Tag: Robinson Cano

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And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights


source: Getty Images

Royals 2, Twins 1: Alex Gordon with the walkoff two-run homer. This one, apparently, was called by the bat boy. Here’s Yost’s telling of it:

“The bat boy who never says anything turns around and says, `Esky is going to get a hit and Gordo’s taking him in the fountain,” Yost said. “I said, `OK. Sounds like a pretty good plan.”

“Esky” for Escobar? It’s sad that the convention of lazy baseball nicknames is reaching yet another generation.

Giants 3, Rockies 0: MadBum — which is another lazy nicknaming convention but not as lazy as simply adding a “y” to the first syllable — was perfect into the eighth and finished with a one-hit shutout in which he struck out 13 dudes. He needed only 103 pitches to do it which, given the strikeout total, is really damn impressive. One hanging breaking ball that Justin Morneau hit for a double was all that stood between Bumgarner and perfection.

Angels 8, Marlins 2: The Angels are back alone atop the AL West and all of baseball thanks to yet another nice start from Matt Shoemaker, who allowed only two hits over seven shutout innings. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols both went 3 for 4.

Astros 4, Athletics 2: Chris Carter helped put the Angels in first too, and knocked the A’s out of this one, with a three-run homer in the eighth. Carter has homered in four of his past five games against his old team. He has 32 on the year.

Orioles 4, Rays 2: I’ve been complaining a lot about the pace of play lately, but here the guys in the game were too, following a 4-2, nine-inning game which lasted three hours and thirty-seven minutes. Here’s Buck Showalter:

“It was a mentally challenging game because it’s such a grind. A lot of time, a lot of deep counts, a lot of catcher visits.”

Here’s catcher Caleb Joseph:

“Coming off last night, we had such a great game and you want to kind of repeat it, but the pace of the game kind of slows your excitement down a little bit. You’ve got to stay into it, and our guys did a great job.”

If the manager of the winning team and the guy who drove in two for the winning team are talking about the pace of the game being a barrier to enjoying it, how are fans supposed to feel?

Padres 4, Brewers 1: Tyson Ross pitched well, but he also doubled and scored in the third and walked in the fifth. He’s now 4 for 10 with two walks in the month of August. Viva La National League.

Mariners 5, Rangers 0: Endy Chavez hit a two-run double, Robinson Cano socked a homer and James Paxton tossed six and two-thirds shutout innings. The Rangers didn’t get a runner past first base until the ninth inning.

Dodgers 9, Diamondbacks 5: The Dodgers hung six on the Dbacks in the fourth inning, thanks in part to two calls — a play at the plate and a bunt single to first base — which were overturned on replay, allowing the rally to continue. Not that there was anything particularly controversial about it. It was really more about Trevor Cahill getting knocked around like crazy which was the problem.

Mets 3, Braves 2: Juan Lagares hit a two-run homer and had seven putouts in center field, one of which was a diving catch in the gap, robbing Alex Wood of a hit. Lagares is incredible out there.

Indians 8, White Sox 6: In the tenth, with a runner on second, Zach Walters was asked to bunt. He couldn’t get the bunt down, so he ended up swinging away. Which was pretty darn lucky considering he hit a two-run homer that ended up winning the game. Cleveland continues to hang around, 4.5 back in the wild card.

Cubs 3, Reds 0: Travis Wood had been in a horrible funk, but he snapped out of it against his former team, allowing two hits over six shutout innings. Big day for “against his former team” yesterday.

Tigers 5, Yankees 2: The Yankees winning streak ends at five. Rick Porcello picked up his fifteenth win of the season after eight solid frames. Jacoby Ellsbury had two homers in a winning effort in a losing cause.

Pirates 5, Cardinals 2: Ike Davis hit a a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth. Josh Harrison added a homer. Bad news, though: Andrew McCutchen left early after aggravating that rib injury that sent him to the DL earlier this month. It’s unclear if he’ll be out today.

Red Sox 11, Blue Jays 7: Just your standard seven-run 11th inning. Part of it was a Mike Napoli three-run homer which went approximately fifty gabillion miles. Allen Craig hit a two-run shot in the same inning. Dustin Pedroia drove in four on the night. Fifteen pitchers appeared in this four hour, thirty-three minute affair.

Phillies 4, Nationals 3: The Phillies have won five of six. And yet another Phillies player was mad at Ryne Sandberg for how he was used in the game. Cole Hamels this time, who ended up with the no-decision after being yanked in the eighth. Sandberg’s hook was a bit quick — Hamels had only thrown 84 pitches — but it’s notable that this stuff is happening even with the Phillies winning a lot lately.

Mariners extend general manager Jack Zduriencik’s contract

jack zduriencik getty

Not so long ago Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik was on the hot seat–and rightfully so, after four consecutive losing seasons–but then he broke the bank for Robinson Cano this offseason and now the Mariners are 71-59.

Today the team announced a multi-year contract extension for Zduriencik, whose current deal was set to expire after this season. No specifics have been given yet on how long the new contract runs.

Zduriencik’s list of faults was a long one heading into this season and building a 90-win team after posting a .442 winning percentage in his first five years on the job hardly erases all of that, but it’s certainly not surprising that the Mariners would keep him around after deciding to retain him for this season in the first place.

Money, money, money (and Bud Selig’s nirvana)

Bud Selig

You probably know that one of Bud Selig’s big objectives as commissioner of baseball was to even the playing field – that is, to give the small-market teams a chance to contend. A luxury tax was instituted. Wildcards were added to the playoffs. The amateur draft had numerous rules changed. Sure, many people thought it was all a ploy to take money from the players and give it to the owners – and let’s not be naïve, I’m sure some of it WAS a money grab – but I always thought that competitive balance really was an issue close to his heart. Selig had been a small-market owner. He had grown up a small-market baseball fan. He will talk passionately and often about how every fan should have hope on Opening Day – he borrowed that from me, by the way — and I feel sure he believes that.

Funny thing: Here at the end of his tenure, baseball is closer to Selig’s nirvana than perhaps ever before. As Brian McPherson writes in the Providence Journal, the correlation between money spent and winning is at its lowest point in a long, long time. McPherson writes that the correlation right now between wins and money is actually smaller than the correlation between wins and alphabetical order.

Why is this a funny thing?

Because, I believe the reason for whatever actual effect we are seeing is pretty directly tied to the steroid years that Selig has been running away from for more than a decade.

Before we get to that, let’s look quickly at the playoff picture. As it stands right now:

American League

East: Baltimore (15th in Opening Day payroll)

Central: Kansas City (19th)

West: Oakland (25th) and Los Angeles Angels (6th)

Wildcard No. 1: Oakland or LA

Wildcard No. 2: Seattle (18th)

National League

East: Washington (9th in Opening Day payroll)

Central: Milwaukee (16th)

West: Los Angeles Dodgers (1st)

Wildcard No. 1: St. Louis (13th)

Wildcard No. 2: San Francisco (7th)

So, as you can see, the game is not being dominated by the highest-payroll teams anymore – of the Top 5 payrolls, only the Dodgers are in the playoffs in the season ended today. This, however, is at least a bit deceiving. Detroit has a Top 5 payroll and is just 1 1/2 games behind Kansas City – I suspect most people suspect the Tigers will catch the Royals before it’s all done. And those vampire Yankees, the team Michael Schur will tell you cannot be killed, linger two-and-a-half games behind the Mariners for the second wildcard spot. If just those two things switch, suddenly six of the ten playoff teams will have Top 10 payrolls. So it’s possible to get carried away by the moment.

Still, something is happening. Philadelphia is in shambles with a huge payroll. The Red Sox are again in last place with a huge payroll. The vampire Yankees have been hot lately but I’m still not buying them and they have flashed a whole lot more mediocrity than promise this year. The Rangers have a huge payroll and are the worst team in baseball. The Blue Jays and Diamondbacks and Reds and even the Twins are trying to spend money but seem to be spinning their wheels or are in screaming descent.

So, why is this happening? I have a theory – one that directly relates to my belief that many baseball teams are doing something that is monumentally stupid. I’m referring to the huge, long-term deals that they are giving players – deals that last until the players are in their mid-to-late 30s, and sometimes even carries them into their 40s. These contracts are a death trap, a suicide rap, and while there are exceptions to every rule, there are never more than a few exceptions. Giving huge, long-term contracts to players in their late 20s or early 30s is self-destructive. Period.

Let’s look at those big payroll teams that are struggling.

No. 2 in payroll: Yankees. Even with Alex Rodriguez mostly off the books for a year, the Yankees have these suffocating long term deals with Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, heck, they just scooped up the next two years of Martin Prado for some reason.

No. 3 in payroll: Philadelphia. Covered this one. Almost 70% of their payroll is going to big deal guys — Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, A.J. Burnett and Jimmy Rollins. Throw another $16 million in the pot for Carlos Ruiz and Marlon Byrd. What the heck could Ruben Amaro have been thinking?

No. 4 in payroll: Boston. The Red Sox salary structure is a bit different from the Yankees or Phillies… but they are still putting an old team on the field. Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava, all in their 30s. You can see them trying desperately to get younger now.

No. 8 in payroll: Texas. Lots of terrible contracts here – Prince Fielder for another six years, Shin Soo Choo for another six years, some big money about to kick in on Elvis Andrus. The Rangers have had terrible luck this year with health but this is a team staring into the barrels of some serious financial pain anyway.

So … what does this have to do with the Selig Era?

Well, there were two things that happened during the late 1990s and early 2000s that were unusual. One, of course, was the crazy proliferation of home runs. But the second was the way players aged. For a long time before the 1994 strike, players tended to age at more or less the same rate. There are countless ways to quantify this – I did a simple spreadsheet looking at players with 3.0 WAR or better. A player with 3.0 WAR is a good player (but not necessarily a great one) and there are usually 25 to 30 of them in any given season, sometimes a few more, sometimes a few less.

For decades before the late 1990s, about 72% of those good 3.0 players were younger than 30. Almost all the rest were between 30 and 34. Very few were older than 35 –  from 1972-1997 only 16 of the 594 players with 3.0 WAR were 35 or older. This seemed the natural aging pattern of players.

Here, for your information, is an incomplete list of Hall of Famers and all-time greats who never had even a 3.0 WAR season after age 35: Rickey Henderson, Rogers Hornsby, Mickey Mantle, Cal Ripken, Johnny Bench, Robbie Alomar and Yogi Berra.

It changed in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 1998, for instant, HALF the 3.0 WAR players were 30 or older. It was similar in the the surrounding years. If you include all the years from 1996 to 2004, more than 40% of all the 3.0 WAR players were at least 30 years old.

Beyond that, we suddenly started seeing 35-year olds performing at very high levels. People will immediately say that this was because of the popularization of PED use, and that was certainly a factor. It’s also possible there were other factors – smaller strike zones, smaller parks, better bats, many others. But whatever the reasons, there were a few years there where the idea of a player performing well until his mid-to-late 30s suddenly seemed reasonable.

My guess is that this seemingly reasonable conclusion that baseball players had started to beat the aging process was, in fact, quite unreasonable and it is probably the biggest factor in these massive, sprawling and utterly doomed long-term contracts. Teams started trying to lock up player’s last year for huge dough. Best I can tell, there are 22 players who are signed for big money for at least five seasons after this one. They are:

Atlanta: Freddie Freeman.

Boston: Dustin Pedroia.

Cincinnati: Shin-Soo Choo; Joey Votto.

Colorado: Troy Tulowitzki.

Detroit: Justin Verlander; Miguel Cabrera.

Los Angeles Angels: Albert Pujols; Mike Trout.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Matt Kemp; Clayton Kershaw.

Milwaukee: Ryan Braun.

New York Mets: David Wright.

New York Yankees: Jacoby Ellsbury; Masahiro Tanaka.

San Francisco: Buster Posey.

Seattle: Robinson Cano; Felix Hernandez.

Texas: Elvis Andrus; Prince Fielder.

Washington: Ryan Zimmerman.

How many of those contracts would you want? Before you answer, consider that these are mostly newer contracts – we don’t have any perspective on them yet. But we do have perspective on the LAST batch of big-money contracts – here are the big money contracts running out the next three years: Vernon Wells; Alfonso Soriano; Cliff Lee; C.C. Sabathia; Matt Holliday; Ryan Howard; Mark Teixeira; Josh Hamilton, Jayson Werth; Matt Cain; Carl Crawford; Alex Rodriguez; Jose Reyes.

How many of THOSE contracts would you want?

Baseball owners’ and GM’s madness for big money contracts to aging players has, in its own way, evened the game more than anything else Selig or any other commissioner has done. The Yankees stopped developing their own players and bought their way into a pit. The Red Sox had a couple of only moderate seasons, went on a shopping spree, and bought their way to their two worst seasons in the last half century or so. The Phillies spent a crazy fortune in a hopelessly misguided effort to keep a good team together well past its expiration date.

Even the high-spending teams that are doing well this year – the Angels and Dodgers in particular – are basically tiptoeing around some calamitous contracts.

There’s a great line in The Office where the HR representative Toby – who knows that the boss Michael despises him – finds himself stuck in the back with the impossibly annoying Kelly and Ryan, who spend all hours fighting and making up and fighting more. “I don’t think Michael meant to punish me by putting me here with them,” he said. “But if he did – genius.”

That’s what I see here too. I don’t think Bud Selig meant to even up the game by getting the big teams to wasted their huge money advantages on old and rapidly declining players. But hey, if he did – genius.

Robinson Cano to play today

Robinson Cano AP

Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano took himself out of Sunday afternoon’s game against the Red Sox in the bottom of the third inning after experiencing dizziness which he attributed to the flu. He’s either sucking it up bigtime today or else the flu was of the 24-hour variety, as he’s expected to be in the lineup today.

The Mariners are a game ahead of the Tigers for the second wild card slot at the moment. You have to figure Cano would play even is arm got lopped off in an industrial accident.

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

Brian McCann

Yankees 7, White Sox 4: A pinch-hit, walkoff homer for Brian McCann in the bottom of the tenth inning. The Yankees scored four runs — none of them earned — against Chris Sale. They’ve won four in a row and refuse, Rasputin-like, to die.

Rockies 7, Marlins 4: Sure, the Rockies won this one, but the Marlins took the season series 4-3. And, as you’re no doubt aware, the winner of the Rockies-Marlins series each year takes home the 1993 Cup. It’s a large, pewter trophy with a little speaker in it that plays Haddaway’s “What is Love” if you press the button. It’s also filled with VHS tapes containing the first season of the “X-Files.” It’s pretty prestigious, actually.

Indians 3, Astros 1: Trevor Bauer tossed six shutout innings. The Indians runs came on a sac fly and a couple of singles. No inning featured more than one run scored. Yet it took three hours and fourteen minutes. I feel like this is exactly the kind of game that baseball needs to speed up as it looks at pace-of-play issues.

Rays 2, Blue Jays 1: Evan Longoria with an RBI single in the tenth to put the Rays ahead to stay. I suppose this being an extra innings game takes it out of the pace-of-play conversation, but it’s still nuts that even a ten-inning 2-1 game can take three hours and twenty-eight minutes.

Mariners 8, Red Sox 6: The M’s sweep the Sox, sending Boston to its eighth straight defeat. Dustin Ackley was 3 for 5 with a double, a triple and three runs scored. This one was over four hours long. It featured (a) tons of men left on base; (b) two stars in Robinson Cano and David Ortiz leaving with illness and injury, respectively; and (c) with an otherwise top-flight pitcher in Hisashi Iwakuma getting beat up. That’s about a 9.6 on the ugly scale. A long rain delay or an instant replay debacle would’ve pushed it to a 10.

Mets 11, Dodgers 3: A big win and a triple play? That’s a fun day at the old ballpark for the visiting team. Of course, the triple play doesn’t happen if Puig doesn’t Puig his way into out number three at hime plate. Didnt even slide or anything. But hey, they were down by five at the time. It’s not like making dumb outs on the base paths really mattered at that point. [Someone whispers in my ear]. I’m sorry, I take that back. Running into outs is way worse when you’re down by a bunch of runs. My apologies. Oh, Yasiel.

Reds 5, Braves 3: Not as close as the score would suggest, as Alfredo Simon held the Braves in check all day before the bullpen let a couple of runs across. It was Simon’s first win since the All-Star break. I had forgotten that he was actually an All-Star this year.

Nationals 14, Giants 6: The Nats were down 5-0 after three innings and were down 6-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth. Then they scored 12 unanswered runs off of Giants pitchers. Well, the runs were answered with lots of expletives and stuff — Jake Peavy was ejected for arguing balls and strikes and he didn’t even pitch in this game — but they weren’t answered with any other runs. The Nats extend their division lead to eight games.

Padres 7, Diamondbacks 4: Yasmani Grandal had a three run homer and a sac fly. Ian Kennedy beat his old mates. Well, normally we assume that former teammates are “old mates” in that friendship way, but I’m pretty sure the Dbcaks’ team handbooks requires no relationship higher then “frenemies” for former Diamondbacks players under penalty of a Miguel Montero wedgie.

Phillies 7, Cardinals 1: Jerome Williams allowed one run on five hits in eight innings. I suppose the third team of the 2014 season is the charm. Justin Masterson has a 7.43 ERA in five starts since being traded to the Cardinals at the deadline. So that’s not looking to hot I suppose.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,500. Starts at 7:05pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Brewers 4, Pirates 3: Mike Fiers allows two runs on two hits in seven and helps the Brew Crew avoid the sweep. Fiers has been a revelation for the Brewers since being called on to replace Matt Garza in the rotation. He’s struck out 32 and walked just four in four starts with a 1.29 ERA since.

Cubs 2, Orioles 1: Tsuyoshi Wada didn’t allow a hit until surrendering a Steve Pearce homer with one out in the seventh. And that was the only offense Baltimore would get.

Tigers 13, Twins 4: Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter each drove in four in this rout. Seventy-three runs were scored in this four-game series. The Twins outscored the Tigers 42 to 31 yet the series was a split.

Rangers 3, Royals 1: The Rangers avoid the sweep. Scott Baker got his first win as a starter in more than three years. It was around 100 degrees for this game. Kind of sticks out for those of us in the Midwest and/or east coast, where’s it’s been a pretty cool and went summer. My brain really hasn’t gotten into “crap, summer heat sucks” mode all season. And my kids start school today, so it’s not going to feel mentally like summer much more either. Weird year.

Angels 9, Athletics 4: Josh Hamilton homered and drove in three, Mike Trout hit a homer and the Angels salvaged one in Oakland. Still, they leave on top of the division. To be continued next weekend.