Tag:Blue Jays
Posted on: August 23, 2011 9:53 am
 

Pepper: Moustakas on hot streak

Moustakas

By Evan Brunell

GETTING HOT: Mike Moustakas didn't find the major leagues much to his liking in the early going, but things have turned around thanks to a recent tear that's lifted Moose's batting average to .206.

That's an accomplishment when it was at .182 mere days ago. Over the last five games, the third baseman has collected eight hits in 16 trips to the plate, doing much of his damage against the Red Sox who just completed a four-game series with Kansas City.

“Whenever you’re going bad,” Moustakas told the Kansas City Star, “you need those little things here and there to pick you back up, and this homestand kind of helped me out.”

Also encouraging from the 22-year-old is the three doubles collected during his five-game hot streak, a display of power that hasn't been around this year. It's taken quite some time for Moustakas to get used to the majors, but the Royals have proven to be very patient. Working in Moustakas' favor is that he's struggled at every single new level he's risen, so if history is any indication, he will snap out of his slump in due time.

Moustakas credits his turnaround with working alongside hitting coach Kevin Seitzer to close up his front shoulder more when at the plate. He needed some time to get into a groove with the new stance, but results are starting to show.

“Anytime you change something, it’s gonna feel uncomfortable,” Moustakas said. “But Seitz told me just stick with it, it’s gonna work out. And it ended up working out right now. I’m hitting the ball harder, squaring a little more balls up, so it’s paying off.”

BEAST MODE
: The Brewers have started up a tradition, making hand gestures after a big play that translates to "beast mode." The inspiration came from the movie Monsters Inc. and describes what Milwaukee has been up to lately with a 22-3 record in its last 25 games.

"I don't want it getting carried away," manager Ron Roenicke said of the new trend to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "Do I like it? Not particularly. But I don't think I'll say, 'Don't do it.' If I see it getting worse, I'll say no. I didn't like when the Rangers did the 'antlers' thing [last year]. If you're old school, you're not going to get along in the game these days."

BEST DRAFT: It's been a week since the deadline for drafted players to sign has passed. With a few days to digest, Jim Callis came up with the top five drafts, with the Nationals heading the list. Also ranking among the top five are the Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Pirates and Rays. (Baseball America)

COMPLETE PACKAGE: The New York Times ran a profile on Miguel Cabrera, who is one of the best young players in the game. Seriously -- he doesn't seem to be considered a superstar, but maybe he should be, as this factoid suggests: "Only five players in major-league history have had 1,500 hits and 250 homers, while hitting .310 or better, through their age-28 season. They are Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Hank Aaron, Albert Pujols and Cabrera."

BEST BALLPARK: Four teenagers went on a trip, taking in games at all 30 stadiums in 54 days. The best stadium according to the four? Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark -- a quality park, but not one you usually hear as the best. It may have helped that they witnessed a walkoff in the Reds game. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

LOSING CUBA: A wave of defections across Cuban sports have recently left a void in Cuba, where sports is not a lucrative field. That's caused many athletes to defect in the aim to compete against higher competition and make more money. To help address the problem, Cuba is finally considering allowing its athletes to play abroad. (Associated Press, via The Globe and Mail)

LOOKING BACK: A year ago this week, Cody Ross was claimed off waivers by the Giants. The Padres were also interested in Ross, but the division leaders at that point declined to put in a claim while San Francisco won his rights. Of course, Ross ended up a postseason hero, while the Padres were frozen out -- but to hear GM Jed Hoyer say it, he would make the same move again. (Tom Krasovic, Inside the Padres)

MAKING FUN OF WERTH: Phillies fans have a new favorite pastime, which is making fun of Jayson Werth. Still roundly booed for taking a lucrative deal to play for the Nationals, the ex-Phillie felt the "love" during a homestand in which Phillies fans virtually took over Nationals Park. A Philadelphia car dealer got in on the fun, running an anti-Werth ad on Philadelphia sites. (Washington Post)

TWEETING TICKETS
: Jesse Litsch challenged fans to find him in Wonderland, an amusement park near Toronto. The winner received two tickets to Tuesday's game, but it took until Litsch winning a gigantic Spongebob prize and tweeting about it for him to be spotted. (Toronto Star)

MOST HANDSOME SOPHOMORE: SI.com has photos from high school of 28 athletes, and Nolan Ryan and Barry Bonds are among the stars. One one came away with the designation of most handsome sophomore, though -- that being Ryan, who was among the 1965 class.

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Posted on: August 21, 2011 10:56 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Damon plays hero for Tampa Bay



By Matt Snyder

Johnny Damon, Rays. In the bottom of the seventh, Damon hit what was initially ruled a grand slam. Only the ball hit the very top of the wall and bounced high into the air, only to return to the field of play. So the play was reviewed and the umpires correctly ruled it wasn't a homer. Still, three runs scored and put the Rays on top 7-5. Fast-forward to the bottom of the ninth, with the score now tied at seven, and Damon stepped to the plate again. This time he left no doubt, as he went yard to end the game in walk-off fashion.

Austin Jackson, Tigers. If you haven't seen how the Tigers-Indians game ended, click here to watch it on MLB.com video. Jackson fired an absolute bullet from center to nail Kosuke Fukudome -- who represented the tying run -- at home plate to end the game. To those who never played outfield in high school or college, that play is much tougher than it looks. It was incredibly impressive. Jackson also went 2-4 with two runs and an RBI in the victory, which completed a Tigers' sweep of the second-place Indians.

Luis Perez, Blue Jays. He had never made a major-league start before Sunday. He had never thrown more than 64 pitches in a major-league game until Sunday. And yet Perez had a perfect game heading into the sixth inning. It's a shame he's not completely stretched out as a starter, because it was evident he just ran out of gas in the sixth. Still, he got out of a jam with an inning-ending double play off the bat of Coco Crisp, giving Perez six scoreless innings. He ended up gathering the win, too, as the Jays squeaked out a 1-0 victory.



Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians. The Indians acquired Jimenez less than 24 hours before the non-waiver trade deadline because they wanted an ace. On August 10 he looked the part. In the other three starts, he hasn't even come close. After Sunday's stinkbomb against the first-place Tigers, Jimenez has an 11.77 ERA and a 2.46 WHIP in his three road starts. Sunday was his worst effort, too, as the Indians needed him to play stopper, and instead Jimenez allowed nine hits and eight earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings. After having been swept, the Indians now trail the Tigers by 4 1/2 games.

Joel Hanrahan, Pirates. Much like his team, it appears the honeymoon is over for Hanrahan (at least in 2011). The All-Star closer hadn't blown a save in the entire first half of the season, but Sunday he coughed up his third one in the past five weeks. It's still not awful or anything, but it's a bit of a rough patch. Hanrahan has now given up five earned runs in his past three innings.

Brad Lidge, Phillies. How about a walk-off hit-by-pitch? That's what Lidge offered up to Jonny Gomes of the Nationals Sunday, as the Phillies dropped a series to the Nationals. After allowing a double and single, with an intentional walk in between, to load the bases, Lidge faced Gomes. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Lidge hit Gomes, plating the game-winning and series-clinching run for Washington.

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Posted on: August 19, 2011 9:56 am
 

Pepper: Replay helps, but is hardly perfect



By C. Trent Rosecrans

See, now that's how replay's supposed to work -- maybe.

A day after the Yankees were the victim of a bad call (and worse replay) in Kansas City, the umpires in Minnesota went to the video once again for a Justin Morneau two-run homer in the first inning.

However, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn't agree.

"In my opinion, and this is what I told them: 'If one replay shows it could be fair and one replay shows it could be foul, and no one is really positive, how the heck do you change it?'" Gardenhire told reporters (via MLB.com). "I don't get that. They told me they saw a view on TV. But I could show three views right here where the ball disappears behind the pole. It just depends on the camera angle."

While I'm all for expanded replay, we must keep in mind it's not going to solve all of baseball's problems -- and the last two days have shown that.

Fair or foul? You be the judge (Yankees broadcast, Twins broadcast). It sure looked foul to me, but I understand the argument. It's what the NFL calls "incontrovertible visual evidence" and I'm not sure it's there. It's something to keep in mind, even with replay, humans are in charge and the chance for human error is always great, no matter what tools are at our disposal.

Hanley on hold: Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez may not return this season, Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post speculated. Ramirez sprained his left shoulder on Aug. 2 while chasing down a fly ball. Ramirez hasn't played since. He had surgery not he same shoulder following the 2007 season.

Quade safe?: Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has been supportive of embattled manager Mike Quade and when he talks to the media during a homestand starting today, it's expected he will support his manager. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Little slugger: I wrote about Indians infielder Jack Hannahan's son the other day, but if you missed it, go here. Anyway, Louisville Slugger sent the youngest Hannahan a bat with his name, birthday and birth weight on it. A cool gesture for Johnny Hannahan, whose dad also uses Louisville Sluggers. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Hanson on hold: Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson won't return from the disabled list on Tuesday as previously scheduled. The Braves aren't sure when they'll get him back from shoulder tendinitis, but it may not be too long. It looks like rookie Mike Minor will stay in the rotation, at least through Tuesday. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Congrats?: Brewers infielder Craig Counsell was believed to have dodged setting the record for most consecutive at-bats without a hit recently when he snapped an 0-for-45 skid one hitless at-bat before the record set by Bill Bergen in 1909. However, the Elias Sports Bureau went back and found that Bergen's went 0 for 45, meaning Counsell and former big leaguer Dave Campbell tied Bergen for baseball's longest streak of futility. Campbell achieved the feat in 1973 while with the Padres, Cardinals and Astros. The original 0 for 46 mark was from Joe Dittmar, who had researched it as a piece on Bergen for the Society for American Baseball Reaserach in 1997. Dittmar went back to check his work and saw that he was off by one and Elias was right. So, congrats Counsell and Campbell, or probably more accurately to Bergen, who is no long alone with his streak. [New York Times]

Confidence is key: Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion said his belief in himself has been able to get him through another difficult year. It looked as if Encarnacion might be the odd man out when the Jays were set to promote Brett Lawrie at the end of June, but since Lawrie broke his hand and his call up was delayed. Since June 28, Encarnacion has hit .325/.414/.580 with nine home runs and cut down his strikeouts to 25 with 22 walks over that time. He's also been helped by being taken off third base where he's struggled throughout his career with consistency -- making the really difficult plays and botching the easy ones. [Toronto Star]

Please stay Rays: St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster said Thursday that he has a "detailed plan" to keep the Rays in St. Pete, but refused to disclose any details. The city clerk said she knew nothing about it, but Foster claims it exists. Don't get too excited about this plan, though, while he didn't spill any beans, he did "clarify" that his "detailed plan" may not include a new stadium. [Tampa Tribune]

Hold on: The Nationals' Tyler Clippard has a pretty good shot at breaking the holds record this year. If you can't quite remember who currently holds it, you're forgiven -- it's not like we're talking about Babe Ruth's home run record (I kid). Clippard got his 32nd hold last night and has a decent shot at breaking Luke Gregerson's record of 40 set way back in 2010. [Baseball-Reference.com]

M.C. Doc Halladay?: Rapper Game references Phillies ace Roy Halladay on his new album. That's all. Just found it interesting and liked the mental image Dave Brown gives of Halladay at the Source Awards. [Yahoo's Big League Stew]

Making dad proud: The other day I teased Reds scouting director Chris Buckley about the team's pick of his son, Sean, in the sixth round. Another team official was there and rightfully noted, "nepotism picks comes in the 40s, not the sixth round." They're right -- and early in his career, Sean Buckley is proving him right. Buckley has 13 home runs already in short-season Class A with the Billings Mustangs, including one that cleared the batter's eye in center field. [MiLB.com]

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Posted on: August 19, 2011 1:03 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Kershaw fires gem, Trumbo walks off

Kershaw

By Evan Brunell

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: All of a sudden, Clayton Kershaw is making the NL Cy Young Award race one to watch, as Roy Halladay may not have as firm a grip on the award as might have otherwise been thought. After pumping six strikeouts past the Brewers in eight innings, the lefty lowered his ERA to 2.60 after yet another scoreless outing. Those six strikeouts inched him to one shy of 200 whiffs on the season. Let's compare Kershaw to Halladay, starting with the youngster first: 15-5 in 183 2/3 IP, 2.60 ERA, 199 K, 46 BB. Halladay has a 15-5 record in 184 2/3 IP with a 2.53 ERA, 177 K and 23 BB. I'd still take Halladay, but it's close enough that this is a race.

Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays: The ex-Cardinal didn't get his tenure in Toronto off to a fast start, but if Thursday is any indication of what he can put together on a regular bases, the Blue Jays will be quite pleased. Rasmus went 3 for 4 with a home run and two RBI, chipping in three runs as Toronto downed Oakland. It was the center fielder's fifth multi-hit game with Toronto, and his first with three hits. His bat must be heating up in the power department, because it's the second straight game he's driven a home run, sending his total from 13 to 15 in two days, and he's totaled eight RBI in his last three games.

Mark Trumbo, Angels: And just like that, the Angels snapped their five-game losing streak, stopped Texas from winning seven straight and closed the AL West deficit to a still-imposing six games. How did that happen? At the hands of Mark Trumbo, who delivered a two-run walk-off home run off of Mike Adams in the bottom of the ninth to turn a dispiriting 1-0 loss into a wild 4-0 victory. This was a game L.A. desperately needed, especially given that the Rangers run had come off of the bat of Mike Napoli with a homer. Trumbo had one other hit in the game, but his OBP is still under .300 for the year.



Phil Humber, White Sox: Phil Humber received a nasty scare on Thursday when a Kosuke Fukudome liner found the area just above his right eye, sending Humber sprawling on the mound. He was able to get up right away, though, and lobbied to stay in the game. The ChiSox weren't having any of it, so the righty left the game having pitched just 1 1/3 innings, giving up three hits, no walks or runs and punching out three. "I told them I was good, I felt like I could still pitch and wanted to be out there," Humber told the Chicago Tribune. "But at the same time, they got a job to do and take every precaution that there wasn’t anything serious going on.”

Travis Hafner, Indians:  After a three-hit game against the Red Sox on Aug. 4, Hafner was enjoying a .300/.386/.491 season. That was a step below his .347/.428/.567 line on July 7, but it was inevitable for Hafner to come back to earth. Well, that three-hit day didn't stave off the decline. While Hafner's still stayed reasonably productive, that line continues to drop, and now after striking out three times in five plate appearances on Thursday when he went hitless with an intentional walk, Hafner is at .288/.368/.461. He also struck out to end the sixth with the bases loaded and two runs already in. The Indians still won the game 4-2, but Hafner could have broke it open.

Trevor Cahill, Athletics: Last season, Trevor Cahill was an All-Star and received Cy Young Award votes. He wasn't named to the All-Star team this season, although that wasn't indicative of a bad season, as his 3.92 ERA was still solid. Well, it was. A seven-run outburst by tje Blue Jays knocked Cahill out of the game after 5 1/3 innings, sending his ERA skittering up to 4.17. Cahill allowed nine hits and two walks, while striking out two. Cahill has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde (mostly Jekyll) pitcher since the beginning of June, with a 5.83 ERA to show for it.

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Posted on: August 18, 2011 11:23 am
 

Jays' Morrow apologizes to Wells via Twitter



Casper WellsBy C. Trent Rosecrans

In one of the scariest things you'll see on a baseball field, Seattle's Casper Wells took a 97 mph fastball to the face. The good news is that it got "just" the tip of Wells' nose and X-rays showed no broken bones.

Take a look for yourself, MLB.com has the video here.

Wells, who entered the game having homered in his last four games, was 0 for 2 in the sixth inning when Brandon Marrow's fastball came up and in on Carp, hitting him on the tip of the nose.

"It just felt like my nose fell off pretty much," Wells told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times after the game. "I had a little bit of a headache. I couldn't see, which was scary. My eyes got all watered up and I couldn't see what was going on. It felt like it squared me up right in the face. But watching the replay, I kind of got out of the way.

"It was just really scary more than anything. Coming right at my face and I just couldn't get out of the way of it."

Morrow, 27, was the Mariners' first-round pick in the 2006 draft (fifth overall), but was traded to Toronto after three inconsistent seasons in Seattle following the 2009 season. Since moving to Toronto, he's had his ups and downs, but Wednesday he was at his best, striking out 12 and allowing just three hits in six innings.

However, after the game Morrow was thinking about Wells, and used Twitter to send his apology -- the Jays left to go to Oakland after the game, so he couldn't stick around. Here's Morrow's public apology:

 

While Morrow wasn't able to apologize in person, Wells seemed to be OK with the Twitter apology. Here's his response:

 

See how easy it is when everyone acts like an adult? Morrow wasn't trying to hit Wells, a pitch -- even on a night when he had great control -- got away from him and created a moment that was pretty scary for everyone who saw it, none more than Wells, I'm sure, but second on that list had to be Morrow. Even though Tony La Russa would likely disagree, this matter is closed and everything is OK.

HT to Yahoo's Big League Stew.

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Posted on: August 16, 2011 3:58 pm
 

Jays closer goes on DL after appendectomy

Jon RauchBy C. Trent Rosecrans

It's beginning to look like 2011 is the year of appendicitis -- Blue Jays reliever Jon Rauch was taken to a Seattle hospital early Tuesday morning where he underwent an emergency appendectomy, Mark Zwolinski of the Star in Toronto reports.

Rauch gave up the eventual going-ahead run in a 6-5 loss to the Mariners on Monday with a solo homer to Casper Wells and was later taken to the hospital.

So far this season the Cardinals' Matt Holliday, White Sox's Adam Dunn and Yankees Ramiro Pena have all undergone emergency appendectomies. Even Rays general manager Andrew Friedman underwent an appendectomy last month.

The Blue Jays put Rauch on the disabled list and also designated left-hander Trever Miller (who also gave up a homer on Monday) for assignment and called up left-handed relievers Will Ledezma and Rommie Lewis.

If you're looking for a closer in fantasy baseball, Jesse Litsch may get the first chance at closing for Toronto, so pick him up before anyone else in your league does.

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Posted on: August 15, 2011 1:37 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 1:50 pm
 

Anthopoulous won't close door on Aaron Hill

Hill

By Evan Brunell

In the span of two seasons, the Blue Jays' Aaron Hill has plummeted from one of the best young second baseman in the game to one of the worst. Still, GM Alex Anthopoulous isn't ready to give up on Hill as the long-term second baseman, Blue Jays broadcaster Mike Wilner reports. Anthopoulous points to J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart as reasons not to give up, given each player's resurgence after experiencing a dip in effectiveness.

Problem is, neither Hardy nor Hart have fallen to the depths Hill has. Hardy has experienced a bounceback season with the Orioles, swatting 23 home runs and posting a .270/.314/.520 mark in what is lining up as a career season, although is production in 2007-08 came close before a two-year hiatus as an effective player. Hart's return to prominence, meanwhile, occurred last season after another two-year dip after a promising 2007. In both cases, Hill and Hart preceded their original breakout year with a couple seasons of futility.

That also happened to Hill, whose first two years in the majors were wanting, but acceptable for someone breaking into the bigs. He showed flashes of potential in 2007 before falling off in 2008 and rebounding in '09 with 36 home runs. Since then, though, he's fallen to depths even Hardy and Hart didn't reach, plummeting all the way to .226/.275/.312 this season with worsening plate discipline and power. Offensively, Hill has been 35 percent worse than league average by weighted runs-created plus, wRC+)  which sounds like a really imposing advance statistic, but isn't. Think of wRC+ as OPS, but done better, and scaled to league average. Thus, Hill's 65 wRC+ means he's 35 percent worse than league average. Among qualified batters, Hill is tied for being the fourth-worst hitter in the game by this metric. The White Sox's Alex Rios is in first by a wide margin, while Orlando Cabrera and Alex Gonzalez eke out Hill, tied with three others.

Hardy, meanwhile, has never fallen below 74 while Hart hasn't been below 93 with a significant major-league sample to draw from. Hardy has only been below the 100-point threshold -- exactly league average with the bat -- four times, and over it three times. Hart has been under twice and over it four times. Hill, meanwhile, has cracked the 100-point barrier just twice in a seven-year career. Hill's not necessarily cooked as a player, but he represents far longer odds than Hardy and Hart ever did to become "re-"reckoned with at the plate. Anthopoulous quoting Hardy and Hart as reasons to believe in Aaron Hill doesn't quite work -- if anything, it shows just how unlikely it is for Hill to rebound. He still has a good chance to return to being a league-average player, but anything above and beyond that at this point is just wishful thinking.

Hill has an $8 million club option for 2012 and 2013, as well as a $10 million option for 2014 that is already guaranteed not to be exercised. While Anthopoulous may not be ready to give up on Hill, it's hard to see Toronto paying $8 million in 2012 to one of the worst hitters in the game. To do so, Anthopoulous will have to really believe in the second baseman.

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Posted on: August 15, 2011 12:26 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 1:59 pm
 

Darvish hires agents, headed to U.S. in 2012?

DarvishBy Evan Brunell

The best pitcher slated to be on the free-agent market is C.J. Wilson, but he might be supplanted by a Japanese import.

While Hisashi Iwakuma is expected to come stateside a year after failing to join Oakland through the posting process, it's Yu Darvish that has everyone's attention as one of the best pitchers in Japan. At just 24 years old (Darvish turns 25 on Tuesday), the right-hander will command a hefty price through the posting process.

While Darvish is expected to be posted after opting to stay in Japan one additional year last season, news out of the Tokyo Chunichi sports paper via Yakyubaya.com notes that Darvish told teammate Yuki Saito he was planning on staying in Japan one more year, although a source close to Darvish said the Persian Japanese pitcher reported that Darvish was finding it difficult to stay motivated in Japanese baseball.

Another indication that Darvish is preparing for a move comes in the hiring of Arn Tellem and Don Nomura to represent Darvish. Nomura is popular in Japan for his ability to help players move to the major leagues. Nomura was Iwakuma's agent last year but was partly responsible for the breakdown in talks, leading Iwakuma to switch agents. Nomura is expected to handle Darvish's side of things in Japan, while Tellem will handle the U.S. side, which will certainly make the negotiating process easier with an American agent's expertise. Tellem has previous dealings with Nomura, helping the Japanese agent find the voluntary retirement loophole in Hideo Nomo's contract that allowed him to retire from baseball in Japan, freeing him up to move to the U.S. without a posting process.

The newspaper tabs the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers as the best candidates for Darvish's services, adding the Mets, Dodgers and Blue Jays as other contenders. It's difficult to imagine the Mets and Dodgers having the funds for an outlay that could cost about $ 80 million, and the Red Sox may not want to jump back into the expensive waters to bring a Japanese pitcher to town after the Daisuke Matsuzaka saga, as well as coming off two major contracts signed in Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. That leaves the Yankees, Rangers and Blue Jays as the top suitors, which sounds about right.

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