Tag:Barry Bonds
Posted on: February 4, 2012 2:57 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2012 3:21 pm
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Several NFLers took swings at baseball

Tom Brady

By C. Trent Rosecrans


In 1995 the Expos drafted a catcher out of Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., the same high school that produced Barry Bonds and Gregg Jeffries. Montreal scout Gary Hughes thought the team got a steal, but knew the catcher lasted until the 18th round because he was a good football player and would be difficult to sign.

In the end, Tom Brady passed on baseball, went to the University of Michigan on a football scholarship and will be playing in a football game this weekend. He made the right choice, but that doesn't mean the Expos scouts were wrong -- Brady was obviously a good athlete with a strong arm and good leadership skills, all things you want in a catcher.

CBSSports.com's Super Bowl Central

Brady's not the only NFL player who flirted with a career in baseball, several current NFL players have a baseball background. While there's no Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders or Brian Jordan currently playing at the highest level in both sports, there are a variety of NFL-MLB ties, from players who, like Brady, were drafted and didn't sign, to those who played in the minors and even one minor-leaguer who is hoping to be drafted into the NFL this year.

Here's a look at some current NFL players with baseball experience:

Cedric Benson -- The Bengals running back was drafted by the Dodgers in the 12th round of the 2001 draft and played nine games for the team's Gulf Coast League team, going 5 for 25, with all five of his hits going for extra bases -- three doubles and two triples. While he didn't homer, he walked 10 times in 34 plate appearances and was hit twice for a .412 on-base percentage and an .892 OPS.

Mark Brunell -- The 41-year-old Jets backup was… the lefty was drafted by the Braves in the 44th round of the 1992 draft, but didn't sign.

Kerry Collins -- The Tigers took him in the 26th round of the 1990 draft, the first of three future NFL players drafted, before Greg McMurtry and Rodney Peete. He was drafted again by the Tigers in the 60th round of the 1991 draft and the 48th round of the 1994 draft. He never signed.

Quan CosbyQuan Cosby (right) -- The former Broncos and Bengals kick returner was a sixth-round pick by the Angels in 2001 and played four years in the team's minor-league system, spending two seasons with Cedar Rapids in the Class A Midwest League. In four seasons, he hit .260/.330/.321 with 71 stolen bases. In his last season, 2004, he stole 23 bases and hit five homers. After that season he went back to school at Texas and played wide receiver with the Longhorns. Undrafted in football, he signed with the Bengals and played last season with the Broncos before being waived at the end of the season and signed by the Colts.

Eric Decker -- The Broncos wide receiver was drafted in the 39th round by the Brewers in 2008 and in the 27th round by the Twins in 2009.

Dennis Dixon -- Twice drafted, the Steelers' third-string quarterback signed with the Braves after going in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. He played in the Gulf Coast League and Appalachian League that year, hitting a combined .176/.322/.216 as an outfielder. He was a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen bases, but struck out 22 times in 90 plate appearances, while putting up just a .176 average.

Matt Moore -- No, not the Rays' lefty Matt Moore, but the Dolphins quarterback. Moore was taken in the 22nd round of the 2004 draft by the Angels.

Golden Tate --  The Seahawks' wide receiver was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 42nd round of the 2007 draft and the Giants in the 50th round of the 2010 draft. He played two seasons of baseball at Notre Dame, hitting .329 as a sophomore and scoring 45 runs, the third-most in school history.

Michael Vick -- The Rockies drafted Vick in the 30th round of the 2000 draft, but he never signed.

Hines Ward -- The Marlins took Ward in the 73rd round of the 1994 draft, but he never signed.

Brandon Weeden -- CBSSports.com has the Oklahoma State quarterback the fourth-rated QB in the upcoming draft after leading Oklahoma State to an 11-1 record last season as a 28-year-old. The reason Weeden was so advanced in age as a college quarterback was that he spent five seasons in the minor leagues after the Yankees took him in the second round of the 2002 draft. Weeden, a right-handed pitcher, was 19-26 with a 5.02 ERA in 108 games and 65 starts in the minors. He averaged nearly a strikeout an inning, but had a 1.573 WHIP for the Yankees, Dodgers and Royals systems.

Ricky Williams -- The same year the current Ravens running back won the Heisman Trophy at Texas, he hit .283/.309/.283 in 55 plate appearances in the short-season New York-Penn League for the Batavia Muckdogs in the Phillies system. Despite a career .211/.265/.261 line in four years in the Phillies' system, the Expos took him in the 1998 Rule 5 draft before trading him to the Rangers. Williams didn't join the Rangers and never played another professional baseball game.

Russell Wilson -- Wilson is the 10th-ranked quarterback in the upcoming draft, according to CBSSports.com. Wilson, a second baseman, was drafted in 2007 by the Orioles and again in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the Rockies. After spurning the Orioles out of high school, Wilson did sign with the Rockies, which led to a rift between him and his college coach at N.C. State, Tom O'Brien. WIlson played baseball each of the last two summers, playing 61 games for the Asheville Tourists of the Class A South Atlantic League last season, hitting .228/.366/.342 with three home runs and 15 stolen bases. He struck out 82 times in 236 plate appearances before heading to Wisconsin for his senior year of college. At Wisconsin, he led the Badgers to the Big 10 title. He recently told the Rockies he won't be reporting to spring training. The Rockies hold his rights for five more years and have said they'd welcome him back.

Of course, there are plenty of guys who went the other way and chose baseball instead of football, players like Todd Helton (who once started ahead of Peyton Manning at Tennessee), Adam Dunn (who was at Texas as a quarterback), Seth Smith (who backed up Eli Manning at Ole Miss), Joe Mauer (who was the nation's top recruit at quarterback and signed with Florida State) and Matt Holliday (who was offered a scholarship to play quarterback at Oklahoma State).

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Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:57 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 3:52 pm
 

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Barry Bonds

By C. Trent Rosecrans

If steroids have clouded the Hall of Fame voting the last few years, a hurricane is coming in 2013. 

While the Hall of Fame is the ultimate honor for a baseball player, we all know there's a difference between the Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays Hall of Famers and the Phil Rizzuto, Andre Dawson, Jim Rice Hall of Famers. While Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro were probably better than the later group, they certainly don't belong with the former. That changes next year.

Hall of Fame coverage

In December, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America that are eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame will receive their ballot and on that ballot will be baseball's career home run leader and perhaps its greatest pitcher. While most voters agonize over their votes and research each and every name in front of them, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens shouldn't take time. In a perfect world, a world where the only considerations are on the Baseball-Reference.com page, more time would be spent putting ink to paper than actually breaking down the candidacy of Bonds and Clemens.

This, as we know, is not a perfect world. And the Hall of Fame debate, which has always been hotly contested, takes on a different debate with the class of 2013. For the first time not only will Bonds and Clemens be eligible for the Hall, so too will Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza. While Sosa and Piazza aren't in the same class as Bonds and Clemens, they do have 1,036 homers between them and without allegations of steroid use, they'd be no-doubters as well.

As long as the Hall doesn't have any guidelines for the voting bloc, there will be a mixture of four types of voters when it comes to steroids:

1. Hardline no: These are the folks who don't vote for Bagwell. If there's even a rumor about a player having a zit on their back, these defenders of the Hall will keep a player out.

2. Proof only: Here's where it gets tricky -- some voters want hard evidence before they keep a player out. But what's the line here? Is it a failed test like Palmeiro? Or is it overwhelming evidence such as the cases against Bonds and Clemens? And then what about the Mitchell Report? Is that good enough? And then there's other ties, like Sammy Sosa, who was never suspended and not in the Mitchell Report, but just about everyone suspects he used.

3. Worthy before PEDs: Then there's the "he was a Hall of Famer before steroids." This is the argument you can use to OK Bonds and Clemens, while rejecting the likes of McGwire and Sosa. This, though, assumes you can tell when a player started using steroids just by their head growth or some other assumed symptom.

4. Numbers voters: Finally there are those who say the only thing we know is the results that were on the field. We don't know the extent of steroid use during the so-called steroid era or how much the results were changed by their usage or even who exactly did or did not use them. 

In the end, the results are likely to say more about the voting bloc than the players themselves -- and as many people who get upset about the voting every year will get louder next year as the steroid question will divide almost all baseball fans. Here's a quick look at the new players who will be on the 2013 ballot:

Craig Biggio -- Biggio finished his career with 3,060 hits and nearly 300 home runs (291). The seven-time All-Star put up a career line of .281/.363/.433. He started his career at catcher before moving to second base and was the face of the Astros, playing 20 years in Houston. And despite his close association with Bagwell during their playing days, he hasn't been associated with Bagwell's alleged steroid use. In the end, his squeaky-clean image could do as much to aid his Hall candidacy as his numbers.

Barry BondsBarry Bonds -- And this is where it gets real. Bonds has more home runs (762) in the history of the game, had a career OPS of 1.051. A seven-time MVP, Bonds may be the best hitter in the history of the game. And then there's Game of Shadows and BALCO -- the baggage surrounding Bonds is as big as his batting helmet. The common belief is Bonds didn't start using steroids until seeing the hoopla around Sosa and McGwire in 1998, and by that time he already had three MVPs under his belt. A great player and future Hall of Famer before the 1998 season, he hit 351 home runs from 1999-2007, breaking McGwire's single-season mark with 73 home runs in 2001.

Roger Clemens -- Like Bonds, Clemens had a Hall of Fame career before suspicion of steroids. Clemens had three Cy Young Awards in his first eight seasons, before going on to win four more later in his career. Clemens finished his carer with a 354-184 mark, a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third all-time after Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson.

Steve Finley -- The outfielder had a solid 19-year career, picking up 2,548 hits, 304 home runs and 320 stolen bases, to go along with five Gold Gloves. A fine career, but not a Hall-worthy one.

Julio Franco -- Franco's a better candidate for Ripley's Believe It or Not than the Hall of Fame. Franco played his last game at the reported age of 49 in 2007. In his 23 seasons, he hit .298/.365/.417, collecting 2,586 hits. In addition to his 23 seasons in the big leagues, he had two years in Japan, another in Korea and played his last season in Mexico. A three-time All-Star, he also won a batting title in 1991 with a .341 average. He won't be voted into the Hall, but he had one amazing career.

Roberto Hernandez -- A closer, Hernandez finished his career with 326 saves and a 3.45 ERA. He had a good career, but is unlikely to stay on the ballot more than one year.

Kenny Lofton -- Because Lofton played in the steroid era, his talents may be under-appreciated. A leadoff man, Lofton finished with a .299/.372/.423 line, stole 622 bases and had 2,428 hits. He also had 130 homers, winning four Gold Gloves and appearing in six All-Star Games. A premier defensive player, Lofton has a better case than you'd think at first glance.

Jose Mesa -- Mesa's numbers are just a tick below Hernandez's, finishing with 321 saves and a 4.36 ERA.

Mike PiazzaMike Piazza -- If there are whispers, but no proof, that Bagwell used steroids, there are shouts that Piazza did, despite the same lack of hard evidence. The best offensive catcher of the modern era, Piazza had 427 home runs and hit .308/.377/.545 in his 16 seasons. He wasn't considered a good catcher, but that was beside the point -- Piazza was a middle of the order presence. Without steroids involved in the discussion, there's no discussion of whether he's in or not. But that's not the world we live in.

Curt Schilling -- Jack Morris' candidacy has been built largely on his postseason exploits -- and with all due respect to Morris, he can't hold a candle to Schilling's postseason accomplishments. Morris was 7-4 with a 3.80 ERA in 13 postseason starts. Schilling was 11-2 with a 2.23 in 19 postseason starts, winning four of his seven World Series starts. In 20 years in the big leagues, Schilling was 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA, but that was done in a much better offensive era than Morris' 3.90 ERA. Injuries throughout his career kept his career numbers down, but his candidacy will be heavily debated from both sides -- and in a rarity, it may be an old-fashioned baseball debate, not one about steroids.

Sammy Sosa -- Sosa will likely be remembered as much for his sudden inability to speak English when facing Congress as his 609 home runs. He's the only player to hit 60 or more home runs in three different seasons, but he didn't lead the league in homers in any of those three seasons. He reportedly tested positive during the 2003 PED survey test. On sheer numbers, he's tough to pass up, but with the steroid question, he's unlikely to get in.

David Wells -- Wells no doubt got bigger throughout his career, but the belief is he did it the old fashioned way -- by eating. Never small, Wells went 239-157 for nine different teams in parts of 21 seasons, but his 4.13 ERA will make him easy to keep out of the Hall of Fame. He was 10-5 with a 3.17 ERA in 27 postseason games and 17 starts.

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Posted on: January 8, 2012 1:10 am
 

Several Hall cases come with asterisks



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The whispers and suspicions of steroid use have already seem to keep one player with no-doubt, sure-fire numbers out of the Hall of Fame. Despite a lack of concrete evidence or failed drug test, Jeff Bagwell and his 449 home run, career OPS+ of 149 and 79.9 WAR is left outside of Cooperstown and will likely still be on the outside after results of this year's balloting are announced on Tuesday.

Hall of Fame coverage

Next year's ballot will have the greater test of what the use of performance enhancing drugs means to the Hall of Fame -- if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens can't get into the Hall because of their ties to PEDs, it's unlikely anyone will.

But we've seen Bonds and Clemens in federal court. Mark McGwire admitted his use and Rafael Palmeiro tested positive. The only test Bagwell has failed is the eyeball test. And that mark has kept him out of Cooperstown. It's unlikely he'll be the last to fail that test.

As we continue the look at the future of the Hall of Fame and the candidacy of players active today, there's no more interesting category than the asterisk guys -- some who have tested positive for PEDs, some who have been rumored to have used them, some who have been suspected and some who just don't pass the eyeball test.

Ryan Braun -- No matter what happens in Braun's appeal or the rest of his career, he will always wear the scarlet letter of a failed drug test on his chest. Braun isn't the first MVP winner to be linked to steroids, but he is the first to fail a test in the same year he won the MVP.

At 28, Braun's exploits on the field are yet to be Hall-worthy, but like Bagwell he already has a Rookie of the Year trophy, as well as an MVP by the time he turned 27. There's nothing in Braun's Baseball-Reference.com page that suggests he won't someday have a case to be enshrined in Cooperstown. In his first five years in the big leagues, he's averaged more than 30 homers a season, finished in the top 5 in MVP voting twice, bringing home the trophy this year. In each of his first five seasons, he's earned MVP votes and he's seemingly getting better and better every season.  If it weren't for the news of his failed MVP test, he'd certainly be on Saturday's list instead of this one.

Jason Giambi -- A very good player with a good career, Giambi will instead be defined as one of the poster children for the steroid era. Even without the asterisk, Giambi's bid for the Hall would be difficult. Even playing in an offensive era, Giambi was an exception offensive player, putting up a .281/.404/.525 line through the 2011 season, hitting 428 home runs. 

In the minds of many, Giambi's case is shut by his performance with the Yankees, where he failed to meet expectations after signing a seven-year, $120 million deal before the 2002 season. The Yankees didn't win a World Series during his tenure with the team, appearing in just one World Series. And then there's the fact the team won a World Series the year after he left.

And then there's the steroids. Giambi reportedly admitted to using steroids during the offseason from 2001 to 2003 and also using human growth hormone in 2003. Giambi's best seasons -- from 1999 to 2003 -- are suspect in the timing of his use of steroids.

Manny Ramirez -- One of the best pure hitters in the history of the game, Ramirez was a controversial figure before being suspended twice for failing drug tests. While there are reasonable objections to Rafael Palmeiro's case as a mere compiler of stats and milestones, Ramirez was a force of nature on the field and an enigma off of it.

Ramirez, who is attempting to play in 2012, has 555 career homers and a .996 career OPS. With 2,574 hits, 1,831 RBI, 1,544 runs and a .312/.411/.585 line, not to mention a stretch of eight consecutive seasons where he finished in the top 10 of MVP voting and two World Series rings, Ramirez was a transcendent talent. He will be remembered by any fan of baseball, he just won't be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Alex Rodriguez -- Rodriguez's case will be much like Barry Bonds -- there's no question he's one of the elite players in the history of the game, but there are also the steroid questions. Rodriguez admitted to using steroids from 2001 to 2003 while he was with the Rangers.

Like Bonds, there will be those who say Rodriguez was a Hall of Fame talent before he allegedly used steroids. And like Bonds, he may finish his career as the career leader in home runs. But unlike Bonds, Rodriguez has admitted to his use of steroids. If Bonds gets in, Rodriguez has a chance. If Bonds doesn't, he doesn't.

Ivan Rodriguez -- Jose Canseco claimed to have personally injected Rodriguez with steroids while the two were teammates in Texas, which is more indictment than anything that has been pinned on Bagwell.

What's different, perhaps, about Rodriguez is that the shadow of steroids is often cast on home run hitters, and while Rodriguez was a very good offensive player -- hitting .296/.334/.464 with 311 home runs and 2,844 hits -- during his career, his defense has always been his calling card. Rodriguez is on the short list with Johnny Bench as the best defensive catcher in the history of the game -- and has caught 201 more games than any other player in the history of the game. While steroids may not have helped him throw out 46 percent of baserunners during his career, if he did use them, they would certainly help his day-to-day recovery and dealing with rigors of catching so many games.

Without the spectre of steroids, Rodriguez is a first-ballot, no-doubt Hall of Famer. But that's not the world we live in. There are voters who, right or wrong, refuse to vote for anyone with a hint of steroid abuse on their resume, and Rodriguez has that, along with the rest.

Miguel Tejada -- Even without steroid accusations, Tejada would be a borderline Hall of Fame selection at best. With his name in the Mitchell Report and connected to Palmeiro's fall, there's probably zero chance he gets in.

Tejada will go down as one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball history, hitting .285/.336/.457 with 2,362 hits and 304 home runs in parts of 15 seasons, winning the MVP in 2002 and finishing in the top 20 six other times. Only Cal Ripken Jr. (345) and Rodriguez (344) have hit more than Tejada's 291 homers as a shortstop.

On the other hand, Tejada at his best was a below-average defensive shortstop and his career OPS+ is 108 and his (Baseball-Reference.com) WAR is 42.5, 22nd among active players behind the likes of Bobby Abreu, Mike Cameron and J.D. Drew. Tejada is unlikely to earn a plaque in Cooperstown, and steroids are probably only part of the reason.

Coming Monday: 2012 Hall of Fame inductee(s) announced
Monday: Looking ahead at the 2013 first-year eligibles
Monday: Looking at the '14, '15 and '16 first-year eligibles 

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Posted on: December 16, 2011 2:41 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 5:45 pm
 

Bonds sentenced to house arrest, appeals



By Matt Snyder


Former Giants and Pirates All-Star Barry Bonds has been sentenced to two years probation, 30 days house arrest and 250 hours of community service. Bonds -- who made more than $188 million as a baseball player -- was also fined $4,000.

He was convicted of obstruction of justice back in April.

Bonds is appealing, so he'll remain free and unpunished until the appeal is heard. And the appeal is likely to take a year or more. So this will drag on even longer.

Bonds, 47, faced up to 21 months in federal prison for having given misleading testimony in front of a grand jury during the trial for BALCO. He was first charged four years ago for lying under oath about using steroids (aka "the cream" and "the clear"), in addition to using "rambling non sequiturs" in an attempt to mislead the grand jury.

Despite the conviction, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella said home arrest, considering Bonds lives in a 15,000 square-foot Beverly Hills home, wasn't enough punishment for Bonds. Parrella told the Associated Press that the sentence was "almost laughable" and a "slap on the wrist."

"The defendant basically lived a double life for decades," argued Parrella, who said Bonds tested positive for steroids and amphetamines during his playing days. "He had mistresses throughout his marriages."

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said that had nothing to do with the case.  

Aside from Bonds, 10 others have been convicted of various charges stemming from the BALCO trials. Six -- including former Track star Marion Jones -- were nailed for lying under oath. Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer, pleaded guilty of steroid distribution charges.

During his playing career, Bonds won seven NL MVP awards and was a 14-time All-Star. He holds the record for home runs in a single season (73) and career (762). Only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig have a higher career OPS. If there wasn't that cloud of performance-enhancing drugs hanging over his head, Bonds would be a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer and widely considered one of the best -- if not the best -- players of all time.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: November 30, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 4:45 pm
 

Weak Hall ballot good news for Larkin

Barry Larkin

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Get your indignation ready, as the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot has been mailed to the voting member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. 

The 13 new players on the ballot this season are Bernie Williams, Bill Mueller, Ruben Sierra, Vinny Castilla, Tim Salmon, Javy Lopez, Tony Womack, Terry Mulholland, Brad Radke, Jeromy Burnitz, Brian Jordan, Eric Young and Phil Nevin. None of those really seem to have much of a chance to earn the 75 percent necessary to gain enshrinement, which is good news for Barry Larkin.

Hall of Fame

Last year Roberto Alomoar (90 percent) and Bert Blyleven (79.7 percent) got in, leaving Larkin as the highest vote-getter not to reach 75 percent. Larkin received 361 votes (62.1 percent) in his second year of eligibility, while Jack Morris (53.5 percent) was the only other player to receive at least 50 percent of the votes.

Larkin's strong showing in 2011 suggests he could get the requisite bump in his third year to get to 75 percent, but it could be close.

Players not elected can stay on the ballot for as many as 15 years, as long as they receive at least five percent of the vote.

In addition to the newcomers, Larkin and Morris, the other players on the ballot are Jeff Bagwell, Juan Gonzalez, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell and Larry Walker.

Members of the BBWAA with 10 or more years of continuous active membership are eligible to vote, including CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler and Scott Miller.

Next year's ballot will bring more conversation and controversy, as the biggest names of the steroid era appear on the ballot, including Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza and Sammy Sosa, in addition to Curt Schilling and Craig Biggio. 

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Posted on: November 3, 2011 10:12 am
 

Bonds raising money for Bryan Stow's children

By C. Trent Rosecrans

There's a lot of bad things you can say about Barry Bonds, but give credit where credit's due -- the former Giants slugger is supporting Bryan Stow, the Giants fan beaten on opening day at Dodger Stadium. The latest is a public service announcement for a scholarship fund founded by Bonds for Stow's two children.



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Posted on: August 23, 2011 9:53 am
 

Pepper: Moustakas on hot streak

Moustakas

By Evan Brunell

GETTING HOT: Mike Moustakas didn't find the major leagues much to his liking in the early going, but things have turned around thanks to a recent tear that's lifted Moose's batting average to .206.

That's an accomplishment when it was at .182 mere days ago. Over the last five games, the third baseman has collected eight hits in 16 trips to the plate, doing much of his damage against the Red Sox who just completed a four-game series with Kansas City.

“Whenever you’re going bad,” Moustakas told the Kansas City Star, “you need those little things here and there to pick you back up, and this homestand kind of helped me out.”

Also encouraging from the 22-year-old is the three doubles collected during his five-game hot streak, a display of power that hasn't been around this year. It's taken quite some time for Moustakas to get used to the majors, but the Royals have proven to be very patient. Working in Moustakas' favor is that he's struggled at every single new level he's risen, so if history is any indication, he will snap out of his slump in due time.

Moustakas credits his turnaround with working alongside hitting coach Kevin Seitzer to close up his front shoulder more when at the plate. He needed some time to get into a groove with the new stance, but results are starting to show.

“Anytime you change something, it’s gonna feel uncomfortable,” Moustakas said. “But Seitz told me just stick with it, it’s gonna work out. And it ended up working out right now. I’m hitting the ball harder, squaring a little more balls up, so it’s paying off.”

BEAST MODE
: The Brewers have started up a tradition, making hand gestures after a big play that translates to "beast mode." The inspiration came from the movie Monsters Inc. and describes what Milwaukee has been up to lately with a 22-3 record in its last 25 games.

"I don't want it getting carried away," manager Ron Roenicke said of the new trend to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "Do I like it? Not particularly. But I don't think I'll say, 'Don't do it.' If I see it getting worse, I'll say no. I didn't like when the Rangers did the 'antlers' thing [last year]. If you're old school, you're not going to get along in the game these days."

BEST DRAFT: It's been a week since the deadline for drafted players to sign has passed. With a few days to digest, Jim Callis came up with the top five drafts, with the Nationals heading the list. Also ranking among the top five are the Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Pirates and Rays. (Baseball America)

COMPLETE PACKAGE: The New York Times ran a profile on Miguel Cabrera, who is one of the best young players in the game. Seriously -- he doesn't seem to be considered a superstar, but maybe he should be, as this factoid suggests: "Only five players in major-league history have had 1,500 hits and 250 homers, while hitting .310 or better, through their age-28 season. They are Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Hank Aaron, Albert Pujols and Cabrera."

BEST BALLPARK: Four teenagers went on a trip, taking in games at all 30 stadiums in 54 days. The best stadium according to the four? Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark -- a quality park, but not one you usually hear as the best. It may have helped that they witnessed a walkoff in the Reds game. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

LOSING CUBA: A wave of defections across Cuban sports have recently left a void in Cuba, where sports is not a lucrative field. That's caused many athletes to defect in the aim to compete against higher competition and make more money. To help address the problem, Cuba is finally considering allowing its athletes to play abroad. (Associated Press, via The Globe and Mail)

LOOKING BACK: A year ago this week, Cody Ross was claimed off waivers by the Giants. The Padres were also interested in Ross, but the division leaders at that point declined to put in a claim while San Francisco won his rights. Of course, Ross ended up a postseason hero, while the Padres were frozen out -- but to hear GM Jed Hoyer say it, he would make the same move again. (Tom Krasovic, Inside the Padres)

MAKING FUN OF WERTH: Phillies fans have a new favorite pastime, which is making fun of Jayson Werth. Still roundly booed for taking a lucrative deal to play for the Nationals, the ex-Phillie felt the "love" during a homestand in which Phillies fans virtually took over Nationals Park. A Philadelphia car dealer got in on the fun, running an anti-Werth ad on Philadelphia sites. (Washington Post)

TWEETING TICKETS
: Jesse Litsch challenged fans to find him in Wonderland, an amusement park near Toronto. The winner received two tickets to Tuesday's game, but it took until Litsch winning a gigantic Spongebob prize and tweeting about it for him to be spotted. (Toronto Star)

MOST HANDSOME SOPHOMORE: SI.com has photos from high school of 28 athletes, and Nolan Ryan and Barry Bonds are among the stars. One one came away with the designation of most handsome sophomore, though -- that being Ryan, who was among the 1965 class.

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Posted on: July 17, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: July 17, 2011 8:20 pm
 

Thome 4 homers away from 600

Jim ThomeBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Lost amidst Derek Jeter's run at 3,000 hits is Jim Thome's pursuit of 600 home runs. With a three-run shot of Kansas City's Felipe Paulino in the sixth inning of Sunday's game, Thome hit the 596th home run of his career.

Thome, 40, did it in style, too -- hitting the ball an estimated 490 feet to right-center field, making it the longest homer hit in the short history of Target Field. Last year he hit a 480-foot shot.

The homer also broke a 1-1 tie, giving the Twins a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning. Minnesota went on to win 4-3.

Watch Thome's bomb here

Thome is attempting to become just the eighth player in baseball history to reach 600, but the fifth since 2002. The fact that the other names to join the 600 club this decade include Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa has marred the accomplishment -- all three have been tied to performance-enhancing drugs. Ken Griffey Jr. is the only one of the newest members of the 600 club not to be tied to PEDs, although nobody  -- including Griffey and Thome --- are above suspicion just by the virtue of having played during the so-called Steroid Era.

Sunday's home run was the 500th of his career in the American League. Thome hit 96 home runs with the Phillies from 2003-05. He's the 11th player to hit 500 home runs in the American League.

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