Welcome to another edition of First Pitch. Today, we'll talk about everything that happened in baseball yesterday that was important, and at least one or two things that aren't and just because we're not leading off with Homer Bailey no-hitter news, that doesn't mean that we're not covering it. It's just that sometimes, you gotta cover three minor trades as well.
One Quick Thing -- The Cubs Are Making Trades
Yesterday, the Cubs traded Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger to the Baltimore Orioles for Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop, and their No. 3 and No. 4 bonus slots in the international signing pool -- which is about $388,000. They also traded Carlos Marmol and their own No. 4 bonus slot (about $200,000) for Matt Guerrier. And then, they traded minor-league infielder Ronald Torreyes to the Astros for their No. 2 and No. 3 bonus slots (about $785,000).
You see, trades like this are great because zzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZzzzzz
Okay, I'm kidding. (Mostly.)
In the end, the Cubbies added nearly $1 million in international bonus pool money, at the expense of a starting pitcher who's not long for the team anyways, a "closer" who had completely lost the faith of his team, and a minor-league second-baseman. Oh, and they also got a pitcher who could possibly start, could possibly be a bullpen arm, and could possibly be just an overall dud.
Maybe it's an overreach, but I think these deals were mostly about the international signing money. I mean, Arrieta's the type of starter with team control and upside that a team like the Cubs could be interested in, and freedom from Carlos Marmol could be a good thing, but an extra million in the world of international signings could make a real difference. It's becoming harder and harder for teams to "buy" talent these days, what with slotting in the amateur draft and spending caps in the international signing game. The Cubs seem to be making an effort to take advantage of an ability to ink more international talent while they can, before any sort of international draft takes hold.
These deals make sense for all of the Cubs' trade partners as well: the Dodgers get to roll the dice on the mercurial Marmol, who still strikes guys out, and the Astros already have a large amount of money for international free agent signings. As for the Orioles, well, they needed another viable arm in their rotation, and Feldman is nothing if not viable. He's been pretty sharp for the Cubs this season (3.46 ERA, 3.93 FIP) and will be a free agent at the close of the season. With the Orioles trying to strike while the iron is hot, this is the right kind of deal for their team -- adding a guy without a lot of upside, but with more than a little predictability. Plus, I understand that they needed a catcher with options, so Steve Clevenger!
I guess the biggest deal here is still probably the setting of a market (in a way) of the cost to acquire international bonus pool cash via trade. It's never happened before, and it's happening now, and that's kind of cool. I'm fond of anything happening that hasn't happened before, unless it's terrible. And this isn't terrible. It makes things a little more complex -- but trades are great, and watching teams take advantage of perceived market inefficiencies is great, and anything that makes Matt Guerrier and Steve Clevenger and Ronald Torreyes more interesting is great too.
The Smallest Sample Size -- Game Results for 07/02/13
Photo credit: Joe Robbins
Giants 0, Reds 3
Homer Bailey, the new ace of the Cincinnati Reds, pitched his second no-hitter last night at the Great American Ballpark. Bailey's stat line was about as impressive as you'd expect, with nine strikeouts and only one walk. The last pitcher to throw a no-hitter before Homer Bailey was also a Reds pitcher, one Homer Bailey. He's the first guy since Nolan Ryan to throw two no-hitters in MLB without anyone else throwing one in between.
And if you watched any of the game, you probably saw just how impressive Bailey looked. Near the end of the game he dialed up his velocity to game-high levels to push fastballs past Giants hitters. It was very cool to be able to see a pitcher pegged as kind of a post-hype guy finally live up to the lofty expectations set for him.
Tim Lincecum pitched all right in opposition, giving up three runs, including a Brandon Phillips homer, in five-and-one-third innings and striking out eight. But, as we all expected two years ago, Tim Lincecum just isn't the pitcher Homer Bailey is.
Stephen Strasburg was pretty great for the Nats on Tuesday, striking out eight and giving up seven combined singles and walks, but teammate Drew Storen collapsed in the eighth inning, allowing all four runs scored in this game and failing to preserve the tie for the Nationals. Juan Francisco and Martin Maldonado led the beatdown on Storen with doubles each as part of that big eighth inning.
The Nationals' offense went blank after busting out the day before, with no one on the team (not even Bryce Harper!) able to eke out an extra-base hit against Wily Peralta and a parade of relievers. Peralta actually left the game in the sixth inning due to a hamstring strain, but his bullpen held firm and kept the shutout going.
I guess the Pirates had to lose eventually. The Bucs snapped their nine-game winning streak with a loss to the cross-state rival Phillies. Jonathan Pettibone and the Phillies bullpen pitched pretty well, and Delmon Young provided some offense with a big double, so I guess sabermetrics are over, you guys. (Young also had an error.) Jonathan Papelbon saved the game in the ninth and dropped his ERA below 2.00, but doesn't support Yasiel Puig as an NL All-Star, so he's basically dead to me.
As for the Pirates, well, Brandon Cumpton didn't pitch terribly, Pedro Alvarez walked twice and Russell Martin walked thrice, and Garrett Jones hit a home run before being pulled from the game for pinch-hitter Brandon Inge (who is awful). I get that the platoon advantage is real, guys -- especially with a hitter like Jones -- but Brandon Inge is basically an automatic out.
Despite not-so-sharp outings from Doug Fister (unexpected) and Chien-Ming Wang (expected), the Tigers and Jays kept it close until a Torii Hunter single in the ninth gave the Tigers the edge they needed to beat the Jays. Colby Rasmus had a fine hitting day for the Jays, banging a double and homer in four PA. Also, four of the five Blue Jays relievers (excepting losing pitcher Neil Wagner) threw well, notching 11 strikeouts in six-and-a-third innings.
Oh yeah, and I talked about Miguel Cabrera's MVP candidacy at length on Twitter yesterday, but his homer and two walks in five plate appearances pushed his seasonal wRC+ up to 205, which is legendary. He's hitting at a level, relative to league and park factors, that hasn't really been done in the integration era except for by Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, and Frank Thomas. Let's hope that the back issue that knocked him out of the game in the ninth is minor, as we're witnessing hitting history right now.
Photo credit: Jim Rogash
Padres 1, Red Sox 4
I guess John Lackey is back, everyone. Six strikeouts, six hits, and only one run over eight strong innings will work for the Red Sox, who rode Lackey and a three-run Brandon Snyder double to victory over the kind-terrible San Diego Padres. Also, Jose Iglesias went two-for-three, raising his batting average to .415 and continuing to confound everyone, everywhere.
Juan Guzman carried the offensive load for the Padres, hitting a double and homer, while former Red Sox player Pedro Ciricao had two stolen bases off Lackey. Starter Robbie Erlin didn't make it through four innings before getting pulled, but the combo of Tim Stauffer, Joe Thatcher, and Dale Thayer acquitted themselves well in relief.
Marlins 3, Braves 11
Justin Upton, Brian McCann and Chris Johnson each had three hits in this senseless drubbing of the Miami Marlins by the Braves. And while Kris Medlen wasn't at his best (nine hits and just one strikeout in six innings), you don't need an elite starter when you hang 16 hits on your
rival punching bag.
Placido Polanco, who's basically only on this team for his defensive value at third base, made an error. That's a pretty Marlins move. Logan Morrison homered. The rest is just painfully cheap set dressing.
The Red Dragon has finally been slain. Patrick Corbin took his first loss of the season in a beatdown courtesy of the Metropolitans last night. The rookie starter was pretty much fine until the seventh inning, but from there things got dark, and the Mets hung eight runs on Corbin and Brad Ziegler. Given the questionable quality overall of the Mets' lineup, the less said here, probably the better.
Jeremy Hefner was great at getting guys out last night, except for Martin Prado, who went three-for-four with a homer and a double. Oh, and Mets first baseman Josh Satin doubled and walked, something he appears to do every night, keeping his on-base percentage above .500. Seriously, we're going to have to start a Satin Watch soon.
When the heat is up in Texas, runs get scored. I mean, we don't usually expect it from the Mariners, but hey, whatever. Kendrys Morales took center stage with a pair of homers, and Raul Ibanez added his 20th blast to completely confound all expectations of what to expect from his season.
If you want a silver lining (or four) for Ranger fans, well, the team was able to score on a two-base passed ball by rookie catcher Mike Zunino in the seventh inning. And Josh Lindblom was very good in two innings of relief. And Leonys Martin had a pretty good game with two hits and a stolen base. And you're still way better than the Mariners overall.
Orioles 2, White Sox 5
The White Sox touched up Jason Hammel, which isn't a huge shock, but has to be nice for the faltering Pale Hose. The Sox ended a five-game skid on the capable backs of John Danks (two runs over seven innings of work), Adam Dunn (one homer) and Conor Gillaspie (a homer AND another hit).
Photo credit: Jamie Squire
Indians 6, Royals 5
Nick Swisher reached base four times, while Carlos Santana accumulated three walks and the Indians were able to put away the Kansas City Royals. Jason Giambi, who is not retired yet, managed a double to drive in what would be the go-ahead run in the seventh inning. The Indians are the best team, by record, in their division, which has got to piss the Tigers off.
The Royals walked the top five hitters in the Cleveland order a total of eight times, which is terrible and goes to show that you CAN walk in Kaufman stadium. Alex Gordon hit a home run, but then, presumably wept silently to himself in the clubhouse at the prospect of continuing to play more baseball games for the Royals.
The Yankees basically had their way with the Twins in a 7-3 romp, in which Mariano Rivera recorded a two-pitch save and the new Murderer's Row of Alberto Gonzalez, David Adams, and Zoilo Almonte all doubled. Oh yeah, and Robinson Cano homered (his 20th) for his third straight game, raising his overall batting line on the year to .prettygood/.alot/.seriouslydontsleeponthisguy. Remember, he's going to be a free agent after this year.
I've been told that the Twins have never beaten the Yankees at any point in the history of both teams. While this cannot possibly be true, it feels right, so I'm gonna go with it. Aaron Hicks was two-for-four with a double in his return to the team from injury.
David Price made his return from injury, and was able to strike out 10 Astros in what appeared to be a glorified rehab start. As I've mentioned before, strikeouts registered against the Astros only count as half a strikeout in official statistics, since the 'Stros are so prone to them, but this was still a pretty great performance.
There's literally nothing positive to say about the Astros' performance, so here's a link to AstrosFarm, which tells us that at least Lancaster JetHawks starter Tyson Perez pitched well over six innings (but with no strikeouts) to lead the team's High-A affiliate to victory. Ugh, the Astros. 2015 can't get here fast enough.
Dodgers 8, Rockies 0
Puig. Puig. Puig. Kershaw! Puig. Adrian Gonzalez. Puig. Puig. Kershaw!! Puig.
Seriously, Clayton Kershaw was magnificent in an eight-strikeout, four-hit shutout performance that was overshadowed by Bailey's no-no. Roy Oswalt of the Rockies was basically the anti-Kershaw giving up five runs in five innings. And Yasiel Puig made the offense go, with assists by Adrian Gonzalez (homer, single) and A.J. Ellis (two doubles, two walks).
So, the big deal in this game was supposed to be Albert Pujols facing the Cardinals for the first time since he followed the money all the way to the West Coast. While his Angels prevailed in the end, DH Albert only managed a walk in four plate appearances. The heavy lifting from the Halos came from Jered Weaver (seven innings of one-run ball, five strikeouts) and Howie Kendrick (three singles in four plate appearances). Collin Cowgill made his Angels debut, came in as a defensive replacement, and did virtually nothing. Expect more of that as the season continues.
The Cardinals couldn't make anything big on offense, despite having nine hits, three of which were doubles. Lance Lynn didn't look sharp (five runs on nine hits, despite eight strikeouts) and scored their only run on a David Freese ground out.
Not really known for being offensive powerhouses, the A's and the Cubs made it interesting last night. Derek Norris's three-run homer in the eighth put the Athletics ahead for good in this one. Josh Donaldson and Chris Young had early-game homers as well for Oakland.
Chicago roughed up A.J. Griffin pretty good behind an Alfonso Soriano homer and solid games from Dioner Navarro and Wellington Castillo. And be fair, who needs Steve Clevenger when you have Wellington Castillo? Poor emergency starter Chris Rusin got knocked out of the game in the fourth, and we never saw him again.
- Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-2 in his first rehab game, which sent waves of schadenfreude through far, far too many people. I really don't know what the problem is here.
- Jonathan Papelbon believes that Yasiel Puig as an All-Star is an "absolute joke", which is kind of funny, because I think the idea of relievers as All-Stars is usually pretty funny myself. Puig has been on the field for almost exactly 200 innings more than Papelbon this year.
- Let's go back to Homer Bailey's no-hitter for a minute. With all the no-hitters that've happened in the past few years, is anyone surprised that we waited until July for one this year? How many more do you think will hit over the next few months? Do you think that Bailey will pitch the next one too? (My answers: a little, two, and no.)
- Unless I'm counting wrong, there were four shutouts out of fifteen games last night. That sounds like a lot, right?
- Michael Cuddyer's 27-game hit streak ended last night, which is a bummer if you wanted him to break Joe DiMaggio's record, which I think only Cuddyer and his family and teammates did. Call me stupid or sentimental, but if someone's going to break Joltin' Joe's record, I'd kind of prefer it to be a guy who's a transcendent hitter -- someone like an Ichiro or a Miguel Cabrera or a Jose Iglesias.
Photo credit: Justin Edmonds
Opposing Starter: Roy Oswalt, Colorado Rockies
Daily Stat Line: Three-for-five with a homer, a double, two strikeouts and a caught stealing.
2013 Season Stat Line: .443/.473/.745 -- 8 HR -- 245 wRC+
Today's Puig Status: That'll do, Puig. That'll do.
So that's it! Don't forget to follow up with feedback, and we'll see you tomorrow!
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All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.