Tag:J.P. Howell
Posted on: December 1, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Kansas City Royals



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What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional?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.

Long a punching bag for fans and media alike, the Kansas City Royals have become a darling in recent years due to their strong farm system. We keep hearing about how they'll be a World Series caliber team by 2014 and the first wave of strong talent hit the bigs in 2011 -- with Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas leading the charge. There's more on the way, too. For the purposes of this exercise, though, the Royals get to add two All-Star veterans to the lineup who have long since departed. Oh, and they get back an aloof ace.

Lineup

1. Alex Gordon, LF
2. Johnny Damon, RF
3. Eric Hosmer, 1B
4. Carlos Beltran, CF
5. Billy Butler, DH
6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
7. Salvador Perez, C
8. Johnny Giavotella, 2B
9. Mike Aviles, SS

Starting Rotation

1. Zack Greinke
2. Luke Hochevar
3. Aaron Crow
4. Danny Duffy
5. Chad Durbin

Bullpen

Closer - J.P. Howell
Set up - Jeremy Affeldt, Greg Holland, Blake Wood, Tim Byrdak, Mike MacDougal
Long - Louis Coleman

Notable Bench Players

Matt Treanor, Kila Ka'aihue, Mark Ellis, David DeJesus, Mitch Maier, Jarrod Dyson

What's Good?

That really looks like a nice lineup. There's obviously some growing up to be done in the 6-7-8 spots, but that's a lot easier done when the top five spots are that strong. And remember, Wil Myers is on the way ...

What's Not?

With Beltran and Damon getting up into their high-30s, the outfield defense would lack range. Of course, DeJesus and Dyson are both available off the bench as late-inning defensive replacements, so the situation wouldn't be dire. There is no real closer, but that's a bit overrated anyway. And the starting rotation leaves something to be desired, for now, until Crow and Duffy prove their worth and some of the other prospects (like John Lamb and Mike Montgomery) start to arrive.

Comparison to real 2011

It's actually pretty similar, aside from a few huge names. These Royals have Beltran and Damon instead of Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur, while Greinke has been thrown atop the rotation. Those are upgrades and, remember, the real-life Royals didn't get full seasons out of many of their young players. It's reasonable to put this squad above .500 and maybe even lingering around in the playoff chase into August.

Up Next: Atlanta Braves

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Posted on: July 26, 2011 2:19 am
Edited on: July 26, 2011 2:19 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Kipnis' first hit one to remember

Jason Kipnis

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jason Kipnis, Indians: In the sixth plate appearance of his young career, the Cleveland rookie delivered his first hit -- a single to right. That's great and all, but the fact that it was done with two outs and bases loaded in the ninth inning of a tie game is what lands him here. It overshadowed the play with bases loaded and one out when Travis Buck grounded into a 9-2 putout -- Torii Hunter was playing in the infield to try to cut down the winning run at home, which he did. Temporarily.

Chris Denorfia, Padres: There are few plays as awesome as a steal of home. In the span of two days, Denrofia gave us one of the season's best defensive plays -- robbing Raul Ibanez of a home run on Sunday -- and then following that up with a great offensive play Monday. In the second inning of the Padres' 5-4 victory over the Phillies, Denorfia was on third with a runner at first and as soon as Cliff Lee lobbed a throw over to first, Denorfia broke toward the plate and beat the throw home for San Diego's first steal of home since Mark Sweeney did it in 2005.

James McDonald, Pirates: The Pittsburgh right-hander recorded a career-high nine strikeouts and picked up his seventh win of the season in a 3-1 victory over the Braves. Pittsburgh has now started seven of the last eight McDonald has started. McDonald lasted just 5 1/3 innings -- and has yet to complete seven innings in any start -- but that's good enough with the Pirates' bullpen. McDonald left the game with bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning, but Chris Resop got a popup to the catcher and a strikeout to end the threat. Joel Hanrahan worked a perfect ninth for his 29th save.


Twins pitchers: The most successful Twins pitcher on Monday started the game at first base before moving to right field and then the mound. Michael Cuddyer was the only Twin to take the mound and leave unscathed. His scoreless ninth was one of just two scoreless innings tossed by the Twins in their 20-6 loss to the Rangers. Left-hander Phil Dumatrait wasn't charged with a  run, but came into the game in the fifth inning and allowed a two-run double to Elvis Andrus, but both runs were charged to Chuck James. Starter Nick Blackburn allowed 11 hits and nine runs (six earned) in 2 2/3 innings. Jose Mijares was charged with five runs (four earned) in 2/3 of an inning. James allowed four runs in one inning and Alex Burnett allowed two runs. Cuddyer gave up two hits and a walk, but no runs in the eighth inning.

Marco Scutaro, Red Sox: Several Red Sox hitters failed to help their cause late in the team's 3-1 loss to the Royals in 14 innings on Monday night and Tuesday morning, but Scutaro was the worst offender. In the 12th inning, Scutaro missed the sign for the suicide squeeze, allowing the Royals to easily get Josh Reddick in a rundown. He then singled and was thrown out at second trying to stretch a single into a double. He then ended the game in the 14th looking at a called third strike from Joakim Soria. The Red Sox put runners in scoring position with less than two outs in three of the five innings from the ninth to the 13th and failed to capitalize.

J.P. Howell, Rays: Howell gave up two singles and a walk to help bring Oakland to within a run of the Rays in the seventh inning before being pulled for Joel Peralta, who allowed a two-run double to Conor Jackson to give Oakland the lead for good. In 17 2/3 innings this season, Howell has allowed 21 runs and 18 earned runs.

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Posted on: July 2, 2011 12:13 am
Edited on: July 2, 2011 12:26 am
 

Four Rays ejected in one inning



By Matt Snyder


Well, this is something you don't see every day. The Rays had a manager and three players ejected in the same half-inning. It was the top of the eighth and the Rays faced a 2-0 deficit to the Cardinals. Relief pitcher J.P. Howell, manager Joe Maddon and obviously several other Rays felt Howell was being squeezed by home plate umpire Vic Carapazza. Maddon was tossed after Lance Berkman drew a walk on a close pitch with two outs. A few batters later, Colby Rasmus put the game out of reach with a three-run home run. Before Rasmus had even completed his trot, Howell went into tirade mode. Just watch the highlight.

Check out the video on MLB.com by clicking here.

Evidently, Howell and Maddon weren't alone in their feelings on the umpiring, because both David Price and Elliot Johnson were ejected from the Rays' bench for comments they were making from the dugout.

So, yeah, the Rays had four players ejected in the same half-inning. That's some efficient work in getting after the umpires.

Full game recap/box score

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Posted on: May 30, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: May 30, 2011 12:10 pm
 

Pepper: Could Teddy Roosevelt finally win?

Presidents

By Evan Brunell


RUN, TEDDY, RUN: "Teddy Roosevelt" has never won one of the Presidents Races the Nats have held since arriving in D.C. Roosevelt is working on a losing streak of over 300 games, but that could change on Memorial Day.

Some major reasons it might change include Jayson Werth's surprising interest in the race. Werth has spoken before about how Roosevelt never gets to win and is disappointed by that fact. He's also been caught on camera disgusted when Roosevelt doesn't win the race. A bit odd, but the Nats have to pay attention to their face of the franchise, who is soaking up over $100 million of Ted Lerner's money. Maybe the Nats should give Roosevelt a victory to placate Werth.

"Roosevelt" tweeted after Sunday's race that he had "a good feeling" about the Memorial Day race, which will come as the Nats hold a fundraiser to benefit the military by allowing those who make a donation to Hike for Heroes to run the bases. It's as good a day as it will get for a changing of the guard, as the actual Teddy Roosevelt has a connection to both the military and Memorial Day. And since no other D.C. sports teams are active on Monday, a Roosevelt victory could land on the front page of the papers. Yes, really. (Washington Post)

VOTE FOR THE FAT MAN
: GQ is pulling out a call to decide who the fattest baseball player of 2011 is. Named after Rich Garces, does Garces still deserve the mantle, or will someone like Jonathan Broxton carve out his own legacy? (GQ.com)

POSADA DONE: As a full-time player, that is. Manager Joe Girardi has chosen to permanently sit Jorge Posada against lefties, allowing him to rotate Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez in the DH spot, giving them essentially a half-day off. (Lohud.com)

CLOSING TIME: Ryan Franklin isn't giving up on an eventual return to the closer's role in St. Louis. He mopped up on Saturday with 2 2/3 scoreless innings, which represented a major step forward. Next up: Doing more of the same until he proves he can get batters out consistently. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

SANDS OF LEFT: The Dodgers' motley crew of left-fielders hasn't been up to snuff so far this season, but Jerry Sands is hoping to fix a position that has been in flux for L.A. for years with no long-term answer. GM Ned Colletti believes that Sands will be in left for years to come, but his slow start this season suggests he has a ways to go. (Los Angeles Times)

ROUGH RETURN: J.P. Howell, one of the Rays' best relievers over the last several years, is finding the going difficult after missing 2010 and a chunk of 2011 in his recovery from a torn left labrum. In 2 1/3 innings, he's posted an 11.57 ERA -- but that figures to change once Howell gets back into the groove. (St. Petersburg Times)

THE TRAVELS OF BRANYAN: Russell Branyan has been around, as his 11 teams in his career can attest. Check out Branyan's ride through a major-league career in photos. (Orange County Register)

SHELLED: Check out this box score from the Salt Lake Bees, the Angels' Triple-A affiliate. Notice who pitched -- Scott Kazmir, who fell to 0-2 with a 36.00 ERA by giving up 10 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. Kaz's career has plummeted so far down the rabbit hole it's probably never coming back. (MiLB.com)

COBB TIME: Yet another heralded Rays prospect will hit the majors as Alex Cobb will replace Andy Sonnanstine in the rotation starting Tuesday. It's anyone's guess how long Cobb will stick, but Jeff Niemann isn't anywhere near a return from injury, so Cobb could pick up a few starts. (Tampa Tribune)

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Posted on: March 29, 2011 10:42 pm
 

Rays don't have a closer

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Joe MaddonIt's less than 48 hours until the 2011 Major League Baseball season kicks off, do you know who your closer is? 

Joe Maddon doesn't.

"Well, there isn't one," the Rays manager told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune "and I'm not going to declare one, because I think if you are not absolutely certain, then you shouldn't do that, because you're only setting yourself up for problems later on."

Maddon said he was happy with his rebuilt bullpen with just one holdover from last season, Andy Sonnanstine. He'll be joined by Jake McGee, a September call-up a year ago, along with Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, Juan Cruz, Cesar Cabral and Adam Russell. The team will also add J.P. Howell in May.

It appears Farnsworth is as close as the team will have to a conventional closer, but Maddon may not save his closer for the ninth inning and obvious save situations.

"What I've learned over the last couple of years is that it's really about the leverage of the moment," Maddon said. "Why permit the game to get away in the seventh or eighth inning and have no chance to win it in the ninth and then you're using somebody entirely different anyway. I'm going to do my best to parcel out the work nightly and match them up as well as we can, try not to abuse anyone by warming them up and not putting them in the game."

Just the use of the word "leverage," Maddon is going to get a lot more fans in the sabermetric world. In hypothetical baseball, the prevailing theory is that a closer isn't needed, but no team has really tested that since the 2003 Red Sox, and that was abandoned during the season. Maddon doesn't have much of a choice, there's no lights-out closer sitting in the Rays' pen -- there may not even been a dimmer switch -- but he's got to try something. It will at least be something interesting to watch as the season goes along.

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Posted on: February 7, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2011 5:21 pm
 

Braves, Rays pinning hopes on closer by committee

KimCould the closer by committee be making a comeback?

Everyone remembers the last time a team attempted a closer by committee, to the scorn of many fans and pundits. And indeed, the attempt failed miserably by Boston back in 2003, necessitating a trade for the Diamondbacks' Byung-Hyun Kim (pictured) in May.

The problem back then was that the personnel wasn't right for Boston and the public tide of opinion was against having a closer by committee even as Boston's true intention was to deploy a closer, just as a relief ace instead. After all, don't you want your best relief pitcher pitching in the most important part of the game if it's earlier than the ninth? Jonathan Papelbon can make a bigger difference getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth than nailing down three outs in the ninth on a three-run lead.

Indeed, Boston would later sign Keith Foulke to close and deploy him as a relief ace in the 2004 run to the World Series. The Red Sox also developed Daniel Bard, who functioned as a relief ace in 2010. Skipper Terry Francona has talked often about how he loves having Bard to deploy where the team needs, not where the label of closer dictates.

But since Boston's aborted 2003 effort, closers by committees have existed only in lieu of a closer that has gotten injured.

But the concept may come roaring back in 2011, as two teams appear to be readying for a closer by committee.

The Rays have had to completely revamp their bullpen, and one byproduct of this is no clear-cut closer. Kyle Farnsworth is probably the pitcher with the best shot at emerging as closer given his longevity and pedigree. But even his closer's record is spotty as he has just 27 career saves (the most on the Rays, with J.P. Howell second at 20). Farnsworth, however, has only one save since 2006. Howell or rookie lefty Jake McGee seem likely to emerge as long-term closer, but for now, Tampa doesn't have much of a choice.

"We have some really good candidates," skipper Joe Maddon told the St. Petersburg Times. "Some good arms, some guys I don't really know that well that we've got to check out and see what they're capable of doing."

But even Maddon -- the king of innovation these days in baseball, sounded skeptical of the closer-by-committee approach.

"I have to prepare myself mentally for that because it's really different," Maddon said. "To have the one guy at the end of the game allows you to do certain things to get to the ninth innings whereas when you don't, there's different things you have to consider all the time. So it's quite a mental exercise."

Another team following in Tampa's footsteps are the Braves, who may split closer duties between Craig Kimbrel and Johnny Venters, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. New manager Fredi Gonzalez pointed to the Mike Gonzalez/Rafael Soriano arrangement the Braves went through in 2009 as an example for Kimbrel and Venters.

However, while both duos share a similar handedness split (Gonzalez and Venters as lefties, Soriano and Kimbrel righties), the 2009 comparison leaves out one important distinction: the Gonzalez/Soriano tandem was over by the All-Star Break. In the first half, Gonzalez nailed down nine saves, Soriano 12. But after the first half, Gonzalez got just one save while Soriano would go on to notch 15. Granted, the same thing could happen again in Atlanta if a clear-cut closer emerges for Gonzalez.

Closers are increasingly being marginalized as teams are no longer willing to pay exorbitant amounts in free agency. Even Rafael Soriano got less than he was hoping for, and despite his massive three-year, $36 million commitment, is no more outrageous than Joaquin Benoit's three-year, $18.5 million deal. Along with the pullback in closer salaries is coming increased understanding of the volatility of closers. Perhaps one day, relief aces will supplant closers. Until then, however, each closer-by-committee situation figures to be hotly monitored and debated. How Atlanta and Tampa approach and fare in this regard will impact the future of bullpen philosophy, just like teams re-entrenched themselves with closers after Boston's failed gambit.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: December 19, 2010 7:11 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2010 7:12 pm
 

Rays building bullpen in crazy market

PeraltaIn an offseason where the Rays have had to build up an entire bullpen from the ground up, Tampa has instead been left on the inside looking in as the relief market has exploded.

"It's been," GM Andrew Friedman told the St. Petersburg Times, "a very good offseason to be a reliever."

With all the three-year deals flying around, Friedman has had to adjust his expectations and as a result has brought in small names in former Nats reliever Joel Peralta (pictured), drafting Red Sox left-hander Cesar Cabral in the Rule 5 draft and trading for Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos and Brandon Gomes from the Padres in the Jason Bartlett deal.

So yeah, there's a bullpen -- but not one long on quality or recognizable names.

"It's not something we anticipated," Friedman said. "Especially in an offseason when we needed to remake our bullpen, it's not necessarily ideal. But you have to react accordingly and do what you can."

The club also expects J.P. Howell to return from Tommy John surgery at some point, although not likely by Opening Day. Howell likely would have been set up to close if the timetable afforded enough time in spring training. As is, Peralta is set to be the closer. That's rather odd for someone non-tendered by the Nationals, although the non-tender decision was curious given the 34-year-old posted a 2.02 ERA in 49 innings, whiffing 49 and walking a scant nine.

Other possibilities for the pen include converting a starter into a reliever such as Jeff Niemann or promoting prospect Jake McGee and Jeremy Hellickson and pitching them out of the bullpen. 

Tampa also has minor-league invites to camp for R.J. Swindle and Cory Wade and figure to extend a few more minor-league deals to willing pitchers.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: December 13, 2010 6:29 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2010 7:40 pm
 

Rays re-sign reliever Howell

J.P. Howell The Rays re-signed left-handed reliever J.P. Howell on Monday, the St. Petersburg Times ' Marc Topkin writes .

Howell, who missed all of 2010 with a shoulder injury, isn't expected to be ready until after the 2011 season begins.

The Rays non-tendered Howell earlier this month. As Topkin points out, it was likely to be able to give him a pay cut. Howell was arbitration eligible and could be offered only a 20 percent cut if offered arbitration. He made $1.8 million last season and a 20 percent cut would still come out to $1.44 million. Whatever his new deal is, it's likely for less than that amount.

UPDATE: Topkin tweets that Howell's deal is worth $1.1 million plus incentives.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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