Former major leaguer Morgan Ensberg has been serving as a minor leaguer special assignment coach for the Astros over the last couple of years. As a result, he works with the club’s young players at various levels. Understandably, he might be a little touchy at the thought of seeing a handful of them get sent away in a trade.
The Astros have been rumored to have interest in Phillies ace Cole Hamels, which would require giving up a significant haul of prospects. Asked on Twitter if he would give up Brett Phillips, Preston Tucker, and Domingo Santana in a trade for Hamels, Ensberg said, “I’d quit. I wouldn’t trade any of those guys straight up for him.”
John Stolnis, one of the writers for SB Nation’s Phillies blog The Good Phight, challenged Ensberg’s view. They had a back-and-forth for a bit, but Ensberg increasingly resorted to condescension to Stolnis and others who disagreed with him. “You have no idea what you’re talking about,” Ensberg wrote in response to @AntsInWA. He sarcastically suggested to Stolnis, “You should be a GM.”
Snark aside, Ensberg is unrealistic about Hamels’ price tag. Hamels is one of only six pitchers (min. 500 IP) with an ERA below 3.00 since the start of the 2010 season. He’s in the same list as Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, Felix Hernandez, Adam Wainwright, and teammate Cliff Lee. Furthermore, Hamels is signed to a very team-friendly contract. He’s making $22.5 million per year between 2015-18 and has a $20 million option for 2019 he would likely demand guaranteed. After the 2015 season, he would earn $87.5 million over four years, which is about $100 million and two fewer years than he would get if he were to hit the open market. Ensberg wouldn’t trade any one of Phillips, Tucker, or Santana (a former Phillies prospect) for Hamels, but the reality is that the combination of the three might be too light a return for the lefty.
One day after trading Welington Castillo the Diamondbacks in the Mark Trumbo deal, the Mariners have called up catcher Jesus Sucre from Triple-A Tacoma while designating outfielder Justin Ruggiano for assignment.
Acquired from the Cubs over the winter, Ruggiano is batting just .214/.321/.357 with two home runs and three RBI over 81 plate appearances this season. However, he has produced an .823 against left-handed pitchers, which is basically what he was brought in for. Rickie Weeks has been worse in part-time duty, but the Mariners decided to keep him around instead.
The 33-year-old Ruggiano is making a $2.505 million salary this season, but he could draw some interest on the trade front.
Mariners closer Fernando Rodney blew his third save of the season Tuesday and his ERA now stands at 6.85, but manager Lloyd McClendon made it very clear that he’s sticking with him in the ninth inning.
Rodney has struggled a little bit, but so has everybody else. But the fact is, he’s our closer. We need him. We are going to need him to be successful. I think people talk very lightly about changing closers. And that’s fine, but you have to have somebody to do it. You just don’t throw anybody in the ninth inning and say, “Let him do it.” Because what happens when that guy doesn’t do it? And that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
McClendon has a history of sticking with closers well past their expiration dates, including Mike Williams and Jose Mesa. He clearly believes the ninth inning is vastly different than every other inning, but the “so has everybody else” quote about all the Mariners’ relievers struggling leaves out the fact that rookie setup man Carson Smith has a 1.17 ERA and 28/5 K/BB ratio in 23 innings after dominating in the minors.
When asked specifically about Smith by Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, the manager replied that “he’s a young kid and we have to be careful with him.”
McClendon and the Mariners are going to live or die with 38-year-old Fernando Rodney.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mariners — who were just swept at home by the Yankees — have acquired slugger Mark Trumbo and left-hander Vidal Nuno from the Diamondbacks in exchange for catcher Welington Castillo, right-hander Dominic Leone, middle infielder Jack Reinheimer, and outfielder Gabby Guerrero.
The six-player swap has been confirmed by the Diamondbacks, who needed to clear a spot in their outfield for Yasmany Tomas with third baseman Jake Lamb due back next week from a foot injury.
Trumbo adds some more power to a Mariners lineup that has greatly underperformed in 2015. The 29-year-old had registered a .506 slugging percentage with nine home runs and 23 RBI in 46 games this season for Arizona, though that has come alongside a weak .259 batting average and .299 on-base percentage.
Trumbo is a somewhat overrated player — the dingers can blind you — but it’s not like the Mariners gave up much to get him. Castillo was an expendable catcher and Leone has struggled mightily this year at the major league level. The two prospects in the deal — Reinheimer and Guerrero — are not of the top-100 variety. Of note, perhaps: Guerrero’s uncle is Vladimir Guerrero. Gabby has had a rough year at Double-A.
Trumbo is making $6.9 million this season and he’s arbitration-eligible for the final time in 2016.
Yankees 5, Mariners 3: Comeback win for the Bombers, who tied it in 9th when Fernando Rodney couldn’t hold a one-run lead and then won it in the 11th thanks to a Garrett Jones three-run HR. The tie came via a two-out double from Stephen Drew who offered some keen insight into his accomplishment: “Just trying to get a good pitch to hit. Not try to do too much.” He ACTUALLY SAID THAT. And people wonder why I don’t go into clubhouses to talk to players after ballgames.
Yuck. Let’s cleanse the cliches from our palate with Lloyd McClendon going crazy after his catcher got ejected in the third inning for flipping out after a bad check swing call on an A-Rod walk:
This is Lloyd’s second stint as a manager and he spent years coaching. I feel like having all of that time in the dugout, much of which he spent learning at Jim Leyland’s elbow, really helped his showmanship here. That’s one of the things we’re losing with all of these handsome, low-experience managers in the game. They still think like players. More apt to offer those “good pitch to hit, not trying to do too much” cliches rather than let the old id loose. I don’t want to go back to the days of Billy Martin because he was a big jackass, but once in a while I’d like to see some friggin’ fire out there. Thank you, Lloyd, from giving us a break from the BradMathenyCashBots.
Rangers 15, White Sox 2: Welcome to the big leagues Joey Gallo! We covered the highlights last night here and here. He finished his major league debut with four RBI. The kid has amazing power and has gotten better each year in the minors and he’s going to be something special to watch. He wasn’t the only one kicking butt here, of course — Carlos Corporan drove in five himself — but I feel like this will always be remembered in Texas as “the Joey Gallo Game.”
Nationals 2, Blue Jays 0; Blue Jays 7, Nationals 3: Game 1 featured Jordan Zimmermann shutting down the Jays and the game ending in 2:17. Which adds fuel to my theory that teams intentionally buzz through Game 1 of a doubleheader in order to get more time to chill in between games. Game 2 featured Kevin Pillar hitting two home runs off Max Scherzer. Which adds fuel to my theory that baseball is about the most random thing possible.
Rockies 6, Dodgers 3: Dodgers 9, Rockies 8: Big homers were the order of the day here. First, big in distance — Joc Pederson’s two massive blasts definitely fit that bill — including one in the first game and again in the second game which, went even farther. Or, if you watch that video, “further,” which is Charlie Steiner’s choice of words. But if I remember my schoolin’ accurately, it should be “farther” which is more often used for physical distance while “further” is more often used for figurative journeys. They may be interchangeable, however.
Another homer was big given the moment it was hit: Alex Guerrero’s two-out grand slam in the ninth inning of the nightcap, giving the Dodgers the lead. Which, unlike a lot of leads in Coors Field, held up:
Phillies 5, Reds 4: The Phillies don’t come back late very often — they were 1-30 when trailing after seven coming into this game — but Maikel Franco tied this one in the eighth with a two-run homer and then Darin Ruf hit a walkoff single with one out in the ninth. The only reason Franco got to bat in the eighth was because Jay Bruce lost a liner in the lights that should’ve been out number three. That’s another thing wrong with today’s game. Lights, consarnit! What’s wrong with playing in the daytime! If it was good enough for Rogers Hornsby back in nineteen dickety five, it’s good enough for these whippersnappers!
Athletics 5, Tigers 3: Ben Zobrist hit a grand slam to cap a five-run seventh inning to give the Tigers their fifth loss in a row and their eighth defeat in their past ten games. Look, I know it’s early June and a lot can happen, but I’m starting to get a bad feeling about the Tigers’ chances. I don’t believe in omens and hardly anything that happens in a baseball season can truly be seen as a symbol for anything, but this one feels ominous. Like they’ll look back and say “yeah, that stretch against the Angels and Athletics in June. That’s when we kind of knew we were screwed.”
Red Sox 1, Twins 0: Clay Buchholz (8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 8K) only needed one run of support here and he got it via Rusney Castillo’s RBI single in the seventh. Mike Pelfrey was no slouch himself (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER).
Miami Marlins left-hander Brad Hand stood at his locker eager to talk about a rare win, but the clubhouse stereo made conversation impossible, so he just smiled while rapper 2 Chainz’s “Birthday Song” blared away.
“I like that song,” Hand said.
Easily the highlight of the Marlins’ season so far.
Indians 2, Royals 1: Michael Brantley hit a two-out RBI single in the eighth inning to break a tie. Off of Wade Davis, no less, who hasn’t been in the business of giving up two-out RBI singles much lately. Brantley probably shouldn’t have made it to the plate, however, as there was a disputed safe call at first on a would-be double play earlier in the inning that both the umpire AND the replay officials blew. Of course, if the Royals scored more than one run off of Carlos Carrasco we’re not even having that conversation.
Astros 6, Orioles 4: Baltimore took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the third, but we play nine around these parts. Evan Gattis hit a three-run homer and Luis Valbuena knocked himself in for the go-ahead run with a solo shot as part of yet another Houston Astros comeback win. Their 17th to be exact, which leads all of baseball.
Cardinals 1, Brewers 0: Lance Lynn tossed shutout ball into the eighth. Fun times: Matt Holliday had his National League record on-base streak halted at 45. In part because he struck out on a bad call from Joe West (shocker) who then proceeded to eject Holliday. Probably would’ve been Holliday’s last plate appearance anyway, but thank goodness we had Joe West around to make sure it ended definitively. People pay to see that master work.
Diamondbacks 7, Braves 6: A see-saw game ended with the Dbacks up high — or down low? How does one “win” at see-saw? — thanks to A.J. Pollock’s two-out, two-run home run in the seventh which landed in the dang swimming pool.
Rays 6, Angels 1: Chris Archer was as dominant as all get-out, striking out 15 in eight innings of work. That tied James Shield’s franchise record. Three of those Ks were of Mike Trout. The lone Angels run came on Albert Pujols’ 534th career homer, which ties him with Jimmie Foxx on the all-time list. The homer also put him past Foxx and Ted Williams on the all-time extra-base hit list.
Padres 7, Mets 2: Noah Syndergaard had allowed only two earned runs in his previous three starts. Had. San Diego lit up the rookie sensation for seven runs on ten hits in four innings. All of which makes me wonder about the choice of headline in ESPN.com’s version of the game story:
Sorry, You do not get to be mentioned in an “Outdueled” headline if you give up seven runs on ten hits in four innings. That’s like saying “ant outduels foot.”
Pirates 7, Giants 4: Remember when Andrew McCutchen started slow? Nah, me neither. Here he had four hits and drove in two runs. He’s now hitting .398 (37-for-93) over his past 26 games, with 11 doubles, a triple, five homers, 21 RBI and 17 runs scored.
There will be some business. I have a couple of non-baseball projects I’m messing around with and I do plan on hitting up a the Rays-Mariners game in Seattle on Saturday night. I may post something at HBT if anything notable happens there, or if some Craig-bait PED story happens. But otherwise I’ll be putting up periodic updates of my trip on Tumblr and Twitter.
D.J., Drew and Bill will be putting up Settling the Scores threads in the mornings. Aaron will be here all day. Please try to find things to be outraged about while I’m gone.