And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 10, Rangers 2: Mike Trout had three hits, scored twice and drove in a run. The AP gamer likewise says that he convinced this game’s starter — Hector Santiago — to get a reverse mohawk after his last outing, which Santiago credits with helping him pitch well here: “Stay in your lane,” Santiago said, explaining what the haircut symbolized. “Just like I draw the lane out on the mound. Stay straight ahead.”

Hey, can’t criticize. Like the man said, if you believe you’re playing well because you’re getting laid, or because you’re not getting laid, or because you wear women’s underwear or because you get a reverse mohawk, then you are! And you should know that! Well, come on, Annie, think of something clever to say, huh? Something full of magic, religion, bulls**t. Come on, dazzle me!

Marlins 6, Braves 2: Dan Haren gave up two runs in seven innings for his first win of the season. It put him in a good mood, too:

Twins 3, Royals 1: Whenever the last remaining undefeated team finally loses a game, the last major league team to go 162-0 pops the corks of bottles of that special champagne they save for the occasion. It’s quite the tradition.

Indians 4, White Sox 2: Trevor Bauer started off the game with three no-hit innings to go with the six no-hit innings from his first outing of the season. I think that’s at least worth, like, half a dogpile on the mound. Which, yes, would’ve been awkward to do in the middle of the third of an ongoing game, but still. Bauer’s win stopped a four-game losing streak. Guess that makes him a “stopper.”

Nationals 10, Red Sox 5: The Red Sox winning some games early has masked the fact that their rotation has sucked eggs. Hard to mask it here as Wade Miley gave up seven runs in two and a third. It was a six-run third that set the tone here, featuring a Wilson Ramos three-run double and an Ian Desmond a solo homer.

Orioles 7, Yankees 5: The Yankees had a one-run lead when Nathan Eovaldi left and the pen came in to start the sixth inning. Then Jonathan Schoop homered and four more runs crossed the plate before the inning ended. Oops. Chris Davis drove in three in the game. Manny Machado homered and Caleb Joseph went 3 for 4 with an RBI. Not gonna jump to crazy conclusions, but the Yankees may not be very good.

Tigers 1, Pirates 0: Rajai Davis hit a solo homer and that was the whole dang thing. Well, the eight scoreless innings from Alfredo Simon helped too.

Blue Jays 12, Rays 7: Huge bats and some stellar D. Homers from Jose Bautista and rookies Devon Travis and Dalton Pompey. Travis had three hits overall. What a pickup Travis was from the Tigers last year.

Mets 6, Phillies 1: The sweep. Which should have Mets fans excited. But the optimism should be a bit cautious still, given that the Phillies are, from the looks of things early, gonna stink on ice. Lucas Duda homered and had an RBI double.

Cubs 5, Reds 0: Travis Wood — who used to pitch for the Reds — tossed seven shutout innings against his old mates. Or at least a few of his old mates as he was last in Cincy four years ago. And heck, maybe even those guys didn’t like him that much when he was there, making “mates” too strong a word. Maybe Wood was the guy who stole people’s lunches from the break room fridge, ever think of that?

Astros 6, Athletics 1: Collin McHugh struck out 11 and the Astros got homers from Jed Lowrie, Luis Valbuena and Evan Gattis. Factoid: the A’s have been outscored 32-14 in their five losses and have 42-1 margin in their five wins. Remember last year how, early, all their wins seemed to be blowouts too? There’s probably some cosmic meaning to that.

Cardinals 4, Brewers 2: Lance Lynn and six (!) relief pitchers combined on this one. Yadier Molina had three hits.

Padres 3, Diamondbacks 2: Justin Upton homered and Craig Kimbrel locked it down, giving the Braves the 3-2 win.

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Dodgers 5, Mariners 2: I picked the Dodgers and the Mariners to go to the World Series. If this was that World Series the Dodgers would have a commanding 3-0 lead. Though they would have to explain how they got three home games to start off the World Series. Maybe some All-Star Game tweak happened. “This time it REALLY counts,” or something. Anyway, Joc Pederson singled home a run, made a diving catch to rob Mike Zunino of a hit and threw Zunino out at the plate on another play. Zunino probably isn’t joining the Joc Pederson fan club.

Rockies 4, Giants 2: As we all expected, the amazingly good road team, the Colorado Rockies, swept the defending World Series champions. One night after that amazing catch he made running into the tarp, Nolan Arenado hit a three-run homer. This guy is one of the best-kept secrets in baseball.

Ahoy, San Diego: 2019 Winter Meetings Preview

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Over the weekend the baseball world will descended on San Diego, California for the 2019 Winter Meetings. Let’s talk about what’ll go down there in the next week.

 

Free Agents

So far this has been a much brisker offseason than the past two, during which it seemed like no one signed between November and February. This year, however, we have already seen top-30 free agents Zack Wheeler, Yasmani Grandal, Cole Hamels, José Abreu, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Moustakas, and Michael Pineda sign, and a handful of others have inked pacts as well.

Still, there’s a lot of work to be done. Top free agent Gerrit Cole has had some heat around him lately, with the Yankees reportedly hot on his trail, and New York has at least had a conversation with San Diego native and resident Stephen Strasburg as well. Beyond them, Anthony Rendon, Madison Bumgarner, Nicholas Castellanos, and Josh Donaldson are all looking for new employers as well.

At the end of October Rotoworld’s Matthew Pouliot ran down the top 111 free agents, from highest-ranked to lowest, to help you get a jump on who is available.

 

Trades

Free agent signings notwithstanding, we are in an age in which a lot of teams are in cost-savings mode. For that reason some big, MVP-caliber names are reportedly on the trading block, including Mookie Betts of the Red Sox, Francisco Lindor of the Indians and, perhaps, Kris Bryant of the Cubs and Nolan Arenado of the Rockies. Beyond them, there has been chatter about the Dodgers dealing Joc Pederson, the Tigers dealing Matthew Boyd and the Pirates and Rockies shopping anyone worth a bag of balls.

Whether any of those big names switch teams, it’s already been a pretty active trading season so far, and it would not be at all surprising of the transaction wire is humming in the next week. We, of course, will have near-instant breakdowns of every deal that goes down, so make sure you keep a window open with this site on it and hit refresh early and often.

 

Managers on Parade

 

Trade deals and free agent negotiations take place behind closed doors, so we can only talk about those once they happen. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press.

We have a boatload of new managers this year, all of whom have had their happy little press conferences back in their home cities so far. The press availabilities at the Winter Meetings are a bit more in depth and, quite often, feature managers giving more detailed answers to their philosophies and their plans as they prepare for the 2020 season.

New at the little tables and under the bright lights this year: Jayce Tingler with the Padres, Mike Matheny with the Royals, Gabe Kapler with the Giants, David Ross with the Cubs, Derek Shelton with the Pirates, Joe Maddon with the Angels, Carlos Beltrán with the Mets, and Joe Girardi with the Phillies.

And, yes, the tradition like no other continues this year, as I will be ranking all 30 of the current managers on the basis of handsomeness. Here’s last year’s rankings. The new rankings will go up first thing Monday morning. It’s the silliest thing I do all year and, for better or for worse, it’s the thing I’m best known for. What a life I have.

 

Hall of Fame Vote

The Modern Baseball Era Committee — formerly known as the Veterans Committee — will meet on Sunday to vote in, or not vote in, new inductees for the Hall of Fame. For the past two weeks I’ve been profiling the candidates. Here are those profiles:

Committee members get four votes each. If I had four I’d give them to Whitaker, Evans, Simmons, and Miller, but you never know what the real voters will do. We’ll have the results up on Sunday evening once the vote is made public.

 

Major League Baseball vs. Minor League Baseball

One thing a lot of people don’t know about the Winter Meetings is that it’s put on, primarily, by Minor League Baseball as an organization and the vast majority of the people on the ground at the Winter Meetings either run or work for or are trying to sell stuff to minor league teams. Almost every team’s owner comes and brings along some staffers. Coaches, trainers, scouts, and other team employees who spend most of their year out in the bushes as opposed to back at the big club’s home base attend meetings and hobnob with one another.

Normally that’s all pretty routine. This year, however, it probably won’t be thanks to Rob Manfred’s plan to contract 42 minor league clubs and rearrange a great many more of them across levels and leagues.

As we noted earlier today, that scheme has set off a political firestorm and is no doubt the top agenda item and point of concern for every single minor league official and employee at the Winter Meetings. There are, reportedly, already meetings going on in San Diego about all of this. Expect some news about it at any point in the next week. At this point I’d expect anything from Manfred totally scrapping the plan, to him doubling down on it, to reports of general acrimony and possible legal action and everything in between.

 

The Boring Business of Baseball 

Outside of the transactions, the Hall of Fame stuff, the managers and the minor league contraction intrigue, we’ll likely have more mundane Winter Meetings business. Most people at the Winter Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings. There is no single rule change that everyone is talking about at the moment, but something will likely pop up. Sometimes we’re completely surprised with that kind of stuff.

 

The Rule 5 Draft

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am Pacific time on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected, but by next summer you may very well know some of them who are either picked or who were made available this week. Max Muncy could’ve been had by anyone a couple of years ago, went un-picked and all he’s done is rake like crazy for the team with the most wins in the National League. Given that even the combined minds of 29 front offices didn’t think he was worth a roster spot last year, you’ll be forgiven for not having any idea about the guys in this year’s Rule 5. But, if you want to at least attempt to be prepared for it, here’s a good place to start.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at the Hyatt Manchester in San Diego — and maybe a few other places around town — bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event.