Dec 10

Wintry mix

ESPN has links and gossip here.

The Phillies signed ex-Yankee Didi Gregorius to play shortstop.

The Giants acquired veteran infielder Zack Cozart and 2019 first-round pick Will Wilson (another infielder) from the Angels for a player to be named later or cash.

The Yankees, as expected, have made an offer to Gerrit Cole which is even richer than the one Stephen Strasburg got from the Nationals earlier this week.

Then there’s this:

Andrew Friedman said the Dodgers have zeroed in on roughly 12 players they’re targeting at the moment. Almost all of them, perhaps with the exception of relievers, are elite. “I’d say it’s a much more narrow group than it has been in some other years in my career,” Friedman said.

Nov 16

Broadway comes to Chavez Ravine

With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein, “What do you do with a problem like Maeda?”

The Athletic tells us today that Maeda doesn’t want to relieve, partly because his contract is built around him being a starter but (probably) more because he’s been a starter his entire life and doesn’t think of himself as anything else. The Dodgers don’t bluntly say “pitch better, then” but you get the sense that’s what they feel. As we’ve seen the last couple of years, he starts most of the year and then is moved to the bullpen in September and October.

The strategy has proved effective for the Dodgers. But the approach vexes Maeda. It damages his pride and trims his paycheck. He has vocalized his frustration to Dodgers officials. After an unsuccessful attempt last winter to renegotiate his incentive-laden contract, which lasts another four years, Maeda remains steadfast in his desire to start. His agent, Joel Wolfe, reiterated that during a meeting with Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman this week.

“Kenta wants to make 30 starts, 32 starts during the season,” Wolfe said. “He would prefer not to be constantly shuttled to the bullpen and back. He doesn’t like it.”

[snip]

[Friedman] suggested if Maeda could improve against left-handed hitters he could solidify his place in the rotation.

“We think there’s actually more room for him to be even better, which we’re going to work with him on trying to tap into,” Friedman said. “And if he’s able to take that next step, not only do I see him in the rotation, I can see him potentially starting playoff games, if we’re fortunate enough to make it into October. He has been really good. And we think there’s another gear in there.”

I don’t blame the guy for wanting his role defined and set in stone; in my experience most people prefer that. And while Maeda has gotten some of the pay from the incentives in his contract, he’s certainly not maxing them out.

Maeda received a $25 million guarantee across eight years, with $10 million per season available in incentives.

The problem for Maeda is that those incentives were related to milestones achieved by starters, like starts made and innings pitched, and the Dodgers have chosen to use him as a reliever in September for the past three years. In 2016, when Maeda was a full-time starter, he earned $7.25 million in incentives, according to Spotrac. That number fell to $4.25 million in 2017 and then $3 million in 2018, before rebounding to $5.4 million this year.

Maeda was lights-out against right-handers in 2019; only Max Scherzer was better among ERA qualifiers in weighted on-base average. Against lefties, however, he was 36th of 88 pitchers in that ranking.

The problem doesn’t seem intractable, but it’s not a small one either. It will be interesting to see how the two sides resolve it.

Nov 03

Facts and rumors, Part 1

The Dodgers declined Jedd Gyorko’s $13M option. They have to pay him $1M for the privilege. I’d say “small price to pay,” but it isn’t. Nonetheless, he’s now a free agent.

They may be in the hunt for the Indians’ shortstop Francisco Lindor, although Corey Seager hasn’t even reached typical prime players’ age yet.

The Cubs hired old friend David Ross (LA: 2002-2004) as their next manager. The Mets hired Carlos Beltran to manage; he played for seven teams in his 20-year career but somehow missed the Dodgers in those two decades.

If you hear of other news, post it here. Meanwhile, admire my birthday shirt.

Oct 30

Game Seven, 2019 World Series

Nationals at Astros, 5:07 PM PDT, TV: Fox

Ah, Game Seven. I wrote this five years ago on my blog, and I see no reason to change my mind.

There’s no more dramatic phrase in sports, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve said so before and I’ll say it again: Game Seven is evocative of heroics on the field in do-or-die circumstances: Bill Mazeroski’s and Joe Carter’s home runs, Sid Bream’s slide, Carlos Beltran’s strikeout, Luis Gonzalez’s dribbler off Mariano Rivera, Koufax’s gutty 10K, three-hit shutout on two day’s rest … so many instances of melodrama.

Today’s edition offers two former Cy Young Award winners, righthanders Max Scherzer for the visiting Nationals and Zack Greinke for the Astros. I’m sure Scherzer will be on a very short leash with all hands on deck to relieve him if the neck spasms which prevented him from starting yesterday recur. Greinke dodged and weaved for 4 2/3 innings in Game Three of this series in a game the Astros eventually won.

Nationals lineup:

Astros lineup:

Oct 29

Game Six, 2019 World Series

Nationals at Astros, 5:07 PM PDT, TV: Fox

Can Justin Verlander break his five-game losing streak in the World Series? Can Stephen Strasburg continue his four-game postseason winning streak? Stay tuned!

Nationals lineup:

Astros lineup:

Oct 27

Game Five, 2019 World Series

Astros at Nationals, 5:07 PM PDT, TV: Fox

The big news of the day is that the Nats’ scheduled starter Max Scherzer has neck spasms and has been scratched. In his place will be RHP Joe Ross, who started the season in the bullpen but emerged as a member of the Nationals’ rotation when relieving didn’t suit him. He had Tommy John surgery in 2017; 2019 was his first full season back from that. He’ll face the Astros’ Gerrit Cole, who had an uncharacteristic loss in Game One in which he gave up five runs on eight hits in seven innings.

Astros lineup:

Nationals lineup:

Oct 26

Game Four, 2019 World Series

Astros at Nationals, 5:07 PM PDT, TV: Fox

The Astros’ RHP Jose Urquidy hasn’t made a start since September 27 but is asked to do so tonight with his team down 2-1 in the Series. He’ll face LHP Patrick Corbin of the Nats. Corbin has made two postseason starts and four relief appearances this year, posting a 1-2 record with a 6.91 ERA.

Astros lineup:

Nationals lineup:

Oct 25

Game Three, 2019 World Series

Astros at Nationals, 5:07 PM PDT, TV: Fox

The Astros ask RHP Zack Greinke to win what really can be called a must-win game for them. He’s made three starts this postseason; the first was horrid but the last two were acceptable (3.48 ERA in 10 1/3 innings). The Nationals counter with RHP Aníbal Sánchez, who’s got an 0.71 ERA in 12 2/3 innings this postseason.

Astros lineup:

Nationals lineup:

Oct 23

Game Two, 2019 World Series

Nationals at Astros, 5:07 PM PDT, TV: Fox

The Nats have stolen one game in the Astros’ park and snapped Gerrit Cole’s 19-game winning streak in the process. Tonight they’ll send out Stephen Strasburg to face Houston’s number 1A ace Justin Verlander and try to steal another.

Conventional wisdom be damned, says MLB’s Will Leitch. Tonight’s game is not a “must-win” for the Astros.

Nationals lineup:

Astros lineup: