The Bill Chuck Files of April 21, 2019

Each Sunday, in remembrance of my friend Nick Cafardo, I post “the Bill Chuck Files” (named by Nick in his Sunday Baseball Notes column)

Jersey retirement alert: Kyle Freeland of the Colorado Rockies will have his jersey retired…but not by the Rockies. Freeland, a 2011 graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver, will have his jersey retired during a school assembly tomorrow.

Keeping it .300 – – The career batting average for Dustin Pedroia is now under .300. Pedroia started the season .29995 which made him a lifetime .300 hitter. Who knows whether Petey will be able to return from “irritation” in his surgically repaired knee but I fear that .300 may be a stat of the past for Pedroia.

So far this season, strikeouts are leading hits, 5482-5086.

Take five – On Friday, Bryce Harper had the first five-hit game of his career. Ty Cobb had 14 games of at least five hits and Pete Rose had 10. Harper’s “Gimme Five” game is the fourth of this young season (Jeimer Candelario, Nick Markakis -second of his career, and Jorge Polanco). Last year, there were 33 after there were just 19 in 2017.

Walkoffs – Through Friday, there have been five walkoff homers hit this season and they have gotten more exciting as the season has progressed. The first two were hit by Trea Turner (on 3/31) and Carlos Santana (4/5) with the score tied in the 9th inning. Then on 4/9, Jarrod Dyson hit a two-run walkoff and on 4/15 Joc Pederson hit a two-run walkoff, each with their teams trailing by one in the 9th. Then on 4/19, with the Rockies down by one with two outs in the 12th, Charlie Blackmon gave Colorado’s its first walkoff win win via home run in the 12th inning or later since Ryan Spilborghs hit a walkoff grand slam in the 14th inning on August 24, 2009 vs. San Francisco.

The Neverett Goodbye Curse

Tim Neverett’s 2018 Red Sox World Series ring

Presented for your approval, the story of a talented baseball announcer who brings information and entertainment to fans and success to his team. Yet when he leaves, both the fans and the teams are left wanting. This is the play-by-play of Tim Neverett bringing you action from a booth in the Twilight Zone.

Tim, a graduate of Emerson College, is a talented play-by-play announcer who early in his career plied his skills announcing minor league baseball and minor league hockey. From 2009-15, Neverett was a broadcaster for the Pittsburgh Pirates, with the Bucs reaching the postseason in his last three seasons. Tim, born in Nashua, New Hampshire, then moved onto the Red Sox (his hometown team) where with Joe Castiglione, from 2016 through 2018, he did radio play-by-play. The Sox reached the postseason all three season culminating in a World Championship last season.

Now, you may have heard that the sans-Neverett Red Sox are languishing in the bottom of the AL East. This would be less of import if we ignored the fact that Pirates have not reached the postseason since he left Pittsburgh.

Tim now is broadcasting for the Dodgers, who, if they are smart, will offer him a lifetime contract. They can reach his agent in his office in the Twilight Zone.

A free agency/labor solution?

I am the first to admit that I’m not good at business, economics, or fiduciary hijinks. So if this idea is really dumb, just keep that in mind. What about making every ballplayer eligible for free agency after their age 25 season? Forget service time (which is why we are waiting for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to make his MLB debut on Tuesday) just make the mark for free agency following the last complete season in which a player played at the age of 25. Clearly, players now are being punished for getting older. Clearly teams and fans are being punished for delaying the arrival of qualified players in order to squeeze one more year of eligibility at the back end before free agency. In my proposed system, teams will still be encouraged to offer extensions and long-term deals, but players also know that at 25 instead of (let’s say) 31, they have a chance to go out on the open market and cash in. Free agency is good for baseball. It helps teams, it helps players, and it helps the sport by keeping it in the news all year long. Players like Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, Trea Turner, Aaron Nola, Matt Chapman, Michael Conforto, Rhys Hoskins, and Tyler Glasnow all could have been free agents this off-season had they not signed extended contracts to remain with their team. Look, I admit I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I do know the current system is not working. Please let me know why this idea is dumb or if it has possibilities and I’ll give space to your responses.

Starting lineup for the Yankees on the Injured List

Which is worse? –Which is worse admiring a home run hit when still standing in the batter’s box, jubilantly flipping a bat after hitting a homer, or throwing a 90+ mph ball at a batter in revenge for celebrating a homer?

Here’s an unwritten rule that needs to be codified, if a pitcher throws at a batter as an act of revenge or spite, he does so knowing that it comes with a 10-day suspension plus any additional days awarded by the league for the event. Someone is going to be injured or worse simply for showing emotion.

Enough is enough. So it is written.

Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm homered in his first MLB AB and then never homered again

The Cardinal’s Lane Thomas hit an opposite-field home run in his first career MLB at-bat. Thomas hit 27 dingers last season but hadn’t hit any homers in 35 AB for Memphis this season. The Thomas homer gave the Cardinals back-to-back players who homered in their first MLB AB; the previous player to Thomas homer in his first AB was the Cardinals’ Paul DeJong on May 28, 2017.

The independent American Association Chicago Dogs

Carlos Zambrano is making a comeback attempt at 37 with the independent league Chicago Dogs. Zambrano last played in the majors. Zambrano’s manager is Butch Hobson, enjoying his 44th year in professional baseball. Butch last managed in the majors in 1994 with the Red Sox.

Paul Goldschmidt on pitches 94+ mph is hitting .111 (3-27) with one single, one double, and one homer.

The White Sox, Indians, Marlins, Brewers, and Yankees have yet to hit a team cycle this season; none of them have hit a triple this season.

As of this morning, only two divisions in baseball have an average W-L record above .500: the AL West at 11-9 and the NL Central at 10-9.

The Pirates bullpen has a strikeout rate of 12.04 which leads the majors. In second place are the AL leaders, the Boston Red Sox at 10.75. The Pirates’ bullpen has a 3.58 ERA while Boston’s ‘pen sits at 5.03.

While we’re talking Boston pitching, only the Orioles staff have allowed more games this season permitting 4+ runs. The Orioles are 5-14 when allowing 4+ runs, the Sox are 5-12 when allowing 4+ runs. The Pirates have permitted the fewest 4+ run games and are 2-4.

Friday night Enrique Hernandez became the first batter ever to go deep against Josh Hader on an 0-2 pitch. Matt Strahm of the Padres has allowed two this season. Last season, Bartolo Colon and A.J. Cole each allowed four, 0-2 dingers.

Law & Order: Loose Body Unit

Boston’s press release indicated that Red Sox placed right-handed pitcher Nathan Eovaldi on the 10-day injured list with a loose body in the right elbow, which sounds like a plot line for “Law & Order.”

Friday night, German Marquez pitched five innings in the Rockies’ win allowing 10 hits but just two runs, in part because he allowed no extra-base hits. The last pitcher to allow 10+ hits and no XBH in just five IP in a team winning effort was Chi Chi Gonzalez for Texas on June 27, 2016. Only seven pitchers have earned a win with those conditions with the last one being Tom Glavine on June 3, 1994, when in 5.0 IP he allowed 11 singles, walked three, and struck out six as his Braves defeated the Dodgers, 8-5.

Hunter Renfroe holds the Padres HR record for rookies with 26 in 2017. Fernando Tatis Jr.has hit six homers heading into Saturday night action. His father, Fernando Tatis, hit a total of eight homers in 70 games in his rookie season in 1997.

Loving the South Side – White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson is leading the majors in home batting with a .543 BA (19-35). Last season he hit .257 at home.

Speaking of home cooking – Christian Yelich has hit 13 homers in 13 home games this season. The Milwaukee home homer record is held by Richie Sexson who hit 28 in 77 games in 2001. Last season, J.D. Martinez and Trevor Story led the majors with 26 home dingers and Yelich is already halfway there.

Rockies fans are still waiting for Nolan Arenado‘s first home homer of the season. He hit 23 in the Mile High City last season.