And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Rangers 6, Rays 5: Adrian Beltre was last week’s player of the week after hitting for the cycle one night and hitting three bombs on another. He’s off to a good start for that award again, going 3 for 3 with a homer a double and four RBI. David Price had one of his worst outings of the season (4 IP, 10 H, 6 ER).

Cardinals 4, Pirates 3: Also continuing his hot streak: Matt Holliday. He hit his 24th homer, breaking a 2-2 tie in the sixth. The Pirates have dropped six of their last seven. Are we allowed to talk about them playing to break the streak of sub-.500 seasons yet, or do we still have to act like they’re in the wild card hunt?

Mariners 1, Twins 0: Felix Hernandez is ridiculously good (CG SHO, 5 H, 5K). Later this morning we’ll hear more about how the Yankees should trade for him. His fifth shutout of the year, by the way. Tough luck loss for Liam Hendricks who allowed one run over nine innings.

Athletics 3, Indians 0: Brett Anderson’s return continues to be stellar. He shut the Tribe out over seven, allowing only two hits. Oakland has won 9 of 11.

Padres 3, Braves 0: Casey Kelly’s major league debut: fantasitc (6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER). He also hit a single. I think it’s now officially safe to say, if it wasn’t already, that the Padres won the first Adrian Gonzalez trade. Yasmani Grandal accounted for all of the Padres’ runs, with a homer and a single. San Diego has won eight straight.

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 7: Colby Rasmus put his hair in some seriously stupid looking cornrows recently. He took them out before this game, however, and hit a three run homer with two outs in the ninth to put the Blue Jays in front. There’s a lesson in there for you kids. Of course, Derek Jeter tied it in the bottom half, so there’s a lesson in there too. Basically, just don’t be a total douche and instead be a professional and good things will happen. In extras, Derek Lowe threw a ball away putting the go-ahead run on third, which eventually scored. Darren Oliver beats Derek Lowe, because it’s 1999 or something. Oh, and Mark Teixeira left with a calf strain and he’s gonna miss a couple of weeks.

Orioles 4, White Sox 3: Baltimore wins another one-run game their 13th straight. And Nate McLouth hit a two-run homer. They should be called the Batlimore Oh Reallys?

Red Sox 5, Royals 1: Dice-K with his first win since the Cold War or thereabouts. Forgive me if I assume this had more to do with the Royals bats than Matsuzaka’s skillz.

Rockies 10, Dodgers 0: Josh Beckett’s debut for the Dodgers looked a lot like most of his starts for the Red Sox. Inefficient, deliberate and, while not a total disaster, not particularly effective either. Didn’t matter much, though, given that Jeff Francis and the bullpen didn’t allow a run. And even if they had, the Dodgers’ pen got violated for seven runs in the eighth.

Brewers 15, Cubs 4: Five homers for the Brewers including two from Aramis Ramirez. Ryan Braun had four hits and drove in five.

Reds 3, Diamondbacks 2: Bronson Arroyo pitched well and hit a home run to put the Reds ahead. Sometimes you gotta do everything yourself.

If 2020 season is canceled, which players would be hurt the most?

Miguel Cabrera
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Last week, I went over a few teams that stood to be hurt most if there were to be no 2020 season as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Today, we will look at some players who may be adversely effected by a lost year.

Milestones

Players chasing milestones, especially those towards the end of their careers, would be stymied by a lost season. Tigers DH and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera is the first one that comes to mind. He is 23 home runs short of joining the 500 home run club. Though he hasn’t hit more than 16 in a year since 2016, he would likely have at least hit a few this year and would have had an easier time getting there in 2021. He turns 37 years old in 10 days. Cabrera may be under contract through 2023, but it is not clear that his age and his health would allow him to play regularly such that he would be able to reach 500 home runs if the 2020 season were to be canceled. (Cabrera is also 185 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.)

Mike Trout has 285 home runs for his career. It’s almost a given that he would get to 300 and beyond in 2020. He is currently one of only 13 players with at least 250 home runs through his age-27 season. The only players with more: Álex Rodríguez (345), Jimmie Foxx (302), Eddie Mathews (299), and Ken Griffey Jr. (294). Trout likely would have also reached 1,000 runs for his career, as he is currently at 903. Losing a full season could really make a difference where he winds up on the all-time leaderboards at the end of his career.

Veteran catcher Yadier Molina will be a free agent at season’s end, though he and the Cardinals have expressed interest in a contract extension. He turns 38 this summer and is 37 hits shy of 2,000 for his career. Even if this season never happens, Molina will likely join the 2,000 hit club in 2021 whether or not he signs a multi-year extension. Molina is also 84 RBI shy of 1,000 and 21 doubles shy of 400.

Free Agents

Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto headline the free agent class heading into the 2021 season. Even if there eventually is a 2020 season, or something resembling it, teams are losing money across the board and that will result in stinginess in the free agent market. Make no mistake, Betts and Realmuto, as well as Trevor Bauer, Marcus Semien, and Marcus Stroman will still get paid handsomely, but they likely won’t get as much as they would following a typical year. The players that really stand to get hurt are the mid-tier free agents, whose cost won’t match their relative upside — players like James McCann, Howie Kendrick, Yuli Gurriel, DJ LeMahieu, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Justin Turner, Michael Grantley, Marcell Ozuna, Jackie Bradley Jr., Jay Bruce, and Josh Reddick.

2020-21 Draftees and International Free Agents

At the end of March, MLB and the MLB Players Association reached an agreement on a deal covering issues including service time, pay during the pandemic, and the amateur draft. In exchange for players on active rosters getting credit for a full year of service time whether or not there is a 2020 season, the league got the right to shorten the 2020 draft to five rounds and the 2021 draft to 20 rounds. The league also gained the right to delay the start of the 2020 and 2021-22 international signing periods.

The MLBPA effectively sold out what will be their future union members. A shortened draft this year and/or next year would mean that players who would otherwise have been drafted this year will go undrafted and thus will either become unsigned free agents or return to the draft next year as part of a crowded pool of players. Likewise, pushing back the international signing period will add more players to the market at the same time. This, obviously, benefits ownership as a surplus of labor diminishes those laborers’ leverage.

Bounce-back Candidates

Players coming off of injuries or otherwise down years in 2019 were hoping to use 2020 to bounce back, reestablishing themselves in the league. Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani didn’t pitch at all last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery and was hopeful to rejoin the starting rotation at some point in the first half of a normal 2020 season. We learned yesterday that Ohtani is expected to throw off a mound “soon.” If a 2020 season does happen, it likely wouldn’t begin for another couple of months at minimum, which should afford him enough time to get into pitching shape.

Ohtani’s teammate and perennial Gold Glove Award candidate Andrelton Simmons played in only 103 games last season due to an ankle injury. He mustered a meager .673 OPS as well, compiling just 1.9 WAR, his lowest total in any season since debuting in 2012. In 2017, he peaked at 7.8 WAR and put up 6.3 the following season. Simmons will become a free agent after the 2020 season, so he most certainly needed a healthy and productive 2020 to maximize his leverage on the market.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto, now 36 years old, is coming off of the worst offensive season of his career. He hit .261/.357/.411 with 15 home runs and 47 RBI in 608 plate appearances, continuing a downward trend. He registered a 167 adjusted OPS as recently as 2017, but that declined to 126 in ’18 and 98 last year. The Reds, back to being competitive, were definitely banking on a bounce-back year from Votto. (Votto, by the way, is also 56 RBI short of the 1,000 milestone for his career.)