And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Phillies 11, Yankees 6: Maikel Franco had five RBI for the second straight night and homered once again. This either has Yankees fans hating his guts or, as is their habit and primary defense mechansim, telling people exactly how long it is until Franco is a free agent and photoshopping him into Yankees gear.

Orioles 6, Red Sox 4: Adam Jones is out, David Lough is in center field in his place. No worries, as Lough hit a three-run homer. John Farrell got ejected after arguing balls and strikes. His comment: “I said a thing probably one too many times.”

Jerry Remy:  I’ve never seen John so angry. And frankly, sports fans, he used a word that’s a no-no with umpires.
Millie: [turns TV off] John must’ve called the guy a ______.
Mrs. Farrell: Mmmmm. How romantic.

Tigers 7, Indians 3: Who says no one likes going to Cleveland? Detroit is 20-5 there since the beginning of the 2013. They were likely inspired by this:

 

David Price allowed one run while pitching into the seventh. Yoenis Cespedes and Nick Castellanos each drove in two. Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Andrew Romine each notched two hits.

White Sox 6, Twins 2: Jeff Samardzija allowed two and struck out seven over seven innings. Jose Abreu notched four of the White Sox’ 15 hits. This paragraph appears in the box score:

The White Sox had eight of their 15 hits with two outs for four RBI. They had two-plus hits with runners in scoring position for the first time in 19 games, going 5 for 16.

At some point we need to have a national conversation about how hitting with two outs and hitting with runners in scoring position is not a skill and is not necessarily even significant in any way despite the fact that it’s satisfying for certain people. This paragraph appears because someone asked Robin Ventura about it, as if it were something requiring his insight as opposed to just being a thing that happened. Most stuff is baseball are just things that happen.

Rays 4, Blue Jays 3: Chris Archer was solid again, allowing one earned run and striking out seven in eight innings. Three of his nine wins have come against the Blue Jays this season. He’s 6-1 against them lifetime. Two of the Rays four runs were made possible by a wild pitch and a passed ball from R.A. Dickey. Live by the knuckler, die by the knuckler.

Brewers 3, Mets 2: Michael Cuddyer misplayed a double off the wall allowing Carlos Gomez to come around to score the go-ahead run. That’s six straight losses for the Mets, who currently have Travis d’Arnaud David Wright and Daniel Murphy on the disabled list. That they’re only two and a half back of Washington is something of a miracle. Imagine if they, you know, had a lineup.

Nationals 3, Braves 1: Stephen Strasburg came back from the DL and pitched five shutout innings, striking out six. He was backed by four hits from Anthony Rendon. The Braves threatened in the ninth, but it amounted to nothing. Storms delayed the start of this one by two hours, giving Braves fans extra time to dwell on how bad their lineup looks without Freddie Freeman in it.

Pirates 7, Reds 6: Down 4-0, the Pirates hung seven runs in the fourth inning and then hung on themselves as the Reds came close but not close enough. A two-run homer for Andrew McCutchen and a three-run shot for Francisco Cervelli. After McCutchen hit his homer he was almost the victim of a beaning when a breaking ball thrown his direction failed to break. So he did pushups.

Cardinals 4, Marlins 3: Giancarlo Stanton hit a homer approximately 8,000 feet, but he’s just one man. Carlos Martinez started poorly and got hit on the shoulder when squaring to bunt, but he settled down and struck out nine in seven innings.

Athletics 8, Rangers 6: Josh Phegley homered and had a two-run double. Oakland dug themselves too deep a hole in April and May but they’re 12-8 in June.

Cubs 1, Dodgers 0: Four in a row for the Cubs as they walk off on a Chris Denorfia sac fly. Strong pitching performances from Zack Greinke (6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER) and Jason Hammel (7.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER) both went unrewarded with a decision. Los Angeles has dropped six of eight.

Rockies 10, Diamondbacks 5: Nolan Arenado hit two homers. He now has 19 on the year. Wilin Rosario, D.J. LeMahieu and Brandon Barnes all homered as well. The Dbacks hit three of their own to make it eight overall in the game. Which was in Colorado, by the way. In case you did not know that.

Astros 13, Angels 3: Luis Valbuena hit two homers. Carlos Correa hit a three-run homer to give the Astros a 4-0 lead early and they never looked back. Correa is at .308/.338/.569 with four bombs in 15 games. He had three hits in all. The Astros lead baseball with 107 homers. Which is a lot of homers.

Mariners 7, Royals 0: Rookie Mike Montgomery tossed a four-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts. He was a first round pick of the Royals back in 2008 and they traded him away. It was in the famous James Shields/Wade Davis trade, however, so I figure Kansas City is cool with that even if this one smarted a bit.

Padres 3, Giants 2: Madison Bumgarner was cruising until the eighth — by the time that inning had started he had been shutting out San Diego and had struck out 13 on his way to 14Ks in all — but then he gave up two runs which eventually forced extra innings. Alexi Amarista singled in the go-ahead and, ultimately, the winning run in the 11th.

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.