Real quick: Two meaningless things, and then one that means a bunch to me.
First, things got pretty edgy on Twitter last night, and while it’s clear that some fans thought it was unfair to question the bench decision not to insert Craig Gentry for David Murphy defensively in the top of the eighth with a 1-0 lead, and the bench decision not to hit lefty-killer Jeff Baker for A.J. Pierzynski against lefty-killer Charlie Furbush with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eighth, I thought it was unfair to complain too much about Neal Cotts missing his spot on his second 0-2 pitch to Kyle Seager — a pitch he wouldn’t have had to throw if Gentry had been in left on the first 0-2 pitch — and surrendering the Seager bomb.
It was the second home run Cotts has given up all year (both, incidentally, giving the Mariners a lead late in a game in Arlington). You can probably count on one hand the better American League relief pitchers in 2013. Seager’s a very good hitter with stupid-great numbers in Rangers Ballpark. Sometimes the other guy beats you.
Derek Holland had thrown 105 pitches, and with a one-run lead I’m not going to complain about turning that game over to the Rangers’ very good back of the bullpen. Seager beating Cotts isn’t a story.
And neither is Elvis Andrus hitting the trade-waiver wire this week and clearing.
As we talked about in the August 9 COFFEY, the waivers process after July 31 is completely different, primarily in that a club request for waivers on its player is revocable. Almost every player on a big league 40-man roster gets run onto the waiver wire in August, and in almost every case the waivers request is ultimately revoked.
Why put Andrus on waivers at all? Flexibility. There’s no downside in the move, and the upside, even if it’s a one-in-a-thousand scenario, is that, as an example, if Tampa Bay were to lose 16 straight and decide late in August to run David Price onto waivers, just to increase that club’s own flexibility, and no American League team lower than Texas in the standings at the time puts in a claim, and Jurickson Profar has been on a Soriano-like tear at the plate and a Simmons-like tear in the field, then you can sit in the GM box and toss around the idea of making Andrus available in a deal for Price, right now, because you’ve gotten Andrus through waivers. Maybe if you wait until then to run Andrus out there — procedurally he can’t be a player to be named later — a team chasing Texas sniffs what’s going on and blocks things by claiming Andrus, knowing it has no downside since the Rangers would never just stick that team with Andrus’s contract.
So why didn’t anyone put in a claim on Andrus this last week, like Texas did with Alex Rios, for example? There’s probably less “blocking” that goes on than we might think. Particularly with very good players on very good teams, other clubs know there’s virtually no chance that player will be traded during the pennant race, and so they don’t put claims in because they’re not concerned he could get dealt to a team they’re chasing.
Aside from that — and this too falls under the one-in-a-thousand heading, if not one-in-a-million — let’s say there’s 50 players on the revocable waiver wire on a given day in August, maybe 100 (teams can put up to seven players on trade waivers per day). And let’s say Hanley Ramirez and Mark Ellis both tear knees up in a gnarly collision and the Diamondbacks, who have gotten hot, are on the Dodgers’ tail and want to make sure that neither Andrus nor Ian Kinsler, who just hit the waiver wire, ends up on with Los Angeles, and there’s Yovani Gallardo on the wire at the same time, too, and he’d look great in an Arizona lid. Even if it’s a ridiculous scenario, what if the Diamondbacks put claims in on all three, and get stuck with Andrus’s contract (unable to flip it the rest of the season because of waivers and without a realistic way to play both him and Didi Gregorius) and Gallardo’s contract, too?
That would obviously never happen, but with the absence of any real upside to putting the claim in on a player like Andrus, who isn’t going to be moved in August, you get the idea: There’s no sense in risking the one-in-a-million financial downside when there’s no upside at all.
Andrus passing through revocable trade waivers, unclaimed, isn’t news.
Finally, thank you very much to those of you who chose to participate this year with “honor system” contributions to the Newberg Report effort. It’s always a completely voluntary deal, and I’m grateful for your support in recognition of the great and tireless work that Scott and a bunch of others behind the scenes put in to keep this thing rolling.