Tag:Bill Hall
Posted on: April 24, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 7:40 pm
 

Hawk steals show in Milwaukee

Miller Park Hawk
By C. Trent Rosecrans

Randy Wolf allowed just four hits over eight innings, but a hawk stole the show at Miller Park on Sunday.

With the roof closed at Miller Park, a hawk hunted another bird and was the center of attention for much of the Brewers' 4-1 victory. The hawk attacked the other bird in center field in the top of the third and then hung out around Astros right fielder Hunter Pence in the bottom half of the inning.

"Whatever that was, a pigeon, it looked scared. It looked at me like, why is the roof closed? I can't get out of here," Wolf told reporters, according to the Associated Press. 

Wolf said the bird also "buzzed my tower" during his third victory over the season. Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said he thought the bird was going to attack.

Astros second baseman Bill Hall was close to the bird in its third inning.

"He was on the outfield grass, hanging out. Wasn't a lot of action [in his direction] during the time he was out there," Hall said. "I don't know when he got up and flew away. Obviously, he was having a good time out there."

It was apparently a good thing neither Hall nor Pence approached the hawk.

"It's really unlikely for a bird like that to get aggressive, unless somebody was coming after him, trying to pick him up or getting to close to his nest," Heather Neldner, a zookeeper in the Milwaukee County Zoo's aviary, told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "If he's just sitting there, minding his own business, it's unlikely that he would go after a random person."

And like any celebrity, the Miller Park Hawk had his own Twitter account created during the game -- @MillerParkHawk. The hawk, of course, is following Pence, @HunterPence9, on the social networking site.

After the game, Brewers pitcher LaTroy Hawkins noted on Twitter it was indeed a hawk, and write "At least one Hawk was seen Today!" And, of course, it should be noted Hawkins was the favorite Brewer of the hawk, according to @MillerParkHawk.

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Posted on: April 10, 2011 4:39 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2011 5:31 pm
 

Mujica ejected without warning for hitting Hall

By Matt Snyder

Marlins reliever Edward Mujica has been ejected for hitting Bill Hall of the Astros with a pitch. Neither team had been warned and it was the first pitch Mujica had thrown in the game.

Mujica entered the game in the bottom of the seventh with the Marlins trailing 6-1 and dotted Hall in the back with a first-pitch fastball. Home plate umpire Jim Joyce immediately ejected Mujica -- who didn't seem to react.

So was the pitch in retaliation for Hall taking out Marlins' star Hanley Ramirez Friday with a hard slide at second base? It's tough to tell.

We have to consider Mujica's reaction, or lack thereof. It was almost as if he was expecting to get tossed. Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez, however, argued at length rather vehemently with Joyce. He also didn't have anyone else up in the bullpen ready to come in. Being down by five on getaway day late in the game would be an opportune time to retaliate, but if the manager ordered it he would have been ready to bring someone else in. There's always the possibility Mujica did it on his own -- or simply lost control of his fastball. Then again, he hasn't hit a big-league batter since 2008. From 2009 until Sunday, he'd thrown 167 innings with zero hit batsman.

UPDATE: In the top of the ninth inning, Astros reliever Aneury Rodriguez hit Gaby Sanchez with a pitch and was ejected. It was the sixth pitch of the at-bat and the count was 2-2.

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Posted on: March 29, 2011 5:56 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 9:35 pm
 

Five teams to improve, five to decline in 2011

By Matt Snyder

Finally, spring training is concluding. Now we have a day or two before your favorite team begins play. In the meantime, I'm here to bring you the top five teams to decline and the top five to improve upon their 2010 performances. In return, you accuse me of bias and call me names. It's fun for everyone, really. One thing to keep in mind is that improving or declining by more than 10 games is pretty drastic. On some of these, I'm looking at something like a seven-game swing.

TOP FIVE TEAMS TO IMPROVE

1. Boston Red Sox. Well, let's see ... Last season Kevin Youkilis only played 102 games, Dustin Pedroia saw action in 75 and Jacoby Ellsbury just 18. Josh Beckett was either injured or ineffective all season. Meanwhile the Red Sox added Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to a team that won 89 games, despite all those injury woes -- and some underachieving from people like John Lackey. Easiest call on the board here, and even Yankees fans would have to concede this team is loaded.

2. Oakland A's. The pitching staff is stellar, even including the bullpen. The starting rotation is already really good and only getting better. The A's won 81 with one of the worst offenses in baseball last season. A full season of Coco Crisp, Kurt Suzuki bouncing back and the additions of Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham don't exactly sound like adding Gonzalez and Crawford, but small improvements will do wonders for the pitching staff. Slugger Chris Carter is waiting in the wings, too, and don't be surprised if Billy Beane adds a bat at the deadline.

3. Colorado Rockies. Troy Tulowitzki needs to stay healthy and Dexter Fowler needs to get closer to his ceiling. I'm going out on a limb that both happen, along with steps forward from Chris Iannetta and Ian Stewart. Watch Jhoulys Chacin's development in the starting rotation, too. He's got big potential.

4. Milwaukee Brewers. This is contingent upon the big names staying healthy and Zack Greinke getting healthy as soon as possible, because this team is paper-thin. But the top line is very impressive. Plus, the division is not very good at all. The Brewers are going to score runs, get good starting pitching (again, assuming the health thing) and have a good back-end of the bullpen. If they can overcome defense and depth deficiencies, they'll win the Central.

5. Florida Marlins. Call it a bit of a gut call, but I really like the Marlins. The rotation really has great potential with Javier Vazquez returning to a pitcher's park in the NL East (he's apparently too intimidated by being a Yankee) and Ricky Nolasco having the ability to be a true No. 2 if he can ever stay consistent. Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad have -- again, this word -- potential to be solid at the end, with stud Josh Johnson leading the five-some. I love the outfield potential of Logan Morrison, Chris Coghlan and Mike Stanton, so long as all three can stay healthy. Hanley Ramirez is primed to have a big season, too.

TOP FIVE TEAMS TO DECLINE

1. San Diego Padres. Removing Gonzalez from the middle of the batting order changes the complexion of everything. And Mat Latos is already hurt, which does nothing to alleviate the concern of the huge workload increase he's experienced over the past two seasons. Most of all, the Padres just seem outmanned by the Giants and Rockies. Winning close to 90 games seems outlandish. Of course, many people said that last year, too.

2. Houston Astros. They overachieved in a big way last season according to run differential (the 'Stros allowed 118 more runs than they scored) and aren't any better. Other than Hunter Pence, the position players are either getting old (Carlos Lee), still unproven (Brett Wallace) or just not that good (Jason Michaels, Bill Hall, Michael Bourn). I'm not a huge fan of the rotation, but it's going to have to carry the team. Good luck with that.

3. Tampa Bay Rays. This is difficult. It's hard to not love the Rays for being so good at sticking with the Yankees and Red Sox in the mighty AL East on that paltry payroll. The loss of Crawford hurts. Carlos Pena wasn't overly productive -- though he was much better than his batting average said -- last season, but his presence helps everyone else see better pitches. That goes away with Dan Johnson at first. The loss of Matt Garza isn't a big deal, so long as Jeremy Hellickson does his thing and James Shields returns to form. The bullpen is worse, though. Look, I'd pick the Rays to win the NL Central if they were in it, but the Yankees aren't any worse and the Red Sox are way better. The Orioles should be better as well. I think the Rays win in the ballpark of 86 games, but that's 10 worse than last year and good for third place.

4. Toronto Blue Jays. They're still building and are moving in the right direction, but winning 85 games again in that division is a very tall order. Any offensive bounce-back from the likes of Aaron Hill and Adam Lind is negated by Jose Bautista's return to this planet.

5. St. Louis Cardinals. If anyone can pull this off, it's Dave Duncan, but losing Adam Wainwright was a death blow. Chris Carpenter is old and injury-prone. Jaime Garcia is due a massive regression. Kyle Lohse was awful last year and Jake Westbrook doesn't have good stuff. Kyle McClellan could very well prove a solid No. 5 starter, but he hasn't exceeded 75 2/3 innings the past three seasons in the bullpen. Can he really double that and remain effective? The outfield defense won't do the staff any favors, either. The Pujols/Holliday/Rasmus combo -- and even Lance Berkman in a best-case scenario -- is very solid, but there's only going to be so much they can do on some nights. I feel like mid-to-high 70s in wins, but Duncan and Tony La Russa find ways to make people wrong often.

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Posted on: March 15, 2011 11:14 am
Edited on: March 15, 2011 12:48 pm
 

Bill Hall too angry for spring training

By Matt Snyder

So, let's set the scene: Bill Hall steps into the batter's box -- in a spring training game, mind you -- and believes Cole Hamels quick-pitched him. That means, for those unfamiliar, he wasn't really settled in the box when Hamels began his delivery. It's perfectly legal but quite annoying as a hitter. So before next pitch, Hall calls timeout and steps out before Hamels has a chance to quick-pitch him again. This is also perfectly legal and also very annoying for the pitcher. Next, Hamels brushes Hall back off the plate.

He didn't hit him in the head or around the knees or ankles -- all no-nos when it comes to making a statement from the hill. He just backed him off the plate. Still, Hall took enough exception that he started yelling at Hamels. Fortunately Laz Diaz was behind the plate and got between the two.

After the game, Hamels couldn't have been more professional, saying nothing more than Hall is a "good guy" and he didn't really want to talk anymore about the small incident.

Of course, Hall was a bit opposite. He felt -- here we go! -- disrespected. Via MLB.com :
"He's definitely a marked man for me now, so when I do some damage off him, I'm going to let him know I did some damage off him. I can guarantee that. ... If you disrespect me, I'm going to do my best to disrespect you back. Obviously not in a way to disrespect the game, but obviously I'm going to let him know when I face him."
Please.

I'm normally totally against the uppity, old-school types who proclaim things like, "back in my time ... " but guys nowadays are way to sensitive about being "disrespected." It's such a tired act. Two players annoyed each other, that's all. It should have been buried there, just as Hamels tried to do.

And, really? We have Bill Hall talking trash about what he's going to do to Cole Hamels? And it's not if, it's "when?" Wow. On one side we've got an All-Star; a World Series MVP who had a 3.06 ERA last season. On the other, a guy who had a really good season in 2006 and now can't find more than a temporary home as a sub. Even funnier, Hall is 3-22 career against Hamels (.136) with seven strikeouts, no walks and zero extra-base hits.

Maybe take Hamels' lead and go with the high road next time, Bill.

Hat-tip: C. Trent Rosecrans

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More MLB coverage

Posted on: March 14, 2011 5:20 pm
 

Hall calls Hamels a 'marked man'

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Just because the games don't count at this time of year doesn't mean things can't get serious. And new Astro Bill Hall is getting serious with Phillies starter Cole Hamels.

Hall said Hamels is now a "marked man" to him -- but said he wasn't referring to any kind of violence against the pitcher.

Bill HallIn the second inning of Monday's game between the teams, Hall started shouting at Hamels after being pitched inside. Hall felt it was in response to him stepping out of the box to avoid being quick-pitched. Home plate umpire Laz Diaz restrained Hall, the infielders started coming and both benches were warned, although nobody left the bench.

"He threw a pitch in, and I'm not going to let him disrespect me either," Hall told the Houston Chronicle. "He kind of said something that I didn't like too much. It's over with.

"He's definitely a marked man for me now, so when I do some damage off him, I'm going to let him know I did some damage off him. I can guarantee that."

Hamels, though, didn't see it as that big of a deal and there were "no hard feelings."

When asked if he buzzed Hall's tower on purpose, the dodged the question.

"It's one of those things, I kind of don't want to speak [about]," Hamels said. "It's baseball. I don't know him personally, but I do know he's a good guy. It's just kind of something that happens to get the game."

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Posted on: December 20, 2010 5:37 pm
 

Offseason spending spree hits $1 billion

Maury Brown of bizofbaseball.com notes that with the Astros making their signing of Bill Hall official, major-league teams have now officially invested over $1 billion in contracts for free agents since the end of the season, including both one-year and multi-year contracts.

Hall's one-year, $3 million deal brings the total to $1,000,380,000 for 69 players. That's an average of about $14.5 million per man, but contracts like Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth (worth almost $390 million by themselves) skew that quite a bit. The 69 deals include 34 one-year contracts, which are worth an average of $3,365,588.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: December 17, 2010 3:23 pm
 

Astros sign Hall as regular 2B

Bill Hall
After a productive season in Boston, Bill Hall had plenty of teams interested in him as a utility man. But he held out for a full-time job, and the Astros obliged him.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Hall has agreed to become Houston's starting second baseman for $3 million, with a mutual option for 2012. Hall had a promising start to his career in Milwaukee before losing his way at the plate, his average dropping to .225 in 2008 and .201 in 2009, when he was traded to Seattle late in the season.

The Mariners shipped him to Boston in January, and he put up a .247/.316/.456 line in 382 plate appearances last season, hitting 18 homers and driving in 46 runs. He played every position on the field except first base and catcher -- and that includes pitching. He threw a scoreless inning in a blowout loss to the Royals on May 28. As a utility player earning $8.525 million, I guess he was pretty much obligated to do whatever the team asked.

This means Jeff Keppinger, the Astros' regular second baseman last season, is likely on the trading block. The Yankees have been reported to be interested in him as a utility player. He's arbitration-eligible after batting .288 and making $1.15 million last season.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: December 15, 2010 9:32 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 9:40 pm
 

Top 10 free agents remaining

Okay, so all the big names are off the board now, and quite a few solid names are gone as well.

Now teams are left to fight over the scraps, and how clubs go about filling their holes with the remaining names can have major implications on a season. There will be teams who are done spending and shopping for bargain-bin pickups, teams who have been jilted and can spread money around and more.

No more Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth or Victor Martinez may not be exciting, but there's still plenty more machinations ahead. The trade market may also start heating up now that teams can more clearly identify their holes or surplus players.

So who are the top 10 free agents left?

Gregg 10. Kevin Gregg

Gregg closed for Toronto in 2010 and surprisingly held his own in the AL East after years of being a miscast closer and flaming out of Chicago. He's still not a great option, but as someone willing to ink for just two years, Gregg's market may open up what with the crazy three-year pacts being handed out.

How about: The Orioles seem to be the top (only?) suitor for Gregg, so let's take the safe route here and tab Gregg to the O's. This would push Mike Gonzalez and Koji Uehara to setup roles, and give the O's what suddenly looks like an intriguing top three in the bullpen that could do wonders for the young rotation's confidence in nailing down wins.

Fuentes 9. Brian Fuentes

Fuentes is another mediocre closer but as a left-hander with strikeout stuff, is in plenty of demand as both a setup man and closer. Fuentes is looking to max out the years on his contract but has a top team in the Red Sox chasing him, plus plenty of other clubs with the financial wherewithal to import Fuentes.

How about: The Yankees. New York has money to toss around and a need for a left-handed reliever. Fuentes ranks above Pedro Feliciano in the remaining market for lefties and Fuentes may be willing to pitch just in front of Mariano Rivera. He's likely too pricey for Colorado.

Hall 8. Bill Hall

Hall revitalized his career in Boston as a super-utilityman and rediscovered the pop he left behind mid-decade in Milwaukee. Another good season would really open up his career prospects. He's been closely linked to the Dodgers, but there's no shortage of teams that would want him as a backup. The club that can offer him the most playing time is likely the team that snags him.

How about: The Dodgers. L.A. has made a habit of collecting average players and hoping quantity beats out quality. Problem: they still haven't solved their left-field conundrum. Hall makes a lot of sense here as he can back up at multiple positions and serve as insurance in case they need to move him out from left field.

Thome 7. Jim Thome

Thome is 40 years old and still bashing home runs, cranking 25 in 340 plate appearances for the Twins. However, he looks to be squeezed out by the impending return of Justin Morneau and emergence of Delmon Young. As someone who will come on a one-year deal and a cheap base salary, any team with a hole at DH has to be interested.

How about: The Rays. The market for DHs is small, but Tampa Bay are one such team that could use Thome's thump and have a DH spot -- and no potential for losing the spot -- waiting for him. In addition, Thome could benefit from the short porch in Yankee Stadium and the moving in of the right-field fence in Boston.

Jenks 6. Bobby Jenks

Jenks has often had a tumultuous career in Chicago as Ozzie Guillen hs never been a fan. However, Jenks was actually better than Rafael Soriano in 2010. Jenks's xFIP was 2.62, while Soriano checked in at 2.81. Over the next three years, Soriano is certainly the better property, but the point is that Jenks has actually been a better pitcher these last few years than given credit for.

How about: The Rays. Yes, Tampa Bay is slashing payroll, but they still have some room to spend dollars. They have an empty bullpen, putting them in position to pick and choose from any remaining reliever out there and handing them the closer's job. Jenks, however, is the only one who would likely accept a one-year deal to rebuild his value before hitting free agency again after the year. Tampa won't complain about that. (The Jays were the original pick here, but a Hardball Talk report that has Jenks and Tampa Bay close to an agreement changed that.)

Lee 5. Derrek Lee

Lee started the year hobbled by a thumb injury, and Aramis Ramirez's own struggles compounded the issue for the Cubs. Lee bounced back in the second half and showed he wasn't cooked with the Braves. However, his stock is down enough that a one-year deal could work in his best interest -- and teams would be only too happy to oblige.

How about: The Padres. Lee is a Northern California boy, and is the best first baseman remaining on the market. The Orioles seem focused on Adam LaRoche, and the Nats are talking to LaRoche as well, but Lee should provide the bigger bang for the buck in 2011. The Padres desperately need a first baseman and could make the case to Lee that they are better positioned to win in 2011 than either the Nats or O's.

Ordonez 4. Magglio Ordonez

Looking past how much Ordonez was overpaid the last few seasons, you see an outfielder still capable of hitting with the stick. His agent, Scott Boras, is currently being unreasonable in salary demands but since when is that news? Of the outfielders left on the market, Mags is the best bet of all to produce in 2011.

How about: The Tigers. Detroit still needs a bat, and that outfield as comprised (Ryan Raburn-Austin Jackson-Brennan Boesch) does not look pretty. There's motivation on both sides to get a deal done.

Pavano 3. Carl Pavano

Pavano is a quality starter, there's no doubt about that. He can soak up innings and function as a solid No. 3 in any rotation, but he seems to be benefiting from a positive groundswell of support as there's not much differentiating him from Joe Blanton. He's understandably trying to capitalize on a market run amok, but Pavano's injury history and advanced age is working against him here.

How about: The Twins. Minnesota wants Pavano back and Pavano wants back in the Twin Cities. It's possible that Pavano, seeking a three-year, $30 million contract, could leave money on the table to do so.

Soriano 2. Rafael Soriano

Soriano is a lights out reliever but seems to be suffering from a curious lack of interest. Yes, his pedigree as a closer is one reason for that as teams are balking at four years and a high salary. One might think teams are learning their lesson when it comes to overpaying for relievers, but unfortunately it appears that teams are only getting smarter when it comes to paying closers, not relievers as evidenced by the ridiculous three-year deals handed out to relievers. But riddle me this: if someone like Matt Guerrier can get three years, how can Soriano not demand four?

How about: The Rangers. Texas is scrambling to find a pitcher to replace Cliff Lee. Pavano's a possibility, but how well can he play in that park? It may be better to go for the quality arm in Soriano and convert Neftali Feliz to a starter.

Beltre 1. Adrian Beltre

The best player left on the market, Beltre can pick it with the best of them and enjoyed a strong season at the plate. There's enough question marks about Beltre's offense that he's going to have to move significantly off his salary demands unless he phones Oakland and asks for the five-year, $65 million deal to be put back on the table.

How about: The Angels. It makes too much sense for the Angels to sign Beltre. They have a gaping hole at third and missed out on Crawford. Beltre, meanwhile, has seen his suitors dwindle as the market hasn't broke in his favor. This is a match for both sides that is too obvious. Then again, the Crawford-Angels match was obvious as well. As long as Los Angeles continues to negotiate as if there are no other teams involved, they will continue to miss out. The Halos could stand to be more aggressive.

-- Evan Brunell

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com