Vernon Wells

Mike Trout

Alden Gonzalez explains why no Mike Trout extension is forthcoming

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Many have assumed that the Angels will try to work out a long-term deal with Mike Trout this winter before the price tag becomes even more overwhelming, but there’s a very good reason that won’t be happening. And it has a lot to do with that hideous Vernon Wells deal still taking a toll. The Angels are just too close to the luxury-tax threshold to commit big bucks to Trout at the moment.

MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez lays it all out in his blog entry:

Well, let’s say the Angels sign him to a 10-year, $300 million deal (that’s just a number I’m throwing out, basically because it’s easy to divide — and perhaps because I’m thinking of Robinson Cano). Even if in that contract, Trout is making only $1 million in 2014, the figure for the CBT [Competitive Balance Tax] payroll would be the AAV [Average Annual Value] of that: $30 million.

It matters nothing what Trout makes next year if he signs a long-term deal; it’s his average salary that counts. And since the Angels already have Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Wells, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson combining for annual salaries of $100 million, with many more mid-range players also under contract, they can’t give Trout the kind of contract he deserves and stay under the luxury tax at $189 million.

(Yes, Wells still factors in to the tune of $18 million next year. Under the deal the Angels worked out with the Yankees this spring, the Halos got some relief from his 2013 salary, but they’re taking on nearly all of that responsibility for 2014, largely because the Yankees wanted to get under the luxury tax next year.)

The Red Sox used to run into this same problem, and the Yankees, too, have typically been shy about signing younger players to multiyear deals. It’s the hidden cost of operating in the vicinity of the luxury tax; whereas small-market teams can give their young players long-term deals and save a lot of money in the long run, it costs the large-market teams extra to do so.

In this case, Trout is so incredibly valuable that one could argue the Angels should ignore the consequences and try to get something done anyway. It’ll cost them extra now, but it might yet save them some money down the line. After all, that annual salary he’ll command in a long-term deal figures to be significantly smaller now than it will be once he hits arbitration.

Yankees eliminated with Indians’ victory

Yankees' Ryan, Cano and Reynolds wait for new pitcher after the Rays scored four runs in MLB game in New York
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It’s official: the Yankees’ season is over after 162 games for just the second time in the wild card era.

The Bombers were eliminated from contention when the Indians topped the White Sox 7-2 on Wednesday evening. Just a few minutes later, they wrapped up an 8-3 loss to the Rays, leaving them with an 82-76 record.

Regardless of what happens in their final four games, the Yankees will finish with a winning record for the 21st straight year. However, they are going to miss the postseason for the first time since 2008 and the second time since 1994, when the strike eliminated the postseason. The Yankees were in first place when play ended after 113 games that year. They failed to make the postseason at 88-74 the year before in 1993. The last time they finished under .500 was 1992 (76-86).

Even if the Yankees do win out and finish at 86-76 (.531), it will be their worst record since that sub-.500 season. Their next lowest winning percentage was .540 in 2000, but they still finished in first place (and won the World Series) that year.

It’s a disappointing send off for Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, but still an impressive record giving the myriad injuries dealt with by Joe Girardi’s crew. Consider this: Chris Stewart has the sixth most at-bats this year on the Yankees roster. Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki will be the only three to finish with 500. Fourth and fifth on the list are Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells.

As they head into what surely will be a busy and probably controversial offseason, the Yankees have question marks everywhere. Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda and Curtis Granderson are free agents. Alex Rodriguez has a 213-game suspension hanging over his head. Derek Jeter, who has a player option, isn’t likely to be a full-time shortstop going forward. Plus, the Yankees, who are expected to try to get under the $189 million luxury-tax figure, won’t know how much money they have to spend until the A-Rod saga is resolved.

Practically certain to depart in free agency are longtime Yankees Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. David Robertson could replace Rivera in the closer’s role, but then the Yankees would have to sign someone to pitch the eighth. There are only two locks for the rotation in CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova, but there’s some hope that Michael Pineda will return from his shoulder woes to contribute. The lineup will have Gardner, Alfonso Soriano and the rehabbing Mark Teixeira at first base, plus Suzuki and Wells hopefully in lesser roles.

About the only positive thing the Yankees can take from this season as they head into 2014 is Nova’s rebound campaign that has him looking like a legitimate No. 3 starter. Even though he’s been typically working with two pitches (fastball and curve), he’s notched two complete-game shutouts in his last five starts, leaving him with a 3.13 ERA in 19 starts and three relief appearances this season.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

Chris Davis
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Orioles 5, Red Sox 3: Chris Davis with a two-run single in the 12th to win the game. Wei-Yin Chen gave up 11 hits but someone only three runs in five and two-thirds. Baltimore remains one back in the wild card. The Sox’ magic number for the division remains at three.

Braves 5, Nationals 2: They’re pretty much all must-win for Washington right now and they didn’t win, even with home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor gifting them runs. Homers from Justin Uggla and Dan Uggla.

Twins 4, White Sox 3: Minnesota avoids the sweep with a good outing from Scott Diamond. His first win in three months.

Marlins 4, Phillies 3: Ed Lucas hit a homer in the 10th to give the Marlins the lead and almost helped woof it away with an error in the bottom of the inning. It ended up being cool, though.

Angels 5, Athletics 4: Josh Hamilton continues to build hope for 2014. He homered to tie it up in the eighth inning and then drove in the go-ahead run in extras. Mike Trout homered too and the Angels have won four of five. A’s starter A.J. Griffin on Trout’s homer: “He’s good at baseball. I was trying to get him to miss hit, but he got it.” That quite accurately sums up a great deal of baseball I suppose.

Padres 3, Pirates 2: Three straight losses to San Diego puts the Pirates two back in the NL Central.  Mark Melancon have up two in the ninth to blow a 2-1 lead. “What a game,” San Diego manager Bud Black said afterward. I bet Clint Hurdle was a bit more colorful in his description.

Rays 4, Rangers 3: One of five extra innings games, here the Rays got a walkoff single from Desmond Jennings in the 12th. The Rangers can get a 2-2 split today. If they do these two teams will have effectively angered all of the other AL wild card contenders who would have benefitted from one team sweeping the other or at least winning the series.

Mets 5, Giants 4: The Giants had a 4-0 lead entering the eighth and still had a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, but Josh Satin raised some eyebrows with a walkoff two-run single to cap a Mets four-run rally. Three RBI for Satin overall.

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 3: This must have been a New York thing, because like the Mets the Yankees were down three late and rallied for four. Vernon Wells had a go-ahead two-run double which, according to all the game stories, “kept the Yankees alive.” Which I suppose it technically true, but it would be cool to actually see a decent nine innings of baseball from them and maybe a couple of good games in a row before truly declaring them among the playoff living.

Brewers 7, Cubs 0: Sean Halton hit a grand slam. Tyler Thornburg allowed only two hits over six innings. I had half a mind to watch this one in its entirety in order to get a last dose of relatively meaningless baseball before the playoff season started but couldn’t bring myself to. Maybe I’ll do that with a game or two next week.

Mariners 8, Tigers 0: For whatever else has happened this season for the Mariners, Hisashi Iwakuma has been fantastic. Eight shutout innings on four hits here. He is 13-6 with a 2.76 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP for a bad Seattle team.

Cardinals 4, Rockies 3: St. Louis pads its lead. Adam Wainwright won his 17th. Edward Mujica struck out Todd Helton with the bases loaded to end the game.

Diamondbacks 9, Dodgers 4: One of many late rallies last night, here the Snakes had a five-run eighth. Paul Goldschmidt homered. He leads the NL with 34, which feels like a 1980s league-leading total. I feel like 39 was always what you needed to lead the league back when Daryl Strawberry roamed the Earth.

Royals 7, Indians 2: A must-win for Kansas City and they won, depriving the Indians once again of moving into a wild card tie. The Royals now get a head-to-head series against the Rangers this weekend, also full of must-win games.

Reds 6, Astros 5: Texas native Jay Bruce with a two-run double in the 13th. Oh, and Billy Hamilton: Four steals. He reached base in all five of his plate appearances, collecting three hits and scoring two runs including the go ahead run. The Reds are probably a wild card team but they’re only a half-game behind the Pirates for the top seed. I bet they’d rather play at Great American Ballpark in a one-and-done than at PNC.