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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Tigers 10, Yankees 6: Well this sure got out of hand. I wrote up all of the fisticuffsmanship as it happened, so if you need the blow-by-blow, go here. For now, know that the best part of it was Alex Wilson admitting after the game that, yeah, he hit Todd Frazier on purpose. There’s something refreshing about that. In all five players were ejected, along with both managers and the Yankees’ bench coach. There were beanings and plunkings. It all may have been avoided if the umpires had properly warned everyone when Michael Fulmer hit Gary Sanchez, which is basically what set everyone off. No one covered themselves in glory here, though, no matter who you think was more responsible. The Tigers may have started it, but the only guy throwing at someone’s head was on the Yankees. Gary Sanchez was throwing cheap shots in the scrum, but Miguel Cabrera‘s failure to keep his cool is what set off the actual fighting. It was just a mess. Justin Upton and James McCann homered for Detroit, but it’s not like anyone cared too much about the game from the sixth inning on.

Diamondbacks 3, Mets 2: Robbie Ray returned to action for the first time since being hit in the head with a line drive last month, and he was pretty darn good, striking out nine in five innings. He allowed only one run on two hits, one of which was a Yoenis Cespedes homer. Gregor Blanco and Ketel Marte had an RBI single and sacrifice fly, respectively, and Brandon Drury singled in the Dbacks’ third run. Also, there was a super bad call in this game that made us happy that replay exists now.

Marlins 9, Phillies 8: Giancarlo Stanton hit his 47th homer on the year and  J.T. Realmuto hit an inside-the-park job. As with most inside-the-park homers, he had an assist from an outfielder who made choices, this time Nick WilliamsA.J. Ellis and Christian Yelich also homered for Miami. Rhys Hoskins went deep again for Philly, which set a new record. In the future, if this trend continues, all recap posts will be nothing but a list of home runs hit by dudes.

Rays 2, Blue Jays 0: Five pitchers combined to shut the Jays out, with starter Alex Cobb only making it through four and a third. No worries though, because even if he wasn’t efficient, Kevin Kiermaier was. Check out how far this cat ranges for these two balls:

Rockies 3, Royals 2: Greg Holland has been a hot mess of late, blowing a save and taking the loss on Wednesday night, so a lot of eyebrows were raised when Bud Black called on him to protect a one-run lead in the ninth here. No worries, though: he got the save and needed only seven pitches to do it, retiring the Royals in order. Before that the Rockies came back from a 2-0 deficit thanks to a Raimel Tapia RBI single in the sixth and a two-run homer from Pat Valaika in the eighth.

Dodgers 5, Pirates 2: If Wednesday night’s no-hitter-busting walkoff loss was demoralizing the Dodgers shook it off pretty quickly. Here Curtis Granderson homered in the fourth to give L.A. a lead they’d never relinquish and Yasmani Grandal and Adrian Gonzalez hit back-to-back homers in the eighth to give them insurance. Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed one run over six innings as the Dodgers win the series. They win basically every series.

Reds 4, Cubs 2: Jose Peraza hit a ground rule double off of Pedro Strop that scored two in the eighth and then Strop uncorked a wild pitch that allowed a third eighth inning run to score. I guess we all have bad innings sometimes. Sal Romano didn’t get the win but he did allow only two runs in seven innings AND he directed that Patio Cola commercial that was inspired by “Bye-Bye Birdie,” and that was pretty quality work for a novice.

Indians 13, Red Sox 6: Chris Sale is the Cy Young favorite in the American League and some people have even suggested him as an MVP candidate in recent weeks. Last night the Indians beat him around like a journeyman, however, lighting him up for seven runs on seven hits and three walks in just three innings. That’s not even something especially new, as  Sale is 5-8 with a 4.87 ERA in 29 career appearances vs. the Indians. Yandy Diaz was 4-for-4 with two driven in. Giovanny Urshela — who? — drove in four. Baseball is hard to explain sometimes.

Padres 4, Cardinals 3: The Padres broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the ninth when Carlos Asuaje singled home a run and added a necessary insurance run via a Jose Pirela sac fly. Luis Perdomo allowed two runs over six. The Cards bullpen allowed 12 runs in seven innings in the series.

Nationals 5, Astros 4: Anthony Rendon‘s sac fly gave the Nats the lead in extra innings and Matt Weiters singled home a necessary insurance run. Huh, sounds familiar. Extra innings wouldn’t have been necessary except the Astros got to both Sean Doolittle and Brandon Kintzler for three late runs. The Nats previously troubled bullpen had vastly improved since the trade deadline, mostly because of those two guys, but everyone gets got sometimes.

White Sox 5, Twins 1: The White Sox scored two runs on errors and one a fielder’s choice. Those were bookended by a Yolmer Sanchez homer and an RBI double from Kevan Smith. Byron Buxton homered for the Twins only run. Since the All-Star break he’s batting .302/.340/.570.

Rangers 3, Angels 0: Martin Perez shut the Angels out for seven innings and Jason Grilli and Ricky Rodriguez finished the job. Drew Robinson hit a two-run homer and Old Friend Mike Napoli hit a solo shot.

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.