Posted on: May 11, 2011 5:33 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2011 5:36 pm
By Evan Brunell
BEST GAME: Plenty of storylines here. The Indians will see the return of Carlos Carrasco to the rotation, as he returns to a 4.97 ERA in five starts and will battle the surging Indians who still haven't made believers out of anyone -- and now that Grady Sizemore just might be hobbled by yet another injury, who knows where the Indians will go from here? David Price is hoping that Cleveland can only go down despite going 7-3 in its last 10 games as Price chases his fifth win on the backing of his 3.26 ERA. Rays at Indians, 7:05 p.m. ET (Watch iive)
PEAVY'S BACK: Jake Peavy will make his season debut as the White Sox look to avoid going 14-24 against the Angels, who will counter with rookie Tyler Chatwood. Chatwoord is actually an intriguing rookie, but it's clear that he's not quite ready for prime time yet and the suddenly surging Chicago offense could be in for a big day. Meanwhile, Peavy will hope that his unique surgery keeps him on the mound for the rest of the season. Peavy's last rehab start came Thursday for Triple-A when he coughed up five runs in seven innings (all the runs scoring in the third), but tossed 71 of 100 pitches for strikes. White Sox at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)
ONE MUST GO UP, ONE MUST GO DOWN: OK, so not necessarily, but probably. Hiroki Kuroda and Paul Maholm will do battle with strikingly similar ERAs, which gets less and less rare the later the season goes on. Kuroda is 3-3 with a 3.69 ERA and Maholm 1-4 with a 3.68 mark. The Pirates are hoping to get back over .500 after losing their one-game edge Tuesday night in a Dodgers rout. Meanwhile, L.A. needs a win to pull within two of .500. Maholm has a hill to climb, as he's never beaten the Dodgers and hosts a career 5.65 ERA in seven starts. Dodgers at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)
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Posted on: May 6, 2011 1:42 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Brennan Boesch, Tigers -- Detroit managed just four hits in its 6-3 victory over the Yankees, and Boesch had two of them. Boesch had an RBI single, a solo home run and a sacrifice fly, finishing with three RBI. Boesch is 4 for 7 in two games as the Tigers' third batter in the lineup.
Lance Berkman, Cardinals -- Has anyone ever been awarded the Comeback Player of the Year Award in the first week of May? Because Berkman may have already clinched it. His 10th home run of the season provided the Cardinals' the winning margin in their 6-3 victory over the Marlins and Josh Johnson. Berkman added a sacrifice fly for his big-league best 32nd RBI.
David Price, Rays -- The left-hander struck out seven of the first 13 batters he faced on Thursday and 10 overall. Price held the Blue Jays to just four hits before being pulled with an out to go in Tampa Bay's 3-1 victory over Toronto. Price had thrown 118 pitches when Joe Maddon brought in Kyle Farnsworth to face Yunel Escobar, who singled. Farnsworth got Adam Lind to finish the game.
Eduardo Nunez, Yankees -- For as many of us who have blasted Derek Jeter's defense, Nunez has been a disaster when he gets to play. At least Jeter makes the play when a ball is hit right at him, Nunez hasn't been able to do that. He made two throwing errors on Thursday, raising his season total to five in just 13 chances at shortstop this season.
Chris Tillman, Orioles -- The Orioles starter gave up four runs in the first, one in the second and three more in the fourth against the Royals. The Royals managed just two hits off relievers Josh Rupe and Clay Rapada in the 4 1/3 innings after Tillman was yanked, but the damage was done. Tillman gave up 10 hits and eight runs in 3 2/3 innings.
John Lannan, Nationals -- Coming in to Thursday's game with the Phillies, every Nationals starter this season had gone at least five innings -- and you know by the "coming into Thursday's game" part what's coming next… until today. Lannan lasted just two innings against the Phillies, allowing seven hits and six runs, while walking one and hitting another. That's a rough start anytime, but it's a death sentance against Roy Halladay.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: April 30, 2011 1:22 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Carlos Santana, Indians -- With the game tied in the bottom of the ninth with one out and the bases loaded, Santana only need a fly ball to win the game for the Indians. He hit a fly ball all right, one that went 352 feet into the stands in right field for the walk-off grand slam.
Jarrod Dyson, Royals -- Dyson didn't even have a plate appearance, but his speed was the difference in the Royals' Friday night 5-4 victory over the Twins. Dyson entered the game as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning and immediately made a difference. He stole second, and when Drew Butera's throw went into center field, Wilson Betemit scored from third and Dyson went to third. With one out, Yunel Escobar hit a soft liner to shallow left field, which Twins shortstop Alexi Casilla caught, but Dyson tagged up and beat the throw home easily, scoring the winning run.
Jason Vargas, Mariners -- Seattle's left-hander broke a 13-game winless streak by pitching seven innings in Boston on Friday. Varagas allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks, while Seattle won its fourth straight game in its six-game road trip.
Travis Wood, Reds -- With Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey getting close to returning to the Reds' rotation, left-hander Travis Wood may have been pitching for his big-league life on Friday. How'd that go? Well, Louisville's nice this time of year. Wood allowed five first-inning runs to the Marlins in Cincinnati's 7-6 loss to Florida. Wood lasted 3 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
David Price, Rays -- Allowed a career-high 12 hits in just 4 1/3 innings in an 8-5 loss to the Angels. Price allowed five runs and walked one, striking out four. Angels rookie first baseman had an RBI single and a two-run homer off of Price,
Bobby Jenks, Red Sox -- The former White Sox closer gave up a walk, a single and a pair of doubles to Chone Figgins and Jack Cust to pick up the loss for the Red Sox. Jenks has allowed nine runs, eight earned, in his last 4 1/3 innings.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: April 4, 2011 10:01 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:12 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The National League Central appears to be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, with up to four legit contenders for the crown, so every little difference is going to be magnified when it comes to the end of the season.
While we're a long way from magic numbers, but the division's closer could be cause for concern.
In the first weekend of games, NL Central closers blew four of eight save chances -- including the first three -- and had an ERA of 12.91. Only Pittsburgh's Joel Hanrahan (who is 2 for 2 on save opportunities) hasn't allowed an earned run among the division's six closers.
All six closers have had save opportunities, and half of them are save-less. Milwaukee's John Axford has allowed four earned runs and hasn't finished an inning in two appearances, allowing a walk-off three-run homer to Cincinnati's Ramon Hernandez on Thursday and allowing two hits on Sunday before being replaced.
St. Louis closer Ryan Franklin gave up a game-tying homer in an eventual opening-day loss to the Padres and Houston's Brandon Lyon allowed six hits and three runs, picking up the loss against the Phillies on Friday.
The Cubs' Carlos Marmol struck out the side on Saturday for his first save, but Sunday he walked one and allowed two hits to cough up a lead, sending the Cubs to a 5-4 loss to the Pirates (and setting up Hanrahan's second save).
It could be a wild ride this year in the NL Central this season, and that's just the ninth inning.
HOMETOWN BOY -- Padres manager Bud Black said part of his reason for setting his rotation as he did was to allow San Diego native Aaron Harang make the start for the Padres' home-opener at Petco Park on Tuesday.
Black said it also helped that Harang has a history of opening day starts. Harang started five consecutive opening days in Cincinnati. He is in his first season with the Padres. [San Diego Union-Tribune]
"Everybody here knows that I feel very comfortable here with the Rays," Price told MLB.com. "And I feel like I fit in very well with this organization and how they do stuff. If it's something we're able to get done, it's definitely something I'd like to do."
BASEBALL ART -- Aubrey Huff made a diving catch in Los Angeles on Saturday and before Sunday's game, Pat Burrell, Dan Runzler and Brandon Belt taped a body outline in the outfield where Huff made his catch. Here's a picture of their art.
HALLOWED GROUND -- Volunteers cleaned up at the old Tiger Stadium and finished off with a pickup game of baseball. The Navin Field Grounds Crew will be doing this every week during the summer in Detroit, hoping to allow everyone to use the field. [Detroit Free Press]
JAPANESE HERITAGE DAY -- The best highlight of Sunday's Japanese Heritage Day in Oakland was when Ichiro Suzuki caught Kurt Suzuki's fly in right and threw out Hideki Matsui at third base. The A's and their fans also raised more than $65,000 for earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. [San Francisco Chronicle]
HUMIDOR SECURITY -- MLB has tightened its security procedures concerning the humidor at Coors Field, an "authenticator" will keep an eye on all the baseballs from when they're taken out of the humidor to the umpire's room where they're rubbed down to the Rockies dugout, where they're kept. During the game, he'll watch the bag. [Denver Post]
CARDS OWNER CONFIDENT -- Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. is happy with his team and confident, but added the team does have playroom flexibility of "several million dollars" if the team needs something later in the season. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
COPYING BAGWELL -- Astros shortstop Clint Barmes will wear a protective pad on his left batting glove when he returns to action. Barmes suffered a fractured bone in his hand late in spring training when he was hit by a pitch. Barmes said it's the exact same pad attached by velcro that former Astro Jeff Bagwell used to wear. Barmes said he wore a similar pad after breaking his hand in 2002, but will make it a permanent addition this time. [MLB.com]
VLAD THE ENIGMA -- Vladimir Guerrero has wowed us on the field for years, but not much is known about him off the field. But the Baltimore Sun's Kevin Van Valkenburg and Jeff Zrebiec have managed to write a really interesting feature on the new Oriole. For instance, before every home series, Guerrero writes down the name of all the Spanish-speaking players and coaches coming to town, and will then have his mom cook food for all the Latin players and bring it to the park. Guerrero's mom has lived with him since he was in Montreal. [Baltimore Sun]
REALLY? -- Wearing a guy's jersey to a game is one thing, but a whole uniform, catching gear and all? This Philadelphia fan was at Sunday's game wearing complete catcher's gear, a glove, mask and even taped wrists. I wonder if security allowed him through the gate with metal spikes? [Philadelphia Daily News]
OAKLAND'S 'DUMP' -- Apparently the field at the Oakland Coliseum smells like sewage. And that's not all that's wrong with the Coliseum. [San Francisco Chronicle]
GREINKE PROGRESSING -- The Brewers expect Zack Greinke to throw off the mound at some point during the team's week-long homestead starting today. Greinke still isn't expected to return this month, but throwing off the mound is the first step to determining when he can return. He played long toss and threw from 60 feet before Sunday's game in Cincinnati. [MLB.com]
REWARD OFFERED -- A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest in the case of Dodger fans beating Giants fan Bryan Stow, 42, a Santa Cruz paramedic and father of two. Stow is currently in a medically induced coma. [Los Angeles Times]
DIFFERENT SWING -- John Smoltz talks about his attempt at a golf career. [Detroit Free Press]For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Aaron Harang, AL Central, AL East, AL West, Angels, Astros, Athletics, Aubrey Huff, Bill DeWitt Jr., Brandon Belt, Brandon Lyon, Brewers, Bud Black, Cardinals, Carlos Marmol, Carlos Ruiz, Clint Barmes, Coors Field, Cubs, Dan Runzler, David Price, Dodgers, Doug Drabek, Dustin Pedroia, Francisco Cordero, Giants, Hideki Matsui, Howie Kendrick, Ichiro Suzuki, Jason Isringhausen, Jim Thome, Joel Hanrahan, John Axford, John Smoltz, Johnny Damon, Kurt Suzuki, Kyle Drabek, Mariners, Mets, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Orioles, Padres, Pat Burrell, Phillies, Pirates, Ramon Hernandez, Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, Reds, Rockies, Ryan Franklin, Tigers, Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero, Wade Davis, Zack Greinke
Posted on: March 29, 2011 5:02 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:51 am
By Evan Brunell
The 2011 season is slated to start Thursday, and with it comes no shortage of storylines to watch. Last year brought the advent of Stephen Strasburg, yet another Cliff Lee trade, and of course, the Giants being crowned champions. What's on deck?
1. East Coast hype
An all-too easy criticism of mainstream media or any sports journalist is the dreaded "East Coast bias" label. However, this season, most of the intriguing teams and races will come from both the AL and NL East.
In the senior circuit, the Phillies have a vaunted rotation, but injuries to Domonic Brown and Chase Utley have left the door ajar for the Braves to sneak in. Many seem to be overlooking Atlanta, but the club won 91 games and will add Dan Uggla to the lineup while improving production out of left field. The Marlins, meanwhile, have a strong rotation and enough offensive potential loaded in their young players that they can't be discounted. Add in the mess that is the Mets along with some nice storylines in Washington (Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Jayson Werth to name three), and there's plenty of topics to go around.
Likewise, in the league with the DH, the Red Sox were the darlings of the offseason after importing Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, while adding Bobby Jenks to the bullpen, and appear to be the team to beat, as Yankees GM Brian Cashman has admitted. But you can't count out New York, and Cashman has a quality club ready to push for the division. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, underwent quite a remake but can't be counted out, as this is a club that could crack 90 wins with only a smidgen of luck. The Jays are fresh off a surprising year and have Jose Bautista to draw national interest, while the Orioles are hopeful the middling veterans imported will push the team toward the .500 barrier.
That's not to say that other teams don't have compelling storylines, but the concentration of quality and ease of finding compelling storylines for each team means that the East Coast will dominate the news.
2. Breaking records
It will be a banner year for three players set to hit significant milestones, and there are plenty of other players nearing milestones that, while not Hall of Fame caliber, will put emphasis on the productive careers they have had.
Perhaps the most revered milestone for a hitter to reach, 3,000 hits will come into play for Derek Jeter, who is just 74 hits away. He will probably reach the mark in late May or early June, depending on if he's the .270 batting average Jeter of 2010 or the .314-average Jeter of his career.
Jeter isn't the only Yankee poised for a milestone, however. Mariano Rivera is closing in on 600 saves, as he currently has 559. Given that the major-league record for saves is 601 by Trevor Hoffman, Rivera could also make it to the top of the mountain. That said, Mo will need a good year to reach 600 saves as he has not cracked the 40-save barrier in four out of the past five years.
Ivan Rodriguez is also close to 3,000 hits, needing 183. However, given he has not reached that mark since 1999, you can bet I-Rod will need until at least 2012 to reach the milestone. Heck, depending on how much he plays and produces, he may need until 2013, even though that is quite unlikely.
Jim Thome is 11 home runs away from becoming the eighth member of the 600-club. Paul Konerko needs 35 homers to reach 400, while Adam Dunn (354) and David Ortiz (349) would need big seasons to hit the 400 mark.
3. A new labor agreement
Baseball's collective bargaining agreement is due to expire after the season, but both baseball and the players union are already beginning work on coming to an accord. In a year where the NFL has locked out its players and the NBA appears headed down that path, it's important for baseball to work together with players and come to an agreement in short order.
Fortunately, after years of rancor, both sides have a harmonious working relationship and it should not be difficult to come to an arrangement even with sensitive topics such as revenue sharing and draft slotting among what will be discussed. The last agreement was finalized and announced on Oct. 25, 2006, so any announcement may not come until the conclusion of the playoffs.
However, recent word comes from the Boston Globe that any hint of a work stoppage would be a shocker, even with delicate issues such as revamping the revenue-sharing agreement. Also on deck is adding wild cards, an international draft and draft slotting.
4. Giants doing just fine
There are a lot of people wondering if the Giants can possibly repeat their World Series run of last year, doing so with a suboptimal offense and squeaking into the playoffs by the skin of their nose.
However, the offense should be much improved with Buster Posey behind the dish for a full year, Aaron Rowand squarely on the bench and Miguel Tejada replacing Edgar Renteria. While Tejada may have his issues, especially on defense, he should be able to improve on what Renteria gave the Giants last season. In addition, prospect Brandon Belt should be in the majors by June at the latest and will add another dimension to the club.
The rotation is one of concern, even if it's ridiculously deep given how young everyone is sans Barry Zito and the load they shouldered last year to win a ring. Fortunately, the Giants are cognizant of this and plan to give starters a lighter load to start the year. Plus, even if one or two starting pitchers fall flat on their face, there's still plenty of quality starters. One concern is the depth behind the front five, which is extremely thin.
5. Yankees trade for starting pitcher
There's simply no way the Yankees don't strike for a starting pitcher this season, but it may not be Francisco Liriano. The lefty is the hot name in trade circles and while Liriano still stands a good chance of being dealt, it probably won't be until after the year.
But the Yankees need help now. They had enough trouble filling the Nos. 4 and 5 spots in the rotation, so imagine what the depth behind them is like once injuries strike -- and they will. Fortunately for the Yankees, they have a solid farm system and a top prospect in Jesus Montero they can dangle for the right pitcher.
Even if the right pitcher doesn't come along to whisk Montero away, there will be no shortage of candidates as the year goes on for the Yankees to grab. What bears watching is who they grab. While acquiring a No. 4 starter would certainly deepen the rotation, it's more important for New York to get a frontline pitcher. Does anyone feel confident with A.J. Burnett following CC Sabathia in the playoffs? Didn't think so, and it would be presumptuous to project Phil Hughes' emergence into that pitcher even if the talent is there.
6. Strasburg recovering from Tommy John surgery
Strasburg underwent Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow on September 9, and recovery from such surgeries these days tends to take 9-12 months. Edinson Volquez returned to the majors 11 months after such a surgery. While the Nationals may play it cautious, Strasburg is right on schedule, and given his tremendous work ethic and young age, should have no problem meeting the conservative 12-month estimate.
That means Strasmas could be back just in time to close the season out, where he'll certainly dominate headlines once more. Strasburg would certainly need minor-league rehab starts first, but his timeline should assure him of the ability to get into games before the minor-league regular season ends in early September. Given the club will have expanded to 40 players at that point and will likely be out of the division race, it won't be difficult to get Strasburg back on the roster and in a major-league game.
Could the Nationals play it conservative and hold him back until 2012? Sure, it all depends how Strasburg progresses. But even if they hold him back, Strasburg certainly would play Winterball to get his footing under him. Most pitchers returning from T.J. surgery tend to struggle with command upon return, and the only way to address that is to get on a mound and pitch.
7. Bonds, Rocket dominate headlines
The trial of Barry Bonds has already started, but is still ongoing. It should be wrapped up before long, but that doesn't mean that Bonds will exit the headlines -- whatever the ruling on Bonds' perjury trial, it will have long-lasting ramifications on the game.
If Bonds is found guilty, many ink will be spilled on how this cements Bonds' exclusion from the Hall of Fame, plus articles on how Bonds is finally getting his comeuppance.
The Clemens trial, meanwhile, will dominate headlines even more than Bonds given the salacious details that have leaked out about Clemens' career, plus the off-putting way in how Clemens has fought the rumors he used steroids.
Either way, the Bonds and Clemens trial will spark plenty of discussion that will last for years as they attempt to get into the Hall of Fame.
8. Questioning if Mets stay solvent
The Mets are hoping to close a deal to bring in a new investor by the close of July. While it is not yet known what percentage of the team these investors will hold, it is expected to be in the 20-25 percent range, although the Wilpons are focused on acquiring a certain price over selling a certain percentage.
They need the money. The Mets have debt to pay off, a $1 billion lawsuit staring them in the face (thanks, Irving Picard) and a ticking clock in which to stay solvent. If the Mets aren't able to bring in a new investor by that time, they will likely need a loan from MLB. At that point commissioner Bud Selig would likely have free rein to do what he wants with the Mets, including telling the Wilpons to sell the entire club.
Most investors are requesting majority control of the Mets -- which won't happen, unless the Wilpons' hands are forced -- or right of first refusal if the Wilpons eventually have to cough up the team. This should be an acceptable compromise to the Wilpons, who need to worry about money more than they do any possible future owner of the club.
9. New wave of prospects arriving
Topping the list was No. 3 prospect Domonic Brown, who was expected to start in right field for the Phillies and attempt to replace Werth. Unfortunately, the team is now left scrambling after Brown fractured the hamate bone in his hand. He shouldn't be out terribly long, but may struggle with his power stroke upon returning. Philly may have to wait until 2012 to extract real value from the kid.
Meanwhile. No. 6's Jeremy Hellickson will open the season as a member of Tampa Bay's rotation and could easily replace the statistics Matt Garza tossed up. He's that good, that ready for the major leagues and has to be considered the front-runner for the AL Rookie of the Year award.
A fellow pitcher in Kyle Drabek (No. 16) appears on the verge of cracking Toronto's rotation after a successful late-season stint with the Blue Jays. Across the border in Ohio, Aroldis Chapman (No. 9) is readying for a full year in the bullpen and could wrest the closer's job away from Francisco Cordero by year's end.
The prospects keep on coming, as the Braves boast three in No. 19's Freddie Freeman, No. 29 Mike Minor and No. 85 Craig Kimbrel. Freeman should provide a steady presence at first base even if he lacks high-end ceiling. Minor figures to open the year in Triple-A, but should make an appearance before long and have a nice career in the middle of the rotation. Kimbrel is considered by many to be the Braves closer of the future.
There are plenty of other projected starters who will infuse baseball with youth, such as No. 33's Chris Sale, who will relieve for the White Sox; No. 66's Matt Dominguez who is on pace to play third for Florida -- ditto the same for No. 96's Brent Morel for the White Sox; No. 71's J.P. Arencibia is readying for a season as Toronto's backstop; No. 86's Danny Espinosa rocketing through two years of the minors to open the year as the starting second baseman for Washington; and No. 95 Jake McGee's apparent future as Tampa Bay's closer. You also can't discount No. 18 Brandon Belt, who could easily take home the NL Rookie of the Year honors provided he logs enough time for the Giants. Starting pitchers Zach Britton (No. 14, Orioles), Simon Castro (No. 52, Padres) and Kyle Gibson (No. 37, Twins) are on the verge of the bigs as well.
10. Philly thankful Blanton stayed
When the Phillies signed Cliff Lee, the consensus was that Philadelphia would trade Joe Blanton. After all, who needs a No. 5 starter due $17 miliion over the next two years when you have Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels?
Philly couldn't find a fit, however, and will now head into the season with Blanton on the roster. This is a good thing. Just because Blanton is the No. 5 starter doesn't mean he doesn't hold value, and being able to trot Blanton out against the back of the rotation for other teams will give Philadelphia an edge -- one it needs after losing Brown and Chase Utley.
Will Blanton stay with the team for the remainder of the year? Who can say, but even trading Blanton in July for pieces Philly knows it needs for a World Series run -- and to teams who will be increasingly desperate for pitchers once injuries and attrition hit -- is far more valuable than any deal of Blanton in January would have accomplished.
There's no question some managers and GMs will be shown the door in 2011. But who?
Skippers on the hot seat are covered here, so let's take a look at some GMs that could get the axe.
Ned Colletti, Dodgers: Granted, Colletti has been hamstrung by the financial woes of owner Frank McCourt, but Colletti hasn't exactly done a good job with what he's been given. He appears to have learned from his mistakes in signing disasters like Jason Schmidt and Andruw Jones and giving away Carlos Santana, but he also hasn't improved the team significantly. This team is simply muddling along, and Colletti looks like the classic "change for change's sake" for McCourt to try to improve morale. Of course, nothing will improve morale more than McCourt taking a hike.
Jim Hendry, Cubs: Hendry has been an up-and-down GM with the Cubs. While he made a bold gamble in trading for Garza and the Cubs may be a mild sleeper, if the team missteps yet again it's difficult to fathom the Ricketts family holding still. Hendry is a holdover from the previous ownership regime and is signed through 2012, but that wouldn't give the ownership pause in firing him. If the Cubs slip, Hendry is highly likely to be given his walking papers, especially since he stuck his neck out by hiring Mike Quade.
Tony Reagins, Angels: Reagins has done nothing but take steps back since taking over for Bill Stoneman, all the more curious given Stoneman was promoted and oversees Reagins. But the moves Reagins has made, such as (obviously) Vernon Wells are head scratching. Similar moves for Scott Kazmir and insisting on playing Jeff Mathis have followed. Manager Mike Scioscia loves Mathis, but it's up to Reagins to tell Scioscia no and take Mathis away if need be. Unfortunately, this team looks lined up to disappoint again and hover around .500. Will that fly for a second consecutive year in L.A.? Doubt it, and Scioscia won't be the first candidate on the chopping block.
Ed Wade, Astros: It's possible Wade could be on the chopping block in his third season with Houston. The Astros are widely expected to slide back and simply aren't successful at the major- or minor-league level when it comes tom talent. That may speak more to the owner than GM, but the owner doesn't get fired. Also, McLane is thought to be interested in selling the team and is reportedly close to selling to Jim Crane, who previously attempted to buy Houston and lost out on the Rangers last season. Should that happen, new ownership would absolutely want to bring in its own leader.
Jack Zduriencik, Mariners: Jack Z's leash is likely long enough to give him at least one more year, but in Year 3, the Mariners simply don't seem to have improved from his tenure. Yes, they surprised many in 2009, and part of it was probably flukish, but Zduriencik took a historically anemic lineup from 2010 and added ... Jack Cust. If he can get a strong season from Justin Smoak and impressive debuts from Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda, he should be safe.
12. Surprise teams
It happens every year. There's always that one team that takes a big step forward and contends for the postseason. Last year was especially notable in this regard, with the Reds, Padres, Giants and Blue Jays all performing better than expected. The one team to keep an eye on for 2011 is Colorado.
The Rockies finished with 83 wins last year, which is a surprise given the talent. Everyone knows the name Ubaldo Jimenez, Troy Tulowitzki (pictured) and Carlos Gonzalez, but the rest of the team aren't scrubs either. Colorado has been in the national consciousness the last few years given its Rocktober run in 2007 and another postseason appearance in 2009, but it hasn't been able to sustain that excellence.
That could be changing now that Gonzalez has fully matured into a middle-of-the-order hitter and have built out a rotation that should keep Colorado in the game. The Rockies are counting a bit on production from Ian Stewart at third and Chris Iannetta at catcher, but when you look at this team, it's a playoff-caliber club that should challenge the Giants in the NL West.
Unlike Colorado, however, there will also be those teams that crash and burn despite expectations. San Diego is widely expected to slide back, but expectations have also been adjusted due to trading Adrian Gonzalez. The one team that may not be able to live up to its billing is the Brewers.
Like Colorado, the star players are obvious -- Zack Greinke and Prince Fielder are the star names, but Ryan Braun and Shaun Marcum are no lightweights, either. The one area of concern in Milwaukee is the utter lack of depth which will end up a real problem if and when injuries strike. Look at what's happened to the rotation -- without Greinke to start the season, the club is going to have to trot out what will effectively be slop in the No. 5 spot. There's similar stories on offense with little help ready to step in and a complete punting of shortstop defense and center field offense.
The Brewers should finish .500, but they are a popular pick to win the World Series and it's difficult to envision them even making the playoffs unless everything goes right. The odds of that happening are as slim as Greinke accepting a trade back to the Royals.
13. Suffering in K.C ... plus optimism
"The day is darkest before dawn," or so goes the saying. That's certainly true in Kansas City, which will throw out a team capable of losing 100 games. But boasting the game's best farm system in a very long time is just the salve to ease the pain Royals fans will enjoy watching Luke Hochevar function as the team's "ace."
The Royals have pared payroll, knowing it's pointless to try to pretend they can contend, plus the necessity to keep certain positions open for prospects that are nearing the majors. While Alcides Escobar will start the season in the majors, that won't be enough to excite the masses until the first wave of prospects hit, with Mike Moustakas likely to join the club in June or July.
Fans are going to have to sit through Jeff Francoeur flailing at pitches, Alex Gordon trying desperately to reverse his "bust" label and Jason Kendall struggling to take corporeal form ... but the picture only gets rosier, starting with 2012 where it's possible three of the most heralded prospects could break the year with the club, then an additional three hitting the majors at some point over the summer.
While watching the Royals, at least in the outset, will be an exercise in futility, by September, they may become the hot team to watch for the baseball fanatic.
14. Pirates finish last -- or will they?
The Pirates are poised to register their 19th consecutive losing season, but there is some optimism in Pittsburgh. The first wave of position player prospects have hit, and the club can point to Andrew McCutchen in center field, Jose Tabata in left, Neil Walker at second and Pedro Alvarez at third as reasons to be optimistic with the offense. There are some other intriguing pieces down on the farm offensively that could make an impact such as catcher Tony Sanchez, and with a strong year, outfielder Starling Marte could be knocking on the door.
The club is also building solid pitching depth, with Rudy Owens and Bryan Morris perhaps making their big-league debuts this season, although the cream of the crop in Jameson Taillon (the No. 2 overall pick behind Harper in last season's draft) and Stetson Allie are further away. While the team waits for Taillon and Allie, however, it could pluck Gerrit Cole with the No. 1 pick in June. Cole has been called by some as the "next Stephen Strasburg." Lofty expectations to be sure, but if Cole is picked and advances quickly, the Pirates could start doing some damage in several years.
In 2011, finishing under .500 is a virtual certainty. But will the Bucs finish in last place? It's possible they could pull out a fourth-place finish. It all depends how well the rotation performs and Alvarez, Tabata and Walker all adjust to a full year in the majors. The Astros may just have enough solid major-league talent to grab a fourth-place finish, but that's in doubt. Hey, any type of progress will be welcome in Pittsburgh.
15. Wild (card) about the postseason?
There seems to be overwhelming momentum toward expanding the playoffs with another wild card likely being added to the fray to battle the other wild-card winner in a best-of-3 series. That means that for the first time since 1995, the postseason would take on an entirely different complexion.
In 2010, the Yankees would have taken on the Chicago White Sox, while the Braves would have had to stave off the San Diego Padres, who lost the division by one game to the Giants.
Sounds like fun, right? Except that there would be no Game 163s anymore, so knock out the epic Tigers/Twins battle for the division in 2009. Likewise, the Rockies and Padres would never have played Game 163 in 2007.
Either way, it would be a shocker if there wasn't a new playoff system in place for 2012.
And here's five more things that could happen this season ...
1. In the first game between the Red Sox and Rays, Manny Ramirez forgets he's on the Tampa Bay squad and runs on the field with the Red Sox to begin the game. He asks Crawford what he's doing in left field and why they are wearing opposite uniforms. Crawford tries to explain the situation, but ManRam simply shrugs and heads into the Green Monster.
2. Ozzie Guillen surprisingly releases a book about Jenks (remember when he said he could "write a book on the kid" in the offseason?), full of salacious details about Jenks' time in Chicago, including the revelation that Jenks ate a middle reliever during one game. In his first game against the White Sox in 2011, an enraged Jenks throws at the head of the first two batters, hitting them before Guillen comes out on the field to complain. Jenks then beans Guillen and the two brawl on the field, which leads to a multi-million dollar match between the two in UFC in which Jenks, who hired Mike Tyson as trainer, attempts to bite Guillen's ear off.
3. During one particularly heated Cincinnati-St. Louis matchup, the benches clear, and Johnny Gomes comes face to face with Adam Wainwright. Without a word exchanged, Gomes promptly delivers a crane kick to Waino. "First learn stand, then learn fly," Dusty Baker sagely observes.
4. Joe Maddon, who is already known for using uncommon words, takes things to a whole new level. Witness this quote: "David Price can unequivocally bung. How dexterous is the swain? He's as recherché as Sandy Koufax in his diurnal course." Good luck deciphering that.
5. Pujols announces the team he has chosen to sign with during the last homestand of the season -- against the Cubs on Sept. 25. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with the bases loaded, down three runs with a full count and the division title in the balance for the Cardinals, Pujols watches strike three right down the middle. As the crowd groans, Pujols rips open his jersey, revealing a Cubs home jersey underneath and dropkicks Tony La Russa as the announcers scream "NOOOOOOO!" And fade to black.
OK, so these five things won't happen, but one can dream. The rest you can expect.
Tags: Adam Wainwright, Adrian Beltre, AL Central, AL East, AL West, Albert Pujols, Angels, Barry Bonds, Blue Jays, Bobby Jenks, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Carl Crawford, Carlos Lee, Craig Kimbrel, Cubs, Cubs, David Price, Derek Jeter, Derrek Lee, Dodgers, Domonic Brown, Dusty Baker, Freddie Freeman, Gerrit Cole, Giants, Ivan Rodriguez, Jack Zduriencik, Jameson Taillon, Jeremy Hellickson, Jim Hendry, Jim Thome, Joe Blanton, Joe Maddon, Johnny Gomes, Juan Pierre, Kyle Drabek, Manny Ramirez, Mariano Rivera, Mariners, Mets, Michael Young, Mike Minor, MLB, MLB Rumors, Nationals, Ned Colletti, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Orlando Cabrera, Ozzie Guillen, Paul Konerko, Phillies, Pirates, Placido Polanco, Rays, Rays, Red Sox, Reds, Rockies, Roger Clemens, Royals, Rudy Owens, Scott Rolen, Stephen Strasburg, Stetson Allie, Tony Reagins, White Sox, Wilpons, Yankees
Posted on: March 27, 2011 10:19 pm
Edited on: March 28, 2011 3:40 pm
By Matt Snyder
David Price, Evan Longoria and Reid Brignac rented a home together in Port Charlotte, Fla. and were victimized in a break-in burglary Saturday night. The assailants made off with quite the haul, too.
Price estimates he had $50,000 worth of losses. The laundry list of some of the items taken: a 60-inch flatscreen TV, headphones, three iPads, two X-Boxes, a laptop computer and several "high-priced" watches.
Fortunately, none of the three players were around when the theft took place. Price was first on the scene after it happened and noticed some plants outside were knocked over, which caused him to contact Brignac and Longoria before the three called the police.
The players were very positive about the job the police department has done for them so far and looked on the bright side.
"Thank God nobody was there," Brignac said Sunday. "If we were there, it would have been a different story."(St. Petersburg Times )
No word on what kind of karmic mistake Longoria made this offseason, but it's the second time this spring he's been victimized. He also had a car stolen earlier this month. Talk about some bad luck. On a very serious note, let's hope it's just a coincidence with Longoria. You never know with famous people and twice in a month is an awfully big coincidence if it is one. Again, let's hope it is.
UPDATE: One of the items stolen was an AK-47 rifle that belonged to Longoria.
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Posted on: March 15, 2011 10:14 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Many of the opening day starting assignments are far from surprising, but they're still newsworthy just because, well, they are. Today's starter announcement is one of those. David Price will start for the Rays when they open the season April 1 against the Orioles.
Price has disposed James Shields at the top of the rotation, and understandably so. The former No. 1 pick was 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA last season in his first full season in the big leagues. Shields, though, struggled last season, going 13-15 with a 5.18 ERA and led the big leagues in hits (246) and earned runs (117) allowed.
Price said Shields was the first person to congratulate him on the news.
Manager Joe Maddon said the rotation will also include Shields, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson, although the order won't be set until later. Maddon wants to see how each pitcher matches up with the team's first few opponents before announcing it.
"We have some ideas, I'm not ready to reveal them yet," Maddon said. "We're still talking about it. It's not brain surgery. It just makes sense some of the stuff."
Posted on: January 11, 2011 1:55 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:25 am
Sports Illustrated 's Tom Verducci has come out with his Verducci Effect watch list for 2011 , led by San Francisco left-hander Madison Bumgarner.
The Verducci Effect states pitchers 25 and younger shouldn't increase their workload more than 30 innings from one year to the next. (In fairness to Verducci, he originally called it the "Year After Effect" because the year after the jump in innings there was a regression or injury).
Last year the 10 on the watch list finished with four pitchers who were hurt or regressed, two we about the same and four -- Mat Latos, Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson and Max Scherzer had breakout years. Verducci notes it was "as strong a showing against the Verducci Effect since I started tracking it."
The 10 on his list for 2011, followed by their age and innings increase in 2010:
Madison Bumgarner, 21, 73
Alex Sanabia, 22, 66 1/3
Mat Latos, 23, 61 2/3
David Price, 25, 58 2/3
Brandon Beachy, 24, 57
Phil Hughes, 24, 46
Brett Cecil, 24, 41 1/3
Gio Gonzalez, 25, 41
Dillon Gee, 24, 40
Travis Wood, 23, 38 1/3
Ivan Nova, 23, 38 1/3
That's not to say all of these pitchers will struggle or get hurt next season -- pitchers are being watch more closely than ever -- but it is something to watch.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Tags: Alex Sanabia, Athletics, Blue Jays, Brandon Beachy, Braves, Brett Cecil, David Price, Dillon Gee, Felix Hernandez, Giants, Gio Gonzalez, Ivan Nova, Josh Johnson, Madison Bumgarner, Mariners, Marlins, Mat Latos, Max Scherzer, Mets, Padres, Phil Hughes, Rays, Reds, Tigers, Tom Verducci, Travis Wood, Yankees