1. Well this isn't deserving of its own post. The White Sox claimed RHP Jacob Turner off waivers from the Cubs. He was on waivers for a reason.
A former ninth-overall pick out of high school from Mark Buehrle's hometown of St. Charles, Missouri for the Tigers in 2009, the six-foot, five-inch righty was a top-25 prospect as recently as 2012, and made his major league debut when he was 20. He boasted a four-pitch mix, a sinking two-seamer and a lot of maturity, but flareups of shoulder tendinitis, elbow soreness and dead arm got more and more persistent, and he never got anything but completely lit up in the majors. He was already losing luster when the Tigers dealt him to Miami as part of a package for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante, and after faceplanting there, he got shelled throughout 2014 as the Cubs tried to wring some post-hype life out of him, and spent nearly all of 2015 out with elbow problems.
He's toast. I would say he could help the Charlotte Knights, but there's that injury bit again. The Knights need someone to actually eat innings.
2. This is the opposite type of toast from Brad Penny, who at 37 years of age, with nearly $50 million in MLB earnings, and God knows what kind of wear and tear from 14 MLB seasons and nearly 2000 innings pitched, decided his 2015 summer was best spent being the second-leading innings eater for the Charlotte Knights. He gave up an absolutely dreadful 173 hits in 135.1 innings, more than twice his strikeout total (81) and seemingly harumphed his way to a 4.46 ERA on sheer pitchability.
I'd like to know what possesses a two-time All-Star to get shelled by Triple-A hitters because all his stuff is gone, provided the answer isn't horribly sad. Perhaps he was counting on the Sox starting pitching staff missing more than a single start to injury all year long.
3. Addison Reed contributed a fairly solid scoreless seventh for the Mets in the World Series Tuesday, which is still an absurd thing to ponder, given that the vast majority of his career has been spent as the closer for bad teams that didn't need closers. Also because he hit something resembling rock-bottom this season, as the Diamondbacks sent him down to the minors at one point before shipping him to New York in exchange for minor league filler.
He had a great 15.1 innings to close the year in New York, but didn't quite do enough to earn a major postseason role for a Mets team that's trying to have as little middle ground between their top-flight rotation and Jeurys Familia as possible. Throwing Warthen sliders for the Mets could trigger a rejuvenation period for his career, but I can't see him topping out at 94 mph and not remember six saves in seven nights in late-August for the 2013 August, or being run out in high-leverage spots with nothing behind his fastball a month later that year.
4. Remind me not to overlook the ability to throw the ball to first with ease when we're mapping out third base solutions this offseason. David Wright is gamely pushing himself through tremendous back pain, and hit the cover off the ball near the end of the regular season after working his way back onto the field. But he's been reduced to a sidearm motion on throws to first, and wound up biffing two of them Tuesday night, including a crucial error to begin the bottom of the 14th. Not only did he put Alcides Escobar on to lead off the inning, but as Jon Bernhardt pointed out, that baserunner likely took Lucas Duda out of position to field Ben Zobrist's single that followed it.
You can certainly see why the Mets are trying to hold on to see if Wright can patch things together and deliver some big hits, but those kind of issues drain value real quick, and are part of the reason Jeff Keppinger had such a quick descent from viable option at third base to unrosterable.
5. White Sox Twitter is pretty unified against the Royals, which makes sense, as they've been a terror for two years, and were not particularly compliant when they were supposed to be a doormat, either. Validation of Dayton Moore, Best Farm System Ever hype and Ned Yost isn't my greatest joy to witness either. But at this point, with two pennants in the bank, those things have already happened. The Royals have been great and will be celebrated as such regardless of the result of this series.
What I'm trying to take heart in is a crowning stage for one of my 10 favorite players in the entire league of the past two years: Lorenzo Cain. Like the rest of the Royals, Cain has largely thrived at terrorizing the Sox, and I probably first became a fan of his in September of 2012 during a game when Cain hit two home runs, including a back-breaking two-run bomb in the 9th that practically sealed up the contest.
Cain was getting heckled by fans in centerfield all night, and in the later innings decided to respond by holding his glove behind his back and squeezing it open and shut so that it looked like he was miming the fans talking to him. Of course, that only stoked his hecklers more, so they were at full boil in the bottom of the eighth, making it all the more satisfying for Cain to clock a dream-killing dinger. The grin he wore trotting out to his position for the bottom of the ninth was visible before he got out of the infield.*
*In a hilarious glitch of human memory, Matt Adams, who was sitting next to me during this game, is pretty adamant that while there was a ton of interaction between Cain and the fans, the glove-miming part didn't happen. I never questioned in my head whether it took place until Matt challenged my story today, but now he's shaken me. I don't think I created this in my head, but Matt is Matt. He edits my posts for a reason.
The main gist is that Cain got heckled, had a playful attitude about it, then hit a huge dinger in our faces and enjoyed the hell out of it. It was great.
For all the limping and shuffling around he's become known for, Cain is picture-perfect in centerfield, and has a type of greatness I don't know I would appreciate if I didn't have 20+ years of watching the demands of the position get the best of several top-flight athletes. He gets great jumps on everything; it's so rare that the camera cuts to him in the outfield and doesn't catch him already in full stride and acceleration. He never gets turned around, or overwhelmed by the depth of his pursuit, or put off-balance by the energy he has to exert. So many outfielders when they have to go fullout to a deep ball in the gap, can't smoothly make the adjustment mid-sprint to place them in the best position to catch it. With Cain, you'd never know that was even a separate consideration. Everything's automatic and seamless, and if you didn't understand that this game is played by humans who struggle and fail, you'd think the way Cain plays center is how everyone should.
And this is beside the point that he's just a .300 hitter with above-average pop and back-to-back years of 28 stolen bases at this point in time. You could call Cain a late-bloomer, but his prospect pedigree and rawness when he first began pro ball suggests we should have never seen this level of bloom at all. I don't know how long it will last, and I probably wouldn't want to invest in him as franchise centerpiece for the next five years. But his peak, right now, is something I know I will talking about in 30 years, and stubbornly bringing up in conversations about the best centerfielders I've ever seen, even when another wave of even more superior athletes becomes the norm. If this moment in baseball time gets permanently emblazened with a World Series title, well, I don't think I could stay mad.
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