Damon: "The Yankees haven't made an offer"

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Johnny Damon, walking back the rumors from the weekend:

“My friends and family are calling to tell me about this offer and what
I want and it’s all wrong.  The Yankees
haven’t made an offer and I haven’t told them what I want. Everything
else is not true. Two years, four years, all that happens when Scott talks to the
Yankees. That comes later but we haven’t had any talks
at all. I don’t know where all this stuff came from.”

Maybe it’s lawyerly withdrawal setting in, but I think that this statement is deviously consistent with what was reported over the weekend.  Let’s parse:

“The Yankees haven’t made an offer . . .”  Well, that doesn’t contradict any of the business from over the weekend, because according to the previous report, Boras told them not to bother.

“I haven’t told them what I want.”  I guess there are a couple of cute ways to handle this: (a) “I haven’t told them what I, you know, really want, I just told them the lowest possible place they had best start the bidding; or (b) “I haven’t told them what I want, my agent has.”

Yes, I know I’m reading way too much into those statements. Johnny Damon is a number of wonderful things, but a master of obfuscatory syntax is probably not one of them. And it’s not like this is a legal proceeding. There’s no need to stretch to reconcile contradictory reports. If Damon or his agent say one thing on one day and another thing on another, no one is really gonna squawk.

No, in reality this is probably just a case of Damon playing good cop to Scott Boras’ bad cop in an effort to counteract the overwhelmingly negative response to his reported demands and to set it up nicely for him to accept the Yankees’ two-year offer without having to admit that he caved in the face of the team’s superior leverage.

But hey, we’re entering the slowest time of the entire annual baseball news cycle, so this sort of flyspecking is to be expected.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.