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Tag:Darwin Barney
Posted on: February 24, 2012 10:02 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 7:57 pm
 

Spring primer: Chicago Cubs



By Matt Snyder


After watching the Cubs go from a 97-win club to a 71-win version in just four seasons, owner Tom Ricketts took serious action in 2011. He fired general manager Jim Hendry and landed his version of a big fish, in former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. Epstein took over as club president then added Jed Hoyer as general manager and Jason McLeod as senior vice president of scouting and player development, among other front office pieces. The new management group then hired Dale Sveum as the big-league manager and started to clean house. It's going to be a long process, but said process has begun in earnest.

Scott Miller's camp report: Cubs Giddy With Optimism | Likes, Dislikes

Major additions: OF David DeJesus, 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Ian Stewart, LHP Paul Maholm, RHP Chris Volstad, LHP Travis Wood
Major departures: RHP Carlos Zambrano, OF Tyler Colvin, RHP Andrew Cashner, 3B Aramis Ramirez, 1B Carlos Pena, LHP Sean Marshall, LHP John Grabow

Probable lineup
1. David DeJesus, RF
2. Starlin Castro, SS
3. Marlon Byrd, CF
4. Bryan LaHair, 1B
5. Alfonso Soriano, LF
6. Ian Stewart, 3B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Darwin Barney, 2B

Probable rotation
1. Matt Garza
2. Ryan Dempster
3. Paul Maholm
4. Randy Wells
5. Travis Wood

Chris Volstad will also be in the mix, but I gave Wood the nod because he's left-handed.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Carlos Marmol
Set-up: Kerry Wood, Jeff Samardzija

Important bench players

IF Jeff Baker, C Welington Castillo, OF Tony Campana, OF Reed Johnson

Prospects to watch
There are two here in particular that could make an impact in 2012: OF Brett Jackson and 1B Anthony Rizzo. It's entirely possible both are in the lineup come August. With Rizzo, it's a matter of whether or not LaHair can hit in the majors long-term -- as he could merely be one of those so-called Quadruple-A players. If that is the case and Rizzo is hitting well in Triple-A, the Cubs might well decide to turn to Rizzo. With Jackson, he's blocked all over the outfield, however, center field could easily be cleared in July. If the Cubs fall out of contention prior to the trade deadline -- and let's face it, that's a pretty good bet -- Byrd is a great trade candidate (sorry, I don't think the Cubs can deal Soriano just yet due to his contract). Byrd is in the final year of his contract and can play all three outfield positions, so surely some contender would cough up one mid-tier prospect for him. If that happens, the logical step for the Cubs would be to see how Jackson fared in center field for the final two months to determine if he can stay there or if he needs to be moved to a corner.

Fantasy sleeper: Bryan LaHair
"Usually, when a player in his late 20s puts up eye-popping numbers at Triple-A like a .331 batting average, 38 homers and 1.070 OPS, he's dismissed right away as a Quadruple-A player, but apparently the Cubs' front office thinks LaHair is different -- and not just because of his impressive 59 at-bat stint in the majors last year. The experiment could still be a failure of Kila Ka'aihue proportions, which is why you shouldn't bother with LaHair in mixed leagues, but late in NL-only formats, why not?" - Scott White [Full Cubs team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Carlos Marmol
"If blown saves were Marmol's only problem, it'd be one thing, but the bottom line is he's not the efficient out-getter that Epstein and Hoyer would like their closer to be. His walk rate is as bad as it gets, and as a result, he's always pitching out of jams. Sure, his high strikeout rate helps compensate for it, but if he produces anything short of a best-in-the-league-type hit rate, his WHIP is in the danger zone." - Scott White [Full Cubs team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
The deep pitching staff throws well and pays immediate dividends, as the bullpen improves with much better rest. Plus, behind the changes in right field and third base, the defense is also improved. Even Marmol's control issues drastically dwindle. LaHair and Stewart prove they can hit major-league pitching throughout the season and DeJesus turns out a perfect leadoff man for the suddenly balanced offense. And the Cubs find themselves right in the thick of the NL Central race with the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers until the end of the season, possibly even finishing somewhere in the top three.

Pessimistic outlook
By the end of July, Garza, Dempster and Byrd are all traded as the Cubs have no shot of making the playoffs. The Cubs try to avoid the cellar in a battle with the Astros, but continue the rebuilding effort and look forward to hitting the 2013 free agency class full-steam (less than $40 million is committed to 2013 payroll so far). Really, this is more realistic than pessimistic, because as much as the Cubs' coaches, players and front office say they're trying to win this year, it's obvious this is a two-year plan at the absolute minimum.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: November 27, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs



By Matt Snyder


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 of this feature, click here.

When we discuss the Chicago Cubs, no baseball fan is lacking an opinion -- specifically, everyone seems to have some pet theory as to why the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. I've long argued with the people who believe the streak has something to do with a stupid "curse" or somehow now has something to do with playing so many more day games than everyone else. No, the real problem is they've never put a top-to-bottom management system in place that has done the job consistently for more than a small handful of seasons. It's possible current Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has done so with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, et al (in fact, I'd argue it's likely), but that's a different discussion for a different forum.

For now, we're left looking at one of the worst Homegrown Teams in our series.

Lineup

1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Tyler Colvin, LF
5. Casey McGehee, 3B
6. Eric Hinske, 1B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Sam Fuld, CF

Starting Rotation

1. Ricky Nolasco
2. Kyle Lohse
3. Andrew Cashner*
4. Carlos Zambrano
5. Randy Wells
* - if Cashner fell injured like he did in the real 2011 season, the options would be: Jon Garland, Dontrelle Willis and Casey Coleman.

Bullpen

Closer - Kyle Farnsworth
Set up - Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Al Alburquerque, Juan Cruz, Michael Wuertz
Long - Jeff Samardzija, Rich Hill, Sergio Mitre

Notable Bench Players

Robinson Chirinos, Ryan Theriot, Ronny Cedeno, Brandon Guyer, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Tony Campana, Lou Montanez. In fact, feel free to grab any of these guys, plug them in the lineup and play around with it. There's really no wrong answer, because it's one marquee player (and he's only 21) amidst a heap of mediocrity at this point. Maybe Guyer proves a good player, McGehee bounces back and/or Colvin becomes a good everyday player, but we have to go on what we've seen up to this point.

What's Good?

The bullpen is really strong. It's well-rounded with righties and lefties, depth, power pitchers and specialists. Of course, there could be an issue with the lack of a reliable closer when it comes to either Farnsworth or Marmol, but a new-age manager might just abandon that idea and use whoever makes the most sense in the ninth.

What's Not?

The starting rotation doesn't have a true ace (or No. 2, for that matter). The infield defense sorely lacks range and the outfield isn't great either. The team speed is minimal, there isn't a good option at leadoff (or in the two-hole, or cleanup, or fifth ... you get the point) and who is the best power hitter? Colvin? Soto? Basically, everything other than the bullpen and Starlin Castro is lackluster.

Comparison to real 2011

You have to give former general manager Jim Hendry credit for scraping together a team good enough to win three division titles in six years, considering this bunch. Then again, he was in charge as the organization was assembling nothing more than a mediocre foundation (Baseball Prospectus now says the minor-league system is "not bad" but is more "depth than starpower."). Let's leave out the excuses, because there are far more bad picks (Montanez at third overall as a shortstop, for example) than there are instances of bad luck (Mark Prior, for example).

The amazing thing is that the 2011 Cubs were 71-91 and I actually think that team was better than this Homegrown unit. When we do the Homegrown rankings in mid-December, expect to see the Cubs toward the bottom. That probably changes in five years, but we're doing this exercise in the present. And this team would probably win somewhere in the ballpark of 65 games. Maybe fewer.

Up Next: Seattle Mariners

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 27, 2011 6:50 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Chicago Cubs

By Matt Snyder

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 Cubs
Record: 70-90, 24 games back in NL Central
Manager: Mike Quade
Best hitter: Aramis Ramirez -- .306/.360/.506, 25 HR, 92 RBI, 79 R, 35 2B
Best pitcher: Matt Garza -- 9-10, 3.35 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 189 K, 191 IP

After the 2008 season, the Cubs were in the middle of a bit of a golden era in the franchise. They had been division champions three times in a six-year span. That isn't saying much for a lot of teams, but this franchise hadn't had that kind of success since playing in the World Series four out of five seasons from 1906-1910. Alas, they were swept in the NLDS in 2008, despite having the best regular-season record in the National League, so general manager Jim Hendry decided to do some tinkering. The Cubs finished just five games over .500 in 2009 before coming in fifth place in 2010 and are currently in fifth again. And Hendry's out of a job, likely to be followed by Quade and some other coaches.

2011 SEASON RECAP

They were 9-8 and tied for first place after the first game of a doubleheader on April 20, but that was the high point in the standings. The Cubs would go on to lose six of seven games and never be a serious threat the rest of the way. They fell to 10 games back on June 4 and never got closer than nine back in the Central from that point forward. They actually moved up to fourth place September 19 for the first time since May 26, but the overwhelming majority of the season has been spent in fifth place, thanks to the lowly Astros. The biggest positives: Starlin Castro is well on his way to being a major-league star, Darwin Barney appears an adequate option at second base, Matt Garza had a good season, Sean Marshall is still great in middle-to-late inning relief and Jeff Samardzija finally doesn't look like a huge bust. The biggest negative is that this appears to be a badly flawed roster with not near enough help on the way from the minors.

2012 AUDIT

This is the toughest assignment of the R.I.P. series, because there's no way to know the direction of the ballclub until a new general manager is hired. The club is not immediately set up to compete, but there's a stipulation: With more than $50 million in payroll falling off before 2012 and even more off the books before '13, the Cubs could decide to be a major player in free agency. The franchise has enough money to grab, for example, Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson and still have money left over to bolster the bullpen and find a fill-in at third base. On the other hand, many would argue that still isn't enough to make the Cubs immediate contenders in the National League. If the new GM agrees, he might be more in favor of leaving the payroll low for a season or two while building the system with a youthful foundation before pouncing on big-name free agents to fill holes in 2013 or 2014. One thing that should scare fellow franchises in the NL Central if the Cubs choose to spend big in the near future, is that the Cubs are clear of all big contracts except Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol (and Matt Garza likely has a deal by then, too, I'd guess) prior to 2013 and Marmol's off after '13. They have the resources to be the Red Sox of the NL. It's just a matter of if the Cubs can put the correct plan in place, and that all comes down to who chairman Tom Ricketts hires as his next GM.

FREE AGENTS

Aramis Ramirez, 3B (mutual option)
Carlos Pena, 1B
Reed Johnson, OF
Ryan Dempster, SP (player option for '12)
John Grabow, RP
Jeff Samardzija, RP (club option for '12 and '13)

OFFSEASON FOCUS

Where to even begin? This roster is a mess. First of all, I'd listen to offers for everyone except Starlin Castro. That doesn't mean you have to trade guys like Barney, Marshall or Soto, but you never know if the return might work with the game plan of the new GM. Let's sort through some of this and see what can be done short-term with the eyes on the future. My goal would be to contend in 2013. If it happens in 2012, that's just gravy.
  • Get Prince Fielder. He's 27 and incredibly durable (has never played less than 157 games in a full season). He'd then be the anchor for the Cubs for the foreseeable future, even if it takes a few years to build around him and Castro. Also of importance, if you bat Castro second and Fielder third, Castro's strike zone woes become less an issue (though he has walked more times than he's struck out in September, so it's getting better already).
  • Give Andrew Cashner one last shot to stay healthy in the rotation and also see if Samardzija can be successful as a starter. Having a rotation of Garza, Dempster, Randy Wells, Cashner and Samardzija won't be winning any championships, but Dempster is gone after 2012 and there'd be plenty of money to go after free agents. By then, they Cubs will know if they need just one guy or up to four with Garza. And the list of free agent starters after next season could have some big names -- assuming they aren't granted contract extensions -- like Matt Cain, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Shaun Marcum and James Shields.
  • Read the riot act to Carlos Marmol. Considering the Cubs likely can't contend in 2012 and Marmol is signed through 2013, he has one year to fix himself. Marmol has blown an MLB-high 10 saves (he's tied with Jordan Walden). You can't count on closers to be perfect, but let's say Marmol only blew four saves, which is a very reasonable percentage. The Cubs would be 76-84, which isn't awful at all considering some of the injury issues and poor roster construction.
  • Give Bryan LaHair a shot in right field. LaHair is 28, so he's hardly a prospect, but it's possible he's a late bloomer like Ryan Ludwick or Jayson Werth. LaHair had 38 home runs, 109 RBI and a 1.070 OPS in 129 Triple-A games. He's hitting .309/.391/.545 in 19 games for the Cubs this season. Again, the eyes are on 2013 here, so if he flames out as many expect, you can address the position next offseason. But he's at least earned the chance to get an extended look in the bigs.
  • If the Cubs do fall out of contention in 2012, Marlon Byrd needs to be traded at the deadline and prospect Brett Jackson can then take over in center field. If Jackson is deemed ready earlier in the season and LaHair doesn't pan out, Byrd could be moved to right. 
  • I'd personally bring back Aramis Ramirez for two or three years, assuming the Cubs don't have to break the bank. The last thing they need is another albatross contract, so if he's demanding something like four years and $50 million, it's time to move on. But if it's reasonable, it makes sense to keep him. He's only 33 and has shown has can still swing the bat. He's got to have two to three years left of above-average production at third base. Prospect Josh Vitters had completely fallen off all prospect rankings prior to this season, but rebounded with a decent showing in Double-A this season (.283/.322/.448 with 14 homers, 81 RBI and 28 doubles) and he's still only 21. In two years, the Cubs will have an idea if he is going to be the next third baseman or not. If not, they can look outside the organziation or perhaps someone in the farm system will have emerged. Keeping Ramirez is a natural bridge to when it comes to that.
And there's a lot more, too, but those are the big ones.

The main thing here is the hire a new GM that puts the main focus on building the minor-league system. That way in a few years free agency won't be the only avenue to fill out a winning ballclub. Remember, people complain about the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies in free agency, but lots of players -- Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and several others were developed from within the respective systems. The Cubs have been terrible at developing their own in recent years and leaned on trades and free agency to bail them out. It needs to be a combination or everything will eventually fall apart like it did this season. From there, they can start to think about breaking a faux-curse and easing the pain of the legions of true fans.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 9:18 am
Edited on: July 21, 2011 9:33 am
 

Pepper: Matsui hits No. 500

Hideki Matsui

By C. Trent Rosecrans


You may have missed it last night, but Hideki Matsui hit his 168th home run of his Major League Baseball career. Why's that meaningful? Well, in addition to his 332 homers for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, he has 500 in his professional career.

Sure, 500 combined isn't the same as 500 in MLB, but it's still a cool accomplishment. Sadaharu Oh, who hit 868 home runs, was impressed by the accomplishment.

"To keep hitting home runs during a tough schedule while maintaining your conditioning is not easy," Oh told the Associated Press.

Matsui was less impressed. "It isn't like I've been aiming for this, because I don't really combine numbers from Japan and here. To me, they are two separate leagues," he told the AP.

And he's right, there are differences. The ballparks in Japan are smaller, the ball is slightly different, the pitchers are different and the season is shorter. But still, 500 is a lot of home runs, even if you're in Little League. He was never quite the same feared power hitter here that he was in Japan, but he did produce for many years and has been a good big leaguer, adjusting his game to his new surroundings. 

I lived in Japan when he first came up, and the hype he received is like nothing I've seen in the United States -- I'd say it's more like if Bryce Harper were a Yankee. That's how famous he was even in high school in Japan, where the high school baseball tournament is covered like the NCAA basketball tournament here. 

The 500 mark has been achieved by 25 in MLB and eight in Japan -- and just one, Matsui, has done it combined between the two.

KOTCHMAN QUALIFIED: It's been easy to miss, but Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman is having a heck of a season. He needed four plate appearances Wednesday to qualify for the batting title. Kotchman not only got his four appearances, he picked up three hits, raising his batting average to .337, which is second in the American League to Boston's Adrian Gonzalez (.343). [Tampa Tribune]

UNHAPPY DAYS IN CHICAGO: It's been a severely disappointing season in Chicago, and both managers are none too happy with their teams. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had some choice words for his team after a loss to Bruce Chen and the Royals [Chicago Tribune]; Cubs manager Mike Quade targeted his ire on two young players, Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney. [Chicago Sun-Times]. 

STRONG COFFEY: Nats reliever Todd Coffey wasn't too happy about allowing a run in Tuesday night's game and reacted by throwing a water cooler -- nearly drenching Jerry Hairston. Let that be a lesson kids, another reason to wear high socks -- your pants don't get wet if Coffey spills on you. [Washington Post]

SWEET MUSIC: The New York Times music critic writes about the beautiful sounds of a ballpark. Listen to the sweet sound of summer. Maybe they should make it a MP3 so I can listen to it when there's snow on the ground.

JETER FATIGUE: Sick of hearing about Derek Jeter? Well, there's a browser tool for that. If you're using Google's Chrome, you can download the Jeter Filter to avoid all those pesky references to the Captain. Too bad this wasn't around a week or so ago (I kid, I kid). [Big League Stew]

CHAVEZ REVINE IS SAFE: The group that owns the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles says that it is not interested in building a downtown baseball stadium, contrary to earlier reports. "It's not even an idea. It simply doesn't work," AEG president Tim Leiweke told ESPNLosAngeles.com.

CLOSER IN WAITING?: If Florida trades Leo Nunez, it's like Edward Mujica will get the nod as the team's closer. You fantasy baseball folk may want to remember that and get in on him early. [Miami Herald]

SORIANO CLOSE: Yankees setup man Rafael Soriano made his first rehab appearance Tuesday, allowing two runs on two hits in 1 1/3 innings at Class A Tampa. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he didn't know yet how he'd use Soriano upon his return. [New York Daily News]

DARVISH WATCH: One of the big names we'll be sick of hearing come January or so is Japanese import Yu Darvish. The Angels, Yankees and Mets were among the teams that watched his last start. [YakyuBaka.com]

NO MO NO-NO: Monday the Royals' Luis Mendoza of the Royals' Triple-A team in Omaha threw a no-hitter and the next night the Double-A squad in Northwest Arkansas threw a combined no-hitter. Well, Wednesday the Royals not only didn't have a no-hitter, but they had another taken away when the Pacific Coast League stripped Mendoza of his no-hitter, changing an error call to a hit -- again. Monday night outfielder David Lough of the Storm Chasers was charged with an error. Then just minutes after Mendoza celebrated his no-hitter, it was changed to a hit. And then an hour later, it was changed back to an error. And now Wednesday it was changed back to a hit. Mendoza threw a no-hitter for Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2009. [Kansas City Star]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 27, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: June 27, 2011 10:31 am
 

Pepper: Is the trade deadline too soon?

By C. Trent Rosecrans


BASEBALL TODAY: Are the Nationals headed in the right direction with Davey Johnson? MLB.com's Tom Bororstein joins Lauren Shihadi to discuss the Nationals, as well as the upcoming Reds-Rays series, the Indians-Diamondbacks and more.

PUSH IT BACK: In a month, we here at Eye On Baseball will be churning out rumors and speculation left and right -- who has interest in whom, which team is a buyer and which is a seller and what backup second baseman has some trade value. It's part of the baseball calendar, the last weekend of July. But is that too early?

Tim Sullivan of the San Diego Union-Tribune says it is, and I'm not sure he's wrong.

The nonwaiver trade deadline is at the two-thirds mark of the season, and that may be too soon for teams to decide just exactly what their chances are to make the best decision about folding or going all in on a postseason run.

The best reason to change it is that it forces too many teams -- especially those without a high payroll flexibility -- to give up too soon. Who wants to pay to see 25 games or so to see a team that has given up hope? Push the trade deadline back and lie to us a little longer, we like that.

NEW YORK TRADE TIME?: Could this be the year the Mets and Yankees make a big trade with each other? The two teams have only made nine trades with each other in their history. It's unlikely Jose Reyes will go across town, but Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Jason Isringhausen and Tim Byrdak could help the Yankees. [Wall Street Journal]

STRETCHING PINEDA: While nobody gave it any consideration when Michael Pineda broke the Mariners' camp in the rotation, it's now going to become an issue -- will the Mariners allow the rookie starter to add innings to his arm if the Mariners stick in the American League West race?

Seattle manager Eric Wedge says the team has a plan, not just for Pineda but the team's other pitchers as well, to try to limit innings, but still have his starters ready for September. The biggest thing is not limiting innings, but his game-to-game pitch count, Wedge said. [Seattle Times]

BARNEY SAYS IT GETS BETTER: Cubs rookie Darwin Barney not only participated in the "It Gets Better" project aimed at gay teens, but also said he was "honored" to ask. A cool deal for both Barney and an ever better deal for the campaign started by Cubs fan Dan Savage. The Giants have also shot a spot for the project. [Chicago Tribune]

HARANG STILL OUT: Padres starter Aaron Harang is unlikely to return from a stress fracture in his right foot until after the All-Star break. Harang leads the Padres' staff with a 7-2 record and 3.71 ERA. He's been on the DL since June 13. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

SORIA BACK: Since being reinstated as the Royals' closer, Joakim Soria hasn't allowed a run in 10 games (12 innings). He's only allowed four hits and two walks while striking out 12 and notching six saves. [Kansas City Star]

WE'RE GOING STREAKING!: Who is the streakiest team in baseball? Beyondtheboxscore.com has done the math and it's the Boston Red Sox. The least streaky? Well, that would be the consistently bad Chicago Cubs. The Cubs, amazingly enough, haven't won three games in a row all season.

JENKS BACK SOON: Red Sox reliever Bobby Jenks is expected to join the team Monday in Philadelphia and could be activated on Tuesday. [Boston Herald]

Marlins STILL WOOING BIG NAMES: Nobody expects Jack McKeon to manager the Marlins next season. Florida hired its interim manager after last season and look at how that turned out. Apparently owner Jeffrey Loria wants a big-name manager, and that's likely Bobby Valentine or Ozzie Guillen. [Palm Beach Post]

BYRD'S FACEMASK: Bringing flashbacks of Terry Steinbach, Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd will wear a helmet with extra protection in his rehab start at Triple-A Iowa. Byrd was hit in the face last month and suffered facial fractures. [Chicago Tribune]

FINDING NIMMO: The Mets made Brandon Nimmo the first-ever first-round draft pick from the state of Wyoming. Wyoming hasn't had a first-rounder before because of its combination of low population and harsh climate. Nimmo's dad, Ron, has helped on both causes, raising his sons there and building a barn where they could hone their baseball skills year-round. [New York Post]

CHANGEUP PITCHES: The Brewers want right-hander Yovani Gallardo to throw more changeups. Gallardo is 9-4 with a 3.92 ERA this season, but is throwing the changeup just 1.6 percent of the time and none in his last two starts. The Brewers believe the pitch could help him lower his pitch counts and go deeper into games. [MLB.com]

HANLEY TO STAY AT CLEANUP: The Marlins new regime is going to continue using shortstop Hanley Ramirez as the team's cleanup hitter. Ramirez was hitting .200/.298/.295 overall when he was put in the fourth spot by new manager Jack McKeon and in five games in that spot, he's hitting .400/.429/.450 with four RBI, raising his overall line to .218/.309/.309. [Palm Beach Post]

SMALL GESTURE, BIG DEAL: Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune writes a really neat tale of Curt Schilling and a World War II veteran who recently passed away.

ROSE BRINGS 'EM IN: There's apparently not a whole lot going on in the greater Bristol area of Virginia and Tennessee, because Pete Rose is bringing in the fans. No, not the Hit King, but Pete Rose Jr., manager of the Bristol White Sox of the short-season Class A Appalachian League. Still, it's cool Rose is chasing his dream. If there's one thing when you look at his career path, he may not have his father's talent, but he does have his drive. [Bristol Herald Courier]

THIS IS WRONG: That's it. Just wrong. [Yahoo!'s Big League Stew]

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

Posted on: June 15, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2011 5:42 pm
 

Soriano activated, Barney to DL

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Alfonso SorianoThe Cubs' Alfonso Soriano is back with the Cubs and the team has placed Darwin Barney on the DL with sprained left knee and activated Soriano, the team announced.

Soriano was on the disabled list with a left quad strain. He went 1 for 13 in three games with Triple-A Iowa.

According to Muskat, Soriano was at Wrigley Field and headed to take batting practice. Soriano was placed on the DL on May 31, but at the time said he didn't think he'd need the full time to get healthy. Playing the last three nights makes it clear he was right.

Soriano was hitting .271/.297/.525 with 12 home runs when he went on the DL.

The rookie Barney has been one of the Cubs' best players this season, hitting .294/.321/.359. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 15, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: June 15, 2011 10:53 am
 

Pepper: Danks discovers cut-fastball


Justin Verlander nearly pitched another no-hitter on Tuesday. NESN.com's Tony Lee joins Scott Braun on Baseball Today.

By Evan Brunell


NEW CUTTER: John Danks is finally on a roll, turning around his 0-7 start by winning his last two games. Danks pitched far better than his record indicated, but couldn't seem to figure things out and cited his cut fastball as one pitch he was struggling with.

"I play with grips a lot," Danks said. "My last game, I finally had a good one and was encouraged. Whenever I'm throwing a good one, I'm throwing it out front. That makes sense. I tend to not get on top of it and get around it, and it doesn't do anything for me. My focus is throwing it out front."

Danks is using a grip taught by batting practice pitcher Kevin Hickey and has also experimented with other grips, including Mark Buehrle's.

"I will continue to work on other grips in case I lose it in a game so I have something to fall back on," Danks said. (Chicago Tribune)

ALL JETER, ALL THE TIME: Nick Swisher, for one, is tired of the Derek Jeter hoopla. Here's his response to a question about Jeter after taking out the Rangers:

"We just played a great game and you ask me that? I don't even know exactly what happened. A strain? Well, obviously, everyone knows what he's going up for, and he's the captain, we're going to miss him a lot, but then again we're trying to pick up where he left off. Gardy did a great job leading off for us tonight. I know he's excited about the opportunity to lead off for a little bit. But definitely when he's ready, we'll be ready for him to come back. He's a great player, definitely an elite, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. The show goes on.''  (ESPN New York)

BEST PLAYER IN THE GAME: How did Jose Bautista come about to be one of the -- if not the -- best players in the game? This fantastic feature explains it all, and no, steroids aren't part of it. (Yahoo! Sports)

BLANK THE GOAT: Cubs players created a stir Monday when they revealed new team shirts that read "F--k the Goat!!!" Predictably, questions arose as to whether the Cubs players are tempting fate.

"I have news for you. When you take the field, nobody is thinking about the goat, whether they're wearing the T-shirt or not," manager Mike Quade said. (Chicago Tribune)

YOUNG MILESTONE: Michael Young is now the Rangers' all-time leader in games played after Monday, passing Rafael Palmiero with 1,574 games. (New York Times)

FASTEST MAN ALIVE: Tony Campana believes he's the fastest man in the league, and manager Mike Quade concurs. Wonder if Michael Bourn might take exception to that. (Chicago Tribune)

HATED: This may come as a surprise, but the Yankees are one of the most hated teams in the game. But has anyone ever wondered who the 10 most hateable Yankees are in Rangers history? Probably not, but now you know. (Dallas News)

CLOSER IN L.A.: It appears as if Javy Guerra is quickly grasping the Dodgers' closer role. The rookie has been getting more and more late-inning, high-leverage outings lately and appears to be de facto closer, even as manager Don Mattingly refused to put a label on Guerra. (MLB.com)

BARNEY HURT
: Darwin Barney strained his right knee and will hit the disabled list for it. The second baseman leads all NL rookies in batting average with a .294 mark. (ESPN Chicago)

KAZMIR NEARING END? Scott Kazmir got raked once again in a minor-league rehab start, leaving him with a 17.02 ERA in 15 2/3 innings over five starts. It's likely that L.A. will now release Kazmir, who has a career 5.31 ERA with the Angels in 35 starts, one of the bigger busts in recent memory. (Los Angeles Times)

SECOND OPINION: Freddy Sanchez will receive a second opinion on his dislocated shoulder in the hopes of avoiding season-ending surgery. Sanchez is hoping to heal the shoulder on his own. (MLB.com)

SANDOVAL BACK: Pablo Sandoval was thrilled after his first game back from injury, saying he feels great and the surgery to repair his right wrist went well. The team, too, seems to be relieved that Sandoval has returned. (San Jose Mercury News)

GRANTED: Cole Hamels is one of the best pitchers on the field, but off the field he runs a charity that grants various amounts of money to Philadelphia schools to help them educate children in the face of budget cuts. (MLB.com)

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Posted on: May 3, 2011 11:17 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 11:19 pm
 

Ethier extends streak to 29

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Andre EthierAndre Ethier singled in the fourth inning of Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, extending his hitting streak to 29 games.

Ethier had grounded into a double play in his first at-bat, in the first inning.

With the signle past Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney into right, Ethier tied Zack Wheat for the second-longest hitting streak in Dodgers history. Wheat hit in 29 games in 1916. The team record is 31, set by Willie Davis in 1969.

Ethier will go for 30 tomorrow in a day game against Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano. Ethier is hitting .444/.500/.500 in his career against Zambrano, with eight hits in 18 at-bats, with one double and two walks.

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