A curious definition of “old school”

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Dave O’Brien’s column about the McCann-Gomez thing is kinda hilarious. It extolls Brian McCann’s “old school” mentality of getting up in Gomez’s face. He then added this:

I heard Billy Wagner interviewed on the radio today, and he was asked about what happened. Wagner said if it had happened when he played for the Astros, Gomez wouldn’t have made it past first base because Jeff Bagwell would have started a fight with him.

Old school.

Note: Jeff Bagwell never fought a guy on the basepaths in his entire career. And O’Brien admits that he’s never seen a catcher do what McCann did. Query: how is something “old school” if it’s totally unprecedented? He goes on:

In the past, no hitter would have pulled that stunt against the likes of Bob Gibson, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez … against any hard-throwing pitcher or a team with a hard-throwing pitcher going the next day. Because he’d have gotten a fastball in the ribs as a message, and wouldn’t get tossed because umpires would not have given warnings beforehand

Again, a path not taken by McCann and the Braves. I don’t condone beanings, but at least that would’ve been an old school move. You wouldn’t have seen John Roseboro blocking the baseline. He’d let Sandy Koufax or Don Drysdale handle it. McCann didn’t give his pitcher a chance to be “old school.”

Wait, there’s more!

By the way, can you even imagine if Chipper had done something like that at third base late in his career, when he was in full-on icon mode and seemingly every week provided a new moment to remember from him? They’d have made posters of that moment.

But he never did it either. He let Maddux and Smoltz and those guys hit people. Or he would’ve just gone and rapped a double off the wall the next inning and been happy to laugh at an immature jerk playing for a fourth place team 22 games out of first while he was on his way to the playoffs for the tenth year in a row.

You see where I’m going with this. There was nothing old school about what McCann did. You can like it if you want. You can say it was evidence of a mindset you like. But it wasn’t old school. McCann was not upholding some grand tradition. He was just being a hothead.

But there is one “old school” element to all of this. It’s totally old school for a beat writer to praise the guys he needs to get quotes from, no matter how disingenuous he has to be in order to do it. That’s just about as old as the game itself.

Yankees acquire James Paxton from Mariners

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The Yankees announced that the club has acquired starter James Paxton from the Mariners in exchange for three prospects: pitcher Justus Sheffield, outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, and pitcher Erik Swanson.

Paxton, 30, has been among the game’s better starters over the past few years. In 2018, he went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 208/42 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. The lefty has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining after earning $4.9 million this past season.

Sheffield, 22, is the headliner in the Mariners’ return. He made his major league debut in September for the Yankees, pitching 2 2/3 innings across three appearances. Two of those appearances were scoreless; in the third, he gave up a three-run home run to J.D. Martinez, certainly not an uncommon result among pitchers. MLB Pipeline rates Sheffield as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect and No. 31 overall in baseball.

Thompson-Williams, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. This past season, between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, he hit .299/.363/.546 with 22 home runs, 74 RBI, 63 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 415 plate appearances. He was not among the Yankees’ top-30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

Swanson, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. He spent most of his 2018 campaign between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Overall, he posted a 2.66 ERA with a 139/29 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings. MLB Pipeline rated him No. 22 in the Yankees’ system.

This trade comes as no surprise as the Yankees clearly wanted to upgrade the starting rotation and the Mariners seemed motivated to trade Paxton this offseason. To the Mariners’ credit, they got a solid return for Paxton, as Sheffield likely becomes the organization’s No. 1 prospect. The only worries about this trade for the Yankees is how Paxton will fare in the more hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium compared to the spacious Safeco Field, and Paxton’s durability. Paxton has made more than 20 starts in a season just twice in his career — the last two years (24 and 28). The Yankees are likely not done adding, however. Expect even more new faces before the start of spring training.