With each passing moment, The Common Man becomes more and more convinced that the Twins don't have a handle on this trade deadline. He knows that he's allowing his fandom to color his perception of how slowly things are moving, but as pitchers get removed from the board, TCM wonders if the Twins might be left holding Francisco Liriano and Denard Span, or trading them for pennies on the dollar.
It's a familiar feeling. Under Bill Smith, the Twins never seemed to get the better end of a major deal (even though the JJ Hardy deal should have worked out), and the Twins used their (relatively shallow) prospect depth to acquire lackluster pieces such as Matt Capps. Now, they're trying to do the opposite under the new old GM, Terry Ryan, and due to the lack of action, TCM just keeps getting more and more nervous, even after Ryan's rousing speech to the SABR conference last month.
That feeling of dread, though, is good for baseball, ultimately. The Common Man can nervously nibble his fingernails all day long, but he's also refreshing rumor sites, listening to podcasts, and monitoring Twitter. He's watching games to see if anybody gets pulled at the last second (like Denard Span did the other night, causing a confused churning among Twins fans online). Given that the Twins are hopelessly out of contention yet again, the trade deadline gives him, and the fans of other also rans (Astros, Cubs, Royals, Rockies, Padres, Mets, and surprisingly the Marlins) something to follow. Something to stay excited about in 2012, even as we look to 2013.
And as sports networks and websites have broadcast more games, and put out more (and more frequently updated) content, it's become an actual event. A profitable enterprise for MLB and its partners. So TCM's dread is good on a macro level, even if he grows increasingly convinced the Twins are going to muck this up in the next five days.
Pitcher of the Night: Stephen Strasburg, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 11 K, 1 R
Strasburg absolutely dominated the Mets, and struck out David Wright three times. He's got a 2.85 ERA on the year in 110 innings, with 140 strikeouts. And he creeps ever closer to that magical 160 innings limit.
Hitter of the Night: Coco Crisp, 3-6, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI
The A's are now 15-1 in July (shades of 2002, maybe?), and Coco Crisp has hit .361/.433/.557 for the month.
Unnecessarily Complicated Play of the Night: Josh Reddick
Reddick jumps far too early for this ball and clings to the fence like a spider monkey until it gets to him, even though it turns out he probably didn't even need to jump.
Injury of Note:
JP Arencibia-broken hand
Are you serious? Good God, everything and everybody in Toronto should be covered in bubble wrap.
Trade Bait of the Night: Ryan Dempster, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 6 K, 3 R
Dempster pitched fairly well, retiring 13 straight at one point, but threw a water cooler around the dugout when he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth inning. It's fair to say he's feeling a little stressed out at the moment. Meanwhile, the Cubs risk getting less and less with each passing day that Dempster waffles.
Pirates: Kevin Correia, 6 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 K, 2 R
Pitching for his job with Wandy Rodriguez set to join the rotation, Correia puts together a strong start. But since it's against the Cubs, we probably won't count it.
Braves: Tommy Hanson, 5 IP, 3 H, 7 BB, 7 K, 1 R
Really, let's not give Tommy Hanson too much credit here. He walked seven guys. Then again, the MLB record for most walks allowed by a winning pitcher is 13 (shared by Bud Podbielan and Pete Schneider), so it could have been much worse.
Marlins: Logan Morrison, 0-3, BB, K
LoMo, on Twitter, acknowledged his struggles last night:
Fans (& haters) i know im slumping. Im sorry. No 1 wants 2 b a productive member of a winning team more than me. Working my ass off 2 fix it— Logan Morrison (@LoMoMarlins) July 25, 2012
He's .234/.312/.407 on the year, and .132/.200/.157 in his last 10 starts. One has to start wondering how many more chances Morrison's going to get.
Brewers: John Axford, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K, 0 R
Brewers: Francisco Rodriguez, 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 0 K, 2 R
Another two scoresless innings gives Axford 5.1 straight with 4 strikeouts and only 3 baserunners since leaving the closer role. K-Rod has allowed 7 runs in 3.1 innings, with 15 baserunners. This is getting ridiculous.
White Sox: Dayan Viciedo, 3-4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI
25 years ago, Viciedo (.262/.299/.454) would have been a superstar, and would have been feted and toasted all over Chicago. Being the new Joe Carter isn't terribly glamorous.
Angels: Torii Hunter, 3-4, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI
Hunter is in his third straight year of decline, but he's still proving an incredibly valuable player, and could be a great one-year upgrade for some contender next year.
Yankees: Andruw Jones, 0-4, 3 K
Jones is hitting .230/.303/.500 overall, but just .233/.279/.495 against lefties. Is it even worth platooning him with Ichiro?
Padres: Jesus Guzman, 3-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI
The Common Man isn't saying that San Diego's off the beaten baseball path, but he guessed that Guzman's name was Jose, Juan, and Joel before he finally looked it up for real. A .752 OPS isn't anything to sneeze at in Petco.
Padres: Jason Marquis, 7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 3 R, 1 ER
The Common Man has made this point before, but what the hell, man? Eleven starts into his San Diego career, Marquis has a 3.25 ERA with 18 walks and 64 Ks in 69.1 innings. The Common Man has begun to viscerally hate this guy. And the stupid Padres with their stupid ballpark. At least Marquis has given up 12 unearned runs, so he's not doing nearly as well as you'd think. That's some comfort at least.
Rays: David Price, 7 IP, 7 H, 0 BB, 10 K, 1 R
Another huge performance by Price, this one against the overmatched Orioles, lifts the Rays into a tie with them for 2nd place in the AL East.
Rays: Desmond Jennings, 1-3, HR
After last year's terrific half-season and his minor league track record, it's safe to say that .238/.305/.357 is not how we all thought his year would go for Jennings.
Tigers: Max Scherzer, 7 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 R
Last time Scherzer pitched, The Common Man marveled at his ability to continue to inspire hope that he'll figure it out someday. Perhaps TCM should have looked deeper. Since May 1, Scherzer is 9-2 with a 3.61 ERA in 92 innings. He's struck out 115 and walked just 30. Maybe he finally does have this thing figured out.
Rangers: Josh Hamilton, 0-4, BB, K
The Rangers beat the Red Sox, no thanks to their DH, who has hit .194/.280/.381 since June 1. He still leads the American League in RBI though, so he's bound to garner MVP support.
Dodgers: Hanley Ramirez, 2-4, 3B, R, RBI, BB
Seriously, who else would we be talking about here?
Reds: Drew Stubbs, 2-5, 2 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI
Stubbs has taken a huge step backwards this year as he's focused more on putting the ball in play. It's helped cut down on his strikeouts, but his OBP is below .300. He's physically gifted, but the Reds should really cut bait if they're serious about winning the NL Central this year.
Cardinals: Kyle Lohse, 7 IP, 7 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 R
Three cheers for Kyle Lohse, who is getting absolutely no attention this year despite stabilizing a battered Cardinals staff, and who won't get noticed for this game either, because he didn't get the win.
Rockies: Jeff Francis, 6 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 R
By Rockies standards, with their four man rotation and all, this should count as a complete game, one-hit shutout. Congratulations to new staff ace, the old staff ace, Jeff Francis.