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And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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It’s always weird, after the trade deadline, when games actually happen. It’s simultaneously anti-climatic and refreshing if that makes any sense. “Oh yeah, games.” I dunno.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 6, Mets 5: For this I’m going to defer to the Associated Press:

Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning and the Yankees, after selling off stars at the trade deadline, showed plenty of spunk while rallying past the Mets 6-5 on Monday night in their Subway Series opener.

No. No. We are NOT doing that. We are not, on the first day after the Yankees trade off some veterans, going to cast them as spunky and scrappy underdogs. They do NOT get to be the Evil Empire for 20 years and then immediately transform into the friggin’ Bad News Bears. I will not stand for this. Nor should you. They cannot be spunky until, I dunno, three more high-priced veterans are gone and they lose badly for a year while a couple of prospects emerge. Then, and only then, can they be “spunky.” There are rules, people.

Twins 12, Indians 5: Wunderbar! Max Kepler hit three homers, had four hits in all and drove in six runs. For the Indians, panic time: Danny Salazar was roughed up for six runs in two innings and now will undergo an MRI on his elbow, which he says has been bothering him for some time and has certainly affected his last two starts. In other news, Andrew Miller made his first appearance for Cleveland. He gave up a homer to Joe Mauer. Yankees win the trade?

Royals 3, Rays 0: Danny Duffy had absolutely electric stuff, taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning and setting a team record by striking out 16 batters in the game. Kevin Kiermaier was on deck when Desmond Jennings got the only hit of the game, breaking up the no-no. I had the game on and was prepared to flood the Internet with cat photos if it was Kiermaier who did it. Missed opportunities.

Cubs 5, Marlins 0: Kyle Hendricks pitched a complete game shutout, scattering seven hits. He also threw 123 pitches, which was his highest total of the year, but it was pretty necessary given that the Cubs used every player who wasn’t nailed down the day before. Anthony Rizzo singled, doubled, tripled and reached base five times. Adam Conley of the Marlins  walked six and hit a guy, needing 97 pitches to make it through four innings.

Astros 2, Blue Jays 1: This one went 14 innings and ended when new Blue Jay reliever Scott Feldman came in to face the team who traded him earlier in the day. He immediately gave up a single and a game-ending double and that was that. This should trigger a thorough review of the Blue Jays’ debriefing protocols. If a defector turns out to be a sleeper agent, someone has messed up in counterintelligence. Everyone who watches “The Americans” knows this.

Nationals 14, Diamondbacks 1: I haven’t checked the stats yet, but I am confident that Stephen Strasburg is undefeated when his team scores 14 runs on 19 hits. Three of those hits were his and he drove in a run. He picked up his 15th win of the season. He also leads the NL in WAR for starting pitchers. I feel like Clayton Kershaw still has time to claim his Cy Young Award if he comes back eventually, but if he misses much more time the support is going to shift to Strasburg. Like Woody Allen said, eighty percent of success is showing up.

Red Sox 2, Mariners 1: The M’s took a 1-0 lead into the eighth but it’s not 1968 and 1-0 leads don’t hold up too terribly often. Aaron Hill homered to tie things up that inning and Mookie Betts added a solo shot to give the Sox the lead for good in the top of the ninth. Craig Kimbrel returned for Boston and got the save, though he did allow two baserunners.

Padres 7, Brewers 3: A five-run fifth inning sunk the Brewers and snapped their four game losing streak. Travis Jankowski had three hits and two walks. Padres pitcher Jarred Cosart, making his Padres debut after being traded from Miami, only made it into the fourth after walking six dudes and hitting a guy. It’s not often a starter can do that and not pay for it, but the Brewers couldn’t capitalize. Four Padres relievers took it the rest of the way.

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.