METS_ TRADE_ CESPEDES_!!! (no, not that cespedes. Phillies Unload Two Veterans

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Saturday, July 29.

In a move with 2018 in mind, the Mets sent two prospects to Miami for Marlins’ closer A. J. Ramos.  One of the prospects was Ricardo Cespedes, 19 and no relation to Yoenis Cespedes who is still a Met whether he underperforms or not.  Ricardo is an outfielder who was in class A.  Also gone to the Marlins in the trade is excellent A-ball pitcher Merandy Gonzalez.

Ramos, who will be 31 in September comes from Buddy Holly’s home town of Lubbock, Texas. In a game where nobody stays with a team very long Ramos hasn’t played for anybody but the Marlins until the trade. He first reached the show as a September call-up in 2012. Since then he’s struck out nearly 400 men, not bad for a reliever who seldom works more than an inning at a time. Playing for some awful Marlins’ teams he has saved 91 games and was an All-Star last season. He was a long shot to make the bigs for two reasons.  First, as a student at Texas Tech he needed Tommy John surgery.  Second, he was a 21st-round draft choice.  By that round few prospects are left. That being said he was 7-0 with a 2.11 ERA for the 2014 Marlins and became their closer the next year, a position he held until being traded. Reports out of New York say the Mets hope to trade Addison Reed.  If they do, Ramos will be their closer until or unless Jeurys Familia returns from shoulder surgery.  He had the same procedure the Yankees’ David Cone came back from in 1996.

The Phillies, continuing to get younger no matter how bad the team becomes have peddled two of their veterans and gotten prospects in return.  Outfielder Howie Kendrick is off to Washington and pitcher Jeremy Hellickson was traded to the Orioles. The Nats were in dire straits with 4 players on the DL. The worst loss is that of Trea Turner who has a broken wrist.  Playing without Jason Werth, Chris Heisey and Ryan Raburn who are all on the 10-day DL with no timetable for their return has taxed the remaining Nationals to the limit-which is fair play if you consider what Washington generally does to the rest of the country. The Phillies got lefty pitcher McKenzie Mills from the Nats.  He’s a youth of 21 from Marietta, Georgia who the Nationals took in round 18 of the 2014 draft.  Coming right from high school he has already had a long climb but still has miles to go before he sleeps. His 2017 stats at low A Hagerstown have been eye-popping-a 12–2 record in 18 starts, a 3.01 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 104 innings during which he gave up 77 hits.  But low A means nothing. If he stays there he’ll go to Lakewood, the Phillies’ South Atlantic League team.  If not his home will be Clearwater, Florida and the Clearwater Threshers until the season runs out.

The Orioles’ starting rotation was in need of a starter with a pulse, which is about what they got in Hellickson.  Their rotation’s ERA is a league-worst 5.90. His own ERA is 4.73 and only one Orioles’ starter-Dylan Bundy-has a lower one at 4.53. The O’s unloaded an outfielder and a pitcher, neither of the status of Mills.

The pitching performance of the night goes to the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka who I’ve given a lot of grief in this forum during the season.  My voice echoed that of agast Yankees’ fans on social media as they watched the overpriced import get pounded outing after outing.  But once in a while he baffles Yankees’ fans and opposition hitters alike.  A recent game against the Rangers and countryman Yu Darvish was such a game.  So was last night’s performance when he struck out 14 Rays as the Yankees won 6-1.  Tanaka didn’t allow a base runner until the 6th inning, a fact which got him a loud ovation from the 40,000 present in the Bronx.  The only run the Rays got was a home run by recent acquisition Lucas Duda, late of the Mets. The Yankees launched 3 home runs of their own, hit by Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier, who could be Crusher Clint if he crushes them on a steady basis.

Lest we forget (and I nearly did) this is Hall of Fame weekend in Cooperstown.  The village, some 50 miles from Syracuse is packed beyond capacity with fans praying for fair weather for the next two days.  It is traditional that any living Hall of Famers who are physically fit to travel make the pilgrimage.  This year 55 of 73 living Hall of Famers are well enough and have gathered. Several octagenarians have made the journey-Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Frank Robinson and Bob Gibson. While Koufax was before my time I listened in awe to the deeds of the other 3 as presented by Bob Murphy of the Mets and the inimitable Scooter, Phil Rizzuto on Yankee broadcasts. Tomorrow, 3 modern giants of baseball will be inducted-Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez and Tim Rains.  Bagwell in particular stands out in my mind as a collegiate at University of Hartford.  His hitting overwhelmed college opposition and If his team had any pitching whatsoever they would have gone to the regionals in 1987. In one of baseball’s most idiotic trades the Red Sox traded minor-leaguer Bagwell to Houston for 41-year-old Larry Anderson who lasted all of 2 months with the Old Town Team.  Bagwell played a Hall of Fame career in Houston though hindered early on by playing in the antiquated AstroDome. The late and beloved Bill King, a legend particularly in California will receive the Ford C. Frick award in this the 40th year that award has been given.  I wrote thumbnail sketches of all the contenders for this prestigious award last fall before Mr. King was chosen.

The Rays and Yankees meet in today’s earliest start at 1:05.  It’s the third of 4 games at Yankee Stadium between the two Eastern division rivals.  The Rays start Blake Snell against Caleb Smith of the Yankees.  Smith didn’t finish the 4th inning last Sunday in his first MLB start but the Yankees won it anyhow. In the only other 1 PM start the Angels face the Blue Jays in Toronto.  The Jays go with Francisco Liriano whom they haven’t managed to trade yet. The Giants and Dodgers meet at 4 PM in Los Angeles. The Giants call on Ty Blach who is still around in spite of the return of Madison Bumgarner.  The Dodgers send out Rich Hill hoping he can continue to pitch well and not be hindered by blisters. The Mets face the Mariners in another 4 PM start. Jacob DeGrom goes for the Mets.  He has won his last 8 starts.  No Mets’ pitcher-not Seaver, Matlac or goodin-won 9 straight starts. The rest of the action is under the lights.  Though the Nats and Rockies were rained out last night they are still playing just one game tonight. The Cubs face the Brewers who spent much of the first half in first place.  But it appears the Cubs have risen up and hope to reclaim the status they gained a year ago. The Indians’ Corey Kluber struck out 14 men his last time out.  He’s their starter tonight against the White Sox.

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