Some relevant, and some not so, observations before the NFL draft takes over …
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Thanks to the MLB.TV package, I got a chance to watch a lot of the four-game Dodgers-Padres series April 22-25, and it was must-watch weekend TV.
Being on the “left coast,” this rivalry won’t generate the noise it would if it was on this side, but these two young teams could make the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry look like child’s play in the next few years. I’ve already got the next meet-up circled on the June calendar.
I don’t hesitate to say this — the left side of the Padres’ infield is going to cause a lot of comparisons, and any mention of other combinations is not going to be favorable. One other observation — the best thing to happen to Manny Machado was Fernando Tatis, Jr., who moved him off shortstop and back to third base, where he can join the “best ever” debate.
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Pop quiz: Who’s the longest-tenured manager in the major leagues? Hint, he’s an ex-Oriole. Answer below.
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You’ve heard this rant here before, so it should come as no surprise to hear it again — and again, and again … as long as it continues. Rougned Odor is playing second base for the Yankees while being paid all but the minimum fraction of $27 million during the next two-plus years — by the Rangers.
The Yankees sent two low-level minor-league players (Antonio Cabello and Josh Stowers) to the Rangers to camouflage the “trade.” But make no mistake — this was the latest example of a salary dump of the worst kind, not unlike another deal made by these same teams generations ago, when part of the baggage Alex Rodriguez took with him to New York contained $10 million of his annual $25 salary.
It stunk then, it stinks today and it will continue to stink as long as commissioner Rob Manfred interprets such moves to be “in the best interest of baseball.”
Just in case you’re wondering, yes, I feel the same way about the Orioles unloading Alex Cobb on the Angels while paying the heavy-duty part of his $15 million salary. Or if they were able to find a taker for Chris Davis. (And, yes, you might also wonder why the Orioles, who need a second baseman a lot more than the Yankees, couldn’t have spared two players at the bottom of their pipeline in exchange for Odor).
For the record, here’s the transaction line for the most recent million dollar giveaway: Rangers acquire Cabello and Stowers from Yankees in exchange for Odor and $27M. Think of it as baseball’s version of the Publishing House Giveaway.
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With the season barely 20 games old, Gary Sanchez had to be wondering when the roller-coaster ride will stop. Spring training camps had hardly opened when there was talk that the Yankees’ catcher was on a path to turn the 2020 season to forget into an MVP (really?) type year.
That thought was dashed two weeks before Opening Day, resurrected, then quashed again. Not much has changed. Depending on the daily reports filtering out of New York, he is either spiraling out of control or about to become the second version of Giancarlo Stanton. Oops, hold that thought, they seem to be on the same ride.
Suffice it to say, something very strange is going on with the Yankees, who have become suspect both defensively, especially up the middle, and offensively, where what appears to be an abundance of power hasn’t been enough to overcome shortcomings in the BA and OBP departments.
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Jacob deGrom gave another example last week why he’s the most dominant pitcher in the game, with a 15-strikeout performance against the Nationals that required only 109 pitches. This was another game I caught on MLB.TV, the gift that keeps on giving.
deGrom is a rare breed — a combination of a strikeout pitcher who doesn’t throw a lot of pitches. But he’s also one of those among a not-so-rare breed of pitchers who only rarely pitch in the ninth inning. Incredibly, the 6-0 win against the Nationals was only the fourth complete game, and second shutout, of deGrom’s career, which to date includes 187 starts.
Hopefully this last exercise in dominance will influence the Mets’ current hierarchy to take the training wheels off their 32-year old franchise pitcher. Many think he has been underutilized, especially in the two most recent full-length seasons, when the Mets were an underwhelming 7-19 in games deGrom left without getting a decision.
Some of the numbers are difficult to grasp because deGrom has never thrown more than 118 pitches in an MLB game. His per-inning efficiency is one of the best in MLB, and his WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) has been below 1.0 in each of the last four years.
After his win against the Nationals, deGrom’s career record is 72-52. The Mets are 26-37 in his other starts.
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Meanwhile back on the left coast, I caught a deja vu moment — again thanks to MLB.TV.
Pitching for the Padres, left-hander Blake Snell was protecting a one-run lead against the Dodgers when he left the game after retiring the first batter in the sixth inning. Before the Padres could record another out, they were behind.
Sounds familiar, right? Game 6 2020 World Series, Tampa Bay leading the Dodgers, 1-0, Snell leaves game. Having seen the act before, the Dodgers blow the game open before another out is recorded and go on to win the World Series.
Evidently the Padres weren’t expecting much more when they acquired Snell during the offseason. He’s started five games, logged only 20.2 innings, and the Padres are 2-3 in those games.
Snell’s career record stood at 42-30 after the latest stumble. His teams’ record when he doesn’t record a decision is 19-22.
A couple of years ago, in a nod to the game’s bat-flipping home run hitters, MLB adopted a slogan of “Let The Boys Play.” Maybe deGrom and Snell can be the right-left combination poster boys for another version — “Let The Pitchers Pitch.”
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Pop quiz answer: Bob Melvin, who has been Manager of the Year in both leagues, twice in the American League, where he is in his 11th season as manager of the Oakland A’s.
Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonline.com
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox