Tag:Matt Murton
Posted on: March 13, 2011 11:15 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:35 am

Pepper: Gordon's last shot?

Alex Gordon
By C. Trent Rosecrans

Remember when Alex Gordon was the next George Brett? Royals fans sure do.

Now, though, the former second-overall pick in the draft, is an afterthought in the deep, talented Royals system.

Taken ahead of the likes of Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun and Troy Tulowitzki, Gordon has a career line of .244/.315/.355 in 1,641 plate appearances in the big leagues and has since been moved from third base to the outfield.

While no longer one of the core building-blocks of the Royals rebuilding job, Gordon still has some talent (and a little trade value). He's also starting to get hot in the Cactus League, going 8 for 12 in his last five games. He's also shown good plate discipline, drawing 11 walks.

"The timing was off. I was seeing the pitches good, I was just late and not making solid contact," Gordon told MLB.com. "Lately, I've been getting easy earlier and seeing pitches better and making good contact, and that's what it's all about. So definitely a big change in the last week."

Gordon, 27, spent his offseason working with Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, someone who knows a little bit about living in the shadow of the Royals' lone Hall of Fame player. Seitzer's emergence at third base moved Brett from third base to first in 1987 and even made the All-Star team as a rookie. Seitzer has been the team's hitting coach since 2009.

"I think I've pulled my hands back so I'm loaded instead of trying to find the load during the swing. I'm ready to go right off the bat," Gordon said. "I think that's helped, and I'm not late on pitches anymore, and I'm being aggressive."

With the Royals throwing out a placeholder roster for 2011 before the prospects begin to trickle in later this summer, Gordon may be getting his last chance to prove he's more than a Four-A player. Soon, that Royals influx of talent could make him the next Clint Hurdle in Royals history.

SILVA ON THE BLOCK: Three Nationals scouts, among others, watched the Cubs' Carlos Silva in his latest spring training start, ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine writes.

According to Levine, the Nationals and Yankees have had scouts at each of Silva's outings. Both teams are looking to fill their rotation and could afford Silva's $12 million salary.

Chicago has had good spring showings from Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner, making Silva expendable.

Dave MartinezHAIR CLUB FOR MEN: With Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez now Rays, manager Joe Maddon wants his team to follow the example of his newest stars.

"I encourage the growth of follicles," Maddon told the St. Petersburg Times. "I want them all to go nuts with their hair this year."

Although Ramirez is known for his long dreadlocks and Damon is now sporting a fauxhawk, the inspiration for his goal of being "the hirsute club" was bench coach Dave Martinez's bushy beard (pictured).

"Sometimes I just go with my instincts, and I just think it could turn into a lot of fun for the group," Maddon said, noting he'll let his hair grow out as much as possible. "So whatever keeps you focused on the field and having fun off it, I'm all for it."

FORMER CUBS OK: The Chicago Tribune caught up with former Cub Micah Hoffpauir, who is now playing in Japan.

"My first earthquake," Hoffpauir told the Trib. "And good Lord willing, it will be my last."

Hoffpauir, now a member of the Nippon Ham Fighters, was in his room on the 26th floor of his hotel in Tokyo when the earthquake hit, approximately 250 miles to the north.

"It felt like someone started shaking the whole country of Japan," Hoffpauir said. "At one point I thought, this building is going to fall down. But I was assured later that [swaying] is what the building was supposed to do."

He said he was evacuated from his hotel and was able to contact his wife in Texas to let her know he was OK. He said he has also been in touch with former Cub teammate Matt Murton, who was training further south in Osaka, and he was OK.

GARFOOSE FUNDRAISER: Author and Rays reliever Dirk Hayhurst will call you up and thank you personally if you donate $50 or more to Mercy Corp Fundraising for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. (DirkHayhurst.com)

HIDDEN TREASURE: Investigators found a jackpot of 1986 Mets memorabilia in a  Port St. Lucie storage facility following their case of former Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels.

Samuels is accused of theft and illegal gambling.

Among the treasure found in the storage facility was signed uniforms from the 1986 Mets team that defeated the Red Sox in the World Series. The collection is reportedly worth "hundreds of thousands of dollars." (New York Daily News)

SIZEMORE GETTING CLOSER: Indians manager Manny Acta said he thinks center fielder Grady Sizemore is scheduled to start running bases today and could be cleared to play in games sometime in the last 10 days of spring training. (MLB.com)

D-TRAIN OFF THE RAILS: Dontrelle Willis left Saturday's game with a sprained ankle, tripping on a bat after backing up the plate on Bobby Scales' two-run single. Willis had a rough outing, allowing two hits and two walks while recording just a single out. (MLB.com)

THANK YOU, COME AGAIN: Commissioner Bud Selig said Saturday that the stake in the Diamondbacks once owned by Padres chief executive Jeff Moorad has been sold. Current Arizona managing general partner Ken Kendrick absorbed the eight percent of the Diamondbacks  for $21 million. Moorad's group owns 49 percent of the Padres. (MLB.com)

HARDEN OUT OF ROTATION MIX: Rich Harden is officially out of the race for the Athletics' fifth-starter sport. Harden could still find a spot in the bullpen, but it's getting crowded too. Brandon McCarthy, Tyson Ross and Bobby Cramer are still competing for the fifth starter spot, with the losers then looking to make the bullpen. (San Francisco Chronicle)

STATS FOR DUMMIES: The great Joe Posnanski gives you a primer on advanced offensive statistics. (JoePosnanski.com)

LINEUP CONSTRUCTION: Little has more breath and keystrokes wasted on it more than lineup construction. It's a fan's favorite nitpick to show why their manager is an idiot, yet it doesn't really matter that much in the long term. (Although, it makes the most sense to get your better hitters at the the top of the order, because they get the most at-bats). But anyway, Astros manager Brad Mills discusses his philosophy for filling out his lineup card. (Houston Chronicle)

RAYS RESURRECTION: Former top pick Matt Bush is making a comeback in Tampa's training camp. (Tampa Tribune)

BASEBALL PROJECT: If you missed our Ear on Baseball podcast with the Baseball Project, what's wrong with you? Seriously?

Anyway, you can catch up with Scott McCaughey, who says despite touring the world with various rock bands, he's always kept up with baseball because it's a "a sort of zen thing for me" and reading boxscores is "like meditation" -- I think we can all understand that. (Athens Music Junkie)

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

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Posted on: November 17, 2010 6:11 pm

Hoffpauir off to (not) fight ham in Japan

Perhaps inspired by former Cub Matt Murton, who this season broke Ichiro Suzuki's single-season hits record in Japan, Micah Hoffpauir is headed across the Pacific.

Several reporters have confirmed that Hoffpauir has signed a one-year deal with the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan's Pacific League. Hoffpauir, 30, has bounced between Triple-A and the Cubs the past three seasons as a pinch-hitter and utility man, batting .251/.312/.421.

Also, just so you can look smart in front of your friends, the Nippon Ham Fighters do not fight ham, literally or metaphorically. "Nippon Ham" is the sponsor, and "Fighters" is the mascot. As a Japanese friend once told me, "Think of it as like the 'Oscar Mayer Bologna Warriors.'"

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: October 5, 2010 12:54 pm

Ichiro has never heard of Matt Murton

Matt Murton Matt Murton broke Ichiro's single-season hit mark in Japan, notching his 211th hit on Tuesday for the Hanshin Tigers -- then adding two more later in the 17-4 victory over the Yakult Swallows. But Ichiro apparently had never heard of Murton until the former Cub tied his record.

Yakyubaka.com translates Ichiro's comments from Nikkan Sports :

"[Murton] did that in his first year in Japan. I've never heard of him. A player like that goes to Japan, has 210 hits so far in his first year, that's kind of shocking to me," Ichiro said. "So he's a player that never made it as a starting outfielder. But he did it in hs first year. That made me think that you can't take America too lightly."

The two played against each other just once, June 12, 2007 at Wrigley Field. Suzuki went 1 for 6 with a  double, while Murton was 0 for 3 in a 5-3 Mariners victory.

The one comment on the entry is from Jason Standridge , one of his teammates with the Tigers (or someone pretending to be him).

"What Matt has done this year for our team is nothing but amazing," Standridge wrote. "To also accomplish this feat in his first year in Japan, truly is really special."

Murton's record can be compared to Roger Maris breaking Babe Ruth's single-season home run record, both were aided by added games.

In 1994, Ichiro had 210 hits in a 130-game season. Japanese teams now play 144, and Murton's hit came in his 142nd game -- something Murton acknowledged in his remarks about the record.

"1994 and 2010 are two different seasons," Murton told the Associated Press . "He did it 130 games. it is what it is, it's a great honor. In terms of Ichiro, this doesn't change anything. He's one of the best players in baseball."

Matt Murton Murton was a first-round selection of the Red Sox out of Georgia Tech in 2003 and was part of the four-team trade that sent Nomar Garciaparra (and Murton) to the Cubs.

In four years with the Cubs, he actually played decently, hitting .294/.362/.436 with 28 home runs. Still, to listen to Cubs fans, he was as bust (seriously, read any Cubs blog or message board about Murton and they'll say the Japanese Leagues must be equal to the Little League World Series because Murton set a record there).

Murton was less successful in limited time with the Rockies (2008) and the A's (2009) before going to Japan for the 2010 season. He's flourished with the Tigers, hitting .351/.396/.502 in Japan with 17 homers.

What I find more interesting is that in the past, Japanese teams would be wary of letting foreign players break the records of Japanese-born players, but it doesn't seem like Murton dealt with that at all. That's a welcome progress in Japanese baseball.

There's an outside chance Murton won't hold the record long -- Yakult's Norichika Aoki has 205 hits with three games remaining, so if he had three hits a night and Murton goes hitless in his two remaining games, Aoki would win the hits title. The Swallows center fielder leads the league with a .358 average and is hitting .358/.435/.510 overall.

Meanwhile it's not as if Suzuki is crying over his lost record. He finished with his 10th consecutive season in the big leagues with at least 200 hits, making him the second player in history with 10 200-hit season along with Pete Rose.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

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