Tag:Pirates
Posted on: July 27, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: July 27, 2011 2:18 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Who needs Joe?



By Matt Snyder


Vance Worley, Phillies. On the day the Phillies learned they'd be losing No. 5 starter Joe Blanton for the season, rookie phenom Worley showed -- once again -- that Blanton's spot is more than covered. The 23 year old has been sensational this season and came up big once again Tuesday night. He allowed only three hits and two runs in his first career complete game and is now 7-1 with a 2.02 ERA. If Roy Oswalt comes back as strong as he's capable, the Phillies have an absurdly scary rotation.

J.J. Hardy and Derrek Lee, Orioles. The O's busted out with 12 runs -- a season high -- on 16 hits Tuesday night in a resounding victory over the Blue Jays. The entire offense hit the ball well, but Hardy and Lee were the obvious stars. Hardy clubbed two home runs and drove home four. Lee went 4-5 with a double, home run and five RBI.

Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox and Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins. Both of these guys are getting close to making us pay attention daily to their hitting streaks. Bonifacio went 2-4 with a double in a Marlins victory to extend his streak to 24 games. Pedroia went 4-5 with a double and triple in a Red Sox win and is currently sitting with a 23-game hitting streak. The magic number for when streaks deserve our full attention is debatable, but with the trade deadline this week and lots of other stuff going on, 28 -- halfway to Joe DiMaggio's record 56 -- seems about right. Still, both of these guys deserve no less than a tip of the cap.



Neftali Feliz, Rangers. The 2010 AL Rookie of the Year hasn't been near as effective this season, and it showed once again Tuesday night. He closed 40 of 43 save opportunities last season, but Tuesday he blew his fifth save in 25 tries in 2011. He's already surpassed last season's walk total in a little more than half the innings. A crucial fielding error didn't help Feliz Tuesday, but he still allowed a single, two doubles and a walk. If the Rangers do acquire Heath Bell, they should seriously consider dropping Feliz to eighth-inning duties. Bell is much more a sure thing.

Reds defense.
We could call the division the NL Comedy Central when it comes to defense, but the Reds are actually a really good defensive team. Tuesday night, they tried to emulate their Central bretheren. Three errors -- including from the normally sure-handed Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips -- cost the Reds six runs in an 8-6 loss to the Mets. That's right, only two of the eight allowed runs were earned. That's pretty rough on the pitching staff. Chalk it up as a bad day, but the Reds need not make mistakes like this in the NL Central battle, as they've fallen five games back.

Offense in Pirates-Braves game. It was 3-3 after three innings. It was 3-3 after nine innings. It was 3-3 after 18 innings. Cristhian Martinez worked six scoreless innings from the bullpen for the Braves. Martin Prado went 0-9. Andrew McCutchen went 0-6. It was so bad the Pirates elected to sac-bunt against Scott Proctor -- whose ERA is over 7.00. Oh, speaking of Proctor ....

BONUS DOWN: Umpire Jerry Meals. OK, we understand that was a long night behind home plate, but you cannot end a game with such a ridiculous call. The Braves beat the Pirates 4-3 in 19 innings after receiving an absolute gift at home plate (click here for a post with video and photo evidence). Braves baserunner Julio Lugo pretty clearly exhibited the type of body language that he knew he was out at home plate on Scott Proctor's ground ball -- which became a game-winning fielder's choice. Meals just called Lugo safe. Lugo even popped up several feet shy of home plate and was tagged on both the arm and the leg before stepping on home plate and being called safe. We're bound to discuss instant replay a bit the rest of the week, as this was an embarrassing way to end a 19-inning game. I'd even guess most Braves fans agreed (the Braves broadcast team most certainly did). Oh, by the way, there had already been a few ejections due to arguing Meals' strike zone.

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Posted on: July 26, 2011 11:27 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 12:07 pm
 

Tuesday's trade rumor roundup

By Matt Snyder

Another day, another seemingly infinite set of rumors and reports. Let's try to tie them all together into one shiny post for you, the Eye on Baseball readers. We've got your back like that.

- On the Ubaldo Jimenez front, we started the day with Troy Renck of the Denver Post saying "chances remain slim" that the Rockies part with Jimenez. Later, however, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the Rockies want to trade Jimenez, and were speaking with the Yankees, Red Sox, Reds and Blue Jays. Wait, what? Yes, the Blue Jays. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com backed up the report, as did CBSSports.com's own Danny Knobler -- who says the Yankees have the best shot at Jimenez.

MLB Trade Deadline
- CBSSports.com's Scott Miller reports the Angels are looking for a bat, preferably at third base. They covet Michael Cuddyer and Aramis Ramirez, though neither seems available at this time for different reasons -- the Twins want to hold onto Cuddyer and Ramirez won't waive his no-trade clause.

- ESPN's Jim Bowden -- a former general manager himself -- reported that he spoke with Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak and there are still no plans for the Cards to trade Colby Rasmus. Of course, Mozeliak stands nothing to gain by openly saying he's looking to offload the talented youngster, so that report isn't overly significant. Sherman notes the Cardinals are "asking for a ton" in return for Rasmus. Knobler reports the Giants and Nationals are interested in Rasmus.

- Both Knobler and SI.com's Jon Heyman pointed out the scouting section will be full Friday for Erik Bedard's first start after coming off the disabled list. The Mariners would surely move the left-hander if they can get a suitable offer. Of course, Sean McAdam of CSN adds that the Mariners are seeking "a ton" back for Bedard, which seems wholly unreasonable given his health history. Heyman named the Tigers and Red Sox as potential suitors.

- Renck reiterates what he's been reporting for weeks, which is that the Red Sox are watching Rockies' outfielder Ryan Spilborghs with a keen eye.

- As the Hunter Pence rumors continue to dry up, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports the Phillies are still aggressive in his pursuit, but that's about it. We still feel like Pence isn't going anywhere. This next entry is intriguing, however ...

- Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports the Phillies are scouting White Sox right fielder Carlos Quentin, just in case he becomes available.

- Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports the Braves are looking to bolster their bullpen with either Jon Rauch or Jason Frasor of the Blue Jays.

- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Reds are not shopping their catching tandem, so any thoughts of Ramon Hernandez giving the Giants' offense a shot in the arm can be forgotten.

- There were various B.J. Upton rumors, so here's a quick summary. Things got kickstarted when Fox Sports reported that there were at least five teams in the mix for Upton, naming the Indians, Giants, Braves and Pirates. The Brewers, Rangers and Phillies are reportedly not part of the Upton sweepstakes. Stark has the Nationals as continuing to "hover" on Upton, so maybe that's the fifth team. Heyman has the Giants as having a strong interest, too. Upton will really become sought after once Beltran is traded and even moreso if it becomes clear Rasmus isn't going to be traded.

- Stark has heard the Twins won't become sellers unless they lose every game this week.

- Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reports the Indians and Pirates are interested in Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta, though Renck earlier in the day said the Pirates have cooled on Iannetta -- and Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit is heading to Triple-A on his rehab assignment.

- Evan Grant of Dallas Morning News reports the Rangers are monitoring several relief pitchers and are still in on Carlos Beltran.

- Knobler is reporting the Brewers are interested in Jamey Carroll, Coco Crisp and Jerry Hairston, in addition to being fringe candidates for Beltran. The most likely match for the Brewers, however, is Clint Barmes of the Astros.

- Finally, we'll leave with the Beltran rumors. Heyman has the Giants as the front-runner, but puts it with a caveat ("for the moment").  He says the Braves are still heavily in the mix, though the Phillies are kind of bowing out. Sherman reports the Mets' asking price is coming down for Beltran. Stark gets specific, naming many of the top prospects the Mets have asked for in exchange for Beltran and been shot down -- such as Julio Teheran, Domonic Brown and Jarred Cosart.

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Posted on: July 26, 2011 4:50 pm
 

On Deck: Seattle primed for 17th straight loss

On Deck

By Evan Brunell


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

MarinersCHASE FOR 17: The Mariners will go for their 17th straight loss on Tuesday, running up against the powerful Yankees and ace CC Sabathia. That's a tall task for the Mariners, who will offer up Doug Fister. Fister isn't exactly a terrible pitcher, but he's no Sabathia. Fister's success this season is dependent on a below-average walk rate and limiting home runs, which isn't exactly hard to do in his home park, where he's allowed two of his six homers on the season. By the way, fun fact on the 16 straight losses by Seattle: Back in 2001, the Mariners won 116 games, and their 16th loss of the year was on June 18. Mariners vs. Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET

KarstensHansonBEST MATCHUP: Yep, your good old Pirates are part of the best matchup, which will pit Jeff Karstens and his surprising 2.28 ERA against the Braves' fireballer Tommy Hanson. Hanson has a 3.0 ERA and is really the better pitcher to have both this year and in the long run because of his excellent peripherals, but Karstens has registered the second-lowest ERA in the NL. He's done so by taking a minuscule 4.2 walk percentage, fourth lowest in all of baseball. And these days, every win is paramount in Pittsburgh as it will put more and more pressure on the front office to make a move to improve the club, which everyone and their mother agrees is necessary. The Pirates are tied for first with the Cardinals, a mere half-game up on the Brew Crew. Atlanta, meanwhile, has fallen to six games behind Philadelphia and at this point have to be more concerned with ensuring their grip on the wild-card race Pirates vs. Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET

VerlanderCY YOUNG SHOWCASE: The Tigers are one game ahead Cleveland for first place, and what better pitcher to keep Detroit in first than Justin Verlander? Seemingly the leader for the AL Cy Young Award, Verlander has a 2.24 ERA in 165 innings, punching out 162. While he's been untouchable much of the year, one of his worst starts of the season came on Jul 15, allowing five runs in six innings. The White Sox, meanwhile, are caught between deciding to go for it or rebuild. At just 3 1/2 out, the series outcome could put a stamp on Chicago's future. It already took down Detroit on Monday, so can be assured of a series win Tuesday as the ChiSox offer up Jake Peavy, a one-time Cy Young Award winner who is now struggling to stay healthy and contribute in the AL. Tigers vs. White Sox, 8:10 p.m. ET

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Posted on: July 26, 2011 2:19 am
Edited on: July 26, 2011 2:19 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Kipnis' first hit one to remember

Jason Kipnis

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jason Kipnis, Indians: In the sixth plate appearance of his young career, the Cleveland rookie delivered his first hit -- a single to right. That's great and all, but the fact that it was done with two outs and bases loaded in the ninth inning of a tie game is what lands him here. It overshadowed the play with bases loaded and one out when Travis Buck grounded into a 9-2 putout -- Torii Hunter was playing in the infield to try to cut down the winning run at home, which he did. Temporarily.

Chris Denorfia, Padres: There are few plays as awesome as a steal of home. In the span of two days, Denrofia gave us one of the season's best defensive plays -- robbing Raul Ibanez of a home run on Sunday -- and then following that up with a great offensive play Monday. In the second inning of the Padres' 5-4 victory over the Phillies, Denorfia was on third with a runner at first and as soon as Cliff Lee lobbed a throw over to first, Denorfia broke toward the plate and beat the throw home for San Diego's first steal of home since Mark Sweeney did it in 2005.

James McDonald, Pirates: The Pittsburgh right-hander recorded a career-high nine strikeouts and picked up his seventh win of the season in a 3-1 victory over the Braves. Pittsburgh has now started seven of the last eight McDonald has started. McDonald lasted just 5 1/3 innings -- and has yet to complete seven innings in any start -- but that's good enough with the Pirates' bullpen. McDonald left the game with bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning, but Chris Resop got a popup to the catcher and a strikeout to end the threat. Joel Hanrahan worked a perfect ninth for his 29th save.


Twins pitchers: The most successful Twins pitcher on Monday started the game at first base before moving to right field and then the mound. Michael Cuddyer was the only Twin to take the mound and leave unscathed. His scoreless ninth was one of just two scoreless innings tossed by the Twins in their 20-6 loss to the Rangers. Left-hander Phil Dumatrait wasn't charged with a  run, but came into the game in the fifth inning and allowed a two-run double to Elvis Andrus, but both runs were charged to Chuck James. Starter Nick Blackburn allowed 11 hits and nine runs (six earned) in 2 2/3 innings. Jose Mijares was charged with five runs (four earned) in 2/3 of an inning. James allowed four runs in one inning and Alex Burnett allowed two runs. Cuddyer gave up two hits and a walk, but no runs in the eighth inning.

Marco Scutaro, Red Sox: Several Red Sox hitters failed to help their cause late in the team's 3-1 loss to the Royals in 14 innings on Monday night and Tuesday morning, but Scutaro was the worst offender. In the 12th inning, Scutaro missed the sign for the suicide squeeze, allowing the Royals to easily get Josh Reddick in a rundown. He then singled and was thrown out at second trying to stretch a single into a double. He then ended the game in the 14th looking at a called third strike from Joakim Soria. The Red Sox put runners in scoring position with less than two outs in three of the five innings from the ninth to the 13th and failed to capitalize.

J.P. Howell, Rays: Howell gave up two singles and a walk to help bring Oakland to within a run of the Rays in the seventh inning before being pulled for Joel Peralta, who allowed a two-run double to Conor Jackson to give Oakland the lead for good. In 17 2/3 innings this season, Howell has allowed 21 runs and 18 earned runs.

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Posted on: July 26, 2011 1:02 am
Edited on: July 26, 2011 8:21 am
 

Monday's trade rumor roundup

By C. Trent Rosecrans

As the non-waiver trade deadline looms on Sunday, the rumors are coming fast and furious -- with some make sense and others not so much. Much of what you hear at this time of year is a smokescreen, but baseball fans love gossip more than junior high school girls, with less regard to the truth. So, to help satisfy that desire, we're rounding up the day's rumors in one place.

• The Rays won't deal James Shields, our own CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler reports. Tampa Bay has told other teams that they won't discuss Shields, David Price or Jeremy Hellickson. That said, Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis are available, as is B.J. Upton.

MLB Trade Deadline

• The Rays are also offering closer Kyle Farnsworth to anyone interested, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.

• CBSSports.com's Scott Miller says he's also heard that the Phillies have "way cooled" on acquiring Carlos Beltran, backing up Knobler's report from Sunday.

• Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets the Rangers and Giants are ahead of the Phillies and Braves as of Monday.

• The chance of the Rockies dealing Ubaldo Jimenez is "around 50/50" FoxSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi writes, citing a "major-league source close to the talks." He adds the Reds are still involved and the Tigers are interested as well. Morosi reports one team has exchanged names with the Rockies.

• The Reds are drawing interest on right-hander Edinson Volquez, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com tweets.

• The Cardinals and Nationals have talked about sending Todd Coffey -- a former Red and Brewer -- to St. Louis. The team would like to keep Tyler Clippard, but if someone wows them, they're open, Morosi tweets.

• The Yankees won't move top prospects -- such as left-hander Manny Banuelos, right-hander Dellin Betances or catchers Jesus Montero or Austin Romine -- unless they get an ace-type pitcher in return, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.

• The Phillies are "aggressive" on Heath Bell and Mike Adams of the Padres, but are surprised they aren't getting more interest fron the Yankees, Cardinals and Reds, Sherman tweets.

• Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez is available, but with $40 million left on his contract, another general manager tells Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman, "nobody's going to touch Wandy."

• Hiroki Kuroda would consider waiving his no-trade clause if he's sent to the Yankees or Red Sox, "a baseball official"  tells ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand. However, the teams "hottest" on Kuroda are reportedly the Indians, Tigers and Rangers, according to Rosenthal.

• It's not a trade, but a player acquisition -- the Brewers, Giants, Mariners and A's are interested in Wily Mo Pena, who was released by the Diamondbacks on Sunday, Heyman tweets. He makes the most sense in the American League where he doesn't need a glove. [Heyman]

• Aaron Harang had been mentioned in some trade talks, but there are reports that San Diego would like to keep him and re-sign him, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Harang, a San Diego native, would love to stay there -- and keep pitching in Petco Park.

• The Phillies are interested in Colorado's Jason Giambi, Rosenthal tweets. Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post tweets the Pirates are interested in Giambi as well. He's hitting .263/.360/.632 with 10 homers in 111 plate appearances. Giambi had talked about possibly moving to an American League team to DH, but he could still be a valuable left-handed bat off the bench for a National League team. [FoxSports.com and Denver Post]

• The Braves are still interested in the Astros' Hunter Pence, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets.

• Angels manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com's Lyle Spencer the team probably wouldn't make a big move at the trade deadline, instead hoping the team can improve from within -- especially with the addition of Fernando Rodney from the disabled list.

• Texas manager Ron Washington called the bullpen a "priority" at the trading deadline, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.

• One reliever who won't be available to the Rangers, or anyone, is Seattle closer Brandon League. Chuck Armstrong tells Morosi a trade involving League is not likely.

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Posted on: July 25, 2011 2:04 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 2:07 pm
 

Alvarez back up with Pirates

By Matt Snyder

After a brief stint in the minors, Pedro Alvarez has been recalled to the Pirates as a corresponding move to the ballclub placing Alex Presley on the 15-day disabled list with a thumb injury.

Alvarez was promoted to the big leagues last season as one of the top prospects in baseball. He was expected to man the hot corner for the Pirates for the foreseeable future, yet when he returned from injury a few weeks ago, the Pirates optioned him to Triple-A. He was struggling mightily in the majors, hitting just .208 with a .587 OPS. Worse yet, he's supposed to be a power hitter, yet had only two home runs.

The brief demotion may have helped Alvarez get things together. He was hitting .365 with three home runs, 13 RBI and a 1.048 OPS in 18 Triple-A games. Small sample size, yes, but a stretch like that can help the hitter regain confidence and carry it over to the majors. Alvarez is only 24, so there's plenty of time for him to right the ship.

Losing Presley does hurt the Pirates' lineup, though. He had solidified the top of the order in the absence of Jose Tabata. Presley is hitting .333 with a .402 on-base percentage.

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Posted on: July 25, 2011 12:13 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 12:27 pm
 

Report: Pena 'almost surely' will be traded

By Matt Snyder

Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena makes a lot of sense as a potential trade candidate. He's playing with a one-year contract and could provide some serious pop from the left side of the plate. He also plays sound defense at first base, so any contender looking for some offensive punch could use him.

Thus, the tweet from Jon Heyman of SI.com Monday, saying Pena will "almost surely" be traded, shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

Of course, this was only one day after a story in the Chicago Sun-Times that said there was a mutual interest between Pena and the Cubs for him to stick around past this season. So, with all things we hear this week, everything has to be taken with a grain of salt. No general managers are actually letting their full plans publicly known, so it's a bit of a guessing game.

For speculation's sake, let's mull this from the point of view that Pena is definitely getting traded. Two teams immediately come to mind as good fits for Pena: The Diamondbacks (as Heyman mentioned) and the Pirates. Asking prices and who pays Pena's remaining salary -- he's on a one-year, $10 million deal and we're a bit past halfway through the season -- will determine everything, but those two ballclubs could use a power bat at first base immediately.

Pena, 33, is hitting .221 with a .334 on-base percentage, 20 home runs and 51 RBI. He actually didn't hit his first homer until May 3, though, so he's been hot since -- with 20 homers, 45 RBI and an .870 OPS in his last 247 at- bats.

Putting him in the cleanup spot for the Pirates to protect Andrew McCutchen -- who makes more sense hitting third -- would give the offense a whole new look. Neil Walker could then bat second or fifth. Either way, it's much improved. The D-Backs would be in a similar situation, as they could plug Pena between Justin Upton and Chris Young.

For now, though, all we can do is speculate. It's that time of the season.

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Posted on: July 24, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 2:19 pm
 

Pirates in no hurry to recall Alvarez

AlvarezBy Evan Brunell

When Pedro Alvarez went on the disabled list with a right quad strain in late May, many believed he would return to his third base gig before long, despite an anemic .203/.283/.304 line.

But after a rehab stint, Alvarez was demoted to Triple-A, much to his displeasure. It's hard to blame Pittsburgh for the demotion -- even with Alvarez's power potential, he just wasn't delivering.

The problem is that Brandon Wood and Chase D'Arnaud haven't delivered either. With Alvarez hitting .350/.444/.550 in 72 plate appearances down on the farm with three home runs, manager Clint Hurdle isn't sold that Alvarez is needed right now, even as the club chases a winning season for the first time since 1992.

"It's a two-edged sword," Hurdle said. "You want to take both of those factors [production vs. development] into play. I think we're probably getting as good as information as you can get."

Hurdle added that by competing in Triple-A, Alvarez may be able to take a step forward. That sounds counter to logic, as Alvarez seems to have nothing left to prove, and any future development is likely to come in the bigs. But Hurdle disagrees.

"I think one of the biggest challenges for young hitters is, they put in tireless preparation," Hurdle said. "They spend countless hours in practice on honing a skill. The biggest challenge is taking that work and trusting that work in a game.

"What we're encouraging Pedro to do is just stay, hold fast, to that process that he's working through and trust it and actually give all that hard work an opportunity to play out in a game, and what better environment to do it in where the consequences and the final result isn't as magnified as it is here?"

Regardless, as Pittsburgh searches for bats and a way to keep its pitching rotation afloat, Alvarez represents one of the best ways for the Pirates to improve its club without having to give up anything. It would be a surprise if Alvarez wasn't back with the club by the beginning of August.

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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