tribune-admin – Martinez Tribune https://martineztribune.com The website of the Martinez Tribune. Fri, 23 Aug 2019 03:00:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 Heirloom apple varieties making a comeback at Farmers Market https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/22/heirloom-apple-varieties-making-a-comeback-at-farmers-market/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/22/heirloom-apple-varieties-making-a-comeback-at-farmers-market/#respond Fri, 23 Aug 2019 00:36:53 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=12957 BY DEBRA J. MORRIS After almost disappearing, apple varieties that were popular 30 to 40 years ago have been making a comeback. Discerning farmers’ market customers have learned to discriminate between a delightfully sweet or tart heirloom and those that are available in the supermarkets. People have grown weary of uniformly shaped, waxed, generic, and ...

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BY DEBRA J. MORRIS

After almost disappearing, apple varieties that were popular 30 to 40 years ago have been making a comeback. Discerning farmers’ market customers have learned to discriminate between a delightfully sweet or tart heirloom and those that are available in the supermarkets. People have grown weary of uniformly shaped, waxed, generic, and tasteless apples. 



Today there are more than 450 apple growers in the state of California, many of whom have returned to growing heirlooms. Gravenstein apples are the most common heirloom apple, grown mostly in Sebastopol, followed by the heritage Fuji and Pink Lady apples, now thought to be commonly available apples because of being brought back from the brink of extinction.

There are some wonderful heirloom apples offered at your market, varieties you really should try. Rainbow Orchards out of Camino offers quite a few varieties. J&J Ramos Farm from Hughson has a nice selection. Ken’s Top Notch has some lovely apples. Varieties from these farmers range from the more common heirlooms like Pink Lady, Gala, and Fuji apples to the Limbertwig, Jonagold, Chieftain, Heaven Sent, Spitzenberg, and Black Amish. Unique names for distinct and flavorful apples!

This fall, visit your local certified farmers’ market where you’ll find a wide range of these tasty fall fruits and where the farmers who grew and harvested them bring them to market for you to enjoy. They’ll even offer to provide information on which apples would be good for your purpose – baking, eating, or other uses. Try this Apple Cake to get you in the mood for fall!

Apple Raisin Nut Cake

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 cups peeled and chopped apples

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix oil, sugar, and eggs. Beat for one minute. Stir in dry ingredients: flour, salt, spices, and baking soda. Stir well, making sure all flour is incorporated. Add apples, nuts, and raisins. Gently blend together. Pour into greased and floured 9×13 pan. Spread evenly.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly.

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Benicia Film Festival Returns for September Weekend https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/20/benicia-film-festival-returns-for-september-weekend/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/20/benicia-film-festival-returns-for-september-weekend/#respond Wed, 21 Aug 2019 00:14:50 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=12950 Benicia Film Festival returns for its sixth year to celebrate independent filmmakers and support arts and culture in Benicia. The three-day festival will welcome audiences at Benicia Veterans Memorial Hall, 1150 First Street, kicking off with a gala event on the evening of Friday, September 6th. The festival will conclude on Sunday, September 8th.  The ...

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Benicia Film Festival returns for its sixth year to celebrate independent filmmakers and support arts and culture in Benicia. The three-day festival will welcome audiences at Benicia Veterans Memorial Hall, 1150 First Street, kicking off with a gala event on the evening of Friday, September 6th. The festival will conclude on Sunday, September 8th. 

The First Street location allows visitors and participants to easily enjoy all that historic downtown Benicia has to offer. From Benicia’s delightful shops and restaurants to interesting art galleries and charming hotels, it’s all easily walkable and nestled by the Carquinez Strait. 

Over the last six years, the Benicia Film Festival has brought foreign and domestic independent filmmaking to Benicia. Conceived by the City of Benicia Arts and Culture Commission, the goal has always been to bring the community together for an opportunity to support and celebrate films and their creators, both budding and established. 

This year, Benicia Film Festival will be screening a total of 59 films over the weekend. Works include culinary portrait “Hiro’s Table,” directed by Lynn Hamrick; “Down in the Dumps,” directed by Evan Owens, a harrowing story based on actual events surrounding a kidnapping; and “The Kaleidoscope Guy at the Market,” directed by Russell Brown, about Seattle’s beloved stained-glass artist Michael Shaw. LUNAFEST includes a film by Nigerian-American filmmaker Bola Ogun, who was selected for the 2014 AFI Directing Workshop for Women and whose submission “Are We Good Parents?” premiered at South X Southwest and has since travelled through Outfest and Edmonton International, among others. 

Saturday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., will see the return of LUNAFEST to Benicia Film Festival. LUNAFEST presented by Luna Bar is an organization that, in partnership with Chicken & Egg Pictures, has become a driving force in the movement toward gender equality in filmmaking. LUNAFEST prides itself on its dedication to short films by and about women. “Telling stories that have to be told,” as founder Kim Crawford puts it, helps create a platform from which to promote women in film.

The nonprofit provides mentorship and financial support to female filmmakers. One hundred percent of their proceeds go to local women’s cause groups. This year, the Arts and Culture Commission will be donating the proceeds to Soroptimist International of Benicia, whose mission it is to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. 

For more information, tickets and a schedule of the festival, visit BeniciaFilmFestival.com or email or call Helaine Bowles at info@beniciafilmfestival.com or (707) 746-4358. 

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Yanks resilience thru injuries fashions best record in the Majors https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/20/yanks-resilience-thru-injuries-fashions-best-record-in-the-majors/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/20/yanks-resilience-thru-injuries-fashions-best-record-in-the-majors/#respond Tue, 20 Aug 2019 07:15:58 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=12938 BY J.A. SCHWARTZ The New York Yankees come to town to play a three game set with the A’s Tuesday night, bringing with them the best record in baseball and a stranglehold on the AL East division. The A’s continue to battle for a Wild Card berth, one game behind Tampa Bay, and if they ...

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BY J.A. SCHWARTZ

The New York Yankees come to town to play a three game set with the A’s Tuesday night, bringing with them the best record in baseball and a stranglehold on the AL East division. The A’s continue to battle for a Wild Card berth, one game behind Tampa Bay, and if they were able to win that one game elimination match, they’d likely match up against the Yankees in the ALDS. Given the injuries that have plagued the Bronx Bombers in 2019, it is astounding that they hold such a lofty place in the standings.

The Yankees have been historically unfortunate with regard to their injuries in 2019.  Starting third baseman Miguel Andujar only got 47 at bats before going down with a shoulder injury, and is out for the year.  Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has not played since 2017. Starting shortstop Didi Gregorius missed the first 70 games of the season recovering from elbow surgery.  Leftfielder Giancarlo Stanton has missed all but nine contests thus far.

The starting outfield of CF Aaron Hicks (59 games), RF Aaron Judge (65 games) and LF Stanton (9 games) has played in a combined 133 games of a possible 363 this year.  Hicks and Stanton are currently on the IL, and are not certain to return before the end of the season. Players such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion and first baseman Luke Voit are both currently out of action and might not be activated before the playoffs begin.

Starting catcher Gary Sanchez has missed 35 games with two different injuries. Their ace, Luis Severino hasn’t thrown a single pitch in 2019. Each of their projected 2019 rotation members: CC Sabathia, James Paxton, J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka, and Severino have missed starts and/or been on the IL. Key setup man Dellin Betances has also been out all year. In all, through August 16th, the Yankees have lost 1930 player days to the IL this year, which represents a total of $62 million in payroll that has been unavailable to them (data courtesy of Spotrac). Both of those figures are the highest in the league this year by a significant margin.

The Yankees have the best record in baseball at 83-43, and are running away with the AL East. With all the injury issues they’ve had this year, how can that be possible ?  The answer lies with the largely unknown players who have stepped up to help replace the injured Yankee stars, almost all of whom have performed at levels far exceeding their career norms.

Marcus Thames is the New York hitting coach, and he’s been on the job since the start of the 2018 season.  His primary mantra for his hitters: “Make sure you swing at strikes.” Phil Plantier is the hitting coach for the Yankees AAA affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders. In a radio interview with Sweeny Murti on WFAN New York, Plantier notes that “making subtle tweaks in their work” was instrumental in helping his charges at AAA ascend to the majors with an approach that would be effective immediately.

As one might expect, neither Thames nor Plantier has been particularly specific about the nature of the adjustments their pupils have adopted, but it is very clear that whatever they’ve advised, it has paid dramatic dividends. Both men deserve credit for working with players who have arrived from other teams over the past two seasons, helping to elevate their offensive output and arguably fueling the Yankees success despite their unprecedented injury woes.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER After three highly uneventful seasons to start his career before joining the Yankees in the off-season, Gio Urshela has hit .336 with 18 home runs and 66 RBI’s in 2019. His career totals prior to coming to New York were eight home runs and 39 RBI’s.

Third baseman Gio Urshela, 27, was a glove first prospect who never found his footing as a hitter in the majors with both Cleveland and Toronto. At AAA in 2017, he hit .266/.321/.374 for the Indians with six HR and 34 RBIs. He was traded the following May to Toronto for a player to be named, and was then purchased from the Jays by the Yankees in August of that year. In his major league career with Cleveland and Toronto, in 466 AB’s, he hit .225/.267/.315 with eight HR and 39 RBIs.

Since becoming a Yankee, Urshela has been a different hitter: .342/.383/.587 with 18 HR and 66 RBIs in 339 at bats. His batting average would lead all of baseball if he had enough plate appearances to qualify for the title, and is the best in the majors among hitters with at least 300 AB’s. He has improved in every facet of his game, and has arguably been more productive for the Yankees than Andujar, the man he’s replacing, who hit .297/.328/.527 in 2018. Urshela credits Plantier for helping him hone his swing when the Yankees acquired him in 2018, focusing on trying to utilize his legs to help generate power.  It’s certainly working for him.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Mike Tauchman’s unexpected production for the Yankees has been a testament to the teams depth as it survived a rash of injuries. He’s batting .289 with 29 extra base hits and 42 RBI’s after entering the season with only 52 games of Major League experience.

With slugging outfielders Judge and Stanton missing large portions of the season, the Yankees figured to be hard pressed to replace their productivity. But Mike Tauchman, who was acquired in March from Colorado for a minor league pitcher, has filled in capably. Despite a minor league track record that showed promise, Tauchman hadn’t been able to stick in the majors, hitting just .153/.265/.203 in 69 AB’s for the Rockies through his age 27 season. Surely, a player who couldn’t flourish in the thin air of Coors Field wouldn’t improve after leaving that environment. Yet that is exactly what happened. At 28, he’s hit .289/.372/.554 with 12 HRs and 42 RBIs for the Yankees, a batting rate that is better than that of Stanton’s 2018 season (.266/.343./.509).  Plantier has also been instrumental in helping Tauchman develop his swing at the AAA level, helping to fuel his 2019 breakout in the Bronx.

Cameron Maybin, 32, arrived in New York in April of 2019. The team purchased his contract from the Indians, who had signed him less than a month earlier after the Giants released him, hoping he might be a solution to their outfield productivity woes. He never played a regular season game for either Cleveland or San Francisco, but he’s been a revelation for the Yankees.  He’s hitting .312/.390/.526 in his 173 ABs for New York, levels that are dramatically better than his .257/.325/.376 career marks.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER After playing for the Marlins in 2018, Cameron Maybin was released by both the Giants and Indians before the start of the regular season, but he’s found a home in the Bronx, batting .309 while filling in for the injured Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks in the Yankees decimated outfield.

Perhaps the most remarkable transformation has occurred with infielder D.J. LeMahieu, 31, who has played at least 20 games at first, second and third base for the Yankees, covering for injured players all over the diamond in 2019. He was signed as a free agent following the 2018 season, after fashioning a strong presence in the NL as a Gold Glove second baseman for the Rockies. In his NL career, spent almost entirely with Colorado, he hit a respectable .298/.350/.406 with a total of 49 HRs over eight seasons.

LeMahieu’s NL batting levels were inflated by his play at Coors Field, where he had an 834 OPS compared to a 681 OPS in road stadiums, and many teams were hesitant to pursue him as a free agent, fearing his projected output would suffer outside of Coors Field. The Yankees were not concerned, signing him to a two-year, $24 million deal in January of this year. In addition to his trademark defensive prowess, he’s proved a prescient acquisition for New York. He is hitting .339/.386/.543,leading the AL batting race. His 21 homers and 86 RBIs are already career bests, and the season still has seven weeks remaining. Like many of his teammates in the Bronx, LeMahieu is producing at levels that are far better than his prior established norms.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER In his first season with the Yankees since signing as a free agent, D.J. LeMahieu leads the Majors with a .339 average. If he wins the batting title he’ll be the first player in MLB history to lead both leagues in hitting.

SO, what is happening to turn these players into monsters in the Bronx ?

One of the possible explanations for the changes demonstrated by the Yankee hitters this year comes from a hire they made in January of this year.  Linsdey Adler of The Athletic interviewed Dillon Lawson, the minor league hitting coordinator for the team, who has been implementing his theories on pitch recognition throughout the organization.  Adler reveals that Lawson and his colleague, Dr. Peter Fadde, a professor at Southern Illinois University, have developed a program that helps hitters hone their reactions to pitches.

The goal is to identify pitches that a hitter should swing at, and those they should let pass, as early as possible in the ball’s flight towards the plate.  One drill reportedly utilized by Lawson has hitters watching video of pitches being thrown. The video feed is halted before the pitch reaches the plate, and the hitters are responsible for identifying the type of pitch they just saw. The intent is to develop visible cues that hitters can recognize in the way a pitcher changes his arm, wrist or hand position to deliver that particular pitch, allowing them to build a mental inventory of pitches that they can store for future plate appearances. Could these types of drills help explain some of the marked improvements in their hitters in the major leagues?

Regardless of how the Yankees are getting their hitters to maximize their talents, the results are startling. Credit should rightfully go to the players themselves, who are putting bat to ball with admirable discipline, unleashing beautifully violent swings with career best outcomes. It would be a mistake, however, to believe that random chance or luck has been the primary driver of the stunning improvement shown by the Yankee players filling in for the team’s panoply of injured stars. People like Marcus Thames, Phil Plantier and Dillon Lawson all deserve to be recognized for helping to bring an organization-wide hitting philosophy to the franchise, and for having the skill to translate those paradigms into practical drills and mechanical adjustments that have been the engine behind the success of the Yankee hitters who have stepped up when the opportunity arose.

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Astros pitching magic continues to dominate AL opponents https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/14/astros-pitching-magic-continues-to-dominate-al-opponents/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/14/astros-pitching-magic-continues-to-dominate-al-opponents/#respond Thu, 15 Aug 2019 05:24:36 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=12859 BY J.A. SCHWARTZ With Houston enjoying a 9.5 game lead over the A’s and rolling to a third straight division title as they arrive in Oakland for a four game weekend series, the Astros pitching philosophy has become the cornerstone of their sustained success in the AL West. But what does their organization know about ...

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BY J.A. SCHWARTZ

With Houston enjoying a 9.5 game lead over the A’s and rolling to a third straight division title as they arrive in Oakland for a four game weekend series, the Astros pitching philosophy has become the cornerstone of their sustained success in the AL West. But what does their organization know about the art of throwing a baseball that the rest of the league has yet to figure out?

Righthander Aaron Sanchez was traded on deadline day this year from Toronto to Houston, jumping from a team that was 27 games out of first place to one with the best record in the American League. He had other reasons to be excited about his change in employers. The Astros organization has developed a well-earned reputation for taking talented pitchers and immediately making them better, sometimes dramatically so. If ever a pitcher required such a makeover, it was Sanchez, who had the worst ERA (6.07) and most losses (14) among all hurlers who had thrown at least 100 innings in 2019. Surely, the Houston magic would be put to the test trying to turn Sanchez around.

In his first start as an Astro, Sanchez threw six hitless innings against Seattle, striking out six and allowing only two base-runners, both on walks. His new teammates completed the final three innings without allowing any hits, and Sanchez was a part of history: the 12th no-hitter for the Astro franchise, and just the 14th such event (a combined no-hitter) in baseball since 1901.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Aaron Sanchez delivers a pitch for the Blue Jays earlier this season prior to being dealt to Houston. With Toronto, Sanchez was 3-14 with a 6.07 ERA, but after throwing six no-hit innings in his Astros debut, he’s 2-0 with a 0.87 ERA since his trade.

It’s only a single start, and that’s not nearly enough to draw any rational conclusions. If Sanchez feat were an isolated occurrence, it would be chalked up to random variation-a professional pitcher who had all the stars align for a single glorious night. The Astros, however, have achieved incredible results with newly acquired pitchers of all types and levels of skill. How are they doing it ?

When the Astros trade for a pitcher, or sign one as a free agent, they have a formal meeting with him. The franchise presents reams of data, high speed video, heat maps and mechanical optimization suggestions designed to maximize the unique gifts and skills of that particular player. There is no cookie cutter approach in Houston. The pitcher still has to take the ball and make it dance, but the Astros make sure they are using the best weapons they’ve got, and minimizing those that have proven less effective. Each pitcher gets his own plan, and starting from the lowest rungs of the organization, that approach has led to unprecedented success on the mound in Houston.

Here’s a look at a number of pitchers that have seen huge leaps in performance upon being acquired by the Astros, as well as one who came up through their organization and saw similar transformations:

Collin McHugh was struggling. The Mets had drafted McHugh in the 18th round in 2008, then traded him to Colorado for Eric Young Jr. in 2013. The Rockies put him on waivers that winter, and the Astros scooped him up in December 2013.

In his four years with the Mets and Rockies, the righthander didn’t fare well, but the Astros saw something in his skill set, and they thought they could mold his arsenal and yield far better outcomes. They were right.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Collin McHugh had an 0-8 record with an 8.94 ERA before arriving in Houston. With the Astros, he’s 57-35 with a 3.67 ERA.

In McHugh’s case, the Astros asked him to stop throwing his fastball quite so much, and to feature his curve and slider more frequently. In his time with the Mets and Rockies, McHugh would throw his fastball 52% of the time, and his slider and curve a combined 38% of the time. The Astros got him spinning breaking balls 55% of the time, dropping his fastball usage to 40%. They also were able to coax more heat from McHugh when he did feature his fastball. In his final year before being waived by the Rockies, McHugh averaged 91.0 MPH with his fastball. In 2014, his first with Houston, that same pitch was coming in at 92.4 MPH.  That season McHugh went 11-9 with a 2.73 ERA, finishing fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

The following year, he would go 19-7, 3.89, and finish eighth in Cy Young balloting. The Astros waiver claim turned into a true ace-caliber starting pitcher by flipping his pitch usage and featuring his breaking pitches more than his fastball, and by adding velocity to all his offerings. He began striking out significantly more hitters, and was more effective across the board.

Charlie Morton’s career was at a crossroads. Following the 2016 season, his ninth in the big leagues, the 32 year-old righthanded starting pitcher was a free agent. In April of that year, he had torn his hamstring running to first base, and had surgery to repair the injury, missing the rest of the season. Still, the Astros believed that his best days were yet ahead of him, despite his age and the hamstring issue. Once again, they were right.                    

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Tampa Bay’s Charlie Morton, a former Astro, was 46-71 with a 4.54 ERA and an average of 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings before arriving in Houston. In his two years with the Astros along with the 2019 season with the Rays, he’s 42-14 with a 3.21 ERA while averaging 10.7 K’s per nine innings.

Morton’s velocity increased from 95.4 to 96.0 in 2017, but it was his power curve that the Astros really focused on. In his years in the National League, Morton couldn’t get lefties out, and he had allowed the highest batting average against lefties (.301) of any right-handed starter in all of baseball. By increasing his velocity and changing the shape of his curveball, the Astros reaped a significant benefit. In 2017, Morton allowed lefties to hit .172 against him, the best in the major leagues among right-handed starters. In Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, it was Charlie Morton closing out the game for Houston, throwing the last four frames in his team’s title clinching 5-1 victory against the Dodgers. He was on the mound when the franchise won its first championship, a year after wondering if his career might be over.

Righthander Gerrit Cole was the top overall pick in the draft by the Pirates in 2011 out of UCLA. He was a scout’s dream, featuring premium velocity, great control and durability. The 6’4” righty would debut in the majors with Pittsburgh two short years later, pitching at a very high level during his five years with the club. In January 2018, he would be traded to Houston for a package of young players. The Astros were banking on their ability to maximize pitching potential, even in a player who had already excelled in the majors. They were not disappointed.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Gerritt Cole had a 59-42 record with a 3.50 ERA and 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings with Pittsburgh prior to signing with the Astros. In less than two full seasons with Houston, he’s 29-10 with a 2.87 ERA while increasing his strikeout rate to 12.7 per nine innings.

The Astros turned a great starting pitcher into an elite one. The Astros believed Cole should rely more upon his breaking pitches than his fastball to gain effectiveness and deception. His pitch mix changed from throwing 60% fastballs and 30% breaking pitches to 56% fastballs and 40% curves and sliders. Under the Astros tutelage, his fastball velocity ticked up from 96.3 in his last year with the Pirates to its current 97.3, and Cole began striking out hitters at a career high level. His 276 whiffs in 2018 were a career best, and second in the American League. In 2019, Cole is striking out 12.9 hitters/9 innings, good for the fifth best rate in baseball history. He finished fifth in 2018 Cy Young voting, and is a safe bet to match or improve that performance this year.

Justin Verlander’s career was already on a Hall of Fame trajectory in the summer of 2017. He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2006, and was a six time All Star. He had claimed a Cy Young Award and an MVP in 2011 with the Tigers, but had never won a championship. In late August of 2017, the Tigers called to inform their 34 year-old ace they had a trade in place to send him to Houston. His contract allowed him to veto any deal, but with minutes to go at the August 31st deadline for postseason roster eligibility, he reluctantly agreed to accept the move to the Astros. The righty would make five regular season starts for the Astros, winning each of them (5-0, 1.06), after going 10-8, 3.82 for Detroit. He would go 4-0, 1.46 in the ALDS and ALCS, and was named the MVP of the latter series, leading the Astros into the World Series against the Dodgers. Though he was 0-1, 3.75 in the Fall Classic, he celebrated a championship with the Astros, watching fellow teammate Charlie Morton close out Los Angeles before mobbing him on the mound.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Justin Verlander was already on a Hall of Fame trajectory with Detroit, but since being traded to the Astros his ERA has dropped from 3.49 to 2.52, while his walks per nine innings have decreased from 2.7 to 1.7 as his strikeouts have increased from 8.5 to 12.1.

The Astros managed to refine Verlander’s repertoire, and, in his age 34 and 35 seasons, have seen him post career best WHIP, walk rate and strikeout rates. Unlike McHugh, Morton and Cole, however, there isn’t an obvious change in Verlander’s pitch utilization.  According to Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, the Astros used super high-speed camera work to isolate how his grip on his slider could be optimized, creating more tilt. Verlander increased his slider usage slightly, from 18.3% before the trade to 22.2% since. The results speak for themselves. The franchise helped him improve markedly at an age when most pitchers, even the elite ones, are running out of gas.

Ryan Pressly had enjoyed a consistent, at times dominant, career as a reliever for the Twins. On July 27th, 2018, the righthander was traded by Minnesota to the Astros for a pair of low-level minor league prospects. From that date on, Pressly has been one of the best bullpen arms in the American League.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Ryan Pressly had a 3.75 ERA while averaging 3.1 walks and eight strikeouts per nine innings while pitching for the Twins. Now in his second season with Houston, he’s fashioned a 1.57 ERA and lowered his walks to 1.6 while increasing his strikeout average to 11.7 per game.

The Astros asked him to do two things: pitch up in the zone, and throw his high spin rate slider even more than he ever had. He increased his use of his slider from 18% to 28% of his pitch mix, and threw his fastball far less often, but it was elevated when he did utilize it. The Astros had done it again.They made a good pitcher an outstanding one by simply coaching him according to what their analysis said would be best for him.

It would appear that the Astros can take established major league pitching talent and, using their processes, coax better results from those players than they’ve ever produced. If the franchise can do that with the pitchers that it imports, it would seem logical to postulate that the team would be able to scout, draft, and develop its own minor league talent with similar success.  Not surprisingly, this is exactly what’s happening. Their minor league pitchers (from rookie ball through AAA) have more strikeouts than the hurlers of any other franchise in baseball. Of their top six minor league affiliates, four (AA Corpus Christi, A+ Fayetteville, A Quad Cities, Short Season A Tri City) lead their leagues in pitching strikeouts. At Fayetteville, the pitchers there have struck out 231 more batters than the second place staff. This is a system wide trend, and those players eventually matriculate towards the majors, or are used as trade chips (like the ones that netted Zack Greinke from Arizona) partially because they have gaudy minor league strikeout and velocity figures that are coveted by rival organizations.

One final story: Righthander Josh James was a 34th round pick by the Astros in 2014 out of Western Oklahoma State College. Over his first four minor league seasons, James featured 88-91 MPH fastballs, and reached AA Corpus Christi in 2017, where he had a 4.38 ERA and struck out 8.5/9. During that season, he began to use a CPAP machine for treatment of sleep apnea, and began feeling less tired, more able to work out, and healthier in general. In 2018, his fastball was regularly clocked in the high 90’s, and he rocketed through the Astros system, making his major league debut in September last year, a game in which he threw several pitches at 100 MPH or more. The Astros might rely upon complex data and modern motion capture video technology, but they also know their pitchers personally and professionally, and sometimes the key that unlocks major league potential is as simple as a good night’s sleep.

The Astros have figured out something that the rest of baseball has yet to master: How to develop and optimize pitchers. They have a few foundational pillars that seem to recur in their success stories. They get their pitchers to throw with better velocity. They encourage pitchers to use their breaking pitches more, and their fastballs less. When they do have pitchers throw their fastballs, they usually want them to target the upper parts of the strike zone. They teach their draftees how to increase the spin rate on their breaking pitches, and they prioritize that metric when drafting or trading for pitchers. Quite simply, they ask their pitchers to use the best and most effective pitches they throw more frequently, and use the ones that aren’t as good less often. They communicate that information very directly to their mound corps, and they back up the suggestions that they make with high-end proprietary data. The proof of the efficacy of their methods is all over the pitching leader-boards and standings.

Making these deductions may demystify the Astros wizardry to some degree, but the glory is in the details. How the Astros develop better spin rate and velocity throughout their minor league system and among their major league staff is not at all apparent, and they aren’t likely to share their secrets any time soon. Until such time that their methodology comes to light, and is copied throughout the game, it is left for their opponents to adjust to these new pitching paradigms and to render them less befuddling. The Astros will continue to outperform the competition in the meantime, leveraging their advantage on the mound into first place finishes-leaving the A’s and the rest of the AL West gasping in their vapor trail.

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Former mate Parra’s three run homer haunts Giants in 4-1 loss https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/07/12842/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/07/12842/#respond Thu, 08 Aug 2019 02:19:01 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=12842 BY RICK PORCARO The Giants post season hopes were dealt another blow Wednesday afternoon as they fell 4-1 to Washington, completing a three-game series sweep for the Nationals. Washington didn’t waste any time jumping on Giants starter Shaun Anderson (3-4, 5.33), manufacturing a run in the first on a Juan Soto RBI groundout after Trea ...

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BY RICK PORCARO

The Giants post season hopes were dealt another blow Wednesday afternoon as they fell 4-1 to Washington, completing a three-game series sweep for the Nationals.

Washington didn’t waste any time jumping on Giants starter Shaun Anderson (3-4, 5.33), manufacturing a run in the first on a Juan Soto RBI groundout after Trea Turner and Adam Eaton opened the game with back to back singles. 

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Washington’s Gerardo Parra celebrates his three run third inning homer as he crosses home plate during the Natonals 4-1 win over the Giants Wednesday afternoon at Oracle Park.

But the real damage came two innings later when former Giant Gerardo Parra blasted an Anderson pitch 380 feet into the left center field bleachers to give the Nats a 4-0 third inning lead. Released by San Francisco on May 7th with a paltry .198 average after 30 games, Parra signed with the Nats two days later and has batted a solid .287 in 56 games with 36 RBI’s.

Nationals starter Joe Ross (2-3, 6.75), a native of Oakland, threw six shutout innings against the Giants, only allowing three hits while striking out five. The Giants only run came in the ninth when a Brandon Crawford double knocked in Kevin Pillar, who had been hit by a pitch one better earlier.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Washington’s Joe Ross delivers a pitch during the Nationals 4-1 win over the Giants Wednesday afternoon at Oracle Park. Ross pitched six shutout innings, allowing only three hits while striking out five to earn the win.

With the win, Washington solidified their grip on the NL’s top Wild Card spot while the Giants fell four games off the pace. It was their sixth loss in their last seven games and ninth in their past 13.

Another team San Francisco is chasing, Philadelphia, arrives for a four game series starting tomorrow night, with Phillies ace Aaron Nola (10-2, 3.60) facing Madison Bumgarner (6-7, 3.92) in the opener.

GAME NOTES:

With the win, the Nationals took the season series from San Francisco 5-1.

Today, August 7th, was the 12th anniversary of Barry Bonds 756th home run, making him the All-Time Major League leader.

On Tuesday, San Francisco announced that they placed second baseman Joe Panik on unconditional release waivers after six seasons with the Giants. If the former Gold Glove winner clears waivers, he will become a free agent and have the option to sign with any team.

The Giants also announced the acquisition of relief pitcher Ryan Dull off waivers from the A’s. Dull, 29, will report to the Giants’ top minor-league team in Sacramento.


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A different perspective on the trade deadline – five years later https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/04/a-different-perspective-on-the-trade-deadline-five-years-later/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/04/a-different-perspective-on-the-trade-deadline-five-years-later/#respond Sun, 04 Aug 2019 08:23:22 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=12806 BY J.A. SCHWARTZ Most of the attention around the trade deadline is rightfully focused on the teams that are in contention for a playoff berth, and whose roster machinations in search of the perfect combination of talent and opportunity drives the news cycles in late July. It was wonderful theatre for fans and baseball chroniclers ...

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BY J.A. SCHWARTZ

Most of the attention around the trade deadline is rightfully focused on the teams that are in contention for a playoff berth, and whose roster machinations in search of the perfect combination of talent and opportunity drives the news cycles in late July. It was wonderful theatre for fans and baseball chroniclers alike, ruminating on the various merits of the Zack Greinke trade, the Marcus Stroman deal and the fascinating Trevor Bauer/Yasiel Puig/Taylor Trammell swap, the latter being a three team collaboration.

It bears mention, however, that the teams that aren’t in win-now mode, and who trade their free agents to be, star players and bullpen pieces to those hungry teams at the top of the standings, can reap significant rewards during the deadline frenzy if they are patient.

Five years ago during trade deadline season in 2014, the names at the top of the standings were different than they are today. In the American League, the division leaders were Baltimore, Detroit and Oakland, with the Angels and Royals looming as threats. In the National League, the Nationals, Brewers and Dodgers set the pace, but the Braves, Giants and Cardinals were all in the mix. Here are some of the interesting transactions that occurred in July and August of 2014 as these teams jockeyed for roster upgrades through trades and waiver claims:

Rich Hill (4-1, 2.55), the ageless Dodgers hurler still pitching effectively at age 39, was purchased by the Angels from the Red Sox on July 1st only to be released by the team eight days later. The Yankees scooped him up on July 16th, and Hill threw 5.1 IP for the Yankees the rest of the year. The Yankees did not retain his services after 2014. With a few adjustments to his mechanics and his pitch mix, Hill would break out as a stellar starting pitcher late in the 2015 season, and has gone 25-15, 2.72 since.

On July 2nd, 2014, the Braves signed international free agent Ronald Acuna Jr. Acuna debuted in the majors at age 20 four years later in 2018, and was that season’s Rookie of the Year. Acuna has hit .291/.369/.527 with 52 HRs, 130 RBIs and 41 stolen bases thus far in his career.

The Diamondbacks traded OF Gerardo Parra to the Brewers for LHP Anthony Banda and OF Mitch Haniger on deadline day 2014. Parra amassed 446 at bats for the Brewers, hitting .312/.355/.482 with 12 HRs, 41 RBIs, and 13 steals. Parra was then traded at the 2015 deadline to the Orioles for current Brewer RHP Zach Davies, who has gone 41-30, 3.98 in his five year stint with Milwaukee. Haniger would debut for Arizona in 2016, but was traded that offseason to Seattle, for whom he has hit .271/.351/.486 with 57 HRs, 172 RBIs and 17 steals in his three year run with the Mariners.

Baltimore added LHP Andrew Miller from the Red Sox on July 31st, 2014. Miller would go 2-0 in 20 IP for the Orioles with a 1.35 ERA, striking out 34 batters and helping to lead Baltimore to the AL East title. He was equally stellar in the playoffs for the O’s, allowing no runs over 7.1 October innings. He would leave Baltimore as a free agent after the 2014 season. Who did the Red Sox receive from the Orioles for Miller ? 21-year-old LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, who has blossomed into a dependable starter for Boston, going 45-30, 4.14 in his five years with the club. Rodriguez won’t be eligible to test free agent waters until 2022.

The Angels, looking for a bullpen upgrade, acquired RHP Vinnie Pestano from the Indians on July 31, 2014. Pestano would appear in 12 games for the Angels that year, throwing 9.2 innings in the regular season and another inning in the postseason for Anaheim. He would also pitch for the team in 2015, his last season in the majors. Over the course of his time with the Angels, Pestano went 1-0, 3.38 in 21.1 IP, and he did help the Angels make the playoffs in 2014. What did those 21 IP cost the Angels ? RHP Mike Clevinger, who debuted with Cleveland in 2016 and has a 34-19 record and 3.33 ERA in his four seasons with the franchise. Clevinger has been incredibly valuable for the Tribe, and he won’t be eligible for free agency until 2023.

The headlines are filled with stories about the big names that have changed teams over the past week or so, but sometimes the parts of those transactions that barely merit a passing glance go on to develop into significant assets for the clubs who relinquished established major league talent to get them. Not all of the prospects-or international free agents-whose names are listed in the transaction columns will go on to fame and fortune. The reality is that very few of the minor league players who switched uniforms last week will end up having careers of any significance in the majors. However, when those players do ascend to the big show, they can pay incredible dividends in the seasons to come for the teams who bet on their potential.

Just five years ago, the Giants beat the Royals in an epic World Series, with LHP Madison Bumgarner playing the hero for San Francisco. The Orioles were in the playoffs, as were the Tigers and Pirates. In 2019, those same teams were trading away some of their best players to contenders, with an eye towards acquiring young prospects that might be part of their next chance at October glory. The Giants seriously entertained trading that hero, one of the faces of their franchise, before relenting and deciding he’ll remain on their roster and finish the season with San Francisco before becoming a free agent. Had Bumgarner been dealt, perhaps another little known prospect could have joined the ranks of the players who made good on their potential, and helped teams at the bottom of the standings move back towards the top.

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Kim Petras delivers euphoric experience at the Mezzanine https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/01/kim-petras-provides-euphoric-experience-at-the-mezzanine/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/01/kim-petras-provides-euphoric-experience-at-the-mezzanine/#respond Fri, 02 Aug 2019 03:25:02 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=12735 BY MASON BISSADA Kim Petras Wednesday night concert at the Mezzanine in San Francisco, the fitting final U.S. stop on her Broken tour, was a euphoric, rave-like wonder. Petras, who first came onto the pop-scene with her hit “I Don’t Want It at All,” sold out the SoMa venue/night-club and transformed it into her personal ...

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BY MASON BISSADA

Kim Petras Wednesday night concert at the Mezzanine in San Francisco, the fitting final U.S. stop on her Broken tour, was a euphoric, rave-like wonder.

Petras, who first came onto the pop-scene with her hit “I Don’t Want It at All,” sold out the SoMa venue/night-club and transformed it into her personal shrine. That is not to say the stage was covered with superfluous props, back-up dancers and other distractions. On the contrary, Petras needed only a microphone, DJ, a few background displays and a “WOO-AH” sign (a sort of mating call among the Petras fandom) to engage and mesmerize her crowd.

©DIEGO MORENO Kim Petras performs Wednesday night at the Mezzanine in San Francisco on the last night of her World Tour.

What gave the the roughly 17 song, hour-long concert a shrine-like vibe was the way in which her fans seemed to worship her and her confidence. Petras carries a presence that is reminiscent of her pop star contemporary Ariana Grande. She commands the stage despite her petite stature and dollish appearance. She was swearing between tracks and encouraging the crowd to sing along and go wild.

Though psychedelic clips of Jigglypuff and Mario Kart would occasionally flash across the screens behind her, the attention would never leave Petras herself. Her wardrobe would change from white to black to blue, but her intangible glow continued to radiate off of her throughout her entire set. Bangers such as the instantly addictive “Heart to Break” had every pit attendee’s hands in the air, grasping as if she were some sort of pop messiah.

Petras dressed the part of pop-sensation to a tee. Her skin-tight dresses would color-coordinate with the stage lights and stand out amongst the smoke and wind machines. She wore her hair down with a single bun atop the corner of her head. Her high-heels were high, but not so high that they restricted her mobility. Make no mistake, this was no Lady Gaga masquerade. There were no extravagant wigs or meat dresses to confuse the audience or make some audacious statement. Petras let her music and vocals speak for themselves, and her aesthetic was just icing on the trippy cake. 

The only other soul sharing the stage with Petras was her DJ/songwriter/producer Aaron Joseph. Joseph was placed behind a turntable desk in the traditional DJ role, but would often run to center-stage and mouth along to Petras vocals, pumping his fists and running back and forth in an attempt to get the crowd even more lively. While Joseph deserves a ton of credit for writing and producing many of Petras hit songs, perhaps this particular brand of showmanship wasn’t the best choice for the betterment of the concert. While nothing short of an earthquake could distract the crowd from Petras stage presence, Joseph’s antics would sometimes subtract from the spectacle of her performance. At the end of the night, her name is the one that sells out venues, not his.

©DIEGO MORENO Kim Petras strikes a pose Wednesday night at the Mezzanine.

Petras now age 26, first came under the media spotlight as a teenager in her home country of Germany for being one of the youngest people to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Since her music career took off, Petras has been a staunch LGBTQ+ advocate and a voice for the trans community. It was fitting that the U.S. leg of her sold-out tour would end in San Francisco, one of the most prideful places on the planet.

As the crowd held up their phone lights as proxy-lighters for a slow(er) jam, one concertgoer described the pit as “a gay sea anemone.”

A month ago, Petras released her first studio album, Clarity, which peaked at #7 on Billboard’s Heatseekers charts. This October, Petras will be releasing Turn Off The Light Vol. II, the sequel to her Halloween mixtape of the same name. Her star is ascending rapidly, as she is currently bringing in 2.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify.

Petras has all the makings of a potential pop sensation. She’s young, fun, clearly talented, and stands for a message that is worth sharing. Time will tell if she can turn this potential into reality.

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A’s add, Giants punt at deadline as Greinke, Puig, Bauer move https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/01/as-add-giants-subtract-at-deadline-as-greinke-puig-bauer-dealt/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/08/01/as-add-giants-subtract-at-deadline-as-greinke-puig-bauer-dealt/#respond Thu, 01 Aug 2019 08:15:02 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=12702 BY J.A. SCHWARTZ With the A’s standing at 61-47, holding the second Wild Card position in the American League, just 1/2 game ahead of Tampa and 7 1/2 games behind the West leading Astros in the division race, Oakland GM Billy Beane has made multiple efforts to strengthen his team’s chances of advancing to the ...

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BY J.A. SCHWARTZ

With the A’s standing at 61-47, holding the second Wild Card position in the American League, just 1/2 game ahead of Tampa and 7 1/2 games behind the West leading Astros in the division race, Oakland GM Billy Beane has made multiple efforts to strengthen his team’s chances of advancing to the postseason for a second consecutive season prior to the trade deadline.

Oakland traded for Cincinnati RHP Tanner Roark, 32, who is 6-7 with a 4.24 ERA in 21 starts this season. In return, the Reds received OF Jameson Hannah, the A’s 7th rated prospect according to Baseball America. In addition, the A’s will receive cash from the Reds to help cover the remaining portion of Roark’s $10.1 million salary this year. Roark, who will become a free agent following the season, has been both effective and durable during his career. He has a 70-61 record with a 3.66 ERA in his seven major league campaigns, and has never been on the injured list. Roark figures to slot in among the A’s starting pitchers, upgrading their talent and depth at that position for the stretch run.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Two weeks after acquiring Homer Bailey, the A’s added another experienced starter Wednesday when they picked up Tanner Roark from the Reds. Roark was a part of three division champion teams while with the Washington Nationals.

The A’s also acquired an upgrade for their bullpen in lefty Jake Diekman, 32, who was brought west from the Royals for minor league prospects RHP Ismael Aquino and CF Dairon Blanco. Neither Aquino nor Blanco were ranked among Oakland’s top ten prospects at the time of the trade. The A’s bullpen featured lefties Ryan Buchter and Wei-Chung Wang before the trade for Diekman, but neither pitcher has been as effective or dominant as Diekman has been.

Diekman has struck out 13.6 batters per nine innings this season in 41.2 innings (1/3 of opposing hitters), rates far superior to both Wang (4.56) and Buchter (9.85). Diekman also tends to get a higher rate of ground balls, 48.4% vs 31.0% for Wang and 23.1% for Buchter, a skill that tends to have value in the current juiced ball, home run happy environment. The A’s hope that the combination of Diekman, Wang and Buchter will help neutralize opposing left handed hitters as the team battles for a playoff berth. Diekman is also signed inexpensively, earning $1.75 million through the end of the season, with a mutual option for 2020 that would pay him $5.75 million if exercised (or a $500,000 buy-out).

Given that 2019 is the first year featuring the single, unified trade deadline, teams must make all additions and upgrades to their roster prior to August 1st. Beyond that date, only players within the organization can be utilized to improve the roster, making this year’s trade deadline that much more important.

With four teams (Indians, A’s, Rays, Red Sox) within a single game of a playoff berth as the deadline struck, each trade could be the difference between a chance at October glory and a long winter to consider what might have been. Oakland is hoping that their acquisitions of Roark and Diekman will help them make a strong push over the final two months of the season and secure a playoff berth.

Veteran starters on the move

Toronto traded ace starter and New York native Marcus Stroman (6-11, 2.96) and cash considerations to the Mets for two pitching prospects, Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER After seven sometimes tumultuous seasons in Cleveland, Trevor Bauer is headed across state to join the Cincinnati Reds after being one of the center pieces of a three team trade.

In a three team mega-trade, the Reds acquired RHP Trevor Bauer, 28, (9-8, 3.79) from Cleveland.  In order to pull off the trade, the Reds gave up their #1 prospect, OF Taylor Trammell to the Padres and OF Yasiel Puig and LHP prospect Scott Moss to the Indians.  The Padres traded OF Franmil Reyes, LHP Logan Allen and prospect Victor Nova to the Indians in the process.  In the end, the Indians received Reyes, Puig, LHP prospect Scott Moss (from the Reds), LHP Logan Allen and 3B prospect Victor Nova (from the Padres) in return for the mercurial Bauer, who made more headlines this weekend after he hurled a baseball over the centerfield fence in frustration after a rough outing in Kansas City.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER After spending the first six seasons of his career with the Blue Jays, New York native Marcus Stroman is headed to the Mets.

The most interesting aspect of these two transactions is the prices paid for pitchers who have similar team control. In return for Bauer, the Indians were able to get two major league caliber starting outfielders (Puig and Reyes) as well as three prospects. In return for Stroman, the Jays received two prospects. Both Bauer and Stroman are eligible to become free agents after the 2020 season. Stroman is making $7.4 million this season, and projects to earn in the area of $14 million in 2020, his final year of arbitration. Bauer is making $13 million this year, and could top $17 million next year via the arbitration process.  Both pitchers are 28 years old. Bauer has a career record of 68-55 with a 3.92 ERA, and is 11-8 with a 3.48 ERA in the past calendar year. Stroman has a career record of 47-45 with a 3.76 ERA, and is 6-13 with a 3.54 ERA in the past calendar year. By most measures, Stroman has a superior performance profile, and is less expensive than Bauer, so why did the Jays return for Stroman pale in comparison to the haul of players the Indians were able to extract for Bauer ? Only the GM’s in this situation know for sure.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Moments after unknowingly bidding farewell to Cincinnati while in the midst of a benches clearing brawl, Yasiel Puig takes his talents, along with 22 home runs and 61 RBI, to the Indians as he’ll try to help Cleveland chase down the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central.

The Indians addressed their primary area of need, power in the outfield corners, with the addition of Puig and Reyes, who have a combined 27 HRs and 107 RBIs thus far in 2019. They lost Bauer from their rotation, but they welcomed back RHP Danny Salazar from the IL today, and hope to have RHP and former Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber back in their rotation by mid-August. The Indians don’t figure to make it easy for the A’s or the rest of the contenders in the AL to surpass them for the Wild Card lead based on their moves at the deadline.

The Astros acquire ace pitcher in the final minutes before the deadline

The Astros traded three prospects to Arizona from their loaded farm system to snag RHP Zack Greinke, 35, who is 10-4 with a 2.90 ERA this year.  By adding him to the top of their stellar rotation that already features RHP Justin Verlander and RHP Gerritt Cole, Houston is making it very clear that they want to recapture the glory of their 2017 World Series title.

Additionally, Houston also picked up veteran starter RHP Aaron Sanchez along with reliever Joe Biagini from the Blue Jays for OF Derek Fisher. The Astros beefed up their formidable roster even further by adding defensive minded catcher Martin Maldonado.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke was the biggest name moved at the trade deadline. Unfortunately for the A’s, the 35 year old Greinke, who’s won 197 games in his career, joins the rotation of the already loaded Houston Astros.

Activity by the AL contenders

Minnesota upgraded their bullpen by adding RHP Sergio Romo from the Marlins and RHP Sam Dyson from the Giants as they try to hold off the reloaded Indians.

The Rays made a flurry of moves, getting RHP Trevor Richards and RHP Nick Anderson from the Marlins, 2B Eric Sogard from the Jays, and 1B Jesus Aguilar from the Brewers to bolster their pursuit of a playoff berth.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Jesus Aguilar hit 38 home runs with 108 RBI’s for the Brewers in 2018. Wednesday he was traded to to Tampa Bay Rays, one of the A’s biggest competitors for a playoff spot.

In addition to the trade to get Reyes and Puig, the Indians also added infielder Christian Arroyo and RHP Hunter Wood to their roster.

For the first time in recent memory, the largest payrolls in the AL (Boston and New York) stood pat at the deadline, choosing to rely upon their current rosters to secure playoff berths.

Activity by the NL contenders

Considering that there are nine teams in the National League that are either holding playoff berths or within 3.5 games, there was significant interest in roster improvements at the deadline.

The Giants decided to hold on to both Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, but still participated in multiple deals. San Francisco sent RHP Sam Dyson to the Twins for three prospects while also moving RHP Mark Melancon to the Braves for two RHP prospects, and acquired SS prospect Mauricio Dubon from the Brewers for two more pitchers, LHP Drew Pomeranz and RHP Ray Black. Finally, the Giants added 2B Scooter Gennett from the Reds for a player to be named. Gennett has missed most of the season after suffering a groin injury, but had 50 HRs since the beginning of the 2017 season for the Reds, and should provide the Giants some much needed infield power once he’s able to join their line-up.

The Dodgers, who have the best record in baseball, added middle infielder Jedd Gyorko from the Cardinals, and LHP Adam Kolarek from Tampa Bay.

The Diamondbacks made arguably the biggest deal of the day, sending ace Greinke to the Astros for three prospects, RHP J.B. Bukauskas, OF/1B Seth Beer, INF Josh Rojas and rookie RHP starter Corbin Martin, then acquired RHP Mike Leake from Seattle for 3B prospect Jose Cabellero.

The Cardinals added LHP Tony Cingrani from the Dodgers in the Gyorko trade.

The Cubs added OF Nicholas Castellanos from the Tigers, 2B Tony Kemp from the Astros, and bullpen arms LHP Brad Wieck from the Padres and RHP David Phelps from the Blue Jays as they gear up to battle St. Louis and the Brewers for the NL Central crown.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER The Cubs acquisition of Nick Castellanos from Detroit helps give them some much needed power in their outfield. The 27 year old hit 49 home runs to go along with 190 RBI’s during the 2017-18 seasons.

The Brewers upgraded their roster with RHP Jacob Faria, who was acquired for Aguilar, and the addition of bullpen arms LHP Pomeranz and RHP Black from the Giants.

The Reds made a big splash, adding Bauer as their primary prize, while unloading Puig, Gennett, and Roark as well as top prospect OF Taylor Trammell.

The Braves went all in trying to improve their bullpen, adding RHP Shane Greene from Detroit, Melancon from the Giants, and RHP Chris Martin from Texas.

The Phillies added OF Corey Dickerson from the Pirates to beef up their OF.

The Nationals also fortified their relief corps, adding three hurlers to their bullpen, RHP Daniel Hudson from the Blue Jays, LHP Roenis Elias and former Giant RHP Hunter Strickland from Seattle.

Will any of these deals make a difference?

The trade deadline featured a frenzy of late activity, and a total of 32 transactions were agreed upon in the past five days, as teams feverishly sought to address their perceived shortcomings and to fortify their rosters for the final two months of the season.

At this time last year, the Boston made what appeared to be a pair of minor deals, adding RHP Nate Eovaldi and 1B-OF Steve Pearce to a first place team with the best record in Baseball. Eovaldi went on to pitch masterfully in the postseason for the Red Sox, and Steve Pearce was named the World Series MVP.

All of this seasons deadline participants can only hope that some of the trades made in the past few days will end up having a similar impact on their own future fortunes.

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Farmers Market Week highlights Savory Melon Salad https://martineztribune.com/2019/07/22/farmers-market-week-highlights-savory-melon-salad/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/07/22/farmers-market-week-highlights-savory-melon-salad/#respond Mon, 22 Jul 2019 20:06:09 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=12669 BY DEBRA J. MORRIS We’re celebrating farmers’ markets this month ! The mission of the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (PCFMA) is to empower California farmers to be enormously successful, and with our network of local farmers’ markets we can accomplish this with the help of the local community, the farmers themselves, and you, our ...

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BY DEBRA J. MORRIS

We’re celebrating farmers’ markets this month ! The mission of the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (PCFMA) is to empower California farmers to be enormously successful, and with our network of local farmers’ markets we can accomplish this with the help of the local community, the farmers themselves, and you, our farmers’ market customers and patrons. Farmers’ Market Week (August 4-10) is the perfect time to remember why we do what we do and we’re stretching it out for a whole month !


Your Martinez Farmers’ Market is a certified market. A certified farmers’ market assures consumers that their market purchase is brought to the farmers’ market from the farmers who grew, nurtured, and harvested the crops. Certification means the farms have been inspected and certified and regulated by the State of California. Knowing where your food comes from and knowing it is locally-grown is an important factor when consumers make their purchases. Also important is the fact that you can actually speak to the farmers who grew the fruits and vegetables, or baked the bread, or gathered the honey.

This month your favorite farmers will have abundant summer produce. Melons are here to enjoy. You’d be hard pressed to find many of the offered varieties elsewhere. Find Crenshaw, orange honeydew, baby yellow watermelon, Charlene, Santa Claus, and other sweet and juicy varieties.

Grapes will be arriving this month. Check out the green Thompson seedless, your old lunchbox favorite. Or try some delicious red and black varieties like Red Flame, Autumn Royal, Concord, Crimson seedless, Fantasy black, or Red Globes scheduled to arrive.

There is a bounty of stone fruit, big bell and hot peppers, leafy greens, fresh sweet corn, and an abundance of tasty vegetables of all kinds. You won’t find better anywhere!

We appreciate your support of farmers’ markets and will continue to bring you outlets for local fresh produce, grown by the farmers who bring them to the market. Thank you!

Savory Melon Salad

1 cup watermelon cubes, cubes or balls

1 cup cantaloupe, cubes or balls

1 cup cucumber, sliced

1/4 cup black olives, pitted, sliced

6 ounces feta, crumbled

1 shallot, thinly sliced, macerated in vinegar with a pinch of salt

Olive oil and balsamic vinegar, to taste

Combine watermelon and cantaloupe cubes, olives, sliced cucumber, the crumbled feta and the macerated shallots in a large bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper; mix gently with your hands. Recipe: Cookin’ the Market, PCFMA

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Twins come back to beat A’s in ninth 7-6, split four game series https://martineztribune.com/2019/07/21/twins-come-back-to-beat-as-in-ninth-6-5-split-four-game-series/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/07/21/twins-come-back-to-beat-as-in-ninth-6-5-split-four-game-series/#respond Mon, 22 Jul 2019 03:37:25 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=12613 BY J.A. SCHWARTZ The Twins rallied dramatically for two runs in the bottom of the ninth off A’s closer Liam Hendriks Sunday afternoon, winning the final game of the four game set 7-6 in a back and forth affair. Max Kepler drilled the winning hit to left field, following an RBI triple from Ehire Adrianza, ...

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BY J.A. SCHWARTZ

The Twins rallied dramatically for two runs in the bottom of the ninth off A’s closer Liam Hendriks Sunday afternoon, winning the final game of the four game set 7-6 in a back and forth affair. Max Kepler drilled the winning hit to left field, following an RBI triple from Ehire Adrianza, who had tied the score one out earlier.

Kepler finished the contest a triple shy of the cycle, driving in four runs for the victorious Twins. For the A’s, who had battled back from a 4-0 deficit to take a 6-5 lead in the eighth, it was a bitter ending to a hard fought contest between the two playoff aspirants.

Hendriks (4-1), pitching for the third straight day, was tasked with completing the comeback victory. He had thrown 31 pitches combined over the past two evenings, but still featured his 98 MPH heat against the Twins in the ninth. “I felt fine. The ball was coming out good,” the stand-up closer said afterwards. “I just missed with location. These guys worked their tails off today, and I couldn’t bring it home.”

When asked if he considered pitching around Kepler, who had homered and doubled earlier in the contest, he was adamant. “I trust my stuff against anybody in the league, regardless of who it is.” A’s manager Bob Melvin did not believe Hendriks featured a diminished arsenal. “His stuff today was no different than any other day. Give them credit. They hit some good pitches. He’s been really good for us, and I think it is more-give them credit.”

Starter Daniel Mengden put the A’s in a difficult position early in the game, allowing six hits and five walks over 3.1 innings, including a three run HR to Kepler in the second, which staked the Twins to a 4-0 advantage. Asked about his outing, Mengden was direct. “I felt fine. It was just a lack of execution, and falling behind. I can’t put the team in a situation like that, in a hole like that.” Mengden, who hadn’t walked a batter in his previous three starts, wasn’t long for the contest, throwing 86 pitches, only 45 of which found the zone.

Jurickson Profar worked a one out walk from Twins starter Michael Pineda with one out in the fifth, and Josh Phegley hit a 2-1 pitch out to left for his 10th homer of the season, bringing the A’s to within 4-2. In 136 career starts, Pineda had only seven prior starts where he had walked four or more batters. But he ended up walking a season high five in his 5.1 innings, during which the A’s lineup worked him for 109 pitches.

The A’s defense kept them close throughout the game, with Marcus Semien making outstanding plays in the second, sixth and eighth, the last of which surely saved a critical run. Melvin was effusive in his praise for the shortstop. “It’s amazing. He’s been making great plays all year, so it’s not a surprise to us. He’s one of the premier shortstops in the game.”

Ramon Laureano made a running grab in the left center field gap that took extra bases away from Kepler in the fourth. First baseman Matt Olson turned a 3-2 double play against Kepler in the fifth with the bases loaded and nobody out, fielding a ground ball and stepping on first base as he fired home to Phegley to apply a tag on the sliding Luis Arraez. After a 67 second review following a challenge by Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, the call was upheld, and Matt Chapman completed the defensive wizardry in the inning by stabbing a wicked line drive off the bat of Jorge Polanco to keep the game at 5-2 after five.

Oakland kept the pressure on a beleaguered Twins bullpen that helped fuel yet another comeback. Every A’s starter except Mark Canha reached base by hit or walk. The collective patience of the entire lineup chewed through the Twins pen, seeing 195 pitches from the Twins hurlers over the course of the contest. The A’s drew a walk in every inning from the third through the ninth, with four of those walks scoring for Oakland during their furious rally.

Semien led off the seventh with a walk off reliever Trevor May, and Chapman just missed hitting a game tying home run by a few feet, doubling off the flower boxes in right field. A wild pitch allowed Semien to race home to make it 5-4, but Canha struck out swinging, the second A’s hitter in the inning felled by May’s 98 MPH heater.

After Robbie Grossman drew a one out walk from May in the eighth, Chris Herrmann, pinch- hitting for Chad Pinder, rocketed a double high off the scoreboard in right center, allowing Grossman to tie the score 5-5 when Gonzalez tripped over his own cleats after playing the ball off the wall. A passed ball by Jason Castro allowed pinch runner Franklin Barreto to reach third base, which proved critical, as Phegley’s routine fly ball to right allowed Barreto to score the go ahead run. With three RBIs for the A’s batting ninth, Phegley was arguably the offensive hero for Oakland. The A’s, who once trailed 4-0, had rallied yet again to take a 6-5 lead on the first place Twins.

With Joakim Soria on to pitch, the eighth began with an anomaly. Laureano misplayed a fly ball off the bat of Polanco for a two base error. Ranging far into the right-center field gap to chase down the drive, he appeared to misjudge it at the last moment. The A’s defense would rally around the miscue, however. Cruz hit a ground ball up the middle that was ticketed for a sure single to tie the game, but Semien dove to snare it, and rifled a throw to Olson from his knees to retire the 39-year-old DH. “The Cruz play was a game saver,” Melvin would note in his post game comments. After Rosario popped the next pitch out to Chapman at third, Soria fanned Sano on a slow curve to preserve the margin at 6-5 heading to the ninth.

Marwin Gonzalez would hit the first pitch to left from Hendriks for an easy out before Arraez lined a single to left. After getting ahead of Adrianza with 98 MPH fastballs, Hendriks tried to sneak a slider past him, and Adrianza blasted it off the wall in right for a run scoring triple, tying the contest at six. “I think every pitch that they hit, I ended up shaking off Phegley, but they were the pitches that I wanted to throw. I just missed with location,” Hendriks would say after the game. He rebounded to strike out Castro for the second out, but couldn’t get Kepler, who lined a single to left to win it for the Twins.

Kohl Stewart (2-1), the fifth pitcher for the Twins, fired a scoreless top of the ninth to earn the win, allowing the Twins to split the four game series and maintain their three game lead over the surging Indians in the AL Central.

With the loss the A’s fell 6.5 games behind the Astros, who beat the Rangers 5-3. Oakland maintained their Wild Card position, holding a single game lead over Tampa after today’s action. The A’s dropped to 57-43 on the season, the identical record they had after 100 games in 2018.

The A’s next travel to Houston to begin a three game showdown against the division leading Astros Monday night, with Homer Bailey (8-6, 4.69) making his second start for Oakland against Gerritt Cole (10-5, 3.12) in the opener. The A’s haven’t lost back-to-back games since June 8th.

GAME NOTES:

Sunday was the annual Major League Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, NY, with Edgar Martinez, Roy Halladay, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, Harold Baines, and Lee Smith all joining the ranks of baseball royalty this afternoon.

The A’s are 31-15 (.674) against the Twins since 2013, which is the second best record against Minnesota during that period (Yankees).

Last night was the first loss by the Twins when they led after eight innings. They had won their previous 53 games in those situations this year.

The A’s are 38-17 (.691) since May 16th, tied with the Yankees for the best record in baseball.

Yusmeiro Petit ranks first among AL relievers in games pitched with 50, and is fourth with just 1.01 walks per nine innings.

The A’s have now homered in 21 consecutive games, the second longest streak in team history. The record is 23 games in a row, set by the 1996 A’s.

Prior to going hitless Sunday, Mark Canha was hitting .306/.443/.673 since June 30, starting 13 of the A’s 15 games in RF since Stephen Piscotty went on the IL. The A’s are 38-15 (.717) with Canha in the lineup.

Ramon Laureano is hitting .469/.508/.1041 with seven doubles, seven HR and 13 RBI in 14 games in July. He’s just the fourth CF in Oakland history to hit 20 HR, joining Coco Crisp, Dave Henderson and Dwayne Murphy in that club.

Matt Olson extended his career high and current MLB high hitting streak to 16 games (19-for-64, .296). Olson also has five bunt hits, which is tied for second in the AL.

Marcus Semien has a 25 game errorless streak, and ranks second among AL shortstops with a .985 fielding percentage. He leads all AL shortstops in assists (274) and total chances (390).

A’s batters have been hit 50 times, ranking third in the AL.

The post Twins come back to beat A’s in ninth 7-6, split four game series appeared first on Martinez Tribune.

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