Tag:Gerald Laird
Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:56 am
Edited on: December 20, 2011 2:18 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Oakland Athletics



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What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional?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/past entries of this feature, click here.

"Moneyball" hit movie theaters everywhere late this past summer and Brad Pitt-as-Billy Beane told us the A's have to be creative to compete in an unfair baseball landscape. There are haves and have-nots, the protagonist would tell us. And we all know the Oakland Athletics are have-nots in the salary-capless land of Major League Baseball. So what if the A's could afford to keep all their own guys? Surely they'd be much better, right? Uh ...

Lineup

1. Jemile Weeks, 2B
2. Nick Swisher, CF
3. Andre Ethier, RF
4. Jason Giambi, 1B
5. Ryan Ludwick, LF
6. Kurt Suzuki, C
7. Ramon Hernandez, DH
8. Mark Teahen, 3B
9. Cliff Pennington, SS

Starting Rotation

1. Tim Hudson
2. Trevor Cahill
3. Dallas Braden
4. Tyson Ross
5. Joe Blanton

Yes, Braden was out for the season in real life, but we've got Rich Harden waiting in the wings. Oh, and yes, Harden is hurt all the time. So then we'd turn to Barry Zito.

Bullpen

Closer - Andrew Bailey
Set up - Huston Street, Santiago Casilla, Henry Rodriguez, Joel Peralta, Sam Demel
Long - Harden, Zito

Notable Bench Players

Miguel Olivo, John Baker, Gerald Laird -- yes, those three are all catchers, just like our DH -- Eric Chavez and Travis Buck.

What's Good?

Hey, at least we'd never run out of catchers with this group. There are four major-league caliber starters, even if some are lower-tier, and one quality backup in Laird. So the Athletics churn out catchers. Really, though, the strength of this team is unsurprisingly the pitching. The starting rotation is good, but not great. Hudson is steady and Cahill was very good in 2010. Blanton was good in 2009 but has battled injuries and ineffectiveness since then. Ross did show great promise before his injury last season, though. The bullpen is pretty good, too. Bailey is a solid closer and Street would be a fine eighth-inning man with Casilla and fireballer Rodriguez also setting the table.

What's Not?

Giambi and Ludwick in the middle of the order isn't near as potent nowadays as it would have been a handful of years ago. Plus, could Giambi even play everyday anymore? If not, our next option is playing a catcher, Chavez or Buck at first base. That's weak. In fact, at this point in time, there aren't many spots where the hitter is well above average for his slot. Swisher and Ethier are good, but they aren't elite second or third hitters. Weeks could prove an elite leadoff hitter as soon as 2012, but we don't have a large enough sample yet to declare that. Ramon Hernandez had a good past two offensive seasons, but take him out of the NL Central and Great American Ball Park and put him in the AL West in Oakland. That's a big difference. So while the offense isn't atrocious, it's not very good either -- and there is no bench depth anywhere but catcher. Also, Swisher's out of position in center, but, again, we don't have any other options.

Comparison to real 2011

While the rotation and bullpen are good, they are far from great, and the position players here just aren't enough. This team would be below average, an 85-90 loss ballclub. The real-life A's went 74-88, so I'd say it's just about the same result.

And we can now see the biggest problem. Of course it's tough to compete as a small-market team in a football stadium, but the A's haven't been drafting very well. They've made some good trades, sure, but also some pretty bad ones. For example, they spun Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street and Greg Smith for Matt Holliday back in 2008, but then dealt Holliday at the next trade deadline for Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen and Shane Peterson. So, yes, one reason the A's can't compete anymore in the AL West is because they don't have the money to retain or sign new expensive veterans. But another reason is they just aren't churning out draft picks like the Rays, for example, are. 

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Posted on: October 27, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: October 27, 2011 6:19 pm
 

Cardinals pick up Adam Wainwright's option

Adam WainwrightBy C. Trent Rosecrans

We're going to have a lot of these reports in the next couple of days -- the things you knew would happen, but actually happened. Today's edition is that the Cardinals officially told right-hander Adam Wainwright they are picking up his 2012 and 2013 options at a total of $21 million, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Wainwright recorded the final out of the 2006 World Series for the Cardinals, but has been relegated to cheerleader in this year's World Series. Wainwright missed all of 2011 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but is expected to be fully ready to pitch come spring training.

For all the free agency moves, check out our Free Agent tracker

Wainwright, 30, finished in the top three in Cy Young voting in both 2009 and 2010, going 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA in 2010. 

With the option picked up for $9 million in 2012, the Cardinals already have more than $74 million on the books for 10 players in 2012, with Albert Pujols unsigned. The team also has an option on shortstop Rafael Furcal, while Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs and Ryan Theriot are all arbitration-eligiible. Right-hander Edwin Jackson, catcher Gerald Laird, infielder Nick Punto and outfielder Corey Patterson are also free agents.

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Thin catcher crop

Molina, Hernandez, Barajas

By Evan Brunell


The catcher's market is extraordinarily bad, and will get even worse once the top name on the board comes off. Yadier Molina is the obvious class of the market, but he has a club option and it's going to be very difficult to envision the Cards not picking it up. After that, the pickings are slim with one obvious candidate for best backstop, but even he isn't excellent. If teams are looking for an upgrade at catcher, they'd be advised to look elsewhere.

Molina1. Yadier Molina: Molina is the class of the free-agent market, but it would be shocking if the Cardinals didn't at the very least pick up Molina's $7 million option. Molina is a wizard defensively and enjoyed his best offensive season at age 29, hitting .305/.349/.465 in 518 plate appearances with 14 homers. It's anyone's guess if Molina can keep up this kind of production, but if he does, it puts him in a very rare class, indeed. If Molina sinks back to previous levels, he's still among the best catchers in the league. If St. Louis improbably lets him walk, several big-market teams will be extremely interested.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Phillies

Hernandez2. Ramon Hernandez: Barring a surprise and Molina hitting the market, Hernandez will be the class of the catcher's market... and really, that's not saying much. Don't get me wrong, Hernandez is a quality catcher. But he's also 35 and hasn't reached triple digits in games caught for three straight seasons, so he better profiles as a caddy. He could be headed to the AL where he could toggle between catcher, DH and first base. The Reds may even be interested in bringing Hernandez back to oversee Devin Mesoraco's development, although the team will likely stick with Ryan Hanigan. As a Type-A free agent, Hernandez could bring back an elite prospect for Cincinnati should he decline arbitration. It's possible he and the team have a deal whereupon Hernandez will reject arbitration, but that will chill his market as teams won't be willing to give up top picks for someone like Hernandez.
Potential teams
: Dodgers, Red Sox, Reds, Marlins, Royals, Pirates, Rays

Barajas3. Rod Barajas: Barajas isn't anyone's idea of a quality catcher but with so few available in free agency, Barajas is rated high virtually by default. He does have some pop and could bang 20 homers given a full season's worth of at-bats, but he also can't get on base to save his life either. In such a poor market, Barajas will land somewhere, but he's just not anyone's idea of a strong catcher. That could lead some clubs in the market for catching to play more aggressively on the trade market once Hernandez comes off the board. The Dodgers might bring him back, but seem more interested in an A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz pairing.
Potential teams
: Dodgers, Marlins, Astros, Pirates, Royals, Rays

Doumit4. Ryan Doumit: Doumit's in a tough spot. On one hand, this is a guy that can rove all over the diamond and is able to catch, too. That's valuable. He can also hit -- the 30-year-old cranked out a .303/.353/.377 line when he was able to get in the lineup. The negative, though, is that Doumit has been plagued with injuries and his defense is so poor behind the dish that he gets exposed over a full season. Still, with the catcher's market as poor as it is, and his ability to play first and right, he should attract some interest from a team interested in using him all over the field. Heck, even a team with little to no catching could stick him behind the plate all season.
Potential teams
: Astros, Royals, Pirates, Twins, White Sox, Athletics, Mariners, Cubs, Dodgers

Posada5. Jorge Posada: Posada spent all season DHing for the Yankees, but this is a guy whose heart still belongs behind the plate. He may be able to find a spot, but it's probably only going to be a bench player who can fill in at catcher, first and DH. Posada doesn't quite deserve full playing time, but he did hit right-handers well and could work in a platoon situation. Still, his market might be so weak, or his options so limited and unappetizing that he may simply opt for retirement.
Potential teams
: Orioles, Royals, Athletics, Marlins, Dodgers

Snyder6. Chris Snyder: Snyder is a pretty good catcher, he just can't seem to catch a break. After three consecutive solid years in Arizona and inking a three-year deal prior to his last good year, Snyder was one of the better catchers in the game. Alas, injuries and ineffectiveness caused him to be a salary dump just a year and a half after inking his lucrative extension. This season, in Pittsburgh, he looked like he was recovering his lost value... until he was felled by injury. He'll draw interest from teams looking for a low-risk, high-upside investment. At worst, Snyder is a quality backup.
Potential teams
: Red Sox, Pirates, Brewers, Reds, Cubs, Astros, Rockies, Mariners, Twins

Shoppach7. Kelly Shoppach: Shoppach had a beyond-awful year offensively, the second straight year he's done so. And yet... that power bat is awfully tantalizing from a catcher. It's tough to tell whether or not Shoppach can recover to be a catcher who can slug 20 homers, but he's a lot more exciting than the likes of Barajas and Posada, especially to teams that might be looking to capture a bit more upside at the expense of instant production.
Potential teams
: Rays, Pirates, Royals, Mariners, Astros
Rodriguez
8. Ivan Rodriguez
: OK, we're really getting into the dregs here. Rodriguez would love a chance to get hit No. 3,000, so given he already has a World Series ring, might prefer to go somewhere where he can get the bulk of the starts and march toward 3,000, just 156 away. With a good year, he could reach it. At the same time, Rodriguez can reach that mark over a period of a couple seasons, and with his leadership and defense should hang on for a couple more years. Here's betting he goes after a starting job to all but ensure reaching No. 3,000 even if he doesn't do so this year, but we'll list a couple places he could land as a backup.
Potential teams
: Royals, Astros, Phillies, Brewers, White Sox, Rays

Laird9. Gerald Laird: Laird is coming off a solid year with the Cardinals. There isn't much to know about Laird -- he's a strong defender who struggles with the bat. He's pretty much settled into the backup phase of his career and there are so many options when you get this low in the market. Laird will probably return to St. Louis, and it seems like both sides have been a good match, but really, he could go anywhere.
Potential teams
: Cardinals, any other team

10. Jason Varitek
: The Captain may have seen his time run out in Boston. If so, it's doubtful that 'Tek will play for another team. Varitek has all the money he could ever need and two World Series rings. He doesn't need to play out the string for a lousy team. The only way Varitek will return is if it's in Boston, potentially hometown Atlanta (if they trade backstop David Ross) or if another team throws enough money at him (not happening). Varitek's bat is largely gone, but his power still shows up from time to time. He's never had a good arm, but his ability to work with pitchers and game preparation is unmatched.
Potential teams
: Red Sox, Braves

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

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Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:15 pm
 

Cardinals may face Brewers without Molina

Yadier MolinaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals may be without one of their most important players when they host the division-leading Brewers for three games starting on Monday, as catcher Yadier Molina is out of the team's lineup for the second straight day on Sunday and may not be ready to face Milwaukee.

"Hopeful is the best way to put it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of Molina's availability for the Brewers series (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

Molina was suffering from soreness in his left calf muscle and told his teammates Saturday that he wouldn't miss Sunday's game. But when La Russa filled out the lineup for the last game of the series against the Reds, Gerald Laird was penciled in to catch Edwin Jackson.

The Cardinals also said they wouldn't promote Tony Cruz from Triple-A Memphis before the Redbirds' season ends on Monday because of the moves that would have to be made throughout the rest of the organization to make sure every team had a catcher.

Molina's hitting .294/.333/.451 with 12 homers, but his worth isn't best measured by any of those numbers or even WAR or any advanced stats, instead, it's best shown by 111 -- the number of games he's started behind the plate in the Cardinals' 139 games. Only Florida's John Buck (113) and Arizona's Miguel Montero (112) have started more games behind the plate this season than the three-time Gold Glover. Molina also has the reputation as one of the best catchers in the majors at handling pitchers.

Laird, 31, is hitting .235/.305/.365 with one homer this season and has started 20 games for the Cardinals this season behind the plate, including Saturday's victory. 

St. Louis enters Sunday's game 8 1/2 behind the Brewers in the National League Central and with 23 games remaining, would likely need another sweep of the Brewers to keep any hopes at the playoffs alive. The Cardinals swept the Brewers in Milwaukee last week.

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Posted on: August 4, 2011 7:44 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 8:33 pm
 

Report: Yadier Molina fights with Gerald Laird

ReddickBy Evan Brunell

Not only did Yadier Molina go off on an umpire and earn a five-game suspension for it, but he reportedly got into a fight with Gerald Laird on Wednesday night, Craig Mish of SiriusXM reports on Twitter.

Laird, Molina's backup at catcher, reportedly called Molina a "cheater," but the context was unclear. That's all that's currently known about the fight at the time.

Tim McKernan of InsideSTL.com confirmed the fight, saying it occurred after the club arrived in Florida to begin a series against the Marlins. GM John Mozeliak termed the argument as a disagreement, but did not have any details, saying "boys will be boys."

"It was a frustrating day for everybody," he added, refering to playing a day game a day after Tuesday night's 11-inning victory. "It's water under the bridge."

More information will be posted if available, but many teams attempt to keep these types of incidents behind closed doors.

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Posted on: July 4, 2011 12:06 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 1:01 pm
 

On Deck: Jeter returns; fireworks in St. Louis?


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Derek JeterJETER RETURNS: You may have heard by now, but Derek Jeter is on his way back. The Yankee captain is expected to start at shortstop and leadoff for the Yankees today against Cleveland's Josh Tomlin (9-4, 3.86 ERA). Jeter is 2 for 6 lifetime against the right-hander. Jeter hasn't played since leaving a game against the Indians on June 13 with a strained right calf. On June 12, Jeter had two singles off of Tomlin, driving in two runs in a 9-1 Yankee victory. The Yankees are 14-4 in 18 games without Jeter. Yankees at Indians, 6:35 p.m. ET (Follow live)

BAD BLOOD: Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto makes his first start in St. Louis since his part in a benches-clearing brawl last August at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. Not only that, he's facing off the same pitcher that started that game for St. Louis, Chris Carpenter. Cueto was suspended seven games after kicking at players after he was pinned against the backstop. Carpenter was among those on the other end of Cueto's spikes and showed off scratches and scrapes on his back. Carpenter said Cueto's actions would have consequences "on the street." We'll see if he goes all 'hood on Cueto when the Reds' pitcher has to bat. The two teams also had words the last time they met, May 15 at Great American Ball Park when Reds closer Francisco Cordero hit Albert Pujols in the ninth inning of the Reds' final game of a three-game sweep. Cardinals backup catcher Gerald Laird, bench coach Joe Pettini and pitching coach Dave Duncan took offense and screamed at Cordero and other Reds players from the bench. Reds at Cardinals, 6:15 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Rays ON TARGET: The Rays have won six of seven games against the Twins this season and all three games played at Target Field. Tampa Bay has won its last five games in Minnesota and have to feel good with David Price on the mound. The All-Star lefty is 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA and is 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA in four appearances all-time (three starts) against the Twins. The Twins counter with lefty Brian Duensing, who is 5-7 with a 4.69 ERA but hast the team's lone win against the Rays this season, allowing two runs on seven hits in seven innings on April 17 at Tropicana Field. Rays at Twins, 2:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

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Posted on: May 15, 2011 4:59 pm
Edited on: May 15, 2011 6:35 pm
 

Reds-Cardinals end game in shouting match



By Matt Snyder


The bad blood between the Reds and Cardinals just keeps growing. Sunday, as the Reds polished off the Cardinals for a three-game sweep and control of the NL Central, a war of words broke out after the final out between the two teams.

On the Reds' end, it was Francisco Cordero with a little support from Johnny Cueto screaming into the Cardinals' dugout. I'm not a great lip reader, but it appeared Cordero politely (please note sarcasm) telling the Cardinals to go home. Cueto was more jovial for the most part, waving good-bye and smiling through most of the exchange.

On the Cardinals' end, it wasn't initially clear who was doing the yelling and about half the dugout seemed to be perplexed. After the game, however, reports indicated Gerald Laird was yelling at Cordero about hitting Albert Pujols in the wrist with a pitch. (Mark Sheldon via Twitter)

That's pretty ridiculous. I understand there are bad feelings from the Cardinals' dugout about the Reds, specifically Cueto and Brandon Phillips because of some comments and actions toward St. Louis last season. Rightfully so, considering Phillips called the Cardinals "little bitches" and Cueto was trying to kick people in the head with cleats during their brawl. But in this situation, there is no way the Reds wait until the top of the ninth and in the middle of a game-altering rally to dot Pujols on purpose. The Cards had already scored five runs to cut the lead to 9-7 and Pujols represented the tying run. With Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman being the next two hitters, putting Pujols on base on purpose is one of the dumbest possible things the Reds could do there -- aside from bringing in Aroldis Chapman, which had already been done to jump-start the rally. Both Cordero and catcher Ramon Hernandez said as much after the game to reporters.

“When you’re up by two, do you really want to put the tying run on first base with one out and Holliday and Berkman – one of the hottest hitters of the season so far?" Hernandez asked.

"Gerald Laird did not even play and he’s the one yelling at me because I hit Pujols 0-2 … 0-2," Cordero said. "I wasn’t trying to hit him. I’ve got to face Holliday next. They can take the lead with one swing. Lance Berkman is one of the great hitters in the National League. All I know is [Laird] was loud and saying something to me. I said something back to him."

Still, apparently there were some on the Cardinals who took issue with the pitch.

“We don’t like it when somebody like Albert gets hit, especially in that type of situation," said Cardinals acting manager Joe Pettini (all quotes via Mark My Word). "A lot of guys took offense to it, didn’t like it. That’s baseball. You pitch inside, but you better have a clue when you come inside. They took offense to it, we took offense to it, and the soap opera continues between these guys. There’s always something when you come in here.”

Maybe it was simply emotions after getting swept and losing first place, but any complaints coming from the Cardinals should be at their own failings in the past three games.

For the record, Pujols told reporters after the game he didn't think the hit-by-pitch was intentional. (Joe Strauss via Twitter)

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Posted on: January 20, 2011 9:44 am
Edited on: January 20, 2011 1:03 pm
 

'China doll' confident he'll be ready for opener

Joel Zumaya If you saw Joel Zumaya crumpled on the mound last June, you've got to be rooting for the guy now. Zumaya, the Tigers' flame-throwing right-hander, fractured his elbow on a pitch to Minnesota's Delmon Young, falling to his knees just after the high-90s fastball reached Tigers catcher Gerald Laird.

It was the latest in a string of odd injuries for the 26-year old reliever, and yet again he says he's ready to return to the mound.

"I think I'm gonna be on that team on opening day," Zumaya told the Detroit News ' Lynn Henning . "No… I know I will be on that team. There's no doubt about it."

Forgive anyone who doubts Zumaya, citing his long injury history.

"I've proclaimed myself 'China Doll' because I've been hurt so often," Zumaya said. "I want that healthy year too. Last year, it was heading that way."

He pitched in 31 games for the Tigers last season, the most he's appeared in since his rookie year in 2006 when he pitched in 62 games for the Tigers, who reached the World Series with help from Zumaya.

Last season he struck out 34 in 38 1/3 innings, walking 11, going 2-1 with a 2.58 -- also his best mark since his rookie season.

The Tigers gave Zumaya a $1.4 million deal to avoid arbitration last week, so they apparently have some faith in him and his recovery. So far, he's on track for the six-month rehab from his elbow surgery.

"You can see that look in his eye," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "He looks tremendous, and all the reports on him are very good. We know what he can do for our bullpen."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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