Nationals one win away from World Series, Adam Eaton trade titles

Are you ready for Adam Eaton to be a World Series hero?

He already sort of is, after hitting the game-tying homer off Justin Verlander en route to a 7-2 Nationals victory that forces a Game 7. The straight-up “hero” tag usually loses its adhesion if his team ends up losing the series. At best, it’s downgraded to a “hero of Game [x].” At worst, the guy is simply remembered by his team’s fans as a player who showed up. Look at last year’s Game 3, which Max Muncy won for Los Angeles with a walk-off homer in the 18th inning. That’s better remembered as the game where Nate Eovaldi the last six innings for Boston in a valiant loss. The winners usually define the terms.

Eaton’s doing what he can. He’s hitting .333/.400/.619 with four free bases (three walks, one HBP) to two strikeouts. Two of his hits have left the yard, including Tuesday night’s blast off Justin Verlander that helped change the course of the night.

Eaton might be the fourth-most important Washington National of the evening. Stephen Strasburg outpitched Justin Verlander and Juan Soto hit a go-ahead homer that humbled Alex Bregman. More than anybody, Anthony Rendon redefined the game with five RBIs, including a two-run homer off Verlander that diminished the impact of Sam Holbrook’s extremely sketchy interference call on Trea Turner that even the postgame comments couldn’t clear up.

All of these might’ve been possible without Eaton, but Eaton’s pulling more than his weight. And if the Nationals end up winning the World Series tonight with Eaton in the plus column, they, like the Red Sox last year, will have secured a win on their side of the blockbuster trade with the White Sox in December 2016. And hell, even if they end up losing a seventh game of the World Series, they’re probably already there.

That’s remarkable, because the White Sox looked like they locked this one up early thanks to Eaton’s early knee issues, and the subsequent Nat issues. But here we are, and the White Sox are the ones lagging because Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López keep swapping mojo. Maybe they come out a little bit ahead in terms of time accounting, but until two pitchers click or unless Giolito solidifies himself as a perennial Cy Young threat, the Sox will have to settle for breaking even.

Even though Eaton spent this year showing why those in and around the White Sox liked him less than fans did, I don’t mind seeing this redemption act. He might’ve been phony or corny — and calling Drake LaRoche a leader is an all-timer — but he was also one of the handful of White Sox players who produced. The 2019 Nats and the 2018 Red Sox show how a team can mitigate such issues with stronger leadership or deeper rosters, neither of which the White Sox were willing or able to provide. If these moments remind everybody of just how much more the Sox need to do this time around, maybe some good can come out of it. Not counting Giolito, who is also good.

* * * * * * * * *

Addendums

*Rendon’s homer overwrote the call on Turner, who Holbrook said was running inside the baseline when the throw from the catcher hit him, even though it was in the middle of his final stride to the middle of the bag.

Turner was caught in the dugout calling out Joe Torre, who oversees the umpires, but this is the kind of rulebook interpretation baseball would just rather hope doesn’t happen in key situations, because it’s trying to correct a design flaw in the game. By the rules, Holbrook had a point:

But because the meat of the bag is in fair territory, it’s hard to imagine Turner being anywhere else during his last stride regardless of the path he took. That’s a little different from this White Sox-Tigers game in April, when Jose Abreu was hit on the left shoulder while running inside the line and a full step away from first base. You may remember that ejection as the one where Renteria charted Abreu’s course to first base for everybody’s enjoyment.

It’s a fine line umpires have to manage based on the way the rule is written, because there’s only so much they can ignore. Maybe a “last stride” clause would take care of it?

*Bregman carried his bat all the way to first base after his two-run blast in the first inning, which seemed very much within his ultra-confident repertoire, so it was surprising to see him apologize for it after the game.

The “Let the Kids Play” lobby thought it was lame that Bregman felt compelled to apologize, especially since Juan Soto didn’t have such regrets for giving it back to the Astros later in the game.

I think the idea was sound, but the execution was lacking. There’s probably a way to carry the bat to first base without treating the first base coach like the help, and Jose Altuve’s grimace suggests Bregman’s disrespect extended to people in the same uniform. So I can understand if Bregman is rethinking it, especially since it set up Soto’s retaliation, which was beautiful.

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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gooch

Maybe now that it happened in the World Series, they’ll look into putting an additional 1st base in foul territory, just like softball fields. Would make that dumb rule be a whole lot easier to call.

dwjm3

I’ve sort of moved on from Eaton.  He got us Giolito anyways so I’m happy about that 

It angered me this morning reading that the Phillies will likely pursue Cole.  After signing Harper last year they are still all in on tier 1 guys yet our owner won’t sign any tier 1 guys. 

PauliePaulie

Phillies have been a cautionary tale the last 2 years.

Greg Nix

?

Trooper Galactus

Yeah, caution in placing too much faith in your young players maybe. In case you didn’t notice, their two biggest offseason acquisitions were really good in 2019.

joewho112

On the interference call, I saw Kyle Schwarber tweet that they should start using that double wide softball style first base to fix the issue. It makes sense and reduces the number of injuries from guys stomping on firstbasemen’s ankles/feet

Why put the bag in fair territory then! Go and do the softball orange safety bag so we can make it clear where to touch the bag in FOUL territory. Such a bad rule pic.twitter.com/VicFsyi9We

— Kyle Schwarber (@kschwarb12) October 30, 2019

Neat_on_the_rocks

I think the only logical stance you can take on this whole thing is a non-committal one.

When I watch the replay I see nothing egregious about where Tre Turner was on the basepaths. Ultimately it is written in the rule book as a “judgement call” by the officials. I’m not sure where else you could reasonably expect Turner to be running on the play, and if the throw was a good throw, this whole debate isn’t even happening. At the same time though, it is a judgement call and factually his body did “interfere” with the play – in a non baseball sense of the word interfere if nothing else. And Cathers will tell you when its a bunt the catcher is fielding, you sometimes have to intentionally aim for the runners jersey if you want to get that call.

Just a mess all around and where I fall on it is if a a play/rule is so confusing/judgement based, it should really not be called unless particularly egregious. The call itself was not technically terrible but just didnt sit right.

texag10

I don’t know the rules for baseball as much as other sports but, Turner was chewing up grass until there wasn’t any. I feel like if he had been in the dirt instead it wouldn’t have been called like it was.

joewho112

What do you mean not bothered? He said the rule was stupid

joewho112

That sounds to be the consensus: bad rule called correctly. The longer base or the last stride amendment help make the rule less bad.

Michael Kenny

I’m happy for Eaton. Despite the weird off-field stuff, he did nothing but play his ass off here.

Amar

Forgive me for speaking his name, but he was like Swisher except he produced

knoxfire30

ocab swisher eaton types win a lot of games, sox dont care about that though, we would much rather have 0 value guys who dump gatorade on themselves….

billyok

Enjoyed the bat carry for how stupid it was, and doubly enjoyed the retaliatory bat carry for making the original act look even dumber. I doubt Bregman apologizes if the Astros win and he isn’t made to look like a fool the way Soto made him look.

I’m firmly in the Let the Kids Play camp but I absolutely cherish a taunt that backfires.

Neat_on_the_rocks

My 2 cents – Bregman apologized because he didn’t intend to do the bat carry and it ended up looking very stupid on the “swag” meter. Somehow he managed to look like a dork after hitting a monster homer. Getting showed up by Soto who made it look awesome was the chefs kiss on top of it.

I’m firmly in the Let the Kids Play camp but I absolutely cherish a taunt that backfires.

Perfectly said!

mikeyb

Soto should have carried the bat all the way to third base and handed it off to the coach there, in front of Bregman. Only way it could have been a more perfect response from Soto.

texag10

Hit a monster home run in the World Series:
A) Giant bat flip to celebrate
B) Gently lay the bat down in the batter’s box before running the bases
C) Carry the bat with you first or longer
D) Treat it like a routine groundout to second

Only one of these is fun but it’s also one that will get you a fastball in the ass your next at-bat.

PauliePaulie

If the Red Sox and Nats both get WS rings, the Sox have to do a lot better than good Giolito and good Moncada out of those deals.

billyok

If I get playoff baseball more than once every 3-12 years, I’ll consider that a win. Bar is low!

Neat_on_the_rocks

I never really saw how those guys helping a team win a world series actually impacted the trade from a Whitesox perspective at all. Whether or not the Nats and Red Sox actually win a world series has zero impact how on succesful the whitesox side of the return is.

And even if we did go with that logic, it always grinds my gears how people say Sale winning a ring in boston and throwing the last pitch justifies that trade. In 2018 Chris Sale threw 15 post season innings to the tune of a 4.11 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and he didnt even get a Save in that outing. They probably win in 2018 without him anyways.

I love Chris Sale and I’m happy he won a world series – but you will never convince me that Chris Sale winning a ring by being an average at best pitcher in the 2018 post season somehow means that Yoan Moncada/Michael Kopech now have to be a bit better for the sox to feel good about it. Its irrelevant.

texag10

It’s almost like trades can benefit both teams equally and a World Series victory is more about the team built around those players…

karkovice squad

Sale’s regular season performance arguably provided the margin they needed to win the division in the first place. What he did in the postseason is largely beside the point.

The context of the trades also makes them different than a run of the mill transaction. They weren’t trading players with only 1 or 2 seasons left under contract. They weren’t moving expensive deals. They weren’t trading players in their decline years.

They abandoned their own window to contend by trading players in their prime on affordable, longer-term deals. That was basically unprecedented. It absolutely matters whether they deliver a championship having decided to materially improve other teams’ championship aspirations at the expense of their own.

knoxfire30

bingo

Neat_on_the_rocks

—“It absolutely matters whether they deliver a championship having decided to materially improve other teams’ championship aspirations at the expense of their own.”—

Sure but thats not the point I’m making? I Still dont see how the Red Sox or Nationals winning a world series matters to how the trade is viewed by whitesox fans.

Yes, we traded elite long term Talent/Cost ratio assets. We knew that from the very moment we traded those guys. It doesn’t matter if those guys go on to win a world series with other teams or not, its irrelevent. MAYBE you could argue it does if all 3 guys went to the same team… Maybe. But they didnt, obviously.

All that matters is how good the guys we got back end up being and what the team does to actually spend to help those guys moving forwards.

karkovice squad

All that matters is how good the guys we got back end up being and what the team does to actually spend to help those guys moving forwards.

That’s the case in an ordinary trade situation where opportunity costs are negligible. Particularly as a fan who, unlike ownership, doesn’t offset that cost by turning a cash profit while the team sucks for 3 more years and counting.

HallofFrank

I’m totally with you here, . I’m not at all concerned with “winning” or “losing” deals in the sense they are being talked about here. From the White Sox perspective, other than shining a light on how incompetent the FO was at putting a winning team around them, who cares if those players go on to be successful?

Let’s say, even, Sale was the undisputed best pitcher in the game after we traded him and the Red Sox had won the world series every year since then. So we “lost” the deal, but so what? Does that mean that, if you could do it over again, you wouldn’t trade Sale for Moncada and Kopech? Would the inverse be true: if Sale blows out his shoulder the day after we trade him and Moncada and Kopech combined for 0.1 career WAR did we “win” the trade?

From the White Sox perspective, the trade is a success if, and only if, the players acquired in that deal contribute to a winning/playoff team. I would rather have, for example, a 2 WAR Michael Kopech contributing to a winning team than a 5 WAR Chris Sale on a team mired in mediocrity. 

roke1960

My take on this is that the Astros were rewarded for making a bad throw. If the throw is on the money, Turner is out and Gomes is at 2nd. Why should they be rewarded for throwing the ball wide of the target? Where was Turner supposed to be on his last step before hitting the bag?

Josh Nelson

I’m ok if every trade the White Sox make is breaking even. It’s good for business when other teams have confidence they will benefit making deals with you.

roke1960

I agree wholeheartedly. The Red Sox got the benefit of having Sale star in a year they won the World Series- now it’s the Sox turn to benefit from Moncada, Kopech and maybe Basabe. And the Nats are happy that Eaton is starring for them in a postseason run. Trades that benefit both teams are good for baseball. Now the Quintana trade on the other hand…

Josh Nelson

Hey now . . . there is always Game 3 of the 2017 NLDS

https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN201710090.shtml

Josh Nelson

I think I’m ok if only Lucas Giolito pans out for the White Sox from the Adam Eaton trade, but we’ll see in 2020 if the mojo stops switching back and forth with Lopez.

lil jimmy

I’ll be happy to see this World Series resolved tonight, so we can get on with the business of our 2020 season, which I believe, will be very exciting.

karkovice squad

I hope your expectations are met.

texag10

If all we did was turn a 2 WAR outfielder into a 4+ WAR pitcher, that’s a win. We need a larger sample size to confirm that’s what Giolito is but so far I feel like we have won that trade regardless of what happens with Lopez and Dunning.

karkovice squad

Eaton was a 4-6 WAR player when they traded him. Whether he’d still have gotten hurt with the Sox and declined to merely average is unknowable. But neither the Sox nor the Nationals made that trade thinking Eaton was merely average or Giolito was going to spend a season as the worst pitcher in baseball and require career-saving interventions.

PauliePaulie

They can’t draft, or develop intl FA’a, and have bad major league scouting
Swapping out their few success stories, for an equal # of success stories, every few years doesn’t move the needle.

Josh Nelson

I’m just commenting on trades, man.

karkovice squad

Given the Sox history of losing deals, winning 1 wouldn’t put a damper on business once the shock wore off. Breaking even on value is definitely a necessary improvement. It’s not sufficient, though. Not just for the reasons Paulie cited but also from opportunity costs which put them in a hole to begin with.

Although maybe not given how profitable they’ve discovered it is to lose.

asinwreck

Hm, if I can get back to town in time from a work thing in Newark, I will be there. Thanks Jim.