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Tag:Athletics
Posted on: September 21, 2011 1:13 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Papelbon falls in Sox loss



By Evan Brunell

Eric Hosmer, Royals:  Hosmer was lights out, going 5 for 5 on the night, driving in three runs and blasting his 18th home run of the season. His batting average is now a cool .300, and Hosmer seems like he should finish no lower than second in Rookie of the Year voting. Jeremy Hellickson likely has the award sewn up, but it's been a great year for Hosmer, whose five-night night was the first since Billy Butler accomplished the feat in July 2009.

Mat Latos, Padres:  Latos pitched his best start of the year on Tuesday, coughing up just one run in 8 2/3 innings against the Rockies. That lone run came in the ninth inning on a RBI single, but Heath Bell came on to finish out the game. Latos has only approached this kind of dominance once before, back on May 25 against the Cardinals. It's encouraging to see Latos finish the season strong, as his ERA has dropped in each of his September starts, entering the month at 3.82 and now resting at 3.60.

Ben Revere, Twins: Revere has hit in seven straight games, including a 4-for-5 night on Tuesday, swiping his 33rd stolen base. His batting average is now up to .264. Add in strong defense and the ability to swipe 40 bases a season, and Revere's stock is on the rise. The Twins will have to decide whether to keep both Revere and Denard Span and play one off the bench or deal one of the two for help. Odds are you'll see Span traded, likely to the Nationals, for middle infield and/or relief help.



Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox:  The last time Papelbon allowed a run, it was July 16. Unfortunately, that streak is now snapped after a bout of lousy timing thanks to a bases-loaded double scoring three Orioles runs that pushed Baltimore to a 7-5 victory. Papelbon came in with one out after Daniel Bard allowed two singles. While Papelbon punched out Chris Davis, he couldn't avoid another single and then a double to further send Red Sox fans into a pit of malaise.

Drew Stubbs, Reds:
Drew Stubbs punched out twice on Tuesday, giving him 200 strikeouts in a season. That gives him the distinction of being the first player not named Mark Reynolds to accomplish the feat. Even Adam Dunn hasn't done it, which shows you just how difficult it is to reach 200 strikeouts. "It is what it is," Stubbs told Eye on Baseball's C. Trent Rosecrans after the game. "It's not something anyone's ever proud of. I don't know. I don't know what else to say." Stubbs struck out a ton last season as well during a year where he notched a 20/20 season but has become a bit of a free swinger this year which may have something to do with his disappointing year at the plate. He's been increasingly hacktastic the last couple of months.

Rich Harden, Athletics: Ever since the trade deadline, Harden has been alternating clunkers with good games. There's the 10 strikeout game against the Royals... coughing up six runs to the Yankees ... blanking the Jays over seven innings... and Tuesday night, allowing five earned runs to the Rangers in just three innings, spiking his ERA to 5.17. Despite the late tailoff, Harden's talent is still so great that he'll get plenty of calls this offseason to be either a starter or reliever.

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Posted on: September 20, 2011 12:12 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 2:44 pm
 

Hatteberg likes 'Moneyball' movie adaptation



By Larry Dobrow


So the first wave of Moneyball reviews are out and the dorkpundits seem more or less pleased with the final product. But what about the individuals who actually lived through the Moneyball era in Oakland, who had to endure the massive indignity of paying for their clubhouse sodas (or so the movie would have us believe)?

One of them, Scott Hatteberg, gives the film a quasi-Ebertian two thumbs up. Still a member of the Oakland organization -- he serves as a special assistant for baseball operations under Billy Beane -- Hatteberg wasn't directly involved with the production and doesn't appear in it ("I should've had a cameo as a peanut thrower or something," he jokes). But he gives the filmmakers credit for translating what he describes as "a dense book, given all the statistics" into an entertaining character piece.

"They really sunk into the character of Billy," Hatteberg says. "It's not just a 'baseball movie,' so to speak. There are lots of themes in it that transcend all of that."

The on-screen Hatteberg, played by Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation), comes across as quiet, reserved and, when faced with the prospect of learning how to play first base on the fly, borderline terrified. "It's true that I was scared a lot," Hatteberg confirms, diplomatically. Nonetheless, he loves the depiction.

"I swear we could've been brothers in another life," he says. "We'd come on the set and I'd see [Chris] in uniform, and think, 'This is just too surreal to be happening.' He was bow-legged and slow-footed just like I am. The mannerisms were great."

Hatteberg's only issue with the film? "Well, I wish we could've changed the ending," he jokes. "I wish we'd won the World Series that year. But coming up short keeps it interesting."

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Posted on: September 20, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: September 20, 2011 10:22 am
 

Pepper: Harwell statue vandalized



By Matt Snyder


Evidently nothing is sacred to the masses.

A statue of late, legendary Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell outside Comerica Park in Detroit was vandalized recently. His likeness is now without glasses, and it appears someone needed to use a crowbar in order to pry the glasses off the statue. The Tigers are going to have new glasses put on the statue, but that doesn't mean they can prevent some dregs of society from taking them away again.

"We're going to attach them as strongly as possible," says Omri Amrany of the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany in Fort Sheridan, Ill. (Detroit News), "but if somebody has a crowbar and a little persuasion, you cannot keep the glasses on anybody. Anything that can break a car can break a statue."

I wish I could say I was surprised to read this, but I wasn't. Going into some tirade about society's ills would be misplaced, though, because one bad egg doesn't mean everyone is sick. It's just amazing the kind of things that some of these losers think are cool. What are you possibly going to do with some bronze glasses? Get a life.

Must-read story: Earlier this season, Marlins pitcher Chris Hatcher gave a ball to the son of a U.S. soldier who was about to go back out to Kuwait. Hatcher just received a neatly-folded American flag in the mail from the soldier and plans to proudly display it at his home. The entire story -- at Fish Tank blog -- is definitely worth a read.

Favorites for Prince: Jon Heyman of SI.com runs down a list of who he believes will be the favorites to land Prince Fielder in free agency this coming offseason. Here is the list, in order of likelihood (according to Heyman): 1. Orioles, 2. Cubs, 3. Rangers, 4. Nationals, 5. Dodgers, 6. Brewers, 7. Mariners, 8. Cardinals, 9. Marlins.

Yankees, Red Sox most popular: Judging simply from the number of Facebook "likes," the Yankees and Red Sox have the most fans. Yes, I know, this is shocking. The Cubs check in at No. 3, followed by the Giants, Phillies and Braves (Biz of Baseball).

Hanson's chance: Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson hasn't started since August 6, but there's a chance he'll get one more outing this season. He'll throw in an instructional league game Friday, likely around 65 pitches, and if there are no setbacks, the Braves might start him on the final game of the regular season. One caveat, though, is that if a playoff berth is on the line, the Braves will start Tim Hudson, not Hanson (AJC.com). Still, this is good news for the Braves in terms of possibly having Hanson back for the playoffs -- should they hold on.

Puma's honesty: You ever hear players saying it's not all about the money? Yeah, at least 95 percent of them are lying. Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman is telling the truth now, though, as his negotiations with the Cardinals have slowed. "It's always about money," Berkman said (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). "No matter what people say, it's always about the money."

Someone call "People" magazine: Brad Pitt has a new love. Sorry Angelina. Pitt feels "a little bit romantic about the A's," after starring in "Moneyball" and meeting Billy Beane. (SFGate.com)

Papi's pitch: The Red Sox has serious depth issues in the starting rotation due to injuries and John Lackey's underperformance. Meanwhile, Alfredo Aceves has a 2.82 ERA in 102 innings this season and is pitching very well out of the bullpen. At least one Red Sox player believes this is out of whack. "To be honest with you, the way things are going, he should be starting," David Ortiz said (MLB.com). "Simple as that. Give it a shot."

White Sox have failed: According to first baseman Paul Konerko, it's playoffs-or-bust every single season for the White Sox. So 2011 is "a failure." (Chicago Tribune)

Manuel's bat: Indians slugger Jim Thome was recently presented with a game-used Charlie Manuel bat. Manuel mentored Thome all the way back in the minors in 1990 and then managed him on the 2005 Phillies. In fact, Manuel is the one who urged Thome to use his famous bat point (toward the pitcher) as a timing mechanism. "It's pretty awesome," Thome said of Manuel's bat (MLB.com). "It's going in my office at home."

Bauer, Cole updates: Former college teammates (UCLA) Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole were two of the top three picks in the 2011 MLB Draft. Cole went first overall to the Pirates while Bauer went third to the D-Backs. Cole will likely pitch in the Arizona Fall League, his first competitive pitching since the draft (MLB.com). Bauer has gotten some work in at the Double-A level, but he's been knocked around a bit (7.56 ERA in four starts), so he won't make the bigs this season, as had previously been rumored (MLB.com). Expect both to challenge for rotation spots at some point next season.

New closer: The Orioles have obviously changed closers from Kevin Gregg to Jim Johnson, even though manager Buck Showalter hasn't said so. Johnson has five saves in September to Gregg's one. (Orioles Insider)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 17, 2011 12:48 am
Edited on: September 17, 2011 1:29 am
 

Tigers claim first AL Central title

Justin Verlander

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Before Friday, the last time the Detroit Tigers won their division, there was no Central division and the Brewers were in the American League. With a 3-1 victory over the Athletics on Friday, the Tigers clinched the American League Central, their first division title since 1987.

Doug Fister allowed just three hits in eight innings of work, while Don Kelly had two hits and drove in two on a single and a solo homer to lead the Tigers to the win over the A's, clinching the division for Detroit.

Detroit made it to the World Series in 2006, winning the wild card before losing to the Cardinals in five games. Their last division title came back before there was Central Division and the team finished two games ahead of the Blue Jays and seven games ahead of the Brewers in the AL East.

The Tigers were as many as eight games behind the Indians early in the season, but overtook Cleveland for good  on July 21 after trading the division lead for most of June and July. Detroit's recent 12-game winning streak extended a 5.5-game lead to 13.5 going into Friday.

Fister, acquired in a trade-deadline deal from the Mariners with David Pauley in exchange for Charlie Furbush and others, was 5-1 with a 2.28 ERA in his first eight starts for Detroit, adding some depth to the Detroit rotation behind Justin Verlander. Fister was 3-12 with a 3.33 ERA in 21 starts for the Mariners.

The Tigers are the second team to clinch a playoff berth, but first to clinch their division. Philadelphia missed a chance to clinch the National League East after the Braves lost to the Mets, but fell 4-2 in 11 innings to the Cardinals at home. 

Cleveland held on to beat the Twins earlier on Friday, keeping the Indians' chance alive for a couple of more hours, but any real shot at making it a race were dashed when the Tigers swept the Indians in Cleveland last week.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:17 am
 

Pepper: Finally a worthwhile 'Moneyball myth'



By Matt Snyder


In the past few days, "Moneyball" reviews have been all over the Internet, as advanced screenings are currently taking place. It's a veritable mixed bag. Some reviews have the movie an Oscar contender, others tearing it to shreds, while most are in between. I haven't seen the movie yet, but one area where people aggravate me already is bemoaning how, basically, it's not a documentary. Simply put: It's a movie. Of course it's going to take liberties and be just as much fiction as fact. It says "based on a true story," not "true story." I'm sorry is Jonah Hill doesn't even come close to physically resembling Paul DePodesta, for example. Hollywood doesn't have to cast clones.

Anyway, there have been critics for years of the book. You'll often hear someone say something like "Moneyball doesn't work" or try to explain the "myth of Moneyball." Sometimes it almost seems like the person is taking great pride is taking down some huge establishment.

One of the loudest complaints is that the A's had a trio of aces in the pitching staff, so it wasn't that hard to make the team around them good. It's fair, but it discounts the shift in offensive philosophy. But it's understandable. And it's not like Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez -- the anchors of the 2002 offense -- weren't stars. They were.

But this all still ignores the massive disadvantage in payroll the A's had against the likes of the Yankees -- and the 2002 A's won 103 games.

On that front, I finally saw a "myth" about Beane's 2002 ballclub that was worthwhile and made sense -- thanks to Jeff Fletcher at BayBridgeBaseball.com. Yes, that payroll was really low. But a lot of it had to do with how baseball's system is set up. Namely, because of young players being under club control for years and then arbitration-eligible for a few more years, there was some pretty damn good talent making relatively low salaries in '02.

Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito combined to go 57-21 with a 3.05 ERA. Zito won the Cy Young. The three aces made $1.97 million combined. For comparison's sake, Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox finished second in Cy Young voting that year and he made $14 million.

There were several other young players that made far less money than players they were outperforming and that happens every year. The A's just happened to have a handful of them. So I guess I've finally found a "Moneyball myth" I support.

Mo in center? Mariano Rivera has a simple request of manager Joe Girardi. Before he retires, Rivera would like to get a shot in center field. Rivera reportedly claims he's a "viable" center fielder and wants to play a game there (a whole game?). Yeah, that ain't happening. But Girardi has said he'd consider putting him out there for one batter in a meaningless game. Oh, and one more stipulation: “[It would be against] a guy who hits ground balls or strikes out a lot,” Girardi said (NYTimes.com).

GM already in place? It would seem that Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is doing his hiring backwards. About a week and a half ago I bemoaned Ricketts' giving a contract extension to his player personnel director before hiring a general manager. Well, now Ricketts is set to give a similar extension to scouting director Tim Wilkin (SunTimes.com). Yes, outgoing GM Jim Hendry loved both of these members of his staff, but he's gone now. Is it possible Ricketts already has an agreement behind closed doors with his next GM, which makes these extensions OK? If not, it seems like he's severely limiting himself in his GM search. Think about it this way. If you started a business, would you hire all the mid-level employees before your CEO? Or would you hire your dream CEO and then work with him on hiring the underlings?

Great family story: The Marlins recently promoted prospect Matt Dominguez for his major-league debut. His father is a copy editor for the Los Angeles Times, and he wrote a story about the experience of seeing his son play in the bigs. (LATimes.com)

Jocketty staying put: Just as I noted in Wednesday's Pepper, the rumor that the Cubs were going to grab GM Walt Jocketty, manager Tony La Russa and first baseman Albert Pujols doesn't have much merit. Jocketty isn't going anywhere (Cincinnati.com).

Poor Dunn: This is interesting. Baseball-Reference's blog ran two posts that kind of sum up how futile White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn's season has been. He's hitting .162 with 160 strikeouts. If he gathers a few more at-bats, there's a chance he ends up with more strikeouts than his batting average points. That has only happened one time in history when a hitter got more than 35 at-bats. And it was last season: Mark Reynolds. The same blog also compiled a list of the worst full-time players of the last 50 years, and Dunn checks in at 20th.

Still chugging: Rockies starting pitcher Kevin Millwood, 36, is 3-2 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.18 WHIP since being picked up by the Rockies this season, and he wants to come back for them in 2012 (DenverPost.com). Remember, he was on the verge of retiring before the Rockies grabbed him.

Hanson improving: Injured Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson threw a 44-pitch side session Wednesday and felt fine. Another big step comes Thursday, as he'll see how his hampered throwing shoulder reacts (MLB.com). If anything big happens, we'll certainly be updating with a stand-alone post on Eye On Baseball. Hanson could be the difference between a first-round exit or going deep in the playoffs for the Braves.

Gracious Votto: Reigning NL MVP Joey Votto has emerged as an elite baseball player and he says that he owes "90 percent" of his success to his old coach back in Canada (Fox Sports Ohio). This isn't surprising. Votto is one of the most humble and classy players in baseball.

Happy Anniversary: Since 1980, the following All-Stars made their respective major-league debuts on September 15: Fernando Valenzuela (1980), Randy Johnson (1989), Cliff Lee (2002) and Rickie Weeks (2003). (Hardball Times)

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Posted on: September 14, 2011 12:15 pm
 

On Deck: Tigers going streaking

OD

By Matt Snyder

We're getting started early Wednesday, as it's getaway day for many teams. Follow all the action live on CBSSports.com's scoreboard. Also, keep up to the minute on the playoff races -- what's left of them -- on our updating playoff race page.

Looking for 12 straight: The Tigers aren't messing around in looking to clinch their first division title since 1987 (they were a Wild Card in 2006), as they've won 11 games in a row. In the process, they've whittled their magic number to four. Not only would a 12th consecutive win lower it to at least three (an Indians loss and Tigers win would move it to two), but it would mark the longest Tigers' winning streak since 1934. Wednesday, Brad Penny (10-10, 5.19) gets the start for the Tigers against the White Sox, and he sports a 6.89 ERA in his last nine starts. On the other side, the White Sox run out Dylan Alexrod (0-0, 0.00), who is making his first major-league start and has an interesting backstory. Tigers at White Sox, 2:10 p.m. ET.

Giants' last stand: If the defending World Series champions want to have a shot at repeating, they very well better have a Rockies-like run here. They're 6 1/2 games behind the Braves (and two behind the Cardinals) in the NL Wild Card and can basically forget about the NL West. They have won three in a row and have two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (12-12, 2.68) taking the mound Wednesday afternoon against the Padres. It's a must-win, just as every game is from here on out. Seriously. Every single game. Mat Latos (7-13, 3.72) will start for the Padres. Padres at Giants, 3:45 p.m. ET.

Weaver back on track? Jered Weaver (16-7, 2.44) had consecutive terrible starts (16 hits, 13 earned runs in 11 innings) before looking like his dominant self last time out against the Yankees. With his Angels still trailing the Rangers by three games in the AL West, Weaver needs to be back on track for them to have a shot at the division. He'll take the ball Wednesday in Oakland. He's owned the A's this year (2-0, 1.19 in three starts), so it's a good bet he stays on track. The A's will start Rich Harden (4-2, 4.74). Angels at A's, 3:35 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: September 13, 2011 9:59 am
Edited on: September 13, 2011 10:13 am
 

Pepper: More to the Mets' 9/11 hats story?



By Matt Snyder


One big storyline that emerged in baseball Sunday night was the Mets not being allowed to wear first responder (NYPD, FDNY, etc.) hats during the national telecast on ESPN. They did wear them in pre-game festivities -- as seen above on Ronny Paulino -- but not during the actual game, per MLB rule.

It turns out, according to a report from the New York Post Tuesday, there may be more than initially met the eye. Reportedly, commissioner Bud Selig called the Mets Sunday night and was "irate" that the team threw Major League Baseball under the proverbial bus.

"[Selig] got embarrassed by it," a Mets official said (New York Post). "The game got moved into prime time because of 9/11, and [MLB] ended up getting embarrassed."

The report also notes that Joe Torre -- who was named as the person who ordered the Mets to not wear the hats -- said there was a league-wide memo sent out but nothing specifically about the Mets, nor was the message anything "heavy-handed."

And then there's this (New York Post):
But another source said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon was "back and forth" with the commissioner's office on the matter until the proverbial 11th hour, when it was decided the Mets, on the hook for a $25 million loan from MLB, shouldn't risk the wrath of Selig.
So, if all this is true, the Mets basically forced their players to comply and let the commissioner's office take the blame in nefarious manner -- even though they didn't want to risk the wrath of Selig?

It's hard to know who to trust here. It seems like there's blame to be placed in both camps, but the bottom line is the players should have just been allowed to wear the special hats. It's a hat. Don't give me slippery slope on this. It's the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 in New York City. That's a special circumstance. Whether it's Wilpon, Selig, Torre or any combination of the three, someone dropped the ball.

"Moneyball" venom: There's a story in the LA Times about the "Moneyball" movie coming out and how polarizing it is. One telling quote is how, after winning the World Series last season, Giants executive Tony Siegle said "so much for Moneyball" in celebration. Later in the article, Siegle cops to having never read the book. And here's the crux of my criticism with those criticizing "Moneyball." The book wasn't saying A's general manager Billy Beane invented sabermetrics (he didn't) or that he was reinventing the wheel (he wasn't). It was just a story about a GM trying to find a creative way to compete with a less than competitive payroll. And he did for several years. It doesn't claim he invented on-base percentage or that he's a genius. It's a story. A good one. Maybe read the book before you complain about it. Nothing drives me more crazy than hearing something like "Moneyball doesn't work." Moneyball is a book -- and now a movie -- not a strategy.

More McCourt hate? Click here and check out the picture. Notice the MLB produced a poster talking about a special promotion where all the teams are giving money to Stand Up To Cancer. Also note the asterisk and specific mention the Dodgers aren't giving to the charity. The Sons of Steve Garvey notes that the Dodgers are giving proceeds to their own cancer charity (ThinkCure) and this could just be another way of Selig's office to sleight McCourt's administration.

More Rays' financial woes: It's no secret the Rays have money troubles, despite a stellar on-field product for the past handful of seasons. Payroll was cut after last season and several guys who had previously been key pieces were either traded or walked via free agency. Still, things are tighter than ever. " ... we’ve clearly fallen short on our financial projections," principle owner Stuart Sternburg said (TampaBay.com). "We have to make some projections but I could not have projected our attendance would be down what it was. I don't think anybody would have thought that either. ... Nothing positive happened financially this year. We were last (in attendance going into the weekend). I hadn't even realized that. I didn't forecast last."

Berkman's leverage: Outfielder Lance Berkman has enjoyed a career renaissance with the Cardinals this season and reports have indicated he wants to stay put. In fact, several reports from the St. Louis area said the Cardinals didn't trade Berkman when he cleared waivers in the last week of August because they feared that would prevent them from retaining him. So it seemed like a pretty sure thing he'd stay put. Not so fast, tweets Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Strauss says it might not be a sure thing and that Berkman has leverage. Remember also, the Cardinals' payroll is going to be tight if they retain free-agent-to-be Albert Pujols.

'Man in White' travels to Minnesota? One of my favorite storylines of the season has been mocking those who really believe Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays are aided by a rogue sign stealer in Toronto. So, of course, since that story broke I make it a point to pass along whenever the Jays either don't hit well at home or explode on the road. And check this one out, courtesy of The Hardball Times: Bautista has seven career home runs in 34 plate appearances in Minnesota's Target Field. Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Ben Revere, Nick Punto and Tsuyoshi Nishioka have combined for 1,683 plate appearances in the Twins' new home. And they've combined for six home runs. Amazing. At his pace in that number of plate appearances, Bautista would hit 347 home runs.

Rangers staying in house: Some rumors have indicated the Rangers might be in on the Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder sweepstakes, but instead the Rangers are reportedly going to stick with Mitch Moreland at first base (MLB.com). It makes at least some sense. They'd be better served shoring up pitching -- All-Star starting pitcher C.J. Wilson is a free agent, too -- than worrying about beefing up an already potent offense. Plus, Moreland is only 26, really cheap and under team control for a while. If he further develops his power stroke (16 home runs and 21 doubles this year), he'll end up being a bargain.

No safety helmets for Philly: Despite second baseman Chase Utley suffering a concussion from being hit in the helmet by a pitch, the Phillies players are still declining to use a new, safer helmet model (Philly.com).

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Posted on: September 9, 2011 10:48 am
 

Pepper: Is Rivera's sucessor Robertson?

Robertson

By Evan Brunell

Mariano's successor? The other day, I read a piece suggesting that the Yankees could theoretically sign Jonathan Papelbon in the offseason, have him set up Mariano Rivera's final year in town and then take over.

It's possible. But it's more probably that Rivera's successor is already on the team, and I'm not talking about Rafael Soriano.

“There are a lot of similarities there in how they throw their fastballs,” catcher Russell Martin told the New York Post when asked to compare Rivera and setup man David Robertson, who has broken through in a big way this season with a 1.23 ERA in 58 1/3 innings, striking out 89 and walking 31. That ERA is unsustainably low, but speaks to the impact the righty has had in the bullpen. Robertson is no Rivera -- who is? -- but those kind of strikeout numbers would work quite well in a closer's role. While Robertson walks a bit too much, that hasn't bothered other walk-prone closers such as Carlos Marmol, even if it increases the chances of an occasional blowup.

“Maybe that can happen a few years down the road,” Robertson said of replacing Rivera. “But I don’t have to worry about that. Mo’s not leaving. It would be cool to do [to be the closer]. But we have No. 42 and he ain’t leaving.”

Offended: Incoming Astros owner Jim Crane is "offended" by both the delay in being approved and the public perception of Crane -- especially when details of his divorce leaked out, invading his personal life. Crane also noted that his contract to buy the team expires on Nov. 30. (Houston Chronicle)

Power rankings: Four unlikely candidates to manage the Cubs top the latest power rankings on the subject. GMs Andrew Friedman, Billy Beane, Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman lead off the list that has a distinct Boston flavor to it. (Chicago Tribune)

No more I-Rod: Ivan Rodriguez likely won't catch for the remainder of 2011, as the Nats want to take a look at their future in Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores. Rodriguez hopes to catch at least four more years. While that's a stretch, he should catch long enough to net hit No. 3,000 -- he's at 2,842. (Washington Post)

Doubles machine: Not only do Royals outfielders lead baseball in outfield assists by a wide margin, but each of them also has at least 39 doubles. That makes them the third team in baseball history to reach the feat, along with the 1998 Angels and 1932 Phillies. But both these teams had an outfielder with 39 doubles, with Melky Cabrera there already. So on his next one, the Royals will set history. Oh, and DH Billy Butler is two away from 40, so four players could reach the mark for K.C. That would be the fourth such time a team pulled that off. If they can all reach 42, it will be the first time ever a team has accomplished such a feat. (Rany on the Royals)

Braden shows up: Dallas Braden wasn't too keen on showing his face in the Oakland clubhouse after undergoing season-ending surgery in May, much to the chagrin of his teammates. GM Billy Beane interviewed and spoke to Braden, as the San Francisco Chronicle writes, leading to this quote from Braden on Beane's encouragement: "Makes you feel like less of a loser."

Alonso's story: Background stories about Cuban defectors always has two components: the harrowing departure from Cuba, plus how grateful the players are to be in the majors. Rather than being a cliche, it's a reminder of the challenges that one faces in life. Yonder Alonso is no exception, whose family bolted Cuba when he was 9 years old. (MLB.com)

More homers than walks: Prior to the season, 99 instances of 20-plus homers with less than 20 walks have occurred in baseball history. Now, eight are on pace to add to the total, with 50 coming since 1991 in further evidence how the game has changed and tilted toward power. Alfonso Soriano is on pace for his fourth such distinction, plus Mark Trumbo. Vernon Wells and J.J. Hardy both have the same amount of homers and walks, while Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre, Michael Morse and Adam Jones are threatening. (MLB.com)

Glad you left: Which teams are sick of seeing certain players? Here's a full list, led by Washington being crushed by Mike Stanton this season with a 1.087 slugging percentage. (The Hardball Times)

Too close: Baseball journalist Marcos Breton has admitted he grew too close to Miguel Tejada, which has given him unique perspective on his release instead of, as he put it, "[being] too harsh on some subjects for this column, and I promised myself to reflect on Tejada the next time someone stumbles publicly, as all of us will, when life inevitably brings us down to size." (Sacramento Bee)

Try, try again: Tim Wakefield will try yet again for win No. 200, currently slated to start Tuesday against the Blue Jays. (Providence Journal)

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