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Ex-Met Endy Chavez Is Still Playing Baseball !!
PLUS: ANGELS, ASTROS, RANGERS GIRD FOR BATTLE IN AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
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Did you know…
Confusing or competitive? Entering play Wednesday, the San Diego Padres stood fourth in the NL West at 52-55 and 8 1/2 games behind the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers (59-45) while sitting five games out of a wild-card berth. The NL’s wild-card standings are a huge cluster, with the San Francisco Giants (58-49) holding the top spot, a half-game ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies (57-49) and one up on Arizona Diamondbacks, Miami Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers, all 57-50. The Chicago Cubs (53-53) are 3 1/2 games back of the final post-season spot, just ahead of the Padres . . .
The stripped-down Mets are suddenly paying more money to players not playing for them than to those who are . . .
Though he only takes batting practice on the road at Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium, Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani is the only player with a stolen base and a home run in a game he started on the mound since Mudcat Grant in 1964 . . .
White Sox closer Liam Hendriks’ return from off-season non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was one of the best stories of this season: he finished chemotherapy and was declared cancer-free in less than four months, returning to pitch by May 29. But his bad luck continues, with Tommy John elbow surgery likely to keep him out until late next season, when he’ll be 36 . . .
NL MVP favorite Ronald Acuña, Jr. is the first MLB player to reach 50 steals since 2017 and the first player with 20+ homers and 50+ stolen bases before Aug. 1 . . .
Brother Luisangel Acuña, still a teenager, is talented enough to be traded for pitching horse Max Scherzer but is years away from the majors . . .
If Travis d'Arnaud hits another homer this season, it will be the first time the Braves have had 10 players with double digits in home runs.
The End(y) Was Just The Beginning
By Paul Semendinger
When you write your own stories, you get to tell the stories the way you want them to be told.
And, because this is my story, I’ll tell the story the way I would like it to be remembered. (But, because I always strive to be accurate and fair, I will tell the whole story… it’ll just be shared the way I want it told.)
Endy Chavez played 13 years in the big leagues. He played for the Royals, Expos, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Mariners, Rangers, and the Orioles.
In his 13 seasons, he accumulated 849 hits. His lifetime batting average was .270.
All-in-all, Endy was a pretty good major-league baseball player.
Expanding this just a small bit further, as a professional baseball player, including the years he played in the Mexican League and in the minor leagues, and such, Endy Chavez accumulated 2,219 hits.
He also made a remarkable catch for the Mets in post-season play that is memoralized in a plaque at CitiField.
All of those are facts. (You can check them if you’d like.)
Here’s one more fact:
Against me, Endy Chavez is batting zero. He was 0-for-2 against me. He might have had more than 800 hits against major-league pitchers. He might have had more than 2,000 hits against professionals. But against me, he has none.
Against me, Endy Chavez is batting .000.
That’s the story. Those are the facts.
And that’s the way I want the story told.
(You don’t need to read any further. Stick with the story above. It’s good enough. Let’s let it rest there. Go do something else, anything. There is no need to read any more of this.)
Ah, but I knew you had to read more:
This morning, I was the starting pitcher for our baseball team. I basically start every other week. This week it was my turn.
Endy Chavez, the former major-leaguer, was on the other team. (They were real good.)
Endy batted third for his team. In the first inning, after the first two batters got hits, Endy Chavez hit a long fly to deep center. He hit it high and he hit it far. He hit it hard. Our center-fielder caught the ball. One out. Endy was 0-for 1.
If you want to skip this paragraph where I explain that, even though I retired Endy Chavez, his team scored five times off me (in just the first inning), that would be fine.
I did not give up any runs in the second inning.
Endy Chavez came up again against me in the third inning. He hit a laser-beam line drive — right into the glove of our second baseman. Endy was 0-for 2.
I gave up a run in the fourth inning, and that was it for me. Four innings pitched, six runs, all earned. (I did strike a guy out. I’m not sure how, but I did.) All-in-all, it wasn’t the most impressive game ever. We lost the game. I was the losing pitcher.
After the game, many of us went up to Endy and talked and laughed. He was so kind. I pointed out that he hit the ball hard off me, twice, but they were both caught. He said, “I didn’t get a hit off you,” or something like that, to me. It was all in good fun.
Ethan and I took a photo with him. It was great!
A few people got Endy Chavez’s autograph.
No one asked for mine.
Not even Endy.
Dr. Paul Semendinger runs the Yankees site Start Spreading the News. Also on numerous podcasts for the Northeast Streaming Sports Network, Paul is the author of Scattering the Ashes, The Least Among Them, Impossible is an Illusion, and From Compton to the Bronx (written with Roy White). Find Paul on Twitter @DrPaulRSem.
Frantic, Frequent Trades Set Up Old-Fashioned Dogfight In AL West
By Dan Schlossberg
Sometimes, the best trades are the ones you don’t make.
A wise old general manager, most likely Branch Rickey, made that memorable remark and the Los Angeles Angels are proving it.
Instead of auctioning two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani to the highest bidder, owner Arte Moreno took one of the biggest gambles in baseball history.
He kept the $30 million contract of the probable American League MVP and decided to build around it, feverishly adding seven veterans in a series of swaps that stripped the club’s farm system but made a strong statement to both Ohtani and AL West rivals that the Angels are in it to win it.
They’ve been losers for Ohtani’s whole career — even when Albert Pujols and Mike Trout were in the same lineup — and have not won a pennant since 2002, a playoff game since 2009, or a postseason berth since 2014. Their last winning season was 2015, before Ohtani arrived from Japan.
So hats off to Perry Minasian, the general manager who engineered deals that landed pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dominic Leone plus position players C.J. Cron, Randal Grichuk, Mike Moustakas, and Eduardo Escobar.
Now all he needs to do is get Trout, a three-time American League MVP and 11-time All-Star, back into the lineup. The center-fielder is out with a broken hand, perhaps until Labor Day.
Entering play Wednesday, the Angels were 56-53, tied for third with the Seattle Mariners in the AL West, but six games behind the front-running Texas Rangers and five-and-a-half behind the Houston Astros. Aye, there’s the rub!
Like the Angels, the Texas teams turned into voracious traders at the deadline, adding Max Scherzer (Rangers) and Justin Verlander (Astros) from the rebuilding Mets, among others.
By the time the dust cleared in the OK Corral, the Rangers had rounded up Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery for their rotation, Aroldis Chapman for their bullpen, and defense-oriented backstop Austin Hedges as an emergency replacement for injured All-Star catcher Jonah Heim (who at least was not swallowed by a whale).
Ironically, Scherzer replaces Jacob deGrom for the second time — first in New York after deGrom bolted for Texas via free agency and now that deGrom is recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery. Unfortunately for the Rangers, however, the Scherzer they got is showing signs of his age at 39 and not the Scherzer they remember.
Verlander, already past 40, is no spring chicken either. But he’s pitched better lately and has a burning desire to reach 300 wins (he has 250). Maybe that’s why the Astros also brought back former closer Kendall Graveman in a separate swap.
With the Astros from 2017-22, Verlander won two of his three Cy Young awards and pitched a pair of no-hitters. Those days are long gone, however. Even Superman ages, though Kate Upton keeps him in great shape.
The Mets paid Scherzer and Verlander a combined $188.4 million to go 26-14 over 58 starts, or $7.2 million per win. They also paid $88.5 million to the two Texas teams as a way to defray the costs of their overblown contracts (single-season records of $43.4 million each).
They also say they won’t be in the market for any upper-echelon free agents this fall, meaning Ohtani won’t jump to New York unless he opts for Yankee pinstripes and that short right-field fence.
On the other hand, the Angels hope he likes their red uniforms, the benign Southern California climate, the proximity to Japan, and the obvious improvements to the team’s roster. But no more tinkering is permitted, meaning all teams must make do from here to the finish with their current 26-man rosters — or players promoted from their own farm systems.
Even reaching expanded playoffs, allowing six teams per league to play postseason games, could be a stretch for the Angels.
After losing two of their three games in Atlanta this week, Ohtani’s team stood three-and-a-half games out of a wild-card spot — tied with the Yankees and Mariners but behind the Rays, Astros, Jays, and Red Sox.
Everything depends upon who gets hot, who gets hurt, and which newcomers thrive in their new environments.
At the very least, the last eight weeks should be most interesting — and should help the 29-year-old Ohtani make up his mind about next year. He’s earning $30 million now but that’s certain to change, making him the highest-paid player in baseball history.
Former AP newsman Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ covers baseball for forbes.com, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, Memories & Dreams, and other outlets. He’s also a published author and speaker. His email is email@example.com.
“Max asked me straight: ‘Are you going to be all-in on free agency next year?’ And I couldn’t give him that promise.”
— Mets owner Steve Cohen after trading Max Scherzer to the Texas Rangers
Although Daniel Murphy’s 432 hits with the Mets at Citi Field trail David Wright’s 446, he added 31 more as a member of the Nationals, Cubs and Rockies to become the all-time hit leader in the Flushing ballpark . . .
Framber Valdez needed only 93 pitches to no-hit the Cleveland Guardians for the Houston Astros this week . . .
Even without the weight of its ridiculous nickname, the Cleveland franchise has been held hitless more often (six times) than any team since 2003 . . .
The latest no-hitter coincided with the club’s decision to dump switch-hitting first baseman Josh Bell, their star free agent signing from the winter, and to bypass any deals to bolster their woeful offense . . .
The last Cleveland pitcher to finish on the right side of a no-hitter was the otherwise-forgettable Len Barker in 1981 . . .
Most recent players with 50 stolen bases in their Age 25 season:
Ronald Acuña, Jr. 2023
Billy Hamilton, Jonathan Villar 2016
Jacoby Ellsbury 2009
José Reyes 2008
Carl Crawford 2007
Juan Pierre 2003
Roberto Alomar, Chuck Carr 1993
Marquis Grissom, Kenny Lofton 1992
Barry Bonds, Eric Yelding 1990
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HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Benjamin Chase [firstname.lastname@example.org] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [email@example.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [firstname.lastname@example.org] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.