Settling the Score: Saturday’s results

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Rebuilding doesn’t have to be entirely depressing.

The Astros — predicted by many to be a 100-loss team — won their fifth straight game on Saturday night in Houston, and their second straight against the defending World Series champion Cardinals.

Houston is one game under .500 (13-14), good enough for third place in the National League Central.

Jose Altuve, a 21-year-old Venezuelan second baseman, is batting .346/.389/.529. Shortstop Jed Lowrie, acquired in a steal of a trade this winter with the Red Sox, has a .979 OPS and four home runs. Wandy Rodriguez is sporting a 1.64 ERA through six starts. And left fielder J.D. Martinez ranks 13th in the major leagues with 20 RBI.

There will be regression at some point. The rotation isn’t deep and Wandy is likely to be moved near the deadline for prospects. But the ‘Stros seem to be enjoying their flirtation with relevance and Minute Maid Park is outpacing seven other MLB stadiums — including first-place Cleveland’s Progressive (Jacobs) Field.

Cardinals 2, Astros 8

Dodgers 5, Cubs 1

Phillies 1, Nationals 7

Orioles 8, Red Sox 2

White Sox 3, Tigers 2

Diamondbacks 3, Mets 4

Brewers 2, Giants 5

Reds 2, Pirates 3

Rangers 5, Indians 2 (11 innings)

Yankees 1, Royals 5

Athletics 4, Rays 3 (12 innings)

Braves 13, Rockies 9

Marlins 4, Padres 1

Blue Jays 2, Angels 6

Twins 0, Mariners 7

2018 Winter Meetings Wrapup

Craig Calcaterra
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IN AN AEROPLANE OVER THE MOUNTAINS — I’m on my way back to the wonderful Midwest, my 10th Winter Meetings in the rearview mirror. Do planes have rearview mirrors? No? Eh, just go with it. I’m tired.

As has increasingly become the case in the past few years, the Winter Meetings were something less-than-eventful, transactions-wise. The biggest deal was probably the three-team trade I wrote about a little bit ago, and it’s not even official yet. As for the official deals, here is everything that was done since Monday:

DECEMBER 10TH

  • Baltimore Orioles – Claimed RHP Rio Ruiz off waivers from the Atlanta Braves.
  • Boston Red Sox – Signed free agent RHP Nathan Eovaldi.
  • Cincinnati Reds – Claimed LHP Robby Scott off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.
  • Detroit Tigers – Signed free agent RHP Tyson Ross.
  • San Diego Padres – Signed free agent RHP Garrett Richards.
  • San Francisco Giants – Claimed OF Michael Gerber off waivers from the Detroit Tigers.
  • Seattle Mariners – Claimed INF Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels.
  • St. Louis Cardinals – Claimed RHP Ryan Meisinger off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles.
  • Texas Rangers – Claimed INF Carlos Asuaje off waivers from the San Diego Padres.

DECEMBER 11TH

DECEMBER 12TH

  • Cincinnati Reds – Acquired RHP Tanner Roark from the Washington Nationals for RHP Tanner Rainey.
  • Philadelphia Phillies – Signed free agent OF Andrew McCutchen.

That may seem like a lot, but compared to the way the Winter Meetings were even five or six years ago, it’s pretty slow. Bill talked about that a little bit yesterday.

The Rule 5 Draft went down this morning. Here are the picks:

As is usually the case, we’re more likely to hear about a Rule 5 available player who was not picked and who makes an impact in 2019, a-la Max Muncy in 2018, than any of these guys. To the extent you’d like to get an expert’s breakdown on all of this, though, I highly recommend checking out J.J. Cooper’s takes on it all at Baseball America.

Beyond the transactions, the big news of the Winter Meetings, as always, involved the Veterans Committee’s Hall of Fame election. You know by now that Harold Baines and Lee Smith made the cut. Here’s our initial take on that. The next day I tried to explain how Baines actually made it (short answer: cronyism). The day after that I ripped Tony La Russa a new one for, well, being Tony La Russa, which is always fun. Oh, and it’s not just players: the great Jayson Stark received the Spink Award, which was well-deserved.

Another winner: Brad Ausmus, who is once again Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager. My apologies to Charlie Montoyo of the Blue Jays for ranking 30th even though there were only 29 managers at the time I made the rankings. That’s kind of sad, but if you read the post it makes sense.

And that, it would seem is that. With scores and scores of free agents left, all manner of open spots on teams’ depth charts and, one hopes, some teams who actually want to improve themselves this winter, there’s still a lot of work to be done this offseason. Continue to come back to HardballTalk to keep abreast of all the news that’s fit to print and a great deal of nonsense too. All of it has its place and we like having you around for it.