And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 5, Phillies 2: I had been agitating for Jonathan Papelbon to pitch more. Specifically in tie games.  Well, he did here and gave up a game-losing three-run homer to Jordany Valdespin. I suppose we’ll let Cholly run the team from here on out.

Marlins 4, Astros 0: Carlos Zambrano with the three-hit shutout pushes his ERA to 1.98 on the year. Guy can still pitch a little.

Reds 6, Brewers 1: Since when does Brandon Bronson Arroyo strike out nine guys in six and two thirds? I may have written this and the Angels recap before I had any coffee.

Indians 8, White Sox 6; Indians 3, White Sox 2:  I’m beginning to think that, perfecto notwithstanding, Phil Humber is not all that good (2.1 IP, 9 H, 8 ER). The second game ended in a bunch of rain. Which you play through when you’re already making up a rainout in a double header.

Angels 8, Twins 3: Alas, Jeff Jered Weaver did not pull a Johnny Vander Meer. But he could’ve. It’s the Twins we’re talking about here. He settled for one run on three hits in six innings, bringing his records to 5-0. And why I continue to write “Jeff Weaver” instead of Jered after all of these years is beyond me.

Cubs 5, Braves 1:  Bryan LaHair, Ian Stewart and Geovany Soto all homered off Braves pitching. Jeff Samardzija allowed only one homer, to Jason Heyward and was otherwise solid.  BTW: Samardzija hit Heyward with a pitch in the seventh. If that was intentional retaliation for the Heyward homer, it was bad, bad, bad. Then Eric O’Flaherty hit David Dejesus. If that was intentional it was bad, bad, bad too.  There: happy that I don’t simply think that Cole Hamels was in the wrong because he plays for the Phillies?

Red Sox 11, Royals 5: The Sox snap a five game losing streak behind two Will Middlebrooks home runs. Which is exactly how everyone imagined slumps would be busted in Boston this year.

Rangers 14, Orioles 3: Way to make me look bad with all of that “the O’s are getting great pitching” on the HBT Extra that will air later this morning but which was taped yesterday. Brandon Snyder homered and had six RBI.

Dodgers 9, Giants 1: Ted Lilly allowed one run on four hits and struck out six to run his record to 4-0.  L.A. scored five off the Giants pen in the eighth. I’d call the Giants pen a hot mess, but I don’t want to insult hot messes.

Mariners 3, Tigers 2: The wheels done fell off in the ninth for Detroit as Octavio Dotel — filling in for the unavailable Jose Valverde —  blew a 2-0 lead, wasting a great Doug Fister start. Dotel was all over the place, walking the first two hitters he faced, then throwing a wild pitch. Then a passed ball — which could have been ruled a wild pitch — scored a run. Then a double scored another. After Dotel was yanked a bunt and then a sac fly ended it.

Padres 3, Rockies 2: Yonder Alonso drove in two and Edinson Volquez got his first win. Let’s just give Cincinnati this victory, OK?  The Padres can have the Mat Latos win from Sunday.

Cardinals 9, Diamondbacks 6: Lance Lynn wins again after shutting out the Dbacks for five. If the season ended now he’s the NL Cy Young Award winner, right? God, I hope the season doesn’t end now. I like baseball.

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.