The Week That Was in Baseball: July 23-August 5, 2012
Who Gaveand Receivedat the Trading Deadline • Josh Hamilton's Chewing Glum
Former All-Stars Given Their Walking Papers • Vivian Ripken's Forced Day Off
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|The TGG Midseason Report Card
Our annual look at the best, worst and most unexpected through the first 81 games of the 2012 major league season.
Where Are They Now?
Cub Scouting. The Texas Rangers made two separate deals with the Chicago Cubs to bring over star pitcher Ryan Dempster and, with far less pomp and circumstance, former NL Rookie of the Year and current struggler Geovany Soto to shore up their catching flanks. The Dempster deal came spiced with controversy; after vetoing a trade to the Braves, he also said no to the Dodgers and ruffled feathers on the Los Angeles end of the talks after it was confirmed by the Cubs that Dempster was listening on the phone, unbeknownst to the Dodgers.
The Bucs Shop Here. The Pittsburgh Pirates went for broke last year when they smelled a rare shot at the playoffs, adding sluggers Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick; they then tanked in the final two months, all the way back to south of the .500 border. Playing even better this season at the trading deadline, they’ve once again added bulk, acquiring Houston ace pitcher Wandy Rodriguez and two struggling hitters (Miami’s Gaby Sanchez and Toronto’s Travis Snider) with strong upsides. We’ll see if the second time is the charm.
Our Wallet’s Bigger Than Yours. If you’ve already spent a whopping $2.1 billion to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, what’s another ten or 20 million to add on more talent and make a run at the postseason? The new Dodger owners have done precisely that, bringing in former all-star infielder Hanley Ramirez from Miami, reliever Brandon League from Seattle and outfielder Shane Victorino and pitcher Joe Blanton from Philadelphia. Are the front-running San Francisco Giants quaking in their boots?
Not Exactly. The Giants also took from the Phillies, nabbing outfielder Hunter Pence while picking up infielder Marco Scutaro.
Philly Empties Out. Once considered the class of the National League, the Phillies have officially thrown up the white flag and look ready to start anew, chucking away high-priced weight in Victorino, Pence and Blanton. Star pitcher Cliff Lee was even placed on waivers and it appeared thatguess whothe Dodgers might be interested, before the waiver period expired this past weekend.
Miami Folds Shop. So much for the Great South Beach Splurge. The Marlins built a new ballpark (actually, the locals built it, as they’re the ones stuck with the bill), bought a lot of talent and instantly boasted their intention to contend. They’ve instead disappointed and, as it is often Job One for owner Jeffrey Loria, it’s all about maximizing profits. So the Fish have dished off Ramirez, Sanchez, reliever Edward Mujica (to St. Louis) and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to Detroit.
The Great Astros Purge. As we mentioned already here over the last few weeks, if you started the year as a high-priced Houston Astro, you’re no longer one. With the Astros descending faster than Enron stock once upon a crime (they’re 14-50 after a 22-23 start), they’ve unloaded to the bone. Gone are Carlos Lee, Wandy Rodriguez, Chris Johnson, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers and J.A. Happ. What remains is a team worthy of the Pacific Coast League.
Ichiro Goes Gotham. One of the earliest and most startling of the pre-deadline trades took place when the Seattle Mariners sent all-star outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, seemingly inseparable from the Emerald City, to the New York Yankees. A free agent after this season who will be 39 next Opening Day, the one-time automatic singles man wasn’t likely to rebound according to the Mariners, and so they dealt him to the Yankees for a pair of minor leaguers. In each of his first 12 games wearing pinstripes, Suzuki has knocked out one hit.
Lost in the Shuffle
Hideki Matsui was let go by the Tampa Bay Rays, ending a stint that had started so promisingly, homering in two of his first three games. But in the 32 games to follow, Matsui was shut out from the longball and hit only .147. In Los Angeles, Bobby Abreu, already exiled from the South Side of La-La-Land by the Angels after being muscled out of an overcrowded outfield, suffered the same fate with the Dodgers once Shane Victorino was acquired. (Apparently, a .359 on-base percentage in 70 games wasn’t enough to impress the Dodgers.) And finally in Cleveland, Johnny Damon’s comeback attempt came to an unsuccessful conclusion after hitting a weak .222 with the Indians. (The Indians also let go of 39-year-old Derek Lowe; see worst AL pitcher of the week above.)
The Downside of a Guilty Past
Abductee For a Day
Cal Ripken Jr. held a press conference afterward with police showing the store image along with an additional composite sketch of the suspect; the police chief in charge called the abduction “bizarre” and said he couldn’t think of a motive for the kidnapping.
Wounded of the Week
Others admitted to baseball’s House of Pain this past week-plus include Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibialike Rodriguez, out a month with a broken handtwo Atlanta pitchers (Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens), Philadelphia catcher Carlos Ruiz (foot injury, out one month), Texas pitcher Neftali Feliz (out the rest of this year and possibly all of 2013 following Tommy John surgery), Chicago White Sox pitcher John Danks (out for the year after shoulder surgery), Baltimore DH Jim Thome (back), St. Louis slugger Lance Berkman (knee, again), and Houston closer Francisco Cordero, currently the team’s highest-paid player at $4.5 million, out with a inflamed big toe.Finally, Boston’s Ryan Sweeney has become the latest major leaguer to take his aggression out on an inanimate object (in this case, a door) and lose; he’s broken his pinky and will miss the rest of the year.
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
A Day-by-Day Review of the Week
The red-hot Cincinnati Reds have their ten-game winning streak snapped at home by the San Diego Padres, 11-5. The winning Padre pitcher is former Red Edinson Volquez, but the star of the night is the San Diego offense, which pummels Cincinnati starter Mike Leake and reliever Alfredo Simon for nine runs over the first three innings.Chris Johnson, the latest refugee from the Houston Astros, hits a fifth-inning grand slam in his first game for his new team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, on their way to a 7-2 win over the Dodgers at Los Angeles.
Tuesday, July 31
A.J. Burnett, having an astonishing comeback campaign for the Pittsburgh Pirates, takes a no-hitter into the eighth inning and settles for a one-hit shutouthis first complete-game blanking in six yearsto defeat the Cubs at Chicago, 5-0. Burnett is 12-1 with a 2.58 ERA over his previous 16 starts since allowing 12 runs at St. Louis on May 2.
Wednesday, August 1
Thursday, August 2
A day after nearly being traded to the Florida Marlins, Jason Bay plays the way the New York Mets had expected him to all along, and finally, in a 9-1 win over the Giants in San Francisco. Bay, in a 1-for-29 slump, has his first multi-RBI game since April 14.Colorado’s Josh Rutledge ends one streak and continues another; in an 8-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, he homers in his fourth straight gamesetting a record for a Rockie rookieand helps end Colorado’s five-game losing slide.
Friday, August 3
Saturday, August 4
Sunday, August 5
To Slur and Protect
Crawford immediately understood the insensitive nature of the subtle verbal jab, and so did the mayor of Leominster, Massachussettswho fired the cop in question. A lawyer for the cop claimed that he didn’t mean the gesture as racist and that the mayor bowed to an overt form of politically correct pressure.
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