And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

71 Comments

source: Getty Images

Mets 6, Phillies 3: Wilmer Flores hit a three-run homer in the sixth to break a 3-3 tie and to help put Bartolo Colon in the win column for the the seventh time this year. Colon also singled and actually ran the bases and stuff. Like this:

 

Yankees 14, Royals 1: Jeremy Guthrie got shellacked, giving up eleven runs while recording only three outs. It’s the first time a pitcher has allowed 11 runs while recording three outs or fewer in eight years. It’s also the first time a pitcher allowed four home runs while recording three or fewer outs in ten years. Three RBI a piece for Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Brian McCann and Stephen Drew. It was just the Yankees’ second win in 12 games. It should count for two or three at least, you figure.

Pirates 4, Marlins 2: Charlie Morton scattered eight hits and allowed two runs over seven innings in his first action of the year. According to the AP game story Morton is said to have gone on “a six-week journey to rebuild his delivery from the ground up” as he recovered from offseason surgery. Morton once famously remade his delivery to be just like Roy Halladay. I wonder who he picked this time. Is there a big glossy catalog to be leafed-through in a big shiny and futuristic delivery-remaking clinic from which you can choose? “I want to be . . . Fergie Jenkins this time!” “Excellent choice, Mr. Morton!” Or is it more of a back-alley kind of place, like how Jack Nicholson was patched up to achieve his Joker look in the Tim Burton Batman?

Blue Jays 6, White Sox 0: Drew Hutchison with The Maddux. Which is not, contrary to popular opinion, a performance in which he yelled “F**K!” so loud from the mound that it was picked up by TBS microphones and ignored by Skip Caray, followed by him peeing on the feet of his teammates in the shower. I mean, yes, those are classic Maddux trademarks. But I’m referring to the fun stat created by Jason Lukehart three years ago and which MLB and its Twitter feed continuously reference these days without any acknowledgment that Lukehart made it up. Oh well. As for Hutchison, he gave up only four hits, struck out eight and didn’t walk a soul.

Dodgers 6, Braves  3: L.A. hit three homers in the eighth inning — Andre Ethier, Alex Guerrero and Jimmy Rollins did the honors — to key the Dodgers’ win. Ethier also drew a bases-loaded walk. Braves starter Williams Perez allowed only that walked-in run and scattered seven hits in six innings. The homers came off of Nick Masset who, apparently, gets to stay in no matter how many homers he gives up in close games. Must be a weird provision of his deal or something.

Angels 4, Padres 3: Tied at three in the ninth with two men on, Bud Black decided to intentionally walk Mike Trout to pitch to Albert Pujols with the bases loaded. While walking the bases loaded to pitch to Pujols was unthinkable back during the Bush Administration, it’s pretty defensible these days, at least to get around Trout. But Pujols made Black pay by hitting a game-winning single to left field.

Rockies 5, Reds 4: Nolan Arenado homered, had three hits and drove in the go-ahead run with a sac fly in the ninth off of Aroldis Chapman. That’s nine straight losses for Cincinnati. Three wins in a row for Colorado.

Orioles 4, Astros 3: I guess Dallas Keuchel was going to lose eventually. Not that the Orioles totally murdered him. As a team they only got six hits in the whole game and went down in order in six of their eight innings at the plate. But when two of those six hits were two-run homers — from Caleb Joseph and Steve Pearce — and when your four pitchers don’t walk anyone and pitch out of trouble enough times, it’s sufficient.

Giants 8, Brewers 4: Weirdness abounded in this one. Carlos Gomez has a gold glove and a stellar defensive reputation, but he also had two errors in one inning to help fuel the Giants’ seven-run rally in the sixth. Also weird: Khris Davis hit a home run in the first, after which he was called out for allegedly failing to touch home plate. The Brewers challenged that call and he was then called safe. Davis homered again in the third inning. This time, when he scored, he stomped on home plate. I may have slid.

Twins 7, Red Sox 2: Ricky Nolasco pitched well and Trevor Plouffe hit a three-run homer. The Twins are 26-18 and are only two games back of the Royals in the AL Central. If the season ended today they’d be in the playoffs as the first Wild Card in the American League. And I’m not sure if the season ending on May 26 for some reason would be any more surprising than the Twins actually finishing the season in the playoffs. If they do make the playoffs, though, can we agree to officially abolish preseason predictions for eternity? Because it’s unseemly for people to pretend they’re experts and have any special, authoritative insight into a pursuit as random as baseball.

Nationals 2, Cubs 1: Denard Span and Wilson Ramos homered. Kris Bryant homered in a losing cause. Really, those three hits were the whole game.

Athletics 4, Tigers 0: Jesse Hahn pitched a four-hit shutout to give the A’s their third win in a row. This despite his infield committing three errors behind him. Marcus Semien’s made it 17 for him on the season. The A’s have 49 overall, leading the league.

Rangers 10, Indians 8: Six wins in a row for the Rangers and the end of a six-game winning streak for the Indians. This game marked the return of Josh Hamilton, though he didn’t do much. He was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, but he did walk and score once. Prince Fielder hit his fourth homer in four games and is now at .365/.417/.575 on the year and is on pace to hit 32 homers and drive in 126. Last year, when everyone said his bat would come alive in Texas? They were right. Just a year and a healthy Prince Fielder too early.

Cardinals 3, Diamondbacks 2: Jhonny Peralta with the walkoff homer in the 10th. This was the Cards’ eighth extra-innings win this year, which leads all of baseball. And, given that most analysts believe that, over time, extra innings wins tend to be heavily influenced by luck and random chance, it is evidence that the Cardinals possess black demon magic from an unholy source powering their success.

Mariners 4, Rays 1: Robinson Cano went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs, so I guess he’s not dead. Factoid of the day courtesy of the Associated Press:

This was the first-ever matchup of major league managers who played in the Little League World Series. McClendon was with Gary, Indiana, in 1971, while Cash was part of the 1989 Tampa, Florida, team.

Alrighty then.

 

Ahoy, San Diego: 2019 Winter Meetings Preview

Getty Images
1 Comment

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.