Tag:Ned Yost
Posted on: February 14, 2012 10:32 am
Edited on: February 14, 2012 10:33 am
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Royals extend manager Ned Yost

Ned YostBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Royals announced they exercised the 2013 option on manager Ned Yost, who has been the team's skipper since May of 2010.

Yost took over for Trey Hillman in 2010 and was then given a two-year extension with the option for 2013 later that season. The Royals have gone 126-163 under Yost, who has a career record of 583-665 with the Brewers and Royals.

Yost was at the helm when many of the Brewers' younger players, such as Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, came up through Milwaukee's farm system, but was fired right before the team made the playoffs in 2008. The Royals have a similar wave of young talent coming through the system and expectations are beginning to grow in Kansas City. With Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas finally in the big leagues and even guys like Wil Myers on their way, expectations are growing. The Royals will likely need to put up a winning season in the next two years or, like in Milwaukee, it'll be a different manager taking Yost's old team to the playoffs.

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Posted on: September 26, 2011 4:55 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Kansas City Royals

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Kansas City Royals
Record: 70-89, 22 games back in AL Central
Manager: Ned Yost
Best hitter: Alex Gordon -- .303/.376/.502, 23 HR, 87 RBI, 101 R, 45 2B, 17 SB
Best pitcher: Aaron Crow -- 4-4, 2.80 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 64 K, 61 IP

Few seasons that end with a team 22 games back will garner as much optimism as the 2011 Royals, a team with few expectations other than playing time for young players and giving a glimpse of the future. Even before 2011, that future was bright -- but with some of the performances by the Royals' youngsters and even its less-youngsters -- have made that future seem even brighter.

2011 SEASON RECAP

For the 2011 Royals, the wins and losses were never part of the proposition, it was progress by the likes of Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas, Johnny Giavotella and Salvador Perez. What the Royals found was that Hosmer is an absolute stud, Escobar can contribute enough at the plate to keep his glove in the lineup and Moustakas, after a rough start, has shown the ability that had so many excited. 

Not only were the new toys impressive, so were some of the other, slightly older types, such as Gordon, Billy Butler, Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur (none of whom are older than 27). In all, the Royals were sixth in the American League in runs (719), fourth in batting average (.274) and fifth in OPS (.743) -- all marks better than league average.

The problem for the Royals was finding pitching, finishing 12th out of 14 AL teams in team ERA at 4.46, allowing the third-best OPS by opponent batters (.763) and their starters had a 4.83 ERA. 

2012 AUDIT

The rotation remains a mess, and without a significant trade or two in the offseason will likely stay that way. It's never a good sign when your best starter was Bruce Chen. There are, of course, good pitching prospects, but the arms the organization was banking on breaking through all took steps back in 2011, with lefty John Lamb undergoing Tommy John surgery, another lefty, Mike Montgomery, struggled in Triple-A, while yet another lefty, Chris Dwyer, struggled in Double-A.

Left-hander Danny Duffy had his ups and downs, going 4-8 with a 5.64 ERA in the big leagues, but his stuff was never in question. Many talented young pitchers have struggled in the big leagues before finding their control.

Former Astro Felipe Paulino (an actual right-hander) pitched relatively well this season for the Royals, going 3-6 with a 4.10 ERA for the Royals in 118 2/3 innings. Luke Hochevar, a former No. 1 overall pick, has teased with his talent -- but seems to do so every year. If this is the year he puts it all together…

FREE AGENTS
C Jason Kendall
RHP Kyle Davies
LHP Bruce Chen
LHP Jeff Francis

OFFSEASON FOCUS

The offseason focus is pitching, namely starting pitching. Of course, few teams aren't looking for starting pitching. The difference is the Royals still have some talented prospects to dangle.

  • Every offseason there seems to be a pitcher that most didn't think was available, but yet the thoughts of a big-named prospect can get another GM excited (think Shaun Marcum last offseason). The Royals have the prospects to flip for a high-quality pitcher -- and any chance they get, they should take.
  • The Royals missed their shot to trade high on Joakim Soria, who went from one of the game's best closers to being that guy in Kansas City. That said, he has a track record and team-friendly contract. He could bring back a starter for a team desperate for a reliever. The Royals have a $6 million options or 2012 and options for 2013-14. He does have a limited no-trade clause, but that could be waived.
  • Move Crow from the bullpen to the starting rotation. He can always go back, and going back is easier during the season than moving into the rotation. Crow was a starter until this season and still projects as one.
  • Offer arbitration to Melky Cabrera -- sure, he's due to regress and he'll probably make more than he's worth right now, but he could bring something at the trade deadline if nothing else works out. It also doesn't seem like the team has a center fielder ready to take over quite yet.
  • Ricky Nolasco has talent, but his recent struggles mean the Royals won't have to give up much to get the right-hander from Florida. A middle-tier Royals prospect is better than some team's top-tier prospects and it may not even take that to get Nolasco. Kauffman Stadium is a place where pitchers can succeed, so a change of scenery could help. He's owed 20.5 million over the next two seasons, but the Royals are said to have some money to play with. If they take his salary, they won't even have to give up much in prospects.
The Royals are unlikely to contend in 2012, but the promising start of 2011 should continue and if the pitching talent develops or the team makes some big moves to get pitchers to Kansas City, the playoffs could reach KC by 2013.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 7:50 pm
 

Royals shut down Hochevar, Francis next

Luke HochevarBy C. Trent Rosecrans

After throwing a career-high 198 innings, the Royals are shutting down starter Luke Hochevar. The former top overall pick of the draft went 11-11 with a  4.68 ERA in 2011, the most innings he's thrown in his professional career.

Last year he threw 108 innings -- 103 for the Royals -- after throwing 191 innings in 2009 between the Royals (143) and Triple-A Omaha (48).

Hochevar picked up his 11th victory of the season on Wednesday, throwing six innings in his 31st start of the season. The 28-year-old went 6-3 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 starts after the All-Star break.

"Could he finish the year? Yeah. He wants to," manager Ned Yost told reporters (via the Kansas City Star). "But for me, it just doesn't make any sense to continue to push his innings when he's in a good spot. It gives us an opportunity to look at somebody else."

Hochevar would have made two more starts, on Tuesday and on Sept. 25. The Star's Bob Dutton speculates right-hander Luis Mendoza could take Hochevar's spot if the Triple-A Storm Chasers finish out the Pacific Coast League playoffs in a timely fashion. Omaha currently leads Sacramento 2-0 in the best-of-five championship series. Omaha plays at Sacramento on Friday with heralded left-hander Mike Montgomery scheduled to pitch in what could be the clinching game. Mendoza isn't on the team's 40-man roster, but the Royals currently have an open spot. Right-handers Vin Mazzaro and Sean O'Sullivan are on the 40-man and could also get the call, with at least one of them likely to make a start for Kansas City before the end of the season, if not both.

Kansas City has already shut down lefty Danny Duffy. Duffy went 4-8 with a 5.64 ERA in 20 starts this season. Left-hander Jeff Francis will also be shut down after his start on Thursday against the White Sox. Francis entered the night 5-16 with a  4.88 ERA.

Felipe Paulino, Everett Teaford and Bruce Chen are left in the rotation to finish out the season.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 9:50 am
Edited on: August 30, 2011 4:24 pm
 

Pepper: Arizona pulling away from champs

Daniel Hudson

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Giants' last stand may come this weekend -- if they're even still in it by the time the Diamondbacks visit AT&T Park.

You may have noticed the Diamondbacks are starting to pull away in the National League West, winning their last seven games and increasing their lead in the division to five games. I'm still not sure exactly how it's happened, but you've got to appreciate what Kirk Gibson and his team have done.

Whichever team wins this division will do it by winning the division -- the Giants don't play anyone outside their division the entire month of September, while the Diamondbacks have three games against Pittsburgh in September, but no other games outside the division. What that means? A lot of the Padres and Dodgers and Rockies -- teams with a combined 29 games below .500.

One thing to keep in mind if you like trends, after the Diamondbacks won seven games earlier this month, they went out and lost their next six. If that trend repeats, it'd mean a sweep in San Francisco, which would put the Giants right back into it. But if San Francisco can't score more than a run or two in a game, they won't be sweeping anyone.

Real hero: You hear the word "hero" with sports way too much -- but it's an appropriate use of the word for Emmanuel Marlow. Who is Marlow? He's a vendor at Nationals Park who saved a choking fan on Thursday. Marlow, 49, used the Heimlich maneuver to save the young fan -- then went back to doing his job. Or his second job. Marlow also cares for patients with Parkinson's in his first job. Really, a great story and a real hero. [Washington Post]

Fan scare: Speaking of fan safety, a young fan was hit in the face by a foul ball at Citi Field on Monday. The Marlins' Greg Dobbs hit the ball and said he was told the boy did not suffer broken bones or had his sight damaged, so that's good news. Dobbs gave the kid's mother a bat and Mets second baseman Justin Turner gave him his jersey -- but that's a pretty high price to pay for a jersey and bat. Luckily the boy is OK. [MLB.com]

Perez impresses: The Royals have had their fair share of hyped prospects, so it's OK if you weren't too aware of catcher Salvador Perez. You may want to get used to hearing his name. Since being called up from Triple-A Omaha, he's started 16 of 18 games for Kansas City -- and he's hitting .295/.333/.443, including a 3-for-4 performance and his first home run in Monday's victory over the Tigers. Royals manager Ned Yost said he's "hard to take out of the lineup," and expects him to play 140 games a year. Perez hadn't played above Class A until this season and has had an incredible year, ending in the big leagues. [Kansas City Star]

The new Josh Beckett: Marriage has changed Red Sox starter Josh Beckett, he said. No longer is baseball his top priority -- but he's been even better with it as No. 2 in his life. [WEEI.com]

Standing pat: Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he "doubts" the team will make a deal before the Aug. 31 trade deadline. Phillies place on the waiver line (last in the National League) and payroll limitations make any move unlikely. [Philadelphia Daily News]

Untested: Monday night was supposed to be an experiment for the Reds' Yonder Alonso. The Reds rookie received his first professional start at third base on Monday night but didn't have a single ball hit his way. While it was surprising, it was part of the plan. Dusty Baker said the team made Alonso's first start at third during a Homer Bailey start on purpose, as "guys don't usually pull Homer." They didn't, so consider the results of the experiment inconclusive. And don't expect a repeat of Alonso at the hot corner on Tuesday with Bronson Arroyo on the mound against the Phillies. [Dayton Daily News]

Carp may stay: Even if the Cardinals don't pick up Chris Carpenter's $15 million option, MLB.com's Matt Leach doesn't see the team letting the right-hander leave via free agency.

Feeling blue: The Mets will wear retro uniforms for their 50th anniversary next season and then add a blue jersey in 2013. [ESPNNewYork.com]

Garfoose is loose: The Rays released minor league right-hander Dirk Hayhurst, which wouldn't mean much if he weren't the author of the very entertaining Bullpen Diaries and a prolific blogger and Twitter user. Best of luck to Hayhurst -- because if he's out of baseball, he may be out of stories, and that would be a shame. [DirkHayhurst.com]

Stats are fun: Yahoo's Jeff Passan has 25 great, nerdy stats in his latest column. If any pitchers are reading this, for all that is holy, don't throw Joey Votto a fastball. 

Feliciano done? Left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano may need career-ending shoulder surgery to repair his a tear in his shoulder. It will certainly end Feliciano's season, but could cost him more. He signed a two-year, $8 million contract before the season and hasn't thrown a pitch for the Yankees. He could get $8 million for just signing his name if he can't come back from this injury. [ESPNNewYork.com]

Socks appeal: There's a proper way to wear a baseball uniform and too often you don't see it -- instead you get the pajama pants look. Hunter Pence's high socks are gaining some attention in Philadelphia. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 8, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 1:09 pm
 

Pepper: @DatDudeBP leads MLB tweeters

By C. Trent Rosecrans



BASEBALL TODAY:
CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler joins Lauren Shehadi to talk about Derek Jeter, but also notes these games against the Yankees are not just big for Jeter's chase of 3,000 but also vital for the Rays. There's also the Braves-Phillies series, but Danny points out why that may not be as big of a series.

TWITTER 140: Our own @JamesonFleming put together the sports world's top 140 Twitter users and the Cincinnati Reds' Brandon Phillips (@DatDudeBP) comes in as baseball's best Twitter user.

Phillips didn't start using Twitter until this offseason, but has embraced the technology, holding contests for fans and also taking suggestions on restaurants and off-day activities. Earlier this season, a teen asked Phillips to come to his baseball game on a day the Reds were off, and Phillips stopped by. He also sent a pair fans to spring training and then another pair to San Francisco for the Reds' games at AT&T Park.

He has even won over some Cardinals fans, an amazing feat considering Cardinal nation's distaste for the Reds second baseman, who last year used not-so-nice words to describe Tony La Russa's club.

Florida's Logan Morrison (@LoMoMarlins) is fourth on the list and the second baseball player. Brewers closer John Axford (@JohnAxford) is the third MLB player in the Top 10.

LAST ONE THE TOUGHEST: George Brett told the Associated Press he thought the last hit would be the toughest for Derek Jeter in his quest for 3,000. Of course, Brett reached the mark with a four-hit game. Brett also said he wasn't sure how many more players would reach the milestone.

"Is that desire still going to be there when they're worth $250 million when they're 37 years old?" Brett said.

GOTTA BE THE SHOES: Jeter will be wearing special shoes for his 3,000th hit, and you can get a matching pair. Yahoo!'s Big League Stew has all the details on the details of the shoes.

JETER'S BALLS: One more Jeter entry -- a look at the special baseballs that MLB will use to try to track Jeter's 3,000th hit. [BizofBaseball.com]

CARDS LOCK UP GARCIA?: There are reports from the radio station partially owned by the Cardinals that say the team has reached a four-year deal with two option years with left-hander Jaime Garcia. The deal would cover all three arbitration years and one year of free agency for the 25-year-old Garcia. He's 8-3 this season with a 3.23 ERA and is 22-12 with a  3.07 ERA in his career. [MLB.com]

HARPER STILL TOPS: Baseball America released its Midseason Top 50 Prospects List, and the Nationals' Bryce Harper leads the list, followed by Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Rays' lefty Matt Moore.

ALL-STAR SWITCH: Royals right-hander Aaron Crow may have made the All-Star team as a reliever, but Kansas City manager Ned Yost sees the team's former first-rounder as a starter down the line, as soon as next spring. [MLB.com]

DOCTOR MAY NAME NAMES: Canadian Dr. Anthony Galea has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of bringing unapproved drugs into the United States to treat athletes, and he may be pressed to give the names of athletes he treated and gave illegal drugs. Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran of the Mets are among the players who have been treated by Galea in the past. [New York Times]

BORAS SPEAKS AT SABR: Super-agent Scott Boras talked of his love of baseball at the Society for American Baseball Research's annual conference on Thursday. Boras talked about his first superstar -- a cow on his family's farm. [Orange County Register]

SCHILLING TALKS PEDS: Former All-Star Curt Schilling went on a Philadelphia radio station Wednesday and said that no "team in the last 20 years that's won clean." Schilling said he thinks the recent decline in offensive numbers are because of MLB's testing policies. [SportsRadioInterviews.com]

NO TAPE MEASURE NEEDED: Ever wonder how they calculate home-run distances so quickly? There's a chart, of course, but how is that chart made? Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has that story.

CRADLE OF MANAGERS: The Kansas City A's didn't produce a lot of wins, but they did produce their fair share of managers. Tommy Lasorda, Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog, Joe Morgan (not the Hall of Famer, but the former Red Sox manager), Dick Williams, Hank Bauer, Dick Howser and Tony La Russa all played for the A's in KC. Two of the game's more successful coaches, Dave Duncan and Charlie Lau, also played for the A's during their stint in Kansas City. [Joe Posnanski]

SLUGGER EMPATHY: Twins designated hitter Jim Thome said it wasn't his place to comment on Adam Dunn's struggles, but said he did empathize with the struggling Chicago DH. "As a guy who swings and misses and has struck out a ton, it's hard," Thome told the Chicago Tribune. "When you can have success and are blessed to play a long time and [then go through] those periods, it's tough."

NO STARS FOR ALL-STARS: Major League Baseball has added stars to the uniforms of All-Stars, but apparently the designations are purely optional, as the Cardinals' three All-Stars declined to take part to keep their uniforms uniform. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

STARLING UNDECIDED: The Royals took a gamble when they picked prep outfielder Bubba Starling with the fifth overall pick in last month's draft, as Starling is also a top-flight quarterback committed to Nebraska. Starling told the Kansas City Star he hasn't decided whether he's going to play football for Nebraska or sign with the Royals for millions of dollars. Starling said he's going to Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday and will work out with the team, but won't enroll in classes for the summer.

SAVES RECORD: You need more evidence they keep stats for everything? Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has set the record for most first-half saves by a rookie. Kimbrel's 27th save Thursday broke the record of 26 set by Boston's Jonathan Papelbon in 2006. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

LAWRIE PROGRESSING: Just before he was scheduled to be called up in May, Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie suffered a broken hand after being hit by a pitch. Lawrie began hitting off a tee earlier this week, and he's improving. The team doesn't expect him to be able to play in games until August. [MLB.com]

ROYAL SHAME: The Royals have once again taken the cheap route in their tribute to the Nergro Leagues, ditching the vintage uniforms. While there are many good signs for the Royals' future, this is a reminder that David Glass is still the owner. [Kansas City Star]

MYTHBUSTER: Scientists are using a lab at Washington State to measure some baseball physics. Among the findings, corked bats don't work, humidors do, and the balls from 2004 performed the same as a ball from the late 70s. [Popular Mechanics]

REMEMBERING BUDDIN: Former Red Sox shortstop Dan Buddin died last week. He's remembered mostly for not being very good -- he averaged 30 errors a year and didn't hit very well, either. A really good remembrance by FanGraphs.com's Alex Remington on the man Boston booed.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: May 25, 2011 10:23 am
Edited on: May 25, 2011 10:52 am
 

Pepper: Mets on verge of accepting ownership bid

By Evan Brunell

SO THE TIME HAS COME FOR A NEW OWNER: OK, so technically a new Mets minority owner, but the move could have lasting implications.

Sources say that former commodities trader Ray Bartoszek and investor Anthony Lanza have been chosen as the preferred bidders for the available stake in the Mets' franchise. The new owners will have a say in the team's finances and path forward, as incumbent owner Fred Wilpon has promised. And if Wilpon is forced to sell the team -- a distinct possibility -- it's likely that Bartoszek and Lanza will emerge as the new owners.

It's unclear how much stake the new owners will receive, but the cost is expected to be around $200 million for up to a 49 percent stake and a deal is extremely close. First, though, negotiations on whether the minority group can purchase a small stake in SportsNet New York has to be ironed out, but could be the necessary final piece for the deal as 49 percent may not be justifiable enough for $200 million given the Mets' debt problems.

Bartoszek previously headed up oil trading for the world's biggest commodity trader, Glencore International, while Lanza is an owner of Carriage House Partners, a private equity firm. (New York Post)

100 PERCENT
: Unsurprisingly, Carlos Beltran disagrees with Fred Wilpon's comments that he's 65-to-70 percent. "I'm 100 percent," Beltran said. And he's playing like it. (Newsday)

FIGGINS SLOWLY IMPROVING
: Chone Figgins has been a shell of his former self since arriving in Seattle, but skipper Eric Wedge thinks things are getting better. "I feel like he's been a little bit more aggressive,'' Wedge said. "I feel like he's starting to make better contact. More firm." It's still way too early to think about Figgins finally delivering on his contract, but any step forward is positive. (Seattle Times)

STREAK SNAPPED
: CC Sabathia hurled a complete game victory Tuesday, coming away with the win. It was his first complete game win since May 8, 2009... and also the first Yankees complete-game winner since. That's the longest streak in AL history for a stretch in-between complete-game wins at 341 games. (New York Daily News)

NEW CLOSER
: Until Andrew Bailey returns, Grant Balfour will be the new closer in Oakland, replacing Brian Fuentes after the flap Fuentes created with his comments Tuesday. Too bad no one let Balfour know. (MLB.com)

ODDITY: Here's something interesting: Curtis Granderson has smacked 16 home runs and four triples, an impressive feat so far. But it's been all or nothing, as his four doubles pop out, a rare occurrence. After all, if you hit for power, you'll have your fair share of doubles. Granderson's doubles account for just one-sixth of his extra base hits, and only two other players in history have more extra-base hits than him with a similar 1/6 ratio of doubles: Mark McGwire in 2001 and Wes Covington in 1957. (Baseball Reference)

ONE MORE: Orioles starter Brian Matusz agrees that he needs one more rehab start, so will pitch for Triple-A on Friday. But after that, he's expected to push to return to the staff for a June 1 start, which will mark his season debut. (MASN Sports)

NEW DODGER: Top prospect Rubby De La Rosa received the call to the majors, surprising the Double-A starting pitcher, who will pitch in relief. While the Dodgers contend his future is in the rotation, de la Rosa was needed to shore up a bullpen besieged by injuries and ineffectiveness. De la Rosa has the talent to emerge as closer in L.A., and the team is still in the postseason hunt, so the promotion does make some sense. (Los Angeles Times)

YER OUTTA HERE! Ned Yost isn't going to get tossed from a game anytime soon -- unless he feels one of his players are being disrespected --  but that will change in coming years. "This is the time, with a young club, that you set the tone," Yost said. "I don't want these guys complaining and moaning. An umpire's call is an umpire's call and it doesn't get changed. It's doesn't do anybody any good to whine or cry about it. So, if I'm yelling, moaning and screaming on every call, naturally they're going to follow my lead. So it's important to me, right now, to accept the umpire's calls. ... But disrespect a player one time and I'm gone." Also in the link: Stories about how the Royals are trying to help those affected by the devastating Joplin, Mo. tornado. (MLB.com)

BRING IT IN: Is it time for the Padres to bring in the fences at Petco Park? Petco has become the anti-Coors Field, and even Coors is no longer an offensive haven thanks to the effects of the humidor. There appears to be a growing groundswell to fix Petco, and it would be as simple as moving the fences in. No one advocates making Petco a hitter's park, but moving the fences in would only even the playing field just a bit -- and that's all one needs. (Rob Neyer)

FIRST WIN: Alfredo Simon nailed his first win of the season thanks to an Adam Jones walk-off home run. A relieved Simon was thrilled after the game as it was his first win since last season. He has been dealing with a murder charge in his native country since the winter and still isn't out of the woods yet. (MASN Sports)

NEW GRIP: Dustin Moseley has been a nice piece of the Padres so far this year, but the righty can't sit on his laurels when there's more to be done. He tweaked his changeup, which earned positive results after Monday's game. (MLB.com)

PATROLLING THE OUTFIELD: Josh Hamilton believes he could start playing the outfield immediately but will be held back until this weekend, where he is expected to return to left field. Once he has several games under his belt, it's possible he could start seeing some time in center. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

BACK TO ACTION: Johan Santana finally stepped back on a mound for the first time since last season and threw 25 pitches. Santana is progressing nicely in his return from surgery and could rejoin the Mets in July. If he pitches strong down the stretch, he could be dealt after the year. (ESPN New York)

A NEW LOU: Lou is back in Chicago, and we're talking Montanez. The former Cubs first-round pick 11 years ago took a detour in Baltimore for four years, but wound up back with the Cubs this season in Triple-A. He finally reached the majors with his original club when tapped yesterday to replace Marlon Byrd on the roster. Montanez made the most of it, notching a RBI double in his first Cubs at-bat. (Chicago Sun-Times)

ON HIS WAY BACK: John Lackey pitched in a bullpen session Tuesday and came through with flying colors, setting him up for a rehab game on May 31 and a return to the Red Sox for June 5's start against the Athletics. (Boston Globe)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: April 19, 2011 10:20 am
 

Pepper: Super Sam

Sam Fuld
By C. Trent Rosecrans

One of the best parts of any new season is seeing players reach their potential -- or in Sam Fuld's case, exceed it.

With a 4-for-4 performance in Monday's win over the White Sox, Fuld is now the American League batting leader, hitting .396. And he made another fantastic catch, as you can see above.

Fuld was acquired in the deal that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs this offseason and learned a little bit about playing at Tropicana Field with his diving catch in the third inning on Tuesday.

"It felt like someone took a blow torch to [his left hand], and then I look at it and then there's nothing to show for it, no blood," Fuld told reporters, including the Tampa Tribune's Roger Mooney. "Now I know what turf burn is like."

Replays showed starter David Price screaming and clapping his hands after the play, which helped him win his first-ever victory over the White Sox.

The Rays are giving out a Sam Fuld cape later in the season, but it doesn't appear he needs one.

BASEBALL TODAY -- Lauren Shehadi and I talk about the Rockies pitching Cardinals offense.

FASTEST GUN IN THE MIDWEST -- There's little debate now, the gun at Great American Ball Park is juiced.

On Sunday, it had Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan throwing 102, while Pitch F/X had him hitting 98. On Monday, the scoreboard showed Aroldis Chapman hitting 106, when Pitch F/X showed his third pitch to Andrew McCutchen as "just" 102.4.

Last year I had scouts tell me the gun was pretty accurate, but apparently the excitement around Chapman got the Reds greedy, amping up the radar gun. If he does hit 105 mph again, will it say 110 on the scoreboard? Maybe the gun will make Bronson Arroyo feel better about his heater. [MLB.com]

GOOD SEATS -- Nate Schierholtz's brother was sitting 10 feet from where his mammoth shot landed in the third deck at Coors Field, and paid the guy who caught it $25 bucks to get the ball. [San Jose Mercury News]

STREET WATCH -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy is keeping a close eye on closer Huston Street, who hasn't pitched more than two days in a row this year, but has pitched in 10 of the team's first 15 games. [MLB.com]

AXFORD STRUGGLES -- Brewers closer John Axford had another bad outing on Monday, blowing a 3-2 lead in the ninth of an eventual 12-inning Milwaukee victory. The issues has been control, but manager Ron Roenicke said he's not concerned or thinking about any kind of change. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

AND I WANT TO BE COMMISSIONER -- Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said he still wants to play first base. Manager Ned Yost's response? " You know what, I'd like to be an astronaut -- and for some reason they just won't let me." With Kila Ka'aihue is manning the spot until Eric Hosmer comes in to take it for good. [Kansas City Star]

BRING AN UMBRELLA -- Weather has been bad all around baseball early this season, although attendance hasn't been hurt too much. [Associated Press]

GOOD JOBA -- Joba Chamberlain's velocity is down, but his results are up. His slider has become a good pitch, helping his results. [New York Daily News]

NICE SHOT -- Ryan Raburn's pop foul in the first inning on Monday was the first-ever ball to hit the roof at Safeco Field. [MLB.com]

PLENTY OF GOOD SEATS AVAILABLE -- The Mets' bad start is good if you're looking for bargain shopping on the highest-priced seats at Citi Field. [New York Times]

RIOS AILING -- Alex Rios will be getting a break in the White Sox's series with the Rays to try to help his sore left toe fully heal. Rios said the toe has been hurting him for the last five years, so it's doubtful a simple day off will cure him. [Chicago Tribune]

AARDSMA TAKING THE HILL -- Mariners closer David Aardsma is expected to pitching tonight in Triple-A, his firs tame action since his hip labrum surgery in January. The Mariners will likely wait for him to throw three or four games in the minors before taking him off the disabled list. [MLB.com]

MORE SURGERY FOR ZUMAYA? -- The Tigers put Joel Zumaya on the 60-day disabled list and another surgery is possible on his right elbow. [Detroit Free Press]

NICE CATCH -- David Wright played catch with some young fans at Turner Field the other day. Pretty cool stuff. [Big League Stew]

NEW DUCKS UNIFORM -- The Oregon Ducks have added an orange jersey? Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie models the newest Oregon uniform combo. [WhoSay.com/JeremyGuthrie]

VIN SCULLY ON 42 -- Dodger Gene Hermanski had the idea of everyone wearing No. 42 way back in 1948, Vin Scully said. [Sons of Steve Garvey]

TROP VETERAN -- White Sox rookie Chris Sale recalled going to the first-ever Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays game in 1998 when he was 9. [Chicago Tribune]

NOTHING BREWING IN MINORS -- According to the latest Baseball America, the Brewers have the worst minor-league system in baseball. After trading away Brett Lawrie, Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi this offseason, their top-ranked prospect is right-hander Mark Rogers -- the team's first-round pick in 2004. On Monday, Rogers lost to former Brewer starter Jeff Suppan in a Triple-A game. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

MINOR LEAGUER HIT IN HEAD -- Eric Hurley, a right-hander with the Rangers' Triple-A team, was hit in the right side of the head in a game against New Orleans on Monday. Hurley, 25, didn't lose consciousness and was taken to a nearby hospital. He left the field over his own power. [ESPNDallas.com]

THROWBACK THURSDAY -- Not only will the Dodgers be breaking out their new throwback uniforms against the Braves on Thursday, Atlanta will throw in throwback duds. No word yet on which Braves throwbacks we'll see. The Dodgers are wearing 1940s-era blue satin-like unis. To announce the promotion the Dodgers sent out a press release on Brooklyn Dodgers letterhead (or maybe the ownership ran out of their regular letterhead and had to find some at the back of the closet instead of ordering new stock.) [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

TODAY IN GLUTTONY -- The Akron Aeros have introduced a helmet sundae. No, not a mini-helmet sundae, a full-sized helmet sundae. [Akron Aeros]

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Posted on: April 17, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:10 pm
 

Pepper: Dangerous game for fans, too

Jose Salazar

By C. Trent Rosecrans


When I went to Class A game the other day, I sat in the front row just to film from that angle and I was shocked at just how close I was sitting -- and how little the fans around me were paying attention.

Of course, it's worse at the minor-league level and in spring training where the stadiums are smaller, but it's still dangerous at the big-league level. Last night in Los Angeles, a fan at the Dodgers game was hit by a foul ball from Matt Holliday and carried off on a stretcher and taken to the hospital. [Associated Press ]

This spring, of course, Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar was struck in the face by a foul ball and lost an eye.

On Friday, Salazar returned to manage the Lynchburg Hillcats.

This weekend, it was a feel-good story to see Salazar back in uniform, but it was so close to being different. [Lynchburg News Advance ]

STRANGE BALK -- Take a minute to watch this -- last night Justin Verlander tried to pick off Daric Barton at first, but caught a cleat in the dirt, so instead of making a bad throw to first, he threw home and hit David DeJesus. Home plate umpire John Hirschbeck ruled it a balk, awarding Barton second base. DeJesus later walked. Verlander said afterward, even he laughed at how it looked. [MLB.com ]

BRADEN LEAVES EARLY -- A's starter Dallas Braden left Saturday's game with shoulder stiffness after five innings. There's no update yet, but it could be bad news for the A's. [San Francisco Chronicle ]

AFRICAN-AMERICAN PARTICIPATION DECLINES
-- As teams honored Jackie Robinson this weekend, the Mets' Willie Harris finds the lack of African-Americans in the game "sad." Only 9.1 percent of major leaguers on opening day 2010 were African-American, while 20 percent were in 1995. Harris said he doesn't think MLB markets its top African-American stars, such as Torii Hunter, Carl Crawford and CC Sabathia, well enough. [New York Daily News

Rockies STARTER FALLS - - For the first time this season, a Rockies starter picked up a loss in the game. Jason Hamel was the first Rockies starter to earn an L, falling 8-3 to the Cubs and ending the Rockies' seven-game winning streak. [Associated Press ]

AND THERE'S THAT
--The other day White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he has the league's best bullpen, despite his relievers blowing six saves and converting just one. On Saturday, he said he knows he has a good defensive team, despite its 15 errors this season, 13 in the last 10 games. [Chicago Tribune ]
 
SPEAKING OF -- The A's lead the majors with 17 errors, including one more on Saturday. First baseman Daric Barton -- widely viewed as one of the best defensive first basemen in the game -- is tied for the team-lead with three errors. Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff has three, as well. [MLB.com ]

EARNING HIS KEEP -- Could this be the year Alfonso Soriano lives up to his promise and salary? Soriano leads the Cubs with five home runs and 12 RBI. [Chicago Tribune ]

NO LEFTY -- The Dodgers don't have a left-handed reliever in their bullpen after Hong-Chih Kuo was place don the disabled list and replaced on the roster by right-hander Ramon Troncoso. [Los Angeles Times ]

ROYAL PEN -- One of the reasons the Royals are leading in the American League Central is their bullpen, well, almost all of their bullpen. In a reversal of expectations, only closer Joakim Soria, one of the best closers in baseball the last couple of years, has struggled. Manager Ned Yost said his closer is just "human" and should be fine. Still, the likes of Tim Collins, Jeremy Jeffress and Aaron Crow have impressed. [Kansas City Star ]

NEW PITCH -- Giants closer Brian Wilson is playing coy about a new pitch in his arsenal. Wilson, who will talk about most subjects, isn't discussing a new pitch he's throwing to right-handed batters. It may be a two-seam fastball, a cutter or even a screwball. [San Jose Mercury News ]

ATTENDANCE WOES -- This month six teams have set records for their lowest attendance since their current park opened -- the Braves, Indians, Mariners, Cardinals, Yankees and Twins. Overall attendance is down just two percent this year, which is less than I expected. [USA Today ]

HOW LOW CAN IT GO? -- Seattle is being hit particularly hard at the turnstiles. [Seattle Times ]

UBIQUITOUS OBLUQUE -- I missed this earlier this week, but heard Tim McCarver bring it up during yesterday's Mets-Braves games -- Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times wrote a great article about the oblique injury, noting 14 players had gone on the DL this year with an oblique injury. Also, before MRI technology improved to its current point, the injury had been called rib cage or abdominal injuries, the diagnosis is just better nowadays.

BIG DRAFT -- What if you had to pick from Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Justin Upton, Ricky Romero, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Mike Pelfrey, Wade Townsend, Chris Volstad, John Mayberry Jr., Jacoby Ellsbury, Colby Rasmus or Clay Buchholz? The 2005 draft offered those choices. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ]

WRIGLEY GRIDIRON -- The Cubs and Northwestern want to continue playing football games at Wrigley Field, despite the challenges they faced this season. In the end, money wins. [Chicago Tribune ]

TUCSON HOME -- Padres owner Jeff Moorad said Tucson will be the Triple-A home for the Padres for at least another year and could be an option if the team isn't able to get funding for a park in Escondido, Calif. [Arizona Daily Star ]

A DIFFERENT MANNY -- Manny Ramirez changed when he went to Boston. [Akron Beacon-Journal ]

HOT DOGGIN' -- A look at the best and craziest hot dogs at ballparks this season. I'm thinking about getting that Meat Lovers Dog at Great American Ball Park later today. I'll take pictures. In the name of "journalism" of course. I'm also curious about the Bahn Mi Dog at Nationals Stadium and [SeriousEats.com ]

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