Posted on: August 24, 2011 10:30 am
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.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: AL Central, AL West, Astros, Athletics, Billy Beane, Braves, Brewers, Cameron Maybin, Cardinals, Cubs, Eric Hosmer, Evan Brunell, Jose Constanza, Mike Quade, MLB Rumors, Nationals, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Padres, Pepper, Royals, Starlin Castro, Stephen Strasburg, Tommy Hanson, Wandy Rodriguez, Willie Mays, Zack Greinke
Posted on: May 6, 2011 12:26 pm
Edited on: May 6, 2011 12:35 pm
By Matt Snyder
One of the greatest baseball players in history turned 80 Friday. In honor of Willie Mays reaching yet another milestone in his life, let's take a look at what he did on the baseball field, to honor him.
The Say Hey won a Rookie of the Year, two MVPs (and according to many, deserved at least three more), 12 Gold Gloves, two All-Star Game MVPs and a World Series.
He amassed more than 3,000 hits, 2,000 runs, 650 home runs and ended with 1,903 RBI. He finished in the top six of MVP voting 12 times. He led the league at least one season in runs, hits, triples, home runs, stolen bases, walks, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, total bases and had the top OPS five times. There's a lot more. I recommend looking at his Baseball-Reference page and just enjoying the greatness.
But you can't define the man in numbers. He was a personality that transcended baseball, providing masses of fans with stories to be passed along from generation to generation. He came into the league just four years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and faced racial hatred on a daily basis I don't even want to imagine. The game is hard enough to play without thinking someone out there might want to kill you just for playing. And Willie excelled in the face of it, like so many other courageous black players of the era.
Willie Mays has lived such a full life we can't even pretend to be able to sum it up with a bunch of numbers or words. Let's just wish him a happy 80th and sit back and watch one of the most famous defensive plays in baseball history.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 11:01 am
By Evan Brunell
GAMECHANGER: Technology is awesome. Pretty sure we can all agree on that. But technology also has the unfortunate side effect of throwing things into disarray and causing conflict on what the better option is. Witness the stats vs. scouting issue.
The Royals have dived head-first into technology when it comes to game video, using it as an opportunity to scrub the position known as advance scout. Instead, the scout now works out of Kauffman Stadium and analyzes video.
"After a while, you've just got to accept the fact that I've got more information at my fingertips right now," advance scout Kelly Heath said, "than I could ever get by jumping on a plane and checking in a hotel room and getting a taxi and working on three hours' sleep, and watching a guy in six at-bats or 10 at-bats and trying to make a decision after getting a limited view."
Now, Heath can look at thousands of at-bats spanning years or dial up spring training games to get a look at an opposing team's recent Triple-A callup. That never happened before. The Royals are benefiting financially from this transaction as they no longer need to pay Heath's flight and hotel rooms, but they're also benefiting on the field. The club leads baseball in assists, which is being credited toward the extra knowledge that Heath is bringing in his new role, while K.C.'s hot offense may also be partly due to the new way of doing business.
"You don't need an advance scout anymore, in my opinion," manager Ned Yost added. "You've got everything at your fingertips. Everything I need or we need to see is on the video."
You can bet that other teams will eventually latch on to this. It's a no-brainer: why send someone jet-setting all over the country for six solid months just to get a glimpse of a batter a few times a game (if you're lucky) ? And what if that batter is in a slump? You can't properly evaluate that batter or how to pitch to him in that scenario. That's where video comes in handy. And it sure sounds as if Heath's getting plenty of sleep now.
FOCUSED ON LEHIGH: Domonic Brown knows that Philadelphia is his future, but right now he's worrying about his Triple-A team in Lehigh Valley. Brown recently returned from fracturing his hamate bone and is trying to get back into the swing of things. He should be starting in Philly before long. (Philadelphia Daily News)
SELIG BETTER THAN YOU THINK: Commissioner Bud Selig doesn't exactly inspire confidence when you look at him, but has there been any other influential and more effective leader than Bud has been for baseball? (New York Magazine)
THE SEASON DOESN'T END IN APRIL: In the north side of Chicago, many are wondering if the Cubs' Kosuke Fukudome will continue the trend of scorching Aprils followed by a below-par season or if, finally, this season's hot start proves a harbinger of things to come. (Chicago Tribune)
MCL TORN: Terrible news for the Mets who may have to deal with the loss of top pitching prospect Jenrry Meija for the season after tearing the MCL in his elbow. There's no question that this is a major setback for the team, who were probably counting on Meija being an important part of 2012's rotation. (New York Times)
TACKLED: Wow. Just wow. An inebriated Red Sox fan jumped on the field late in the game in an highly ill-advised move -- after all, police and venues with large crowds are on alert for possible retaliation in Osama bin Laden's death -- and a security guard made that abundantly clear by demolishing the fan with a tackle. (YouTube)
COMEBACK TRAIL: Just over a month ago, Alfredo Simon was in a Dominican Republic jail on charges of murder. While he hasn't been cleared yet, he's getting ready to play in a game again and is expected to start Thursday for Double-A. Yes, start -- the reliever has been converted as the Orioles attempt to build up depth. (Baltimore Sun)
LEGEND GONE: Emilio Navarro passed away Sunday at the age of 105. Don't worry if you don't recognize the name, but Navarro was reportedly the oldest ex-professional baseball player who used to play in the Negro Leagues as the first Puerto Rican to do so. (New York Times)
THE BIG 8-0: Willie Mays is turning 80 years old and feels better than he has in years. (San Francisco Chronicle)
SEALs: The Pirates visited Navy SEALs on Monday, just a day after Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of fellow SEALs in a pre-arranged visit that received glowing reports from the squad. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
WATCH BASEBALL ON YOUR PHONE: The ability to watch video on one's phone isn't a novel concept anymore, but how crazy is it that we can watch full TV shows, movies or sports games on something that fits in your pocket? MLB is aware of the phenomenon and has a new package with special pricing out for those who want MLB.tv on their phone. (Tuaw.com)For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: April 24, 2011 10:50 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
"As long as the body is OK, and [I'm] performing and doing what I ask it to do," Vizquel told the Chicago Tribune's Mark Gonzales when asked if he could be celebrating more birthdays on the field. "Right now there's no reason I can't. I am going to keep trying to play. I don't need to be on a table getting massages, or [in] a Jacuzzi or need a personal trainer with me on the road trips. I feel like I can still do the same things I've been doing for all these years."
With an 0-for-3 day on Sunsday, Vizquel's average dipped to .308. But that's not too bad for a 44-year-old. He started at second base on Sunday, the third time he's started there this season. He's also started games at shortstop and third base. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only Bobby Wallace of the Cardinals has played shortstop past his 44th birthday -- and that was 93 years ago.
"[Vizuqel] saved our [rears] last year, big-time, and continues to do it," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I need to put him out there because we need a break and he shows up to perform the way he does. That's not an easy thing to do."
Last season, in his first with Chicago, Vizquel hit .276/.341/.391. This season he's hitting .308/.357/.346.
Vizquel has 2,807 career hits but may need to play again at least next season to reach 3,000. He had 95 hits last season with the White Sox, but only 106 combined in 2008 and 2009. If he plays into 2013, he'd have a realistic shot at 3,000, which would guarantee him a spot in the Hall of Fame.
With 11 Gold Gloves at the game's most important defensive position, Vizquel is among the best to ever play as a defensive player, but is often overlooked because of the offensive shortstops of his time, such as Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken Jr. and Alex Rodriguez.
Only Ozzie Smith had more Gold Gloves at shortstop (13) -- and only Smith, Greg Maddux (18), Jim Kaat (16), Ivan Rodriguez (13), Brooks Robinson (16), Roberto Clemente (12) and Willie Mays (12) have won more Gold Gloves overall.
Vizquel's offensive numbers are better than Smith's, but Smith was more popular and seen as perhaps the greatest defensive player off all-time, not just shortstop. Vizquel has always been respected, but still viewed as inferior to Smith defensively and other shortstops offensively. Smith tops Vizquel in WAR, 64.6 to 43.3, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
If Vizquel doesn't get to 3,000 hits, he'll be an interesting case. If he does, he's a slam-dunk.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: April 4, 2011 11:16 am
Edited on: April 4, 2011 12:01 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
There are only six games on tonight's baseball slate, but that doesn't mean there aren't high stakes.
Two games will feature a total of three players looking to tie an MLB record. Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler and Mark Teixeira have all homered in each of their first three games of the season, becoming three of 26 players to achieve the feat. Only two men -- Mark McGwire in 1998 and Willie Mays in 1971 -- homered in each of the first four games of the season.
Teixeira and the Yankees host the Twins at 7:05 p.m. EST. Scott Baker is on the mound and that's good news for Teixeira, who has hit .462/.462/.769 in 13 plate appearances against the right-hander Baker. Teixeira has one homer and a double off of Baker.
Kinsler hasn't hit a homer off of Bedard in 20 career plate appearances, but does have a double and is hitting .350/.350/.400 against the lefty Bedard. Cruz has a homer and a double in eight plate appearances against Bedard, with a .375/.375/.875 slash line.
Bedard is making his first start in nearly two years. He hasn't pitched since July 25, 2009, missing all of last season with a shoulder injury.
H/T to Baseball Reference blog.
Posted on: August 1, 2010 12:32 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2010 12:33 pm
Alex Rodriguez is getting a day off and so are we.
On his quest for his 600th home run, Yankee manager Joe Girardi is sitting his third baseman in today's game in Tampa. Ramiro Pena is starting at third base for the Yankees, batting ninth against James Shields.
Since hitting his 599th career home run on July 22, Rodriguez has gone 8 for 36 (.222) in the next nine games, with two doubles and seven RBI. Rodriguez's wait is already the longest for any of the 600 club members after hitting career homer No. 599. Willie Mays went 21 at-bats between 599 and 600.
"The way I'm swinging now, it's probably going to take a while -- everybody get comfortable," Rodriguez told reporters, including MLB.com's Spencer Fordin following Saturday's game. "I'm just glad to be out there helping the team somehow. I scored a run. People are asking me about home runs. I'm asking for a hit-by-pitch, infield hit, bunt single, error. I'll get on base anyhow. The home run will come."
For those of us watching games and getting the live cut-ins on ESPN or MLB Network, we sure hope so. Unless this is some kind of Sisyphean punishment for Rodriguez and baseball's tacit approval of the steroid era. If so, it's a pretty good joke.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Posted on: July 8, 2010 4:30 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:58 am
In anticipation of the 2010 All-Star Game in Anaheim on Tuesday, July 13, the CBS Sports MLB Facts and Rumors blog looks back at some of the more memorable editions of the All-Star Game. Today looks at the 1999 All-Star Game.
I sat slack-jawed with a tape recorder rolling and no questions in my head, just a desire for the answers to never stop coming.
It was a hotel ballroom in Boston, and Warren Spahn and I were among four or five stragglers in there. He was telling the story of his epic 16-inning, complete-game performance against Juan Marichal and the Giants at Candlestick Park in 1963. It was at least the second time Spahn had told it that day and likely the 10th, and I'd even heard it once before, but I listened again. Just as he mentioned Willie Mays' homer, someone walked into the room and said it was time for Spahn to go.
He apologized, said he could go on for hours and I told him I could listen for more. An hour before, the room had been full of the greatest major-league players in history. Mays was there, so was Marichal, not to mention Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Bob Gibson, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson -- pretty much everywhere I turned, I bumped into a Hall of Famer.
While All-Star Games are naturally filled with All-Stars, the 1999 game was different. It was filled with bigger stars than just the usual names, even in this, the summer following the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa slugfest before it lost its luster. They were there, as was Ken Griffey Jr. at the height of his popularity. Pedro Martinez was making hometown fans think the curse may be bunk. But still, among all the All-Star Games in the history of the exhibition, this was less about the game and the current players than any other.
The 1999 game was not only at one of the country's most historic ballparks, Fenway Park, it was also coming at the time of an endless stream of best-of-the-century lists. But baseball's list, its Team of the Century, was kicked off in a different fashion than any other.
While other places talked of history, it was on display in Boston. Most people didn't see this part, because it was before MLB had 24 hours a day to fill with TV programming, but baseball announced its 100 greatest players of the 20th century in a news conference with the vast majority of the living members of that club in attendance in a hotel ballroom in Boston.
It was an amazing display of the game's greats, and after an entertaining hour-or-so, the players were brought into another room for one-on-one interviews. It was an hour of baseball geek bliss. At 23, I was slightly intimidated and more than happy to listen in on the conversations of the likes of Willie McCovey, Robin Yount, Mike Schmidt and Yogi Berra, among others.
Ted Williams, Pete Rose and Sandy Koufax weren't there, but it was hard to complain about their absence -- or the two from the dais that skipped the one-on-ones, Stan Musial and George Brett, although with Missouri roots, those were the two I'd hoped to interview more than the others.
By the time the all-time greats were introduced on the field the night of the game, I thought I was goose-bumped out. Until, right in front of my seat in the right field auxiliary press box, came Williams in on a golf cart. He did a lap and ultimately was the center of attention as he prepared to throw the first pitch.
It was a moment. A moment for baseball, a moment for baseball fans across the country to share their memories with another generation of fans -- to share their own stories of seeing Mays or Mantle play. In short, it was the rare moment when the ceremonial first pitch outshines the real first pitch. Even future Hall of Famers like Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn seemed to grasp the special nature of the moment. We all did -- those at Fenway and even those watching at home.
Martinez went on to become the first All-Star pitcher to strike out the side in the first inning, fanning Barry Larkin, Larry Walker and Sosa to start the game. He then struck out McGwire to lead off the second, bringing to mind Carl Hubbell's 1934 feat of getting Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin consecutively. It was an impressive display, even after Matt Williams broke Martinez's strikeout streak, reaching on an error. Martinez would win the game and the MVP, but even before he faced Larkin, the game had earned its spot in history.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
More All-Star memories -- 2002: The Tie ; 1949: First integrated edition ; 1941: Teddy Ballagame's walk-off homer
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Tags: 2010 All-Star Game, Barry Larkin, Bob Gibson, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, George Brett, Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Juan Marichal, Ken Griffey Jr., Larry Walker, Mark McGwire, Mickey Mantle, Mike Schmidt, Pedro MArtinez, Pete Rose, Robin Yount, Sammy Sosa, Sandy Koufax, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Yogi Berra