Tag:NL Central
Posted on: March 18, 2011 11:57 am
 

Myers named Houston's opening day starter

By Matt Snyder

For the first time since 2002, a pitcher other than Roy Oswalt will start on opening day for the Houston Astros. With their former ace now with Philadelphia, former Phillie Brett Myers takes over. (Ultimate Astros )

The ties between the two teams don't end there. Myers will be facing the Phillies, a team for which he started on opening day three straight years (2007-2009).

Myers, 30, is coming off the best year of his career. He went 14-8 with a 3.14 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, striking out 180 batters in 223 2/3 innings.

The news comes as little surprise with Wandy Rodriguez battling shoulder tendinitis.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 18, 2011 10:33 am
Edited on: March 18, 2011 11:18 am
 

Pepper: Kemp has something to prove



By Matt Snyder


Prior to last season, the common sentiment was that Matt Kemp was headed to stardom. It made sense. He was only 25 and was coming off a season where he hit .297 with a .352 OBP and 26 homers, 101 RBI, 97 runs and 34 stolen bases. Though he did hit two more home runs last season, he regressed rather significantly. His average dropped 48 points and OBP was a poor .310. He stole 19 bases, but was caught stealing 15 times. And the stat-line wasn't the worst part. His love life and butting heads with coaches made more news than his actual play.

But the proverbial page has been turned this spring.

"He seems great. I shouldn't say 'seems,' because he's been great," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told the Los Angeles Times .

Kemp came into the spring with that cliche of being in the best shape of his life. So far, it's coming through on the field, as he's hitting .316 with three home runs and three stolen bases. He's looking for it to carry over into the games that actually matter, and there's an extra motivation at play.

"Last year was a very disappointing season, personally and team-wise," he said to the Times. "I felt like I failed in some way. This year, I'm going to try to make sure that doesn't happen again, that we get back to the playoffs and get to where we should be."

HEILMAN ON THE HILL: Aaron Heilman hasn't started a game since 2005, but he's making a strong case to break camp as the Diamondbacks' fifth starter. Two of the three between Heilman, Barry Enright and Armando Galarraga will join the D-Backs' rotation, and Heilman became the first Arizona pitcher to toss five innings Thursday. He allowed two runs -- coming on a Matt Kemp homer, coincidentally. (MLB.com )

ABOUT FELIX'S NO-TRADE CLAUSE: A popular topic this week on the interwebs has been this list of teams Felix Hernandez has on his no-trade clause. Specifically, he can block a trade to the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Phillies and two still-unnamed teams. Now, upon first glance, it might seem he's scared to play in a large-market, high-pressure situation. Quite the contrary, however, as this is actually a savvy move by Hernandez and his agents. Reports indicate these are the teams they felt were most likely to try and acquire King Felix and would be able to offer financial incentives to waive the clause. While we're here, Yankees fans, Felix is not going to be traded this year. It's time to turn the page. (FOX Sports )

NICE CATCH:
Yankees legend Yogi Berra was speaking with Rays manager Joe Maddon Thursday when Berra tripped and began to fall. Maddon caught him. "It's one of those things, you just see it and he's going down. There's Yogi Berra falling right in front of me," Maddon said. "I try to catch him. It might have been my best play as a professional." If not for Maddon's steady hand, it would have been the second fall this spring for Berra. (TBO.com )

OUTFIELD DEFENSE: The best defensive outfield? The Mariners, followed by the Rangers, Giants and Yankees. (MLB.com )

BIG DAY: Kendrys Morales is either going to play Sunday or start the season on the disabled list. He did say rather definitively that he plans to play, but words can only carry you so far. If he's not fully recovered from last season's broken leg, he's just not ready. Mark Trumbo would be the Angels' starting first baseman if Morales can't go. (MLB.com )

ROLEN FOR HALL: This is interesting to me because I rarely consider a Hall of Fame case for a guy who has yet to retire, but Fangraphs.com takes a look at the possible Hall case for Scott Rolen. He probably doesn't pass that gut feeling test -- you know, when people say you should be able to hear the name and automatically just say "Hall of Famer!" if he belongs in -- but it does look like his numbers will merit strong consideration. Fangraphs does warn Rolen is in danger of becoming Ron Santo 2.0.

DEFUNCT LOGOS: This is a fun one. SBNation's Beyond the Box Score takes a look at its top 30 defunct MLB logos. I'm partial to the No. 5 logo, but there are some good ones in there.

LASTINGS IMPRESSION: It's easy to forget that Lastings Milledge is only 25. After all, he was a first-round draft pick in 2003 and was in the majors in 2006. Since then, it's been mostly disappointment, but he is raking this spring with the White Sox -- hitting .314 with four home runs and nine RBI. He hit two bombs in Thursday's win. The biggest plus might be seeing the humility. "Whatever production they get out of me is a plus. I’m not a key piece," he said. (Chicago Sun-Times )

A SIX-YEAR HIATUS? How about a Darren Dreifort comeback? He hasn't pitched since 2004, but threw a bullpen session this week at Dodgers camp. He's 39, but had severe injury woes in his career and retired at age 32. I'd say don't hold your breath. It's spring and sometimes people are just trying to file any story even remotely interesting. (MLB.com )

ON CONTRACTION:
The New York Post has a theory on what the majors could do with the Rays, A's, Mets and Dodgers. The Rays and A's would be contracted while the respective ownership groups would take over the messes that are the Mets and Dodgers. In order to curb the complaints of the player's union, major league rosters would be expanded to 27 players, thereby not eliminating jobs -- it would actually very slightly increase the number of major-league players. It's decent fodder for this time of the year, when we're killing time until the regular season begins, but I just don't ever see contraction happening.

SOUTH KOREAN IDOL: Shortstop prospect Hak-Ju Lee has fully embraced life in America, as he's become a huge fan of KFC and Papa John's, for example. He's also a big American Idol fan and sings really well -- according to himself. (TampaBay.com )

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Posted on: March 17, 2011 11:10 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/17: St. Patrick's Day edition

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Dontrelle Willis3 UP

1. Dontrelle Willis, Reds -- Not only did Willis pitch a scoreless inning to lower his spring ERA to 2.84, he also tripled and scored a run off of Indians' opening day starter Fausto Carmona.

2. Jason Heyward, Braves -- After missing the last five games with back discomfort, Heyward had a two-run homer and scored twice. He's hitting .440 this spring.

3. Jake Fox, Orioles -- The Orioles catcher had two homers in Thursday's 13-3 victory over Pittsburgh. He now has seven this spring, including four in the last three games. Still, manager Buck Showalter said defense will determine whether he makes the club out of spring.

3 DOWN

1. Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox -- Boston's closer has had a terrible spring -- and it wasn't any better on Thursday. For the second time this spring, he was lifted in the middle of an inning, allowing four runs on two hits in 2/3 of an inning. He's now 0-1 with a 12.60 ERA this spring.

2. Cliff Lee, Phillies -- Lee gave up homers to Toronto's Juan Rivera and Edwin Encarnacion in a five-run fourth inning. Only three of those runs were earned, but he's given up six earned runs in his last two starts. Just a hunch, but I think he'll be OK.

3. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies -- Coming into Thursday's game against the White Sox, Jimenez hadn't given up a run all spring. He gave up seven on at Salt River Fields on eight hits.

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Posted on: March 17, 2011 10:34 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 10:36 pm
 

Roenicke concerned about Marcum

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Shaun MarcumEarlier I wrote that Shaun Marcum wasn't concerned about his early exit from Thursday's game. He may not be, but his manager is.

"There is definitely concern there," Ron Roenicke told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "His neck bothered him the last couple of days and when he went out there today eh thought it was the neck. I don't know if he was overcompensating, I don't know."

Roenicke also noted Marcum's velocity was down.

"We're in a tough spot if he's down for a while," Roenicke said.

Zack Greinke is already expected to miss his first two starts of the season. The Brewers start the season in Cincinnati before going home to take on the Braves and Cubs.

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Posted on: March 17, 2011 7:17 pm
 

Marcum leaves early, says he's fine

Shaun MarcumBy C. Trent Rosecrans

You can forgive Brewer fans for being a little tight right about now.

Milwaukee had another starter leave the game prematurely -- this time it was right-hander Shaun Marcum. However, Marcum said he didn't think the tightness in his right shoulder was anything to worry about.

"This may be one of those things to take a day or two off of throwing to get the tightness out of there and pick back up where I left off and get ready for April 2," Marcum told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Marcum left after three innings of Thursday's game against the White Sox. He allowed just a hit and struck out two before exiting.

"It felt good the first two innings and in between the second and third it started tightening up," Marcum said. "We just decided it would be in the best interest to not go back out."

The Brewers, of course, lost Zack Greinke earlier this spring. The team has also seen injuries to Corey Hart, Yuniesky Betancourt, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Chris Dickerson.

"We are this far along, we have two weeks left and it seems like everyone is going down," Marcum said. "You want to be one of the guys that stays healthy and is able to play when it is my time."

It would be silly to panic now, but there is certainly concern in Brewer camp. A couple of more injuries and the needle could move away from concern and toward panic.

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Posted on: March 17, 2011 10:50 am
Edited on: March 17, 2011 1:50 pm
 

Pepper: Chavez was on Hall of Fame path

Chavez

Eric Chavez was once headed to the Hall of Fame.

At least, that's what Athletics GM Billy Beane believes.

"If you take a look at those seasons, understand that he was just 26 and extrapolate it to a 12-, 13-year career, you are talking about a guy who is going to end up with 400 or so homers and 10-12 Gold Gloves," Beane said.

Up through the 2004 season, Chavez was one of the better young third basemen in the game with three Gold Gloves on his resume along with a career .277/.354/.502 line with 163 home runs in 3,507 plate appearances -- posting a career-high 29 home runs in 2004 despite playing in 125 games. Chavez was extremely durable at the time, appearing in over 150 games from 2000-03 and would hit 160 games played in 2005. Beane studied data that showed players who hit the majors early and produced (such as Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter) would go on to have a long career.

Thus, Beane inked Chavez to a six-year, $66 million deal and eschewed long-term deals for Miguel Tejada or, later, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito

"Up to that point, he had been very healthy," Beane said. "And if you take away the injuries, he would have been in the conversation [for the Hall of Fame]."

Now, Chavez is looking to extend his career at age 33, a shell of his former self and one who had to turn down more playing time with the Dodgers for fear that his body wouldn't hold up. He is currently on track to make the Yankees' roster as a bench player. (New York Post)

White Sox PICK WINNING: ChiSox owner Jerry Reinsdorf revealed that Chicago chose to spend money in free agency rather than rebuild. "We just could not see where the players we would have remaining were going to bring us the talent we needed to get better in 2012,"  Reinsdorf said. "So that just left us looking into what do we have to do to get better than Minnesota." (ChicagoBreakingSports.com)

I'LL STAY, THANK YOU: It's not often you hear of a star indicating he wants to stay in Kansas City, but that's exactly what 26-year-old Joakim Soria wants to do. Even the prospect of a brutal 2011 doesn't faze him, with the closer indicating he believes in what the Royals have done so far and sees a bright future. The Royals, for their part, have no interest in trading a player expected to be a linchpin of the next contending K.C. club. (Kansas City Star)

A MAN AMONG BOYS: Joe Posnanski spins a story of the best offensive players on a World Series team, and it isn't close. George Brett tallied up 8.0 wins above replacement for the 1985 Royals, with the offense as a whole contributing 8.9 WAR. Also: Should Brett have won 4 MVPs instead of one? (Joe Blogs)

MUSIC TO BASEBALL'S EARS: Check out this really cool picture (and video, if so inclined) by a musician in the National Symphony Orchestra. What's cool about it? The musician is playing a violin made out of a baseball bat. (Fangraphs.com)

SNEAK PEEK? This season, the Tucson Padres will adorn what may eventually be the San Diego Padres' uniforms. The Padres president indicated in the past that the club may go to a more retro feel in the future, which Tucson certainly has while keeping San Diego's current color scheme. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

BE REAL: That's what Dusty Baker says in an interview, Esquire-style. A great look into the mind of one of baseball's more successful managers of the past two decades. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

TEN MORE YEARS IN PALM BEACH: A deal has been reached that could keep the Marlins and Cardinals in Palm Beach, Fla. for the next 10 years provided the spring training stadium is upgraded. Both teams can opt out of the agreement in 2017 if less than four teams remain in Southeast Florida, which would complicate travel. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW: The Royals' reassigned top prospects Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas to minor league camp in order to get at-bats and turn the focus at the major-league level toward getting Mike Aviles, Wilson Betemit and Kila Ka'aihue ready for opening day. (MLB.com)

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Posted on: March 17, 2011 12:00 am
 

Getting to know the Cardinals

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MVP

Sure, it seems like a cop-out or too obvious, but how is any talk of a Cardinals' most valuable player going to come down to anyone but the best player in the game, Albert Pujols?

Albert PujolsHow good is Pujols? Last season he was second in the MVP voting after a .312/.414/.596 season. He led the National League in home runs (42) and RBI (118), as well as all the majors in runs (115) -- and it was still reasonable to call it a "down" year for him.

Pujols has three MVP trophies so far in his career and it'd be an upset if he didn't finish his career with at least four.

PLAYER ORACLE

Rogers Hornsby played with Buck Jordan for the 1927 New York Giants
Buck Jordan played with Johnny Vander Meer for the 1937 Cincinnati Reds
Johnny Vander Meer played with Minnie Minoso for the 1951 Cleveland Indians
Minnie Minoso played with Jim Morrison for the 1980 Chicago White Sox
Jim Morrison played with John Smoltz for the 1988 Atlanta Braves
John Smoltz played with Colby Rasmus for the 2009 St. Louis Cardinals

Alyssa MilanoPOP CULTURE

Anthony Morton "Tony" Micelli not only had to retire from his spot as a second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals because of a shoulder injury, but he also lost his wife and then had to swallow his pride and become a live-in housekeeper for an advertising executive in Connecticut.

Sure, it could be a sad story, but in the end, it provided more laughs than tears, even if we never learned exactly Who's the Boss?

Tony Danza played Micelli in the eight seasons of the sitcom that aired from 1984 to 1992. On the show, his daughter was played by Alyssa Milano (right), who took the inspiration from her ballplayer TV dad and has been connected to Major League Baseball for several years. Milano has dated several  big league players, including former Cardinal Brad Penny, along with Carl Pavano and Barry Zito.

Milano isn't just attracted to players, but also the game. In 2007 she was playoff correspondent for MLB.com and in 2009, she wrote a book called Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic. She also designed a line of baseball-themed clothes for women, sold at MLB.com.

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Posted on: March 16, 2011 4:47 pm
 

Cardinals' Carpenter happy with return to hill

By Matt Snyder

After going down with a strained left hamstring March 1, Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter returned to the mound Wednesday in a spring training game against the Tigers. He worked four innings (actually four-plus, as he pitched to one batter in the fifth), allowing six hits, three earned runs and a walk.

Factoring in the zero strikeouts, those are hardly gaudy numbers, but that isn't what is important right now.

"My hamstring felt good," Carpenter told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch , also adding everything was good with the arm, too.

"I was happy with it," he said. "I think I got stronger as the game went on. I felt my stuff got better as we went along. I felt more comfortable."

This has to be a huge load off the shoulders of the Cardinals franchise. Carpenter threw 57 pitches, which means he should be able to stretch out in time for opening day without over-exerting himself.

As we all know by now -- let me get that broken record cued up -- Carpenter's health is paramount to the Cardinals' success this season with Adam Wainwright lost for the season.

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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