Tag:Casey McGehee
Posted on: September 30, 2011 4:29 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 3:22 pm
 

2011 NLDS matchup: Brewers vs. Diamondbacks

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Milwaukee made a splash in the winter acquiring Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum -- it was a signal to the baseball world that the Brewers were going for it in 2011 and anything short of the postseason would be a disappointment in what figures to be Prince Fielder's last season in Milwaukee. Well, the Brewers responded by winning their first division title since 1982, when Harvey's Wallbangers went to the World Series as the American League representatives. While the Brewers were picked by many to be in the playoffs, the Diamondbacks were a complete surprise. Both teams have used pitching to get here, so expect some strong pitching performances.

TEAM INFORMATION

Milwaukee Brewers (host games 1, 2, 5)
96-66, NL Central champions
Manager: Ron Roenicke
Team batting statistics: .261 batting average (3rd in NL), .325 on-base percentage (4th), .425 slugging percentage (2nd)
Team pitching statistics: 3.64 ERA (7th), 1.240 WHIP (3rd), 2.86 K/BB (2nd)
Star player: LF Ryan Braun -- .332/.397/.597 33 HR, 111 RBI, 109 R, 38 2B, 6 3B, 33 SB

Arizona Diamondbacks (host games 3, 4)
94-68, NL West champions
Manager: Kirk Gibson
Team batting statistics: .250 batting average (10th in NL), .322 on-base percentage (7th), .413 slugging percentage (3rd)
Team pitching statistics: 3.80 ERA (9th), 1.286 WHIP (7th), 2.39 K/BB (7th)
Star player: RF Justin Upton -- .289/.369/.529 31 HR, 88 RBI, 105 R, 39 2B, 5 3B, 21 SB

SCHEDULE (Click here to view the entire postseason schedule)  

Game 1: ARI @ MIL, Oct. 1, 2:07 p.m. ET. Ian Kennedy (21-4, 2.88) vs. Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52)
Game 2: ARI @ MIL, Oct. 2, 4:37 p.m. ET. Daniel Hudson (16-12, 3.49) vs. Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83)
Game 3: MIL @ ARI, Oct. 4 Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54) vs. Joe Saunders (12-12, 3.69)
Game 4: MIL @ ARI, Oct. 5* Randy Wolf (13-10, 3.69) vs. TBD
Game 5: ARI @ MIL, Oct. 7* TBD vs. Gallardo
* if necessary

TEAM BREAKDOWN (Click player name for statistics)

Catcher
Milwaukee: Jonathan Lucroy
Arizona: Miguel Montero

Hands-down Montero is the better offensive threat, hitting .282/.351/.469 with 18 homers and 86 batted in. The 27-year-old made his first All-Star team this year and while he was once thought of as an all-offense catcher, his defense has improved.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

First base
Milwaukee: Prince Fielder
Arizona: Paul Goldschmidt

The rookie Goldschmidt has come up big in some important games, but he still has 222 fewer career homers than Fielder.

Advantage: Brewers

Second base
Milwaukee: Rickie Weeks
Arizona: Aaron Hill

The Diamondbacks and Blue Jays pulled off an August deal for struggling second basemen, sending Kelly Johnson north of the border and Hill going to Arizona. The change of scenery worked for Hill, who is hitting .315/.386/.492 in 33 games with the Diamondbacks. Weeks' numbers are down and he's coming off an ankle injury that limited him to 14 games since the end of July.

Advantage: Brewers

Shortstop
Milwaukee: Yuniesky Betancourt
Arizona: John McDonald

McDonald was an emergency stopgap acquired from the Blue Jays along with Hill in August, for the injured Stephen Drew. And Yuniesky Betancourt is Yuniesky Bentancourt, one of the worst all-around players in all of baseball.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

Third base
Milwaukee: Casey McGehee
Arizona: Ryan Roberts

Roberts is better known for his tattoos, but he's also had a decent season for the Diamondbacks, while McGehee has had a disastrous 2011. With a .223/.280/.346 line, McGehee's OPS+ is just 69. There's pop in that bat, but it's been hard to find.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

Left field
Milwaukee: Ryan Braun
Arizona: Gerardo Parra

Braun is going to be one of the favorites to win the MVP, Parra is not.

Advantage: Brewers

Center field
Milwaukee: Nyjer Morgan
Arizona: Chris Young

Young is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, but has struggled a bit at the plate. Morgan is the Brewres' spark plug and resurrected his career in Milwaukee. Morgan's intangibles are huge -- and in the Brewers' favor.

Advantage: Brewers

Right field
Milwaukee: Corey Hart
Arizona: Justin Upton

Hart sometimes get lost in the shadow of Fielder and Braun, but he's had a pretty good season, as well, hitting .285/.356/.510 with 26 homers in 130 games. That said, Upton is one of the best young players in the game and will be in the top 10 of the MVP results.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

Starting pitching
Milwaukee: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf
Arizona: Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders

Both teams are strong at the top, but the Brewers have more depth, with Marcum starting Game 3 and Randy Wolf possibly starting Game 4. Of course, the three-man rotation could really help the Diamondbacks, allowing Kennedy and Hudson to pitch twice if needed. Greinke wanted out of Kansas City so he could pitch in the playoffs, and now he gets his shot.

Advantage: Brewers

Relief pitching
Milwaukee closer: John Axford
Arizona closer: J.J. Putz

Last season the Diamondbacks had a historically bad bullpen. This year it's one of the reasons they're in the playoffs. While Axford is the best of the three closers in this series (counting the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez), the Diamondbacks have the deeper bullpen, which only improved when Kirk Gibson decided to go with a three-man rotation and put right-hander Josh Collmenter in the bullpen, where he started the season.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

Total advantage: Tie: Diamondbacks (5), Brewers (5)

PREDICTION (click here to see full postseason predictions)

CBS Experts
Evan Brunell: Brewers in 5
Gregg Doyel: Brewers in 5
Danny Knobler: Diamondbacks in 5
Scott Miller: Brewers in 4
C. Trent Rosecrans: Brewers in 4
Matt Snyder: Brewers in 4

Trent's take: I'm still not exactly sure how the Diamondbacks wound up in the playoffs. The team has been doubted from spring training to the All-Star break and even at the start of the regular season's final month. Nobody has believed in the Diamondbacks at any point of this season. So I'm pretty sure they won't be too upset to be picked against here. Milwaukee has famously "gone for it" since last season, pulling off moves big (Greinke, Rodriguez) and small (Morgan). No pitcher likes to see Braun and Fielder back-to-back in that Brewers lineup, not even a 21-winner like Kennedy. The Brewers also have the arms in the rotation to be dangerous. I like the Brewers, but it wouldn't be the first time I was wrong about Arizona.

More Brewers-Diamondbacks NLDS coverage

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Posted on: August 4, 2011 11:22 am
 

McGehee's big day came by request

By Matt Snyder

Casey McGehee went into Wednesday having not hit a home run since July 6. He had just one homer in his previous 65 games. Yet before the game when he was interacting with fans, he found himself being asked to hit a home run for a seven-year-old boy. And McGehee came through, three times in one game.

It all started before the game when McGehee was speaking with the Wollner family for about 15 minutes. McGehee was trying to get a few words out of a shy seven-year-old, named Clayton, when Clayton's mother tried to help by saying maybe McGehee could hit a home run for Clayton (all of the following via Brew Beat on MLB blogs).

“Honestly, I feel a little bad about it now,” Jennifer Wollner said (MLB.com). “I didn’t know he hadn’t really been hitting this season.”

No reason to feel bad, Mrs. Wollner, because McGehee hit three home runs in a game for the first time in his career.

She added (MLB.com): “When he hit the first home run we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so fun!’ When it got to three, we were kind of speechless.”

Also of note here, the circumstances of the meeting make this story even better. Clayton has a condition called craniosynostosis, which causes the skull to grow abnormally. The Wollner family was hoping a trip to the Brewers game would lift his spirits. They contacted Fox Sports Wisconsin and ended up with an invitation to the game, along with a tour of Miller Park and being allowed to stand on the field while the Cardinals took batting practice Wednesday. This was when McGehee approached the family. He wanted to meet them because he has a son with cerebral palsy.

McGehee now has a lucky charm, too.

“I want to bring him to Houston with me, and then we’re going to go to St. Louis,” said McGehee, perhaps joking, perhaps not, about the team’s upcoming road trip (MLB.com). “I want to get him a locker — we have a little space right here. Hopefully, we’re going to track Clayton down.”

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Posted on: August 4, 2011 1:28 am
Edited on: August 4, 2011 10:59 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Might Casey strikes thrice

Casey McGehee

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Casey McGehee, Brewers: In his last 63 games, the Brewers third baseman had just one home run and none since July 6. In the series finale against the Cardinals, McGehee had three homers off of St. Louis starter Edwin Jackson, leading the Brewers to a 10-5 victory and extending their lead in the National League Central to 3 1/2 games.

Dan Uggla, Braves: It didn't take long for the Braves second baseman to extend his hitting streak to 25 games, reaching on an infield single in the first inning of the Braves' 6-4 victory over the Nationals on Wednesday. Not content with just an infield single, Uggla added a three-run homer in the fifth inning, helping end the Nationals' four-game win streak. He now has 11 homers during his streak and 23 on the season. Oh, while we're talking about Braves and hitting streaks, a note that Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 18 games with two hits.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: The day after his first career walk-off hit, Ellsbury delivered his second. This time it was a two-out solo homer off the Indians' Joe Smith in the ninth inning of a tie game. The homer was Ellsbury's 18th of the season. He had just 20 homers in his career before this season, with nine in 2008 and eight in 2009.


Pittsburgh Pirates: Pittsburgh wasted a good outing by Charlie Morton as the offense managed just four hits, all singles, against Cubs starter Matt Garza, losing 1-0. The Pirates fell below .500 for the first time since June 21. Ryan Ludwick, added at the trade deadline to give the team some offense, is 0 for 8 since donning a Pirate uniform. Pittsburgh has lost 10 of its last 13 and is 7-11 since the All-Star break.

Jason Marquis, Diamondbacks: The right-hander didn't exactly impress in his Arizona debut, allowing 10 hits and eight runs (seven earned) in four-plus innings against the Giants. Marquis came into Wednesday's game with a track record of success against San Francisco, pitching in 12 games against the Giants and starting 11 with a 5-3 record and 2.47 ERA. However, the Giants had some additions as well -- Carlos Beltran had three hits and an RBI, while another new Giant, Orlando Cabrera, drove in three.

Brian Bruney, White Sox: It's not that Bruney gave up two hits to the only two batters he faced and both runners came along to score. No, it was the fact that Bruney was in the game to eat innings as the White Sox trailed the Yankees 13-7 in the seventh inning. Instead, he let his emotions get to him and was ejected by first base umpire Marvin Hudson after the ump ruled Brett Gardner safe at first on an infield hit. So with Burney out of the game, Ozzie Guiellen needed three more pitchers to finish out the game, a 18-7 Yankees victory.

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Posted on: July 14, 2011 10:03 am
Edited on: July 14, 2011 3:19 pm
 

Pepper: Brewers on hunt for infield help

Betancourt

By Evan Brunell

WHAT'S NEXT? Now that the Brewers have traded for Francisco Rodriguez and beefed up their bullpen, what's next?

Anyone who has been keeping tabs on Milwaukee can tell you that a shortstop and third baseman are next on the list. Yuniesky Betancourt hasn't been a competent hitter or fielder for years, yet continues to hold down a starting job; if Milwaukee can find a replacement, Betancourt will be sent on his way. Third base was supposed to be populated by Casey McGehee, who drove in 100 runs last season. Alas, he's been terrible offensively, which has shined a spotlight on his below-average defense.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports indicates that the Brew Crew is indeed pursuing left-infield help as the club makes a run for the postseason in Prince Fielder's final season.

Rosenthal brings up Dodgers infielder Jamey Carroll, who is having one of his best big-league seasons at age 37, but he hasn't been made available yet. If Baltimore's contract extension with J.J. Hardy falls through, the Brewers could look into re-acquiring their former shortstop. Also linked to the team is Royals third baseman Wilson Betemit, but he wouldn't really be a significant upgrade over McGehee.

Who else could be had? Well, Houston is solidly out of the postseason chase and has been dangling Jeff Keppinger for some time. The Marlins could move out free-agent-to-be Omar Infante and if the Padres throw in the towel, Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett would certainly be options.

There's no sliver bullet available here unless GM Doug Melvin has a magic trick up his sleeve, but there won't be that much trouble upgrading from McGehee and Betancourt. They've been poor enough on both sides of the ball that even an all-glove, no-hit player would outproduce these players.

DONE WITH TWITTER?
Sounds as if Orioles center fielder Adam Jones may be done with Twitter; no word on why. (@SimplyAJ10)

UPPER DECK CLOSING: The Marlins are following in the footsteps of the A's, who closed the upper deck of the stadium several years ago. Now, Florida is following suit as the paucity of people in the upper deck did not justify cost of ushers, personnel, concession stands and the like. (Miami Herald)

JETER MARKET HOT: Other than the World Series victories, Steiner Sports says the rush to get memorabilia for Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit is like never before. "It's like a mini-World Series," Mitchell Modell of Modell's said. (New York Times)

CHISENHALL OK: Indians prospect Lonnie Chisenhall was recently promoted to the majors and took a fastball off the face for his trouble. Now that the All-Star Break is past, Chisenhall thinks he's ready to play again despite a nasty bruise. (MLB.com)

WASHINGTON OR NEW YORK: It looks as if J.C. Romero will be in the majors at some point over the next couple of weeks. Released by the Phillies, the left-handed reliever plans to opt out of his contract with the Nationals by Friday if they don't promote him. In that case, he's headed to the Yankees. (ESPN MLB)

STOW PART OF BANKRUPTCY CASE: The family of Brian Stow, currently suing the Dodgers for culpability in the beating that left the Giants fan in a coma, has been named as a representative creditor in the bankruptcy case. Along with four other parties, the Stow family will represent unsecured creditors as owner Frank McCourt tries to navigate bankruptcy court.

FINALLY AN ALL-STAR: Kirk Gibson turned down two opportunities to participate in the All-Star Game as a player, much to his father's chagrin. But the former baseball standout finally went to his first All-Star Game when he joined Giants skipper Bruce Bochy in Phoenix as a coach. (MLB.com)

BAD BUCK: Joe Buck's lousy calling of the All-Star Game was making waves as it happened, and now a sports-radio personality blogs his take. In short: It's time for Buck to go away until his voice is fully healed. (Detroit Free-Press)

PERSONALITY CHECK: It's always nice to learn more about Yankees players outside of the game, and there's plenty of information here. For example, Sergio Mitre grew up fighting in the streets of Tijuana, Mexico and no Yankee would want to be without the reliever if they were in a fight. And surprisingly, Bartolo Colon would win an arm-wrestling match. (Wall Street Journal)

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Posted on: July 7, 2011 1:39 am
Edited on: July 7, 2011 2:11 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Pinch-Hit McGehee



By Matt Snyder


Casey McGehee, Brewers. Maybe the Brewers should just start using McGehee strictly as a pinch-hitter? It's been a rough year for McGehee, as he entered Wednesday hitting .222 with four homers, 33 RBI and a .582 OPS. This was after hitting .285 with 23 homers, 103 RBI and an .801 OPS last season. Wednesday, however, McGehee came through with a clutch pinch-hit three-run homer. It came in the bottom of the seventh and put the Brewers up for good. Earlier this season, McGehee hit a two-run go-ahead homer in the bottom of the eighth as a pinch-hitter. So, in just four pinch-hit at-bats, McGehee has accrued 40 percent of his home runs, driven home five runs and won two games for the Brewers. This one was huge, too, because the Brewers had lost seven of eight and fallen into fourth place in the NL Central prior to the game.

Justin Masterson, Indians. The Yankees hadn't lost a series since being swept by the Red Sox in early June, but Masterson brought home the second win in three games against the Yankees with a dominant performance Wednesday. He threw eight shutout innings, allowing only three hits and two walks while striking out six. That's quite the feat against the powerful Yankees, and the outing lowered Masterson's ERA to 2.66. Poor run support is one of the reasons Masterson was kept off the All-Star team, because his record is now just 7-6, but he's pitched far better than that.

Dan Uggla, Braves. The Braves' 9-1 win Wednesday -- their eighth in the past nine games -- was a complete team effort. Jair Jurrjens was great again and the offense pounded 14 hits for nine runs. Let us look closer at Dan Uggla, though. He'd been a disaster for the Braves for most of the season -- you could argue only Adam Dunn had hurt his team more offensively -- but the past two days should provide from confidence for Uggla. In the two Braves' wins, Uggla was 4-5 with two home runs, a double, three walks, four runs and three RBI. With that pitching staff, getting some more offense would be a big step in the Braves challenging the Phillies in the NL East, where the deficit is now three games.

Room for one more -- Nate Schierholtz, Giants: We initially published this before the Giants-Padres game concluded, because it felt like it would literally last all night, but Schierholtz took care of things in the bottom of the 14th. He slugged a walk-off homer that cleared the wall by mere inches. It was his second home run of the night as he went 3-6 with two runs and three RBI.



Ricky Romero against Red Sox. It's just not working for the Blue Jays' ace when he squares off against Boston. The Red Sox lit him up for nine hits and six earned runs, including two home runs, Wednesday. As noted on Twitter by Stats, Inc., Romero now has an 8.08 ERA in his career against the Red Sox and 3.28 against everyone else. It's an even bigger discrepancy this season, though. After the disaster in Fenway Wednesday evening, Romero has an 11.45 ERA and 2.88 WHIP this season against the Red Sox, while he's sporting a 2.45 ERA and 1.11 WHIP against everyone else.

Domonic Brown, Phillies. He tripled in the sixth inning, only he didn't. Upon appeal at second base, Brown was called out for missing the bag. He even admitted after the game he missed it. John Mayberry followed with a home run, though there's absolutely no guarantee that happens with a runner on third, because you can bet the Marlins pitch Mayberry differently. Still, Brown missed the bag and gave away an out in a game where the Phillies lost in extra innings. Brown also misplayed a Gaby Sanchez single into a three-bagger that allowed two runs to score, meaning you could say he cost the Phillies the game with the two mistakes. Still, I could much more easily tolerate a physical gaffe than a mental one. I will never understand how a player misses a bag while running the bases in high school, much less in the MLB. That's an avoidable mental error at any level.

Jake Westbrook, Cardinals. The Reds came into Wednesday having scored two or less runs in four of their past five games. The Cardinals had held the Reds to just one run combined in the first two games of the series. So I guess you could say they were due, though that's likely no consolation to Westbrook. He was torched by the Reds for eight hits and seven earned runs through just 4 1/3 innings. Five of those hits were of the extra-base variety, including three homers. After seeing his offensive teammates rally and his bullpen hold strong for much of the game, Westbrook had to have felt even worse when the Cardinals lost 9-8 in the 13th inning.

Spared: Sure, the Reds ended up winning, but it shouldn't have taken 13 innings to do so after leading 8-0 through five. That is unacceptable.

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Posted on: April 10, 2011 11:53 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 4/10: J.A.'s big day



By Matt Snyder


3UP

J.A. Happ, Astros. The 'Stros picked up their second win of the season, and Happ pretty much took care of everything on his own. He tossed 7 2/3 innings, allowing only four hits and one earned run (we'll just ignore those pesky four walks for now) while picking up the dubya. Just in case that wasn't enough, he swung the bat a little bit, too. In fact, he drove home enough runs to support his own victory. He went 2-3 with a double and two RBI.

Wilson Betemit, Royals. Man, what a day. Betemit came to bat five times and wasn't retired. He walked once and went 4-4 with a pair of doubles in a 9-5 victory. Considering Mike Aviles' struggles, Betemit has surely earned himself a few more at-bats in the near future.

Casey McGehee, Brewers. He only had one plate appearance Sunday, but made it count. McGehee dug in against Kerry Wood and the Cubs -- the team that cut him in 2008 -- and hit a go-ahead two-run bomb in the bottom of the eighth. It was his first home run of the young season, and pushed the Brewers to their fifth win in the past six games after starting 0-4. Interesting to note: The Brewers had three two-run home runs, which comprised all their scoring Sunday in a 6-5 win.

3DOWN

Blaine Boyer, Mets (well, formerly at least ... ). Rough day for poor ol' Blaine. He picked up his second loss of the season, which is really tough to do when the team has only lost five games and you're a reliever. This one came after he was touched up for four hits and four earned runs in the 11th inning -- including giving up a three-run shot to Laynce Nix. If that wasn't enough, the Mets rubbed salt in the wound by designating Boyer for assignment after the game. It's a relatively noteworthy move because in a corresponding transaction, the Mets have summoned 38-year-old Jason Isringhausen from the minors to join the bullpen. 

Nick Masset, Reds. Last time out, Masset took the loss after letting the Astros get the better of him. Sunday, it happened again, only this time it was the Diamondbacks and it was much uglier. His outing against the Astros was two innings and he only gave up one run. This time he was tagged for four runs, including a big blow from Chris Young in the form of a go-ahead three-run homer. The ERA has hopped up to 11.25. As an aside, that has to be the worst part about being a reliever. One four-run inning ruins your numbers for months. He'll need a good portion of the season to work that thing back down.

Dan Johnson, Rays. With Manny gone and Evan Longoria injured, Johnson is forced to shoulder a pretty large burden in the middle of the Rays' batting order. Thus far, he's not even close to being up to the task. After going 0-4 with a strikeout, Johnson is now hitting .088 with a .147 on-base percentage. He did hit a home run Friday in the Rays' only win of the season, but it is a complete outlier at this point.

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Posted on: April 4, 2011 3:37 pm
 

Defense costing teams early

Aubrey Huff

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Sunday afternoon the sight of Aubrey Huff diving in right field was a joking matter. The night before he made a diving catch and then before batting practice his teammates put a faux-chalk outline of his dive in the Dodger Stadium grass.

A couple of hours later, it wasn't so funny.

In the first inning on Sunday, Huff dove on a Jamey Carroll liner which ended up a triple and helped the Dodgers score three in the inning. In the seventh inning, Huff also lost a ball over his head by Marcus Thames, good for another triple and driving in the go-ahead run.

One scout told CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler that the Giants defense is "going to be an issue."

The Giants made their decision leaving camp that their defense would be secondary to scoring runs, as the team kept rookie first baseman Brandon Belt on the roster -- and it's not Belt that's the problem, he's a good defender. It's that in order to keep Huff and Belt in the lineup, Huff went to right field. And as right fielder's go, he's showing he's a first baseman.

I don't actually fault Huff, he's going out there and giving it his best and doing what the team asks him to do -- ultimately, it's just a flawed strategy putting Huff in the outfield. When Cody Ross is ready to come off the disabled list -- which is still at least two weeks away -- the Giants will be better at that spot, but they'll also have a decision between Belt and Huff -- or benching Pat Burrell and keeping Huff in the outfield. That said, the Giants will still have Miguel Tejada at shortstop.

But it's not just the Giants that are struggling defensively.

RangersThe Giants' World Series opponents last fall started off their season with a fielding error on the first batter of the season when Julio Borbon ran into Nelson Cruz.

The Cardinals seemed to be one team unconcerned about defense this offseason and could be concerned as the season goes along. The team added 35-year-old Lance Berkman, who hadn't played in the outfield since since 2007, to play every day in right field and got rid of one of baseball's best defensive shortstops, Brendan Ryan, and replaced him with an average second baseman in Ryan Theriot.

Theriot is the only National League player with two errors through Sunday's game, while in the American League one notoriously bad fielder (Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion) and one remarkably good fielder (Oakland's Daric Barton) have three errors each. 

There have been 68 errors this season through 46 games (following Sunday's games). That's only one more error than there was through 46 games last season (and 15 more than there was through 46 games in 2009).

That said, we all know errors aren't the best way to measure defense, there are plenty of examples of bad defense that didn't include an error in the boxscore.

On Sunday, the Cubs' defense let down closer Carlos Marmol. With one out and runners at second and third, Pedro Alvarez hit a dribbler to shortstop Starlin Castro who unloaded a bad throw to first, allowing two runs to score and the Pirates to get the win.

Milwaukee's Casey McGehee has had two costly decisions in the team's sweep at the hands of the Reds. In the ninth inning of Thursday's opener, McGehee failed to tag Brandon Phillips going to third, setting up the Reds' walk-off victory. On Sunday, McGehee went home and failed to get an out on a Drew Stubbs chopper, which led to a game-turned three-run homer by Phillips in the fourth. And that's two entire instances of the Brewers' bad defense without mentioning Yuniesky Betancourt, who the team had to take to get Zack Greinke, but didn't have to make their everyday shortstop. According to John Dewan's +/- system, no defensive player in baseball has cost their team more runs over the last three seasons than Betancourt's -66.

David Pinto over at Baseball Musings noted BABIP (batting average on balls in play) over the first weekend was .300, while it was .291 last season. That stat tells you a ball in the field was more likely to be fielded a year ago than it was this weekend.

Now, we're just 47 games into the 2011 season, so it's way too early to make any real conclusions about errors and defense as a whole, but it is something to watch. 

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Posted on: March 31, 2011 8:21 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2011 10:39 pm
 

Hustle, good at-bats spark Reds rally

Reds

By C. Trent Rosecrans

CINCINNATI -- Ramon Hernandez didn't expect to hit the game-winning homer -- even after it left his bat. All he was thinking was he wasn't making the last out.

He didn't, his three-run homer off of Brewers closer John Axford gave the Reds a 7-6 win on opening day, capping a four-run ninth inning for the defending National League Central champions.

"I have no clue how I hit it out, to be honest," Hernandez said after his 334-foot home run landed in the Brewers bullpen in right field of Great American Ball Park.

But he knew how he got there -- with help from his teammates, and Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee.

Ramon Hernandez "It took a three-run homer to win it, but you can't hit a three-run homer with nobody on," Reds left fielder Jonny Gomes said.

It was what led up to that homer that typified why the Reds led the National League in runs scored a year ago en route to their division title -- hustle and good at-bats.

The inning started with a Brandon Phillips single, which was followed by Joey Votto working a walk. With two on and still no outs, Scott Rolen hit a slow grounder to third, where McGehee fielded it and tried to tag Phillips going to third.

"I thought he was going to go to second, but when I saw him reach out with the glove, that's when I went into my Matrix mode and got out of the way," Phillips said.

McGehee felt he pushed Phillips far enough out of the baseline to get the out before throwing to first, where Rolen beat out the throw. Third-base umpire Dan Bellino ruled Phillips safe at third.

Rolen joked that he was thinking double out of the box, but then said he was just trying to get down the line fast enough not to be doubled up. When he looked up, he saw bases loaded.

After Jay Bruce struck out, Gomes was trying to avoid a game-ending double play and nearly ended the game in a different way, by hitting it over the wall. However, his liner went to the deepest part of the park for a sacrifice fly, scoring Phillips and brining up Hernandez.

"You saw two great hustle plays with Brandon and Scott in the same play," Gomes said. "What you're trying to do there, is extend the inning and not give up outs.

"That's what we did. When you start with a positive note, it's contagious and you're almost a goat if you don't do that. When you're not hustling to first, when you're not avoiding tags, you're the goat. It's a special group of guys here."

With an 0-1 count, Axford's 93 mph fastball stayed up and got over the plate. Hernandez crushed it, watching it and raising his hands in celebration before he even reached first base, while manager Dusty Baker danced what appeared to be a jig in the dugout.

"When you have all your teammates waiting for you because you just won a ballgame, it's one of the best feelings you can ever feel," said Hernandez, whose homer capped a four-hit day. "Celebrating with your teammates is the best part."

It's something the Reds have plenty of practice at. Last year they were second in the big leagues with 45 come-from-behind wins and tied for second with 22 wins in their last at-bat, including Bruce's walk-off, division-clincher last September.

Shortstop Paul Janish, who along with starter Edinson Volquez were the only different starters from last year's opening day lineup, called the hitting "infectious."

Rolen called it "good baseball," while Drew Stubbs called it "magic."

Whatever it was, it was fun.
 
 
 
 
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