Posted on: August 10, 2011 10:28 am
Edited on: August 10, 2011 10:28 am
By Evan Brunell
TOUGH DECISION: Bubba Starling has a choice -- accept a hefty bonus and head to the minor leagues for a few years in the hope he can rise up the ladder and join the Royals. The hometown athlete was drafted by Kansas City in June but he has yet to sign with the deadline coming up on Monday. Starling has a tough decision to make -- join K.C. or head to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, where fame as a quarterback awaits.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Starling told the Kansas City Star.
Starling was at the University of Nebraska signing autographs and fans obviously were rooting for Starling to opt to join the Cornhuskers. The problem is, that's a lot of money for Starling to give up to play football, a sport that's more dangerous to overall long-term health.
“If it was my son, I’d probably tell him to play baseball,” fan Kevin Sullivan said. “But, you know, if he’s going to play Nebraska football …” (Kansas City Star)
BIZARRE INJURY: There's always a few injuries each season that make you do a double-take. Chris Narveson was a victim of such an injury, slicing his thumb with scissors while trying to repair his glove. He required eight stitches and will miss his next start. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
BACK TO SCHOOL: Zachary Houchins, the Nationals' 15th round pick, is heading back to college. “I haven’t had [contact with the Nationals] any since all that stuff happened,” Houchins said. “I’m set on going back to school. ... I’m happy with it. I’d love to go back there.”
Houchins is referring to epithets used to describe African-Americans, homosexuals and Chinese on his Twitter feed in June, since deleted. The Nationals were upset with his words, which Houchins admitted they had a right to be. Houchins added, though, that the comments weren't hateful and just part of how he and his friends (many African-American) talk.
“Honestly, in my eyes, there was no lesson to learn,” Houchins said. “It’s just what I said got blown out of proportion, and I paid the price for it.” (Washington Post)
CLUTCH: Matthew Leach runs through a list of players who have been clutch so far this season. The one thing that caught my eye is Asdrubal Cabrera's performance with the bases loaded -- a pristine 6 for 6. (MLB.com)
INJURY PROBLEMS: Paul Konerko's left calf strain has made lineup maneuverings tough for skipper Ozzie Guillen, and if the White Sox had gone into extra innings last night, would have done so without a DH when Konerko was pinch-run for by Brent Lillibridge, with Lillibridge moving to first for the ninth. (Chicago Tribune)
LYNN, TOO: Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn strained his left oblique in Tuesday's game and will hit the disabled list, depriving the team of one of its most dependable late-inning relievers. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
SURGERY: Reds shortstop Zack Cozart is likely to undergo surgery to repair a hyperextended left elbow, and would prefer to get it over with sooner rather than later. (Cincinnati.com)
LOPEZ ... HEPING? There's a piece up today about Felipe Lopez, who supposedly doing well in Milwaukee after coming over from Tampa Bay, starting nine of the last 10 games. How someone hitting .235/.289/.235 in 34 at-bats (which was conveniently omitted from the story) is doing well is not clear. (MLB.com)
LAST RING: Bengie Molina was at the Rangers game on Tuesday, collecting his AL championship ring -- the last ring Texas needed to hand out. He also threw out the first pitch and told his ex-teammates not to waste their strong season. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)
SANTO STATUE: The Cubs will unveil a statue of Ron Santo on Wednesday. In the article, an interesting tidbit: Kerry Wood only returned to the Cubs because he ran into GM Jim Hendry at Santo's funeral in December. (Chicago Tribune)
ILLEGAL BALLS: An independent baseball team, the Lake County Fielders, had a game suspended Friday night for claims that the team provided inferior baseballs to be used. These baseballs were not sanctioned for professional use, but were still brand new and purchased from a sporting goods store. In financial trouble, the team hadn't placed its order to Rawlings for the baseballs until it was too late, and umpires decided the baseballs weren't acceptable. League officials have since approved their usage. (DailyHerald.com)
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 10, 2011 1:25 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Torii Hunter turned down the chance at picking up an extra buck on Tuesday night after a fan offered him a dollar reward for his sunglasses.
In the fourth inning of the Angles' 6-4 victory in New York, Hunter went back to the warning track at Yankee Stadium to catch a fly by Nick Swisher and record the second out of the game. He noticed a fan had lost his sunglasses and went back to the warning track to retrieve the fan's sunglasses. When Hunter reached up to hand him the sunglasses, the fan offered him a dollar, which Hunter refused.
"He dropped his glasses, they fell over and he wanted to give me a dollar," Hunter told MLB.com's Joey Nowak. "I said thanks, though. It was a nice gesture."
Hunter is known as one of the best guys in baseball. Oddly though, he wasn't the only one to retrieve a pair of sunglasses on Tuesday. In Cincinnati, Reds right fielder Jay Bruce fielded a foul ball and noticed a dropped pair of glasses. In addition to handing the fan their glasses back, Bruce handed them a ball, as well.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 8:27 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 12:06 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
I can't tell you how many times I've been the last person out of Great American Ball Park early in the morning after a night game -- but never have I encountered what two MLB.com writers did early Tuesday morning. Barry Bloom and Thomas Harding were robbed at gunpoint around 1:30 a.m. just outside the media entrance and exit on Pete Rose Way in Cinciinati, Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News writes.
Both had their credit cards taken and Bloom lost $500 in cash and Harding lost $100 in cash. Bloom is a national writer for MLB.com and Harding covers the Rockies beat for MLB.com.
"I thought the guy was a fan as he approached, but he said, 'We can do this the easy way or the hard way,'" Bloom told McCoy. "I started to walk away and he began yelling at me and pulled this big gun that looked like a Glock. He said, 'Put your wallets on the ground.' We did and he picked them up and ran off."
I'm surprised the thief didn't want more, but I guess the laptop bags would have slowed him down.
As a Cincinnati resident, the downtown area gets a bad rap, this doesn't happen very often and I sure hope it doesn't become a trend for thieves thinking writers leaving the game are easy targets -- and honestly, they'll probably be disappointed if they think every writer carries that much cash. I honestly don't think anyone considering going to a game at Great American Ball Park should worry about their safety when going to a Reds game -- I've spent a lot of time in downtown Cincinnati around the stadium at all hours and have never feared for my safety.
That said, several years ago, a writer I worked with in Georgia was robbed of his laptop and wallet before a game at old Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 1:30 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
After starting 16 games for three different minor-league teams in two different systems, 36-year-old right-hander Kevin Millwood will start his first big league game of 2011 with a different team. Millwood will start for the Rockies on Wednesday in Cincinnati.
Millwood started the season with the Yankees organization before requesting a release on May 1. He was then signed by the Red Sox and asked for his release from Boston following Friday's game for Triple-A Pawtucket.
Millwood was headed home before he got the call from Rockies -- "I re-routed my flight to La Guardia and I am here," Millwood told Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
The Rockies needed another starter after Juan Nicasio underwent neck surgery after being hit by a comebacker in Friday's game against the Nationals. He will start in Nicasio's spot against Cincinnati's Mike Leake. He's 2-2 with a 6.33 ERA in four career starts at Great American Ball Park.
Millwood was 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA last season for the Orioles and was 7-2 with a 4.32 ERA in the minor leagues this season.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 12:21 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
With Adrian Gonzalez locked up through 2018, Youkilis won't be returning to first base anytime soon and one of the team's most prized prospects is a third baseman, Will Middlebrooks. In an interview with ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald, the 32-year-old Youkilis said he could see himself returning to his hometown of Cincinnati after spending the all of his career in Boston.
"If it wasn't Bsoton, I would want to play in Cincinnati just to say that I did it," Youkilis said. "I grew up rooting for them. I used to be bitter towards the Reds because they didn't draft me, but that bitterness is gone. It would be fun and it would be for my family."
He could also make sense for the Reds. Cincinnati's current first baseman, Joey Votto, is a free agent after the 2013 season and would certainly command big money in free agency, perhaps more than the team can afford. The team is also without a third baseman of the future, as Scott Rolen's contract runs through the 2012 season and at 36 may not play past that contract. The Reds' top third base prospect, Juan Francisco, has had three stints in the big leagues, but failed to make a true impact. Francisco, 24, has a ton of power, but isn't very good defensively. Todd Frazier, currently on the roster, has played third but lacks a true position.
Youkilis is beloved in Boston, but said he could see a day when he wasn't playing for the Red Sox.
"I don't know what their plans are past  but I actually think it would be cool, if I don't play here, that there's going to be another guy to enjoy the opportunities that I had," Youkilis said. "I've been thinking about that a lot. Probably for the first time in my life I haven't worried about if I had to go to another team and it doesn't bother me."
Youkilis went to high school at Sycamore High School in Cincinnati, just up I-71 from Great American Ball Park and also played four years at the University of Cincinnati. Youkilis was undrafted after his junior year and taken by the Red Sox in the eighth round of the 2001 draft. He's a frequent visitor to Cincinnati in the offseason and at Bearcat football games.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 12:20 am
Edited on: August 9, 2011 12:21 am
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Posted on: August 8, 2011 6:51 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The moment Yonder Alonso was drafted by the Reds in the first round of the 2008 draft, the questions about where he'd play began. Alonso played first base at Miami and looked like he'd be limited to first base.
That's fine and good, except for when you have the reigning MVP at first base already and that player's just 27.
Last spring the Reds started trying Alonso in left field and he played 30 games there in 2010 between Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville, but still played the bulk of his time at first base, logging 96 games there. This season with his bat ready for the big leagues, he was given more time in the left field, where he played 62 games in left compared to 21 at first base.
Since the left-handed hitting prospect was called up to the big leagues when Jonny Gomes was traded, he's started three games in left and none at first. The first part is going to change, the second may not.
Alonso's latest position may be third base after he struggled in two games in left at Wrigley Field this past weekend, playing one ball into an inside-the-park home run for Cubs rookie Tony Campana and then misplaying another ball for a crucial error in Saturday's loss.
When asked on Monday when Alonso would play left again, Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters, "not in the near future," according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Alonso took ground balls at third base -- his main position growing up, he's said -- but Baker said he doesn't expect Alonso there anytime soon.
"You don't want to do it in the big leagues," Baker said, according to Fay. "But that's the position he started at. It's a mirror image of first base, really. You get more plays. Most first baseman are at first because they're left-handed or they don't have the arm to play third.
"We'll see. We're trying to find the best place to get his bat in the lineup."
While Alonso's looked shaky in the field, he's been locked in at the plate, where he's started the season 8 for 16 with two doubles and a homer. The Reds called up another prospect, Dave Sappelt, on Sunday when Chris Heisey went on the disabled list and Sappelt will likely get a chance to play quite a bit in left and center. Sappelt had a hit leading off in his major-league debut on Sunday. Fred Lewis is starting in left on Monday.
Finding a spot for Alonso is tricky. The Reds thought he was the best hitter available when they took him with the seventh overall pick in the 2008 draft and he's shown it in the minors, where he's combined to hit .293/.370/.466. He was hitting .296/.374/.486 with 12 homers when he was called up. Although he's 4 for 7 as a pinch-hitter so far this season, going forward he's going to be too valuable for filling just that role.
The Reds and Blue Jays reportedly talked about a blockbuster sending Joey Votto to his native Toronto in exchange for Jose Bautista, opening a spot for Alonso. Although that deal didn't go down, it does show how much the team values Alonso and feels he can be an impact player in the big leagues.
Votto is under contract through 2013, so he's in the team's immediate future but could be too expensive when he reaches free agency. Alonso would be a lower-cost alternative.
Alonso could also finish the season strong and be a more valuable trade piece in the offseason because of his early success in the big leagues.
Physically, Alonso looks more like a first baseman -- or DH -- than third baseman, but he says he feels comfortable there. He didn't play third at Miami because current Twin Danny Valencia was at third base when he got there. The Reds have a need at third base. With Scott Rolen on the disabled list (and at 36), the Reds are using a combination of rookie Todd Frazier and veteran Miguel Cairo to man the position. Rolen is under contract through next season and the team's top prospect at the position, Juan Francisco, has been hurt this season and unproductive in a couple of big-league stints.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 6, 2011 1:12 am
By Evan Brunell
Johnny Giavotella, Royals: The rookie Giavotella, who hit .338/.390/.481 for Triple-A, is the newest wave of Royals youngsters. This one is poised to hold second base for a long time on the strength of his bat and he got things started Friday against the Tigers with a 2-for-3 effort with a walk and run scored, getting his first major-league hit off of Rick Porcello. The 24-year-old tacked on an RBI for good measure, singling home Eric Hosmer in the seventh during a three-run outburst to tie the game. Detroit pushed a run across in the top of the 10th to win the game.
Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays: Lawrie, like Giavotella, was making his major-league debut. This time it was over with Toronto, and he wasted no time showing why he's ticketed to be the Jays' third baseman for the next 10 years by collecting two hits in four trips to the plate, driving in a run with two out. He batted ninth, but that will quickly change. Lawrie could have been called up in early June but took a pitch off the hand a day before he was getting called up which cost him months of recuperation. He's finally up, though, and Toronto's pieces for a nice run starting in 2012 is clicking into place.
Carlos Quentin, White Sox: Another powerful day for Quentin, who rocketed two homers and totaled four RBI on the day to bump his overall line to .259/.346/.512. It's a resurgence for the oft-injured righty, who is on pace to post 34 home runs, just shy of his career high of 46 in 2008. Giving how good pitching is these days though, this could be Quentin's most impressive season.
Jeff Karstens, Pirates: Karstens has been pitching way above his head this year and paid for it Friday with a regression to the mean. He coughed up nine earned runs in 3 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out two. His ERA spiked from 2.49 to 3.05. Still, Karstens has gotten this far pitching this well, so he must be doing something right. While he's simply not a 2.49 ERA kind of pitcher -- and not quite 3.05 either -- he has shown that he can be a very good pitcher.
J.A. Happ, Astros: Ugh. Happ's ERA is now a sky-high 6.26. That's in 22 starts, so it's a legit 6.26. Happ had a 18-8 record from 2009-10 between the Phillies and Houston, posting a 3.09 ERA. Those who looked at peripherals and/or advanced statistics knew this was all a fluke. Those who saw nothing but the win-loss record were delivered a blow this season, as Happ gave up six runs in four innings to the Brewers, walking three and striking out two. Oh, and his record? 4-14. The Houston Chronicle's Zachary Levine notes that Happ is the first pitcher in Astros history to allow at least five runs in eight consecutive starts. Oh, and he's the fourth pitcher since 1948 to allow five runs in eight straight starts.
Drew Stubbs, Reds: Stubbs has skidded this season with a .252/.327/.386 mark. This wasn't supposed to happen, not after Stubbs notched a 20-30 season last year with a .255/.329/.444 mark, but his power has all but vanished this year and leads baseball with 145 strikeouts, three of which came against the Cubs on Friday, going hitless in four at-bats. The loss was the second straight for the Reds, who have gone 4-6 in their last 10 and are now 8 1/2 games out of first with a 54-58 record. If they're going to get to the postseason, they need to at the very least stop losing ground.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.