Tag:Chipper Jones
Posted on: September 19, 2011 10:35 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 11:10 pm
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Playoff race: Braves' heartbreaker tightens race

Omar Infante

By C. Trent Rosecrans

After just having beaten Roy Halladay and the Phillies, the Cardinals were likely in their clubhouse watching a Chipper Jones misplayed ball lead to an Omar Infante two-run, game-winning homer and pulling St. Louis to within 2.5 games of the Braves in the National League wild-card race.

If the Cardinals can come back to overtake the Braves, they've certainly earned it this weekend, taking three of four in Philadelphia, beating both Cole Hamels and Halladay in the process.

Atlanta saw an error by Infante give them a lead in the seventh inning, but then Jones' inability to field Emilio Bonifacio's chopper that Jones lost in the lights set up Infante's walk-off homer off of Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.

St. Louis' remaining schedule is nowhere near as daunting and the way the Cardinals are pitching, it could come down to the last series of the season, when St. Louis is playing the team with baseball's worst record and Atlanta is hosting the team with baseball's best record. 

There may only be a little more than a week left in the season, but it's hard to see this not going down to the wire.

Atlanta Braves
87-67
Remaining schedule: 2 @ FLA, 3 @ WAS, 3 vs. PHI
Coolstandings.com chances of winning Wild Card: 78.2 percent

St. Louis Cardinals
84-69, 2.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 vs. NYM, 3 vs. CHC, 3 @ HOU
Coolstandings.com chances of winning Wild Card: 17.7 percent

San Francisco Giants
83-70, 3.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 @ LAD, 3 @ ARI, 3 vs. COL
Coolstandings.com chances of winning Wild Card: 3.4 percent

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 18, 2011 1:35 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Chipper gets the Mets again

Chipper Jones

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Chipper Jones, Braves: For the 39th time in his career, Jones knocked in the go-ahead run against the Mets. His two-out RBI single drove in the game's only run as Atlanta's Tim Hudson and New York's R.A. Dickey engaged in a fantastic pitcher's duel. Hudson struck out 10, while Dickey allowed just three hits, two to Jones. It was also Jones' 153rd RBI against the Mets, only Willie Stargell (182) and Mike Schmidt (162) have driven in more against New York. Only Stargell has driven in more go-ahead runs against the Mets (40).

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: After missing six games with a sprained left thumb, A-Rod returned to the Yankees lineup and made an immediate impact, collecting two hits, including his 16th homer of the season, a three-run shot off Henderson Alvarez to pull the Yankees to within a run of the Blue Jays in the sixth inning. It was the 629th homer of Rodriguez's career, putting him one behind former teammate Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth on the all-time list.

Mike Moustakas, Royals: There were plenty of raised eyebrows when the Royals' third baseman struggled in his first two months in the big leagues. He was hitting just .182/.237/.227 in his first 53 games in Kansas City with just one home run. That .182 batting average after an 0-for-4 night on Aug. 16 against the Yankees was a low point. The next night he went 3 for 3 against the Yankees and since then he's hitting .385/.418/.548, raising his season line to .252/.301/.338. Saturday he went 3 for 5 with his third homer in four days, as the Royals picked up their seventh straight win.


Ervin Santana, Angels: In what may have been the Angels' last shot at the postseason, the right-hander gave up two homers in a five-run first in Baltimore. Los Angeles has now lost four of its last six games, while the Rangers won in Seattle. Santana retired just two of the first nine batters he faced, allowing a two-run homer to J.J. Hardy and a three-run homer by Mark Reynolds. He allowed just one more hit in his final six innings of work, but the damage was already done.

Rafael Furcal, Cardinals: St. Louis had a chance to get out of a sticky situation in the eighth inning, trailing by two, but with bases loaded and two outs, Octavio Dotel got Hunter Pence to ground into what appeared to be an easy play to end the inning. Furcal looked first at second for a force but couldn't get a hustling Chase Utley. Furcal had to double pump and try to get Pence at first, but with Pence running down the line, the Phillies outfielder was safe, scoring a run and leaving the bases loaded. The next batter, Raul Ibanez, hit a grand slam, making a close game a laugher. St. Louis had scored two in the eighth to pull within a run of the Phillies but then gave up six runs in the bottom half of the inning, in no small part to Furcal's mistake.

Robinson Cano, Yankees: It didn't end up hurting the Yankees, but Cano did cost the team a run in the fourth inning with a base running gaffe. Cano was on second and Mark Teixeira was on third with one out when Nick Swisher hit a liner into center. Cano assumed it would drop, while Teixeira was waiting to see what happened. Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus ran it down and as Teixeira went back to third to tag up, Cano raced around him for the inning's third out.

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Posted on: September 17, 2011 10:35 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 12:09 am
 

Playoff race: Phils win East, help Braves



By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

The Braves were officially eliminated from the National League East race and they couldn't be happier about it.

There was no way Atlanta was going to catch the Phillies in the East, but a Braves win over the Mets coupled with the Phillies' victory over the Cardinals put the Braves' wild card lead at 4.5 games, with 10 games to go. Philadelphia clinched the National League East with a 9-2 victory over the Cardinals, their fifth straight division title.

Losing five of their last seven, any win -- be it 1-0 or 11-0 -- was a welcome site for the Braves. 

It wasn't easy for Atlanta on Saturday, as Tim Hudson and New York's R.A. Dickey locked into a fantastic pitchers' duel, allowing just seven hits between them. Hudson allowed four, but struck out 10 and had noted Mets killer Chipper Jones on his side. Jones' two-out single in the eighth brought in the game's only run and rookie closer Craig Kimbrel recorded his 45th save, striking out all three batters he faced in the ninth.

In Philadelphia, the Phillies used a six-run eighth inning -- capped by a Raul Ibanez grand slam -- to pull away from the Cardinals, who still have to face Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay before leaving Philadelphia.

Atlanta Braves
87-65
Remaining schedule: 1 vs. NYM, 3 @ FLA, 3 @ WAS, 3 vs. PHI
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 95.4 percent

St. Louis Cardinals
82-68, 4.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 2 @ PHI, 3 vs. NYM, 3 vs. CHC, 3 @ HOU
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 3.2 percent

San Francisco Giants
82-70, 5 GB
Remaining schedule: 2 @ COL, 3 @ LAD, 3 @ARI, 3 vs. COL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 1.1 percent

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

Posted on: August 19, 2011 10:26 pm
 

Chipper Jones to return in 2012, unsure on 2013

Jones

By Evan Brunell

Chipper Jones has confirmed his intention to play next season, paving a return to the hot corner for the surefire Hall of Famer.

“I’m playing next year,” Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday. “I still feel like I can go out there and play a good third base and be a threat, at least, at the plate. I’m having a good defensive year and the [batting] average is on the rise.”

Injuries have sapped Jones of his productivity recently, as Jones suffered a season-ending injury to his ACL last August, fueling speculation that he would retire. Jones was able to start the season on time after just 95 games last year, but battled through tearing cartilage in his right knee earlier this season, which eventually led to arthroscopic surgery on July 9. Jones injured his right quadriceps the night he returned -- July 25 -- but has continued to be productive over that time span and is currently in a nice groove at the plate. Jones is hitting .382/.405/.647 in August.

“Now that the legs are starting to get healthy, you’re starting to see some more extra-base hits,” Jones noted. “If I end the season with 50-plus extra-base hits, that’s pretty good. I mean, that was really all I could ask for, a lot of doubles and some homers.

“But the bottom line is, be productive and go out there and produce runs. That’s the name of the game.”

With 11 homers, a triple and 26 doubles, a season with 50-plus extra-base hits is still within reach, which would give him 13 such seasons. There are 14 total players in baseball history with at least 12 seasons of 50-plus extra-base hits, including active players in Carlos Lee and Bobby Abreu. One of these home runs came Thursday off Tim Lincecum, moving him to 25th on the all-time list, two behind Jeff Bagwell and five behind Carl Yastrzemski, and tallying up 2,580 hits. With Jones returning next season, he should inch closer to the hallowed milestones of 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, but Jones doesn't believe he can reach those marks.

“I dare say I don’t think I’m going to scare 3,000 [hits] or 500 [homers],” Jones said. “But whatever my legacy is, it’s probably already been written. So nothing I do through the end of this year and next year is going to really change that, I hope. I guess you could probably do some damage to it, but I don’t see that happening. Especially the way I feel right now."

Jones admits to taking "a lot of pride" in the fact he has a career batting average of .304 and OBP of .403.

“Those are awfully big numbers over an 18-year career. But that’s not what drives me. I want to punctuate my career helping these guys win a championship.”

Jones will earn $14 million in 2012 in the final year of his guaranteed three-year contract. He also has a $9 million option that vests if he plays in 123 games next season or averages 127 games this season and next. At 92 games entering Friday, Jones would need to play in 35 of the 37 remaining games to reach 127 games on the year. His 2013 salary could also rise based on games played in 2012, but Jones isn't prepared to make any type of decision on 2013.

“That’s going to be a big decision for me, because you’ve got to weigh whether it’s worth it to be away from home for eight months,” he said. “You’ve got to weigh whether you can tolerate the amount of pain that you deal with on a daily basis, and then how much you’re helping the team and how much possibly the money that’s paid to you can be used to better the ballclub in other areas.

“I’m not really ready to make that [2013] decision yet. We sit here right now and I feel good, I’m being productive, I’m having fun, we’re winning. I like to think that if I can keep my knees and my leg muscles intact for any period of time, that I can still put together a pretty good season. But even if I do that [in 2012], I may just say I’m ready to do something else.”

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Posted on: August 13, 2011 9:18 pm
 

Jones says 'no hard feelings' against Zambrano

Chipper JonesBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Chipper Jones wasn't surprised Friday night when Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano threw at him following Dan Uggla's second home run of the game.

"There's no hard feelings," Jones told Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Carlos has a tendency to runs  little hot and you can tell that he was frustrated. I sort of had an inkling that it was coming."

Zambrano was ejected immediately after his third pitch of the at-bat nearly hit Jones. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry apologized to Jones and admonished his pitcher after the team put him on the disqualified list. Jones said he appreciated the apology.

"I like Carlos. I've always liked Carlos," Jones said. "He's an intense competitor and he's one of those guys that comes out of the bullpen breathing fire and that's what you like if he's on your club. Unfortunately sometimes it works against him and last night was another in a long line of situations where it got away from him."

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Posted on: August 13, 2011 11:34 am
Edited on: August 13, 2011 2:03 pm
 

Cubs GM ready to call Zambrano's retirement bluff

Carlos ZambranoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Zambrano is again threatening retirement, and apparently the Cubs hope he follows through.

"We will respect his wishes and honor them and move forward," general manager Jim Hendry told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

It's a wonder he could get that out with a straight face and without giggling -- Zambrano leaving under his own accord could allow Hendry to have done what he couldn't do himself, get rid of the albatross in his clubhouse and on his payroll.

The Cubs have been in contact with Zambrano's agent, Barry Praver, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Sullivan reports Zambrano has not yet filed retirement papers, but if the matter isn't resolved by this afternoon, the team will place Zambrano on the restricted list. 

Manager Mike Quade was also unhappy with Zambrano, who cleaned out his locker and talked about retirement after being ejected in the fifth inning of Friday's loss to the Braves for throwing at Chipper Jones.

By the time the media was allowed in the clubhouse, not only was Zambrano and his stuff gone, so too was even the nameplate on his locker.

"He walked out on 24 guys that are battling their ass off for him," Quade told reporters after the game, including Wittenmyer. "I don't know where he's gone or what he's doing. I heard he's talking about retiring. I can't have a guy walking out on 24 guys, that's for damn sure."

Zambrano has one year worth $18 million left on his contract and a no-trade clause.

Last year the Cubs stood by Zambrano (in no small part because of the amount of money left on his contract) after he started a fight in the dugout with Derrek Lee and was sent to anger-management counseling and even welcomed back. This season he'd pitched better, but still grumbled about the team this year, calling it a "Triple-A team," but at least including himself in that rant.

On Friday, though, he may have burned his last bridge. Or, with the thought of giving up more than $20 million left for this season and next, he'll come back and the Cubs will accept him because they have very little choice not to. Either way, it's going to be interesting this afternoon when Cubs players start filing into the clubhouse at Turner Field for the 7:10 p.m. game against the Braves. There will certainly be a few people hoping Zambrano doesn't walk through the door and isn't in the dugout come gametime.

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Posted on: August 12, 2011 9:30 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 10:49 pm
 

Zambrano ejected for throwing at Jones

By Matt Snyder

After coughing up his fifth home run of the game to the Braves -- coming off the bat of red-hot Dan Uggla -- volatile Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano had a conference with his pitching coach. The Cubs were trailing 8-1 with one out in the fifth. The guess here is Zambrano was told he wasn't coming out of the game just yet because the Cubs were trying to save the bullpen. Zambrano then threw at Chipper Jones and got himself ejected. The Braves hadn't been showboating whatsoever on any of the five home runs, so the best explanation is that Zambrano had had enough and was ready to take his ball and go home.

As if his intent wasn't clear enough, Zambrano immediately and calmly started walking toward the Cubs dugout, even as the Braves' dugout emptied. He didn't want to fight (nor did anyone else, fortunately, as nothing happened once the benches were cleared). He just didn't care to help his team and wanted out of the game. I've always been fair with Zambrano -- in fact, I have defended him before in this space -- but this was blatant disregard for everything but his own, selfish intentions.

Look, we don't know what was said on the mound by Cubs pitching coach Mark Riggins, but it's not very feasible he went out there and told Zambrano to throw at one of the most respected veterans in baseball. Therefore I'd have to conclude that Zambrano was acting only in the interests of himself -- whether he didn't want his ERA to suffer any more damage or if he was just sick of getting pounded around the ballpark, who knows? -- and didn't really care what his coaches, teammates and manager might need from him.

These are the kinds of things that make me want to stop defending Zambrano for good. He's 30 years old. Enough's enough.

READ MORE: Evidently Zambrano agrees enough is enough, because he's telling people he's retiring from baseball.

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Posted on: August 4, 2011 9:47 am
 

Pepper: Some Cubbie love from Lee



By Matt Snyder


At this time last week, we were busy pouring through rumor after rumor as the non-waiver trade deadline approached. There were a few Cubs' veterans we knew weren't going anywhere, despite playing for one of the worst teams in baseball. Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood in particular weren't going to waive their respective no-trade clauses. It might seem baffling to some people, but former teammate Derrek Lee says it's too great a place to play to want to leave.

"It's not that easy," Lee said (Chicago Tribune). "It's easy to look from the outside and say, 'Well, go play on a contender. This team is winning, so why don't you want to go there?' But you build roots in a place.

"Those guys have families. It's not that easy just to pack up and go. And how many cities are there as good as Chicago? You're going to have great crowds there every day, an atmosphere, and also those guys probably want the challenge of turning it around and winning there."

Baby steps: We've opined in this space several times about the sheer idiocy that are the MLB blackout rules and it appears there might be some ever-so-slight progress. Evidently MLB Extra Innings subscribers in northeast Ohio were all of a sudden blacked out from watching Pirates and Indians games due to a merger of several local cable providers. For once, Major League Baseball rectified an issue and lifted the blackout. So I guess that's a step in the right direction, but the rules are still absurd. (Biz of Baseball)

Remember me? Wednesday, we posted a video of an apparent Ichiro Suzuki fanatic in the Mariners crowd, who interfered with play by accident. Well, he was back at the ballpark the following day, once again dressed in full Ichiro garb. (Super Ichiro Crazy)

Bat-flavored beer: In Seattle, a brewing company has made a beer that soaked maple bats in it for three weeks. Interesting idea. Personally, I'm not sure I'd want to try it -- it just sounds weird, no? -- but who knows, maybe it's great. (ESPN.com)

Trade bait: Fangraphs.com has an excellent flow chart showing all the trades of Edwin Jackson, who has been dealt six times (and he's only 27 years old). Roughly 15 players have been traded for Jackson, though it's tough to very accurately say the proper number, as there have been a pair of three-way trades involving him.

Bad signings: Once you get past the Yankees, the Red Sox are generally maligned by casual fans for being a huge spender in free agency and just throwing money at players. The truth, however, is that the Red Sox are actually pretty good at developing their own. Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and more came directly from the system. Meanwhile, many free agent signings, like John Lackey and Carl Crawford, have thus far been a disaster (ESPN.com). Maybe Theo Epstein should stop spending so much on external players?

Back off, Tony: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa took exception with some comments from Brewers fans earlier this week, and I got his back. On this, however, I will not be doing so. He heard a Brewers announcer say the Cardinals throwing at Ryan Braun was "bush league" and called said announcer to discuss. I mean, really? The two did "clear the air," so I guess all's well that ends well. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Chipper return: Chipper Jones hasn't been in the starting lineup for over a week. He returned from the disabled list only to come down with a new injury and has been relegated to pinch-hit duty since. He's planning on returning to the lineup Friday, not surprisingly, against the Mets. He's hit more homers against the Mets than any other team in his career. (AJC.com)

Moose rests: Royals rookie Mike Moustakas has struggled, for the most part, since his promotion to the bigs. Manager Ned Yost gave Moustakas Wednesday night off to work on his swing mechanics. (Kansas City Star)

Alonso at third: Reds rookie Yonder Alonso projects as a very good major league hitter, according to most scouts, but he's a first baseman by trade. Not sure if you've heard, but the Reds have a decent 1B. Alonso has been played in left field, but most scouts see him as a bit of a butcher out there. Maybe third base could be a fit, with Scott Rolen being out for the next four to six weeks? He's been working out at third recently. (MLB.com)

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