December 11, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
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Nationals make great deal for Fister (2)
Transaction Analysis Lightning Round: Pierzynski, Nathan, Ellsbury, and more (1)
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Rays 3, Red Sox 0: Matt Moore throws his first career shutout and it came in the first game of what, so far this year, is the Rays biggest series. Two hits allowed, one walk four strikeouts as the Rays cut a game off the Sox' division lead, now sitting a half game back.
Reds 11, Giants 0: Bronson Arroyo's 100th win as a Red comes on a shutout in which he scattered seven hits. It was his sixth shutout all-time. Tim Lincecum had eight days to rest his arm after his 148-pitch no-hitter. Didn't help much, as he was roughed up to the tune of eight runs on nine hits in three and two-thirds.
Rangers 3, Yankees 0: The third shutout of the night, though this one was a team effort. Yu Darvish brought it into the seventh and then three relievers took it from there. Nelson Cruz homered to help the Rangers to victory. If yesterday's big news is a harbinger -- and it's hard to see how it isn't -- don't get used to Cruz helping you out for the rest of this season, Texas fans.
Pirates 6, Nationals 5: The Pirates win, yes, and Andrew McCutchen had two homers, but all anyone wants to talk about is how they've lost Jason Grilli to what, by appearances, is a serious arm injury. The Nationals, meanwhile, are a hot mess. Or a cold mess. Whichever mess is the worst.
Dodgers 14, Blues Jays 5: Can't stop the Dodgers. Oh, wait, I'm sorry: can't stop the first place L.A. Dodgers. Who were nine and a half games back on June 22. A.J. Ellis drove in five. Skip Schumaker hit a three run bomb. Then dropped some bombs after the game.
Braves 2, Mets 1: Jason Heyward does not always play center field. But when he does, he makes game-saving catches. Stay frustrated, my Mets friends.
Padres 5, Brewers 3: The Brewers lost with Ryan Braun this season and they can lose without him too, so in that regard nothing has changed. Not having Corey Hart all year has been just as big a problem. Nightmare year for Milwaukee.
Tigers 7, White Sox 3: Max Scherzer won his 14th game, but Miguel Cabrera left with a sore hip flexor. Unless I'm missing a stint at one time with Florida, I don't believe he's ever been on the disabled list. Chris Sale struck out 11 and allowed only two earned runs, but the White Sox allowed five unearned overall. Bad defense aside, Adam Dunn did make one really nice play at first which caused me to almost do a spit take.
Marlins 3, Rockies 1: Miami finally ends its scoreless streak at 37 innings when Giancarlo Stanton hit an RBI double in the first. After the game Logan Morrison made a funny when he said that you know the Marlins are clean given how crappy their offense is.
Orioles 9, Royals 2: Tampa Bay is on the verge of overtaking Boston, but don't sleep on Baltimore. The O's are now 2.5 back after taking their fifth game in a row. Three RBI apiece from All-Stars Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy.
Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 2: Arizona surrenders first place as emergency starter Chris Rusin -- called on to replace the just-traded Matt Garza -- held the D-backs scoreless until the sixth inning. Love that Garza trade for Chicago, by the way.
Athletics 4, Astros 3: A two-run homer for Josh Reddick and a solo shot for Chris Young. The A's are taking extreme advantage of their new division mates, upping their record to 10-0 against the Astros this year.
Twins 4, Angels 3: Player of the game Clete Thomas. Homer, RBI double and a nice grab on what would have been a go-ahead homer by Chris Iannetta.
Mariners 2, Indians 1: The Mariners -- playing this one without Eric Wedge -- won their seventh in a row. Kendrys Morales and Mike Zunino each homered and Aaron Harang pitched seven strong innings. Not that I feel like they're competitive, but the M's did tie the Angels in the standings.
Ten years ago today, Cubs GM Jim Hendry engineered the best trade of his career—and, frankly, one of the most lopsided deals of the 21st century. When circumstances turned sour on him, he turned lemons into lemonade.
About two weeks earlier, the Cubs had suffered a major setback in their quest for the postseason. On July 6, 2003, center fielder Corey Patterson went down with injury and was lost for the year. At the time, the 23-year-old highly touted prospect was in the midst of an apparent breakout year, batting .298 with 13 homers in just a half a season. The Cubs would miss him.
The day Patterson went down, Chicago was barely over .500 with a 44-43 record. They had terrific starting pitching behind the trio of Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, and Carlos Zambrano, but the club had holes in its lineup. Most notably, third base was a disaster, as a revolving door of Mark Bellhorn, Jose Hernandez, Lenny Harris and other had tried and failed to produce at the plate. The club didn’t need another hole to open up in center to swallow up their pennant hopes.
So Hendry looked around and had an idea. The Pirates had an aging veteran center fielder in the midst of a one-year contract whom they weren’t willing to re-sign: Kenny Lofton. So far on the year, Lofton had been adequate but nothing more, hitting .277 with 18 steals.
Once the Cubs began negotiating for Lofton, things took some interesting and expansive turns. You see, aside from Lofton, the Pirates also had a third baseman they’d be willing to part with, young Aramis Ramirez.
In 2001, the then-23-year-old Ramirez looked like a future superstar, smashing 34 homers and 40 doubles while hitting an even .300. However, 2002 was a giant leap backwards, as he collapsed to a .234 average with just half of his power. What had happened? Was his big year just a fluke? No, the team had stupidly made him play through a serious injury to his ankle. (You don’t post as many losing seasons in a row as the Pirates have without some criminally stupid decision-making.)
Ramirez was recovering in 2003, but as August approach, he had just 12 homers and a .280 average. Never mind that he was still one of their better hitters and rather young to boot; the Pirates were ready to move on with Ramirez. And if the club with a center fielder also had a third baseman, the Cubs were eager to lay their hands on him.
But what would the Cubs have to give up? Shockingly little. First, the Cubs had to send Hernandez to the Pirates. They needed someone to replace Ramirez and strangely they felt a 33-year-old who’d hit .227 with two teams so far in 2003 was a good guy to bring in.
Oh, and since the Pirates weren’t going anywhere in 2003, they wanted some prospects to help them go somewhere in the future. Instead, they got Matt Bruback and Bobby Hill. Bruback never did make it to the majors. Hill floundered for a year and a half at second base before his career ended. Oh, and Hernandez hit .223 with three homers over the last two months of 2003 for the Pirates before they let him go. So the Pirates didn’t get squat out of the trade.
Lofton and Ramirez, however, were both terrific for the Cubs. Upon arrival in his hometown of Chicago, Lofton went on a tear, batting .327 in the final stretch of the season. Though 2004 would find him in another uniform, Lofton’s 56 games alone more than made up for all that the Cubs gave the Pirates.
But the Cubs got a ton more out of Ramirez than they did Lofton. Once he came to Chicago, Ramirez found the stroke that made him one of the best young players in baseball two years earlier. Playing in just 63 games for the Cubs in 2003, he swatted 15 homers. Okay, so he batted only .259, but with his power, you can accept that.
With Lofton and Ramirez, the Cubs won the NL Central by a hair, one game over the Astros. Without them, the Cubs wouldn’t have made the postseason that year.
And Ramirez stuck around. He swatted 105 homers from 2004 to 06 while hitting .304. He’d last nearly a decade with the Cubs and left with the third-highest slugging average in team history (.531), fifth-best OPS (887), and sixth-most homers (239). Even without Ramirez, the Cubs would’ve gotten the better of the trade, but with him it turned into a historic steal. And that steal was 10 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversaries and “day-versaries” (which are things that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better items in bold if you’d rather just skim.
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