Tag:Austin Jackson
Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:14 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 12:40 am
 

Rangers can't hold Tigers at bay, fall 5-2



By Evan Brunell


DETROIT -- The Tigers love the home cooking and rode three solo home runs and an extra-base hit with runners in scoring position to take Game 3 of the ALCS, 5-2. The win narrows the Rangers' lead in the series two games to one.

Hero: Doug Fister came up huge in a virtual must-win game for the Tigers, throwing 7 1/3 strong innings, punching out three and allowing seven hits. Fister had been knocked around in the ALDS, and it was fair to wonder if he was regressing to the mean after unsustainably killing it as a member of the Tigers in the regular season. Nope. Fister's outing was just what the Tigers needed after Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer were unable to keep the Rangers at bay.

Tigers-Rangers

Goat: It may be unfair to pick on Koji Uehara when it was Colby Lewis that relinquished the lead, but so be it. Uehara, you'll recall, gave up three runs and a homer against the Rays in Game 2 of the ALDS without recording an out. That was the extent of his pitching in the postseason until Tuesday night, when Ron Washington asked Uehara to stop the bleeding. Well, he didn't. Uehara relieved Lewis with a runner on first that he allowed to score, then gave up a solo homer in the seventh to ice the game for Detroit.

Turning point: Until Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fifth, the Tigers were 2-for-28 with runners in scoring position in the postseason, and had collected only one extra-base hit with RISP over the last 32 innings. The lone Tiger run that had scored up to that point was on a solo homer by Victor Martinez (pictured). That changed when Miguel Cabrera took a grooved 0-2 fastball from Colby Lewis and lined it to right-field, plating the go-ahead run, and giving Detroit a lead it would not relinquish.

It was over when … It took a while for Detroit to get going with the stick, but a Jhonny Peralta homer in the bottom sixth gave Detroit an insurance run that suddenly made it very difficult for Texas to engineer a comeback with Detroit needing just nine outs from Fister and the bullpen. After an Andy Dirks single to knock Colby Lewis out of the game, Austin Jackson finally came through to plate another run and then it was really over, but Miguel Cabrera added a solo blast just for extra measure.

Next: Detroit will attempt to even up the series on Wednesday when it offers up No. 4 starter Rick Porcello up against Texas' Matt Harrison.

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



Posted on: October 7, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 4:45 pm
 

Tigers vs. Rangers ALCS preview

By Evan Brunell

Detroit-Texas ALCS

The Tigers and Rangers share one thing in common -- both teams have AL pennants to their name in recent seasons, but fell short in the World Series. Jim Leyland took Detroit to the World Series in 2006, his first season with the club, winning 95 after the Tigers registered five straight seasons of at least 90 losses, including 119 in 2003. It's taken them some time to return to the postseason, but they're here after downing the Yankees in five games. Detroit will be leaning on the electric arm of Justin Verlander, who won Rookie of the Year in '05 but gave up 17 runs in 21 2/3 innings across the 2005 postseason. He'll get a chance at redemption against Texas, who appeared in the Fall Classic a mere season ago.

The revamped Rangers may have lost Cliff Lee, but their offense is as potent as its ever been in franchise history, adding Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli to its monstrous lineup. Seeking to become the first consecutive AL pennant champion since the 1998-2001 Yankees, Texas will be relying on C.J. Wilson and its formidable bullpen to keep the Tiger offense in check. However, Texas' own offense needs to play up to its billing, as the team scored just 16 runs in the LDS, least among any team. (Granted, Texas was the only advancing club to play a series in less than five games, bouncing Tampa Bay in four.)

TEAM INFORMATION

Detroit Tigers (host games 3, 4, 5*)
95-67, AL Central champions
ALDS
: Defeated Yankees in 5 games -- View coverage of ALDS Tigers-Yankees
Manager
: Jim Leyland
Regular-season batting statistics: .277 batting average (3rd in AL), .340 on-base percentage (3rd), .434 slugging percentage (4th)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 4.04 ERA (7th), 1.32 WHIP (8th), 2.27 K/BB (6th)
Star player: SP Justin Verlander -- 24-5, 2.41 ERA, 251 IP, 0.92 WHIP, 250 K

Texas Rangers (host games 1, 2, 6*, 7*)
96-66, AL West champions
ALDS
: Defeated Rays in 4 games -- View coverage of ALDS Rangers-Rays
Manager: Ron Washington
Regular-season batting statistics: .283 batting average (1st), .340 on-base percentage (5th), .460 slugging percentage (2nd)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (13th), 1.24 WHIP (5th), 2.56 K/BB (5th)
Star player: C Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631, 432 plate appearances, 30 HR, 75 RBI

*if necessary

WHO HAS THE EDGE? (Click player name for statistics)

Let's break each position down and see which team has the edge...

Catcher: Alex Avila vs. Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba


Being a quality catcher is difficult to do. You have to be able to call a game, develop a rapport with pitchers, block balls effectively, have a gun for an arm... and oh yeah, hit too. The latter category is what Avila and Napoli excel at, as both rank 1-2 in baseball in catcher offense. Napoli of course, blows away Avila in offense, but the Ranger also has 28 less games at the position, in large part due to another capable catcher also on the roster in Torrealba -- but the Tigers have Victor Martinez, too. Defensively, Avila holds the edge, and this is just too close to call.

First base: Miguel Cabrera vs. Mitch Moreland, Michael Young


Moreland could feasibly be at first base the entire series, as he's a favorite of the club and all of Detroit's starters are right-handed, but Young could steal a couple games if the team wants to get Torrealba or Craig Gentry into the lineup. Either way, both these players pale in comparison to Miguel Cabrera who, if it wasn't for Justin Verlander lucking into 24 wins (to be clear, he's a very good pitcher, but win-loss records have nothing to do with player quality), he could very well be the favorite for the MVP award. Cabrera led all of baseball in doubles, batting average, OBP and decided to swat 30 homers too. Moreland is still scrapping to be a full-time player and Young just can't field.

Second base: Ramon Santiago vs. Ian Kinsler


This isn't even close. The Tigers have cycled through six second basemen this season, with five of them receiving at least 17 starts. Santiago won the job basically by default, as Carlos Guillen can't stay healthy, Ryan Raburn split his time between left and second then lost his job for a complete inability to hit and Scott Sizemore was traded. Santiago is like Raburn in that he can't hit, but can flash a solid glove. Kinsler, meanwhile, was one of the most valuable second basemen in the game.

Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta vs. Elvis Andrus


Andrus can pick the ball, get on base and steal bases. Peralta can't steal any bases and can only play a passable short. But boy, can Peralta hit. Here's the thing, though -- people tend to overvalue offense because it's easily quantified, and you can see with your eyes the impact a bat can have. Stolen bases and defense, not so much. But they are important facets of the game as well, and when you factor everything in, this is a dead-even.

Third base: Wilson Betemit, Brandon Inge vs. Adrian Beltre


Adrian Beltre is an awesome player, there is no doubt about that. He posted the second-best season of his career and slugged three home runs to pace the narrative of Texas winning the ALDS. However, the gap between Beltre and the Tigers' crew isn't as large as one might think. Betemit rakes against righties, while Inge is capable against left-handers. But don't ask them to face the opposite-handed pitcher. Inge also has excellent defense at the hot corner and is a great late-inning replacement for Betemit. All told, the duo combines into a pretty good player. Good enough that the difference between Detroit and Texas at the spot is not significant.

Left field: Delmon Young vs. David Murphy, Craig Gentry


Young injured himself in Game 5 of the ALDS, but reports are that he should be fine for the ALCS. If not, Raburn will start in his place. Young has played his way into a 2012 role with the Tigers, but he's doing so on the backing of a hot streak that might not be sustainable long-term. He's a statue in left field and his value is tied up completely in swatting home runs. Murphy, meanwhile, parlayed a hot September into more playing time and has been sharing time with Gentry, with Murphy getting PT against right-handers and Gentry mostly playing against lefties. If Young wasn't performing well as of late, this would probably be a slight edge to the Rangers, but as long as Young's hot streak is carrying him, we'll call this even.

Center field
: Austin Jackson vs. Josh Hamilton


This isn't a difficult decision at all. Hamilton is one of the best hitters in the game and is the reigning AL MVP. Austin Jackson, meanwhile, rode a lot of luck to a .293 batting average last season that sank to .249 this year. He has strong defense, but is miscast as the leadoff hitter.

Right field: Magglio Ordonez vs. Nelson Cruz


At one point this season, Ordonez contemplated hanging his spikes up. Good thing he didn't, for he hit .365 from Aug. 21 to the end of the year and finished the ALDS with five hits in 11 at-bats, including a 3-for-3 effort in Game 2. When Ordonez is hot, he can still beat any pitcher, regardless of his advanced age. But his defense is questionable, and Nelson Cruz is a better hitter at this point. Although Cruz is slumping significantly, gathering just one hit in 15 trips to the plate during the ALDS against the Rays, he remains the better player.

Designated hitter: Victor Martinez vs. Young


A certain three-year-old, I'm sure, would pick Young here with an edge. But both Martinez and Young are remarkably similar in production at the DH spot, and the numbers are uncannily similar even though Young has played in 14 more games. Take a look:

Martinez: .330/.380/.470, 12 HR, 103 RBI
Young: .338/.380/.474, 11 HR, 106 RBI

How can you not call this even?

Starting pitching: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello vs. C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison


The order listed here is the order that both teams have announced will go in the ALCS, so let's judge it on these parameters. For one, the Tigers clearly lose by not being able to set up their rotation they way they wanted. Rick Porcello, obviously the lesser member of the quartet, will start twice while Max Scherzer only draws Game 4 after appearing in relief during Game 5 of the ALDS. Regardless, the Tigers still hold an overall edge here. You don't need me to throw more platitudes Verlander's way, and Fister has been a revelation since coming over from Seattle (although he's veering fast into overrated territory) and Scherzer is a quality pitcher whose potential breakout has been tantalizing pitchers for quite some time.

Over in Texas, C.J. Wilson is a great pitcher, but doesn't quite stack up to Verlander. Porcello matching up against Derek Holland pits a battle of proming young pitchers, especially Holland, who is showing signs of emerging into an ace but is lacks consistency and is prone to the wild inning if he lets the game get away from him. Lewis has an incredible postseason record, but his propensity to give up the long ball held him back in the regular season. Harrison impressed against the Rays by punching out nine but could only last five innings and the jury is still out on just how good a picher he is.

All told, yet another matchup where both teams look even -- but not quite, as Verlander is the man that tips the scales in the Tigers' favor.

Relief pitching: Jose Valverde and co. vs. Neftali Feliz and co.


Both Valverde and Feliz are good pitchers when on, but both can also be maddeningly inconsistent. The Tigers closer can point to his 49 of 49 record in saves, but he walks way too much to be reliable. Feliz, meanwhile, took a clear step back from last season when he closed 40 games as a rookie and lost his strong command. He's been much better since the All-Star break, though, and if I had to pick one closer, I'd take Feliz. Texas also has a vaunted setup corps, boasting Mike Adams (who is still one of the best relievers in the game despite a spike in home runs allowed), Koji Uehara, Alexi Ogando, Mike Gonzalez and Darrell Oliver most notably.

Texas' 3.79 bullpen ERA during the regular season was fifth-best in the AL and would have been even better with full years of all relievers mentioned sans Feliz and Oliver, who have been with the club all year. By comparison, the Tigers' two best relievers are Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit, but Alburquerque only pitched 14 1/3 innings in the second half and did not look good in Games 1 and 4 of the ALDS. The Tigers pen has a chance to be a good one, but Texas is the better bet to come out on top in the war of bullpens.

Defense


Defensive statistics are getting a bum rap these days, and it's understandable. Quantifying defense is a very difficult thing to do and no defensive metric out there can be relied on. However, when you have a large sample to draw from, multiple numbers to look at and enough of a disparity in the numbers, it becomes obvious which defense holds up. And that's the Rangers, who score well in defensive metrics, largely on the strength of Andrus, Kinsler and Beltre, while the Tigers are affected by the tin gloves of Betemit, Cabrera, and Young the most.

DetroitPREDICTION

Both teams shape up to be remarkably even all across the board -- even though both teams are the last two standing in the AL and it makes sense that they would be equals, it's not often you see such a balanced division. It will come down to the postseason mantra of good pitching always beating good hitting, and given the presence of Verlander, I'll give the nod to Detroit vanquishing Texas in six games, while Daniel Knobler likes Detroit too, but in seven.

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



Posted on: September 20, 2011 10:16 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 10:57 pm
 

Who should win the Gold Glove in the AL?

Suzuki

By Evan Brunell

As C. Trent Rosecrans explained when selecting the most-deserving players to win the NL Gold Glove, it's one of baseball's most difficult awards to give out.

An award that should specifically celebrate the aspect of defense in baseball is instead largely given to those who are considered good defenders, but who reign supreme in popularity and offense. With managers and players voting on the award, you sometimes see some strange occurrences -- such as Rafael Palmeiro winning a Gold Glove in 1999, when he played just 28 games at first base while functioning as a DH.

Here, though, defense rules and offense drools. Let's take a look at some of the best defenders the game has to offer...

Catcher: Matt Wieters, Orioles
-- Wieters doesn't have fantastic range, but he has plenty. Combine that with great hands that have led to a .995 fielding percentage and just one passed ball all season, and it's easy to see why the Oriole receives the nod for the award. Also, runners fear Wieters' arm -- he's only allowed 56 stolen bases all season, while the next-lowest total among catchers who qualify for the batting title is J.P. Arencibia's 77, achieved in 10 less starts. Oh, and Wieters has nabbed 32 runners for a caught-stealing rate of 36 percent, a high percentage for a catcher.

Others considered: Alex Avila, Russell Martin, Jeff Mathis

First base: Mark Teixeira, Yankees -- What Texiera has over his competition is the ability to do everything a regular first baseman is asked to do -- except very well. He brings the complete package to the table, showing an uncanny ability to scoop balls out of the dirt and possessing enough speed and quickness to  make plays out of his zone. No matter what defensive aspect you bring up, Teixeira is among the elite, both in the eyes of scouts and in defensive statistics.

Others considered: Adrian Gonzalez, Casey Kotchman, Mark Trumbo

Second base: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox -- Pedroia's fielding has been a major boon to his overall value this season. His numbers at the keystone position are what has vaulted him into the fringes of the MVP race and he dominates the game in all facets fielding. Range, plays out of the zone, total balls handled, errors ... no matter what you throw at Pedroia, he's going to go all out to get to the ball and make the play, which happens more often than not.

Others considered: Howie Kendrick, Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist

Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Rangers -- Beltre somehow only has two Gold Gloves despite a career of success. That success continues in 2011 in Texas, as Beltre has tremendous range compared with soft hands. Evan Longoria is a fantastic defender as well, but in the AL there simply is no comparison to Beltre. With 11 errors, Beltre is on pace to post his lowest error total since 2004, when he had 10.

Others considered: Alberto Callaspo, Evan Longoria, Brent Morel

Shortstop: Brendan Ryan, Mariners -- There's some pretty good competition at shortstop for best defender, but Ryan takes home the honors, showing the junior circuit how it's done in his first season in the AL. Ryan has an impeccable reputation on defense and did nothing to sully that reputation in Seattle. Elvis Andrus and Alcides Escobar, also in his first year in the AL, gave Ryan a run for his money and is also deserving of this award. Only one can win it, though.

Others considered: Elvis Andrus, Alcides Escobar, Alexi Ramirez

Left field: Brett Gardner, Yankees -- Was there any doubt? Gardner absolutely blows away the competition in left field. His prowess is so remarkable, words can't describe it. Luckily, there's a graphic drawn of his amazing range compared to the average left fielder, which you can view right here. There really isn't another left fielder that comes close, not even perennial Gold Glover Carl Crawford, who has seen his defensive numbers suffer due to the Green Monster. As advanced as metrics are these days, the Green Monster still fouls up the data, but Gardner is too far ahead of the pack that even adjusting for the Monster would still leave Gardner the clear victor.

Others considered: Alex Gordon, Vernon Wells

Center field: Austin Jackson, Tigers -- Like shortstop, center field is littered with strong defenders. That isn't a surprise, given the emphasis placed on both positions being strong defensively. Jackson has made himself at home in Comerica Park's spacious outfield, running down 114 balls outside of his zone. That's an astronomical number, and Jackson blends it with a strong overall game, even if his arm could be stronger.

Others considered: Peter Bourjos, Franklin Gutierrez, Jacoby Ellsbury

Right field: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners -- Ichiro Suzuki simply does it all, with strong talent across the board. He knows where to go when the ball comes off the bat, rarely out of position. While Suzuki is 37, he still has enough speed to cover the ground required of him and continues to flash a strong arm, even if runners quit running on him 10 years ago.

Others considered: David DeJesus, Jeff Francouer, Torii Hunter, Nick Swisher

Pitcher: Mark Buerhle, White Sox

Buehrle has been considered the class of fielding pitchers since Greg Maddux retired and is working on two straight Gold Gloves. Buerhle's claim to fame on defense comes from this play on Opening Day 2010, which was the best fielding play of the entire season. As a left-hander he adds that much more value on defense with the ability to hold runners closer to first base, limiting steals.

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




Posted on: August 22, 2011 9:35 am
 

Pepper: Pirates send small message with Tabata



By Matt Snyder


The Pirates announced Sunday that they agreed to terms with outfielder Jose Tabata. He'll be paid $14 million over the next six seasons, with options that could keep Tabata in Pittsburgh through 2019 (Associated Press). The deal buys out the remaining three years of arbitration, but that's not the important part -- which is that the Pirates made a long-term commitment to a young player.

Tabata, 23, has a .356 on-base percentage with 15 stolen bases and 44 runs this year in 75 games, serving mostly as the leadoff man.

He is certainly no Andrew McCutchen and he's been signed for a pretty cheap deal, but the signal is the same as it was when the Pirates were buyers at the trade deadline: These Pirates aren't a laughing matter anymore. No longer is ownership content to simply be a virtual Triple-A team, developing players only to have them traded or leave via free agency. When they lock up McCutchen, which I fully expect, the signal will be even louder. Granted, the Pirates will never be a large-market spender, but the increased attendance this season shows the fans are still there, should the team become a legitimate contender. Expect the Tabata deal to be the first of several.

Strasburg Watch: Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg will make his fourth rehab start Monday. He'll pitch for Class-A Hagerstown again, where he was shelled last time out. He was dominant in his first two outings, however, so Monday will be a good gauge to see if that was simply an off-day. He's going to be working toward four innings and 65 pitches (Nationals Journal). That's a huge sign, because from 65 pitches, a lot of pitchers jump to 80 next time. Presumably, 80 pitches is enough to get back to the bigs. Strasburg is scheduled to have a fifth rehab start August 27, but if everything goes well in these next two outings, that's likely all he'll need before joining the Nats.

Joe on A.J.: Yankees manager Joe Girardi and struggling starting pitcher A.J. Burnett appeared to exchange some pretty heated words Saturday night, but both Girardi and Burnett said the issue was Burnett's anger at the home plate umpire. Girardi reiterated that sentiment Sunday, but also noted Burnett is on shaky ground due to his pitching performance. "The reality is he needs to pitch better," Girardi said (New York Times baseball blog).

Pronk injured: Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner broke an 0-for-16 slump with a single late in Sunday's game, but when he rounded first base, he pulled up lame and limped his way to getting tagged out and back to the dugout. He has a right foot strain, which is a similar injury to one that kept him out for five games earlier in the season (MLB.com).

Time for revenge: It's been a while since the Rangers and Red Sox played. In fact, it was the first series of the season. Many of us may have forgotten the Rangers kicked the Red Sox teeth in for three games, sweeping them and outscoring them 26-11 in three games. It's the only team the Red Sox have played this season and not beaten. Reliever Daniel Bard certainly hasn't forgotten, though, as he said "we owe them something for the first series of the year," Sunday (BostonHerald.com). The two teams square off for a four-game series in Texas, beginning Monday.

Winded Grandyman: Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson hit an inside-the-park home run at Minnesota Sunday, and he was a bit tired after the trip around the bases. “It was good until everyone wanted to talk,” Granderson said (LoHud). ” As we’re coming in, everyone was asking about it, and I couldn’t really talk too much.”

Action Jackson: Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson ended Sunday's game by throwing out the would-be tying run at home plate. A game-ending double play scored 8-2 hasn't happened since 1988 when Pirates center fielder Andy Van Slyke pulled it off, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Swarzak in, Blackburn out: Twins starting pitcher Nick Blackburn injured his right forearm early in his start against the Yankees Sunday, and it looks like he's headed for the disabled list, as the Twins have already named a replacement in the rotation. Anthony Swarzak will get the spot (Around the Majors). Swarzak is 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in five starts this season.

Love for Hendry: Recently-fired Cubs (former) general manager Jim Hendry has been beaten down pretty good in terms of fans, message boards, Twitter, etc. But you rarely hear anything bad about him as a person from his own players, media who know him personally or even opposing players. Former Cubs shorstop Ryan Theriot -- who Hendry traded last season -- joins in, calling Hendry a good person who has a good heart (Chicago Tribune).

Leyland tossed again: Tigers manager Jim Leyland had a pretty nice ejection Sunday, marking the fifth time in the past two months he's been run. The Detroit Free-Press has a list of the five ejections.

On this date: Mark McGwire made his big-league debut 25 years ago today. (Hardball Times)

Oh, Nails: Former Phillies and Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra is currently serving time in prison because he filed for bankruptcy and then tried to sell off part of his estate for profit -- which is otherwise known as embezzlement -- and was also accused of lying under oath and trying to hide some of his assets from the bankruptcy court. Apparently, however, Lenny doesn't believe the law applies to him because he was good in the 1993 World Series. Seriously: Read his post by clicking here and let me know if I'm wrong, but I believe that's kind of his argument -- warning, the post has the grammar and spelling of an eight year old. The best part is that Dykstra is delusional enough to believe he's been targeted by a government that wants to redeem itself for the O.J. Simpson case by nailing a celebrity. I mean, you can't make this stuff up. It's amazing.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 21, 2011 10:56 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Damon plays hero for Tampa Bay



By Matt Snyder

Johnny Damon, Rays. In the bottom of the seventh, Damon hit what was initially ruled a grand slam. Only the ball hit the very top of the wall and bounced high into the air, only to return to the field of play. So the play was reviewed and the umpires correctly ruled it wasn't a homer. Still, three runs scored and put the Rays on top 7-5. Fast-forward to the bottom of the ninth, with the score now tied at seven, and Damon stepped to the plate again. This time he left no doubt, as he went yard to end the game in walk-off fashion.

Austin Jackson, Tigers. If you haven't seen how the Tigers-Indians game ended, click here to watch it on MLB.com video. Jackson fired an absolute bullet from center to nail Kosuke Fukudome -- who represented the tying run -- at home plate to end the game. To those who never played outfield in high school or college, that play is much tougher than it looks. It was incredibly impressive. Jackson also went 2-4 with two runs and an RBI in the victory, which completed a Tigers' sweep of the second-place Indians.

Luis Perez, Blue Jays. He had never made a major-league start before Sunday. He had never thrown more than 64 pitches in a major-league game until Sunday. And yet Perez had a perfect game heading into the sixth inning. It's a shame he's not completely stretched out as a starter, because it was evident he just ran out of gas in the sixth. Still, he got out of a jam with an inning-ending double play off the bat of Coco Crisp, giving Perez six scoreless innings. He ended up gathering the win, too, as the Jays squeaked out a 1-0 victory.



Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians. The Indians acquired Jimenez less than 24 hours before the non-waiver trade deadline because they wanted an ace. On August 10 he looked the part. In the other three starts, he hasn't even come close. After Sunday's stinkbomb against the first-place Tigers, Jimenez has an 11.77 ERA and a 2.46 WHIP in his three road starts. Sunday was his worst effort, too, as the Indians needed him to play stopper, and instead Jimenez allowed nine hits and eight earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings. After having been swept, the Indians now trail the Tigers by 4 1/2 games.

Joel Hanrahan, Pirates. Much like his team, it appears the honeymoon is over for Hanrahan (at least in 2011). The All-Star closer hadn't blown a save in the entire first half of the season, but Sunday he coughed up his third one in the past five weeks. It's still not awful or anything, but it's a bit of a rough patch. Hanrahan has now given up five earned runs in his past three innings.

Brad Lidge, Phillies. How about a walk-off hit-by-pitch? That's what Lidge offered up to Jonny Gomes of the Nationals Sunday, as the Phillies dropped a series to the Nationals. After allowing a double and single, with an intentional walk in between, to load the bases, Lidge faced Gomes. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Lidge hit Gomes, plating the game-winning and series-clinching run for Washington.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 6, 2011 10:10 am
Edited on: May 6, 2011 10:13 am
 

Pepper: Struggling Giants return home



By Matt Snyder

THE SAN FRANCISCO TREE: There's a nine-foot tall avacado tree growing behind the center-field wall at AT&T Park. It was born when a former groundskeeper left an avacado pit in a jar of water for a few months, only to see it sprout. He needed a place to plant it, so he did so at the ballpark. Ten years later, it's now standing in an area where the club grows replacement sod for the playing surface. It's a really cool and quirky story you don't see often. (Mercurynews.com )

QUICK TURNAROUND: The Rangers played a night game in Seattle and will have to rush back home to face the Yankees Friday night. They're looking at getting home just over 12 hours before the start of Friday's game. The Yankees, on the other hand, we already checked into their hotel in Arlington before the Rangers Thursday game in Seattle was even started. Shouldn't getaway day pretty much always be a day game, with things like these happening frequently across baseball? Well, city ordinances are in the way. Seattle only allows the Mariners to play eight day games due to traffic issues around the ballpark. There are things like this in several cities across the nation, too. It's just one of those things teams have to deal with from time to time. Hey, they get to play baseball for living, they can deal with the quick turnaround, right? (ESPN Dallas )

QUIET RETIREMENT: Remember Russ Adams? He played for the Blue Jays for a handful of seasons and has disappeared. Apparently he retired Thursday from Triple-A Buffalo (a Mets affiliate). (ESPN New York )

DAMON RISING: Johnny Damon is climbing up the all-time hit list, as he now sits 75th. That's right, of all the guys who have ever played in Major League Baseball, only 74 have collected more hits than Damon. It's actually realistic for him to climb into the top 55 by the end of the season, too. Feels like he might have a pretty underrated body of work, but I wouldn't start talking about the Hall of Fame until he's retired and we can let his resume breathe. Here's a trivia question: There are four active players with more career hits than Damon. Can you name them? (Tampabay.com )

REVIEWING Cliff Lee TRADES: The Seattle Times rounds up the three Cliff Lee trades. There are some names you'll recognize in there, like Ben Francisco, Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Carlos Carrasco, Mark Lowe and Justin Smoak. And while Smoak is hitting quite well right now and could turn into a star, the hauls each team got for Lee don't look to measure up to Lee himself at this point. COnsidering the Phillies got prospects back for Lee and then went and signed him in free agency, they'd have to be considered the winners. Honestly, though, I can't really see a big loser. The Indians got lots of young talent and weren't re-upping with him. The Mariners essentially exchanged prospects for a few months of Lee, but Smoak appears to be the best player that changed teams in the trades other than Lee. The Rangers gave up Smoak and only had Lee for a half-season, but went to the World Series.

REVIEWING THE GRANDERSON TRADE: By August of 2010, many were talking about how the Yankees' deal to acquire Curtis Granderson was a loss. After all, the Tigers ended up with Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth while the Diamondbacks got Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson. But looking at Granderson vs. Jackson this season shows the Yankees didn't fare too poorly either -- and it's probably because Granderson's gonna drop 40 bombs , right? (WSJ.com )

TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM: I absolutely love this one. A Royals blogger a while back suggested Wilson Betemit should have let himself get hit by an inside pitch with the bases loaded in a tie game. Fans do this all the time without thinking about the pain aspect, but to Lee Judge's credit, he wanted to put his money where his mouth was. So he got with the team and they fired up the pitching machine and he wore a 92 m.p.h. fastball, just to see what it felt like. There's a video and everything. (Kansascity.com ). As an aside, I have an excuse to pimp my brother's feat here. He played baseball for Valparaiso University and was hit by a pitch a whopping 27 times his senior year. So I have access to a great authority in HBPs. You know what he would say? YOu're damn right it hurts, but it's only temporary.

NOVEL CONCEPT: While many teams in baseball are suffering downturns in attendance due to the economy, weather and probably some other factors, the Blue Jays are flourishing. They're up 56.6 percent since last season at this point, and this with the on-field product not doing so well. So, what gives? Well, for the first time in years they have made an aggressive marketing campaign. Wow, go figure. (The Globe and Mail )

HIGH PRAISE: Jerry Hairston has faced Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens -- easily the big four guys who endured the PED era from the bump. So when he says "he's the best pitcher I've ever faced," who was he talking about? Roy Halladay. (Nationals Journal )

REMEMBER ME? Joey Devine is going to return to the A's bullpen soon. If you'd forgotten about him, you're forgiven. Devine has missed the past two seasons after having Tommy John surgery. He's 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 7 1/3 innings in Triple-A Sacramento. He's struck out nine hitters without allowing a single walk. He's only given up three hits. Yeah, I'd say he's ready. When Devine last threw in the majors, he was lights-out. In 2008, he had a 0.59 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings out of the Oakland bullpen. He's still only 27, so he will be a major reinforcement for an already-strong pitching staff. Expect a promotion within the next few days.(SFGate.com )

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

Posted on: March 31, 2011 11:31 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2011 11:45 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/31: Opening day is here

Reds

By Evan Brunell

Ahhh, finally. It's here: opening day. March 31 kicked off the 2011 baseball season and if the games held were any indication, we're in store for quite a fun year.

3 UP

Baseball fans -- It's opening day; what more could baseball fans ask? Fans were treated to an opening affair between the Tigers and Yankees that stayed close then saw New York push ahead on a go-ahead Curtis Granderson home run. The best was yet to come, however, when Ramon Hernandez delivered a walk off, three-run blast against the Brewers to propel the Reds to victory. Other games saw the Angels save off a comeback from the Royals, the Padres win an extra-inning affair in St. Louis, the Braves blank the Nationals, and the Dodgers outlast the Giants in a pitching duel between Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum.

Ramon Hernandez, Reds -- Ramon Hernandez delighted the home crowd by belting a three-run home run to edge Milwaukee and deny manager Ron Roenicke his first victory as a skipper. Hernandez said that in his 12 years, it was the most amazing opening day for him. Well, ya think? It actually capped off a pretty great day for him as he collected four hits in five trips to the plate, although all his RBI came on the opposite-field shot.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers -- Kershaw was brilliant Thursday night, tossing seven scoreless and whiffing nine against four hits and a walk. The 23-year-old is clearly one of the top young pitchers in the game and is developing into a bona fide ace. Kershaw outdueled Tim Lincecum, giving up just one unearned run in seven innings (1 BB, 1 HBP, 1 IBB, 5 K)

3 DOWN

Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- Albert Pujols didn't exactly get his contract year off to a good start, going 0-for-5 while grounding into three double plays, which is a career-worst mark. All that left five men on base, and given the Padres needed two runs in the 11th to win it all, once could argue Pujols' poor night was responsible for the loss. Meanwhile, his teammate (and possible future successor as the team's best hitter) had a 3-for-4 night while driving in two runs, walking once and scoring another run.

Austin Jackson, Tigers -- Regression, meet the mean. Mean, regression. A-Jax got 2010 off to quite a nice start as the rookie hit .293 for the year after a scorching .364 batting average in April carried him the rest of the way. However, Jackson got this April off to a poor start, collecting just one hit in four trips to the plate and flailing at pitches the remainder of the time, tallying up three strikeouts.

Buster Posey, Giants -- The catcher tried to make a heads up play in the bottom of the sixth by trying to pick Matt Kemp off third base. As if the Giants already had enough to worry about dealing with a bases loaded situation thanks to a Miguel Tejada error and Juan Uribe hit by pitch. Kemp was a bit slow getting back to the bag after Posey blocked a ball, but Kemp was effectively one step away when Posey decided to unleash a throw. Problem: the throw sailed left, and third baseman Pablo Sandoval could not grab the ball as he had to reach across Matt Kemp. The ball skittered away and Kemp ran home for the game's first run.

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

Posted on: March 10, 2011 10:44 pm
 

Getting to know the Tigers

By Matt Snyder

MVP


If we can set aside the concern for him as a human being -- which should be very sincere -- there is no question the most valuable player for the Detroit Tigers is Miguel Cabrera. This isn't to say there's no talent on the roster. With the likes of Victor Martinez, Justin Verlander and several others, there's plenty. It's just that Cabrera was the runner-up in AL MVP voting last season (and some would argue, including myself, he should have won). He was an absolute monster at the plate, with 38 home runs, 126 RBI, 111 runs, 45 doubles and a .328 average. His .420 OBP and 1.042 OPS were huge figures, and he was so feared he drew 32 intentional walks. If he can keep himself together this season, he's a really strong bet for AL MVP.

PLAYER ORACLE - Ty Cobb to Austin Jackson

Ty Cobb played with Danny Clark on the 1922 Detroit Tigers

Danny Clark played with Red Ruffing on the 1924 Boston Red Sox

Red Ruffing played with Yogi Berra on the 1946 New York Yankees

Yogi Berra played with Tug McGraw on the 1965 New York Mets

Tug McGraw played with Juan Samuel on the 1983 Philadelphia Phillies

Juan Samuel played with Johnny Damon on the 1995 Kansas City Royals

Johnny Damon played with Austin Jackson on the 2010 Detroit Tigers

POP CULTURE

Could have gone a lot of different directions here, as the Tigers are a storied franchise. Still, I can never shake the very brief mention of Ty Cobb in Field of Dreams . It seems to pretty well sum up the sentiment of many players at the time, according to most historical accounts. Enjoy ... (and beware the dreaded "B" word if that offends you)



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

 

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