“I usually take a two-hour nap from 1 to 4” – OR – “Pair up in threes” – #RIPYogi

It’s Deja-Vu all over again…

It is inevitable.  The older I get, the more heaven seems to load up on talent – it’s a helluva team up there.  Yogi, went from Northern Italy, to St.Louis, to New York, to one of the best catchers of all time.  For my money, it is him and Roy Campanella for the title, to quote Casey Stengel: “you can look it up.”  Need more proof – how many baseball players have a cartoon character named after them?

With that said, Yogi Berra passed at the age of 90, Tuesday evening. Yogi died 69 years to the day after he had made his major-league debut, on Sept. 22, 1946; against the Philadelphia Athletics, Yogi went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in a 4-3 Yankees win. Yogi won 10 World Series titles as a player.  That is an all-time record, and one more than the great Joe DiMaggio.Logo_alt#2

Berra’s record of 75 World Series games played may never be threatened, much less actually broken. Consider Derek Jeter, who played 20 years for maybe the best team of his era, wound up playing 38 World Series games, barely half of Berra’s total. The only active players who have appeared in more than 15 World Series games are Yadier Molina (21), Matt Holliday (16), Buster Posey (16) and Albert Pujols (16). Furthermore, if the 28-year-old Posey (the only one of them not yet 30 years old) plays in the next eight World Series (through 2022), and all of them extend to seven games, he would still be three games shy of Berra’s record.

Not everyone makes the Hall of Fame, fewer still become icons – Lawrence Peter Berra’s legacy transcends baseball.  He was one of the greatest players, for one of the greatest teams, in all of sports, and for the lucky ones who knew him, they say he was a better person.  Beyond his success on the field, was the quality of the man.  So, when you come to the fork in the road, take it, because if the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.


In memoriam – more Baseball

Here is last night’s #DraftKings Perfect Lineup – 9-22-15…maybe I should have took the other side of the Mets v. Braves game for the #sleeper pick.

92215_perfectlineup

Baseball’s first 20-game winner

Jake Arrieta became baseball’s first 20-game winner and he did it with style, tossing a three-hit, complete-game shutout and striking out 11 in the Cubs’ 4-0 victory over the Brewers. He became the first major-leaguer whose 20th victory of a season was a shutout with double-digit strikeouts since 1993, when Jack McDowell’s 20th win met those parameters.

Arrieta became the first Cubs pitcher to become the majors’ first 20-game winner in a season, with all the victories coming for the Cubs, since Larry Jackson did that back in 1964. (In 1984, Rick Sutcliffnulle was the first big-leaguer to reach 20 wins, and he won his 20th while pitching for the Cubs; but Sut had won his first four games that season while pitching for the Indians.)

Arrieta lowered his season ERA to 1.88, second-lowest in the majors to Zack Greinke’s 1.65. But Arrieta is putting some pressure on the Dodgers’ right-hander: in each of Arrieta’s last five starts, he has thrown at least eight innings and has allowed no more than one run. The last major-league pitcher who strung together five straight games like that was Roger Clemens in 1997; the last to do so this late in a season was Orel Hershiser in 1988, when he tossed five straight shutouts and then a 10-inning scoreless outing in his last six starts of the season, fashioning the major-league -record 59-inning scoreless streak that Greinke had challenged earlier this season.

It’s a Bird in Toronto

Greg Bird’s line-drive three-run homer in the 10th inning cut through the tension at Rogers Centre and lifted the Yankees to a 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays. It was the 10th home run of the season for the Yankees rookie, who replaced the injured Mark Teixeira down the stretch. Bird became the first Yankees rookie to hit an extra-inning home run in a road victory since July 14, 1962, when Tom Tresh belted a two-run homer in the 10th inning off Angels rookie (and future Cy Young Award winner) Dean Chance in New York’s 9-8 win at nullDodger Stadium. (The Angels were the Dodgers tenants for four years in the early 1960s.) Tresh filled in for Tony Kubek that year when Kubek, the Yankees regular shortstop, spent most of the season in military service.

Bird has now hit eight home runs in September, tying Chris Davis for the highest total by any American League player this month. Bryce Harper leads the majors with 10, while Nolan Arenadoand Yoenis Cespedes have smashed nine.

Edwin Encarnacion homered in the bottom of the tenth, his 35th of the season, joining teammates Josh Donaldson (39) and Jose Bautista (36) at that level. Prior to this season, the last big-league team that featured three players with at least 35 home runs was the 2006 White Sox, with Jermaine Dye (44), Jim Thome (42) and Paul Konerko (35). The lone previous season in which a Toronto trio achieved that feat came in 1998; the three players were Jose Canseco(46), Carlos Delgado (38), and Shawn Green (35).

Crazy-ness in Detroit

Fans leaving Comerica Park on Tuesday night must have been thinking of that old adage: there’s a chance at the ballpark you’ll see something that you may not have seen before. Here’s the recap of the Tigers-White Sox game:

Detroit starter Daniel Norris, in his second game since returning from a recent injury, was removed from the game after he retired Chicago’s first 15 batters of the game. His was the first perfect-through-five start by a Tigers rookie since Armando Galarraga did it – no, not in his 8.2-perfect-innings effort against Cleveland in 2010 – but in 2008 against the Royals. The last major-leaguer to be taken out after at least five innings with a potential perfect game still intact was Houston’s Bob Knepper in the final game of the 1986 season, as the Astros readied their starters for that year’s postseason.single logo_small

After four relievers extended the potential no-hitter through one out in the ninth inning, Tyler Saladino ruined the bid with a triple. He became only the second major-leaguer in the last 20 years to spoil a potential no-hitter with a ninth-inning (or extra-inning) triple, the other being Baltimore’s Jerry Hairston, Jr., against the Rangers in 2002. The odd thing: Hairston’s blow leading off the ninth also ruined a potential combination no-hitter in a game in which Texas starter Aaron Myette was ejected after throwing two pitches, Todd Van Poppel pitched two innings, and then Joaquin Benoit threw no-hit ball until Hairston’s triple.

The Tigers won, 2-1, in the 10th inning, on a walkoff triple by Rajai Davis, the second walkoff triple in the majors this season (Pittsburgh’s Pedro Florimon had the other on August 18). The last Tigers player with a walkoff triple was Ramon Santiago in 2011, but prior to him you have to go back to Mickey Stanley in 1968.

Mike and Albert

Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning, in a gripping 4-3 victory in Houston. The home runs were the 40th of the season for Trout and the 36th for Pujols – it was the first time that baseball had seen back-to-back homers by a pair of players, each of whom had already belted 35 homers that season, since 2006 – when Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome of the White Sox did it.

Jimenez with the bat

Ubaldo Jimenez lifted his September record to 3-0 (he had previously beaten both the Blue Jays and the Yankees) and added a nice little cherry with an RBI single as the Orioles shut down the Nationals, 4-1, and, coupled with the Astros’ loss, shaved a game off Houston’s Wild Card lead. Jimenez’s single produced the first run of the game, and Baltimore never relinquished the lead. He became the second American League pitcher this season to be credited with both a victory and a game-winning RBI in the same game; back on July 21, Tampa Bay rookie Nathan Karns hit a home run for the game’s only run in his victory over the nullPhillies.

Jimenez became the 25th American League pitcher in 19 years of interleague play to achieve that daily double – but the amazing thing is that of the 25 pitchers who did it, seven of them have at least one Cy Young Award on their mantles: David Cone, CC Sabathia, Johan Santana,Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer and R.A. Dickey. Even more remarkably, among the other guys who did it was Jon Lester. As we all know, Lester didn’t get his first major-league hit until this season, but in a game at San Francisco in 2010, he was credited with the game-winning RBI in his victory for the Red Sox with a sacrifice fly.

The RBI was the second of the season for Jimenez, who knocked in a run in a game at Philadelphia on June 17. Since the designated-hitter rule was enacted in 1973, severely limiting their opportunities to hit, only eight other American League pitchers have driven in a run in two different games in the same season. But three of those eight others also pitched for the Orioles -Mike Mussina in 1999, Kris Benson in 2006 and Zach Britton in 2011.

Rangers perform sacrifices

Mitch Moreland hit a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth inning, but other than that, it was mostly a rat-a-tat-tat attack of sacrifice bunts (three), sacrifice flies (four) and heads-nullup base-running that allowed the Rangers to beat the A’s, 8-6. Sacrifice flies have been recorded as a category separate from sacrifice bunts since 1954, and over those 62 seasons, there have been only two other major-league games in which a team had at least three sacrifice bunts and at least four sacrifice flies. The Astros used that combination to help beat the Braves, 7-5, in 2009, while the Braves found that four sac flies and three sac bunts weren’t enough to win in a 12-inning contest that was won by the Padres, 11-10, in 1991.

Goldschmidt’s has 30 HRs include 7 vs. Dodgers

A. J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt hit back-to-back home runs off two different Dodgers pitchers in the seventh inning and the Diamondbacks went on to rout the Dodgers, 8-0. Pollock’s home run chased starter Alex Wood, and Goldy’s greeted reliever Chris nullHatcher. It was the 30th boundary belt of the season for Goldschmidt, who also has 21 steals. He became the fourth player in Arizona’s 18-year major-league history to be admitted into that 30/20 club, joining Chris Young(2007), Mark Reynolds (2009) and Justin Upton (2011). It was Goldschmidt’s seventh home run against the Dodgers this season, the most by any Dodgers opponent in a season since 2004, when Barry Bonds and Vinny Castilla each hit eight and Jeromy Burnitz seven. Still some distance away from the record of 13 home runs hit against the Dodgers, then in Brooklyn, by the Milwaukee Braves’ Joe Adcock in 1956.

Iwakuma brings it in K.C.

Hisashi Iwakuma blanked the Royals and struck out 10 batters over seven innings in the nullMariners’ 11-2 win at Kansas City. Iwakuma became the third different Mariners pitcher this season, joining Mike Montgomery and Vidal Nuno, to win a game in which he did not allow a run and had a double-digit strikeout total. Only two other major-league teams have had three different pitchers provide such victories this season-the Indians (Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber) and the Nationals (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez).

Cardinals win another low-scoring game

The Cardinals took a 3-1 decision from the Reds on Tuesday, marking the 31st time this season that they have won a game in which they scored no more than three runs. Only one other major-league team in the last 20 seasons has won as many games of that type (the Giants won 31 such games four years ago). And in the long history of the Cardinals’ franchise, the only other year in which they won as many as 30 games in which they scored three-or-fewer runs was 1968. In that season – the one in which Bob Gibson fashioned his other-worldly 1.12 ERA – St. Louis won 41 games in which they scored no more than three runs (with Gibson having started 14 of those games).

Mahtook(LSU) blasts Fenway

Rookie Mikie Mahtook belted a two-run homer in the eighth inning to put the icing on the Rays’ 5-2 victory at Fenway Park. Mahtook has now hit five home runs this season; his previous blasts came in games at Toronto, Seattle, Chicago (against the White Sox) and nullDetroit. Mahtook, Washington’s Denard Span and San Francisco’s Gregor Blanco are the only players this season who have hit at least five home runs, all on the road.

By the way, among the players from the past whose first five major-league homers came away from home are Hall-of-Famers Eddie Mathews, Reggie Jackson, George Brett, Frank Thomas, Willie Stargell (first six) and Hank Aaron (nine). But none of those Hall-of-Famers holds a candle to the all-time major-league record-holder for home runs, all on the road, from the start of a career. That would be Johnny Hodapp, an infielder who, while playing with the Indians, hit 22 home runs, all on the road, from 1927 to 1931. The streak ended when, after being traded to the White Sox in 1932, his first home run with his new team was hit at Comiskey Park.

Marte + Ramirez and 75 RBIs

Starling Marte knocked in two runs and Aramis Ramirez one, lifting the season total of nullRBIs for each player to 75, in the Pirates’ 6-3 win over the Rockies in Denver.  Andrew McCutchen leads the Pirates with 95 RBIs, and though Ramirez has not produced all of his RBIs for the Pirates, Pittsburgh is one of the two National League teams that have at their disposal three players who have 75 RBIs this season. The other such team is Cincinnati, with Todd Frazier (88), Jay Bruce (83) and Joey Votto (75).

nullErvin = Johan

Ervin Santana came through again for the Twins on Tuesday night, holding the Indians to one run over seven innings and earning well-deserved credit for Minnesota’s 3-1 victory. Santana is now 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA over his last five starts, with 39 strikeouts in 36 innings.

Old minor-leaguer clocks home run, sends Mets to defeat

Hector Olivera clocked a three-run, go-ahead homer with two outs in the sixth inning and the Braves went on to defeat the Mets, 6-2. Olivera, a 30-year-old rookie, became the second 30-year-old rookie in the last 11 days to smash a home run against the Mets; on September 12, Olivera’s teammate Adonis Garcia connected. Prior to the last two weeks, only four rookies on the far side of 30 have homered against the Mets over their 54-year existence, the oldest being the Phillies’ Chris Coste, at 33, in 2006.

Hot Stove Deadline

MLB’s trade deadline occurs at 4pm eastern time today, and with a little less than five hours to go, we recommend you buckle up for a wild ride.  Here’s a look at who’s been traded so far, who’s likely to be dealt today, and which teams to keep an eye on.

Who’s Already Moved

Who’s Likely To Be Moved

  • Yoenis Cespedes, Rajai Davis, Tigers: Two of the Tigers’ big rentals — Price and Soria — have already departed, but expect Cespedes to be among today’s most-talked-about players. Alex Avila and Alfredo Simon could go, too.
  • Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross, Padres: Upton and Kennedy are both status as a rental player seals his fate, and while Ross has three years of control left, there’s too much chatter about him to not consider it likely. Andrew Cashner, Joaquin and even Craig Kimbrel could all go as well.
  • Gerardo Parra, Brewers: A rental player on a rebuilding team that’s already begun its sale figures to be as good as gone. The bigger question is if the Brew Crew will moveJonathan Lucroy.
  • Marlon Byrd, Jay Bruce, Reds: Same rental caveat applies to Byrd, but Bruce’s connection to the Mets is strong. Aroldis Chapman is the wild card name for the Reds.

Teams To Keep An Eye On

  • The Padres are the major wild card here, and they’ve been connected with a variety of scenarios. San Diego has rentals (Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy, Will Venable), players controllable for 2016 (Andrew Cashner, Joaquin Benoit), and high-end players with lengthier control (Tyson Ross, Craig Kimbrel). If A.J. Preller is as aggressive in selling as he was buying over the winter, it could be a busy day.
  • Meanwhile, the Cubs have long been said to be pursuing a starter and are looking atvarious options. Chicago has been connected to San Diego’s young arms and isshopping shortstop Starlin Castro.
  • The big-money Yankees have added Dustin Ackley, but seem in need of a starter, especially with Michael Pineda hitting the DL, and may be pursuing Kimbrel in an effort to give the club a three-headed bullpen monster.
  • The Astros have already been huge players on the market, but could be looking for more. They’re at least exploring a big move with the Padres, and could dangle Jake Marisnick in an effort to find a quality pen arm.
  • Likewise, the Mets have already made some upgrades. But after seeing their deal for Carlos Gomez fall apart in dramatic fashion, New York has been tied to other outfielders — in particular, Jay Bruce.
  • Speaking of Bruce, the Reds are another team to watch on the sell side. Cincinnati has already moved its best rental assets, but could deal its excellent right fielder or even star closer Aroldis Chapman.
  • We’ve seen little in the way of action from the Orioles, Twins, and White Sox, but all three have given indications of buying in the days leading up to the deadline. Modest additions seem likely for the first two clubs, but both remain outside contenders for significant deals. As for the South Siders, the club has gone from a presumed seller to aggressively shopping for bats (thus also, presumably, taking starter Jeff Samardzija off the market).

Heating Up

 

The Baseball info is up on the baseball page and Scott Kazmir has been traded to Houston, in the first of what we would assume, will be a flurry of significant trades.

Trade talks were said to be “heating up” late yesterday, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported. She tabbed Houston as the likely suitor.

He’ll return to his home town in the deal. The Astros had previously pursued him in free agency, but he decided to join the A’s on a two-year, $22M deal. Kazmir will finish that contract with the Astros, and will also pick up a $500K assignment bonus in the process. Because he was acquired in the middle of the year, the Astros won’t be able to extend Kazmir a qualifying offer, which should aid his free agent case.

In Kazmir, the Astros get a top-performing starter to slot into the club’s rotation. Though he has long been dogged by injury questions, any such concerns are much less prevalent in a rental scenario. The 31-year-old, who burst back onto the scene after a long layoff, threw 190 1/3 quality innings last year and has been even better in 2015. He owns a 2.38 ERA over 109 2/3 frames, with 8.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 to go with a 45.9% groundball rate.

ERA estimators view Kazmir more as a mid-three earned run per nine talent, but that’s plenty useful for a Houston rotation that was in need of good innings down the stretch. He’ll join Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh atop the rotation, which also features the sturdyScott Feldman and youngsters Lance McCullers Jr. and Vincent Velasquez. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said that the acquisition gives his club “one of the deepest rotations in the American League,” adding that he hopes the move makes Houston “a viable force,” as Mark Berman of FOX 26 tweets.

By moving for a short-term piece, Luhnow avoided the need to part with the organization’s highest-rated minor league talent. That could keep some powder dry should the club look to add a bat or other piece. While neither of the pieces going to Oakland have received much hype, though, it’s worth bearing in mind that they come from a deep Houston system and have improved their stock with their 2015 performances. And A’s GM Billy Beane obviously preferred to add the pair rather than attempting to pick up a draft pick by offering Kazmir a qualifying offer after the season.

Mengden, 22, holds the 19th overall spot in MLB.com’s ranking of Astros prospects. A fourth-round pick in 2014, the righty is said to have four pitches with some promise. That could make him a rotation piece down the line, though some view him as a reliever in the long run. Mengden dominated at the Class A level this year, though he’s slowed somewhat since moving up to High-A, with a 5.26 ERA and 8.7 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9 over 49 2/3 innings.

Meanwhile, in Nottingham, the A’s will add Houston’s 22nd-rated prospect, per MLB.com, which says there are some questions whether he can stick behind the dish. He just earned a call-up to the High-A level, and has put up big numbers as his promising power has turned into production. Over 329 total plate appearances this season, Nottingham owns a .326/.383/.558 slash with 14 home runs. That performance bumped the backstop into the top-ten of Houston’s pre-MLB talent in Baseball America’s mid-season update.

While both acquired players obviously have some real promise, it’s notable that Beane elected for a return of more projectable, far-from-the-majors assets. His offseason moves seemingly focused more on adding talent at or near the major league level. It will certainly be interesting to see whether the club follows suit if (or, more likely, when) it moves some of its other veteran pieces.

With that out of the way here are some other, alternate names that could be moving soon:

 Justin Upton, Padres

Of all of the top guys on this list, Upton is the most likely to be dealt. His contract expires after the season, the Padres are out of the race and he is due for a massive raise that will be outside of their budgetary abilities on the open market. Dealing him now replenishes some of the prospects they moved in their win-now movement this past winter.

Aroldis Chapman, Reds

Chapman only sees the market if the Reds deal Cueto and therefore go all-in on kicking off a mini-rebuild. It is that conditional availability that keeps him from not being in front of Papelbon, but if he is dealt, it would likely be at the cost of a number of top prospect types.

Mat Latos, Marlins

The Marlins acquired Latos as a “final piece” type of starter to headline their rotation until Jose Fernandez returned. But a slow start, coupled by the injury to Giancarlo Stanton, put them in the class of moving certain guys out to get ready for the future. Latos would bring back a solid haul of prospects (for the third time in his career) and be the best option for teams that need to get better on the mound but do not want to pay the Cueto or Hamels price.

Ben Revere, Phillies

A speed-first, light-hitting lead-off type usually isn’t a pivotal presence, but Revere could be the spark plug a team needs to add a new element to its attack. He would be the easiest part for the Phillies to unload and should have plenty of suitors.

Gerardo Parra, Brewers

Defense, defense, defense and a dash of bat as well. A former Platinum Glove winner who can play every outfield position would be a welcome add for any team, and his days in Milwaukee should be numbered.

Cameron Maybin, Braves

He has been surprisingly productive after falling into the abyss in San Diego the last few years. Maybin offers a rangy center fielder who won’t cost much to obtain.

Ben Zobrist, Athletics

He was acquired to be traded, and the versatile Zobrist is beginning to come out of his season-long funk and produce by the Bay. He can help virtually any team due to his ability to contribute in the middle infield and corner outfield spots. He also has an expiring contract that is ideal for a team looking to go all-in for the short term.

Mike Leake, Reds

An innings-eating, back-of-the-rotation type, Leake is dependable (30 starts in each of the past three seasons) and has an expiring contract as well.

Adam Lind, Brewers

Lind is a valuable trade chip due to the fact he represents a rarity in this year’s field: corner infield power. If the Brewers begin to sell, unloading Lind in a market that’s hungry for him could make for a strong return considering his relative true value.

Ryan Howard, Phillies

The Phillies are going to have to decide just how much crow they are willing to eat on the remaining $72 million due to Howard through 2018 (baseball’s ugliest contract), but if they can find that balance and the right club willing to reach for the need, he could be moved.

Aramis Ramirez, Brewers

He has already announced his pending retirement at the end of the year, so Ramirez is a guaranteed rental chip that has a minimal contractual impact. It’s the type of addition that any team looking to get solid everyday play at third base or add a bonus bat as a DH or bench depth should kick the tires on.

Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers

A veteran, All-Star bullpen arm carrying a one-year deal and could function as either a closer or a setup man with the same level of ease? Sounds good to me.

Ian Kennedy, Padres

After an abysmal start, Kennedy has steadied out and gotten back to being the dependable (and sometimes underrated) arm that he has always been. For teams looking to shore up some innings and not give up a ton of top-tier prospects to do so, he’s a perfect match.

Jay Bruce, Reds

Carrying a powerful stick and an equally impressive arm, Bruce is an attractive option for teams not looking to find a player who changes everything about them on his own but raises the everyday potential of the team as a whole. If the Reds open up their doors, plenty of teams should come knocking for him.

Martin Prado, Marlins

Capable of playing third or second base with the same ease he takes to the outfield, Prado is like a poor man’s Zobrist. And as he has done in previous stops in Atlanta, New York and Arizona, Prado can fill any need instantly and contribute in a variety of ways. He’s the perfect trade deadline acquisition for contenders that just need a bit more insurance (such as Pittsburgh, Chicago or those same Yankees he previously suited up for).