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And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Rays 3, Marlins 1: You know how people talk about “the song of the summer?” In baseball we have the “injury of the summer.” A few years ago — I think it was the summer Pharrell’s “Happy” was all the rage — all the ballplayers tore their oblique muscles. I don’t know what the song of the summer for 2017 is yet, but the injury is the blister. Here Edinson Volquez left early with a blister. Alex Cobb, also suffering from a blister, managed six scoreless innings. I think I’ve written the word “blister” more this season than I have in any season since I started covering baseball. Anyway, when asked for comment about his blister, Volquez said, “Here come bad news, talking this and that . . . Well, I should probably warn ya, I’ll be just fine. Cause I’m happy.”

Braves 9, Mets 7: R.A. Dickey beat Matt Harvey for the second time in less than a week. Asked after the game, Dickey said that he didn’t even have his best stuff: “on a scale of one to 10, I probably only had a four knuckleball.” I always assumed knuckleballs were judged weirdly, given their nature. Like, “on a scare of one to 10, my knuckleball was potato.” Oh well. Anyway, Jay Bruce drove in six runs in the losing cause. Ender Inciarte drove in three runs with three hits, but he had more help than Bruce did.

Cubs 8, Phillies 3: Javier Baez had four hits, including a triple and a homer, driving in three. Kris Bryant homered and tripled himself. Jon Lester wasn’t sharp — he walked five dudes — but allowed only three runs and did enough to snag the win. Joe Maddon didn’t hold the walks against Lester. He hated the strike zone, saying “There wasn’t a strike zone tonight, it was a ball zone . . . I don’t know what was going on.” I wish he had gone full meme with it and said “more like a BALL ZONE, amirite?” I mean, if you’re gonna be the hip dad like Maddon always seems like he wants to be you have to appropriate outdated memespeak, which will provide maximum embarrassment for your children. Believe me, I have a lot of experience in this.

Angels 6, Mariners 4: Albert Pujols hit an RBI double in the top of the 11th inning. Then the old man stole third base — how does anyone let that happen? Pujols barely has any feet at this point, right? They’re just fleshy stubs patched together with some sort of surgeon’s epoxy — and scored an insurance run on a fielder’s choice. His RBI put him past Al Simmons and Ted Williams on the all-time list. He’s now at 14th for his career, with 1,840 driven in. The Angels have won seven of eight.

Yankees 11, Blue Jays 5: Mat Latos gave up seven runs by the fourth inning and the rest was just details. Aaron Judge hit two more homers, bringing his season total to 12 — that’s a 78-homer pace — and Brett Gardner hit a couple himself. Aaron Hicks hit a homer too and Masahiro Tanaka, while not great, pitched into the seventh inning.

Diamondbacks 6, Nationals 3: Taijuan Walker was not fantastic himself, allowing three runs while walking five and not even lasting five innings, but the Arizona pen pitched four and two-thirds scoreless innings and the bats popped three long ones. The Nats, who have been scoring runs in buckets, stranded ten runners. That’s baseball.

Red Sox 5, Orioles 2: Drama galore in this one, including a standing ovation for Adam Jones, a Chris Sale pitch that went behind Manny Machado and a Machado postgame tirade against the Red Sox. Also a weird and sloppy triple play. Lost in all of this: Machado hitting a long homer off of Sale later in the game and Sale striking out 11 and allowing only two runs in eight innings.

Tigers 5, Indians 2: Miguel Cabrera came back and hit a two-run homer — the 450th of his career — and Justin Verlander allowed only two runs over seven. Corey Kluber pitched only three innings, leaving early with a sore back. That’s one worth watching.

Pirates 12, Reds 3: Josh Harrison hit a three-run homer and the Buccos’ starting pitcher, Tyler Glasnow (all together now) helped his own cause with a two-run single as the Pirates put together a six-run fifth inning. Harrison hit two homers on Monday night too. The Reds have lost 9 of 12. So, yeah, that brief moment in April when they looked kind of sexy was just a trick of the light.

Twins 9, Athletics 1: Ervin Santana struck out seven in six shutout innings and Brian Dozier jacked two out of the park. Also jacking balls out of the park for Minnesota: Miguel Sano, Jason Castro, Byron Buxton and Joe Mauer. I know it’s not even close to an appropriate time to watch the standings yet, but the Twins are 13-11 and only a half game out of first in the Central.

Astros 8, Rangers 7: Texas jumped out to a 5-0 lead by the fourth inning but, unfortunately for them, we play nine in this game. Marwin Gonzalez hit two home runs, including a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth to bring the Astros back. They’ve come back from five-run deficits three times on the young season. Overall, they’ve come from behind in 12 games, leading the majors in Rasputins.

White Sox 6, Royals 0: Jose Quintana was brilliant, tossing eight shutout innings, allowing only four singles. He has suffered from a lack of run support so far this year but that wasn’t a problem here as he had an early four-run cushion. Royals starter Danny Duffy, meanwhile, has lost back-to-back starts to the White Sox, allowing 12 runs and 19 hits in nine and two-thirds over those two games. Kansas City has lost ten of eleven.

Cardinals 2, Brewers 1: Carlos Martinez allowed only one unearned run while pitching into the eighth, outdueling Wily Peralta, who allowed two over five and a third. Both Cardinals runs scored in the sixth, when Yadier Molina hit a sac fly and Kolten Wong singled in a run. Eric Thames was 0-for-4 and has gone six games without a homer. The baseball season is long, you guys, and everything evens out over that long, long time.

Dodgers 13, Giants 5: San Francisco scored four runs in the top of the second. Then the Dodgers put up six in the bottom half, outscoring the Giants 13-1 over remainder of the game. Yasiel Puig went 3-for-5 with four driven in, all on singles. Rookie Cody Bellinger hit a bases-loaded triple. Justin Turner and Franklin Gutierrez each added two RBI, and Gutierrez had a homer. The Dodgers have won 5 of 6.

Padres 6, Rockies 2Yangervis Solarte and Ryan Schimpf hit back-to-back home runs off Tyler Chatwood in the sixth inning. Manuel Margot hit a triple that could’ve been an inside the park homer if not for the fact that less-than-fleet-footed Trevor Cahill was running ahead of him. I mean, watch this. Makes me tired just watching Cahill.

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.