Jays could take Rangers badges and minds

Tulowitzki (left) and Bautista bump wrists after crossing the plate on Tulo's bomb . . .

Tulowitzki (left) and Bautista bump wrists after crossing the plate on Tulo’s second-inning bomb . . .

Police brutality—by or against—is a horrible thing. Unless you’re the Toronto Blue Jays against the Texas Rangers in the first two American League division games. The set goes to Toronto with the Rangers very much in danger of losing not only their badges but their minds.

Name one Ranger who expected to get destroyed 15-3 over the course of the two games. Name one who expected Cole Hamels to get billyclubbed for seven runs (six earned) in three and a third in Game One, or possibly still-slightly-ailing Yu Darvish to get bludgeoned for as many home runs as he had strikeouts in Game Two.

No tomorrow for Mr. Amaro

Ruben Amaro, Jr.

Amaro, whom Phillies fans probably think should have been cashiered last winter at minimum . . .

In Italian, amaro refers to a bittersweet liqueur, used customarily as an after-dinner cordial, whose origins may have been in monasteries. Well, now. One day after the Phillies were eliminated mathematically from the postseason, Ruben Amaro, Jr. may wish he’d been in a monastery rather than the Phillies’ front office from which he’s just been canned.

There’s just a little ill in these trade winds . . .

Spending at at least a year and a half as the subject of trade speculation, while insisting he really didn’t want to leave Denver, Troy Tulowitzki—swapped to the Blue Jays this week, for former Mets shortstop Jose Reyes—says he was blindsided almost completely by the deal. Apparently, he had a gentleman’s agreement with Rockies owner Dick Monfort that he wouldn’t be dealt without his prior knowledge and approval. Until he didn’t, of course.

Johnny Royal, no-hit Cole, other trade winds, and Grienke’s streak stopped

Looks like he's Johnny Royal now . . .

Looks like he’s Johnny Royal now . . .

On the day where the big news should be a staggering group of pitchers (Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz) and a sneaky-great infielder (Craig Biggio) entering the Hall of Fame, the Reds dealing Johnny Cueto to the Royals, right after Cueto knocked down health concerns with eight shutout innings against the Rockies in a park that normally vaporises pitching, threatens to equal it.

Spring training is sprung . . .

. . . and what would be a little spring training without a few little controversies, actual or alleged, here and there?

Manfred

Manfred

■ THE CHANGELING—That would be new commissioner Rob Manfred, for whom it seems everything short of shortening the basepaths (oops! don’t give him any ideas!) is on the table, whether it’s outlawing defensive shifting, coming up with new rule adjustments to (it is alleged) speed up the game, or even returning baseball to the 154-game season. (The American League went to 162 games after its first expansion, beginning in 1961; the National League did likewise starting with its first expansion in 1962.)

Phillie fires, current and possibly to come

Rollins (left) gets a congratulations from Sandberg (right) after scoring last year, but have they tussled over hustle this spring?

Rollins (left) gets a congratulations from Sandberg (right) after scoring last year, but have they tussled over hustle this spring?

Ryne Sandberg laboured long and hard to earn a shot at major league managing. He’d wanted it with the Chicago Cubs, for whom he’d been a Hall of Fame second baseman, and he’d gone deep into the Cubs’ system for his chance only to be snubbed—despite several seasons’ success, a reputation as a teaching manager, and a parallel reputation as a no-nonsense competitor—for a guy who didn’t last much more than a full season.

The Dempster Backstory, and other heads and tales . . .

Turns out the Chicago Cubs got a pair of A-level minor leaguers, Christian Vilanueva (3B) and Kyle Hendricks (RHP), from the Texas Rangers for Ryan Dempster . . . decent prospects but not necessarily blue chips. For the most part, few no-questions-asked blue chip prospects moved in the non-waiver trade period, Jean Segura (SS) possibly having been the bluest of the chips when he went to Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke deal.

How and why did the Rangers—hungering for rotation help with Colby Lewis gone for the year (entering the final fortnight, his was the hole they needed to fill)—end up settling for Dempster when all was said and done? According to Fox’s Ken Rosenthal:

Hamels Stays Put, Hanley Does L.A.

Hamels.

Cole Hamels isn’t going anywhere. Not by the non-waiver trade deadline, not as a free agent after the season, not for six years. Just as reported widely enough the last few days, the Phillies landed the lefthander for a six-year, $144 million contract extension which includes a 2019 vesting option and a limited no-trade clause.

The deal makes Hamel the proud owner of the second-most lucrative deal for a pitcher in the Show, just ahead of Johan Santana (Mets) and behind CC Sabathia (Yankees). But the bottom line really came down to Hamels wanting to stay where he knew a fan base loved him and to emulate his boyhood hero, Tony Gwynn, and play his entire career for the same club if he could.

Keeping Cole, and other keepers . . .

Apparently, the Phillies have ramped up their bid to keep Cole Hamels. That’s the word from Jayson Stark of ESPN, anyway.

No movement for Hamels?

[C]lubs that have been speaking with the Phillies say the team has essentially put trade talks on hold and have been much more focused on signing the 28-year-old left-hander than on dealing him before the deadline.

“They want to sign him, and that’s their priority,” said an official of one club who spoke with the Phillies’ brass this week. “They’re really not even entertaining (trade) offers at this point.”

Life During WARtime and Other Movements . . .

The bomb-robbing catch of the year isn’t exactly the only reason Mike Trout’s the most valuable Angel through this writing . . .

Life During WARtime—If you’re looking for an entry into the wide world of WAR (wins above a replacement-level player), David Schoenfeld of SweetSpot has a pretty good starting point, with a couple of links to a couple of more pretty good starting points. In case you’re wondering before you go in, Mike Trout—the white-hot Los Angeles Angels rookie—leads the American League pack through this writing with a 5.2 WAR, followed by Robinson Cano (New York Yankees) at 4.8 and Josh Reddick’s (Oakland Athletics) 3.9. In the National League, the top three through this writing are David Wright (New York Mets), 5.3; Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates), 5.1; and, Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds), 4.5.