Posted on: September 19, 2011 3:57 pm

On Deck: Kennedy's bid for 20


By Matt Snyder

As always, follow all the game action live on CBSSports.com's scoreboard. Also, the Playoff Race standings page will be updating at the conclusion of every game.

Snakes' ace: Along with his team as a whole, Diamondbacks' starting pitcher Ian Kennedy (19-4, 2.99) is one of the better stories in baseball this season. He's setting out to make it even better Monday, as he takes the hill against the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates. A win would make him the first Arizona pitcher since Brandon Webb (2008) to win 20 games. It would also shrink the D-Backs' magic number to four in the NL West, as the Giants are idle Monday. Jeff Karstens (9-8, 3.45) gets the ball for the Pirates, who were battered Sunday 15-1 by the Dodgers. Karstens has a 6.20 ERA in his past four starts. Pirates at Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ET.

Home Sweet Road: The Braves are reeling in September, to the point that a once-huge lead in the NL wild card has shrunk and two teams are within striking distance. So maybe a trip down to Sun Life Stadium will help solve the issue? After all, the Braves have beaten the Marlins six straight times in Florida. Another good sign for the Braves is Mike Minor (5-2, 4.11) is the starting pitcher. The 23-year-old lefty has thrown pretty well since a few rough starts in the first half. He has a 3.33 ERA in his last eight starts and the Braves have won nine of his last 10 starts. Ricky Nolasco (10-11, 4.42) is the starter for the Marlins. Braves at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET.

Big effort needed from Big John: It's time for John Lackey (12-12, 6.19) to earn his hefty eight-figure salary. The Red Sox lost 6-5 Monday afternoon, meaning they only have a 1 1/2 game lead over the Rays in the AL wild-card race and only a one-game advantage in the loss column. Lackey comes in as a major disappointment for the Red Sox this season, but a win here could go a long way in making amends with the fan base. If the Red Sox do lose, that means they'd have the same amount of losses this season as the Rays. What started off a few weeks ago as a remote possibility would then become awfully real. Fortunately for the Red Sox, the struggling Brian Matusz (1-7, 9.84) takes the hill for Baltimore. Orioles at Red Sox, about 7:10 p.m. ET.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 17, 2011 10:13 am
Edited on: September 17, 2011 10:15 am

On Deck: Lester gets another shot at Rays


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Jon LesterJeff NiemannWild card showdown, part 3: Have you heard the Rays are pressing the Red Sox for the American League wild card? And they're playing each other right now? Oh, maybe you have. Yeah, it's been covered to death, it seems, but it's still as big of a series as there is right now. Boston's win on Friday means the Rays won't leave town any closer than two games behind the Red Sox. Lefty Jon Lester takes the mound for the Red Sox, and with another victory, Boston could exhale -- at least a little. Lester was roughed up by the Rays in his last outing, as Tampa Bay recorded eight hits and four runs against him in just four innings of work. That broke a streak of five starts of allowing just one earned run or less. He's 1-2 with a 4.00 ERA in three starts against the Rays this season. Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann's only faced the Red Sox once this season, allowing just two hits in eight shutout innings while striking out 10 on July 17. However, the Red Sox won that game, 1-0. Rays at Red Sox, 4:10 p.m. ET

Division title in sight: Both the Cardinals and the Phillies are still alive in the playoff hunt, but while the Cardinals need a lot of help, the Phillies have already clinched a playoff berth and with a win would clinch the National League East title. Of course, with a magic number of one, the Phillies could clinch the division before Roy Oswalt makes a pitch if the Braves lose their 4:10 pm. game against R.A. Dickey and the Mets at Turner Field. The Cards would welcome that as St. Louis trails Atlanta by just 3.5 games in the National League wild card race. Cardinals at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET

Stephen StrasburgStrasmas time again: With a combined 138-160 record, there would normally be very little reason to take notice of a September game between the Marlins and Nationals. But this isn't just any game, it's a Strasmas outing, as Stephen Strasburg makes his third start of the season. In eight total innings this season, Strasburg has allowed one run and struck out eight, allowing five hits. He has not walked a batter yet. Strasburg's last start went just three innings after throwing 31 pitches. With an extra day of rest, hopefully we'll get to see him go a little longer this time. He's scheduled to make at least one more start -- Sept. 23 against Atlanta -- and could pitch in the Nationals' last game of the season, Sept. 28 at Florida. Marlins at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 8:43 pm

Is Ozzie on his way out of Chicago?

Ozzie GuillenBy C. Trent Rosecrans

It's beginning to look more and more like the Ozzie Guillen era with the White Sox is coming to an end.

Not only did FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal cite a "source with knowledge of Guillen's thinking" as saying there was only a 10 percent probability that Guillen would return in 2012, there was something more telling from Guillen's own mouth, something so shocking that it can only mean he's looking to leave: support of White Sox general manager Kenny Williams.

Before Chicago's game in Kansas City, Guillen told reporters Williams shouldn't lose his job (which has to mean he doesn't want to be back, right?)

"He did a good job. One thing about it -- all the people in Chicago, they're going to blame Kenny," Guillen said (via the Chicago Tribune). "I remember when we made this club, (everybody) was excited. Don't turn your back on the man. Don't do that. I took the blame yesterday. I think they gave me a good club to manage it. We don't play well? Yes, and we have to [take the] blame. Who? Pitchers, catchers, hitters. No, no. Blame the team, but I'm the one running this club. But don't turn on Kenny. People in Chicago, don't do that."

Rosenthal reported Guillen and Williams' relationship was "unsalvageable," according to the same source. So could his pleas for the White Sox to keep Williams mean that if there's a decision between him or his G.M., he wants Williams to stay and himself out -- and on to Florida?

Guillen said his team had "lost its fight" following Wednesday's loss and it looks like maybe he has too.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 1:59 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 2:44 pm

Report: Morrison files grievance against Marlins

By Matt Snyder

Just over a month ago, young Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison was unexpectedly demoted to the minors. He reportedly considered filing a grievance against the Marlins in light of this, because he seemed to feel said demotion wasn't entirely related to his on-field performance. See, Morrison is a prolific Twitter personality and the Marlins have made comments about him needing to concentrate "on the field." He even has a website where he sells T-shirts of his Twitter avatar and boasts that he's known for his great play and for being a "Twittaholic."

Morrison did, in fact, file a grievance on August 25, according to Amy K. Nelson of ESPN.com. Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post reports Morrison wants major-league pay for those 10 days he spent in the minors, instead of minor-league pay and that the grievance was for "improper assignment."

The Marlins cited Morrison's low batting average as a reason for the demotion in addition to him needing to learn more about being a major-league baseball player. Morrison believes he is being mistreated for a laundry list of off-field issues.

Such as (via Nelson at ESPN.com):
• Morrison publicly criticized San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean after Sabean blasted Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins following a violent home-plate collision that ended catcher Buster Posey's season.

• Team president David Samson asked Morrison to tone down the nature of his tweets, some of which were considered to be lewd.

• After Marlins hitting coach John Mallee was fired in early June, Morrison all but blamed the firing on team owner Jeffrey Loria.

• The Palm Beach Post reported that Morrison had confronted teammate Hanley Ramirez behind closed doors about his late arrivals.

• An Aug. 13 meet-and greet with season-ticket holders, which Morrison skipped after union rep Wes Helms told Morrison he could. After the game that night, Helms was released and Morrison demoted.

"I'm doing it just not for myself but for other players," Morrison said (ESPN.com). "I didn't want to file a grievance, but it happened. I want to put it in the past and move on. But you've got to take a stand somewhere and based on the guidance of my agent and the players' association, I filed this grievance. Now I just want to move on and play baseball."

Of course, Scott Miller noted last month that Morrison's antics have worn a bit thin with more than just the front office. And it's interesting that Morrison just wants to move on and play baseball, yet continues to do things off the field to upset the organization that pays him to play a sport for a pretty damn good living. Just to use the tweet thing as an example, if CBSSports.com told me to "tone down" my tweets, I wouldn't tone them down ... I'd stop tweeting to make sure I didn't get myself canned.

Morrison, 24, is hitting .252/.333/.463 with 19 homers, 67 RBI and 47 runs in 110 major-league games this season.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 14, 2011 2:35 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 3:43 pm

Report: Cameron released due to altercation

By Matt Snyder

The Marlins released Mike Cameron Monday, and then Tuesday some reports surfaced saying that Cameron was released for conduct detrimental to the team. Wednesday, another report shed further light on the issue.

Cameron got into an altercation with a flight attendant on the Marlins' chartered flight from Pittsburgh to Atlanta, reports the Miami Herald. It wasn't a physical confrontation, but it was bad enough that a complaint was filed against Cameron and the Marlins didn't feel they could keep him on the team. It's worth noting that Cameron -- age 38 -- is not in the Marlins' long-term plans and his release enables them to use more younger players for the final two weeks of the season.

We'll be careful to not speculate as to the severity of the reported and alleged altercation, as it could be a misunderstanding the Marlins just didn't want to deal with, or it could be very serious. Anywhere on that line is possible, so drawing conclusions would be folly. Cameron does have a clean off-field record, as he was suspended once for 25 games for testing positive for a banned stimulant, but has never had run-ins with the police or anything like that.

If it does turn out to be something even remotely bad, there's a good chance Cameron's career is over. He'd open next season as a 39-year-old outfielder with declining defensive skills who hit .203/.285/.359 this season. Add possible off-field baggage to that and consider he hasn't made less than $2 million per year since 1999.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Category: MLB
Posted on: September 14, 2011 9:46 am

Pepper: Writing on wall for Guillen

By Matt Snyder

Is there any question this is Ozzie Guillen's last season as the White Sox manager? I'd say no.

The latest report is that Guillen emailed White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf two weeks ago and texted general manager Kenny Williams Tuesday morning. He received replies from neither (Chicago Sun-Times). Granted, I've never been a major-league manager (I'm willing to give it a shot, if any GMs are interested), but I'm gonna go ahead and guess that being ignored when trying to correspond with your bosses is a pretty bad sign.

Remember, in recent weeks Guillen said he wanted to stay in Chicago, but not without a contract extension. And there was a report that indicated the relationship between Guillen and Williams had been irreparably damaged.

Guillen said he's ready for anything.

‘‘My family is ready for everything,’’ he said Tuesday (Chicago Sun-Times). ‘‘It’s like when a hurricane is coming and they say, ‘Hey, it’s Venezuela now, and it’s going to be in Miami in seven days.’ We pack everything, we have everything set up, for good or for bad.’’

The two cities he used in his example aren't just gathered at random. Venezuela is his home country. He also owns a home in Miami, but ... what else is there? Why, the Marlins, of course. A team Guillen helped coach to the 2003 World Series championship before being hired by the White Sox as manager. It's also a ballclub that is said to covet Guillen and is looking for a new manager this offseason before moving into a nice, new home.

It makes too much sense, doesn't it?

Tempers (kind of) flare in L.A.: So Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo threw an errant (and it appeared accidental) pitch near the head of Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra. And then Parra hit a home run and took his sweet old time starting his home run trot. And then Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said a few words as Parra crossed the plate -- he looked more annoyed than angry, for whatever it's worth. A few Dodgers and Parra yelled back and forth while it appeared D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson said a few things, too, but then benches were warned and nothing else happened. I have to say, I'm with Ellis on this. I was watching live and sitting here thinking that it's just lame. Enough with the posturing. Play baseball.

Exit strategy? Potential new Astros owner Jim Crane has yet to be approved, even though it should have happened back in August. The approval process has been continually delayed and there are two separate camps of reports as to what the holdup is. One side says that Crane needs to accept a move to the American League West -- which would clear the way for season-long interleague play and likely an additional playoff team -- and the other says that this is not the specific holdup. Biz of Baseball wonders if Crane is just seeking a way out without being turned away by the MLB due to character concerns that have been raised during the approval process. In other words, if he backs out and uses not wanting to move to the AL as his reason, he was never turned down and saves face.

Braun accountable, even in victory: "Tonight was not a pretty game ... We didn't play well ... I think I probably played my worst 10 innings of baseball of the year ... I don't think we really deserved to win ... we really didn't play a good basball game." Those quotes are all cherry-picked from Ryan Braun's post-game comments (Brewers Blog). Oh, by the way, Braun hit a walk-off home run to win the game in the 11th. And in the parts of the above quotes I removed, Braun was saying to give all the credit to the pitching staff for keeping them in the game (the final score was 2-1). We're big fans of accountability here, so major points to Braun for not forgetting the rest of the game just because the team pulled out a victory. He could have easily only focused on being the hero in the 11th, instead he owned up to playing poorly for most of the night and instead wanted the pitchers to be viewed as the heroes of the game. That's an MVP teammate. While we're here, CBSSports.com's Scott Miller has a great feature on the Brewers. Check it out.

Great day for stat-heads: SeamHeads.com has now finished work on a Negro League database, so you can search for stats from players like Oscar Charleston, who by many accounts was one of the best players to ever play the game -- he just never had a chance to do so on the big stage due to unfortunate bigotry.

Mauer understands backlash: Joe Mauer has made quite a few commercials in the past few years and he has received some criticism over them during this season -- easily the worst of his career. He said that he understands this and he's not going to take on any more commercials for the time being (StarTribune.com).

Some "Moneyball" reviews: Here's a glowing review of the upcoming movie ... and here's a not-so-great review (he does say it's entertaining, just questions the direction taken). While I greatly respect the work of both writers, I don't really care what anyone says. I'm seeing it. If I don't like it, that's on me. 

St. Louis North? The Chicago Sun-Times floats a rumor that has the Cubs landing Reds' general manager Walt Jocketty -- who used to be the Cardinals' GM -- and then bringing Tony La Russa to manage the Cubs ... and then signing free-agent-to-be Albert Pujols. Of course, the report only said "could" and mentioned it was a scenario floated only on the Cubs' end, not mentioning whether or not all three parties would be interested in this. I personally think I have a better shot at winning the lottery than this happening.

No surgery for Dickey: Mets starting pitcher R.J. Dickey has suffered from a partially torn plantar fascia most of the season, but it has subsided enough that he won't need surgery this offseason. (MLB.com)

Happy Anniversary: On this day 25 years ago, Bo Jackson launched his first career home run ... all 475 feet of it. Also, Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg made his major-league debut 81 years ago and on this day in 2008, Carlos Zambrano threw his only career no-hitter. If you'll recall, it was a game in Milwaukee against the Houston Astros, as a hurricane moved the series. (Hardball Times)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 6:52 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 11:22 pm

Marlins release Cameron for 'detrimental conduct'

CameronBy Evan Brunell

Just days after hinting as to retirement, the Marlins released Mike Cameron for "conduct detrimental to the team," the team announced, providing no other details. However, Fox Sports' Jon-Paul Morosi says the Marlins wanted to play younger players and Cameron wanted to spend more time with his children.

"Not easy," manager Jack McKeon said when asked how Cameron took it. "Who would? But he knew he wasn't going to play much the rest of the year. We're going to go with some kids."

Based on that, perhaps Cameron reacted negatively when told the team was playing younger kids the rest of the way. That's pure speculation, though.

Cameron has been beseiged by injuries the last two seasons, playing earlier in the season with the Red Sox. In 164 plate appearances for the Marlins, Cameron hit .238/.331/.420 with six homers, this coming after a .149/.212/.266 display in 105 PA for Boston, whom he also played for in 2010, which was cut short due to a kidney stone and abdominal tear.

If the Marlins did release Cameron due to unbecoming conduct, it will come as a surprise as Cameron has been widely considered a great mentor, leader and overall good guy in all of his stops over his baseball career. But these are the Marlins we're talking about, who make curious decision after curious decision, so who really knows what happened. Either way, Cameron showed enough in his stint with Florida and his reputation is strong, so this incident won't be a setback if he opts to keep playing. He'll likely take the rest of the season off before trying to find a team he can fit with next season or hang up his cleats.

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

Posted on: September 12, 2011 5:40 pm

On Deck: Rivera looks for 600th save


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Mariano RiveraOne Mo for 600: Remember when Derek Jeter's last 20 hits were breathlessly followed? It seemed like his every step was chronicled and he was fawned upon for becoming the latest member of the admittedly elite 3,000 hit club. And much of the backlash was about how it was reported that way just because it was a Yankee player. You know, it may have more to do with Jeter's popularity than the uniform. On Sunday, Mariano Rivera recorded his 599th career save and he's now just one save from becoming only the second player to ever get to 600 saves. He's two from tying the career save mark and he's three from holding it outright, unseating Trevor Hoffman. I get that a lot of the difference is about the save stat and its worthiness and its relative youth as an official statistic, but it still seems interesting that more isn't being made of one of the all-time greats getting so close to setting a record like that. Or maybe everyone just assumed he already held the record. Yankees at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. ET

Roy OswaltHunter PenceFamiliar faces: Philadelphia's Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence will be on familiar ground tonight as both make their first appearances at Minute Maid Park in a non-Astros uniform. Oswalt was traded to Philadelphia last season and Pence this season. Both have stepped up their game in Philadelphia, as Oswalt is 14-9 with a 2.88 ERA in his 19 starts with the Astros, while he was 6-11 with a 3.37 ERA in his last 19 starts with the Astros. Pence was liked in Houston, but in his short time in Philadelphia he's become beloved. In 38 games with the Phillies, he's hitting .320/.393/.551 with eight home runs and 24 RBI . He had 11 homers in 100 games for the Astros, while hitting .308/.356/.471. Houston can only hope neither of those two have the success that another form Astro has had in Houston -- Lance Berkman has hit .480/.519/1.160 with five homers in six games at Minute Maid Park this season and .429/.484/1.036 in eight games total against Houston. It's only fitting that former Phillie Brett Myers is on the hill for Houston. Phillies at Astros, 8:05 p.m. ET

Home sweet home: The Braves are coming off a 2-6 road trip that saw the team lose four games in the Wild Card standings to the Cardinals. The Braves are 44-28 at Turner Field this season, the third-best home record in the National League. Atlanta has nine of its final 15 games at home, while St. Louis plays 10 of its 16 remaining games on the road. The Braves will need another good start from rookie right-hander Brandon Beachy against Florida on Monday. Beachy allowed just two hits and a run in 5 2/3 innings against Philadelphia on Sept. 7, but picked up a no-decision when Atlanta's usually dominant bullpen gave up runs in the eighth and ninth innings of a 3-2 loss. Beachy's 1-0 with a 3.26 ERA in three starts against the Marlins this season, striking out 24 in 19 1/3 innings, but also walking 10. Marlins at Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET

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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