowed six runs in his last two outings. Nelson Cruz homered for the fourth straight game and Robinson Cano hit his first homer of the season.

Padres 5, Diamondbacks 1: Odrisamer Despaigne, who’s got more junk than Fred Sanford’s driveway, allowed one run over seven innings. Dude throws stuff in the 60s and the 90s. If I had him on my team I’d slot him the day after my hardest throwing starter and enjoy the chaos.

Rockies 4, Giants 1: Six pitchers — and some amazing defense — combined on this one for Colorado. The Rockies are 5-0 on the road this year, as everyone assumed they’d be. Among the web gems: a Nolan Arenado diving catch over the tarp and then a Charlie Blackmon play in which he chased down a deep fly at the fence to rob Buster Posey of a hit, both in the same inning. We’ll do separate posts about those here at HBT shortly.

2015 Preview: Seattle Mariners

Felix Hernandez

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 Seattle Mariners.

The Big Question: Did they add enough offense?

The Mariners surprised in 2014, but man, if they just got a lick of offense, they could’ve surprised a lot more. Their 87 wins and near-wild card birth was achieved almost totally on the back of their pitching staff. Overall, the M’s had the best staff in all of baseball, allowing only 3.42 runs a game. The offense, however, was forgettable at best. Seattle scored 3.91 runs a game, which was third to last in the American League.

Robinson Cano is back, of course. As is third baseman Kyle Seager, who was the only other regular besides Cano to post an OPS+ above 100 in full-time play. Other positive offensive contributors in 2014 included Michael Saunders, who only played have the season and who is now gone, and Logan Morrison who played in 99 games. To improve upon 2014’s performance, the M’s needed more offense. So they went out and tried to get some.

The biggest addition was Nelson Cruz, who hit 40 homers and slugged .525 for Baltimore last year. Also added was Seth Smith, who hit .266/.367/.440 for San Diego in 2014. Given that Austin Jackson only played in 54 games last year you can think of him as an addition too. Rickie Weeks was acquired as well, though he’ll be riding pine and hitting against lefties mostly.

I sort of don’t think that’s enough. Taking Cruz out of Camden Yards and putting him in Safeco Field is going to cause him to take a step back a bit, and that’s before you acknowledge that he likely overachieved a bit last season in the first place. Seth Smith is not a cure-all, and full seasons of Morrison and Jackson could, based on their track records, mean full seasons of anything from good production to less-than-mediocrity. For the M’s to take that next step, they’re probably going to need more than this. They’ll need better production from Dustin Ackley, Brad Miller and Mike Zunino or they’ll need to add a bat at some point during the season.

None of which is to say the Mariners are in trouble. Heck, with their pitching staff (discussed more below) they’re almost instant contenders. But they were a flawed team last season which, while likely better on offense as 2015 begins, may not be quite good enough.

What else is going on?

  • The pitching is, of course, ridiculously good. Felix Hernandez needs no introduction. Hisashi Iwakuma has been one of the best kept secrets in baseball over the past three years. His late-season falloff last year is a bit worrisome, but given how James Paxton came on late in the season, the M’s may not need him to be a number two starter like he was before. Paxton has an injury history, of course, but he has gobs of talent. But wait, there’s more! Taijuan Walker has dodged injury and perpetual trade rumors to, presumably, earn a slot in the rotation following a spring in which he has tossed 18 scoreless innings with a 19/4 K/BB ratio. J.A. Happ at the back of your rotation is way better than J.A. Happ at the front of your rotation, and pitching in Safeco should help him. Roenis Elias is hanging around when someone needs a break, gets injured or forgets how to pitch. An extremely solid crew.
  • The bullpen was every bit as strong as their rotation last season, with Fernando Rodney, Danny Farquhar, Tom Wilhelmsen, Yoervis Medina and Charlie Furbush all pitching well and all returning. Rodney is occasionally heart-attack inducing, but if he implodes, Farquhar can handle the job. Expect a bit of a step back for this crew, as all bullpen performances fluctuate from season to season, but it’s a strong unit.
  • Adding Rickie Weeks was fun. Because he’s a second baseman and the Mariners, you may have noticed, have a pretty OK second baseman. That makes Weeks a super-utility guy, who will probably get looks in the outfield. Which is hilarious given that one of the reasons he was on the outs in Milwaukee was because he basically refused to play in the outfield when they asked him to. One presumes that Weeks was aware of Mr. Cano’s presence before signing his deal with the M’s, so one presumes that he’s on board with the move to the outfield now. Should be fun, though. He’s only ever played 2B and DH.
  • Another smallish addition: Justin Ruggiano, who could platoon with Seth Smith and/or Dustin Ackley. Or maybe Weeks can platoon. A lot of flexibility here, it seems, and if Lloyd McClendon feels comfortable with doing some plate-spinning with this lineup, he may be able to squeeze a bit more production out of it even without another big name addition.

Prediction: It’s hard not to like this club’s chances to to compete for a playoff spot. I think they still have enough questions on offense to where the Angels get the nod, but I think the Mariners are contenders. Second place, American League West.

Alex Gordon unsure about his 2016 player option

Alex Gordon

Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is coming off of a season in which he won his fourth consecutive Gold Glove, was named to the American League All-Star team for the second year in a row, and helped the Royals reach the World Series, breaking a playoff drought that extended all the way back to 1985 in the process. It was a pretty good year for the 31-year-old.

Gordon could cash in on his 2014 success if he so chooses — he has a player option worth $12.5 million for the 2016 season. If he declines it, he’ll head into free agency, where he would certainly attract plenty of suitors for a four- or five-year deal. Gordon isn’t sure whether he’ll choose his option or become a free agent, according to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Gordon, though, enjoys being a Royal and playing in Kansas City.

“I want to stay here,” Gordon said. “Absolutely. It’s close to home. Kansas City almost feels like my hometown. We love the city. We love everybody in this organization. And obviously it’s in a good place right now. It’s come a long way. And I want to be a part of the success that I think we’re still going to have.”

The Royals drafted Gordon with their second overall pick in the 2005 draft. According to Baseball Reference, Gordon is one of only five players to put up at least three seasons worth at least six wins above replacement or better in the last four seasons. The other players: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Robinson Cano, and Miguel Cabrera.

Billy Butler takes some hacks in Athletics gold. And looks weird.

butler getty

As is the case every year, there will be a lot of players putting on new uniforms for the first time later this month. To some extent they always look a bit off at first. I mean, there are fewer things in life that looked weirder to me than seeing Robinson Cano in Mariners get-up last year. It always takes a while for it to look normal.

The first glimpse of anyone in a new uniform (non-press conference edition) is Billy Butler of the Athletics, who was apparently filming a commercial yesterday and thus donned some A’s Gold:

I dunno man, that just seems odd. And not particularly flattering.

Willie Randolph was way better than you probably think

Willie Randolph Getty

A slow news day so let’s link something good. This from Mike Axisa at River Ave. Blues, going over the career of Willie Randolph, who was way better than history remembers. And better than the guy an awful lot of people call the best second baseman in Yankees history, Robinson Cano:

You needn’t take WAR at face value to argue Willie Randolph, not Cano or Hall of Famers Joe Gordon and Tony Lazzeri, is the best second baseman in franchise history. Randolph is just behind Lazzeri on the all-time hits (1,784 to 1,731) and on-base percentage (.379 to .374) leaderboards at the position while ranking first in walks (1,005) and steals (251). The gap between Willie and second place is 175 walks and 100 steals, so it’s not close either.

It’s not just a numbers case, of course. And the biggest takeaway, I think, is the notion that skills valued and recognized in one era are not always valued and recognized in another, which makes looking back and reassessing players a really useful enterprise. Randolph got on base at a great clip, was a smart base runner and played excellent but not necessarily flashy defense. In the 70s and 80s that sort of mix was often overlooked.

And, really, it makes Randolph awfully overlooked. Go read Axisa’s article and take a new look at Willie Randolph.