Tag:Nationals
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)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 9, 2011 1:30 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Kennedy notches 19th win

Ian Kennedy

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks: Kennedy picked up his 19th victory of the season as the Diamondbacks beat the Padres 4-1 on Thursday. It was the 13th consecutive victory at Chase Field for Arizona, which is now 83-61 on the season and gaining on Milwaukee (85-60) for the second seed in the NL playoffs. Kennedy allowed just one run on seven hits in 7 2/3 innings, striking out 11 Padres. Kennedy has won each of his last four starts and 11 of his last 12. While most expect Roy Halladay or Clayton Kershaw to win the National League's Cy Young Award, Kennedy will have to be in the discussion.

Ricky Romero, Blue Jays: Toronto's left-hander entered Thursday's game against Boston with a 2-6 ERA in 11 career starts -- more than double his career ERA of 3.76. In two starts against the Red Sox before Thursday, Romero had given up 11 runs on 17 hits and eight walks in 8 2/3 innings. WIth that in mind, Thursday had to be a relief, as Romero silenced the Red Sox through 6 2/3 inning before giving up an RBI double to Jacoby Ellsbury to break up the shutout and ending his night. Reliever Casey Hansen gave up a two-run single with both runs charged to Romero. In all, Romero allowed three runs on five hits, striking out seven and walking three -- but most importantly for him, picked up the 7-4 victory against the Red Sox.

Robert Andino, Orioles: Baltimore's second baseman tied Thursday's game against the Yankees in the eighth inning with an RBI single and then won it with a single down the third-base line to score Nolan Reimold with the winning run in a 5-4 Orioles victory. Baltimore beat New York in extras on Wednesday as well, even though that game was in New York, not Baltimore.


Drew Storen, Nationals: The second game of the Dodgers-Nationals game was rained out, but Storen probably wishes the first game was called, too. The Washington closer had only pitched in two of the Nationals last 14 games and looked rusty when called into the tie game in the ninth inning. Storen gave up three hits, hit a batter and walked another in 2/3 of an inning before being lifted for Collin Balester who got Matt Kemp to fly out to end the inning, but not before the damage was done in an eventual 7-4 Nationals' loss.

Corey Luebke, Padres: Luebke didn't pitch poorly, allowing just two runs on three hits in 5 2/3 innings -- but against Kennedy, two runs were enough. Both runs came on solo homers -- by Paul Goldscmidt in the fourth and Justin Upton in the sixth.  Luebke has given up 11 homers this season and seven of them are to the Diamondbacks -- three by Upton. Xavier Nady, Collin Cowgill and Aaron Hill have also taken Luebke deep this season.

Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: Pedroia was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts and left five men on base in Boston's loss to Toronto. But it wasn't just Thursday's game that gets Pedroia here. THe Red Sox second baseman and former MVP had just 1 hit in 20 at-bats in the series against the Blue Jays, ending with a strikeout with two men on to end the game. It was only the second time Pedroia has struck out three times in a game this season and the third time since the All-Star break that he struck out more than once in a game.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 10:03 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2011 7:54 pm
 

Minor league stadium under water

By C. Trent Rosecrans

One of the coolest minor league ballparks I've visited is in Harrisburg, Pa., where the field is on an island, City Island, just on the edge of downtown.

I remember walking from my downtown hotel, across a bridge with other fans for a Harrisburg Senators game and stumbling back. The bridge continued over the the Susquehana to the other side, in the middle was what is now called Metro Bank Park. It's a unique setting for baseball and the one game I went to there was a total blast.

That makes this photo from Harrisburg third baseman Tim Pahuta posted on Twitter (@Pahooter44) make me feel even sadder. (Photo credit: Tony Wagner)

 

Because of the rains on the East Coast this week, the island is under water.

The Senators, the Double-A affiliate of the Nationals, had home field advantage in the Eastern League playoffs as the Western Division champs and were supposed to start a series against Richmond at Metro Bank Park on Wednesday and Thursday. The series will now start Friday in Richmond with the first two games being played in Virginia. All five games are likely to be played at the Flying Squirrels' home. According to the Patriot-News, officials from the Senators and Eastern League will meet Saturday to determine whether Metro Bank Park will be able to host baseball. If not, the teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday followed by games on Sunday and Monday. If the teams can play on City Island, the teams would return to Harrisburg for Game 3 and then have a doubleheader on Monday if necessary. But that doesn't seem likely.

"It's unfortunate that the flooding situation happened there," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told the Washington Post. "I just saw a picture of the stadium. It's certainly unplayable. It looks like it's going to be unplayable for a long, long time."

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

Posted on: September 8, 2011 9:20 pm
 

NL East has league's best rookies



By C. Trent Rosecrans

During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Today: the AL Rookie of the Year.

View contenders for the: AL MVP | NL MVP | AL Cy Young | NL Cy Young | AL Rookie of the Year

Last year at this time it appeared a Brave was a shoe-in for the Rookie of the Year, but this time we mean it. The Braves will have the Rookie of the Year. Probably. The question is, which Brave will it be -- and will either avoid the sophomore slump that has plagued Jason Heyward a year after finishing second in the voting for the NL's top rookie?

The ballot asks for voters to vote for three rookies, but what's the fun in that? Here's three --plus one more in the race for the National League's best newcomer.

Danny Espinosa, Nationals: The Nationals second baseman was a leading candidate in the first half of the season, hitting 16 homers, driving in 52 and stealing 12 bases. In the second half he's hit just .206/.285/.311 with three homers and eight RBI in 47 games. Overall he's hitting .229/.316/.407. So while he's still under consideration, his drop off has been so drastic that he won't win the award, and may even struggle to get votes, because of the next htree guys...

Freddie Freeman, Braves: While Espinosa has sputtered in the second half, Freeman's just gotten better.
his home run rate has dropped, but his other stats are better since the All-Star break. The first baseman is hitting .295/.355/.462 with 18 homers and 67 RBI to go along with 30 doubles. Freeman will turn 22 next week, but already looks like a polished big leaguer, not just at the plate, but also in the field at first base.

Craig Kimbrel, Braves: Last year the American League's top rookie was a closer that took his team to the World Series -- the Braves hope it's their turn for that this season. Kimbrel leads the majors with 43 saves and hasn't allowed a run in his last 38 games, dating back to June 11. The power right-hander has struck out 115 batters in just 69 2/3 innings, walking just 26. As good as Neftali Feliz was last season, Kimbrel's already been better this year. Feliz recorded 40 saves and struck out 71 in 69 1/3 innings with a 2.73 ERA. Kimbrel bests him in all those categories, with an ERA (1.55) more than a run lower than Feliz had in his Rookie of the Year campaign.

Vance Worley, Phillies: On most teams it's not saying much to say a rookie has solidified himself as the team's No. 4 starter -- but this is the Phillies of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, three of the game's best. Worley's looked every bit like he belongs with that group. The 23-year-old right-hander is 11-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 18 starts and two relief appearances. He also has 96 strikeouts in 110 1/3 innings. If anyone is going to challenge the two Braves, it's the Phillie -- which is only fitting.

So who do you have? Let us know in the comments your pick for the NL's top rookie.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 7:35 pm
 

Rain could cost Kemp HR, RBI titles

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The second game of Thursday's doubleheader in Washington has been postponed -- well, actually canceled. The game will only be made up if it's necessary, and it won't be.

The Nationals, 26.5 games behind the Phillies in the National League East and are already mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The Dodgers are 70-72, 11.5 games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West, but still have an elimination number of 9, so they still have a chance, but not a great one.

So what does it matter if the Dodgers and Nationals play 161 games instead of 162? Not much to either team, but it could mean something to Matt Kemp. The Dodgers' center fielder probably won't win the triple crown -- his 1-for-5 performance earlier on Thursday dropped his average to .318, well below Jose Reyes (.336 after a pinch-hit single in Game 1 against Atlanta on Thursday) and Ryan Braun (.332 before Thursday's game), but still good for third in the race for the batting title. Even without the batting title, he's still very much in the race for the home run and RBI titles. Kemp has 32 homers, tied for third in the National League. He's two homers behind Albert Pujols and one behind second-place Dan Uggla. His 107 RBI is third in the league, just one behind Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard. While the average could benefit from one less game, it's the counting stats that hurt -- at this time of the year and with margins as close as they are in those two races, the rain on the East Coast this week could cost Kemp one of the only titles the Dodgers have a shot at winning.

If Kemp finishes a homer shy of the title or an RBI short, tonight may have been the difference. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 2:32 pm
 

Bryce Harper's season quietly ends

By Matt Snyder

Due to his ailing hamstring, highly-touted Nationals prospect Bryce Harper will not play in the Double-A playoffs for the Harriburg Senators, which means we can officially close the book on his first professional season (Nationals Journal). The young outfielder will next play in the Arizona Fall League, which begins October 4.

The 18-year-old phenom began the season in Low-A Hagerstown and then jumped a level to Double-A. His numbers for both levels combined: .297 average, 17 homers, 58 RBI, 63 runs, 26 stolen bases and 13 outfield assists. Not bad for someone who was supposed to be graduating high school in June. He did falter a bit in Double-A, though he was far from bad. Expect him to begin in Double-A next season, and it's easy to foresee a September call-up if all goes well. Also expect him to be ranked the No. 1 prospect in baseball by pretty much every outlet.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 10:43 am
Edited on: September 8, 2011 10:48 am
 

Bowden correctly fires off on Strasburg critics



By Matt Snyder


In case you've completely ignored baseball this week, we'll inform you that Stephen Strasburg made it back to the majors -- and dazzled. It had been just a few days over a year since he underwent Tommy John surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right (throwing) elbow.

I guess you could call the return at least slightly controversial, because there are some who believe the Nationals should not allow Strasburg to pitch this month. Former Nationals GM Jim Bowden had some pretty serious words for those against Strasburg pitching this season. On his radio show, he was reacting to a poll as to whether or not Strasburg should pitch this season -- and he didn't hold back (via Washington Post):
“This is a really dumb poll and a really dumb question, and it infuriates me,” Bowden said. “And it’s probably just because I’m a former GM, but how anybody can criticize the way the Washington Nationals have brought Stephen Strasburg back?

“[Critics] know nothing about baseball, nothing about rehab, nothing about the history of the surgery, and have NO respect for the medical profession. They followed this to the t. This is Dr. James Andrews, who is one of the best in the country; this is his exact plan, TO THE DAY. It’s 12 months and 3 days from the surgery, and he never had a setback, and they carried about the exact program. His velocity’s up to 98, 99 with no pain, and they’re doing absolutely everything they’re supposed to from a medical perspective, from a baseball perspective and for the future of Strasburg.

“He’s not on the mound tonight to sell tickets. He’s on the mound because this is the program that you do when you come back from Tommy John, and you want to build up Major League innings as part of this program at the end, so that next year if they’re in a pennant race, they’re gonna be prepared to have Strasburg pitching important games in September. This is nothing that can be debated. Nobody can sit here and say that this is wrong and have any medical or baseball reason for that....

“C’mon. Give me a freaking break. I don’t even want to be discussing this. KUDOS to Mike Rizzo and the Nationals, KUDOS to Jim Andrews, KUDOS to Stephen Strasburg, KUDOS to the training staff of the Nationals, to Dr. Wiemi Duoguih, to Dr. Andrews, everybody that was involved in this process did their job, and he’s on the mound tonight BECAUSE of that.

“God Bless the Nationals, God Bless Strasburg, and God Bless the United States of America.”

Awesome.

Thank you, Jim. Allow me to supplement.

From a personal standpoint, every time I post anything about Strasburg, there's bound to be someone in the comments section or on Twitter saying the Nationals are "rushing" Strasburg back. Publicly, there have been a few critics, too. Rob Dibble, for example, has been critical of the return -- which is ridiculous, because Dibble told Strasburg last season to "suck it up" and keep pitching. Curt Schilling also said there was no reason to bring Strasburg back this year.

Nevermind that Tommy John surgery carries a 10-14 month recovery period nowadays and that Strasburg came back well within that frame. Nevermind that freaking Dr. James Andrews -- easily the most respected sports surgeon around -- has cleared him. Nevermind that the Nationals have handled Jordan Zimmermann as perfectly as possible in his recovery from the exact same procedure.

Nah, none of that matters when it comes to Strasburg for some. Since the Nationals are out of the race, they should just shut him down for the season ... seemingly just for the sake of shutting him down. Really?

What I find most hilarious/maddening is that we'll often get comments complaining about players not playing through pain. You know, because if it was a real job they'd have to show up for work everyday. Since they are millionaires, they should just show up for work no matter what. Sometimes it's completely fair (if an injury doesn't affect performance and can't get worse through playing, I'd agree whole-heartedly players should play through pain).

Strasburg is ready, willing and able to show up for work now. His doctor says his injury is healed enough for him to pitch. He's throwing nearly 100 miles per hour. And people still complain. It's amazing.

In response to the fair question of what can be gained by Strasburg pitching this month, I'll reply with the following: He's building arm strength at the absolute ideal time in his rehab process to do so. In the process, he's getting more experience working against major-league hitters for a few starts, which will only speed the process in his development as an ace. Remember, he's still only 23 years old and only has 13 big-league starts under his belt.

Now, I have two questions for the naysayers:

1. Are you smarter than Dr. Andrews when it comes to surgical recovery?
2. Do you know how Strasburg physically feels?

If you answered no to both of the above, stop complaining and enjoy watching Strasburg's immense talent. If you answered yes to either, you're delusional and need to find a different kind of doctor.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 10:06 am
Edited on: September 8, 2011 10:38 am
 

Pepper: Marlins' new home could bring makeover



By Matt Snyder


While it certainly doesn't necessarily mean on-field success, the Florida Marlins are about to finally have their own home. After sharing a park with the NFL's Miami Dolphins since first taking the field in 1993, the Marlins will begin 2012 with a baseball-only facility in Miami. Wednesday, local media were given a tour of the facility and the Marlins took the opportunity to sing their own praises.

"This will be the first ballpark to come in on budget and on time in a long, long time," team President David Samson said (Sun-Sentinel.com). "There will not be overruns in this building. This building will come in at the $515 million mark, not one dollar over budget, [and] not one thing taken out of the building. As a matter of fact, we have been able to add things because the workers have been so efficient and it has been built so well."

Samson also noted that he's personally sat in every single seat and went with the proverbial "there's not a bad seat in the house" sentiment.

So the Marlins' fans will finally have a place that seems like a real home instead of some rental where a baseball game seems foreign and unwelcome. Attendance will surely increase (the Marlins average less than 19,000 fans per game this year -- and that's paid, not how many actually show up), but what about the problem that has plagued the Marlins for years: Payroll?

"I know it will be at levels previously unseen," Samson said (Sun-Sentinel.com).

Interesting.

The time might be now to start ramping up the baseball excitement, south Florida.

Real life 'Wild Thing:' If you like baseball and don't love Charlie Sheen's character -- Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn -- in "Major League," well, you might have as many screws loose as Sheen. In the movie, Vaughn earned the nickname after loading the bases with walks on 12 straight pitches and then later set a record for wild pitches in an inning. Embattled Yankees starting pitcher A.J. Burnett didn't do it in an inning, but he has now joined rare company with his wild pitches. With three Wednesday, he became the first pitcher since 1919 to have eight games with at least three wild pitches (Baseball-Reference blog).

A better Johan? Mets ace Johan Santana has been sidelined all season after having a surgical procedure in 2010. But he's getting closer and closer to possibly seeing some relief work this September, just to get him back on the mound for an inning or two. And get this: Mets' pitching coach Dan Warthen said Santana's stuff is better right now than it was last season (when he had a 2.98 ERA in 199 innings). "Better velocity," Warthen said (NYDailyNews.com). "The arm was in the same slot each and every time. He wasn't searching for a place that didn't hurt."

Emotional season: Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos came to America in 2004 to chase his dream of playing Major League Baseball. But through the long visa process, his family had never been able to get here to see him play in person ... until this season. His parents recently secured a 10-year visa and finally got to see their son play a big-league game in person this homestand (Washington Times).

Rock and a hard place: "Moneyball" is coming to theaters soon, as I'm sure most of us have seen the previews during commercial breaks on TV by now. For those uninformed, it's a film adaptation of the book about A's general manager Billy Beane trying to build a team without the resources of a large-market club (or even a middle-market one). Beane hasn't really said anything about it, and Wednesday he explained why: "The hard thing for me has been figuring out how to walk this fine line," Beane said (Mercurynews.com). "If I embrace all this movie stuff, it looks like I'm really digging it. But if I put my hand up and say, 'No,' I look like I'm distancing myself from it. There's no playbook for this."

Old Style at Wrigley: Pabst brewing company nearly nixed a deal with Wrigley Field, where Cubs fans have been consuming Old Style beer since 1950, but tradition won out -- as the contract was extended through 2013. As a Cubs fan I can tell you that it's tradition to buy one and suck it down each time you attend a game -- even if it tastes like crap (it kind of does). (Chicago Breaking Sports)

Milwaukee loves 'Tony Plush:" Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan has become an unlikely popular player this season, and the T-shirt depicting his alter-ego -- "Tony Plush" -- outsells all other Brewers' T-shirts three-fold (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel). I wonder if Chris Carpenter wants one (click here if you don't get it)? I kid, but it would at the very least be a funny prank for a teammate to get him one.

Wild beats Man: A squirrel broke into the Indians' bullpen Wednesday night and closer Chris Perez attempted to capture it with his jacket. He lost, as the squirrel ran up the bullpen wall and jumped into the center-field bushes (Detroit Free-Press).

Happy Anniversary: On this day 25 years ago, Rafael Palmeiro made his major-league debut (Hardball Times). He'd go on to accumulate 3,020 hits, 569 home runs, nearly 2,000 RBI, a Gold Glove in a season when he only played 28 games in the field and one embarrassing display in front of Congress that has now been immortalized by Larry David.

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

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