Tag:AL Central
Posted on: March 30, 2011 11:04 pm
 

Ear on Baseball podcast, Episode 10

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Earlier this week, the Ear on Baseball crew was joined by CBSSports.com senior writers Danny Knobler and Scott Miller join Matt Snyder and C. Trent Rosecrans to preview the National League. Now they're back, taking a look at the American League.

Danny discusses Miguel Cabrera and how much of a risk he may pose. Trent and Matt love the A's, while Danny and Scott don't like them as much. While we all pick the Red Sox, one of us has a higher opinion of the Rays than the others. And then it wouldn't be a 2011 baseball discussion without talk of the Royals' stacked farm system.

iTunes , Zune or XML. 

Ear on Baseball, Volume 10 (41 minutes)

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Posted on: March 30, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:49 am
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/30: Opening day matchups

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3UP

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw vs. Tim Lincecum -- Opening day at Dodger Stadium, against the Giants and with the Giants coming off a World Series title, this game has enough going for it to start with, add in two of the best young pitchers in the game and it's an embarrassment of riches. (Thursday, 8 p.m. EST at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles)

CC Sabathia vs. Justin Verlander -- There'll be no shortage of heat at Yankee Stadium tomorrow. Sabathia is starting his third straight opening day for the Yankees, while Verlander's strong spring give hope to avoiding another rough April. Not only do you have two of the best pitchers in the game going head-to-head, they're both facing formidable lineups. (Thursday, 1:05 p.m. EST at Yankee Stadium, New York)

Felix Hernandez vs. Trevor Cahill -- Hernandez won his first Cy Young Award last season, while Cahill is at the top of what is probably the American League's best rotation. We all know Hernandez's resume, but Cahill had an impressive 2010 as well, going 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA. (Friday, 10:05 p.m. EST at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif.)

3DOWN

Ryan Dempster vs. Kevin Correia -- Correia goes from being another guy in a very good rotation in San Diego a year ago to the top of the Pirates' rotation. Dempster has started two opening days before, both in Florida, but is hardly a marquee name for one of the game's marquee franchises. (Friday, 2:20 p.m. EST at Wrigley Field in Chicago)

Derek Lowe vs. Livan Hernandez -- Lowe's starting his third straight opening day for the Braves and Hernandez is making his fourth overall opening day start for the Nationals/Expos, but first since 2006. Both have had good careers, but there's little sizzle to this matchup.  (Thursday, 1:05 p.m. EST at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.)

Tim Stauffer vs. Chris Carpenter -- With all due respect to the 2005 Cy Young Award winner, this game is as much about who isn't pitching as who will toe the rubber. The expectation was that it would be Mat Latos against Adam Wainwright, this just doesn't have the same juice. (Thursday, 4:15 p.m. EST at Busch Stadium, St. Louis)

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Posted on: March 30, 2011 9:46 pm
 

Opening day tickets available

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Great American Ball ParkStill looking for opening day tickets?

A quick search Wednesday night showed tickets available through MLB.com for 10 of the 15 games.

If you're interested in the other five games -- or a lower-priced option for one of those 10 --  Major League Baseball condones the reselling of tickets on StubHub.com, so here's a look at the cheapest tickets for the season's first games on the website.

Thursday
Braves at Nationals* -- $3
Tigers at Yankees* -- $16
Brewers at Reds -- $35
Angels at Royals* -- $2
Padres at Cardinals* -- $31
Giants at Dodgers* -- $27 
Friday
Astros at Phillies -- $49
Pirates at Cubs* -- $19
Diamondbacks at Rockies -- $105
White Sox at Indians* -- $8
Red Sox at Rangers -- $49
Twins at Blue Jays -- $174
Mariners at Athletics* -- $32
Mets at Marlins* -- $18
Orioles at Rays* -- $25

* These games are not sold out

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Posted on: March 30, 2011 2:43 pm
 

Dreaming of a white opening day

By C. Trent Rosecrans

BrewersCINCINNATI -- I just got back from Great American Ball Park where the Brewers and Reds had shortened workouts because of the snow in Cincinnati. Meanwhile, up the road in Columbus, the exhibition between the Indians and their Triple-A Columbus team was suspended after 2 1/3 innings because of snow and icy field conditions.

The good news is that the snow has stopped in Cincinnati and is expected to be dry, although cool, at gametime tomorrow, where it's predicted to be 44 degrees and cloudy for the 2:15 first pitch.

"And you believe them?" Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "If there's one thing I learned about Ohio, it's never count on what they say [the weather will be.]"

Cleveland doesn't start until Friday, hosting the White Sox. According to Weather.com, there will be a high of 42 and partly cloudy for the Indians' opener.

Other forecasts for tomorrow from Weather.com:

Braves at Nationals -- 43 with light rain at 1 p.m. EST
Tigers at Yankees -- 44 with showers at 1 p.m. EST
Angels at Royals --  51 with showers at 4 p.m. EST
Padres at Cardinals -- 54 and partly cloudy at 4 p.m. EST
Giants at Dodgers -- 82 and sunny at 8 p.m. EST

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Posted on: March 30, 2011 2:35 pm
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Posted on: March 30, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2011 12:42 pm
 

Gordon to hit third as hot spring restores hope

By Matt Snyder

Alex Gordon was once the most highly-touted prospect in baseball. Four years ago, if you would have told the masses he'd be hitting third in the Royals' lineup on opening day in 2011, the statement would have been met with a collective yawn.

Instead, the Royals are talking about batting him third and it's a pretty big surprise -- at least it would have been a few weeks ago.

It's because what happened in between his uber-prospect status and 2011 was quite the disappointing journey.

Gordon was given 600 plate appearances as a rookie in 2007, hitting .247 with a .725 OPS, 15 home runs, 60 RBI, 60 runs and 14 stolen bases. That's actually not bad at all, considering he was 23 years old and only in his second professional season. Then he grew a little bit in 2008 -- albeit incrementally -- to a .783 OPS. Considering how much he destroyed college pitching pre-2006 and Double-A pitching in 2006, many thought he'd be a star by the end of 2008. Instead, he was hitting .260 with 16 home runs and an OPS-plus of 109. Still, he was only 24, it was far too premature to start piling on the guy just yet.

Then 2009 and 2010 happened. Gordon battled injuries, a demotion and a position switch to the outfield. He managed just 123 major-league games, hitting .222 with a dreary .684 OPS. There were a few small silver linings. Last season, he hits more line drives and his BABIP (.254) was well below his career mark. Still, his overall numbers left lots to be desired in terms of where he was supposed to be after four big-league seasons.

This spring, however, he's worked on a new swing with Kansas City hitting coach Kevin Seitzer and has been killing the ball. His triple slash numbers (average/OBP/slugging) sit at .343/.459/.729 in 82 plate appearances. He's drawn 12 walks. He's hit six home runs and driven home 23 runs in 24 games. He's stolen four bases. We haven't seen him swing the bat like this since Double-A in 2006. So is it a mirage since it's the spring?

Royals manager Ned Yost thinks enough of it to bat Gordon third. (Kansas City Star ) Granted the Royals aren't the Yankees or another slugging team of that ilk, but batting third is arguably the most pressure-packed spot in the lineup. If Yost thinks Gordon is ready to handle that, maybe we should start to take note. I often preach that spring stats don't mean much except in certain circumstances: coming off injury, trying a new approach (swing, batting stance, pitching motion, etc.), coming off an awful season or when the player has something to prove. Gordon qualifies for most of these criterion.

Remember, Gordon isn't old. He's still only 27. He won't be a free agent until 2014. There's still plenty of time for that breakout season and 2011 could very well be it.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 30, 2011 9:36 am
 

Pepper: Opening day eve a time for optimism



By Matt Snyder


It's palpable. The 2011 baseball season is finally (almost) upon us.

My favorite part about the beginning of the baseball season is how much of the unknown we're about to encounter. Go back to the predictions from last season from any professional publication, any team message board, anywhere. I challenge you to find one with the Giants against the Rangers in the World Series. Roy Halladay for Cy Young -- OK, nearly everyone had that one. So, yeah, there might be some things we know are going to happen. Still, not many had the Reds in the NL Central last year. I bet the same percentage of people who picked this season's NCAA basketball Final Four correctly had the Padres winning 90 games last season. Josh Hamilton for AL MVP? C'mon. The examples are seemingly endless.

So, yes, there are going to be many predictions heading into the season. It's fun to do them, in fact, it's one of my favorite things to do. That doesn't mean anyone knows what's going to happen, otherwise it would be pretty boring to actually watch the thing unfold.

So let loose with the fearless predictions. Are you a Nationals fan that who thinks your team is taking down the Phillies this year? Sing it, sister! No one can tell you you're wrong right now. Nothing has happened yet and it's a time for optimism.

Remember, as our friend Andy Dufresne once tried to teach his good buddy Red, hope is not a dangerous thing -- it's a good thing.

MADDON'S WINE LINEUP: Joe Maddon is awesome. This should be accepted as fact. In the latest example, Maddon sets a batting order of his favorite wines. (TBO.com )

ETHIER UNSURE? This was a bit puzzling to come out just a few days before the season started, but it could very well be much ado about nothing. All-Star outfielder Andre Ethier said he wasn't sure about his future with the Dodgers after this season. "You don't know if this is your last [year] or not, but you want to enjoy it to its fullest extent and make the most out of it." (LA Times ) What's weird about this is Ethier isn't a free agent until after 2012. It doesn't seem he's a likely trade candidate, as he's a young member of the team's nucleus. So you could dig deep and think he knows something ... or you could take this for what it probably was -- a guy just talking about every possibility as he heads into an uncertain season. Let's not make a mountain out of a molehill here.

DISGRUNTLED DODGER FAN:
Here's a beauty. A fan of the Dodgers had been attending games for 23 years and was a season ticket holder for the past eight. He declined to renew his season tickets for 2011 and when offered lunch with owner Frank McCourt -- likely to try and smooth things over -- the fan refused. "My friends all asked me if I was crazy," Brian Gadinsky said. "I told them, no, I am just tired. … I am tired of being loyal to a man who has not returned that loyalty." Gadinsky later said he hopes the Dodgers go 162-0 but he "can no longer support a man who has taken this great foundation and allowed it to rot." Awesome. (LA Times )

BITTERSWEET DAY FOR PEAVY: Jake Peavy had a good day Tuesday, though he was feeling down about things. "It was a tough day, but a motivating day as well," he said (Chicago Sun-Times ). Peavy would be speaking about seeing his team break camp without him, as well as his simulated game against White Sox hitters going well. He threw 45 pitches, retiring all 13 hitters he faced -- including Carlos Quentin four times. But since he's still building his way back from tendinitis in his rotator cuff, he's staying behind as the White Sox head north for the season. If everything goes as planned, Peavy will make a second rehab stint April 13 and could join his teammates at the big-league level after that.

DOWN GOES HAPP: Astros starting pitcher J.A. Happ went down with the seemingly trendy oblique injury. As we've seen with Brian Wilson and a few others this spring, this is an injury that takes several weeks to overcome, though Happ is still "optimistic" he can be ready for his first start. He must have read my intro above. (Ultimate Astros )

IZZY CONTEMPLATES RETIREMENT? The Mets have chosen Blaine Boyer as their final bullpen arm to enter the season, which meant veteran Jason Isringhausen was designated for assignment. Though Izzy did only allow one run in seven spring innings, the Mets are concerned about his durability -- and who can blame them, with his three Tommy John surgeries and age (38). Manager Terry Collins is reportedly trying to convince Isringhausen to stay with the team, though he may retire to spend more time with his family. Also, give credit to general manager Sandy Alderson, who reportedly "promised" Isringhausen the Mets would release him if another team wanted to sign him. (New York Times baseball blog)

OGANDO READY: We found out earlier in the week Alexi Ogando would take the rotation spot vacated by Tommy Hunter. Tuesday, he had a nice outing to prepare for the transition. He worked six innings, giving up one run on three hits while walking four and striking out five. He faced Coastal Carolina, but the main thing was showing he could throw six innings and he appears ready to take the temporary plunge into the rotation. (Star-Telegram )

JURRJENS PROGRESSING:
Braves starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens left his start last Thursday with "discomfort" in his ribcage (oblique muscle, anyone?) and hasn't thrown off a mound since. He did play catch in the outfield Tuesday, so that's something. "He's progressing well. We're just not there yet," general manager Frank Wren said. "We're not pushing it, because we don't want to set him back." The only thing the Braves have revealed on the next step is that Jurrjens will throw a side session "soon."  Fortunately the Braves have four other very capable starters in Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Brandon Beachy. They could even dip into the minors and grab Mike Minor if Jurrjens is out for an extended amount of time. (MLB.com )

DREW DAY-TO-DAY: Stephen Drew had an MRI on his stomach Tuesday and was diagnosed with a strained abdomen. He's listed as day-to-day and might miss opening day, but he is not going to be placed on the disabled list. This is where we remind everyone that missing opening day is not a huge deal. It's 0.6 percent of the season. (MLB.com )

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Posted on: March 30, 2011 12:21 am
Edited on: March 30, 2011 1:58 pm
 

Jeter's 3,000th hit among milestones for 2011

Derek Jeter

By C. Trent Rosecrans

It's hard to believe that in the long, storied history of the New York Yankees, no player has reached 3,000 hits while wearing the pinstripes. Well, until this year.

With 2,926 hits, Derek Jeter is 74 hits from becoming the 28th player in baseball with 3,000 hits, passing such greats as Rogers Hornsby (2,930), Barry Bonds (2,935) and Frank Robinson (2,943) along the way.

Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Wade Boggs all wore the uniform on their way to 3,000, but no Yankee has ever reached the mark. Jeter already holds the record for most hits in a Yankee career, passing Lou Gehrig (2,721) in 2009.

Jeter also has a chance not only to become the first Yankee with 3,000 hits, but also to do it at home. Last year Jeter rapped his 74th hit on June 6. The year before, it was June 12, and in 2008 it came on June 19. This season the Yankees have a homestead against the Red Sox, Indians and Rangers from June 7-16.

While Jeter's run to 3,000 hits will get the most attention of any milestone in 2011, it's not the only one.

Jim Thome Jim Thome enters the season with 589 home runs and is just 11 from becoming the eighth player in history to reach 600. From there, he can move up the all-time list as Sammy Sosa is seventh with 609.

At 613 home runs, Alex Rodriguez needs 18 homers to pass his one-time teammate Ken Griffey Jr. (630) and 48 to pass Willie Mays (660).

Manny Ramirez has 555 home runs, but after a nine-homer 2010 and 19 in 2009, 45 homers this season doesn't seem likely. His career-high is 45, hitting that many in 1998 and 2005.

The 400 home run list isn't quite the feat it once was, but three players -- Paul Konerko (365), Adam Dunn (354) and David Ortiz (349) -- are knocking on the door.

Speaking of 400, Johnny Damon is 15 stolen bases from reach 400 for his career. He had 11 last season. Ichiro Suzuki is 17 stolen bases shy of 400 -- he had 42 last season.

Jimmy Rollins needs two triples for 100 in his career. 

While it won't get much attention, Hideki Matsui has 493 career homers combined between Japan and the United States, putting 500 within reach.

Rounding the Bases

How unlikely is it we see another 300-game winner anytime soon? The career leader in wins among active pitchers (besides the inured Jamie Moyer and his 267 victories) is Tim Wakefield, who has 193. Not only does he need seven wins to get to 200, he only needs to yield 11 hits to have surrendered 3,000 in his career (interestingly, 124 pitchers in baseball history have allowed 3,000 hits).

Javier Vazquez has 2,374 career strikeouts, leaving him 126 strikeouts short of becoming the 30th pitcher to strike out 2,500. Vazquez had 121 last season with the Yankees, so if he's healthy for the Marlins this season he should be close.

And, of course, there's the other great Yankee, Mariano Rivera, who is 41 saves from becoming just the second pitcher in history to record 600 saves.  He's 43 saves away from taking over the all-time lead from Trevor Hoffman, who retired after last season with 601. 

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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