And That Happened: Tuesday's scores and highlights

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Dodgers 8, Mets 0: Somewhere on Long Island there’s a guy who
went to last night’s game for the express purpose of booing Manny and
holding up a sign with a syringe on it or something. And, yes, Manny
was booed and was even ejected from the game for arguing balls and
strikes! Dude from Long Island was probably loving it! Too bad, then,
that Manny also knocked in three runs and then, after his ejection,
watched the Dodgers complete a pretty damn dominant performance from
the clubhouse while eating candy and drinking soda or whatever it is
Manny does.

Rays 3, Blue Jays 1: Phun Pfact: Map makers will sometimes slip
in phantom streets or towns or something so that they can tell if a
competing map maker is really just copying their work. I suspect that
the people who put together box scores do the same thing. Evidence: the
“pitcher” named Marc Rzepczynski. He doesn’t really exist. He’s a
copyright protection device. He was created by the NBC Sports people so
that they can tell if Yahoo! is ripping off the scores. At least I’m
pretty sure that’s the case.

Tigers 8, Royals 5: Verlander wasn’t particularly sharp, but he
strikes out 11 because the Royals aren’t particularly sharp either.
According to the game story, Verlander’s 141 strikeouts are the most by
a Detroit pitcher before the All-Star Game in 37 years. Of course that
was Mickey Lolich, and Mickey Lolich used to pitch approximately 598
innings a year back in the early 70s, so Verlander’s feat is far more
impressive.

White Sox 10, Indians 6: I’m struggling to think of a trade that
was as disastrous for both teams involved as the Perez-DeRosa trade has
been this far for Cleveland and St. Louis. Paul Konerko drove in seven.
Why is it, despite the fact that he’s 33 years-old and has been in the
league for 12 years, that I still think of him as a Dodgers’ prospect?
Same thing happened to me with Robin Ventura for his whole career. No
matter how old he got, I pictured him playing for Oklahoma State in the
1987 College World Series. Maybe the White Sox uniforms have some sort
of time warping effect or something.

Orioles 12, Mariners 4: Luke Scott was a one-man wrecking crew
(3-4, HR, 3B, 7 RBI). From the game story: “Ichiro Suzuki has turned
down MLB’s request to participate in the Home Run Derby.” Wait, what?
The guy hits six homers a year. The only reason they’d want him in
there is as a cynical rating ploy for the Japanese market, which I’m
assuming gets the All-Star broadcast. Good for him for not wanting to
be used like that.

Cardinals 5, Brewers 0: Both Brewers’ bench coach Willie
Randolph and hitting coach Dale Sveum were ejected. I said at the
beginning of the year that it may be awkward for both of these former
managers to be in subordinate roles this year. I’d like to think, then,
that their ejections were really auditions for any managerial openings
that pop up the rest of the year.

Braves 2, Cubs 1: Javier Vazquez continues to get no run
support, but he didn’t need much last night, as he gave a single run in
seven innings. His ERA is down to 2.95, but because his record is only
6-7, he doesn’t make the All-Star Game. Total ripoff.

Pirates 6, Astros 3: I can’t think of a single thing to say about this game, so I’ll say this: my son, Carlo, recently discovered the book Where the Wild Things Are.
He loves it. I loved it when I was a kid, and I love reading it to him.
I think our love of it is based on the fact that, deep down, we both
have anger issues. Nothing crazy — neither of us are violent or
bombastic — but both he and I are easily frustrated and often stomp
around a bit in something not unlike the book’s wild rumpus when things
don’t go just the way we planned. The book, you see, is really about
anger, and how it’s natural and follows a predictable but necessary arc
before resolving itself and how ultimately it’s OK. But the thing is,
the beauty of the book has a lot to do with the fact that it’s only ten
sentences long and can be read in a couple of minutes, even if you
linger on the pictures a bit. It follows that anger arc and resolves
itself pretty quickly, resulting in an almost therapeutic effect. Which
makes me wonder how in the hell they’re going to make a movie out of it.
And why they felt the need to in the first place. I hope my son never
gets wind of the movie, because I don’t want the wonderful few minutes
we spend with the book each night to be sullied in any way.

Sorry Pirates and Astros fans. I’ll try to pay more attention tomorrow night.

Red Sox 5, A’s 2: Round numbers galore: Beckett’s 10th win,
Bay’s 20th home run, Giambi’s 0 for 4. I guess what I’m saying is that
nothing out of the ordinary happened.

Reds 4, Phillies 3: Way to bounce back after getting
slaughtered. A couple of homers for Brandon Phillips and a single off
of Brad Lidge carried the day.

Yankees 10, Twins 2: Production from all over the Yankees’ order in this one, as Cano, Gardner and Cervelli combine to go 7-14 with 6 RBI.

Rockies 5, Nationals 4: Defensive breakdowns killed the Nats,
with the last being a potentially inning-ending comebacker that Joe
Beimel threw to the wrong guy down at second.

Rangers 8, Angels 5: And we’re tied again, as Andruw Jones — on
an unexpected hot streak — blasts a three-run homer in the course of a
big fifth inning. In addition to the game, the Angels lose Vlad to a
knee injury that, while maybe not terribly serious, has to be enough to
keep him from ever playing the field again, right? I mean, he has to be
a DH at this point, doesn’t he?

Diamondbacks 4, Padres 3: Four in a row for Arizona, all coming
after Mark Reynolds yelled at everyone on his team. Coincidence? Well,
yes, it most like is a coincidence, actually.

Giants 3, Marlins 0: It’s probably against the rules for Tim
Lincecum to have dressed up in Barry Zito’s uniform and pitch last
night, but he apparently did it anyway (8.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER).

Agent: Nick Senzel’s reassigment ‘egregious case of service time manipulation’

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Reds prospect Nick Senzel is ready for the majors. Although he battled injuries, the 23-year-old performed well with Triple-A Louisville last season, batting .310/.378/.509 with 20 extra-base hits, 25 RBI, 23 runs scored, and eight stolen bases in 193 plate appearances. Senzel has also performed well this spring, batting .308 across 39 at-bats.

The Reds, however, announced on Friday that Senzel was among a handful of players reassigned to minor league camp. Senzel was drafted as a third baseman, began playing second base last year, and had been playing in center field during spring training. The common thought is that the Reds, who have built a competitive roster, will keep Senzel at Triple-A to begin the season and call him up right after the club secures an extra year of contractual control.

Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Senzel’s agent Joel Wolfe calls Senzel’s reassignment an “egregious case of service time manipulation.” The full quote:

I don’t believe I’ve ever made public statements on this issue in my career, but I feel compelled to do so in this case where it feels like a simply egregious case of service time manipulation.

We are well aware of the mandate from ownership for the Reds to win this year — and this seems to fly in the face of it. The NL Central was decided by one game last year. Every game matters. This is a shortsighted move that may be frugal now but could cost them dearly later.

Nick Senzel is not a young prospect. He’s a major league-ready impact-type player. He has done everything they’ve asked this spring, including working hard to become a major league center fielder.

Nick takes pride in wearing the Reds uniform. He appreciates how much support he’s received from Reds fans. He’s going to go to Triple-A and prove every day he belongs in MLB.

We have covered the service time manipulation issue pretty extensively here, so Wolfe’s statement doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Prior to an injury, the Blue Jays were going to undeservingly stuff Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. — baseball’s No. 1 prospect — at Triple-A for the first two weeks or so of the season. The White Sox were going to do the same with Eloy Jiménez before using their leverage to nudge him into inking an extension. The Braves toyed with Ronald Acuña Jr.’s playing time last year. Kris Bryant and Maikel Franco filed respective grievances against the Cubs and Phillies for service time manipulation several years ago.

Team executives don’t outright admit to gaming a prospect’s service time to gain that extra year of control because that’s how one loses a grievance. They dance around the topic by making a nebulous claim, typically about the player’s defense needing to be worked on at Triple-A. That’s what the Cubs said about Bryant, and it’s what the Jays said about Guerrero. It’s a subjective enough evaluation that it can’t be falsified. It’s why the grievances that have been filed over this have fizzled out and it’s why more and more teams have brazenly joined the service time manipulation bandwagon.

Senzel’s case is, admittedly, a bit more murky. Though he performed well this spring, Scott Schebler has outperformed him, batting .379 with five extra-base hits and 11 walks in roughly 40 trips to the plate. The starting spot in right field is taken by Yasiel Puig and left field is taken by Jesse Winker. Schebler has ostensibly earned the starting job in center. I can’t imagine Wolfe having a compelling case if he were to file a grievance on Senzel’s behalf.

That being said, it is important that agents (and the MLBPA) speak out about this when they can. Senzel’s case may not be open-and-shut, but bringing service time manipulation into the public consciousness will have a lasting impact ahead of the December 2021 expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement. Holding team executives publicly accountable may make them less willing to manipulate their players’ service time going forward, as it may sour what could otherwise be a terrific relationship between team and player. Service time manipulation is an important piece of the labor puzzle and those on the players’ side have to seize whatever they can to potentially gain leverage. Awareness leads to solidarity.