Tag:Mike Quade
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:22 pm
 

The 2011 Anti-Managers of the Year



By Matt Snyder


Some of the best managers in baseball for 2011 were listed on ballots that were revealed Wednesday. Joe Maddon and Kirk Gibson came out on top in a completely unsurprising movement. But what about the other end of the spectrum? Who were the worst managers? We'll exclude guys who were fired during the season because they've already suffered enough. But what about the managers who kept their jobs well into September despite failing to meet preseason expectations? Let's check them out.

AL Anti-Manager of the Year candidates

Terry Francona, Red Sox. No, he wasn't fired during the season. He walked away after the season, so he's "eligible" in this fun little exercise. And with the fallout of the historic collapse we've already heard far too much about, you have to question everyone in the Red Sox organization. Francona built up a ton of credibility throughout his years at the helm in Boston and rightfully so, but in looking at just 2011, the awful September is a real black eye on his resume.

Ozzie Guillen, White Sox. He wasn't fired either. He walked away to take a new job after having a colossal disappointment of a season. The White Sox were picked by many to win the AL Central with what looked like a stacked offense and very good starting pitching. Instead, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios were albatrosses, Gordon Beckham took a step backward in his development and the back-end of the bullpen was a mess for the first several weeks of the season. There were some positives, but the negatives far outweighed those on a high-priced roster that failed to meet expectations.

Ron Gardenhire, Twins. It's hard to completely blame Gardenhire for the disaster that was the Twins' 2011 season, considering all the injuries, but, frankly, I needed a third name here. And with the Twins getting 31 games worse in one season, Gardenhire has to shoulder at least some of the load.

The pick: It's gotta be Francona with that monumental collapse. And the funny thing is, I'd hire him in a heartbeat if I was running a team with a managerial opening. He just had a bad month, along with many of his players.

NL Anti-Manager of the Year candidates

Fredi Gonzalez, Braves. His ballclub lost a double-digit lead in the NL wild card in one month. That's not always on the manager, as the offense was sputtering just as it had most of the season, but I'm placing a lot of blame on Gonzalez because the back-end of his bullpen started to falter down the stretch. All season, people had been pointing out the overuse of Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters. And all season, Gonzalez just ignored it, and continued running the duo out there, even with three-run leads. Just because the save rule says a three-run lead means a save opportunity doesn't mean you have to use your guys. What was wrong with using Scott Linebrink and George Sherrill with a three-run lead in the middle of July, for example? Plus, there were times Gonzalez used either Venters or Kimbrel with a lead bigger than three. That's just unexcusable.

Dusty Baker, Reds. The Reds got 12 games worse in a mediocre division (yes, there were two good teams, but three pretty bad ones) with very similar personnel to their division-winning team in 2010. In four seasons, Baker has only had a winning record once.

Mike Quade, Cubs. Flawed roster? Yes. Injuries? Sure. But Quade was still pretty overmatched and appeared to lose control of his locker room by July. This was coming from a guy many players endorsed prior to the season.

Jim Tracy, Rockies. The Jorge De La Rosa injury hurt, just as some underperformance from a few players, but the Rockies entered the season with far too much talent to end up a whopping 16 games under .500. Manager of the Year voting seems to always use performance versus expectations, so it's only fair the Anti-Manager does the same. Thus, Tracy's inclusion here.

The pick: Gonzalez, and I'd actually think about firing him due to the aforementioned overuse of Kimbrel and Venters. It cost his team the season. Hopefully the wear and tear doesn't alter the career paths of the young fireballers.

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Posted on: November 2, 2011 3:36 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 9:11 pm
 

Who will replace Mike Quade as Cubs manager?



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Since the end of the season, there's been the assumption that Mike Quade would be out as the Cubs manager and he'd be replaced by Ryne Sandberg. Everything seemed to be playing out that way this offseason when Theo Epstein was hired by the Cubs and never really gave the impression that Quade would return.

The Cubs made the first part official on Wednesday, but made a question of the second part in a release the team sent out saying Quade would not return in 2012. While Sandberg would be a natural fit, Epstein's quote in the release gives some pause:

"The managerial search process begins immediately.  We are looking for someone with whom and around whom we can build a foundation for sustained success.  The next manager must have leadership and communication skills; he must place an emphasis on preparation and accountability; he must establish high standards and a winning culture; he must have integrity and an open mind; and he must have managerial or coaching experience at the major league level."

That means Sandberg -- who has spent the last five years as a minor league manager -- won't be considered. According to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, Epstein has alerady informed Sandberg that he wasn't in consideration.

If Sandberg isn't a candidate, who will manage the Cubs in 2012?

Here's a look at some of the possibilities:

Terry Francona: Francona will always be tied to Epstein. The two had success in Boston and there's definitely a mutual admiration. Epstein has gobbled up former Red Sox cronies since joining the Cubs, what's one more?

Dave Martinez: The Rays' bench coach is one of the hottest names when manager positions have opened up -- and he's got a Chicago connection. Martinez had two stints with the Cubs, breaking in with the organization in 1986 before being traded to Montreal. He also played there in 2000.

Pete Mackanin: A Chicago native, Mackanin has already interviewed for the Red Sox job and in addition to serving as the Phillies' bench coach in each of the last three seasons, Mackanin has twice been an interim manager -- and both of those stints came in the NL Central, with the Pirates and Reds.

Dale Sveum: Like Mackanin, Sveum is being interviewed in Boston. And it shouldn't be a surprise that there will be overlap in candidates between the two, since Epstein was involved in rounding up the candidates for the Red Sox manager position. The two organizations will have similar lists when looking for its next manager. Sveum spent two years as the Red Sox third base coach and impressed the Boston brass (including Epstein) before returning to Milwaukee where he has served as third base coach, bench coach and hitting coach under three different managers.

DeMarlo Hale: Hale's been on Boston's staff since 2006, including the last two as Francona's bench coach. Hale is a Chicago native.

Tim Bogar: Like Hale, Bogar's also been on Francona's staff in Boston, serving as the team's third base coach the last two seasons and the first base coach in 2009. He also worked for Joe Maddon in Tampa. He's also managed in the Cleveland and Houston minor league organizations.

Mike Maddux: Not only is Maddux a respected pitching coach, he also happens to be the brother of a Greg Maddux, who is beloved by the Ricketts and has served in the Cubs front office. 

Joe Maddon: Maddon was a finalist for the Red Sox job when Epstein hired Francona. While Maddon has said he's not interested in going anywhere, there's always a chance. 

John Farrell: Sure, the Blue Jays put on a full-court press to keep him away from the Red Sox, but maybe they'll be more open to let him talk to a team outside the American League East. Farrell's son is currently a pitcher at Northwestern.

Joe Girardi: Girardi's name is always going to be connected to the Cubs job when it's open, even if there's little-to-no chance he leaves the Yankees at this point.

Bobby Valentine: His name comes up with just about every opening nowadays, so why not one more?

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 8:08 pm
 

Sandberg spotted in Chicago, rumors swirl

Ryne SandbergBy C. Trent Rosecrans

On the day Theo Epstein confirmed his Lincoln Park Starbucks visit earlier this month, there's another sighting of a possible Cub in the Windy City -- the Chicago Tribune quotes two Chicago baseball fans as having seen Hall of Famer and potential Cubs manager Ryne Sandberg in downtown Chicago on Tuesday.

Of course, Sandberg played for the Cubs for 15 seasons and has a home in Chicago, so reading too much into his strolling down a Chicago sidewalk on a Tuesday afternoon is quite the leap in logic.

Still, Epstein was announced as the new President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs on Tuesday and incumbent manager Mike Quade is perceived as a lame duck, while Sandberg was a candidate to get the job last year when the Cubs hired Quade and has gotten rave reviews from baseball people for his work as a minor league manager.

During his introductory news conference, Epstein said he would speak to Quade this week, but was noncommittal about his manager's future.

Sanberg interviewed for Boston's Triple-A managerial position last season, but he'd already committed to manager Philadelphia's Triple-A team, so he turned down the job in Pawtucket. Sandberg managed four years in the Cubs minor league system, winning the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year Award in 2010. Sandberg's Lehigh Valley team won the International League wild card, going 80-64. The IronPigs were 58-86 in 2010 before Sandberg's tenure with the team.

I've talked to several baseball people who have been very impressed with Sandberg's managerial style and aptitude for the game, so when he does get a managerial position -- and he will -- it will be because of his merits as a manager, not because of his exploits as a player.

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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.

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Posted on: September 22, 2011 10:33 am
 

Pepper: Moneyball the talk of baseball

Scott Hatteberg

By C. Trent Rosecrans

With the Moneyball movie, I've gone from skeptical to excited to disappointed to indifferent to cautiously optimistic -- and I still haven't seen it.

It's all anyone's talking about, of course, even though we do have two good races going for the wild card right now, the tale of a team that lost in the first round of the playoffs is apparently more interesting because Brad Pitt is involved. Pitt, who usually graces the cover of supermarket checkout magazines, is even on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. I don't expect to see him on the front of Baseball America, but I wouldn't be shocked if he were.

Or at least those of us with keyboards. I've heard reviews all over the board -- from those too close who go against the grain and hate everything to those who are indifferent and those who loved it. I've heard people named in the book (and movie) who thought it was awful and a complete work of fiction and others who show up as characters who say it does a great job of showing what it was like. It just goes to show that perception differs much more than reality.

One of those who says good things about it is Scott Hatteberg, who is played by Chris Pratt in the movie (both are pictured above, with the real-life Hatteberg on the right).

"It caused the hair to rise on the back of my neck," Hatteberg told Baseball Prospectus' John Perrotto.

When I covered Hatteberg, he was one of my favorite guys to interview because of his insight to the game -- and his outside interests. I ran into him at a Wilco concert once and we'd often talk music and movies. He's also extremely intelligent and while I used to say I could see him as a manager (and still could), now he's working in the A's front office and I could easily see him as a general manager.

Hatteberg's one of the reasons I want to see the movie, with the portrayal of scouts as simpletons relying on outdated methods to judge players and the oversimplification of saber metric principals as reasons I'm skeptical. 

The scene in the preview with David Justice having to put money in a Pepsi machine is the one that makes me cringe the most -- it's total fiction, as Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News points out in this handy true-false scorecard on the movie -- and makes me wonder if I'll be one of those watching just to point out inaccuracies as opposed to just sitting back and trying to enjoy the movie as a whole. Sometimes that's tough -- any time I see a press conference where reporters start clapping usually make me hate just about the best of movies. A little knowledge on a  subject can help when enjoying a movie, but more info can totally ruin it.

Either way, I guess they'll get my money and isn't that all that matters?

Just a touch: One of the biggest differences between the movie and the book is that Paul DePodesta didn't want his name used, so instead there's a fictionalized character, Peter Brand, who plays the DePodesta part. While Jonah Hill doesn't resemble DePodesta physically, his character hits the nail on the head, the Los Angeles Times' Bill Plaschke writes.

Monty got a raw deal: Even if it appears NotDePodesta was portrayed well in the movie, its main villain, Grady Fuson is not portrayed accurately, according to Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The foil for Billy Beane in the movie, Fuson -- now back with the A's -- is portrayed as a bit of a dope and dinosaur. In the movie, Beane even fires Fuson, when in fact Fuson was hired away by the Rangers, something that Beane was not happy about at the time.

Strange: The Dodgers are a mess, but that may not preclude them from making some big waves in the offseason, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. If the Dodgers are in play, that suddenly makes them a team to watch for either of the two big free agent first basemen, Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. The team could also look to lock up Matt Kemp.

So fast, so numb: Of the 30 teams that have won at least 100 games from 1980 to 2010, only four have won the World Series -- the Yankees in 1998 and 2009, the 1986 Mets and the 1984 Tigers. Of those 30, only 11 made the World Series.  Since 1986, three teams with fewer than 88 wins have won the Series -- the 2006 Cardinals (83), 2000 Yankees (87) and 1987 Twins (85). The Phillies (98) and the Yankees (95) are the only two teams with a shot at 100 wins this season. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Sitting still: Blue Jays rookie Brett Lawrie won't play again this season after breaking his right middle finger on Wednesday. Lawrie suffered the injury before Wednesday's game, fielding ground balls. [MLB.com]

Binky the doormat: Cubs manager Mike Quade says he thinks he'll be back in 2012. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Departure: Although unlikely to return to the Orioles, Vladimir Guerrero wants to return in 2012, and beyond. Guerrero would like to play "two or three" more years, he told the Baltimore Sun. Guerrero is three hits away from all-time Dominican hit-leader, Julio Franco, who has 2,586 hits. He's also just one homer away from 450.

Finest worksong: Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire says the team's communication has been a key feature to its offense. The team has stressed that players need to be in the dugout talking after at-bats instead of going straight to the video room. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Endgame: Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez will explore free agency, even if the Cubs pick up their part of the $16-million mutual option, which is unlikely anyway. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Moral kiosk: Marlins president David Samson tried to help the victim of a traffic accident while on his way to the team's new park on Wednesday. Samson was lauded for his attempts to help the victims, but he deflected any praise. [Miami Herald]

Everybody hurts: Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes was scratched from his scheduled start against the Rays on Wednesday and the rest of his season is in doubt. An MRI revealed his back spasms were actually inflammation from a herniated disk he first suffered in 2004. Hughes may be done for the season, but the team hopes he can return as soon as this weekend. [New York Post]

Hairshirt: The new Marlins logo received "mixed" reviews, according to the Miami Herald. That sounds generous. My favorite comment from my twitter feed was that it looked like someone "vomited Skittles." Former Marlin Dan Uggla was asked about his opinion of the new logo and said he wasn't a big fan. When asked more specifically what was wrong with it, he answered "everything."

The one I love: While the Marlins are going in a totally new direction for their new logo, the Blue Jays are apparently going back to the past for their new logo. Don't expect too many complaints (although there will be some, it's the internet, there are always complaints). [The Score]

New test leper: Because of MLB's relation with the Dominican winter league, Manny Ramirez will not be eligible to play in his native land this winter as he'd hoped. [ESPN.com]

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Posted on: August 24, 2011 10:30 am
 

Pepper: Quade's excusing of Castro a mistake

Castro

By Evan Brunell

Lighten up: Much has been made of Starlin Castro missing a pitch in Sunday's game, with his back to the plate while playing in the field. Understandably, many people -- including ESPN announcer Bobby Valentine -- were outraged, with Valentine excoriating Castro on air.

Also unsurprisingly, Cubs players are rushing to Castro's defense, with Aramis Ramirez the latest to tell everyone to back off. And Ramirez has a pretty good idea what it may be like to be Castro, who is 21 years old. Ramirez made his big-league debut at age 19.

"People need to realize that he's only 21 -- he's going to make mistakes," Ramirez told MLB.com. "He's going to make mental mistakes. ... I made it to the big leagues when I was 19, and I made a lot of mistakes. That's part of [the game]."

Ramirez added that Castro has apologized to the team and everyone's moved on.

"I think [such a big deal was made] because it was an ESPN game, a nationally televised game," Ramirez said. "[But] that stuff shouldn't happen. Starlin would be the first one to tell you that shouldn't happen. Even when you're a veteran, you make mistakes."

Here's the problem, though: Mike Quade had something to say, and it was the wrong thing. Castro was benched Monday in a pretty clear response to his not paying attention to the pitch, but Quade passed it off as a mental day, missing an opportunity to show everyone -- including owner Tom Ricketts, who may fire Quade after the year -- that he's the boss. He missed another opportunity by excusing Castro's behavior for the limelight of being a Cubs player.

"I may agree that too much was being made of it but this is the world we're in and this is the spotlight we're under," Quade said. "You can think what you want, but when you're playing in a market like this at a level like this, you can expect this kind of attention, and you can expect to be under a microscope like this."

Since when did a player's uniform affect attention span? Not paying attention during the game is not paying attention, period.

Back at it
: The next outing for Stephen Strasburg will come on Saturday, which will be his fifth rehab start since returning from Tommy John surgery. It's also the first one that will be at a higher level than Single-A, with Strasburg heading to Triple-A, which should allow Strasburg to lock in and focus on executing pitches against advanced competition as he prepares for an early September return to Washington. (Washington Times)

Will Wandy go? Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle says that how the Astros handle the Wandy Rodriguez waiver claim situation will go a long way in determining how new owner Jim Crane will handle things. " Is he really about trying try to build things the right way for sustainable success, or is the endgame nothing more than to dump salary for dumping salary’s sake?" Campbell writes. "If the Astros do nothing more than a salary dump, however, then fans have reason to be afraid — very afraid — for the future. Houston is too big and too good of a market to become the National League’s Kansas City of the South — perpetually turning over the roster with young, cheap players without committing the resources necessary to build a winner."

Best scooper: Eric Hosmer wasn't called up to the majors until May 6, but his 27 scoops at first base (yes, this really is measured) is just one behind Adam Lind for most in the AL, while Carlos Pena leads baseball with 52. Three additional AL players have 27 scoops. “What I had to learn when I got here,” Hosmer told the Kansas City Star, “was, when you pick it, you’ve got to stay through it (with a sweeping motion). You have an imaginary line on where you think the ball is going to bounce. Before, I was just working up and down. Then I learned to go through the ball.”

Capping the draft: There were plenty of big paydays to high school and college players once the dust settled last week on the signing deadline for drafted players. The money is so exorbitant, that it's only deepened commissioner Bud Selig's resolve to introduce a hard-slotting system. But is that good for baseball? (Kansas City Star)

Moneyball: Before long, the blockbuster movie centered around the book that made so many waves in baseball will premiere, with Brad Pitt as A's GM Billy Beane. New York Magazine has a great story out about the movie and how it had to jump through hoops to get made... and what, exactly, Hollywood is taking away from Moneyball.

Game changed: But Billy Beane says the game is different these days, and the gap between the big- and low-money teams is even more pronounced, with the window for small markets to compete that much smaller than just a decade ago, as Oakland has been reduced to taking fliers on players as their only options.  “Sometimes, you’re relegated to buying that lottery ticket,” Beane told the New York Times. “Anybody will tell you that the lottery is not a great way to invest your money. But sometimes, you don’t have a lot of options.”

Window closing? Since the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006, they have yet to win another postseason game. With Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols and others only getting older and reaching free agency, is it possible St. Louis' window of competition has closed? It seems like it, but how did the window get missed in the first place with strong teams over the last four years? (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Brave injuries
: Tommy Hanson, one of Atlanta's best pitchers, keeps experiencing setbacks while sensation Jose Constanza is hobbled by a right-ankle sprain. Constanza is day-to-day and could be back as early as Wednesday, but Hanson is a different story. He threw a nine-pitch throwing session on Monday, the first time throwing from the mound since Aug. 6, but the report was sobering enough that his Tuesday bullpen session was canceled. Hanson will now wait for his condition to improve. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Say-Hey Kid: Cameron Maybin received an honor by spending time at the home of baseball great Willie Mays, and Maybin was understandably bowled over by the meeting. Mays has been impressed with Maybin this season and invited him over when San Diego was in San Francisco before Tuesday's game. The Giants said while Mays has been known to go out to dinner with young players, they can't recall an invitation to go to Mays' home ever being extended to a player. “I took him my jersey, signed it for him,” Maybin told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Think of that. My jersey’s in Willie Mays’ house.”

Starting Greinke: The Brewers considered delaying Zack Greinke's next start so he could face the Cardinals, but manager Ron Roenicke may not go that route. Roenicke believes that Milwaukee should focus on winning every game, while Greinke isn't keen on starting a game on eight days rest. Nothing is decided yet, but the outcome appears obvious. (MLB.com)

Web Gems: Last season, Sam Miller of the Orange County Register found an East Coast bias in Web Gems, which may have been in part due to fan voting. This season, though, with tweaked rules, there is no such bias. The top five teams with the most Web Gems in 2011 are the Indians, Rangers, Rays, Brewers and Royals.

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Posted on: August 23, 2011 1:57 am
Edited on: August 23, 2011 7:38 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Napoli, Wilson do in Red Sox

Mike Napoli

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Mike Napoli and C.J. Wilson, Rangers: These two love to play against the Red Sox. Napoli has homered in each of his last four games against Boston, including a three-run shot in Monday's 4-0 victory over Boston. Wilson started for the Rangers, allowing just four hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out four with Koji Uehara, Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz not allowing a hit over the rest of the night to cement Wilson's 13 win of the season. Wilson is now 4-0 with a 1.62 ERA in five starts against the Red Sox.

Cliff Lee, Phillies: Lee improved to 4-0 in August with just two earned runs with 32 strikeouts in 31 innings this month, which is just his second-best month of the season after a 5-0 June, allowing just one inning. On Monday, he threw seven shutout innings, giving up three hits. His seven strikeouts gave him 191 for the season, setting a career-high in Ks with a month left to go in the season. Last season he struck out 185, his previous best.

Dan Uggla, Braves: Much has been made this season of Dan Uggla's struggles at the plate -- and it's true, his average stats are down -- he's hitting .232/.300/.461 -- each at least 25 points lower than his career numbers in those stats. However, he hit his 30th home run of the season, marking the fifth straight year he's accomplished the feat. No other second baseman in history has had more than three 30-homer seasons. Uggla seems to be on track to set a career-high in homers, his previous best was last season when he hit 33.  He has 184 home runs in his six years in the big leagues.


Mike Quade, Cubs: Quade did the right thing benching shortstop Starlin Castro for Monday's game after his mental lapse was caught on camera during Sunday's game against St. Louis. But Quade didn't come out and say he benched him for the incident, instead he went with the "mental day" excuse. With Quade's future as the Cubs' skipper in doubt, he could have sent a message -- and he inadvertently did, a message of weakness.

Tony La Russa, Cardinals: Classic La Russa overmanaging struck again on Monday -- as La Russa took out starter Chris Carpenter with 99 pitches after Carpenter opened the ninth inning by hitting Juan Rivera. La Russa brought in left-hander Arthur Rhodes to face Andre Ethier and Rhodes responded by striking him out. But then he took out Rhodes in favor of the right-handed Fernando Salas to face switch-hitting Aaron Miles, whose career stats are more or less even from each side of the plate. Miles tripled to tie the game and then scored on a fielder's choice in the infield, giving Los Angeles a 2-1 victory in St. Louis.

Chris Perez, Indians: We'll just let Perez speak for himself here:

The Indians closer took the loss, hitting the first two batters of the inning, picking up an error and walking another. He gave up the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Franklin Gutierrez. With Cleveland's loss and Detroit's win, the Indians are now tied with the White Sox for second in the AL Central, 5 1/2 games behind the Tigers.

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Posted on: August 19, 2011 9:56 am
 

Pepper: Replay helps, but is hardly perfect



By C. Trent Rosecrans

See, now that's how replay's supposed to work -- maybe.

A day after the Yankees were the victim of a bad call (and worse replay) in Kansas City, the umpires in Minnesota went to the video once again for a Justin Morneau two-run homer in the first inning.

However, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn't agree.

"In my opinion, and this is what I told them: 'If one replay shows it could be fair and one replay shows it could be foul, and no one is really positive, how the heck do you change it?'" Gardenhire told reporters (via MLB.com). "I don't get that. They told me they saw a view on TV. But I could show three views right here where the ball disappears behind the pole. It just depends on the camera angle."

While I'm all for expanded replay, we must keep in mind it's not going to solve all of baseball's problems -- and the last two days have shown that.

Fair or foul? You be the judge (Yankees broadcast, Twins broadcast). It sure looked foul to me, but I understand the argument. It's what the NFL calls "incontrovertible visual evidence" and I'm not sure it's there. It's something to keep in mind, even with replay, humans are in charge and the chance for human error is always great, no matter what tools are at our disposal.

Hanley on hold: Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez may not return this season, Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post speculated. Ramirez sprained his left shoulder on Aug. 2 while chasing down a fly ball. Ramirez hasn't played since. He had surgery not he same shoulder following the 2007 season.

Quade safe?: Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has been supportive of embattled manager Mike Quade and when he talks to the media during a homestand starting today, it's expected he will support his manager. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Little slugger: I wrote about Indians infielder Jack Hannahan's son the other day, but if you missed it, go here. Anyway, Louisville Slugger sent the youngest Hannahan a bat with his name, birthday and birth weight on it. A cool gesture for Johnny Hannahan, whose dad also uses Louisville Sluggers. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Hanson on hold: Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson won't return from the disabled list on Tuesday as previously scheduled. The Braves aren't sure when they'll get him back from shoulder tendinitis, but it may not be too long. It looks like rookie Mike Minor will stay in the rotation, at least through Tuesday. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Congrats?: Brewers infielder Craig Counsell was believed to have dodged setting the record for most consecutive at-bats without a hit recently when he snapped an 0-for-45 skid one hitless at-bat before the record set by Bill Bergen in 1909. However, the Elias Sports Bureau went back and found that Bergen's went 0 for 45, meaning Counsell and former big leaguer Dave Campbell tied Bergen for baseball's longest streak of futility. Campbell achieved the feat in 1973 while with the Padres, Cardinals and Astros. The original 0 for 46 mark was from Joe Dittmar, who had researched it as a piece on Bergen for the Society for American Baseball Reaserach in 1997. Dittmar went back to check his work and saw that he was off by one and Elias was right. So, congrats Counsell and Campbell, or probably more accurately to Bergen, who is no long alone with his streak. [New York Times]

Confidence is key: Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion said his belief in himself has been able to get him through another difficult year. It looked as if Encarnacion might be the odd man out when the Jays were set to promote Brett Lawrie at the end of June, but since Lawrie broke his hand and his call up was delayed. Since June 28, Encarnacion has hit .325/.414/.580 with nine home runs and cut down his strikeouts to 25 with 22 walks over that time. He's also been helped by being taken off third base where he's struggled throughout his career with consistency -- making the really difficult plays and botching the easy ones. [Toronto Star]

Please stay Rays: St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster said Thursday that he has a "detailed plan" to keep the Rays in St. Pete, but refused to disclose any details. The city clerk said she knew nothing about it, but Foster claims it exists. Don't get too excited about this plan, though, while he didn't spill any beans, he did "clarify" that his "detailed plan" may not include a new stadium. [Tampa Tribune]

Hold on: The Nationals' Tyler Clippard has a pretty good shot at breaking the holds record this year. If you can't quite remember who currently holds it, you're forgiven -- it's not like we're talking about Babe Ruth's home run record (I kid). Clippard got his 32nd hold last night and has a decent shot at breaking Luke Gregerson's record of 40 set way back in 2010. [Baseball-Reference.com]

M.C. Doc Halladay?: Rapper Game references Phillies ace Roy Halladay on his new album. That's all. Just found it interesting and liked the mental image Dave Brown gives of Halladay at the Source Awards. [Yahoo's Big League Stew]

Making dad proud: The other day I teased Reds scouting director Chris Buckley about the team's pick of his son, Sean, in the sixth round. Another team official was there and rightfully noted, "nepotism picks comes in the 40s, not the sixth round." They're right -- and early in his career, Sean Buckley is proving him right. Buckley has 13 home runs already in short-season Class A with the Billings Mustangs, including one that cleared the batter's eye in center field. [MiLB.com]

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com