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Tag:Chris Sale
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:46 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 4:46 pm
 

Players, managers react to new playoff format

By Matt Snyder

MLB Playoff expansion
With the news spreading throughout baseball that playoff expansion is very likely for the 2012 season, some reactions from players and managers have started to trickle out of camps. As one would expect on a divisive issue, the reactions are all over the map.

For a very brief recap to those who haven't read about it yet, it's extremely likely that starting this season, MLB will have two wild card teams play one head-to-head game, with the winner advancing to face the division winner with the best record in the LDS. The second and third division winners will face each other. The new collective bargaining agreement established that this system would begin by 2013, but it's likely it will begin this season.

Anyway, here are some of the reactions we've gathered thus far:

Blue Jays manager John Farrell (CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler)

"I think it's great for baseball. Hopefully, we're in the mix to land one of those spots."

Mets third baseman David Wright (Andy McCullough via Twitter)

"That would have been nice five years ago."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel (CSNPhilly.com)

“It’s hard to swallow sometimes if you play all year and win a lot of games and somebody who did not play as good as you consistently all year gets in and wins. But that’s the way it goes and that’s the process that we live with.

“I understand everything about that and I’m not knocking that. That’s what it is. But at the same time, I look at it as I’m not a second-place guy or third place or fourth place. Basically that’s the part – for me, personally, you shouldn’t get nothing for second or third. That’s the American system.”

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen (MLB.com)

"Anytime you involve more people, it's good for the game. I think the Commissioner is doing a tremendous job adding people to have a chance to see playoff games, and I think that's great for the fans. This game, we play for them."

Red Sox DH David Ortiz (ESPN Boston)

“One game? That’s kind of crazy. You know how many things we’ve got to move around and pack for one game? It’d make more sense for two wild cards to play at least a two-out-of-three series while the other teams take a break for three days because they won their divisions.”

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (TampaBay.com)

"I think it's exciting. It's exciting for all of us. ... I think the goal was to allow more teams to have a chance in the end, to hold on to those playoff hopes for longer.''

"I think it was pretty unanimous around the league that the more playoff spots the better. Once you get into the playoffs it's more revenue for the ballclub, it's more excitement for the players, so I think it would be a no-brainer for everybody.''

"I don't think anybody's 'comfortable' with [one-game playoff] -- it's an uncomfortable feeling going into any game that you know you could go home, your season could end. But at the same time, it's exciting -- you're in the playoffs now.''

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones (MLB.com)

"I'm not for it. I think the elite teams deserve to make it to the playoffs. Pretty soon, Major League Baseball is going to be like the NBA. There will be more teams that make it than don't. The season is too long as it is. Now you're going to give teams more travel. I don't agree with it, but we're just a piece of meat. We do what they tell us to."

Braves backup catcher David Ross (MLB.com)

"I like the one game for all of the marbles kind of thing because it's either put up or shut up," Braves backup catcher David Ross said. "It's going to be fun. The fans are going to be tuned in. It will get a lot of media attention. It will be a lot of fun."

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly (ESPN Los Angeles)

"I like it because it forces those two teams to use their best pitcher, so they have to use that guy to get in (to the next round). On paper, that gives the advantage to the team that wins the division because they can line up their rotation the way they want it. It seems fair to me that the team who wins the division gets that advantage.''

White Sox pitcher Chris Sale (ChicagoSports.com)

"Obviously, it’s exciting. Two more teams into the playoffs. At the same time, you want to be one of those teams for sure in there. You want to win the division. "They said it today, you are not playing for second place. It would be great if that did happen, but from here on out, we are going for that No. 1 spot."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura (ChicagoSports.com)

“In the past, when they added (the wild card), it created excitement and even last year, the last day of the season it added fun. You never know. It just depends on how the season goes. But it’s exciting for teams to get in. That’s for sure.”

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 8, 2012 4:11 pm
 

Spring position battle: American League Central



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Gearing up for spring training, we're headed east -- -but not too far east, just east from west, or in other words, to the Central, starting in the American League and what positional battles will be fought in the American League Central this spring, continuing the spring position battles series.

Chicago White Sox
Closer: Matt Thornton vs. Jesse Crain vs. Addison Reed

With Sergio Santos in Toronto and Chris Sale headed to the rotation, the White Sox are once again looking for a closer. Thornton saved three games last season and Crain one, but both are more or less keeping the seat warm for Reed, the team's top (and perhaps only) prospect. Thornton, an All-Star in 2010, won the closer battle last season before blowing his first four save opportunities to start the season and he was ultimately replaced by Santos. Crain pitched well last season, but it's Reed that has a chance to be special.

Cleveland Indians
Fifth starter: Kevin Slowey vs. David Huff vs. Jeanmar Gomez vs. Zach McAllister

Ubaldo Jimenez is the team's opening-day starter followed by Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin. The fifth spot is probably Slowey's to lose. The 27-year-old right-hander was twice traded this offseason, first to Colorado and then to Cleveland. While he struggled last season (0-8 with a 6.67 ERA in eight starts and 14 games), he's a proven back-of-the-rotation starter with a 39-29 record and 4.66 ERA. He's also familiar with the AL Central. Gomez made 10 starts for the Indians last season, as did Huff, the only lefty of the group. McAllister made four starts and wasn't overly impressive.

Detroit Tigers
Third base: Miguel Cabrera vs. third base

When the Tigers signed Prince Fielder, the stated plan was that Cabrera will move to third, leaving the DH spot for Victor Martinez -- who isn't playing this year. The Tigers, it appears, are trying to keep Cabrera from getting too big to play third in preparation for 2013 when they'll really have a logjam at the position with Fielder, Cabrera, Martinez and Delmon Young. For now, it seems like wishful thinking that Cabrera can play a passable third base. But if he can, it helps the team out -- especially defensively in the outfield with Young not trying to figure out what to do with that that thing on his left hand.

Kansas City Royals
Second base: Johnny Giavotella vs. Chris Getz vs. Yuniesky Betancourt

What you've heard is true -- there's a ton of talent in Kansas City. In fact, the lineup is nearly set, except for second base and center field. Center should be manned by Lorenzo Cain, who doesn't have a realistic competitor for the spot, but second could be a question. Giavotella came up in 2011 to middling results - .247/.273/.376 with two homers and five stolen bases in 187 plate appearances, but he has a chance to take the position if he can play at the level he established in the minors, where he was a .305/.375/.437 hitter since being taken in the second round of the 2008 draft. While just 5-foot-8, he has shown the ability to make contract (striking out no more than 67 times in any of his minor league seasons) and walk nearly as much as he strikes out (192 minor-league walks to 212 strikeouts). He's not the best defender, but he's adequate. Getz is nobody's idea of a long-term answer. He hit .255/.313/.287 last season, but plays good defense. And then there's Betancourt, who was signed not add depth. The former Royals shortstop will not and should not be pressuring light-hitting Alcides Escobar, but he could add some pop to the infield at second.

Minnesota Twins
Disabled list: Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau vs. the disabled list

No two players may be as essential to their team's success as Mauer and Morneau. The two made a combined $37 million last season -- more than the entire Royals team. And, by the way, Kansas City finished eight games ahead of the Twins in the AL Central. The Twins just barely avoided being a $100-million, 100-loss team, but it took a 1-0 victory over the Royals on the last season to do it. Mauer played in 82 games, while Morneau played in just 69, with the two combining to hit seven home runs between them. Morneau's never seemed to fully recover from the concussion he suffered in July of 2010 and Mauer's had a variety of injuries, missing games with a leg injury, as well as lower back stiffness, a bruised shoulder, neck stiffness and pneumonia. Both players will play first base and DH some to try to keep them healthy, but questions will continue until either plays a productive 130-game-or-so season.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: December 10, 2011 12:05 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago White Sox

Magglio Ordonez

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

If there's an opposite of the Oakland A's and Billy Beane's Moneyball, it's Kenny Williams and the White Sox. The White Sox have not drafted well and searched to fill holes through free agency, spending money and taking big chances in trades. While Williams' way makes him the butt of some jokes and nobody's making a movie about him anytime soon, he does have something Beane doesn't have -- a World Series trophy.

Lineup

1. Alexei Ramirez, SS
2. Gordon Beckham, 2B
3. Michael Morse, 1B
4. Chris Young, CF
5. Carlos Lee, DH
6. Magglio Ordonez, RF
7. Ryan Sweeney, LF
8. Brent Morel, 3B
9. Chris Stewart, C

Starting Rotation

1. Mark Buehrle
2. Gio Gonzalez
3. Daniel Hudson
4. Brandon McCarthy
5. Clayton Richard

Bullpen

Closer - Jon Rauch
Set up - Matt Guerrier, Chris Sale, Addison Reed, Boone Logan, John Ely
Long - Lucas Harrell

Notable Bench Players

Not surprisingly, when looking at the state of the organization (and the state of that lineup), the White Sox are thin on bench players, with Dayan Viciedo making a push for the starting lineup as well as Chris Getz on the infield and Mike Cameron in the outfield.

What's Good?

There's no Adam Dunn, for starters. The rotation is good, especially at the top with Buehrle and Gonzalez. The rest of the rotation is good enough, as well. While Rauch isn't the top closer around, the rest of the bullpen is talented.

What's Not?

The lineup isn't going to strike fear into too many pitching staffs, even though there are nice pieces. The corner outfielder and DH are all on the down side of their career. There's also not much depth on the roster among position players.

Comparison to real 2011

The White Sox finished 79-83 in 2011, thanks to poor seasons from Dunn, Morel, Beckham and Alex Rios. The rotation is likely a little better in real life than this team, while the bullpen is better here than in real life, evening out. The lineup may not put up a lot of runs, but the White Sox didn't, either. The real team has an impact bat in Paul Konerko and a good complimentary piece in Carlos Quentin. This lineup doesn't have those kinds of weapons, so I'm not so sure our hypothetical team could match the 79 wins the White Sox finished with in 2011.

Next: Baltimore Orioles

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: December 1, 2011 8:12 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 9:01 pm
 

Thursday rumors: White Sox, Prado, Kuroda, more

By Matt Snyder

The Hot Stove
Just a few days to what should prove to be a very busy Winter Meetings, so let's hit a bunch of the smaller rumors from Thursday, the first day of December.

• The White Sox are in a situation where they're most certain to be sellers on the trade market in an attempt to rebuild their barren farm system. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports that other teams are so sure the White Sox are selling that they're inquiring about shortstop Alexei Ramirez and young pitcher Chris Sale. But, Knobler adds, the price for either would be "sky high." Talks on a contract extension with starting pitcher John Danks are in a "stalemate" and it's possible he's traded (ESPN Chicago). Remember, earlier this week we passed along the report that the White Sox were trying to deal reliever Matt Thornton and we've heard rumors involving starting pitcher Gavin Floyd and right fielder Carlos Quentin for weeks. Long-time left-handed starting pitcher Mark Buehrle is a free agent and expected to be gone. Jon Heyman reports there are 14 teams after Buehrle, so he may be the most popular player on the free agent market.

• The Rockies are still interested in Martin Prado, Knobler reports, and the Braves like outfielder Seth Smith as a piece coming back -- but the Braves also want Rockies third base prospect Nolan Arenado and, as Knobler said, that's not happening.

• It's looking less likely the Dodgers can retain starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, reports Knobler. Kuroda made $12.5 million last season and the Dodgers won't come close to paying him that much to stick around. The interesting factor here is Kuroda has said he won't pitch for any other team in America. So if he doesn't want to sign for what the Dodgers offer, he may well be headed back to Japan.

Angels infielder Maicer Izturis was discussed in trade talk between the Angels and Rockies before the Chris Iannetta trade was completed -- CBSSports.com's Scott Miller reports -- so Izturis is available. The Tigers have been connected with Izturis in rumors this week.

• The Brewers, Cardinals and Giants are all looking at free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez (Jon Heyman).

• The Rangers are hopeful of getting a long-term contract extension done with catcher Mike Napoli (Jon Paul Morosi). If he doesn't sign an extension, Napoli would be a free agent after the 2012 season.

• The Diamondbacks have made a contract offer to first baseman Lyle Overbay (Fox Sports Arizona).

Earlier Thursday we noted that the Marlins were wooing closer Heath Bell, and you can now add the Blue Jays to the mix. They are after his services, reports Ken Rosenthal.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 6, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 4:55 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Chicago White Sox

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series... 

Team name: Chicago White Sox
Record: 79-83, 3rd place AL Central, 16 GB
Manager: Ozzie Guillen/Don Cooper
Best hitter: Paul Konerko -- .300/.388/.517 with 31 HR, 105 RBI
Best pitcher:Mark Buehrle -- 13-0, 3.59 ERA, 205 1/3 IP, 109 SO, 45 BB

2011 SEASON RECAP

That feeling Red Sox and Braves fans had in the last days of the season? That's what it felt like all season long on the Southside of Chicago. The White Sox spent big money to bring Adam Dunn to town and dreams of him crushing balls out of U.S. Cellular Field. Instead, he was the biggest flop since Cowboys vs. Aliens. Dunn had an emergency appendectomy early in the season, and that may have been his highlight for 2011, finishing the season hitting .159/.292/.277 with 11 home runs and 42 RBI. The disappointment in Dunn permeated the entire season, even though the White Sox were just three games back in the American League Central leading up to the trade deadline, they never looked like a serious contender. They didn't disappoint, going 11-17 over the last month of the season as manager Ozzie Guillen dropped hints about wanting out before getting his way and being sent to the Marlins for a couple of minor-leaguers.

2012 AUDIT

The White Sox already have nearly $90 million committed for 2012, so there's little chance of a quick fix. Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Dunn and Konerko alone will account for $55.5 million, more than the entire 2011 opening day payroll for the Diamondbacks, Indians, Padres, Pirates, Rays and Royals. The will be looking to get some of its younger players, like catcher Tyler Flowers and outfielders Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza.

FREE AGENTS

LHP Mark Buehrle
OF Juan Pierre
RHP Jason Frasor ($3.75 team option)
UTIL Omar Vizquel
C Ramon Castro

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Forget the big-name managerial candidates. There's no need to throw money at Tony La Russa or Terry Francona. Hire Rays bench coach Dave Martinez. He's learned at the hand of baseball's best manager, Joe Maddon, and he's ready for his own challenge. Martinez also knows the landscape, as part of his long big-league career, he played for both the White Sox and Cubs. Sandy Alomar Jr., another former White Sox, would be a good choice, as well. UPDATE: Former third baseman Robin Ventura has been named manager, just hours after this was originally posted.
  • Avoid the free agent market. Yes, this could be difficult for Kenny Williams, but this is not the time for the White Sox to spend big bucks on free agents.
  • Not that anyone expects anything different, the White Sox should give Buehrle a nice watch and wave him goodbye. Buehrle would like to return, but his price tag is likely too high. His time, like Guillen's, is over.
  • Juan Pierre? Gone.
  • Dangle John Danks and Gavin Floyd. While there are some attractive names on the free agent market, the pitching market isn't as as good as the available position players. Teams will be looking for pitching, and either Floyd (making $7 million in 2012 with a club options or 2013) or Danks (in his final year of arbitration). If neither bring back the kind of return the team wants, you can pull them back. Look at Toronto's trade of Shaun Marcum for Brett Lawrie as an example. The White Sox have by far the worst minor-league system in baseball, and it needs replacements.
  • Tell Chris Sale to get ready to start. Kenny Williams already told him this, but let it be known it's his spot to lose.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 6, 2011 1:15 pm
 

Sale to stay in bullpen, Humber spot in jeopardy?

White Sox

By Evan Brunell

Any hope for Chris Sale fans that he might collect a few starts before the end of the season has now completely vanished, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

‘‘I think [general manager] Kenny [Williams] wants him to be a starter next year, but I don’t think we should [start him this year],’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said of Sale, who was drafted in 2010 and made the majors the same year as a reliever. ‘‘I want to win a couple more games. I don’t care if I’m in last place or not, I’m going to play every day to win. I might see one guy here or there, but my job is to win games."

The White Sox have lost seven of their last 10 and has slipped to 6 1/2 games out of first place. Still not insurmountable, especially if the club catches fire in a weak division, but the days are growing shorter. Still, Guillen isn't prepared to give up chasing the postseason, and Sale, at least for 2011, is best utilized in relief. He's gone thre innings a few times, so his endurance hasn't waned. In 51 innings, he's struck out 53 and walked 19, registering a 2.82 ERA and three saves. Yet, Guillen didn't completely discount starting Sale, even if he opened up the discussion by discounting it.

‘‘Obviously, if we get to that position [where we’re out of it], I’ll give the kids a chance. In the meanwhile, I’m not going to go out there and throw everything away. I don’t know what exactly they have planned next year for this kid. I think we should prepare him in spring training and the offseason.’’

Sale is expected to be a member of a rotation in 2012 that could have as many as three new members. One member whose spot could be in danger is Phil Humber, the unheralded minor-league free agent signing and former trade chip in the Johan Santana deal. Humber broke through this season for pitching coach Don Cooper and the ChiSox after flailing in Minnesota and Kansas City. In a new AL Central town, Humber forced his way into the rotation as a permanent member by posting a 2.69 ERA over 103 2/3 innings. He made the White Sox arrange their rotation into six members once Jake Peavy was healthy, then greased the skids for an Edwin Jackson trade. Yet, over his last four starts, he has a 7.97 ERA. Is it ineffectiveness or hitting a wall, with a major-league high 124 innings? He has reached139 innings as a minor-league high and at least 118 a season down on the farm over the last four years, so one might think he should have more endurance than this.

‘‘Minor-league innings, that is [crap],’’ Guillen said. ‘‘That is nothing. Minor-league innings compared to here [in the big leagues], I think it’s double because you have to grind it out every pitch. In the minor leagues, you get away with two, three, four guys in the lineup, and you mess around. In the big leagues, every pitch, you got to be on it.

‘‘But he threw the ball good [Thursday], especially the way those guys were hitting. The last time [against the Boston Red Sox], he hit the wall [after holding the Sox to one hit through four innings]. [Thursday], he threw the ball pretty good.’’

The White Sox will give Humber every chance to snap out of his slump to see if he can be a legitimate option for next season, but if the White Sox fall out of the race and Humber continues to skid, Sale may yet make it into the rotation.

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

Posted on: May 10, 2011 12:57 am
Edited on: May 10, 2011 12:58 am
 

Sale not concerned about velocity, but command

By Evan Brunell

SaleChris Sale opened the season as Matt Thornton's setup man, and there were some who thought Sale could eventually walk away with the closer's job.

Instead, the lefty has been part of the problem with a 7.15 ERA entering Monday's games over 11 1/3 innings. The bright side? Sale has punched out 13 and that number is sure to rise once the weather warms up even more and Sale can unleash his upper 90's fastball that is currently sitting in the mid-90s.

"Yeah, velocity is ­probably the last thing I’m worried about," Sale told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Getting outs is at the top of my to-do list. It will get there. I’m not too worried about where I’m at with velocity. I feel good, my body feels good, my arm feels good."

Outs are indeed a problem for Sale, who has seen his walk rate creep up to four walks per nine innings. Not exactly a great ratio, but forgivable for someone with Sale's strikeout stuff. Less forgivable is his 15 hits allowed, but his .353 BABIP suggests that he's been rather unlucky and can count on that number to decrease. Still, when your boss is Ozzie Guillen, you don't want to wait for regression to the mean.

Pitching coach Don Cooper has identified some potential mechanical flaws that could be responsible for Sale's increased command issues, which may also be part of the culprit in giving up too many hits. After all, if you don't spot the pitch where you want it and walk too many batters, it stands to reason the pitches you toss in the strike zone may end up in hittable locations. Indeed, while batters are offering at his pitches inside the strike zone at a similar clip to last season, they're making contact a lot more often.

Fortunately, Sale has the right frame of mind as far as addressing his problems. Far too often, when confronted with adversity, young pitchers rush their delivery in an attempt to overthrow the ball past the batter.

"My main focus is not about lighting up the radar gun," he said. "Everybody in this league can hit 98. That’s no secret. It’s a ­matter of where the pitch is, not how hard it is."

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

Posted on: May 9, 2011 10:28 am
Edited on: May 9, 2011 11:27 am
 

Pepper: Greinke's new home, Phillies, more




By Matt Snyder


ADJUSTMENT PERIOD OVER: Carl Crawford just needed a little patience. After a catastrophic beginning to his career in Boston, the speedy left fielder is swinging a hot bat in May. For the month, he's hitting .387 with two doubles and a triple. He's been hitting eighth in the batting order and manager Terry Francona had said that the Red Sox big offseason signing would move back up toward the top of the order when he started hitting. So does the current run suffice? Not quite yet.

“If you move one guy, somebody else goes, too,” Francona said (Boston Herald ). “I think there will be a time when it seems to me that it works for everybody that I would like to do that. He’s swinging the bat better, which is good. But it also has to work with everybody else, too.”

The Red Sox currently have Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis in the 1-2-3 spots. There really doesn't seem to be anything wrong with that set up, so Francona has a point. Or maybe insert Crawford at the two-hole and knock everyone back a slot? There's probably no wrong answer.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Alexi Ogando is suffering through a blister on his pitching hand (the index finger), which was the reason he missed Sunday's scheduled start. Fortunately he pitches for the Rangers, because team president Nolan Ryan dealt with the same issue back when he was a youngster for the Mets. Ryan's been helping Ogando use some remedies that helped him, such as shaving the blister so it dries out and rubbing pickle juice on it. While we're here, just to stave off the crowd of athlete-haters, a blister isn't a pain issue for pitchers. It's a matter of affecting command. (Star-Telegram.com )

FIVES ARE WILD: Apropos of absolutely nothing at all, every single American League game Sunday ended with one team having scored five runs. It was the first time a league had every game with one team scoring the same run total since August 10, 1993 when it happened in the NL. It doesn't mean anything, obviously, but it's a quasi-interesting little anomaly. (Hardball Talk )

FIRST IMPRESSION: Phenom Julio Teheran debuted Saturday for the Braves against the Phillies -- in Philadelphia, no less, which isn't exactly an easy place for opposing pitchers -- He only made it through 4 2/3 innings, giving up four hits, three earned runs and two walks while only striking out one. Still, it wasn't an awful debut. The kid is 20. Braves' skipper Fredi Gonzalez made sure to let Teheran he was pleased with the effort. "I wanted to make sure he told him that he did good and that he was impressive and that we liked the way he handled himself," Gonzalez said. "We told him that last night. But we wanted to make sure they told him again." (MLB.com )

LONEY WAKING UP: Judging from what I've seen on Twitter and message boards, James Loney is the most-maligned person affiliated with the Dodgers not named McCourt. It's easy to see why, as he's flashed the power of a sub-par middle infielder while playing a traditional power position for the past several years. But he is starting to swing the bat better. He's hitting .382 in his past 11 games, helping his season batting average to rise 56 points. (LA Times ) Then again, he hasn't had a single extra-base hit in that span. Don't expect the chirping to stop any time soon.

AUSTIN, TOO: It's been a rough 2011 for Tigers second-year center fielder Austin Jackson. He entered the weekend hitting .190 with a .258 OBP and 43 strikeouts in 121 at-bats. Don't count out the 24 year old just yet, though, because he showed signs of life in a three-game series at Toronto. He went 7-13 for a double, home run, two RBI and two runs, raising his average 34 points. "He is gradually coming back," manager Jim Leyland said. "When he puts it in play, he gets hits. When he put the ball in play last year he had a fantastic batting average." (Detroit Free Press )

NO SALE: Chris Sale, a 22-year-old flamethrower for the White Sox, burst onto the scene last season and looked dominant. He threw only 23 1/3 innings, but struck out 32 hitters en route to posting a 1.93 ERA. This year, he's only thrown 11 1/3 innings, but has allowed the exact same number of hits (15), more earned runs (nine, compared to five last year) and more home runs (three, compared to two last year). His ERA is a grotesque 7.15. His fastball velocity is down, which could be part of the problem, but Sale isn't buying that. “My main focus is not about lighting up the radar gun,’’ he said. "Everybody in this league can hit 98. That’s no secret. It’s a ­matter of where the pitch is, not how hard it is. I’m just trying to get back into a rhythm and figure out what’s the reason behind what’s going on." Everyone in the league can hit 98? Brandon Webb begs to differ. And someone get Greg Maddux on the phone ... though Maddux would most certainly agree with Sale's general point, which is that there's more to pitching than throwing hard. (Chicago Sun Times )

FOR REAL FRENCHY? Another season, another discussion of how good/bad Jeff Francoeur is. This time he's off to a hot start, so Fangraphs checks it out . The highlights are that his home runs per fly ball rate is unsustainable, but that Francoeur is swinging at far fewer pitches this season than in years past -- so the plate discipline improvement could propel him to one of his best seasons.

HOME COOKIN': Anibal Sanchez was one of the pitching stars of Mother's Day, as he took a no-hitter into the seventh and ended up with a career-high 11 strikeouts. So, of course, this was somehow due to his mom. "She made me breakfast this morning, so that's why I threw a game like that," Sanchez told reporters after the game.

QUADRUPLE-A: Taylor Teagarden hit three home runs and drove home seven in his return to Triple-A Sunday. That means in just seven Triple-A games this year, he has five bombs and 11 RBI. His last full season in the minors -- all the way back in 2007, Teagarden hit .310 with 27 home runs and 83 RBI. But in the majors, well, that's a different story. We know he has power. He has hit 16 home runs in 320 major-league at-bats, but he's also struck out 130 times and has a putrid .285 on-base percentage. Hey, maybe the Rangers can trade him to the Red Sox, just like they did Jarrod Saltalamacchia, another AAAA player.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb 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