And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Dodgers 2, Giants 0: Chad Billingsley puts an end to L.A.’s skid by spinning a five-hit shutout of the Giants.  Good thing he went the distance too, because Don Mattingly was managing last night due to Joe Torre’s suspension and that way he didn’t need to make a mound visit.

Padres 6, Braves 4: Billy Wagner has been outstanding this year, but even he’s gonna get hit once in a while. Atlanta had a two-run lead heading into the ninth, but the Padres rallied and then plated two more in the 12th.  Can’t win ’em all and, hey, with Philly and New York seemingly losing ’em all, no harm, no foul.

Mariners 2, White Sox 1: A hell of a pitchers’ duel, as King Felix shuts out the Sox over eight innings and Gavin Floyd shuts down the M’s over seven.  The pens continued to put up blanks through the tenth innings. But Brandon League gave up an RBI single in the top of the 11th and Bobby Jenks — not to be outdone —  gave up a two-run single in the bottom of the inning.  Oh wait — I guess he was to be outdone.  Looks we’re back to a closer controversy in Chicago too, as Ozzie Gullen said after the game that “all options are open now” when it comes to who will close games for the Sox.

Cardinals 5, Phillies 1: See what I mean? Jaime Garcia shuts down the Phillies, but don’t worry, Philadelphia is totally the best team in the NL. You have to believe that too, because it was written in a newspaper.  As for the Cardinals, if what those irresponsible, rumor-mongering blogger heathens are saying is true, Garcia probably wouldn’t even get a start in the NLDS.

Diamondbacks 4, Mets 3: New York managed only seven runs in three games while getting swept by the lowly Dbacks. Even worse, they went scoreless in eight innings against the Dbacks’ pen last night, and that’s no easy thing to do. But hey, Oliver Perez pitched a scoreless inning and a third in relief!

Pirates 15, Brewers 3: Pedro Alvarez hits two homers for the second straight night. He’s good, no question, but it helps that the Brewers’ staff couldn’t get your momma out.

Marlins 5, Rockies 2: Every few weeks there’s a series that feels like it has lasted 11 days. That is the Florida-Colorado series. I know objectively that they’ve played only three games and have one more scheduled for today, but if you put a gun to my head and asked me how I really felt, I’d say they kicked off this series sometime last September. Florida has won four of five, by the way.

Tigers 4, Rangers 1: Max Scherzer threw seven scoreless innings to help the Tigers break the skid.  Ron Washington got to take a late night flight home from Detroit last night, he faces the division rival Angels tonight, and between now and game time has to schlep over to Fort Worth to testify in the Rangers’ bankruptcy hearing in which his boss Nolan Ryan has a direct personal stake in the outcome. No pressure, Ron.

Nationals 8, Reds 5: Strasburg gives up three runs on seven hits in five and two-thirds, but he struck out seven and that’s what the people came to see. And let’s cut the guy some slack: he was facing the best offense in the NL in that bandbox they call a home park.

Athletics 6, Red Sox 4: Clay Buchholz comes back and the results weren’t pretty: five runs on six hits in four innings and that was that. The Sox are 2-5 since the break.

Royals 5, Blue Jays 2: I know wins don’t matter, but I was getting tired of seeing Zack Greinke get undeserved losses and no-decisions earlier this year, so I am happy to report that yesterday he won for the fourth time in his last five starts.

Twins 6, Indians 0: I tried like hell to find it again and couldn’t, but I swear that yesterday that some writer passed along something he overheard in the Indians’ clubhouse to the effect of “I totally got Liriano’s number” or words to that effect. Whoever it was wasn’t in the lineup yesterday, because no one could touch the guy (7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER).

Yankees 10, Angels 6: Having Twitter up during a daytime Yankees game is kind of like torture. I love the passion in Yankees fans — really I do — but the degree to which they live and die on every pitch is exhausting enough for those disinterested people watching/reading them, so I have no idea how Yankees fans themselves don’t have heart attacks all the time. Javier Vazquez had a bad day and people freaked. Hideki Matsui hit a homer and people pined for him. Colin Curtis hit an improbable home run and people practically weeped with pride and joy.  It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just so . . . emotional.

Astros 4, Cubs 3: Ted Lilly and Brett Myers both help their trade stock by giving up a lone run over seven innings (well, Lilly was seven and a third), but neither got any run support so this one went 12. Geovany Soto wins it on a walkoff jack OK, I have no idea where that came from. Sleep deprivation, I guess. For those of you who aren’t paying attention, Soto is at .295/.412/.529 on the year with 13 dingers.

Rays 5, Orioles 4: For the second night in a row the Rays blew a four-run lead, but this time they held the line and went on to score one more in the sixth which proved to be the game winner. For the Orioles, Ty Wigginton hit his second home run in as many days. Yeah, I’m basically writing about the Orioles only insofar as they are the current receptacles of players who could be useful for other teams at the trade deadline. Wanna make something of it?

John Henry tries to justify the Red Sox’ trade of Mookie Betts

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Red Sox owner John Henry issued a lengthy statement to fans today trying to explain and justify the team’s trade of Mookie Betts. It’s a master class in distortion that will, in all likelihood, make no one happy.

Henry starts by talking about “challenges.” The “particularly challenging” offseason the Red Sox had, the “extraordinary challenges” the Red Sox faced, and the front office’s handling of these “challenges.” He goes on to talk about how he knows the “challenges” affect the fans and how he sees it as his job to protect the organization from these “challenges.”

There’s a lot of passive voice here, and at no point does Henry note that the primary challenge at play here was the team’s decision to cut payroll and get it below the Competitive Balance Tax threshold. It’s just a thing that happened to the Red Sox, apparently. They had no agency in this at all.

For what it’s worth, the team keeps denying that the CBT was the motivating factor:

This is laughable, of course, given that Henry himself began the Red Sox’ offseason by specifically saying the team needed top do just that. His exact words from late September:

“This year we need to be under the CBT . . .  that was something we’ve known for more than a year now. If you don’t reset there are penalties so we’ve known for some time now we needed to reset as other clubs have done.”

Three days later, Kennedy himself said it’d “be difficult” to keep both Betts and J.D. Martinez and accomplish that goal. When that all went over like a lead balloon with the fans Henry and everyone else tried to walk it back, but you have to be an idiot not to see what happened here:

  1. Owner demands team get under CBT;
  2. Team president says it’ll be hard to do that without one of the superstars leaving;
  3. Martinez declines to op-out of his deal;
  4. Betts is traded.

They can cite all the “challenges” they want, but they traded Betts in order to slash payroll and they slashed payroll simply because they wanted to, not, as we and many others have demonstrated, because of any compelling reason.

Instead of talking about that, Henry spends the bulk of the statement talking about how baseball’s financial system — free agency, basically — requires teams to make tough choices. Henry:

In today’s game there is a cost to losing a great player to free agency — one that cannot merely be made up by the draft pick given. . . . we felt we could not sit on our hands and let him go without getting value in return to help us on our path forward.”

Losing a player to free agency stinks, but nowhere in the entire statement does Henry mention that the Sox could’ve, you know, not lost Betts to free agency next November.

Nowhere does he note that the Sox had a full year to talk to Betts about a possible extension nor did he mention that the Sox — who print money at a faster rate than anyone except the Yankees — could’ve bid on him in free agency too. He simply does not allow for the possibility that a 2021 Boston Red Sox team could’ve done what the 2020 Washington Nationals did, for example, and sign one of their big, would-be departing free agents in Stephen Strasburg. Nor, for that matter, does he allow for the possibility that they could do what the 2019 Washington Nationals did with their all-but-certain-to-depart superstar in Anthony Rendon: hold on to him in his walk year and win a damn World Series. Guess it was a “challenge” to go into all of that.

Of course, as we’ve seen across baseball this past week, it’s really, really hard to explain something when you don’t want to admit the facts and accept the consequences of it all. That’s maybe the toughest challenge of them all.

The full statement: