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And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Cubs 5, Braves 1: The Cubs get a four-run third inning thanks to homers from Javier Baez and Willson Contreras while John Lackey and four relievers tie up Atlanta’s bats. Chicago wins its fifth in a row, pulling to within 2.5 games of Milwaukee, because . . .

Pirates 4, Brewers 3: . . . Milwaukee dropped its third in a row to the surging Pirates. This despite taking a 3-0 lead in the third on a Travis Shaw three-run homer. It didn’t hold up, though, thanks to Francisco Cervelli and Josh Harrison going deep in the sixth which tied it, followed by a go-ahead RBI single by David Freese. Three of those six inning runs came with two outs. The inning was extended by a Starling Marte walk. Marte also singled and made a nifty diving catch in left. Welcome back, Mr. Marte.

Cardinals 5, Mets 0: The Cardinals likewise gain ground on the Brewers as Michael Wacha twirled a three-hit, complete game shutout, striking out eight. He also had a hit and knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice. Matt Carpenter went 4-for-5. The best play in the game for the home team came via New Jersey governor Chris Christie but he got booed like crazy for it.

Yankees 6, Twins 3: Bartolo Colon’s debut with the Twins looked a lot like his time with the Braves. The big man was eminently hittable, giving up four runs on eight hits in four innings of work. The Yankees knocked him out of the game in the fifth after he gave up two hits to start the inning. Both of those runners and three more scored. That included Aaron Judge who singled in a run and then was knocked in on a Didi Gregorius homer. Judge went 2-for-4 and drew a walk, so can we maybe stop acting like the Home Run Derby took away all of his mojo? In other news, the Yankees got some new players.

Dodgers 1, White Sox 0: Cody Bellinger singled in a run in the first inning and Clayton Kershaw tossed seven shutout innings, scattering seven hits, making that one run stand up. That’s ten straight wins for the Dodgers, who now lead the west by 10.5 games and have a +173 run differential. They have won 30 of their last 34. They are the first team to do that in 40 years.

Orioles 12, Rangers 1: Baltimore jumped all over Tyson Ross, scoring six in the first before making an out and adding four more in the fourth. The bloodbath featured two homers from Chris Davis — one of which was a grand slam — and bombs from Trey Mancini and Seth Smith. Davis knocked in six runs in all. It wasn’t just the Davis show, though, as Baltimore rattled off 16 hits in all.

Diamondbacks 11, Reds 2: The Dbacks also had a six-run inning — the fifth — as the Reds pitching continues to be an absolute horror show post-All-Star break. Nine players had extra base hits. On the mound: Ray beat Romano. Everybody loves run support. In other news, the Dbacks will have a new outfielder report for duty today.

Phillies 5, Marlins 2: It was a 2-2 game until the eighth when Maikel Franco hit a solo homer. Philly added two more in the final frame with a two-run homer from Nick Williams. Williams has played 15 games since his callup. He’s hitting .302/.333/.547 with three homers and ten driven in.

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4: Boston had a long weekend in which they played a marathon game followed by a Sunday day-night doubleheader. They lost on Monday and looked like they were dragging, so the last thing they needed was to go 15 innings last night. I guess 15 innings as more tolerable when you win in the end, however, and that they did as Hanley Ramirez hit a walkoff homer. Dustin Pedroia helped get them to extras, as he homered and hit an RBI double in the sixth and seventh, respectively, to tie things up after Toronto took a 3-1 lead in the fifth.

Astros 6, Mariners 2: Houston got bad news yesterday when they learned they’d be without shortstop Carlos Correa for eight weeks, but they didn’t let it faze them on the field. Evan Gattis homered twice and Brad Peacock allowed one run on three hits and struck out nine in seven innings.

Tigers 9, Royals 3: Trading away J.D. Martinez is probably a good place to mark the beginning of a new, rebuilding (or at least reshuffling) era for the Tigers, but they started that era off well enough, as Nick Castellanos homered twice, singled, tripled and drove in five, Victor Martinez drove in two and the Tigers notched 16 hits in all. Castellanos after the game:

“We’re playing with a chip on our shoulder now.”

Maybe if you did that from April through Monday they wouldn’t have traded away Martinez?

Rockies 9, Padres 7: Gerardo Parra went 3-for-3 with two walks, scoring three times, Mark Reynolds hit a three-run homer and Carlos Gonzalez knocked in three. Colorado has won three in a row, scoring 31 runs in those games.

Rays 4, Athletics 3: Tampa Bay was down by one in the ninth and rallied for two. Both runs scored with two out as Adeiny Hechavarria and Shane Peterson hit consecutive RBI singles. The Rays remain two back of the Sox.

Nationals 4, Angels 3: Bryce Harper homered over Mike Trout‘s head in the first inning and Trout homered to center in the second. That would be Trout’s only hit, however, while Harper ended up going 4-for-4 and scoring twice. Edwin Jackson made his debut for the Nats and he was good, allowing two runs on three hits in seven innings of work. Edwin Jackson has to have the weirdest career in living memory. He’s going to disappear in a few months and then show up with yet another team in, like, three years and pitch well again. Then he’s just gonna roam the Earth like Caine from “Kung-Fu,” getting into adventures and making spot starts and stuff.

Giants 2, Indians 1: Eduardo Nunez scored the tying run in the sixth when Buster Posey knocked him in and he hit a walkoff RBI single in the 10th. The win was set up by Conor Gillaspie hitting a pinch-hit double to start the rally. It was also his 30th birthday, so nice day for him. Ty Blach got a no-decision but allowed only one run on seven hits over seven innings of work.

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.