Last week, Mark Appel didn’t sign with the Pirates, who took him 8th overall in the Rule 4 draft in June. Instead, Appel will head back to Stanford and reenter the field in 2013, and the Pirates will get a compensation pick next year to make up for it.
First, while it’s impossible to say with any certainty, it seems likely that this will blow up in Appel’s face. If getting a degree and pursuing a National Championship is that important to him, good for him. That’s his choice. But if he’s only paying that lip service and hoping to get substantially more money next year, it seems unlikely. He may indeed go higher in the draft, but he will also have significantly less bargaining leverage, given his status as a college senior. What’s more, he will be a year older and less projectable, and could conceivably also be in the middle of a more talented draft class than this year’s stinker. He also presumably delays his own development and free agency by some amount that could be up to a full season, and also increases the risk of catastrophic injury and losing out on most of the money he’s hoping for.
Likewise, though, this doesn’t seem to be a good result for the Pirates. The decision to draft Appel was a good risk to take, and TCM doesn’t criticize the Bucs for making that decision. But this is certainly the worst possible outcome for them, as they essentially are forced to skip a year of acquiring prospects for their rebuilding effort. Indeed, not only did they lose out on Appel himself, but they presumably passed on some players who would be tough signs later in their draft to free up money for the future ace. If a low-revenue club like the Pirates is going to be able to compete in the NL Central with the Reds, Cardinals, and eventually the Cubs and Astros, they will have to be player development machines, churning out prospects to fill holes cheaply. And it’s hard to argue that the Pirates machine isn’t taking this draft off. Then again, if Neal Huntington can just acquire an AJ Burnett every year, maybe it won’t end up mattering. But it's hard not to see this as a missed opportunity for both sides.
Pitcher of the Night: Justin Verlander, 8 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 8 K, 0 R
Are we running out of ways to describe Justin Verlander? Probably. He stands astride the league like a Colossus.
Hitter of the Night: Yoenis Cespedes, 4-5, HR, 3 RBI
Cespedes had a great weekend at Target Field, going 8-for-14 with 2 homers, a double, 5 runs and 6 RBI, and only struck out once. That’s Twins pitching!
Defensive Play of the Night: Tie!
A tremendous play by Harper to end the ballgame, although there’s probably some question of how Lombardozzi and Harper should have been communicating to prevent this collision. Maybe it was as loud as the Nats announcers suggest, however.
Desn’t this seem like a weird route for Granderson to take on the ball, given his correction at the end? Maybe there was some wind involved. But wow, what a finish to the play, catching the ball across his body.
Trade Bait of the Night: Cole Hamels, 8 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 R
The Common Man doesn’t actually expect Hamels to go anywhere this year, as Ruben Amaro will probably have difficulty getting full value for Hamels, and could conceivably use the last couple months of the season to continue hammering out an extension. But any club willing to pony up for Hamels gets the closest to a sure bet as you’re going to find on the market right now. He’s incredibly good, incredibly healthy, and incredibly consistent.
Angels: Ernesto Frieri, 0 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 HR, 3 R
Well, it had to end some time. Frieri had thrown 26.1 scoreless innings since being acquired by the Angels. And he blew up in tremendous fashion, leaving absolutely no doubt who was at fault. But the Angels still held on for the win over the Yankees.
Blue Jays: Carlos Villanueva, 6 IP, 3 H, 5 BB, 8 K
Since joining the rotation before the All Star break, Villanueva has a 1.59 ERA in 17 innings and has struck out 21 batters. He has never been this good while starting before, so a lot of his success could be getting to go up against the Royals and Indians.
Nationals: Steven Strasburg, 6 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 7 K
After a couple rough starts to close out June, the real Steven Strasburg comes back into town and embarrasses the Marlins (when they weren't busy being embarrassed by their manager).
Braves: Ben Sheets, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 R
The Common Man refuses to believe this is actually Ben Sheets until he has a catastrophic arm injury and is done for the season. That’s the only acceptable proof at this point.
Rays: Hideki Matsui, 0-4, 2 K
With apologies to Matthew Broderick, this is the worst Godzilla ever. Matsui is now hitting .167/.239/.250 2/ 17 Ks in 84 PAs.
White Sox: Chris Sale, 8 IP, 10 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 R
Of all the great young pitchers going today, Sale might be the most fun to watch, given his height, his speed, and his array of pitches.
Brewers: Yovanni Gallardo, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 14 K, 1 R
The Common Man was at this game yesterday, and Gallardo was every bit as dominating as this line suggests. Of course, this was also against the Pirates. So maybe half-credit.
Dodgers: Juan Uribe, 0-4, 1 K, error
If this is not the most quintessential Juan Uribe game ever, it’s damn close. Uribe now hitting .193/.247/.274 on the season. Eventually the Dodgers have to decide if they’re serious this year or not and make a move.
Pirates: Pedro Alvarez, 0-3, 3 K
And this was the most Pedro Alvarez game ever, especially when you factor in Ricky Weeks’s double in the 6th that was and should have been called an error, but was later switched to a hit. Alvarez tried to run around the ball to make the play on his glove side rather than backhand or try to knock the ball down. Alvarez is down to .226/.299/.474 on the year with 94 Ks in 298 plate appearances, and no matter what the impossibly young Jack Moore, or leisured gentleman Carson Cistulli try to convince you of on the way to a Brewers/Pirates game, he is not good at baseball and is actively hurting this Pirates team.
Rangers: Adrian Beltre, 3-4, 2 RBI
Sometimes, it seems like we forget about Adrian Beltre, who’s in the middle of his third straight excellent season, hitting .327/.358/.527 (129 OPS+). Perhaps it’s because he plays 3B and we tend to forget about them. Or maybe it’s because the Mariners and their fans expected so much more from him 8 years ago when they signed him to his first big free agent deal. But he’s already been worth almost 60 wins above replacement in his career, and should be pushing up against the top 10 3B of all time by the end of this season.
Reds: Aroldis Chapman, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K, Sv
He struggled in June, but boy has he righted the ship. In his last seven innings, he's allowed no runs and has struck out 18 of the 25 batters he's faced.
Cardinals: Yadier Molina, 3-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI
The transformation over the last two seasons of Yadi from defensive specialist who hits enough for a catcher to superstar offensive force has been incredible to watch. He has 15 homers on the year (a new career high), is hitting .313/.364/.528, and has thrown out 39% of runners who have tried to steal against him. One of the keys seems to be that he's trying to hit more balls in the air than ever before, a change that probably has a lot to do with his hitting coach.