You figure a Hall of Famer knows every detail of his career. But does he know how he compares to his Hall of Fame peers? We quizzed Pudge to see how he stacks up with Raines in a number of statistically categories — batting average, strikeouts, sac flies, etc.
Rodriguez joined us on behalf of Esurance, for whom he was an ambassador during the recent MLB All-Star game in Miami. As you’ll see, Pudge knows a lot of his stats (he can most definitely cite his career batting average), but it was fun seeing him work through whether he or Raines fared better in a certain statistical category.
It’s obvious Pudge’s baseball mind hasn’t yet retired.
We’re exactly one week away from Major League Baseball’s trade deadline, which also means we’re on the brink of chaos. The trade deadline has a chance to busy this season, especially because there’s a ho-hum free-agent class ahead and teams have an even bigger incentive to find their difference-makers.
We know a few things already: The Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Miami Marlins are selling. Yu Darvish might be the most sought-after starter pitching out there at this point with Sonny Gray running a close second. Pat Neshek is attracting a lot of attention from teams that need bullpen help, but expect a number of relievers to move. The Mets could unload a lot of players — so if you need Jay Bruce in your life, now’s the chance.
Anything – and everything — can change in the next week. Chaos will come from the teams who have tough choices to make. Or a lot at stake. So if you’re rooting for chaos, there are five teams you can root for to get more involved in the next week. That’s the topic of this week’s installment of my Open Mike video series, which is rolling above.
Here they are in text form:
5. Houston Astros The Astros and all their prospect riches have the means to make just about any deal they want. They could use another starting pitcher, so they’re basically the team holding the “Wild” card in UNO.
4. San Francisco Giants The Giants are a mess, but they could clean things up by making a few keen moves at the trade deadline. There are different degrees of selling for S.F. How far they go determines how much chaos we’re in for. Might they trade someone like Hunter Pence? Can they find a suitor for Jeff Samardzija?
3. Detroit Tigers This is where things start to get interested. The Tigers have a lot of high-priced, aging talent — but it’s talent that could help other teams reach their World Series dreams. They’ve already traded J.D. Martinez. There are lots of rumors about Alex Avila. But what if they went a step further? Justin Verlander? Miguel Cabrera? Oh, the chaos is starting to rumble.
2. Toronto Blue Jays Could the Blue Jays sell? They’re pretty bad and they’ve got a lot of desirable pieces, but … would they trade Josh Donaldson?! Or Marcus Stroman. It’s at least been talked about. That would bring us to full-blown chaos if either comes to fruition.
1. Kansas City Royals The Royals are the team that holds the keys to super mega trade deadline chaos. They’re in a tough spot too. They were bad early, then got better and now they’re winners of five in a row and, at the moment, a wild-card team. Still, the Royals are about to lose Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain in free agency. Trading them could return a deep haul of prospects.
Conventional wisdom — and this piece by my cohort Chris Cwik — says the Royals should stand pat. See if they have one more postseason run in them. But if you’re rooting for chaos, you have to rooting for the Royals to blow it all up and starting feeding their stars to the Dodgers, Indians, Nationals and other contenders.
Not saying the Royals need to sell or that Kansas City would be happy about this, but the Royals are the team with the power to turn this whole week upside-down.
You may not remember the date, the opponent or even the game itself, because it wasn’t a no-hitter or perfect game. But twenty years ago on this very day — July 22, 1997 — Greg Maddux turned in one of the most masterful and oddly spectacular pitching performances you’ll ever see.
And it was perfectly Maddux in every way.
He threw a complete game against the Chicago Cubs using just 76 pitches. Yes, just 76. Of those, only 13 were balls. He had six strikeouts. Not only did Maddux not walk anyone, he didn’t get into a single three-ball count all day. He only got two balls against a hitter twice — once in the second inning against Sammy Sosa and in the seventh against Mark Grace.
You might think Maddux could have written a textbook in pitching efficiency that day, but actually, the game was probably moving too quick. The Braves beat the Cubs 4-1 in two hours and seven minutes.
Eddie Perez, who was Maddux’s personal catcher at the time and now the Braves’ first-base coach, remembers the game well.
“We didn’t pay attention to pitch count back then,” Perez said. “Now, it’s right there in every ballpark. We didn’t have that, especially not in Chicago.
“The eighth or ninth inning, that’s when I was like ‘Oh my God, we’re almost done.’” Perez said. “We walked into the clubhouse and someone said ‘Wow, he only threw 76 pitches.’ Really? I know it was somewhere in that area, but not that low.
“After the game we could hear Leo Mazzone, he was the pitching coach at the time, yelling ‘That wasn’t 76, that was 74.’ ”
History has it down as 76, Mazzone’s objections be damned. The TV broadcast at the time said 78 pitches. They clearly didn’t track pitches like we do today. Nonetheless, only six times in baseball history has a complete game been thrown with fewer pitches than Maddux’s 76. Jose Bautista — no, not that one — threw a 70-pitch complete game shutout in 1988. More recently, Aaron Cook threw a 74-pitch complete game for the Rockies in 2007 and Carlos Silva also went 74 pitches for the Twins in 2005.
But Maddux has a rep for these things. He was known for working quick, throwing strikes and not getting over 100 pitches too often. There’s even a stat named after him — The Maddux — for when a pitcher throws a shutout with fewer than 100 pitches. Maddux did that 13 times during his career.
When we asked Perez, “how the heck did Maddux throw a complete game with 76 pitches?” He had a couple ideas. First, it was the first game of a doubleheader. Neither team was being too patient.
“People knew he threw a lot of strikes,” Perez said. “They’re going up there swinging the bat. They’re not going take a pitch because they know it’s going to be a strike.
“We knew we had another game and wanted to play quick.
“If he pitched in this era right now,” Perez said. “It would be different, because he’d have to wait for TV. He only threw fives pitches to warm up between innings. Now he’d have to wait.”
So get this: Maddux threw seven pitches in the first inning and then seven in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. He really labored in the fourth inning — that was when he surrendered the one run — and threw 12 pitches. By contrast, Jake Arrieta, who wasn’t too bad for the Cubs on Friday, threw 97 pitches through six innings. He gave up five hits and two runs. Back in 1997, Maddux also gave up five hits.
One of those hits is the other reason Perez remembers this game so well. It came off the bat of Cubs pitcher Geremi Gonzalez, just 22 at the time, who threw seven innings that day. Perez and Gonzalez were friends.
“I remember, he was joking around,” Perez said. “He told me, he was going to get a hit. He was very cocky. And he did. He was laughing on first base.”
Gonzalez died in 2008 after being struck by lightning in Venezuela. He was 33 and two years removed from pitching in the big leagues. But getting a hit off Maddux was something Gonzalez was always proud of.
“He would always tell everybody about this game,” Perez said. “He would always say ‘I got a hit against Maddux.’ ”
The other four guys to get hits that day off Maddux: Third baseman Tyler Houston, shortstop Shawon Dunston, second baseman Ryne Sandberg and first baseman Mark Grace.
Grace and Sandberg make for a fun comparison. Grace saw more pitches from Maddux than anybody — 15. That accounted for 19 percent of the pitches that Maddux threw. Sandberg? He saw five pitches total in five at-bats.
Jerry Dipoto is up to his old tricks again. The Seattle Mariners GM, who made more trades last winter than any MLB team in the last 20 years, has pulled off trades on back-to-back days as we approach baseball’s trade deadline.
On Thursday, he acquired Miami Marlins reliever David Phelps, who has some solid peripherals, but isn’t exactly the key to a long-lost playoff berth in Seattle. The cost? Four minor leaguers, including Brayan Hernandez, who was Seattle’s No. 6 prospect.
On Friday, Dipoto dealt Seattle’s No. 3 prospect, power-hitting outfielder Tyler O’Neill, to the St. Louis Cardinals. A somewhat surprising move, since O’Neill has hit 75 minor-league homers since the start of the 2015 season. Their return? Marco Gonzales, a 25-year-old pitcher, who has played in parts of three MLB seasons, most notably in 2014. He sports a 5.53 ERA in 10 career appearances and will report to Triple-A, according to Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times.
It’s not uncommon this time of year to see contending teams trade their prospects for proven big leaguers that can get them over the hump and into the postseason. But Seattle’s deals haven’t exactly done either of these things. The Mariners are within striking distance of the wide-open AL wild card, but at 48-49, they’re just as likely to flame out as they are to charge into the postseason. And their return in these trades isn’t exactly earth-shattering.
Which makes us wonder: What the heck are the Mariners doing here?
To that point, a few thoughts:
• Maybe Dipoto feels the playoff pressure. The Mariners haven’t made the postseason since 2001, the longest such streak in MLB, which puts the pressure on Dipoto to do the best he can when he sees a lane in front of him. The AL West isn’t really that, as the Houston Astros have a 16-game lead on the Mariners. The wild card might be. The Mariners are 2.5 games out of the second wild-card spot. Totally possible. But they’re also one of six teams within five games of the Yankees, who hold that second spot. So lots of traffic in that lane.
• Maybe Dipoto sees something we don’t. After the Phelps trade, the Mariners GM talked about how expensive starting pitching is right now. The Jose Quintana trade proved that. The Mariners need arms, but don’t really have the assets to get a Sonny Gray or Justin Verlander or even a lesser-priced starter. In Phelps, Dipoto sees a reliever who can handle multiple innings or even start one day. What if one day is September? In Gonzalez, the Mariners are getting a pitcher who has been hyped — he’s a former first-round pick — but he’s not atop the list of trade-deadline difference-makers. He’s been sharp in Triple-A this season, with a 2.90 ERA in 11 starts, but that’s a long way from helping the Seattle rotation next week. Unless, of course, Dipoto sees something we don’t.
• Maybe the Mariners soured on O’Neill. It happens, right? While he ranks well on the team’s overall prospect list and fans seemed excited about him, O’Neill didn’t crack Baseball America’s midseason Top 100 list after being No. 38 at season’s start. He has 19 homers and 56 RBIs so far this season in Triple-A, but his batting average is down almost 50 points, from .293 to .244. His on-base percentage took a similar dip. Prospects are always a gamble. So in effect, the Mariners are just gambling on a different one now.
• Maybe the Mariners are just in this weird spot where they have to hedge their bets. When Dipoto made over the roster last winter, he added 18 players from different organizations to the 40-man roster. It became a running joke on social media that Dipoto just couldn’t stop making trades. But the Mariners are in a weird place. Their core — Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Felix Hernandez — is aging. The best year for those guys to make the playoffs is right now. But the Mariners also have Kyle Seager, James Paxton and Jean Segura who are closer to their prime. So Seattle is neither a win-now team or a rebuilding team in the traditional sense of the word. With the Astros having a firm grasp on the division and the Mariners playing for, at best, a one-game playoff, Dipoto can’t exactly mortgage the future for 2017. So he’s left to make peculiar, smaller moves to get players he believes can help the Mariners in small increments be better than the Royals and Yankees and the rest of the wild-card hopefuls. He wants to help the roster, but he wants players who aren’t rentals too, players who can help for the long-term. That’s a tough trade-deadline balancing act.
It was said before the season that the Mariners were trying to build a team in the mold of the Kansas City Royals from a couple years ago. A team that, you’ll remember, was kind of funky and constructed in a way that pundits had a hard time figuring out. But a team that won it all.
Guess we’ll see if Jerry Dipoto’s old tricks look genius come September and October.
If you grew up in the ’90s, you know Alyssa Milano. But did you know that the actress who we saw grow up on “Who’s The Boss?” is a huge baseball fan?
You might have, actually. She’s one of the more famous baseball fans out there. Her clothing line, Touch by Alyssa Milano, is all about baseball, because she wanted to give women fashionable gear to wear featuring their favorite teams.
So when we saw Milano at the MLB All-Star Game in Miami, we just had to open some baseball cards with her for our 25-Year-Old Baseball Cards series. She’s a diehard Los Angeles Dodgers fan — and she explains in our interview — so she had her eye out for Dodger blue. It took a while, and a trade, but she left with a card that made her happy.
If you’re new to this series, we open baseball cards from 25 years ago with baseball people and famous fans. It all started with unopened boxes of cards, sitting in my garage that my grandma bought when I was kid. They’re not worth anything, so we put the junk wax to good use in this video series. Check out some of our previous episodes if you dug this one:
You remember Kato, right? The houseguest who turned into one of the cast of characters America grew to know on a first-name basis throughout the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Kaelin was a witness back then. These days, he’s just a witness to a baseball team that’s free-falling out of first place.
The Brewers — from Kaelin’s hometown of Milwaukee — lost a Thursday matinee 4-2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was the Brewers’ fifth straight loss and it dropped their lead atop the NL Central to one game. Kaelin, like every Brewers fan, wasn’t too happy about this development.
Quick hello 2everyone! I apologize @Brewers if my passion takes over but I WANT A WINNER & we continue to not get better! Need pitchers now
MIAMI — It’s impossible to ignore baseball’s crop of young stars these days.
There’s Aaron Judge’s MVP-quality first half, Bryce Harper’s 2017 revival, Cody Bellinger’s unexpected rookie success, Carlos Correa looking like an MVP candidate before his injury, Lance McCullers Jr.’s breakout season, plus Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager’s ability to do everything well. They’re all part of perhaps baseball’s greatest era of young talent.
We’ve watched these young players grow from highly coveted prospects to franchise-changing stars. They’re not just potential stars anymore. They’re actual stars. You could see that right in front of your eyes at the MLB All-Star game at Marlins Park in Miami — whether it was Judge’s Home Run Derby performance or Lindor’s style as he paraded around the clubhouse-level of the stadium. The new generation is here and it’s only getting better.
As we talked to MLB All-Stars last week in Miami, we thought about a different way to discuss MLB’s amazing crop of young talent. We talked to some veteran All-Stars and asked them which young players impress them the most and which ones they don’t want to face.
We’re specifically talking about the players in their early 20s. For this query, Bryce Harper — who is 24 and now in this sixth season — might actually fit the “veteran” tag. (Fun sidenote: Did you know Judge is older than Harper?) You can see what players had to say in the Yahoo Sports original video above.
The name that came up the most probably won’t surprise you. It’s Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, 23, who won Rookie of the Year last season and is the second-most valuable shortstop in the league this season behind only Correa, who is 22 himself.
No matter the choice — from “young veterans” like Harper or young stars like Correa, Seager and Bellinger — it’s pretty clear that the next decade of baseball is going to be fantastic to watch.
The New York Yankees are going for it. They boosted their lineup and the back-end of their bullpen in a trade Tuesday with the Chicago White Sox that’s sending slugger Todd Frazier and relief pitchers David Robertson and Tommy Kahne to the Bronx.
The White Sox (38-52) were already in full rebuilding mode and this adds to their minor-league riches, as the Yankees send Chicago a package that includes outfield prospect Blake Rutherford (New York’s No. 3 prospect) and left-handed pitcher Ian Clarkin (No. 19). Big-league reliever Tyler Clippard is also reportedly in the deal, as is outfielder Tito Polo.
The third-place Yankees (47-44), a surprise contender this season, are trying to stay viable in the AL East as the rival Boston Red Sox (52-42) try to open a bigger lead atop the division. The Tampa Bay Rays (50-44) have recently surged into second place.
The deal gives the Yankees one thing they covet and one thing they need. The Yanks of recent years love having a potent back-end bullpen. With Dellin Betances struggling as of late and closer Aroldis Chapman not quite his dominating self this season, the Yankees now have another pitcher with closer experience in Robertson. They’re familiar with Robertson, since he pitched for them from 2008-2014, taking over as closer when Mariano Rivera retired. Kahne, 27, also has a 2.50 ERA in 37 games this season out of the White Sox bullpen. Robertson is under control through 2018 and Kahne is arbitration eligible in 2018, which gives the Yankees more controllable assets as they look to contend again next season.
Frazier, who is due to be a free agent at season’s end, has some pop in his bat (he’s hit 16 homers this season and 40 last year) but his .207 batting average might be a drain. Frazier can play first and third base, which is more important to the Yankees now that first baseman Greg Bird might be out of the year.
There’s another advantage for the Yankees here too: The Red Sox were said to be interested in both Frazier and Robertson. So this move could, in theory, put twice as much pressure on Boston.
Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor who finds himself getting lambasted frequently, caught a foul ball at Tuesday night’s New York Mets game. Like most things involving Chris Christie, it probably didn’t end the way he was hoping.
It was a pretty slick move for Christie, catching the ball on a quick hop from his seat near home plate.If you’re thinking that might have finally gotten Christie some props, the answer was … NOPE.
Look, we all know at this point that New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge is the most impressive thing going in Major League Baseball these days. Go re-watch the Home Run Derby if you need to.
But what makes Judge all the more special — and what might get lost in all of our dinger worship — is that he’s not a one-dimensional player who is all power. Judge is hitting .311 to go with those 30 homers, which is impressive enough for someone with a strike zone as large as his.
He proved that Monday night against the Minnesota Twins. While patrolling right field for the Yankees, Judge threw an absolute laser to the plate to nail Brian Dozier. Since we like to gawk at the numbers with Judge, you’ll be impressed to know that his throw was faster than a lot of big-league fastballs:
Aaron Judge’s throw to get Brian Dozier at home was clocked at 97.7 MPH…
That’s not the highest this season, but it’s still impressive. Brett Phillips of the Milwaukee Brewers owns the fastest outfield throw this season at 102.6 MPH. But part of what makes Judge’s throw so impressive is that it was perfectly on target to nail Dozier.
Hey, look, we made it through this entire post without making a legal pun. Almost as impressive as Judge’s throw.