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Tag:Rockies
Posted on: September 25, 2011 11:45 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Rockies raze Astros, Matusz bombs

Ianetta and Co.
By Evan Brunell

3 UpRockies hitters: Colorado exploded for 19 runs, led by Kevin Kouzmanoff who scorched the ball for two homers, driving in five. But there were plenty of other contributors, with seven of nine players getting at least two hits, six of them with three or more. And even Kevin Millwood got in on the fun with a home run, the second of the season. He now has a .474 slugging percentage with a .180 career mark. Ty Wigginton, Thomas Field and Jordan Pachecho each had four hits, while Chris Iannetta tied Kouz with five RBI and a three-run blast. Only the first and ninth marked scoreless innings for the Rox.

Gavin Floyd, White Sox: It was a good year for Floyd, who posted a career-low 4.37 ERA this season. The cap to his successful year came with an eight-inning, three-hit performance against the Royals. He allowed only two walks and punched out 10 over 121 pitches. The White Sox considered moving him earlier this year and if he hits the market this offseason, there should be quite a bit of interest, especially given the weak free-agent market. He ended up losing because minor-league lifer Luis Mendoza out-dueled him, but Floyd gets the up for not just the game, but his season overall.

Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox: The outcome of the game isn't why Papelbon's here. In his longest outing since May 2010 (and before that, 2006), Papelbon dominated the Yankees by throwing just 29 pitches over 2 1/3 innings, striking out four. The stumbling Red Sox seem to have everything going wrong for them, but Papelbon is the one thing going right. Get Papelbon a lead this year and he will hold it. Until giving up a run in his last relief appearance on Sept. 20, Papelbon hadn't given up a run since July 16.



3 DownAstros pitchers: The Rockies did most of their damage against the bullpen, knocking Lucas Harrell out of the game after just three innings and five runs (two unearned). Then began a procession of four pitchers, each of whom gave up at least four runs before Juan Abreu stopped the bleeding in the ninth. Rule 5 selection Aneury Rodriguez was lit up for four runs in two innings and Lance Pendleton surrendered five in his own two innings of work. Xavier Cedeno gave up five runs in the eighth after two one-out appearances marked the start of his career. Cedeno's ERA is now 27.00.

Brian Matusz, Orioles: The left-hander's season is finally over. Coming off a strong 2011, the youngster was primed to take the next step toward becoming an ace... and instead now ends 2011 with a 10.69 ERA that was actually lowered Sunday when he coughed up six runs over five innings to the Tigers, with a three-spot in the fifth as Matusz's last taste. That ERA will set a record for a pitcher with at least 40 innings, STATS LLC reports -- but he's in good company, as the previous record of 10.64 was held by Roy Halladay (2000).
"I'm going to have a lot of motivation going into this winter, because I'm never going to forget what this has felt like," Matusz told the Associated Press. "I've got a lot of mistakes to learn from." I'd say so.

Ricky Nolasco, Marlins:
Wrapping up this edition of horrible pitching performances is Nolasco, who lasted just two innings and gave up six earned runs (plus another unearned). He was ripped apart for nine hits, spiking his ERA to 4.67. Nolasco has long been a pitcher whose peripherals have portended future success, but he simply can't put it all together, and it's time to stop expecting him to. He's a fine middle-of-the-rotation starter, but that's really all he can aspire to be at this point.

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

Colorado Rockies' Chris Iannetta (20) is congratulated by teammate Ty Wigginton (21) and Jordan Pacheco (58) after all three scored on his home run as Houston Astros catcher J.R. Towles (46) watches during the eighth inning of a baseball game on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011, in Houston. The Rockies defeated the Astros 19-3. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Posted on: September 24, 2011 1:32 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Gio buries Angels



By Matt Snyder


Gio Gonzalez, A's. The Angels desperately needed this game and they had their ace on the hill. All-Star Game starter Jered Weaver worked 8 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs, but he was outdueled by Gonzalez. The A's left-hander allowed only three hits and one run in 7 1/3 innings and pretty much ended the Angels' postseason chances with a 3-1 A's win. They are eliminated in the AL West and have an absolutely minute chance in the wild card.

Ryan Braun, Brewers. MVP? He might well win it on the strength of Friday night's three-run bomb in the eighth, as the Brewers clinched the NL Central.

Jim Thome, Indians. Prior to the game, the Indians announced that they would erect a statue of Thome in Progressive Field. During the game, he reminded everyone why. In a 6-5 victory, Thome went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and three RBI.



David Price, Rays. The Rays really needed this one. Sure, the offense was stifled in a masterful performance by Blue Jays' pitcher Brandon Morrow, but Price didn't have a memorable night. At least not in a good way. He allowed five runs in six innings. The box score only shows two of those runs being earned, but that's because of two throwing errors Price himself made in a three-run third inning. And the Rays now have a very tough task in the wild-card race

Drew Pomeranz, Rockies. The 22-year-old rookie looked great in his first two big-league starts, but he got a wakeup call Friday night against the worst team in the majors. The Houston Astros lit him up for seven hits and six earned runs in just two innings.

The White Sox. Well, let's see. Bruce Chen absolutely owns them -- as he spun yet another gem against the Sox Friday night. The White Sox only managed two hits all game. Their pitching staff also allowed 18 hits and 11 runs, including nine extra-base hits to the Royals. Oh, and starting pitcher Zach Stewart also committed two errors. So other than a poor showing with offense, defense and pitching, it was a good night. Right?

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 23, 2011 1:14 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Moore drops jaws against Yankees

Moore

By Evan Brunell

Matt Moore, Rays:  A month ago, Matt Moore wasn't even in the majors. Thursday, he stopped a potential Yankees sweep by punching out 11 pinstripers in five innings, allowing just four hits and showing the world just why he's a top prospect and why the Rays aren't going anywhere any time soon. In his first start, Moore set a record for strikeouts in a debut, with teammate Wade Davis punching out nine in 2009.

Jemile Weeks, Athletics: It was a beautiful day for Weeks, who rapped out a 3-for-3 night while slugging -- used in the weakest terms possible -- his first home run of the year. Weeks isn't known for power, but is hitting .303 with 21 stolen bases on the season. Weeks has been pretty bad defensively and earned Eye on Baseball's tin glove award but has sewn up a starting spot next season.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, Rockies: When the Rockies picked up Kouzmanoff at the trade deadline, there was a bit of a muted rumbling as people wondered if the failed third baseman could succeed in Colorado. You see, Kouzmanoff had a few solid years in San Diego, flashing power and solid defense. However, he played in a pitcher's park, and Oakland was no better when he was dealt in 2010. Despite hitting 23 homers in 2008, Kouz has sank to .218/.277/.317 this year before Thursday's game where he bashed a homer and collected three hits. It's a blip on the screen for Kouzmanoff, who has failed to impress in Colorado and now looks like he might be washing out entirely.



Jason Motte, Cardinals: Jason Motte prevented the Cardinals from pulling to one game behind the Braves for the NL wild card. OK, it wasn't just Motte, but boy. He walked three of five batters, starting the ninth with a 6-2 edge. After three walks plus an error, a run had scored and then Mark Rzepcynski and Fernando Salas gave up back-to-back hits to tie the game up. An intentional walk and merciful strikeout later, Willie Harris delivered the capping blow with a two-run single. Motte is considered the favorite to close for the Cards next year but isn't helping his cause lately.

Phil Humber, White Sox: Humber was one of the first-half season surprises, but the second half has been about injuries and regression. Humber was torched for seven runs in six innings against the Indians and has now allowed four-plus runs in seven of his last nine starts. His ERA is still good at 3.86, but the White Sox would do well to only consider him a No. 4 starter.

Bartolo Colon, Yankees: Colon and his newfound arm got bombed by the Rays, giving up seven runs (five earned) in three innings.  Colon also gave up seven hits and walked one while striking out just one, and those are numbers that a Yankee fan won't care to see because not only dd Colon have a bad start, he deserved every part of it by giving up eight baserunners even as the Yankees wondered what the brown things on their hands were for, committing four errors in the game. At this point, does Colon even make a start in October?

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 21, 2011 9:53 am
 

Pepper: Mets might change Citi Field dimensions



By Matt Snyder


A common refrain since the Mets moved into Citi Field is that the outfield dimensions cost the team loads of home runs in each given season. Notably, it's been discussed how many homers have turned into doubles for David Wright by several different New York reporters. Only Kauffman Stadium (Royals) and AT&T Park (Giants) have been worse for home runs this season and Citi Field ranked 27th in homers last season.

Two areas in particular that have drawn malign are the height of the left-field wall (why not have it the same height as the center-field wall?) and the well in right field (where it says "Modell's"). It feels like changing those two things would make it a pretty average ballpark for hitters.

Well, changes could be on the horizon, and not-so-small changes at that.

“If we do something, it won’t be subtle,” general manager Sandy Alderson said (NYTimes.com Bats blog), noting that changes are not definite but the Mets are looking hard at several different options.

“We’re not looking necessarily to gain an advantage with respect to home runs versus visitor’s home runs,” Alderson said (NYTimes.com Bats blog). “But at the same time, I think there is some sense that the park is a little more overwhelming to a team that spends half its time there, as opposed to a team that comes in for three games, doesn’t really have to alter its approach or think about it too much and leaves.”

I tend to agree with him. All things equal, I'd much rather have my team playing in a league-average ballpark instead of an extreme-hitter or extreme-pitcher park. Not that it definitely determines the fate of your ballclub -- it doesn't -- but if either pitchers or hitters collectively believe they're getting screwed for 81 games, it's hard to keep a positive mentality for the whole season.

'Fan' is short for 'fanatic:' A Yankees fan had the task of serving Red Sox starting pitcher Erik Bedard with child support papers Tuesday and relished in it. He wore a Yankees shirt and bragged on Facebook that he intentionally served Bedard on a day of his start (Big League Stew). Bedard went out and gave up five hits and four runs (though only one was earned) in 2 2/3 innings. Let's hope this fan never accuses any player of lacking professionalism, or else we've got a nice case of hypocrisy working.

Lincecum endorses Kershaw: The NL Cy Young vote is going to be quite competitive, with Clayton Kershaw, Ian Kennedy and some Phillies likely garnering most of the votes. Two-time winner Tim Lincecum believes the winner should be Kershaw. “Just with the numbers he has, he’s leading in a lot of categories, to put up a 20-win season is huge, especially with the team he’s got. He’s done a magnificent job with his year," Lincecum said after losing to Kershaw again (Extra Baggs). The two aces have squared off four times. Lincecum has a 1.24 ERA in those outings, but Kershaw has won all four.

Harwell's glasses are back: In Tuesday's Pepper, we passed along the story that a statue of late, great Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell had been stripped of its glasses. Well, the replacement set of frames is back at home (Detroit Free-Press). Let's hope these stay there for a while.

Aramis' swan song: Third baseman Aramis Ramirez was traded to the Cubs in July of 2003. He played on three playoff teams, in two All-Star games and solidified a position that hadn't been locked down since Ron Santo manned the hot corner. The Cubs have a $16 million option for 2012 on Ramirez and he has repeatedly said he wants to stay, but the feeling apparently isn't mutual. When asked if he believes this is his last run with the Cubs, he replied (Chicago Tribune): "Probably. There's a good chance. I'm a free agent and I don't know what's going to happen. But it looks like I'm going to hit the market."

Movie Night! "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" was a huge hit in the 80s, and it includes a scene in Wrigley Field. It's only fitting that Wrigley's first "Movie Night" will be showing the Matthew Broderick film October 1 (Chicago Tribune). Bleacher seats are $10, while lawn seats are $25. That's steep for a movie that hit theaters in 1986, but would the novelty of sitting on Wrigley Field's playing surface be worth it? You make the call.

No ERA title for Cueto: Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto was already suspected to be ruled out for the season, and now he's even admitting as much (MLB.com). With the Reds out of the race, this wouldn't normally matter, but Cueto had a shot at leading the league in ERA. His 2.31 mark currently trails only Kershaw (2.27). The problem is that Cueto has only thrown 156 innings. In order to qualify for an ERA crown, a pitcher must have thrown at least one inning for each game his team has played. So once the Reds play game 157, Cueto falls off the ERA standings.

Rockies love Tracy, kind of: Rockies manager Jim Tracy is signed through 2012 and his job is safe at least through the length of the contract. "Jim is signed through next year, and we'd love to have him be manager here for much longer than that. But I have gone into the last year of my contract here more than you could imagine," general manager Dan O'Dowd told The Denver Post. So that sounds good, right? Well, depends upon the point of view. He's not offering a contract extension, and you'll notice the comment about going into the last year of a contract. So it sounds like O'Dowd likes Tracy for now, but he's giving himself a chance to change his mind by the end of next year. And he has every right to do that.

Watch those Nats: If you relish in the failures of the Nationals, you better enjoy it while you can. I've preached all season that the proverbial corner would be turned soon, with a great young base of talent and lots of money available for free agents. Speaking of which, expect the Nats to be hot after All-Star starting pitcher C.J. Wilson -- who is a free agent after this season -- this coming offseason (MLB.com via Twitter).

Saito can't get healthy: Brewers reliever Takashi Saito has been excellent this season, sporting a 1.90 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Of course, he's only thrown 23 2/3 innings due to a series of injuries. Now he's dealing with a calf injury (MLB.com).

More roadblocks for McCourt: One of the ways embattled Dodgers owner Frank McCourt plans to get out of his financial mess is to sell the TV rights to Dodgers games for future seasons. Well, Fox holds the Dodgers' TV rights through 2013 and has a problem with McCourt trying to negotiate a deal immediately (LATimes.com).

Johan's progress: Mets' ace Johan Santana continues to work his surgically repaired shoulder back into shape. After throwing a three-inning simulated game Saturday, he's now slated for two instructional league games (Oct. 1 and Oct. 7). (ESPN New York)

Happy Anniversary: On this day 15 years ago, Vladimir Guerrero hit his first career home run (Hardball Times). He now has 449.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 12:26 am
 

Picking the National League's best defenders



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Gold Gloves are one of baseball's toughest awards to decide -- and sometimes toughest to understand. Unlike many of the game's other awards, the Gold Gloves are voted on by managers and coaches, and every year it seems there's a winner or two that seems to win the award more with their bat than their glove.

Not only do some players seem to win it with something other than their glove, sometimes the award can be a lot like the Supreme Court, once you get elected, you're not going to lose your seat.

That said, it's a difficult award to vote for. There are better fielding statistics coming out every year, yet most are still in their infancy and can tell you only so much. Good defense, sometimes can be a lot like the definition Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart gave for pornograpy in Jacobelis v. Ohio in 1964: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embrued within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it." 

With that in mind, perhaps the voters for the Gold Gloves should be the scouts, but instead I'll try my hand at picking out the best defensive players in the National League.

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

As tough as it is to use numbers to evaluate fielders, it's even tougher with catchers. At least the numbers with other fielders have some meaning, with catchers there's so much more to what they do defensively that it's hard not to go on reputation -- and nobody has a better reputation than Molina.

Others considered: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies; Brian McCann, Braves.

First base: Joey Votto, Reds

When Votto was coming up, people knew he could hit -- that was hard to ignore -- but his reputation at first base was nowhere near as good. Even as a rookie, he often struggled, especially on throws to a pitcher covering first. Since then, he's improved every year and this year he has proven himself to be the best defensive first baseman in the league. Votto, last year's MVP, covers more ground at first than any other first baseman in the league, which means it can be tough to get a hit if you hit it on the ground to the right side of the Reds infield, beacuse of the next guy on the list.

Others considered: Albert Pujols, Cardinals. Todd Helton, Rockies.

Brandon PhillipsSecond base: Brandon Phillips, Reds

A two-time Gold Glover, Phillips should be in line for his third. There may be no other player in baseball with as long of a highlight-reel as Phillips, who seemingly makes another amazing play every night.

Others considered: Chase Utley, Phillies, Omar Infante, Marlins, Neil Walker, Pirates

Third base: Pablo Sandoval, Giants

There are players with better defensive reputations than the Kung Fu Panda, but nobody's had a better year. The advanced stats don't tell you everything yet, but they're still pretty good. Sandoval leads qualified National League third basemen in UZR (12.3), UZR/150 (21.2) and plus-minus (20). 

Others considered: Placido Polanco, Phillies; Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals.

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

The Rockies may know a little something about drafting defensive shortstops -- they picked two of the best in the league, Tulowitzki and the Astros' Clint Barmes. Finally healthy, Barmes was outstanding defensively for the Astros, while Tulowitzki seems like the second coming of Cal Ripken. 

Others considered: Alex Gonzalez, Braves; Jose Reyes, Mets; Clint Barmes, Astros.

Left field: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies

The voting has changed this year to award Gold Gloves to each of the three outfield positions instead of three generic outfielder awards that usually went to center fielders. Carlos Gonzalez is tough to categorize, but considering he's played more games in left than any other spot, he's the easy choice here. He's started 60 games in left, 34 in right and 28 in center. He's played all three well, which isn't easy at spacious Coors Field, committing only one error on the season.

Others considered: Matt Holliday, Cardinals. Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks. Tony Gwynn, Dodgers.

Shane VictorinoCenter field: Shane Victorino, Phillies

This is one stacked category, with several deserving players. Under the old rules it would be easy, you'd have three center fielders and give them the three Gold Gloves. Under the new rules, it's a tougher choice. Victorino has had an MVP-type year, and no small part of that has been patrolling center field for the Phillies. The Flyin' Hawaiian is as good as anyone out there and his error-less season gives him the edge.

Others considered: Chris Young, Diamondbacks; Carlos Gomez, Brewers; Cameron Maybin, Padres; Rick Ankiel, Nationals; Andrew McCutchen, Pirates.

Right field: Mike Stanton, Marlins

He may be known best for the moon shots off his bat, but Stanton is a surprisingly good defensive outfielder. Stanton has the combination of athleticism and arm strength to be the best defensive right fielder in the game.

Others considered: Jay Bruce, Reds; Carlos Beltran, Giants; Jason Heyward, Braves.

Pitcher: R.A. Dickey, Mets

A knuckleball pitcher needs to field his position well -- there are plenty of bad hits coming back to the mound off poor contact. Dickey has been very good fielding his position and helped his team with his glove.

Others considered: Jake Westbrook, Cardinals; Bronson Arroyo, Reds; Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Derek Lowe, Braves.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 12:26 am
 

Picking the National League's best defenders



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Gold Gloves are one of baseball's toughest awards to decide -- and sometimes toughest to understand. Unlike many of the game's other awards, the Gold Gloves are voted on by managers and coaches, and every year it seems there's a winner or two that seems to win the award more with their bat than their glove.

Not only do some players seem to win it with something other than their glove, sometimes the award can be a lot like the Supreme Court, once you get elected, you're not going to lose your seat.

That said, it's a difficult award to vote for. There are better fielding statistics coming out every year, yet most are still in their infancy and can tell you only so much. Good defense, sometimes can be a lot like the definition Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart gave for pornograpy in Jacobelis v. Ohio in 1964: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embrued within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it." 

With that in mind, perhaps the voters for the Gold Gloves should be the scouts, but instead I'll try my hand at picking out the best defensive players in the National League.

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

As tough as it is to use numbers to evaluate fielders, it's even tougher with catchers. At least the numbers with other fielders have some meaning, with catchers there's so much more to what they do defensively that it's hard not to go on reputation -- and nobody has a better reputation than Molina.

Others considered: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies; Brian McCann, Braves.

First base: Joey Votto, Reds

When Votto was coming up, people knew he could hit -- that was hard to ignore -- but his reputation at first base was nowhere near as good. Even as a rookie, he often struggled, especially on throws to a pitcher covering first. Since then, he's improved every year and this year he has proven himself to be the best defensive first baseman in the league. Votto, last year's MVP, covers more ground at first than any other first baseman in the league, which means it can be tough to get a hit if you hit it on the ground to the right side of the Reds infield, beacuse of the next guy on the list.

Others considered: Albert Pujols, Cardinals. Todd Helton, Rockies.

Brandon PhillipsSecond base: Brandon Phillips, Reds

A two-time Gold Glover, Phillips should be in line for his third. There may be no other player in baseball with as long of a highlight-reel as Phillips, who seemingly makes another amazing play every night.

Others considered: Chase Utley, Phillies, Omar Infante, Marlins, Neil Walker, Pirates

Third base: Pablo Sandoval, Giants

There are players with better defensive reputations than the Kung Fu Panda, but nobody's had a better year. The advanced stats don't tell you everything yet, but they're still pretty good. Sandoval leads qualified National League third basemen in UZR (12.3), UZR/150 (21.2) and plus-minus (20). 

Others considered: Placido Polanco, Phillies; Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals.

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

The Rockies may know a little something about drafting defensive shortstops -- they picked two of the best in the league, Tulowitzki and the Astros' Clint Barmes. Finally healthy, Barmes was outstanding defensively for the Astros, while Tulowitzki seems like the second coming of Cal Ripken. 

Others considered: Alex Gonzalez, Braves; Jose Reyes, Mets; Clint Barmes, Astros.

Left field: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies

The voting has changed this year to award Gold Gloves to each of the three outfield positions instead of three generic outfielder awards that usually went to center fielders. Carlos Gonzalez is tough to categorize, but considering he's played more games in left than any other spot, he's the easy choice here. He's started 60 games in left, 34 in right and 28 in center. He's played all three well, which isn't easy at spacious Coors Field, committing only one error on the season.

Others considered: Matt Holliday, Cardinals. Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks. Tony Gwynn, Dodgers.

Shane VictorinoCenter field: Shane Victorino, Phillies

This is one stacked category, with several deserving players. Under the old rules it would be easy, you'd have three center fielders and give them the three Gold Gloves. Under the new rules, it's a tougher choice. Victorino has had an MVP-type year, and no small part of that has been patrolling center field for the Phillies. The Flyin' Hawaiian is as good as anyone out there and his error-less season gives him the edge.

Others considered: Chris Young, Diamondbacks; Carlos Gomez, Brewers; Cameron Maybin, Padres; Rick Ankiel, Nationals; Andrew McCutchen, Pirates.

Right field: Mike Stanton, Marlins

He may be known best for the moon shots off his bat, but Stanton is a surprisingly good defensive outfielder. Stanton has the combination of athleticism and arm strength to be the best defensive right fielder in the game.

Others considered: Jay Bruce, Reds; Carlos Beltran, Giants; Jason Heyward, Braves.

Pitcher: R.A. Dickey, Mets

A knuckleball pitcher needs to field his position well -- there are plenty of bad hits coming back to the mound off poor contact. Dickey has been very good fielding his position and helped his team with his glove.

Others considered: Jake Westbrook, Cardinals; Bronson Arroyo, Reds; Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Derek Lowe, Braves.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 10:00 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 10:32 am
 

Pepper: Crawford apologizes to Red Sox fans



By Matt Snyder


With the Rays climbing to within two games of the Red Sox in the AL wild-card race, it's going to be a fun final two weeks for baseball fans. Some interesting perspective on the drama comes from current Red Sox and former Rays' left fielder Carl Crawford.

Crawford played nine seasons and 1,253 regular-season games for the Rays. He's easily the best player in the history of the young franchise at this point, but he walked this past offseason for a seven-year, $142 million deal and signed with the Red Sox. And he's now having the worst season of his career, from an individual standpoint.

In a diary entry for ESPN.com, Crawford notes that hears the boos from "haters" when the Red Sox visit Tampa Bay and that those fans need to realize he's going to be coming back for six more years. Two more entries of note:

"If Tampa makes a miracle comeback and takes the wild card from us, I will be devastated. I definitely wouldn't want to lose to those guys and watch them get into the playoffs while we go home. That would just be devastating to me."

And ...

"I want to end the diary saying something to the fans of Boston. I just want to say I'm sorry for the year I've had. You guys have been really supportive and I appreciate that. Hopefully when we get into these playoffs, I can be the real Carl Crawford that I know I am. We'll see."

I love seeing that kind of accountability from someone who could easily just blow everyone off and count his millions.

Ironman: Speaking of the Rays, Johnny Damon has now tied Pete Rose and Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Hank Aaron with an impressive streak. Damon has now played in at least 140 games in 16 different seasons, making it a four-way tie atop the all-time record book (TampaBay.com). Does anyone doubt Damon can do it again next year and set the record? I sure don't.

More from Damon: This is funny, and true. Damon points out that Red Sox fans have to root for the Yankees now. “They’re going to have to root for them if they want a chance at the postseason,” Damon said (BostonHerald.com). “They couldn’t root for me when I played in New York. Now they have to root for the whole team.” Man, how much are Yankees fans relishing this?

Happy Birthday: Hall of Famer Joe Morgan turns 68 Monday (Hardball Times). The two-time MVP is widely considered the best second baseman to ever play the game (and was also a broadcaster for years, but we'll leave that alone, being his birthday and all ... )

While we're here: Speaking of Joe, he just led the world's largest chicken dance. Check it out (via Big League Stew):



Sigh: Tigers manager Jim Leyland says he isn't an "on-base percentage guy." (MLB.com) Look, Leyland knows a lot more about baseball than I do, which is quite an obvious fact. But that doesn't mean he can't be wrong about certain things. I just don't understand what it is with the so-called "old-school mentality" that prevents people from grasping that OBP is the percentage of times batters don't make an out. I don't get how you can not be an OBP guy. You go to the plate with a bat. The main object is to not make an out. It's very, very simple. Leyland, thankfully, doesn't say he likes batting average, but instead slugging. Slugging percentage is much more important than average, but OBP is much more important. Think about it. Even if you're just churning out singles and walks over and over, you're still scoring runs. Slugging is very important, too, which is why OPS has gotten more and more run in recent years.

Humbled Ozzie: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen recently made a trip to the Negro Baseball League Museum in Kansas City and came away with a renewed appreciation for everything he has. "It’s so different, and sometimes you shake your head at what these guys went through all this stuff for baseball to be better now than then," he said (Chicago Tribune).

Shoot him up: Phillies slugging first baseman Ryan Howard has bursitis in his left ankle, and he'll have a cortisone shot to help him deal with the issue the rest of the season. (MLB.com)

Johan 'felt good:' Mets ace Johan Santana threw a three-inning simulated game Sunday and he "felt good." (ESPN New York)

Johnson wants Wang back: Chien-Ming Wang has been a bit inconsistent in his return to the hill this season, but he's shown flashes of being solid -- like in his quality-start win Sunday. It will be tough to squeeze into the Nationals' rotation next season, especially if they land a free agent like C.J. Wilson, but current Nats manager Davey Johnson says he'd bring Wang back. "As far as I'm concerned, he's a keeper," Johnson said (MASN Sports).

Don't rush: Rockies starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa underwent Tommy John surgery June 3, but he's looking to be back by opening day of next season. That wouldn't be unheard of, but it would be just 10 months after a procedure which typically has a 10-14 month recovery period. So it would certainly be a quick recovery. Jim Tracy, his manager, wants De La Rosa to be patient. “I told him (De La Rosa) about Dr. Jobe and the importance of following the program and don’t try to deviate,’’ said Tracy (DenverPost.com). “Don’t try to speed it up. If you do that and you follow the program and you don’t try to speed it up, you’ll feel like you have a bionic arm. Because it will completely heal and you’ll basically have a brand new elbow.

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Posted on: September 16, 2011 3:51 pm
 

On Deck: Beckett, Shields square off in battle



By Evan Brunell


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TBBOSBest matchup: On Friday, the best matchup is not only the best pitching matchup, but the best game to watch, period. The Red Sox continued to slump Thursday, dropping the opener of a four-game series to the Rays. Now Tampa's just three games behind the BoSox for the wild card. Josh Beckett will make his first start in almost two weeks as he puts his 2.49 ERA up against James Shields, who completes games like taking candy from a baby. Shields doesn't have a good history against the Sox, but over his last four starts has thrown 34 1/3 innings of 0.79-ERA ball. Nasty. Rays vs. Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET

SabathiaRoad to 20: CC Sabathia chases after his 20th win as the Yankees begin their final series against Toronto. While Justin Verlander has been superhuman, Sabathia's season has largey been ignored. It shouldn't be. In 224 1/3 innings, Sabathia has notched a 2.93 ERA, striking out 216 and walking just 55. If not for Verlander's magical season, Sabathia would be the favorite to win the Cy Young Award. As is, he'll try to become the first Yankee pitcher to win 20 games in back-to-back seasons since Tommy John in 1980. A win (or Red Sox loss) will reduce the Yankees' magic number to single-digits. He'll oppose Dustin McGowan, replacing Brett Cecil after Cecil sliced his hand cleaning a blender. Yankees vs. Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET

BumgarnerSeason ending? In what could be Madisom Bumgarner's final start, the left-hander will seek to even his win-loss record at 12 apiece when he opposes the Rockies. In his first full season, Bumgarner has posted a 3.33 ERA in 186 2/3 innings as a 21-year-old, turning 22 in August. It was simply a fantastic year for Bumgarner. "I'm just making better pitches and having a little better luck at the same time," Bumgarner told the Associated Press, speaking about his 2.63 ERA in the second half. "I don't know if I've gotten stronger. I still feel good. I'm not worried about wins and losses for me. The biggest thing is innings. You want to stay out there and pitch late. That's probably the most important thing." Alex White goes for Colorado. Giants vs. Rockies, 8:10 p.m. ET

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