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Tags: MLB

A Fond Farewell to Austin Jackson



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So much trade-deadline news, so little time.

Instead of tired, old analysis, what if we instead revel in the warm and sustained standing ovation the great fans of Detroit gave to their departing center fielder, Austin Jackson, as he jogged in from the outfield in the middle of an opposing batter’s plate appearance?

As you know, Jackson was headed to Seattle in a huge, three-way deal, between the Tigers, Mariners, and Rays, involving stud southpaw David Price.

More on the big trade here and here.

Tags: MLB

Andrelton Channeled His Inner Ozzie



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In yesterday’s post regarding Jason Lane’s first big-league start at age 37, I neglected to mention the latest defensive artwork from the Andrelton Simmons collection:

Okay, okay, no one’s saying that was in the neighborhood of Ozzie Smith from April 20, 1978, but still . . . wow.

Tags: MLB

Lane’s First Start: Better (Way) Late Than Never



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Via Ted Berg of USA Today’s For the Win, 37-year-old Jason Lane made his big-league pitching debut for the Padres yesterday in Atlanta and made quite an impression:

Baseball fans with good memories may remember an outfielder named Jason Lane who played for the Astros in the middle part of the last decade. This isn’t a Adam Eaton/Mike Stanton/Chris Young situation: It’s the same dude.

Lane hit 26 home runs as a regular outfielder in Houston in 2005, then collapsed offensively in 2006 and 2007. He made the rounds in Class AAA ball until 2012, when he began his transition to the mound. …

Working with a fastball around 90 mph and an effective slider, Lane held the Braves to one run on six hits over six innings on Monday but left the game losing 1–0 because he plays for the Padres.

The lone run Lane allowed — a homer to Braves catcher Evan Gattis — raised his career Major League ERA to 0.87.

More here and here.

Tags: MLB

Reveille 7/28/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

He still looks like the same man who “partied” with his teammates all night long after each glorious victory. When Damon signed with the Yankees and learned that Alex Rodriguez worked out every morning at six, Damon told the press that there were a lot of mornings “when I might not have been in at six in the morning.” Damon thought that “partying” would never end, but it did. He hasn’t partied with teammates in two years. He hasn’t played a game in two years, since the Cleveland Indians released him after three months of the 2012 season. Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, who once demanded an $85 million contract for Damon, now offered him around both leagues. “One team offered me $50,000 to teach their minor league players how to run bases,” said Damon. “Come on! $50,000 for eight months! I won’t beg for a job.” Which is not quite true. He begged the Yankees for a job last year, when Curtis Granderson got hurt. He told the Yankees, who once paid him $13 million a year, that he would play for the league minimum until Granderson returned. The Yankees didn’t want him at any price. “I wasted two years waiting for a call,” Damon said. “Now I don’t expect one.”

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

About That Brawl Ten Years Ago Today



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Time flies like an Fernando Rodney arrow. Fruit files like a banana.

Did the fisticuffs between Alex Rodriguez and Jason Varitek really happen ten years ago today? Wow.

Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk provides some useful background:

On July 24, 2004, the Yankees were cruising. They had an eight and a half game lead over the Red Sox, who were tied with the Twins for the wild card. They beat the Red Sox 8-7 the night before. A month before that they swept Boston in the Bronx. On this Saturday, New York was up again, 3–0 in the top of the third when Alex Rodriguez stepped up to the plate to face Bronson Arroyo.

A-Rod wasn’t yet the pariah he would become. Yes, a lot of people hated that he made the money that he made, but he had yet to be implicated in the PED story. He had yet to be caught cheating on his wife and dating pop stars. He had yet to strike narcissistic poses in glossy magazines and be on the outs publicly with his team. He was merely the best player in the game at that point who had maybe-a-bit-too-publicly forced a trade to a contender the previous winter. But heck, the Red Sox were actually the front-runners for him. Even struck a deal with Texas to acquire him, only to see it nixed by the union because A-Rod –selflessly! — had offered to rework his contract to make it happen.

But A-Rod had driven in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning of the Yankees victory the previous night and the Sox were a tad frustrated.

Here’s what I recall from that wild and crazy day:

  • I drove to Boston from Washington via Brooklyn because my first cousins Arlen and Curt had secured three seats for the game — I’m pretty sure it was a birthday present from the former’s father-in-law.
  • Driving through Westchester County that Saturday morning was an adventure. A ginormous storm had struck the Northeast the day before. Since I was listening to music and not the traffic report, I was unaware that the Saw Mill River Parkway north of the Taconic Parkway was flooded. (Oops.) With no exit ramp in sight, I crept filled with dread toward the two to three feet of water. Somehow, the brand new roadster made it through the pond without complaint.
  • I parked the car at Newton Corner, grabbed a jacket from the trunk — according to the Baseball-Reference box score, the gametime temperature was 65 degrees with a 12-mph wind — then rode the Green Line toward the ballpark.
  • It was my first (and still only) time watching a ballgame in Fenway.
  • I was delighted to discover that our seats were located three or four rows behind the Yankees’ on-deck circle.
  • Because we arrived early, several star players were still warming up. As the Democratic National Convention was kicking off nearby in two days, other recognizable faces were walking in front of the dugout, including a certain cable news anchor. While some of us shouted, “Hey, Jeter!” and “Sheff!” and “What do you say, Bernie?” I bellowed, “Wolf! That was a great interview with [Serbian president Boris] Tadic!”
  • This became a typical Bombers–Sawx game, meaning that it took forever to play (3:54). No less than twelve batters reached base via the walk. The Red Sox starter, Bronson Arroyo, left the game in the top of the sixth inning already having thrown over 100 pitches.
  • The Yankees were looking pretty good when Arroyo took aim at A-Rod’s left elbow. They had scored three runs while the Red Sox had been retired in order over the first two frames.
  • I wish I had some sharp insights into the fight but the only thing I remember was hearing A-Rod’s first “#### you” at Arroyo over the crowd noise.
  • The birthday cousin’s memory is a bit more intact:

[I remember] how fast the field filled with players and about three Sox players grabbing [David] Ortiz’ arm as he was trying to hit someone on the Yankees.  Oh, and the home plate umpire running away from the fight and Varitek and Rodriguez rolling around on the ground.

  • I took lots of photos of the brawl and immediate aftermath with a disposable camera but must have lost the darn thing somewhere between Newton Corner and Dupont Circle. (Sigh.)
  • The ballclubs exchanged leads in the fourth and sixth innings and the visitors took a two-run lead into the bottom of the ninth. Because I had to coach and play in a softball playoff game the next morning in D.C. and with Mariano Rivera coming in to shut the door and extend the division lead to nine and a half games, I said good-bye and headed toward the exit.
  • Hey, I wasn’t the only doofus who left early. The train heading west was packed with Boston fans looking despondent . . . until a passenger got up from his seat screaming that Bill Mueller had just cracked a home run off of the normally unhittable closer, resulting in an improbable 11–10 victory. For the remainder of the ride to Newton Square, the scene resembled a raucous celebration usually reserved for World Series–clinching victories.
  • In contrast, the car ride home was uneventful and surprisingly quick. I’m pretty sure I made the trek in no more than six hours and change.

Calcaterra continues:

The Sox won again on Sunday. They’d split the final six regular season games between them. New York, however, would once again win the AL East and then take a commanding 3–0 lead over the Sox in the American League Championship Series. Once again the Yankees looked poised to come out on top in this increasingly one-sided rivalry.

But, of course, Boston had different ideas. And in October 2004, the script to which we had become accustomed was flipped. The Red Sox would win the ALCS and the World Series. They’d win two more after that. And, some time between then and now, the feel of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry would forever change.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Kawasaki Goes Bananas



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Munenori Kawasaki has been known to march to his own drummer. In this recent SportsNet Canada interview, the 33-year-old Jays middle infielder claims to know the perfect remedy for extreme muscle tightness:

He did pronounce the “m” in “cramps,” right? Because I’m pretty sure a monkey goes no. 2 every now and then . . .

Tags: MLB

Reveille 7/21/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

This season, Street has had little margin to improve on this number, but he has nonetheless. His LOB%? 100%. If you get on base against Street — he does not allow you to score. You have to hit a home run to get across the plate — so far.

Here’s the thing, though. This is – if not entirely, then mostly — an artifact of luck. Street’s career LOB% is 77%, and if we know anything, it’s that LOB% will cause you to be eaten by a luck dragon. 100% is not sustainable. It’s not even close to sustainable. Yet it is a main factor in the ERA / RA9 success that Street has had over the past two seasons. Street has a career FIP of 3.20 and a career RA9 of 3.09. That’s a pretty decent expectation for his future performance.

It’s probably fair to project Street to be a good closer — albeit one with some potential injury worries — over the life of a contract that will pay him fairly, or perhaps a little bit undervaluing him. He’s got a $7 million option for 2015. He’s what I’d consider a good fit for Los Angeles, but not a cure-all.

The interesting thing here, of course, is that the Angels had to give up four prospects to get him [and a minor-league reliever]. . . .

In the end, the Angels gave up four prospects, three with some very real upside, for a year and a half of Huston Street. Huston Street is a relief pitcher, and relief pitchers are possibly the most volatile asset in baseball. Their performance swings wildly, and they are pitchers, which leaves them open to a host of injury possibilities.

All the Angels had to give up to get him was a good chunk of the top-end of their already-weak farm system.

  • Later this week, C. C. Sabathia will undergo season-ending arthroscopic debridement surgery on his right knee. While Yankee fans can’t be thrilled that four-fifths of their Opening Day rotation is on the shelf, GM Brian Cashman provided them with a silver lining when he acquired Brandon McCarthy from the Diamondbacks earlier this month. (In two starts since donning pinstripes, McCarthy has given up two runs in 12 2/3 innings, striking out 12 and walking one.) In the wake of the trade, Eno Sarris of Fangraphs postulated that McCarthy was due for progression toward the mean:

ERA does not tell the full story of Brandon McCarthy‘s season so far. Look across his line, and you see career-best strikeout (20%) and ground-ball rates (55.3%) paired with his customary excellent command . . . and then you see that he’s giving up twice as many home runs on fly balls as he has his whole career. . . .

Perhaps the 11 home runs he’s given up in the hitter friendly parks in Arizona and Colorado (versus the four he’s given up elsewhere) have a little more to do with the ledger standing as it does.

At least the Yankees and their home park — third-friendliest in the league to lefty power hitters — can hope so. They’ve got the rest of the (non-ERA) numbers on their side, it looks like.

 

 

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Bending Over to Beat Cancer



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According to ESPN.com sports-business reporter Darren Rovell, a minor-league general manager will be singing soprano during an upcoming seventh-inning stretch:

Andy Milovich has offered to go this week where no man has gone before: A prostate exam in front of a full stadium of fans.

Milovich, the general manager of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Single-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, offered to have the exam while singing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch if local 10-year-old Fallon Emery, who has brain cancer, gets 10,000 likes on her Facebook page before the game.

“It’s not like I would be getting it at home plate,” Milovich said. “I’ll likely do it from our radio booth and the fans will see me from the shoulder up.”

Milovich made the prostate-cancer-screening offer last Thursday night on the condition that the Facebook community page belonging to the ten-year-old local girl stricken with brain cancer received over 10,000 “likes.” As of late last night, that number had been exceeded.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Wainwright Grooved Pitch to Jeter



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So this happened at the All-Star Game:

“Repoz” from Baseball Think Factory had predicted as much hours before Jeter’s plate appearance:

Someone in Commissioner Selig’s office forgot to alert Wainwright that #ThisTimeItCounts. If the Cardinals return to the World Series, the American League triumph in Target Field earlier this evening means St. Louis again won’t have home-field advantage.

Anyway, there’s a precedent for this sort of behavior. For example, Denny McLain and his catcher, Jim Price, conspired to groove pitches to Mickey Mantle in Tiger Stadium at the end of the center fielder’s Hall of Fame career.

More importantly: Am I the only one who had never heard the term “pipe shot” until earlier this evening? Nope, even Urban Dictionary doesn’t recognize the moniker.

UPDATE: In an in-game interview with Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews, Wainwright awkwardly attempted to walk back his comments, saying they were “taken the wrong way.” Um, okay . . .

Tags: MLB

Stop ‘Body-Shaming’ Prince Fielder!



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Is Prince Fielder too “cubby” for the cover of ESPN’s Body Issue? New York magazine:

An early glimpse of ESPN’s annual Body Issue — which comes out this Friday — reveals that Texas Rangers MLB star Prince Fielder is on one of the covers in his full naked glory. It took all of one day for the body-shaming to start, with Twitter commenters slamming ESPN for putting a “plus-size athlete” on the cover and mocking Fielder for his physique.

In the issue’s interview, Fielder addressed his atypical athlete’s body:

A lot of people probably think I’m not athletic or don’t even try to work out or whatever, but I do. Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you can’t be an athlete. And just because you work out doesn’t mean you’re going to have a 12-pack. I work out to make sure I can do my job to the best of my ability. Other than that, I’m not going up there trying to be a fitness model.

I’m not sure pointing to “Twitter commenters” counts as proof of what New York is suggesting. Finding angry people on Twitter is quite easy, no matter the subject. If we wait a few days I’m sure we’ll find an equal number of of commenters who think it’s fine that Fielder is on the cover.

Exit question: After seeing the picture of Fielder, would any of the Twitter body-analysis experts dare to say what they’re tweeting to his face? Doubtful:

 

Tags: MLB

RE2PECT, According to Deadspin



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Undoubtedly, you’ve either seen or heard of the new Nike “Air Jordan” advertisement featuring the tipping of caps to The Captain:

But did you know that Deadspin made an important, er, adjustment to the original video, which may be viewed by clicking here?

Hint: The modified version also features cameos from Dustin Pedroia (4), Stephen Drew (6), and Mike Napoli (3) in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game from June 28th.

Tags: MLB

Reveille 7/14/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your All-Star Game Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

  • Watch rookie sensation Mookie Betts delight the Fenway faithful as he turns on the jets against the White Sox infielders in a game his Red Sox would eventually come back and win, 5–4.
  • Via Danny Ecker of Crain’s Chicago Business, the Commission of Chicago Landmarks unanimously approved the Cubs’ request to erect several signs above the Wrigley Field bleachers and move the bullpens behind the outfield walls as part of the organization’s already-approved $575 million overhaul of MLB’s second-oldest ballpark.
  • Utilizing Inside Edge technology, Beyond the Boxscore ’s Bryan Cole is better able to evaluate Miguel Cabrera’s infield defense.
  • Also from BtB, Jeffrey Bellone attempts to determine LeBron James’s worth were he having similar success on the diamond:

By looking at LeBron’s final four seasons in Cleveland and his previous four seasons in Miami, we can compare his impact across the same number of seasons on each team. It is clear to see that his win share total in each season accounts for roughly 30% of his team’s wins. He had a greater impact in Cleveland, which makes sense considering the talent differences between there and Miami.

So, if LeBron is accounting for roughly 30% of his team’s wins based on win shares, what would be the equivalent in baseball?

The most obvious way to measure win contribution in baseball is WAR. Although, we can’t compare LeBron’s win share total to WAR directly because they measure two different things. Remember, WAR is wins above replacement, so it assumes a baseline of about 43 wins for a team of replacement level players. Therefore, in calculating the impact of a baseball player on his team’s success, we will subtract 43 wins from the team’s win total each season.

If we are going to compare LeBron James to a baseball player, why not Mike Trout. . . .

To be fair in comparing LeBron to Mike Trout, we would have to do so using the same winning percentage of their respective teams. If LeBron James played on a good basketball team that won 60% of its games, or 49 wins per season, using his win share total since 2006–07 (133 WS), that would equate into 33.9% of the team’s wins. Doing the same for Mike Trout, using a 60% team winning percentage, or 97 wins per season, his WAR, taking into account replacement level wins, would equate into 18.6% of the team’s wins. LeBron almost doubles Trout!

What this comparison shows us is that all of the craziness surrounding LeBron James is justified. On a 97-win baseball team, a player would need a fWAR close to 18 to account for the same win share percentage to win total as LeBron has averaged since 2006–07. For those of us who think in baseball terms, it would be like Mike Trout doubling himself, declaring for free agency, and having both him and his clone sign on the same team.

More realistically, the Astros have a 1–2 combination of factors that make them a fascinating team for the future. The first one is obvious: The farm system is loaded. They have prospects like George Springer already doing well in the majors, with others like Jonathan Singleton and Jared Cosart adjusting to the majors already. They have a host of younger prospects, like Carlos Correa, Delino DeShields, and Rio Ruiz. They also have Jose Altuve locked up, and he’s young enough to be a prospect.

The second factor might not get you excited just yet, but it’s just as important: They have hardly any long-term commitments. They’re a blank slate. They have $5.5 million committed to 2016, and that’s to Altuve and Singleton. They could sign Giancarlo Stanton to a deal worth an annual salary of $30 million and still have enough left over for Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. That might put them above $100 million, but not necessarily.

This is the sort of flexibility that allowed the Mariners to sign Robinson Cano to a crazy contract, while not caring that it was crazy. The Astros will be that kind of menace if they want to hop into the free agent market in the future. Even though they’re having issues with their TV deal, they still play in the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the country, and they have a newer, desirable ballpark.

  • Bruce Schoenfeld of the New York Times explores why the screwball, the off-speed pitch made famous more than a century ago by Christy Mathewson, is rarely thrown in anger today. After finding no proof that the screwball is harder on the arm than any other pitch, the author concludes that “the pitch has been abandoned by baseball without cause.”

After this er, generous strike-three call, Nick Punto got tossed for his two-handed spike of the batting helmet. Not that it mattered: Fernando Rodney’s response indicates that it’s the final out of the ballgame, a 3–2 victory for Seattle.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Memo to Rox Owner: Shut Up, Shut Up, Shut Up!



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Via Bryan Kilpatrick of Purple Row, Rockies proprietor Dick Monfort has been replying to fans’ concerns about the team’s losing ways and it’s pretty evident that, between his brain and mouth, there’s no interlocutor:

After the Rockies’ owner attracted a whole bunch of negative attention with his recent interview with Patrick Saunders, and later, the surfacing of his “If product and environment that bad don’t come!” message sent to a Grand Junction fan, things went from bad to worse with the most recent leak of a Monfort email exchange.

Monfort, in response to an email from a fan criticizing the failures of Rockies management, told the long-time season ticket holder “By the way you talk maybe Denver doesn’t deserve a franchise, maybe time for it to find a new home,” according to CBS4’s Brian Maass.

This is . . . not good.

It is astonishing that a successful business executive like Monfort would badmouth a fan base that keeps showing up to ballgames even as the product on the field stinks. (As of this morning, the Rockies rank ninth in MLB home attendance, averaging 33,415 fans per game.)

Kilpatrick offers these helpful suggestions to Monfort:

  • Ditch the iPad. Now.
  • Put someone in the public relations or social media departments (both of which are excellent and shouldn’t have to deal with this mess, by the way) in charge of responding to fans.
  • Bring in — from the outside — an experienced baseball mind to give an honest assessment of the organization.
  • Get the hell out of the limelight.

And here’s the abridged version:

More here.

Tags: MLB

Even A. J. Pierzynski Doesn’t Deserve This



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Were the Red Sox right to jettison A. J. Pierzynski (.254/.286/.348) yesterday? Absolutely.

Has the 37-year old catcher long been recognized as an “acquired taste?” (Pierzynski’s skipper with the White Sox, Ozzie Guillen, said: “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less.”) Most definitely.

Still, Boston signed Pierzynski to a one-year deal during the offseason with the expectation that he would handle backstop duties until the club’s highly-rated prospect, Christian Vazquez, was promoted to the bigs.

This is not the way a classy organization bids adieu to a 17-year veteran:

According to multiple sources within the Red Sox clubhouse, Pierzynski had become such a negative influence on the team that players approached both the Sox coaches and front office to address the problem. The common theme expressed was the catcher’s seeming indifference toward his teammates and the common goals of the same organization that had relied on an all-for-one approach when winning the 2013 World Series.

A microcosm of Pierzynski’s approach was mentioned by more than one of the backstop’s former teammates, who revealed his propensity to spend a significant amount of time looking at his phone while at his locker during games. In one instance, after a particularly rough outing in which the starting pitcher had been pulled early in the game, Pierzynski could be found staring at his phone while the pitcher gave off the appearance of being an emotional wreck just a few feet away. That incident paved the way for at least one complaint to management from a teammate.

The frustrations with Pierzynski among the Red Sox grew with the catcher’s indifference toward the perceived needs of the club. While it was understood that former Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had some flaws in his game, it was noted in multiple corners of the clubhouse that the difference between the current Marlins backstop and Pierzynski was that Saltalamacchia was invested in his pitchers’ successes and failures, whereas Pierzynski had limited interest in branching out beyond himself. . . . 

It became obvious to those in the clubhouse fairly early on that this might be an oil-and-water situation. Pierzynski’s personality wasn’t conducive to the Red Sox’ way of doing things, saying what he wanted when he wanted without much regard for the greater good. From the dugout, he would yell across the field at the opposition, or ridicule umpires during replay challenges. It made many cringe. This wasn’t the Red Sox way, the one that a World Series run had been built on.

As a friend points out, “You know who else rudely stares at their phone these days? Everyone!”

I get it: Looking for scapegoats is a New England tradition that’s as old as the Salem witch trials. The Red Sox front office and its media enablers would like fans to believe that Boston’s suckitude in 2014 is about staring at one’s communications device just as the meltdown three years ago was a consequence of too much beer and fried chicken in the clubhouse or the manager’s use of prescription medication.

Craig Calcaterra of NBC Hardball Talk sums up the situation quite well:

Such a shocker here. I mean, it’d be one thing if Pierzynski had a nearly two-decade track record of being a low OBP guy with some pop, some fairly “meh” catching abilities and a prickly personality, but . . . oh, wait.

I just don’t understand why this always happens with the Red Sox. Every other team in baseball manages to cut players when necessary and not have it be a big deal. In Boston, there are always knives out when people walk out the door. How the story of him being DFA’d isn’t “Pierzynski wasn’t cutting it, we aren’t winning, we have this young catcher named Vazquez who we think can really be the future of the club and we want to get him up now” is beyond me.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Hold Your Breath, Yankee Fans



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Via George King of the New York Post, Masahiro Tanaka is leaving the Yankees to return to New York for a MRI on his right arm:

Tanaka had his worst start as a major leaguer Tuesday night in Cleveland, allowing 10 hits and five runs over 6 2/3 innings in a 5-3 loss to the Indians. Tanaka was scheduled to start Sunday in Baltimore — his final start before the All-Star break. He is 1-3 with a 4.25 ERA in his past four starts.

After the game, Tanaka said he “didn’t feel that bad” and thought location was his bigger issue.

“I think a lot of it had to do with command of my pitches,” he said. “I feel a lot of my pitches were right down the middle and pretty easy for the batters to hit.”

But on Wednesday there was enough concern for the Yankees to send the 25-year-old for the test.

On MLB Network this afternoon, King’s colleague, Joel Sherman, pointed out how much the Yankees, treading water in the standings at 45–44, rely on the 25-year-old import deep in games:

The Yankees have gotten from starting pitchers this year 33 outs after the seventh inning. He’s gotten 25 of them. I mean, nobody else gets outs late in games.

More here.

UPDATE: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Tanaka has been put on the disabled list.

Tags: MLB

All-Star Game Update: Too Many Players?



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Rob Neyer of Fox Sports certainly thinks so:

Look, nothing against Dellin Betances, and I’m actually thrilled for Pat Neshek, whom I’ve been following with great interest for some years. I’m just not sure if anyone had good pitchers pitching great for 30 innings in mind when they came up with the All-Star Game.

And unlike a lot of things we complain about, this really is a fairly new phenomenon. Yes, there have always been non-stars in All-Star Games. But they have not often been relief pitchers. In 1974, only nine pitchers pitched in the entire All-Star Game, and all of them were starters except two: superstar reliever Rollie Fingers and superstar reliever Mike Marshall. And there was just one more reliever on either roster: Detroit’s John Hiller, who’d finished fourth in MVP voting the year before. . . . 

Do Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar really belong on an All-Star team? Well, that all comes back to a question Bill James asked some years ago: “Who is the game for?”

Turns out it’s for nobody in particular, and for everybody. It’s for the fans, who get to vote in a starting catcher who’s played in 26 games all season and will spend the rest of this season recuperating from major elbow surgery. It’s for the TV network that gets to promote the last hurrah of the third-greatest shortstop in major-league history. And these days, more than anything it’s for the players, represented by the most powerful union in the history of organized labor.

Everybody wants to be an All-Star. Everybody wants to be described forever after as an All-Star. Last year there were 79 All-Stars. Think about that. At any one moment, there are 750 players on active rosters. Roughly 250 of those players are part-time catchers, utility infielders, fourth outfielders, and relief pitchers who don’t get to warm up during close games. That leaves roughly 500 players in key roles. So if you’re one of those players, you’ve got roughly a 1-in-6 chance of being an All-Star forever.

Meanwhile, Fangraphs’ Jeremy Blachman offers up a where-are-they-now? for the players who took part in the very first Midsummer Classic in 1933.

Here’s his rundown of the Junior Circuit participants:

American League
SP Lefty Gomez, New York — Deceased
C Rick Ferrell, Boston — Deceased
1B Lou Gehrig, New York — Deceased
2B Charlie Gehringer, Detroit — Deceased
3B Jimmy Dykes, Chicago — Deceased
SS Joe Cronin, Washington — Deceased
LF Ben Chapman, New York — Deceased
CF Al Simmons, Chicago — Deceased
RF Babe Ruth, New York — Deceased

Thanks, Jeremy! (#smh)

However. I did let loose a chuckle from one commenter’s astute observation:

Well, I know what they would say if they were alive today…

“HELP! HELP! GET ME OUTTA THIS COFFIN!!”

More here and here.

Tags: MLB

All-Star Game Update: Hooray Beer!



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From the “What on Earth Could Go Wrong?” file:

Self-serve beer stations are up and running in Target Field, so Minnesota Twins fans and those who attend the Major League Baseball All-Star festivities next week can decide what they want and even how much they want of it.

The machines, called DraftServ, are a partnership between concessionaire Delaware North and Anheuser-Busch.

Delaware North DraftServ machines at Target Field will allow customers to control how much beer they’d like to pour, ranging from 38 to 40 cents per ounce.

“It’s a way to engage with the customer and allows the fan to have greater control of what they’re drinking,” said Jerry Jacobs Jr., principal of Delaware North, whose Sportservice controls the concessions at 10 baseball stadiums, seven arenas that host NBA and NHL fans and seven NFL stadiums.

Fans attending Twins games can go to a cash register, show their ID and preload a $10 or $20 card. For the All-Star Game, a $50 card will be available.

Fans then scan the card at the machine and can choose between four beers and regulate how much they want to have poured.

And yes, ESPN sports business commentator Darren Rovell buried the lede:

The machine allows a customer to use the card to pour up to 48 ounces of beer every 15 minutes.

Drive home safely.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Needed: Two Minutes of Your Time



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As we celebrate our independence, let’s also take two minutes to remember the Iron Horse’s farewell to the game he so loved 75 years ago today:

More here, courtesy of author Dan Schlossberg.

Tags: MLB

Leonys Martin Has the Catch of the Day



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Leonys Martin and Nelson Cruz once stood next to each other in the sweltering Arlington outfield.

Oh, that was so 2013. Watch Martin commit highway robbery on his old pal:

“Take that, Nellie!” indeed.

Cruz’s Orioles got the last laugh, however, winning yesterday’s game, 6–4, allowing his club to remain one game behind the first-place Blue Jays.

Tags: MLB

9th Circuit Agrees to Rehear Bonds BALCO Case



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Via the New York Daily News, the all-time and single-season home-run king is back:

Barry Bonds’ bid to overturn a 2011 obstruction of justice conviction gained new life Tuesday, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed to rehear the slugger’s case. A three-judge panel in the same federal appeals court upheld the conviction last September in a unanimous ruling, but Bonds still had the option to further his appeal.

An 11-judge panel will now be charged with either overturning or upholding the conviction. . . . 

Bonds was indicted in November 2007, only a few weeks after he last played in the majors, but in his criminal trial four years later, he was convicted on the one obstruction count. The jury deadlocked on three perjury counts. Prosecutors argued that the seven-time MVP gave “misleading or evasive” testimony when he testified before a grand jury in 2003 in connection with the government’s investigation of BALCO.

More here.

Tags: MLB

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